At the moment Bonavita’s 1900TS coffee maker is the best drip brewer deal around. But a new machine the company has in the works, the $190 Bonavita 8-Cup Connoisseur Brewer, just might give the 1900TS a run for its money. (UK and Australian prices weren’t announced, but the 1900TS is sold in both countries, so it should appear. The US price converts to around £150 or AU$250.)
On the surface the Connoisseur Brewer looks nearly identical to Bonavita’s current flagship coffee pot. It has the same compact, fireplug shape and a body draped in shiny stainless steel. Like its predecessor, the Connisseur comes with a thermal carafe, and the two also share a $190 price tag.
Bonavita says the Connisseur will feature many subtle yet important design tweaks that unlock improved performance and ultimately yield superior coffee. For instance, the new model’s filter basket is physically attached to the machine, under the shower head, for more stable temperature control. The thermal carafe is physically smaller but still matches the coffee maker’s 1.3-liter capacity. The pitcher will apparently have a spout that’s easier to pour and it promises to keep its contents hot for longer.
If close to $200 is too much to spend on a premium coffee machine, Bonavita has another compelling appliance in the works. The $100 Entry Level 8-Cup Glass Carafe Brewer will lack a thermal decanter and is made from all plastic. Still, it should share many key components in common with the Connoisseur, including its powerful water heater and shower-head-style sprayer. ($100 converts to about £80 or AU$130.)
The problem with our grasp of cybersecurity isn’t so much that we remain dangerously illiterate — it’s that we think we know what we’re doing anyway.
ThePew Research Center was a little more diplomatic than that though in characterizing the findings of a new survey of Americans’ understanding of online security.
“Many Americans are unclear about some key cybersecurity topics, terms and concepts,” wrote Kenneth Olmstead and Aaron Smith in their introduction to“What the Public Knows About Cybersecurity.” But it’s that thinking that probably leads many internet users to make choices that they think make them more secure, but, in reality, leave them as exposed as ever.
Passwords and privacy
The Pew report, based on an online survey done from June 17 to June 27 of 1,055 U.S. internet users aged 18 and up, found respondents were overwhelmingly in the know on just two points.
One is passwords. A full 75% correctly identified the most secure password out of four listed (“WTh!5Z”), while 17% said they weren’t sure if that was more resistant to being cracked or guessed than “into*48,” “Boat123” or that old favorite “123456.”
The survey did not, however, assess whether respondents actually refrained from using “123456” for any significant accounts.
The majority of survey respondents were also knew aboutthe security risks posed by public WiFi: 73% agreed that just having a network password-protected doesn’t make it safe for sensitive activities like online banking.
Unfortunately, only 33% knew that a web address beginning with “https” means that site encrypts data going between it and your computer, which should prevent people on the same network from spying on your traffic. And only 13% knew thatvirtual-private-network services, which route all of your internet traffic over an encrypted link, further improve your security on public WiFi.
Trouble with key concepts
The bad news continues throughout the survey. Only 54% correctly identified all three descriptions of a phishing attack designed to get you to enter your username and password at a phony site, and just 52% said disabling a smartphone’s GPS won’t stop tracking of its location, which is true.
Only 48% knew the definition of“ransomware,” malware that encrypts your data until you pay up to get it unlocked, while 46% knew that email isn’t encrypted by default (althoughan increasing number of mail services now employ“TLS” encryption to secure messages as they cross the internet) and 45% knew that not all wireless routers encrypt WiFi traffic by default.
The relative upside of those three findings? Correct answers still, barely, outnumbered “Not sure.” You can’t say that for the remaining survey questions.
For example, 39% of respondents knew that a browser’s “private browsing” mode doesn’t stop your internet provider from tracking your activity, while 49% weren’t sure and 12% thought it did.
The Pew study netted a majority of incorrect answers to only one question: 71% didn’t identify the one screenshot out of four showingtwo-step verification, also called “two-factor authentication.”
Only one in 10 respondents correctly chose the image showing a site requesting a one-time code sent to you to verify a login. The others thought an image of aCAPTCHA test (where you type in scrambled words toprove you’re not a robot), a security question or a previously-chosen security image represented two-step verification at work.
It’s no secret as to why Instagram would make such a move. It’s determined to make shopping a mainstay feature, and appointment-based business is a logical extension of that. Garages, restaurants and salons may be more likely to buy those all-important Instagram ads if they know that the promos will lead directly to more reservations. And when Instagram notes that 80 percent of its many users follow at least one business, that’s a lot of potential new customers.
Falling in between the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and Mini 4, the new iPad is basically the Air 2 from October 2014, but with a faster processor and a lower price: $329 (£339) for the 32GB Wi-Fi only model and $459 (£469) for the 32GB Wi-Fi/LTE version. It also comes in a 128GB version starting at $429; there is no 64GB option.
For the new iPad, the Air 2’s A8X processor is swapped with a newer Apple A9 system-on-a-chip (found in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus). It’s also just a tad heavier and thicker than the Air 2.
Otherwise, almost everything about the Air 2 seems to carry over to the new iPad.
9.7-inch 2,048×1,536-pixel resolution display
f2.4 8-megapixel camera
1080p HD video capture with 720p/120fps slo-mo video
1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera
Touch ID Home button
Siri and Apple Pay support
802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE
Up to 10 hours battery life
The new iPad’s display isn’t fully laminated and doesn’t have an antireflective coating — two things found on all other the other current models as well as the old Air 2. This makes the iPad a little thicker than the Air 2 — 7.5 mm to 6.1 mm, respectively — and you’ll struggle a bit more to see past reflections, particularly outdoors. Apple did increase screen brightness and says the color accuracy is comparable to its Pro models.
How does the new iPad compare to the iPad Pro and Mini 4?
The existing iPad Pro models remain unchanged for now. While there is a sizable starting price difference between the 9.7-inch Pro and new iPad — $270, to be precise — you gain a lot for the money including:
Apple’s True Tone display with a wide color gamut
Faster A9x processor
Smart Connector for keyboard support
Apple Pencil support
f2.2 12-megapixel camera with True Tone flash
4K video capture with cinematic video stabilization
5-megapixel FaceTime camera
LTE Advanced support
Likewise, stepping down to the iPad Mini 4, which now comes in just a 128GB version for $399 or $529 with Wi-Fi and cellular, you lose some screen size, of course, but you also lose some processing power: The Mini has an older Apple A8 processor. Otherwise they’re pretty much the same.
The iPad Air 2 was a favorite — even after more than two years — and a lower price and potentially faster performance is unlikely to change that opinion. If you have a Pro model, there’s nothing new to see here and you’re still ahead when it comes to performance. The new iPad just gives the lineup a better entry point and an updated option for education use. However, looking at the new models, it definitely seems like Apple is getting away from simple tablets and steering people toward its Pro models.
Sony is stepping into the smartphone ring with a new affordable phone with a large screen. We don’t yet know how much the Xperia L1 will cost when it lands in late April, but Sony promises that the 5.5-inch Android Nougat device will be “economical.”
Here’s what we know about the Xperia L1’s hardware specs:
5.5-inch 720p screen
5-megapixel front-facing camera
1.45GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737T processor
16GB storage and 2GB RAM
Up to 256GB microSD
The Xperia L1 will sell in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East
The dialogue system isn’t as thrilling as it used to be, however. Other franchises have taken the cue and built branching narratives with greater emotional value. “The Witcher 3,” “Life is Strange” — heck, the entire Telltale Games catalog (whose Season 1 of “The Walking Dead” bested “Mass Effect 3” in most 2012 Game of the Year Awards) have pushed the envelope of branching narrative design, making each choice feel impactful. Though your tone changes based on your responses in “Andromeda,” Ryder’s playful, at time snarky attitude takes some of the gravitas out of the decision-making. You rarely break a sweat.
Still, developing relationships, opening/closing paths, trying to get busy with a blue lady — it’s all here, and thanks to an interesting story, likable characters and great voicework by both male and female Ryders, “Andromeda” does a convincing job of turning you into Captain Kirk.
A downright uncanny job, you might say.
Valley of the Dolls
Unless you’ve been avoiding the internet for the last week, you’ve likely caught wind that gamers are, to put it mildly,displeased with the “Andromeda’s” animations, particularly its facial close-ups. And, well, yeah, the facial animations aren’t great. The game doesn’t just glide over theuncanny valley, it builds a big space house and moves right in.
I typically don’t put too much stock in this; plenty of outstanding games are kind of ugly up close (I’m looking into your lifeless eyes, “Fallout 4”). What makes it so rough here is the amount of time you spend staring at close-ups. A good third of the game is spent chatting with people and developing relationships, but when they look like broken robots, it breaks the spell. About halfway through the game, my Ryder inexplicably developed two wicked lazy eyes that lasted for a good 10 hours.
Perhaps the increased power of modern consoles/PCs (I played on PS4) is the culprit — as the theory goes, the closer you get to reality, the deeper the valley. But as ugly as it gets for humankind, the power leads to some amazing aliens. The brutish, dinosaur-like Krogans have never looked better, and jittery eyes and smooth skin give the amphibious Salerians incredible life. I relished every chance to chat with non-humans, both to bask in Bioware’s great work and as a respite from the mannequin onslaught.
This sort of uneven delivery extends to the rest of the game’s graphics. The art design is triumphant – Issac Asimov would commend the look and feel of the game’s colorful terrain, sweeping interstellar views and massive starships – but technical glitches abound. Flickering textures are common, load times are excessive and occasional pop-in mars the stunning planetside vistas. These sorts of glitches aren’t game-breaking, but they speak to a project struggling to bear its own weight.
And make no mistake: “Andromeda’s” scope is massive.
Much of the game takes place on explorable planets that are significantly bigger than the regions found in “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” You can spend hours scouring the nooks and crannies of each location from the comfort of your Nomad rover. And as you find ways to make life more hospitable, the areas open up even further.
A star map gives you free reign to explore the Heleus cluster of the Andromeda galaxy. You can only land on and explore a handful of planets, but you rarely feel hemmed in, and the desire to build outposts pushes you to approach Andromeda like a real pioneer. It’s a good hook.
But this goal is quickly buried beneath a ridiculous number of less essential Things to Do. Some are classic “Mass Effect” – your shipmates have needs, and if you want to unlock their highest-level abilities or get them into bed (perv), you’ll need to attend to those — but you pick up other, seemingly unwanted side quests with alarming ease.
Checking in on an outpost? Be careful who you talk to, because apparently every single life form in the galaxy is incapable of handling their own business. Even if they don’t have a gigantic exclamation point on their head, they’ll probably ask you to shuttle something somewhere or look into a mild, pointless drama. And you’ll feel pressed to track down every one, because you never know which insignificant-sounding rabbit hole will yield some legit XP or loot.
This is fairly common to RPGs, but “Andromeda’s” flood of quests is compounded by terrible quest tracking. A Journal ostensibly keeps tabs on them, but inexplicably lists them based on where you picked them up rather than where they are located in the world. It’s a crazy way to organize quests; land on a planet and you’ll have to either scour dots on the map or rummage through your Journal to figure out what, if anything, you’re supposed to do there.
This alone drove me nuts. I may be a real-world organizational disaster (I am a writer, after all) but this is definitely a trait I don’t want to carry into my sci-fi power fantasy.
On the other hand, I did get to carry lots of guns. And this is one area where “Andromeda” really fixes something.
The game does a fine job of improving and even amping up “Mass Effect’s” combat. Jump jets and a handy dash make you far more maneuverable, which is a boon since you contend with enemies in open-world locations. Skills and proficiencies can totally alter the way you play. Focus on Combat to be a Rambo, invest in Biotics to be a Jedi, stick with Tech to hurl fire and ice, or spread the wealth and be a bit of each. Deep but approachable, the system serves as a solid backend for the on-the-field action.
I forgot exactly how shooty “Mass Effect” was, and once you get used to the fact that you’re not playing a game quite as refined as the “Halos” and “Horizons” it attempts to ape, it falls into a pleasant rhythm. Nice touches abound, like jumping and pausing in the air for a few seconds while aiming down your sights. Experimenting with different abilities is also a snap thanks to a handy respec option, quelling the FOMO that rules most games that force to to stick with one class. It’s flexible and fun. Bioware upped their game here, for sure.
But it isn’t perfect. The wide-open universe only yields a handful of enemy types, and none of them are particularly exciting. You have little control over your two fellow squadmates, and the weak enemy A.I. means you never need to think strategically when deciding which companions to bring into battle. I mostly stuck with the Krogan warrior because he looks cool. A baffling “auto” cover system claims that you just need to move close to an object with your gun drawn to hide behind it, but it doesn’t work very well. It just ends up getting you shot a lot, even when you think you’re safe.
“Andromeda” just doesn’t know when to quit, layering on screen after screen and system after system to make even the simplest task, like equipping a hot new weapon, painstaking.
Find a gun? You’ll need to head back up to your ship or find a “forward station” to switch your loadout, because, well, who knows. Tiny, uniform iconography turns inventory management into a slog. You know the thrill of finding and ogling a gorgeous, exciting new rifle in “Destiny?” That ain’t here.
Scanning planets for resources takes forever due to pretty but infuriatingly slow pans and zooms. Tracking down a specific resource to, for instance, craft a new helmet, is a total crapshoot. Bioware’s focus on the big picture has left a surprising number of holes in its basic RPG foundation.
They even tossed in co-op multiplayer, because it’s 2017 and I think that’s required by law now. “Mass Effect 3” toyed with this and it returns largely unchanged, as you and some pals clear out waves of increasingly stubborn baddies. It’s got its own progression system and offers a decent break from the RPG slog, though considering the core game could take a good 80 hours to complete, I’m not sure anyone needs it.
So do they need “Mass Effect: Andromeda” at all? That’s a tough call. A cool game is buried beneath “Andromeda’s” issues. When the guns are on point and you’ve exploded a Biotic combo, or when the ramifications of some difficult choice made hours ago comes back to haunt you, “Mass Effect: Andromeda” scratches that old space itch. But getting past the technical gaffes and unfriendly interface requires a great deal of patience. Space is big, indeed, but it’s supposed to be fun, too.
Platform reviewed: PS4
What’s hot: Cool story; outpost settling is a good hook; improved maneuverability; deep combat options
The chips have lowly specs with dual 1.1GHz CPUs, Adreno GPUs, 480p maximum display support and 3-megapixel front and rear cameras. However, they pack Category 4 LTE modems that allow for 150/50 Mbps download/upload speeds, along with Voice over LTE and Voice over WiFi support. Devices like flip-phones using the chip will also get 45 days of standby time, 20 hours of talk time and 86 hours of music playback — unheard of numbers for smartphones.
The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before.
All told, that could be a big help to consumers and micro-enterprises in developing nations. Users can more easily process financials transactions, for instance — a big help in countries like India that are trying to eliminate cash. At the same time, devices can go days without charging, a boon in places where power is unreliable. “The Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before,” says Qualcomm VP Kedar Kondap.
The chips are now being produced, and devices using them should start arriving in the next quarter. If Nokia’s successful 3310 reincarnation is any example (that phone doesn’t support LTE, by the way), the chips look like a savvy bet by Qualcomm.
If the original Barista Brain Conical Burr Grinder is just a little too pricey, perhaps Oxo’s upcoming model will fit the bill.
Tagged at $100 (£81 in the UK, roughly AU$130), the Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder drops the fancy internal digital scale. Instead the kitchen appliance relies on a timer to measure the amount of beans it grinds. The bottom line, you can buy this grinder for half the cash.
Even though this version of Oxo’s grinder lacks a built-in scale, you still get the same 40mm conical steel burrs, 16-ounce capacity bean hopper and the ability to grind into your container of choice. Of course, while Oxo says this model uses a “high-torque, low-speed” electric motor, I preferred the drivetrain on the Baratza Encore. Not only does that machine spin its burrs slower, it also runs much quieter.
If you’re in a hurry, the Barista Brain zipped through its beans faster and it’s likely Oxo’s new machine will too. Oxo expects the product to hit store shelves in June of 2017.
Oxo Conical Burr Coffee Grinder at a glance
40mm conical steel burrs
43 grind size settings
Digital timer measures the amount of coffee it grinds
The Nintendo Switch appears to be off to an impressive start, with demand high enough for the portable-hybrid console for it to be sold out at most online retailers. But Nintendo has a plan to get every paying customer a Switch before too long, as the company is reportedly doubling production of the console due to strong early sales numbers.
The Wall Street Journal (via Polygon) reported that Nintendo is planning to manufacture 16 million Switch consoles from April 1 until the same date in 2018. This is double that of the company’s more conservative 8 million system plan, and Nintendo believes that it can sell as many as 10 million consoles during that time period.
Nintendo’s sales expectations for the Switch’s predecessor, the Wii U, were much loftier. The company had planned to sell nearly 100 million of the machines, which would have been on par with the original Wii, but as of last July, the Wii U had only managed about 12 million in worldwide sales
The Switch became the biggest 48-hour launch in the history of Nintendo when it released earlier this month, with the U.K. selling double that of the Wii U during this time period. To date, the system has sold more than 1.5 million units, with nearly every buyer also purchasing a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The Switch’s strong sales numbers are perhaps surprising to Nintendo more than anyone. The console was expected to sell about 2 million in its first month — a million less than the Wii U managed — but given that the 1.5 million figure was primarily derived from just first week sales, we expected it to be much higher. If supply could keep up with demand, it would likely already have passed 2 million units sold.