Dyson Just Fixed Everything Wrong With Its Cordless Vacuum

We called Dyson’s cordless DC59 Motorhead the first genuine replacement for a full-sized vacuum, even with a few annoying design quirks and limited battery life. It has taken the company almost two years to design a follow-up, but the new Dyson V8 appears to fix most of the complaints we had with the original.

The rechargeable battery on the original Dyson DC59 had only about 20 minutes of run time. So you were either highly motivated to clean as much as you possibly could in that limited time frame, or move onto other tasks while you waited for it to charge back up. But thanks to an improved nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery, the new V8 can run for up to 40 minutes at a time, without its suction fading as the battery dies.

Like with the DC59, the new V8 also has an optional ‘Max’ mode that boosts suction for dealing with resilient dirt like animal hair stuck to upholstery. On the flip side, it also reduces the vacuum’s overall run time, but the addition of a battery runtime indicator on the V8 provides an estimate of how much cleaning time you’ve got left.

Another big frustration we had with the older DC59 was emptying its collection bin, which would often leave dust and debris stuck on the inside. Cleaning it was no picnic, so with the new V8 Dyson has incorporated a “hygienic dirt ejector.” It’s basically is a rubber collar that slides down the middle of the collection bin to scrape off dust and dirt stuck to its interior, without your fingers ever getting anywhere near it.

Other improvements to the new V8 include a more powerful motor but redesigned airflow that it runs about half as loud as its predecessor, a dirt collection bin that’s 30 percent larger to reduce the number of times you need to empty it, and a dust-busting soft roller cleaner designed for hard floors. The kit also comes with the powered cleaner head that the DC59 included.

In North America, the Dyson V8 cord-free will be available in Canada starting today on Dyson’s website and will hit stores in about a month. Availability in the United States is expected closer to the fall. With Canadian pricing set at $700, you can safely assume US pricing will be at least $500. But will it be worth the premium pricing? We’ll have a review of the new hardware in the coming weeks.

This Microwave Oven Is the Size of a Thermos

There’s a reason the microwave oven in your kitchen is a heavy brick: it uses a magnetron and vacuum tube technology that dates back to World War II. But since then, microwave technologies have been vastly improved (see cellphone towers) and a company called Wayv in the UK is finally using them to shrink the microwave oven.

The Adventurer looks like nothing more than a fancy thermos, but it’s actually a fully-functional 200-watt microwave oven that can efficiently heat 500 milliliters of liquids or solids in about four minutes. Its rechargeable battery will keep it running for up to half an hour, which is more than enough time to reheat a bowl of stew at lunch or a jar of baby food while you’re on the road. But it can also be plugged in at home if you simply don’t have the counter space for a full-sized oven.

Instead of vacuum tubes or magnetrons, the Adventurer uses laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductors—or LDMOS—transistors to generate heat. Not only are they thin enough to be built right into the Adventurer’s insulated walls, but they’re also light, so the whole device weighs just over two-and-a-half-pounds. And unlike conventional microwave oven technology that can result in hot and cool spots on the inside (that’s why your microwave has a rotating platter) the LDMOS technology evenly and thoroughly heats food without any movement.

Wayv is planning to bring the adventurer to the United States next year with a price tag of about $200. It will be targeted at campers, truckers, the military, and anyone who’s had to rely on questionably-safe methods to heat a meal.

Speck’s Cardboard-Friendly VR Goggles Fold Flatter Than Your Phone

First revealed earlier in the year at CES, Speck’s ultra-thin folding Pocket-VR viewer is finally available for those who want to dabble in virtual reality and are looking for a cost-effective solution that falls somewhere between Google’s cheap Cardboard and Samsung’s pricey Gear VR.

What your $70 alternative to Oculus Rift gets you is a VR viewer made of durable plastic—not cardboard—that cleverly folds flat so it’s slim enough to stash in a pocket. Designed for either the iPhone 6/6s or the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Pocket-VR won’t actually work with other smartphones since it requires them to be wrapped in an included case for the viewer to properly and securely assemble.

The Pocket-VR’s open design gives full access to the touchscreen and buttons on whichever smartphone you’re using it with, which solves a an annoyance with Google’s Cardboard viewer. You’re definitely paying a premium for that convenience here, but also its well though-out design that you can quickly whip out and use anywhere.

Let Us Count Some Reasons Why You Won’t Want Will.i.am’s New Headphones

Will.i.am has a chequered history of making pieces of consumer technology that nobody really wants. Now you can add to that list a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Let us count some reasons why you probably won’t want these i.am+ EPs headphones in your life:

  1. They’re styled to look like vinyl records.
  2. Apple explains that there are “engraved messages—‘right and wrong’, ‘left and gone’—tucked behind [the] earpieces to guide proper ear placement.”
  3. We are told on the product page to “listen closely for… will.i.am’s voice when you turn on your EPs or connect to Bluetooth.”
  4. They come packaged with a “special lifestyle booklet custom-made by will.i.am.”
  5. They cost $230.

Well, there are five to be going on with.

There are some redeeming features. They use magnetic clips to snap together (but then, so do plenty of cheap headphones). They’re constructed using metal and woven fabric, so they’ll probably feel quite nice in use. And Apple promises “superior surround sound and deep bass,” though you’ll need to try them out to make sure for yourself.

The headphones are exclusive to Apple. If you want to buy them. You probably don’t.

This Liquid Metal Watch Looks Like It Was Designed by a Terminator

There are a lot of good reasons to believe this watch that uses flowing liquid mercury to show the time is fake. A low-quality video, a questionable website, and product shots that look like photocopies of photocopies. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting a watch that looks like the T-1000 strapped to your wrist.

Seahope’s Liquid Metal Watch, designed by Y. Kimura, uses three blobs of mercury that continuously orbit the watch’s face to indicate the current hour, minutes, and seconds. Its website doesn’t go into details about how exactly the company’s creation works—presumably there’s a trio of moving magnets beneath its face—but it will happily let you pre-order one ahead of a July 14 release.

Available in various colors and metal finishes, the watch’s will set you back just shy of $200, if you’re brave enough to entrust your credit card details to a sketchy-looking online store. We’d maybe suggest waiting until July 14 comes and goes to see if this thing actually ships, and then maybe hunting one down from a more reputed online shop.

Ultra Simple License Plate Sensor Adds Collision Protection to Any Car

If your car’s scratched and dented bumpers reveal a long history of you accidentally backing into things, you don’t necessarily need to buy a new vehicle just to get a fancy collision warning system. If you have a smartphone, and can use a screwdriver, you can easily install this license plate cover that serves as an extra pair of eyes for you when reversing.

The FenSens Fender Defender isn’t the first aftermarket collision warning system, but what sets it apart from the competition is how easy it can be installed on almost any vehicle with a license plate. Just remove the four screws already holding your vehicle’s license plate in place, put the Fender Defender atop the plate, and then re-attach it to your car.

Instead of then having to mount an LCD display to your dashboard, the Fender Defender communicates with an iOS or Android app over Bluetooth to provide warnings about impending collisions. Four ultrasonic sensors with a range of about 10 feet keep an eye on what’s directly behind your car, and if you’re getting close to something, visible and audible warnings will automatically let you know.

Because the Fender Defender, which is available for pre-order for about $150, is reliant on a smartphone, there are no wires to deal with during installation. Not even power, since it has its own rechargeable battery good for about five months of use. The downside is that you’ll have to remember to recharge it every so often, but that’s a technical challenge most of us already successfully deal with every single night with our phones.

The Best Smartwatches for People Who Hate Smartwatches

Despite the name, smartwatches can be kind of dumb. Sure, they can do cool things, like control your music and put notifications on your wrist. But battery life woes and underwhelming platforms leave you questioning the real IQ of these supposedly “smart” devices. However, there is a road less traveled: an area unexplored by big tech giants, where people can revel in functioning wristputers without being stuck in a technological mire.

They’re called mechanical smartwatches: Transformer-like “more than meets the eye” gadgets that look like normal watches on the outside but pack lots of smarts on the inside. It’s the wrist wearable for those who don’t want another screen shoved in front of their face or another gadget that needs daily charging.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve worn every watch a few days (yes, also while sleeping) to get a sense for its tracking and connectivity capabilities. Because many of these watches can go years without needing a new battery, battery life tests were not much of an issue.

Some watches offer different features compared to others, but the two guiding principles behind which watches made the cut were 1) they had to have little-to-no digital display whatsoever and 2) they needed to add some kind of additional utility over normal mechanical watches.

With those two ideas in mind, I began my search—and it was a fruitful one.

The Best Overall — Withings Activité Pop

Withings Activité lineup covers everything from super affordability to Swiss movement, but it’s the Pop where you really get the most for your money. For $150, you get a good-looking watch with accurate step and sleep tracking as well as a feature-rich and well-design app (a rarity among these types of watches).

With a smaller profile than any other watch on this list, the Activité Pop will fit on your wrist no matter your gender. That small footprint also comes in handy if you spend a lot of the day typing on a computer. Besides, a bulky gadget isn’t exactly something you want hanging on the end of your arm when you’re trying to sleep.

Although the Pop is the best value, you can spend $20 more and spring for the Activité Steel, which is the same watch with a polished metal frame and a more neutral color palette. If you really want to spend some bucks, you can opt for the “swiss-made” Activité that’s a more elegant time piece, but it also costs $450. Before you make any expensive watch decisions, though, check out the next guy on this list.

The Best If You’ve Got Some Money to Spend — Mondaine Helvetica 1 Smartwatch

Swiss watchmakers aren’t standing still while legion of smartwatches pass them by. Some have even placed big bets by creating watches for Google’s Android Wear platform. But Swiss makers like Mondaine are taking a more subtle approach, instead launching a smartwatch with all its tech hidden under its signature Helvetica watchface.

At its most basic, you could think of the Helvetica 1 Smartwatch as a hybrid watch/fitness tracker. Throughout the day, it tracks your steps and at night it tracks your sleep. However, you might be reluctant to sweat all over this watch at the gym. It’s got a leather band, which is not always sweat friendly, and it costs $900 (though I have seen elsewhere for much cheaper).

The included MotionX app, which acts like a dashboard for your steps and delivers progress in easily digestible charts, also includes a “smart” coach. Although the activity coach does come in handy when it cross-references with your progress, noticing sleepless nights or a dip in activity, it can also misfire. One time it told me to burn calories by shoveling snow… in April.

But for a first effort, the Mondaine Helvetica 1 is great for people who want to keep tabs on their daily activity but aren’t necessarily a gym rat training for a marathon. And if Mondaine’s obsession with certain fonts isn’t your thing, the same smart platform is baked into watches from Frederique Constant andAlpina as well.

The Best If You Basically Want a Watch — Fossil Q54 Pilot

Fossil has been making affordable watches for years, but smartwatches are definitely a new thing for the well-known watchmaker. This year, Fossil released the the Q Founder: a more traditional smartwatch running on Android Wear. But Fossil also built the Q54 Pilot as a “smart” option of its well-known mechanical watches.

Unlike the other Bests on this list, the Q54 Pilot doesn’t uses a smartphone connection to maintain accurate time. Instead, it uses a mechanical mechanism. That means it won’t keep time as accurately over time, but it also means that it’s the only true mechanical smartwatch on the list. If you’re unwilling to let go of little, arguably archaic watch details, the Q54 is worth consideration.

The other cool thing that separates the Q54 from the pack is the ability to set up vibration-based notifications—two, three, or one long vibration—to tell if you’re getting a call, text, email, or whatever you want. The level of customization is actually surprisingly impressive. After a few days of getting used to the periodic vibrations on my wrist, the Q54 became a great smartphone companion.

It’s not all sunshine and roses with this watch, though. The app is well-designed compared to some of the watches languishing in the Rest section, but it also has superfluous features like Q Curiosity, which gives you daily “challenges.” Oddly they’re not fitness goals, but weird things like taking a “picture of something that inspires you.” No thanks.

Also, this guy needs weekly charging and the packaged proprietary charger is far from what I’d call sleek.

It is, in fact, quite beefy.

Nevertheless, the activity tracking is accurate and the added touch notifications is a noticeable distinction from the other smart dumb watches out there. At $175, that ain’t too bad.

Timex Metropolitan+

A good watch with a not-so-good app. I was plagued with some connectivity issues, and because of a recurring update error, my watch just kept failing and never worked for an entire evening. Then it just stopped responding entirely. I’ve reached out to Timex about the issue and will update if I possibly just had a faulty watch.


Martian Envoy G10 Voice Command

I actually like this watch, but its teeny low-res LED display is so bright (and non-adjustable) it can be kind of distracting and the ticker-style display can make reading notifications annoying without the ability to recall missed messages. The app could also use a little design work. At $250, I’m having a tough time suggesting this over just a good old Pebble or any of our bests smart mechanical watches.


Runtastic Moment

This timepiece shows all the signs of a first-gen product from a company known for great running apps and not gadgets with an unappealing and uncomfortable design. The watch case is made of metal and is also really heavy, but the stiff nylon band makes for an incredibly uncomfortable fit. It also doesn’t have automatic sleep tracking, and I almost habitually forgot to hit the button before falling asleep. Of course, since this thing is so damn heavy, wearing it to bed wasn’t very much fun. If you have a Runtastic Premium account, maybe? Even then, for $180 (for the Elite), you’ve got better options.


Nevo

We wanted to try out this guy because it seems cool, and it had a successful Indiegogo campaign! But we were never able to get our hands on one. Other reviews have placed Mondaine and Withings ahead of the pack, and the app look like its leaves much to be desired, but we’ll update if we can get our hands on one.


Chronos

Another great idea, that’s unfortunately not available yet. The pitch is you can add this disc module to any watch and bam—wearable smarts. Hopefully the pitch follows through, and we’ll update once we get the chance to try it out.

No Facebook, no WhatsApp was the mantra

No or limited access to social media seems to be the secret to scoring high marks for city kids.

The class X and XII results declared on Friday revealed that toppers kept away from social media so as to not lose focus while appearing for examinations. Besides, most of them relied on self study.

Shikha Tiwari, a student of CMS Kanpur Road, said, “I had a lot of peer pressure to join social media but I knew that there are a lot of distractions so I decided not to listen to any of my friends.”

“I stopped using WhatsApp in class XI and deactivated my Facebook profile a few months before the boards and I feel it really helped,” said Prakhar Lohumi, who scored 98.75% in class XII.
Many others, meanwhile, deactivated their Facebook and WhatsApp accounts and uninstalled other apps during exams. There are even some who are yet to get introduced to the web. The majority of toppers also felt that going to coaching classes was a waste of time, and that preparing on their own was the key to success.
“I guess coaching classes just add to the burden. I made it a point to learn everything that was taught in school on that very day even if it required sitting at the study desk for 10-12 hours,” said Manan Agarwal, who achieved rank 1 all over state by scoring 99% in class XII.
Toppers Ankur Verma and Himani Rathore had a different way of preparing. “We read the lesson twice and then wrote down what we learnt. There was no scope of losing out,” said the two.

Facebook censoring news, claims report

Facebook workers have often omitted conservative political stories from the website’s “trending” list, the technology news site Gizmodo said on Monday in a report that sparked widespread comment on social media.

An unnamed former Facebook employee told Gizmodo that workers “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers,” according to Gizmodo, while “artificially” adding other stories into the trending list.

Facebook told Reuters on Monday that there are “rigorous guidelines in place” to maintain neutrality and said that these guidelines do not prohibit any news outlet from appearing in trending topics.

Facebook did not respond directly though to questions about whether employees had suppressed conservative-leaning news.

“These guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives. Nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another or one news outlet over another,” a spokesperson for Facebook said.

The report alarmed some social media users, with several journalists and commentators criticising Facebook for alleged bias.

“Aside from fueling right-wing persecution, this is a key reminder of dangers of Silicon Valley controlling content,” tweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald).

“Well, you go to Hell, Facebook,” tweeted Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher), a reporter at the Washington Examiner, a conservative-leaning publication.

“For anyone who cares about press freedom, this is frightening stuff,” tweeted Bloomberg Editor Bill Grueskin (@BGrueskin), with a link to Gizmodo’s story.

“Former Facebook Workers” quickly became one of the top-ten trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. after the Gizmodo story broke.

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), one of the groups reportedly blocked from Facebook’s trending list, said it would closely monitor how the claims against Facebook unfold.

“If we can confirm that the allegations are true and accurate, that would be disappointing,” said CPAC Communications Director Ian Walters, who added that he was sensitive to the fact that the claims are as of yet unconfirmed.
A post on Facebook’s help center said that the “trending” section of the site “shows you topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.” It lists “engagement, timeliness, Pages you’ve liked and your location” as some of the factors that determine what trends show up for each Facebook user.

Facebook users can also manually remove certain topics from their trending list.

Court says no to ‘Facebook drink’ in China

Chinese people won’t be able to quench their thirst with a refreshing “face book” beverage, after the US social networking company won a rare trademark victory against a local firm in China.

By contrast, Apple Inc last month lost its battle to prevent a domestic company from using the “iPhone” trademark on leather goods in China.

China’s intellectual property protections are often perceived as quite lax but they are steadily improving, lawyers say. The victory may offer a glimmer of hope for Facebook in China, where its social network is not accessible and its business is mainly selling overseas advertising for Chinese companies.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court said the Zhongshan Pearl River Drinks application, filed in 2011, to label certain foods and beverages “face book” was an obvious act of copying and harmed fair market competition.

A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment. An employee at Pearl River Drinks said the case was not widely known at the company and that the staff member in charge of it was not available for comment.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have made concerted efforts to woo Chinese officials. In March, Zuckerberg had a rare meeting with the country’s propaganda tsar, a suggestion of warming relations between Facebook and the government.
Zuckerberg frequently makes headlines in China, where he has achieved celebrity status by making speeches in Mandarin and sharing pictures of runs through noxious smog in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Facebook had previously objected to China’s Trademark Review and Adjudication Board twice but was unsuccessful, prompting its decision to take the case to court.