Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Washington Solar Panel Incentives: Net Metering, Tax Breaks and More - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2024-01-04 08:00
The not-so-sunny state does help make solar panels (and other home energy upgrades) more affordable for its residents.

Verizon 5G Home Internet: Can You Trust It to Power Your Home's Broadband? - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2024-01-04 08:00
Fast speeds, unlimited data and no yearly contract make this cellular home internet service a decent option for those with eligible addresses.

Practical Magic: VR and AR Are the Next Big Thing… Again - CNET

CNET News - Thu, 2024-01-04 08:00
In 2024, what was once called the metaverse will now be searching for function. Bigger players like Apple, Samsung and Google could make that happen faster.

Ford is raising the price of its entry-level F-150 Lightning by $5,000

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 07:35

Ford's F-150 Lightning electric pickup was one of the few models to retain the full $7,500 US tax credit for 2024, but a lot of that advantage is about to be negated. The price of 2024 models is set to rise from $49,995 to $54,995 (excluding delivery charges and incentives), while the next model up, the XLT, is going up massively by $10,000 to $64,995, according to a report from The Detroit Free Press seen by The Verge. The 2023 models will retain the same pricing. 

Buyers eyeing premium versions of the F-150 Lightning are in luck, however. The Platinum model with a 300 mile EPA estimated range is dropping from $91,995 to $84,995, while the price for the Platinum Black (pictured above) is falling $5,000 to $92,995. A complete list of the changes is pictured below (excludes destination charge):

  • Pro (240 mile EPA-estimated range): $5,000 increase from $49,995 to $54,995

  • XLT 311 A (240 mile EPA-estimated range): $10,000 increase from $54,995 to $64,995

  • Flash (320 mile EPA-estimated range): New "tech-forward" model with 300 miles of range for $73,495

  • Lariat (320 mile EPA-estimated range): $2,000 increase from $77,495 to $79,495

  • Platinum (300 mile EPA-estimated range): $7,000 price reduction from $91,995 to $84,995

  • Platinum Black (300 mile EPA-estimated range): $5,000 price reduction from $97,995 to $92,995

Ford is raising the price of its entry-level F-150 Lightning by $5,000Ford

Ford added a new model call the F-150 Lightning Flash to the lineup (above), which includes "in-demand tech capabilities" like an extended-range battery with 320-miles of EPA-estimated range, BlueCruise hands-free highway driving and a standard 15.5-inch touchscreen." However, the automaker completely dropped two models from the lineup, namely the 240-mile range Lariat and 320-mile range XLT 312. The 2024 models aren't yet available on Ford's website.

Ford CEO Jim Farley recently said that the company must cut down on the number of Lightning models to improve quality. At the same time, the changes are designed to improve "sales growth, profitability and customer access to the IRA tax benefits," a spokesperson told CNBC News. "The F-150 Lightning is America’s best-selling electric pickup after a record fourth quarter, and demand continues to grow." 

While Tesla sold a record number of EVs in 2023, sales of Ford's electric offerings have been relatively weak, representing a $3.1 billion loss for the company last year. Ford was one of the few automakers that managed to retain the full $7,500 tax credit for the F-150 Lightning, though, along with Tesla (across most of its range) and Chevrolet's Bolt EUV and EV. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Morning After: Someone finally ‘beat’ NES Tetris

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 07:15

Tetris always endures. The blocks keep coming and the game itself gets reinterpreted, twisted and remade for new generations. Now, a 13-year-old boy has become the first person to ‘beat’ the NES version of Tetris, 34 years after it was first released.

Yes, ‘beat’ goes in quotes because there’s no way to complete the game. Instead, he played such a flawless game that he forced a kill screen, from an overflow error. While he’s the first person to do this, but not the first time it’s been achieved: An AI program called StackRabbit forced a kill screen with the NES Tetris back in 2021.

But hey, we got there eventually.

– Mat Smith

​​You can get these reports delivered daily direct to your inbox. Subscribe right here!​​

The biggest stories you might have missed

Roku's 'high-end' Pro Series TVs feature Mini LED screens

The best fitness trackers for 2024

JLab's first premium ANC headphones will cost just $80

Microsoft Copilot keyboard keys are coming Coming soon to a Windows 11 PC near you. TMAMicrosoft

Microsoft calls this "the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades" in a blog post ahead of CES 2024 in Las Vegas. The Copilot key immediately summons Microsoft's AI companion to do your bidding, and while yes it is just a key, it signifies how serious the company is taking its AI moves. The last time it tweaked the keyboard in a major way might have been the Windows key, following the introduction of the Start menu.

Continue reading.

LG’s 2024 OLED TVs can hit 144Hz refresh rates The big CES TV spec fight begins.

LG revealed its new lineup of OLED TVs, just days before CES 2024 starts. Its Signature OLED M4 and OLED G4 TVs will have an updated AI processor that offers four times the performance of last year’s models. The refresh rates have also been improved. Last year’s models capped out at 120Hz, but both the M4 and G4 will now hit refresh rates of up to 144Hz. Marginal? Yes. But better? Yes. Expect the prices to appear closer to going on sale.

Continue reading.

Finally, you can smoke indoors BBQ meats, we mean. TMAGE

After an Indiegogo campaign amassed over $800,000 in funding, GE Appliances is bringing its indoor smoker to consumers nationwide – before CES even started. While the design has been updated since it first appeared, it’s still the same thing: a countertop device for all your BBQ smoking needs. I’m British and don’t understand good BBQ, so please read on for Billy Steele’s explanation – he knows what he’s talking about.

Continue reading.

Jack Black will reportedly play Steve in the long-delayed Minecraft movie He’ll co-star with Jason Momoa.

Is there a video game character Black won’t play?

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Dell unveils new XPS 13, 14 and 16 laptops ahead of CES 2024

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 06:00

Dell is bringing the bold design of last year's XPS 13 Plus to the rest of the XPS lineup ahead of CES 2024 in Las Vegas — and now that includes new 14-inch and 16-inch models. The "Plus" name is also gone entirely: the new models are simply called the XPS 13, 14 and 16. They all sport the defining featured of the XPS 13 Plus: A seamless glass wrist rest, which hides an invisible haptic touchpad right in the middle; touch sensitive function buttons above the keyboard; and large key caps for more comfortable typing. And notably, the larger two models fix some of my biggest issues with the XPS 13 Plus.

Once again, minimalism is the defining theme for Dell with these computers: They're all polished aluminum and glass at first glance. They're also dominated by their screens: in true Dell fashion, they feature the company's ultra-thin "Infinity Edge" screen bezels. (These computers are also among the first to get dedicated Windows Copilot keys.)

Dell arguably went a bit overboard with the minimalism angle last year. The XPS 13 Plus, one of our favorite laptops, only had two USB-C ports and didn't have a headphone jack. That's true of the XPS 13 this year as well, but not so for the XPS 14 and 16. They both feature headphone jacks, three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a microSD card slot. (Dell also includes a USB C to USB Type A and HDMI adapters in the box, which notably don't come with the XPS 13.)

All of these new laptops feature Intel's new Core Ultra chips, which means they also include NPUs to deal with AI work. So even without a dedicated GPU, they have the potential to be more useful for some creative work compared to Dell's last XPS machines (or at the very least, deliver some killer Windows Studio Effect backgrounds during video chats). But if you need additional graphics power, the XPS 14 and 16 can also be configured with NVIDIA's RTX 40-series GPUs.

Each new XPS machine also includes variable refresh rate FHD+ screens, ranging form 30hz to 120Hz. But they can also be equipped with OLED screens: the XPS 13 and 14 have optional 3K OLED screens with a maximum 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rate, respectively, while the XPS 16 has a 4K OLED panel that can hit 90Hz. Those higher refresh rates make a big difference: Last year plenty of productivity laptops were achieving smoother screens thank to higher refresh rates, so it's nice to see that finally reach the XPS machines.

Dell XPS 14 (2024)The XPS 14. Just look at that headphone jack!Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

I was a bit disappointed by the XPS 13 Plus because its touchpad was a bit finicky and it really needed more ports. But the XPS 14 seems like it could be the step forward Dell was originally aiming for — especially since its 14.5-inch screen looks almost as big as a 15-incher if you squint a bit. It's also relatively light at 3.7 pounds (3.8 pounds with OLED), so it's a potential powerhouse that would be easy to move around. 

The XPS 16 also looks like a genuinely compelling option for Windows users who demand massive screens. Sure, its 16.3-inch screen is smaller than the old XPS 17, but it's also a half-pound lighter. For many power users, that tradeoff may be worth it.

Dell's 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.

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

You can now buy the Xbox Series S toaster for $40

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 05:45

Waking up in the mornings is especially hard in these cold, dark winter months. Now there's a fun incentive to do so, thanks to the release of the Xbox Series S Toaster. For $40 you can get it from Walmart and have the Xbox sphere logo toasted onto your bread every day — a dream fulfilled that you never knew you had? The Xbox Series S toaster was first spotted in France back in March 2023, with gaming deals poster Wario64 sharing the news of its US arrival on X (formerly Twitter).  

The toaster is more than a fun gimmick: It fits two slices of bread, has six browning levels available, an LED countdown and a removable crumb tray. It also offers bagel and defrost settings.

The toaster isn't Xbox's first foray into kitchen appliances. The Xbox Series X "Mini Fridge" started as a meme in 2021 and became a six-foot, 400-pound reality. Now, its third iteration is on sale for $199, down from $250. The Xbox Series X Compact Fridge is actually mini at just over two-feet tall, with a matte black exterior and Xbox green light glowing inside it. The freezer compartment reads: "Power your dreams" — for that extra motivation you need when grabbing a drink mid-gaming. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Microsoft Copilot keyboard keys are coming to Windows 11 PCs at CES 2024

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 03:01

Coming soon to a Windows 11 PC near you: A dedicated keyboard key for Microsoft's Copilot AI. The company calls this "the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades" in a blog post ahead of CES 2024 in Las Vegas. Just like how the Windows key serves as a quick way to open up the Windows Start menu, the Copilot key immediately summons Microsoft's AI companion to do your bidding.

While it's not a huge surprise to see Copilot manifest itself in the real world, especially given just how much Microsoft has been pushing AI over the past year, it's a bit of a shock to see it happen so quickly. The company claims the Copilot key is "another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC." Sure, let's go with that.

Microsoft says the Copilot key will appear in new PCs coming this Spring (expect to hear more about them during CES 2024), as well as in future Surface devices. Symbolically, the key is yet another sign that Microsoft thinks of Copilot as an essential element of Windows' future. At this point, it's just as important as the Start Menu to the company — it's not hard to imagine a future where the Start Menu fuses with Copilot entirely. But for now, baby steps. 

Now here's a video of someone hitting a key:

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

NLRB accuses SpaceX of illegally firing workers for criticizing Elon Musk

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 02:52

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against SpaceX, accusing it of unlawfully firing eight employees involved in writing a letter that called Elon Musk's behavior on social media "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment." According to the filing, the company committed an unfair labor practice when it fired the workers for "engaging in protected concerted activity at work." It also accused SpaceX of interrogating at least one employee about the letter, as well as about the identities of their colleagues and the nature of their "concerted protected activity."

In addition, the complaint said SpaceX created an "impression of surveillance" by showing an employee screenshots of a Signal group chat several employees were a part of. The open letter at the center of this case was calling out Musk's "harmful Twitter behavior" before he acquired the website now known as X. In particular, the employees raised concerns about the crude jokes he made on X about the sexual misconduct accusations against him, which SpaceX settled for $250,000. The letter asked the company to hold leadership accountable for their actions and to condemn harmful behavior.

The employees involved in writing the letter circulated it within the company in mid-2022. According to The New York Times, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell reprimanded them within a few hours of sending it out and told them to "stop flooding employee communication channels immediately." Five employees were reportedly fired the next day, and four others were fired over July and August. Only one of them didn't take part in filing the unfair labor practice complaint. "At SpaceX the rockets may be reusable, but the people who build them are treated as expendable," Paige Holland-Thielen, one of the fired employees, told The Times. "I am hopeful these charges will hold SpaceX and its leadership accountable for their long history of mistreating workers and stifling discourse."

The case is slated to go before an administrative judge on March 5, though the company could settle before it takes place. If the NLRB decides that the company has violated labor laws, it can order SpaceX to reinstate workers and to give them appropriate backpay. SpaceX could appeal the decision to the board and then to a federal court, though, so it could be a long journey for the employees involved. 

Musk has been at odds with the NLRB for years through his other companies. The board previously accused X of illegally firing an employee who pushed back against his return-to-office policy. Meanwhile, Tesla has dealt with several NLRB complaints, including one accusing the automaker of illegally terminating employees in retaliation for union activity.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Dell unveils its curved 40-inch 5K monitor at CES, claiming 'five-star eye comfort'

Engadget - Thu, 2024-01-04 00:01

It's almost time for CES, which means that, among many other things, there'll soon be a heap of new monitors vying for your attention. Dell is hoping that its new UltraSharp 40 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor will stand out from the pack. Announced days before CES 2024 is set to kick off, this model is the "first 40-inch 5K monitor certified for five-star eye comfort," Dell claims.

Five-star eye comfort is a new industry standard stemming from TUV Rheinland. The aim is to highlight displays that help reduce signs of eye fatigue. Dell says it did three things to achieve this certification with the latest UltraSharp monitors. First, it doubled the refresh rate to 120Hz for smoother visuals. It incorporated an ambient light sensor, which allows the monitors to automatically adjust screen brightness and color temperature to match the light conditions. Dell cites studies suggesting this can help reduce the frequency of eye fatigue signs by up to 17 percent.

Dell's UltraSharp 40 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor.Dell

Last but not least, Dell says it upgraded its ComfortView Plus tech with the help of an advanced LED backlight to reduce blue light exposure from 50 percent to under 35 percent. This, too, can help reduce signs of eye fatigue.

None of that should diminish the monitor's performance. Dell says the UltraSharp 40 Curved Thunderbolt Hub has a 99 percent DCI-P3 / Display P3 color space and 1.07 billion colors. It's VESA DisplayHDR 600 certified and features IPS Black Panel tech and a 2,000:1 contrast ratio.

On the connectivity front, there's Thunderbolt 4 support with up to 140W power delivery. An Ethernet connection allows for speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps, while there are HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2.1 ports. Dell notes that pop-out front-facing USB-A and USB-C ports should make it easy to connect and charge your devices.

Dell's UltraSharp 40 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor and UltraSharp 34 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor side-by-side on a desk.Dell

If the 40-inch model is perhaps too much real estate for your needs, you might want to consider Dell's 34-inch variant. The UltraSharp 34 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor also features TUV Rheinland five-star eye comfort certification, IPS Black technology and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity. It's not a 5K monitor, however, as it has a WQHD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440.

Both monitors will be available globally starting on February 27. The UltraSharp 40 Curved Thunderbolt Hub Monitor starts at $2,400 in the US and $3,290 CAD in Canada. The 34-inch model will run you $1,020 in the US and $1,400 CAD north of the border.

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

LG Display plans to debut an ultra-fast 480Hz OLED panel for gaming at CES

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 20:00

LG just announced that it will bring a brand-new 27-inch 480Hz QHD OLED gaming display to CES 2024 in Las Vegas, which the company is calling an industry first and a “new era of OLEDS.” This panel was developed by LG Display, so it won’t actually be available for purchase. Rather, the tech will be sold to other companies for use in forthcoming gaming monitors.

480Hz is a blazingly fast refresh rate, and may also be something of a bummer if you bought into last year’s 240Hz displays. This latest OLED monitor boasts QHD (2560x1440) resolution and a response time of just 0.03ms, which LG says is the quickest of “any panel on the market today.”

LG also promises enhanced image quality via the company’s proprietary META technology, not to be confused with that other Meta. This tech incorporates a micro lens array to maximize the emission of light from the OLED panel and minimize external reflections. This should be especially helpful when navigating darker-than-average gameplay environments.

The company says this display emits the “lowest level of blue light in the industry”, at around half the amount emitted by standard LCDs. This is useful to minimize eye fatigue, of course, but also works to reduce flicker.

LG Display says this panel will begin showing up in products during the first half of the year, though partner companies have yet to be announced. This isn’t the only 480Hz panel that LG is showing off at this year’s CES. There’s a new monitor that runs at 480Hz in HD and 240Hz in 4K.

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

Opting into 'link history' on Facebook and Instagram means agreeing to (more) ad targeting

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 19:37

If you’re active on Facebook or Instagram, you might have noticed prompts about a setting called “link history.” The feature allows users to keep track of all of the links they visit via Facebook and Instagram’s in-app browsers.

According to Meta, the feature allows users to ensure they “never lose” a link. “Easily get back to recent links you’ve visited with your Facebook browsing activity now saved in one place,” an in-app notification about the feature says.

But, as Gizmodo points out, the feature also gives Meta a convenient way to improve its targeted advertising, which has taken a hit following Apple’s crackdown on app tracking. “Keep in mind that when link history is on, we may use link history information from Facebook’s Mobile Browser to improve your ads across Meta technologies,” the company notes in a support article.

Instagram has a similar feature, which keeps tabs on links users visit via the app’s browser. Though it seems many users are just now discovering the settings, a Meta spokesperson confirmed the features began rolling out last summer.

Though link history is not enabled by default, it’s the kind of setting many people may opt into without giving much thought, especially because the company markets it as a way to avoid “losing” links. That’s sparked concern among some privacy advocates who worry Meta is using increasingly sneaky ways to gather data about users’ online activity.

The good news, however, is that it’s easy to double check if you have link history enabled, and opt-out if you do.

On Facebook, users will need to open a link from within the app and tap on menu to open the settings from the in-app browser. Then, look for the “link history” toggle. If it’s on, you’ll need to turn it off, and then confirm via the pop-up that you want it disabled.

How to disable the Screenshots via Facebook

The process on Instagram is pretty much the same: Head to the in-app browser’s settings, look for “link history” and confirm your choice.

Of note, though both apps will immediately delete your link history from their respective apps, Meta says it can take up to 90 days “to complete the deletion process.” This means your previous browsing activity could still play a role in your targeted ads for several weeks after you’ve disabled link tracking.

Of course, the company still has numerous other ways of tracking your online activity, so opting out of link history alone won’t be enough to fully take back control of your data. Privacy conscious ad-haters who live in the European Union, however, do have another option, though it may be even less appealing. Meta recently began offering the ability for EU users to opt out of Facebook and Instagram ads entirely, in exchange for a rather hefty monthly fee.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

JLab's first premium ANC headphones will cost just $80

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 15:43

JLab has a proven track record with its headphones and earbuds for solid audio quality at extremely affordable prices. At CES 2024, the company is debuting its first premium headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC), but it's keeping the price low at just $80. Despite the affordable investment, JLab didn't cut too many features as the JBuds Lux ANC Wireless Headphones pack long battery life, multipoint Bluetooth, customizable EQ, spatial audio, Google Fast Pair and a quick-charge feature. 

JLab says the JBuds Lux have the same size drivers, 40mm, as flagship headphones from the likes of Bose, Sony and others. The company further explains that these components are capable of 20-20kHz frequency response, the most common rage for headphones, and promises "exceptional audio quality" as a result. In terms of ANC, the JBuds Lux can reduce noise by up to 25dB with the option to turn it off or employ Be Aware (transparency) mode, and levels are customizable via the JLab App. You can fully configure the EQ with that software or choose from one of three audio presets. The JBuds Lux also support spatial and Bluetooth LE audio. 

The company touts over 40 hours of use with noise canceling on, with that figure extending to over 70 hours with it disabled. Bluetooth 5.3 with multipoint connectivity adds convenience, as does Google Fast Pair and a 10-minute quick-charge feature that gives you four hours of playback. JLab opted for a folding design for easy storage, with cushiony ear pads and physical playback controls. 

The JBuds Lux ANC headphones are available for preorder now from JLab. White, gray and green color options are scheduled to ship in late February while the purple version will arrive in March.

JLab JBuds ANC 3JLab

Before the party officially begins in Las Vegas, JLab also revealed a new set of budget earbuds. The third-gen JBuds ANC ($60) can manage seven hours of use with noise cancellation turned on with nearly four full charges in the case. With ANC off, you can expect up to nine hours from the earbuds and another 33 in the case. As JLab has done on previous models, the charging case here is still about the size of a flash drive, and an attached USB-C cord tucks away for storage. 

Onboard touch controls handle both playback and calls, plus JLab says they're customizable inside of its app. Sound profiles can also be tailored to your preferences by either tweaking the EQ or using an audio preset. The company has included a Safe Listening Mode that keeps the maximum volume within the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Bluetooth multipoint is here as well, with an IP55-rated design that can withstand workouts, a low-latency Movie Mode for streaming and Google Fast Pair. 

The JBuds ANC 3 wireless earbuds are available now, but they only come in black. 

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

Twitch re-revises its guidelines to ban the implication of nudity

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 15:10

Twitch has revised its nudity policies yet again. The latest change bars streamers from pretending to be “fully or partially nude,” wrote Angela Hession, Twitch’s VP of Trust and Safety, in a blog post. The change comes several weeks after the company said creators could post “properly labeled” sexual content, only to flip-flop two days later.

The company added the new language to its community guidelines (reported by The Verge) in response to streamers “implying” nudity with carefully placed objects, censor bars or camera angles. The update to Twitch’s terms goes into effect today.

The revised terms also ban see-through clothing, clarifying that apparel must be fully opaque on bodily areas that require coverings. Hession also emphasized the importance of categorizing content correctly, including when streaming from near a pool, beach, or hot tub, where the “full coverage of the buttocks” requirement is loosened.

Twitch plans to eventually blur thumbnails for streams labeled as having sexual themes. “While most streamers have labeled this content appropriately with the Sexual Themes label and are wearing clothing behind the object or outside the camera frame, for many users, the thumbnails of this content can be disruptive to their experience on Twitch,” Hession wrote. Twitch says it will also update its settings to allow users to control the content they see based on how it’s labeled.

As it stands now, Twitch requires streamers to cover their buttocks, genitals and (for female-presenting streamers) the nipples and underbust areas. Visible outlines of genitals are also prohibited, but cleavage is fine as long as it’s clear the streamer is clothed. But you may want to check back soon: At the pace we’re going, Twitch may have revised its policies again by next week.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

This kid just became the first person to beat NES Tetris

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 14:15

Tetris is one of the most popular and enduring video games of all time, with versions on just about every console, computer and gadget. Many of these iterations have endings baked into story modes and the like, but the original endless mode was considered unbeatable by humans, until now. A 13-year-old boy has become the first person to ‘beat’ the NES version of Tetris, 34 years after it originally released back in 1989, as announced by YouTuber aGameScout.

The reason we put ‘beat’ in quotes is due to the nature of the achievement. Oklahoma teenager Willis Gibson, also known as Blue Scuti on YouTube, didn’t access an authorized ending, as there isn’t one. Instead, he played the game so perfectly for so long that it forced a kill screen that crashed the game. These kill screens are usually caused by an overflow error that occurs when you speed the game up so much that the software can’t keep up.

The teen achieved this feat after 38 minutes of gameplay and captured the moment on video. He’s the first person to do this, but not the first, uh, entity. An AI program called StackRabbit forced a kill screen with the NES Tetris back in 2021. Score one for the humans!

This was done by incorporating a gameplay style called the rolling technique, which has players glide their fingers along the bottom of an NES controller and use that momentum to roll the controller into the other hand. When done correctly, you can hit the D-pad up to 20 times per second. The method revolutionized competitive Tetris play a couple of years back. Prior to this achievement, the 13-year-old had already broken the game’s high score record, level achieved record and the total number of lines cleared by using the rolling technique.

Gibson, aka Blue Scudi, told another YouTuber that he’s dedicating the achievement to his late father, who recently passed away in December. He also said that the gameplay session was so frantic that he couldn’t feel his fingers afterwards.

Achieving the mythical kill screen is something of a rite of passage for old-school games. If you’ve seen the documentary King of Kong, involving the arcade cabinet Donkey Kong, you know just how competitive it can be to snag those bragging rights. Players have hit the kill screen on Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Duck Hunt, and many others.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Jack Black will reportedly play Steve in the long-delayed Minecraft movie adaptation

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 12:53

Jack Black is reportedly set to play Minecraft Steve. Deadline wrote on Tuesday that the School of Rock actor will play the game’s blocky protagonist alongside Jason Momoa in the game’s long-delayed film adaptation.

The Minecraft adaptation has been in development since 2014. It’s cycled through at least three previous directors (Shawn Levy, Rob McElhenney and Peter Sollett) and two missed release windows (2019 and 2022). Its current target date is April 4, 2025.

The writers for the project’s current iteration haven’t yet been revealed. However, adapting the sandbox building game into a plot-driven Hollywood blockbuster will allow for (and probably require) ample creativity from its scribes. A plot synopsis published in 2019 (which may or may not still apply) describes the film as following “a teenage girl and her unlikely group of adventurers. After the malevolent Ender Dragon sets out on a path of destruction, they must save their beautiful, blocky Overworld.”

Image of the character Steve (blocky, rudimentary graphics) from Minecraft in front of an orange gradient background.Minecraft SteveMojang / Microsoft

Black is fresh off a beloved performance as Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, where he showed the effectiveness of his larger-than-life comedic presence in gaming adaptations. IGN even noted that both of Black’s gaming roles — Bowser and Steve — appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Napoleon Dynamite creator (and Black collaborator on Nacho Libre) Jared Hess will direct. Deadline says production will start soon on the film, which hails from Warner Bros, Vertigo, Legendary, Mojang / Microsoft and On the Roam. Emma Myers, Danielle Brooks and Sebastian Eugene Hansen have signed on to join Black and Momoa in the cast.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

LG reveals 2024 OLED TVs with AI processors ahead of CES

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 12:15

LG just announced a new lineup of OLED TVs just days before CES 2024 kicks off in Las Vegas next week. The LG Signature OLED M4 and OLED G4 TVs are, surprise, packed with an updated AI processor that offers four times the performance of last year’s models. The Alpha 11 AI processor works to enhance picture and audio quality, offering a 70 percent improvement of visual performance when gaming compared to its predecessor.

The AI chip upscales objects and backgrounds to reduce blur and allegedly analyzes and adjusts colors to “best convey the mood and emotional elements intended by filmmakers.” LG also promises a more “three-dimensional” image, thanks to its proprietary Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro technology that fine-tunes brightness and contrast on the fly. The AI chip also allows for virtual surround sound and even separates vocals from soundtracks to enhance the dialogue.

The resolution remains 4K but the refresh rates have gotten a glow up. Last year’s models capped out at 120Hz, but the M4 and G4 now offer a refresh rate of 144Hz. Obviously, high refresh rates are great for watching action-packed content and for gaming. To that end, each TV offers access to LG’s webOS platform for viewing streaming content and playing games via the cloud.

Some people in a nice white living room watching live music on TV.LG

The M4 ships with LG’s proprietary Zero Connect Box that streams audio and video wirelessly, eliminating the need for connected cables. The tech provides real-time video and audio transmission up to 4K with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is for people absolutely committed to a clean living room aesthetic.

Each of LG’s new OLED TVs offers support for both NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync, which is great for gamers. The panels also come with LG’s Game Optimizer selection screen, allowing users to instantly switch between display presets designed for different gaming genres.

Pricing and availability are both still up in the air. Maybe we’ll get more information at CES 2024 next week. In addition to this reveal, LG also announced an absolutely massive 97-inch M3 OLED display and a 98-inch QNED model.

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

Roku's 'high-end' Pro Series TVs feature Mini LED screens

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 11:43

Roku is stepping into premium TV territory at CES 2024 with its new Pro Series sets, which feature Mini LED backlighting for better brightness and contrast, as well as enhanced audio. The company announced its first self-made TVs at CES last year — a surprising move, since it has also partnered with TCL and others for years to build "Roku TVs" powered by the Roku OS. Roku's first batch of TV sets, the Select and Plus models, were clearly value-oriented, with prices ranging from $149 to $999. The Pro Series — which includes 55-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch models — tops out at $1,500. We expect to see them in person in Las Vegas next week once CES kicks off.

Calling these "high-end" TVs is relative, of course. You can easily spend thousands more for QLED sets from Samsung, Sony and LG, and the prices only get higher once you're looking at OLED TVs. Rather than gunning for the top of the heap, Roku still appears to be targeting value-oriented shoppers who would normally consider TCL's cheaper TVs. (Roku told us last year it wasn't planning to compete with partners like TCL, but that seems harder to believe now.)

While Roku's earlier mid-range Plus TVs included some notable features, like QLED displays and support for Dolby Vision and Atmos, the Mini LED backlighting in the Pro Series TVs will be a noticeable upgrade. Most mid-range TVs feature a small amount of local dimming backlight zones, which can increase the brightness and contrast in specific areas of the screen. Mini LED backlights offer higher brightness, and since they're so small, they allow for hundreds (and potentially thousands) of dimming zones.

At this point, Mini LEDs are the closest you'll get to the power of OLEDs — which can turn individual pixels on and off to achieve perfect blacks and extreme levels of contrast — on a standard LED screen.

A family watching a Roku Pro Series TVRoku

On top of a new family of TVs, Roku also announced that it will be tapping into AI and machine learning for its new Roku Smart Picture features, which can automatically adjust Roku TVs for specific types of content. The company says most consumers don't typically adjust their TV settings, which means they're likely stuck viewing content in sub-optimal ways. We won't see Smart Picture in action until Spring 2024, but it could potentially help to tone down motion smoothing during films and bump it up for sports, where you want footage to look more realistic. (And of course, image purists can always turn it off.)

Roku says its new Pro Series TVs will arrive in the US in Spring 2024. The company will also expand retail availability for its Select and Plus series sets, but we don't have specifics on where they'll show up yet.

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

Fitbit's Inspire 3 fitness tracker drops back to an all-time low of $70

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 11:21

If you're looking to buy a fitness tracker for the new year, a sale on Fitbit devices that kicked off earlier this week may be of interest. Chief among the discounts is the Fitbit Inspire 3, the top budget pick in our fitness tracker buying guide, down to $70 in multiple colors. That matches the lowest price we've tracked. Fitbit normally sells the device for $100, though we've seen it fall $80 at several points in the past year. The sale is available at multiple retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Fitbit's online store.

The Inspire 3 is an entry-level fitness band with a simple interface and no built-in GPS, so it's not ideal for dedicated runners or cyclists. (Instead, you'll need to bring your phone with you to map runs and bike rides.) For more casual users who just want a dedicated device to log their everyday activity, however, it should be enough. It's slim, light and easy to wear, and navigating its color OLED display is straightforward. Its step, sleep and heart rate tracking is relatively accurate, and it can detect various workouts automatically. Fitbit rates its battery life at 10 days per charge — you may not always reach that, but it'll last longer than most smartwatches either way. The design is also water-resistant up to 50 meters, so it'll be safe in the pool. And while there's no support for contactless payments or digital assistants, it can still display basic smartphone notifications. 

Fitbit's app remains an uncomplicated way to view all your metrics after a recent makeover, though it did lose some longtime social features last year. New users will also need to log in with an account from Fitbit's parent company Google. We wouldn't be surprised to see more Google-related tweaks going forward, but for now, the Inspire 3 is still a good buy at this price for those who only need the essentials. 

If you do have a little bit more to spend and want a Fitbit smartwatch, however, the Fitbit Versa 4 is also worth a look at $150. That one is bigger and gets less battery life but has built-in GPS and more of the smart features the Inspire 3 lacks. We've seen this price for much of the last few months, but it's only $10 above the best deal we've tracked.

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

The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker brings BBQ inside for $1,000

Engadget - Wed, 2024-01-03 10:00

After an Indiegogo campaign that amassed over $800,000 in funding, GE Appliances is bringing its indoor smoker to consumers nationwide in the US ahead of CES 2024. Originally dubbed the Arden as a project of GE Appliance's "maker space and micro factory" FirstBuild, the appliance is now known as the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker. While the design has been updated to a degree, The basic idea remains the same: a larger countertop device that brings the ability to smoke foods inside the kitchen without setting off the fire alarm in your house or apartment. 

With an appliance the size of a compact mini fridge, the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker uses so-called Active Smoke Filtration technology that employs a "catalyst system" to create wood smoke from pellets and combine it with an electric heating element. The airflow setup is designed to impart "maximum flavor" into a variety of foods while tight gaskets keep the smoke inside. GE Appliances says the unit is suitable for all skill levels thanks to five smoke presets. There are also six food-specific settings for popular smoked foods like brisket, ribs, pork butt, chicken wings, chicken breast and salmon. The company says the customization available on the smoker also allows users to prepare side dishes and desserts with the device. 

GE Profile Smart Indoor SmokerGE Appliances

What's more, there are some conveniences that outdoor smokers don't offer. A Smoke and Hold feature prepares foods and then keeps them at food-safe temperatures for up to 24 hours. GE Appliances says the smoker also uses a fraction of the wood pellets as outdoor grills, thanks in part to the additional heating element, and that a pellet capture system extinguishes used pellets in a water tank. Lastly, all of the racks and drip trays are dishwasher safe where those components are typically so large on outdoor smokers they need to be washed by hand. 

As the name implies, there's a connected aspect to the GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker. With GE Profile Connect+ app, you can adjust smoke levels and monitor the cooking process as the unit includes a food probe. The company says feature updates like guided recipes will be available in the future. This is an indoor device, but you don't have to sacrifice capacity. GE Appliances says there's enough room for three racks of baby back ribs, a brisket, up to 40 wings or a 14-pounds pork butt. Since most pork butts you'll find at grocery stores are around eight pounds or less, there's ample room for pulled pork. 

The GE Profile Smart Indoor Smoker will be available from retailers this month for $1,000. The unit will be on display at CES next week, so hopefully we'll get an early look and taste of what it can do. If you're already convinced, you can order one now.

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