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Friday’s top tech news: let’s give it up for the laptops of CES

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It’s always tempting to focus entirely on the weird and wonderful gadgets that come out of CES, but today I want to take a moment to highlight a few of interesting laptops to have been announced at the show.

First up are the new Razer Blade 16 and 18, the latter of which features an absolutely massive 18-inch display. But it’s actually the 16-inch version that I’m more interested in after reading my colleague Monica’s hands on thanks to its Mini LED display, which has a thousand local dimming zones for better HDR performance.

And if you’re after something less bleeding edge, then Lenovo’s ThinkBook Plus Twist has you covered thanks to its 12-inch color E Ink display, which comes in addition to its more standard 13.3-inch OLED touchscreen. Or if you want to go in the opposite direction, then there’s this Lenovo Yoga Book 9i, which has two screens and no E Ink in sight.

Finally, it’s nice to see Asus’ collaboration with PC fan specialists Noctua continue. It’s just announced a Noctua Edition of an RTX 4080 graphics card which, if previous collaborations are anything to go by, should result in a GPU that can run beautifully quiet even under heavy loads. Shame there’s no pricing or available just yet.

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 6th, 2023.
  • Creative founder Sim Wong Hoo, the man behind Sound Blaster, has died

    Sim Wong Hoo
    Sim Wong Hoo, the Singaporean entrepreneur, who founded and ran Creative Technologies.
    Image: Creative

    Creative Technologies founder, CEO and chairman Sim Wong Hoo has died, his company has confirmed. He “passed away peacefully on 4 January 2023,” according to a press release. He was 67 years old.

    It might seem hard for younger readers to believe, but there was a time that computer sound wasn’t guaranteed. If you wanted to plug in headphones or speakers that could do more than bloops or bleeps, you probably needed a sound card — and none were as successful as Creative Labs’ Sound Blaster. It sold over 400 million units as of its 30th anniversary in 2019.

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  • The LG Gram Style might be the prettiest laptop of 2023

    The LG Gram Style displaying the blue Gram logo on a purple background.
    Where’s the touchpad?

    For the past few years, I’ve been a big fan of the LG Gram 17. It’s got great battery life, a massive screen, and it feels like it weighs basically nothing. But if there’s one hesitation I sometimes have about the line, it’s the aesthetic. The Grams of the past have just looked a bit... boring. Which is fine — many laptops are — but also means there’s a fashion-conscious audience out there they potentially aren’t reaching.

    Enter the LG Gram Style. This, as the name implies, might be the first LG laptop I’ve ever seen that I’d really consider calling “stylish.” It’s unbelievably thin, it’s mind-blowingly light, and it’s covered in a lustrous color-changing finish. My hands-on time with this device was in LG’s very dimly lit booth at CES 2023, but it was certainly one of the most unique-looking laptops I’ve had the opportunity to try so far this year.

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  • Software engineer allegedly stole $300K from an e-commerce site by copying Office Space

    A cartoon illustration shows a shadowy figure carrying off a red directory folder, which has a surprised-looking face on its side.
    A file was discovered on the software engineer’s work computer titled “OfficeSpace Project,” with the accused admitting to naming the scheme after the 1999 comedy.
    Illustration by Beatrice Sala

    A former Zulily employee has been charged with stealing over $300,000 from the e-commerce site after allegedly being inspired by the 1999 film Office Space. As reported by The New York Times, according to this police report (pdf), Ermenildo Valdez Castro, 28, is accused of manipulating product prices and altering the company’s code to divert shipping fees from Zulily to a personal account.

    According to court documents, Castro began editing Zulily’s software code for checkout payments in February 2022, which allowed him to steal around $260,000 in electrical payments by diverting shipping fees from Zulily customer purchases to a Stripe account that he controlled, in some cases double-charging customers for shipping.

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  • MSI made a stylus that is also a pencil

    The MSI Pen 2 held in front of a computer screen where “Hello World” is written in Microsoft Paint.
    I don’t really know, either.
    Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

    Okay, so. This is a pencil. You can draw with it on paper, the way you would with a pencil. Then, you can bring it up to your laptop screen and write on that, as you would with a stylus.

    This MSI Pen 2, announced earlier this week, actually seems like such a no-brainer product when I think about it. If you have a notebook or Post-its on your desk where you like to write notes but also sometimes like to navigate your laptop’s screen with a stylus, you now only need one pen to do both. You could also try sketching out a picture, chart, or graph on paper before diving into doing so on a computer without putting down your writing utensil. You could take physical notes on a text that you’re reading on your computer, then also reach up and highlight parts of that text. I keep thinking of more scenarios where this could come in handy.

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  • Apple has reportedly canceled the next iPhone SE

    Photo of an iPhone SE 2022 laying on a wooden table next to some plates.
    SE fans may have to go a long time between upgrades.
    Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

    We may not be getting a new iPhone SE in 2024, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who bases his predictions on sources in the supply chain. On Friday, Kuo wrote in a blog post that Apple had canceled production and shipment plans for the phone after his prediction last month that a fourth-gen iPhone SE could be canceled or delayed.

    Kuo thinks the reason the phone is getting axed could be that Apple’s lower-end phones were selling worse than the company hoped (in September, Bloomberg reported that there was more demand for iPhone 14 Pros than regular iPhone 14s) and due to concerns that another price increase for the lineup could make it less attractive to price-conscious buyers.

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  • The Verge Awards at CES 2023

    Artwork reading “The Verge Awards: CES 2023.” The illustration is colorful and filled with assorted gadgets: monitors, robots, VR headsets, game controllers, and more.
    Samar Haddad / The Verge

    It’s been three years since we last set foot on the CES show floor — and it feels very good to be back. The in-person portion of the conference was canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the omicron surge led to a much smaller event in 2022 than everyone had hoped for. But for 2023, the show’s energy was back, and so was its typical tidal wave of announcements.

    This year’s show felt tangible in a way that CES often isn’t. The event is usually filled with far-out concepts, extravagant tech demos, and promises of gadgets working better together tomorrow — things that aren’t going to happen anytime soon or are wholly unaffordable. But this year, much of what we saw was exciting real tech coming into reach.

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  • Throwing the book at Clearview AI’s speedrun into creepy facial recognition.

    You may remember New York Times writer Kashmir Hill from episodes including hacking a stranger’s smart home via Google, lifting the veil on Facebook’s shadow profiles tracking people who don’t have Facebook accounts, and making an exhaustive attempt to live online without the big five tech companies.

    Now she has announced a release date for her book on Clearview AI, the facial recognition firm she once called “The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It.”

    Your Face Belongs to Us is a gripping true story about the rise of a technological superpower that has been long-feared by the civil liberties community and long-desired by governments and authoritarian regimes. And it is a powerful warning that in the absence of vigilance and government regulation, this kind of technology will fundamentally change our ability to be anonymous.

  • Netflix heard you loved Wednesdays.

    Despite Netflix’s Wednesday series being a surprise hit, there was no guarantee that the streamer was going to bring the series back — especially given its penchant for canceling shows. But in Wednesday’s case, the future’s looking bright as Netflix has just announced its plans for a season two.

    Unsurprisingly, the video doesn’t detail any of the next season’s plot or when it might air. But in a statement published to Netflix’s Tudum blog, Wednesday co-showrunners Miles Millar and Alfred Gough said they “can’t wait to dive headfirst into another season and explore the kooky, spooky world of Nevermore.”

  • Sennheiser’s latest earphones offer high-end looks for $150

    A model wearing Sennheiser’s IE 200 earbuds.
    Sennheiser’s IE 200.
    Image: Sennheiser

    I mean, sure, if you’re wearing wired in-ear headphones in 2023, you could absolutely buy a pair with the cables going straight down. Or you could get a pair with wires that go up and swoops backward behind your ears like Sennheiser’s latest pair of earbuds, the IE 200, and pretend you’re a musician onstage at Glastonbury every time you’re wearing them.

    At $149.99, these in-ear headphones (or, I guess, in-ear monitors) sit at the bottom of Sennheiser’s IE range, which goes up to the eye-wateringly expensive $1,499.95 IE 900. But the fundamentals are (ostensibly) the same. They have that premium-looking cable-up form factor and are equipped with the same sized 7mm “extra-wide band” transducers. Sennheiser claims these offer “superbly balanced and realistic audio” and a “natural frequency response curve typically found in earphones costing significantly more.”

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  • Ring’s Always Home Cam won’t be flying in your home until at least 2024, if then

    The Always Home Cam, Ring’s autonomous indoor security drone, made its public debut at CES this week. But it was flying in an empty room behind a glass door and disappearing into a side room between flights, so we never saw it take off or land. The demo, while impressive, shows that it’s unlikely we’ll see Ring’s indoor security camera patrolling your living room anytime soon.

    Despite announcing preorders (by invitation only) for the security camera in 2021 and saying it would ship to customers’ homes that year, Ring still hasn’t committed to a new date. “We are looking forward to — in the next short future — shipping it out to customers at high volume,” founder Jamie Siminoff told The Verge in an interview. But he also said 2024 was the earliest we could expect to see it widely available.

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  • The Peugeot Inception concept is an EV knife aimed straight at the future

    Peugeot Inception concept
    Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    French automaker Peugeot revealed its Inception concept, a deadly looking electric car that’s all sharp angles and brutalist designs. The concept, which was announced at CES this week, will inspire a lineup of future EVs that will start making their way to customers in 2025.

    Stellantis, which owns Peugeot, had a heavy docket at this year’s CES, including a Chrysler cockpit concept and a battery-electric Ram 1500 truck that borrows a lot from the world of muscle cars. But the Peugeot Inception was arguably the most CES-y of all the announcements, with its rectangular steering wheel, hyper-minimal dashboard, and color-shifting interior. There’s even a device inside the car called “the Halo Cluster” with a 360-degree screen, for some reason.

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  • Razer Blade 16 hands-on: a dream gaming laptop

    The Razer Blade 16 seen from the back on a dark table.
    Wait until you see the screen.

    Razer has given us a first look at the Razer Blade 16 and Razer Blade 18, which will be released in the next few months. And I will say right now: I am impressed.

    The Blade 18 is the biggest and most powerful Razer Blade that has ever been released, which is neat in itself. But I’m actually even more excited about the Blade 16, which is debuting some never-before-seen on a Razer Blade.

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  • The Qi2 wireless charging standard will mandate magnet strength for less slip ‘n slide

    The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack on an iPhone 12 Mini
    Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

    I couldn’t justify keeping Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack because it didn’t stay firmly stuck to my phone without swiveling, and I’ve seen third-party attachments that are much, much worse. Thankfully, the next version of the Qi wireless charging standard, Qi2, will mandate magnet strength, size, and dimensions in addition to its electrical properties — even though that’s the opposite of what I reported yesterday.

    (The bigger news about Qi2: it should mean that future Android phones and Apple phones will be able to use the same wireless magnetic charger, effectively MagSafe for Android.)

    Read Article >
  • OLED plus E Ink: Lenovo’s ThinkBook Twist is halfway to my dream laptop

    Lenovo’s ThinkBook Twist
    Image: Lenovo

    Last month, I spent 15 whole minutes hunched over an HP Spectre x360 in a drafty Best Buy store — agonizing over whether its amazing OLED screen would destroy the laptop’s battery life and repeatedly googling for the answer. When I found out the answer was “yes, substantially less battery,” I had to walk away.

    But why should I have to choose between a great screen and one I use all day? Why not both? That’s the idea behind the ThinkBook Plus Twist, a new laptop that Lenovo’s announcing at CES 2023.

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  • Another round of brown and tans, please.

    Asus quietly announced the Asus GeForce RTX 4080 Noctua Edition at CES 2023, a sequel to last year’s 3080. It maintains the polarizing brown and tan styling, and Asus claims it worked with Noctua to keep temps and noise low on this beefy card.

    Price and availability aren’t available yet, but here’s to hoping this year you can actually buy the thing without getting gouged.

    Asus’ RTX 4080 Noctua Edition graphics cards, which features brown and tan colored fans that are a signature of Noctua coolers.
    So ugly it’s beautiful.
    Image: Asus
  • Razer’s Blade 16 and 18 laptops feature taller, brighter screens and faster guts

    A photo showing the Razer Blade 16 (left) and the larger Razer Blade 18 (right).
    The screens on the Blade 16 (left) and the Blade 18 (right) appear to have taller aspect ratios than what I’ve seen on Razer’s previous gaming laptops.
    Image: Razer

    Razer announced the Blade 16 and Blade 18 gaming laptops two days ago at CES 2023, but it shared much more information today on the two new sizes. This is the biggest shake-up to Razer’s popular, well-designed Blade lineup in a while, going well beyond processor and GPU spec improvements. Their screens are taller with a 16:10 aspect ratio, so you’re getting more screen real estate, plus the display “chin” near the bezel is significantly smaller. This change has some positive knock-on effects, such as allowing Razer to fit in bigger batteries compared to last year’s Blade 15 and 17. More on that below.

    Every configuration comes standard with Intel’s high-end 13th Generation Core i9-13950HX 65W CPU, while both models can be upgraded to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 mobile graphics. The Blade 16 starts at $2,699.99, while the larger size starts at $2,899.99. They’ll all release sometime in the first quarter.

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  • 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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