Battlestation alert! This Targus USB-C dock connects four monitors


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If you own a notebook equipped with a USB-C port, you’ll want a USB-C hub to enable legacy connectivity with ethernet or an external HDMI monitor. One external monitor. Wait, you want four? Well, Targus has you covered.

At CES 2019, Targus showed off the DOCK520USZ, also known as the USB-C Universal QUAD HD (QVHD) Docking Station. There’s a slew of regular ports, including four USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port with power, gigabit ethernet, a 3.5mm audio jack, and so on. What’s unique about this dock, however, is the four 1080p HDMI outputs, which essentially can be used to create a multi-monitor battlestation as the video shows. Because who doesn’t want to plug into four monitors for work and play?

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SanDisk’s Extreme Pro portable SSD is so fast you can edit video on it


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While editing a document or spreadsheet directly from a flash drive is trivial, that’s not the case for video, where the interface speed limits performance considerably. WD’s SanDisk thinks they’ve solved the problem with the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD.

The Extreme Pro uses its internally developed NVMe technology to saturate the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface, with read speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second. That’s fast enough for users to edit video directly on the drive itself, without the need for copying the file from the drive to a local hard drive, then back.

SanDisk said that the company will deliver the Extreme Pro in spring 2019, in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacity points. The company hasn’t released pricing, however, which is fairly typical for storage companies announcing products before they ship.

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Mattel and Microsoft reveal Aristotle, a tabletop digital nanny for kids


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Let’s face it: The first digital assistants for the home—Amazon Echo and Google Home—often feel like simple Internet portals with thin veneers of humanity to make them feel more warm and fuzzy. But now Mattel is trying to go beyond that with Aristotle, a personality-driven hardware assistant designed just for kids.

Through a partnership with Microsoft (which will lend its Cortana digital assistance technology to the project), the $249 Aristotle straddles the line between a digital nanny for parents and a teaching companion for kids. Though it all might sound a bit hokey, the hardware’s pedigree is sound: Aristotle is the brainchild of of Mattel's nabi team, which use to be known as Fubu, the tablet company that Mattel bought in 2016.

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Bitdefender’s second Bitdefender Box sniffs your home’s network to detect hackers


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Bitdefender’s first-generation Box had an interesting premise: defend your home’s collection of webcams and other connected devices from attackers. But it was unnecessarily complex. Now the company’s returned with an upgraded device that applies more sophisticated protections, its executives say. The Box V2 will probably be sold for $199 plus a $99 yearly subscription, according to a spokesman for the company. That’s the same as the first-generation Bitdefender Box, which debuted in April 2015.

Now, Bitdefender has revamped the exterior of the device, giving it the hip cylindrical shape of Google’s own OnHub router or the Apple Mac Pro. A small LED turns red or blue to reflect the status of the device. The internals have also been upgraded, with a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor and 1GB of RAM for improved performance.

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Thanks to Neonode’s AirBar, the MacBook Air has a touchscreen—kind of


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For years Apple’s late chief executive Steve Jobs warned that users would develop “gorilla arms”—his argument for why he would never build a touchscreen into the Mac. Unfortunately, Neonode and its AirBar didn’t listen. On Tuesday, Neonode debuted a 13.3-inch version of its surprisingly good touch peripheral, specifically to bring touchscreen capabilities to the 13-inch MacBook Air through a peripheral that plugs into the laptop’s USB port. The AirBar is available for preorder on AirBar’s website, and will eventually be sold on Amazon for $99, the company said.

Though Neonode officially announced the AirBar at the end of 2015, it really never took shape until recently. It’s officially “debuting” at CES 2017. PCWorld found that the slim USB peripheral was pretty darn good at adding touch capabilities to those devices that lacked them, shining infrared light upward onto the display as a “screen” for your fingers to interact Continue reading "Thanks to Neonode’s AirBar, the MacBook Air has a touchscreen—kind of"

Facebook Instant Games puts games right smack in the middle of News Feed, Messenger


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Facebook’s new Instant Games platform is as much about reorienting its social empire back toward gaming as much as it is cutting out the mobile apps that have threatened its hegemony on phones and tablets.

The new Instant Games platform, launched Tuesday, is an HTML5-based gaming platform that eliminates the need to download the recent Facebook Gameroom app. Seventeen games—including arcade classics as Space Invaders and Pac-Man as well as more modern games like EverWing and Words with Friends: Frenzy — can now be launched directly from your News Feed, rather than forcing users to dig them out from the left-hand sidebar. More importantly, in-app games can now be launched within both the Facebook mobile apps as well as Messenger—again, without the need to launch separate apps.

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Microsoft debuts new Office 365 app for bartenders, burger flippers


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Chances are you began your career busing tables, working retail, or doing IT work, carefully planning out your shifts week by week. A new Microsoft app for Office 365, called StaffHub, seeks to make this chore easier and replace the break room calendar. 

At first glance, StaffHub seems like just another shared calendar from Outlook or the like. There are a couple of key differences, though: Workers can swap shifts themselves or ask others to cover for them. StaffHub’s also a messaging app, so, for instance, one cook can send another cook a message about an ingredient shipment that’s scheduled to arrive. (Microsoft didn’t say, but those employee-to-employee messages would presumably be monitored by an employer.) The other difference from your typical shared calendar, unfortunately, is the price: A company must be signed up with at least an Office 365 kiosk license to use it, which costs $4 Continue reading "Microsoft debuts new Office 365 app for bartenders, burger flippers"

‘Fastest smartphone chip ever,’ the A10 Fusion, powers Apple’s new iPhone 7


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At the heart of every Apple iPhone is usually an upgraded chip, and this year’s iPhone 7 is no different: the A10 Fusion, which Apple executives claimed is the fastest smartphone chip ever.  ‘If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Apple’s chip team has been killing it in performance,” said 

Apple has an existing license from ARM, the British smartphone chip designer that was recently acquired by Softbank. Rather than licensing a fixed design, Apple’s deal apparently permits tweaking for its own purposes, allowing the company to optimize it for new iPhone releases. 

A10 Fusion chip progression

Apple’s new A10 Fusion chip is orders of magnitude faster than the original iPhone.

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Pokémon Go is coming to Apple Watch to get you outside and on the go


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A version of Pokémon Go is coming to the Apple Watch, together with  a new feature that better tracks how far you need to walk before your Pokémon “eggs” hatch within the game. Pokémon Go for Apple Watch will ship before the end of the year, John Hanke, the chief executive of Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs, said onstage Wednesday at Apple’s iPhone 7 launch event in San Francisco.

Pokémon Go, the hit mobile game for iOS and Android, has been downloaded over 500 million times worldwide,  Hanke said. The game uses augmented reality to help players discover Pokémon in the wild, allowing users to “see” Pokémon superimposed over real-world objects.

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Some Pokémon Go maps in jeopardy as Niantic admits to blocking ‘scrapers’


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If you’ve come to depend on Pokémon Go maps like Pokévision to catch Pokémon, bad news: developer Niantic has essentially confirmed that they’re going to be blocked from now on. In a blog post on Thursday, Niantic said that Pokémon Go maps like Pokévision simply consume too many server resources. Blocking those sites and related apps allowed Niantic to proceed with rolling out Pokémon Go to new markets, like Latin America.

“As some of you may have noticed we recently rolled out Pokémon GO to Latin America including Brazil,” Niantic wrote. “We were very excited to finally be able to take this step. We were delayed in doing that due to aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon GO game client and our terms of service. We blocked some more of those attempts yesterday.”

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The best Pokémon Go map grabs data directly from the Pokémon Go servers


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If you want the best Pokémon Go map, why not use the game’s servers to tell you where to find Pokémon? That’s the aim of Pokévision, which claims to use the the game’s own API to discover the Pokémon in your midst. Pokévision’s premise is simple: It taps the game’s API to provide a real-time “cheat sheet” pointing to the locations of the nearest Pokémon in Pokémon Go. Each Pokémon location comes with a timer; when that timer expires, the Pokémon de-spawns and disappears. 

“Find all Pokémon near you (or a selected target location) in real time for Pokémon Go. Pokémon nearby will be marked along with their appearance timer on the map,” the Pokévision site claims. “These are real-time Pokemon locations, meaning they are currently live and can be found exactly at the marked spots.”

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