Michelle Yeoh may lead ‘Star Trek’ spinoff on CBS All Access

Michelle Yeoh may lead ‘Star Trek’ spinoff on CBS All Access


Michael Gibson/CBS

CBS All Access’ rapidly growing library of Star Trek shows might including one revolving around a familiar star. Deadline claims Star Trek: Discovery‘s Michelle Yeoh is talking about reprising her role as Captain Georgiou in a “stand-alone” All Access series. The project would reportedly be an extension of Georgiou’s story from Discovery season two. CBS has declined to comment on the apparent leak.

If it comes to fruition, the spinoff would be in line with CBS’ strategy. Between the Picard series, Short Treks, Below Decks and plans for other shows, the network clearly wants a continuous stream of new Star Trek material to draw people to its streaming service. As Deadline warns, though, Yeoh’s availability might complicate matters. Between the potential for a Crazy Rich Asians sequel and a production deal with SK Global Entertainment, the star might not have many opportunities to take on a regular series in the near future.

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Tesla raises prices, cuts options to simplify its EV lineup

Tesla raises prices, cuts options to simplify its EV lineup


AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Tesla has made good on its plan to cull options for its electric cars, and the changes are… mixed. Electrek has learned that Tesla has raised the prices of the Model S 75D and Model X 75D by $1,000 to $78,000 and $84,000 respectively, albeit with $500 price drops for their 100D counterparts (now $96,000 and $99,000). However, you now get the black Premium interior standard, with cream and white interiors costing $1,500 instead of the earlier $3,300. And it’s what you don’t see that may matter the most — Tesla has scrapped a number of choices, including some drivers might like.

On the Model S, the automaker has scrapped the panoramic sunroof, rear-facing child seats and 21-inch black Arachnid wheels as options (you can still get the wheels as aftermarket parts). You’ll only find the 72-amp onboard charger in “single phase” markets, too. Model X shoppers, meanwhile, will have to go without the six-seat configuration and the 72-amp charger option. Whichever car you choose, you now have just three interior options on most cars and two on the P100D variants.

Elon Musk wasn’t shy about explaining move like this in October. It’s about “simplifying production,” which could both speed up deliveries and reduce costs. Those measures could help Tesla remain profitable and ease the pressure to step up Model 3 output.

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Dyson might design an air purifier that also works as headphones

Dyson might design an air purifier that also works as headphones


NICOLAS ASFOURI via Getty Images

Dyson has a lengthy list of air purifiers, but it’s reportedly considering developing a model that’s not quite anything it’s ever created before. According to Bloomberg, the company has lodged patents for a wearable air purifier that will double as a pair of headphones. Wearable purifiers are already a thing, especially for countries like China where air pollution gets so bad it can increase the chances of getting stroke or cancer. However, they mostly come in the form of necklaces and, in some cases, scarves or masks.

While Dyson is still mostly known for vacuum cleaners, it’s also been expanding its air purifier lineup, since it’s a lucrative endeavor for the company in Asia. Bloomberg says the UK-based firm’s Asian operations generated nearly three-quarters of its revenue in 2017 — the same year its revenue increased by 40 percent to $4.6 billion. Dyson refused to confirm or deny the report, but an air purifier with headphones is probably not outside the realm of possibility. The company creates devices outside of its usual line-up, after all, such its advanced hair curler called the Airwrap.

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Xbox One X will sell for $400 in week-long Black Friday sale

Xbox One X will sell for $400 in week-long Black Friday sale


Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Tucked in amidst the flurry of Xbox One update and game news was one important tidbit: Microsoft is offering a steep discount on the Xbox One X in the very near future. It’s holding a Black Friday sale between November 18th and November 26th, and its 4K-capable console will sell for $400. That will be the “lowest price ever” for the system, Microsoft said. The company also promised $100 off an Xbox One S Minecraft bundle and $70 on other bundles (including one with Forza Horizon 4). Regardless of which system you buy, you’ll also get a free digital copy of Gears of War 4.

Microsoft is also promising deals on several games between November 22nd and November 30th, including Forza Horizon 4 (up to 35 percent off), Forza Motorsport 7 (as much as 50 percent off), PUBG (35 percent off) and Sea of Thieves (50 percent off).

It’s not surprising that Microsoft would slash the Xbox One X’s price in time for the Black Friday sales frenzy, but it’s notable just a year after the machine arrived. It also illustrates the competitive pressure going into the holiday. Sony is already selling the PS4 Pro for $400 before discounts, and the Xbox One X is no longer a shiny new system that can command a premium — this sale might be important to reel in buyers who could be focused more on price.

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Xbox Game Pass adds ‘PUBG’ in time for the holidays

Xbox Game Pass adds ‘PUBG’ in time for the holidays


Microsoft

Microsoft is adding over a dozen new games to the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, including popular online multiplayer title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The Fortnite rival will be available to play starting on November 12th, giving you ample time to get used to it on the platform before Thanksgiving break. In December, the service will also start offering three unusual gaming experiences: side-scrolling puzzle game Ori and the Blind Forest, Kingdom Two Crowns (which has co-op split screen gameplay) and the critically acclaimed dark fantasy Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Microsoft is making Thief of Thieves available on the service starting today, as well, and will add Agents of Mayhem, MXGP3 and Thomas Was Alone on November 22nd.

In addition to beefing up the service’s offerings, Microsoft has officially released the Xbox Game Pass app for Android and iOS. The apps will make it easier to find games on the go and to start downloads even before you’re home. And in case you don’t have a Game Pass membership yet, now may be the best time to sign up if you’ve been thinking of trying it out anyway. Microsoft has brought back its $1 Game Pass promo, which will charge you a dollar for your first month to serve as a trial of sorts. Unlike last year, when it was only available for 10 days as a Black Friday deal, you can take advantage of the promo if sign up anytime starting today until January 3rd.

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Microsoft Studios buys ‘Fallout: New Vegas’ house Obsidian

Microsoft Studios buys ‘Fallout: New Vegas’ house Obsidian

With the next generation of gaming consoles on the horizon, Microsoft Studios has been gobbling up high-profile developers, and it’s continuing that trend today with the acquisition of Fallout: New Vegas studio Obsidian Entertainment and Wasteland 2 company inXile Entertainment.

Obsidian and inXile represent some of Microsoft Studios’ most notable acquisitions yet, especially when taken together. Obsidian is responsible for Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, South Park: The Stick of Truth and the Pillars of Eternity series, while inXile is behind Fantastic Contraption, Torment: Tides of Numenera and the upcoming Wasteland 3, which raised more than $3 million via crowdfunding platform Fig in 2016.

There’s rich history between Obsidian and inXile, as both studios are the product of a 2003 developer exodus from original Fallout house Interplay. They have an agreement to share tools and technology with each other, and Obsidian even helped inXile develop Wasteland 2.


Wasteland 3
inXile Entertainment

“While they do share a common heritage, the two creative teams at Obsidian and inXile are very different,” Microsoft said in a statement. “They will continue to operate autonomously and bring their unique talents, IP, and expertise to Microsoft Studios as they build new RPG experiences for our players and fans.”

Microsoft Studios is already home to 11 video game companies across the United States, Canada and Europe, including Halo shepherd 343 Industries, Hellblade developer Ninja Theory, Minecraft maker Mojang and We Happy Few house Compulsion Games. Microsoft Studios announced in June that it had picked up five new companies, including State of Decay developer Undead Labs and Forza Horizon studio Playground Games.

Since the Xbox One landed in 2013, Microsoft has faced criticism for not having enough exclusive games on the platform, a factor that may have helped the PlayStation 4 claim an early sales victory this console generation. However, the next round of video game hardware is due to hit the market in 2020, and Xbox is rumored to have two consoles in the works, one of which is built for streaming. Microsoft Studios is stockpiling developers actively and publicly, priming the next Xbox for plenty of exclusive experiences (or at least more than last time).

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Xbox One mouse and keyboard support arrives November 14th

Xbox One mouse and keyboard support arrives November 14th


Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

You won’t necessarily have be an early adopter to try the Xbox One’s vaunted mouse and keyboard support. As of November 14th, Microsoft is rolling out the input options to gamers though an update. This won’t mean that everyone will get to ditch the gamepad right away — the first titles will still be limited to insiders. This will let developers add mouse and keyboard control to their games, though, and it won’t just be limited to Warframe in the early days.

Most notably, Epic has confirmed that Fortnite will be one of the first Xbox One games with the new input support. This will limit you to matching up with other similarly-equipped players, but it should please fans who’d rather not buy a gaming-ready PC just to play the battle royale game with greater agility and precision.

A handful of games are expected to support mouse-and-keyboard play later in November, including Vermintide 2, War Thunder, Strange Brigade, Bomber Crew, Deep Rock Galactic. Several games will get support in the longer term, most notably DayZ.

While most USB mice and keyboards should work, Microsoft wants to go beyond that — it’s launching a “Designed for Xbox” program for keyboards that are designed with the console in mind. They’ll have a dedicated Xbox key and will support the system’s Dynamic Lighting feature to change hues in-game. Razer is currently the “exclusive” partner shipping a Designed for Xbox mouse and keyboard setup, and will unveil its hardware in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

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‘Crackdown 3’ launches February 15th, 2019 on Xbox One and PC

‘Crackdown 3’ launches February 15th, 2019 on Xbox One and PC


Microsoft Studios/Sumo Digital

Yes, Microsoft really has been hinting at some big Crackdown 3 news by giving away the original game. The company has confirmed that the repeatedly delayed open-world game will be available on Xbox One (including Game Pass) and Windows 10 PCs on February 15th, 2019. It also premiered its talked-about competitive multiplayer mode, Wrecking Zone, that has two five-player teams fighting each other in “fully destructible” venues.

And in case you’re wondering: Microsoft revealed that the first Crackdown will remain free until November 30th, so you’ll want to snag the classic game while you can.

To say this is closes a long saga would be an understatement. Microsoft first talked about Crackdown 3 in 2014, before it even had an official title, and officially announced it in August 2015 with plans to release it in 2016. Needless to say, things didn’t go according to schedule. The creators pushed it back multiple times, both for the sake of refinement and the technological challenges of its cloud-based environment destruction system. At this point, the question is whether or not the third game can both justify the wait and satisfy gamers who still have fond memories from the series’ Xbox 360 heyday.

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Lime launches recall over broken e-scooters

Lime launches recall over broken e-scooters


Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP

Lime is grappling with another recall just a matter of weeks over its battery issue. The service is recalling electric scooters made by Okai following reports they were breaking under normal use. The withdrawal is immediate and covers scooters across cities worldwide. The company plans to replace the affected Okai scooters with newer models it said are “best in class for safety.” There shouldn’t be any serious service disruptions, Lime told the Washington Post.

Riders and at least one “juicer” (an independent contractor paid to charge scooters overnight) have noticed scooters developing baseboard cracks and sometimes snapping in two, usually near the front of the deck. The juicer said he emailed Lime about the issue on September 8th, but the company didn’t respond to his concerns. A Lime mechanic in California talking to the Post backed the story by noting that cracks could relatively easily after days of use, and could break after just a few small hops.

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission said in a statement that it didn’t see evidence of the scooters failing safety standards, and instead suggested that there might have been “mishaps” due to inexperience, a lack of safety gear and operating in “congested and distracted” conditions. However, that doesn’t appear to line up with stories of scooters breaking relatively easily.

Not surprisingly, the concern is that the scooters might break mid-ride, and there have already been incidents. Dallas resident Jacoby Stoneking died after his scooter cracked in two, while others have been injured when a sudden break sent them to the pavement. If Lime didn’t recall the scooters, it risked further breaks with serious consequences. This also raises the question of whether or not rival brands like Bird and Spin might have safety issues. They’re using a variety of scooters and won’t necessarily face the same issues, but it’s not clear that they’ll all be more durable than Lime’s recalled models.

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Judge tells Amazon to provide Echo recordings in double homicide trial

Judge tells Amazon to provide Echo recordings in double homicide trial


AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Prosecutors are once again hoping that smart speaker data could be the key to securing a murder conviction. A New Hampshire judge has ordered Amazon to provide recordings from an Echo speaker between January 27th, 2017 and January 29th, 2017 (plus info identifying paired smartphones) to aid in investigating a double homicide case. The court decided there was probable cause to believe the speaker might have captured audio of the murders and their aftermath.

Law enforcement had charged Timothy Verrill with murdering Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini at the home of Sullivan’s boyfriend Dean Smoronk. Verrill had access to the home’s security code and had been seen on surveillance cameras with the two women, leading investigators to believe that Smoronk’s Echo might have picked up additional information.

Whether or not there’s any information to provide isn’t clear. In a statement, Amazon didn’t acknowledge the presence of any recordings but said it wouldn’t provide customer data unless there was a “valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.”

However, the likelihood of recordings isn’t terribly high. Like many smart speakers, the Echo isn’t continuously recording — it only captures audio when someone uses the speaker’s hotword (typically “Alexa”), and then only for the brief moment it takes to issue a command. The murderer would have needed to explicitly activate the Echo while committing the crimes. Paired phones wouldn’t necessarily have helped, either. You don’t need to link a specific phone to an Echo to use it, and a paired phone won’t necessarily give away who used the speaker.

As it stands, prosecution teams haven’t had much success using Echo devices to secure convictions. In 2017, a judge dismissed the high-profile case against James Bates after the hot tub death of his friend Victor Collins. Attorneys managed to obtain data from Amazon, but that and other evidence wasn’t enough to rule out “other reasonable explanations” for Collins’ death, such as his extremely high blood alcohol level. A smart speaker like the Echo is far from a surefire piece of evidence in cases like this, even if prosecutors hope otherwise.

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Ask Engadget: Which drone should I buy for my kid?

Ask Engadget: Which drone should I buy for my kid?

The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we’ve known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fact, our community’s knowledge and insights are a reason why many of you participate in the comments.

We truly value the time and detail you all spend in responding to questions from your fellow tech-obsessed commenters, which is why we’ve decided to bring back the much-missed “Ask Engadget” column. This week’s question comes to us from a parent looking to encourage their child’s love of drones. Weigh in with your advice in the comments — and feel free to send your own questions along to ask@engadget.com!

My child is very excited about drones, and I’d like to encourage his enthusiasm but I’m not sure where to start. What’s a good entry-level drone choice for a kid?


James Trew

James Trew
Managing Editor

Fortunately for you, there are a ton of kid-friendly drones to choose from. In fact, that’s maybe part of the problem: With so many available at a wide range price points and technical abilities, it can be hard to know what’s appropriate (and worth your money).

Without knowing how old your son is or what in particular excites him (racing? taking pictures?) I would suggest looking at the following options, each of which has their advantages but are also good all-rounders.

Eachine makes a number of affordable mini-drones that are good for learning how to fly. They’re robust enough to take a few knocks and come with protectors so the propellors won’t nip your son’s fingers (or get caught in your hair — it happens). Bear in mind these won’t hover in place; if you take your hands off the controller it won’t stay in the air. Also, battery life is short: just five minutes or so. But, this will teach good piloting skills that will carry over to more advanced models if he decides to stick with it.

If you want something that’s easier to get the hang of and don’t mind spending a bit more, Parrot’s Mambo wins points for its features, flight time and kid-friendliness. The Mambo has accessories like a camera or mini cannon, and can hold itself in the air (and even do tricks). Parrot’s app also lets you see what the camera on the drone sees, and even comes with a pair of goggles so he can “feel” like he’s flying.

If you’re feeling flush, you might consider the Spark from DJI. It’s pricey for a first drone, but flies like a dream has better battery life (about 15 minutes), shoots impressive video and is small enough for young hands (you’ll definitely want the propeller guards on this one). At $399 it might seem like a lot of money, but as your son grows up the Spark won’t feel like a toy so he’ll still be able to enjoy it.

Check out the full list of selections in our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide here!

A writer and editor based out of San Francisco, Amber has worked for The Wirecutter, PCWorld, MaximumPC and TechHive. Her work has also appeared on InfoWorld, MacWorld, Details, Apartment Therapy and Broke-Ass Stuart. In her spare time, she takes too many pictures of her cats, watches too much CSI and obsesses over her bullet journal.

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Giphy’s film festival turns GIFs into art

Giphy’s film festival turns GIFs into art

As I made my way into the Metrograph movie theater in New York City, I felt like I was attending a screening for the Tribeca Film Festival. There was a red carpet, people posing for professional photographers, an official film guide and, of course, drinks and popcorn. This isn’t quite what I expected when I learned I’d be attending Giphy’s first Film Fest. If that name sounds like an oxymoron, the event was a showcase of 118 videos of 18 seconds or less from five different categories: narrative, animated, stop-motion, experimental and wild card. Considering that most of my GIF consumption happens on a laptop or phone, I wasn’t expecting this big a to-do.

But that was Giphy’s goal for the event: to show that GIFs can also live on the big screen as “micro-films.” That’s why the company and sponsor Squarespace went all out to make the Film Fest feel like a traditional movie theater, the kind used for premieres at Sundance or Tribeca. Giphy said it had more than 900 submissions, 118 of which were picked as finalists and had the chance to compete for the grand prize, which included $10,000, a Squarespace membership and the chance to curate a Spotify playlist.

The micro-films being screened included something for everyone: Some were funny, others dark and a few made me consider the meaning of life. At least that’s how I felt about the eventual winner, “WASHED UP,” which was shot with a drone and shows an individual lying on a black sand beach with waves lapping at his body. I thought about how, in the grand scheme of things, humans are only a microscopic part of the universe. That’s ultimately what I enjoyed about Giphy’s Film Fest: Most of the projects were open to interpretation.

My favorite by far was the one where a young lady is so into her phone that she’s clearly not aware of her surroundings. With a cup of bubble tea in one hand and her phone in the other, probably glancing at memes on Twitter or Instagram, she’s walking up the stairs at the subway station and eventually trips, landing eye first on the straw of her cup. It’s hilarious, disgusting and sad, all the same time. And the project has the perfect name too: “☹️.”

Giphy’s Film Fest is part of a larger push from the company to expand beyond GIFs and create a platform for short-form videos. That platform launched on Friday with a beta site. Unlike the 18-second limit on the projects from its Film Fest, though, videos on there can be up to 30 seconds and they’ll support audio, too. “Everything now is just this way of expressing through movement what people have been saying in picture form, and it’s just evolving,” Tiffany Vazquez, Giphy’s film editor, told Engadget. “There are just so many different ways you can express an emotion with a GIF that you couldn’t really do with something as general as ‘LOL,’ or something as general as an emoji.”

And that’s true, because GIFs are everywhere now. You could even go so far as to have a conversation with someone using just GIFs. Kids these days.


Getty Images

Vazquez said that putting on the Giphy Film Fest was a challenge because her team doesn’t have the same resources as Sundance and Tribeca, but that she felt the short-form medium deserved the attention. It’s an opportunity for creators to show what they can do under certain time constraints, she said, similar to how Vine paved the way for social media stars like Logan Paul.We wanted to see compelling work that was original, narrative,” she said. “We wanted to see different genres represented, different types of art represented and with this diverse content.”

Giphy doesn’t have any plans for a second Film Fest right now, but Vazquez said the company is trying to figure out “how this can live on.” For now, it’s working to flesh out its new short-form video service in the hopes that creators come to Giphy for more than just meme GIFs.

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Apple plans to sell more of its products on Amazon

Apple and Amazon have come to an agreement to stock the online retailer’s shelves with more Apple products, according to CNET. The deal will expand Amazon’s direct access to Apple products, including the latest models of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

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ASUS ZenBook S review: Just a decent laptop

ASUS ZenBook S review: Just a decent laptop

ASUS has cranked out so many laptop variations over the years that it’s a little hard to be surprised by a new traditional clamshell notebook. But the ZenBook S represents an intriguing combination of portability, power and design. It’s extremely thin and light, offers some solid specs, and features an odd hinge design that props the keyboard up at a slight angle. Oh, and it comes in a shiny, attention-grabbing maroon color.

Of course, there are dozens of Windows laptops on the market at any given time, and many of them have more modern and, let’s face it, exciting hardware designs. But if you don’t care about getting a laptop with a detachable keyboard or a 360-degree hinge, the ASUS ZenBook S delivers almost everything we could ask for from an ultraportable.

Engadget Score


Poor


Uninspiring


Good


Excellent

Key

Pros
  • Thin and light Powerful enough for all the but the most demanding tasks
  • Hinge designed for improved cooling
  • Comfortable keyboard despite the thin frame
  • Stylish design
Cons
  • Mediocre real-world battery life
  • Lid is a fingerprint magnet
  • 1080p screen is just OK
  • Trackpad feels cramped

Summary

If you’re in the market for a traditional Windows laptop that won’t weigh you down, the ZenBook S is a solid choice. Despite its small size, it has enough power for most tasks. Battery life is a letdown, but the S is still a good option unless you need to be unplugged for a full workday at a time.


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Hardware

ASUS ZenBook S

As I mentioned, the ZenBook S hardware combines thinness and durability. At 2.2 pounds, it’s one of the lightest laptops you can buy. Factor in its compact footprint and it’s the kind of device you can just throw in a bag anywhere you go and forget it’s there. There really aren’t many conventional laptops in this size range, either; unless you’re willing to forgo the standard clamshell design and try a Surface Pro, it doesn’t get much smaller than the ZenBook S.

Despite that thin body, the cushy, backlit keys offer the kind of deep travel that MacBook Pro owners can only wish for. It took no time to adjust to the ZenBook’s keyboard, and I’m glad that ASUS doesn’t seem to have made any compromises. Sadly, the ZenBook S is yet another Windows laptop with an average-at-best trackpad. It’s on the small side, and not as responsive as I’d like. After using the comically large MacBook Pro touchpad, I found myself missing its spacious dimensions. At least the trackpad here also has a fingerprint sensor, which makes logging into the machine a breeze.

Gallery: ASUS ZenBook S review | 13 Photos

The ZenBook may be thin, but ASUS promises that it’s durable, too. I didn’t throw it down the stairs or anything, but it does feel like a solid, well-made machine that should handle most people’s routines with ease. The display doesn’t flex unless I apply real pressure, while the keyboard panel feels sturdy. ASUS says the aluminum-unibody ZenBook passed the military-standard (MIL-STD) 810G tests for “drops, temperature, humidity and altitude,” so it seems like it’ll take some effort to cause meaningful damage.

Finally, there’s that hinge. When closed, the ZenBook looks like any other thin laptop, but a small bit of the “bottom” of the body moves along with the screen and props the keyboard up at a slight angle. It actually looks quite similar to how a Surface Pro looks with the keyboard attached, despite the totally different hardware. It doesn’t look like any other laptops I can think of, but it’s a useful design choice. When typing on a desk, the extra space was designed to improve airflow, keeping the computer cooler when it’s working hard. The slight slant to the keyboard itself also makes for some pleasant typing, and it helps, too, that the speakers (hidden on the bottom of the ZenBook) emanate louder audio, thanks to that vertical lift.

ASUS ZenBook S

The strange hinge design isn’t quite as good when you’re using the laptop on, well, your lap. Instead of a flat surface, you’re balancing the display edge and the keyboard edge, which works fine most of the time. But if you’re the kind of person who shifts and moves your legs around a lot while using a laptop (I can’t seem to sit still, personally), it’s not quite as stable. I got used to using the ZenBook on my lap, but it’s still a bit of an adjustment from a normal laptop.

As far as the display goes, the Zenbook S I tested was a bit of a mixed bag. I received the entry-level model with a 13.3-inch, 1080p screen. By and large, it looks great: Colors on photos and webpages popped nicely, and the viewing angles were excellent. The downside is that I simply find 1080p’s limited vertical resolution to be a real annoyance these days. I’d much rather work on the 3:2 screen found on Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, as it shows off more website content or text for when I’m drafting reviews like this one. Still, 1080p displays remain common; if you’re used to working with one, this screen won’t let you down.

Performance



The Zenbook S I tested came with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 processor (the 8550-U, for those keeping track), along with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. That was plenty enough for my normal workflow, which typically includes tons of Chrome tabs, relatively lightweight apps like Spotify, Trello, Todoist and Slack, and the occasional dabbling in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. For most people out there, the ZenBook S should get the job done.

If you’re a gamer, it’s another story: The integrated Intel HD 620 graphics chip isn’t going to cut it for modern Windows gaming. Of course, you’re probably not looking at a thin and light computer like the ZenBook S if you’re hoping to play Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Otherwise, the ZenBook is a capable performer that should meet most people’s needs.

Despite its thin frame, ASUS says the ZenBook S can get up to 13.5 hours of battery life. Indeed, the laptop achieved 12 hours of video playback in our battery test, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, there’s a significant gap between that and what I got when using the computer for my normal work routine. I usually get between six and seven hours of mixed usage, which is rather mediocre and falls far short of ASUS’s estimate.

That said, my laptop has a Core i7 processor, rather than the i5 that ASUS used in its battery tests — the extra power can come at a cost. Still, I wasn’t able to get at least a full eight-hour workday from the ZenBook S. If I was doing more intense work like using Lightroom or taking video calls over Hangouts, I often wouldn’t even get to six hours. If you opt for the ZenBook S with a 4K screen, expect the battery life to drop even further.

The competition

ASUS ZenBook S

As I noted earlier, there are dozens of traditional Windows laptops on the market, but the ZenBook S plays in a smaller space. You’re paying for a combo of small size and decent specs that make it a good all-purpose computer. It’s impossible to think about general-use laptops without mentioning Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop 2, which starts at $999. The latest model includes Intel’s eighth-generation Core i5 or i7 processors, and while it’s not as thin as the ZenBook S, it offers a wonderful screen. We’re not done testing the Surface Laptop 2 yet, but we can say that last year’s model also delivered excellent battery life.

Dell’s outstanding XPS 13 is another solid alternative. The current model has essentially identical specs to the ZenBook S model I tested, and right now it starts at $999. You’re stuck with a terribly placed webcam, but it does basically everything else well.

And if you’re interested in macOS, the brand new MacBook Air ($1,199 and up) is another jack-of-all-trades laptop with a slim body and a more pixel-dense display than the ZenBook S (unless you opt for the 4K screen). That said, the MacBook Air only has a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip inside, compared to the quad-core processor in the ZenBook S. That means it might last significantly longer on a charge, but the performance might not be up to snuff depending on your workload.

Of course, ASUS itself has an extremely crowded product lineup all of its own, with dozens of laptops at various price points and form factors, including at least a few that are close enough in price, size and specs to be worth considering. The ZenBook S is thinner and lighter than most, but if you don’t need the smallest laptop possible, ASUS has plenty of other options to consider.

Wrap-up

As much as companies like to hype up tablets, 2-in-1s and convertibles as the future of computing, there will always be customers who want a basic, reliable laptop. The ZenBook S fits the bill — it’s not the best Windows laptop, nor the most well-rounded device out there. The disappointing battery life in particular makes it a tough sell as a take-it-anywhere laptop. But that aside, the ZenBook S is a worthwhile choice if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle the most common computing tasks. It’s a solid performer and its small size and light weight make it easy to throw in your bag and forget about. Just make sure you leave room for the charger.

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The Morning After: MacBook Air and iPad Pro reviews

The Morning After: MacBook Air and iPad Pro reviews

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to your weekend. Microsoft’s big Xbox event is scheduled to kick off at 4 PM ET, but until then you can check out our reviews of the iPad Pro, MacBook Air and BMW i8. Also, Tesla’s updates have delivered a fun new driving mode for properly-equipped Model 3s, and it’s time to take another look at Samsung’s foldable Infinity Flex display.


Its A12X Bionic chipset outpaces some PCs in our office.iPad Pro 12.9 review (2018): The future of computing?

This is the first iPad we’ve ever tested that could actually potentially replace a traditional computer in someone’s life. That said, shortcomings in iOS and a lack of optimized software mean that this iPad’s best days are still to come.


In many ways, it’s the machine that Air holdouts have been waiting forApple MacBook Air review (2018): A good buy and a tough call

The new Air is precisely the upgrade many users have been holding out for, with a slimmed-down body, sharper Retina display, long battery life and a useful Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Still, as Dana Wollman explains, if performance matters and you have $1,300 or so to spend on a laptop, the 13-inch Pro might indeed be a more practical choice.


Flex.Samsung debuts foldable ‘Infinity Flex’ phone display

When closed, Samsung’s foldable-phone prototype looks like a regular smartphone, and the cover can be used to display information like the weather and time. It can then be unfolded like a book to reveal a 7.3-inch display that works like a miniature tablet. According to Samsung, you can run three apps simultaneously with what it calls a Multi-Active Window. While the device itself isn’t quite ready for prime time (it looked a little dim onstage), Google is already preparing Android for a future full of flexible devices that flip in and out of different configurations.


The budget buds boast a charging case and Bluetooth 5.0.
Xiaomi’s true wireless ‘AirDots’ earbuds cost less than $30

Xiaomi’s latest budget offering is a pair of true wireless earbuds that cost around $28 (depending on the exchange rate). They’re dubbed AirDots, which sounds confusingly (or intentionally) similar to Apple’s $159 AirPods. To further fuel the comparisons, they also come in white and tout a minimal design, and they have a plastic case that’ll also charge the tiny things. For now, the buds are set to launch in China, with no word on a global launch.


Straight line speed isn’t everything.Tesla’s Model 3 gets quicker cornering with ‘Track Mode’

Tesla has just made your Model 3 Performance EV a helluva lot more fun with the launch of Track Mode. The software shuts down all the traction control protection that normally prevents wheel slip in order to keep your car between the scenery. With that turned off, the dual electric motors are repurposed to improve cornering and, judging by Tesla’s demo video, transform the Model 3 into a drifting machine.

But wait, there’s more…


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