Saturday is finally here and it's a great time to catch up this week's top stories. We review the HTC One M9, learn about Ford's new car that will force you to obey the speed limit and get all the details on the best cheap WiFi router that you can buy. Find out about these stories and more in the Weekly Roundup.
Let's say you're a smartphone maker and you cook up a formula for a beloved, game-changing device. The next year, you tweak that formula a bit to create a worthy, if slightly less exciting, follow-up of a phone. What do you do after another year has gone by? Try something completely different in hopes you'll catch lightning in a bottle again, or keep plugging away on the mobile DNA that made you such a worthy name in the first place? If you're HTC, the answer is obvious: You keep polishing and polishing that formula until you finally reach the ideal you've been working toward.
Much as we'd like to emulate our NASCAR heroes, breaking the speed limit often comes at a price. Ford is hoping to prevent accidents and speeding tickets by introducing cars that can see what the speed limit is and preventing heavy-footed motorists from driving any faster. Ford's Intelligent Speed Limiter tech will first appear on the new Ford S-Max that's launching in Europe that could just change the way that we drive.
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.
Am I "good" at games? I don't know. I'm 30 years old: I've been playing video games for 25 of those years, give or take, and covering games professionally for just over six years. I love challenging games. Despite this, I've never loved the divisive, feverishly adored/hated Souls games (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2). Their challenges felt too great to overcome, their systems too inscrutable, their technical issues too great in number. They felt frustrating instead of challenging.
Engadget doesn't review many tablets anymore. When it comes to Android devices, we're far more likely to write about phablets, those supersized smartphones that for many people have eliminated the need for a dedicated slate. Meanwhile, iPad sales have slowed, and Apple has made so few changes to its products that in some cases we actually recommend you buy the previous-gen model to save money. Still, there are some companies that continue to not just build tablets, but also produce interesting designs. One of them is none other than Dell, a company whose track record includes some sensible Windows slates, a series of forgettable Android tablets and a phablet that was ahead of its time.
Mars One promises to send humans on a one-way trip to the red planet, with the intent to colonize, by 2027. Once the first four people leave Earth for Mars, there's no turning back, no panic button, no chance to return home. This aspect of the trip isn't just for drama - it's a core tenet of Mars One's technical feasibility. CEO Bas Lansdorp believes that it's possible, using current technology, to land and sustain human life on Mars.
The feature phone. Still big in Japan. Still being sold in the millions. Still relevant, though? And does it even matter what a 30-something tech writer at a Western tech site thinks? Japan's large elderly population - people who haven't even heard of Angry Birds, Gmail or Uber - they're the ones sticking to their flip phones. Hardy, easy to use and cheaper than an iPhone. (If you need a primer on the phenomenon of gara-kei, you should probably read up on that here, but in short, it's how Japan's mobile phone market sped ahead with early technologies, then faltered when smartphone competition arrived.)
Now that the Apple Watch is close to launch, Apple is getting its stores ready to sell the wearable - and apparently, that involves turning its T-shirt-wearing staffers into fashion gurus. A 9to5Mac leak has revealed that the company is asking retail employees to suggest different watches based on how you dress and your lifestyle, much like you'd expect when buying a pair of designer glasses.
If you want to get a sense of where the real innovation in smartphones is happening, you need to look past the high-end flagships and toward the cheap stuff. And with the new Moto E, Motorola has crafted one of the most compelling budget smartphones yet. Starting at just $150, it's a tad more expensive than last year's $120 model, but it makes up for that with upgrades that make it a far more usable phone.
The age of ubiquitous live streaming is upon us. I say this not only because of the sudden popularity of Meerkat, the mobile live streaming app that now boasts over 100,000 users and celebrity aficionados like Jimmy Fallon and Madonna. No, it's because Meerkat now has a rival. A very big rival, in the form of Twitter. Today, the social media company has taken the wrapper off Periscope, its very own live streaming app that it acquired only a couple of weeks ago. Indeed, it was this very purchase that caused Twitter to cut Meerkat from its social graph, a move that makes it a lot harder for those on Meerkat to find folks to follow.