Must Read Bits & Bytes

Chromecast opens up for streaming music to connected speakers

Chromecast opens up for streaming music to connected speakers

The greatest thing about Google’s Chromecast is not that it’s cheap (even though that’s an amazing aspect), it’s that Google made it wide open. All any software provider has to do is support the Chromecast rather than wait for it to come around to them. To that end, Google is aiming for the growing connected speaker market, and will make their dongle available for streaming to speakers and soundbars. They’ve also got a lineup of heavy-hitting partners in Sony, LG, and Denon to kick this new functionality off.

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LG G Flex 2 hands-on – A curveball keeper

LG G Flex 2 hands-on – A curveball keeper

I guarantee that the first time you hold the LG G Flex 2 in your hand, you're going to ask yourself why aren't there more phones with a curved display. And that's LG's hook. Instead of making you read this entire hands-on to really know how I feel about the G Flex 2 (though, you know, you really should read it anyway), I'm going to just come right out and tell you that it's beautiful to look at and it's beyond comfortable to hold. I'm not just saying this just because this is another new device coming to market but because, for the first time in a while now, I feel that LG has hit a home run.

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Gogoro Smartscooter is Tesla for the everyman

Gogoro Smartscooter is Tesla for the everyman

Last we heard of Gogoro, the mysterious startup was promising a new age of batteries for mobility in smart cities, and clutching a sheaf of patents to that effect: now, we know what it’s been working on. The Gogoro Smartscooter and its companion Gogoro Energy Network - essentially a city-wide infrastructure of charging stations for easily-swapped battery packs, offering up to 60 miles range - has been fully announced at CES 2015 today, but I caught up with the company ahead of time to find out why the founders think this is far, far broader than just urban transport.

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NVIDIA announces Tegra X1; twice as powerful as the K1

NVIDIA announces Tegra X1; twice as powerful as the K1

Tonight at CES, NVIDIA is announcing some cool new innovations for 2015 and beyond. One of those is their new X1 chipset, which is the successor to the already awesome Tegra K1 chipset. The new SoC is a beast, too; an octa-core processor sitting right next to a Maxwell GPU, the X1 is ready to put everyone on notice. Though still in its infancy, we’re reminded of last year when NVIDIA unleashed the K1. We were impressed then, and it didn’t disappoint.

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Withings Activité Pop finally melds watch and smarts

Withings Activité Pop finally melds watch and smarts

Withings turned heads with its first smartwatch, the Activité, approaching the wearables market from the timepiece end rather than the gadget mindset. The result was a fitness tracker that didn't look like an oversized Livestrong band, but while it certainly felt the part from a wristwatch perspective, at $450 it certainly wasn't an option for the mass market. Enter the Activité Pop, a cut-price version with the same core features but a far more palatable $149.95 price tag.

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Narrative Clip 2 gets WiFi, Bluetooth and 8MP upgrade

Narrative Clip 2 gets WiFi, Bluetooth and 8MP upgrade

Times can be tough when you're trying to kickstart a new wearables segment, use crowdfunding to pay for it, and facing society's growing concerns around privacy, but Narrative and its Clip life-logging camera seem to be doing alright. Fresh to CES 2015, the Narrative Clip 2 keeps the core concept of snapping a photo every 30 seconds and highlighting the best for you, but gives hardware and software a comprehensive upgrade. So, the new Clip 2 has WiFi and Bluetooth where its predecessor had only USB, a modular back for more imaginative mounting, and - most importantly - an 8-megapixel sensor with better low-light performance. I sat down with CMO Oskar Kalmaru in Narrative's new San Francisco workspace to find out how a year of life-logging has shaped the new camera.

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The one CES Apple might not win

The one CES Apple might not win

In just a few days we begin again with the year's biggest US-based technology conference: CES 2015. Over the past several years, it's been almost a tradition for news outlets to suggest that Apple was either alive and well at CES or in some way or another "winning" the crowd over without actually, physically being at the event series to represent themselves. As far as we know. This year is a little different. This year is the first in which Apple has a new product announced before CES but won't be releasing it until later this year.

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Back to the Future delivers in 2015 with Nike, VR, Tony Hawk, and Pepsi

Back to the Future delivers in 2015 with Nike, VR, Tony Hawk, and Pepsi

Easily one of the most iconic sets of scenes in a film about the future appears in the epic comedy Back to the Future II. In this film we travel forward to the year 2015 to the day November 5th. In the year 2011, Nike blasted everyone's faces off with the first release of the Nike MAG - that's the pair of shoes that appear in BTTF2 - without the Power Laces. Fast-forward to February of 2014 and the designer of the MAG shoes confirmed power laces for 2015. These are just one of a set of products inspired by BTTF2 and prepped for release this year, the year they're supposed to have been on the market.

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Aliens sequel visualized by director of District 9, Elysium [UPDATE]

Aliens sequel visualized by director of District 9, Elysium [UPDATE]

We don't really know what to believe when it comes to this proposed sequel to Aliens. Images posted by Director and Visual Effects artist Neill Blomkamp have sparked our interest, that's for certain - but whether or not he'd actually been attached to a film is unconfirmed. What we do know is that we'd certainly have loved to see a dark, alternate universe in the eye of Blomkamp, especially after seeing these illustrations. Blomkamp previously directed Elysium and District 9 - his next film is Chappie.

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Here’s how Sony will apologize for PlayStation downtime

Here’s how Sony will apologize for PlayStation downtime

Sony is hoping to pacify PlayStation gamers frustrated by the PSN downtime over the holidays, apologizing for the gaming network being offline, and offering free service and cheaper games as a mea culpa. Having seen the PlayStation Network brought down by hacking group Lizard Squad on Christmas Day, and then taken several days to bring it back to life afterwards, Sony is automatically adding five days of PlayStation Plus service to all subscribers or trial users impacted on December 25th. Meanwhile, there'll be a discount on games sometime this month, though it's unclear whether PS3 and PS4 owners will be suitably placated by it.

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