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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A new Sony Xperia Compact could be coming to compete with iPhone 12 mini

 Sony is reportedly set to bring back its “Compact” line of phones in 2021 with a new Xperia Compact model. It will offer a 5.5-inch display and dimensions more in line with Apple’s (relatively) diminutive iPhone 12 mini rather than the increasingly large phones that Sony has offered for the last few years.

Sony Xperia Compact

The new device, according to noted phone leaker OnLeaks, who has also posted renders of the upcoming phone over at Voice, would feature dimensions of 140 x 68.9 x 8.9 mm (5.5 x 2.71 x 0.35 inches), making it just a bit bigger than the iPhone 12 mini (which measures 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4 mm or 5.18 x 2.53 x 0.29 inches).

The new Xperia Compact is also said to offer an 8-megapixel selfie camera in a teardrop notch, a dual-camera setup with a 13-megapixel main camera on the back, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a side-mounted fingerprint reader integrated into the power button. Notably absent are any details on specs, however.

The (as-yet-unnamed) 2021 Xperia Compact would be Sony’s first phone to bear the “Compact” name since 2018’s Xperia XZ2 Compact, which had similar dimensions as the leaked specs of the new 2021 device (although the display on the 2018 model was a bit smaller at 5 inches, thanks to its larger bezels). But it’s still a far smaller piece of hardware than other recent attempts like the Xperia 5.

The biggest question, though, is whether the new Xperia Compact will offer flagship-level specifications or if it’ll fall into the same pitfall of other shrunken-down Android devices and offer downgraded specs to match its smaller size. Sony has avoided this issue before — the aforementioned XZ2 Compact offered nearly comparable specifications to its larger sibling — but it remains an open question whether Sony will actually deliver on a 2021 Android phone with flagship-class specifications that doesn’t also require a massive display.

It’s also unclear whether there’s actually a market for smaller flagships. Apple’s iPhone 12 mini, while offering virtually identical specifications to the larger iPhone 12, has reportedly seen lackluster sales compared to the larger models on offer (despite its lower price tag). There are additional reports that Apple is shifting production away from the smaller model to focus more on the full-sized phones.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Microsoft mocks Apple in their latest Surface Pro commercial

 Microsoft has a habit of reigniting the Mac vs. PC conflict for its Surface ads, and this time it’s going after Apple’s Touch Bar. In a new TV commercial, aired during Sunday night’s NFL championship games, Microsoft pits Apple’s MacBook Pro against the company’s Surface Pro 7. It’s a chance for Microsoft to mock Apple’s Touch Bar in a TV commercial for the first time.

Latest commercial by Microsoft

“Mac gave me this little bar, but why can’t they just give me a whole touchscreen?” asks a boy comparing the two laptops. That’s something that some MacBook Pro users have been calling for, or just the removal of the Touch Bar altogether. Apple is now reportedly planning a redesign for the MacBook Pro later this year, with the Touch Bar rumored to be replaced by physical function keys.

Elsewhere in the ad, Microsoft tries to position the Surface Pro 7 as a gaming device. “It is a much better gaming device,” claims the ad, which is an unusual way to frame Microsoft’s popular Surface device. The Surface Pro 7 is barely capable of running the latest PC games at acceptable frame rates with its integrated Intel graphics, so it’s not the biggest selling point.

Microsoft has previously compared its Surface Pro to the MacBook Air, bashed Macs in general, and found a guy named Mac Book to tell people to get a Surface Laptop.

This latest ad also focuses on the older Surface Pro 7, which has now been replaced by the Surface Pro 7 Plus for businesses and schools at least. The new model includes a bigger battery, Intel’s 11th Gen processors, a removable SSD, and LTE.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Google bringing new search design to mobile

 Google is redesigning how search results look on mobile, the company announced in a blog on Friday. “We wanted to take a step back to simplify a bit so people could find what they’re looking for faster and more easily,” Aileen Cheng, who led the redesign, said in the blog.

The redesign will have larger and bolder text that’s intended to be easier to scan quickly, and you’ll see more of Google’s font in results. Search results will also take up more of the width of your screen, thanks in part to reduced shadows. Google also says the redesign will use color “more intentionally” to help highlight important information without being distracting.

To get an idea of how the redesign differs from the current experience, compare this render of the redesign with a screenshot of the current search experience I took from my iPhone 12 mini.

It looks like the new design puts more information higher up the page and reduces some visual clutter, which will hopefully make results easier to parse without forcing you to scroll down too far to find what you’re looking for.

Google says the redesign will roll out in the coming days.

Google says goodbye to the floating balloon service, Loon

 Alphabet is shutting down Loon, its division that provides internet from floating balloons, according to a post on the blog of Alphabet’s X moonshot division.

Alphabet Loon

“The road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped,” Astro Teller, who leads X, wrote in the blog. “In the coming months, we’ll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet.”

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, launched Loon in June 2013, and Loon “graduated” from a moonshot to an independent company within Alphabet in 2018. Loon launched its first commercial internet service in Kenya in July, comprised of a fleet of about 35 balloons that covered an area of around 50,000 square kilometers. Loon has also provided internet services to areas affected by natural disasters, deploying balloons to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017 and to Peru following an earthquake in 2019.

Teller says that Loon is working to place employees in other roles at X, Google, and Alphabet. “A small group of the Loon team will stay to ensure Loon’s operations are wrapped up smoothly and safely — this includes winding down Loon’s pilot service in Kenya,” according to Teller. Loon’s service in Kenya will run until March, an X spokesperson tells The Verge. To support those in Kenya who might be affected by the loss of Loon’s service, Loon is pledging $10 million to support nonprofits and businesses in Kenya dedicated to “connectivity, Internet, entrepreneurship and education.”

Loon isn’t the only moonshot that Alphabet has shut down. It wound down Makani, which aimed to use wind turbines attached to kites to create renewable electricity, last year. And Project Foghorn, which researched how to create clean fuel from seawater, ended its work in 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Microsoft Edge gets a revamp for It's 1 year aniversary

 Microsoft is introducing new colorful themes for its Edge browser this week, alongside updated icons and a new sleeping tabs feature that improves the browser and overall PC performance. To celebrate a year of the Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge, the browser is getting new themes available from the Edge add-on site.

Themes range from simple colors all the way to HaloMicrosoft Flight Simulator, and Forza Horizon themes. These new themes will include colors on new tab pages, tabs, the address bar, and other parts of the Edge browser.

Microsoft is also updating the icons used throughout Edge to better match the company’s Fluent Design system. “In our latest release you’ll notice subtle updates to icons in Microsoft Edge that are rounder and softer in appearance,” explains Liat Ben-Zur, a Microsoft executive working on the company’s “Modern Life” initiative. “This is just the beginning of our design journey and we’re already imagining how to bring Fluent design throughout our products. We can’t wait to share more of our vision in the near future.”

The general look and feel of Edge might be changing, but Microsoft is also adding in some useful features, too. A new sleeping tabs feature is rolling out now, and it aims to improve the browser’s performance. Edge will now automatically release system resources for inactive tabs when you have a number of tabs open, which will help new tabs run better or stop the browser from hogging memory and CPU resources in the background.

Microsoft is also taking steps to roll out its new password manager features. Edge will start automatically suggesting a secure and complex password when you sign up on a new website or attempt to change an existing password. Edge will also be getting a new password monitor feature that will alert you if your password has leaked online.

If that wasn’t enough, Edge history and tab sync is finally rolling out to everyone this week. These features started rolling out to a number of countries earlier this month, allowing Edge users to finally sync their full web history and active tabs across multiple devices including iOS and Android.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Netflix would roll out shuffle play globally this year to help indecisive users choose

 Netflix’s Shuffle Play feature, which the company was spotted testing last year, is getting a widespread launch in the first half of 2021. Variety reports the company made the announcement as part of its latest financial results. In its testing phase, Shuffle Play has worked by picking content based on your viewing history, helping you avoid feeling overwhelmed by Netflix’s home screen full of content.

Netflix Shuffle Play

Netflix’s COO and chief product officer Greg Peters said the feature is designed for users to “indicate to us that they just want to skip browsing entirely, click one button and we’ll pick a title for them just to instantly play.” During its tests of the feature, Netflix has experimented with including a “Shuffle Play” button on its profile select screen, and a “Play Something” option in its menu.

The big question now is what Netflix will end up calling the feature. During its earnings presentation, co-CEO Reed Hastings joked that they might call it “I’m Feeling Lucky,” after the Google search feature that skips straight to the top search result. But Peters quickly shot down that idea.

“We’re going to come up with something better than that, so stand by for this. You’ll see it when it rolls out,” Peters said.

Whatever it ends up being called, Shuffle Play will join Netflix’s other recent attempt to make it easier to find content to watch. Last year, it added a “New & Popular” tab to the service, which features a combination of new, popular, and upcoming content.

How to watch the Inauguration Day live

 President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are set to make history today when they will be sworn into office as president and vice president. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and heightened security following this month’s deadly attack on the Capitol, Inauguration Day will be unlike any other before.

Here’s how to watch and participate in the historic day’s events from home:


The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will begin on Wednesday, January 20th, in Washington, DC. Soon after Biden takes his oath of office, he will deliver an inaugural address outlining his vision for the next four years.


The inauguration will officially begin at 12PM ET. But other events, like the national anthem, will start before the official event at 11:30AM ET.


The Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee will host a free stream of the inauguration at bideninaugural.org and on YouTube.

ABC NewsCBS NewsFox NewsNBC / MSNBC News, CNN, and PBS will all host live streams of the event on their websites as well.


Lady Gaga is set to perform the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez will provide a musical performance as well. For people watching from home, the inaugural committee has planned for a “virtual parade” that will feature additional musical guests and other performances “paying homage to America’s heroes on the front lines of the pandemic” as the new president makes his way to the White House.

At 8:30PM ET Wednesday, the inauguration will be followed by a primetime television event hosted by Tom Hanks. Other celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, and Jon Bon Jovi will perform.


George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton will all be in attendance, according to The New York Times. President Donald Trump will not be attending the event.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Ford delays deliveries of the new Mustang Mach-E

 Ford will delay deliveries for hundreds of its Mustang Mach-E vehicles to perform quality checks, Electrek reported. The automaker began delivering the Mach-E SUV in December, but some buyers reported that their upcoming delivery dates had been pushed back, by as long as a month in some cases, according to Electrek.

The Mustang Mach-E SUV is Ford’s first update to the iconic Mustang brand ever, and the company’s biggest foray into the EV marketplace.

A spokesperson told Electrek it was doing “additional quality checks on several hundred” of the SUVs that were built before dealer shipments began in December, “to ensure they meet the quality our customers expect and deserve.”

Ford did not say what specifically prompted the new quality checks, but the company told the Ford Authority blog that it was working to expedite deliveries of the Mustang Mach-E, “and we hope that customers receive them ahead of targeted dates, providing there are no COVID-19-related transportation delays.”

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Virgin Orbit to send satellites to space for the first time

 Virgin Orbit — the sister company of billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism outfit Virgin Galactic — will try a second test of its small satellite-launching rocket later today, months after it failed to reach orbit during a first attempt. It will also be the first time that the company tries to launch working satellites into space on behalf of NASA.

Virgin Orbit

Sometime after 1PM ET, Virgin Orbit’s customized Boeing 747 will take off from Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in the Mojave desert and ascend to 35,000 feet with the satellite-launching rocket attached to its wing. Once it reaches a predetermined location, the rocket is supposed to drop and ignite, taking the small satellites on board the rest of the way into orbit around the Earth. Virgin Orbit says the window for launch will last until 5PM ET.

Virgin Orbit tweeted Sunday morning that it’s aiming for takeoff at 10:30AM PT (1:30PM ET).

There is no live stream of the test, though the company plans to tweet updates throughout the flight. It will make photos and video available sometime after the test is completed

Virgin Orbit has spent years developing this method of airborne rocket-launching, and it has performed increasingly complex flight tests since 2018. But the first full test of the company’s rocket-launching capabilities in May of last year did not go completely as planned. The plane ascended correctly, the rocket dropped, and the main engine ignited. But a problem in the liquid oxygen fuel line prevented the rocket from reaching orbit.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Medium acquires E-Book company Glose

 Medium has announced its acquisition of the social-based ebook company Glose. Glose is a platform where users can buy and read books, then share notes and highlights with friends. In the press release announcing the acquisition, Medium CEO Ev Williams says that the company “look[s] forward to working with the Glose team on partnering with publishers to help authors reach more readers.” However, as Engadget notes, once the integration is complete, Glose’s library “won’t be included in Medium’s $5 monthly and $50 annual subscriptions.”

What the integration between Glose and Medium will actually look like is still a little unclear. In an interview with CNN Business, Glose CEO Nicolas Princen raises the idea of readers being able to jump from an article into a book. “The vision is to create an experience where you can go from one to the next,” he says. “You can read an article and then just one-click purchase a book that connects to that content if you want to go deeper.”

There are a few ways a Glose/Medium integration could go about this. I’d like to imagine that Medium could show me books written by the author of the article I’m reading. Going even further, Medium could also find books about the article’s subject and show those to readers who want to go deeper.

While how much the acquisition cost Medium isn’t public, it does provide a revenue stream for the company outside of its subscription service. While it may be a struggle to convince people to pay to read shorter-form articles, many people are already accustomed to paying for books.

However Medium decides to integrate with Glose, one thing is clear — the company wants to be a formidable force in online reading, and it has just added 1.5 million books to its library.

Friday, January 15, 2021

WarnerMedia extends the 20% discount on HBO Max subscriptions

 A discount on HBO Max that was supposed to end today, January 15th, has been extended until March 1st, 2021. The fine print of the offer hasn’t changed: you can get six months of HBO Max for 20 percent off the normal total cost, which is usually $90 before tax. You’ll pay $70 with this deal (it’s like paying just under $12 per month instead of $15), but the catch is that you have to prepay in full and it’s nonrefundable.


This discount is open to both new and returning HBO Max subscribers, but it can’t be stacked with a free trial or any other promotion.

WarnerMedia kicked off this deal in early December 2020 on the heels of Warner Bros. announcing that its 2021 slate of films would debut on HBO Max alongside the theatrical releases and remain available to stream for 30 days. Wonder Woman 1984 was the first of its films to launch, and you have a few more weeks to catch that one before it’s a theater-exclusive.

It has several more movies expected to launch throughout the year, including The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho, and Matrix 4.

Signal is down globally with the huge surge of users

 If you’re having trouble sending messages in the secure messaging app Signal, it may be due to technical difficulties the company says are affecting the app on Friday.


Signal allows for secure and encrypted video, voice, and text communication, but users were greeted this morning with messages that failed to send. Signal confirmed the issue on its official Twitter account with the promise that it would “restore service as quickly as possible.”

In the last week, Signal reported a surge of new users to its app following a recommendation from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a new WhatsApp privacy policy (which has now been pushed to May) that may have driven users away from the Facebook-owned messaging service and into the arms of more secure options like Signal and competitor Telegram.

A tweet from Signal hours into the outage says that even though it has been actively adding servers to attempt to handle demand, the company is still seeing more activity than anticipated. “We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop,” the company writes, “but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections. Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters.”

US Universities receive billions in funding for higher education

 The U.S. Education Department on Thursday made available the $21.2 billion in help to higher education included in the coronavirus relief legislation Congress and President Trump approved in December, but undocumented students could be left out of getting help through emergency student grants again.

Meanwhile, billions more in aid could be on the way. President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday also released a summary of the $1.9 trillion relief package he is planning to propose upon taking office, including another $35 billion in help for colleges and universities.

“The president-elect’s plan will ensure colleges have critical resources to implement public health protocols, execute distance learning plans, and provide emergency grants to students in need,” said a fact sheet of the proposal obtained by Inside Higher Ed. “This $35 billion in funding will be directed to public institutions, including community colleges, as well as public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving Institutions,” said the document marked “confidential.” The document did not mention most private colleges and universities.

This summary said also that the proposal “will provide millions of students up to an additional $1,700 in financial assistance from their college.”

As for the latest round of approved coronavirus relief, it will allow more flexibility on how colleges and universities can spend the money than in last spring’s CARES Act, and allows for more students to be eligible to receive emergency student grants. It was unclear if undocumented students are again being left out of getting help like last time, higher education lobbyists said. But Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government relations, said their analysis of guidances released by the department is that undocumented students are ineligible for receiving student grants, as in the CARES Act.

Drager called on Biden to make it clear these students can get the help when he takes office next week.

Former education secretary Betsy DeVos, in a move blasted by higher education leaders, denied CARES Act grants from being able to go to those who are ineligible for federal student aid. According to an FAQ released by the Education Department, that order does not apply to this latest round of money.

The $21.2 billion COVID-19 relief to higher ed institutions represents only a sliver of the $120 billion associations representing colleges and universities had requested. However, according to figures released by the department that listed what each institution would receive, millions of dollars in aid will be heading to institutions struggling with the financial fallout of the pandemic. Topping the list are Arizona State University, which is receiving $112.9 million, then $110.3 million headed to Miami Dade College, and $88.8 million going to the University of Central Florida.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

MSI's new GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat is a inspired byMS an ancient goddess

 MSI has announced the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat (yes, that’s the full name), which undoubtedly has one of the most unique laptop designs you’ll see this year. Take a look at the eye-catching pattern in the picture above — it’s actually engraved into the 17.3-inch GE76’s lid. MSI says the design is inspired by the ancient goddess Tiamat, who was known in Mesopotamia as the mother of all gods. Why Tiamat? Like her, MSI claims, the GE76 Raider represents “supreme power.”

MSI GE76 Raider Dragon Edition Tiamat

If you’re confused, settle in — this kind of thing is MSI’s shtick. Last year, the company released a “Dragonshield Edition” of its GE66 Raider designed to look like a spaceship. (Or rather, a panel that fell off a spaceship. There’s a story and it comes with a model, it’s a whole thing.) Hey, it won’t be for everyone, but I love that the company’s thinking big.

In addition to the Dragon Edition, MSI has unveiled a few other devices for its GE Raider series including a regular GE76 Raider (no fun lid design) and an updated 15.6-inch GE66 Raider.

The big news is that the GE Raiders have been upgraded to Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 3000 graphics cards. The GE66 and the Dragon Edition can include an RTX 3070 or RTX 3080; the standard GE76 goes down to a 3060 as well. This means they’ll have access to Nvidia’s modern technologies, including resizable BAR technology and Dynamic Boost 2.0 (which leverages AI to balance power between the CPU, GPU, and GPU memory on a per-frame basis). The new Raiders will pair those GPUs with Intel’s 10th Gen Core i7 processors (the Dragon Edition has a Core i9 option). MSI claims the laptops can “masterfully handle all triple-A games.”

They’re also among the first laptops in the industry to support the latest Wi-Fi 6E, or 6Hz Wi-Fi that’s meant to offer better bandwidth with less interference.

Chips aside, the most noticeable feature of the GE Raider series is the colorful LED bar around the front edge of the chassis. Together with a customizable RGB keyboard, it creates a flashy splash of color. They also have plentiful port selections: I count 10, including two USB-C ports, three USB-A ports, an audio jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, an Ethernet port, and an SD card reader. All models can come with a 1080p 300Hz or 240Hz IPS display — the Dragon Edition also has a 4K UHD option, and the standard GE76 has a 1080p 144Hz option. Both GE76s have an MSI-developed “Duo Wave” speaker with noise cancellation.

Pricing on the GE76 Raider Dragon Edition is still to be announced, but it’s supposed to hit shelves in mid to late February. You can preorder the regular GE76 and GE66 models now. They’ll start at $1,499 and $2,199, respectively.

Comparing the S21 Ultra with iPhone 12 Pro Max

 Samsung’s Galaxy S-series 2021 updates are here, and they’re debuting a little earlier in the year than usual. Interestingly, the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra represent slightly diverging strategies for the devices. The S21 includes some cost-saving measures, like a polycarbonate back, to bring it closer to midrange. Meanwhile, Samsung has pulled out any remaining stops with its top-end S21 Ultra, loading it with five cameras and adding S Pen support.

To be sure, there are still plenty of flagship-level features on the 6.2-inch S21. Like the Plus and Ultra, it uses a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888 processor (or 5nm Exynos chipset outside the US). It features the same rear triple camera array as the S21 Plus and is built with IP68 waterproofing. The S21 Plus offers a couple of upgraded specs not included in the S21 that you’ll see in the table below, like a slightly bigger battery. It’s also, of course, the bigger device with a 6.7-inch screen, but the S21 and S21 Plus are more similar than not

The S21 Ultra is another story — even at a glance, its flagship-iness is obvious. Its prominent camera bump includes two telephoto cameras in addition to a 108-megapixel standard wide and an ultrawide. It has a slightly bigger 6.8-inch screen with higher resolution, a bigger battery, more RAM, and a 40-megapixel selfie camera.

All of this will likely make it more clear to the prospective buyer which Galaxy S21 phone is the right one for them. But how do they stack up against the iPhone? Take a look at a detailed spec-by-spec comparison below. Note that for simplicity’s sake, we left the iPhone 12 mini out — it offers essentially the same specifications as the 12, just with a smaller form factor.

Watch Samsung Unpacked 2021

 Samsung will be presenting its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S21, today at the streaming event titled Galaxy Unpacked 2021. The company is so confident that people will want the new device that it is inviting people to get in line to preorder before the phone is actually introduced.

Samsung hasn’t been shy about the specs of the upcoming S21. But wait, there’s more: there’s a good chance that Samsung will also use the event to launch the Galaxy Buds Pro, its new wireless headphones, and the Galaxy SmartTags, the company’s answer to the Tile tracking device.

If you want to see this all yourself as it happens, here’s the when and where of it:


It starts today, January 14th, at 10AM ET / 7AM PT / 3PM GMT.


We have the live stream video embedded up top, so you can stick around here to watch when it begins. Otherwise, head to these links:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Asus announces new chromebook with i7 and smooth design

 Asus’ new Chromebook CX9 is a powerhouse of a Chromebook built for professionals. Pricing is still to be announced, but it’s coming to North America in Q2 2021.

Asus Chromebook CX9

Per Asus, the Chromebook CX9 is powered by up to an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor. That’s an unusual processor to see in a Chromebook — students and more casual Chromebook customers don’t usually need more than a Core i3 — but it’s the best option for power users.

It also packs that power into quite a portable chassis, which is just 0.63 inches thick (16 mm) and 2.2 pounds. And Asus says it meets the MIL-STD-810H US military standards for durability, so you should have no problem battering it around.

In addition, the new Chromebook supports Wi-Fi 6 and includes Harman Kardon-certified dual speakers. Asus says it’s “loaded with I/O” ports, including the new Thunderbolt 4 standard as well as HDMI outputs. And it offers Titan C security, Google’s security chip designed specifically for Chromebooks.

Asus also introduced the Chromebook Flip CX5 and C536, two consumer-oriented Chromebooks that will also feature 11th Gen Intel processors. Those models are coming in Q1.

LG teases the rollable shape shifting phone at CES 2021

 LG is once again teasing its rollable phone. While we’ve seen brief hints in the past, at CES today, LG provided the best look at the device so far. Named LG Rollable, the device has what the company calls a “unique resizable screen” that transforms from a phone into a small tablet. The screen slides in and out of place to extend its surface area.

LG Rollable Phone

It’s merely a concept right now, as part of LG’s “Explorer Project” experiments, and we still don’t know exactly what technology LG is using or the size of the expandable display. LG has previously used its Explorer Project to introduce its LG Wing smartphone, with a wild rotating design and two OLED displays.

It’s still not clear whether LG’s Rollable phone will ever make it to market, but the company has now branded this experiment so it seems more likely we’ll see an LG Rollable in the future.

Other companies are also investigating rollable phone displays. TCL showed off a number of future phone concepts last year, and Oppo also demonstrated a concept device with an expandable OLED display. Phone manufacturers have yet to move beyond the concept and experiment phase with their rollable phones, though.

Monday, January 11, 2021

What to expect from CES 2021

 The Consumer Electronics Show officially begins this week. Thankfully, the Consumer Electronics Association capitulated in July and switched the whole thing over to being online-only. But it’s hard to know what CES is even supposed to be without giant convention halls filled with ostentatious displays, blinking lights, and hordes of exhausted and smelly people in off-the-rack suits. Whatever happens, you will be able to find all our coverage right here.

CES 2021

The CEA has smartly limited official keynote presentations to 30 minutes a pop. That should mean we’ll get to the announcements more quickly and have to spend a little less time hearing vague hand-waving about innovation. We’ll be covering those live (though without liveblogs), so stay tuned starting today and through the first half of the week.

The main CES keynote will come from Verizon (so expect 5G talk), but the usual suspects like Sony, Samsung, LG and others will have their own presentations. One consequence of moving the entire show online is that companies seem to be stretching out their announcements to fill the suddenly larger virtual space. So although CES’s official start is this week, many of the biggest announcements have already happened. This year’s TV announcements are essentially half-finished thanks to Samsung and Sony going so early.

This year, there will be a few trends to watch for. In TVs, 8K will continue to be everywhere but the real showdown is going to be between more traditional OLED TVs and Mini LED. But the real thing to watch for is HDMI 2.1, the new iteration of the spec that has the necessary bandwidth for more advanced gaming features. It ought to be everywhere this year. Oh, and LG has already shown off its weird concepts this year — transparent TVs are cool.

There will be plenty of 5G talk, but since this isn’t a phone show much of it will amount to more promises. Verizon is doing the keynote, however, so perhaps it will have something to say about improving its lackluster 5G network, which can often be slower than LTE. (Verizon’s 4G LTE network remains great, at least.)

Laptops and PCs will likely show up with their usual mix: a few weird concepts and a lot of decent spec bumps. I’m going to keep an eye out for two things: whether AMD can pick up more models from Intel and whether Intel can get a critical mass of “Evo” laptops with decent battery life. Because like it or not, the stunningly good Arm-based MacBooks are going to loom like a shadow over the whole proceeding. Perhaps a few companies will take a shot at making a better Arm-based Windows laptop, too.

As for smart home stuff, there’ll be the usual mix of oddities like smart toilets and improvements to the basics like fridges, ovens, and smart lights. I do wonder if there will be a small lull this year as we await the new CHIP industry standard that should reduce fragmentation in how these things communicate with each other.

One thing we’ll definitely keep an eye out for is health gadgets — and that eye will be extremely skeptical. CES is always the place where quackery and technology team up, but this year my worry is that more than a few overzealous companies will try to make COVID-specific pitches for their gadgets.

Last and perhaps least: phones. CES is rarely a phone show, and this year the fact that Samsung will be announcing its flagship Galaxy S21 just afterwards will tamp those announcements down further. I suspect we’ll see a lot of low and mid-range phones that bring down the cost of access to 5G, but I doubt anybody will try to front-run Samsung.

A new Sony Xperia Compact could be coming to compete with iPhone 12 mini

  Sony is reportedly set to bring back its “Compact” line of phones in 2021 with a new Xperia Compact model. It will offer a 5.5-inch displa...