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Hatsune Miku in Crypt of the Necrodancer feels like the perfect crossover

Thu, 2024-04-04 16:31

Crypt of the Necrodancer just won’t die — and that’s a good thing. The nearly decade-old roguelike rhythm game received new content on Thursday, bringing virtual pop star Hatsune Miku into the fold as a playable character.

Developer Brace Yourself Games says Hatsune Miku is one of the more challenging characters in the game. She can move in all eight directions and takes out foes by boogying her way through groups of enemies. The developer’s press release explains, “She doesn’t have a shovel like most characters, so she must use her dance-like dash attack to break through walls instead.” Hell yeah.

She has a “Sing!” ability — entirely new to the game — that charms nearby enemies. When one of these charmed foes strikes Miku, she heals instead of losing her health. Brace Yourself Games says it even reskinned all of the game’s armors as official Miku outfits, so you can put on new threads as you shimmy and groove your way through legions of ghosts and skeletons.

Closeup of a Hatsune Miku figure. She's waving a peace sign at the camera as a second figure in a different pose sits (blurred) behind.Photo by Mat Smith / Engadget

If you aren’t familiar, Hatsune Miku is one of the world’s biggest virtual pop stars. She’s a perpetual 16-year-old because she’s the personification of a “Vocaloid,” software that synthesizes pre-recorded vocals to simulate human singing. The avatar has sold out 14,000-seat arenas, collaborated with Pharrell Williams and opened for Lady Gaga. She wasn’t the first digital celebrity, but she may be the most famous.

The Hatsune Miku DLC for Crypt of the Necrodancer is available now for $1.99 on the PlayStation Store and PC via Steam. The content arrives a little later on Switch — on April 13. Check out her moves in the trailer below.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/hatsune-miku-in-crypt-of-the-necrodancer-feels-like-the-perfect-crossover-203138973.html?src=rss

A new series of Star Wars shorts premieres on Disney+ next month

Thu, 2024-04-04 15:00

Disney just pulled a fast one. Star Wars movies and shows are typically announced years before being released, but the company just revealed a new TV program that premieres next month. Tales of the Empire is an animated show produced by Dave Filoni, the man who cut his teeth on cartoons like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels before moving onto live action stuff like Ahsoka.

As the name suggests, this is something of a companion piece to 2022’s Tales of the Jedi. It’s an anthology series that spotlights different characters within the empire as they, uh, heroically try to defeat the nefarious rebels and bring order to the galaxy. You can expect appearances by many of your dark side faves, including Grand Admiral Thrawn, General Grievous and the Grand Inquisitor.

Just like how Tales of the Jedi put the spotlight on two characters, Ahsoka and Count Dooku, this new series will have its own duo to follow. There’s Morgan Elsbeth, a primary antagonist in Ahsoka and one episode of The Mandalorian, with the trailer indicating that Tales of the Empire will reveal how Thrawn and Elsbeth became besties. The show will also focus on Barriss Offee, a former Jedi Knight who fell to the dark side during the Clone Wars.

Despite being animated, the characters will be played by their live action actors. Lars Mikkelsen returns as Thrawn and Matthew Wood is once again portraying Grievous, the evil cyborg who is in dire need of some cough syrup. Diana Lee Inosanto is back as Elsbeth and Meredith Salenger is voicing Offee.

The show premieres on everyone’s favorite corporate-sponsored pseudo-holiday, May the Fourth, also known as May 4. All six episodes will be available to stream on Disney+ upon the release date. The live action Star Wars: Acolyte follows this with a premiere on June 4.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a-new-series-of-star-wars-shorts-premieres-on-disney-next-month-190007395.html?src=rss

Who exactly is YouTube’s multicam Coachella stream for?

Thu, 2024-04-04 14:37

YouTube is hyping its exclusive Coachella streaming coverage, which starts next week. The headlining feature is the platform’s multiview experience (already familiar to sports fans) for the two-weekend festival. Our question from this announcement is, who wants to watch several different artists’ sets at the same time — when you can only listen to one?

The multiview experience will let you watch up to four stages simultaneously, letting you pick which one to hear: exactly how multiview works for March Madness, NFL games or any other sporting event. Here’s how YouTube pitches the feature: “Two of your favorite bands playing on different stages at the same time? No problem, multiview will have you and your friends covered to catch both sets at the same time via the YouTube app on TV at no additional cost.”

Maybe I’m of the wrong generation and have too long of an attention span, but who wants to watch an artist’s set without hearing it? That’s what will happen to the three stages you aren’t listening to. Wouldn’t it be better to... watch the one you’re hearing? And then catch up on the others on-demand when you can listen to them as well?

Sports multiview makes sense because there are scores to track and timeouts, halftimes and blowouts to divert your attention to another game. You don’t need to hear an NBA game to keep an eye on the ball. (Depending on the commentators, you may prefer not to listen to it.) It’s primarily a visual experience; the audio is secondary.

But music, even when played live with all the light shows, fog machines and dancing accompanying it, is still an auditory experience first and foremost. If multiple artists you like play at once, you still can’t (and wouldn’t want to) hear more than one simultaneously. In YouTube’s multiview, you pick one stage to hear and the rest to… watch them sing and dance on mute in a little box alongside three other muted performances. Yay?

It sounds like a solution looking for a problem — YouTube applying its existing tech (which, to be fair, works very well with sports) to a music festival. Never mind that it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Perplexed rants aside, YouTube will have six livestream feeds to bounce between (but, again, only four at once in multiview). That includes Sonora for the first weekend and Yuma for the second. This year’s headliners include Lana Del Rey, Doja Cat, No Doubt and Tyler, the Creator.

Between sets, YouTube will stream “special editorial content” from the artists onsite. Each day after the night’s final set, YouTube’s Coachella channel will repeat that day’s sets until the livestream returns the next day. That sounds like a better way to catch up on the sets you didn’t see live.

The event takes place in Indio, California, about 130 miles east of LA, from April 12 to 14 and April 19 to 21. You can tune in on YouTube’s Coachella channel.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/who-exactly-is-youtubes-multicam-coachella-stream-for-183744741.html?src=rss

The latest Razer Blade 18 is now available to order

Thu, 2024-04-04 14:03

It’s taken Razer a few extra months to get its latest 18-inch Blade laptop ready for primetime after we first saw it at CES. Those who have been waiting for the company’s latest chonkster can now order the 2024 edition of the Razor Blade 18, which starts at $3,099.

The base system comes with an i9-14900HX processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, Wi-Fi 7, a triple-fan cooling system and a six-speaker array with THX spatial audio support. On the GPU side, you can equip the laptop with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 (the base model has a 4070 graphics card). In what Razer claims is a first for a laptop, there's Thunderbolt 5 connectivity, but only if you opt for a 4080 or 4090 GPU.

Razer Blade 18.Razer

The display is one of the big talking points for this laptop. It comes with a QHD+ 300Hz Mini-LED display as standard. If you want higher fidelity, you can opt for a 4K 200Hz screen. The company seems to have found an extra 35 hertz since CES, since it said at the time the Razer Blade 18 would have a 4K 165Hz display option. Razer claims that this display is a world first for a laptop and it’ll set you back an extra $1,700, far more than an equivalent standalone monitor would cost. You'll also need to wait until later this summer for a model with a 4K 200Hz panel to ship, whereas you can snag one with the QHD+ display now.

We felt that last year's model was very expensive for a fully kitted-out configuration and that's the case again this time around. Still, if you need a big-screen, high-end laptop that can run just about any program or game you can throw at it, the latest Razer Blade 18 can be all yours if you have the cash to spare.

Razer Blade 18.Razer

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-latest-razer-blade-18-is-now-available-to-order-180330999.html?src=rss

Ford delays some electric vehicles, renews focus on hybrids

Thu, 2024-04-04 13:20

Ford just announced some delays for electric vehicles, including the long-awaited three-row SUV. The car was supposed to come out next year but has now been delayed until 2027, with the company suggesting it will use the extra time to “take advantage of emerging battery technology.” Ford says it’ll be making moves to “mitigate the impact the launch delay will have on” the Canadian workforce.

The next-generation electric pickup, codenamed “T3,” is also being delayed from late 2025 to 2026. It’s being built at the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Center assembly plant at the company’s BlueOval City complex, though Ford says it's just now installing stamping equipment that will produce the sheet metal for the truck.

Alongside these announcements, the company has revealed a new push for hybrid vehicles. It has stated it plans on offering hybrid powertrains across the entire Ford Blue lineup by 2030. Despite the aforementioned delays and the pivot toward hybrid vehicles, Ford says it remains committed to EVs and that it's continuing construction of battery plants in Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky.

However, it’s no secret that the EV market is not quite as robust as companies once hoped it would be. Maybe it’s the high price of entry, the spotty charging infrastructure or the fact that some EVs do not qualify for the federal tax break. Heck, maybe consumers are simply turned off by a certain CEO who shall not be named

In any event, the slowdown is real, though perhaps a bit overstated. Ford experienced a decline in EV sales of 11 percent in January, but the company says it bounced back and that sales have increased by 86 percent throughout the entire first quarter when compared to last year. However, the company's EV offerings lost $4.7 billion in 2023.

“We are committed to scaling a profitable EV business", said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. To that end, the company announced last year that it would be delaying or canceling $12 billion in planned spending on electric vehicles. It’s unclear how today’s announcements will impact Ford's plans to ramp up production to 600,000 EVs per year. In any event, customers can now use Tesla Superchargers in the US and Canada, which should help assuage some of those infrastructure concerns.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ford-delays-some-electric-vehicles-renews-focus-on-hybrids-172007210.html?src=rss

Amazon’s Prime Gaming titles for April include Fallout 76 and Chivalry 2

Thu, 2024-04-04 11:37

Amazon is offering another decent batch of games to Prime members at no extra cost for the month of April. Leading the bunch is Fallout 76, a multiplayer take on the post-apocalyptic franchise. There’s also the hack and slash adventure Chivalry 2 and around a dozen more.

Fallout 76 is just the latest title in the series to hit Prime Gaming, likely to coincide with this month’s premiere of the Fallout TV show. It experienced mixed reviews upon release, with many complaining about an overall lack of purpose in the gameplay and a blandness in the design. Other people simply enjoyed wandering around a post-apocalyptic West Virginia with their buddies.

The game’s available for PC and, interestingly, Xbox consoles. People can download it from GOG for PC and Amazon will hand out a code to Prime members for an Xbox download. Fallout 76 will be available on April 11, the same exact day all eight episodes of the show drop. 

Chivalry 2, on the other hand, is available right now. This is a modern take on the hack and slash genre, with a first-person POV, multiplayer matches with up to 64 players at once and a grimy medieval setting. There’s also crossplay for every available platform. Prime members can download it at the Epic Games Store.

Other titles coming this month include Black Desert, Demon’s Tilt, Rose Riddle: The Fairy Tale Detective Collector’s Edition and many more. Click the link above for the full list. Additionally, Prime Members in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK can access some new games on Luna at no extra charge. These include LEGO Fortnite, Earthworm Jim 2 and Trackmania, among others.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-prime-gaming-titles-for-april-include-fallout-76-and-chivalry-2-153731669.html?src=rss

Only 57 companies produced 80 percent of global carbon dioxide

Thu, 2024-04-04 09:07

Last year was the hottest on record and the Earth is headed towards a global warming of 2.7 degrees, yet top fossil fuel and cement producers show a disregard for climate change and actively make things worse. A new Carbon Majors Database report found that just 57 companies were responsible for 80 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions between 2016 and 2022. Thirty-eight percent of total emissions during this period came from nation-states, 37 percent from state-owned entities and 25 percent from investor-owned companies. 

Nearly 200 parties adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, 58 of the 100 state- and investor-owned companies in the Carbon Majors Database have increased their production in the years since (The Climate Accountability Institute launched Carbon Majors in 2013 to hold fossil fuel producers accountable and is hosted by InfluenceMap). This number represents producers worldwide, including 87 percent of those assessed in Asia, 57 percent in Europe and 43 percent in North America. 

It's not a clear case of things slowly turning around, either. The International Energy Agency found coal consumption increased by eight percent over the seven years to 8.3 billion tons — a record high. The report names state-owned Coal India as one of the top three carbon dioxide producers. Russia's state-owned energy company Gazprom and state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco rounded out the trio of worst offenders. 

Exxon Mobil topped the list of United States companies, contributing 1.4 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. "These companies have made billions of dollars in profits while denying the problem and delaying and obstructing climate policy. They are spending millions on advertising campaigns about being part of a sustainable solution, all the while continuing to invest in more fossil fuel extraction," Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth and Chair at Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, said in a statement. "These findings emphasize that, more than ever, we need our governments to stand up to these companies, and we need new international cooperation through a Fossil Fuel Treaty to end the expansion of fossil fuels and ensure a truly just transition." 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/only-57-companies-produced-80-percent-of-global-carbon-dioxide-130752291.html?src=rss

Waymo's self-driving vehicles are now doing Uber Eats deliveries in Phoenix

Thu, 2024-04-04 09:00

If you're in the Metro Phoenix area — and don't mind walking out of your place to get your food delivery — your Uber Eats order may just get delivered by one of Waymo's self-driving cars. The companies have officially launched the next part of their ongoing multi-year partnership, which also includes offering robotaxi rides to the ride-hailing service's customers in the area. When you place an order on Uber Eats, you'll get a prompt that says "autonomous vehicles may deliver your order." 

You will be notified if a Waymo car does pick up your order, and you'll have to take your phone with you when you meet it so that you can open its trunk and get your food. Don't worry, you can opt out during the checkout process in case you're not feeling up to going out and getting your order and would rather have someone deliver food to your door. 

At the moment, Waymo deliveries are only available in Chandler, Tempe and Mesa, and only for select merchants, including local joints and chains like Princess Pita and BoSa Donuts. An Uber spokesperson told CNBC, though, that the companies are looking to expand their service area and are looking to add more merchants to their list. They also told the news organization that Waymo will be using its Jaguar I-PACE electric vehicles, which it's been testing in Arizona for years, for deliveries. It doesn't sound like Waymo deliveries will be more expensive either, since the spokesperson said you'll only have to pay standard fares and will not be charged for tips. 

The companies first announced that they were teaming up to offer robotaxi rides and deliveries in Phoenix last year, following Waymo's service area expansion in the region. Robotaxi rides became available in the metropolitan area by October, and you'll get the option to hail one when you request an UberX, Uber Green, Uber Comfort or Uber Comfort Electric. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/waymos-self-driving-vehicles-are-now-doing-uber-eats-deliveries-in-phoenix-130052864.html?src=rss

iRobot says its new robot vacuum and mop outperforms 600 Series Roombas for $275

Thu, 2024-04-04 08:00

Robot vacuums are handy little devices that can help folks save a ton of time and energy. However, some of the more well-known options are often a bit pricey, especially when a mopping function comes into the mix. As it happens, iRobot has revealed a relatively budget-friendly 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mop. It says the $275 Roomba Combo Essential actually outperforms the Roomba 600 Series thanks to 20 times more suction power, and the addition of a mop and smart navigation.

According to iRobot, this model offers 25 percent better performance at picking up dirt from hard floors than the Roomba 600 Series. It's also said to have a longer battery life at up to 120 minutes, the ability to clean in neat rows, customizable suction and liquid settings, Clean Map reports and intelligent settings such as suggested cleaning schedules.

Although you can set up cleanings in advance, you can start one at any time with an Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant voice command. Alternatively, you can press the Clean button or tap a button in the iRobot Home app to put the device to work right away.

Roomba Combo EssentialiRobot

The device has a four-stage cleaning system that includes adjustable suction and liquid settings, a v-shaped multi-surface brush, an edge-sweeping brush and a pump-fed microfiber mop pad. For vacuum-only operation (i.e if you're looking to remove dirt from a rug), you'll need to remove the mop pad first. That adds a little bit of friction to using this model. There's another trade-off in that this isn't a self-emptying Roomba — you'll need to empty out the dirt storage bin manually more often.

Still, this seems like a solid Roomba at an eye-catching price. It's available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa now, and iRobot will start selling it in the US on April 7 and Canada on April 12. The Roomba Combo Essential will reach Asia Pacific markets later this month. Folks in the US can trade in a Roomba 600 Series for a $50 credit toward a Roomba Combo Essential

In addition, iRobot is rolling out a model called the Roomba Vac Essential in North America. It has the same smart functions and other similar features as the Combo Essential, but there's no mop. That robot vacuum will cost $250 and it'll land in the US on April 7 and Canada on April 12.

Meanwhile, iRobot says it has reached a new milestone. Since debuting the Roomba in 2002, the company has sold more than 50 million robots.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/irobot-says-its-new-robot-vacuum-and-mop-outperforms-600-series-roombas-for-275-120028786.html?src=rss

The Morning After: NASA has to make a time zone for the Moon

Thu, 2024-04-04 07:15

The White House has published a policy memo asking NASA to create a new time standard for the Moon by 2026. Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) will establish an official time reference to help guide future lunar missions. The US, China, Japan, India and Russia have space missions to the Moon planned or completed.

NASA (and the White House) aren’t the only ones trying. The European Space Agency is also trying to make a time zone outside of Earth’s… zone.

Given the Moon’s weaker gravity, time moves slightly faster there. “The same clock we have on Earth would move at a different rate on the Moon,” NASA space communications and navigation chief Kevin Coggins told Reuters.

You saw Interstellar, right? Er, just like that. Exactly like that. No further questions.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Meta’s AI image generator struggles to create images of couples of different races

Our favorite cheap smartphone is on sale for $250 right now

OnePlus rolls out its own version of Google’s Magic Eraser

How to watch (and record) the solar eclipse on April 8

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

Microsoft may have finally made quantum computing useful The most error-free quantum solution yet, apparently.

What if we could build a machine working at the quantum level that could tackle complex calculations exponentially faster than a computer limited by classic physics? Despite all the heady dreams of quantum computing and press releases from IBM and Google, it's still a what-if. Microsoft now says it’s developed the most error-free quantum computing system yet, with Quantinuum. It’s not a thing I can condense into a single paragraph. You… saw Interstellar, right?

Continue reading.

Stability AI’s audio generator can now create three-minute ‘songs’ Still not that good, though.

Stability AI just unveiled Stable Audio 2.0, an upgraded version of its music-generation platform. With this system, you can use your own text to create up to three minutes of audio, which is roughly the length of a song. You can hone the results by choosing a genre or even uploading audio to inspire the algo. It’s fun — try it out. Just don’t add vocals, trust me.

Continue reading.

Bloomberg says Apple is developing personal robots now EVs schmee vees.

Apple, hunting for its next iPhone / Apple Watch / Vision Pro (maybe?), might be trying to get into robots. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, one area the company is exploring is personal robotics — and it started looking at electric vehicles too. The report says Apple has started working on a mobile robot to follow users around their home and has already developed a table-top device that uses a robot to move a screen around.

Continue reading.

Another Matrix movie is happening. Not like this. TMAWarner Bros.


Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-nasa-has-to-make-a-time-zone-for-the-moon-111554408.html?src=rss

Apple AirPods 2 fall to just $89

Thu, 2024-04-04 07:00

Now's a good time to shop if you're looking for reliable earbuds that won't break the bank. There's currently a sale on Apple AirPods, including a 31 percent discount on the second-generation Apple AirPods to $89 from $129. While the second-gen Apple AirPods came out back in 2019, the entry-level option is still a great option — especially on sale. 

Apple's second-generation AirPods have an H1 headphone chip that provides a low-latency, clear sound. You can access Siri through them and control settings like pause, play and next song by double tapping one AirPod — plus customize which side does what. The second-gen AirPods hold about five hours of juice at a time and last up to 24 hours with the lightning charging case.

The entry-level AirPods are on sale alongside the third-generation Apple AirPod's 13 percent drop to $149 from $169. The newest model's improvements include much better audio quality and six hours of battery life (or 30 with the charging case). The second-gen AirPods Pro are marked down to $199 from $249 — a 20 percent discount. These AirPods are worth the extra cost if you want noise canceling, great sound with an H2 chip and a MagSafe USB-C charging case. 

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

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-airpods-2-fall-to-just-89-110000712.html?src=rss

X is giving blue checks to people with more than 2,500 Premium followers

Thu, 2024-04-04 05:09

Last night, several prominent journalists and other posted (complained in many cases) about unexpectedly regaining their verified blue checks on Elon Musk's X platform. One of them, Peter Kafka, shared a message from X showing that the upgrade was no accident. 

"As an influential member of the community on X, we've given you a complimentary subscription to X Premium subject to X Premium Terms by selecting this notice," it states.

A subsequent tweet from X provided an explanation: Any accounts with over 2,500 verified (ie, paid Premium or Premium+ blue tick subscribers) get Premium features for free, and any with over 5,000 get the ad-free Premium+ tier, also gratis

based on all the confused tweets i’m seeing, it looks like Twitter / X is starting to really ramp up the roll out of this now

if you suddenly have a blue checkmark even though you’re not paying for one, this is why: pic.twitter.com/T1XaBEeGgn

— Matt Binder (@MattBinder) April 3, 2024

Prior to this, the only users to get free Premium blue checks have been those with large follower numbers (in the million range, minimum), along with celebrities and corporations/media companies. The new move appears to be a way to bring influential users with lower follower counts (journalists largely) into the fold. 

So what prompted this? X may have decided it needs more journalists with blue checks. In the wake of recent events (the Taiwan earthquake, Turkey elections, Baltimore bridge collapse), some users complained that X is no longer the gold standard breaking news platform that Twitter used to be. 

That's likely because journalists, who discover or amplify such news, have seen reduced prominence while X's algorithms amplify blue check content and replies. That means know-nothing or shitcoin promoters with 25 followers who paid 8 bucks will appear atop replies, rather than an experienced journalist who can furnish useful, truthful information. 

With the blue check now being a mark of shame in many cases, a fair number of the users who regained one aren't necessarily happy about it. "Shit, I've been forcibly bluechecked. How do I opt out," wrote @emptywheel. "oh no," Katie Notopoulos tweeted. "I am become bluecheck, promoter of shibacoin."

Shit. I've been forcibly bluechecked.

How do I opt out?

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 3, 2024

i am become bluecheck, promoter of shibacoin

— Katie Notopoulos (@katienotopoulos) April 3, 2024

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/x-is-giving-blue-checks-to-people-with-more-than-2500-premium-followers-090922311.html?src=rss

How to choose the best TV for gaming right now

Thu, 2024-04-04 03:01

These days, the best gaming TVs are really no different from the best TVs you can buy in general. That said, there are a few key features to keep in mind when looking for a set to get the most out of your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S. No, you don’t need a fancy TV to simply enjoy a video game, but a good screen can only make the experience more enjoyable. If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve laid out some helpful advice for buying a good gaming TV and noted a few well-reviewed examples you can buy today, at various price points.

What to look for in a gaming TV

Whether you use it for gaming or not, all good TVs are built on the same foundations. You want a 4K resolution, sufficient brightness, high contrast ratios with deep and uniform black tones, colors that find the right balance between accuracy and saturation, and wide viewing angles. For video games specifically, you want a TV with minimal input lag and fast motion response, with no blur or other unwanted artifacts behind quick-moving objects. Of course, finding a set that has all of these gaming features and fits into your budget can be tricky.

For now, a top OLED TV will offer the best picture quality for gaming or otherwise. But good OLED TVs usually cost more than their LCD counterparts, and some OLED sets may not get bright enough for those who have their TV set in a particularly well-lit room. If you opt for an LCD TV, an advanced backlight with mini LEDs and effective full-array local dimming will usually improve contrast and lighting detail, while a quantum dot filter can enhance colors.

One thing you don’t need to worry about is 8K support. Although the PS5 and Xbox Series X are technically capable of outputting 8K video, very few games are made for that resolution, and 8K’s practical benefits are extremely minimal unless you plan on sitting unreasonably close to a massive TV. The few 8K TVs on the market are also very expensive.

All that said, there are a few terms you should particularly look out for when buying a TV for your new game console or high-end graphics card.

HDMI 2.1

To get the most out of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, your TV should have full HDMI 2.1 support. This is the latest major update to the HDMI spec, enabling a higher maximum bandwidth — 48 gigabits per second, up from HDMI 2.0’s 18 Gbps — and a handful of features that are beneficial for gaming performance specifically. These include variable refresh rate (VRR) and automatic low latency mode (ALLM), which we detail further below.

Beyond that, perhaps the chief perk of HDMI 2.1 is its ability to transmit sharp 4K video up to a 120Hz refresh rate with modern consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X, or up to 144Hz with a powerful gaming PC. Not every PS5 or Xbox Series X/S game supports frame rates that high — and some only do at lower resolutions — but those that do will look and feel especially fluid in motion. HDMI 2.1 also includes support for Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), which allows you to pass higher-quality lossless audio from a source device connected to the TV to a compatible soundbar or receiver.

The more full HDMI 2.1 ports your TV has, the better. “Full” is the key word there. As reported by TFT Central, because HDMI 2.1 is backwards compatible with HDMI 2.0, TV and monitor manufacturers have been allowed to brand HDMI ports as “HDMI 2.1” even if they lack full (or any) support for the spec’s upgraded features. We recommend a few TVs below that have true HDMI 2.1 ports, but if you’re buying a new TV for gaming, make sure your chosen set isn’t trying to hide any capabilities you may consider essential.

HDR — High Dynamic Range

HDR refers to a TV's ability to display a wider range between the darkest and brightest parts of a picture. This broader range can bring out details that would otherwise be missing on a standard dynamic range (SDR) TV, in both the very dark and, especially, the very bright areas of an image. HDR typically comes with an improvement to color reproduction as well, displaying a larger palette of more vibrant colors that brings content closer to its creator’s original vision.

To get an HDR picture, you need both content that is mastered to take advantage of the tech and a TV capable of displaying that content. HDR also comes in a variety of formats, which are generally split between those that utilize static metadata (e.g., HDR10) and those that utilize dynamic metadata (e.g., HDR10+, Dolby Vision). In short, the latter allows a TV to optimize its brightness and colors on a per-scene or even per-frame basis, while the former uses one set of optimized settings for the entirety of the given content. Support for these formats can differ depending on the TV, content and game console you use. The Xbox Series X and S, for example, support Dolby Vision for gaming, while the PS5 does not.

The good news is that most TVs you’d buy in 2023 are HDR-ready in some fashion, even on the budget end of the market. The catch is that some TVs are much better at getting the most out of HDR than others. The same goes for actual content mastered in HDR. With video games in particular, there aren’t quite as many titles designed to take advantage of HDR as there are movies (though the number is growing all the time), and the variance in HDR quality tends to be wider.

HGiG — HDR Gaming Interest Group

HGiG stands for the HDR Gaming Interest Group. Sony and Microsoft are both members, as are many TV makers and game developers. What this means is that, ideally, all the groups communicate information so that you can start up a new game on a console or PC and have it automatically recognize your display. Once that happens, the game can adjust the internal settings to adjust for that display's capabilities and give you the best picture quality possible, without losing details in the brightest or darkest areas of the screen. For example, daylight at the end of a dark tunnel may portray a brightly lit environment instead of looking like an overexposed white blob.

This is a good thing, but the reality is a bit more complicated. Not all TVs highlight HGiG compatibility in their settings menu, while only some PlayStation and Xbox games recognize and follow the guidelines. If an HGiG option is listed in your TV's tone mapping settings, you should turn it on prior to running the console's HDR settings. Then, if you're playing a game that supports HDR and HGiG, you should be in good shape without having to adjust the various luminance levels again. Still, how all of this looks to you might differ depending on your TV and the game you’re playing. Owners of certain LG OLED TVs, for instance, may prefer their TV’s Dynamic Tone Mapping setting. Use whatever settings you think look best.

ALLM — Auto Low Latency Mode

ALLM allows a source (like your PS5 or Xbox) to tell the display to switch into a picture mode that reduces lag between receiving each frame of an image and displaying it on the TV. This cuts out additional processing that could be the milliseconds of difference between landing a precise input or not. A good modern TV can automatically switch to game mode, then back out when you'd rather watch a movie or TV show.

VRR — Variable Refresh Rate

VRR will sound familiar if you're a PC gamer. Most players have experienced slowdown, screen tearing or stuttering as a system struggles to render each frame at the target speed, which is most commonly 30 or 60 fps on a TV. With VRR, everything stays in sync: Your display won't show the next frame until it's ready, which can make things feel smoother and more responsive, even if the system fails to deliver on its target frame rate.

There are a few different implementations of VRR available, including Nvidia’s G-Sync, AMD’s FreeSync and the HDMI Forum’s VRR spec, which is part of the full HDMI 2.1 standard. Both a TV and an input device need to support the same VRR tech for it to work, and different devices may only support VRR within a specific refresh rate window. On a 120Hz display, for instance, the PS5’s VRR only works between 48Hz and 120Hz.

As a reminder, the PS5 supports HDMI Forum VRR, the Xbox Series X/S support HDMI Forum VRR and FreeSync, while gaming PCs may support G-Sync or FreeSync depending on whether they use a Nvidia or AMD graphics card. A great gaming TV supports all the big VRR formats, but missing, say, G-Sync, isn’t a killer if you only game on a PS5 or Xbox.

Good gaming TVs you can get right now

The likes of Samsung, LG, TCL, Vizio and Hisense have unveiled new TVs for 2024 but, as of this writing, we’ve only recently started to see the first few of those become available. Details for more new models should be confirmed in the coming weeks. If history is any indication, though, most of those sets are unlikely to be game-changing upgrades over the 2023 models still on sale today, and they'll cost more out of the gate. We'll have to see if there are exceptions, of course: Samsung’s new S95D OLED TV now uses anti-glare technology, for instance, while Hisense promises improved brightness across its new midrange sets. If you want the latest and greatest and are willing to pay more to get it, hold out for a little longer.  

But the TV market is always in motion. Most of the best models from last year have steadily fallen in price since launch, and they should only drop further as manufacturers look to clear out inventory. This means that, in most cases, buying a good 2023 TV should continue to provide the most bang for your buck, at least for the near term. Those are the sets we’ve highlighted with our recommendations below. While we at Engadget do not formally review TVs, we’re confident in our picks after thoroughly researching user feedback and the consensus from other professional review sites we trust, such as Rtings, Wirecutter, Reviewed and PCMag, among others.

Richard Lawler contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-tvs-for-gaming-180033983.html?src=rss

Apple is developing personal robots for your home, Bloomberg says

Thu, 2024-04-04 00:42

Apple is still on the hunt for the next revolutionary product to help it remain dominant in the market and to serve as new sources of revenue after abandoning its plans to develop an electric vehicle of its own. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, one of the areas the company is exploring is personal robotics. It reportedly started looking into robots and electric vehicles at the same time, with the hopes of developing a machine that doesn't need human intervention. 

While Apple's robotics projects are still in the very early stages, Bloomberg said it had already started working on a mobile robot that can follow users around their home and had already developed a table-top device that uses a robot to move a screen around. The idea behind the latter is to have a machine that can mimic head movements and can lock on to a single person in a group, presumably for a better video call experience. Since these robots are supposed to be able to move on their own, the company is also looking into the use of algorithms for navigation. Based on the report, Apple's home devices group is in charge of their development, and at least one engineer who worked on its scrapped EV initiative has joined the team. 

Robots, however, aren't like phones in the sense that people these days need them in their lives. Apple is apparently worried about whether people would pay "top dollar" for the robots it has in mind, and executives still can't get to an agreement on whether the company should keep working on these projects. Gurman previously reported that Apple may have sold its EV for $100,000 — if that's true, it had a bigger potential to grow the company's revenue. But the Apple Car is now out of the picture, and the company is reportedly putting all of its focus on the Vision Pro and new products for the home, which also includes a home hub device with a display that resembles an iPad. Of course, Apple could still scrap these projects, and it could find other classes of products to invest in if it discovers that they could bring in bigger money in the future. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-is-developing-personal-robots-for-your-home-bloomberg-says-044254029.html?src=rss

Meta’s AI image generator struggles to create images of couples of different races

Wed, 2024-04-03 19:14

Meta AI is consistently unable to generate accurate images for seemingly simple prompts like “Asian man and Caucasian friend,” or “Asian man and white wife,” The Verge reports. Instead, the company’s image generator seems to be biased toward creating images of people of the same race, even when explicitly prompted otherwise.

Engadget confirmed these results in our own testing of Meta’s web-based image generator. Prompts for “an Asian man with a white woman friend” or “an Asian man with a white wife” generated images of Asian couples. When asked for “a diverse group of people,” Meta AI generated a grid of nine white faces and one person of color. There were a couple occasions when it created a single result that reflected the prompt, but in most cases it failed to accurately depict the prompt.

As The Verge points out, there are other more “subtle” signs of bias in Meta AI, like a tendency to make Asian men appear older while Asian women appeared younger. The image generator also sometimes added “culturally specific attire” even when that wasn’t part of the prompt.

It’s not clear why Meta AI is struggling with these types of prompts, though it’s not the first generative AI platform to come under scrutiny for its depiction of race. Google’s Gemini image generator paused its ability to create images of people after it overcorrected for diversity with bizarre results in response prompts about historical figures. Google later explained that its internal safeguards failed to account for situations when diverse results were inappropriate.

Meta didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously described Meta AI as being in “beta” and thus prone to making mistakes. Meta AI has also struggled to accurately answer simple questions about current events and public figures.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/metas-ai-image-generator-struggles-to-create-images-of-couples-of-different-races-231424476.html?src=rss

The White House tells NASA to create a new time zone for the Moon

Wed, 2024-04-03 15:39

On Tuesday, The White House published a policy memo directing NASA to create a new time standard for the Moon by 2026. Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) will establish an official time reference to help guide future lunar missions. It arrives as a 21st-century space race emerges between (at least) the US, China, Japan, India and Russia.

The memo directs NASA to work with the Departments of Commerce, Defense, State, and Transportation to plan a strategy to put LTC into practice by December 31, 2026. International cooperation will also play a role, especially with signees of the Artemis Accords. Established in 2020, they’re a set of common principles between a growing list of (currently) 37 countries that govern space exploration and operating principles. China and Russia are not part of that group.

“As NASA, private companies, and space agencies around the world launch missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, it’s important that we establish celestial time standards for safety and accuracy,” OSTP Deputy Director for National Security Steve Welby wrote in a White House press release. “A consistent definition of time among operators in space is critical to successful space situational awareness capabilities, navigation, and communications, all of which are foundational to enable interoperability across the U.S. government and with international partners.”

Einstein’s theories of relativity dictate that time changes relative to speed and gravity. Given the Moon’s weaker gravity (and movement differences between it and Earth), time moves slightly faster there. So an Earth-based clock on the lunar surface would appear to gain an average of 58.7 microseconds per Earth day. As the US and other countries plan Moon missions to research, explore and (eventually) build bases for permanent residence, using a single standard will help them synchronize technology and missions requiring precise timing.

“The same clock that we have on Earth would move at a different rate on the moon,” NASA space communications and navigation chief Kevin Coggins told Reuters. “Think of the atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory (in Washington). They’re the heartbeat of the nation, synchronizing everything. You’re going to want a heartbeat on the moon.”

Photo of the Moon, captured by NASA, in exquisite detail.NASA

The White House wants LTC to coordinate with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard by which all of Earth’s time zones are measured. Its memo says it wants the new time zone to enable accurate navigation and scientific endeavors. It also wants LTC to maintain resilience if it loses contact with Earth while providing scalability for space environments “beyond the Earth-Moon system.”

NASA’s Artemis program aims to send crewed missions back to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. The space agency said in January that Artemis 2, which will fly around the Moon with four people onboard, is now set for a September 2025 launch. Artemis 3, which plans to put humans back on the Moon’s surface, is now scheduled for 2026.

In addition to the US, China aims to put astronauts on the Moon before 2030 as the world’s two foremost global superpowers take their race to space. Although no other countries have announced crewed missions to the lunar surface, India (which put a module and rover on the Moon’s South Pole last year), Russia (its mission around the same time didn’t go so well), the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea and private companies have all demonstrated lunar ambitions in recent years.

In addition to enabling further scientific exploration, technological establishment and resource mining, the Moon could serve as a critical stop on the way to Mars. It could test technologies and provide fuel and supply needs for eventual human missions to the Red Planet.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-white-house-tells-nasa-to-create-a-new-time-zone-for-the-moon-193957377.html?src=rss

Prepare for more red pill memes: a fifth Matrix movie is happening

Wed, 2024-04-03 14:48

There’s another Matrix movie in the works. Warner Bros. just greenlit a fifth installment of the saga, as reported by Deadline. However, neither Lana Wachowski or Lilly Wachowski will be handling directing duties. That honor falls to Drew Goddard, who adapted The Martian into a screenplay and directed the criminally underrated Cabin in the Woods. He's also writing the script. 

Goddard cut his teeth writing episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Lost, among others — you could say he knows his way around genre content. Lana Wachowski will be on board as an executive producer, so there will be some input from one of the franchise’s original creators.

There’s no word as to what the film will be about, but Warner Bros. says that Goddard came to the company with a “new idea that we all believe would be an incredible way to continue the Matrix world.” Goddard added that the original films inspire him on a daily basis and that he is “beyond grateful for the chance to tell stories” in that world.

Warner Bros. is also being cagey as to which, if any, cast members would be returning. The original trilogy featured Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving and Jada Pinkett Smith. Most of these actors returned for 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections, with one story-based exception.

Speaking of The Matrix Resurrections, it received mixed reviews from both critics and audiences. We loved the film, going as far as to call it brilliant, but admitted that it wasn’t for everyone. That’s par for the course with this franchise. Every single Matrix movie beyond the first one is divisive. We’ll have to wait and see what Goddard brings to the table.

He’s also writing a film adaptation based on another novel by The Martian scribe Andy Weir. Project Hail Mary will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and will star Ryan Gosling as an astronaut trying to save the planet from a star-eating microbe.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/prepare-for-more-red-pill-memes-a-fifth-matrix-movie-is-happening-184811691.html?src=rss

The next Ubisoft Forward showcase is set for June 10 alongside WWDC

Wed, 2024-04-03 13:02

Ubisoft has revealed when its next major showcase will take place. The latest edition of Ubisoft Forward is set for June 10 in Los Angeles. That's at the tailend of the main slate of Summer Game Fest festivities, and on the same day as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

While Ubisoft hasn't revealed specifically what it plans to show off at Forward, it's promising updates and news on upcoming releases. During its most recent earnings report, Ubisoft said it would shed more light on some upcoming projects in May, but it seems Forward is now the more likely venue for that.

It’s back ✨

Join us live from Los Angeles for #UbiForward on June 10 for updates and upcoming releases! pic.twitter.com/PevpR3rfvH

— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) April 3, 2024

At Forward, we'll probably find out more details about what's next for Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft's flagship franchise. The feudal Japan-set Assassin's Creed Codename Red is slated to arrive within the next year, while we've long been awaiting more info on Assassin's Creed Infinity, which is set to tie the series together,

It's a safe bet that Star Wars Outlaws will get some shine at Forward, since that game is scheduled for release in 2024. With XDefiant being delayed indefinitely (it was supposed to arrive by the end of March) amid reports of a troubled development process, perhaps we'll find out more about that game at Forward too. Mobile games The Division Resurgence and Rainbow Six Mobile were also slated to come under the spotlight in May, so we could see those at Forward as well. Just don't expect any sea shanties this time.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-next-ubisoft-forward-showcase-is-set-for-june-10-alongside-wwdc-170210746.html?src=rss

Microsoft may have finally made quantum computing useful

Wed, 2024-04-03 12:45

The dream of quantum computing has always been exciting: What if we could build a machine working at the quantum level that could tackle complex calculations exponentially faster than a computer limited by classical physics? But despite seeing IBM, Google and others announce iterative quantum computing hardware, they're still not being used for any practical purposes. That might change with today's announcement from Microsoft and Quantinuum, who say they've developed the most error-free quantum computing system yet.

While classical computers and electronics rely on binary bits as their basic unit of information (they can be either on or off), quantum computers work with qubits, which can exist in a superposition of two states at the same time. The trouble with qubits is that they're prone to error, which is the main reason today's quantum computers (known as Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum [NISQ] computers) are just used for research and experimentation.

Microsoft's solution was to group physical qubits into virtual qubits, which allows it to apply error diagnostics and correction without destroying them, and run it all over Quantinuum's hardware. The result was an error rate that was 800 times better than relying on physical qubits alone. Microsoft claims it was able to run more than 14,000 experiments without any errors.

According to Jason Zander, EVP of Microsoft's Strategic Missions and Technologies division, this achievement could finally bring us to "Level 2 Resilient" quantum computing, which would be reliable enough for practical applications.

"The task at hand for the entire quantum ecosystem is to increase the fidelity of qubits and enable fault-tolerant quantum computing so that we can use a quantum machine to unlock solutions to previously intractable problems," Zander, wrote in a blog post today. "In short, we need to transition to reliable logical qubits — created by combining multiple physical qubits together into logical ones to protect against noise and sustain a long (i.e., resilient) computation. ... By having high-quality hardware components and breakthrough error-handling capabilities designed for that machine, we can get better results than any individual component could give us."

Microsoft Quantum ComputingMicrosoft

Researchers will be able to get a taste of Microsoft's reliable quantum computing via Azure Quantum Elements in the next few months, where it will be available as a private preview. The goal is to push even further to Level 3 quantum supercomputing, which will theoretically be able to tackle incredibly complex issues like climate change and exotic drug research. It's unclear how long it'll take to actually reach that point, but for now, at least we're moving one step closer towards practical quantum computing.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/microsoft-may-have-finally-made-quantum-computing-useful-164501302.html?src=rss

Facebook finally adds video controls like a slide bar

Wed, 2024-04-03 12:30

The craze around Facebook Live might be a thing of the past, but Meta is still trying to make the platform video-friendly. The company has announced a new video player for uniformly displaying Reels, longer content and Live videos on the Facebook app. 

One of the biggest shifts is that all of Facebook's videos will now appear full-screen — even landscape-oriented ones. Videos will automatically play vertically, but you can now turn your phone on its side to watch most horizontal content across your entire device. 

Like many videos on TikTok, Facebook will now offer a slider at the bottom of the screen, letting you quickly move through the video. The update also brings some of the same features streamers like Netflix offer in their apps, such as the option to jump forward or backward by 10 seconds. Meta claims that you will now get "more relevant video recommendations" of all lengths appearing on the video tab and in your feed. The company will also be increasing the number of Reels shown on Facebook. 

The video player is rolling out now to Android and iOS users in the United States and Canada, with the new controls launching in the next few weeks. The entire update should be available globally in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/facebook-finally-adds-video-controls-like-a-slide-bar-163014443.html?src=rss