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Thursday’s top tech news: chips, cars, and audiobooks

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CES is a big show, but it still surprises me to see the huge range of different announcements that come out of it. As a case in point, Sony and Honda showed off a whole-ass electric car prototype during Sony’s CES presentation. They weren’t the only companies to show off a concept car during the show thanks to this E Ink-slathered vehicle from BMW.

But enough about cars, what about chips? Thankfully AMD has you covered, with a massive new lineup of processors for laptops and desktops alike. It’s wild to remember that just a few short years ago, 16-core CPUs were the domain of AMD’s expensive Threadripper lineup, and soon they’ll be available in laptops. Amazing.

Amidst all this CES gadget news, Apple has quietly launched a new AI audiobook narrator that it hopes will allow smaller publishers and authors to get in on the audiobook market at a much lower cost.

And now, 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: Friday, January 5th, 2023.
  • The first smart deadbolt capable of wireless charging is coming this year

    A black smart lock with a keypad on a white door half open so you can see into the living room.
    Alfred’s new DB2S smart deadbolt will charge via Wi-Charge’s infrared power transmission, though the transmitter will be sold separately.
    Image: Alfred

    The first wirelessly powered smart deadbolt is launching later this year — but you’ll have to wait for the wireless power. The Alfred DB2S is the first DIY-installable smart lock that can charge via infrared power transmission, and Alfred says it’ll be available for $299 at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other retailers in early Q2.

    There’s a slight catch, though: that $299 doesn’t get you wireless charging, at least not yet. For that, you’ll need a Wi-Charge charging kit, which won’t be available through consumer channels until the second half of 2023 at the earliest. Pricing for the kit has not been set.

    Read Article >
  • The FTC wants to ban the noncompete clauses ensnaring some tech workers

    Illustration of the Capitol building with a blue filter.
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    The Federal Trade Commission is looking to ban noncompete clauses in employment contracts, which companies put in place to prevent employees from going to work for competitors or leaving to start similar businesses. On Thursday, the regulator issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, saying that the clauses hurt innovation and “decrease competition for workers,” which leads to lower wages overall.

    While the proposed rule, which you can read here, would benefit workers across industries, it’s especially relevant in tech.

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  • Look at Lenovo’s actually good dual-screen laptop.

    They might be onto something with this Yoga Book 9i.

    With two 13.3-inch OLED touch panels and a surprisingly adaptable keyboard add-on, it makes a solid case for dual-screen devices.

  • Razer’s Edge 5G handheld is coming to Verizon this month for $359.99

    Razer’s Edge Android gaming tablet fitting snug within the Kishi V2 Pro game controller.
    The 5G version is coming very soon at a not-outlandish price.
    Image: Razer

    Razer and Verizon co-announced the pricing for the 5G-enabled Edge gaming handheld during CES 2023. It’s launching on January 26th for $359.99 when you add it as a new tablet line to your account. With an installment plan, Verizon says the math works out to $10 per month for 36 months. This pricing is available for a limited time, but a timeframe wasn’t provided by Verizon, so we’ve followed up to find out. The retail price for the 5G model is $599.99, which is $200 more than the Wi-Fi-only model.

    We first heard about the Edge (Razer’s revival of the awkward 2013 tablet-handheld hybrid) in October 2022. It has a 6.8-inch OLED screen with a fast 144Hz refresh rate, and it sits snugly in between the Kishi V2 Pro, a modified version of the mobile controller that adds rumble. This handheld’s focus is playing cloud games over Wi-Fi and 5G, and to that end, it supports Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Steam Link for when you’re within range of a gaming PC.

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  • Google’s new split-screen look for Android Auto is rolling out to everyone

    Showing a rendered image of Android Auto on an in-car display showing navigation alongside a music player, with button shortcuts for apps underneath.
    The new split-screen Android Auto UI.
    Image: Google

    The Android Auto look and feel has evolved greatly since we reviewed it in 2015, but now its biggest update is starting to roll out to all users, introducing a split-screen UI that can let you see more things at once. Keeping the map on screen while also adding one or two other panes makes it a bit more like Apple’s current approach to CarPlay, and Google says its focus is on creating a “more personal, easy-to-use experience from behind the wheel.”

    Wherever the inspiration comes from, I appreciate it. Dubbed “Coolwalk” in testing over the last year or so, the new UI has been publicly available in beta form for several months after it was publicly announced in the spring, and as a longtime Android Auto user, I’ve had it in my car.

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  • Razer says its Kiyo Pro Ultra webcam can capture uncompressed 4K footage

    Razer’s Kiyo Pro Ultra webcam being twisted to close its shutter for privacy.
    The Kiyo Pro Ultra’s shutter can be closed by twisting it, which is something the previous model couldn’t do.
    Image: Razer

    Razer’s new 4K webcam, the $299.99 Kiyo Pro Ultra, is available starting today from Razer’s site and at its retail stores. Razer promises DSLR-like video quality with its 1/1.2-inch Sony Starvis 2 sensor, which it claims is the largest ever in a webcam. This webcam offers an f/1.7 aperture that should allow for natural-looking bokeh and hopefully solid low-light performance, too.

    Like many webcams these days, the Kiyo Pro Ultra was made to tempt creators away from buying a pricey DSLR camera. The Pro Ultra even looks like a DSLR lens, a design it shares with 2021’s Kiyo Pro, a promising but slightly underwhelming 1080p 60fps webcam. It’s kind of hard to distinguish from that older model, though Razer gave the Pro Ultra a twist-to-close privacy shutter.

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  • HTC’s new VR / AR headset is the $1,099 Vive XR Elite

    A black VR headset with a back strap and a glasses-like design.
    The HTC Vive XR Elite.
    Image: HTC

    HTC is opening preorders for a new virtual and augmented reality headset, the Vive XR Elite. The XR Elite is a $1,099 standalone headset that’s designed to compete with Meta’s Quest headsets and the rumored Apple AR / VR device. Shipping in late February worldwide, it supports the gamut of consumer games and software HTC has offered on past VR headsets, plus mixed reality experiences using full-color passthrough video.

    The Vive XR Elite is aimed at consumers who want games, passive media, and productivity tools in a relatively lightweight package. HTC promised a small and light design, and the XR Elite weighs in at 625 grams, making it heavier than the Meta Quest 2 but notably lighter than the 722-gram Quest Pro. It offers mixed reality with color cameras and a depth sensor for additional situational awareness, something Meta initially planned but cut from its Quest Pro.

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  • Google’s new high-definition maps are arriving first on Volvo and Polestar electric vehicles

    Volvo EX90 with Google HD maps
    Image: Volvo

    Google is rolling out a brand-new high-definition version of Google Maps for cars with the tech giant’s native Android Automotive operating system. The HD maps will provide granular details that were not previously available, like lane markings, road signs, and traffic barriers.

    The first vehicles to get the new HD maps will be the Volvo EX90, the Swedish automaker’s new flagship electric vehicle due out later this year, and the Polestar 3, the Volvo-backed performance marque’s first SUV. The Volvo EX90 and Polestar 3 will share the same platform, Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA2), and both use Android Automotive, which is Google’s native in-car operating system.

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  • Mercedes-Benz and ChargePoint are going to install thousands of EV fast chargers in the US

    Mercedes-Benz EV fast charging station
    Image: Mercedes-Benz

    Mercedes-Benz, MN8, and ChargePoint are joining forces to install 400 fast electric vehicle charging hubs across the US in a major bid to boost EV sales and improve the nation’s struggling EV charging infrastructure. The project will cost approximately €1 billion ($1 billion), which will be split 50-50 between Mercedes and MN8.

    Starting this year, the companies will begin the work to construct hundreds of new hubs, which will include more than 2,500 DC fast charging plugs. MN8 Energy, an offshoot of Goldman Sachs Asset Management focused on solar power and energy storage, will help finance the project using ChargePoint’s EV charging hardware and software, the companies said.

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  • Victrola announces the Victrola Stream Onyx, a cheaper version of its Stream Carbon turntable

    The Victrola Stream Onyx turntable sitting on a black desk.
    Image: Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

    Want the joys of analog audio but the convenience of wireless speakers? Victrola has an option for you: at CES, the company is introducing a new turntable called the Stream Onyx that’s capable of streaming records straight to a Sonos system.

    The Stream Onyx is certified for Works With Sonos, meaning it can wirelessly transmit audio to Sonos speakers. As a result, you can easily play vinyl records through your entire Sonos system without needing to install any extra equipment. Instead, you use the Victrola app to connect the turntable to your Wi-Fi and Sonos system.

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  • You can now tag movies and TV shows in your TikToks.

    The short form video app is partnering with IMDb and adding landing pages for films and shows. The pages have details about the title, as well as other related TikTok videos — so you can watch all of the extremely wrong fan theories about Tár in one place.

  • That was fast.

    A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the Keychron Q10, a five-pound, $200 Alice-layout mechanical keyboard.

    And today, Keychron launched the V10: same neat layout, most of the same features, but with a plastic case instead of aluminum. It starts at $84 barebones, or $104 with caps and switches. I’m into it.

  • Lenovo’s new ThinkBook has modular accessories that add LTE, a webcam light, and more

    An image of the Lenovo ThinkBook 16p laptop
    Image: Lenovo

    The fourth generation of Lenovo’s ThinkBook 16p laptop comes with a unique feature: the ability to add modular accessories. Using the magnetic pin connector at the top of the display, you can attach the devices from Lenovo’s lineup of modular Magic Bay accessories, including the 4K wireless webcam, webcam light, and even an accessory that enables LTE connectivity.

    The device, which starts at $1,349 without the accessories, comes with a 16-inch IPS display running at either 120Hz or 60Hz. It also features up to a 13th Gen Intel Core H-series processor and offers an optional discrete graphics chip from Nvidia’s most recent GeForce RTX lineup. There are plenty of storage options, too, with Lenovo providing up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM, along with up to 2TB of space split across two PCIe 4.0 SSDs.

    Read Article >
  • Lenovo’s new Yoga Book 9i laptop has a second screen above its screen

    Dual monitor setups are great and all, but how about dual screens in a strangely tall laptop? Lenovo is here to answer that, as it’s announcing the Yoga Book 9i laptop at CES — the first laptop with dual OLED displays.

    This device is part laptop, part tablet, and all quirks. It comes with a removable keyboard that can be positioned in a few different ways: it can be attached to the front of the laptop with the two screens stacked vertically, attached to the front with the two screens spread open like a book, or placed on top of the lower screen for use like a slightly more typical laptop.

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  • WhatsApp adds official proxy support to help users circumvent internet blocks

    Three screenshots of WhatsApp showing the proxy setup process.
    The proxy settings screen on WhatsApp.
    Image: Meta

    WhatsApp is adding support for connecting to the messaging service via proxy, WhatsApp owner Meta announced today. It’s a move that WhatsApp hopes will allow users to continue to stay connected, even if the service is blocked by governments. Connecting via proxy won’t impact WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, the company says, and the content of messages won’t be visible to the proxy service.

    “​​We’re putting the power into people’s hands to maintain access to WhatsApp if their connection is blocked or disrupted,” a WhatsApp blog post reads. “Choosing a proxy enables you to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organizations around the world dedicated to helping people communicate freely.”

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  • The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola is a collaboration nine years in the making

    It’s usually tough to get excited about a rugged phone for enterprise customers, but the ThinkPhone by Motorola is a little different. It’s the first co-branded device since Lenovo bought the mobile company nine years ago and, unsurprisingly, is designed to work with Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops. It’s heavy on security features and ThinkPad integrations, like a shared clipboard and automatic connection over Wi-Fi, along with a durable exterior and a customizable red button that look right at home with the company’s PC line.

    The ThinkPhone uses a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset — not the very latest from Qualcomm but still an extremely capable processor. It offers a big 6.6-inch OLED screen and two rear cameras (plus a depth sensor): a 50-megapixel stabilized standard wide and a 13-megapixel ultrawide.

    Read Article >
  • Silvergate Capital survived a post-FTX run on deposits, but now the crypto-focused bank’s stock is tanking.

    Exactly one month ago, Silvergate’s CEO insisted things were ok, despite the problems with FTX, a major customer.

    Today its Q4 filing reveals deposits from crypto customers shrank from $11.9 billion to $3.9 billion in three months, $150 million of the bank's deposits are held by customers who’ve filed bankruptcy, and it’s laying off 200 employees.

    The company’s stock price is down 46 percent.

  • The Verge Launches “Command Line,” a Newsletter About the Tech Industry’s Inside Conversation, by Alex Heath

    The Verge today announced a new weekly paid newsletter, “Command Line,” covering the product and business strategies of the most consequential tech companies, and the people driving them. Led by deputy editor Alex Heath, subscribers will get agenda-setting scoops, exclusive interviews with industry leaders, and expert-informed analysis on the tech news that matters most. The first edition of “Command Line” is available today.

    With “Command Line,” Heath will bring tech’s watercooler discussion directly to subscribers’ inboxes. By breaking news on the products and inner workings of the most influential consumer tech giants and startups, “Command Line” will be a must-read for tech leaders who want to be smarter about the industry they work in. The newsletter will mark The Verge’s second paid product, joining podcast industry newsletter Hot Pod, which The Verge acquired last year. 

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  • What if Dracula’s creepy bug-eating assistant looked like Nicholas Hoult?

    In Renfield, the titular character is struggling with his co-dependent relationship with Dracula and slowly realizing that maybe gathering victims for an immortal serial killer is, perhaps, wrong. But also Dracula is played by Nicholas Cage and Renfield is played by Nicholas Hoult, and Awkwafina is the woman he’s got a big crush on, and there are big fight scenes instead of atmospheric horror ones. It’s got hyper commercial What We Do In Shadows vibes.

  • Audio-Technica straps a microphone onto its popular M50X headphones

    A streamer wearing Audio-Technica’s new headset.
    A streamer wearing Audio-Technica’s new headset.
    Image: Audio-Technica

    Audio-Technica has taken its popular M50X headphones and added a built-in microphone to create a headset that the company claims is perfect for livestreaming content creators.

    There are two models available in total. The ATH-M50xSTS comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack and XLR microphone connector (with a one-fourth-inch adaptor in the box), while the ATH-M50xSTS-USB has a USB-A connector and USB-C adaptor in the box. But the most important spec is that both headphones use the same 45mm drivers that have made the M50X headphones so popular across the internet. 

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  • Green light.

    Today our CES 2023 attention turns to the show floor, but let’s not be so hasty that we ignore Sony’s event last night.

    That included not only a peek at the Gran Turismo movie (based on a real story) and the launch of “Afeela” as the brand name for its vehicle collaboration with Honda. Check out this video, we can run down the entire thing in under seven minutes.

  • Introducing Command Line, a newsletter about the tech industry’s inside conversation by Alex Heath

    Image: The Verge

    I’m excited to announce Command Line, a new weekly newsletter I’ll be writing at The Verge

    Command Line is focused on the people and strategies leading the most consequential companies in tech. Each Thursday, I’ll dive into the biggest stories of our time, from the belt-tightening that’s happening across Big Tech to what’s next for generative AI, social media, and the looming AR headset wars, and give you scoops, insight, and perspective you won’t find anywhere else. The first edition comes out later today.

    Read Article >
  • My new favorite game is finding out where stuff is made

    Hundreds of shipping containers stacked up on a dock in Nanjing.
    Photo by STR / AFP via Getty Images

    You can’t spend any time on Instagram or TikTok without hitting a drop shipping scam or a flashy direct-to-consumer startup. You’ll see a nice set of pans in your feed, only to find out later that the company itself doesn’t hold any inventory and is outsourcing to somewhere in China. Or you will look at a nice pair of workout shorts in the store and will wonder, “I wonder where they make those?” 

    What if I told you there was a fun, quick way to find out exactly who supplies companies with their goods? Enter ImportYeti, a free-to-use and user-supported tool by David Applegate to track company suppliers.

    Read Article >
  • Check out BMW’s color-changing concept car in action

    BMW color-changing car
    Image: BMW

    At CES a year ago, BMW’s iX Flow concept was billed as “the world’s first color-changing car.” At the time, the special version of the iX electric crossover could shift its various panels between white, black, and gray. 

    Now, for 2023, meet the upgrade: actual colors.

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  • You can finally buy the Ring Car Cam

    A small camera on a car windscreen with a hand adjusting it.
    The Ring Car Cam can be preordered starting today for $199.99.
    Image: Ring

    More than two years after announcing it, the Ring Car Cam is now available for preorder. Starting today, January 5th, you can order the company’s first dashboard security camera at or for $199.99, a savings of $50 over the regular price. It will ship to US customers beginning February 15th.

    The Ring Car Cam is the video doorbell company’s first foray into security away from the home. Featuring dual-facing cameras that can record inside and outside of the car, both when it’s in motion and parked, the Ring Car Cam also has a microphone and speaker as well as sensors to detect events and motion in and around the car.

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