Newtech

Ubiquiti announces new AmpliFi Alien router with Wi-Fi 6

Ubiquiti, the company behind popular UniFi Wi-Fi access points and networking equipment, is releasing a new router for consumers — the AmpliFi Alien.

Today’s new device is an all-in-one networking device. It features a router (the “brain” of your local network), four Gigabit Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi capabilities. And yes, it is a Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) device.

You can plug the AmpliFi Alien to your modem; put your modem in bridge mode and let it take care of your network at home. It should be a huge improvement compared to ISP-provided hardware.

When it comes to Wi-Fi performance, the AmpliFi Alien supports 8×8 MIMO Wi-Fi 6 (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz) and offers a separate 5GHz Wi-Fi 5 radio (802.11ac). There aren’t a ton of devices that support Wi-Fi 6 just yet. The iPhone 11 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 support Wi-Fi 6, but not the brand new 16-inch MacBook Pro, for instance.

But the AmpliFi Alien also works with older devices that run on previous Wi-Fi generations, so you don’t have to replace all your gadgets. You can also set up an isolated guest network if you don’t want your friends to be able to access your computers on your network. You can also use your AmpliFi devices as a VPN endpoint when you’re on the road.

The device itself is a cylinder-shaped tower with flat edges at the front and the back of the device. It looks a bit like the recently announced UniFi Dream Machine, but it’s less curvy and taller. There’s a color touch screen to get information about connection speeds and some LEDs at the base of the tower.

You can buy multiple AmpliFi Alien units and create a mesh network around your house. A single AmpliFi Alien costs $379.

Compared to the UniFi Dream Machine, you can’t control the device with UniFi’s network management controller. This is a consumer device, so you don’t get a ton of customizations on the software front — the AmpliFi Alien isn’t designed for enterprise clients. But Ubiquiti offers an AmpliFi mobile app to configure the DHCP server, port forwarding and Wi-Fi settings.

Google Stadia’s Launch Seems Soft


Google Stadia launched this week… well, kind of. Yes, it’s technically true you can now pay real money for Google’s ambitious video game streaming platform. But between the latency issues, limited software library, and various other restrictions, right now Stadia feels like an early access beta rather than a fully finished product. In our in-depth Google Stadia review, we recommend you hold off on buying it for now. Many other critics felt similarly.

And it seems like customers have been taking that advice. While it’s all very anecdotal for now (the product literally launched yesterday) it sounds like Google Stadia sales are looking pretty soft.

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier has a pretty stellar track record when it comes to reporting insider games industry news. So while this is technically speculation, when he says something we tend to believe it. And on Stadia’s launch day he was already out here saying Stadia was a “monumental flop” with pre-order numbers “below expectations.” Pre-order numbers are a metric Google could track even before launch.

Maybe this is why Stadia’s launch lineup doubled overnight? We’ve been skeptical of the service from the beginning, and like I said our review ended up confirming many of those suspicions. But don’t expect Google to just completely drop Stadia quite yet. Cheaper and potentially more appealing versions of the service are on tap for next year, along with just more games. And really console launches are rarely great. Still, if Stadia does get sent to the Google Graveyard eventually, we wouldn’t be surprised.

 

Here’s When All the Major Black Friday 2019 Sales Start

BestBlackFriday.com revealed when Black Friday 2019 sales start. (Photo Credit: freestocks.org)

The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year is quickly approaching, so it’s time to make a shopping plan. We know you want to get the best deals for you and your family. However, you can only bag a bargain if you know when the sales start. After all, you could easily miss a Black Friday doorbuster if you don’t get to the store (or retailer’s website) at the right time.

To help you prepare for Black Friday, our team has compiled a list of the sale times for top retailers. We’re also breaking down some of the best deals and providing some helpful shopping tips. Once you read this article, you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need to save big during Black Friday 2019.

Walmart

Every year, Walmart is one of the top shopping destinations for Black Friday deals. This year is no exception. The retailer is offering deep discounts on TVs ($278 for a Philips 65” Class 4K Smart TV), the iRobot 670 Wi-Fi Vacuum ($197), and the Instant Pot 6 Quart Duo ($49).

  • Stores open: 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: 10 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, November 27

Target

Target has some amazing deals this year. You can find an Element Roku 65” 4K TV for just $279.99. The retailer is also offering awesome electronics deals like the Google Home Mini ($19), the Instant Pot ($64.99), and Beats Wireless Headphones ($129.99).

  • Stores open: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: All day Nov. 27 for RedCard holders; 6 p.m. Nov. 27 for Circle members

Macy’s

Macy’s is the retailer that started it all. You can count on this big name to serve up even bigger bargains. This year, you can find deals on the Keurig Select K80 ($79.99), holiday décor (60 percent off), and a KitchenAid Stand Mixer Bundle ($279.99).

  • Stores open: 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: All day Nov. 27

Kohl’s

Kohl’s never disappoints on Black Friday. The retailer always puts out massive ads for the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year. This year, you can snag amazing bargains like an Echo Dot for $22, a Fitbit Versa 2 for $179.99 (with $45 Kohl’s Cash), and a KitchenAid 5-Quart Mixer for $279.99 (with $75 Kohl’s Cash).

  • Stores open: 5:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: 12:01 a.m. Central Time on Monday, November 25

Lowe’s

You’ll want to check out Lowe’s on Black Friday if you want to find great gifts and get your home ready for the holidays for less. You can snag a pre-lit Christmas tree for less than $50 and save big on appliances that include an LG microwave ($169) and a Frigidaire refrigerator ($799).

  • Stores open: 6 a.m. on Black Friday
  • Online deals start: TBD

Home Depot

You can always count on finding deep holiday discounts at Home Depot on Black Friday. We are still waiting for the official ad, but savings on tools, holiday decor, and tech are guaranteed.

  • Stores open: 6 a.m.
  • Online deals start: TBD

Best Buy

If you’re looking for TVs and other types of tech, you won’t want to miss the Best Buy sale this year. You can find Samsung 4K Smart TVs for $350 off and snag select iPad models for $80-100 off. The retailer even has the Echo Dot third generation for $22.99.

  • Stores open: 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: Thanksgiving (all day)

JCPenney

You’ll be thrilled when you see all the deals at JCPenney this year. From 80 percent off fine jewelry, to more than $100 off a Keurig K Select ($59.99), you’ll be able to pick up everything you need. Not only that, the retailer is offering mystery-offer coupons for the first shoppers to arrive on Thanksgiving.

  • Stores open: 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving
  • Online deals start: Wednesday, November 27 (all day)

Sam’s Club

During the Sam’s Club Black Friday sale, you can snag such deals as an 82-inch LG Smart 4K with HDR for $1,599 and two 2 Google Nest Hubs for $129. Note that non-members who shop the online sale will get hit with 10 percent fee.

  • Stores open: 7 a.m. on Black Friday
  • Online deals begin: All day Thanksgiving

For more deals, including all of the latest Black Friday announcements, visit BestBlackFriday.com.

More on Geek.com:

‘The Mandalorian’s’ Baby Yoda Is Twitter’s New Son

(via Lucasfilm/Disney)

Mandalorians have always been breakout characters in Star Wars, thanks largely to their expert costume design. Boba Fett in particular has been a fan favorite for years, despite ending his limited screen time in the original trilogy getting punked out in one accidental hit from Han Solo. Then losing control of his jetpack. Then screaming. Then falling into a burping space monster’s stomach. He simply has a capital “C” Cool costume design, and dozens of novels, toys, games, and comics have done their best to redeem him since Return of the Jedi first hit theaters in 1983.

When Disney+ launched early last week with a flagship original series named The Mandalorian, it was easy to expect its “cool” lead character to join Boba Fett as the new fan favorite. But our new Mandalorian protagonist is quickly revealed to be a somewhat clumsy newbie, spending as much time on the ground as he does over his enemies. As such, he is not the character getting the most buzz on social media right now. Instead, the show’s surprise heavy hitter is small, green, mostly silent, and probably still wears diapers.

Meet “Baby Yoda,” a small, 50-year old infant from what appears to be the same species as Yoda, and my new son. He shows up at the very end of The Mandalorian’s first episode, as the titular bounty hunter’s latest prey. However, our lead character soon takes an uncharacteristic liking to his target, and honestly, who could blame him? Not Twitter, who seems to be joining me on my way to the courthouse to file adoption papers.

The precocious 50-year-old hogs every second of screentime he’s given, with a perfect combination of tender expression, Force-powered mystery, and bratty obstinance. Once you’ve seen him in action, it’s not surprising to see users like Hector Navarro going so far as to suggest that the show be renamed after what is obviously its true hero. Meanwhile, @vashperado is ready to kill and die for him.

Even Werner Herzog is on the hype train…I think…calling Baby Yoda “heartbreaking” and saying he wept when he first saw him on set.

And Baby Yoda’s enemies might have found some use for him as a football.

Meanwhile, some users are questioning what we even call Baby Yoda, since we don’t know what his species’ proper name is yet, and it’s unlikely that he’s the actual Yoda.

As a Dragon Ball fan, I sympathize.

As for Baby Yoda’s unclear origins, some are suggesting a very simple answer.

Maybe this is why Yaddle was just referenced in the recent Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But regardless of where he comes from, we know one thing. Baby Yoda is, in fact, a baby.

Jokes aside, in starring a tiny green muppet as its plot focus, The Mandalorian is going in a seemingly lighter direction than a show about a bounty hunter who makes his first appearance cutting people in half with OSHA-unfriendly doors might have first given off. But this genre of “tough drifter learns to love vulnerable child” has more than enough basis in popular culture for the show to work off.

Star Wars, after all, is known for borrowing elements of Japanese cinema. The six Lone Wolf and Cub films, released in Japan just a few years before A New Hope, provide a masterclass in its story about a wandering assassin escorting a young ward. Similarly, among the Western films the franchise takes the other half of its DNA from, John Wayne’s 3 Godfathers follows a bandit turned unexpected parent as he ends up delivering and taking care of a target’s baby after she goes into labor and dies mid-robbery.

Like it or not, Mandalorians have always been involved in goofy hijinks, despite their badass reputation. Like Boba Fett, the Mandalorian on Disney+ seems to be getting more recognition by doubling down on a cute, silly core, not less. That iconic visor and wrist-mounted flamethrower look more than in-place next to a bassinet, if you ask me.

View as: One Page Slides

1.

Netflix / Hulu / HBO Go Accounts

So many streaming TV services to choose from. Where do you start?

2.

Netflix is still arguably the biggest name in streaming TV.

3.

Hulu trial screen

Although it no longer has a free option, Hulu is a great streaming TV service that is worth paying for.

4.

From buying to renting to subscribing to individual channels, Amazon offers a bevy of streaming TV options.

5.

YouTube Red subscribers can watch original shows from streaming stars, but YouTube TV lets you watch actual live TV.

6.

Hook up a Slingbox and watch the cable and live TV you’re already paying for anywhere.

7.

You have to buy channels in bulk and still deal with commercials, but with DirecTV Now you get the real live TV experience delivered through streaming.

8.

Crunchyroll is the best anime streaming service if you’re all about subtitles.

9.

If dubs are more your thing, Funimation Now is the anime streaming service for you.

10.

If you want to stream shows and documentaries that actually teach you something, go with CuriosityStream.

11.

AMC Premiere just focuses on current AMC shows, but for Walking Dead super fans that might be enough.

12.

With Boomerang, tons of retro cartoons, from Looney Tunes to Scooby-Doo, can all come back to you

13.

FuboTV may be the escape from cable that sports fans are looking for. It’s pricey, but being able to easily stream live sports and more from dozens of channels with only one subscription might very well be worth it.

14.

Brown Sugar has all of the classic Blaxploitation movies you could want and then some. It’s niche, but it’s one of the most impressive niche libraries we’ve seen.

15.

For the true cinephile, FilmStruck has a large collection of classic films from all eras and countries, including movies from the Criterion Collection.

16.

CollegeHumor’s Dropout provides premium streaming online laughs.

17.

DC Universe offers live-action adaptations of less familiar superheroes, like Doom Patrol.

18.

Shudder Is the Horror Streaming Service Fans Were Waiting For

19.

Along with presenting streaming services like Netflix and Sling through one box, Dish AirTV also lets you watch local over-the-air channels with an additional installation.

20.

Get a streaming media device to enjoy these services on your TV. Our favorite is the Amazon Fire Stick.

21.

The sheer nostalgic power of the library on Disney+ just can’t be beat.

22.

As expensive and glossy as it is, the actual original content on AppleTV+ just can’t compete quite yet.

Sam’s Club Black Friday Ad: Top Deals for Gaming and Tech Lovers

Sam’s Club is offering Black Friday deals on the newest model Nintendo Switch bundle, smart TVs, and other cool gadgets. (Photo Credit: Sam’s Club)

Sam’s Club may be where you stock up on food and beverage essentials, however, the retailer just dropped its Black Friday 2019 ad and there are many deals on consoles, laptops, and other electronics that you don’t want to miss.

Before you get ready for the big shopping day, our sister site BestBlackFriday.com points out that hours for Sam’s Club are a bit different compared to other retailers. Sam’s Club stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) and doors will officially open at 7 a.m. local time on Black Friday (Nov. 29). Plus, if you want to get a head start on your holiday list, all of the deals featured in the Sam’s Club Black Friday ad will be available online on Thanksgiving Day.

The ad is a mid-sized Black Friday preview, but some important items that will be on sale include the Nintendo Switch bundle, the Samsung Curved 65-inch 4K TV, and the HP 15.6-inch laptop.

Below are the top gaming and tech deals from the Sam’s Club Black Friday ad. For a mini breakdown of Black Friday 2019 (discount predictions, etc.), visit our general guide and for tips on how to budget and save money on holiday shopping, check out our info article here.

Gaming

Photo Credit: Sam’s Club

Newest Model Nintendo Switch Bundle for $334.98

Respawn Gaming Chair for $119.98 (Save $30)

XShot Laser360 Laser Tag Set for $19.98 (Save $5)

Sony PS4 1TB Slim Software Bundle for $199

Arcade 1Up Head-to-Head Set for $399.98 (Save $50)

Tech

Photo Credit: Sam’s Club

82-inch LG Smart 4K TV with HDR for $1,599 plus get a $150 Sam’s Club gift card

Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar Shadow Edition for $299 (Save $70)

Samsung Curved 65” 4K TV for $599 (Save $130)

HP 17.3″ HD+Touchscreen Laptop for $599

Night Owl 6-Channel Surveillance System for $299 (Save $200)

Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones for $99.88 (Save $30)

More on Geek.com:

A Brooklyn Startup Is Making Vodka Out of Thin Air


A number of carbon capture startups have launched in recent years. You can add Air Co. to the list. It might be the first company to use atmospheric CO2 to produce liquor.

The Brooklyn-based distillery says that their proprietary process was inspired by photosynthesis. Like plants, Air Co.’s equipment absorbs carbon dioxide, splits the carbon and oxygen, draws in water, and utilizes the sun as a power source.

Their vodka is carbon negative, with each bottle trapping about a pound of carbon dioxide. Interestingly enough, Air Co. co-founder (and electrochemist) Stafford Sheehan says that much of the CO2 they’re capturing is being produced by nearby competitors — who distill other spirits using more traditional equipment.

Sheehan also says that their vodka is about the purest you’ll find. Ordinarily, the vodka-making process starts with fermentation. While it’s an effective way to create alcohol it also creates impurities like carbolic acid and methanols. Those compounds can be tricky to remove, and that’s a big problem when your goal is creating a spirit with a neutral flavor.

Air Co., on the other hand, creates ethanol by combining carbon dioxide molecules with water. Sheehan refers to the “metal-based catalyst” that kickstarts the process as their “secret sauce.” Distillation takes the ethanol from 10% to around 96%, at which point it’s ready to purified and diluted to 80 proof.

Air Co. vodka goes for $65 a bottle, and it’s only available at a select few establishments in New York. Wider distribution is slated for some time later in 2020.

The company’s next products could be much easier to get your hands on, but you won’t find them at a bar or liquor store. They may very well turn up at your grocery store — in the form of ethanol-based, carbon-negative cleaning products. Air Co. also has its sights set on the fragrance business.

Motorola throws back to the future with a foldable Razr reboot

The rebirth of the Razr has been rumored for several months now. And honestly, such a product is a bit of a no-brainer. The Lenovo-owned company is embracing the burgeoning (if sputtering) world of foldables with the return of one of its most iconic models.

While it’s true that Motorola’s kept the Razr name alive in some form or another well into the Android era, everything that’s come since has failed to recapture the magic of the once-mighty brand.

From the looks of things, however, the newly announced Razr is a lovely bit of symmetry. The product, which was announced earlier today in Los Angeles, leans into the lackluster criticism that foldables are simply a return of the once-ubiquitous clamshell design.

Motorola Razr

Motorola Razr

According to Motorola, the company has been toying around with flexible technology for some time now. Per a press release: “In 2015, a cross functional team, comprised of engineers and designers from both Motorola and Lenovo, was assembled to start thinking about how we could utilize flexible display technology.”

The device swaps the horizontal design of its best-known competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The vertical form factor looks to be a match made in foldable heaven. Certainly it loses some of the uber-thin design that made the original Razr such a hit so many years back, but makes the ultra-wide (21:9) 6.2-inch screen compact enough to fit in a pocket.

As with the Galaxy Fold, there’s another small display on the front for getting a glimpse of notifications and the like. It’s another design feature that mirrors the O.G. Razr. Predictably, the device runs Android — Android 9 (for now), to be precise.

For full throwback appeal, there’s also a “Retro Razr” mode, which mimics the original metallic button design for the bottom half of the screen. It’s a skin that does, indeed, double as a number pad, usable with an Android messaging app. Motorola clearly put a lot of love into the design, and it shows. If nothing else, the new Razr could go a ways toward proving that retro handsets can be more than just nostalgic novelty for bygone tech.

After the whole Samsung kerfuffle, you’d be right to question the device’s durability, though Motorola says it’s less concerned, citing an “average” smartphone time span for the product. Only one way to find out, I guess. Also like the Fold, price is a pretty big obstacle to any sort of mainstream adoption for this first-gen product. The Razr will run $1,499 when it launches in January of next year.

More Nickelodeon Is Coming to Netflix


Between Marvel superheroes and animated princesses, Disney+ may seem like the only game in town when it comes to streaming TV services that won’t accidentally radicalize your kids like YouTube. But plenty of 90s kids like me will tell you that Nickelodeon’s cartoon cast of characters are arguably more meaningful to our childhood than anything Mickey Mouse stuck his fingers in. And the streaming service seizing this opportunity is Netflix thanks to a new deal with the orange slime factory.

“Netflix and Nickelodeon today announced that they have formed a new, multi-year output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series,” both companies said in a statement. “Based both on the Nickelodeon library of characters as well as all-new IP – for kids and families around the world.”

It’s not too surprising. As the statement later says, earlier this year Netflix was the exclusive home for two long-awaited NickToons specials: Invader Zim Enter: The Florpus and Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling. These older-skewing retro revivals just made more sense on streaming than on actual TV.

But it’s nice to know that Nickelodeon won’t be left out of the streaming war engulfing all out entertainment. They have too much to offer! Netflix and Nick are already working on special based on The Loud House and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And there’s still the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender Netflix show still looming on the horizon.

For more on Nickelodeon, well, we have a lot of posts on SpongeBob SquarePants. Read our review of the inexplicable SpongeBob Broadway musical. Check out these meme-tastic SpongeBob toys. And here are our surprisingly controversial thoughts on the upcoming Battle for Bikini Bottom remake.

This robotic arm slows down to avoid the uncanny valley

Robotic arms can move fast enough to snatch thrown objects right out of the air… but should they? Not unless you want them to unnerve the humans they’re interacting with, according to work out of Disney Research. Roboticists there found that slowing a robot’s reaction time made it feel more normal to people.

Disney has, of course, been interested in robotics for decades, and the automatons in its theme parks are among the most famous robots in the world. But there are few opportunities for those robots to interact directly with people. Hence a series of research projects at its research division aimed at safe and non-weird robot-human coexistence.

In this case the question was how to make handing over an item to a robot feel natural and non-threatening. Obviously if, when you reached out with a ticket or empty cup, the robot moved like lightning and snapped it out of your hands, that could be seen as potentially dangerous, or at the very least make people nervous.

So the robot arm in this case (attached to an anthropomorphic cat torso) moves at a normal human speed. But there’s also the question of when it should reach out. After all, it takes us humans a second to realize that someone is handing something to us, then to reach out and grab it. A computer vision system might be able to track an object and send the hand after it more quickly, but it might feel strange.

The researchers set up an experiment where the robot hand reached out to take a ring from a person under three conditions each of speed and delay.

When the hand itself moved quickly, people reported less “warmth” and more “discomfort.” The slow speed performed best on those scores. And when the hand moved with no delay, it left people similarly uneasy. But interestingly, too long a delay had a similar effect.

Turns out there’s a happy medium that matches what people seem to expect from a hand reaching out to take something from them. Slower movement is better, to a certain point one imagines, and a reasonable but not sluggish delay makes it feel more human.

The handover system detailed in a paper published today (and video below) is robust against the usual circumstances: moving targets, unexpected forces and so on. It’ll be a while before an Aristocats bot takes your mug from you at a Disney World cafe, but at least you can be sure it won’t snatch it faster than the eye can follow and scare everyone around you.