Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Netflix previews Arcane season 2 in one-minute teaser trailer

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 11:15

Riot Games has released a brand new teaser trailer for the much-awaited second season of Arcane that's slated to hit Netflix this November. Arcane focuses on the relationship between sisters and rivals, Vi and Jinx, as they find themselves on opposing sides in the conflict between the utopian city of Piltover and the oppressed underground city of Zaun. The new trailer features the human-turned-werewolf Warwick, as well as the mad chemist Singed, who created Shimmer, the drug at the center of the show's story. 

Season two looks to bring more of the same fantasy action that the first run such a hit. This a teaser trailer, otherwise known as a first look, so it's not a huge spoiler bomb or anything. The trailer's heavy on atmosphere but light on details. Watch it below. 

The developer has made a bunch of other announcements and revelations to kick off Season 2024 in League of Legends aside from releasing a new Arcane trailer. One of its announcements is the arrival of Vanguard in League in an effort to combat the growing number of bots in the game, as well as in response to disruptive smurf accounts — new accounts created by experienced players to get into matches against lower-ranked players — in Ranked and to an increase in scripting. 

Vanguard made its debut as Riot's always-on anti-cheat system for Valorant. Its implementation had stirred controversy, because it has a kernel-mode component that gives it access to the core of a player's computer. That said, the fact that the company is bringing to League probably means it's been effective at keeping cheaters out. Riot said Vanguard will allow it to terminate live matches and to refund LP to players when it detects that they'd played against cheaters and bots. 

Riot is also making changes to the game's Ranked system and how it evaluates player skill. The developer says it will reduce matchups between players of vastly different ranks, which would then translate to fewer smurfs that could make games a lot less enjoyable. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/netflix-previews-arcane-season-2-in-one-minute-teaser-trailer-161532592.html?src=rss

Major Winter Storms Are on the Way. Here's What to Stock Up on Now - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 11:03
It's best to prepare for snow, ice and potential power outages now. We've got all the essentials you should have at home.

California King vs. King Mattress: What to Consider for Your Bedroom - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 11:00
Find the right mattress size for you. Here are the differences between a California king and a standard king mattress.

The Apple AirPods Pro fall to a low of $189, plus the rest of the week's best tech deals

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 10:54

The holidays are just about over, but if you're looking to stock up on some new tech for the new year, we've found a handful of deals worth noting. The latest Apple AirPods Pro are back down to an all-time low of $189, for one, while our favorite budget wireless earbuds, the Soundcore Space A40, are within a dollar of their best price at $55. If you're interested in a new fitness tracker, the Fitbit Inspire 3 is at a low of $70, while the more featured Apple Watch SE is $50 off at $199. And if you're just looking to chill, several PC and Nintendo Switch games we like are also on sale. Here are the best deals from this week that you can still get today. 

The USB-C version of Apple's AirPods Pro is back down to $189 at Amazon and Walmart, which matches the lowest price we've tracked. Apple itself sells the noise-canceling earphones for $249, though the pair has regularly sold between $190 and $240 at third-party retailers in recent months.

Either way, the AirPods Pro is the "best for iOS" pick in our guide to the best wireless earbuds. They continue to offer a number of helpful features for users of other Apple devices, including faster pairing, hands-free Siri, Find My tracking and spatial audio support. A pleasingly warm sound, a superb transparency mode and effective active noise cancellation (ANC) also help, though battery life and call quality are still just OK. We gave the Lightning-based Pros a review score of 88. If you already own that older model and just want the USB-C case, note that you can buy the latter separately. 

The Fitbit Inspire 3 is on sale for $70 at multiple retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Target. That ties the lowest price we've seen. The offer applies to multiple color band options, though a couple of those may come with shipping delays. Fitbit normally sells the fitness tracker for $100, but we've seen it drop to $80 at various points over the past year. 

We call the Inspire 3 the best budget option in our fitness tracker buying guide. It accurately monitors step count, heart rate, sleep and other essential metrics in a slim, lightweight and water-resistant design. Its color OLED display is simple to navigate, and its battery can last up to 10 days per charge. It can only access GPS via your phone, however, so more dedicated runners and cyclists may want to look elsewhere. It lacks contactless payment support, too. Other Fitbit trackers are also on sale.

The 40mm Apple Watch SE is down to $199 at Amazon, Walmart and other retailers. While that's $20 more than the best price we've tracked, it's still $20 less than the smartwatch's typical street price and $50 less than Apple's MSRP. We note the Watch SE in our guide to the best smartwatches as a good pick for first-time buyers or those on a budget. It offers most of the same core features as the flagship Apple Watch Series 9: notifications, heart-rate monitoring, accurate fitness tracking, fall and crash detection, emergency SOS and so on. It has a smaller display with larger bezels, but the overall design looks similar, plus it's water-resistant. 

The big trade-off is that the display isn't always-on, so you have to raise your wrist or tap the screen to activate it. It also lacks more advanced health features like a skin temperature sensor, ECG monitor and blood oxygen sensor. Still, if you're new to smartwatches and own an iPhone, this is a good value. We gave Watch SE a review score of 89 in September 2022.

Anker's Soundcore Space A40 is the top pick in our guide to the best budget wireless earbuds, as it offers many of the features we'd expect from earphones that cost twice as much. Newegg has the pair on sale for $55 with the checkout code NNDNA88, which is $24 off its usual going rate and only a dollar more than the lowest price we've tracked. The Space A40's ANC performance belies its low price, while its compact frame is comfortable to wear for hours at a time. It can connect to two devices at once, and its battery life is solid at eight to 10 hours per charge. It also supports wireless charging. The warm sound profile isn't as detailed as more expensive pairs, but it's pleasant enough, and you can customize the EQ curve through the Soundcore app. Call quality isn't all that great, however, and your music won't auto-pause when you remove an earbud.

You can grab a four-pack of Apple's AirTags for $79 at Amazon, which is a deal we've seen for much of the past month or so but still costs $20 less than buying from Apple directly. Make sure to clip the on-page coupon to see the full discount. The AirTag is the top pick for iPhone owners in our Bluetooth tracker buying guide, as it taps into Apple's giant Find My device network and its own ultra-wideband wireless tech to locate misplaced items accurately. It's also waterproof, and its battery is easily replaceable. It doesn't come with any holes or adhesives, however, so you may need to buy a separate accessory if you want to attach it to a keychain.

If you want a set of Bluetooth trackers but own an Android phone, a four-pack of Tile Mates is down to $38 at Walmart. That's only about a dollar more than the lowest historical price we could find. For reference, we normally see a single Tile Mate go for around $20. Tile's trackers aren't quite as precise as AirTags, but they have the second-largest crowd-finding network after Apple, and the Mate's built-in keyring hole makes it easy to slap on a keychain. That said, you can't replace the battery, and you'll need to pay a subscription fee for separation alerts (which let you know when you've left a tracked item behind). The Mate itself isn't a top pick in our buying guide, but at less than $10 per tracker, this is a solid value.

The 10th-gen iPad is on sale for $349 at Amazon, Target and Best Buy, which ties the lowest price we've tracked and takes $50 off the 10.9-inch tablet's usual going rate. This slate sits in a middle ground between the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad and the iPad Air. It's not as cheap as the former, but it has a more modern design with a larger display, thinner bezels, a faster chip and a USB-C port. Unlike either device, its front-facing camera is situated on the long edge of the device, which is generally more convenient for FaceTime calls. That said, this tablet's display and chipset are both steps down from what you get with the iPad Air, and its accessory support is more limited. It only has 64GB of storage as well. But if you need an Apple tablet today and can't pay for the Air, it's an easier buy at this price. We gave the 10th-gen iPad a review score of 85 in late 2022.

You should only grab this deal if you need a tablet right away, however. According to reliable Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, Apple plans to refresh its entire iPad lineup throughout 2024, with the first updates potentially arriving in March. We may not see a follow-up to this iPad until later, but if you can afford to wait, that may be the safest choice. 

The 128GB version of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 is on sale for $700 at Amazon and Best Buy, which is the lowest price we've seen outside of special trade-in and education offers. Normally, it retails closer to $750. 

The Galaxy Tab S9 series is collectively the top Android recommendation in our tablet buying guide. This is the entry-level model, but it shares most of the same perks as the larger (and more expensive) Galaxy Tab S9+ and Tab S9 Ultra. Its 11-inch 120Hz OLED display is fast and vibrant, its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip delivers superb performance and it comes with Samsung's reliable S Pen stylus. The sturdy design also has an IP68 water-resistance rating, so you can safely take it in the tub or pool. Android still isn't as optimized for large screens as Apple's iPadOS, but Samsung's OneUI software makes multitasking at least a little more manageable. All of this is still more tablet than most people need, but if you want an Android alternative to the 11-inch iPad Pro, it's likely your best bet.

We highlighted the Epic Games Store's Holiday Sale when it kicked off last month, but since this is the last deals roundup we'll publish before the sale ends on January 10, consider this a last-call PSA. A number of worthwhile PC games are still down to the lowest prices we've seen with a recurring 33 percent coupon. The survival horror game Alan Wake 2 is down to $27, for one, and now comes bundled with a voucher for Alan Wake Remastered. The rhythm-action game Hi-Fi Rush is available for $15, while the wholesome open-world game Tchia is available for $13. Other newish hits like the Dead Space remake, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Remnant II are also notably discounted. Many of those titles made our annual Games of the Year roundup last week. Meanwhile, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, a staff favorite from 2021, is now free to claim until January 11.

Beyond the PC, we're also seeing a few lows on digital games we like for the Nintendo Switch. Two picks from our guide to the best couch co-op games, the silly stealth game Untitled Goose Game and the heartfelt adventure game Chicory: A Colorful Tale, are each down to $9 at Walmart. So is the chill puzzler Unpacking, which we highlight in our guide to the best relaxing games. Another couch co-op pick, the tender management sim Spiritfarer, is back down to $7.49 on the Nintendo eShop. 

Other highlights include the sharply written adventure Kentucky Route Zero for $12 and the RPG Divinity: Original Sin — the previous game from Baldur's Gate 3 developer Larian Studios — for $25. The acclaimed 2D platformer Celeste is also worth a look at $6, though that's not quite an all-time low.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-apple-airpods-pro-fall-to-a-low-of-189-plus-the-rest-of-the-weeks-best-tech-deals-155430093.html?src=rss

Save $250 Off This Eufy Clean X9 Pro Robot Vacuum That Also Mops - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 10:39
Put your feet up and let your new robot vacuum do all the work.

Best Internet Providers in Summerville, South Carolina - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 10:20
Multiple cable internet providers cover the city, but check out fiber internet from AT&T first. Here are CNET's picks for Summerville's best broadband.

Today's Best Savings Rates, Jan. 5, 2024: The Highest Savings Rates are Over 5% Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 10:00
You can still earn up to 5.35% with one of these top high-yield savings accounts.

Today's Best Savings Rates, Jan. 5, 2024: The Highest Savings Rates are Over 5% Right Now - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 10:00
You can still earn up to 5.35% with one of these top high-yield savings accounts.

HexClad Skillet Review: Can one Pan Sear Like Stainless Steel and Release Like Nonstick? - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 09:47
The Hexclad cookware line promises all the strength and searing prowess of stainless steel with the ease of nonstick. We tested it to see if it's worth the high cost.

Today's Best CD Rates, Jan. 5, 2024: APYs Up to 5.55% Won’t Last Forever - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 09:30
Opening a CD now will protect your earnings from further rate drops.

Samsung will certify controllers optimized for game streaming on its smart TVs

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 09:00

Samsung is looking to boost the game-streaming ecosystem around its smart TVs with a certification program. Ahead of CES 2024 in Las Vegas, the company today unveiled Designed for Samsung Gaming Hub, which gives third-party accessory makers an official designation that their gear works with the platform. The program’s first licensed gamepad, from PDP, is available for pre-order.

Hardware partners who work with Samsung through the program will add a “Designed for Samsung Gaming Hub” badge to their products. Although Samsung Gaming Hub works with most standard Bluetooth gamepads, the company says the designation means the controller will provide the “best possible game streaming experience on Samsung Gaming Hub, regardless of the supported Samsung device players choose.” Samsung describes the label as signifying “compatibility, quality, performance, safety and security” on its devices.

However, if you already own a Bluetooth gamepad that works with Samsung Gaming Hub — and you don’t care about dedicated shortcut buttons — you should be fine sticking with that.

Samsung Gaming Hub includes a solid list of game streaming services, including Xbox Game Pass, GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, Boosteroid, Blacknut, Utomik and Antstream Arcade. (The dearly departed Google Stadia was once on that list.) In addition, it can stream content from Spotify, Twitch and YouTube.

The first hardware partner product with certification is the PDP Replay Wireless Controller. It offers up to 40 hours of battery life with a low-latency Bluetooth connection for up to 30 feet away. It has a dedicated button to launch the Samsung Gaming Hub, as well as TV power and volume buttons.

The PDP Replay is available for pre-order today at PDP’s website, and Samsung says Amazon and Best Buy will sell it later.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsung-will-certify-controllers-optimized-for-game-streaming-on-its-smart-tvs-140031028.html?src=rss

Best Internet Providers in Waco, Texas - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 09:00
Who's the best provider in the birthplace of Dr. Pepper? Though Spectrum stands above the rest, many options are available for Waco residents.

15-Year Mortgage Refinance Rates for January 2024 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 09:00
Refinancing to a 15-year fixed refinance could help you pay your loan off faster and save money on interest.

Engadget Podcast: Gearing up for CES 2024

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 08:30

It’s the week before CES officially kicks off in Las Vegas, but our fingers are already tired from typing up a ton of early news. In this episode, Cherlynn and Devindra discuss the big topics they expect to see at CES 2024 (AI PCs will be huge, we swear!), as well as some of the stories that have already landed, like Dell’s revamped XPS line. Also, we explore some of 2023’s biggest winners and losers (just take a guess where Twitter ends up), and we chat about Apple Fitness+ highlighting Super Bowl halftime performers. And for a bit of fun conjecture, we explore the possibility of Apple purchasing Peloton to bolster its health ambitions.

Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcast, Engadget News!

Topics
  • AI PCs, fun robots and weird healthtech: What we’re looking forward to at CES 2024 – 1:07

  • Samsung announces Odyssey 240hz OLED gaming monitors ahead of CES – 22:18

  • Dell unveils new line of XPS laptops – 23:23

  • GE’s indoor smoker brings (smokeless) BBQ inside – 27:08

  • Engadget’s Best and Worst of 2023 lists – 33:42

  • Samsung’s first Unpacked of 2024 scheduled for January 17 – 50:29

  • 13-year-old becomes the first (recorded) person to reach the NES Tetris kill screen – 52:37

  • Pop culture picks – 57:26

Subscribe!

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/engadget-podcast-ces-2024-preview-133046050.html?src=rss

How to Eat Your Way to More Collagen - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 08:00
Collagen makes for supple skin and healthy joints, but our bodies produce less of it as we age. Here's what to know and what foods may boost it.

Apple Watch Patent Dispute Isn't Over Yet -- What Happens Next? video - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 08:00
Apple continues fighting to keep the latest Apple Watches on sale as we wait to see what happens next in appeals court.

The best smart light bulbs for 2024

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 07:50

Smart light bulbs are one of the easiest entry points into the smart home world. They’re pretty cheap, with most coming in a $10 to $50 per bulb, they’re easy to setup and they can completely change the feel of your home. You can go from boring and analogue to colorful and automated within minutes, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to using smart light bulbs to create funky-colored light scenes, setting schedules and more.

But like with the rest of the smart home space, there are more smart light bulbs available now than ever before. We’ve tested out dozens of smart lights over the years and have found that most of them are quite good, but there are differences in compatibility, color quality and mobile app usability that are worth calling out. Not only will this guide lay out our top picks, but it will also help yo understand the factors you should consider before picking the best smart light bulb for you.

What to look for in smart light bulbs Connectivity (To hub or not to hub)

One of the biggest appeals of smart lights is being able to control them from your phone. Most of them are able to do so by connecting to it via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or via an external hub, which handles the connection for them. Bluetooth connectivity limits the range in which you’ll be able to control the light, so it’s only best for a limited number of bulbs and ones you don’t expect to control when you’re away.

Wi-Fi smart lights are easy to set up and can be cheaper overall since they don’t require a hub to connect them. However, having something like a central Zigbee hub can make your whole system more reliable since its connection is separate from your home’s Wi-Fi network. For that reason, hub-based bulbs tend to be more expandable, so we mainly recommend those if you want to eventually have dozens of smart lights around your home.

White or color?

Most smart bulbs you’ll find today are “white and color” bulbs, meaning they can glow in vibrant blues, pinks, greens and everything in between, as well as shine with different temperatures of white. But there are some white-only bulbs out there, and they are often a bit more affordable than their color counterparts. While we recommend springing for the white-and-color devices, if you’d prefer white only, make sure you’re getting a bulb that can span the color temperature spectrum (typically from about 2000 to 5000 Kelvin), offering you various levels of warm and cool white light.

App features

One of the perks of smart lights is the amount of control you have over them thanks to their various app-connected capabilities. Most companion apps let you do things like set lighting schedules and timers, group individual lights into room designations and create your own custom light “scenes” with different colors. But we have seen other features that aren’t as ubiquitous like vacation mode for automatically turning lights on and off to enhance your home security, and sync with media, which changes the colors of lights depending on the music you’re listening to or the game you’re currently live-streaming.

Smart home compatibility

If you use a smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant regularly, make sure the smart lights you get work with your favorite. All of the bulbs we tested supported both Amazon’s and Google’s virtual assistants, allowing you to use voice commands to turn lights on and off, dim them and more. The wildcard here is Siri and Apple’s HomeKit; while numerous smart bulbs have added HomeKit support, not all lights are compatible with Apple’s smart home system.

Expandability

We alluded to this above, but you’ll want to consider how many smart lights you eventually want in your home. Some brands and lighting systems are easier to expand than others, and we generally recommend going for hub-based bulbs if you plan on putting smart lights in every room in your home. If you’re only looking to deck out your home office or living room with some fancy lights, Wi-Fi options should serve you well. Thankfully, these are some of the most affordable smart home devices you can get, so even if you don’t have a clear answer to this question now, you can reconsider your options down the line if you do decide to outfit your home with multiple smart bulbs.

If you’ve done any research into smart lights, you’ve probably come across Philips Hue bulbs. The range is popular for a variety of reasons, and we agree they’re the best smart light bulbs you can get thanks to their wide compatibility, easy to use mobile app and their expandability. Particularly, if you know you want to outfit more than one room in your home with these IoT devices, Philips Hue is the way to go.

The first thing that’s important to know about Hue bulbs is that they are now Bluetooth enabled. That means you can buy a few to try out first, then easily expand your system with a hub when you want to add more lights to your home. Previously, the hub was required for any and all lights, but now it’s much easier to dip your toe into the range before fully taking the plunge.

Like all of the other smart lights we tested, you only need to screw in a Philips Hue bulb, turn on your light, and follow the instructions in the mobile app to start using it. Even if you only have the lights in one room to start, we still recommend grouping them into their own “room” in the Hue app so you can easily control the entire space’s environment at once.

Hue’s White + Color bulbs provide a range of warm to cool whites and millions of colors to experiment with in your smart home. Colors are rich and vibrant, and Philips’ pre-programmed scenes, such as Energize, Bright and Relax, let you quickly emulate your old “dumb” lights with different warmth levels of white light. You can pick from a number of color scenes in the app, too, but it’s also easy to create your own color temperature. So if you’ve always wanted to flood your office with a rainbow of vibrant colors while you’re live-streaming on Twitch, you can find the precise presets you want, save them and then turn them on with just a few taps in the app.

The Hue app is pretty easy to use, and the bulbs support voice commands from Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. That means you don’t even have to open the app to control your lights; you can simply use voice control and say “Alexa, turn off the bedroom lights” and only the lights in that designated room will extinguish. You’ll be able to add up to 10 bulbs to your system using Bluetooth alone – at which point you’ll have to add a Philips Hue hub into the mix to support up to 50 lights. The hub also enables things like HomeKit connectivity, light schedules and automations, home and away modes and syncing with movies and music.

Arguably the most useful of those features is automations, which lets you set on/off schedules for your lights, including automatically turning the lights off when you leave the house. It’s understandable why Philips would make these few features exclusive to those with Hue hubs – adding a hub into the mix makes the system more reliable, allowing you to do more with increasing numbers of connected lights, plus it will encourage many to invest in a hub and more Hue bulbs over time. We like Hue’s hub not only for its reliability, but also because it allows finer and more flexible control over your devices. So if you’re on vacation and want to turn on your living room lights to see what’s going on, you can do that.

Expandability goes beyond the number of lights you have in your smart home: It also includes multiple smart bulbs you can install outside, too. The Hue range has a ton of indoor and outdoor light bulbs to choose from, including recessed lights, outdoor pedestal and flood lights, light strips and more. It’s one of the few ranges available today that gives you a ton of options to make every bulb in and out of your home smart, which is important to consider if you know you want to go all in on the smart light front.

But that brings us to the biggest downside of Philips Hue, which is the price. Hue bulbs are on the expensive side, with a two-pack of White + Color Ambiance bulbs costing $80. If you’re looking for cheap bulbs to test out smart lighting, some of our other top picks below, like the Kasa smart light bulb, will be better choices since most of them have lower prices per bulb. However, if smart lighting is something you want to invest in going forward, we recommend going with one of Philips’ Hue starter kits: the White + Color Ambiance starter kit, including three bulbs, a hub and a smart button, comes in at $180, which is cheaper than if you were to buy all of those components separately.

Overall, LIFX’s color smart lights are similar to Hue’s White + Ambiance bulbs in that they’re easy to set up, they offer striking, saturated colors and work with three major platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. But the main difference is the LIFX bulbs are Wi-Fi only, so you can’t connect them to a hub even if you wanted to, and some are slightly more expensive than Hue devices. The Color A19 bulb, which supports 1100 lumens, normally costs $50, but there’s an 800-lumen equivalent that’s a bit cheaper, coming in at $35 per bulb.

LIFX’s mobile app is also undoubtedly the slickest we tested. While that may not mean much to you, it’s worth mentioning because mobile apps are the way most people interact with their smart lights on a daily basis. The homepage features all of the room groups in your household, along with the names of the lights in each room. You can easily turn a whole room, or a specific light, on with just a tap, and do the same for all of the lights in your smart home.

LIFX lights support scheduling, so you can program lights to work for you so you rarely (if ever) have to control them manually, plus there are a plethora of scenes and effects to choose from. While all of the color lights we tried had pre-made scenes or presets ready to go in the app, Philips Hue and LIFX clearly had the most out of them all. Personally, I found LIFX’s scenes and additional effects to be a bit more fun and engaging than Hue’s. You can pick from scenes like “spooky” or “pastel” and use effects like “strobe” if you want to make your living room feel a bit more like a nightclub. While most people probably won’t use these niche scenes and effects on a regular basis, they’re great perks to have when you’re entertaining or just want to set the right vibe for your next movie night or game-streaming session.

LIFX has a number of products in its ecosystem, from standard A19 bulbs to lightstrips to candles. It has switches, too, so you can physically control your smart lights if you wish. But Philips Hue has all of those options too and more, including not just switches, but standalone floor lamps, outdoor spotlights, downlights, light bars and motion sensors. You’ll have more options with Hue if you want to convert all of your home’s lights to smart ones, and have multiple ways to control them, too.

TP-Link’s Kasa brand is known for its solid yet affordable smart home devices and its smart lights are no different. We tested out the Wi-Fi-only multicolor smart light bulbs and found them easy to install and use, and they provide a bunch of features at an affordable price; a four-pack of multicolor bulbs will only set you back $40.

Besides having a simple installation process, Kasa’s multicolor smart lights stayed reliably connected the whole time we tested them and the companion mobile app is simple and clean. All of the main functions for each light live in that bulb’s dedicated page in the app, allowing you to change brightness, white levels, color, schedules and more without navigating through a bunch of different menus. Changing colors is nearly instantaneous, and the light changes as you drag your finger across the color wheel in the app. Editing the four presets you’re able to save takes only a few taps, as does grouping multiple bulbs into rooms and creating lighting schedules. For the latter, if you do set on/off schedules, the app will show you the next step in that schedule (i.e., off at 8:35pm) next to each individual light.

There’s also a handy “usage” section in each light’s page that shows you the bulb’s energy use over time, plus an estimate of how much energy you’re saving by using a smart light instead of a regular one. This is something that would be fun to observe over many weeks and months of using these bulbs, especially if conserving energy is one of the main reasons you invested in smart lights in the first place.

TP-Link claims you can connect “unlimited” smart devices to its mobile app, which technically means you can have as many Kasa smart lights in your home as you’d like. We only tested a few together, so we can’t say for sure how dozens of connected devices would affect app speed and light response time. These are Wi-Fi-only bulbs, which means connecting them to a Zigbee hub isn’t an option, so keep that in mind before deciding to invest in a house-full of these gadgets. It’s also worth noting that these lights aren’t compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, although you can control them using Alexa and Google Assistant commands.

Maybe you don’t want to bother with colored lights. If that’s the case, LIFX’s White E26 is your best bet. You get all of the non-color features in the mobile app that we explained above, including schedules and virtual assistant controls, but in a more basic LED light bulb that only costs $10.

My biggest gripe is that it doesn’t span the cool-to-warm temperature range that other white bulbs do. Rather, you’re stuck with just one shade of white: 2700K, which is on the warmer side. This makes the LIFX bulb better for intimate settings like a bedroom or a living room, but since it’s not overly warm, it could work in a home office, too. It’s also dimmable, so you can control its brightness.

If you have a specific use case in mind for your smart lights that doesn’t involve a rainbow of colors, then a LIFX bulb will more than suffice. They would work well in a child’s room, for instance, allowing you to set wake-up and sleep schedules that gradually turn on and off the lights, or in a home office where you just want a bit more control over your lights without extra frills.

Sengled’s Smart Light Bulbs deserve a shout because they’re essentially more affordable versions of the best bulbs mentioned here, just with a few compromises. Key among those is that their colors are less nuanced than most others we tested and the mobile app is less polished.

That said, you’re still getting millions of colors out of Sengled’s smart lights and the app is easy to use. It also provides all of the features you’d want from a smart light bulb, including grouping, schedules and automations. The fact that the Sengled mobile app isn’t as slick as Hue’s or LIFX’s may actually work in its favor with newbies – the basic controls and labels will be very easy for smart home novices to understand.

The bulbs we tested were Wi-Fi-based, so they do not require a hub. However, Sengled has a bunch of other smart lights that work via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or hub connectivity. A pack of four Wi-Fi color bulbs will set you back $30, while a set of six Zigbee hub-based lights costs only $100. Overall, Sengled’s devices are much more affordable than Hue’s, making them a good budget option regardless of whether you want to stick to Wi-Fi or invest in a smart home hub like Sengled’s own or a smart device like Amazon’s Echo with a built-in hub.

Philips’ Signe table lamp is a slick way to add a wash of color into your living room, or a more controllable light source on your desk. The nearly two-foot tall lamp can be customized with up to three colors of light at once, plus it supports a full array of cool and warm hues as well. Shine it towards a wall to set the mood with colored lights during your game night, or use it to give yourself sufficient lighting during your next Zoom meeting – you can make it as fun or as practical as you need. It also supports effects like “candle” and “fireplace,” both of which produce moving light that emulates flickering flames. We also appreciate that the Signe lamp is a totally standalone device, like most of Philips’ new Hue bulbs: you don’t need a Hue bridge to use it. But if you have one, you’ll be able to do things like control the lamp when you’re away from home.

The Signe lamp is a splurge, though, coming in at over $200. It’s certainly worth it if you need just one powerful light source, but a more affordable alternative would be the Philips Hue Go portable table lamp. It too supports millions of colors and a full spectrum of warm and cool light, but it runs on a rechargeable battery and can be used wirelessly. Depending on the setting you choose, you’ll get up to 18 hours of continuous use, making it a good option if you want a controllable light that can go anywhere you need it without fuss.

Light strips can bring illumination to hard-to-reach places, or give a whole new vibe to your living room or office. The latest light strip from Govee, the M1 RGBIC model, gets super bright and supports a wide range of colors. It’s Wi-Fi-connected but requires no central hub, so even if you have other smart lights throughout your home, this one will fit in easily. One strip measures nearly 16.5 feet long and it’s divided into 15 segments that you can control individually from within the Govee app.

We’ll get into the app features, but it’s worth noting where the M1 sits in the smart light strip space. There are various different lengths out there and you can even find some two-packs that will cover up to 100 feet. The 16.4-foot length is pretty common in single packs, although you can find some that run up to 33 feet long. You can expect to pay $25 to $50 for a basic, multi-color, 16.4-foot light strip and the price will go up from there depending on how many segments the strip has, the color range it supports, if it’s Wi-Fi-connected and other additional features. Govee’s M1 Light Strip is on the higher end of the spectrum, coming in at $110 for 16.4 feet of light, but it still costs less than arguably its biggest competitor: Philips’ Hue Light Strips, which come in at $80 per 6-foot strip.

I was impressed by not only the color spectrum the M1 Light Strip supports, but also how bright it is. This strip gets almost blinding, and I usually had it operating at just 75 percent of its full brightness. While you can’t control each individual light on the strip, you can customize all 15 segments in the Govee app.

The sheer number of options and effects Govee provides is remarkable: the “effects lab” gives you pre-made basic colors, scenes that mimic sunrises, starry nights, different kinds of movies like thrillers and dramas, gaming genres and more. On top of that, you can make your own custom scenes (and choose to share them with others in Govee’s Explore page) as well as your favorite colors and hues that you can save for frequent use. The strip’s color is saturated and vibrant – combine that with the overall brightness and it was easily able to give my office an attractive, ambient glow when positioned around the periphery of my couch.

Aside from the higher price tag, my only other complaint about the M1 light strip is actually Govee’s mobile app. It’s a bit chaotic and takes some getting used to, so it might not be the best choice for anyone that wants something basic. However, I was able to get the hang of all the controls, and then some, after about a half hour. And you can always default to using Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands to control your light strip if you prefer, or you can set automations in the app that can take care of all your most used controls.

Other smart bulbs we’ve tested Nanoleaf Smarter Kit

While we’ve recommended Nanoleaf’s Smarter Kits in guides in the past, they’re a bit more niche than other smart lights on this list. They’re best for adding flare to your living room or game-streaming setup as they come in different shapes like hexagons and triangles and can sync with music. In addition to different colors, light animations and schedules, Nanoleaf’s Smart Kits also support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands.

Smart light bulb FAQs What’s the best smart light bulb for Alexa?

There is no best smart light bulb for Alexa. Amazon doesn’t make its own smart bulbs (like it does for smart plugs and thermostats), but rather there are dozens of smart lights made by third-parties that work with Alexa — including all of the ones we tested. Before picking the best smart light bulb for you, make sure to check the voice assistants that the contenders support. You’ll find that most smart light bulbs available today work with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant, and plenty of them also have support for Apple’s Siri and HomeKit.

Can you put a smart bulb in any lamp?

Smart light bulbs can go into most modern light fixtures — but just like regular bulbs, they need to be the right shape/size for the fixture. A standard A19 smart light bulb should work properly in most table, floor and other lamps. If you have a fixture that takes a specific type of bulb, look for smart bulbs that will fit properly.

Do smart light bulbs use electricity when off?

Smart light bulbs do use a negligible amount of electricity when their fixtures are turned off. This is due to the fact that the smart bulb needs to stay in constant contact with your home’s internet connection or Bluetooth in order to work properly. However, their energy-saving benefits usually outweigh the small amount of power they consume even while turned off.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-smart-led-light-bulbs-143022856.html?src=rss

This Cordless Stick Vacuum Is Available for $54 for a Limited Time - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2024-01-05 07:30
Save a whopping $106 on the Vactidy Blitz V8 with this coupon code.

The Morning After: Dell updates its XPS laptops ahead of CES 2024

Engadget - Fri, 2024-01-05 07:15

Last year’s Dell XPS 13 Plus looked slightly different to the XPS laptops preceding it. But the company seemed to like it, because it’s now retooled the rest of the XPS lineup to match. Yes, CES 2024 hasn’t even had its press days yet, let alone started in earnest, but Dell is busy.

The new XPS 13, 14 and 16 laptops all sport the XPS 13 Plus’ glass wrist rest, which hides an invisible haptic touchpad. They also pack touch-sensitive function buttons above the keyboard and larger keycaps for your typing ease. These laptop keyboards are also among the first to get that spicey new Copilot key. Swoon.

This new XPS lineup will be available soon, with the XPS 13 starting at $1,300, the XPS 14 at $1,700 and the XPS 16 at $1,900. Read our first impressions here.

— Mat Smith

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-dell-updates-its-xps-laptops-121516778.html?src=rss

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