Laptops were boring at CES, but there’s hope for the future

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Photography by Becca Farsace / The Verge

CES 2020 was a boring year for laptops — at least, it was a boring year for laptops that will be real products that you can actually buy in 2020. The upgrades were incremental at best, and even the more interesting changes are reliant on unproven technology, like AMD’s new processors and 5G internet.

But despite the fact that the upcoming wave of 2020 laptops so far looks like it’s been upgraded even more incrementally than ever before, all is not lost. Among the minor spec boosts, CES 2020 also offered the first glimmers of what might come next for portable computers, with new screen technologies, wild new designs, and 5G modems. Those trends are important for the future of laptops, but we’re not quite in that future just yet.

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Facebook exec erroneously cites The Lord of the Rings when comparing the social network to the One Ring

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Facebook executive Andrew “Boz” Bosworth published a memo that looks ahead to the 2020 election. In it, he discussed how Facebook’s marketing tools were used by the Trump campaign to win the 2016 election and how Facebook shouldn’t take action to prevent Trump from using the same strategy to win again, via The New York Times.

As part of his argument, Boz makes the comparison by citing none other than J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to explain his decision. Facebook, Boz argues, is akin to Sauron’s One Ring, and wielding its power — even with noble intent — would only lead to ruin.

As a committed liberal I find myself desperately wanting to pull any lever at my disposal to avoid the same result. So what stays my hand?

I find…

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Razer’s latest concept is a 5G router for gamers that’s also a mobile hotspot

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Back in 2018, Razer jumped into the router market with Sila, a gaming router designed to offer high-speed and reliable Wi-Fi performance for gaming. And now, at CES 2020, the company is showing off a concept for a 5G version of that router, the Sila 5G, which would rely on a wireless 5G connection as the source of your internet rather than conventional cable.

Interestingly, unlike many other home routers, the Sila 5G also features a rechargeable battery, allowing it to double as a mobile hotspot — albeit a mobile hotspot that features four Ethernet ports and can theoretically run a small LAN tournament wherever you go.

Image: Razer

Like the original Sila, the Sila 5G also features Razer’s FasTrack technology, the…

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Belkin partners with Devialet for a Google Assistant smart speaker that’s also a wireless charger

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Image: Belkin

Belkin is a company known for its wireless chargers. Devialet is known for its high-end, ultra loud speakers. And at CES 2020, the two companies announced that they’ll be partnering on a new product, the $299 Soundform Elite Hi-Fi Smart Speaker + Wireless Charger, which combines a Google Assistant-powered smart speaker with a wireless charging pad.

The Soundform Elite isn’t the first Devialet partnership on a smart speaker — Huawei announced its Xiaoyi voice assistant-powered Sound X speaker last year, which also relies on technology from the French speaker company. But Belkin’s speaker (unlike Huawei’s) will be available outside of China, marking the first widely available smart speaker based on Devialet’s hardware.

I…

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AT&T’s 5G coverage expands to six new cities, including New York, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

AT&T continues to roll out its low-band 5G network, with the addition of six new cities that add some of the biggest urban areas in the US to AT&T’s growing network: New York City, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

As with the earlier launch in December, the six new cities feature AT&T’s regular 5G network, built on its low-band 850MHz spectrum technology. (Not to be confused with its rebranded LTE network — which AT&T calls 5G E — or its high-band 5G network based on mmWave technology, which AT&T calls 5G+.) In addition to the low-band rollout, AT&T is also launching its mmWave 5G+ network in select areas of Baltimore and Detroit, although the 5G+ network isn’t available to general…

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