admin on July 24th, 2014

nokia-phone-02

Maurizio Pesce/WIRED

WIRED

Very accessible price for 4G LTE networking and a fresh OS. Windows Phone updated to include Cortana, better notifications, and tighter integration with Microsoft cloud services. Colorful interchangeable covers, solid body. Support for up to 128GB of storage.

TIRED

Lacks a selfie camera, and rear-facing camera is not what you would expect from a Nokia. This is probably a phone more dedicated to social players than photo maniacs. Display is disappointing too.

Given the deep morass Nokia and Microsoft are currently slogging through—the blah earnings, the layoff plans, a still-small app store, general confusion—it’s refreshing to see that the mobile phone partnership is not all doom and gloom. The Lumia handsets are selling well and making waves in the mid-to-low-end smartphone market. Last year’s Lumia 520 in particular was a hit; Microsoft says over 12 million handsets were sold, and that success probably has very much to do with the phone’s sub-$150 price tag.

So here’s another Windows smartphone that should appeal the same crowd looking for inexpensive options: The Nokia Lumia 635. It’s among the first handsets to launch with the latest update of Windows Phone 8.1 software out of the box, along with its close relatives, the 3G-only Lumia 630 and the also-3G but smaller and weaker Lumia 530. All three are inexpensive (approaching $150, depending on the carrier) but the Lumia 635 is the only 4G phone

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admin on July 23rd, 2014

One of the unique features on the Fire Phone is “Dynamic Perspective.” Inside certain apps, this visual trick is applied to give onscreen objects a sense of depth and a 3-D look. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

The phone’s built-in speakers are a bit of a disappointment. There are two on the bottom and one on the top, and while they get very loud, the sound that comes out is very shrill. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

There are gesture controls designed to make the phone easier to use with one hand. A quick flip to the left or right will display context-sensitive menus. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Frequently used apps show up on the scrolling carousel section of the Fire Phone’s homescreen. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Four cameras on the front of the phone track the position of your face relative to the screen. This helps give onscreen objects a sense of depth. Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

It’s gimmicky

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It may look like the original 1974 version, but inside Teenage Engineering's new OD-11 things have changed quite a bit.

It may look similar to the original 1974 version, but inside the new OD-11 things have changed quite a bit. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

WIRED

Produces big, immersive, and uncolored sound for a 10 x 10-inch floor- (or shelf-) bound cube. Beautifully designed (and genuinely intuitive) Othoplay app and web interface. You can wirelessly link up to four OD-11s together. Comes with optical and 3.5mm inputs should you want to call your cloud music back down to earth.

TIRED

Crazy expensive. Must be a premium Spotify user of to take advantage of the direct in app streaming. No native Android or Windows app support (You have to connect to and control the speaker via a browser window). Limited to AirPlay streaming.

Teenage Engineering’s OD-11 speaker has been stuck in “coming soon” limbo for a couple years now. After appearing at the past two Consumer Electronic Shows, blowing a Summer 2013 launch date, and going on pre-order last fall, this white block of almost-vaporware finally materialized at the MoMa Design Store in New York last week. And while you won’t need to be a Scandinavian audiophile to enjoy this Swedish speaker, you will need a sufficiently padded bank account.

First, some history. Stig Carlsson isn’t a household name here in the U.S., but a generation of Hi-Fi-oriented Swedes grew up buying and listening

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admin on July 19th, 2014

The Acer Aspire Switch 10 can be positioned in a few different ways, depending on what you're using it for.

The Acer Aspire Switch 10 can be positioned in a few different ways, depending on how you’re using it. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

WIRED

Solid price point and feature set on a capable Windows tablet. Keyboard attachment and release system is best-in-class. Great portability.

TIRED

Would like to see a higher-resolution display. No rear-facing camera included; selfies only. With weight predominantly in the slate, design becomes top-heavy and prone to tipping over backwards when working in “laptop” mode.

I don’t know if anybody is actually buying these things, but Little Windows Tablets are proving themselves to be quite the capable category of on-the-go productivity devices. Available for just a few hundred bucks, they’re rapidly becoming the netbooks of the ’10s, only with some unique tricks that make them considerably more worthwhile.

The latest entry in the category is Acer’s Aspire Switch 10. It’s called Switch because it features a slate-style tablet that attaches to a removable keyboard. Using a magnetic design, it makes for one of the most seamless and speedy connections I’ve yet to encounter in a device like this. It can also be reversed, so the keyboard also doubles as a stand which lets you invert the tablet and prop the screen up, tent style.

The centerpiece of the unit is a 10.1-inch slate running a full version of Windows

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admin on July 18th, 2014

Each of Wally's wireless sensors is about the size of a bar of soap. You get six of them in the kit.

Each of Wally’s wireless sensors is about the size of a bar of soap. You get six of them in the kit. SNUPI Technologies, Inc.

WIRED

Uses the copper wire in your walls to form a low-power device network. Installs easily. Great packaging and documentation. Sensors detect changes and send speedy alerts. Monitor the sensor network with apps for Android, iOS, and the web. Monitor multiple houses from the same user account.

TIRED

Can’t shut off the water in your home like other products. Can only measure moisture, temperature, and humidity; you need other sensors for smoke, carbon monoxide, and other hazards.

Homeowners have a lot to worry about. Water—whether it’s a flooded basement, an overflowing toilet, leaky pipes, or the mold and mildew that can follow such mishaps—seems to be an ever-present part of these anxieties.

A new product called Wally promises help mitigate at least some of those fears. Wally is a sensor network you install yourself. It can detect water leaks, small changes in moisture, and temperature fluctuations anywhere in the immediate vicinity of one of its sensors. It’s supposed to give you a heads-up about everything moisture-related, from the severe (water emergencies) to the slow creep (mold build-up on floors, on walls, and in rooms where dampness lays dormant).

The sensors use your web

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audi-review-inline1

Audi

WIRED

Explosive acceleration and a bomb of an engine married with surprising utility. Even at $122,545 as-tested it beats the competition on price. Combines the descriptors “Audi” and “nutty” in one car.

TIRED

Handling overwhelmed by the power at the limit. Faux brake ducts, faux dual exhaust tips. A spare tire tool kit including tow eye-hook but no spare. Not a track car so an S7 would really get the job done as well.

The new Audi RS7 is a conflicted car. It’s a five-door hatchback that can run neck and neck with a Ferrari 458 in the quarter mile. It marries straight-line performance with unexpected utility, and does it at a price that undercuts its similarly power-mad German competitors. Yet it’s not the vehicle you want to take to the track—the power overwhelms, and the Audi S7 is the better choice if you actually want to turn at high speeds.

But, good grief is this thing fast! Full throttle, the RS7 is 4,500 pounds of luxury hurtling forward like anti-aircraft fire. Say another nouveau-riche fellow pulls up next to you at a stoplight in his 458. Fear not. You’ll match him right through a quarter-mile drag race. As the two of you speed forward to 60 mph in around three seconds, he can ponder the fact that his $233,000 (at least) two-seat sports car is holding even with a ride that holds four people and their luggage

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admin on July 15th, 2014

Griffin's Wired Keyboard for iOS devices plugs right in. No Bluetooth, no hassles.

Griffin’s Wired Keyboard for iOS devices plugs right in. No Bluetooth, no hassles. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

WIRED

Full-size, Mac-style iPad keyboard is easy to type on. Island format keys offer pleasing tactile feedback. Lightweight. Concerns about power consumption and security are significantly reduced by adding wires. Works with any iOS device.

TIRED

Unlike other iPad keyboards, it’s not built into a case or folio, so you’ll still need to prop up your tablet somehow. Two shipping versions (30-pin and Lightning), present a problem for people who own multiple iPads of different generations.

The big gain in the mobile revolution? Total freedom from wires. And I’m not only talking about wireless connectivity—like listening to a streaming podcast, or composing a grant proposal on the beach—but also managing your peripherals. Thanks to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-based standards, you can connect to speakers, headphones, keyboards, mice, lightbulbs, activity trackers, and even the television in your hotel room, all without plugging in a single cable.

Given the delicious joy of a life untethered, why would a mobile products company like Griffin Technology proudly boast about its wired keyboard? Yes, it’s a keyboard for iOS that plugs into your iPhone or iPad via a meter-long cable. How is this the future? Why go back to being shackled?

A few reasons. One biggie: You can’t use a Bluetooth tablet keyboard on airplanes. Really? Yes, really. Some

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admin on July 12th, 2014

20140709-ANDROID-WEAR-023edit

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

WIRED

Having Google Now on your wrist is truly useful and convenient. Charging cradle is easy to use. Tracks steps.

TIRED

The hardware is bulky and uncomfortable. Features are limited—for now. Notifications are often delivered with a significant (5-minute-plus) delay. Battery lasts barely a day. The constant vibrating of new notifications is really just the worst thing ever.

Remember when cellphones used to be big, giant bricks tethered to a suitcase? That’s where we are with smartwatches. They’re big giant bricks strapped to your wrist…and tethered to your smartphone over Bluetooth LE. And like those early cellphones, today’s smartwatches are also very limited in terms of functionality.

Google’s Android Wear platform is poised to change the latter, while hardware manufacturers like LG aim to improve on the former. The company’s new G Watch is the first of three Android Wear smartwatches—the other two being the Motorola Moto 360 and Samsung Gear Live. It comes with an always-on, 1.65-inch LCD display and a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor with 4 GB of memory. It’s kind of like a tiny little smartphone strapped to your wrist. Kind of.

In reality, the G Watch feels like the worst parts of your smartphone strapped to your wrist, plus Google Now and some third-party app integration.

On the hardware side, the G Watch comes with a 280 x 280 pixel resolution LCD display that’s bright and clear, although it’s basically unreadable in bright sunlight.

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admin on July 11th, 2014

20140709-ANDROID-WEAR-034edit

Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

WIRED

An efficient way to deal with notifications. Raises voice commands to a new high—especially sending text messages or asking Google Now for something. Not unpretty. I expect app-makers to figure out some cool new interactions down the road.

TIRED

Terrible battery life. Crummy charger. It listens well, but it can’t play audio. Nor can it take a picture or run a video chat. Screen is too dim for sunny days. Blips on and off awkwardly in the dark if you forget to mute it.

It’s 3 in the morning and my daughter is crying in her crib. I pick her up, and rock her back to sleep. But when I lean over to place her back in the crib, the screen on my watch lights up, waking her once more. This is an unintended consequence of my watch’s ability to sense my movements, and it has come alive in anticipation that I may want something from it. But what I really want is to go back to bed.

The watch on my wrist, Samsung Gear Live, is one of two Android Wear watches already on sale. The other, the LG G Watch, is reviewed here. A third, the Motorola 360, is coming soon.

For years now, smart watches like these have been “coming soon.” Well, here they are. And it’s worth thinking about what they do, and how well they do it.

The main

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admin on July 2nd, 2014

The LyveHome keeps all the photos you shoot with your various devices and stores them privately.

The LyveHome storage device keeps all the photos you shoot with your various devices and shares them privately. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

WIRED

Handy touchscreen makes setup a one-minute snap; no connect-through-your-web-browser nonsense. Set-and-forget simplicity. Has hooks that feed photos direct to Vizio televisions.

TIRED

Tiny display may have you squinting to recall what actually happened that day. App prone to hangups during the upload process (quit and restart the app for best results).

And you thought digital picture frames were dead! Ha!

LyveHome is a fun little concept, combining the picture frame with network-attached storage (NAS) to create a sorta-all-new category of device. Specifically focused on photos and videos, the idea is refreshingly simple. Just plug the LyveHome, a device about the size of a soda can, into the wall, connect it to your network (via Ethernet or Wi-Fi) and start copying over your pictures and movies.

You can do this manually, via a USB connection or SD card slot on the device, or you can leverage the LyveHome’s real value: Its connections to other devices. Through downloadable apps, you can hook the Lyve system into Windows or MacOS computers, iOS devices, or Android handsets. The app then automatically copies all your pics and videos to the LyveHome device, where they’re stored away for safekeeping… and where you can watch them automatically scroll along on

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