April 24, 2019

AT&T will unveil its new streaming service (and maybe ruin HBO Now) this fall

Apple and Disney have already hosted splashy media events showcasing the new streaming services they each plan to launch later this year to host original content and hopefully siphon some viewership away from Netflix. Next up is AT&T, which is planning a similar unveiling and demonstration this fall -- in September or October -- for its HBO-centric WarnerMedia streaming service. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised analysts as much during the company's earnings call today, adding that the demo of its upcoming paid video streaming service would include a "detailed look at the product." That was perhaps a subtle jab at Apple, which got dinged after its unveiling of Apple TV+ last month for its lack of detail like when the offering will launch and the scarcity of footage and teasers related to the shows coming to the service. Stephenson, meanwhile, also said today the company's showcase in the fall will include "the breadth of new and existing content, so just stay tuned for that. We're making significant investments here, and we think our customers are going to love this product." No surprise, he added that HBO will be at the heart of the WarnerMedia offering, for which pricing is still being worked out. AT&T already faces something of an uphill battle in terms of getting as many people as possible familiar with the WarnerMedia brand. Asking consumers to shell out money for yet another streaming video service, when they're already paying for everything from Netflix to Hulu and potentially new products like Apple TV+ and Disney+, may be a tough ask. Adding to the possible confusion -- WarnerMedia is not actually a single product, but three. Its trio of paid tiers will include a movies-only option for people who want to go the least expensive route, with a second slightly more expensive tier featuring original content and movies and another tier including Warner Bros. content. It also remains to be seen what will become of the company's crown jewel, HBO. WarnerMedia no doubt has decided that lumping it into the new streaming offering may be its best chance at winning over customers in love with HBO's brand, but HBO has also lost a number of key executives since AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner -- executives like HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who championed the creative culture at the network that led to its string of successes, many of which (like Game of Thrones) turned into buzzy pop culture sensations. The parent company, meanwhile, will be leaning on HBO to dial its content production volume way up in a bid to better compete with Netflix, though that's certainly a culture shift at a place where curation and quality have always been the watchwords, as opposed to things like volume and quantity. Stephenson is also on record as hinting that maybe a GoT-like 60-minute episode isn't even the best way to go in a mobile-first world anymore -- that maybe short, bite-sized, 20-minute episodes are more amenable to customers these days. All of that may be true. But what's also true is that success in any endeavor, even when you have a familiar and beloved brand, is never certain. We'll see not only which of the streaming giants has the best content to offer, but which ones give customers the best possible user experience in exchange for forking over money for yet another monthly subscription.
April 24, 2019

Microsoft’s cloud business can’t be stopped

At this point, Microsoft's quarterly earnings reports sound like a broken record: Its cloud business is practically unstoppable, while its PC and productivity make steady gains. That's been the case for years, and this past third quarter was no diffe...
April 24, 2019

Hubble enjoyed a colorful view of the Southern Crab Nebula to celebrate 29 years in space

The Hubble Space Telescope has provided mankind with some of the most incredible views of space that we've ever seen. It's shown us breathtaking images of distant objects and structures for nearly three decades, and to celebrate the 29th anniversary of its launch NASA took the time to show us some of the best galactic eye candy yet. What you see above is the Southern Crab Nebula, which gets its unique appearance from a pair of stars locked in an incredibly close relationship. Material from one of the stars is regularly spewing out, being drawn in by the gravity of its companion star and filling the gap between both stellar bodies. The material is pushed out into space in a shape that vaguely resembled an hourglass. The two stars, a red giant and a white dwarf, are putting on quite a show for us here on Earth, but at a distance of several thousand light-years away it's possible that the incredible structure has already changed dramatically from what we can see today. NASA explains:
The outflow may only last a few thousand years, a tiny fraction of the lifetime of the system. This means that the outer structure may be just thousands of years old, but the inner hourglass must be a more recent outflow event. The red giant will ultimately collapse to become a white dwarf. After that, the surviving pair of white dwarfs will illuminate a shell of gas called a planetary nebula.
This is just one of many images made possible by the venerable Hubble, which launched into space exactly 29 years ago today. It was sent into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery, and after some in-space adjustments to its lens system it has been producing gorgeous images ever since. It has been repaired, augmented, and modified several times during its long stint in space, and it's still one of NASA best tools for observing the cosmos. The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will provide NASA with even more power to peer into space, but it won't replace Hubble outright and we can expect the aging telescope to continue to provide us with views of space for some time.
April 24, 2019

These are the reasons the Galaxy Fold failed

Shortly after Samsung sent Galaxy Fold review units to journalists this month, all hell broke loose. No matter how thoroughly Samsung tested the durability of its first foldable handset in controlled conditions, real-life usage has proven that the phone is simply not ready for prime time. Some issues that arose, such as when reviewers peeled off the protective film, were obvious. Others, not so much. Samsung has postponed the Galaxy Fold launch, saying that it’s thoroughly examining all the reported problems. And while we’ll have to wait for their conclusions, we do now have some preliminary explanations as to why the Galaxy Fold screen is prone to failing. iFixit, famous for its timely gadget teardowns and repair guides, took the Galaxy Fold apart and discovered several causes of concern. For starters, that screen protector? You really shouldn't peel it off:
In all known cases (including ours!), removing this layer kills the display. The display could technically function without the layer, but it is so tightly adhered and the display is so fragile that it's difficult to remove without applying display-breaking pressure.
iFixit did note that the layer looks a lot like the one found on top of the Galaxy S10, which is puzzling, and something that might convince some reviewers to peel it. One solution would be to extend the layer under the bezels “to hide it from peel-happy folks.” But the bezels seem to be problematic as well, as they might peel over time themselves, which could result in more screen damage:
Normally we overwhelmingly prefer a light touch when it comes to adhesive. And yet, in this case, we can't help but worry these bezels may peel over time, exposing the screen to damage.
The most worrying issue, however, concerns the phone’s design. Because it’s a foldable device, it has a few design particularities that will make it easy for debris to damage the display, either by coming in contact with it directly, or by squeezing inside the phone, via the hinge mechanism. The screen bezel has a gap (above) that can allow tiny particles of dust to make their way inside the screen:
This 7 mm gap doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it leaves the display exposed—so should something accidentally enter, it's curtains for the screen.
The most worrying detail, though, concerns the hinge design (above):
When closed, the screen is protected—but the spine is flanked by massive gaps that our opening picks hop right into. These gaps are less likely to cause immediate screen damage, but will definitely attract dirt.
That said, we’ll have to wait for Samsung to officially explain what went wrong with the Fold and whether it can be fixed. You’d still be better off not preordering the phone for the time being.
April 24, 2019

This 12-piece titanium knife set is just $30, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before

If you want a set of scary-sharp knives but you don’t want to pay a small fortune for big-brand knives that can cost hundreds of dollars, we’ve got just the thing. The Hampton Forge HMC01A656D Rainbow Titanium Cutlery Set is a six-piece set that is razor sharp and made of incredibly strong titanium with a rainbow finish that’s unlike anything you’ve seen in the past. You’ll get a chef’s knife, a bread knife, a utility knife, and three more knives, plus blade guards for each knife. All that for just $29.99 while it's on sale!

Here are some quick notes from the product page:

  • Multi Color Blades
  • Blade Guard
  • Hand wash Recommended
April 24, 2019

High-resolution Pixel 3a leak reveals the design of Google’s next phone

Much like the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Fold before it, Google's Pixel 3a appears to have leaked in full ahead of its unveiling next month. On Wednesday morning, VentureBeat's Evan Blass piled on with a leak of his own -- a high-resolution Pixel 3a render that gives us our clearest look yet at the midrange phone. As previous leaks revealed, the Pixel 3a is a blast from the past, with a design more reminiscent of the phones that came before the iPhone X than the phones that have made their debut over the last 12 to 18 months. No notches, no triple-lens camera, no in-display fingerprint sensor -- the Pixel 3a forgoes all of the modern design advances that the industry has adopted in favor of a classic design that basically mirrors that of the Pixel 3. The design alone won't entice any smartphone fanatics that want to owe the latest, greatest device (providing it isn't so flawed that it has to be delayed indefinitely). But with a simple design and midrange specs, Google will be able to offer a quality Android phone for a competitive price, as Samsung does with its Galaxy A series. https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/1120938099318693888 Due to various leaks over the past several months (including one from Google itself), we think we know what will be contained within the Pixel 3a and the larger Pixel 3a XL as well. The Pixel 3a is expected to feature a 5.6-inch display at 2,200 x 1,080 and a Snapdragon 670 CPU, while the Pixel 3a XL will boast a 6-inch display at 2,160 x 1,080 and a Snapdragon 710 CPU. Both phones will have 4GB of RAM and the Pixel Visual Core software. Google will announce the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL on May 7th, which is the date Google I/O 2019 kicks off.
April 24, 2019

Amazon has a popular air fryer on sale for just $39.99 today

If you want a fantastic air fryer that will cook up crispy food without all the fatty oil — and without taking up all your counter space — we’ve got just the thing. The Dash Compact Air Fryer is a very popular model with 1.2 liters of capacity, and it retails for $50 on Amazon. Snag one right now while it’s on sale, however, and you’ll only pay $39.99!

Here are the bullet points from the product page:

  • Healthier fried food: Dash compact air fryer uses aircrisp technology (instead of oil) to help reduce added fat by 70-80%, without sacrificing the flavor of your fried food (no more residual smell hours after you’ve eaten)
  • Quick + easy: short on time? simply load the 1.6 qt capacity fryer basket, set the temp, and set the timer. Your food comes out crispy, guaranteed, every time. And in less time than it takes to pre-heat your oven, making it more Energy efficient
  • Safer: the auto-shut off function prevents overcooking, and the cool touch housing and handle makes it safer to use. It’s so simple, even your kids can use it! (bonus, the nonstick fryer basket is dishwasher safe for even easier cleanup!)
  • Versatile: this is the perfect appliance for picky eaters, large families, or those who have busy schedules. Appetizers to desserts, 1 dozen chicken wings, 1lb French fries, even baked goods, and all within minutes of setting the timer - it couldn’t be easier!
  • Compact + lightweight: half the Weight of a standard fryer, the Dash air fryer is your must-have for that first apartment, smaller kitchen, college dorm life, or camper/RV traveling. Plus, its sleek design and trendy color options will accent any kitchen space
April 24, 2019

NBC is finally taking steps to remove ‘The Office’ from Netflix

According to Nielsen data covering the 12 months that ended this past July, Netflix users during that span watched The Office for 45.8 billion minutes. That's according to a new report today from The Wall Street Journal, which is topped by the on-again, off-again news that Netflix may finally be poised to lose what looks to be its number 1 show -- the NBC mockumentary about the daily goings on inside a regional office of a middling paper supply company. NBC, according to the report, has apparently begun talks to pull The Office from Netflix once the licensing contract with the streamer expires in 2021, something that, as the statistic in the first paragraph should make clear, would be a huge loss for Netflix. The series, which ran for nine seasons on NBC, would become a staple of the streaming service that NBCUniversal is preparing to launch, which comes at a time when legacy media conglomerates like NBC are racing to grab as many consumer subscription dollars as they can. Meanwhile, Netflix is likewise racing to build out a library of its own exclusive original content as fast as it can to help compensate for the loss of third-party content as companies move their licensed properties, like The Office, back to their own services. To be sure, Netflix has done an admirable job so far of building out a library of its own original content. Shows like Stranger Things and The Crown have solid fanbases built around them -- though they don't hold a candle to how passionately fans of The Office feel about the beloved workplace comedy. Indeed, there is real danger for Netflix here. According to the Journal's report, eight of the 10 shows people spent the most time watching on Netflix last year in the US were reruns of old favorites like Parks and Recreation, Friends and The Office. Per the WSJ: "Although Netflix has burnished its brand with a flood of original programs such as Stranger Things and The Crown -- and spends most of its time on quarterly earnings calls discussing that content -- nonoriginal 'library programming' made up 72% of the minutes people spent watching Netflix as of October, according to the Nielsen data. That means reruns, and most of them are made by Netflix’s rivals." Internal data at Netflix shows that original programming (and the buzz around it) drives new subscriptions. However, as the above paragraph shows, the originals don't drive viewership. The streaming giant needs as much of the retro stuff as possible to keep customers sticking around, which is why Netflix is about to enter what may be one of the most precarious periods yet in its history. The fact that the company is close to losing what may be its most popular nonoriginal title in the form of The Office, now that NBC is finally preparing to take it back, certainly won't make Netflix's job any easier.
April 24, 2019

This ultra-thin iPhone case made of real body armor proves good cases don’t have to be bulky

We test a whole lot of iPhone cases here at BGR Deals. In fact, we’ve likely tested hundreds of different cases over the past few years. But no matter how many different cases we test, we always seem to come back to the same model when it comes to protecting the iPhones we use ourselves on a daily basis. It’s called the Pitaka MagCase, and it’s better than rivals on a number of different levels. It’s made out of the same material used to make actual tactical body armor, so it provides terrific protection despite being remarkably thin and lightweight. It also has a wonderfully sleek look and a great rubbery finish that offers tons of grip. This case costs a bit more than rivals, but it’s worth every penny and then some.

Here’s what you need to know from the product page:

  • Almost naked --- Enjoy your phone with this case which is slim fit and thinner than a dime. Too light to feel the weight added to your phone. Still well protect phones from most of the daily drops.
  • Exclusive "Body Armor Grade" Material --- Made of 100% Aramid Fiber which is used in armor, spacecraft, jet engines, and Formula 1 Race cars. Special design and cutting around the buttons and ports makes it retain the thinness of your phone.
  • Wireless charging friendly --- Show you the best carrying and wireless charging experience by using with PITAKA magnetic car mount (MagMount Series), the unique transit free design with metal plates inside lets you use PITAKA car mount freely without sticking adhasive metal plate on your device. Yet, no interference to WIFI, GPS, Wireless charging or your signals.
  • A Soft 3D-Grip touch ---- Texture you need to feel to believe. It almost clings to your hand without feeling sticky. A protective three-layer coating and manual polishing is applied to each phone case.
  • Fits your phone perfectly --- Easily and naturally access all buttons and ports. Each opening is not only accurately aligned, but also at natural "surface level".---Package includes: 1 x MagCase compatible with iPhone XR. Notes: the screen protector is not included.
April 24, 2019

New report claims a cheaper Nintendo Switch is about to be released

Yet another source claims that Nintendo will launch a cheaper Switch model this summer. In a new report focusing on the company's continued success, Bloomberg cites people familiar with Nintendo's plans that believe "a new, cheaper version of the Switch" will be on store shelves by the end of June. This will help Nintendo to maintain its growth year-over-year, even as Sony and Microsoft begin to gear up for the next generation. Although Nintendo has yet to acknowledge any future hardware plans for the Switch, reports have suggested that the cheaper model would have a smaller display and might not come with a dock or even support the dock. With the 3DS seemingly nearing the end of its life span, the Switch could replace it altogether. Nintendo hasn't released its official numbers for the 2018 fiscal year, but analysts estimate that Nintendo shipped 17.5 million Switch units through March 2018. That's not quite the 20 million unit goal that the company set for itself, but it's impressive nonetheless. And now analysts believe Nintendo could hit 18.5 million in 2019. A cheaper Switch model could certainly help to drive that growth, but the software lineup is even more important. As Bloomberg points out, the Switch library for 2019 is shaping up to be far stronger than 2018's, with first-party titles like Pokemon Sword and Shield, Animal Crossing, and Luigi's Mansion 3 all set to drop by December. As for the other rumored Switch model, Bloomberg's sources say that a more powerful Switch is not in the works, but that the standard Switch will receive "a modest upgrade" before the end of the year.