In this edition of the weekend roundup, find out the best products chosen by both the Engadget community and our staff, find out what we think about the new MacBook Pro with retina display, and learn how the maker of Eve is betting big on virtual reality.
The votes for the 11th Annual Engadget People’s Choice Awards have been tallied and the winners are in. As is always the case, there were some very polarizing products on the ballot and many of the honorees won by a very small margin. But the real winners this year were the cute and adoptable puppies at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) shelter. The only thing we love here at Engadget more than true innovation is man’s best friend, so we teamed up with the SFACC for a special awards ceremony.
Nope, it’s not the new MacBook. That review will need to wait until next month. What we have here is the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. For all intents and purposes, it’s the same one we last tested in late 2013, except for one important thing: It swaps out the old trackpad in favor of a pressure-sensitive “Force Touch” pad that responds differently depending on how hard you bear down on it. (A hard-press on the skip button in QuickTime, for instance, will let you fast-forward at warp speed.) In addition, the new MBP brings all the spec upgrades you’d expect in a system refresh, including faster SSDs, fresh graphics and Intel’s latest Core processors.
It’s been a very rough 18 months for the makers of Eve Online, CCP. The company has lost money, canceled the long-delayed World of Darkness MMO, laid off well over 100 employees and said goodbye to two high-profile execs. It also hasn’t released any financial statements or subscriber figures since revealing a drop in revenues in June 2014 — in this case, no news is unlikely to be good news. But there’s a plan to turn things around at CCP.
Samsung found itself in sort of a bind last year: Its flagship Galaxy S5 wasn’t the blockbuster the company hoped it would be. That, coupled with the news that Samsung was going to focus on a smaller number of devices in 2015, signaled a pretty dramatic change for a brand that seemed like it was unstoppable. As if to silence the doubters, Samsung has not one, but two flagships on offer — the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.
The ink on Jay Z’s purchase of music-streaming service Tidal isn’t quite dry, but that’s not stopping the musician/entrepreneur from getting a start on things. The company announced earlier today that it would offer a non-lossless option for half the cost of its original high-definition plan — down to $10 per month from $20. That’s not all. At the official relaunch proceedings this evening, Alicia Keys revealed that a lineup of artists, including Jay Z, Kanye West, Jack White, Deadmau5, Daft Punk, Usher and many others, are all part owners in the endeavor.
Microsoft knows there’s a lot riding on the Surface 3. And it looks like the company’s finally listened to feedback from people who have asked for a little more oomph from these devices. Nearly three years after Surface with Windows RT was born, Microsoft is introducing its third-generation Surface, a tablet that runs full Windows, not the misstep of an operating system that was RT. This time around, Microsoft’s tablet also features a screen designed to work with a pen, while an overhauled Type Cover promises to deliver a more solid, less wobbly keyboard and an improved trackpad.
We trotted out some truly precious puppies to announce the winners of this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, but now it’s time to get down to business. As we do every year, we tasked our editor’s with the monumental feat of sifting through the previous year’s biggest innovations to select the absolute best in show. While there’s some crossover with our Readers’ Choice winners (sorry Fire phone), there were a few notable exceptions. But you’ll have to check out the gallery below to find out what made the cut.
I didn’t think I’d make for a good NSA agent until I played TouchTone. The iOS puzzle game had me looking for enemies of the state by scouring text messages and emails, and it didn’t faze me one bit. It’s absolutely unlike how I am in real life. I’m not a voyeur in any sense of the word, nor am I nosy. To this day, if my dad asks me to grab his debit card, I just bring him his wallet because I’d rather not snoop through people’s stuff. The allure of invading someone’s privacy isn’t my bag whatsoever. And frankly, how quickly that all fell away once I started TouchTone shocked me.
Modern computer interfaces are swiftly being reduced to glossy touchscreen slabs, distancing us from the inner workings of devices we use every day. Kimon Keramidas, director of the Digital Media Lab at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, is offering a refresher on how we got here by “bringing the clunk back.” From the pleasing clack of mechanical keyboards to blister-inducing Atari joysticks, he curated a collection of computing history and put it on display at the school’s Focus Gallery in an exhibit called “The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computing.”
Dyson really hates dirt, to the point that it’s now come up with a new bladeless fan that can also filter out ultrafine airborne particles — including viruses, bacteria and pollens — that are as tiny as 0.1 microns. The aptly-named Pure Cool (AM11) closely resembles Dyson’s other fan towers, with the notable difference being the cylindrical glass HEPA filter around the base. After 450 prototypes, the company claims that this filter removes 99.95 percent of ultrafine particles, and it’s good for up to 4,382 hours or about six months of continuous use.