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LG Gram 17 review: The oversized thin-and-light no one asked for

I also like that the display was really bright and colorful. Images from a sample 4K video on YouTube looked straight up gorgeous. Plus, I could place the Gram 17 on the table in a hotel room, and still clearly see characters from my favorite TV shows from the bed about six feet away.

Keyboard and trackpad

Because it has such a sharp profile compared to rival 17-inch systems, the Gram 17 also has far less depth to offer in its keyboard. That isn't to say that the buttons here are quite as shallow as the Macbook Air's, but don't expect the cushy travel you get from most systems this size. There's still some depth here and the snappy feedback makes typing more comfortable.

Since there's plenty of room on the deck itself though, LG saw fit to squeeze in a numpad and as well as a handy power button at the top right corner that also housed a fingerprint sensor for convenient logins. Yet, the company made some curious decisions in the layout. Specifically, the Enter and Backspace keys are smaller than usual. Because of that, these keys require a little more reaching than I'm used to, and instead of hitting Enter, I ended up inserting a lot of quote marks. I also found it hard to reach for the delete key, which sat all the way to the top right of the backspace button.

The trackpad, on the other hand, benefitted from the extra space. This glass-covered surface is generously sized and I never ran out of room while scrolling through pages or pinching to zoom, and the cursor was consistent and responsive.

Performance and battery life

Oddly, with such a roomy chassis, you'd think that LG would find enough room to squeeze in a more powerful graphics card. But, because the Gram 17 is so thin, there isn't a lot of room for a sophisticated cooling system that needs to accompany those. Instead, it comes with an Intel UHD 620 GPU. Now I'm not the most hardcore gamer or video editor -- my most demanding task was running the occasional game of Overcooked, so this held up for most of my workloads. Those expecting more beef will likely be disappointed.

The laptop's CPU is an eighth-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, and it performed decently for the most part. It had no problem with my usual workload, which includes multiple browser tabs while sneaking in a few episodes of The Good Place on Netflix in the background. But the computer did stutter when I tried to jump between folders while unzipping three folders at the same time. Though, that's more a product of the slow SSD than the CPU -- on our disk speed benchmark, the Gram 17 was only about half as fast as the competition.

It's not an apples to apples comparison, but consider a recent notebook of a similar size like the Macbook Pro 16. It packs a six- or eight-core i7 or i9 chipset with AMD's Radeon Pro graphics options, so you'll have plenty more power for demanding tasks. Other 17-inch laptops tend to be gaming laptops and are often complete tanks like the Alienware Area 51m, and pack much more muscle into heftier frames. At $1,700, the Gram 17 also costs about a thousand bucks less than these two laptops. It's also a completely different kind of machine. You're better off thinking of it as a thin-and-light mainstream laptop with a big screen than a large notebook packing powerful guts in a thin-and-light frame. It's almost like a bigger Surface Laptop 3, which starts at $999 and uses AMD Ryzen processors.

Since most 17-inch laptops tend to just sit on your desktop, battery life usually isn't a priority for these machines. Yet, the Gram 17 managed to clock almost 13 hours on our battery test. That's about an hour longer than the Macbook Pro 16, but a half hour shorter than the XPS 15. The Alienware Area 51m meanwhile lasted a hilarious 1.5 hours.


I'm truly impressed by what LG was able to do with the Gram series, even as I struggle to understand why someone would need to lug around such a large screen. The best uses for big displays are demanding tasks like video or graphics editing, and those processes require more muscle than the Gram 17 offers. Ultimately, the Gram 17 seems more like a way to show what laptop makers could do if all they cared about was shaving off inches and pounds.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/lg-gram-17-review-price-specs-big-screen-thin-light/

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Engadget readers can save on iRobot Roomba i7 vacuums

You can get the i7+ for $699, instead of $999, by using the code "ENGADGETBOT" at checkout, and the i7 for $499, down from $699, with "ENGADGETVAC". Effectively, this promotion allows you to buy the more expensive i7+ at the usual price of the i7. As with our previous Wellbots deal, there's no sales tax if you live outside of New York State.

The two models are almost identical other than the fact the i7+ comes with a charging station that automatically empties the vacuum's dust container into a proprietary disposable bag after each session. Each bag can hold up to 30 loads worth of dust and debris. While certainly an upgrade over the standard i7, you still have to throw out the bags yourself. It does, however, mean the i7+ requires less oversight.

Otherwise, both models include a feature called Imprint Smart Mapping, which allows them to classify and remember all the rooms in your home. In turn, you can take advantage of this feature to instruct the vacuums to clean a specific room using either the iRobot Home app, or Alexa and Google Assistant. Using the same feature, you can create custom cleaning schedule. iRobot also claims the i7 series is a good fit for pet owners thanks to their three-stage cleaning system, which the company says is good at vacuuming up unseen dust and allergens. We gave the i7+ an 87 when we reviewed it last year, declaring it "iRobot's best vacuum robot yet." Our main concerns were the cost of the vacuum itself and the proprietary bags. While we can't with help the latter, $300 off should help with the former.

Buy iRobot Roomba i7+ on Wellbots - $699

Buy iRobot Roomba i7 on Wellbots - $499

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/wellbots-irobot-roomba-i7-plus-cybermonday/

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The Morning After: Black Friday forever (or at least all weekend)

The oversized thin-and-light no one asked for.LG Gram 17 review

According to Cherlynn Low, LG's Gram 17 laptop is impressive in a few ways: it's light, the massive screen beautiful and there are plenty of ports. It's lighter than the 16-inch MacBook or Dell's XPS 15, and managed better battery life than Apple's machine in our test. However, lackluster performance and the sheer awkwardness of such a large portable will make smaller, faster laptops a better option for most people.

Soundbars, streaming subscriptions, universal remotes and more.What to buy for your new 4K TV

If you've picked out a brand new 4K set, then congratulations, there's more beautiful HDR footage to experience than ever before. Of course, the journey doesn't end there, and now that you've got your new TV, it's time to think about what you're putting around it.

Try 'Ultimate Werewolf' or 'Stop Thief.'The best board games with an app-based twist

Board games are a timeless way to socialize and bring loved ones together over the holiday season. If you're tired of the classics (please, no more Monopoly), it might be time to freshen up your collection with a hybrid board game. If you're open to the idea and want a few recommendations, check out our Engadget-approved short list.

Comparing resolution, data usage, price, games and more.Stadia vs. xCloud: How these game-streaming services stack up

Now that Stadia and xCloud are playable in the wild, it's time for a good old-fashioned showdown. Considering one service has launched and already disappointed its supporters, and the other is in beta and delivering on its claims, you can probably guess which one comes out looking better here.

The battle will have to wait.Ford will pass on a tug-of-war with Tesla's Cybertruck

After Elon Musk exchanged words with Ford exec Sundeep Madra over an F-150 vs. Cybertruck rematch, a Ford spokesperson told TechCrunch "Sunny's tweet was tongue in cheek to point out the absurdity of Tesla's video, nothing more." While the car company has hybrid and full-electric versions of its truck in the works, for now at least, it's not trying to correct the record against Tesla's prototype truck.

But wait, there's more...

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/black-friday-deals/

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Ask Engadget: How can I make a gift card feel more personal?

Jessica Conditt
Senior Editor

Gifts are simply reminders that someone was thinking about you. This is where the joy of present-giving begins, and it's one reason handing someone a gift card or digital code feels so crappy. It doesn't take a ton of time or thought to pick an Amazon card off the rack at QT, after all. However, online gaming, shopping and social realities are here to stay, and some of the best presents nowadays are completely digital.

In this case, refer back to the heart of gift-giving. Spend some time writing a thoughtful note (maybe even on nice paper, in the receiver's favorite ink), spend an hour building something cute out of craft supplies, bake their favorite dessert or simply spend time with your loved one before handing them the digital goods. Demonstrate your appreciation of this person with the most valuable currency out there: time.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/ask-engadget-how-can-i-make-a-gift-card-feel-more-personal/

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Battle of the smart screens: Lenovo and Amazon’s latest compared

Now, there are two more models entering the fray. Amazon has unveiled the Echo Show 8 ($130), which lies somewhere in between the second-gen Echo Show and the Echo Show 5. Lenovo, on the other hand, has released the Smart Display 7 ($130), its third attempt at making a Google smart display. Given how crowded this category has become, we thought it made the most sense to compare the two side by side. You guys do comparison shopping -- well, we do comparison reviewing.


The Echo Show 8 and the Lenovo Smart Display 7 are roughly the same size, with the Show 8 taking up a bit more real estate. The Echo Show 8 is pretty much identical to its predecessors, with the display dominating the front and the speaker housed around back. It's a little bigger than the 5, and a little smaller than the 10-inch second-gen model. As a result, it's not quite small enough to belong on your nightstand, but it could be a good fit in other areas of the home. I like the look of it in my kitchen, for example.

The Lenovo Smart Display 7 has a minimal design as well. Unlike previous Lenovo smart displays which had a speaker on the left, the Smart Display 7's speaker sits below the panel. This design makes it look a little more like a miniature TV set and less like a digital photo frame. All told, it's not quite as inconspicuous as the Echo Show 8 or other Google displays like the Nest Hub.

Of the two, I prefer the look of the Echo Show 8. Its curved corners and display-centric design are much more appealing to me. While the Lenovo Smart Display 7 isn't unattractive, per se, I do think its design a little retro and dated next to the Echo Show 8.

I should note here that both models have similar hardware features such as a camera shutter, a microphone mute toggle and volume controls. Both also have ambient light sensors that adjust the screen brightness according to their surroundings.


With a 1,280 by 800 screen, the Echo Show 8 is one of the better Alexa smart displays out there. It delivers crisp and vibrant images, accurate colors and deep, dark blacks. Videos look fantastic, and the panel even makes my humdrum iPhone photos look surprisingly well lit.

The Lenovo Smart Display 7, on the other hand, doesn't look quite as sharp, with only 1,024 by 600 resolution. On its own, I didn't think it looked that bad. The resolution is actually on par with the Google Nest Hub, which also has a 7-inch screen. In fact, I think it's even a little brighter and a touch more colorful than Google's. Yet, when placed side by side with the Echo Show 8, photos on the Lenovo Smart Display 7 just look dull and pixelated by comparison. It's a shame, because I do prefer Google's photo display algorithms to Amazon's, but I can't deny that the display on the Echo Show 8 is superior.


One of our favorite features on the 10-inch second-gen Echo Show is its audio quality, and thankfully, the Echo Show 8 is more of the same. Thanks to a pair of 2-inch, five-watt neodymium speakers and a passive bass radiator, the sound is simply stellar, with deep, thumping bass, clean highs and impressive volume.

The Lenovo Smart Display 7 has two 1.5-inch five-watt speakers and a passive radiator as well, which also produces good audio. The volume certainly seems much louder than on the Nest Hub as well as previous Lenovo smart displays. But again, when compared side by side to the Echo Show 8, it just doesn't fare as well. The Lenovo Smart Display 7's audio sounds flat next to the Echo Show 8, and the bass is nowhere near as powerful.


Aside from hardware differences, all Amazon smart displays essentially have the same underlying software, and the same goes for Google's. Neither the Echo Show 8 nor the Lenovo Smart Display 7 has anything new to speak of here, as the firmware is about the same as their predecessors.

Still, it's worth recapping what sets them apart. Google smart displays obviously work especially well if you have an existing Google account. Mere moments after setting up the hardware, the display will have access to your calendar and your photo library without much fuss on your part. Thanks to Google's photo algorithm, you can set it up to automatically pull in pictures of friends and family, and the Live Photos feature ensures that any new shots will appear on the display too. There's also YouTube, YouTube TV, step-by-step cooking instructions and all the usual benefits of Google Assistant. As you might expect, Google displays work well with other Google products like Nest thermostats and Nest cams. As far as video calls, though, they're only compatible with Google's Duo service.

Amazon's smart displays, on the other hand, don't offer a native YouTube experience. Instead, video options include Amazon Prime, NBC and Hulu. If you want to watch YouTube, you can do so via one of two built-in browsers: Silk and Firefox. The Echo Shows also have step-by-step cooking instructions from sources like SideChef and AllRecipes, along with an exclusive Food Network app.

You can display your own photos on Echo Show devices as well, but the process isn't exactly intuitive. Plus, rather than showing your photos in the foreground, Amazon's smart display software uses them more like wallpaper, with news headlines and weather forecasts taking center stage. Of course, instead of Google products, the Echo Show plays nice with other Amazon products like the Fire TV Stick and Ring cams. You can use an Echo Show to make video calls with any other Echo Show, plus it works with Skype too.

Purely from a software standpoint, I tend to prefer Google-based offerings. The setup for the Lenovo Smart Display 7 was so easy that I was ready to go in minutes. I love the intuitive interface, Google's smart photos algorithm, and having a native YouTube app is also a nice touch.

Setup on the Echo Show 8, on the other hand, is a bit e of a pain: You have to use the display's touchscreen to enter login details instead of using the app and syncing photos is not quite as easy. (You have to choose between Amazon Photos and Facebook, and neither has the smart photo sorting algorithm that Google does.) I do think Amazon wins out in offering more video options and Skype has a lot more users than Google Duo, but those factors aren't enough to sway me.

I should note, however, that the Lenovo Smart Display 7 lacks some of the camera features you'll find on the Google Nest Hub Max. That includes include face recognition, which allows the device to differentiate between different users, as well as gestures, which lets you play and pause media simply by holding up your palm to the camera. I especially like that you can use the camera in the Nest Hub Max as an additional Nest cam, so you can check in on your house when you're away.


Based purely on hardware, there is no doubt that the Echo Show 8 wins out over the Lenovo Smart Display 7. It looks better, the display is brighter and more colorful, and the audio is superior as well. Yet, when it comes to software, I slightly prefer the Google system. If I had to choose between the two, I'd definitely pick the Echo Show 8. But, if given other options, I would probably opt for another smart display altogether, like the Google Nest Hub Max, which has the same features as the Lenovo Smart Display 7, but a more appealing design, more camera features, and a bigger, sharper screen.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/amazon-echo-show-8-lenovo-smart-display-7-review/

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Apple will take a ‘deeper look’ at disputed borders in Maps

"We review international law as well as relevant US and other domestic laws before making a determination in labeling on our Maps and make changes if required by law," the spokeswoman said.

There's no doubt that Apple had fought the Russian requirement. It spent several months negotiating with Russia in hopes of finding a middle ground where Crimea would be marked as an undefined territory. Nonetheless, its concession has drawn criticism from the Ukraine government and others who believe that no one should recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea regardless of pressure.

As with the decision to pull a Hong Kong protest app, Apple is in a difficult position. While it has typically opposed authoritarian moves like this, it also risks losing access to major markets if it refuses to give in -- and leaving an oppressive country isn't necessarily going to lead to greater freedom. There's no easy choice, and Apple's review of its strategy might be crucial to walking that fine line in the future.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/apple-to-review-disputed-borders-in-maps/

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Facebook labels a post as false to obey Singapore misinformation law

In a statement to Reuters, Facebook didn't outright object to the law but did worry about the potential to abuse this law. "We hope the Singapore government's assurances that it will not impact free expression will lead to a measured and transparent approach to implementation," a spokesman said.

The law has drawn concerns over not just its political implications, but its scope. It applies even to posts made from outside Singapore, and a refusal to comply could lead to as much as a 10-year prison sentence or a S$1 million (about $731,100 US) fine.

Facebook is no stranger to blocking content that violates local laws, but this is the first time it's been ordered to post a correction under such a law. As such, many are watching closely. Will this discourage fake news peddlers, or will it be misused to tarnish critics of the government? The definition of what's false isn't always clear, and laws like this could be easily misused if there's room for different interpretations.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/30/facebook-labels-post-as-false-for-singapore/

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Garmin’s Forerunner 645 (a staff favorite) is 50 percent off at Amazon

As you may have heard, Team Engadget is spending some time this week perusing Black Friday deals. I was sifting through some sales today, and it turns out my favorite running watch received a temporary price cut. In fact, I'm wearing it on my wrist as I type this. At full price ($400) I might not have recommended the Garmin Forerunner 645/645 Music to everyone; I probably would have suggested most people step down to the mid-range 245. But with a price drop today to $200, the higher-end model suddenly becomes much easier to recommend than it was when we first reviewed it.

Like any Garmin (or GPS watch from any brand, for that matter), it'll track your distance, pace and elapsed time. Here, you also get built-in music storage allowing you to stream through wireless headphones, without the need to bring a phone. (Or, in my case, clip on an iPod shuffle that's on its last legs.) There's also a heart rate sensor built in (no need for one of those uncomfortable chest straps) and features that monitor your training in a more long-term sort of way, including V02 Max ratings, workout loads and a so-called performance status. This is a good way to confirm what I often already know: that I'm over- or under-training.

As for battery life, I've completed five-hour-plus marathons with plenty of juice to spare. The design has been durable enough for many a run in the rain. The distance tracking is also more accurate than the last several generations of Apple Watches. (Apple Watches tend to say I ran longer than I did, which means my calculated pace is also faster than what I probably achieved.) The Forerunner has admittedly been slow at times to find a GPS signal before I start my run, though a recent firmware update seems to have improved things.

There are some more smartwatch-like features on board, but that's not why I recommend this. I never use Garmin Pay, the contactless payment system. And the smartphone notifications are crude and unhelpful. If you want a smartwatch experience (not to mention, something that looks a little more stylish that Garmin's rubbery watches), get an Apple Watch Series 5. (Yes, that's on sale today too.)

Buy Garmin Forerunner 645 on Amazon - $200

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/29/garmin-forerunner-645-black-friday-2019/

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Elektron’s Model:Samples groovebox is $100 off for the holidays

Buy Model:Samples on Sweetwater - $299

The Model:Sample has six monophonic tracks for playing back samples of drums, synths, or anything your heart desires. While its limited on-board sample editing features are a bit of a bummer, its rich and complex sequencer makes sure that things never get boring or robotic. Plus, since it's largely one-knob per function, its actually quite useable for live performances. We really liked the Model:Samples when we reviewed it back in March. We made it clear that there were tradeoffs compared to other Elektron gear. But it kept the most important feature -- the sequencer -- and brought the price within reach of more casual hobbyists.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/29/elektrons-model-samples-groovebox-deal-on-sale-holidays/

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Apple Black Friday deals include a $250 iPad and MacBook Pro discounts

The deals are larger still if you're itching for a new MacBook Pro. The 13-inch, 1.4GHz MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage is $1,300 at Amazon, or $200 off. And yes, there are already deals for the 16-inch MacBook Pro. BH is lopping $200 off the price, with the starting model dropping to $2,199.

You're also covered if you prefer Apple's wearables. The 40mm Apple Watch Series 5 is listed at Amazon as starting at $379, or $20 off, but it drops to $355 ($385 for the 44m model) in checkout. It's not certain when that deal ends, so you'll want to move fast. Want AirPods? Target is carrying the AirPods with wireless charging case for $165 ($35 off) through November 30th.

There are more deals to be found, including a Best Buy sale discounting the HomePod to $200. And of course, Apple's own promo offer gift cards ranging from $25 to $200 for many of its devices through the weekend -- though it notably excludes its very latest iPhones, the 16-inch MacBook Pro and Apple Watch Series 5. If you want sales on newer products, you'll have to go elsewhere.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/29/apple-black-friday-2019-deals/

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