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Surface Laptop 3 review (15-inch): Bigger, but not always betterĀ 

Clearly, AMD was able to craft a chip that can do more than what you'd find on a Typical ultraportable. Intel's latest 10th Gen CPUs feature more powerful integrated graphics than ever before, but they still can't compare to these custom Ryzens that borrow components from the Radeon RX Vega 11 dedicated GPU. Mission accomplished, Microsoft.

What's more impressive is that the company didn't have to change the design of the Surface Laptop much. Honestly, it's easy to mistake it for the smaller version unless they're side by side. The 15" model is bigger, but it's still very thin and an elegant. It also keeps the air of simplicity we've seen from the Surface Laptop line so far. There aren't any extra media keys or distracting lights, it's just keyboard, trackpad and an impressively large screen.

Speaking of those input devices, Microsoft has delivered one of the best laptop keyboards we've ever seen here. Typing felt almost as fulfilling as a desktop keyboard, thanks to a luxurious amount of key travel and plenty of spacing between the keys. The trackpad is enormous, smooth and a dream to use. Microsoft is basically putting every PC maker who can't seem to get these basics right to shame.

But even though the 15" Laptop 3 is being positioned as more of a workhorse than the 13", it's not really equipped to handle many accessories. There's just one USB Type A and USB-C connection (which thankfully can be used to charge the laptop), as well as Microsoft's proprietary Surface power port. But there's no SD card reader, and no Thunderbolt 3 ports for high-speed accessories like external GPU docks. I didn't really expect Microsoft to make the Laptop 3 as port-laden as the Surface Book 3, but a few more options would have been nice. It also lasted us just seven hours and 50 minutes during our battery test, which sounds decent, except we saw nearly 16 hours of uptime with the Surface Laptop 2.

The 15" Surface Laptop 3 tries to straddle the line between being an ultraportable and a more powerful laptop, but that leads to compromises in both respects. It's not the lightest 15" notebook around, and it's not as capable as larger workstations. You'll also pay quite a bit for the privilege of owning one: the 15" Laptop 3 starts at $1,199, but if you want the high end version that we reviewed, you'd have to shell out $2,099. At that point, you're better off just getting the slightly heavier XPS 15 with a much faster six core CPU and true dedicated NVIDIA graphics for $1,500.

Basically, it seems like the 15" Surface Laptop 3 is for someone who loves the design of Microsoft's ultraportable, but just wants a slightly bigger screen. In that respect, it delivers. I just wish Microsoft pushed a bit harder to make it more capable for power users.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/surface-laptop-3-review-15-inch/

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Qobuz ditches MP3-quality streaming for a single hi-res plan

If you're already subscribing to Qobuz's Hi-Fi or Studio plans, you'll either get a discount or a refund depending on whether or not you've subscribed recently.

The company is also lowering the price of its all-encompassing Sublime+ plan, which discounts the prices of hi-res purchased music, from $300 per year to $250. Again, Qobuz is promising discounts or refunds depending on the value left in subscribers' existing plans.

There is a catch to this simplified strategy, as you might have suspected: if you're subscribed to Premium, you won't have much choice but to upgrade. We've asked Qobuz to clarify just what will happen to users' accounts, but it's telling Premium members they can "simply switch" to Studio Premier before January 31st, 2020. And that's the risky part -- Qobuz is betting that it'll attract enough Studio Premier subscribers to offset people who might switch to rivals to keep their lower-cost lossy music. It might just work by helping Qobuz stand out against the "good enough" offerings of Spotify and Apple Music, but success is far from guaranteed.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/qobuz-drops-lossy-music-streaming/

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Amazon says it’ll roll out a new grocery store format next year

The company told Engadget it's "opening a grocery store in Woodland Hills [a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood] in 2020." As first reported by CNET, it posted four job listings for the outlet, which it described as "Amazon's first grocery store." It's hiring two grocery associates who'll replenish stock and handle points of sale, a food service associate who'll work food counters and a team lead.

Amazon has reportedly signed a lease for a 35,000 square-foot space in Woodland Hills. The location was previously home to a Toys 'R' Us.

The grocery store will differ from Whole Foods and it won't use the cashierless tech of Amazon Go stores, instead opting for traditional checkouts. Amazon hasn't revealed what the store will be called yet, whether it'll open more locations or what the item selection and pricing will look like.

The Wall Street Journal, which initially reported on Amazon expanding its array of grocery options, said last month the retailer was planning stores in Los Angeles (having signed more than a dozen leases in the area), Chicago and Philadelphia, and was considering spaces in the New York area, New Jersey and Connecticut. According to the publication, Amazon's new stores will offer prepared foods and "mainstream groceries such as soda and Oreos."

Along with the upcoming store, Whole Foods and Amazon Go, Amazon has made other forays into physical retail locations with Amazon Books and Amazon 4-Star. The company also offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, Prime Now and its core website. However, it shut down its pop-up kiosks at Whole Foods, Kohl's locations and malls this year.

Update 11/11/2019 11:55 AM ET: Added direct comment from Amazon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/amazon-grocery-store-los-angeles/

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Engadget’s 2019 holiday gift guide is here!

Somehow, it's November. Mid-November. Which means while you might just be gearing up to begin your holiday shopping, we're already done. At least, we're done shopping for you. After months of thinking, curating, photographing, more thinking, we've come up with a holiday gift guide that covers all the bases (and budgets), from laptops and mobile devices, to toys, to the smart home, to book and media recommendations (only on nerdy subjects, of course). All told, there are more than 150 items in our guide, spanning 13 categories, with advice from 25 of our writers and editors. You know, the people testing and reviewing this stuff all year long.

And we're not done yet: We have additional picks and buying advice coming throughout this week, including gifts for coffee geeks, shopping for hypebeasts and our favorite wireless earbuds. (Because we expect those to be popular stocking stuffers this year.) To start, we have a guide to the best Switch and Switch Lite accessories. The Switch and Switch Lite itself made our list, too, but in the event your intended already has one, perhaps they could use a more functional d-pad controller? Our staff thinks so.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/engadget-2019-holiday-gift-guide/

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Katamari creator’s friend-making game ‘Wattam’ arrives December 17th

However you play, the concept is the same. You're a green, cube-shaped mayor whose quest is to reconnect the community by performing various (and frequently strange) helpful activities to win them over, such as helping a balloon get over its fear of heights. It's a deliberate contrast to the conflict-driven games that dominate the landscape, and arguably a relief in a world where division and hatred appear to be on the rise.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/wattam-launches-december-17th/

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Twitter reveals how it plans to address deepfakes

Twitter says it'll define "synthetic and manipulated media as any photo, audio, or video that has been significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning." It noted such manipulations are often called deepfakes and shallowfakes.

As the guidelines stand, when Twitter discovers deepfakes on its service, it may:

  • place a notice next to Tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media;

  • warn people before they share or like Tweets with synthetic or manipulated media; or

  • add a link -- for example, to a news article or Twitter Moment -- so that people can read more about why various sources believe the media is synthetic or manipulated.

If Twitter determines a tweet that includes a deepfake or shallowfake "could threaten someone's physical safety or lead to other serious harm," it might just remove the tweet entirely. Twitter already banned porn deepfakes last year.

The guidelines aren't yet set in stone, and Twitter's looking for feedback through a survey and tweets with the hashtag #TwitterPolicyFeedback. You'll have until Wednesday, November 27th at 6:59 p.m. ET to weigh in. After reviewing and incorporating feedback, it'll announce a formalized version of the guidelines at least 30 days before they come into force.

Not only can deepfakes be directly damaging to people, they can be used in disinformation campaigns, including ones backed by states. Twitter is one of several major tech companies exploring ways to tackle deepfakes. Amazon, for instance, recently signed up to Facebook's Deepfake Detection Challenge, along with Microsoft, MIT and others. The group is building open-source tools to help governments and organizations identify deepfakes.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/twitter-deepfake-draft-guidelines/

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WeWork may have found its new CEO: T-Mobile’s John Legere

WeWork (or its parent, We Co, to be more precise) is said to be looking for a CEO to start as soon as January. It's a little early to say for sure whether that'll be Legere -- he's one of several candidates, according to CNBC -- but the timing of the move is certainly intriguing.

T-Mobile's proposed merger with Sprint, which has been in the works since last year, took a significant step closer to fruition after the Federal Communications Commission approved the deal last week. Legere expects it to be finalized early next year.

After Neumann's departure, WeWork execs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham stepped in as co-CEOs. But SoftBank is looking for a "high-profile candidate" who can turn things around at WeWork and potentially see it through to an IPO, according to the WSJ.

The brash Legere might just fit the bill. He took over as T-Mobile CEO seven years ago, and lured millions of customers away from rival providers. There are some existing strands between him and SoftBank, too. The holding company is also majority owner of Sprint, whose former CEO Marcelo Claure it appointed as WeWork's executive chairman. Claure, who holds the same role at Sprint, worked on the T-Mobile merger.

WeWork had no comment on the reports. Engadget also contacted T-Mobile for comment.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/wework-ceo-john-legere-t-mobile-report/

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Chrome web apps will soon tout desktop-like speed

Web Bundles are available now through an experimental flag in Chrome, while background syncing and content indexing are only available as "origin trials."

Other updates are more about offering native-like features. An SMS Receiver allows text-base two-factor authentication for secure sign-ins, while a contact picker and a native file system framework respectively help you share and save data more like you'd expect.

It's up to developers to make use of these technologies, so don't expect the web to change overnight. That's particularly true when many website creators may want software-agnostic web apps that work equally well on Firefox, Opera, Safari and other common browsers. If enough web app writers do embrace this, though, Chromebooks may be more viable for people used to the performance and convenience of apps on other platforms.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/chrome-web-apps-with-desktop-speed/

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Apple removes Instagram stalking app Like Patrol from the App Store

Like Patrol takes the idea of Instagram's own "Following" tab -- which was disabled earlier this fall -- and makes it even more invasive. The app reports who a given user is interacting with, down to gender and attractiveness stats. Sergio Luis Quintero, the app's founder, said that the company intends to fight Instagram's cease and desist order, but that may be moot thanks to Apple's takedown; the App Store owner is the true gatekeeper in this situation.

Typically, when an app is taken down from the App Store, it can still be accessed by users who previously downloaded it. It's unclear whether or not existing Like Patrol users can still use the service. Even if they can, it sounds like the app's days are numbered.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/apple-removes-stalking-app-like-patrol/

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Amazon lets you connect Fire TV and Echo devices to create a home theater

Amazon has been focussing more and more on audio quality lately, so using the Echo devices as a wireless audio solution for your TV seems like a smart move. Customers who have the current generation Echo and Echo Plus can stream Dolby audio wireless, and customers with Echo Studio can stream Dolby Atmos-quality sound. Of course, it only works with content you play through a compatible Fire TV device, and since this works in stereo configuration, it may not meet some people's definition of home theater.

If you want to try this at home, connect your Fire TV device and Echo devices to the same network and Amazon account. Use the Alexa app to select your audio preferences, and then follow the on-screen instructions.

You'll need a Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV (third generation), Fire TV Cube (first generation and US only) or Fire TV Cube (second generation). And at least one of the compatible Echo devices: Echo Dot (third generation), Echo (second or third generation), Echo Plus (first or second generation), Echo Dot with clock, Echo Studio.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/11/amazon-fire-tv-echo-alexa-home-theater/

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