Recent News from Engadget

Ford’s Mustang Mach-E passes Michigan State Police tests

Michigan State Police has put a version of the 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV through its paces over the past week, and the Ford Pro all-electric police pilot vehicle seems to have met the agency’s bar. According to Ford, it’s the first EV that’s passed the Michigan State Police’s model year evaluation test.

The agency is one of two that runs annual evaluations of new model year police vehicles. Later this fall, it will publish the results of those tests for law enforcement agencies across the US. Michigan State Police assessed the EV’s acceleration, top speed, high-speed pursuit and braking attributes, along with emergency response handling.

The pilot vehicle’s success in the tests is a win for Ford. Through its Police Interceptor program, the automaker alters vehicles for police use, usually by bulking up the suspension, brakes and horsepower. Ford plans to use the test results as a benchmark while it considers eventually making “purpose-built electric police vehicles” as part of its pledge to invest $30 billion into EV tech. Meanwhile, the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has ordered two of the EVs to use as patrol cars.

Jeep will debut the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe on September 29th

The wait is nearly over. Jeep will debut the long-awaited 2022 Grand Cherokee, including the nameplate’s first-ever 4xe plug-in hybrid model, on September 29th at 9AM ET, the automaker announced today. Jeep had initially planned to debut the 2022 Grand…

Justice Department will reportedly let Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou return to China

The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou that will let her return home to China, pending a judge’s approval. Meng was arrested in Canada in 2018 on behalf of the US for allegedly violating American sanctions against Iran. She’s been fighting attempts to extradite her to the US.

Meng, who is in house arrest while on bail, will admit to some improprieties and in return, prosecutors will defer and eventually drop bank and wire fraud charges, according to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Meng remotely appeared at a federal court on Friday afternoon, with the Justice Department saying in a filing it will submit a “resolution” to the charges against her.

Prosecutors claimed that Meng misled banks in 2013 about Huawei’s connections to Iran. She denied the charges, for which she had faced up to 30 years in prison.

Meng’s detainment caused an international incident. Two Canadians were apprehended in China within days of Meng’s arrest. The WSJ reports the deal with Meng could prompt China to release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Officials from the Trump administration are said to have offered Meng a similar deal last year, but she reportedly refused to admit to any wrongdoing. Biden admin officials reopened the talks in recent weeks, according to reports, and with Meng seemingly seeking a reunion with her family, she may have been more open to a compromise. A judge in Vancouver was expected to rule on Meng’s possible extradition to the US later this year, following almost two years of hearings.

Huawei and its subsidiaries are still facing charges in the US, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets and racketeering conspiracy. The company is not said to be part of Meng’s deal and it will reportedly keep fighting the charges.

The US and Huawei have been at loggerheads for several years. American officials have lobbied allies to avoid using the company’s 5G telecoms gear due to national security concerns, though Huawei has insisted that its equipment is safe. US sanctions against the company led Google to block Huawei from Android updates, prompting its switch to HarmonyOS 2 (which is a fork of Android) on phones and tablets.

Update 9/24 1:22PM ET: Noted that the Justice Department has agreed to resolve the charges in a court filing.

Update 9/25 3AM ET: Meng is already on a plane back to China. According to The Wall Street Journal, her flight took off from Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday.

California makes zero-emission autonomous vehicles mandatory by 2030

Starting in 2030, California will require all light-duty autonomous vehicles that operate in the state to emit zero emissions. Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, SB 500 represents the latest effort by the state to limit the sale of n…

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 is $150 off, plus the rest of the week’s best tech deals

This week brought iPhone reviews, new Surface devices and a bunch of tech deals across the web. Apple’s MacBook Air M1 returns to the best price we’ve seen it while the iPad Air remains discounted by $100. Some of our favorite Sennheiser wireless earbuds are $100 off, too, and you can still grab a great deal from Oculus that knocks $100 off a second headset when you buy a Quest 2 VR system. Here are the best tech deals we found this week that you can still get today.

MacBook Air M1

Apple MacBook Air M1
Engadget

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 is back down to an all-time low of $850, which is $150 off its normal price. It earned a score of 94 from us for its stellar performance, attractive, fanless design and its comfortable keyboard and trackpad.

Buy MacBook Air M1 at Amazon – $850

iPad mini (2021)

Apple iPad mini 2021
Valentina Palladino / Engadget

Amazon has the new, space gray iPad mini for $459, or $40 off its normal price. Apple announced the upgraded tiny tablet last week and it’s officially available today. We gave it a score of 89 for its much improved design, speedy performance with the A15 Bionic chip, long battery life and USB-C charging.

Buy iPad mini (2021) at Amazon – $459

iPad Air

Apple’s iPad Air is $100 off right now, bringing it down to $500. All five colors are on sale at Amazon. thanks to automatically applied coupons, although with various shipping times. We gave the Air a score of 90 for its speedy performance and WiFi, healthy battery life and support for the second-gen Apple Pencil.

Buy iPad Air at Amazon – $500

Mac Mini M1

Apple’s Mac Mini M1 returned to its all-time-low price of $600 thanks to a sale and an automatically applied coupon. You’re getting all of the performance boosts provided by the M1 chipset in a compact desktop package. This is a good machine to get if you have an older desktop that needs replacing, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money.

Buy Mac Mini M1 at Amazon – $600

Oculus Quest 2

Oculus Quest 2
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Through September 27, you can get $100 off a second headset when you buy an Oculus Quest 2. That means you’ll get two VR machines for as little as $500. We gave the Quest 2 a score of 89 for its powerful hardware, higher resolution screens and excellent performance as a standalone and a desktop VR set.

Buy Quest 2 bundle at Oculus – $500

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Amazon and Sennheiser have the excellent Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds for $200, or $100 off their normal price. We gave these buds a score of 85 for their stellar audio quality, good ANC, smaller size and handy companion app.

Buy Momentum True Wireless 2 at Amazon – $200Buy Momentum True Wireless 2 at Sennheiser – $200

Echo Show 5 (1st gen)

Amazon Echo Show 5 smart speaker
Nicole Lee / Engadget

The original Echo Show 5 is down to $45 again, a return to its all-time low. It’s not much different from the second-generation device, which came out earlier this year, so you can safely save some money if you’re willing to grab the older device. We gave the Echo Show 5 a score of 85 for its compact size, decent audio quality and its sunrise alarm feature.

Buy Echo Show 5 (1st gen) at Amazon – $45

Kindle Paperwhite (previous gen)

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Engadget

With the announcement of an updated Kindle Paperwhite coming this October, Amazon knocked $50 off the previous Kindle Paperwhite, bringing it down to $80. We gave this e-reader a score of 95 for its improved, waterproof design, Audible support and higher-contrast display.

Buy Kindle Paperwhite (previous gen) at Amazon – $80

Google Pixel 4

Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone is down to a new low of $379 at B&H Photo. We believe the launch of the Pixel 6 to be right around the corner, so you may want to wait if you want the latest phone from Google. However, the Pixel 4 remains a solid handset — we liked its speedy performance, lovely display and stellar camera experience.

Buy Pixel 4 at B&H – $379

Comic-Con 2022 sweepstakes

Through December 8, you can enter to win four-day passes to San Diego Comic-Con 2022. Along with the passes, you’ll get access to a special preview night, reserved seating in Hall H, a personal concierge, a private tour of the Comic-Con Museum, dinner in Balboa Park and tickets to the “Night at the Comic-Con Museum” event. It’s free to enter, but funds from this sweepstakes will go to the San Diego Comic Convention.

Enter to win at Omaze

New tech deals

Logitech G915 TKL

Amazon has the Logitech G915 TKL keyboard for $50 off, bringing it down to $180. This one has low profile mechanical switches and an attractive aluminum alloy body. It’s also a wireless keyboard that can last up to 40 hours before it needs a recharge.

Buy Logitech G915 TKL at Amazon – $180

HBO Max (6 months)

WarnerMedia pulled HBO Max from Amazon Prime Video Channels this week, but it’s hoping to entice fans to subscribe directly with a new offer. Through September 26, new and returning HBO Max subscribers can get six months of the service for 50 percent off, which comes out to $7.49 per month. That’s one of the best deals we’ve seen, but just remember the price will automatically go up after the six-month period.

Buy HBO Max (6 months) – $7.49/month

NordVPN

NordVPN, one of our favorite VPNs, is running a sale on a two-year subscription. You can sign up and pay $99 for two years, plus you’ll get an extra three months free. We like NordVPN for its speed, its no-logs policy, the thousands of servers it has to choose from and that one account supports up to six connected devices.

Buy NordVPN (2 years) – $99

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Netflix is making a documentary about the QuadrigaCX Bitcoin saga

Netflix has announced a slate of upcoming true crime documentaries. Along with a second season of Tiger King, there’s a documentary on the way that will dive into one of the messiest Bitcoin tales to date.

Trust No One: The Hunt For The Crypto King will debut in 2022. It centers around a group of cryptocurrency investors turned amateur detectives. They attempt to get to the bottom of the suspicious death of crypto exchange founder Gerald Cotten and figure out what actually happened to the $250 million they think he stole from them.

Cotten was the founder of QuadrigaCX, said to be the biggest crypto exchange in Canada for a spell. He died in December 2018 of Crohn’s disease complications. According to his widow, Jennifer Robertson, Cotten was the only one who knew the passwords to QuadrigaCX’s offline crypto storage, meaning that digital currency that was worth around $200 million CAD in early 2019 was no longer accessible.

However, internet sleuths uncovered some eyebrow-raising details about the saga. For one thing, Cotten wrote a will a month before his death in which he left all of his assets to Robertson. There were also suggestions QuadrigaCX didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay all of its creditors and even that Cotten faked his death and disappeared with the money. The company ceased operations in 2019 after it was declared bankrupt.

The FBI started investigating that year, seeking information from those who lost money after Cotten’s death and QuadrigaCX’s collapse. It remains to be seen whether the documentary will include any concrete details about the resolution of the saga, but it should at least direct the spotlight toward one of the more curious crypto cases of recent years.

Also on the way to Netflix is The Tinder Swindler, a documentary about a conman who posed as a billionaire on the dating app and the women who tried to stop him. That documentary will start streaming in February.

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max review: Apple saved the real upgrade for the Pros

A phone can be endowed with the fastest processor in the world, but if it’s saddled with a slow screen, it could still feel sluggish — especially when compared to a similarly equipped device with a faster panel. That’s why the iPhone 13 Pro’s most important new feature is its ProMotion display.

But ProMotion is only included on the Pro and Pro Max models this year, making it one of the features that differentiate them from the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, not to mention last year’s 12 Pro. For an extra $200 to $300, the Pro series also offers an additional telephoto camera, a new macro photography mode, as well as more power and endurance. But are the iPhone 13 Pro’s new cameras and screens worth the extra money?

Design

Before we get into those features, though, there’s one thing you should consider: weight. At 204 grams (7.19 ounces), the 6.1-inch 13 Pro is heavier than both the 12 Pro and the iPhone 13. The 13 Pro Max, which has a 6.7-inch screen, outweighs last year’s Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. While I didn’t mind the regular Pro, it was uncomfortable to use Apple’s biggest flagship one-handed for more than a few minutes at a time.

An iPhone 13 Pro Max in Sierra Blue
David Imel for Engadget

In addition to being heavier than last year’s models, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are a bit thicker, too. They also have larger rear camera modules and slightly smaller display notches. Otherwise, Apple hasn’t strayed far from the 12 Pro’s design. These phones have similar stainless steel enclosures with glass coverings, and are rated IP68 for water and dust resistance.

Even the colors available are familiar: The typical trio of graphite, gold and silver are now accompanied by Sierra Blue. Personally, I prefer this paler shade to the Pacific Blue offered on the last generation.

Display and audio

I realized something when I started testing the iPhone 13 series last week: Basically everything I do on a phone requires scrolling. That includes browsing social feeds, looking for the right component on a spec sheet, reading through old conversations, creeping on my Instagram viewers and reading articles, to give you a non-exhaustive list.

This is why Apple’s new ProMotion screen on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max is a big deal, and also why it’s kind of annoying that it took the company so long to adopt this technology in the first place. Google was already a little behind when it added 90Hz panels to the Pixel 4, after companies like ASUS and OnePlus had already introduced higher refresh rates. Nowadays, this tech isn’t just for premium, top-tier Android devices either.

The iPhone 13 Pro, held face up in a person's hand, with the iOS 15 home screen in view.
David Imel for Engadget

This is hardly the first time Apple is late to adopt a new technology. But it is worth emphasizing that the faster screens on the iPhones make a real difference. Like many Android phones, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max adjust their refresh rates depending on what you’re doing. They can go as low as 10Hz when you’re looking at a static image, or up to 120Hz for scrolling and compatible games.

The benefits might not be obvious at first, but when you go back to a slower screen, you’ll quickly notice the jagged artifacts they produce.

Aside from ProMotion, the iPhone 13 Pro’s OLED displays are also 25 percent brighter than their predecessors, which is nice for outdoor reading. But without a side-by-side comparison, the difference is subtle at best.

Regardless, I enjoyed watching the visual perfection that is Doja Cat’s Kiss Me More music video on the iPhone 13 Pro’s True Tone display. The rosy, cotton-candy hues looked vibrant and her individual lashes were clear. The stereo speakers also did a respectable job of delivering crisp audio with adequate bass. Other things like voices and instrumental background music in videos and games all came through clearly as well.

Close up of the gold iPhone 13 Pro's triple rear cameras

Cameras

Apple says the iPhone 13 Pro’s rear cameras have received the “biggest upgrade ever,” touting “next-level hardware that captures so much more detail.” The triple 12-megapixel setup includes a primary sensor with a large f/1.5 aperture, a 77mm telephoto lens and an ultra-wide option with a 120-degree field of view. Night mode is now supported on all three of the cameras, so you don’t have to compromise on wide-angle or close up shots in low light. There’s also a new macro photography feature thanks to the updated ultra-wide lens, along with software like Photographic Styles and Cinematic Mode.

Those two modes are also offered on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, and you can read my review of those phones for more details. In short, Photographic Styles lets you easily customize and set a sort of default for the contrast levels and color temperature of your images. Meanwhile, Cinematic Mode is good at identifying faces and people in a scene and blurring out everything surrounding a subject, but it struggled when I tried to change the focal point. The system is also a little wonky at outlining individuals, and stray body parts like thumbs and ears can get eaten up in the artificial blur. I found that adjusting the intensity via the f-stop setting helped keep this problem at bay, but the trade-off was less of a DSLR-like look in the final video.

Cinematic Mode on iPhone 13
David Imel for Engadget

One feature the Pros have over the regular 13 is macro photography. With this generation, you can get as close as two centimeters away from your subject and not lose focus. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t offer a way to manually enable a macro mode; the system automatically switches to the close-up camera when you get all up in something’s face.

The iPhone 13 Pro was generally accurate at detecting when I was trying to get a tight shot, but it kept changing back and forth between macro and regular views. Sometimes it would continually focus and refocus on the flowers behind the buds I was trying to shoot. The latter is a more understandable issue; every little hand tremor is magnified when a camera is zoomed that far in, making it hard to latch on to a subject. Not to mention something in motion, like a leaf in the wind. But that’s all the more reason to give users manual control.

Apple has said it will be releasing a software update soon that should prevent the camera from switching in and out of macro mode, which I of course can’t vouch for yet.

When it worked as expected, macro mode delivered surprisingly great results. My shots of a closed flower bud and the vein system on a leaf’s surface were impressively detailed, showing individual hairs on the stem and petals. Close-ups of a fried fish clearly rendered the oil oozing out of the batter.

You need to make sure to let enough light shine on your subject, though, because my shots of a bee inside a flower were dark and splotchy. But that’s basically Photography 101; it’s not an issue specific to macro mode.

In general, the iPhone 13 Pro took sharp, colorful photos rivaling my sample shots from the Pixel 5 and Galaxy S21 Ultra. Apple’s default treatment renders pictures that are typically brighter and sometimes more saturated, but with Photographic Styles you can pick a look that you like and stick with it. I’m not a fan of the iPhone’s aggressive HDR effects compared to the Pixels’ more neutral landscapes, but frankly we’re at a point where Samsung, Google and Apple are generally on par in terms of sheer quality.

The iPhone 13 Pro’s upgraded sensors also really improved low light performance. I took photos of the moon peeking through some clouds in the middle of Manhattan skyscrapers with the S21 Ultra, Pixel 5 and iPhone 13 Pro, and they were all clean and sharp. They differed a bit in color temperature, but it’s not noticeable without a direct comparison. Google still retains an advantage with Night Sight, though; it produces photos that are significantly cleaner, brighter and richer in detail.

A medium shot of the notch housing the iPhone 13 Pro's front camera.
David Imel for Engadget

As for the 13 Pro’s front camera, it’s pretty much the same as the iPhone 13’s, and that’s not a bad thing. You’ll still get Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles via the 12-megapixel True Depth sensor, and though selfies were a little soft in low light, they were otherwise sharp.

Because these are Pro-series phones, Apple also threw in support for ProRes videos in addition to its ProRAW format for stills… or at least it will eventually. ProRes won’t be available until a future iOS 15 update arrives at an unspecified date, but it promises to preserve colors at high quality. And, thanks to the A15’s hardware acceleration plus video encoders and decoders, you’ll be able to record in the format at up to 4K resolution (1080p for the base 128GB model) and 30 frames per second.

iOS 15

Speaking of, the iPhone 13 series runs iOS 15 out of the box, and I was able to test most of the new features when I tested the beta version. Focus modes, for example, let you set custom home pages and notification profiles based on your location or time of day. It’s one of my favorite new features on any smartphone platform in recent years because it allows people without a separate work device to switch off from work when they please.

An iPhone 13 Pro standing on a fabric surface with its screen facing the camera.
David Imel for Engadget

Since most of iOS 15’s new features will be coming to older iPhones, though, they’re unlikely to sway your decision on whether to upgrade. We’ll have a more in-depth review of iOS 15, but suffice to say I appreciate the level of control it offers. I’m especially looking forward to testing out SharePlay, which hasn’t rolled out yet, but will let you watch shows with or stream your phone screen to friends over FaceTime.

Performance and battery life

The main difference between the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro’s processors is that the latter uses a beefier 5-core GPU. This means that graphics-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing should be executed more quickly. I made a trailer in iMovie and while I had to wait 51 seconds for it to finish exporting on the iPhone 13, it took a mere 15 seconds on the Pro.

The iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic chip is similarly powerful in less-intensive tasks. I played rounds of Catan, watched various YouTube videos, chatted with friends, played music and snapped photos in rapid succession — all without any delay. And I know I’ve already said this a lot, but I have to stress again that the faster screens here just make most tasks feel more responsive.

In the week or so that I’ve had the iPhone 13 Pros, I’ve only needed to charge them twice. Granted, I spent most of the first few days focusing on the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, using the Pros predominantly when I was doing intensive camera testing. But when I switched over to the more-premium devices, the iPhone 13 Pro lasted almost a full two days before needing a charge. Battery levels dipped more quickly when I was playing games and exporting videos, but not so much that I had to worry about running out of juice.

Considering its higher refresh rate, that’s an impressive runtime. I’m still running battery tests across the iPhone 13 lineup, and will update this review with more empirical results as soon as that’s done. For now, though, it’s clear that despite the ProMotion displays, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can last longer than a day.

A blue iPhone 13 Pro Mac and a gold iPhone 13 Pro next to each other on a table with their rear cameras facing us.
David Imel for Engadget

Wrap-up

With faster screens, superb performance and long-lasting batteries, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are excellent phones. If you’re on a device older than a 12 Pro, you should consider upgrading just for the new ProMotion displays. Though the cameras also got a noteworthy improvement, I’m not sure they’re going to be the biggest draw. It’s honestly hard to spot the difference in quality between photos taken by Apple’s recent flagships.

Features like Cinematic Mode, Photographic Styles and macro cameras are nice to have, but won’t define your iPhone 13 Pro experience. And though Apple was playing catch up to Android flagships by finally introducing 120Hz screens to its phones, there are now fewer things that Samsung and Google offer that the iPhones don’t. But for basically anyone who uses iOS, the iPhone 13 Pro (and Pro Max, if you don’t mind its weight) is a worthy upgrade.

Key specs (iPhone 13 Pro)

Processor: A15 Bionic with 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU

Storage: 128/256/512GB or 1TB storage

MicroSD card support: None

Display: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED with ProMotion up to 120Hz

Display resolution: 2,532 x 1,170 (460 ppi)

Rear triple cameras: 12MP f/1.5 wide-angle camera with sensor-shift OIS; 12MP f/1.8 ultra-wide camera (120-degree FOV); 12MP f/2.8 77mm telephoto camera

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth camera

Operating system: iOS 15

Battery: “Up to 22 hours video playback”

Charging: Lightning port with fast wired charging at 20W (up to 50 percent in 30 minutes); Support for MagSafe wireless charging up to at 15W; Qi wireless charging at up to 7.5W.

Dimensions: 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.30 inches; 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.65 mm

Weight: 7.19 ounces; 204 grams

Fingerprint sensor: No

Waterproofing: IP68

NFC: Yes

Headphone jack: No

Key specs (iPhone 13 Pro Max)

Processor: A15 Bionic with 6-core CPU and 5-core GPU

Storage: 128/256/512GB or 1TB storage

MicroSD card support: None

Display: 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED with ProMotion up to 120Hz

Display resolution: 2,778 x 1,284 (458 ppi)

Rear triple cameras: 12MP f/1.5 wide-angle camera with sensor-shift OIS; 12MP f/1.8 ultra-wide camera (120-degree FOV); 12MP f/2.8 77mm telephoto camera

Front camera: 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth camera

Operating system: iOS 15

Battery: “Up to 28 hours video playback”

Charging: Lightning port with fast wired charging at 20W (up to 50 percent in 30 minutes); Support for MagSafe wireless charging up to at 15W; Qi wireless charging at up to 7.5W.

Dimensions: 6.33 x 3.07 x 0.30 inches; 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65 mm

Weight: 8.46 ounces; 240 grams

Fingerprint sensor: No

Waterproofing: IP68

NFC: Yes

Headphone jack: No

Photos by David Imel (@DurvidImel)

China’s central bank says cryptocurrency transactions are illegal

China is continuing to push forward in its cryptocurrency crackdown. The People’s Bank of China says crypto transactions are illegal and called for a formal ban. It cited concerns about national security and the safety of residents’ assets.

The bank claims cryptocurrencies aren’t fiat currency and can’t be circulated, as Bloomberg reports. Any transactions involving crypto are now deemed to be criminal financial activity. The bank told financial and internet companies to stop allowing crypto trades on their platforms. Foreign exchanges are banned from providing services to Chinese residents too. 

The rise of crypto has invoked an increase in “money laundering, illegal fund-raising, fraud, pyramid schemes and other illegal and criminal activities,” the bank said. Those appearing to violate the rules will be “investigated for criminal liability.”

Several agencies in the country are working together to clamp down on crypto use. The National Development and Reform Commission is looking to put a halt to crypto mining, as TechCrunch notes. The Sichuan local government banned crypto mining in June, prompting some miners to leave the country.

The price of Bitcoin dropped from around $45,000 to approximately $41,500 on Friday morning, following the announcement.

Engadget Podcast: Everything Microsoft Surface + iPhone 13, iPad Mini reviews

It’s fall, and new gadget season has officially begun! This week, Cherlynn and Devindra dive into all of Microsoft’s new hardware: The Surface Laptop Studio, Pro 8 and Duo 2. Also, Commerce Editor Valentina Palladino joins to chat about the iPhone 13, 13 Mini and her iPad Mini review. And of course, we carve out some time to yell at Facebook.

Listen below, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you’ve got suggestions or topics you’d like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!

Subscribe!

Topics

  • The best of Microsoft’s Surface event: Surface Laptop Studio – 3:51

  • Surface Pro 8 – 16:26

  • Surface Duo 2 – 22:33

  • iPhone 13 and mini reviews: it’s all about the cameras – 33:05

  • iPad Mini review: cute and functional – 48:45

  • Fitbit Charge 5 review – 1:02:38

  • The European Union wants all phones to charge via USB-C – 1:07:30

  • Amazon announces bigger, brighter Kindle Paperwhite – 1:12:39

  • Facebook announces portable Portal / Wall Street Journal’s Facebook files – 1:13:11

  • Working on – 1:19:41

  • Pop culture picks – 1:22:35

Video livestream

Credits
Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Guest: Valentina Palladino
Producer: Ben Ellman
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos,Luke Brooks
Graphics artists: Luke Brooks, Kyle Maack
Music: Dale North and Terrence O’Brien

Amazon is reportedly planning a wall-mounted Echo with a 15-inch display

Amazon is working on a number of new devices including an Echo with a 15-inch wall-mounted display, a soundbar, new Echo Auto technology and wearables. Some may appear fairly soon at the company’s September 28th hardware event, according to a Bloomberg report. 

The splashiest-looking product would be an Alexa-enabled Echo with a display size around 15-inches. Codenamed Hoya, it could not only be placed on a stand like a regular Echo device, but mounted on a wall as well. It would serve as a smart-home center to control lights, cameras, locks and other devices, while showing weather, timers, appointments, photos and more. It’s specifically designed to work in the kitchen, displaying recipes and YouTube cooking videos, while letting you stream Netflix and other apps. 

The company may also announce its own soundbar, codenamed Harmony, to accompany a rumored lineup of Amazon-branded TVs. Unlike third-party Alexa-enabled soundbars, it would have a front-facing camera and support video calls from TVs, much like Facebook’s Portal TV

Finally, it’s reportedly developing a new version of Echo Auto (codenamed Marion). The updated version will supposedly have a new design and allow for device charging via inductive technology. Amazon currently has a partnership with Ford to put Alexa in 700,000 vehicles, but it’s apparently looking to team up with other automakers, too.

Other items in the works include new Echo speakers for 2022 and wearables for kids and seniors (the latter with fall detection). It’s also reportedly building dedicated processors to improve artificial intelligence along with new technology to help its Fire TV, Echo and other devices work better together. 

The company has some other, somewhat more unusual products in the works as well, according to the report. It has been working on a home robot codenamed Vesta that would use the Alexa interface and also an Alexa-powered karaoke microphone — though the team working on the latter project was reportedly disbanded.