Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

The God of War: Ragnarok PlayStation 5 bundle is cheaper than ever

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 10:01

If you're ready to pull the trigger on a PS5 and want the popular title God of War: Ragnarok as well, Amazon has them on sale in a bundle at a new all-time low. The PS5 God of War: Ragnarok bundle is currently on sale for $500, or $60 off the usual price. That means you can get the game for just $1, considering the disc version of the console on its own is normally $499. Amazon has a big sale on a number of other games too, including Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 Standard Edition, along with God of War: Ragnarok by itself. 

Sales for Sony's PS5 exploded once supply constraints disappeared, with Sony announcing it sold 19.1 million units in the last year alone, compared to 11.5 million the year before. Still, the console rarely goes on sale, so this is one of the best deals we've seen, effectively giving you both the disc version of the PS5 and God of War: Ragnarok for the price of the console alone. 

Meanwhile, God of War: Ragnarok made Engadget's list of the best PS5 games for 2023. We called it a "massive adventure" and lauded features like an incredible combat experience, greater variety of enemies and more realms to visit. It also provides visuals up to 4K or high 120Hz frame rates, assuming your TV can handle it.

Along with the bundle, Amazon is offering deals on a bunch of PS5 games as part of its Days of Play sale. As mentioned, you can grab significant savings on Horizon Forbidden West ($40 or 43 percent off), Gran Turismo 7 Standard Edition ($40), and God of War: Ragnarok ($50 or $30 percent off). Other titles on sale include Spider Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition ($40), Demon's Souls ($30) and Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut ($30). 

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Spotify is laying off 200 employees from its podcast division

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 09:47

Spotify isn't done with layoffs this year. The company is cutting 200 jobs in its podcast division, or about 2 percent of its workforce, as part of a "strategic realignment." Spotify is moving to a more "tailored approach" that optimizes resources for each podcast creator and their shows, and the streaming service believes this requires a leaner team.

The new strategy will also see Spotify merge its Gimlet and Parcast production houses into an updated Spotify Studios unit. They'll continue to produce well-known originals and start new shows, although there will be a new emphasis on frequent content that fosters large audiences. Spotify as a whole will work on "maximizing consumption" from the existing audience, encouraging them to listen more often and to more podcasts. The firm is also growing its Spotify For Podcasters analytics, refining its ad options and adding "more business models" to help creators profit.

The provider is keen to tout its growth since it started investing heavily in podcasts in 2019, including the acquisitions of Gimlet, Parcast and the creator platform Anchor. It now claims to be the most popular podcast platform in "most corners" of the planet, with over 100 million listeners and 5 million shows. Usage has grown over 1,400 percent, Spotify says. It also says it's the top publisher in the US. 

Even so, the layoffs add to a string of blows for the company. Spotify reportedly dropped numerous shows last fall, shedding nearly 5 percent of its podcast team in the process. The service also laid off 6 percent of its total staff in January, with chief content officer Dawn Ostroff (credited with growing podcast content 40-fold) stepping down at the same time. There have also been difficulties with the content itself, including misinformation concerns with Spotify exclusive The Joe Rogan Experience. The company may be a powerhouse in the category, but it's no longer as secure as it once was.

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The best backpacking and camping gear for dads

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 09:15

We’ve finally fully emerged from winter and dad might be feeling a little cooped up. (I know I am, at least.) Now that the days are getting longer, they’re probably itching to get outside ASAP. If your dad or father figure is the type to wander off into the woods — perhaps for days at a time — we’ve got some suggestions for Father’s Day gifts. Whether they’re an ultra-light backpacking maniac or a car-camping comfort seeker, or maybe they dabble in a little bit of both, we’ve got just the thing.

JetBoil MiniMo

The Jetboil Flash is basically inescapable on the trail. Its lightweight, easily packable design and fast boil times make it attractive to backpackers. But the MiniMo is worth the extra money and weight. It’s only one ounce heavier, but the MiniMo’s wider, shorter cook cup is easier to handle. Plus it can actually simmer things, unlike the Flash. And let me tell you, dehydrated eggs are bad enough as is, even without burning them in what amounts to a coffee tumbler mounted on a jet engine. Trust me, this is one of the best upgrades you can make to your dad’s setup.

Leatherman Free series multitools

The Leatherman Free series has been a staple of Engadget buying guides ever since it debuted in 2019. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to multitools, and many of them are great. But, the Free series was a serious game-changer with its one-handed access to every tool. Plus everything, including the knife, locks into place so you’re less likely to pinch or cut yourself. It even requires less regular maintenance and cleaning than older Leatherman like the Juice series which, while great, tended to collect lint and dust in every nook and cranny at an alarming rate. Your dad might not need every tool while hiking the Appalachian, but he’ll appreciate having options other than a knife or a rock.

Biolite Headlamp 425

After food, water and shelter, the next most essential thing on the trail is light. This year we’re recommending the Biolite Headlamp 425. It’s similar to the Headlamp 330 we’ve recommended in the past. It’s ever so slightly bigger and heavier, at 10 millimeters thick and 79 grams, but it also lasts significantly longer. You get up to 60 hours of illumination on low and four hours on high. That’s up from just 40 hours on low and 3.5 hours on high with the Headlamp 330. The 425 is also quite a bit brighter – hitting 425 lumens as the name suggests.

The rear battery pack now has a red light on it, with both solid and strobe modes, so that your father’s hiking companions can easily spot him if it starts to get dark. And Biolite has finally ditched MicroUSB for USB-C. All the same basic features and modes are still here that you’d expect on any decent headlamp too, including spot, flood and strobe modes, plus eye-sight-saving red light.

Sea to Summit X-Mug

I love my old-school enameled steel camp mug. It’s indestructible and has an undeniable classic look. But, it also conducts heat like nobody’s business. I’ve burned my hands and lips on enough white hot cups of instant coffee to know they’re just not that practical. Sea to Summit’s X-Mug with cool grip promises to protect your little fingies from your boiling hot beverage. Plus, it collapses into a neat little puck for easy storage. Admittedly, I have not tried the Cool Grip model yet, but I’ve been using the company’s collapsible bowl for over a decade. And my hiking buddy uses the regular X-Mug, so I’m pretty confident in recommending Sea to Summit’s gear.

Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite

I skipped a sleeping pad on my first backpacking trip. I regretted it immediately. Therm-a-Rest pads are the industry standard. And the NeoAir XLite is pretty much smack in the middle of their backpacking lineup. It’s not the lightest or the warmest, but it’s probably the most versatile. The R-value (a measurement of insulating power) of 4.2 is good enough for three-season camping. And it packs down to about the size of a water bottle. This particular model has been around for a long time, and it will probably continue to be a staple of Therm-a-Rest’s lineup for years to come.

Garmin Enduro

Full disclosure: I haven’t tested the Enduro. Nor has anyone else at Engadget. But, we’re big enough fans of Garmin’s sports watches to feel comfortable recommending it. But why pick this particular one? Simple: battery life. Garmin says it lasts up to 80 hours in GPS mode, which is frankly absurd. If your dad likes to quantify everything in his life, including multi-day hikes, this is a pretty great way to do it. It not only has a giant battery, but also a built-in solar charger. Plus VO2 max estimates for trail runners, heat and altitude acclimation tools for the parent that’s into mountain climbing or desert hiking, and even navigation features to keep him from getting lost. And, once he’s found his way back to civilization he can snag a coffee at Starbucks using Garmin Pay.

Sawyer Squeeze water filter

More than even food or shelter, water is essential on the trail. But, dad can’t just go drinking from streams and ponds, nor can he carry enough with him for a multi-day trip. That’s where the Sawyer Squeeze filter comes in handy. There are tons of different ways to purify water, from old-school iodine tablets to boiling to pump filters. But a squeeze filter system is often the fastest and easiest to use. Sawyer’s are probably the best known for good reason — you can fill up the pouch and drink straight from the filter or use the to fill up a reservoir or water bottle. They’re not ideal for places where dad might be reduced to getting water out of shallow muddy springs or where viral pathogens are a concern. But they’re perfect for more developed and regularly trafficked trails.

Ultralite PackTowel

Your dad will need a towel on the trail. Trust me. Maybe he’ll be lucky enough to find a shower. Or perhaps he’ll go for a dip in a lake. Or, maybe like me, he just sweats enough to drown a small animal. Regardless, an Ultralite PackTowl is an absolute must-have. They’re incredibly small and lightweight, yet seem to have unlimited absorption power. I’m pretty sure they’re actually a portal to another dimension where the water is stored. I have two that I take with me on every trip: one body-sized and the other a face towel that stays clipped to my shoulder strap for when I need to mop my brow.

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

This should go without saying, but your dad needs a utensil to eat. Yes, even on the trail. And there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned spork to save space and weight. I’m a big fan of this titanium model from Snow Peak. The company makes a ton of great gear, but this simple and indestructible essential is probably my favorite. Plus, it comes in a handful of fun shades like blue, green and purple in case your dad is known for his colorful personality.

Aeropress Go

If your dad would prefer to burn his lips on real coffee, consider getting him an Aeropress for his adventures. This is, admittedly, a luxury when you’re backpacking. But, I’ve tried instant coffee, coffee “tea” bags, mesh coffee steeping contraptions, camping french presses and honestly, nothing makes better coffee with less cleanup than an Aeropress. You could go for the full-size model, but the Go version shaves off a few precious ounces, which could be crucial when trying to cut weight for a long trip. But, I actually bring the full-size version when I hit the trail and have had no problems.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 600

Not every dad wants to strap three days worth of gear to his back and walk off into the woods. Some are perfectly content driving up to a campsite, pitching a tent and building a fire. For them the Lighthouse 600 is a great gift. It is, first and foremost, an LED lantern perfect for food prep, reading or even playing cards around camp. But, he can also use its 5200mAh battery to charge his phone or headlamp. And, if he does happen to sap all its juice it has a hand crank for recharging through manual labor, and an optional solar panel.

Joby GripTight Action Kit

Obviously, part of the reason dad disappears into the wilderness is to escape from technology and enjoy nature. But I’m sure he wants to capture at least some of it for posterity. Dragging a DSLR or even a mirrorless camera into the woods is overkill, especially when he’s probably got a pretty good camera with him already: his cellphone. Joby’s unique GorillaPod tripods are perfect for the outdoors. And the affordable Action Kit is pretty flexible. It comes with a Bluetooth remote, it can hold most phones or even a GoPro camera, and it has a cold shoe adapter for a light or microphone.

Lodge Cast Iron Cook-it-All

Look, if he’s driving up to the campsite anyway, there’s no need to fight with alarmingly thin steel pans or tiny fuel canister stoves. The 14-inch cast iron Cook-it-All from Lodge is the perfect campfire companion. It can be a dutch oven, a griddle or a skillet. You can even bake a pizza inside it. ( I’ll admit, though, that I’ve never considered baking a pizza while camping.) Cast iron is heavy and bulky, but it’s also damn near indestructible and holds on to heat for a long time, which is good when you’re dealing with a finicky campfire. Plus, if seasoned properly and treated with care, cast iron is reasonably nonstick. So, dad might even be able to make some sunny-side-up eggs for breakfast.

Helinox Chair Zero

Had you asked me ten years ago, I’d have said there’s no way I would drag a chair backpacking with me. But, as age (and fatherhood) have started to catch up with me, I’m ready to at least consider giving my poor broken body some respite while I’m on the trail. There are a few lightweight and packable options out there, but the Helinox Chair Zero is the most highly recommended, and it’s easy to see why. It’s durable, reasonably comfortable, not to mention ridiculously small and light.

At just one pound for the Zero and one pound, seven ounces for the Zero L, it’s one of the few chairs – and I mean actual chairs, not one of those foam mats you put on the ground – that someone would want to take on a multiday hike. They also pack down small enough that your dad might not mind sacrificing valuable pack space to them. The Chair Zero fits in a stuff sack just 13.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches, while the L is a little larger at 14 x 4.5 x 4 inches. The difference between the two is that the L is wider and taller and can support up to 320 pounds for big and tall types.

Gear Aid Medium-Duty 325 Paracord

Paracord is one of the most useful things dad can bring on any camping trip, whether it’s from the comfort of a car or thru hiking the Appalachian. The medium-duty stuff is good enough for tying down tents, hanging food bags or replacing boot laces. It can even be split open and the inner threads used as a fishing line, but hopefully your father never finds themselves in a situation that desperate. This isn’t a flashy gift, but it might get more use than anything else on this list.

Tribit StormBox Micro 2

One of our favorite portable Bluetooth speakers makes an excellent camping companion. The StormBox Micro 2’s twelve-hour battery should be more than enough for casually unwinding around a fire after a day of hiking. And its IP67 rating means it should be able to take a solid beating without giving up the ghost. Add to that a strap that makes it easy to clip to a backpack or just hang from a nail in a lean-to and the ability to act as a battery bank in case you need to top up your phone in an emergency, and this is a versatile little speaker for dad to keep in their hiking bag. The sound isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s good enough, especially at just $60.

BackpacksOsprey Aura 65 backpackEngadget

Last year we recommended Osprey’s Atmos AG 65 for anyone looking to be as comfortable as possible while backpacking. This year, we’re doing the same, just with some updated Osprey designs. The Atmos has been given a minor face lift, but the bigger deal is that it’s now made with 100-percent recycled materials. You still get an integrated rain cover, Anti-Gravity suspension and fit-on-the-fly adjustment system. It’s just now more eco friendly.

As part of the redesign, the capacity has been increased to better reflect the pack’s name. Before, if you bought the Atmos 65 in a small, you actually only got 62 liters of storage. Now the small is a full 65 liters. The one downside is that the new materials and carrying capacity have led to a slight increase in weight too, with the S/M Atmos AG 65 coming in at four pounds, 10 ounces.

The women’s equivalent of the Atmos is the Aura AG 65, which is slightly smaller and lighter, but has the same suspension system and similar lugging capacity. And if you’re on a tight budget this year, you can still find the older model available in some places at a steep discount.

TentsColeman Skydome 6Coleman

Obviously, one of the most important pieces of camping equipment is a tent. Not everyone’s dad wants to spend their nights in a lean-to. But their needs will dictate what kind of tent to buy. If your giftee is an avid backpacker who needs something ultra light to take on the trail, I heartily recommend Big Agnes’ Tiger Wall UL 2. It’s not their lightest offering, but it strikes a great balance between weight and convenience. It can sleep two, and has two vestibules for stowing gear, but as a single person tent it’s borderline luxurious. Even with the optional footprint (which I highly recommend for any tent), the pack weight weighs under three pounds, and the mtnGLO light system means no fussing with a lantern or headlamp to read and sort gear after dark.

If unabashed luxury is more your dad’s thing, consider REI’s Wonderland 6. At $599, this is no casual investment, but it should last quite some time. The walls are nearly vertical and it reaches a height of six and a half feet in the middle, meaning all but the tallest of humans should be able to stand upright inside. The 83-square feet of floor space is plenty of room for a family of six to sleep in, and it has large ventilation windows to keep the inside cool during the hottest months. The one caveat is that, if you happen to do most of your camping in rainy environments, you might want to shop around for something with fewer windows and better rainfly coverage.

Neither the Wonderland, nor the Tiger Wall are cheap. So if budget is an important factor, or if dad is just looking to dabble in the world of car camping, consider the Coleman Skydome 6. Coleman gear is nothing fancy. You can find it in practically any Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods across the country. But it’s so ubiquitous because of its rock solid reliability and reasonable prices. The Skydome 6 is nearly the same size as the Wonderland, but comes in at just $130 (or $199 if you opt for the Darkroom model). The ceiling is shorter, and the walls more angled, but if you’re only using the tent to sleep in, that shouldn’t be a major concern.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Morning After: Amazon reportedly exploring free cell phone service for Prime subscribers

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 07:15

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is in discussions with multiple US-based phone carriers about offering cheap – around $10 a month – or even free phone service to Prime customers. The company is reportedly negotiating with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as well as the Dish Network, though it sounds like talks with AT&T have fallen off in recent weeks.

It'll likely be awhile before you see such an offer – if a deal is struck at all. Bloomberg says talks have been underway for about six to eight weeks. Given how expensive mobile plans can get, especially in the US, this could be a potentially interesting offer for Amazon customers.

If you're not already hooked on a Prime subscription, with its delivery perks, video service, music service, free games and things I’ve already forgotten about, would this convince you to sign up?

– Mat Smith

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Final Cut Pro for the iPad makes a compelling case for a tablet-based studioAnd Logic Pro, too.TMAEngadget

The latest argument for making Apple’s iPad your go-to work machine received a boost when the company revealed its own powerful chips – and put them to work in its tablets. But to push those chips hard, you needed some tough software. Now, with versions of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for the iPad, we get audio and video workstations to make your iPad even more versatile. And while it comes with a subscription cost, ($5 a month or $49 a year, each), on the Mac, you’re looking at a $200 one-time purchase for Logic Pro, or $300 for Final Cut Pro. It could be a cost-effective way to get more powerful software in your hands.

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Scientists claim they're the first to transmit space-based solar power to EarthThis appears to be the first-ever successful attempt.

Solar space power is a thing now. We recently reported that Japan’s space agency, JAXA, aims to send solar power to Earth from space by 2025. Now a team of Caltech researchers have accomplished early success in practical experiments last week. Their space-borne prototype, called the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1) collected sunlight, converted it into electricity and beamed it to microwave receivers on a rooftop at Caltech's Pasadena campus.

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Even the cheapest Tesla Model 3 now qualifies for the full $7,500 tax creditThe Model Y, too.

Tesla has updated its website to show the rear-wheel drive Model 3, including long-range and performance options, now qualifies for the full federal tax credit for EVs. You'll also get to enjoy the same amount of savings if you're buying the all-wheel, long-range or performance Model Y. This means you can now get the maximum possible tax credit of $7,500 no matter which model you're getting.

To comply with the Inflation Reduction Act, the US government issued a revised set of guidelines for which electric vehicles qualify for the federal tax credit in March. When these guidelines went into effect on April 18th, vehicles using battery components 50 percent made or assembled in the US qualified for a tax credit of $3,750, but shoppers could only get the full $7,500 credit if their manufacturer sources at least 40 percent of their critical minerals from the US or its free trade partners, which don't include China.

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Google's Pixel 7 falls to $499 and also offers a $100 Amazon gift card

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 04:02

Google's Pixel 7 is still one of the best value smartphones available and now you can grab one at the lowest prices we've ever seen. Amazon is selling the 128GB Pixel 7 at $200 off for just $499, and throwing in a $100 Amazon gift card, effectively bringing the price down to $399. It's also selling the 256GB Pixel 7 Pro at an all-time low of $699, for a savings of $200 (22 percent) over the regular price. It's all part of a huge Amazon sale on Google Pixel 7 devices, offering discounts on nearly every model, colorway and memory configuration. 

The Pixel 7 offers a lot of refinements over the previous model, making it Google's most polished smartphone to date. It uses the company's own Tensor G2 chip, and while it's not quite as fast as Qualcomm's latest processors, it unlocks some nice AI camera tricks like Super Res Zoom, Photo Unblur and Cinematic Blur features. The 6.3-inch, 90Hz display offers smooth performance, while being small enough to do most things one-handed. It comes with a 50-megapixel main and 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, both among the best in the industry. 

The Pixel 7 Pro, meanwhile, offers 5X telephoto and ultra-wide-angle lens that has a solid macro function. Meanwhile, the 6.7-inch 120Hz display allows for smooth gaming performance. You can also expect modern features like wireless charging, strong water resistance and an improved design.

Best of all for many buyers, both devices offer Google's bloatware-free Android experience with first crack at updates and exclusive features like Clear Calling and a free VPN. The only downside is a slightly laggy fingerprint reader and temperatures that can get a bit warm under load. 

Those aren't the only two models with nice discounts, either. Amazon has slashed prices on nearly every Pixel 7 model as part of a larger sale, including different colors and memory configurations, with and without Amazon gift cards. So if you've been waiting for a deal, now is the time to act. 

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