Secretlab Omega 2018 Release Date, Price and Specs

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 17th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Singapore-based startup Secretlab isn’t resting on its comfortable gaming chairs just yet, despite having great success in getting its chairs sold outside of its home country to places like the US, UK and Australia.

For its new 2018 version of its Omega line, Secretlab is wasting no time in making sure its international customers are able to get their bottoms seated on one — the new chair is available now for $440 in the US (with a special launch price of $299), £400 in the UK (special launch price of £279) and AU$620 (launch price of AU$449).

If you’re already an Omega owner, you may not want to switch, but if you’re looking for a throne that can last you long gaming sessions or for use in the office, this could be something to consider, especially the new Ash model, which isn’t too ostentatious for use even in a business setting.

Of course, the only reason for paying so much for a chair is for support and comfort, and the new Omega delivers this in spades with its cold cured foam and memory foam lumbar pillow. I had colleagues at the CNET office in Singapore try it out, and they were impressed at how much more comfortable the chairs were compared to our usual office seats.


If you’re worried about the chair tipping over, fret not. I’ve put it to plenty of napping tests.

Aloysius Low/CNET

The padded foam bottoms don’t sink in, giving your butt ample support. Like most gaming chairs, the Omega can do a very steep recline, but it’s well balanced enough you don’t ever feel like you’re toppling over. It takes some time to get over your fear though, but lying down in the office to take a power nap has never been easier. There’s also a lock to keep it from springing back, in case you’re too light to keep the chair titled backwards (as some of my female colleagues discovered).

The armrests have been upgraded with a soft touch material, and are slightly wider as well. They feature four axis of rotation, so you can tweak them to your comfort (which you should, because it really helps support your wrists when typing.)

I’ve spent a week seated in the Omega, and compared to my office chair’s poor back support, the Omega has been great in keeping my lower back pains away, even after hours of being seated while working on my reviews.

All in all, the new Omega 2018 is a worthy successor to the company’s chair line up — though if you already own a good chair (like the previous Omega), it may not make financial sense to upgrade, after all, the current chair still has a few years left. But if you’re keen, feel free to head over to Secretlab’s online store to check it out.


Retailing for $440 in the US (with a special launch price of $299), £400 in the UK (special launch price of £279) and AU$620 (launch price of AU$449), the Omega 2018 isn’t a cheap chair, but it’s competitively priced against the competition.

Aloysius Low/CNET

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Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch) review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 16th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

CNET también está disponible en español.

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AT&T tells customers to restart their phones to make calls

Posted by Carl on 15th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Now that Google Docs is back up and running, it’s apparently ATT’s turn to take a stumble. Customers have reported trouble making calls for the last couple of hours, however, the company said the problem can be resolved by restarting your phone (it may take multiple restarts). There’s no word yet on the root cause of the problem, if we get more information then we will update this post.


We are aware of an issue affecting some users’ ability to make certain wireless calls. These users should restart their devices, which should resolve the issue.

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Fender Newport – speaker – for portable use – wireless Release Date, Price and Specs

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 15th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

CNET también está disponible en español.

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HTC Vive Focus Release Date, Price and Specs

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 14th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

CNET también está disponible en español.

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AT&T and Verizon team up to build hundreds of new cell towers

Posted by Carl on 13th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Tillman is a relative newcomer to the cell tower space. Its parent company, Tillman Global, was founded in 2013, while tower big shots like American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA Communications have been around since the 80s and 90s. “We need more alternatives to the traditional tower leasing model with the large incumbents. It’s not cost-effective or sustainable,” said Susan Johnson, ATT’s senior vice president of global supply chain. “We’re creating a diverse community of suppliers and tower companies who will help increase market competition while reducing our overhead.”

While it makes sense from a business standpoint to share cell towers, it will also benefit consumers as the new towers will help fill in areas that are currently lacking wireless coverage. Verizon recently came under fire for cutting off service to thousands of rural customers, many of whom didn’t have access to other wireless providers.

Construction on the first round of towers will begin in early 2018.

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2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Release Date, Price and Specs

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 12th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Being far away from America, Dubai may seem like a strange place for Chevrolet to launch its 2019 Corvette ZR1. But using a city whose mantra is “impossible is just an opinion” as a launchpad for the most powerful Corvette ever actually feels completely natural once you’re here on the ground. 

GM may have chosen to reveal the ZR1 at a studio sound stage on Sunday, but its real coming out party will be at the Dubai Motor Show on Tuesday, where it will sit shoulder-to-shoulder with six- and seven-figure luxury sedans, SUVs and hypercars.

Based on the seventh-generation Corvette, this is only the fourth-generation ZR1, and it features a number of key innovations that help make it the most powerful production Corvette ever. General Motors isn’t releasing all of its performance stats just yet, but we do know some tasty tidbits. Namely: 755 horsepower and 715 pound feet of torque in a package that weights 3,650 pounds. 

Chevy officials promise that the ZR1 will do better than 210 miles per hour, and with 105 more horses and 65 pound-feet more torque, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that it will be quicker to 60 mph than 2.95 seconds, GM’s official time for the Corvette Z06. (For added perspective, 715 is roughly two-thirds more horsepower than the 455 in the base Stingray).

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The Sebring Orange Design Package displayed at the ZR1’s Dubai reveal is not for shrinking violets.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Of course, the ZR1 isn’t just a case of cranking up the boost on the Z06’s 6.2-liter V8. On the contrary, the powertrain has been comprehensively reworked from its air and fuel delivery systems on through its exhaust, with the goal of creating more power up and down the rev range. Despite being “conservatively spec’d,” Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter says, “after you drive this car for a while, a Z06 feels really sluggish, like it can barely get out of its own way.” He only sounds like he’s half joking when he says that to us assembled journos.

Not only have significant upgrades in breathing capacity necessitated major changes to the ZR1’s front end, aero changes have been carried throughout the bodywork, all the way to the rear end. You’ll hear a lot of that word in this story: “necessitated.” As it turns out, when building an envelope-pushing supercar, solving one problem often creates another technical challenge to be surmounted. 

As you can see from these images, the ZR1’s resulting bodywork is incredibly aggressive, from a completely unique front clip featuring markedly bigger air inlets and front splitter (that incorporates a Corvette-first underwing) to a massive, high-set rear airfoil that’s part of an option package.

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The 2019 ZR1 has the most radical aero of any production Corvette ever.


One of the biggest challenges for the ZR1 was working out improved cooling for the 2.65-liter Eaton supercharger that’s 52-percent bigger than the Z06. That in turn necessitated sourcing a 95-millimeter throttle body — GM simply couldn’t find one big enough anywhere that could produce a large enough throttle opening to keep from choking the engine, so it had to design its own. 

Case in point: Chevrolet learned the hard way with this car’s Z06 forebearer that too much cooling is just enough. Embarrassingly, the company suffered a small but statistically significant number of heatsoak/overheating-related issues reported by Z06 owners at racetracks, a development that forced the company to make some changes for the 2017 model year.

That shouldn’t be a problem with this new ZR1. It boasts no fewer than 13 heat exchangers, including a pair of additional radiators on each side of the nose. That key addition along with the bigger supercharger changed the weight distribution on the car, so Chevy compensated by widening the front wheels by half an inch for better grip. That, along with the need for more fresh air and a higher hood to clear the supercharger necessitated that the ZR1 would get all-new front bodywork — no Z06 bits would fit. 

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The ZR1 features a shaker hood with bookmatched carbon fiber.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

If you scroll through the gallery of photos accompanying this story, you may take notice of the hood, what with its bare carbon midsection. It may look like one piece, but it’s not — that’s the top of the intercooler cover poking through. That’s right, the ZR1 has a shaker hood. It couldn’t have been easy to engineer this solution and still effectively manage any air and drainage concerns. You can practically hear the mix of pride and weariness in Juechter’s voice when he speaks of the difficulty in bookmatching the carbon-fiber weave between the hood itself and the intercooler cover.

Better breathing is only half the solution, of course: to get more power, you need more fuel, and that necessitated the development of a new duel fuel injection system, a first for Corvette. Like the Stingray and Z06, the LS9 in the ZR1 relies on direct injection, but it has a supplemental port injection, too.

Transmission-wise, Chevy’s 7-speed rev-matching manual will come standard, but GM has chosen to make an 8-speed automatic optional for the first time on a ZR1 — the new 10-speed from the 2018 Camaro doesn’t fit. The paddle-shift 7-speed gearbox has received numerous upgrades to improve shift times, and Juechter says those upgrades will filter back down through the rest of the Corvette lineup.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 live reveal in Dubai

Let’s go back to the aerodynamics for a moment, because if you’re like me, you can’t stop staring at that wing. It’s actually part of an option ZTK Performance Package, which incorporates a unique front splitter with tall carbon-fiber end caps, as well as specific chassis and Magnetic Ride Control calibrations and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer rubber.

The wing itself was codeveloped with Corvette motorsports partners Pratt Miller, and its angle of attack is manually adjustable up to five degrees. Those tall stanchions bolt directly to the chassis for maximum effect, and the wing itself can deliver upwards of 950 pounds of downforce at speed, yet it actually creates less drag than the “wicker bill” fencing on the Z06’s wing. The uprights are actually so tall that Juechter says the rear wing clears the rear window so that you can still see out back, and cargo room avoids taking the hit that an active wing’s mechanism might necessitate.

The Corvette Z06 sounds plenty snarly, but the new ZR1 promises to go a step further. It still has the former’s active clapper valves to sound more socially acceptable around town, but new internal passive valves help build sound more progressively, so it’s not an all-or-nothing auditory experience. “It’s brutal when you’re in track mode and you’re revving on it,” Juechter says. 

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For the first time ever, ZR1 is available with an optional automatic transmission.


According to Tom Peters, director of exterior design for GM, customers have been clamoring for a new orange paint option, so for those buyers, Chevy has developed the decidedly unsubtle Sebring Orange Design Package shown here. It includes Sebring Orange Tintcoat paint, as well as matching brake calipers and accents on the rockers and splitter. Inside, orange seatbelts play off carrot-colored stitching, and there’s unusual bronze-finish aluminum interior trim accents, as well.

Most of the Corvette range’s other options, including competition sport seats, Bose premium audio and Chevy’s trick Performance Data Recorder are also available. After years of downmarket interiors fitted with uncomfortable seats and cheap plastics, the C7 generation took huge strides to make living with a Corvette on a daily basis not just easier, but more enjoyable.

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A revised active exhaust insures they will hear you coming… and going.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

No word yet on price, but it won’t be cheap — the C6 ZR1 was about $110,000, and this one should be priced appropriately for a model that will likely only see two or three thousand examples built per year.

Despite repeated pestering, company officials still won’t talk about the much-rumored mid-engined Corvette that’s still in the pipeline. But the 2019 ZR1 that hits dealers in spring not only looks good enough to be more than just a placeholder until that car arrives, it looks like formidable competition for both track day and valet stand honors — even here in Dubai.

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iHome iAVS16 Alarm Clock with Amazon Alexa review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 11th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

Let me start by being very clear about something: $150 is way, way too much to spend on an alarm clock.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you all about iHome’s new $150 alarm clock. It’s called the iAVS16, and iHome will point out that it’s not just an alarm clock, but a full-fledged Alexa device with Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant built right in. Save for calling, messaging, and ESP, which makes it so only the Alexa device closest to you responds to your command, it can do everything the Amazon Echo can do. It’s Alexa’s brain transplanted into an alarm clock body.

If that pitch sounds a bit familiar, it’s because Amazon has an Alexa alarm clock of its own in the works. That soon-to-be-released gadget, the $130 Echo Spot, costs a little less than the iAVS16, and unlike the iAVS16, it includes a touchscreen and a camera. That might sound like bad news for iHome, but I’d actually argue the opposite — plenty of folks who’d be interested in an Alexa alarm clock will likely prefer that it not keep a camera pointed at them while they sleep, thank you very much.

On top of that, the iAVS16 offers decent, full-size sound quality that, to my ear, sounds almost as good as the Echo, and certainly good enough for bedside listening. It’ll even wake you up by playing a Spotify playlist — something the Echo still can’t do. If it looked a little nicer, I might even call it a legitimate temptation. But at $150, it’s just too pricey to recommend.

Design and features


You can use those LEDs at the bottom of the clock as wake-up lights, or set them to change colors in rhythm with whatever music you’re listening to.

Ry Crist/CNET

The iAVS16’s build is a bit bulky as far as alarm clocks go, especially considering that it doesn’t include a dock for your phone. The size was necessary, I suppose, to give it full-sounding audio, but I would have gladly traded some of that fidelity in exchange for a design that gobbles up less of my nightstand’s real estate — especially if that also meant a lower price.

The aesthetics leave a lot to be desired, too. With the time in large print surrounded by the date, the weather, the Wi-Fi status and your alarm info, it’s a cluttered, inelegant display that doesn’t do much to set itself apart from good-looking competitors like Beddi, or even from iHome’s own, less-expensive alarm clocks.

Speaking of which, those cheaper iHome offerings include an alarm clock that doubles as a dock for the Amazon Echo Dot. I liked that product when I reviewed it, but thought that it was too expensive at $70. iHome has since marked it down to $50, which feels a lot more reasonable. At any rate, if you’re already using an Echo Dot to wake you up in the morning, then that product would make a much more sensible upgrade.

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Don’t let the voice controls fool you — this alarm clock still has plenty of buttons.


Whereas that alternative includes no buttons at all, the iAVS16 has a whopping 14 buttons up top, including two programmable smart buttons that can trigger playlists or turn iHome smart plugs on and off. There’s also a button to pair via Bluetooth, a button to put the clock into speakerphone mode, a full set of buttons for music playback, a separate, programmable button that’s supposed to trigger multiple things at once when you wake up or settle in, a button to wake Alexa, a button to mute Alexa, a button to toggle the color-changing LEDs on the bottom of the clock, and, of course, the venerable snooze button. 

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See battle royale brawler ‘The Darwin Project’ in action this weekend

Posted by Carl on 11th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

The alpha is launching alongside a first developer diary video (below) that explains what helps the game stand out from the pack. Darwin Project places a strong emphasis on tracking, which reduces some of the downtime you see in games like PUBG. You have to craft fires to avoid freezing to death, but those give away your position — it won’t take long before someone knows where you are. Footprints can reveal your path, too. Combine that with up-close weaponry (you have a bow and axe to defend yourself) and a strong emphasis on spectating and it promises to be tense whether or not you’re playing.

The game isn’t due to launch until spring 2018, when it should arrive for both PCs and Xbox One. It probably won’t usurp PUBG‘s crown (Bluehole’s title has already sold over 20 million copies before it’s even finished), but it could offer a refreshing twist on an increasingly well-worn formula.

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Jibo review

Posted by Samuel Eiferman on 10th November 2017 in Consumer Electronics

The age of the robot companion is here. There’s no sign of Rosie the robot maid yet, but given the Jetsons was based in 2062, she’s still got time. Several new robots are making a buzz in 2017 though, including Jibo, a $899 social robot. What can Jibo do? Not as much as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. His cute personality feels determined to distract you from his otherwise basic skills. Given Jibo’s limited talents, I can’t recommend bringing him home unless you have $899 just burning a hole in your pocket. In which case, go ahead, because he’s adorable.


Jibo is a social robot, crowd-funded on Indiegogo and engineered by a Boston-based startup of the same name. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Officially a “he,” Jibo got his start three years ago as an Indiegogo crowd-funded project by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal of MIT. The project was fully funded by September 15, 2014, preceding the release of the first Amazon Echo, which showed up in November of that year. Three years later, Jibo is finally available for purchase, and I have to wonder if Alexa’s speedy rise to the top stacked the cards against Jibo.

Weighing nine pounds and measuring 12 inches tall with a 6-inch base, Jibo is essentially a countertop robot. He’s stationary, but does have two spherical halves rotating on a three-axis motor system to animate his personality, along with a 5-inch rectangular color display. Jibo dances, purrs when your pet his head and swivels to look at you when he hears a “Hey, Jibo” command.  

The Jibo app manages the robot’s settings as well as his “Loop.” The Loop holds names of up to 16 people Jibo can recognize by face and voice. Jibo is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant. Any children under the age of 13 will need the assistance of a parent to sign up, and the parent must also be in Jibo’s Loop. You can adjust Jibo’s settings via the app. This is where you’ll connect Jibo to Wi-Fi, set your location for local results, and view a history of recent Jibo interactions.


Jibo works with IFTTT triggers and can turn on Philips Hue lights or adjust a Nest thermostat. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When it comes to skills, Jibo has limited capabilities. He can set reminders and timers, as well as check the weather, sports scores or a flight’s status. Jibo can answer a host of questions through resources like Bing, Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia, or read headlines from the Associated Press. Jibo also tells jokes, most of which I’m pretty sure he got from my dad. Jibo dances and reads random facts, poems and short stories. With two front-facing cameras, Jibo can also take photos and store up to 700 images locally as 1-megapixel, JPEG files.

Interestingly, Jibo also works with IFTTT triggers. You can ask him to find your phone, turn on your Philips Hue lights, or set a Nest thermostat by using a trigger word. I was also able to create IFTTT recipes for Lutron lights and shades. That gives me hope for Jibo’s future as a useful robot. He doesn’t work with IFTTT actions, though. You can’t set him to congratulate you on hitting the step goal on your fitness tracker, for example. It is interesting that Jibo is IFTTT compatible, given that he isn’t really optimized for any other smart home functions.

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