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30Nov/200

These $100 bluetooth earbuds are $43 for Cyber Monday

These wireless earbuds, a 2020 CES Innovation Awardee, feature custom-built composite cellulose drivers for superior sound. Meaning, you can easily enjoy your favorite tracks and podcasts with crystal clear audio. You also get an excellent calling experience thanks to its superior transparent voice quality, stemming from its enhanced four-microphone call technology.

This pair of earbuds makes sure you stay connected in the elements and while working out as well. The earbuds boast an IPX7 rating to protect against water and SweatShield technology so that you can use them during the most strenuous of activities.

Lastly, EarFun Air offers up a more convenient audio experience. These earbuds put you in the driver's seat with music, call and voice assistant controls at the tip of your fingers. Equally valuable, the earbuds and the included charging case provide you with up to 35 hours of battery life on the move, perfect for anyone who travels or spends days at a time away from home.

Wireless earbuds have gone mainstream, which is excellent for consumers who want to upgrade from an old wired headset to a new piece of gear that offers more freedom and a higher-quality audio experience. The EarFun Air True Wireless BT 5 Earbuds, typically $99, are on sale for $43 for a limited time.

Prices subject to change.

Engadget is teaming up with StackSocial to bring you deals on the latest headphones, gadgets, tech toys, and tutorials. This post does not constitute editorial endorsement, and we earn a portion of all sales. If you have any questions about the products you see here or previous purchases, please contact StackSocial support here.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/bluetooth-earbuds-cyber-monday-deal-185521298.html

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30Nov/200

Microsoft envisions ‘scoring’ meetings based on body language

You might not have to endure as many unnecessary company meetings in the future. GeekWire has found a Microsoft patent application for an “insight computer system” that would give meetings scores based on body language, facial expressions, the number of attendees and even ambient conditions like the time of day and temperature. If people are clearly distracted by their phones, for example, organizers would know a meeting was wasted even if they couldn’t read the room themselves.

The technology could apply to both virtual and (eventually) in-person meetings, and would use a mix of cameras and sensors for physical gatherings. It would even predict the likelihood of a useful meeting and suggest alternative times, locations and people if a meet-up was likely to flop.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-patent-scores-meetings-using-body-language-191550305.html

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30Nov/200

Modified ‘stealth’ virus could fight advanced cancers

Scientists have long explored using viruses to fight cancer, but that doesn’t work well for metastatic cancers (that is, those that have spread beyond the primary site) when your immune system will quickly neuter perceived threats. There might, however, be a solution. A team of Case Western Reserve and Emory researchers has modified human adenovirus to create a “stealth” weapon against metastatic cancers. Key mutations and protein changes reduce the chances of the immune system deactivating the virus, trapping it in the liver or producing a dangerous inflammatory reaction.

The approach would not only be safer, but would spare doctors from having to deliver viruses directly to tumor sites and could treat more than just the main tumor. It could be reworked for different types of cancer and even include genes and proteins that foster cancer immunity.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/engineered-stealth-virus-fights-metastatic-cancer-200516056.html

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30Nov/200

Volkswagen may release a small EV for as little as $24,000

In the future, Volkswagen may have a pretty affordable electric vehicle offering in its lineup. According to Reuters, the automaker is working on a pure electric car around the size of a Polo under a project that the company calls “Small BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).” The publication says Volkswagen is developing the vehicle for the mass market “in anticipation of tougher climate regulations” and that the car will cost anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 Euros (US$24,000 to $30,000).

That price point would make it more affordable than the ID.3 and the upcoming ID.4 and would make it a direct competitor to one of Tesla’s upcoming models. During its “Battery Day” event in September, Tesla said it’s making changes that would halve the costs of building battery cells for its vehicles. That would allow it to push forward with its plans to build a $25,000 EV within the next three years. Since Reuters only saw Volkswagen’s BEV plans, and the company has yet to confirm it, we’d likely have to wait quite a bit to see it and to find out when it’ll become available.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/volkswagen-battery-electric-vehicle-205040665.html

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30Nov/200

India’s new ride hailing rules cap driver hours and limit surge pricing

Some of the new rules could favor ride hailing services in some cases. They can’t charge more than 1.5 times the base fare with surge pricing, but they can also charge 50 percent to spur more trips. They can also offer carpooling using private cars, although drivers are limited to four intra-city rides per day and two inter-city rides per week.

This might produce a mixed result for drivers. While this could boost trust in the likes of Uber and Ola, Redseer partner Ujjwal Chaudhry warned it could actually hurt take-home income by limiting surge pricing and fees. It might also raise prices and extend wait times, Chaudhry said.

Whatever the outcome, there’s a good chance others will be looking closely. Companies like Uber and Lyft are coming under closer scrutiny for their practices, with California demanding that they treat drivers as employees instead of contractors with fewer protections. Whether they succeed or fail, India’s rules may set the tone for governments that either haven’t set their own guidelines or are looking at reforms.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/india-ridesharing-ride-hailing-rules-211029817.html

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30Nov/200

Hacker sells access to hundreds of corporate executives’ email accounts

Hackers are fond of hijacking email accounts, and one of them may have obtained a motherlode of potential targets. ZDNet and Gizmodo report that a hacker is selling claimed access to “hundreds” of C-suite executives’ Microsoft-based email accounts, including CEOs, vice presidents and directors. The targets include the chief of a mid-sized American software company, the president of a US apparel maker and the CFO of a European retail chain.

The accounts are on the market in a limited-access Russian underground forum and sell for $100 to $1,500 each depending on the value. Threat intelligence firm KELA noted the hacker might have obtained the account logins by buying data from computers infected with a data-stealing AzorUlt trojan.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/hacker-sells-c-suite-executive-email-account-access-215431246.html

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30Nov/200

Toyota’s second-generation Mirai has a 400-mile range

Mirai deputy chief engineer Ryotaro Shimizu said that the company was looking for a more “emotional design” for the new model. Gone are the quirky vertical air inlets on the nose (necessary for the fuel cell to breathe) in favor of a massive forward grille. The car is a couple of inches shorter and wider, and nearly six inches longer than its predecessor. Most of that space has been used for better legroom and comfort, and to make room for a fifth passenger. Depending on specification, it ships with either 19- or 20-inch wheels, making everything look a little more aggressive and sporty compared to the 17-inch wheels on its predecessor.

Inside, the biggest change beyond the fancier, Lexus-esque interior, is that the primary display is no longer housed in the central console. Driving the first Mirai (and the current Prius, for that matter) you needed to look too far down, off the road, to see the GPS display. Now the screen is mounted next to the instrument cluster, and it’s angled to favor the driver, which should make it much easier to use.

There was some free space between the driver and passenger at the leg level in the original Mirai, but in the updated model there’s now practically a dividing wall. It’s filled with bins and a mobile phone charging plate, but this was primarily changed to make room below for the longer, centrally-housed fuel tank. It should, at least, provide plenty of space for the doodads and ephemera that taxi drivers -- a big customer for the Mirai -- like to keep on hand while they’re driving around. 

Toyota also wants to dispel the notion that the new Mirai will handle as, uh, gracefully as its predecessor. Driving fans often berate the Prius for its sluggish handling and feeling of disconnection from the road. The new Mirai has rear-wheel drive, with multi-link suspension, a sportier option compared to the front-wheel-drive first model. In addition, the centrally-mounted hydrogen tanks mean the car has a lower center of gravity, a more rigid body, and, Toyota says, close-to 50:50 weight distribution. Don’t expect it to handle like a race car, but maybe it’ll feel a little less like driving a cruise ship. 

Shimizu added that when you hit the gas pedal, you should feel a “very good kick,” suggesting acceleration has also been improved. Toyota has also added something called an “Active Sound Creator,” a built-in fake engine noise to help the driver understand what’s going on with their car because the Mirai has been designed to be impossibly quiet on its own. 

Making the Mirai roomier would have been difficult unless Toyota could shrink the car’s most cumbersome element; the fuel cell. The 114kW unit from the first car occupied 33 liters of space, dominating the engine bay. Toyota is boasting that the new model takes up nine liters less, at 24 liters, but is 10 percent more efficient, outputting 128kW despite the smaller size. As well as being smaller, it has fewer, uh, cells in its stack: 330, down from 370 before. 

This allowed Toyota to install the bigger hydrogen tank, which runs along the floor of the car. It’s joined by two smaller tanks, one beneath the rear seats, and one under the trunk floor. The overall effect is that the fuel capacity has increased from 4.6kg to 5.6kg and, combined with the new fuel cell, contributes to a 30 percent range increase. 

If you drive sensibly, the new Mirai’s quoted range is around 650km, or 403 miles -- enough to cover the distance between Tokyo and Osaka. Of course, the current pandemic means that journalists can’t yet test out any of these claims in the real world. It may be some time before people can actually drive around in this vehicle.

Toyota sometimes lets its marketing braggadocio get the better of it a few times and this habit is in full view here. The company describes the new Mirai as a “negative emissions” vehicle, because it filters the air as it passes through the fuel cell. The filtration process can remove up to 100 percent of the particulates, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide it comes into contact with. As far as Toyota is concerned, this car cleans the air it drives through, and the on-screen display will even tell you how many adults’ worth of breathing you’ve washed as you drive. 

This is the same sort of skewed logic that the company uses to describe its petrol-electric hybrids as “self-charging.” On one hand, yes,  these cars charge their own batteries, but that’s primarily achieved by burning carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Similarly here, a new Mirai car has burned up carbon in its construction, and until the majority of hydrogen is produced with renewables, it is not yet a carbon-neutral fuel, either. Electric and fuel cell cars are -- overall -- far cleaner than their petrol-powered counterparts, but these easily-debunkable semi-truths do fuel-cell vehicles (or any kind of cleaner car) no favors whatsoever. 

The new Mirai will retail for around 20 percent less than the first edition. The sticker price for the first model was around the $60,000 mark, so you can expect that to fall to around $50,000 now. But you’ll still need to live close enough to a hydrogen station to keep the thing running, and in the US, that’s limited to parts of California and one part of Hawaii. Private collectors who want one to sit in their garage are no good for the company’s mission of raising awareness and demand for hydrogen cars.

Aside from a few high-profile individuals and public bodies, the majority of the 11,000 first-generation Mirais were handed over to fleet operators and taxi companies. This is where hydrogen’s strengths lie: Just as clean as an EV, but with a refuelling time of around five minutes. A number of German taxi companies adopted several Mirais into their fleet specifically to ensure that their new cars wouldn’t be sat in recharging bays for several hours a day.

The first Mirai, and its fuel cells, were hand-built to order in the same small workshop where Lexus’ LFA (its short-lived supercar) was manufactured. Now, Toyota has developed the ability to mass produce both the car and its cells, with fuel cells now taking “seconds” to build, rather than around 15 minutes previously. As a consequence, the company is targeting a ten-times increase in worldwide sales. It wants the Mirai to be as transformational now as the second-generation Prius was through the first decade of this century. 

But the infrastructure to support cars like Mirai has yet to turn up. In the US, there are just 45 hydrogen refuelling stations: 43 in California, and one in Connecticut and Hawaii, respectively. In Germany, there are 87 stations, while the UK has 13, and France has just four. Japan, meanwhile, has around 127 hydrogen stations, but its government has said it needs closer to 900 country-wide. But for most people, even thinking about buying a hydrogen car is an impossibility given the lack of infrastructure.

Japan may be Toyota’s home turf, but the country’s vocal support for hydrogen isn’t just about backing its homegrown champion. The nation has struggled for a while with energy independence and has historically needed to buy in oil from outside sources. In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the country’s energy self-sufficiency rate fell to single digits. The country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has, for a while, pitched a scheme whereby it mass-imports hydrogen produced in Australia, reducing its dependence on Middle East oil. The 2020 Olympics was intended to act as a showcase for hydrogen, with a hydrogen Olympic Flame, hydrogen-powered olympic village and hydrogen fuel cell buses shuttling people to events.

Toyota’s grand plan to replace gasoline with hydrogen has also been usurped by the rise of EVs. The company has essentially ceded the small car market to electric car manufacturers, since you can’t yet make a fuel cell small enough to fit in a city car. And Toyota, despite all of its experience in the field, is still readying its first proper range of “pure” battery EVs. As for hydrogen, Toyota’s focus seems to be on the heavier, longer-range car market, as well as trucks and trains. It’s here, where battery weight and price are less problematic, that hydrogen becomes a viable energy source

“Mirai” in Japanese translates to “future” and there is some hope that hydrogen’s day is, perhaps, coming. In the US, President Elect Joe Biden has pledged to use renewable energy to “produce carbon-free hydrogen at the same cost as that from shale gas” as part of his clean energy jobs plan. The UK recently committed to spending up to £500 million to generate up to 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen for “industry, transport, power and homes.” Japan, meanwhile, has been investing in hydrogen production for the last six years, and expects the cost to fall below the point where it no longer needs public subsidy. 

But none of this is going to come in time to help Toyota sell the 100,000-or-so Mirais it plans to produce in the next few years. For that to happen, there needs to be massive growth in the number of hydrogen stations and facilities to produce it cleanly. Toyota isn’t giving up on hydrogen fuel cells, but it’s not clear when the world will be ready enough for FCEVs like the Mirai.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/toyota-second-generation-mirai-hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric-vehicle-060056654.html

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29Nov/200

Darth Vader actor and legend David Prowse dies at 85

As fellow Star Wars actor Mark Hamill said in a tribute, though, Prowse was much more than a Sith Lord. He was most proud of being the Green Cross Code Man, promoting road safety in the UK. The position earned him an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). He frequently appeared in fantasy and sci-fi productions like Doctor Who, Space: 1999 and Jabberwocky. He even played Frankenstein’s monster three times, including in the original Casino Royale.

Arthritis and other health issues dogged Prowse for much of his life, but he championed multiple health organizations and served as VP of the Physically Handicapped and Able-bodied Association.

Many will also remember him for his support of Star Wars fandom. This author certainly does. I had the privilege of seeing him at Ottawa Comiccon 2013, where he surrounded himself with fans and was happy to answer questions from the crowd. In a sense, that may be his legacy — he cherished enthusiasm and making an impact on others’ lives. He’ll be missed.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/darth-vader-actor-david-prowse-dies-161901321.html

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29Nov/200

After Math: Deals on deals on deals

DoorDash has been ordered to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company used customer tips to cover drivers’ base pay, which is not even remotely how tipping works. In addition, the delivery driver base rate of $1 has now been increased to a whopping $2 - $10, but drivers will be receiving 100 percent of their tips so be sure to tip big and tip often.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular film franchises in movie history with a total worldwide box office revenue of $22.5 billion as of this November. “Marvel’s Avengers” the video game, not so much. Panned by critics and shunned by franchise fans, the game has yet to even recoup its production costs.

In more reassuring gaming news, Google announced last week that some 200 studios are currently dreaming and designing 400 new games for its streaming Stadia service (which, coincidentally, just celebrated its first birthday). The company has added more than 100 games to Stadia over the past year, though there’s no firm word yet on when they’ll be joined by the hundreds in development.

It’s going to be a holly, jolly Christmas for Comcast in 2021. In addition to capping home data allowances at 1.2 TB across all 39 states that it serves — in the middle of a pandemic, no less — it’s also instituting an across-the-board $3 price increase come the new year. Because what are you going to do about it, not have home internet?

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/after-math-deals-on-deals-on-deals-163035721.html

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29Nov/200

Vizio’s rotating Dolby Atmos soundbar is $400 off ahead of Cyber Monday

The 5.1.4-channel system revolves around its namesake vertical audio feature. Unlike some Dolby Atmos soundbars that have speakers permanently pointing upward, the Elevate rotates some speakers whenever Atmos is involved. You won’t lose potential output when you’re listening to conventional surround sound. The wireless eight-inch subwoofer and companion satellites help, too. The Elevate is also a fully connected soundbar with Chromecast, Bluetooth and voice assistant support.

There are some caveats. Reviews suggest Vizio’s bar is bass-heavy — great for explosions and dance music, but not for nuanced movie dialogue. It’s also meant to pair with Vizio’s latest 55- and 65-inch OLED TVs, so your experience might vary with other TVs. If those aren’t hurdles, though, you’re getting a lot of impact for the money.

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by visiting our deals homepage and following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/vizio-elevate-dolby-atmos-soundbar-best-buy-sale-174233197.html

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