posted 8 days ago on ars technica
YouTube/Screenshot NEW YORK—Samsung made its long-in-the-works Bixby-powered smart speaker official at an event in New York City on Thursday. The device is called the Galaxy Home, and at first blush it appears to be Samsung's take on the rising trend that has seen the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Sonos release home speakers with built-in digital assistants. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Tesla) Not all adaptive cruise control and lane keeping systems are created equal. That should be obvious, but in case it isn't, recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will serve as proof. On Tuesday, IIHS published the results of some road and track testing with several different makes of vehicle, measuring how well each was able to stay within its lane around corners and up hills. "We zeroed in on situations our staff have identified as areas of concern during test drives with Level 2 systems, then used that feedback to develop road and track scenarios to compare vehicles," said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Jessica Jermakian. By "level 2," Jermakian means vehicles that are capable of steering, braking, and accelerating for themselves but only with an engaged human driver behind the wheel who is responsible for providing situational awareness. The vehicles (and advanced driver assistance systems) that IIHS tested were a 2017 BMW 5 Series (Driving Assistant Plus), 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Drive Pilot), 2018 Tesla Model 3 (Autopilot 8.1), 2016 Tesla Model S (Autopilot 7.1), and 2018 Volvo S90 (Pilot Assist). IIHS notes that each had previously been scored highly for their automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems. A series of track tests was used to establish how each system coped with avoiding collisions with a stationary vehicle, then repeated road testing was conducted to get a sense of real-world behavior in traffic and how well each car maintained position within its lane. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: F Delventhal) Microsoft is building a new Windows 10 sandboxing feature that will let users run untrusted software in a virtualized environment that's discarded when the program finishes running. The new feature was revealed in a bug-hunting quest for members of the Insider program and will carry the name "InPrivate Desktop." While the quest has now been removed, the instructions outlined the basic system requirements—a Windows 10 Enterprise system with virtualization enabled and adequate disk and memory—and briefly described how it would be used. There will be an InPrivate Desktop app in the store; running it will present a virtualized desktop environment that can be used to run questionable programs and will be destroyed when the window is closed. While it would, of course, be possible to manually create a virtual machine to run software of dubious merit, InPrivate Desktop will streamline and automate that process, making it painless to run things in a safe environment. There's some level of integration with the host operating system—the clipboard can be used to transfer data, for example—but one assumes that user data is off limits, preventing data theft, ransomware, and similar nastiness. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson) In the wake of Nintendo's recent lawsuits against other ROM distribution sites, major ROM repository EmuParadise has announced it will preemptively cease providing downloadable versions of copyrighted classic games. While EmuParadise doesn't seem to have been hit with any lawsuits yet, site founder MasJ writes in an announcement post that "it's not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences. I cannot in good conscience risk the futures of our team members who have contributed to the site through the years. We run EmuParadise for the love of retro games and for you to be able to revisit those good times. Unfortunately, it's not possible right now to do so in a way that makes everyone happy and keeps us out of trouble." EmuParadise will continue to operate as a repository for legal downloads of classic console emulators, as well as a database of information on thousands of classic games. "But you won't be able to get your games from here for now," as MasJ writes. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Samsung) Alongside the release of the Galaxy Note9 smartphone, Samsung also debuted a new wearable: the Galaxy Watch. It's the first Samsung wearable to deviate from the Gear family name, but it looks like a successor to the Gear S3. It's also the first Galaxy-branded product to run anything other than a flavor of Android, as it runs on Samsung's Tizen wearable operating system rather than Google's Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear). Tizen works on both Android and iOS, so users will not be limited by the operating system of their smartphone. By nature of it being a Samsung wearable, the Galaxy Watch will challenge the Apple Watch in many ways. Two of the most important new features to consider are LTE access and battery life. The Galaxy Watch will have optional LTE, allowing users to receive calls, texts, and other alerts even when their Galaxy smartphone isn't with them. Samsung says it's working with more than 30 carriers in more than 15 countries to bring LTE-enabled Galaxy Watches to users who want an untethered smartwatch. Samsung didn't give specifics about the Galaxy Watch's battery life, but it did suggest that it may be better than other traditional smartwatches. The watch will last "several days" on a single charge thanks to its new optimized processor and low-power technology built into the device. That's pretty vague, so we'll have to test it to get a better idea of what "several days" actually means. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Samsung NEW YORK CITY—Samsung has officially taken the wraps off the Galaxy Note9. The phone follows closely in the footsteps of the Galaxy Note8 but with new specs, a bigger battery, and a few other upgrades. First up, the specs. Samsung's $999 smartphone has a 6.4-inch 2960×1440 OLED display—a 0.1-inch upgrade over last year—6GB or 8GB of RAM, and a big battery increase from 3300mAh to 4000mAh. In the US you'll get a Snapdragon 845, while internationally Samsung will be using its own Exynos 9820. Storage starts at 128GB and goes all the way up to 512GB, which, with 8GB of RAM, adds up to a $1,249 price tag. If that's not enough storage for you, there's also a MicroSD slot. As usual Samsung is about a version behind the latest Android release—the phone comes with Android 8.1 Oreo, not the newly released Android 9 Pie. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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After nearly a year of vague, story-focused trailers, Rockstar released a video this morning showing the first gameplay footage from the anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2. The video places the focus on Arthur Morgan, a "senior gun in the Vanderling gang" that's on the run "from the pressures of civilized life." The gang will be continuously forced to flee from encroaching law enforcement and civilization, according to the video, setting up temporary remote camps where they can eat, sleep, do chores, play games, or share stories. It sounds like these camps will serve as the primary hub system for the game, where you can meet Morgan's fellow gang members and talk with them to "find new secrets, fun things to do, and opportunities for mischief." While you can still shoot pretty much everything that moves in Red Dead Redemption 2, the video highlights how "guns aren't the only way to interact with the environment." Morgan will be able to talk himself into or out of trouble with rival tough guys or law enforcement officers, escalating or diffusing situations and forming friendships or making enemies. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech) The neutron is a bit of a headache for physics. A neutron is an electrically neutral particle that helps glue protons together in the nucleus of atoms. Inside the atom, it is happily stable. But a neutron alone is an unhappy beast. After about 10 minutes, it will emit an electron and an antineutrino and turn into a proton. The decay is all good, but there's a problem with the "about 10 minutes" part of things. In one set of experiments, we have determined that the half-life of a lonely neutron is 879.6s. But, in another set of experiments, we’ve found that the neutron has a half-life of 888s (these numbers might be slightly out of date now). The chance of these two being different by accident is now about one in 100,000.  One possible explanation for the difference is that a subset of neutrons decays to a relatively light particle of dark matter. Now, a pair of papers has punctured that proposal. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A sign for the Sinclair Broadcast buildings seen on October 12, 2004 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | William Thomas Cain) Tribune Media Company today terminated its merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group and sued Sinclair for breach of contract. Tribune's move to kill the merger comes three weeks after the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously against approving Sinclair's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media. There was still a slim chance that Sinclair could save the merger because the FCC referred the deal to an administrative law judge. But Tribune announced today "that it has filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court against Sinclair for breach of contract. The complaint seeks compensation for all losses incurred as a result of Sinclair's material breaches of the merger agreement." Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Steve Rhodes) Apple will continue to allow the InfoWars mobile app on its App Store even after removing almost all of the podcast episodes associated with Alex Jones' conspiracy-theory website from its platforms. The iPhone maker released a statement to BuzzFeed News explaining its decision to allow the InfoWars app to remain downloadable from its store. "We strongly support all points of view being represented on the App Store, as long as the apps are respectful to users with differing opinions, and follow our clear guidelines, ensuring the App Store is a safe marketplace for all," the company's statement said. "We continue to monitor apps for violations of our guidelines and if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users we will remove those apps from the store as we have done previously." The decision comes after Apple removed five out of the six InfoWars podcasts from iTunes and its other platforms for violating its hate-speech rules. Apple did not host the InfoWars content, but anyone with an Apple device could find and download the podcast episodes through Apple services. However, after that removal, some were perplexed when Apple didn't remove the InfoWars app as well. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Emergency Vehicles) In late 2016, security researcher Justin Shattuck was on assignment for an organization that was under a crippling denial-of-service attack by a large number of devices, some of which appeared to be hosted inside the network of a large European airport. As he scanned the airport’s network from the Internet—and later, with the airport operators’ permission, from inside the network—he was eventually able to confirm that the devices were indeed part of several previously unseen botnets that were delivering record-setting denial-of-service attacks on websites. One of the infected devices was a wireless gateway from Sierra Wireless. Authorized IT administrators used it to connect to the airport network in the event that primary connection methods failed. Surprised that such a sensitive piece of equipment could become a foot soldier in a denial-of-service attack, Shattuck began to investigate. What he found shocked him. Not only did an Internet scan show that 40,000 such gateways were running in other networks, but a large percentage of them were exposing a staggering amount of sensitive data about the networks they were connected to. Affecting human life Worse still, it turned out that many of the unsecured gateways were installed in police cars, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles. Not only were the devices openly broadcasting the locations of these first responders, but they were also exposing configurations that could be used to take control of the devices and, from there, possibly control dash cameras, in-vehicle computers, and other devices that relied on the wireless gateways for Internet connections. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / NASA's Curiosity rover is rolling around where a lake once sat. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) Mars is mostly a red pile of mysteries. In its youth, it was clearly a very different place, even hosting oceans and lakes of liquid water. But apart from wondering whether anything living ever made Mars its home, figuring out how the Red Planet got warm enough to thaw all that water has turned out to be no small thing. The evidence shows there probably wasn’t enough CO2 to warm up the early Martian greenhouse above the freezing point of water on its own. So might other gases have contributed? One option is simple hydrogen gas (H2). Although two-atom molecules like this typically aren’t greenhouse gases, hydrogen can absorb some infrared radiation in the moment it bounces off other molecules. And it can also react with CO2 to make some methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. But was there a source of hydrogen gas on Mars? A team led by Nicholas Tosca of the University of Oxford decided to follow a lead from the rocks beneath the wheels of the Curiosity rover—the mineral magnetite in a rock typical of lake-bottom sediments. The magnetite (which, not shockingly, is magnetic) would have formed within the mud, and that process can produce hydrogen. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Mazda racing driver Harry Tincknell in the Multimatic driver-in-the-loop simulator in Markham, Ontario. (credit: Al Arena/Ignite Media/Mazda) Devotees of racing games love to throw shade at each other. Xbox versus Playstation, console versus PC, controller versus wheel; you name it, people will argue about it on the Internet. And one of the more common ways to denigrate an opponent in such an argument is to play the purity card. This inevitably involves some variation of "my game's better than yours, because mine is a simulator, and yours is just an arcade game." The implication is that you aren't hardcore enough because you play something fun and accessible. It's not an argument I buy into, but it is one I've thought about through the years. If being a faithful simulation is the be-all and end-all of it, then how do consumer games compare to the real thing? Not racing an actual car on an actual track—I answered that one years ago. No, I'm talking about the driver-in-the-loop (DIL) simulators used by professional racing teams—these proprietary setups that move and shake and carry price tags in the hundreds of thousands or even millions. It's been a tricky question to answer. DIL sims are few and far between, and they tend to be in heavy use doing actual work. As luck would have it, the nice people at Mazda North America didn't laugh when I recently asked them if I could visit their sim. In fact, they invited me to see it in action as the team prepared for an upcoming race in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship. Two of their four drivers were new to the series this year, and they'd be spending a couple of days getting up to speed with a track they'd never been to before. Suddenly I had a chance to see what pro drivers and engineers actually got from spending time in a sim, and to gauge how the whole endeavor differs from even really, really hard racing games. Plus, if I was really lucky, I might even get to have a go myself… Read 37 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW) When I asked University of Arizona legal scholar William Sjostrom about the way Elon Musk announced his plan to take Tesla private, he was scathing. "A securities attorney would say 'what the hell are you doing?'" Sjostrom told me on Wendesday. When making a big, market-moving announcement, companies normally halt trading and provide the entire proposal in one well-vetted document—they don't dribble it out in a series of tweets. Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Scott Pruitt during his confirmation hearings. (credit: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not been able to offer any scientific evidence for statements made by the agency's former Administrator Scott Pruitt when he went on CNBC in March 2017 and said that carbon dioxide was not known to be a major contributor to climate change. During a live interview last year on Squawk Box, the administrator stated: “I would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” adding, “there’s a tremendous disagreement about the degree of the impact” of “human activity on the climate.” Pruitt’s statements contradicted overwhelming scientific evidence as well as everything the EPA had published before he took office. In response, a group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) formally requested any scientific documentation that might have informed Pruitt’s opinion, given the gravity of the about-face. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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SpaceX On Friday, when NASA announced the nine astronauts who would fly aboard the first commercial crew missions, Kathy Lueders sat among the audience clapping. Certainly for the manager of the space agency's commercial crew program, this was a happy day. But much hard work remains before the flights actually take place, and Lueders knows this more than anyone. Ultimately, she bears responsibility for ensuring that these men and women would have the safest possible flights. “We’ve got to keep going,” she said later Friday, in an interview following the astronaut announcement ceremony. “I kind of feel like we’re having the party before the the flight.” Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Beef cattle crowded together on a farm. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg) Manure from a high-density cattle farm that holds upward of 100,000 cows may have been the source of a deadly Escherichia coli strain that found its way onto romaine lettuce and caused a massive outbreak earlier this year. That’s according to a new hypothesis announced this week by the Food and Drug Administration. The outbreak spanned from March to June, ultimately sickening 210 people in 36 states. Of those stricken, 96 were hospitalized, 27 suffered kidney failure, and five died. The bacterium behind the outbreak was a particularly nasty strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 that produces only Shiga toxin type 2 (Stx2), the more toxic of two types of toxins E. coli tends to carry. Stx2 causes cell death, triggers immune responses, and leads to the destruction of red blood cells, which can damage the kidneys. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A Lyft ride-hailing vehicle moves through traffic in Manhattan on July 30, 2018 in New York City. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images) The New York City Council voted Wednesday to put a ceiling on the number of ride-hailing cars—namely from Uber and Lyft—on city streets. New York City is believed to be the first American city to impose such a measure. "We've seen a race to the bottom in terms of wages and in terms of the livelihoods of these drivers, not just in the for-hire vehicle sector but in the yellow cab sector as well," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on NY1, a local news television channel on Wednesday. "So the Uber business model is 'flood the market with as many cars and drivers as possible, gain more market share, and to hell with what happens to those drivers or anybody else involved,'" he continued. "And in the end, what that has created is the kind of race to the bottom that has literally driven down wages below minimum-wage level for a lot of Uber drivers and even for other drivers." Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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We're now rolling out support for native notifications in Chrome 68 using the Windows 10 Action Center—super exciting! Would love to hear your feedback! pic.twitter.com/UIDzaroR9D — Peter Beverloo (@beverloo) August 8, 2018 As of today, Chrome users on Windows 10 are going to start seeing Chrome notifications delivered as regular Windows notifications. This means that the Chrome notifications will use the same styling as Windows notifications and that they'll all show up in the Action Center. Google is doing a staged rollout of the new notifications; currently, 50 percent of users with the current stable version of Chrome, 68, will be opted in to the native notifications. That percentage will increase over the coming days or weeks. If you don't want to wait, the "Enable native notifications" option in chrome://flags can be used to force the use of Windows-style notifications right now. This is a very welcome change because it means that Chrome's notifications will now respect Windows' settings. In particular, Focus Assist (previously known as Quiet Hours) means that notifications will automatically be suppressed when you're playing a game or mirroring your screen, or at certain times of day. For those of us with lots of Chrome notifications (I personally have Calendar, Slack, and Twitter, among others), this will make the alerts much less annoying and make Web apps feel a lot more like real software. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide on September 29, 2017. (credit: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Elon Musk broke federal law on Tuesday when he tweeted about plans to take Tesla private at a price of $420 per share, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420," Musk tweeted on Tuesday. "Funding secured." US law makes it a crime to "spread false or misleading information about a company" with the intent of manipulating its stock price, according to the SEC. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Two Haemaphysalis longicornis on a US dime. (credit: CDC / James Gathany) A vicious species of tick originating from Eastern Asia has invaded the US and is rapidly sweeping the Eastern Seaboard, state and federal officials warn. The tick, the Asian longhorned tick (or Haemaphysalis longicornis), has the potential to transmit an assortment of nasty diseases to humans, including an emerging virus that kills up to 30 percent of victims. So far, the tick hasn’t been found carrying any diseases in the US. It currently poses the largest threat to livestock, pets, and wild animals; the ticks can attack en masse and drain young animals of blood so quickly that they die—an execution method called exsanguination. Key to the tick’s explosive spread and bloody blitzes is that its invasive populations tend to reproduce asexually, that is, without mating. Females drop up to 2,000 eggs over the course of two or three weeks, quickly giving rise to a ravenous army of clones. In one US population studied so far, experts encountered a massive swarm of the ticks in a single paddock, totaling well into the thousands. They speculated that the population might have a ratio of about one male to 400 females. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg) The Federal Communications Commission lied to members of Congress multiple times in a letter that answered questions about a "DDoS attack" that never happened, an internal investigation found. The FCC made false statements in response to a May 2017 letter sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Pai sent a response to Wyden and Schatz the next month but apparently didn't make the false statements himself. Pai's letter to Wyden and Schatz included an attachment in which then-FCC CIO David Bray responded directly to the senators' questions. This part of the letter contained multiple false and misleading statements, according to the FCC Inspector General's report released yesterday. The second half of this article will detail each of these false and misleading statements. Read 37 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Necromancer-themed art from Diablo III's last expansion. (credit: Blizzard) A brief Wednesday video from Blizzard Entertainment confirmed some not-very-surprising news: the company is still working on the Diablo series. Today's hint was the first to confirm "multiple Diablo projects" in production, however, with a tease of a larger reveal by year's end. "The forges here at Blizzard are burning hot, and we have multiple Diablo projects in the works," community manager Brandy Camel said at the game's Facebook page. "Some of them are going to take longer than others, but we may have some things to show you later this year. We hope you stay tuned while we work to bring these Diablo experiences to life." The one-minute video also included a mention of Diablo III's current 14th "season" of content and quests, which Camel notes is the company's first stab at a "themed" season. More themed seasons will come soon, Camel says, but this video's timing is curious, as the 14th season has been live for nearly two months as of press time. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Samsung Dex can be used with or without an external monitor. (credit: Valentina Palladino) OEMs are trying to make tablets that can replace your laptop, but most of us know that tablets can't really do such a thing for power users. However, these new devices try to balance portability and power, giving users a device that's easier to take along yet can also get things done like a traditional PC. Samsung's latest attempt at this type of device is the Galaxy Tab S4, the successor to last year's flagship Android tablet. And this time around, the Tab S4 boasts Samsung's desktop-mode software called Dex. Samsung hopes that including Dex will encourage users to go all-in with Android as both their mobile and desktop operating system—at least when they're on the go. But Android isn't a desktop OS, and, while Samsung bills the Tab S4 as a multitasking powerhouse akin to an iPad Pro or a Surface device, it doesn't exactly perform as such. Dex, while useful in some respects, leaves a lot to be desired. Starting at $649, the Tab S4's mixed bag of software and hardware capabilities proves that Samsung may want to embrace Chrome OS in tablet form sooner rather than later. Look and feel Specs at a glance: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 (Wi-Fi only model) Screen 10.5-inch 2560×1600 Super AMOLED OS Android 8.1 CPU Octa-core Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz + 1.9GHz) RAM 4GB Storage 64GB, expandable up to 400GB with microSD card Networking Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 5.0 Ports One USB Type-C port, microSD card reader Cameras Rear: 13MP AF, Front: 8MP flash Size 9.8×6.5×0.28 inches (249.3×164.3×7.1mm) Weight 1.1 pounds (482g) Battery 7,300mAh Starting price $649 Other perks 4K video recording (3840×2160) @ 30fps, included S Pen, Dex technology built in Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 Starts at: $649.99 at Samsung Ars Technica may earn a commission on this sale. Buy From purely a design point of view, the Tab S4 improves upon last year's Tab S3 nicely. Its dimensions are close to that of the previous tablet even though it doesn't have the visible or tangible heft of a 10-inch tablet. Samsung minimized the bezels and removed the home button to make more space for the 10.5-inch Super AMOLED, HDR-ready display, giving you more screen real estate in a package that's fairly close to the 9.7-inch frame of the Tab S3. Even with its slimmer bezels, the tablet is easy to hold with one or both hands, and it feels sturdy. Like the Tab S3, this new tablet has a Gorilla Glass back and metal edges that give it a premium feel worthy of its high price tag. Our review unit had a white back, which didn't hold on to many fingerprints (and even if it did, its light color hid them well). Read 39 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The Nintendo Switch costs less than usual today. (credit: Mark Walton) Greetings, Arsians! It’s your old pal The Dealmaster, checking in from his Sisyphean quest to find good tech deals with another PSA: eBay is currently holding a one-day sale that takes 15% off nearly everything greater than $25 in its store, many gadgets included. eBay runs this kind of “flash sale” periodically, letting users apply a coupon code to various items for a limited period of time. The fine print here is similar to what it has been in the past: you use the coupon code “PRONTO15” at checkout to get 15% off the purchase price—not shipping fees or taxes—of several items from several sellers across its marketplace. The retailer says that the discount will be capped at $100, so if you try to take 15% off an item that costs more than $666, you won’t save any extra money. The company says the deal will only last until 1am ET on August 9. You can’t use the coupon more than once, according to eBay, but you can apply it to a cart with multiple eligible items. Warranties, protection plans, gift cards, and a few other categories are excluded from the discount, but most others are up for grabs. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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