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Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Plays Fortnite, Other Things

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Although I’m not one of them, a bunch of people sure do love them some big freaking smartphones. And for years one of the best biggest smartphones out there, for Android users at least, has been the Samsung Galaxy Note. At its Samsung Unpacked event here at New York’s Barclays Center, the company unveiled the next generation Samsung Galaxy Note 9. And while overall it does initially seem very familiar, we checked out enough exciting new features to get hyped for this big boy.

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After taking some shots at the media for initially scoffing at the Note line, Samsung started the presentation stressing the “limitless” nature of the device. At the risk of parroting too much spin, they were talking about how the beefy specs of the phone in various categories allow for comfortable, long, intense use. The whopping 4,000mAh battery should easily last all day without exploding thanks to the water/carbon fiber cooling system. The edge-to-edge display is 6.4 inches. Base models include either 128GB or 512GB of storage expandable up to a terabyte with a microSD card. And you can stream up to 1.2 gigabits per second.

Actually using the Galaxy Note 9 puts the power of those specs and others (like the 10nm processor) in more practical examples. The phone maintains Samsung DeX functionality, allowing you to plug it into a monitor for a modestly productive PC experience. You don’t need a dock this time, you can just use an HDMI adapter. And while plugged into a monitor you can also still use the phone itself for dual display and art apps.

The standout camera feature is Scene Optimizer which intelligently adjust the image settings depending on what you’re pointing at. A little icon shows the phone knows it’s looking at a handsome face, beautiful outdoor view, or delicious piece of food and prepare the picture accordingly. You’ll even get notifications if someone is blinking or if there’s a smudge before it’s too late.

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But really the hottest announcement was that starting today Galaxy owners would be the first to experience the beta for the weird sideloaded Android version of Fortnite. Samsung says Note 9 runs the battle royale smoother and cooler compared to other Android counterparts and our play session supported that claim. The Dolby Atmos stereo sound should help make it easier to hear who is creeping up behind you. And this Galaxy version of the game even has an exclusive cosmic Galaxy Man skin with major vaporwave.

Beyond its size and power, the Note series is known for its embedded S-Pen stylus. That’s still true on the Note 9 where you can navigate menus and draws messages with the stick. But with a new button and Bluetooth connectivity, the S-Pen can now act as a basic remote, too. Take pictures and scroll through slides with your hands free. We used the pen to start and stop the new Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer on YouTube. It’s a really nifty addition and while the S-Pen battery doesn’t last long recharging it inside the phone itself takes seconds.

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Surprisingly, Samsung doubled-down on its Bixby AI assistant initiative not just with the Galaxy Note 9 but also the upcoming Galaxy Home smart speaker. The demo had an impressive, if almost Google Duplex creepy, level of natural conversation. You can quickly hail cabs and makes restaurant reservations with Bixby remembering context from earlier in the discussion. Other news from the larger Samsung ecosystem includes an expanded cross-device partnership with Spotify for music.

If you want a portable Samsung device smaller than the Galaxy Note 9 you can also consider the new Galaxy Watch. Looking reassuringly similar to a real watch, the Galaxy Watch works all by itself to power apps like Flipboard and health-tracking features like deep-breathing exercises. Payments are limited to NFC instead of the super cool magnet power of Samsung Pay, but battery life has been stretched out to several days as a result of the trade-off.

Samsung makes everything from televisions to refrigerators. They, like everyone else, want a piece of every part of your life even remotely technological. Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 seems like a pillar worth resting against. The phone goes on sale August 24 starting at $999.

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Watch: Passengers Freak Out Over New Tesla Roadster’s Record-Setting Acceleration

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When Tesla announced its new version of the Roadster, which can accelerate in zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, a lot of people were doubtful.

But a new video of the first test rides in the new Roadster, unveiled by Tesla on YouTube on Friday, shows that the “quickest car in the world” could actually be close to becoming a reality.

The video shows passengers’ hilarious reactions as the Roadster demonstrates its record-setting acceleration.

Reactions included a lot of “Holy S%!#” and “Oh My God” and “Holy F%!#”

According to Tesla, the all-new Roadster can travel 620 miles on a single charge – a new record for an all-electric vehicle.

“[It’s] the fastest production car ever made, period,” said Tesla founder Elon Musk. (Photo Credit: Tesla, Inc.)

The four-seater supercar can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and it boasts a top speed of 250 mph.

The all-new Roadster will cost $200,000 at launch (the first 1,000 are available for a ‘Founders Series Price’ of $250,000), and will be available in 2020.

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Cuba Rolls Out Mobile Internet Service to Citizens for the First Time

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Cubans will now be able to access the internet on their mobile phones, according to state-run telecom agency ETECSA.

The announcement is a milestone for the Communist-run country, which has long been considered one of the least connected countries in the world, and one of the last without mobile internet.

Starting Thursday, December 6, citizens would be able able to start subscribing to internet access via a 3G mobile network.

In a news show broadcast on Tuesday, ETECSA executives announced a range of packages valid for 30 days from 600 MB for the equivalent of $7 dollars to 4 GB for $30. Without a package, 100 MB will cost users $10, Reuters reported.

With average state wages at around $30, the cost for mobile internet will likely be out of reach for most Cubans, even though users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites.

The list of packages for the connection to mobile internet from mobile phones is displayed on a woman’s phone screen in Havana, Cuba on December 6, 2018. (Photo Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

Until today, citizens have mostly relied on Wi-Fi hotspots and internet cafes for mobile internet access, and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others, according to BBC News.

“It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too,” Havana resident Joaquin Montiel, 58, told Reuters. “But for some, like me, it’s still a remote one.” Montiel said he would not be able to afford a cellphone with 3G technology on his salary of less than $20 per month as a salesman in a state company.

Still, the launch is seen by many as a sign that the country is further softening its tough stance on individual freedoms. Internet was only largely available to tourist hotels and state-run clubs until 2013, when the island country began opening internet cafes.

It wasn’t until 2015 when the first Wi-Fi hotspot opened at a cultural centre, and other public spaces followed, the BBC reported. But many Cubans have complained about having to brave the elements just to use the Wi-Fi at the hotspots, which also lack of privacy. In 2017, ETECSA offered a limited number of home connections.

To reduce the risk of being overwhelmed with demand, ETECSA is rolling out the new 3G service will be rolled out over a three-day period.

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Robot Vacuum Showdown: Neato Versus Roomba

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Cleaning can be a pain sometimes, especially if you have to use a clunky vacuum to suck up nasty debris. Thankfully though, technology has gifted us with handy smart home devices, including Neato […]

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