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Monday, April 12, 2021

French lawmakers vote to ban a few domestic airlines to reduce carbon emissions

French lawmakers have voted to ban domestic flights on routes that could be taken in a train ride in less than two-and-a-half hours, Reuters reported. The vote late Saturday comes as part of France’s larger climate bill, which seeks to reduce its 1990-level carbon emissions by 40 percent over the next decade.

Air France-KLM

Last week, France’s government said it would contribute 4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) to recapitalize airline Air France-KLM. The airline warned it is expecting an operating loss of 1.3 billion euros when it reports its first-quarter earnings next month. The airline industry is reeling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a sharp reduction in global travel over the past year.

“We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions,” France’s Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runachershe told Europe 1 radio. “Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside.”

McKinsey & Co. analysts estimate the airline industry will continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic for several years, predicting that air traffic won’t get back to 2019 levels until 2024.

The bill to cut back domestic flights goes next to France’s Senate for a vote.


Friday, April 9, 2021

Firefox would not support Amazon Fire TV or Echo Show from April 30th

Firefox will no longer support Amazon Fire TV or Echo Show devices starting April 30th, Mozilla announced on Friday (via Android Police).

Amazon Echo Show

“You will no longer be able to install [Firefox] on FireTV, receive security updates, or be able to reinstall the app if you uninstall it starting on April 30, 2021,” Mozilla said in a support document. “If you have Firefox set as your default browser on Echo Show, you will be redirected to Amazon Silk for web browsing starting April 30, 2021.”

Mozilla first brought Firefox to Fire TV devices in December 2017, giving Fire TV owners a way to watch YouTube in the midst of a bitter feud between Google and Amazon. In July 2019, however, Google brought the YouTube app back to the Fire TV, giving users one less reason to use Firefox.

The Mozilla-made browser first came to Echo Show devices alongside Amazon’s Silk browser with the introduction Echo Show 10 in September 2018. There’s still no YouTube app for Echo Show, so the two browsers have offered a way to watch YouTube on the Amazon-made smart displays.

Mozilla now suggests using Silk to browse the web on Fire TV and Echo show devices.

Samsung reportedly strikes a deal with competitor LG for Oled displays

Samsung Electronics is close to ordering millions of OLED TV panels from LG Display, according to new reports from MTN, ETNewsand Seoul Economic Daily. Officials reportedly met recently to agree to the deal, which would see 1 million panels supplied to Samsung in the second half of this year, rising to 4 million panels next year. If the deal is finalized, it would be the first time Samsung has bought OLED panels from its South Korean rival and market leader. TVs with LG’s OLED panels consistently rate amongst the best in professional reviews.

LG Oled

Samsung exited the OLED TV market over half a decade ago. Today, LG Display supplies OLED panels to a variety of TV manufacturers including Sony, Vizio, and Hisense, as well as LG Electronics. Last year LG Display announced an expansion of its OLED production lines, and market research firm TrendForce says its production capacity is due to further increase in the second quarter of this year. MTN reports that LG Display’s total OLED TV panel production capacity is around 8 million units this year.

Today’s reports are the latest indication of Samsung’s shift away from LCD panels, which it currently uses across its television lineup. Even its QLED TVs still use LCD panels behind that quantum dot layer. Last year Samsung Display announced it would stop producing LCD panels in the face of stiff price competition from Chinese competitors, however it reportedly postponed this shutdown after the pandemic led to a rise in demand.

While falling LCD panel prices were believed to be behind last year’s move, MTN reports that the trend is reversing this year. LCD panels are reportedly growing more expensive, prompting Samsung to explore alternatives.

While Samsung Electronics plans to buy panels from LG Display, its own display division is believed to be working on Quantum Dot OLED (QD-OLED) TV panels. A report from South Korean publication The Elec this week says Samsung Display is currently working on a prototype TV using the technology, which will be sent to potential customers like Samsung Electronics after it’s produced in June. However, QD-OLED panel samples sent to Samsung Electronics in January was reportedly criticized for their low brightness.


QD-OLED isn’t the only new display technology on Samsung’s horizon. It recently commercialized a new display type called Micro LED, which uses an array of tiny self-emissive LEDs to produce an image. Although Samsung has released the technology in a series of ultra-high end TVs, it’s believed to be years away from being affordable enough for mass-market sets. There are also reports that the company is working on self-emissive quantum-dot TVs.

When asked about the potential deal in an interview, Samsung Electronics Jong-Hee Han, who oversees the company’s display division, dismissed the reports as rumors.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Samsung's Galaxy SmartTag Plus with AR would be out on April 16th

Samsung’s Galaxy SmartTag Plus, the souped-up version of the company’s Tile-like SmartTag Bluetooth tracker (which was released earlier this year), now has a release date: it’ll be out on April 16th for $39.99.

Samsung SmartTag Plus

That’s a $10 price increase over the standard SmartTag, which runs for $29.99 — but the SmartTag Plus has one notable improvement. It features an ultra-wideband (UWB) radio, allowing users to track it more accurately when it’s nearby than the standard Bluetooth setup. The UWB radio actually enables a new AR mode, which can help show users exactly where their missing tag is.

To use the new UWB mode, you’ll need both a Galaxy SmartTag Plus and a compatible UWB-equipped Galaxy phone, a list that currently includes the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Aside from the fancy new UWB features, though, the SmartTag Plus still works just like the regular SmartTag, leveraging Samsung’s vast Bluetooth network of Galaxy devices to help track missing objects. It’s similar to Apple’s Find My network, which uses iPhones and iPads to create a Bluetooth network (and, thanks to a recent expansion to third-party devices, will soon offer a Find My-compatible tracker from Chipolo).

The upcoming release of the Galaxy SmartTag Plus means that Samsung — and not Apple’s long-rumored AirTags — will be the first major AR-compatible UWB tracking accessory to hit the market. Apple has been reportedly working on a similar UWB-based AR feature for its upcoming tracker, but despite plenty of leaks and rumors, there’s still no word on a release date.

Now you can say "Hey Spotify" to control your music

If you want to pull up your favorite Spotify track or playlist without pressing buttons, there is no shortage of voice assistants to help you get those jams, including Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and even Bixby. But now, Spotify has its own hands-free wake word: “Hey Spotify” appears to be rolling out on Android and iOS, as tested by GSM Arena9to5Mac

Spotify

Frankly, it’s a little less handy than some of the native voice assistants built into your phone because you need to leave the app open for it to work — it’s not something you’ll launch with your phone asleep or with Spotify simply running in the background.

But if you have the app open, you can just say “Hey Spotify” and ask it to play a song; pull up a playlist; launch a radio station; and skip, pause, or play. We also found the “Play something I like” command would pull up a random one of our Daily Mix playlists.

Frankly, it’s a little less handy than some of the native voice assistants built into your phone because you need to leave the app open for it to work — it’s not something you’ll launch with your phone asleep or with Spotify simply running in the background.

But if you have the app open, you can just say “Hey Spotify” and ask it to play a song; pull up a playlist; launch a radio station; and skip, pause, or play. We also found the “Play something I like” command would pull up a random one of our Daily Mix playlists.

Having the same voice command on your phone makes sense; users might get used to it, and start looking for it, after they exit their vehicles. And while they’re at it, I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see some “Hey Spotify” headphones or earbuds sometime in the next year.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Steam survey shows Nvidia RTX 3070 is gradually coming in the hands of gamers

Now that the street price of an Nvidia RTX 3070 is over $1,200, it’s temping to think scalpers, bots and cryptocurrency miners got them all — but the latest Steam Hardware Survey suggests at least some of them are making their way into gaming PCs, too. As TechSpot reports, the 3070 in particular appears to have become Steam’s fastest growing GPU, and the 17th-most popular graphics accelerator on Steam with a 1.29 percent share overall.

Nvidia RTX 3070

The RTX 3080 also commands 0.87 percent, the RTX 3060 Ti has 0.39 percent, and the pricey RTX 3090 claims 0.34 percent of the market — for a total of 2.89 percent Ampere cards.

That not bad, especially considering AMD’s rival RX 6000 series doesn’t have a single spot on the entire 95-GPU leaderboard. Apparently, more gamers are using the 2011 Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti (0.16 percent) than any of AMD’s latest cards.

More than a quarter of Steam PC gamers are now using AMD CPUs instead of Intel, though, so that’s probably some consolation.

If secondhand sales numbers are anything to go by, I would expect the newer RTX 3060 to contribute to Nvidia’s tally next month.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

LG's newest LG Gram 17 makes competition tough for other laptops

The Gram 17 has a grandiose 17-inch display, yet it’s only three pounds, which is light enough for me to carry around one-handed. Its keyboard is a joy to type on with a surprising amount of tactility and travel in the keys, and the battery life outlasts a whole day of work, even much of a second one, too. It’s a quiet laptop, and even under pressure, its fans weren’t loud enough for me to hear once.

LG Gram 17

The Gram communicates its biggest selling points — lightness and longevity — so effectively that it outshines some persisting minor problems. Those include a keyboard layout that can be difficult to adjust to. For instance, the num lock is too easy to press accidentally, being right next to backspace, and the only function key is located too far away from the most essential function row buttons, making it a stretch to adjust the volume one-handed. Lastly, the large trackpad isn’t always good at palm rejection. These are important things for any laptop to get right, let alone one that has a bunch of extra real estate that should be used to avoid flaws like these.

This new model for 2021 is mostly a spec update, not a design overhaul compared to the 2020 version. But it’s a good update, at that. Inside of LG’s sole $1,799 Gram 17 configuration (it’s been available for $1,699 since late March), there’s now an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 quad-core processor that promises — and actually delivers — better performance and longer battery life than the 2020 model my colleague Monica Chin reviewed. Additionally, this model’s faster 4,266MHz LPDDR4X RAM, of which it has 16GB, likely plays a role in that speed boost. It’s not a drastically different computer to use than before, but it can hold its own more reliably this time around.

Last year’s model took 30 minutes to do this, but this one gets it done in around 11 minutes. That doesn’t hold a candle to laptops that put more of an emphasis on power usually at the expense of heft, but it’s enough of an improvement to make the Gram 17’s price a little easier to justify. Razer’s Book 13 with the same processor fared just about a minute faster with this test, but the Gram is on par with the latest Dell XPS 13 and Asus ZenBook 14

The battery is also mystifyingly good — and better than before. With that same batch of apps I mentioned earlier, the Gram 17 lasted an entire workday and well into the next, around 12 or so hours later. If you’re looking for a laptop that can go a full day of work without its charger, whether you have video calls or not, this is one for your shortlist. It features the same 80Wh battery as last year’s model, which is still impressive considering the Gram 17’s lightweight profile.

Also similar to the 2020 version is its USB-C charging. LG now includes a 65W USB-C power adapter instead of the 48W charger that shipped with the previous model. It can more quickly recharge with the included brick (which is no bigger than a compact power bank), but it still takes a few hours to refill it completely.

That sums up the biggest changes to this year’s Gram 17. There are a few smaller tweaks I liked, too. The arrangement of ports has been shifted around in a more logical layout. On the left side, there’s a Thunderbolt 4 port (it can be used for charging, data, or connecting to a display), one USB-C 4.0 Gen 3 port, a headphone combo jack, and an HDMI port. Over on the right is where you’ll find two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports next to a microSD card slot and a Kensington lock.

If you’re shopping around for 17-inch laptops, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything lighter than the Gram. It’s 2.98 pounds, which is just a little heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air. The Dell XPS 17 is one of LG’s main competitors in this space, yet its baseline model weighs over a pound and a half more. If you get an XPS 17 model like the one we reviewed in July 2020, it’ll weigh almost as much as two Gram 17s at 5.53 pounds. That added weight does bring more power and a dedicated GPU in the Dell, but if you just want a big, portable screen for productivity, the Gram is more than capable.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sony to announce their new Xperia smartphone on April 14th

Sony has, in a very low-key way, just announced that its upcoming Xperia event will be on April 14th (via Droid Life). The news comes from the Xperia YouTube channel’s banner, where it lays out that there will be a new product announcement happening at 4:30PM Japan Standard Time — that’s 3:30AM EST, or 12:30AM PT (if you feel like burning the midnight oil to watch live).

Sony Xperia

The banner gives no real hints as to what will be announced, but there have been a few rumors floating around — one about a new flagship, the Xperia 1 III, and one about the return of the Xperia Compact, which could end up being an Android answer to the iPhone Mini.

It’s worth noting that there are other rumors that mention new versions of the Xperia 5 and 10, leaving out the Compact entirely. But pretty much every rumor indicates that we’ll see a new entry in the flagship Xperia 1 line. Leaks indicate that the 1 III will have a periscope zoom lens, and Techradar recently published what could be the full specs. It’s mostly what’s expected from a flagship Android phone: Snapdragon 888, 12GB of memory, 5G, and a 4K 120Hz screen.

It’s probably a safe bet that if there’s only one phone being announced (which is hinted at by the singular “product” in the image from Sony), the Xperia 1 III would be it — the 1 line seems to be on a yearly cycle. The Compact is much more of a wildcard — the last time Sony released a “Compact” branded phone was in 2018, though it does use the word to market the Xperia 5 II, with its 6.1-inch screen, which is around the same size as an iPhone 12 Pro or Galaxy S21. The rumors for a 2021 version of the Compact say that it’ll have a 5.5-inch display, which is only a tiny bit bigger than the screen on an iPhone Mini.

Both potential phones are rumored to come with headphone jacks. As for what we’ll actually see on the day, only time will tell — but thankfully there’s not much of it left.

Tesla delivered more cars than It's production in 2021's Q1

Tesla delivered nearly 185,000 cars in the first quarter of 2021, more than it produced over the three-month period, according to numbers the company shared on Friday. Tesla has been ramping up production capacity and just nearly missed CEO Elon Musk’s goal of delivering 500,000 cars in 2020.

Tesla

Of the cars Tesla delivered in Q1 2021, nearly 183,000 were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, more than the 180,000 of those models produced in Q1. On top of the Model 3 and Model Y deliveries, the company also sold an additional 2,020 Model S cars that had been produced in previous quarters.

Tesla announced redesigns for the Model S and Model X in January 2021, which added new powertrains, higher range options, and the landscape in-car display from the more popular Model 3. Tesla says the redesigns were “exceptionally well-received” and that it’s in the early stage of ramping up production on both new models.

The company didn’t break out specific delivery numbers for cars in China, but Tesla says it continues to be happy with the reception of its newer Model Y in the country. China has been a focus for Tesla since it opened its Gigafactory there in 2019, which the company seems to see as critical for meeting demand for its cars. When Tesla shared its Q4 2020 financial figures, it announced that its factory in Shanghai could allow it to produce as many as 1.05 million cars in a year.

Tesla and Musk haven’t yet announced any ambitious delivery goals for 2021, but in comparison to 88,400 cars it delivered in Q1 2020, Tesla seems like it’s starting on the right foot to beat last year’s 500,000-car goal.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Samsung cuts the price on their Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

 In order to become more competitive, Samsung has lowered the price of its foldable flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2.With this, the company aims to popularize the foldable smartphone category.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

The ex-factory price for the Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, which was launched last September, has been set at $1,675 in South Korea, down from $2,125, according to people in the mobile industry.

The ex-factory price, or list price, refers to the selling cost of goods from the manufacturer's plant before distributors sell products to their customers. Last month, Samsung lowered the list price of the Galaxy Z Flip 5G, a clamshell-type foldable smartphone, to $1,196 from $1,463.

Industry insiders said the latest price cuts from Samsung are part of its efforts to enhance accessibility to its foldable smartphone products, so that more people can experience and buy its Galaxy Z devices, reports Yonhap news agency.

Samsung, the world's largest smartphone producer, is expected to release new foldable smartphone models with lower price tags and diversify its lineup to popularize to boost sales.

Industry observers speculate that Samsung could add a budget model of the Galaxy Z series, with some expecting the South Korean tech giant to introduce a double-folding smartphone to its portfolio.

Samsung was the dominant player in the global foldable smartphone market last year, accounting for an 87 per cent share on a unit basis, according to market tracker Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC).

Samsung is buying a Hulu series, A sponsored series for the Samsung S21 Ultra 5G

 Samsung wants you to know its new phone, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, is good at capturing photos. Maybe you could outwardly tell from its five image sensors, including four on the back, that the company takes mobile photography seriously. But if not, you now have an entire Hulu series to watch in which the S21 Ultra 5G is the main character.

Samsung S21 Ultra 5G

The company announced today it’s created a branded Hulu show called Exposure where up-and-coming photographers compete in challenges to be crowned “America’s best mobile photographer.” The show will debut on April 26th, and it entirely centers on the S21 Ultra 5G; it’s the only device contestants will use to capture their images. This is Samsung’s best attempt at showing off its phone in less of a commercial format — although, in reality, this show is an extended commercial.

Branded content is nothing new for TV. But typically, these partnerships are more covert. Maybe the device someone uses is a specific phone that they mention aloud, or the hosts of a show drive a specific car that lingers on the screen for a second longer than expected. Exposure is, instead, a full-out admittance from Samsung that it is so invested in making sure people know about its camera technology that it’s willing to spend money on an entire series.

These Exposure contestants will likely capture quality images. You just have to be okay with the fact that you’re watching content that Samsung approves and wants you to see.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Mi teases the upcoming Mi Mix Fold with a poster

 Xiaomi has resurrected its Mi Mix series with the Mi Mix Fold, the company’s first commercial folding phone. Unlike previous outlandish Mix devices and concepts from the company, the Mi Mix Fold is a pretty conventional folding phone that uses a big-screen-on-the-inside / small-screen-on-the-outside design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series and Huawei’s new Mate X2.

Mi Mix Fold

The inner screen is an 8.01-inch 4:3 OLED panel with 2480 x 1860 resolution, a standard display brightness of 600 nits (900 peak), and support for Dolby Vision HDR. Xiaomi says the display is able to withstand being folded 200,000 times. The outer screen is 6.52-inches with a 90Hz refresh rate. Xiaomi is making big claims about the Mi Mix Fold’s audio capabilities, with four Harman Kardon-tuned speakers and what the company describes as 3D panoramic sound.

The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 paired with 12GB or 16GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage. Battery capacity is 5,020mAh, and Xiaomi says the 67W fast-charging system should get you a full charge in 37 minutes.

As previously teased last week, the new Mix is also the first phone to use liquid lens technology in its camera. Xiaomi says that it allows for a telephoto lens with a close focusing distance of 3cm and optical zoom of 3x, or 30x hybrid zoom. The rest of the camera system is comprised of a Samsung HMX 108-megapixel main sensor and a 13-megapixel ultrawide, which sounds like the same solid setup that’s on the Mi 11.

Xiaomi first showed off a folding phone prototype more than two years ago, before Samsung shipped its first Galaxy Fold. That device had a double-folding design where a tablet-sized screen could be bent back on the left and right edges for a more phone-like experience.

Later that year, Xiaomi announced the Mi Mix Alpha, which had a wraparound screen that covered almost the whole phone, but it never made it to market. More recently Xiaomi unveiled its latest concept phone, featuring a “quad-curved waterfall display” that curved on all four sides.

The Mi Mix Fold, on the other hand, is very much going on sale — people in China are able to preorder it as of today, and it’ll ship on April 16th. Prices start at 9,999 yuan (around $1,521) for a model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, going all the way up to 12,999 yuan (around $1,978) for a 16GB / 512GB ceramic special edition. There’s no word yet on a release outside of China.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Get the new Samsung S21+ 5G at the lowest price on the Samsung Spring Sale 2021

 It’s the final day of Samsung’s week-long Discover Spring Event, but there is still one juicy sale to be had. Each day has featured a new deal, like earlier in the week when we saw huge bargains on the Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Watch 3 and more. And today, Samsung is issuing an extra $250 off the price of a new Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G. Normally starting at $1,000, you’ll get the discount in the form of instant rebates at checkout. You can save even more by trading in a device toward it. It’s possible to get your total as low as $150 if you do.

Samsung S21+

That’s not all. In addition to the dust sucker, Samsung is offering 10% off all purchases in three categories: home appliances (which includes refrigerators, washers and dryers, vacuums, microwaves and air purifiers, to name a few), mobile devices (phones—including other Samsung phone deals, earbuds, smartwatches) and computer monitors.

Speaking of appliances, Samsung is throwing in free installation on select home appliances and entertainment products during the sale, as well as free haul-away and disposal on all home appliances.

There’s one other reason to check out the sale, and it helps if you’re feeling lucky—every purchase awards an entry in Samsung’s contest that includes prizes up to $5,000. To enter, make a purchase at Samsung anytime between March 22 and March 28, and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing, which commences April 8. First place is $5,000, but there will also be three second place winners earning $3,000 each and a half-dozen $1,000 third-place winners.

Looking to upgrade to Samsung's newest flagship phone? The Galaxy S21 family arrived back in January and thanks to Samsung's Spring Sale event, the middle child is already pretty deeply discounted. Today only, the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is marked down by $200 and comes with a $50 instant credit—a total savings of $250.

The Galaxy S21 Plus adds some extra real estate to the screen. It features a 6.7-inch AMOLED display versus the S21's stock 6.2-inch screen. You get Full HD+ resolution (that's 2400x1080 pixels) at 1,500 nits of peak brightness and refresh rates up to 120Hz. All that adds up to a sharp display with smooth video that also conserves battery life. Want more resolution? There's always the S21 Ultra. 

There are a lot of improvements under the hood, notably the inclusion of 5G wireless, which includes the fastest “millimeter wave” version of the service for when that finally lands in your neighborhood. The S21+ camera is the same as the one you'll find in last year's S20, though. Again, you'll need to step up to the S21 Ultra if you want to be on the bleeding edge with the new 108-megapixel camera. Even so, the cameras you do get are nothing to scoff at: dual 12MP sensors for wide-angle shots and a 64MP telephoto that takes photos at up to 30X zoom.

Don't forget, though: This is the last day of Samsung's sale and is your only chance to get the S21 Plus for $250 off–at least, until the next time it lands on sale, whenever that may be.

French lawmakers vote to ban a few domestic airlines to reduce carbon emissions

French lawmakers have voted to ban domestic flights on routes that could be taken in a train ride in less than two-and-a-half hours,   Reute...

Click here to revoke your choice.