Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

The best board games to gift this 2023 holiday season

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 09:00

Board games are great gifts for anyone who wants to spend time with loved ones and disconnect from technology. But instead of pulling out the same old classics like Monopoly and Scrabble, we recommend giving some new board games a try. Thankfully, this space is full of unique sets that run the gamut from word puzzles to whodunnits to calming playthroughs that showcase the beauty of the little things in life. Here, we’ve compiled a list of games that you might not have heard of, but will still make excellent gifts this holiday season. From games with giant monsters to those with haunted mansions, we’re sure at least one of these will be a hit with friends and family.



King of Tokyo


Betrayal at the House on the Hill (3rd Edition)

Clank! Catacombs

Ark Nova


Marvel Dice Throne


Votes for Women



This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Nintendo's New WarioWare Shows the Next Switch Should Keep Innovating - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 09:00
This fun, family-friendly motion game for the Switch could have been even better with improved Joy-Con sensitivity.

Best Outdoor Home Security Camera for 2023 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 09:00
Keep an eye on what's happening outside your home. Here are the best outdoor cameras to help you monitor and protect your property.

Engadget Podcast: Apple’s spooky M3 MacBook Pros and iMac

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:30

Apple’s M3 chip is here, and the company is wasting no time shoving it into new computers. This week, we dive into the new M3-equipped MacBook Pros and iMac, which offer some notable upgrades over the M2 and M1 models. Also, we find time to celebrate the death of the old 13-inch MacBook Pro, and try to determine if the cheaper 14-inch MacBook Pro is actually meant for pros with 8GB of RAM. We also chat about Apple’s healthcare plans, as well as Lenovo’s ridiculous tablet fashion campaign.

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!

  • Apple announces M3 chips along with new MacBook Pros and iMac – 0:59

  • Other News: Bloomberg report outlines Apple’s very quiet attempt at getting into HealthTech – 24:33

  • Ad blockers no longer work on Youtube :( – 39:02

  • U.S., U.K. announce first attempts at AI regulation – 48:10

  • Lenovo’s Tab Wear clothing line is like a kangaroo pouch for your tablet – 54:30

  • Working on – 58:39

  • Listener Mail: Should I go from a Fitbit to a Pixel Watch? – 1:00:28

  • Pop culture picks – 1:03:16


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

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Samsung's SmartTag 2 four-pack is just $80 right now

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:25

Samsung only debuted its new SmartTag 2 in mid-October, but the device already has a great sale going. Right now, you can get four SmartTag 2 trackers for just $80, down from $92. The 13 percent price cut puts each one at just $20 — that's quite a saving compared to the $30 a single SmartTag2 costs. 

The original SmartTag came on the scene in 2021 as a counter to the AirTag and Tile — but only for Galaxy users. Now, with its newest iteration, Samsung has updated quite a few features, such as taking the Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB) variants and combining them into one model. The SmartTag2 also does something Apple still hasn't mastered: providing a key ring for its smart tracker. The initial model simply had a punch hole. 

Samsung's SmartTag 2 is also IP67 dust and water-resistant, giving you an easier time for runs in the rain or letting your dog wander around with it in all sorts of weather. Plus, its battery life lasts 50 percent as long as its predecessor, giving you 700 days in Power Saving Mode and 500 days in Normal Mode. At the moment, the SmartTag 2 still only works for Samsung devices, but it's definitely a good option if you have one. 

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

Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Florida - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:21
Florida has plenty of sun and solar installers. Here's what you need to know if you're looking to go solar in the Sunshine State.

How the Federal Reserve’s Rate-Hike Pause Affects Mortgage Rates - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:17
Could the Fed be done hiking interest rates? Here’s what the rate-hike hiatus means for homebuyers.

How to Limit Your Screen Time With These iPhone and Android Wellness Settings - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:05
Put a limit on your doomscrolling with these Apple and Androids digital well-being tips.

The Best Gifts Under $100 for Gen Z - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:00
Don't stress over what to get your younger sibling this year. Here are some of the best gifts for teens and young adults all under $100.

Apple's M3 Sparks a New Era of Mac vs. PC Battles video - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:00
Apple refreshes the MacBook Pro and iMac with faster M3 chips — right as the competition between other chip makers heats up. Are we entering a new era of the Mac vs. PC battles?

Best Internet Providers in Vermont - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 08:00
Cable and fiber providers dominate the Green Mountain State's home internet landscape. Let CNET help you sort through the best broadband services.

The best gaming headsets for 2023

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:55

Most of the time, the best gaming headset isn’t a “gaming headset” at all. Although these devices are often thought of as a distinct niche within the wider headphone market, they're ultimately still headphones. And while it’s certainly not impossible to get a gaming headset that sounds nice, doing so still tends to come at a higher cost than a comparable pair of wired headphones (yes, those still exist).

A good wired headphone remains your best bet if you want the most detailed sound possible at a given price point and don’t need something especially portable, which is usually the case whether you’re gaming on a console or PC. If you need to chat with friends, you can always buy an external microphone, whether it’s a USB mic, a cheaper clip-on model or a standalone option like the Antlion ModMic or V-Moda BoomPro. In many cases, those will make your voice sound clearer and fuller than the ones included with a gaming headset.

But we do recognize that many people just want the convenience of an all-in-one combo, value and aesthetics be damned. So after testing out a few dozen pairs over the past several months, we’ve put together a list of good headphones for gaming and dedicated gaming headsets. We recommend you consider the former first, but all of them should make your play time more enjoyable.

What to look for in good gaming headphones A black gaming headset with a built-in boom microphone, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2, rests on a white table in an outdoors setting.The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2.Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Evaluating headphones is a particularly subjective exercise, so calling one pair the absolute “best” is something of a fool’s errand. At a certain point, whether you're an audiophile or not, everything becomes a matter of taste. For most, a headphone with a wide soundscape and strong imaging performance — i.e., the ability to position sounds correctly, so you can more precisely tell where footsteps and other game effects are coming from — will provide the most immersive gaming experience, the kind that makes you feel like your head is within a given scene.

For that, you want a high-quality pair of headphones with an open-back design. That is to say, an over-ear pair whose ear cups do not completely seal off the ear from air and outside noise. The big trade-off is that these are inherently terrible at isolating you from external sound and preventing others from hearing what you’re playing. So if you often play games in a noisy environment, their benefits will be blunted. But in a quiet room, the best open-back pairs sounds significantly wider and more precise than more common closed-back models.

More up for debate is how a good gaming headphone should sound. If you want something that’ll help you in competitive multiplayer games, you'll likely prefer a headphone with a flatter sound signature, so a game’s mix won’t be overly boosted in one direction and mask the smaller details of what’s happening around you. A slightly brighter sound, one that pushes the upper frequencies a smidge, may also work. Open-back headphones almost never have huge sub-bass, so you rarely have to worry about low-end sounds muddying up the rest of the signature. In this light, the fact that an overwhelming amount of gaming headsets are closed-back and bass-heavy seems counterintuitive.

Lots of people love bass, though. And if you aren’t just worried about competitive play, some extra low-end can add a touch of excitement to heavy action scenes or a rousing soundtrack. You still don’t want a pair that boosts it too hard — which many dedicated gaming headsets do — but the point is that what makes a pair “immersive” to one person may sound dull to another.

Best headphones for gaming: Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X should please a wide swath of people willing to pay for a capital-N nice set of headphones for their gaming sessions. This pair has great imaging performance and the kind of spacious soundstage expected from an open-back design. Bass is a little more present here than on many open-back headphones as well. There still isn’t much in the way of deep sub-bass, as expected, but there’s enough warmth to give in-game explosions a bit more juice without muddying up the mid-range frequencies. The mids get the most emphasis overall, but they’re clear, and that forwardness isn’t a bad thing when you’re trying to listen for enemy players in a competitive FPS like Counter-Strike. The treble isn’t pushed quite as hard, but it’s neither overly recessed nor harsh.

All of this means the DT 900 Pro X sounds detailed but not boring, so it should play nice whether you’re trying to win a multiplayer game or taking in a more cinematic single-player experience. And when you’re not gaming, you get an enjoyable sound for music.

Everything’s built well, too. The DT 900 Pro X will clamp down slightly harder than average if you have a large head, but it balances its weight well, and its wonderfully soft velour earpads go a long way toward keeping the pair comfortable over long sessions. It comes with two detachable cables, including a three-meter option that’s convenient if you sit far from your PC. The design can’t fold up, though.

Like all open-back headphones, the DT 900 Pro X leak game audio and let in lots of noise, so it’s not great on the go. Clearly, if you can afford to upgrade to an ultra-premium pair like Sennheiser’s HD 800 S, you’ll get more space and true-to-life detail. But for a relatively attainable $250 to $300, the DT 900 Pro X should satisfy.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 5 - 40,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 345g (without cable)

Another good option: Sennheiser HD 560S

If you’d rather not spend as much, the Sennheiser HD 560S is another excellent open-back headphone that’s often available for less than $200. Like the DT 900 Pro X, it has a wide soundstage that’ll help you feel immersed in a given game. Its sound is slightly more neutral on the whole, so you won’t feel like you’re missing any part of a mix, and it retrieves a lovely amount of detail from the treble and mid-range frequencies. There's less bass power for explosions, though. And the treble, while more present, may sound piercing at times. Imaging isn’t quite as nuanced either, though it’s nowhere near poor.

Design-wise, the HD 560S are plenty comfortable to wear for extended periods. They don’t clamp down too hard on those with big heads (like yours truly), and the velour earpads hug your ears softly. The included cable is removable, too. The plastic frame doesn’t feel as sturdy or premium as the DT 900 Pro X, however, so you won’t want to chuck them around haphazardly. It won’t block much outside noise either, nor will it prevent those around you from hearing what you're playing. Nevertheless, the HD 560S is a pleasure and a great value.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 6 - 38,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 280g

Best headphones for gaming under $50: Koss KSC75

If you can’t spend more than $50, it’s still hard to top the Koss KSC75. It costs $20, but judging purely on audio quality, it’s better than some headphones priced closer to $100. This pair is very obviously devoid of deep bass, so you won’t get that full-bodied oomph from in-game effects. You also won't hear all the intricate details you'd pick up with the pricier headphones above. But it locates sounds accurately and its open design delivers a real sense of width. It’s a superb value for competitive play.

The catch is that it’s built like a set of free airline headphones. The KSC75 has an odd clip-on design that, while lightweight, won’t be a comfortable fit for everyone. It certainly looks like it costs $20, though Koss backs it with a lifetime warranty that essentially lets you get endless replacements for $9 each. Even if the KSC75 are pushing 20 years old, its sound remains relatively well-balanced and particularly well-suited for gaming.

Enclosure: Open-back (on-ear)
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 15 - 25,000 Hz
Mic: No
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 43g

Best gaming headset: Astro A40 TR

If you must have a dedicated gaming headset with a built-in mic, consider the Astro A40 TR. Another open-back pair, it has a more spacious soundstage than usual for the category — though it's still narrower than the best non-gaming open-back headphones — and it generally localizes sounds correctly. This profile emphasizes the bass, which gives explosions a smooth and satisfying thump, but it doesn’t overdo it like many other headsets marketed toward gaming.

The sound here is still a step behind the DT 900 Pro X or HD 560S, especially for online shooters. Next to those headphones, the A40's pushed upper-bass/lower-mids and weaker treble blunt fine details a bit more and make footsteps sound less clear. But compared to most gaming headsets, the A40 sounds better balanced. It does well to envelop you in the sounds of a busy scene.

Comfort shouldn’t be an issue, either. The A40 is on the bulkier side, but its weight is evenly distributed, and it doesn’t clamp down overly hard. The fuzzy earpads are soft and breathable, while the ear cups are roomy enough to fit larger ears. The headset has the usual open-back shortcomings, though, as it leaks a bunch of sound and blocks almost zero outside noise. The mostly-plastic design looks “gamer-y" and lacks built-in volume controls, too. Nobody would call it "premium." Still, it's not flimsy.

The A40’s mic, meanwhile, is just OK. It picks up background noises while you chat and makes voices sound somewhat muffled. It’s serviceable, but you’d buy the A40 for its sound quality first. The mic isn’t detachable either, but you can easily flip it up and out of the way.

The A40 has been around for several years now, but its price has come down from $150 to a more reasonable $130 in that time. Astro sells an optional DAC with extra controls for $130, but at that price we’d strongly advise buying a good “normal” headphone and external mic.

Enclosure: Open-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 20 - 20,000 Hz
Mic: Yes, not detachable
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 369g (without cable)

Best budget gaming headset: HyperX Cloud Stinger 2

You won’t find a good open-back gaming headset for less than $50, so if you’re on a tight budget and require a built-in mic, you’ll have to compromise on sound quality. With that in mind, the HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 is a decent buy at its typical street price of $40. Its mic belies that low price, making voices sound relatively clear and accurate. In fact, it’s a clear step-up from the A40. While it's not detachable, it automatically mutes when you slide it out of the way. This pair also gets the comfort part right, as the pleather ear cups don’t clamp down hard and have enough soft padding where it counts.

The Cloud Stinger 2 has a V-shaped sound profile, which is to say it exaggerates the bass and treble while recessing the mid-range. It’s not bad for what it is, and it’ll definitely give action scenes a heavy sense of impact. But the upper-bass is bumped to the point where it may get tiring over time, and you lose some of the fine details you’d hear on our recommendations above. Since this is a cheap closed-back headset, the Cloud Stinger 2 doesn’t sound nearly as wide as the pairs above, nor is it as nuanced about positioning sounds accurately. It’s less than ideal for competitive games as a result, though it can still sound “fun” with many other titles.

Beyond that, the plastic design feels cheap-ish. Its cable isn’t removable, and it doesn’t block much outside noise despite having a closed-back design. Nevertheless, you have to pick your battles in this price range. The Cloud Stinger 2 is flawed, but it does enough well to be a good headset for certain budget-conscious buyers. HyperX recently released PlayStation- and Xbox-themed variants of the headset if you prefer those stylings as well.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 10 - 28,000 Hz
Mic: Yes, not detachable
Connectivity: Wired
Weight: 275g

A quick PSA on wireless gaming headsets

Most people don't need a wireless gaming headset. The PS5 and Xbox Series X/S have a headphone jack built into their controllers, while the Nintendo Switch and most gaming PCs still have the port, too. The cost of an OK wireless headset is often higher than a comparable wired model, and for the money the wireless versions usually provide worse audio quality and a less clear microphone. You also risk introducing issues with latency. (That’s why non-gaming Bluetooth headphones are a no-go here.)

Best wireless gaming headset: Audeze Maxwell

Still, if you really want a wireless headset – say, if your gaming PC is situated at the far end of your desk – the Audeze Maxwell is the best we've tested. At $299 (or $329 for the Xbox model), it’s certainly not cheap, but it’s one of the few dedicated gaming headsets whose audio and mic quality hold up next to good “normal” wireless headphones.

The Maxwell’s planar-magnetic drivers do well to reproduce smaller intricacies in a given scene. The default signature here is like a more refined version of the common “gaming headset” sound. Bass is smooth and impactful but well-controlled. Highs are crisp but not overly sharp. Some effects in the mids can sound thin, and as this is a closed-back headset, it can’t provide the same immersive width and precise imaging as the open-back models above. (Wireless gaming headsets with an open-back design are virtually nonexistent.) But compared to other wireless headsets, it’s unusually pleasant, detailed and balanced. Its clearer treble gives it the edge over the Astro A40 for music specifically, though for $200 more we’d expect as much. If you don’t like the default sound, Audeze’s app includes several EQ presets.

Along those lines, the Maxwell’s detachable boom mic is a standout. It does a phenomenal job of muting background noise, and while your voice loses some air, it’ll still sound clearer and fuller here than on most wireless headsets we’ve tested.

The Maxwell is very much on the bulky side, and its steel headband uses an odd suspension mechanism that effectively isn’t adjustable without taking the headset off. The squishy padded ear cups can make your ears feel warm, but they keep the headset comfortable and isolate a fair amount of outside noise. (Others will hear what you’re playing if you crank the volume, though.) In general, the design feels substantial. The essential controls are built into the left earcup, and the device can connect over Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable in addition to a USB-C wireless dongle. You can even pair with two devices at once, one over the dongle and another over Bluetooth. The headset needs to be powered on in order to play music over a cable, however.

Audeze rates the Maxwell’s battery life at roughly 80 hours, though you'll get less if you play at high volumes or use features like Bluetooth or sidetone heavily. That’s well behind the longest-lasting options on the market, but it’s good enough to not feel like a hindrance.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Planar magnetic
Frequency response: 10 - 50,000 Hz
Mic: Yes, detachable
Connectivity: 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.3 (LDAC, LE Audio, LC3, LC3plus, AAC, SBC), 3.5mm, USB-C digital audio (optional), Xbox Wireless (optional)
Weight: 490g

Another good wireless option: HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless

If you can’t afford the Maxwell but still want to go wireless, consider the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless. It’s an obvious downgrade in terms of audio quality and general features, but it’s often available in the $150 range, and its absurdly long battery life helps paper over its flaws. HyperX says it can last 300 hours per charge, but we were able to squeeze out a couple dozen more at moderate volumes. iFixit has a helpful teardown if you’re curious as to how this is possible, but it’s not a stretch to say one charge here could last you months of play time.

The sound here is typical of many gaming headsets: generally V-shaped, with overemphasized bass that can make game effects sound exciting but often presents footsteps and smaller details with less clarity. As a closed-back headphone, it won’t sound as spacious or natural as the more open pairs above. It’s not bad by wireless gaming headset standards, and it generally places sounds in the right place; it’s just not tuned or designed as optimally as a pair like the Astro A40.

The headset itself is comfortable to wear for hours at a time, with plush padding that doesn’t feel too tight. The faux leather earpads can make your ears feel mildly warm, but generally, it’s easier to wear than the Maxwell for extended periods. Everything is sturdy, and the headband is nicely flexible. The boom mic is also fine, though that’s relative to other wireless headsets. It cancels out background noise well and keeps voices legible, but those voices won’t sound as crisp or full-bodied as they could be on wired headphones with good mics. 

A word of warning: HyperX’s companion software has been buggy. While you can use the company’s Ngenuity app to customize the headset's EQ and activate a DTS:X surround sound feature, several users have reported that this introduces noticeable latency. If you really want these features, you may want to use a third-party EQ app and the spatial audio tools built into Windows and the PS5. By default, the included USB dongle offers a steady wireless connection.

The other caveat is that the Cloud Alpha Wireless only works with PCs, PlayStation consoles or a Switch while docked. It also can’t connect over a cable or Bluetooth. If you’re looking for a competent alternative for Xbox, opt for the Maxwell or one of our honorable mentions below.

Enclosure: Closed-back
Driver: Dynamic
Frequency response: 15 - 21,000 Hz
Mic: Yes, detachable
Connectivity: 2.4GHz
Weight: 335g

Honorable mentions A black gaming headset, the Corsair Virtuoso Pro, rests flat down on a brown wooden table.The Corsair Virtuoso Pro.Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget Corsair Virtuoso Pro

The $200 Corsair Virtuoso Pro is another one of the few dedicated gaming headsets with an open-back design. Like the Astro A40, it sounds wider and more spacious than typical gaming headsets but feels narrower than the “normal” open-back headphone we recommend above. It has a relatively dark sound with elevated bass and mostly underemphasized treble, though the latter is clearer here than it is on the A40. We preferred this signature over Astro’s pair with some games: In a first-person shooter like Halo Infinite, rumbly explosions had more impact and far-off gunshots were a bit easier to pick out. With other games, it came off as less balanced: The car engines in a racer like Forza Motorsport hummed a bit too loud, while dialogue in an RPG like Baldur’s Gate 3 sounded a little wonkier.

The Virtuoso Pro’s mic is decidedly less muffled than the A40’s but still sounds fairly thin, so it’s merely decent compared to the wider headset market. The design is better-built and looks more refined, though the headband adjustment mechanism feels cheap and you can’t detach the mic without swapping cables out entirely. Its round, breathable ear cups and light weight (0.75 pounds) make it easy to wear, and it comes with a sturdy travel case for protection. Ultimately, it’s a good alternative to the A40 if you want a dedicated headset with a clearer mic, but there are richer-sounding headphones available once you get into the $200 range.

Logitech G Pro X 2 Lightspeed

If the Audeze Maxwell didn’t exist, the Logitech G Pro X 2 Lightspeed would be our top wireless headset pick. It sounds better than the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless, with satisfying but more controlled bass and more accurate mids, and it’s lighter on the head than Audeze’s pair. Logitech rates its battery life at 50 hours, but we found it to last much longer at moderate volumes. However, a dip in the treble makes it sound darker and more veiled than the Maxwell, and its microphone gives voices a less natural tone than either of our main wireless picks. Plus, while it can connect over a USB dongle, Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable, it can’t pair to two devices at once like the Maxwell. At its usual price of $250, it’s in something of a no man’s land, but it’s a good option if it ever goes on sale.

Logitech's G535 wireless gaming headset rests on top of a wicker chair on a patio outdoors.The Logitech G535.Photo by Jeff Dunn / Engadget SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X

Xbox owners who want a more affordable wireless headset than the Audeze Maxwell could do worse than the SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7X. It’s another bass-forward pair, and its mic is comparable to the one on Cloud Alpha Wireless. Like other Nova models, it offers multiple connectivity options, including Bluetooth and a 3.5mm cable. And while it's marketed for the Xbox, it can also connect to PCs and PS5s. Its 30-ish hours of battery life are well short of our top picks, however, and it can sound uneven in the treble range. 

HyperX Cloud Alpha

The wired HyperX Cloud Alpha is often on sale for $80 or less, and at that price it’s a decent middle ground between the Cloud Stinger 2 and Astro A40 if you absolutely need a closed-back gaming headset. It’s old, but its plush earpads and headband remain comfy, and its detachable mic, while not superb, is still better than Astro’s pair. Its treble is underemphasized, however, and again it sounds more “in your head” than the A40.

Logitech G535

The Logitech G535 is an impressively light (236g) and comfy wireless headset that’s often available for $100 or less. It has a more neutral sound signature than the Cloud Alpha Wireless and Arctis Nova 7X: not flat, but less beholden to big thumping bass. It can make mid-range details sound thin, and if anything it could use a little more sub-bass, but it’s an agreeable listening experience overall. It can also connect over Bluetooth. However, its mic gives up some fullness compared to the Cloud Alpha Wireless (which already wasn’t superb), and its 30 or so hours of battery life is a significant drop-off from our top recommendations. It doesn’t work with Xbox either, and it forces you to crank the volume to reach a listenable level. But if you don’t want to spend a ton on a wireless headset, it’s the best of the $100-and-under models we've tested.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Here Are Today's Refinance Rates, Nov. 3, 2023: Rates Ease - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:46
Several benchmark refinance rates trended down this week. If you're hoping to refinance your home, keep an eye on where rates are headed.

Here Are Today's Mortgage Rates on Nov. 3, 2023: Rates Cool Off - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:46
This week, a couple of major mortgage rates slid lower. See how today's higher interest rates affect your home loan payments.

Google's plan to build 15,000 homes for the San Francisco Bay Project fizzles out

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:35

Google has ended its agreement with real estate developer Landlease for its San Francisco Bay Project, effectively scrapping its plans to build a campus with thousands of homes for employees and locals. The company announced the project in 2019, promising the "development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels" on at least $750 million worth of land it owns. Around 4,000 of those homes were supposed to be affordable housing, which would've been a welcome presence in the region with one of the highest costs of living in the country. 

The San Francisco Bay Project is a collective name for Google's planned developments in San Jose (Downtown West), Sunnyvale (Moffett Park) and Mountain View (Middlefield Park and North Bayshore). San Jose, in particular, approved the massive project in 2021, and it would've seen the construction of 4,000 homes, office space for approximately 20,000 employees, 300 hotel rooms and 10 parks. As part of the deal, Google had agreed to set aside $200 million in funding for displaced local businesses and job readiness programs. 

Earlier this year, however, Google put the Downtown West facility construction on hold after demolition had already started to make way for construction that was scheduled to begin in 2026. The company told Engadget at the time that it was still figuring out "how to best move forward" with the San Jose campus in a way that would cater to its "future needs." Workplaces have changed tremendously over the past few years, after all, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Google, for instance, adopted a hybrid work schedule that allowed employees to work from home for a couple of days a week. Earlier this year, Google parent Alphabet also laid off 12,000 workers after going on a hiring spree during a period of growth. 

In Lendlease's announcement (PDF), it said that the companies have decided to end their agreement after Google did a comprehensive review of its real estate investments. They've apparently determined that the "existing agreements are no longer mutually beneficial given current market conditions. Based on what a company spokesperson told CNBC, though, Google hasn't entirely killed its housing projects. "As we've shared before, we've been optimizing our real estate investments in the Bay Area, and part of that work is looking at a variety of options to move our development projects forward and deliver on our housing commitment," Alexa Arena, a senior director of development at Google, told the news organization. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also told CNBC that this development "doesn't change Google's commitment to San Jose or their timeline" and that it gives the company more flexibility to choose the "best possible developers" for the project. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Morning After: The final Beatles song was made with a little help from AI

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:15

The Beatles have released another song, the first since 1995. “Now and Then” is being advertised as the final Beatles track, given that two of the members have passed and the other two are well over 80 years old. But then again, millionaires do love money.

The song grew from a John Lennon demo track dating back to the 1970s and a 1995 guitar track from George Harrison. The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, then finished the tune using machine learning technology. The song was meant to come out back in 1995, along with “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” two other tracks culled from old Lennon demos. However, the technology just wasn’t there to pull the vocals without degrading audio quality.

With the same software director Peter Jackson used for the Get Back documentary for Apple, the team split Lennon’s vocal from the piano without any audio bleed, allowing the remaining Beatles to turn it into a fleshed-out ballad. The guitar solo is in the Harrison style, but it’s not actually played by him — he does play some of the rhythm guitar in the background.

— Mat Smith

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NASA is launching a free streaming service NASA+ will be available November 8 with live shows and original series. TMANASA

Not another one! At least this streaming service is free. NASA has announced a new streaming service called NASA+, which will hit most major platforms next week. It’ll be completely free, with no subscription needed, and you won’t be forced to sit through ads, either. There aren’t too many details out just yet about the content, but NASA says its family-friendly programming “embeds you into our missions” with live coverage and original video series.

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HTC sends VR headsets to the International Space Station They’re specially calibrated for zero gravity.

HTC is sending its Vive VR headsets to the International Space Station, apparently to give lonely astronauts something to do. The HTC Vive Focus 3 headsets will be part of an ongoing effort to improve the mental health of astronauts during long assignments on the station. The headsets are optimized to stabilize alignment and reduce the chances of motion sickness — which is a bigger problem when it happens in space.

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Netflix’s ad-supported plan will soon allow downloads And reward binge watching.

Netflix is celebrating one year of its ad-supported plan by giving users on that tier every fourth episode of a consecutive binge ad-free. That’s certainly not a bad way to entice you into staying on, especially if it’s, ugh, Ozark. (Don’t ‘at’ me.) Netflix is also rolling out downloads on its ad-supported tier, claiming to be the first streamer to make the option available for users who have ads included. Netflix’s ad-supported plan is by far the cheapest after the streamer cut its Basic tier in mid-2023. It’s $6.99 monthly, while the Standard plan is now $15.49.

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Scarlett Johannson fights AI clones, in court Wow. TMANDZ/STAR MAX/IPx

It sounds like an action movie, but it’s not. It’s just legal action. Scarlett Johansson’s lawyers have approached an AI app developer for using her likeness in an ad without permission.

An ad spotted on X promoted an AI image editor called Lisa AI used an AI-generated version of Johansson’s voice and image, alongside actual footage of the actor in a Black Widow behind-the-scenes clip. Multiple Lisa AI apps remain on the App Store and Google Play, but the ad no longer appears on X. Yet, when Johansson gets to play a robot voice, that’s OK? Yes. Of course it is.

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These Refurb Ring Stick Up Cams Are Less Than Half Their Original Price - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2023-11-03 07:08
Protect your property with these refurbished Ring Stick Up Cams and pay just $45 each today.

Amazon is bundling a Fire TV 4K Max and Blink Video Doorbell for $65 in early Black Friday deal

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 06:50

Amazon bundle deals are a relatively common occurrence, but the latest one is a pairing we'd never expect: Ahead of Black Friday, Prime Members can get the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Blink Video Doorbell as a pair for $65. The Blink Video Doorbell is $60 on its own, so for another five bucks, you're getting the Fire TV Stick 4K Max — not a bad deal. The 4K Max is having its own sale right now, with a 25 percent discount bringing its price to $45 from $60. So, even if you factor in the sale, you're saving $40 overall, a nice steal.

While the only two things these items might seem to have in common is Amazon's ownership, if we think really hard, we can connect them. Well, not having to get up to check who's at the door while using your streaming device is good for starters. No, even better, you can activate Alexa on the Fire TV Stick to engage in two-way audio through the doorbell.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max supports Dolby Atmos audio, Wi-Fi 6E and HDR10+. Meanwhile, the Blink Video Doorbell shows a 1080p HD picture during the day, uses infrared night video and can be wired or wireless, up to you. All-in-all, they're both solid options to add to your home.

If you're just in the market for a new monitoring system, check out the massive sales across Blink's smart home doorbells and cameras lineup. The Blink Mini three-pack is currently 60 percent off, dropping to $40 from $100, while the new fourth-generation Blink Outdoor has four cameras available for 50 percent off, dropping to $180 from $360. Going back to the theme of bundles, you can pick up the whole Blink Home Bundle for 52 percent off, getting a Video DoorBell system, a fourth-gen Outdoor camera and a Mini for $102, down from $215.

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Legacy HBO Max ad-free subscribers will lose access to 4K streams soon

Engadget - Fri, 2023-11-03 05:23

In just a bit over a month, legacy HBO Max subscribers paying for ad-free streaming will be losing a couple of perks they're enjoying. One of those is 4K streaming. According to The Verge, the streaming service has started sending affected subscribers an email, notifying them that they won’t be able to stream in 4K anymore after December 5th. Warner Bros. Discovery promised existing subscribers when it rebranded the service into "Max" back in May they they would still have access to their plan's features over the next six months. After that period ends, their only option to retain 4K streaming is to let go of their $16-a-month subscription plan to switch to Max’s Ultimate Ad-Free tier that costs $20 a month.

The service introduced the tier when Max launched, promising users access to 1,000 4K movies and TV show episodes, some of which support Dolby Atmos and Vision. Subscribers who choose to keep their legacy plan will have to make do with Full HD resolution. In addition, legacy subscribers will no longer be able to stream on three devices at once, because Max will only allow them access to two concurrent streams. Both changes bring the legacy $16 subscription in line with the new Max Ad Free tier, which costs the same amount.

An Ultimate Ad Free subscription allows subscribers to stream on up to four devices at once, aside from giving them access to 4K content. It costs quite a bit more than the regular ad-free subscription, but those who want higher-quality streaming and can afford to plunk down $200 in one go will be seeing their yearly expenses for Max go up by just a few cents per month. Max also has a $10-a-month ad-supported tier for those who don’t mind their viewing experience interrupted by commercials.

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