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SpaceX delays its satellite internet launch to February 21st

Sorry, folks, you'll have to wait a while longer before SpaceX's satellite internet launch takes place. With hours to go, SpaceX has delayed the liftoff from its February 17th target to 9:17AM Eastern on February 21st. According to the company, the crew at the Vandenberg launchpad needed extra time to run "final checkouts" of the upgraded fairing used to protect the Falcon 9 rocket's payload. The company has been inching toward completely reusable rockets, and it wants to be sure it's making progress on that front.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/spacex-delays-starlink-launch-to-february-21/

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Wikipedia ends no-cost mobile access for developing countries

The outlet cited a few reasons for the shutdown, and not all of them were bad. Low awareness may have been one problem -- people in developing nations aren't as aware of Wikipedia as North Americans and Europeans. There have been successes at improving recognition, but they're coming too late to rescue Zero. On the plus side, mobile data costs have fallen in the past several years. Zero may not be as attractive simply because more cellphone users can afford to visit Wikipedia without needing a special exemption.

This doesn't mean that Wikimedia has given up on Zero-like concepts. That improved recognition has given the organization "several ideas" for its next course of action, and it's using 2018 to mull things over. The move could amount to a hiatus rather than a permanent end. All the same, the discontinuation is unfortunate for those who did use Wikipedia Zero. For now, at least, they'll have to either pay for enough data to visit Wikipedia or go without.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/wikipedia-zero-ends/

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Throat sensor helps you recover from a stroke

The sensor is not only more accurate than a mic, but considerably more comfortable and durable. A set of "novel materials" help it bend and stretch so that it's not irritating your throat or breaking under stress. Doctors can see how you speak and swallow in real life, not just in the controlled conditions of a hospital room.

When combined with other sensors that track factors like heart functions, muscles and sleep, the throat tech promises a relatively unintrusive look at how your whole body is faring. It won't guarantee a full recovery, but it could speed your progress and help you resume at least some of your daily routine.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/throat-sensor-helps-stroke-recovery/

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Air Force security hackathon leads to record payout

The event also set a record for speed. On the first day (December 9th), the military and 24 hackers conducted a live event where they reported and fixed flaws as they happened. It took just 9 hours to fix 55 of the potential exploits.

HackerOne is keen to tout this as a success in the larger Hack the Pentagon program. White hat hackers have found over 3,000 holes since the program kicked off in spring 2016, and it's a definite improvement over the 207 flaws found during the original Hack the Air Force from spring 2017. With that said, this shows that there's still a lot of room for improvement. While it's difficult to completely remain up to date (new flaws are bound to pop up), the Air Force isn't yet at the point where exploits are relatively rare.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/19/hack-the-air-force-2/

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India inches ahead in the race to build a Hyperloop

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sir Richard Branson announced the partnership between Virgin Hyperloop One and the Indian state of Maharashtra. The deal will see the pair look into developing a high-speed link between the cities of Pune and Mumbai, with the route going via Mumbai International Airport.

At current speeds, it takes around three and a half hours to make the 100-mile journey, either on a train or by car. Hyperloop One believes that it can shrink that journey time down to a slender 25 minutes, as well as dramatically reducing freight times between Mumbai's port and the inland Pune.

That's important, since around a quarter of all the freight that passes through Mumbai's ports has Pune as its destination or place of origin. A Hyperloop that carries freight between the two cities would potentially reduce 25 percent of all the heavy goods traffic on the roads.

Much like so many other nascent Hyperloop projects, the Mumbai - Pune project will begin with a six-month feasibility study. But, if the numbers come up right, then the state will press ahead to build a test track that will form a segment of the final planned route.

The test track is expected to be built within three years, meaning that India could be running test journeys by 2021. After plenty of further research and development work, and the economics work out, additional sections will be added to the line, which could be fully working as early as 2028.

Plans to build a longer test track as the first segment of a finished Hyperloop route were first floated by co-founder Josh Giegel early last year.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/19/india-inches-ahead-in-the-race-to-build-a-hyperloop/

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The Morning After: Water purification could lead to more electric cars

A hybrid of wind power and Tesla batteries.
Tesla starts its latest smart-power-grid experiment in Canada

Tesla's experiments with smart-power grids are headed further north. Canada's Nova Scotia Power recently finished setting up a pilot project that will use a combination of Tesla's Powerwall 2 home batteries and utility-grade Powerpack batteries to create a more reliable wind-power system. The Elmsdale-based Intelligent Feeder Project fills gaps in the electrical grid by topping up the Powerpacks whenever a nearby wind-turbine system generates excess power and delivering that stored energy to local homes (including those with Powerwall 2 batteries) when there's an outage or the turbine system falls short.

Say hello to the new Kamigami robots.
Mattel's 'Jurassic World' dino-bots are surprisingly realistic

Mattel's last STEM robot was a DIY lady bug. Now, the toy company is aiming for something bigger with its new Jurassic World bots. You'll still have to put them together first, but what you end up with is a complex robo-dino with realistic movement. And, just like before, they'll also help kids bone up on their STEM chops. Sneaky hidden learning!

Low awareness and falling data prices led to the shutdown.
Wikipedia ends no-cost mobile access for developing countries

The Wikimedia Foundation launched Wikipedia Zero in 2012 with the hopes of democratizing information through a simple concept: Cellular carriers in developing countries would offer access to its crowdsourced knowledge without charging data fees. However, it appears to have run its course. The organization has discontinued Zero with plans to phase it out through 2018. Wikimedia has stopped forming new carrier partnerships and will let its existing alliances end over time. There has apparently been a "significant drop off" in involvement since 2016, Wikimedia said, and that participation is necessary to keep Zero alive.

Fewer vulnerabilities than last time around.
Air Force security hackathon leads to record payout

The US Air Force's second security hackathon has paid dividends... both for the military and the people finding holes in its defenses. HackerOne has revealed the results of the Hack the Air Force 2.0 challenge from 2017, which led to the discovery of 106 vulnerabilities across roughly 300 of the USAF's public websites. Those discoveries proved costly, however. The Air Force paid out a total of $103,883, including $12,500 for one bug -- the most money any federal bounty program has paid to date.

Mine the oceans for lithium without hurting the environment.
Water purification could be the key to more electric cars

Humanity is going to need a lot of lithium batteries if electric cars are going to take over, but there's only so much lithium to be gleaned from conventional mines. So let's mine the ocean. Scientists have outlined a desalination technique that would use metal-organic frameworks (sponge-like structures with very high surface areas) with sub-nanometer pores to catch lithium ions while purifying ocean water. The approach mimics the tendency of cell membranes to selectively dehydrate and carry ions, leaving the lithium behind while producing water you can drink. Win, win? While the concept of extracting lithium certainly isn't new, this would be much more efficient and environmentally friendly.

But wait, there's more...

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/19/the-morning-after-water-purification-could-lead-to-more-electri/

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Device provides years of power through temperature swings

The initial device was relatively tiny, and only produced 1.3 milliwatts of power. That's enough for basic sensors or communication sensors, however, and it's hard to complain too loudly when it's virtually effortless. It could also be changed to produce energy from other temperature cycles, like those in a fridge or a factory.

There are more than a few potential uses, especially if researchers can increase the power output. MIT envisioned planetary rovers that can keep running for years without needing special conditions. Thermal resonators could also serve as backups for existing renewable energy: if a solar panel goes down, the grid could still have enough power to broadcast a request for help. It wouldn't be an infinite source of power by any means, but it would be trustworthy enough that you could leave a device alone knowing that it always has at least some kind of electricity on tap.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/mit-thermal-resonator/

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Mattel’s ‘Jurassic World’ dino-bots are surprisingly realistic

You'll have two options to choose from with the Jurassic World Kamigami Robots: "Blue" the velociraptor, or the new villainous Indoraptor. It shouldn't be too tough to build them, since you just need to snap together a few plastic pieces. The real innovation is in how they move. Their tails bend and wave naturally, as do their feet. They almost look like tiny dinosaurs scurrying around the floor.

You'll be able to control things like their eye color, movement and sounds from the Kamigami Jurassic World mobile app. But more importantly, you can also program them to do your bidding with a simple interface. Like most STEM toys, it's more about getting you to understand the logic of programming, rather than teaching you an actual language.

Also new this year is the Pterano-Drone, a flying toy version of the Pteranodon from Jurassic World. Its simplified controller will make it easy for kids to control, and there are also auto-landing and auto-circling options to simplify the more complex tasks. Mattel developed a patented plastic cover around the rotor blades, which will automatically turn off the engine when kids hold them down. It's one way to avoid clipping fingers, a fairly common issue for drones.

All of the toys will be launching this spring, ahead of the June 22nd release of Jurassic World 2. The Kamigami robots will run for $60 each, while the drone will cost $120.

Check out the rest of our coverage from Toy Fair 2018 here.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/jurassic-world-mattel-robots/

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After Math: Market fluctuations

$40: YouTube TV is already a solid option for people looking to cut ties with their cable company and it's only getting better. Google announced this week that it's expanding its channel lineup with stations from Turner Broadcasting, NBA TV, MLB TV, and a few others. Only problem is that the $35 service is bumping up $5 come March 13th, but only for new customers so if you want in, you've got a month to pull the trigger.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Writer John Gray, actor Sarah Paulson and actor Ryan Murphy attends the FOX Broadcasting Company, FX, National Geographic And Twentieth Century Fox Television's 68th Primetime Emmy Awards after Party at Vibiana on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

$300 million: That's how much Netflix paid for the services of one Ryan Murphy, producer of shows like Glee, Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and Scream Queens, for a multi-year agreement. Does Netflix not realize how many perfectly good human souls you could buy for that sort of cash?

20 minutes: That's how long it takes for Apple's HomePod to burn a noticeable ring into your desktop. No, your literal desktop, not your computer's desktop. The solution: Apple recommends either refinishing the furniture that their product damaged or shell out $20 for a leather coaster. Because Apple products "just work."

$1,000: That's how much Magic Leap's AR headset will likely retail for when it becomes available sometime in the near future. That's a steep price for the ability to watch classic NBA games as if you were Gulliver in Lilliputia. Just, please, seriously, I'm begging you, don't wear them in public.

$200: Sony is dropping $100 off the price on its PSVR headset to help boost the accessory's adoption. Plus, Sony will throw in a copy of Gran Turismo Sport and the camera necessary to play it. That's not a bad deal if you're really into virtual vehicle racing. Hit me up when the VR experience comes to Monster Hunter World.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 08:  An visitor wears a Vive virtual reality (VR) headset, manufactured by HTC Corp during the 'Virtuality Paris 2018' show on February 08, 2018 in Paris, France. The second edition of Virtuality Paris, the virtual reality fair, will be held in Paris from 08 to 10 February 2018  (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

$9: Last spring HTC introduced a subscription service enabling its Vive users to rent up to five VR titles per month at a cost of $7. The company announced this week that the price is going up by another two bucks on March 22nd. And there's nothing you can do about it.

$2,500: Maybe you're the outdoorsy type that wants to film their adventures but don't want to run around with a controller in your hands. Maybe you've got nearly three grand burning a hole in your pocket. Maybe you want to check out this fully autonomous camera drone from Skydio.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/after-math-market-fluctuations/

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The best portable SSD

Who this is for

Portable hard drives are great for travel and for people who frequently transfer large amounts of data between computers. Compared with portable hard drives or desktop external drives, they're much faster, more compact, more durable, and more secure, and run at cooler temperatures, but they're also more expensive.

How we picked and tested

A great external SSD should be reliable, fast, and small. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Here's what you should look for in a portable solid-state drive:

  • Reliability: A portable SSD must keep your data safe.
  • Toughness: Because portable SSDs lack moving parts, they are less susceptible to total failure when dropped or jostled than mechanical drives. A portable SSD should also be sturdily built, and not feel creaky or hollow.
  • Durability: Flash memory cells can be written to only so many times before wearing out. You'd have to write hundreds of terabytes of data to even begin wearing out the drive, though, and very few people will ever get near that limit.
  • Drive speed: Speed is the reason you're spending a lot more for a portable SSD over a portable or external desktop hard drive. We tested both sequential and random speeds.
  • Connection type: We considered both USB-A and USB-C models in this review, at speeds of USB 3.0 or faster.
  • Price: More expensive portable SSDs can offer faster speeds, but you don't want to overpay to get extra speed or other features you may not notice.
  • Capacity: We think a capacity around 500 GB for about $200 currently represents the best mix of affordability, space, and speed for most people.
  • Size and weight: A portable SSD should be light and compact—many are roughly the size of a stack of sticky notes, or even smaller.
  • Encryption: Portable SSDs that support the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) can more reliably protect your sensitive information, but not all portable SSDs offer this feature.
  • Software: Backup software is a nice addition, but it's not essential.
  • Warranty and customer service: Three-year warranties are standard among portable solid-state drives, and strong customer service is always valuable.

We investigated the most popular portable solid-state drives on Amazon, and scoured the websites of well-known external SSD manufacturers. We then researched each of the 28 models we found by reading reviews from trusted editorial sources and customer reviews, ultimately calling in four finalists. We tested each drive's sequential and random speeds, and evaluated its build quality and included software. Please see our full guide to Portable SSDs to learn more about our testing process.

Our pick

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The 500 GB Samsung T5 Portable SSD is the best portable solid-state drive for most people because it's reliable, fast, reasonably priced, and compact. At around $200, or 40¢ per gigabyte, it costs about as much per gigabyte as most SSDs—many of which are slower and larger. The T5 has a single USB-C port that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds and includes both a USB-C–to–USB-C cable and a USB-C–to–USB-A cable. It also comes with software that was the easiest to use of the drives we tested and AES 256-bit hardware encryption to protect your data. Plus, it has a handy indicator light so you know when it's connected and actively transferring data, and it comes with a three-year warranty.

When plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the 500 GB Samsung T5 gave us sequential read and write speeds of 409.8 MB/s and 423.6 MB/s, respectively, about as fast as the competition. Using a Thunderbolt 3 port, it was even faster—462.2 MB/s and 493.3 MB/s, respectively. Its random speeds were faster than any of the competition, too.

More storage: 1 TB Samsung T5 Portable SSD

If you need double the storage and you're willing to spend around twice as much, we recommend the 1 TB Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Because higher-capacity solid-state drives often provide slightly improved performance, we expect the 1 TB to be a little faster than the 500 GB Samsung T5 (even though we tested only the 500 GB capacity). At around $400, it costs about the same per gigabyte as the 500 GB version, with the same dimensions, features, and warranty.


Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

If our pick is sold out or unavailable, we recommend the 512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD for around the same price. In our tests, the My Passport SSD was about 30 to 60 MB/s slower than the Samsung T5, but it was faster than the other two solid-state drives we tested. Like the Samsung T5, it has a USB-C port and supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds. The My Passport SSD is even thinner and lighter (but longer) than the T5, though not by much. Its software is as simple to use as the Samsung's, and it has hardware encryption as well. The My Passport SSD has a three-year warranty but lacks an indicator light.

Plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the My Passport SSD had sequential read and write speeds of 387 MB/s and 383.9 MB/s, respectively. Although these are respectable speeds, they reflect the slower side of the four solid-state drives we tested. When we plugged the My Passport SSD into a Thunderbolt 3 port, though, it was faster than every drive except the Samsung T5.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/18/the-best-portable-ssd/

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