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Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

Watch 10 minutes of 'Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' gameplay

As promised, Nintendo has showcased 10 minutes of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of Kingdom gameplay — and it's a useful preview if you're wondering just how the developers will improve on Breath of the Wild's formula. Most notably, producer Eiji Aonuma notes that fusing objects plays an important role in the game. You can build stronger weapons, and even craft vehicles like powered boats and hovercraft. Enemies can use fused weapons too, though, so you can't assume that a favorite combat strategy will work.

The demo video also shows a way to reach the floating islands above Hyrule (by using a recall ability on an elevator stone), and what happens if you fall or jump off. You have full control all the way down, so you can glide to distant areas or plunge quickly toward the ground. Many mechanics appear familiar, so you won't have to relearn the fundamentals.

And yes, Nintendo plans to cater to Legend of Zelda devotees with special edition hardware. The company is releasing a Tears of the KingdomOLED Switch (shown below) for $360 on April 28th, weeks ahead of the game's May 12th launch. You won't get a copy of Tears, unfortunately, but you will get lavish artwork on the Switch itself, the Joy-Con controllers and the dock. If you already have a Switch, you can also buy Tears-edition Pro Controller ($75) or carrying case ($25).

Nintendo Switch OLED 'Tears of the Kingdom' model

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 2:56 pm

Apple accused of illegally firing pro-union workers

Apple is once again facing accusations of cracking down on union organizers. The Communications Workers of America union (CWA) has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asserting that Apple illegally intimidated and fired workers at Houston and Kansas City, Missouri stores in retaliation for their labor organization efforts. The ex-employees in Kansas City were ostensibly cut loose for being slightly late, calling out from work or even making typos in timesheets, but were also made to sign a "release of all claims" to get their severance pay. They couldn't challenge Apple's practices once they left, in other words.

In Houston, Apple allegedly questioned workers individually about their union support and offered improved conditions if they dropped their labor support. Those that persisted in pro-union activity were disciplined and threatened with deteriorating conditions, the CWA claims.

Only two US stores, in Oklahoma City and Towson, Maryland, unionized in 2022. Abroad, a store in Glasgow became the third. Other employees, such as those in St. Louis, Missouri, have filed for union elections. Staff in Atlanta called off a vote last spring after accusing Apple of intimidation tactics.

We've asked Apple for comment. The company has historically opposed unionization efforts, reportedly holding mandatory anti-union meetings. Apple is also said to have withheld benefits from unionized workers at the Towson store while claiming that they needed to strike a collective bargaining agreement. The firm has tried to head off labor movements by raising wages, expanding benefits and relaxing schedules.

Fights between tech giants and their rank-and-file workers aren't new. Labor organization in tech reached a fever pitch in 2022, with workers at companies like Activision Blizzard, Amazon and Microsoft either unionizing or making their displeasure known. Those brands, meanwhile, have frequently tried to block unionization attempts. The CWA's charges suggest those battles are continuing well into the new year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 2:00 pm

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 (2023) review: Big performance with a brilliant display

Now that systems with NVIDIA's 40-series mobile GPUs are finally hitting the market, there's a fresh generation of gaming laptops promising even more bombastic performance. And with the 2023 version of ASUS' ROG Zephyrus M16 packing a 13th-gen Intel CPU and an RTX 4090, we should be in for unmatched gaming prowess. This year, ASUS also upgraded the laptop's display to a stunning new Mini LED panel, and by bringing over the AniMe Matrix lid, the notebook looks better too despite the rest of its chassis being largely unchanged. But the big question is that with our fully loaded review unit costing a whopping $3,500, is this system really delivering the same value back?


Featuring a relatively slim matte black chassis that weighs just over five pounds, the Zephyrus M16 does a great job at retaining a bit of portability alongside all that performance. And while it looks almost exactly the same as last year's model, the AniMe Matrix LED lid (which we first saw on the Zephyrus G14 line) adds a bit of extra style without screaming about your power level. That's because when you prefer to be more discreet, you can easily turn off the lights using ASUS's Armoury Crate app and then just flip them back on when you want to surprise some nosy Saiyans.

Inside, the Zephyrus features RGB backlit keys and stereo speakers on the left and right. Typing feels good, though I wish the actuation felt a tiny bit stiffer, and it would have been nice if the deck was a little better at resisting fingerprints. I would have also liked to see a finger scanner integrated into the power button. It's a feature widely available on non-gaming laptops, including those from ASUS, but for some reason, manufacturers think gamers don't care as much about the convenience and security a built-in sensor provides.

And when it comes to connectivity, the M16 has plenty of ports including multiple USB jacks (both Type-A and Type-C), a full-size HDMI socket and even a microSD card slot. The one port ASUS didn't keep from last year's model is an Ethernet jack, which might be a deal breaker for some, but in 2023, I'm not that bothered.


For 2023, the new Mini LED screen on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 features 1,024 local dimming zones along with a peak brightness of up to 1,100 nits.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for visuals, the M16's 2560 x 1600 screen is arguably a more important upgrade than its new CPU and GPU. Not only has the refresh rate been bumped up to 240Hz, because it's a Mini LED panel, you also get way more dimming zones which help cut down on blooming. Its brightness is way better too. In normal use, the display tops out at around 600 nits, but thanks to its VESA DisplayHDR 1000 certification, things look even better when you're playing games or watching movies. It's an absolute treat.

My one gripe, and this is something that applies to all laptops with Nvidia's Optimus tech, is that when switching between integrated graphics and the discrete GPU, the screen flashes and blacks out, which is just kind of clunky. On top of that, depending on your specific settings, when it changes modes you may need to reenable things like HDR or specific color profiles. This can get kind of tedious after a while, especially if you have Optimus set to switch automatically depending on if you're plugged in or running on battery. So in the end, I set it to stay connected to the GPU all the time and never touched it again.

Performance and thermals

The biggest design change for the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 this year is the addition of the company's AniMe Matrix LED lighting to the lid.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

While the M16's performance is anything but slow, ASUS stopped just short of delivering truly top-notch performance. That's because instead of an HX-series chip, you get a slightly slower Intel Core i9-13900H CPU. Meanwhile, ASUS limits the RTX 4090 in the M16 to 145 watts (or 150 watts according to the NVIDIA control panel), which is less than the 175-watt cards you get in some competitors like the Razer Blade 16.

Granted, this may feel a bit nitpicky because it's not like the M16 is sluggish, particularly when you factor in its 32GB of RAM and speedy 2TB SSD. But when you're spending this much on a laptop, it's weird to see ASUS leave a little bit of extra performance on the table. In PCMark 10, the M16 posted a score of 8,624, which is more than 20 percent higher than what we got from last year's Razer Blade 15 (i7-12800H/RTX 3080 Ti). That's a pretty significant jump, though we're still waiting for a wider range of systems to arrive so we can get a more thorough comparison for 2023.

Due to the M16's design, its ports are located on the left and ride.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But more importantly, the M16 solidly beat the Blade 15 in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider when it hit 144 fps at 1920 x 1080 on highest settings compared to just 124 fps for the Razer. Additionally, in Metro Exodus the M16 exhibited a similar lead when it hit 101 fps on Ultra at full HD versus 86 for the Blade 15. Furthermore, if you want to enjoy the Zephyrus' native 2560 x 1600 resolution, the laptop has more than enough oomph to maintain a rock solid 120 fps with all the graphical bells and whistles turned on in Far Cry 6.

One downside of putting all this power in a relatively thin chassis (0.9 inches) though is that this thing runs hot. Temps don't go into the danger zone, but you're definitely not going to want to be doing any gaming on your lap, even casual titles. Heck, just resting your hands on the deck can make them sweaty after 10 or 15 minutes. Furthermore, the M16's fans are pretty loud, and in performance mode, there's simply no ignoring them. Thankfully, ASUS also gave the Zephyrus some rather beefy speakers so it's pretty easy to drown out the fans, that is if you don't mind making a ruckus for anyone else in the room (or possibly the next room over). And if you're OK with a bit of reduced performance, there's also a silent performance mode in the Armoury Crate app when you want to be less rambunctious.

Battery Life

As you'd expect on a premium gaming PC, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 comes with a keyboard that supports customizable RGB lighting.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The other con with a system this brawny is very mediocre battery life. When using the less power-hungry integrated graphics (which is what the system defaults to when Nvidia's Optimus tech is set to automatic), the M16 lasted just 5:18 on our local video rundown test. That's a bit better than something like the MSI's Stealth 15m's time of 4:15, but slightly worse than the 2022 Blade 15's mark of 5:42. And to little surprise, things are even worse when you rely entirely on the discrete GPU, with the M16 conking out after less than three hours (2:50).


All told, while it doesn't look much different from last year's system and its battery life is far from ideal, there's a lot to like about the Zephryus M16 too. It's got a slick and surprisingly understated design with a bit of hidden flash, and its new 240Hz Mini LED display looks awesome. It also has plenty of ports and, in a very welcome upgrade to general quality of life, ASUS even increased the resolution of its webcam to full HD. With the system supporting a 13th-gen Core i9 chip and up to RTX 4090 GPUs, practically anything you do runs super smooth. I just wish ASUS hadn't stopped short of including the most beastly versions of Intel and NVIDIA's top-specced mobile silicon. When you're already paying $3,500 for a fully loaded model, you might as well toss a couple hundred more to ensure there aren't any compromises on performance.

Priced at $3,500 for a fully loaded model, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M16 is definitely expensive. Thankfully, you can get more affordable models featuring an RTX 4070 GPU for around $1,950.
Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That said, for my money, I'd rather go with one of the M16's more affordable configs, which starts at $1,950 for an i9 chip and an RTX 4070 card. You still get that brilliant Mini LED screen and AniMe Matrix lid along with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. This way you'll have a system that won't bust your budget or make your back sore if you decide to carry it around, without putting a damper on your ability to game in style either.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 1:45 pm

The best iPhone cases for 2023

There are two types of people in this world: those with naked iPhones and those who stick their handset in a case as soon as they unbox it. If you just got a new iPhone and fall into the latter category, you have an overwhelming range of options to consider. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole, researching iPhone cases from companies you’ve never heard of on Amazon. You may be tempted to get one of the cheapest options available, or maybe the one with the cutest pattern, but they might not be the best iPhone cases for your needs. We tested out a number of the latest cases, covers and protectors to see which are actually worth your money.

Spigen Ultra Hybrid Magfit

If you want a basic, protective case that comes at an affordable price, Spigen has you covered. The company’s Ultra Hybrid MagFit clear cases show off the color of your iPhone and we like their raised bezels that protect the rear camera. The cases also have tactical buttons on the side that make it easy to feel around and adjust your phone’s volume without even looking at it. The overall slim profile of the polycarbonate case allows it to protect your iPhone without adding too much bulk, and it’s MagSafe compatible as well. Also, the Ultra Hybrid case was one of the most secure we tried – to the point where it was almost difficult to extricate the iPhone when we needed to test out a new cover. And while they normally go for around $45, you can often find them on sale for $25 to $30.

Smartish Gripmunk

We’ve recommended Smartish cases in the past for their artistic designs, but we particularly like the Gripmunk series for the latest iPhones. They’re a bit rougher around the edges than Spigen’s cases, literally – Gripmunk covers have textured edges that make them easier to grip and less likely to slip out of your hands, while the backs of the cases show off cute patterns and designs like floral arrays, cosmic scenes and more. There are a few solid-color options too, if you want to go the True Basic route (no shame), and these cases have MagSafe compatibility as well. If you’re a minimalist and don’t like to carry a lot on your person, you could ditch your billfold and spring for Smartish’s Wallet Slayer that has similarly textured edges along with a sleeve on the back. This wallet case can hold up to three credit cards and a few notes of cash.

Case-Mate Blox

If you’re looking for a bold, eye-catching case that has tons of personality, Case-Mate has a ton of great options to consider. Its iPhone 14 series has glittery cases, floral print covers and everything in between, but the one that stuck out most to me is the Blox line. These cases have squared-off corners that give your iPhone a modern, blocky look. Combine that with their bright neon colors and you’ll likely never have to ask your friends where your phone is again – you won’t miss it. I also appreciate that the Blox cases are fingerprint-resistant, provide protection against 10-foot drops and have built-in magnetics for MagSafe accessory compatibility.

Incipio Organicore

You have many more options today than you did previously if you want an environmentally friendly phone case. Incipio’s Organicore line is one of our favorites because its high-quality cases are 100 percent compostable, provide decent protection and the latest models are MagSafe compatible, too. They come in clear and opaque designs, and the latter has a buttery texture that makes the case feel more luxurious than you’d think. Organicore cases will protect your iPhone from drops up to eight feet, and their raised edges will be the first line of defense your phone has against accidental dings and bumps. MagSafe accessories work fine, but we did find that the opaque case wasn’t the grippiest out of the ones we tested. Best to stick to flat wireless chargers like Apple’s, rather than vertical magnetic stands where gravity can take over.

Cyrill Kajuk Mag

Cyrill makes a number of elegant cases and the new Kajuk Mag is no exception. It’s one of the thinnest and lightest cases we tried, but it does have four layers of protection: a soft microfiber lining, a sturdy PC back, TPU bumpers and a vegan leather exterior. Since the company doesn’t boast a certain level of drop protection, this slim case is a good option for those that care more about aesthetics and case design, but also want a simple, protective layer standing between their iPhone and hard concrete. As the name suggests, you can use the Kajuk Mag with MagSafe accessories, and it even has an accessory hole built in, for those that want to attach charms, straps and other things.

Peak Design Everyday Case

Peak Design’s Everyday Case not only looks attractive, but it turns your phone into a bunch of different things when you pair it with any of the accessories in the company’s mobile ecosystem. We like its protective rubberized bumper and nylon shell, and its SlimLink connector sits in the middle of the case’s back, waiting for whichever accessory you need that day. The company’s mobile tripod is one of our favorites for taking better photos with your phone, but also propping it up any which way you need. Commuters can opt for the dashboard mount to keep their phone within reach while driving, or the bike mount when you need to follow directions on its screen. If you use your phone for everything and want a case that can support all of those different activities, this one is a good option.

Pelican Shield Kevlar

Maybe you work outdoors, go camping frequently or are simply a bit clumsier than most. Some of the best protection you can get for your iPhone comes from Pelican’s Shield Kevlar case series. They’re admittedly bulky, but that’s how they safeguard your phone from up to 21-foot drops. The 5mm raised bumper provides shock-absorbing safety for the rear camera lens array as well as the handset as a whole, plus the secure edges and dustproof cover keep all unwanted debris out. Plus, these rugged cases are MagSafe compatible, so you don’t have to sacrifice convenience when opting for as much protection as possible.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 1:30 pm

DJI's Goggles Integra has an integrated battery for improved ergonomics

One of the biggest criticisms of DJI's otherwise excellent Avata FPV drone was around the Goggles 2, which lacked comfort and forced you to tether to a battery. Now, DJI has unveiled the Goggles Integra, a new model designed for the Avata that offers an integrated battery, improved ergonomics and new flight control features. The company also announced the RC Motion 2 controller with an upgraded joystick and controls.

The Goggles Integra use a new integrated design that merges the headband and battery, eliminating the annoying connecting cable on the last model. At the same time, DJI promises that the headband is "light, balanced and incredibly comfortable," while offering up to two hours of connecting time. It uses DJI's OcuSync O3+, that provides a 50Mbps video feed with up to 6.2 miles of range and 30-millisecond latency. It has a built-in GPS that lets you fly with no need to connect to a smartphone. 

DJI's Goggles Integra have an integrated battery for improved ergonomics

Unfortunately, the Goggles Integra lack the built-in diopter range found on the Goggles 2, and are too small to accommodate eyeglasses. Instead, they come with interchangeable lenses, meaning they're less flexible for users who need eye correction than the Goggles 2. And as before, when you take them off to see the drone, you'll need to put your glasses back on. With the battery cable gone, though, it's less awkward to put the headset on and take it off.

Another key difference with the Goggles 2 is that there's no Bluetooth or WiFi communication. That means you won't be able to transmit the visuals you see in the goggles to a smartphone, as you can on the previous model. 

Along with the new headset, DJI introduced the RC Motion 2 as an update to the original RC Motion controller. It uses the same motion-sensing tech, but comes with an improved joystick that protrudes (rather than being flush as before) for more traditional operation. 

DJI's Goggles Integra have an integrated battery for improved ergonomics

It also has an updated accelerator with a reverse function to support multidirectional flight. That includes vertical, backward and sideways motion, "making it easier to adjust the direction or choose a suitable place to land," DJI wrote. On the side is a new Fn dial (replacing the tilt switch) that lets you adjust the camera's ISO, shutter and other parameters without the to interact with the goggles. 

The new products show that DJI is being responsive to users, but it's unfortunate that the Goggles Integra lacks several key features from the $649 Goggles 2 — even though it's $150 cheaper. The Goggles Integra and RC Motion 2 are now available for $499 and $239 respectively. You can also get them in the Avata Explorer Combo that includes the Goggles Integra, DJI RC Motion 2, and DJI Avata for $1,278. If you need the diopter adjustment range and WiFi/Bluetooth features, the Pro-View Combo with the Goggles 2, DJI RC Motion 2, and DJI Avata is available for $1,428. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 1:00 pm

Lenovo's new Slim Pro 9i laptop includes a mini-LED display and RTX 4070 graphics

Now that Lenovo has introduced its mid-tier LOQ gaming laptops, it's revising its more portable Slim and Yoga lines. The headlining Slim Pro 9i (shown above) has the option of a mini-LED 3K display on both 14.5- and 16-inch models. You'll get improved contrast, of course, but Lenovo also touts 100 percent coverage of the DCI-P3, sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces, a 165Hz refresh rate and a 1,200-nit brightness that helps with HDR visuals and outdoor work. And yes, it's a viable option for gaming and other GPU-heavy tasks — you can use up to GeForce RTX 4070 graphics.

Both Slim Pro 9i sizes support up to a 13th-gen Intel Core i9 H-series processor, 64GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. You can also expect Dolby Atmos-capable speakers and a healthy port selection that includes Thunderbolt 4, USB-A, a headphone jack and HDMI, although you'll have to spring for the larger machine to get a full-size SD card reader.

Lenovo expects the Slim Pro 9i family to ship in May starting at $1,700 for the 14.5-inch model and $1,800 for the 16-inch equivalent. You won't get mini-LED at that price and will have to 'settle' for RTX 4050 video, but that still makes the base version viable if you want to strike a balance between raw speed and a reasonably portable chassis.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 laptop

You have options if you don't need as much power. An updated Slim Pro 7 (pictured at middle) includes a larger battery and better cooling while offering the obligatory performance upgrades to Ryzen 7000HS-series CPUs. You won't get more than RTX 4050 graphics, 1TB storage or 16GB of RAM, but the 14.5-inch laptop still offers up to a 3K LCD with a 120Hz refresh rate. There's also a refreshed 14-inch Slim 7i with 13th-gen Intel Core processors. Both ranges arrive in April, beginning at $1,180 for the Slim 7i and $1,200 for the Slim Pro 7.

The new Yoga models are straightforward spec bumps. The Intel-based Yoga 7i now uses 13th-gen Core chips in its 14- and 16-inch guises, while the AMD-powered Yoga 7 relies on Ryzen 7000 CPUs. You can use up to a 2.8K OLED display. Both Yoga updates start at $800 ($850 for the 14-inch 7i). The 7i appears in April, while you'll have to wait until May for the Ryzen edition.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 1:00 pm

The best WiFi extenders in 2023

Reliable home WiFi has never been more important. Many of us work from home part-time or full-time now, and others increasingly have more of their home powered by smart devices. Also, we all just have more connected devices in general — phones, tablets, consoles, TVs and more. In setting up and maintaining all of your tech, you might have discovered you get a weaker signal in your garage than the rest of your home, or spotty coverage in your makeshift home office. And depending on the size of your abode, your WiFi’s strength might be abysmal on its outskirts.

This is where WiFi extenders come in. These relatively affordable gadgets, as their name suggests, extend your home network to provide more widespread coverage. These devices can give you connectivity in places you may have never had it before like garages, backyards and the farthest corners of your property. And they won’t cost you a fortune like many of the latest mesh network systems you’ll find today. Let’s break down how these gadgets work, what you should consider before picking one up and the best WiFi extenders we tested.

How do WiFi extenders work?

These handy devices do exactly what their name suggests: extend your WiFi network so it covers more areas of your home. Most WiFi extenders plug into an AC outlet and connect to your existing network so they can then rebroadcast it to spots that your router alone may not cover well. As a rule of thumb, you’ll get the best results by placing the extender half way between your router and the dead zone you’re trying to fix.

One important thing to note about WiFi extenders (also sometimes called “repeaters”) is that most of them actually create a new WiFi network when rebroadcasting your existing one. That network will have a new name (it’ll often be your default network’s name with an EXT appended at the end, unless you change it) and that means you’ll have to connect to different networks when in different parts of your home. While that’s a small tradeoff in return for improved coverage, some will be more inconvenienced than others.

If you’d rather have one, much larger network in your home, you’re better off upgrading to mesh WiFi. Mesh systems come with a main router and access points that, by default, create one large WiFi network that should be accessible throughout your entire home. But that also translates to more expensive, and possibly more complicated, devices. Mesh systems are, by far, more costly than a simple WiFi extender, plus you may have to work with your ISP to get your home’s existing network working on your new router.

What to look for in a WiFi extender


Extenders today can support single, dual or tri-band WiFi, and they will tell you the maximum speeds they support on all of their available bands. For example, one dual-band device might support 600Mbps speeds over its 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps over its 5GHz band, for a combined maximum speed of 1900Mbps. For the best performance, you’ll want to go with a WiFi extender that has the highest speeds possible (and those, as you might expect, tend to cost more).

However, it’s important to remember that WiFi extenders are not designed to increase speeds across your home. In fact, you may find that the extender’s network is slower than your router’s. Instead, extenders are designed to increase the WiFi coverage throughout your home, making them ideal for filling in dead zones.

Range, and number of supported devices

With the name of the gaming being coverage area, taking note of a device’s range is important. Depending on the size of your home and property, you may only need up to 1,200 square feet of coverage. But those with larger homes will want to spring for an extender that can support upwards of 2,000+ square feet of coverage.

Similarly, those with lots of gadgets will want an extender that can handle them all at once. If you spend most of your time on your phone or laptop and maybe have your smart TV online for a few hours each day, you could get by with a more limited extender. Smart home aficionados and tech lovers should invest in one that won’t buckle under the pressure of a few dozen connected devices. This is especially important if you plan on linking all of the devices in a certain part of your home to your extender’s network, rather than directly to your router.


There isn’t a ton of innovation when it comes to design in the WiFi extender space. Most of the ones you’ll find today are rounded rectangles roughly the size of your hand that plug into a standard AC outlet. They usually have a few indicator lights that will show you when the extender is connected, how strong its signal strength is and when there’s a problem, and some will even have moveable antennas that companies claim provide even better WiFi coverage.

Aside from that, there are the scant few standalone WiFi extenders that sit on an end table or a desk, and those look pretty similar to regular ol’ routers. But make no mistake, anything labeled as an extender or a “repeater” will need an anchor router in order for it to work.

Another convenient feature you’ll find on most WiFi extenders is an extra Ethernet port (or a few). This allows you to use the extender as a WiFi access point if you connect it to your router, or an adapter to provide devices like TVs, smart home hubs or game consoles a hardwired connection to the internet. Unsurprisingly, this wired connection usually provides you with the fastest speeds possible, so you may want to use it for your most crucial devices.

Engadget picks

Best for most: TP-Link AX3000 WiFi 6 extender (RE700X or RE705X)

TP-Link has a bunch of WiFi extenders under its umbrella, but the one that will likely serve most people the best is this AX3000 model, which comes in two variations: the RE700X and the RE705X. Both extenders have the same specs, including WiFi 6 support, but the 705X has a slightly different design with pull-out antennas on either side. I tested the 705X, so I’m basing my recommendation off of my experience with that model, specifically.

Setting up this extender was as easy as plugging it in and following instructions in TP-Link’s Tether mobile app. All of the devices I tried followed the same basic setup process: first, plug the extender in close to your router, follow instructions in a mobile app or on a setup webpage, and once the connection is established, move the extender to your desired location.

It took all of five minutes to pair the 705X with my Verizon FiOS router – probably the most time-consuming bit was deciding what I wanted to name the new 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz networks. I went with the same name for both because I didn’t want to manually choose from two different bands when connecting things like my phone or laptop. The device will automatically pair your device with the appropriate band — for example, connecting most smart home gadgets to the 2.4Ghz network.

The permanent location where I moved all of the extenders I tested was in my basement, since that’s where we can get the spottiest signal. I first ran speed tests on my iPhone and MacBook using and so I could compare them with the standard speeds I got when connected to my router’s main network. Unsurprisingly, the speeds generated by TP-Link’s extender were much slower than those from my router’s network, but that was the case with all of the devices I tested. Only our premium pick (see below) got close to my router’s standard speeds, but I expected this. WiFi extenders aren’t going to make your connection better – they’re just going to give you a wider area of coverage. From a spec perspective, both the 705X and the 700X are rated for speeds up to 2402 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 574 Mbps on 2.4GHz band.

Despite the results of my tests, I was happy to discover that I wasn’t held back by the 705X’s seemingly slower speeds. I worked as normal for hours with my phone and laptop connected to the extenders network, answering emails, messaging in Slack, streaming YouTube videos and otherwise maintaining a few dozen tabs in Chrome, without any hiccups or noticeable slow-downs.

I was not surprised to find TP-Link’s Tether companion app to be easy to use, if a little simple, because that was my experience with TP-Link’s smart home app. Tether is specifically used with the company’s networking devices, and you probably won’t spend a ton of time in it after initial setup. I especially like that you can name devices that are connected to your extenders network like your phone and smart TV. That makes it much easier to know which things in your home are constantly paired with the extender rather than your router’s default network.

One important thing to note with these TP-Link extenders is that they both support OneMesh, which is the company’s feature that allows you to create one seamless mesh network if you have a compatible router. Since I’m still using the router provided to me by my ISP, I wasn’t able to test out this feature, but it works like this: if you have a OneMesh router and OneMesh-compatible extenders, you can link them all together under the same network name. So rather than having a router network and an extender network under the same roof, everything would be linked and filed under your main network’s name.

It’s a small perk that becomes not so small if you have a spotty extender, or even just an awkwardly laid-out home. In my testing, I found my phone disconnecting from some extenders’ networks when I went upstairs to the main floor of the house from my basement. It would then attempt to reconnect to the extender network, when really I would have preferred it to default back to my router’s network. That thankfully didn’t happen with TP-Link’s RE705X, but it’s something to keep in mind when considering buying a WiFi extender at all. If you can get one that has a feature like OneMesh, it’ll make your life much easier.

Coming in at $130 and $120, respectively, the RE705X and RE700X may not be the cheapest WiFi extenders out there, but their coverage range, WiFi 6 support and max speeds make either of them a good pick. If you know exactly where you want to put an extender and it’s not in an awkward or hard-to-reach location, the slightly cheaper, antenna-free RE700X may work just fine for you. But if you want that extra ability to tweak antennas to suit your needs, the RE705X is the way to go.

Best budget: TP-Link AC1200 WiFi extender (RE315)

TP-Link’s RE315 WiFi extender is physically very similar to the RE705X, but with lower specs and that’s what makes it a $50 device. You’ll get up to 867 Mbps speeds on the 5GHz band and 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, and it only provides coverage for up to 1,500 square feet. That won’t be as much of an issue for most people as max speeds will, but if you have a particularly large property, you’re better off going with a more expensive extender that can cover more space.

There’s also no WiFi 6 support on the RE315, which may be a dealbreaker for those who recently invested in a WiFi 6 router. This model does support OneMesh, though, which is nice if you already have a OneMesh system in your home.

I’m focusing on specification differences because my experience with the RE315 wasn’t that far off from the RE705X. Setup was just as plain and simple since the RE315 also uses the Tether mobile app, and while speeds were slightly lower in my testing, I didn’t notice too much of a difference in real world use. For $50 normally, and often closer to $30 when on sale, the RE315 is an easy pick for anyone who wants a budget-friendly way to fill WiFi dead zones in their home.

Best premium: Netgear AX6000 WiFi 6 mesh range extender (EAX80)

Having more than one WiFi network in your house is par for the course when it comes to adding an extender into the mix. But that’s not so with the Netgear EAX80 mesh range extender – it has “seamless smart roaming,” which allows you to set it up under your existing SSID name. So instead of disconnecting from your main network and reconnecting to the extender’s network when you move from your living room to your basement, all you have to do is… move from one room to another and let Netgear’s device do the heavy lifting.

That’s one of the premium features included on the EAX80, but its $250 price tag can be attributed more so to some other perks. It’s a dual-band, WiFi 6 mesh range extender that will work with pretty much any router you may have. It supports speeds up to 6 Gbps and can have more than 30 devices connected to it at once. As far as square footage goes, it’ll widen your WiFi’s coverage by up to 2,500 square feet, which should be plenty for small and medium-sized homes. It performed well in our speed tests, coming very close to the upload/download speeds I got when being connected to my main network before installing the extender.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about the Nighthawk mobile app, which is what you’ll use to initially set up the EAX80 extender. After that, you can use the app to troubleshoot, check WiFi speeds and see which devices are on your network. It’ll likely be a big list since you’ll see everything that’s paired to your router’s network as well. My only gripe is that you can’t edit device names. For example, my den’s TV shows up as “LGwebOSTV” and our soundbar in our basement shows up as “sonyaudio” — but there are a number of connected devices with no name at all, and we’re just stuck with that.

Aside from its fast speeds and reliable connection, two things set this Netgear extender apart from the other devices I tested. First is that seamless smart roaming feature – not having to switch between WiFi networks when going around my home was super convenient. I never had to worry about my laptop losing connection to a dedicated extender network when I moved from my basement to my second floor, which is something I frequently had to deal with when testing other devices.

The second differentiating factor is the EAX80’s design. Unlike other range extenders that are chunky blocks that plug directly into an AC outlet, Netgear’s model looks more like a standalone router. While that does mean it has a larger footprint than other devices I tested, it was actually easier to find good spots for it in my home because it didn’t have to be chained to the wall right above an outlet. Most people, especially those tight on space, will probably prefer the standard extender design, but the EAX80 gave me a bit more flexibility. I also appreciated that the EAX80 has four built-in Ethernet ports for physically connecting things like TVs, consoles and more, plus one USB-A port for hardwiring a printer.

Netgear’s EAX80 range extender is a solid option if you don’t mind dropping a bit of money to get a bunch of convenient features on top of stellar speeds and WiFi 6 support. But it’s worth noting that Netgear has a few options that are similar to the EAX80, but with various differences in speed, coverage and feature set. The most similar is the $130 EAX20 extender, which includes 1,500 square feet of coverage, support for WiFi 6 and up to 1.8Gbps speeds, plus seamless smart roaming capabilities. The wall-plug version of that, the EAX15, is actually a tad more expensive at $140.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 1:00 pm

The UK government won't make an NFT after all

Last year, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) announced that the Royal Mint would issue an official NFT (non-fungible token) as a "forward-looking approach" toward crypto. Now, with the shine well off the technology, the Treasury has announced that it's "not proceeding with the launch" after all, the BBC reported. 

NFTs were still the crypto trend du jour when the government said it would create a "dynamic regulatory landscape," to nurture a bustling industry. It also planned legislation to introduce stablecoins into the country's payment infrastructure, while considering the legal status of exchanges and investment funds based around cryptocurrency.

The Treasury isn't as enthusiastic now, though, as Select Committee chair Harriet Baldwin expressed in a juicy quote: "We have not yet seen a lot of evidence that our constituents should be putting their money in these speculative tokens unless they are prepared to lose all their money. So perhaps that is why the Royal Mint has made this decision in conjunction with the Treasury." 

The rejection follows a reported drop in the NFT market to the tune of 83 percent in sales in a single year. It also coincides with the failure of key crypto exchanges, particularly FTX — which saw untold sums of investor money go up in smoke. 

While aware of the potential for scams, bubbles and environmental harms, UK's economic secretary at the time, John Glen, saw the NFT project as an opportunity to "get in on the ground floor" of a potential crypto industry boom. And despite the recent collapse, current economy secretary Andrew Griffiths said the department is still keeping a government backed NFT "under review." 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 12:50 pm

Rekkie's smart snow goggles prove that AR is useful right now

I’ve been excited about the prospect of augmented reality on ski goggles since Oakley first tried it more than a decade ago with its short-lived Airwave headset. Unfortunately, its foray into AR left a lot to be desired: the Airwave was comically large and required a wrist-worn controller. Plus, at around $600, they were prohibitively expensive for what felt like an experimental product.

But display tech has evolved a lot since then. And I’ve been patiently waiting for another company to come along with a better version that actually works. So I was excited to discover Rekkie, an independent manufacturer that launched its first pair of goggles with a built-in heads-up display last year.

At $349, Rekkie’s offering is still pricey, but much closer to what you’d pay for high-end, non-smart ski goggles. More importantly, after several days snowboarding with Rekkie’s goggles, I’ve found that AR has advanced enough that headsets like this finally feel useful.

The goggles

At first glance, Rekkies almost look like a pair of standard ski goggles. The most noticeable difference, though, is a box on the right side of the strap that holds the power supply, as well as the Bluetooth and long distance radios. On the outside of the pack is a button for navigating the goggles’ interface.

At about 4 inches long and an inch thick, the pack is extremely bulky, and it’s one of the few drawbacks of using the goggles. Weighing 253 grams, the Rekkies are more than twice as heavy as my usual pair, but didn't feel like much when I wore a helmet. And, if your helmet is black, it may even (sort of) blend in. But if your headgear is white or light colored it will stick out. Practically, this doesn’t matter much, but it does look a bit silly. It also means you can’t wear the goggles under your helmet, if that’s your preference. Neither of these was a dealbreaker for me, though, and I found I could easily hide the battery pack with an over-helmet mask.

Ski goggles with yellow lenses and a battery pack on the side of the strap.
Karissa Bell / Engadget

But the aesthetic drawbacks are vastly outweighed by what the Rekkie goggles can do. Their signature feature is a dashboard that shows your current elevation, speed and a compass. If you’re skiing with friends who also have a pair, you can see how far away they are and use the accompanying app to view their location on the mountain. The goggles can also control music and show your notifications and daily stats.

The actual display is a small, roughly 1-inch panel that sits in the middle of the frames near the bridge of your nose. This setup means you can swap out the lenses for varying light conditions (a silver set is included, and the company sells additional colors). But Rekkie’s lenses are slightly different from those made by other goggle companies. The upper third of each lens has a reflective coating on the inside in order to make the display more visible.

This means that if you look up, towards the display, the lenses are darker than when you’re looking straight ahead. The difference didn’t bother me, but some people might find it distracting. Rekkie said it is considering tweaks that would make the effect more subtle.

Rekkie Smart goggles on a black helmet.
Karissa Bell / Engadget

More importantly, I found that the screen was easy to see in almost all lighting conditions. The dashboard and menus were clearly visible in bright sunlight and on cloudier days. The display is also positioned in such a way that it’s not directly in your line of sight when you’re cruising down the mountain so the overlays aren't distracting.

All that may sound complicated, but the interface is extremely easy to navigate. Tap and hold the side button on the battery pack to bring up the main menu, then glance up, down, left or right to select a function. Up is your stats, where you can view how many runs you’ve done and how much elevation you’ve covered. Left is “texts,” which is a bit of a misnomer because it shows recent notifications from all apps (on iOS, you need to have notification previews enabled); right is “music” for controlling media playback, and down is the live dashboard. From the latter, you can also tap the button to hide everything but the time.

I tended to switch to this “clock-only” mode often, especially once I gained some speed. It might sound weird, but the clock was one of my favorite features. I don’t wear a watch, and repeatedly checking your phone on a cold day can quickly take a toll on its battery (and your fingers).

Likewise, being able to control my music and podcasts from the goggles was very useful. I usually wear AirPods while I board, and reaching under my helmet or stupidly shouting “Hey Siri” into my ski mask always gives me a bit of anxiety. So I was more than happy to be able to rely on my goggles for those tasks.

As much as I’ve complained about the size of the battery pack, the goggles’ runtime is actually impressive. The company says the device should last about 10 hours, though it could go longer depending on how heavily you’re using it. I never managed to drain the battery during a full day of snowboarding, even in snowy 10-degree (Fahrenheit) conditions. The goggles even lasted two consecutive days without charging.

With a white helmet, the battery pack sticks out noticeably.
Karissa Bell / Engadget

I was initially concerned that the uncovered charging port on the underside of the battery pack would leave it exposed to the elements. I boarded in more than one storm with heavy snowfall where no part of the goggles was able to stay perfectly dry, and wondered if I might be inadvertently damaging them. But it turns out the device was more water resistant than I had anticipated.

Rekkie said the goggles aren’t technically waterproof, but were designed to withstand the kind of moisture you’d expect to encounter during a typical day of skiing. I (unintentionally) put this to the test one stormy day in Park City when I managed to fill the Rekkies with snow after I went down in a pile of powder. Snow froze to the display and they were temporarily unusable. But I dried them out at the end of the day and was able to charge them like nothing had happened.

Friend tracking

Rekkie’s googles get even more useful if you ski with a friend who also has them. Once you form a “group” within the app, you’ll be able to see how far away you are from each other. There's no limit to how many people can be in a group, but the dashboard will only show the two who are closest to you (though you can view everyone from the app). You can also compare stats with your group from the stats menu in the goggles.

The system uses your phone’s cellular signal and the goggles’ onboard radios to track each other. That means that if you have service, you can see how far away they are in both the dashboard view and the Rekkie app. If one or both people don’t have service, the device’s radios have an approximately 2,000-foot range, so you should be able to see if someone is on the same run as you, but not if they’re, say, on the other side of the resort.

In practice, I found the friend-tracking feature most useful when my husband, who also was wearing a pair, was on the same trail as me. I tend to race down runs much faster than he does, so we often lose sight of each other. Seeing the number tick down as he approached was both reassuring and good for my impatience.

I could see the feature being even more helpful if you go off-piste or into the backcountry. It’s easier to lose friends in the trees, so having an idea of how far away they are could help make sure no one is left behind.

But while the app is useful for seeing your friends’ locations, it unfortunately doesn’t do much else. For example, there’s no way to use the app to check out the stats your googles tracked while you were on the mountain. As a longtime user of ski-tracking apps like Slopes, which map out all your runs and record your statistics throughout the day, I’m bummed Rekkie doesn’t offer this.

The founders told me that there are plans to incorporate stats into the app, as well as several other capabilities. They’re also working on new safety features, like one that will automatically switch off the live dashboard once you hit speeds of 15mph or faster, as well as ways to communicate with resorts’ ski patrols if you get into trouble.

New features will be available via app and firmware updates, so if you buy a pair now, there’s a good chance you’ll see their capabilities expand over time. That’s a good thing when you’re investing $350 in eyewear you’ll only use a few months of the year.

Overall, I was impressed by just how useful the Rekkies are. While I was initially excited for a pair of goggles that could track my stats and project my real-time speed and location, I underestimated the added convenience of features like friend tracking, media controls and an always-on clock. We’re at a moment when a lot of big tech companies have made ambitious promises about the future of augmented reality. But those promises, like the all-encompassing augmented reality glasses Meta and others have hinted at, are likely still years away. Rekkie’s smart goggles may be a more niche product, but they show that we don’t need to wait years for useful, non-gimmicky applications for AR.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 12:00 pm

HP's Omen Transcend 16 laptop caters to both creators and gamers

A decade ago, buying a gaming or creative workstation laptop meant sacrificing portability for power. Not anymore. These days machines with top specs can be had in relatively thin and light chassis — and HP just announced its latest laptop for this category: the Omen Transcend 16.

HP calls the Transcend 16 a "hybrid device" designed for lifestyle gamers, but don't let the phrasing confuse you — this laptop is thin and portable at just 19.9mm thick, but it isn't a 2-in-1 convertible. The Transcend 16 may not fold over into a tablet mode, but it still has a pretty impressive screen: HP says the mini-LED 2560 x 1600 HDR1000 display is the brightest of any Omen device. Paired with a 13th generation Intel Core i9-12900HX CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 graphics, the new gaming laptop should offer more than enough power for both gaming and work. The Omen Transcend 16 will launch this Spring, starting at $1670.

If you're looking for a machine focused more on high-end leisure, HP is also rolling out some updates for Omen 16 laptops. Unlike the Transcend 16, this machine offers a choice of processor: buyers can pick between an Intel Core i9-13900HX or an AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS — and both models can be paired with GeForce RTX 4080 graphics and up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. Pricing will start at $1300 when the Omen 16 hits stores, also in Spring.

Both the Omen 16 and the Transcend 16 also come with 1-month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and support intuitive audio pairing when bundled with HyperX Cloud II Core Wireless Gaming Headsets.

Finally, HP has announced the new line-up of nine Omen gaming monitors in a variety of sizes. Almost all of the monitors hit a gaming-friendly 165hz refresh rate, but there are a few standouts: The Omen 27s and 27qs both boast a faster 240Hz refresh rate, while the 27K steps down to 144hz in exchange for a higher resolution 4K display. HP is also offering a new 21:9 ultrawide with the Omen 34c. All nine monitors are slated for a Spring launch and are priced between $200 and $480.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 12:00 pm

Google's new Classroom tools include a 'reader mode' for people with dyslexia

Google is making it easier for people with reading challenges, such as dyslexia, to be able to make out articles and text posts online. The tech giant has launched "reader mode" for Chrome, which takes a site's primary content and puts it into the sidebar to reduce clutter and distractions. Users will also be able to change the text's typeface, font size and spacing, as well as its color and background color, to find the combination that works best for them. 

Reader mode is but one of the new features and updates Google has rolled out for education users. Another new feature for Google Classroom gives educators the ability to add interactive questions to YouTube videos. That will allow students to answer them and get immediate feedback, giving teachers an insight on how well they understand the subject matter. 

Google is also giving teachers a way to share practice sets with other verified educators in their domain, so that they can expand the availability of materials their students have access to. For particularly difficult mathematical and scientific concepts, for instance, more examples mean more opportunity to better understand them. The company has released a new web player for Screencast on Chrome OS, as well, allowing users to watch casts in any browser on any platform. Plus, it has expanded language options for Screencast closed captions and for practice sets. 

Classes using Meet for online lectures will also find a new and useful feature: Hand raise gesture detection powered by AI. Apparently, when a student raises a hand in real life, the video conferencing app can now automatically activate its Hand Raise icon. In addition, two teachers can now also manage slides concurrently on Meet and co-present lectures together. Google has been growing and improving its education-related tools for years, though it has perhaps kicked things up a notch after schools shut down during the pandemic. It released a slew of updates to make virtual classrooms more usable since then, and it looks like it hasn't forgotten online-based education even though schools have mostly gone back to in-person learning. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 12:00 pm

The Morning After: Our verdict on Sonos' Era 300 and Era 100 speakers

Sonos has focused most of its efforts on two categories: portable speakers and home theater products, like its soundbars. The company’s main pair of music-focused speakers, the One and Five, have been getting a little old. The Sonos Era 100 and Era 300 aim to refresh that lineup.

The $250 Era 100 is a complete redesign of the Sonos One, introduced in 2017. It’s a mono speaker, just like the One and the Play:1 before it. But don’t let that simple description deceive you. The improvements over the One are immediately obvious in sound quality and new features, like line-in, Bluetooth and easier Trueplay setup. The Era 100 isn’t the most exciting speaker Engadget editor Nathan Ingraham’s ever listened to, but it provides impressive performance at a reasonable price.

The $450 Era 300 has a slightly strange place in the Sonos portfolio. Its higher price means it won’t be as broadly appealing as the Era 100. It’s closer to the $550 Sonos Five, arguably a superior speaker, but it still sounds notably better than the Era 100.

– Mat Smith

The Morning After isn’t just a newsletter – it’s also a daily podcast. Get our daily audio briefings, Monday through Friday, by subscribing right here.

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Nintendo will show 10 minutes of 'Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' gameplay today

You'll see how the 'Breath of the Wild' sequel plays.


Nintendo and series producer Eiji Aonuma will showcase 10 minutes of Tears gameplay in a live premiere on YouTube at 10 AM ET or 7 AM PT. It's not clear what you'll see, but it's safe to presume the demo will feature new mechanics and less of a focus on worldbuilding or story.

We’re expecting the same open-world experience that made Breath of the Wild a hit, but with a new airborne environment (the floating islands above Hyrule) and an abundance of new ways to traverse the landscape. You can fly on a giant hoverboard and even grind rails.

Continue reading.

iOS 16.4 is out with bug fixes and a ton of new emoji

Updates for the Mac, iPad and Apple Watch are also live.

Apple has officially released updates for each of its major platforms. The MacOS 13.3, iOS / iPadOS 16.4 and WatchOS 9.4 updates include 21 new emoji, improved voice isolation for calls and a smattering of minor bug fixes. Emoji additions include five new animals, two new hand gestures, three colored hearts and objects, including a folding fan, maracas and a flute.

Cellular calls now have Voice Isolation, designed to block out ambient noise. The Duplicates album in Photos will now cross check with images stored in the iCloud Shared Photo Library to keep your albums clean. There's even a new accessibility feature that helpfully dims the screen when it detects flashing lights or strobe effects in video content.

Continue reading.

Acer Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition review

Sadly, glasses-free 3D is just pointless.

Photo by Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Acer's Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition has the company's glasses-free 3D screen in one last bid to make 3D content happen. It's meant to unlock an entirely new dimension of gameplay in titles like God of War and Forza Horizon 5 – and it does, to a degree. But it's also obscenely expensive, starting at $3,499, and the 3D means you miss out on higher refresh rates and a better quality screen.

Continue reading.

Biden administration bans federal agencies from using commercial spyware

The order is likely to affect known government spyware makers like NSO Group.

In an executive order signed Monday, President Biden barred federal agencies from using commercial spyware that threatens US national security or carries a risk of improper use by foreign governments and individuals. The order applies to all departments, including those involved in law enforcement, defense and intelligence. It also prohibits the use of spyware that, in the past, was used to disclose non-public information about the US government.

As TechCrunch reported, security researchers have long warned of the dangers posed by commercial spyware. With NSO Group’s infamous Pegasus spyware, it exploited a vulnerability in iOS that allowed the program to infect an iPhone without the victim needing to tap anything. While many governments claim to use spyware sparingly to investigate serious crimes, that hasn’t stopped some from using the software for domestic surveillance and to target political dissidents.

Continue reading.

Ubisoft has pulled out of E3 2023

The publisher will host its own show instead.

You can add Ubisoft to the list of companies not attending the first in-person E3 in four years. Before this week, it was one of the few major publishers to come out supporting the revamped event. On Monday, however, Ubisoft told VGC it would not be at the tradeshow and would instead host its own event at around the same time: “While we initially intended to have an official E3 presence, we’ve made the subsequent decision to move in a different direction and will be holding a Ubisoft Forward Live event on 12th June in Los Angeles.” You’ll have to wait, then, for your Skull and Bones update

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 11:15 am

Disney reportedly shuts down its metaverse division

Disney has shut down its metaverse division and laid off all of the team's 50 or so members as part of a broader restructuring process, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was just over a year ago when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek tapped company veteran Mike White to lead the team in its task of finding interactive ways to tell Disney's stories using new technologies. While the rest of team has lost their jobs, White will remain at the company, though it's unclear what role he's taking on going forward. 

The executive's plan to launch an Amazon Prime-like subscription service for Disney has reportedly also been scrapped. It would've created a single user experience for Disney+, the company's retail operations and its apps that people use to purchase food and merchandise at Disney theme parks. 

Chapek was hopeful and optimistic about Disney's future when it came to the metaverse and previously said that the company should excel at "blending... the physical and digital experiences." He called the metaverse "the next great storytelling frontier." The division's closure doesn't necessarily mean that Disney is abandoning its metaverse ambitions for good, though. As The Journal notes, Bob Iger, who returned as CEO to replace Chapek in November 2022, showed that he also sees a future in the metaverse when he joined the board of an animated avatar startup. 

While Iger may have another strategy in mind, it may take some before we hear about it. Disney has been under pressure from investors to implement serious cost-cutting measures, and it previously announced that it was going to lay off 7,000 employees. According to TechCrunch, it will have three rounds of layoffs, with the first one taking place this week. The metaverse team might simply be one of the first teams impacted by Disney's significant restructuring efforts. In the note TechCrunch obtained, Iger said the company will send a larger round of layoff notifications in April and will notify the last affected employees before the beginning of summer. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 10:31 am

Apple Music Classical is now available globally

Apple Music Classical is now available for download globally with more than 5 million tracks. Offered as part of an Apple Music subscription, it's designed to make it easier to find things unique to classical music, including orchestras, conductors, musicians and more. 

The app sprung from Primephonic, the streaming service Apple acquired in 2021. It was originally slated to be released at the end of 2022, but earlier this month, Apple revealed a firm release date of March 28th. 

The app is available on iPhones running iOS 15.4 or later, with an Android version "coming soon." As you'd hope, it offers 192KHz/24-bit high-resolution lossless audio quality, with "thousands" of recordings offered in spatial audio as well. It also lets classical enthusiasts browse composer biographies, descriptions of key works, "deep-dive" guides and more. The search feature has been rewritten for classical music queries and lets you choose from over 700 curated playlists. 

There are few things missing from the main Apple Music app, though. Apple Music Voice Plan subscribers can't use Classical, there's no native iPad app yet and you can't download music for offline listening. The navigation bar has just four buttons (Listen Now, Browse, Library and Search), as there's no Radio shortcut. Apart from that, it should appeal to classical music lovers seeking things specific to the genre, especially those hard-to-locate performances. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 8:25 am

Virgin Orbit extends employee furlough as it continues to seek funding

In mid-March, Virgin Orbit went into an "operational pause" and put most of its 750 employees in an unpaid leave due to financial issues. Reports have come out that the satellite launch company was in talks with potential new investors since then, but it sounds like it has yet to clinch a deal that would fund its operations going forward. According to CNBC and Reuters, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart has told employees via email that the company will extend unpaid furlough for majority of its workforce. 

"Our investment discussions have been very dynamic over the past few days, they are ongoing, and not yet at a stage where we can provide a fulsome update," he reportedly wrote. Sources told the news organizations that Virgin Orbit's late-stage discussions with Texas-based investor Matthew Brown broke down and was officially called off late last week. 

Brown was going to put in $200 million into the company, which would've given the investor a controlling stake. Talks with a different potential buyer, CNBC said, also came to a halt on Sunday night. CNBC's Investing in Space newsletter recently reported that Sir Richard Branson, which currently has the largest stake in the company at 75 percent, doesn't want to own the business anymore. Branson's Virgin Group has apparently been rushing to find funding for the company in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. 

A small team of Virgin Orbit employees already returned to work last week as part of its expected "incremental resumption of operations." While the company's future remains unclear, it has to start preparing for its next planned rocket launches. One of the missions it's aiming to accomplish this year is its second orbital launch attempt from UK soil. If you'll recall, what was supposed to be Virgin Orbit's first orbital UK launch took off from Spaceport Cornwall on January 9th, but it failed to reach orbit due to a dislodged fuel filter.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 7:22 am

Twitter will soon only recommend paid users in its For You feed

In a couple of weeks, all the tweets you see on the For You feed will come from Twitter Blue users. Twitter boss Elon Musk has announced that the website will only display tweets from verified accounts in For You's recommendations starting on April 15th going forward. 

Musk explained that the company is making the move to combat AI bots and that it's the "only realistic way" to prevent "advanced AI bot swarms" from taking over. He also said that Twitter is fighting a "hopeless losing battle" otherwise if it doesn't implement the change. In a follow-up tweet, Musk clarified that AI bots can pay for verification (and presumably be shown in the For You timeline), as long as they don't impersonate a human. 

Twitter's For You interface shows not just tweets from the accounts a user follows, but also content based on previous tweets they've liked or other people in their network have liked. The feature debuted on iOS back in January as an alternative to the Following tab before making its way to other platforms. Not everybody liked it, and Twitter released an update so that its web and mobile apps will default to the timeline tab users last had open after it came out. But displaying only verified users could potentially mean that those who choose to view it would see a lot more promotional tweets. 

After all, pretty soon the only verified accounts on the social media site will be Twitter Blue subscribers. Twitter previously announced that it's killing legacy checkmarks on April 1st, stripping public personalities, companies, government and non-government organizations and the like of their verified status unless they pay for it.

Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.

The is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.

Voting in polls will require verification for same reason.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2023

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 28 March 2023 | 4:11 am

Lyft co-founder Logan Green is stepping down as CEO

More than a decade into its life, Lyft is bringing on a new chief executive officer. On Monday afternoon, the company announced current CEO and co-founder Logan Green would hand day-to-day operations of Lyft to David Risher, a former Amazon executive, on April 17th. That same day, Green will take over as chair of Lyft’s board of directors. The announcement is part of a larger executive shuffle that will also see Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer move to the company’s board where he will serve as its vice chair. Zimmer’s last day as president will be June 30th.

Green and Zimmer founded Lyft in 2012 and successfully took the company public in 2019. Since its IPO, however, the value of Lyft’s stock has dropped dramatically. Following an initial high of $78.29 per share in 2019, the stock hit a record low of $9.60 per share earlier today. On February 9th, the day Lyft announced its Q4 2022 results, the stock shed 36 percent of its value after Green delivered what was widely considered one of the worst earnings calls in recent memory, telling investors the company would need to increase spending to stay competitive with Uber. To say Lyft’s new CEO has his work cut out for him would be an understatement. The company has never reported a profit, and, barring a surprise breakthrough in autonomous driving, it has a difficult path ahead due to the economics of ride-sharing. Still, Risher is definitely qualified to turn Lyft around having previously served as Amazon’s first head of product and head of US retail.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 10:19 pm

Fitbit challenges, adventures and open groups join the Google graveyard today

In February, Fitbit announced it would sunset open groups, adventures and challenges on March 27th. That day has arrived, and if you didn’t download your trophies before today, I’m sorry to say you missed your chance to do so. Last month, Fitbit said it was removing those features due to “limited use.”

If you’re a longtime Fitbit user, the demise of open groups, adventures and challenges is likely to come as a shame, particularly since two of them made the platform more social and were widely copied by the company’s competitors. Challenges, for instance, made it possible to motivate your friends and family to hit their daily step count. Meanwhile, open groups were a great way to meet other like-minded users, and there were some groups with hundreds of thousands of active users. Now those are gone.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 8:45 pm

Apple's Martin Scorsese movie hits theaters in October before its TV+ debut

Apple's long-expected Martin Scorsese movie has a release date — for theaters, that is. The company has revealed that Killers of the Flower Moon will get a wide theatrical release on October 20th following a "limited" run starting October 6th. The company hasn't said when the film will be available to Apple TV+ users, but the streaming launch will come after the theater exclusivity period ends. This is Apple's first movie to get a widescale big-screen debut before going online.

Killers of the Flower Moon is an adaptation of David Grann's namesake book. It covers the fledgling FBI's investigation of murders of Osage Nation members in the early 1920s after the tribe won rights to oil profits on its land. Scorsese both directed the movie and co-wrote it alongside Eric Roth (of Dune and Mank fame). The cast includes more than a few big-name stars and Scorsese favorites, including Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone.

Scorsese struck a multi-year deal with Apple in spring 2020 that covered both movie and television projects. While the exact terms aren't clear, Killers reportedly has a budget topping $180 million. The pact came just months after Netflix's Scorsese film, The Irishman, received a massive audience but failed to win any Oscars.

The strategy of releasing a movie in theaters first isn't new. Industry awards like the Oscars frequently require movies to show in theaters before they qualify, and it's no secret that streaming giants like Apple, Amazon and Netflix chase after these awards for the publicity they bring. Apple's CODA was the first streamer to win a Best Picture Oscar, for instance. The scope of this premiere is new to Apple, though, and the company is clearly willing to spend on A-list talent to potentially clinch some statuettes and boost its credibility in Hollywood.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 8:10 pm

Water trapped in tiny glass beads on the Moon could hydrate future settlements

China’s Chang’e 5 rover has found tiny glass beads containing water in an impact crater on the Moon. Samples collected from a 2020 mission found beads with water content as high as 2,000 parts per million (PPM). Given the prevalence of these glass spheres on the lunar surface, there may be enough to provide 71 trillion gallons of water.

Some beads formed when asteroids collided with the Moon millions of years ago, while others came from ancient volcanoes. Scientists believe the water originated from a chemical reaction when hydrogen ions emitted from the sun — transported to the lunar surface from solar winds — combined with oxygen atoms inside the beads. The water-filled beads are tiny, ranging from “tens of micrometers to a few millimeters.” Still, there are enough on the Moon’s surface to (theoretically) supply an estimated 270 trillion kilograms of water — enough to fill 100 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.

However, scientists haven’t yet figured out how to collect them, and they would need to heat them to around 212 degrees Fahrenheit to extract water. Still, they could be a resource for future lunar settlements, where astronauts could use water for drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning and even producing rocket fuel.

Scientists believe other moons in our Solar System may have similar beads. “Our direct measurements of this surface reservoir of lunar water show that impact glass beads can store substantial quantities of solar wind-derived water on the moon and suggest that impact glass may be water reservoirs on other airless bodies,” the study’s authors wrote. “The presence of water, stored in impact glass beads, is consistent with the remote detection of water at lower-latitude regions of the Moon, Vesta and Mercury. Our findings indicate that the impact glasses on the surface of Solar System airless bodies are capable of storing solar wind-derived water and releasing it to space.”

The glass beads aren’t our first glimpse at water on the Moon. In 2009, NASA crashed a probe into the Cabeus crater that led to water detection; in 2018, NASA found direct evidence of ice deposits in the Moon’s permanently shadowed craters on its north and south poles. NASA and China / Russia plan to put lunar bases at the Moon’s South Pole within the next decade; the competing initiatives both hope to have inhabitable bases ready by the early-to-mid-2030s.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 8:00 pm

Ubisoft has pulled out of E3 2023

You can add Ubisoft to the list of companies that won’t be attending the first in-person E3 in four years. Before this week, it was one of the few major publishers to come out in support of the revamped event. On Monday, however, Ubisoft told VGC it would not be at the tradeshow, and would instead host its own event at around the same time.

“E3 has fostered unforgettable moments across the industry throughout the years,” a Ubisoft spokesperson said. “While we initially intended to have an official E3 presence, we’ve made the subsequent decision to move in a different direction, and will be holding a Ubisoft Forward Live event on 12th June in Los Angeles. We look forward to sharing more details with our players very soon.”

There are no two ways about it, Ubisoft’s withdrawal from E3, particularly less than three months before the show is set to return on June 13th, raises serious questions about its near and long-term prospects. Earlier this month, Microsoft said it would not have a presence on the E3 show floor. Before that, Nintendo confirmed it would not attend the event at all. Sony has yet to state whether it will be at E3 2023. Based on its recent attendance record, the company is likely to be a no-show at this year’s conference.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 7:36 pm

Biden administration bans federal agencies from using commercial spyware

In an executive order signed Monday, President Biden barred federal agencies from using commercial spyware that threatens US national security or carries a risk of improper use by foreign governments and individuals. The order applies to all departments, including those involved in law enforcement, defense and intelligence. It also prohibits the use of spyware that in the past was used to disclose non-public information about the US government.

The executive order the Biden administration published on the White House website doesn’t include a list of affected spyware vendors. Per TechCrunch, government officials declined to name specific firms when asked by reporters. However, the administration said the order includes US and foreign-made spyware. Judging from the criteria laid out in the order, known government spyware makers like Isreal’s NSO Group and Macedonia’s Cytrox are likely affected.

As TechCrunch notes, security researchers have long warned of the dangers posed by commercial spyware. Such programs frequently target previously undisclosed vulnerabilities that make entire software ecosystems unsafe. In the case of NSO Group’s infamous Pegasus spyware, the firm exploited a CoreGraphics vulnerability in iOS that allowed the program to infect an iPhone without the victim needing to tap anything. Moreover, while many governments claim to use spyware sparingly to investigate serious crimes, that hasn’t stopped some from using the software for domestic surveillance and to target political dissidents.

“We are very concerned about the threat of digital authoritarianism and practices around the world but we are also very cognizant that the misuse of technology can occur in any state,” a White House official told The Hill. “So, we are taking steps to make sure that the way that we would like technology to be used is aligned with human rights and democratic principles all around the world.”

On Monday, the Biden administration said at least 50 US federal employees in 10 countries are either suspected or confirmed of having had their devices compromised by spyware. In one recent example, an unknown assailant used the Pegasus spyware to infect iPhones belonging to at least nine US State Department officials stationed in Uganda or whose work involved the East African country. The order follows questions about the US government’s alleged use of commercial spyware. Last fall, The New York Times reported that the FBI had considered using Pegasus in criminal investigations. Between late 2020 and early 2021, agency officials were reportedly in the “advanced” stages of developing plans to brief FBI leadership on the software.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 6:28 pm

iOS 16.4 is out with bug fixes and a ton of new emoji

If you own an Apple device, check your notifications: Apple has officially released updates for each of its major Platforms. The MacOS 13.3, and iOS / iPadOS 16.4 and WatchOS 9.4 updates include 21 new emoji, improved voice isolation for calls and a smattering of minor bug fixes.

To start, the emoji keyboard is five new animals, two new hand gestures, three new colored hearts and a handful of household objects such as a folding fan, a flute and maracas. When you're not spamming friends with the new goose emoji, you'll be enjoying the benefits of the more subtle updates. Cellular calls now have Voice Isolation, designed to block out ambient noise. The Duplicates album in Photos will now cross check with images stored in the iCloud Shared Photo Library to keep your albums clean. There's even a new accessibility feature that helpfully dims the screen when it detects flashing lights or strobe effects in video content — all on top of a series of bug fixes that address issues with content management for parents, accidental alarm muting and more.

Apple is also reintroducing the new HomeKit architecture it pulled from iOS 16.2 and MacOS Ventura 13.1 last year. At the time, users were reporting that certain Siri commands weren't working correctly and that smart home devices weren't showing up correctly in the Home App. Not only have those issues apparently been addressed, but Apple also notes that a pairing issue with Matter-compatible has also been resolved.

Ready to send some new Emoji? You can try the latest OS for yourself by navigating to your device's settings app to update.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 6:13 pm

Google upgrades its NBA Pixel Arena app just in time for the playoffs

The NBA’s regular season ends in just a couple of weeks, but Google just surprise-dropped a major overhaul of its popular Pixel Arena feature. The original Pixel Arena was advertised as a virtual space for fans to fully experience the NBA, but there wasn’t much to do other than play trivia and watch 3D shot recaps. The new Pixel Arena, however, is chock-full of activities for the discerning basketball fan, according to an official blog post.

The biggest change is that users can now roam freely around the space, so the emphasis on menu-diving has been reduced in favor of natural exploration. As you roam about the virtual arena, you want to look your best for onlookers, so the avatar creation process has also been significantly overhauled. The updated avatar builder now takes more natural skin tones into consideration, with adherence to the 10-shade Monk Skin Tone (MST) scale.

Google was also not shy about adding new virtual fashion and accessory options, saying there are now over a “trillion style combos inspired by futuristic streetwear and basketball culture.” Of course, each avatar comes with a fake Pixel 7 Pro because brand synergy. Additionally, the highlight clips tool has been updated, allowing users to remix 3D highlights by spotlighting specific viewing angles and the like.

Google and the NBA have added some new mini-games to the roster, though they continue to be trivia-based. Still, the app is loaded with machine learning algorithms that automatically populate new trivia questions based on recent events. For instance, if a player scores a career high, you will likely encounter a relevant question sooner rather than later. All of those modes are available in single-player or multiplayer. If trivia isn’t your bag, try Niantic’s AR streetball app.

Google’s Pixel Arena is part of the official NBA app. Just sign-in with your NBA ID and head to the Discover tab and give it a go. New highlights will continue to be added as the season winds down and the playoffs begin. Despite being a Google offering, Pixel Arena is available for both Android and iOS phones.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 5:56 pm

Acer Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition review: Glasses-free 3D is just pointless

There's a vast gulf between the dreamy notion of glasses-free 3D – extra visual depth without any clunky eye-wear! – and the reality: fuzzy imagery, buggy execution, and headaches. Oh, the headaches. So it goes with Acer's Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition, equipped with the company's glasses-free 3D screen. It's meant to unlock an entirely new dimension of gameplay in titles like God of War and Forza Horizon 5 – and it does, to a degree. But it's also obscenely expensive, starting at $3,499, and its 3D functionality isn't worth losing the higher refresh rates and better quality screens you find on most other gaming laptops.

When I've demoed glasses-free 3D in the past, it's always seemed like a potentially useful feature for deep-pocketed professionals, people who may want to check out their 3D models without slapping on a VR headset. That could very well be true, but the Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition convinced me that it serves practically no purpose in the gaming world, where players are often aiming to inject as many frames in their eyeballs as possible.

That's just not possible with this computer, since it's limited to a 15.6-inch 4K panel (which scales down to 1080p per eye in 3D mode) running at 60Hz. So at best, this gaming laptop is restricted to 60fps at a time when even budget machines can deliver enough power to fill 120Hz and 144Hz screens. The tradeoff for glasses-free 3D, ultimately, is responsiveness while gaming. The higher the refresh rate, the more silky smooth a game can appear. And when it comes to fast-paced shooters, it could make all the difference between a clutch headshot and digital oblivion.

Now if Acer's 3D technology was truly groundbreaking, perhaps that wouldn't matter so much. But while it can look good, it's a mere curiosity. Acer's TrueGame app lets you play a select handful of games in two different modes: 3D+, which shifts depth buffer pixels to deliver a vague depth effect, and 3D Ultra, which uses a virtual second camera to create a far more immersive sense of space. Eye tracking sensors above the screen help to direct two different sets of images to your eyes, a technique that's typical for glasses-free 3D displays, but that also means only one person can actually use the 3D feature. As for game support, there are only 9 games using 3D Ultra at the moment, including God of War, Psychonauts 2 and A Plague Tale: Innocence. Acer says around 65 titles, mostly older games, work with 3D+.

Competitive online shooters aren't supported at all – Acer claims their anti-cheat software prevents its 3D technology from being applied. That's a shame if you were hoping a bit of depth would make your Warzone or Apex Legends matches more rewarding. Honestly, you wouldn't want to play those in 3D either, as the technology generally makes games look less sharp. You can blame the slightly lower resolution for that, as well as the inherent haziness from having your eyes adjust to a 3D screen on the fly.

PCMark 10

3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)

Geekbench 5

Cinebench R23

Acer Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition (2022, Intel i9-12900H, NVIDIA RTX 3080)


5 ,996



Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (2022, Intel i9-12900H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti)





Razer Blade 15 (2022, Intel i7-12800H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti)





ASUS Zephyrus G14 (2022, AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS, Radeon RX 6800S)





Playing Forza Horizon 5 in 3D+ was almost like looking at a Magic Eye puzzle – I had to be in just the right spot to detect any depth. And if my eyes shifted a bit, I would sometimes lose the effect entirely. God of War fared better in 3D Ultra Mode, with a convincing sense of immersion similar to what you'd expect from a 3D film. Throwing Kratos's axe had the uncanny effect of going beyond the screen in my office, and at times the Helios 300 SL felt like a portal into another world.

Still, playing God of War in 3D almost instantly made my eyes tired. 3D Ultra relies on your brain constantly making sense of two different camera views. I sometimes felt motion sick while I was walking around the game, especially if I glanced over to my unmoving, clutter-filled desk. It was almost like playing the game in VR, sans the bulky headset. I found myself resting my eyes every 30 minutes or so, just like I do with VR headsets.

You could, of course, play any PC title in 2D on the Helios 300 SL, but why would you buy a $3,500 glass-free 3D laptop for that? Our review unit was equipped with an RTX 3080 and Intel Core i9-12900H CPU (an updated model with a 40-series GPU is coming in a few months). It was certainly beefy enough for any game I threw at it, especially since the display is limited to 60Hz. But playing Halo Infinite or Overwatch 2 just didn't feel nearly as smooth as it did on the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE I reviewed last year. That $2,300 machine featured a gorgeous 240Hz 1,440p screen, which helped me line up sniper shots with ease.

Acer Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition side ports

Beyond its unique screen, the Predator Helios 300 SL looks like a typical Acer gaming laptop. Its matte metal case feels sturdy, and aside from a small lightbar up front, and per-key RGB lighting, there's none of the obnoxious bling we've seen on some high-end gaming PC. There's almost every port imaginable spread around the machine: Two USB 3.2 Type-A connections on the right side; with another Type A USB-port on the left side, beside a gigabit Ethernet and a headphone jack. On the rear, there's a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 connection, MiniDisplayport, HDMI and a DC power port.

Acer probably just wanted to keep the Helios 300 SL low-key, but with a unique feature like glasses-free 3D, it would have been nice to set its design apart from the sea of other black gaming laptops out there. It's also clear that the screen was the major priority: Its keyboard feels a bit too mushy for extended typing (though I appreciated the wide layout), and the trackpad isn't very responsive. I often had to click on icons several times before the trackpad responded.

If it had a better keyboard and trackpad, as well as a higher refresh rate screen, the Helios 300 SL could have been a potential option for professionals working with 3D models. Unfortunately, it's focused on gamers, and it's not nearly compelling enough for that crowd. Its mediocre battery life – 6 hours and 15 minutes, according to PCMark 10's office productivity benchmark – didn't help matters much either.

Acer Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition keyboard and trackpad
Photo by Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

If, for some reason, glasses-free 3D is still compelling to you, there are few other options. Acer also sells a standalone 15.6-inch SpatialLabs screen for $1,100 – but I don't need to tell you that's a bad idea. The company's ConceptD 7 laptop also had that screen, but it’s no longer available. There's also ASUS's upcoming spin on glasses-free 3D with its ProArt StudioBook 16, which looked compelling during our CES preview.

Barring a miraculous advancement in holographics sometime soon, I'm ready to give up on the entire notion of glasses-free 3D. It just doesn’t make sense to spend $3,500 on the Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition. While there's a chance the technology could eventually help a certain subsection of professionals, those folks would likely be served better with VR headsets, and potentially AR devices like the Magic Leap 2 in the future. Either option would deliver a better dose of 3D without the headaches of glasses-free tech.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Posted on 27 March 2023 | 5:30 pm