Monday, February 26, 2024

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Lenovo and Motorola’s Smart Connect makes it easier to manage tasks across your devices

Motorola and Lenovo have announced a new cross-device management tool at MWC 2024 called Smart Connect that lets users seamlessly switch tasks from one device to another. You could, for example, move a podcast from your phone to your tablet without losing your place using only a swipe gesture, or easily share files between connected devices using a unified Share Hub. The companies haven’t yet released the full list of compatible devices, but so far say Smart Connect will work with Lenovo PCs running Windows 10 or later and only some Lenovo tablets and Motorola devices.Smart Connect will allow users to navigate between multiple devices using the same keyboard and mouse without interruptions, and receive synced notifications across connected devices. It brings a smart clipboard feature too, which serves as a single clipboard for all the connected devices, so you can copy and paste items from one device to another. Smart Connect will also let users turn their phone into a hotspot for a connected tablet or PC, or use it as a webcam. Users will also be able to cast content from their phones to other connected devices, say to watch a video on a bigger screen. Smart Connect will be available in a few months through the Microsoft Store and Google Play Store.In addition to Smart Connect, Motorola is showing off the adaptive display concept it introduced last fall. Motorola’s concept rollable display can be morphed from a slab into other shapes to fit different needs, like a tent-style setup that allows it to stand on its own or wrapped around a person’s wrist like a watch. Christopher Dilts / Motorola Christopher Dilts / MotorolaCatch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

Lenovo’s Project Crystal is the world’s first laptop with a transparent microLED display

It’s not often you encounter a device that looks like it came straight out of a movie set. But Lenovo’s Project Crystal, supposedly the world’s first laptop with a transparent microLED display, is an example of sci-fi come to life.Currently there are no plans to turn Project Crystal into a retail product. Instead Lenovo’s latest concept device was commissioned by its ThinkPad division to explore the potential of transparent microLED panels and AI integration. The most obvious use case would be sharing info somewhere, like a doctor’s office or a hotel desk. Instead of needing to flip a screen around, you could simply reverse the display via software, allowing anyone on the other side to see it while getting an in-depth explanation.When combined with the camera built into the rear of the system, Lenovo says there could be possible AR applications. One example would be to use the camera to identify an object, similar to Google Lens. And with its transparent display, it should be possible to take that idea a step further by overlaying a diagram or schematic on top of the object for things like troubleshooting or repair.But the best thing about Project Crystal, is that Lenovo bothered making it at all. Currently, even standard microLED displays are extremely expensive with those panels typically reserved for cutting-edge gadgets like Samsung’s The Wall or Apple’s Vision Pro. And, see-through versions have only been seen as concepts like on the transparent microLED TV Samsung showed off a couple of months ago at CES 2024.In person, the transparency effect is bewildering. When closed or when its display is off, Project Crystal’s screen almost looks like an ordinary piece of glass with a slight brownish tint. But at a moment’s notice the whole thing lights up like a battleship. Nominal brightness goes all the way up to 1,000 nits, with Lenovo saying peaks can go as high as 3,000 nits, which would make it brighter than the new Galaxy S24 family. And despite being made of multiple layers, the panel is extremely thin, which helps blur the line being the digital and analog worlds. Lenovo says it's also considering adding some sort of contrast layer, so it can turn into a traditional opaque display at the touch of a button. However, for a relatively large 16-inch display, its resolution isn’t super high, so if you look closely you can see individual pixels.Another design twist is that instead of a traditional keyboard, Project Crystal features one of Lenovo’s touch-based replacements similar to those on older Yoga Books. Unfortunately, it still suffers from a lot of the same issues. The most obvious example of this is that your hands drift while typing because there’s no tactile feedback, which leads to decreased accuracy. Lenovo says AI may be able to address that in the future by learning a person’s typing habits and then using that info to account for your hands straying from the home row. But right now, it’s still a problem. Photo by Sam Rutherford/EngadgetThe rest of the laptop is very much a work in progress, too. I only saw two ports on the entire system which would be a major faux pas for a notebook this big. Project Crystal is also based on a last-gen CPU, while other components like its hinge was so weak that its screen threatened to close anytime it tilted below 90 degrees. And for some reason, the laptop seemed to build up a static charge, as it sometimes shocked people who touched its display.Project Crystal is a solution in search of a problem. A problem that does exist in niche situations and may be an issue worth tackling more seriously down the line. But more importantly, it’s challenging us to think about what is possible with emerging display technology and how it might fit into a laptop of the future.Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

Lenovo debuts Core Ultra-powered laptops and hybrids with dedicated Copilot key

Lenovo announced several new business laptops and hybrids at this year’s MWC conference, including refreshes in the ThinkPad T-series and the ThinkBook line. The company’s calling them “AI PCs” because they all feature a dedicated Microsoft Copilot button that offers immediate access to the digital assistant.The just-announced models include the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5, ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 and ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4. These computers are powered by the latest Intel Core Ultra processors, which has come to be expected with new Lenovo computers. LenovoThe ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 boasts a durable 3:2 display with Corning Gorilla Glass and the whole thing’s powered by an Intel Core Ultra U processor. You can spec this tablet/laptop hybrid with up to 32GB of RAM, for multitasking. The detachable backlit folio keyboard boasts a three-button TrackPad and the tablet includes a front-facing 5MP camera and an 8MP rear-facing camera.The redesigned ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 features an ultra-thin 16.85mm profile, which is slightly thinner than the previous generation. It’s also light, weighing just over 3.5 pounds. The 14-inch display boasts a 16:10 aspect ratio and the keyboard includes a larger touchpad that has been crafted with glass-like Mylar. It also ships with the new Magnetic Slim Pen for more nuanced touchscreen controls. LenovoIn addition to the Core Ultra processors and the near-instantaneous Copilot integration, the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 and T16 Gen 3 have been built for DIY repairs. The iFixit team was on-hand to advise the overall design, so there are plenty of customer replaceable parts, making it easy to swap out the DIMM, SSD, WWAN card and battery, among other components. With this in mind, iFixit has proactively rated these laptops with a repairability score of 9.3 out of 10. That’s a whole lot better than products from many rival companies.The ThinkPad T14 Gen 5 goes on sale this April and will be available in several SKUs, starting at $950. The ThinkPad T16 Gen 3 also goes on sale this April and will start at $1,220. The ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 2 will be available the same month and will feature a starting price of $1,400. Finally, the ThinkBook 14 2-in-1 Gen 4 goes on sale this March with a starting price of $1,170.Catch up on all of the news from MWC 2024 right here!

Lenovo worked with iFixit to make some ThinkPads easier to repair

/ The T-series ThinkPads also get updated processors as well as keyboard tweaks for better accessibility. And a Copilot key.By Joanna Nelius, laptop reviewer. She has covered consumer technology, with an emphasis on PC gaming, since 2018. Previous bylines: USA Today, Gizmodo, PC Gamer, Maximum PC, among others.The ThinkPad T14s Gen 5 Photo: LenovoWhile the ThinkBook Transparent Display laptop Lenovo showed off at MWC 2024 is just a proof of concept, the company also announced refreshed versions of several ThinkPads and ThinkBooks, as well as a few accessories.That includes three refreshed ThinkPad T-series laptops: the ThinkPad T14 Gen 5, ThinkPad T14s Gen 5, and ThinkPad T16 Gen 3, all with Intel Core Ultra processors (or an AMD Ryzen 8040 option for the T14 Gen 5). All three get Lenovo’s Communication Bar, which extends a

Peering through Lenovo’s transparent laptop into a sci-fi future

The ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop concept even comes with a built-in drawing tablet. Lenovo just needs to find something worth seeing on the other side.By Jon Porter, a reporter with five years of experience covering consumer tech releases, EU tech policy, online platforms, and mechanical keyboards.A year after flexing its R&D muscles with a rollable laptop that expanded its screen with a simple button push, Lenovo is back at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. with another, somehow even more sci-fi, concept device. This is the ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop, a 17.3-inch notebook with a screen you can peer straight through.The key draw is its bezelless 17.3-inch MicroLED display, which offers up to 55 percent transparency when its pixels are set to black and turned off. But as its pixels light up the display becomes less and less see-through, until eventually you’re looking at a completely opaque white surface with a peak brightness of 1000 nits.Although the appeal of transparent screens in sci-fi films and TV shows is obvious (opaque screens are boring, actor’s faces are interesting), it’s a lot harder to put your finger on their practical uses in real life. How often, of course, do you actually want to see the empty desk behind your laptop? Would it be beneficial to be able to see your colleague sitting across from you, or would it be distracting?Lenovo’s demo used AI object recognition to identify items placed behind the laptop.Of course, the transparency works both ways.One of Lenovo’s big ideas is that the form-factor could be useful for digital artists, helping them to see the world behind the laptop’s screen while sketching it on the lower half of the laptop, where the keyboard is (more on this later). “I am not a good artist,” Lenovo’s executive director of ThinkPad portfolio and product Tom Butler admits to me in an interview, “but I can bring something behind and I can trace it.” In the room we’re sitting in that means pulling a bunch of sunflowers behind the laptop screen, but Butler pitches the idea of an architect being able to sit on location and sketch a building without taking their eyes off the environment in front of them. He even goes as far as to call the transparent laptop display a form of augmented reality. Lenovo is the latest in a long line of companies to experiment with transparent displays. Samsung showed off a transparent laptop concept over a decade ago at CES 2010, and even Lenovo itself exhibited a transparent smartphone concept in 2015 via its now-defunct Zuk Mobile subsidiary. But as time’s gone on we’ve seen some early attempts to commercialize the technology. Transparent screens have cropped us as shop displays, and as train carriage windows in China and Japan, and LG says it actually plans to ship its OLED Signature T transparent TV this year.But there are some specific challenges with building a transparent display into a laptop. Most notable is resolution, which is more important on a laptop designed to show text than a TV designed to show images. That, incidentally, is why Lenovo tells me Lenovo went for a MicroLED panel over an OLED. Although the 17.3-inch display in this concept is only 720p, AG Zheng, Lenovo’s executive director of SMB product and solutions, tells me that going with an OLED would have limited them to a resolution as low as 480p. 720p still feels like a very work-in-progress spec on a 17.3-inch laptop like this, but at least text shown on the screen during my demo was perfectly readable. When fully white, the screen turns opaque (and hard to photograph).A small camera on the back of the concept laptop’s base is responsible for its its object recognition abilities.Another sign that this is a work in progress? It’s not possible on Lenovo’s current prototype to manually set the whole laptop screen to be opaque, regardless of whether it’s showing white content, black content, or any colors in between. “That absolutely is something that we would want if we were going into production,” Butler says. It’s something that LG is using contrast film to achieve on its OLED T television.As well as the transparent display, Lenovo’s laptop concept also has a completely flat touch keyboard, rather than a physical keyboard with keys you can feel and press. When images of this device first started leaking, I assumed this was meant as just another sci-fi flourish, but it’s actually part of Lenovo’s pitch for artists. That’s because as well as functioning like a keyboard, the laptop’s base is also designed to work as a drawing tablet. When detached from the concept laptop, it’s easier to see the projected keyboard appear and disappear.The keyboard that you can see on the laptop is actually a projection, which disappears when you bring a stylus close to the drawing surface, or even when you step away from the laptop entirely. Then you’re left with a flat surface to sketch on, similar to what you’d find in a screen-less Wacom tablet.The downside is that when you’re not sketching you have to use the completely flat surface as a touch-sensitive keyboard, which was definitely the weakest element of the prototype device. It will not surprise you to hear that this mechanical keyboard fan didn’t love stabbing his fingers at an image of a keyboard, and I made endless typos in my attempt to write a simple test sentence.This being 2024, there was also an AI element to Lenovo’s demonstration. The company had set up a small camera on the rear side of the laptop’s chassis to perform object recognition on devices placed behind it. The results of this could then be shown onscreen while it was still in full view. Put sunflowers behind the laptop and it’d identify them as such, display some information, and show a butterfly flying around them. Put a small model of coral and you see a fish. It was very proof of concept stuff.The concept laptop’s keyboard is about as frustrating to type on as you’d expect...... but it makes more sense as a drawing tablet.Like its rollable laptop from last year, Lenovo isn’t pretending that it has any plans to release its ThinkBook Transparent Display Laptop as a consumer device. But Butler says he has “very high confidence” that its technologies will make it into a real laptop in the next five years, and hopes that revealing this proof of concept will start a public conversation about what it could be useful for, setting a target for Lenovo to work towards.More so than its rollable laptop with its simple pitch of “more screen with the flip of a switch”, Lenovo’s transparent laptop concept feels like a collection of cool technologies in search of a killer app. Sketching something placed behind the laptop screen is interesting but feels like a niche use case even among digital artists — you can always just snap a photo and trace that — and Lenovo’s AI demo feels like something you’d see a museum use to make an exhibit more visually interesting.Until Lenovo finds its killer use case, we’re left with an exceptionally cool-looking device that’s capable of some fun novelties. Halfway through my interview I pulled my (decidedly non-transparent) MacBook’s screen forward to double check my phone behind it, and Butler leapt on it immediately.“You just perfectly walked into that.”Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge

AT&T Offers $5 Credit After Widespread Service Outage

Thousands of customers lost service on Thursday when the telecommunications company ran into problems while trying to expand its network, the company’s chief executive said.AT&T will offer a $5 credit to customers affected by a widespread outage on Thursday that was caused by technical issues the company encountered while trying to expand its network, its chief executive said on Sunday.The outage, which started around 3:30 a.m. Eastern time, temporarily cut off connections for users across the United States.Some of the affected cities included Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York, according to Downdetector.com, which tracks user reports of telecommunication and internet disruptions.At its peak, the site had received about 70,000 reports of disrupted service for AT&T. Service was fully restored after about seven hours.“No matter the timing, one thing is clear — we let down many of our customers, including many of you and your families,” the chief executive of AT&T, John T. Stankey, wrote in a letter dated Sunday. “For that, we apologize.”In an effort to “make it right” AT&T is offering customers a $5 credit on their AT&T Wireless account, according to the company’s website.“For the portion of consumer and small business customers most impacted by the outage, we are automatically applying an account credit to compensate them for the inconvenience they experienced,” the company said.It will take one to two billing cycles for the credit to appear, depending on when a customer’s bill closes, the company said.Prepaid customers will have options available if they were affected, Mr. Stankey wrote, but did not specifically identify those options.AT&T also said it was “working closely” with Mid-Market and Enterprise customers, which are internet plans for businesses, to address their concerns.It was not immediately clear how much the credits would amount to in lost revenue. A company representative could not be reached on Sunday.In a statement, AT&T emphasized that the outage wasn’t caused by a cyberattack.“Our initial review of the cause of Thursday’s outage indicates it was due to the application and execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network,” Mr. Stankey wrote in his letter.The credit is meant to refund customers for the day that the service was lost, he wrote.“I believe that crediting those customers for essentially a full day of service is the right thing to do,” Mr. Stankey wrote.

Best TV Deals: Save Up to $700 on Amazon FireTV, Samsung, LG, Sony and More – CNET

Bringing friends over and unwinding in front of the TV can be a lot of fun, especially if you like to host sports days or play co-op games with each other. To that end, if you've recently been considering grabbing yourself a new TV, then now is the perfect time to grab one, given how saturated the market is. Luckily, there are some excellent deals out there you can take advantage of, even if you want something big and fancy.

Snag Anker’s Magnetic Charging Station for Just $90 – CNET

Plugging a phone in to charge all the time can get exhausting very quickly, and if you aren't careful, you could potentially damage your port over time. That's especially true as dust and dirt are constantly pressed deeper into the port, culminating in a situation where the USB or Lightning port doesn't work anymore. Luckily, that's where wireless chargers come to the rescue, and Anker's Magnetic Charging Station is one of the best. Even better, there's a nice little discount on it right now from Amazon that discounts it down to $90 with a $10 coupon, so be sure to clip that before you log out.

Ford stops shipping 2024 F-150 Lightnings for ‘quality checks’

/ Gas and hybrid versions of the 2024 trucks just started deliveries.By Wes Davis, a weekend editor who covers the latest in tech and entertainment. He has written news, reviews, and more as a tech journalist since 2020. Image: Vjeran Pavic / The VergeFord has halted shipments of the new 2024 F-150 Lightning electric truck as of February 9th while it carries out quality inspections. Several outlets reported the pause on Friday, but none could say what prompted the check. In the meantime, Ford is still manufacturing the Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, according to Automotive News.The carmaker reportedly declined to say when the shipments will be resumed. Ford spokesperson Emma Bergg told CNN that the hold isn’t unusual for the company when production moves to a new year. It’s unclear exactly what is causing this freeze, but Automotive News reports a “supplier parts concern” halted production of both the gas and electric versions of the F-150 for a week in January. Last year, a battery fire that destroyed trucks at its Dearborn facility prompted the company to pause F-150 Lightning production and recall some of the trucks. The company also announced adjusted pricing for the 2024 Lightning in January, raising the sticker price for the three lower trims and dropping prices for the top two luxury models saying it was to optimize “sales growth, profitability and customer access to the IRA tax benefit.”A fleet customer speaking to Automotive News said it had ordered about 100 F-150 trucks that were completed in December but hadn’t been delivered and had gotten “essentially no communication from Ford” explaining what was happening. A statement given to The Detroit News by Bergg said that Ford plans “to ramp up shipments in the coming weeks” after the checks are finished. Ford cut back weekly production of the Lightning late last year, citing ”changing” customer demand, not long after postponing its $12 billion investment in battery factories and scaling back its Michigan plant’s battery-manufacturing goals.

Now there’s a 28,000mAh battery with a phone in it

/ Four years after Avenir Telecom announced a phone equipped with a massive 18,000mAh battery, the company is announcing an even more outrageous model.By Jon Porter, a reporter with five years of experience covering consumer tech releases, EU tech policy, online platforms, and mechanical keyboards.Avenir Telecom’s Energizer Hard Case P28K is an 27.8mm thick smartphone with a 28,000mAh battery in it. Photo by Jon Porter / The VergeFour years ago, my then-colleague Vlad brought you news of an 18,000mAh battery with a phone in it. Well, I am delighted to inform you that Avenir Telecom is at it again, only now it’s packed a smartphone into a 28,000mAh battery. That, in this industry, is what we call progress.The device itself is called the Hard Case P28K, and like its predecessor it’ll be sold under the Energizer brand (which Avenir licenses from the battery manufacturer). The company claims the P28K’s battery is substantial enough to last for a whole week regular of usage. The device also has a pretty rugged IP69 rating to survive the kinds of off-the-grid adventures you might want to have while away from a charging point. Talk time is rated at 122 hours (or a little over five days) while standby time extends up to 2252 hours, or almost 94 days. From the front the device looks like a more standard (if very rugged) smartphone. Photo by Jon Porter / The VergeAvenir Telecom’s Energizer Hard Case P28K from the front and back. Image: Avenir TelecomThe downside is that it’s an absolute unit. At

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