Oracle NetSuite has announced a new service that promises to alleviate common headaches for small businesses around shift management and resource allocation.
At SuiteWorld 2022, the company offered a first look at SuitePeople Workforce Management, a service designed to automate the time-consuming shift management process, building out shift patterns based on predicted demand.
The new service also provides a simple way to monitor the number of hours worked by employees and automatically calculates wages on that basis, before passing that information on to payroll.
SuitePeople Workforce Management
Although attendance tracking and shift management are neither sexy nor groundbreaking, NetSuite hopes that, by folding the various functionalities into a single dashboard and leaning on the strength of its broader platform, it can help customers manage human capital more effectively and increase profitability as a result.
This is especially important in the current environment, the company says, with businesses across the globe struggling under the dual pressures of rising inflation and interest rates, and a drop-off in the appetite for spending.
“In a tight labor market, organizations need to elevate the management of their workforce to be competitive,” said Evan Goldberg, NetSuite founder and EVP.
“With SuitePeople Workforce Management, organizations can quickly adjust staffing to align with changing business conditions. They can also ensure they accurately pay their employees and meet compliance requirements.”
In addition to supporting core shift management processes themselves, the new service also gives managers access to data points on sales, wages and forecasts, equipping them with the information necessary to make strategic decisions around resource allocation.
The automation of the wage calculation process, meanwhile, is said to minimize the risk of payroll errors and save employees a significant amount of time that would otherwise have been spent on manual reconciliations.
SuitePeople Workforce Management will become available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in early 2023 and will come to the UK and Ireland a few months later.
Alienware has revealed its upcoming flagship prebuilt desktop, the renewed Aurora R15, designed to house some powerful hardware – just be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for it.
The company is being rather vague in disclosing what kind of graphics card will be in the Aurora R15. According to the announcement, the Aurora R15 is designed to support a GPU from NVIDIA’s recently announced GeForce RTX 40 Series. Alienware even name-drops the 4090 model GPU. The company also mentions support for graphics cards belonging to the AMD Radeon RX 6000 series and GeForce RTX 30-Series. Given the wording, it’s leading us to believe that the Aurora R15 may have different models based on different graphics cards. We reached out to Alienware for clarification. This story will be updated if we hear back.
Alienware also announced its new 34-inch curved Gaming Monitor and a Tenkeyless Gaming Keyboard to make up a full computer setup. All three devices will launch in the United States and Canada later this year. The exact date has yet to be revealed.
The Aurora R15
Mysterious GPUs aside, Alienware did reveal some concrete details. The desktop will house the latest “13th Gen Intel Core K-series” processors, formerly known by their codename of Raptor Lake. Like the graphics card, the exact CPU model is unknown, but we can at least expect a good performance. Even the slowest of the Raptor Lake processors have a maximum turbo frequency of 5.1 GHz. For memory, it will be a DDR5 4800MHz RAM of yet-to-be-determined size.
For cooling, the Aurora R15 has multiple solutions. It’s outfitted with a 240mm liquid cooling system and five different 120mm fans. Across the chassis, there will be two exhaust fans on top, one in the back, and two intake fans at the front. On the side are hexagonal air vents for additional cooling. And if that isn’t overkill, the computer’s motherboard will have its own “voltage regulator heatsinks.”
All this hardware will, as you can imagine, require a lot of power. Feeding this beast will be a 1350W power supply, which was apparently designed to support the aforementioned RTX 4090 GPU, according to Alienware. Price tag for the Aurora R15 hasn’t been revealed. Considering the fact the desktop will have some powerful tech, it’s safe to say that it won’t be cheap. To give an idea of what it could be, the currently available Aurora Ryzen Edition R14 desktop starts at $1,299.99 and that uses NVIDIA’s old 30-series GPUs.
Monitor and keyboard
With a computer that strong, you’ll need a monitor to match and it appears the Gaming Monitor ($1,099.99) is up to the task. The QD-OLED (Quantum Dot) display outputs at a resolution of 3440×1440 pixels and has a 0.1ms response, vital for intense gaming moments. There’s nothing worse than losing a game because your monitor couldn’t keep up. Other features include a 165Hz refresh rate alongside Quantum Dot technology for deep blacks plus wider color coverage. For those long gaming sessions, the monitor has been TUV-certified for ComfortView Plus to reduce bluelight and protect against eye strain.
The Tenkeyless Keyboard ($129.99) appears to be a regular gaming keyboard complete with the typical RGB lights, but underneath the surface is a pretty robust device. Its name is a reference to the fact that it lacks a numeric keypad allowing it to be more compact. The keycaps themselves are covered in two layers of a plastic called PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) for increased durability. Inside the keycaps are a series of CHERRY MX Red switches that have a gold layer for easier cleaning and protection against corrosion.
Pretty strong showing for a flagship computer. We can’t wait to see this thing in action.
Evan Goldberg, founder and EVP of Oracle NetSuite, has dismissed the threat posed by smaller specialists that operate in overlapping markets.
During a press conference at SuiteWorld 2022, Goldberg was asked whether he is concerned about the potential for NetSuite to be outmanoeuvred by more agile players that focus more closely on a single solution.
“I’m not worried about [smaller players] because of the vast capabilities we have, the depth of the suite, and how we can scale,” he responded. “We’ve made enormous investments over the course of 23 years, so I’m not concerned about being outflanked.”
“However, we’ve got to make sure that customers aren’t losing anything when they come to us, and that they continue to get all the benefits they had with their small business package.”
The NetSuite ERP platform offers a wide range of functionality, spanning accounting, CRM, HR, ecommerce and more. The idea is that users are able to complete critical business processes from within a single platform, instead of having to wrestle with tens of different applications.
However, as was highlighted during the press conference, it could be argued that vendors that specialize in a single category (e.g. QuickBooks) are better equipped to deliver cutting-edge features within their niche.
Although Goldberg was willing to entertain the concept, he said he is nonetheless confident in the NetSuite approach, which draws an advantage from the tight relationships between the components of the portfolio.
Goldberg also suggested that NetSuite services a slightly different customer demographic than the point solution vendors, made up predominantly of mid-sized, high-growth companies.
“Our customer-base is biased towards people who are growing, companies that have outgrown their existing accounting solutions. We try to set these companies up for success as they scale,” he explained.
“Customers get the most out of NetSuite when they use the full suite. That’s been the idea since the beginning. What’s stifling companies is that they’re mired in many different systems. As customers adopt more of the suite, they benefit from exponential value.”
Linux machines have been plagued by Windows-centric hardware management since 2002, but this could be about to change.
Sophisticated interfaces between a machine’s operating system and its hardware, such as the chips that have been slowing down your Linux machine, have long been required in order to ensure that processors with billions of transistors maintain efficiency.
Although the latest ACPI standard replaced the outgoing APM standard in 1996, however even more than a quarter of a century ago, it still had one key flaw.
Computer engineers carry out most of their testing on the industry-standard operating system, which for a long time has been Windows, which leaves Linux distros and macOS mostly unthought-for when they use third-party chips like AMD processors.
With the introduction of its own silicon, Apple has found one way to boost performance all-round with the processors it uses in its computers. The company’s M-series chips are now in their second generation, though this is a costly solution that is simply out of reach for the Linux Foundation.
Linux poor performance
The report continues to reminisce about Linux creator Linus Torvalds’ thoughts when it came to the updated ACPI standard, when in 2003 he said:
“ACPI is a complete design disaster in every way. But we’re kind of stuck with it. If any Intel people are listening to this and you had anything to do with ACPI, shoot yourself now, before you reproduce.”
The problem came to light when troubled machines were taking a while to respond to STPCLK# signals, which determine whether a core should idle. This saw power efficiency reduce, which saw some dummy I/O instructions introduced as a workaround.
While this is no longer a problem, AMD engineer K Prateek Nayak found that Linux machines are still following the dummy instructions on his company’s processors. In the meantime, The Register reports a “hasty patch” by Intel’s Dave Hansen, which limits the workaround to only be present on Intel chips, which will be unaffected owing to the different method they use for idling a core. As a result, minimum throughput is said to have increased by around 14 times, and the mean throughput is also said to have increased by just over half.
Ultimately, even as we move into the 2020s, much of the third-party hardware we see on the market continues to be developed primarily with Windows in mind, and it’s likely that tweaks from eagle-eyed engineers will continue to drive improvements for less popular operating systems as time progresses.
Cybercriminals have been observed using SEO poisoning to distribute a new malware loader which tries to infect the target endpoint with a dozen malware families.
Researchers from Kaspersky discovered that for many people, typing the keyword “software crack” into Google brings up multiple websites distributing this new malware loader, some of which have even made it to the famed first page of the search results. The loader in question is called “NullMixer”, and is designed for the Windows operating system and apparently, it installs all kinds of password stealers, viruses, backdoors, banking trojans, crypto miners, you name it. The only thing seemingly missing is ransomware.
Among the malware families installed this way are Redline Stealer, Danabot, Raccoon Stealer, Vidar Stealer, SmokeLoader, PrivateLoader, ColdStealer, Fabookie, PseudoManuscrypt, and others.
Baiting with cracks
The attackers chose “software crack” as their main keyword, researchers believe, due to the fact that people looking for cracks will usually ignore warnings coming from their antivirus programs and install the executable files anyway.
According to Kaspersky, NullMixer has so far tried to infect more than 47,000 endpoints protected by its security solutions. The victims were located all over the world, including the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, India, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt.
The researchers were also baffled by the number of malware families being installed via NullMixer. It’s not exactly subtle. Devices that fall victim to this attack will become significantly slower, have windows popping up for no reason, and will showcase numerous other symptoms of infection. Kaspersky suspects that NullMixer could actually be a demonstration, showing other malware operators what it’s capable of doing, until one decides to use it for their own distribution efforts.
As things stand now, the best way to eliminate NullMixer from a compromised device is via a Windows reinstall.
Amazon has upped its Fire TV game considerably with today’s announcement of the Omni QLED series 4K TVs. The new sets, which will be available in 65- and 75-inch screen sizes, bring features typically found in higher-priced TVs such as Quantum Dots and full-array local dimming, and also come with a new Fire TV Ambient Experience that allows for artwork and photos to be displayed when the set is not in use.
Quantum Dots on the Omni QLED sets will allow for an enhanced color range to be displayed with high dynamic range (HDR) sources, while the full-array local dimming backlight (up to 96 zones on the 75-inch model) should result in deeper, better detailed, and more uniform blacks – a shortcoming of the company’s previous Fire TV Omni series sets.
Amazon’s new TVs also support Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, both of which work to bring out greater detail in dark HDR images when viewed in regular lighting conditions.
The Fire TV Ambient experience appears to be Amazon’s variation on the “gallery” modes found on TVs like Samsung’s The Frame and models from other brands that let the set display art and personal photos when you’re not watching video. A gallery of 1,500 images will be available, with collections from both The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and The Art Institute of Chicago.
In addition to art and photos, Alexa Widgets can be added to the screen that show news, weather, notes, calendars, sports scores, and more.
In accordance with the eco-friendly initiatives that Amazon announced at today’s press event, the new Omni QLED TVs feature both presence and ambient light sensors that switch the Fire TV Ambient experience feature on and off based on whether someone is in the room.
Like the company’s earlier Omni Fire TVs and its Fire TV Cube, which also just got a serious revamp, hands-free Alexa voice control lets you direct many of the set’s functions including volume up or down and search, while a What Should I Watch feature gives personalized viewing suggestions. The Omni Fire TV QLED models can also be used as a smart home hub, with voice commands available to launch Alexa routines for home control.
Amazon’s Omni Fire TV QLED sets are available for preorder from the company today for $799 (65-inch) and $1,099 (75-inch).
Analysis: Amazon really wants Fire TV to be your smart home’s digital hearth
While the performance enhancements Amazon is bringing to its latest line of Fire TVs make them in some ways more competitive with the best 4K TVs (though adding a mini-LED backlight for increased brightness and finer shadow detail handling, such as budget competitors like TCL and Hisense offer in their latest sets would have been a plus), the company’s real end-game here is to install Alexa at the center of your home.
Echo speakers and Show devices (which, according to the company, are used as TVs, with up to 70% of owners tapping them for video-viewing) scattered around the home are one way to rope us into Alexa world, but big-screen TVs like the new Omni QLED models are where the real action is at, with features such as What Should I Watch allowing Amazon’s AI to forge a personal relationship with family members, and get to learn their preferences. Alexa Widgets with info such as calendars and notes add to Amazon’s data harvest, putting the company in a similar position to Apple and Google when it comes to being a go-to for personal communication and organization.
Beyond that, the new Fire TV Omni QLED 4K sets come as a pleasant surprise and show that Amazon is serious about improving the quality of its TVs, which up to now have been mainly cheap, entry-level offerings. With additional enhancements, Amazon could potentially own the budget TV space – something I’m sure it intends to do.
Amazon’s annual product launch has wrapped up, and we’ve seen new products from various brands like Ring, Echo, Fire, Halo and Kindle, with the word ‘Alexa’ woven throughout for basically every product too.
If you’re a fan of Amazon devices, then, this was a pretty big day for you. There was even an update on the elusive Amazon Astro robot, with plenty of clever new features promised for the home helper, and some updates to existing products too.
Now that the event has wrapped up, we can get our head around all the big announcements from the hour-long live stream:
We’ve got several new Ring security cameras and devices; the Spotlight Cam Pro uses radar to improve motion detection (and it comes in standard and solar-powered versions), while the Spotlight Cam Plus is a redesigned Spotlight Camera (with some features of the Pro) and the Ring Alarm Panic Button is a… well, the name gives it away, doesn’t it?
An update to some existing Echo devices, which will also apply to the ones announced at the event, turns them into devices that can boost your home Wi-Fi signal, letting you get better connectivity if you struggled before.
There’s a new fifth-gen Amazon Echo Dot that has clearer sound and improved bass, improvements which will benefit music fans. There’s also a new Echo Dot with clock, and two new Kids’ Edition versions, one of which has an owl on the front and the other which has a purple dragon.
A new Amazon Fire TV Cube is here too, and it can upscale 1080p video to 4K, as well as support Alexa voice command, and it comes with a second HDMI port and also an ethernet port too (which presumably you won’t need with the Echo Wi-Fi signal booster update).
So that’s quite a bit of tech. But the articles won’t stop – now we’ve seen all of Amazon’s new devices, we’ll be able to work on some analysis an opinion pieces to help you dive deeper into the announcements.
Also, for big fans, you should know that we followed the event live as it happened, from hours before it started until… well, hours afterwards. Here’s our recap of the whole thing as it happened.
Welcome to our Amazon September launch event live blog!
If you’re reading this when it’s been posted, there’s still half a day until the Amazon event kicks off, so you don’t need to start scrambling to find the live stream link just yet. In fact, at the time of writing this post, one isn’t even available online yet.
But perhaps it’s worth telling your speaker ‘Alexa, set an alarm for [whenever the event is in your time zone]’ so you don’t miss it.
Let’s start with Echos. Amazon hasn’t confirmed any specific devices that are coming at this event, but based on it being an “Alexa and Ring” event, we can probably take a wild guess and get pretty close.
Echos look doubly likely because it’s been two years since they were last updated, at a fall 2020 event. Amazon unveiled the Echo 4th Gen and Echo Dot 4th Gen together, both sporting a new rounder design.
This came one year after the Echo 3rd Gen was revealed, so a two-year gap is actually slightly longer than expected. Although there aren’t a lot of obvious things to fix and improve at this point – we surely expect better audio quality, and some improvements to Alexa itself, but where else will Amazon go?
Self-calibrating sound for the environment, perhaps? More advanced on-device processing so less stuff needs to go to the cloud? A return to a subtler design? All these seem likely, but Amazon is also good at adding surprises…
Ring products are obviously the other big thing we’re all-but guaranteed to see, given that Amazon put it right in the name of the event. The last Ring Video Doorbells came out in 2021, so it’s possible that Amazon has an update for us there – although last year the focus really seemed to be on making them cheaper rather than adding new features, and the company achieved that well with the Ring Video Doorbell Wired. But still, it’s possible there’ll be replacement for the Ring Video Doorbell 4.
But Ring has other products too, and maybe that’s where we’ll see some expansion. The Ring Stick Up Cam (picture above) was announced in 2019, for example, so maybe we might some some new security camera options. Or maybe a new version or add-on for the Ring Alarm system.
Maybe we’ll see its return after a year of very patiently teaching its adorable face the difference between the edge of a door frame and the edge of the stairs. Perhaps it will even come with some extra features compared to the original announcement, thought it’s not like there’s anything else like it on the market yet, so even if it’s totally unchanged other than being more sensible, it’ll still stand out.
Don’t forget that Amazon also owns the Blink smart home brand, which tends to focus on simpler and more affordable options when it comes to security setups. Amazon didn’t explicitly mention Blink in the invitation to its event in the same way that it did for Ring, but that doesn’t mean the company won’t make an appearance.
Blinks last big releases – the Blink Indoor camera and Blink Outdoor camera – were in late 2020, so they certainly feel ripe for an update. Those models aren’t massively lacking in modern features, so it’s not like they’re hanging on for dear life, but two years is out normal for smart home products to get refreshed and modernized.
Perhaps Blink will just look at keeping the same kind of specs but will bring the price down lower – that’s a tempting option right now during a cost-of-living crisis. It’s what Apple largely did with the Apple Watch SE 2, and we liked that.
It’s totally possible that Amazon has a small update in the works, or a new size and shape of Echo Show, but overall we’re not expecting much: it feels like the world is already doing fine for Echo Shows, doesn’t it?
A fun surprise might be return of the Echo Spot – but we’re certainly wouldn’t put money on it. The Echo Show 5 probably fills that role for most people, and feels like bigger is generally where the trend is going for the best smart displays.
Amazon has also said that it’ll talk services at this event, and that could mean any number of things. That covers Alexa, for example, and we think it’s likely that there will be improvements to what the voice assistant can do, and how well it can hold natural conversations.
And it includes Amazon Prime itself, which collects many of these services, and includes its own bonuses.
We haven’t seen any major rumors for new things to expect from Amazon in terms of services, but there could be any number of improvements. Perhaps some new freebies added to Prime just in time for Amazon Prime Day 2 to tempt people in? Seems plausible.
Amazon’s Luna game streaming service is probably the one with the most potential that isn’t being realized yet, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see announcement about more games coming to it, and better controller support, particularly on Amazon Fire TV devices.
US EIC Lance Ulanoff hopping in for a bit to add some tablet color.
Amazon just released a quad of new affordable Fire HD 8 tablets, which means the possibility of new ones at this sprawling Amazon event could mean only one thing: a march back into the high-end tablet space.
It’s been years since Amazon went toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung in the tablet arena with its line of Amazon Fire HDX tabs. These days, Amazon sells good tablets with decent but not cutting-edge specs to people on a budget (which is most of us).
Its tablets have been so cheap that Amazon has sold the small ones as a six pack.
Whatever tablet news we get today, though, will not be that. There are no real rumors to work off of here, but this may be a further realization of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s tablet strategy of “Premium products at non-premium prices.”
In other words, Amazon could push the envelope on specs, making the Fire tablet line (possibly “Fire Pro”) thinner and lighter but with better materials, like aluminum. It could introduce high-end cameras and a much more powerful CPU, all while beating the competition on price.
There is also a possibility of a repositioning of the tablet business to make them more integrated with Echos and the Alexa ecosystem. Such a services/support move is not unprecedented.
Years ago, Amazon launched its MayDay live customer service on its high-end tablets. With it, you could get a real Amazon support rep on the screen to help you walk through difficult tablet tech issues. Now we have Alexa. Perhaps Alexa will take on new tablet and product support roles via your favorite Amazon tablet.
I went to Al Griffin, our esteemed Senior Editor for Home Entertainment, who walked me through a slew of potential (read “necessary”) updates Amazon could bring to these lines.
While I think there’s a chance Amazon will redesign some of its streaming hardware to make it look, well, a little more friendly (a new Fire TV Cube is a real possibility), Al reminds me that the company just expended some serious effort on updating its aging streaming platform. In other words, don’t expect much from Amazon’s streaming hardware and software.
Unless you’re talking about TVs.
It can be easy to forget that Amazon now sells its own line of Fire TV sets and Al had a whole bunch of suggestions.
“They could add 120Hz, VRR. ALLM for gaming on the higher-end Omni series. Also, a full-array LED backlight, or even a mini-LED one to improve brightness and black uniformity,” Al told me.
What most of this means is that Amazon might move the technology of its affordable sets to more ably compete against TVs from, say, Samsung or LG. I’m not saying Amazon’s Fire TV sets will suddenly be in the same class, but if they offer some of the same features at a much better price, that could provide some real competition for the big TV names.
Hang on. It looks like the Amazon Event has sprung a major leak.
Leaker Twitter account SnoopyTech just spilled a load of potential Amazon product information. It is a lot and we caution you to take everything with a heap of salt because there is no confirmation from Amazon (naturally) and we’re just about 60 minutes away from learning the official news on all these Amazon gadgets.
Let’s start with the most mind-blowing. SnoopyTech claims Amazon is queueing up a 10.2-inch Amazon Kindle Scribe. It’s a giant E Ink Kindle with inking capabilities. If you’ve ever seen a ReMarkable tablet, you know exactly what this is.
Amazon Kindle Scribe, the first Kindle with Pen10,2 Inch display with 300 ppi pic.twitter.com/PDsdb7Mi7QSeptember 28, 2022
There’s also some information on a rumored Echo Dot 5th generation that isn’t remotely surprising. It appears to have different colors, including one he calls “dark blue,” but we’re gonna say is “purple” because that’s the color of 2022.
New Amazon FireTV. Compatible with gaming (Amazon Luna?) pic.twitter.com/qeZV3d7v3nSeptember 28, 2022
More interesting is the possible redesigned Amazon Fire TV Cube. With the wraparound fabric mesh (which probably hides a big speaker), it does look friendlier. SnoopyTech thinks it might be gaming platform Luna-compatible.
There’s also a bit about a new Alexa Voice Remote “with speakers.” It’s not clear if SnoopyTech means speakers in the remote or that it ships with a pair of speakers.
All-in-all, this might be a massive leak, but it also might be off base. We think the former is more likely.
We’re less than 10 minutes from the start of Amazon’s Smart Home event.
Remember, we expect updates for Echos, Fire Tablets, Fire TV sets, services, a robot, and more.
The rumors now point to at least one new device (a stylus-friendly E Ink Kindle), but there should be so much more.
The services side could offer some surprises. it usually does.
Okay, here we go! We’re actually watching from Amazon’s London HQ, where we’ll have the chance to ask any burning questions in the follow-up. At the moment, we’re watching a kitty push a Ring doorbell to ask to be let in.
We’re starting with Kindle. There’s a new device named Kindle Scribe, as predicted in the leaks. It’s the first Kindle you can write on with a stylus – perfect for students and business, it looks like.
The world’s first 10.2-inch 300ppi front-lit e-ink display. Amazon says it designed the whole thing to feel as close to pen on paper as possible. There’s a dedicated eraser and shortcut button on the stylus.
You can write on virtual sticky notes in books, then look through a central notes section, and selecting the note would take you straight back to the page it relates to. You can load documents from email, and soon you’ll be able to load them to it directly from Microsoft Word.
And there’ll be weeks of battery life.
Kindle Scribe is available to pre-order today, and it costs $339.99 with stylus included – it’ll be out “in time for the holidays”.
Amazon is talking a lot about “Ambient Intelligence” today. It says that this means products should be “intuitive”, “proactive”, and “personalized”. “Technology working in the background, distraction-free”, they say. Apparently, nearly 90% of Alexa routines are run without the user saying anything. Amazon did not specify if anyone there is worried about this being a sign of The Singularity.
Halo Rise is a bedside sleep tracker, wake-up light and smart alarm all in one. Amazon says it wants to help improve people’s sleep-life balance. No need to wear a tracker – it uses built-in sensors and machine learning to judge you sleep stages throughout the night.
It will only track whoever’s closest to the device – it’ll ignore other people and pets. It also has environmental sensors to detect temperature, humidity and light, so you can cross reference these factors with when you sleep badly.
It’ll start waking you up at the best moment in your sleep cycle, to avoid you feeling groggy in the morning.
There’s the promise of lots of privacy options. You can turn off the sensors at any time, and data is encrypted on the device and in the cloud (though it wasn’t specified whether Amazon has the decryption key or not).
The graph showing your sleep stages look extremely similar to what you get from the Apple Watch in iOS 16 and watchOS 9.
Halo Rise will cost $139.99, available later this year.
Now onto Echo. Starting with Echo Studio, which is getting a new ‘Glacier White’ color option. More importantly, it’s getting updated new spatial audio processing for better 360 audio, and more dynamic extension to improve the positioning of sounds. $199.99 – but the upgrades are coming to current model.
Now onto Echo Dot. The 5th Gen version will be $49.99, or $59.99 for the version with clock – pre-order today.
It promises twice the bass, and distortion reduced by up to 50%, both thanks to a redesigned audio setup. This should all mean you can crank it up a little further and still get sound that’s clear.
Echo Dot with Clock can now show other information on the screen – artist name, a calendar event, or alarm snooze countdown.
There’s also an accelerometer, so you can slap to the top to pause or stop an alarm. There’s also a temperature sensor, so it could turn your smart fan on automatically.
Amazon is also introducing Eero in Echo. Each Echo can now act as a mesh Wi-Fi extender when used with Eero products, which could save you a lot of cash in a big house. This is also coming to the 4th Gen Echo and Echo Dot, as a nice bonus.
There will also be a new Kids’ Edition. The designs are Owl and Dragon, and they’ll cost $59.99.
This holiday season, Alexa is also getting the ability to create stories with kids – on Echo Show, kids can tell stories, and Alexa can help to create visuals that go into it. It sounds fascinating, if the machine learning side of it holds up – these AI image generators can be very cool, or very weird.
There’s a new Echo Auto model too. There’s a new design, and stick design to go anywhere useful in the car. Follow-me Music will transition your music or podcasts seamlessly to the car.
There are enhanced ‘hunches’, so the Echo Auto can warn you if you’ve left the house and left the smart lock on the front door open, and it thinks you were the last one to leave.
You can now say “Alexa, call roadside assistance” to, uh, do that.
The version will cost $54.99.
Robots! Amazon says Astro is going very well, despite it largely disappearing from the face of the Earth outside of some invitation-only use.
But it’s talking about Alexa Together, which uses Alexa (and potentially Astro) to help caregivers and people who need assistance to stay in touch.
Astro will now be able to learn from you about objects in your home. You can tell Astro that a door should be left closed, and if Astro is patrolling your home and sees the door is open, it can tell you with a notification that it was left open.
Just imagine, you can yell at the kids for leaving their toys out without even being home! Magic.
Astro will also be able to recognize your pets, and can tell you what they’re doing. But not what they’re thinking. More’s the pity.
Astro is going to get a development kit for outside creations. At first, it’s going to robotics schools, to expand the ideas of what it can do.
Astro can also now work with professional Ring security, where Astro responds automatically to possible intrusions, and a virtual security guard reviews its footage and decides whether to respond.
New Ring Spotlight Cam Pro features a radar and 3D mapping feature, so that you can get very specific about what parts of the outdoors you actually want to monitor, and you can see top-down views of where people have walked on or near your property. Here’s our full story.
There’s also the Blink Mini Pan Tilt, which is $29.99, and adds onto the Blink Mini camera. It means you can see 360° in any room by controlling the angle remotely using the Blink app
There will also be the Blink Wired Floodlight camera for $99.99, available later this year.
This pace is ridiculous! So many products! Next is the Eero PoE 6, which is a power-over-ethernet access point, if that’s your sort of thing. It’ll cost $299.
Eero products will also now get Eero Internet Backup. If there’s a home network outage, you can specify a phone or hotspot that has cellular signal, and your home network will piggyback on that and keep your whole home network up and running, until your main connection is restored. Then it’ll switch back automatically.
This is nice – Echo Show 15 devices are getting Fire TV, turning them into real video devices, with an interface designed specifically for that, rather than video being crammed into the Echo Show experience.
New Fire TV Cube is coming, with octa-core processor for super fast and slick navigation. Apparently, it will include Super Resolution Upscaling to make everything look as good in 4K as possible, but we don’t know exactly what that means.
It will have a new slightly sleeker design with curved edges, plus Wi-Fi 6E, USB and Ethernet for connectivity. Really interesting, though, is that it’ll have HDMI in as well as HDMI out to your TV, so you can connect a cable box to it, to make sure everything goes through one box with total voice command of whatever you watch.
$139.99, shipping October 25th.
Alexa Voice Remote Pro. You can now ask Alexa to locate your remote and it’ll make a noise so you can find it. It also has backlit keys, and it has customizable shortcut buttons. These can be for things you watch on TV, but they work with any Alexa routines, so they could include controlling your smart lights and blinds, to trigger a whole movie-watching setup.
It’ll cost $34.99.
Amazon is going to keep expanding its collaborations to bring Fire TV built into TVs, but it’s also going to keep offering better TVs of its own. Here’s the new Fire TV Omni QLED Series. 4K screen with QLED colors, and local dimming for better contrast. There’s both Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive HDR support – those are the two most advanced HDR options, so that’s impressive.
Amazon is also adding artwork to your TVs for when you’re not using it. This is all the rage right now – Samsung started doing it, LG got into it, Philips is getting into it, and now Fire TV is. You can ask Alexa to learn more about whatever’s being shown, such as who painted it or took the photo.
Alexa widgets are also coming to Fire TV Omni Series, turning them into giant Echo Shows, basically.
The new Fire TV Omni QLED will be available in 65-inch and 75-inch sizes only, starting from a very aggressive $799.99 for the 65-inch version.
It’s surprising that there isn’t a 55-inch version – practically every single TV available today comes in that size! But if the image quality here is even half decent, a 65-inch QLED TV with those specs for that price… well, it’s like Black Friday prices without a discount.
That’s the end of the presentation from Amazon. It was a lot of products without any breathing time in between. My wrists hurt.
So, if you’re coming to this Amazon event late, you might be wondering – “what actually was announced?”.
Well, we’ll run you through everything now, giving you some extra detail on all the new devices.
The biggest news at today’s Amazon event was undoubtedly the reveal of a new model in the Kindle line. The Kindle Scribe will be the most premium model yet and will come with its own stylus, with which you can write on the paper-like screen.
The idea is that you’ll be able to use one or more Echo devices as part of a mesh Wi-Fi system, boosting the signal around your home for a low price.
You’ll still need a couple of Amazon’s Eero Wi-Fi extenders, like the Eero Home Wi-Fi System, to make it work, but it’s a neat idea that should help you get more from devices you may already own.
Ring devices were a big part of the Amazon event, with not one, not two, but three new models: the Spotlight Cam Pro, the Spotlight Cam Plus, and the Ring Alarm Panic Button (2nd Gen).
The most interesting of them is the Spotlight Cam Pro, which uses radar for 3D motion detection that will only trigger when a moving object crosses a pre-set threshold, which should make for much better sensitivity and far less chance of someone setting it off when they’re not approaching your home.
The panic button, meanwhile, can be linked to existing Ring setups so you can trigger them all with a single press, and even call emergency services at the same time.
The number of detected malware is on the decline, experts have said, but it’s still too early to celebrate.
WatchGuard Technologies’ Internet Security Report states there has been a reduction in overall malware detections from the peaks seen in the first half of 2021.
According to the report, endpoint detection were down overall by 20%.
Follina wreaking havoc
While on its own, this might seem like a good thing, there’s more to it than meets the eye: “While overall malware attacks in Q2 fell off from the all-time highs seen in previous quarters, over 81% of detections came via TLS encrypted connections, continuing a worrisome upward trend,” said Corey Nachreiner, Chief Security Officer at WatchGuard. “This could reflect threat actors shifting their tactics to rely on more elusive malware.”
Furthermore, the researchers claim to have registered an increase in threats for Chrome and Microsoft Office. The top incident for the quarter was the Follina Office exploit, a flaw that allowed threat actors to run malicious code remotely, needing nothing but minimal interaction from the victim. Allegedly, everyone from crooks looking for a quick buck, to nation-state actors, have been using Follina, and are probably using it today against non-patched endpoints.
At the same time, malware exploiting browsers is up by almost a quarter (23%). Chrome’s had it worse, experiencing a 50% surge. Most detections (87%) for the quarter went on malicious scripts.
Finally, WatchGuard believes we shouldn’t be dropping our guard against the dreaded Emotet. While its volume declined since last quarter, it remains “one of network security’s biggest threats”.
One of the top 10 overall and top five encrypted malware detections for the quarter was XLM.Trojan.abracadabra, a Win Code injector spreading Emotet, and this one was “widely seen” in Japan, the researchers concluded.
The two keyboards (MX Mechanical Mini and K380) now have modified specialty keys, toting the Mac-specific Command (⌘) and Option (⌥) keys. Logitech has also included an array of macOS-specific shortcut keys, such as Mission Control and Launchpad.
Logitech’s keyboards also are getting updated color schemes to match the Mac aesthetic.
“We know that Apple users value a consistent design aesthetic for their entire setup – work or home – and that they need mice and keyboards that work across their ecosystems,” said Delphine Donné, VP and GM of Creativity and Pproductivity at Logitech.
“We’ve created a suite of stylish tools that elevates how you work by adding more functionality, customization and comfort and because we know that one size doesn’t fit all, this collection was designed, developed and engineered to meet the diverse needs of Apple users.”
The two mice (MX Master 3S and Lift) are also now available in the Apple-friendly color schemes, meaning users can match their accessories to the rest of the Apple ecosystem. These can be mixed and matched with the keyboards, but Logitech will offer specific pairings: the MX Master 3S pairs with the MX Mechanical Mini and the Lift pairs with the K380.
The MX Mechanical Mini for Mac is essentially the same keyboard as the MX Mechanical Mini, released earlier this year, with the exception of the space gray and pale gray color choices and the Mac-specific keycaps.
The MX Master 3S for Mac, now offered in space gray and pale gray, is designed to match perfectly with the MX Mechanical Mini. This mouse has no functionality difference from the recently released MX Master 3S or the updated enterprise-packaged combo.
The MX Mechanical Mini for Mac and the MX Master 3S for Mac can be purchased in a new combined “Performance Duo Designed for Mac” package on Logitech’s website.
The Lift for Mac is, again, a color-updated, Mac-specific, version of the already released Lift device. Besides the new pale gray color and “For Mac” badging, there are no other differences between this mouse and the previous version.
The K380 For Mac has an updated blueberry color scheme to match the new purple iMac and is still available in off-white and rose. The keyboard also has Mac-specific keycaps, much like the new MX Mechanical Mini for Mac. Outside of those two Mac-specific updates, this keyboard is the same as the previous K380 model.
All of these Mac-specific devices are available now. The MX Mechanical Mini for Mac is available for $149.99 (£149.99), the MX Master 3S for Mac is available for $99.99 (£119.99), the Lift for Mac is available for $69.99 (£69.99), and the K380 for Mac is available for $39.99 (£39.99–£44.99 depending on color).
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have the greatest power source in the universe merrily burning away a mere 150 million kilometers above us.
With blackouts, increasing energy bills and controversy over fossil fuels becoming more and more widespread, why did just 5% of global electricity come from solar power in 2021?
On a domestic level, cost and complexity are the twin barriers to powering our homes with sunlight. But they’re no longer as insurmountable as you might think.
The heart of the system is Bluetti tech’s EP600 power station, with form as simple and striking as its function. Traditionally this kind of kit comes encased in the same sort of injection molded, ruggedly masculine plastic as power tools, but the Bluetti model resembles nothing so much as a handcrafted piece of designer luggage. No terminals or wires, just nice rounded corners and a subtly stenciled logo.
Just plug a solar panel (either one of Bluetti’s own or your model of choice) into one end and your home appliances into the other. That’s it. The EP600’s 6000W bi-directional inverter takes care of the rest and is powerful enough for pretty much any domestic use.
So that’s power. Now let’s talk storage. As a wise man once said, the sun can’t shine all the time, so the second part of the puzzle is the Bluetti B500.
No mysteries here either. It’s just a battery. A massively capacious battery with 99.9% MPPT for the highest charge efficiency. It stacks seamlessly under the EP600 and can hold almost 50kWh worth of juice.
There’s more. Fifteen more to be exact. You can stack a total of sixteen B500 batteries under the EP600 power station, storing up to 79.3kWh, or enough energy to run a standard home for around three days.
That’s a lot of episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’. But you don’t need to be preparing for disaster to make the most of your very own fully expandable solar powered power grid.
Protection against blackouts and brownouts, reducing your energy bills and cutting a few toes off your carbon footprint are just a few of the other reasons to take the step towards energy independence.
And, if you’re more of a rolling stone, the EP600 weighs in at just 40kg. Not exactly pocket-sized but it’ll fit nicely into your campervan for the ultimate mobile home experience.
Drive electric? A B500 in the boot can extend your range considerably, adding around an extra 150 miles depending on your make and model.
Wherever you are, you can manage everything from your smartphone via Bluetti’s bespoke app (available on Google Play and the App Store).
And the sticker price for the power of the sun?
The latest price for an EP600 power station and a pair of B500 stackable batteries is only £8,100, €8,999 or $8,650, available to pre-order from here soon (included is an impressive ten year warranty).
With solar power now within the economic reach and technical grasp of domestic users, we think things are about to change.