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Android Pay and Google Wallet Have Merged to Become 'Google Pay'

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:12
Google today announced it has merged Android Pay and Google Wallet into one consolidated payments service called Google Pay.


Over the coming weeks, Google said users will be able to use Google Pay online, in stores, and across Google products, and Google Wallet's existing peer-to-peer payment functionality will continue to be supported.

Google Pay is already available in select first-party apps such as YouTube and Chrome, and in Airbnb, Dice, Fandango, HungryHouse, Instacart, and select other third-party apps and websites on Android and in Chrome.

Google Pay branding will be rolled out in apps, websites, and next to payment terminals in stores as Android Pay branding and decals are retired.

Google Pay along with Samsung Pay are Apple Pay's biggest rivals among mobile payment services. Google Pay also competes with Apple's recently launched peer-to-peer payment service Apple Pay Cash in the United States.

Tags: Google, Google Wallet, Android Pay, Google Pay
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CES 2018: Ring Announces New Line of Home Security Devices

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 17:00
Ring, the company behind the well-known Ring video doorbell, today announced the launch of a full home security ecosystem that includes a range of new products like indoor/outdoor security cameras and connected outdoor lights.

The new battery-powered Stick Up Cam, which is compatible with the Ring Solar Panel Charger, is a weatherproof security camera that's designed to work both indoors and outdoors. It supports 1080p HD video, two-way audio, and a built-in passive infrared motion sensors with zone detection.


The WiFi-enabled Stick Up Cam Elite also works indoors and outdoors, but rather than a battery, it's powered via standard wall outlet or Ethernet connection. It features the same 1080p video and two-way audio, along with advanced motion sensors with zone detection.


Ring Beams are new smart lights that came from a recent Ring acquisition of Mr Beams, an LED lighting company. Ring Beams, which are lights that are designed to be used outdoors, include a nightlight, a motion sensor, a light designed for a pathway, a and spotlight. Ring Beams integrate with the Ring app and all of Ring's security cameras and doorbells.


Ring also announced that its professionally monitored customizable home security system, will start shipping out to customers in the spring of 2018. The Ring security system, priced at $199, includes accessories like a Base Station, Keypad, Contact Sensor, Passive Infrared Sensor, and Z-Wave Extender. It also includes 24/7 professional monitoring and cloud video storage for a $10 per month fee.

Additional information about all of Ring's new products debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show can be found on the Ring website. Ring's new accessories will be launching later in 2018.

Tags: Ring, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Hyper Launches 8-in-1 USB-C Hub With Built-In 7.5W Wireless Charger

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 16:01
Hyper, a brand owned by Sanyo, today announced the upcoming launch of a new HyperDrive USB-C Hub, which is available for pre-order on Kickstarter starting today.

The HyperDrive USB-C Hub, which is compatible with all USB-C equipped MacBook and MacBook Pro models, features a total of 8 ports, including a 4K HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a microSD slot, an SD card slot, three USB-A 3.1 ports and one USB-C power delivery port.


In addition, the USB-C Hub has a built-in 7.5W wireless charger and convertible stand that's designed to charge the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.

Using the included stand, which has a hinge that can be set to multiple viewing angles, the iPhone can be charged flat or while standing up in landscape or portrait mode thanks to three included wireless charging coils.


The HyperDrive USB-C Hub has an included retractable USB-C charging cable to allow it to be connected to a MacBook, but it can also be plugged into the wall with a USB-C power source to provide power to the MacBook and to serve as a standalone wireless charging device when not connected to a MacBook.

HyperDrive claims that the USB-C Hub is able to charge an iPhone X faster than 7.5W wireless chargers available from Belkin and Mophie, and it says that the hub operates at a lower temperature than standard wireless charging accessories. The USB-C Hub is designed to operate at 77ºF, with generated heat isolated from the iPhone via an airgap and dissipated through the accessory's aluminum sides.


There is an LCD display built into the hub to provide details on voltage and current, and it's designed to be similar in size to other Qi wireless chargers on the market.

Hyper has an early bird special that will allow Kickstarter backers to get one of the new HyperDrive USB-C Hubs for $69, which it says is over 50 percent off the retail price of $149. Once early bird models have been exhausted, the HyperDrive USB-C Hub will be available for $89.

The Kickstarter project from Hyper has an estimated delivery of March 2018 for the first orders and April 2018 for later orders.

Tags: USB-C, Hyper, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Nanoleaf Debuts New $49 HomeKit-Enabled Remote for Controlling Nanoleaf Light Panels

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 16:00
Nanoleaf, the company behind the popular HomeKit-enabled Nanoleaf Light Panels (formerly called the Aurora), today announced the upcoming launch of the Nanoleaf Remote.

The Nanoleaf Remote, priced at $49.99, is a neat-looking dodecahedron-shaped device that's designed to let you change your HomeKit scenes and dim the lights just by manipulating the remote.


There are 12 sides to the Nanoleaf Remote, each of which can be set to a different HomeKit scene. You can choose lighting scenes that are for the Nanoleaf Light Panels, or more complex scenes that incorporate multiple HomeKit products.

While designed to work with the Nanoleaf Light Panels, the Bluetooth-enabled Remote is a standalone device that works with any HomeKit setup so long as you have a Home Hub, aka a Nanoleaf Rhythm module, an Apple TV, or an iPad. Android users will need the Rhythm module for the Remote to work.


Nanoleaf plans to launch the Remote in the spring of 2018, but it will be shown off at CES. Nanoleaf will also be demonstrating Light Panels in new shapes at CES, prior to a launch later in 2018.

Nanoleaf's existing Light Panels with Rhythm module can be purchased from the Nanoleaf website for $230.

Tags: HomeKit, Nanoleaf, CES 2018
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Apple Says $29 Battery Replacements Are One-Per-iPhone When Device Passes Diagnostic Test

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 15:33
iPhone users hoping to double dip on Apple's discounted $29 battery replacements this year may find themselves out of luck.


While we previously confirmed that Apple is offering $29 battery replacements to any customer with an iPhone 6 or newer regardless of diagnostic result, Apple has confirmed that this policy can only be taken advantage of once, according to new fine print on its iPhone service pricing page.

In other words, after you've had your iPhone's battery replaced once this year, the device must explicitly fail the diagnostic test to qualify for any additional battery replacements for $29. If the test passes, a customer can still choose to have the battery replaced, but Apple's standard $79 fee applies.

Apple says iPhone batteries are designed to retain up to 80 percent of their original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles, and this is likely the primary benchmark for its diagnostic test, but results may vary.

While it's unlikely customers would need to have their iPhone battery replaced more than once in a year, some people may have planned on taking advantage of the $29 deal now, and then again near the end of 2018, as the combined $58 cost for two replacements would still be cheaper than the standard $79.

Apple reduced the price of iPhone battery replacements as part of its apology over a lack of communication about the power management changes it made starting in iOS 10.2.1. The discount is effective immediately and available worldwide through December 31, 2018. Prices vary outside of the United States.

To initiate the process, read our guide on how to get your iPhone's battery replaced with an appointment at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider, or by mailing the device to an Apple Repair Center.

Related Roundups: iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 8, iPhone XBuyer's Guide: iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone SE (Don't Buy), iPhone 8 (Buy Now), iPhone X (Buy Now)
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CES 2018: Canary Launches Cheaper 'View' Indoor Security Camera for $99

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 15:16
Canary today at CES announced a new indoor security camera called the "Canary View," which comes with a cheaper $99 price tag thanks to the removal of certain features from the original Canary device (via The Verge).


Specifically, the Canary View lacks the company's "HomeHealth" technology, which monitors a home's temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in the $169 Canary All-in-One camera. Otherwise, Canary View will perform all of the basic security camera functions, including iPhone compatibility, 1080p video capture, two-way Canary Talk, intelligent motion alerts, and more.

The device has a 147-degree wide-angle lens to capture footage, and can automatically transition to night vision when motion alerts appear in the dark. Some features on the Canary View -- including Canary Talk -- are limited to paying Canary Membership subscribers. The membership costs $9.99/month and updated last October when the company began charging for previously free features for its security cameras, citing "significant" cloud expenses.

The Canary View camera is available to purchase today on the company's website for $99.

Tags: Canary, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Apple Watch Users Can Control Select Whirlpool Washers, Dryers, and Ovens Early This Year

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:24
Whirlpool today at CES 2018 announced that some of its washers, dryers, and ovens will be controllable with an Apple Watch in the near future.


The home appliance maker said it will be releasing a watchOS app in early 2018 that will enable Apple Watch users to remotely control select functions on more than 20 of its latest Wi-Fi-connected washers, dryers, and ovens.

Here are a few examples:
  • Washer: Control the wash options of an active cycle. Whether it be a normal wash, delicates, or brights, users can adjust an active cycle via their Apple Watch.
  • Dryer: Control and detect if a cycle has started, understanding how much time remains before the cycle is complete.
  • Oven: View the current oven status and control commands during an active cycle.
Whirlpool said the collaboration marks the first time a major home appliance maker has connected its products with the Apple Watch.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Tags: CES 2018, WhirlpoolBuyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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CES 2018: Bose Wireless Headphones Getting 'Find My AirPods' Type Feature Through Tile Integration

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 14:18
Tile today announced a few new partnerships with companies that will integrate its Bluetooth item-tracking technology into consumer products, including Bose's existing line of SoundSport Wireless and QuietControl 30 headphones. In addition to Bose, partnerships for the new "Tile Platform" also include Samsonite luggage, Boosted Boards, and Propeller Health's inhalers.

The Bose partnership will begin in late spring 2018, when the SoundSport Wireless and QuietControl 30 will be sold with Tile's technology embedded inside. Users who already own these devices will be able to add Tile support through a firmware update so purchasing an entirely new pair of headphones won't be required (via TechCrunch).


“With the Tile Platform, we’re extending the finding power of Tile and its global community to leading brands spanning audio, travel, transportation and even digital health management,” said Mike Farley, CEO and Co-Founder of Tile. “Whether it’s a pair of wireless headphones, a suitcase filled with precious memories, or a life-saving connected inhaler, we want to make sure consumers can find their items no matter where they are, whether under the couch or halfway around the world.” The headphone tracking feature will work just like Tile's previous Bluetooth trackers, so if you ever misplace the small wireless headphones you can "ring" them if they're nearby through Tile's iOS app. If they become truly lost, Tile's community of trackers will anonymously crowdsource location data of other Tile users to pinpoint the location of the last time the headphones were seen, and show the location on a map within the app. The update brings Bose's headphones in line with the similar "Find my AirPods" feature by Apple.

The same idea will go for Samsonite's luggage, Propeller Health's connected inhalers, Boosted Boards, and Hershel's wallets, all of which confirmed Tile integration this week. Tile also announced an expansion to its technology ecosystem with access point partnerships that "increases the likelihood of finding lost items while reducing the time required to do so." Partners include Comcast, Ruckus Networks, and San Jose International Airport.

Besides Bose, Samsonite will be the other launch partner to integrate with Tile beginning this spring, and others will launch later in the year.

Tags: Tile, CES 2018
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CES 2018: First Alert's New HomeKit-Enabled Smoke Detector Doubles as AirPlay 2 Speaker and Assistant

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 13:43
First Alert at CES 2018 has introduced the Onelink Safe & Sound, its latest smoke and carbon monoxide detector for smart homes.


iPhone and iPad users can control the Safe & Sound with Siri or Apple's Home app thanks to HomeKit compatibility. The two-in-one detector can also be controlled with First Alert's own Onelink Home companion app.

What makes the Safe & Sound interesting is that it doubles as a ceiling-mounted virtual assistant, with built-in speakers and noice-canceling microphones and support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

First Alert said the speakers will support Apple's upcoming AirPlay 2 protocol when available, enabling multi-room audio and Siri control for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users, all through Apple's Home app.

AirPlay 2 support means that a homeowner could install a few Safe & Sound smoke detectors around the house and eventually use Siri to play or pause Apple Music or other audio on a room-by-room basis.

First Alert did not reveal pricing and availability information in its press release, but AppleInsider says the Safe & Sound is expected to ship in April for a suggested retail price of $249 in the United States.

Tags: HomeKit, First Alert, CES 2018
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CES 2018: 'U by Moen' Smart Shower System Adding Support for Apple HomeKit and Siri Voice Controls

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 13:20
One year after being announced during CES 2017, faucet brand Moen is back at CES this year with a new announcement for its "U by Moen" cloud-based, Wi-Fi enabled shower system (via CNET). The company this week revealed that the smart shower will add support for Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa AI assistants in the first half of 2018, letting you control water temperature and more with voice commands on connected smartphones and speakers.

For the HomeKit integration, you'll be able to speak to your iOS devices and begin your shower ahead of time, like saying, "Hey Siri, start my shower." If you have saved water temperature presets within the Moen app, the shower will then begin to reach your desired temperature and notify you when it's ready. Siri will only work with Moen's next-generation smart shower controllers, so anyone who purchased last year's device will have to buy the new system if they want Siri controls.


This is because the new U by Moen includes a specific MFi chip for HomeKit compatibility, despite Apple last summer updating its HomeKit specifications so that compatible smart products no longer have to include a hardware authentication chip. A Moen representative told CNET: "We are launching with the Apple Authentication Coprocessor (MFI chip) in the controller to meet the current Apple HomeKit protocol that still requires the chip."

Besides Siri voice control, U by Moen's new system is visually similar to the first and connects to an iPhone app so you can set up to 12 customized settings for a shower. The in-shower "digital valve" includes a five-inch LCD screen and various buttons for manual temperature control, and still requires professional installation.

There are two different versions of the next-generation U by Moen shower system, including a two-outlet model for $1,160 and a four-outlet model for $2,200.

Tags: Moen, CES 2018
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CES 2018: DJI Announces Osmo Mobile 2 With Simpler Controls and Improved Battery Life

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:42
Camera and drone maker DJI today announced two new camera stabilizers ahead of the first official day of CES 2018, which begins tomorrow, January 9. DJI's reveal centered upon the Osmo Mobile 2 and Ronin-S, a pair of stabilizers made for smartphones and DSLRs, respectively, that allow users to take videos without having to worry about shaky cam disrupting the footage.

The Osmo Mobile 2 is the newest model in DJI's line of camera stabilizers for smartphones, introducing simpler controls with cinematic zoom and a longer battery life. Like the previous device, the Osmo Mobile 2 is compatible with iPhone and includes three-axis gimbal technology to cancel out movement in three directions, allowing footage to remain steady even when the user's hands shake.

The gimbal technology combines with DJI's SmoothTrack technology to detect and compensate for the user's movement of the camera and "ensure a smooth cinematic shot every time." Users can shoot in both landscape and portrait orientation, and a 1/4" universal screw mount makes the Osmo Mobile 2 compatible with most photography accessories.
"With the introduction of these two stabilizers, DJI now offers gimbal technology to help unlock the creative storyteller in everyone no matter what camera they're using," said Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI. "Osmo Mobile 2 offers the best in smartphone stabilization at an affordable price, and Ronin-S brings the quality of DJI's professional gimbal technology to a new form factor that is perfect for run-and-gun filming using your favorite DSLR or mirrorless camera system." In terms of the major new additions, DJI said the new device's battery system is "more powerful" than its predecessor and allows for filming for up to 15 hours, which is three times longer than the original. There's also a new USB port to enable smartphone charging while the Osmo Mobile 2 is being used, and even lets the Osmo act as a power bank for charging other devices when not in use.

DJI said the "simpler controls" include ways for users to use their smartphone's camera similar to a professional camera, thanks to integrated settings for ISO, shutter speed, and more. A new button for a zoom slider on the Osmo Mobile 2's handle lets users operate their smartphone camera without needing to touch the screen, and the controls also allow for the production of a dolly zoom, which DJI said is "a visual effect usually created only on professional film sets."

The Osmo Mobile 2 will cost $209 AUD (about $163 USD) and will launch exclusively on Apple.com, with pre-orders beginning January 23. In early February, the new Osmo will then debut on DJI's own website, as well as in DJI stores and authorized resellers. Later in February the device will be available to purchase in Apple's retail stores too. The Ronin-S will launch in Q2 2018.

Tags: DJI, CES 2018
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Investors Urge Apple to Do More to Protect Children From Smartphone Addiction

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:07
Apple should do more to reduce growing smartphone addiction among children, said two major investors on Monday (via USA Today). In an open letter to the tech giant, New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers' Retirement System wrote of their increasing concern about the effects of mobile devices and social media on youngsters, urging Apple to offer more tools and choices to help prevent harm.

"There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility to an app designer, or more accurately to hundreds of app designers."The letter cited several studies revealing the negative effects of smartphones and social media on children's mental and physical health. For example, one study found that 67 percent of over 2,300 teachers surveyed believe that the number of students who are negatively distracted by gadgets in the classroom is growing, while 75 percent say students' ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased. 

In another study, eighth graders who are heavy users of social media were shown to have a 27 percent higher risk of depression, compared to children who exceed the average time spent playing sports, socializing with friends, or doing homework, all of whom have a much lower risk.  

To counter the threat, the investors – who collectively control $2 billion worth of Apple shares – suggested that Apple set up an expert committee including child development specialists and make its information more available to researchers. The letter also proposed enhancing iOS and associated apps to give parents and guardians more resources to protect their children's wellbeing. This is a complex issue and we hope that this is the start of a constructive and well-informed dialogue," said the partners. "As one of the most innovative companies in the history of technology, Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do."
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CES 2018: Speck Announces New Presidio Mount iPhone Case Designed to Work With Scosche Mounts

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:05
Speck today announced that it has teamed up with Scosche to create a new Presidio Mount iPhone case that is designed to work with Scosche's lineup of MagicMount magnetic mounts.

Scosche's magnetic mounts typically require iPhone users to attach metal mounting plates to their iPhones or iPhone cases using adhesive, but the Presidio Mount includes two steel plates that are embedded between the layers of the case.


Speck says the metal plates are invisible because they're mounted inside the case, and they've been positioned so they won't interfere with wireless charging.

Like Speck's other Presidio cases, the Presidio Mount includes two-layer protection that can keep an iPhone from getting damaged from drops up to 10 feet high. The inner layer is made from an impact absorbing rubber Speck calls Impactium, while the outer layer is made from a polycarbonate designed to disperse shock.


The Presidio Mount is compatible with all cradle-free Scosche MagicMounts and it will be available for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and later, including the iPhone X. Speck plans to make the Presidio Mount available for purchasein February of 2018 and it will be priced starting at $44.95.

Tags: Speck, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Belkin Adds HomeKit Compatibility to Wemo Lineup With Launch of New Bridge

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 01:00
Belkin today announced that it is officially adding HomeKit support to its popular Wemo lineup of smart connected accessories with the launch of the new Wemo Bridge.

Customers who own Wemo home automation products have been eagerly awaiting the debut of the Wemo Bridge, which Belkin first unveiled earlier this year. It was meant to launch in the fall of 2017, a target that was missed, but it will be available for purchase starting tomorrow.


Details about the bridge have already been added into the Wemo app, so some customers may have already noticed its imminent availability.

The Wemo Bridge is designed to connect to any home Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable to add HomeKit connectivity to current Wemo Smart Plugs and Light Switches. With the addition of the bridge, selected Wemo accessories can be controlled via the dedicated Home app or through Siri, and they can interact with other HomeKit products using Scenes, Schedules, and Timers.

Belkin's Bridge-compatible Wemo devices include the Dimmer, Mini Smart Plug, Insight Smart Plug, Motion Sensor, and Light Switch."We've had an overwhelming positive response from customers when we announced last spring that we would make the Wemo Bridge compatible with HomeKit support, said Kara Alexander, Wemo senior product manager. "We have made it a top priority working with Apple to ensure an incredible experience for both Wemo and HomeKit users. Bringing together two of the most influential Smart Home platforms will enable millions of current and future Wemo users to experience the benefits of HomeKit, including the Apple Home app, Siri integration and interoperability with other HomeKit devices."The HomeKit-connected Wemo Bridge will be available for purchase starting on Monday, January 8 from Belkin, Amazon, Apple, and Best Buy for $39.99.

Tags: HomeKit, Belkin, WeMo, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Elgato Debuts New 'Eve Room' and 'Eve Button' HomeKit-Enabled Accessories

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:05
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Elgato is adding to its HomeKit accessory lineup with two new Bluetooth HomeKit-enabled devices, which include an upgraded Eve Room and a new Eve Button.

The second-generation Eve Room, a followup to the original released in 2015, uses the latest sensor technology from Sensirion to track air quality, temperature, and humidity. Eve Room has a new aluminum enclosure, an update over the original plastic enclosure.


A new e-ink display allows you to see the Eve Room measurements when a smartphone isn't available, and it now features a built-in battery that can be charged using any USB power source.

Like the original, the updated Eve Room is able to determine indoor air quality by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOC), plus it tracks the humidity and temperature of an indoor room. While the data can be read on the e-ink display, it's also available in the Eve app, Apple's dedicated Home app, and from Siri thanks to HomeKit integration.


Eve Button, Elgato's first remote-style device, is designed to allow users to activate up to three HomeKit scenes without the need for a smartphone. Eve Button fits right in with the Eve lineup, with a sleek aluminum enclosure and a single button.


A single press, a double press, and a long press are each able to trigger a different HomeKit scene. Comparatively, the Eve Button isn't offering as many physical buttons as some other options, but it is a simple, standalone device that's works with all other HomeKit products and is priced affordably at $49.95.

Eve Room will be available in March of 2018 for $99.95, while Eve Button will be available starting later this month from the Elgato website and from Apple Stores.

Tags: HomeKit, Elgato, Eve, CES 2018
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CES 2018: Elgato Announces New Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:00
Elgato is adding to its Thunderbolt 3 dock lineup with a new Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock, which comes equipped with HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3 and Gigabit Ethernet ports with up to 40Gb/s throughput for full performance for every port.


A built-in Thunderbolt 3 cable powers the Mini Dock, and when not in use, the cable tucks away to make the Mini Dock easy to transport."Thunderbolt 3 is the only standard that offers full performance and stability when simultaneously running 4K video and high bandwidth data signals over a single port," said Markus Fest, General Manager, Elgato Systems. "With Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock, building sure-fire setups becomes possible whenever and wherever you work."

"Thunderbolt3 delivers unrivaled single-cable docking solutions", said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel(R), "the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock introduces a whole new category by packing Thunderbolt 3 performance into a sleek, portable design."Elgato plans to release the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock in the spring of 2018, and pricing has not yet been announced.

Tags: Elgato, CES 2018
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Review: OWC's ThunderBlade V4 Offers Blazing Fast External Storage for Professionals

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 22:36
OWC this week is announcing the newest member of its family of "extreme performance drives," the ThunderBlade V4. The ThunderBlade V4 is an external drive targeted at professional users who need the fastest possible speeds, and it packs four M.2 solid state drive blades into a single enclosure that runs over Thunderbolt 3, with total capacities ranging from 1 TB to 8 TB. The result is what OWC says is the "fastest SSD ever made," with read speeds topping out at 2800 MB/s and write speeds up to 2450 MB/s.


We've spent a bit of time with the ThunderBlade V4, and it's definitely an impressive piece of technology, although its pricing that starts at $1200 and rises significantly from there will limit the potential market. This is an accessory for demanding professionals who need to squeeze every bit of performance out of their external drives and is undoubtedly overkill for consumers simply looking to back up their computers.

Design
The ThunderBlade V4 comes in a hefty aluminum enclosure covered in large fins to help with heat dissipation, as this drive can get fairly warm when you're reading and writing a lot of data. There is no active cooling in the drive, which helps with the ThunderBlade V4's ruggedness as there are no moving parts.

The ThunderBlade V4 measures just under 5 inches wide, a little over 7.5 inches deep, and just over an inch high. It weighs a little under two pounds, which gives it a solid feel and good stability on a desk. A separate power adapter also adds some bulk to deal with elsewhere.


The only feature on the front of the ThunderBlade V4 is a thin three-inch long LED that shines white when connected to power (and also when connected to a sleeping computer) and blue when the drive has an active connection to a computer. While the LED appears to be a single thin indicator, it's actually made up of four distinct segments, one for each M.2 drive in the ThunderBlade.

Each segment will blink blue when data is being written to or read from the corresponding drive. With the speed of the drive and the four onboard SSDs, you'll see a sort of flickering ripple effect across the LED as data is moved.

An ambient light sensor on the rear of the ThunderBlade V4 dims the front LED in dark environments.


In addition to the light sensor, the rear of the ThunderBlade includes a port for the power adapter connection and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports. One Thunderbolt 3 port is used to connect the ThunderBlade to your computer using the included 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable, while the second is available for daisy chaining a display or other peripherals.

The Thunderbolt 3 ports are capable of supplying 15 watts of power each, but that won't be enough to power a MacBook Pro. This isn't intended as a true docking station, however, so it's not surprising that the power output is limited and primarily intended to drive downstream peripherals rather than host computers.

Speed Tests
We ran some QuickBench disk speed tests on the ThunderBlade V4, and while we didn't quite hit OWC's top numbers, the drive still showed some seriously fast performance. Connecting directly to a 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, we saw read and write performance in the range of 2400 MB/s in extended testing mode with transfer sizes in the 20–100 MB range.


Similar speed tests using Blackmagic with larger transfer sizes of 5 GB yielded slightly lower speeds of over 1900 MB/s read and 2100 MB/s write, although it is difficult to directly compare the two different methodologies. Even that performance allowed the ThunderBlade to ace Blackmagic's "Will it Work?" rating system that determines whether a drive is fast enough to handle video in various combinations of formats, resolutions, and frame rates.


Results were similar in various configurations even when other peripherals up to and including a pair of LG UltraFine 5K displays were connected to the MacBook Pro's other Thunderbolt 3 ports.

With an LG UltraFine 5K connected to the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port on the ThunderBlade, we obviously saw lower speeds as some of the bandwidth was being dedicated to the display. Write speeds were impacted most significantly, dropping to around 800 MB/s, while read speeds dipped slightly to around 2050 MB/s.


RAID
The four SSDs inside the ThunderBlade V4 come preconfigured in RAID 0 format to offer the full stated capacity of the drive. A license for OWC's SoftRAID XT (formerly SoftRAID Lite) is included with the ThunderBlade, and the software can be used to reformat in RAID 1 to provide mirrored redundancy.

While RAID 0 and 1 give you the option to prioritize storage capacity or data redundancy, it would be nice if some of the higher RAID modes were available on the ThunderBlade to offer more flexibility.

With the downstream Thunderbolt 3 port on the ThunderBlade V4, you can daisy chain multiple units together for even more storage, although you're of course limited by the total bandwidth of the single Thunderbolt 3 connection they're all running over. You can even set up two ThunderBlade V4 units as a single RAID array.

PC Compatibility
While OWC is focused on Macs and the ThunderBlade V4 comes formatted for Mac as a RAID 0 Journaled HFS+ volume, it can also be used with PCs once the drives have been reformatted and reconfigured. Unlike on Mac, however, booting from the ThunderBlade is not supported on Windows.

Pricing and Availability
As should be expected for a product with large storage capacities using the fastest SSD designs and Thunderbolt 3, the ThunderBlade V4 isn't cheap. The 1 TB model is priced at $1199.99, with the 2 TB model at $1799.99, the 4 TB model at $2799.99, and the 8 TB model at $4999.00.

But for professional users who need the absolute fastest external storage, the ThunderBlade V4 looks like a solid option that takes maximum advantage of the bandwidth offered by Thunderbolt 3. All models come with a rugged case, a three-year warranty, and one year of complimentary Level 1 data recovery coverage. All four models will be available from OWC starting January 8.

Note: OWC provided the ThunderBlade V4 to MacRumors for the purposes of this review, and it will be returned to OWC. No other compensation was received.

Tags: OWC, ThunderBlade
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CES 2018: myCharge Debuts 20,000mAh 'All Powerful' Battery Pack That Can Charge Anything

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 20:42
myCharge, known for its range of external battery packs for charging Macs and iOS devices, is introducing a new 20,000 mAh myCharge All Powerful battery pack, which is capable of charging a wide range of Apple products.

The All Powerful isn't as portable as the average battery pack, but it features a USB-A port, a USB-C port, and an AC outlet, which means it can power just about anything. It even comes equipped with Qi-based wireless charging to charge the iPhone X, 8, and iPhone 8 Plus cord-free.


According to myCharge, the 65-watt AC outlet built into the All Powerful can run a 32-inch TV, power most laptops, or operate a camping fan or light. The USB-A and USB-C ports can charge all of your iOS devices, and the Qi charging supports 10W fast charge.

Along with the All Powerful, myCharge also offers several other rugged chargers that are part of its adventure series, including the Adventure Mini (3,350 mAh), Adventure Plus (6,700 mAh), Adventure Max (10,050 mAh), Adventure Ultra (13,400 mAh), Adventure Xtreme (20,000 mAh), and the Adventure Jump Start (6,600 mAh), which can power up a dead vehicle battery.

Several new myCharge battery packs are being introduced at CES, including an updated Razor line with options ranging from 2,000 mAh to 20,100 mAh, the 7,000 mAh for powering portable game systems, the 3,000 mAh Solar Wallet, and the Unplugged series of Qi wireless chargers.

myCharge Unplugged 8K
The All Powerful will be available available for purchase starting in April 2018, and it will be priced at $199.99. The other Adventure series battery packs are available now at prices ranging from $30 to $100, while the rest of myCharge's new products will debut at CES or in the spring.

myCharge Razor Mini
Additional information about all of myCharge's new products can be found on the myCharge website. myCharge will be officially showing off its new hardware at ShowStoppers at CES.

Tag: CES 2018
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Apple Launches 'Back to University' Promo in Australia/New Zealand: Free Beats With Mac or iPad Pro

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 20:10
Apple today launched its annual Back to University promotion in Australia and New Zealand, offering the choice of a free pair of Beats Solo3, BeatsX, or Powerbeats3 headphones to qualifying students, teachers, lecturers, and educational staff members who purchase an eligible Mac for a limited time.


Eligible models include any MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iMac Pro, or Mac Pro, including custom configurations. As usual, the Mac mini and refurbished Macs are excluded from the promotion.

The promotion also offers free BeatsX wireless headphones with the purchase of any 10.5-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro, or students can pay AU$59/NZ$70 extra for Powerbeats3 Wireless or AU$200/NZ$230 extra for Solo3 Wireless headphones. Apple's lower-cost 9.7-inch iPad and iPad mini 4 models do not qualify.


The promotion is available at Apple's retail stores in Australia, and through Apple's online store in both countries, and is in addition to Apple's regular educational discount. Alternatively, customers can call 133-622 in Australia or 0800-692-7753 in New Zealand to take advantage of the deal by phone.

Apple's Back to University promotion starts today and ends March 15, 2018 in Australia and New Zealand. Apple's terms and conditions [AU/NZ] outline the complete eligibility requirements for the promotion in those countries.

In Australia, qualified purchasers are defined as lecturers, teachers, staff members, and full-time or part-time students aged 18 or over, with a current student union card or student identification card, at an accredited Australian university or an other Apple-approved institution within the country.

In New Zealand, qualified purchasers are defined as any employee of a public or private K–12 institution; students, faculty, and staff members of higher education institutions, and parents purchasing on behalf of their children who are attending or accepted into a higher education institution in the country.

As is usually the case, Apple's Back to University promotion in Australia and New Zealand is exactly the same as its Back to School promotion was in the United States, Canada, and across Europe last year.

Not a student or looking for even better deals? Visit our Apple Deals roundup for other discounts on Apple products and accessories.

Tags: Australia, New Zealand, Back to School promotion
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CES 2018: Belkin Launches New Wireless Charging Pads and Stands for iPhone X, 8 and 8 Plus

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 19:00
Ahead of this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which is set to kick off next week, popular accessory maker Belkin has announced several new wireless charging products designed for Apple's latest iPhones.

The Belkin Boost Up Bold Wireless Charging Pad is similar to the existing Belkin Boost Up Charging Pad available from Apple, but it comes in several different colors, like black, white, pink, and navy. It offers up to 10W output for fast charging on all Qi-enabled devices.


The Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand features the same circular design and the same colors as the Bold, but its charging surface is propped up by a frame that allows the iPhone to be charged while in landscape or portrait mode rather than when laying flat on a table. It works with all Qi-enabled devices and offers 10W output for fast wireless charging.


Belkin's Boost Up Wireless Car Charging Mount is designed to offer in-car wireless charging for Qi-compatible devices like the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus. It can be mounted on a dash or window, adjusted to fit different phone sizes, and it features an extra USB port for charging other devices. It offers 10W fast charging for all Qi-enabled devices.


The Boost Up Dual Wireless Charging Pad is designed to charge two Qi-enabled smartphones at once, side by side. Each charging pad offers 10W fast charging, and it works with all Qi-enabled devices.


For commercial applications, Belkin is introducing a Boost Up Wireless Charging System, which will be able to be installed in conference rooms, offices, user desktops, restaurants, retail stores, hotels, and more. Top-mount, flush-mount, and sub-surface mounting options are all available.


All of Belkin's new wireless charging products will be available in the spring or summer of 2018, with pricing unavailable at this time.

Tags: Belkin, CES 2018
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