Artists and comedians have been doing some truly amazing things with Vine since it launched as a Twitter product two years ago, but those mesmerizing slices of life that eat up your day in six-second increments have never really looked all that great. That's finally starting to change, according to a blog post by Vine API lead Mike Kaplinskiy -- you'll start seeing vines in 720p (up from the normal, eye-searing 480p) in the team's iOS and Android apps within the next few days, but some of them can already be spotted embedded around the web.

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Valve, the company that spawned Steam, Team Fortress 2, Portal and Half-Life, will hand out dev kits of its Vive virtual reality headset to select developers at no cost, company spokesperson Doug Lombardi tells Ars Technica. Valve plans to launch a new site next week where developers, big and small, can sign up to potentially score an early version of the Vive. There are no firm guidelines determining which studios will actually get a dev kit, the site reports, and it's unclear how many are up for grabs in this freebie round.

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Surgeons and medical assistant wearing mask and uniform operating patient.?

Google's mysterious facility, Google X, is churning out next level technologies -- a self-driving car, delivery drones and Internet balloons. Its Life Sciences division is now teaming up with Ethicon, one of Johnson & Johnson's medical device companies, to develop robotic-assisted surgeries. "Through this collaboration, we are looking to provide surgeons with a technologically advanced system that would help them make the best, most informed decisions," Gary Pruden, Worldwide Chairman, Global Surgery Group at Johnson & Johnson told Engadget. "The surgeon remains the ultimate decision maker, but they will have even more support with precision movements and data-enhanced decision making tools."

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The best cheap router (for most people)

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com

If I wanted the cheapest good WiFi router I could get, I would buy the TP-Link TL-WDR3600. It's a wireless-n router that costs $60 but outperforms some routers that cost twice as much. It took more than 150 hours of research and testing to find our pick. Of the 29 routers we looked at and the seven we tested, the TL-WDR3600 has the best performance for the lowest price.

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Russian blogger Marat Burkhard told Radio Free Europe that working in an infamous "troll factory" generating fake internet posts and comments was "Orwellian." "Whatever we're told, that's what we'll write about, no questions asked, and we don't want to know." Using the word "absurd" no less than five times, he detailed how a typical day went at "Internet Research," a company run by a Vladimir Putin crony. The team of around 300 employees reportedly puts out about 30,000 pro-Kremlin comments a day from fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook and websites like the New York Times. Burkhard took the job because it was an "adventure" and pays considerably more than a professional journalist makes in the nation.

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Tim Cook has big plans for his vast wealth: It's all going to philanthropy, he revealed in a Fortune interview. The Apple CEO -- who's currently worth around $112 million, and holds restricted stock that could be worth up to $665 million -- said he's already been making donations quietly, but he's also looking forward to taking a deeper approach to the whole endeavor. That could involve starting something similar to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Microsoft co-founder's non-profit which manages his philanthropic efforts. Cook also plans to cover his nephew's college education, like the rich uncle that he is. Cook's open approach to philanthropy differs from his predecessor Steve Jobs, who was widely criticized for not donating enough. His wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, revealed after his death that the family actually donated tens of millions anonymously for over two decades.

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Introducing Engadget's newest contributor: The Wirecutter!

Starting today, you're going to notice a very familiar contributor popping up on the pages of Engadget. That would be none other than our friends at The Wirecutter. We've long admired The Wirecutter's ability to review as many products in as many categories as it does, and then whittle its findings down to a few sensible picks. Here at Engadget, we review gadgets too, but we mainly stick to a handful of categories -- you know, phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, et cetera. Even then, there aren't nearly enough of us to test all the interesting stuff out there. That's where The Wirecutter comes in. Beginning today, we're going to be pulling in abridged versions of their reviews, particularly in categories Engadget doesn't usually cover. Think: televisions, kitchen gadgets, touchscreen gloves. And in today's case, routers: the first column of theirs we'll be publishing. Check it out at the link below, and stay tuned for new picks next week!

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Live streaming apps like Twitter's Periscope and Meerkat are all the rage right now, but so far they've only been accessible to iPhone users. Enter Telescope, a third-party Periscope app for Windows Phone, which opens up the service's live streams to an entirely new audience. You can't actually broadcast your own streams from the app yet (the developer says it's coming), but you can sign up for Periscope and view other live feeds from within the app. It's not a complete solution, but it's something until Twitter rolls out an official Windows Phone client. Expect to wait a while though -- even Twitter's own microblogging app for Windows Phone is still miles behind its iPhone and Android entries. Both Twitter and Meerkat say they're also working on Android apps, but Telescope makes Windows Phone the first platform outside of iOS to get one of those live streaming apps.

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SSDs and other flash memory devices will soon get cheaper and larger thanks to big announcements from Toshiba and Intel. Both companies revealed new "3D NAND" memory chips that are stacked in layers to pack in more data, unlike single-plane chips currently used. Toshiba said that it's created the world's first 48-layer NAND, yielding a 16GB chip with boosted speeds and reliability. The Japanese company invented flash memory in the first place and has the smallest NAND cells in the world at 15nm. Toshiba is now giving manufacturers engineering samples, but products using the new chips won't arrive for another year or so.

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In North Korea, the gadget you'd probably want is a Notel. Or a Notetel, a word that attempts to shoehorn notebook and television together, describing a pretty unassuming, very popular, Chinese-made media player. According to estimates from Reuters, up to half of all urban-based North Koreans have a Notel stashed somewhere in the house. Now, until recently, the device was only found on black markets, but the device has now been legalized and is apparently available in state-run shops and markets for just fifty bucks.

Image credit: Reuters, Kim Hong-Ji

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