Monday, October 25, 2021

CD Projekt Acquires The Molasses Flood, The Studio Behind The Flame In The Flood

CD Projekt has announced that it has acquired The Molasses Flood, the studio known for games like The Flame in the Flood and Drake Hollow.  This news comes by way of a press release from CD Projekt that says The Molasses Flood is a perfect fit for the studio group. The studio will be working on one of CD Projekt’s IP, although it will retain its own identity and won’t merge with any existing teams in CD Projekt.  “The Molasses Flood will be working in close cooperation with CD Projekt Red, but will keep their current identity and will not be merged with existing teams,” the release reads. “The studio will be working on its own ambitious project which is based on one of CD Projekt’s IPs. Details about the project will be announced in the future.”  CD Projekt specifically cites The Molasses Flood’s technological insight and experience as reasons for the acquisition. “We’re always on the lookout for teams who make games with heart,” CD Projekt president and CEO Adam Kiciński writes in the press release. “The Molasses Flood share our passion for video game development, they’re experienced, quality-oriented, and have great technological insight. I’m convinced they will bring a lot of talent and determination to the Group.”  The Molasses Flood’s studio head, Forrest Dowling, says the studio saw an incredible opportunity in becoming part of the CD Projekt group, which is also the home of CD Projekt Red, the team behind The Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077. Dowling says The Molasses Flood’s acquisition by CD Projekt will allow the team to reach a much wider audience.  While waiting for more details on The Molasses Flood’s next project, check out Game Informer’s The Flame in the Flood review and then check out our Cyberpunk 2077 review. 
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    Xbox Series X Mini Fridge Pre-Orders Sell Out, but More Are on the Way

    Xbox has been teasing the release of a mini-fridge modeled […] The post Xbox Series X Mini Fridge Pre-Orders Sell Out, but More Are on the Way appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

    The very best laptops for university students

    All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. We’re all contending with a return to normalcy, and going back to school can feel strange yet exciting. Whether you’re heading to a physical campus, taking classes online or a mix of both, a laptop is likely going to be the control center for your studies. And things have changed quite a bit over the last year or so. We’ve seen the introduction of Apple’s M1-powered MacBooks and Microsoft just announced Windows 11. With ARM-based computers harkening a future where the line between mobile and desktop computing is blurry and Windows 11 working to bridge that gap by supporting Android apps, the laptop market is the most exciting it’s been in years. But that might lead to more questions for shoppers. What should you look out for if you want an ARM-based PC? Will they run Windows 11 when that update is available? What are some key specs you should add to your must-have list this year? We compiled this guide to help you make the right choice, alongside a list of this year’s best laptops. What to look for in a laptop for school (and what to avoid) First: Windows on ARM still isn’t worth it. Snapdragon laptops may look and feel classy, offer excellent battery life and cellular connections, but they’re typically too expensive, especially considering their limited app compatibility and finicky software. Apple’s M1 MacBooks, on the other hand, are great for almost everyone, barring those who need external GPUs, niche software or more than 16GB of RAM. Over on the Intel side of things, almost every notebook released this year packs an 11th-generation Core processor. You’ll likely be able to find a cheaper version of a product with a 10th-generation chip, and it should still serve you well. And don’t forget about AMD’s Ryzen, either — they’re plenty powerful and no longer just for the bargain bin. If you're eagerly awaiting the arrival of Windows 11 devices, don't expect to see them before the semester begins. They're more likely to show up in the fall around Microsoft's usual hardware event in October. Across the industry, companies have shifted to taller aspect ratios for their screens. The Surface Laptops sport 3:2 panels, and many Dell and HP models offer 16:10. While the older 16:9 format is nice for watching videos, you’ll probably appreciate a taller option when you’re writing an essay. Some devices, like Dell’s XPS and Samsung’s Galaxy Book Pro, come with OLED panels, which will be nice for working with photos and videos. They usually cost more and take a toll on battery life, though, so you’ll need to weigh your priorities. Fortunately, there’s a diverse selection of laptops around, so you should be able to find a suitable one regardless of your preferences. Here are our favorite notebooks for your return to academia. Apple MacBook Air M1 With its swift performance, slim fanless design and excellent battery life, the MacBook Air M1 is a no-brainer for any Apple user. You’ll appreciate familiar features like the Retina display, solid keyboard and trackpad. Plus thanks to the company’s excellent Rosetta 2 emulator software, you won’t notice a huge performance difference when relying on Intel apps. The big news though, is the ARM-based M1 allows the laptop to run iPhone and iPad apps too. While not every app will be available on macOS, the potential for more options on your desktop here is great. Now you just have to make sure you can keep the distractions at bay — which should be easy with the upcoming Focus modes on macOS Monterey, which rolls out later this year. Unfortunately for those looking for more internal storage or something to run their bespoke video streaming setup, the MacBook Air M1 tops out at 256GB storage while both the Air and the Pro only go up to 16GB of RAM. The MacBook Pro M1 also lacks support for multiple monitors and an external GPU. Those with more demanding workflows might need to look to Windows or an Intel-powered MacBook to ensure app compatibility. Buy MacBook Air M1 at Amazon - $999 Dell XPS 13 Dell’s XPS series has been our favorite for years. Despite a somewhat plain design that some might call “classic,” the XPS 13 still stands out for nailing pretty much everything a laptop should have. Great performance? Check. Gorgeous screen? Check. Comfortable keyboard? Check. Throw in a long-lasting battery and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports in the latest versions, and you’ve got a powerful workhorse for all your classes (and more). The company shifted to a 16:10 aspect ratio in 2020, and recently added a 4K OLED option. That means you’ll see greater contrast ratios and deeper blacks for maximum display goodness. The OLED configuration will cost you $300 more than the Full HD LCD option, but those who want the best viewing experience may not mind the premium. We also recommend you spend a little more and get at least the Core i3 model with 8GB of RAM instead of the meager 4GB that the base model offers. Buy XPS 13 at Dell - $930 Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 If you’re looking for an excellent typing experience, look no further than the Surface Laptop 4. Microsoft has killed it with the keyboards on its recent Surface Laptops and this one’s no different. Though they’re not as deep and springy as ThinkPads, the buttons here are deliciously responsive and have ample travel. The roomy trackpad is solid, too. Of course, it’s important that the Surface Laptop 4 deliver on everything else, or we wouldn’t recommend it. The 15-inch version that we tested offered breezy performance, respectable battery life and a lovely 3:2 Pixelsense screen which supports Microsoft’s Surface Pen input. Though its design is a little staid, the Surface Laptop 4 still has a clean, professional design and a luxurious aluminum case that's sturdy enough to withstand being stuffed in your backpack. Plus, at 3.4 pounds, it won't burden your shoulders too much. The best thing about the Surface Laptop 4 is that its base model, which comes equipped with AMD’s Ryzen 5 processor and 8GB of RAM, starts at $1,000. That rivals the Dell XPS 13, making it a better buy for the value-conscious: You get more screen, more power and more RAM for the money. Both the Surface and the XPS are great options, but the latter offers an OLED panel and thinner bezels that make it look more modern. Buy Surface Laptop 4 at Microsoft - $999 Samsung Galaxy Book Pro For those whose priority is light weight, the Galaxy Book Pro series should be at the top of your list. At just 2.36 pounds for the clamshell and 3.06 pounds for the convertible model, the 15-inch Galaxy Book Pro is one of the lightest 15-inch laptops around. It’s also super thin at 0.46 inches thick, and despite its compact size it manages to house three USB-C ports (one of them supporting Thunderbolt 4), a microSD card reader and a headphone jack. It also packs an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and at least 8GB of RAM, along with a 68Whr battery that delivers a similar runtime to the Dell XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 4. That’s particularly impressive given the Galaxy Book Pro has a Super AMOLED screen, which offers sumptuous image quality, high contrast ratio and deep blacks. Unfortunately, Samsung is still stuck on a 16:9 aspect ratio, which will feel outdated in a year or two, but it’s not a deal breaker. The Galaxy Book Pro’s keyboard isn’t as comfortable as the Surface Laptop 4’s but it’s pleasant enough, and the trackpad is enormous. We’re more concerned about the odd webcam software that makes you look dark and splotchy, so if looking your best on video calls is of concern you might want to consider something else. Plus, the $1,100 base model comes with an Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, making it a competitive offering against the Dell and Surface laptops. Awful camera aside, there’s plenty to love about the Galaxy Book Pro, especially for those looking to lighten their loads. Buy Galaxy Book Pro at Samsung - $999 Acer Chromebook Spin 713 If you’re considering saving a few hundred bucks by opting for Chrome OS, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 might be the right choice. Sure, there are cheaper Chromebooks out there, but it’s one of few machines with a 3:2 aspect ratio and has a utilitarian design that makes it perfect for butterfingers. That price also gets you an 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and sturdy 360-degree hinge so you can set it up in a variety of modes. The 13.5-inch screen is also more pixel-dense than most 1080p displays of the same size. Though the Spin 713 only clocked about 8 hours on our battery test, that’s enough to get you through a work day. If $700 feels too expensive for a Chromebook, you could also wait till it inevitably goes on sale to save a bit more. There are sleeker, more powerful Chromebooks available, but Acer’s Spin 713 offers a good mix of performance and a modern screen for the money. Buy Acer Chromebook Spin 713 at Best Buy - $700 Acer Aspire 5 If price is your utmost concern, then we recommend the Acer Aspire 5. It’s a 15-inch Windows laptop with an AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage that costs between $400 and $450. Yes, that’s less memory than anything else on this list, but it also costs much less than any of our non-Chromebook suggestions. There’s plenty of ports here — including an Ethernet socket — and the aluminum chassis should make this laptop feel more expensive than it is. You’ll also appreciate its reliable performance, comfortable keyboard and 1080p display. For the price, the Aspire 5 offers everything you need to get through the school day, making it a great bargain. Buy Aspire 5 at Acer starting at $399

    Engadget Podcast: WTF are NFTs?

    This week, Cherlynn and Devindra dive into the wild world of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, with Engadget Senior Editor Dan Cooper. What do they mean for the future of art and commerce? And should you care about them at all? Also, we chat about Microsoft’s finalized Bethesda acquisition, as well as Facebook’s push to dismiss its latest antitrust charges. 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 Video livestream [embedded content] CreditsHosts: Devindra Hardawar and Cherlynn LowGuest: Dan CooperProducer: Ben EllmanMusic: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

    Microsoft's advanced cybersecurity tech comes in a large number of countries now

    With upcoming national elections in five European countries, Microsoft is making some of the more advanced features of its AccountGuard service available to additional groups and individuals at no additional cost. AccountGuard is a program Microsoft offers to people and organizations at higher risk of being targeted by hackers. Typically that has meant politicians, but near the start of the pandemic, the company made the tool available to healthcare workers and humanitarian organizations at no cost. In practice, the service provides notifications from Microsoft when the company detects an attack and guidance on how to stop it. As part of today's expansion, Microsoft is making the service's enterprise-grade identity and access management features available to all AccountGuard members in '31' democracies at no additional cost. Some of those more advanced features include multi-factor authentication and single sign-on service. The company trialed a similar expansion ahead of the 2020 US presidential election, providing political campaigns and parties access to those features. Microsoft also plans to provide up to 25,000 YubiKeys to AccountGuard customers. Depending on the size of the organization, the company will have multiple free keys on offer. The expansion is timely for a couple of reasons. With national elections coming up in the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Estonia and the Czech Republic, Microsoft hopes to protect them from disinformation campaigns. It also was only last year that Russian state-sponsored hackers pulled off the SolarWinds attack. The US government is still sorting through all the damage left by the hack, and even Microsoft wasn't left unscathed.

    The only real Cortana-powered speaker is approximately to reduce Cortana

    Harman Kardon's Invoke was the first speaker to use Microsoft's Cortana speaker, and as it later turned out, also the last. In 2020, Microsoft said it would end consumer support for Cortana on iOS, Android and Invoke by early 2021 and use the AI assistant exclusively for business apps like Microsoft 365. That day has now come, as Harman Kardon has announced that it will soon release a software update that disables Cortana and turns the Invoke into a regular Bluetooth speaker, Thurott has reported.  The update will arrive tomorrow, so in a FAQ, Harman Kardon advised owners to leave the speaker "connected to the internet and kept online overnight between 2 AM and 5 AM local time." The update will end after June 30th, 2021, but the Samsung-owned company noted that "Cortana service... will end in the coming months regardless of whether you receive the update." The Invoke was a very good smart speaker when it arrived in 2017, with excellent sound quality and device compatibility, though Cortana's lack of skills was a weak point. Harmon Karman noted that it had no choice in the matter as it was Microsoft's decision to end support. When the software giant first announced that it would remove Cortana from Invoke, it did offer buyers a $50 gift card as an olive branch, however. Microsoft will soon end Cortana support on its own Surface headphones, too. 

    Microsoft will offer you AMD CPUs across its Surface Laptop 4 lineup reportedly

    Since 2019, Microsoft has offered a 15-inch version of the Surface Laptop 3 that you can configure with an AMD processor. And now it looks like the company plans to offer that same option to people who want the 13.5-inch model. According to a report from WinFuture spotted by Windows Central, Microsoft will release the Surface Laptop 4 in April and you’ll have AMD and Intel processor options in both 13.5-inch and 15-inch sizes. The company will reportedly offer “Surface Edition” variants of the Ryzen 5 4680U and Ryzen 7 4980U. That’s an improvement on the 3580U and 3780U currently available with the Surface Laptop 3, but a step below the 5000 series chips AMD announced at the start of the year. Meanwhile, those who want an Intel processor will be able to choose between the Core i5 1145G7 and Core i7 1185G7. Both of those come from Intel’s latest 11th generation Tiger Lake series. It also looks like the only way you’ll be able to configure the Surface Laptop 4 with either 32GB of RAM or 1TB of internal storage will be to buy one of the Intel models as the maximum with the AMD variants is reportedly 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Beyond that, it doesn’t look like the Surface Laptop will get many other upgrades. According to the spec sheet WinFuture shared, both models will keep their current 2256 x 1504 and 2496 x 1664 resolution displays and they’ll ship with the same mix of ports. Of course, that’s assuming WinFuture’s information is accurate. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like we'll have to wait long to see what Microsoft has up its sleeve.

    Xbox test brings Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser to consoles

    You might finally have a good reason to use the web browser on your console for more than the bare necessities. The Verge reports that Microsoft has started testing a version of its Chromium-based Edge browser on the Xbox One and Series X/S. Participate in the Alpha Skip-Ahead testing ring and you'll get a web experience that's more in line with the modern era, including better compatibility and syncing with Edge across multiple platforms. This version is unsurprisingly buggy and doesn't include mouse or keyboard support. And while this theoretically enables access to Google Stadia, we wouldn't count on reliable access to that or other intensive web apps just yet. It may take a while before there's a more polished version of the new Edge for Xbox. When it is ready, though, the new browser could make a better case for buying an Xbox if web surfing matters to you. Right now, the PlayStation 5 doesn't even have an easily accessible web browser (you have to rely on tricks to use it at all). While that could change, a Chromium-based Xbox browser could give Microsoft a comfortable head start.

    Microsoft launches a cross-platform password autofill feature

    Microsoft has rolled out a big update for its Authenticator app, which gives it the capability to automatically fill log ins with your usernames and passwords. The tech giant has launched a new autofill feature that works across devices and platforms, and it’s bringing it to iOS and Android devices through its Authenticator app. That means you’ll be able to access all the credentials you’ve stored on Edge under your Microsoft account on mobile — you just need to go to Authenticator’s Passwords tab and log in first. After Authenticator is done syncing, it’ll offer to autofill your password when you open an app or visit a website, so long as you’ve saved your login for them. Simplify and secure your life with Microsoft’s autofill solution for passwords https://t.co/mOyPwWhsjX pic.twitter.com/FMcQ7Z9nTm — Windows Blogs (@windowsblog) February 5, 2021 Microsoft has also introduced an autofill extension for Google’s browser, in case you primarily save your passwords on Edge but want to use them on Chrome. The feature works just like Chrome’s built-in autofill feature, and you’ll even be able to edit or delete your logins within Chrome instead of having to go through Edge first. If you’ll recall, the company released a preview of these features back in December, but they’re now officially available. In addition to launching cross—platform autofill capabilities, Microsoft’s Authenticator update gives the app the power to import passwords from Chrome, some popular password managers and from CSV files. The company says it’s safe to use the app as a password manager of sorts, since Authenticator requires multi-factor authentication. Your credentials will also be encrypted. Further, you’ll have to use your biometric information or type in your PIN first before Authenticator autofills any app or website you visit.

    On April 13th microsoft will uninstall its old Edge browser from Windows PCs

    It may have taken Microsoft the better part of a decade to get people off of Internet Explorer, but the company has a more decisive retirement plan for the previous version of its Edge browser. On April 13th, Microsoft will release a cumulative monthly security patch that will remove the legacy version of Edge from Windows 10 computers and install the new Chromium-based one, the company announced on Friday.   The version of Edge Microsoft is uninstalling is the one that launched alongside Windows 10. It uses the company’s own EdgeHTML rendering engine. In 2019, the company announced it was rebuilding the browser from the ground up to take advantage of Google’s Chromium software. In June of last year, Microsoft started rolling it out through a Windows update. Two months later, Microsoft announced it wouldn’t issue any additional security updates for Legacy Edge after March 9th, 2021. If you already have the Chromium version of Edge installed on your computer, the update will only remove the legacy one. So for most people, who have either already moved on or switched to another browser, they probably won’t notice a change.  

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