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Wednesday’s top tech news: Sony’s Afeela EV and Amazon is laying off 18,000

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Yesterday’s trickle of CES announcements has turned into a flood today. The best place to keep up with them is over on our dedicated CES 2023 page, but I wanted to use today’s roundup to highlight a couple that piqued my interest.

First up is this delightfully wacky gadget from Withings. It’s called the U-Scan, and it’s a small puck that you mount in your toilet to take urine samples as you pee throughout the day. It’s meant as a simple way to keep track of your reproductive health and nutrition, without the invasiveness of blood testing, and despite sounding a little gross, I’m really intrigued by this kind of ambient health monitoring.

Second are Samsung’s CES TV announcements, which are particularly interesting after it’s gotten back into the OLED game. Most exciting is a brand new 77-inch QD-OLED, but there are also new Mini LED, and quantum dot LCD TVs further down the range.

Finally, Qi wireless charging is getting an upgrade this year thanks to Apple, which is allowing MagSafe to provide the basis of the new Qi2 standard. It means the company’s ring of magnets might not be exclusive to iPhones for much longer. Check out Sean’s writeup for all the details.

Late in the day, Sony’s CES press conference included the debut of the Afeela name for its car project with Honda, while Amazon execs confirmed a plan for mostly-corporate layoffs that will let go of 18,000 workers.

Anyway, here’s a silly tweet to start your day:

Stay tuned, as we continue to update this list with the most important news of today: Wendesday, January 4th, 2022.
  • We understand if you can’t follow AMD’s new processor naming scheme.

    Because judging by the state of its CES 2023 presentation and some of the related press release materials, neither can AMD, as seen in these screencaps.

    If you need a refresher, we broke down the new rules of AMD’s CPU names here.

  • AMD’s new Ryzen 7000 mobile processors include a massive 16-core chip

    A Ryzen 7045 chip on a white background.
    This is where the magic will happen.
    Image: AMD

    AMD has announced its new Ryzen 7000 mobile CPUs for laptops. The list is a real who’s who of mobile processor architecture, including Zen 4, Zen 3 Plus, Zen 3, and Zen 2 chips.

    The potential star of the show is the “Dragon Range” Zen 4 Ryzen 9 7945HX, which has 16 cores and 32 threads, frequencies of 2.2-5.4 Ghz, 80MB cache, and 55-75 watt TDP. I repeat — 16 cores in a laptop. These aren’t Intel’s little efficiency cores. These are 16 full Zen cores in a laptop’s chassis.

    Read Article >
  • How to watch AMD’s CES 2023 event.

    AMD is ready to announce its next chips at CES 2023 today.

    Rumors have suggested we might see more Ryzen 7000 CPUs, the launch of Zen 4 for mobile, and perhaps even a Ryzen 7000 X3D gaming CPU. AMD could even have some more RX 7000 GPUs to talk about. You can tune into AMD’s live stream at 9:30PM ET / 6:30PM PT in the YouTube stream below.

  • Asus announces new Xbox controller with a built-in OLED screen

    Asus’ new Xbox controller with a built-in OLED display
    There’s a tiny OLED display right at the top.
    Image: Asus

    Asus is releasing a new Xbox PC controller later this year that has a built-in OLED display and a host of connectivity options for PC. The ROG Raikiri Pro has a tiny 1.3-inch OLED display above the Xbox button that will display custom animations, battery or microphone status, and more.

    The OLED display (128 x 40 resolution) will largely be used for swapping profiles during games, or for checking charging or mic status, Bluetooth pairing, and running text or animated wallpapers. The custom animations remind me a lot of the OLED display that replaced the Xbox “jewel” on the revamped Duke controller in 2018, or the classic Sega Dreamcast controller.

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  • Sony and Honda just announced their new electric car brand, Afeela

    Afeela electric car from Sony and Honda
    Image by Chris Welch / The Verge

    Sony and Honda’s joint mobility venture unveiled a new EV prototype called Afeela during Sony’s presentation at CES in Las Vegas Wednesday. The brand will appear on the joint venture’s first production electric car, set to go on sale in North America in 2026.

    Much is still unknown about the new brand, but Sony Honda Mobility CEO Yasuhide Mizuno said the car would leverage Sony’s experience with AI, entertainment, virtual reality, and augmented reality to present a unique EV.

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  • Your first look at the Gran Turismo movie — based on a true story.

    “The film is the ultimate wish fulfillment tale of a teenage Gran Turismo player whose gaming skills won a series of Nissan competitions to become an actual professional racecar driver,” writes Sony.

    A la Top Gun Maverick, Sony is promising lots of actual cockpit footage, mounting massive camera rigs to its cars. Looks like there’ll be some epic drone shots too. It’s out in August.

  • Amazon confirms its layoffs will affect 18,000 employees

    Illustration of Amazon’s wordmark on an orange, black, and tan background made up of overlapping lines.
    That’s a higher number than expected.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Amazon’s ongoing layoffs will affect around 18,000 workers, according to a memo from CEO Andy Jassy, which says that the “majority” of the roles being eliminated will be in Amazon Stores and People, Experience, and Technology organizations.

    That’s significantly more than previously rumored — in November, The New York Times reported that the company was aiming to cut its workforce by around 10,000. In September 2022, the company said it had around 1.5 million employees in total.

    Read Article >
  • How to watch Sony’s CES 2023 event.

    Sony is breaking from tradition this year and won’t be announcing any new TVs at CES 2023. So what’s left? Well, a teaser image from Sony points towards the PlayStation VR2 virtual reality device being part of the live event.

    We’re also expecting more details on the Sony and Honda electric vehicle. You can tune into Sony’s live stream at 8PM ET / 5PM PT in the YouTube stream below.

  • Coming soon: smart homes where the electricity isn’t so dumb

    The Schneider Pulse smart electrical panel, one component of this system.
    The Schneider Pulse smart electrical panel, one component of this system.
    Image: Schneider Electric

    I don’t know if Schneider Electric will be the one to crack it, but I like what it’s promising here at CES 2023 — a smart home where the electrical circuits themselves are smart enough to keep your house powered, save on your energy bill, manage solar, and charge electric vehicles, all through a single app.

    Schneider Electric isn’t a household name, but there’s a good chance you’ve got one of its Square D circuit breakers in your home — the company says four in 10 US households already do. Today, it’s announcing an ecosystem of gadgets that won’t be hidden inside your walls, including:

    Read Article >
  • LastPass’ data breach got it sued.

    Someone has filed a petition for a class action against LastPass, claiming its security measures were “woefully insufficient.” The password management company suffered a breach in August, leading to an even worse leak where hackers got their hands on customers’ encrypted passwords.

    The person who filed the complaint claims to have lost thousands of dollars in Bitcoin because of the hack, though that could be hard to prove.

    There’s no promise this lawsuit will go anywhere, but LastPass probably didn’t need more to worry about right now. Several security experts have heavily criticized LastPass’ security, as well as the way it disclosed the breaches.

  • How to watch Samsung’s CES 2023 event.

    Samsung has already revealed new TVs and monitors, but that was just the beginning for CES. Samsung is holding a CES 2023 press event today, which is expected to last around 45 minutes and will bring “Calm to Our Connected World. Whatever that means.

    You can tune into Samsung’s live stream at 5PM ET / 2PM PT right here.

  • The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is neat, but what’s with the RGB?

    For years, the HP Elite Dragonfly has been one of the most sleek, luxurious, and exorbitantly expensive business laptops you can buy. The new Dragonfly Pro is HP’s attempt to market those models to a broader, consumer-focused, and more price-conscious audience. There’s a Windows-based Dragonfly Pro, and there’s a Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, and while we don’t know the pricing yet, the hope is that they will be cheaper than their business counterparts.

    I spent a few minutes with the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook and the Dragonfly Pro, and they seem nice. They’re well-built and pretty-looking (and I’d be shocked if they weren’t, coming from HP). They come in black and white options. But the first thing you’ll probably notice is that the Chromebook has an RGB keyboard.

    Read Article >
  • TCL has a screen ready for every version of reality

    VR headset rendering on black background with neon purple and blue light.
    TCL’s NXTWear V headset concept is just one way the company hopes to put screens on your face.
    Image: TCL

    TCL’s displays are in TVs, smartphones, and maybe in the near future, the metaverse, too. At least, the company wants to make the screen that gets you there. At CES 2023, the company is announcing its latest experiments with wearable displays, including a VR headset and mixed reality glasses. Plus, its personal display glasses, which have only been available in limited markets, are now heading for the US. It’s kind of a “cover-all-your-bases” strategy for whatever the future of display technology looks like.

    The company’s NXTWear S glasses are the latest version of its wearable display — kind of like a TV contained in a pair of (sort of) ordinary-looking glasses. They aren’t AR or VR glasses; they plug into a device like your phone or laptop and mirror content onto what looks like a massive 130-inch screen.

    Read Article >
  • TCL’s 2023 TVs have new branding and are gaming powerhouses

    Image: TCL

    TCL is overhauling its TV strategy for 2023 by ditching the company’s long-running 6-Series, 5-Series, and 4-Series branding in favor of two new lines: higher-end sets will be part of the Q-Series, while more value-focused TVs will fall under the S-Series. Within the two segments are six different models in all.

    Let’s cover the best first, shall we? With its flagship QM8, TCL is promising double the peak brightness of its best Mini LED TVs from 2022 — and those were already fairly impressive in their own right. Set to come in screen sizes between 65 inches and 98 inches, the largest QM8 packs in more than 2,300 dimming zones. TCL claims that’s the most of any 4K Mini LED TV on the market — and even more than 8K models. The QM8 features Wi-Fi 6 and has a built-in subwoofer for powerful audio. The design has been refreshed with a “bezel-less” design and height-adjustable stand.

    Read Article >
  • Alienware’s fresh gaming laptops (and more) from CES 2023 in video form.

    The big thing happening at CES in the microcosm of gaming laptops is the shift to 16- and 18-inch designs. 15- and 17-inch is very 2022! Oh, and all of those new Intel and Nvidia chips are cool, too.

    Alienware was one of the first companies to announce its 2023 machines this year, and we shot a video to give you the full rundown of its announcements. So, in between reading our CES coverage, why not take a breather and watch this video?

  • LG’s Signature OLED M is (almost) wireless.

    A few years ago LG’s gimmick for the highest-end version of its OLED TV was a paper-thin display that you could slap on the wall and connect to its soundbar / base station with a single wire.

    In 2023, LG’s top-of-the-line 97-inch 4K OLED doesn’t need the connecting wire at all.

    From wireless to 8K and back to more reasonable options, Verge editor and reviewer Chris Welch is ready to walk you through the entire lineup.

  • Asus debuts an impressive (glasses-free) 3D display on its new Vivobook Pro

    A user types on the Asus ProArt Studiobook.
    It’s on the fancier ProArt Studiobook, too.
    Photo by Owen Grove / The Verge

    For some companies that sell gaming and creator-oriented laptops, glasses-free 3D has become a bit of a dream. Acer first tried it back in 2021. Its SpatialLabs technology, which uses a combination of a stereo camera, optical lens, and real-time rendering technology to create decently realistic 3D images, has since made its way to a number of laptops, including the Predator Helios 300 gaming rig.

    This year, it’s Asus’ turn. The company has announced Spatial Vision, a “glasses-free (autostereoscopic) 3D OLED technology.” The screens are 3D, 3.2K, OLED, and 120Hz. In a similar manner to Acer’s tech, machines that support Spatial Vision will use a combination of a lenticular lens and advanced eye-tracking camera technology. They render separate images for each eye and follow the position of your head and eyes to adjust them accordingly.

    Read Article >
  • Belkin will make its most popular accessories with recycled plastics.

    That includes many of its wireless chargers, power banks, wall chargers, and car chargers, which will now consist of 73 to 75 percent post-consumer recycled plastics.

    But as our science reporter Justine Calma points out, electronics made with recycled plastics still don’t do much to solve the e-waste problem. That’s because companies have to use new plastics to reinforce recycled plastics that have deteriorated over time:

    All those weaknesses with plastic also make it more difficult to recycle something that’s already been made with recycled materials. There comes a point when plastic can’t even be downcycled anymore. When it reaches that point, it’s typically incinerated or sent to landfills. 

  • The exec in charge of Roku’s new TVs came from... TCL.

    Roku hasn’t said who is building the new TVs it just announced at CES, but it’s fascinating they have ex-TCL exec Chris Larson running things. A little badge engineering goes a long way, I suppose.

  • MSI’s Stealth Studio takes aim at the Zephyrus G14

    The MSI Stealth 14 Studio on a white background. The screen displays the MSI dragon.
    Look how tiny.
    Image: MSI

    There are a number of 14-inch gaming laptops floating around, but the most notable one by far is Asus’s ROG Zephyrus G14. It’s a powerhouse and an easy recommendation to anyone seeking a portable device that can really game.

    But this year, MSI has decided to throw its hat in the ring. It’s just announced the new Stealth 14 Studio, which it’s boldly claiming is “the most powerful 14-inch gaming laptop.” That is a tough title to live up to, considering that the G14... exists (not to mention Razer’s Blade 14, which is also a strong, and sometimes even stronger, performer).

    Read Article >
  • MSI’s new laptop is see-through but not see-through enough

    The bottom of the MSI Cyborg 15 for 2023, revealing its semi-translucent shell design.
    One of the coolest parts of the Cyborg 15 will remain out of sight while you use it — a shame.
    Image: MSI

    There’s something wrong with the seemingly hundreds of laptops that have been birthed so far during CES 2023: almost none of them are translucent. Using a see-through design is proven [no citations found] to make more people want to buy a product because, for one, it looks cool, and two, the company must be pretty confident in its engineering handiwork to want to show it off like that.

    The thing is, if a company uses translucent plastic on your gadget, it’s got to go for it 100 percent or go home. And that’s where MSI goes wrong.

    Read Article >
  • Vimeo is laying off 11 percent of its workforce in another round of job cuts

    Vimeo logo over a purple and black geometric background.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Vimeo is doing another round of layoffs, this time affecting 11 percent of the company, CEO Anjali Sud announced in a letter posted online.

    Citing “a further deterioration in economic conditions,” Sud told Vimeo staff that nearly every department and region of the company will see cuts. The majority of layoffs will occur in large departments like sales and research and development.

    Read Article >
  • Eve’s new gadget turns retro rollers into smart blinds

    Image of someone holding the Eve MotionBlinds Upgrade Kit for Roller Blinds.
    The kit includes mounting brackets, covers, and adapters to ensure a proper fit with your blinds.
    Image: Eve

    The purpose of Eve’s MotionBlinds Upgrade Kit for Roller Blinds is apparent right from the name: it’s a device meant to make your regular old shades smart by adding a motor and a way to talk to your existing smart home setup. That means you’ll be able to add automations that close or open your blinds when doing so can save you energy or just ask your phone or voice assistant to let some light in without having to shell out for an entirely new window covering.

    The company says that the device can be “easily installed without any wiring or technical know-how,” though you’ll have to charge it via its built-in USB-C port. The battery should last “up to a year with regular use,” according to Daniel Turk, a publicist working with Eve, and the kit includes several adapters, which the company says will allow it to “fit into a wide range of roller blind tubes.”

    Read Article >
  • Samsung’s $200 Galaxy A14 5G comes with an upgraded display

    Renders of Samsung Galaxy A13 5G showing front, side, and rear.
    The A13 5G comes with a big 6.6-inch 1080p display, an upgraded selfie camera, and a 50-megapixel rear camera.
    Image: Samsung

    Samsung is starting off 2023 with a budget phone refresh, making some smart upgrades with the Galaxy A14 5G — at least on paper. The A14 will cost $199, which is $50 lower than the A13 5G’s list price. Compared to its predecessor, it comes with a higher-res display and selfie cam while leaving many other core specs alone. Samsung will also offer up to four years of security updates and two OS version upgrades, which is a significant step up from the two or three years of security updates that are much more common at this price.

    The A14 5G has a MediaTek 700 chipset and 4GB of RAM, just like the A13. That’s fine — the A13 delivered good performance with that combination, so Samsung isn’t trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. There’s still only 64GB of storage, but as before, microSD expansion is an option. The screen is a little bigger at 6.6 inches, and resolution has been boosted from 720p to 1080p. It’s still a 90Hz screen, which makes scrolling a little smoother than the standard 60Hz, but the extra pixels on such a big display should be the real difference-maker.

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  • Panasonic’s new mirrorless camera gets the autofocus overhaul we’ve been waiting for

    A three-quarter view of the Panasonic Lumix S5II camera, with lens attached, sitting on a wood dock in front of a body of water.
    It’s a black camera, but trust me when I say it could be blacker. And thankfully Panasonic will soon do something about that.
    Image: Panasonic

    Panasonic’s new cameras are finally making the leap to a new autofocus system, potentially putting them in line with the latest offerings from Sony, Canon, and Nikon. At CES, the company is announcing the Lumix S5II and its stealthy, blacked-out cousin, the S5IIx — a duo of 24-megapixel full-frame mirrorless hybrid cameras for both stills and video, due out in January for $1,999 and May for $2,199, respectively. Also announced alongside them is a $799 14-28mm f/4-5.6 S Macro lens, arriving in February.

    Unsurprisingly for Panasonic cameras, the S5II pair have a lot of video features, like 6K recording with real-time LUTs. This year, they ditch the dated and clunky contrast-detect autofocus for a new hybrid phase-detect system Panasonic claims can track multiple people. That might make these new cameras more reliable and up to the task for fast-action stills, which has been a sticking point of Lumix cameras for years now.

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