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Ack-Ack fire during an air raid on Algiers, by the Nazis.  1943. Lt. W. R. Wilson.  (Army)

Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey successfully concluded a demonstration of its new anti-UAV platform recently by, you guessed it, blowing a pair of airborne drones clean out of the sky from a kilometer away. However, unlike other anti-drone weapons like the Phalanx or C-RAM systems which throw walls of hot, explosive lead at incoming threats; or the laser-based HEL-MD, this new weapon takes a more old-school approach: lots of big friggin' bullets.

Moto X Pure running Lollipop

Android Lollipop is enjoying its last, shining moment in the sun before Marshmallow arrives in earnest. Google's not-quite-current operating system now accounts for 23.5 percent of active Android users, a healthy 2.5-point boost from what you saw just one month ago. That's still trailing behind Jelly Bean (30.2 percent) and KitKat (38.9 percent), but it's clear that all those new devices and upgrades are starting to add up. The real question is whether or not that momentum will last. Marshmallow is arriving relatively quickly, and shouldn't suffer from the early performance and battery life woes that kept some people from upgrading last year. If the newer release catches on quickly, Lollipop might not reach the lofty adoption rates of its predecessors.

Twitch would be nothing without its broadcasters and viewers, and the livestreaming service is fiercely protective of both. So much so that to prevent its first-ever TwitchCon conference from transforming into a promotional event for exhibitors, rather than a meet-up for its community, the company was willing to turn down exhibitor support. The goal, as Matt DiPietro, Twitch's VP of marketing, explained it, was to keep the show laser focused on community so it doesn't turn into something like Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and the Game Developers Conference (GDC) have: huge but at the expense of their initial focus. "What TwitchCon has to be about is the broadcasters and their fans," he said in an interview from the show. "Everything we do, we think about the broadcasters first because that's what brings the fans and creates the content."

Must Reads

  • Synaptics will bring pressure-sensitive screens to Android phones

    Right now, the only way to get a pressure-sensitive screen in a smartphone is to snag an iPhone 6s or wait patiently for the Force Touch version of Huawei's Mate S. You won't have to be quite so picky in the near future, though: Synaptics has unveiled ClearForce technology that brings pressure sensitivity...

  • Engadget giveaway: win an iPhone 6s courtesy of Spigen!

    Live and learn, right? While having a bare-bottomed phone looks great, with one or two catastrophes under your belt, you may not be going commando again any time soon. This is especially true if you have a high-end handset like Apple's iPhone 6s. That's where companies like Spigen come in, to wrap...

When Dyson isn't turning its R&D-heavy hand to new interests, it likes to go about improving upon existing products. Case in point: the new "Pure Hot + Cool," which combines Dyson's bladeless fan, heater and air purification technologies into the one device. Like Dyson's "Pure Cool" bladeless fan, this shorter model can filter even the tiniest of particles (as small as 0.1 microns), including bacteria, mould and pollen, with a 99.95 percent success rate. Furthermore, the glass HEPA filter hidden in the base of the tower should last over a year, even with daily use. Apart from the size of the thing, the new product only differs in that it can also heat up a room, and not just keep it cool using Dyson's fancy "Air Multiplier" tech.

Happy Wednesday once again! This week, we kick things off with a great question from Daryl, who wants to stay in touch with his wife who will be staying in China for the next few months. Fortunately, my own spouse (who you may recognize from the Engadget of yore) has done tons of research into this very subject from our own trip to China!

I also cover questions on how to get into the gadget reviewing world, and the benefits of audiobooks! In fact, we have a poll this week for you on that subject below: if you think the experience is better listening to a story, select the megaphone-looking emoji. If you think reading words is the one true way to get thoughts into your brain, select the book! If you hate both, choose the ghost emoji because you can't be for real.

Keep those questions coming for future episodes by emailing me or sending me a tweet with #DearVeronica in it! See you next time!

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Which reading experience is best?

ASUS' spiky router promises the 'world's fastest WiFi'

You may know that you can replace your WiFi router's software with an open source version like DD-WRT or Tomato to make it more secure or powerful. However, the US wireless regulator (FCC) only seems to have figured that out recently, and is not happy with your ability to boost the signal power on such devices. As such, it proposed changes to regulations, with one document suggesting it may ban or restrict third-party software altogether. That caught the eye of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which created an online petition asking the FCC to make changes.


An Israeli team competing in the Google Lunar XPrize has secured a launch contract to send its rover to the Moon. Xprize is offering $20 million to the first team to land a rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit HD video and images back to earth. SpaceIL, the Israeli team in question, has signed with Spaceflight Industries, a company which specializes in space "rideshares." The deal means that SpaceIL's rover will likely be hitching a lift aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket alongside commercial satellites -- and possibly even other XPrize contestants -- in 2017.

Let's face it: a lot of those beautifully-designed websites, feature articles and media don't translate well for those browsing on a mobile device. To improve the speed and efficiency of the mobile web, Google has announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Through the initiative, Mountain View is looking to leverage existing HTML tech to help publishers build "light-weight" sites that load faster, even if they contain video, animations, slideshows and other items that typically require significant bandwidth. "We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant," a blog post announcing AMP explains. Google has already used AMP's HTML open framework for Search and its other apps/services (like News) could see the tech as well. The company already has around 30 publishers on board, including Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress and LinkedIn. Of course, Google isn't the only one improving mobile browsing as Facebook varies how your News Feed loads based on your connection.

Most of us have barely touched 4K content, but the keen folks in Japan are already showing off some 8K displays, and we're not just talking about those of conventional TV sizes. At CEATEC, NHK brought along three upcoming 8K panels that may end up on future tablets, laptops and monitors. These include JDI's 17.3-inch LCD that was just announced last week, as well as Ortus' insanely sharp 9.6-inch LCD (that's a whopping 915 dpi!) from May, and Sharp/SEL's 13.3-inch OLED display. Even though the OLED panel was unveiled back in June last year, it's still by far the best 8K display out of the three; it's as if you're looking into another world, thanks to the combination of high contrast, strong vibrancy plus insanely sharp resolution. Alas, there's no launch date for any of these just yet, but a spokesperson from NHK hopes to see these come out before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will be broadcast in 8K.

Much like the original Chromecast streaming stick, Google's new Chromecast video and audio gadgets aren't things you'd want to try and repair if anything goes wrong. "Ultimately any device like those in the Chromecast family will be the same story—a board in a box," iFixit declared in its teardown. Then again, at just $35, you're probably better off just replacing your Chromecast when it conks out. There are some intriguing reveals in iFixit's teardown though: Google went a bit thermal paste crazy this time around, which should help the new Chromecast avoid overheating as much as its predecessor. It also looks like the HDMI cable in the video Chromecast is plenty tough, while also being internally detachable. If it does get damaged, there's a chance you'll be able to swap it out for a new part. Beyond that, both the audio and video Chromecast models look pretty similar internally.


Matthias Mueller, the man that Volkswagen hopes will save the company after Emissions-gate, has revealed the first stage in his rescue plan. According to Reuters, the executive told German media that the firm will begin recalling its emissions-cheating vehicles in January, with the program running until the end of 2016. Mueller is quoted as saying that the vehicles will all be "fixed" by that date, implying that the company has found a safe way to reduce their emissions levels. In addition, Mueller has revealed that he's using the crisis as justification to conduct a top-down reorganization of the German car conglomerate. The chief has pledged to make his company smaller and less centralized, adding that each of its various divisions will have to justify their contribution to the overall firm. Which, if we're honest, sounds ominous in the extreme.

[Image Credit: AFP/Getty]

Origami and technology go together pretty well. Lightweight, efficient structures... and animal shapes. But there's nothing more "origami" than the humble paper crane. Now, courtesy of a small, light, power-efficient microcomputer from Rohm (a Japanese company: don't let the name fool you), the crane can fly. Better still, it's remote-controlled and can even keep itself afloat for around five minutes, according to the spokesperson. It's almost the most Japanese thing here at this year's CEATEC. Almost.

What, you thought the Microsoft news would end once the keynote from the Windows 10 Devices showcase did? Guess again because Redmond's latest operating system hits existing mobile phones starting in December -- the outfit said as much on its Lumia Facebook page. However, as Winbeta notes, it's going to be up to carriers to actually push the updates out to your handset. A way to sidestep that, of course, is by signing up for the Windows Insider preview program. Is your device going to get the update? That's a little iffy. First off, it needs at least 8GB of internal storage, and then it needs to be running Lumia Denim (system version 8.10.14219.341) to be eligible. So if you have a low-end Lumia you might be left wanting.

Today on In Case You Missed It: The RoBoHon is a 7-inch tall smartphone robot that can also dance, walk and talk and basically simultaneously creep out and amaze all your family and friends. Microsoft is busy dreaming up the next HoloLens game that we really want to play: Code-named Project X-Ray, it sends robots to do battle with you, right in your living room. And a virtual reality headset app wants to help train surgeons in a way that doesn't endanger any real people.

Its been a while since Beats revealed some new personal audio tech. To be fair, the company has been a bit busy getting settled in Cupertino and lending a hand with Apple Music. Now that the streaming service has launched, Beats is getting back to the speaker business. Its first completely new device since joining Tim Cook & Co. is the Pill+: a Bluetooth device for blasting your music. As the name suggests, the Beats Pill+ is a bit larger than the original Pill, yet much smaller than the Pill XL. The overall design is different as well, with a flat panel around the middle rather than a completely round pill-like shape. That change also makes the power and volume controls more accessible up top.

If you live in a mid-Atlantic state and see an aircraft leaving trails in the sky on October 7th, don't panic: those aren't chemtrails. NASA's just testing a handful of new spacecraft technologies by launching a suborbital or "sounding" rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia between 7 and 9PM. One of the technologies onboard is a deployment system for vapor clouds that will be used for wind and ionosphere research. The agency will be trying it out tomorrow by releasing a barium and strontium mixture, which will create blue-green and red trails in the sky, 130 miles above the ground.

Panoramic view of urban landscape in Bangkok Thailand in twilight time at high rise building

Thailand's military junta has already banned Facebook (a few times), Bitcoin and the game Tropico, but that's not enough for the censor-happy dictatorship. The nation is now kicking around the idea of a single gateway -- effectively one internet connection between Thailand and the rest of the world. With that in place, the government would have complete control over the country's internet traffic, making censorship and surveillance a breeze. Naturally, this so-called Great Firewall of Thailand isn't something that its citizens are taking lying down, which is why several government websites were taken down in a co-ordinated DDoS attack last week.

The nice thing about 8-inch Windows tablets, aside from how portable they are, is that they're often super inexpensive and come with Microsoft Office pre-installed. The challenge for big tech companies is getting consumers to actually want to use the desktop on such a tiny screen. HP is the latest to try its hand, with a new device called the Envy Note 8. As you'd expect of any tablet being billed as a productivity device, it comes with a keyboard -- in this case, a Bluetooth accessory that allows you to view the tablet in landscape or portrait mode, and that has a slot in the back where you can stow the device when you're not using it. This is a design we've seen before, but it's the first time HP is attempting it. Also, for what it's worth, HP will include a stylus in the box, which not all of its rivals bother to do.


HP's inexpensive Stream laptops weren't perfect by any means, but with a starting price of $200, we were able to forgive a lot, including so-so displays, sluggish performance and sometimes-flaky touchpads. Today HP is refreshing both the Stream 11 and 13, and while neither seems to address the flaws we found in the original, they at least keep the same price, all while bringing longer battery life -- and in the case of the smaller one, a lighter design. In particular, the 11.6-inch model now weighs 2.6 pounds, down from 2.74. The 13.3-inch version remains unchanged at 3.42 pounds, and there's an optional touchscreen for the larger model as well. In both cases, you can expect better runtime: up to 10.5 hours on the 11 (up from 8:15) and 8.5 hours on the 13 (versus 7:45 on the last generation). That's important, as the Stream line competes in part against Chromebooks, some of which have no problem reaching the 10-hour mark.

After taking a long break from making gaming notebooks, HP finally got back in the saddle last year when it unveiled the Omen, a slim gaming laptop priced at $1,500. It generally earned respectable reviews on account of its stylish design and decent performance, but had lots of competition at that price, and its rivals often won when it came to sheer horsepower. To cover its bases, then, HP announced the Pavilion Gaming notebook, which starts at a more palatable $900 -- and might have fewer competitors at that price.