ICYMI: We take a drive with Spotify’s Car Thing

And we wore the latest smart glasses from Razer.

Spotify Car Thing (Billy Steele/Engadget)

In addition to your typical smartphones and laptops, peculiar new technology often falls into the hands of Engadget editors. For example, Billy Steele got a chance to drive around with Spotify’s very first bit of hardware, the Car Thing. Likewise, Cherlynn Low got the chance to wear Razer’s Anzu smart glasses and got a feel for how the gaming company’s device compares to frames made by Bose and Amazon. And on the more traditional side of things, Devindra Hardawar was pleased to see the significant improvements made to the Surface Laptop 4, which might make it the best Surface machine yet.

Spotify’s Car Thing is basically a controller for the mobile app

Spotify Car Thing

After many years in the rumor mill, Spotify’s first piece of hardware has received a limited release. Billy Steele spent some time with the awkwardly named Car Thing, a small dashboard of sorts that lets you control Spotify more easily while driving. Roughly the size of an iPhone 11, the Car Thing features a touchscreen as well as a large dial to scroll and select, a back button, a settings button and four preset buttons. The latter provide quick access to playlists, albums and podcasts. Billy said the overall design reminded him of the XM Radio receiver he had in the late 90’s, albeit with better controls and functionality.

After a few weeks of use, Billy began to see the utility in the gadget. He found the set up for the Car Thing relatively straightforward; Spotify includes three different mount options in the box, though each has its own drawbacks. The CD slot mount that Billy went with, for example, blocked most of his vehicle’s small, built-in display. The voice controls on the device worked well, except for oddly spelled or pronounced artists like Sunn O))), or artists who have similar names like Knives and NYVES. Billy also liked the simple but effective player interface on the Car Thing. While it seemed like a gadget intended only for die-hard Spotify fans, Billy found it a good way to upgrade music features on older cars. If Spotify releases it to everyone, it could be worth the $80 to snag one.

Razer’s Anzu smart glasses excel with a long battery life and a blue-light filter

Razer Anzu
Cherlynn Low/Engadget

Though smart glasses from Bose and Amazon have already hit the market, these devices haven’t quite taken off yet. Cherlynn Low wore the latest offering from Razer, dubbed the Anzu smart glasses, to see how they stack up. While the Anzu are not as comfortable to wear as the Echo Frames, she found their battery life to be superior, lasting at least a few hours on a single charge. She also liked the default, blue-light filtering lenses and the choice of style and size options. Available in a rectangle shape as well as a rounder one, the Anzu glasses come in two sizes and have springier hinges for a better fit. However, right now they’re only available in one color — black.

The Anzu glasses also have speakers and charging ports built into its chunky arms, however there are no physical buttons on them. Instead, there are touch sensitive controls on both arms, but Cherlynn found them to be unintuitive. They also offer a “Game Mode” for low-latency sound which uses a 60ms Bluetooth connection to ensure a smooth and stutter-free stream. In practice, Cherlynn said the Game Mode made a slight improvement, but the audio on Cooking Dash remained delayed. Despite this and some hollow audio quality, she still said she enjoyed using the Anzu glasses because of their solid battery life and the convenience of having them for video chats and YouTube streams.

Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 is powerful with an exceptional keyboard

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Of the many things that Microsoft improved on the Surface Laptop 4, design was not one of them. The ultraportable features the same luxurious aluminum case and PixelSense screen as the previous models, which made it look a bit dated to Devindra Hardawar. However, its longer battery life, the speedy new CPU options and the support for the Surface Pen made the Laptop 4 easy for Devindra to recommend. Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 7 4980U processor, he had no issues playing Overwatch in 1080p with high graphics settings or in running dozens of browser tabs, 4K videos and large game downloads.

He was likewise impressed with the much improved battery life — the Laptop 4 ran for 15 hours and 25 minutes during testing, and in real world use Devindra was able to work for around 10 hours before needing a recharge. He also remains a big fan of both the keyboard, which has a deep and responsive key travel, and the bright touchscreen, which has excellent responsiveness. However, he admits the laptop feels a bit limited thanks to its scant two ports. Overall, the strong specs and capable performance make the Surface Laptop 4 a solid machine that Devindra is quick to recommend.

Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is an update with important new features

Blackmagic BMPCC 6K Pro
Steve Dent/Engadget

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (BMPCC 6K Pro) is an upgraded version of the cinematic camera that the company released in 2019. Steve Dent was eager to play around with the new model because of its built-in ND filters, optional EVF, tilt screen and brighter display. Though it has the same carbon fiber polycarbonate composite body as the previous model, the 6K Pro is slightly heftier than the previous model, which Steve felt made it easier to handle. The new shooter also features dual card slots, an intuitive menu system, a 3.5mm headphone, microphone ports and a full-sized HDMI output.

The tilt-able display reaches 1,500 nits of brightness and made the 6K Pro more functional as it is now easier to view HDR video and view images. The optional $495 EVF also helped by giving a sharp, 3.68-million dot OLED view with a built-in proximity sensor that will automatically switch between the screen and EVF. The Sony NP-F batteries for the camera body were yet another improvement: users now only need to buy one type of battery to power the camera for up to 60 minutes of shooting. Steve points out that the BMPCC 6K Pro is still not a great run-and-gun camera because of its lack of autofocus and built-in stabilization, but it’s a great bargain for filmmakers who love using gimbals and tripods.

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