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2024-04-18 18:00:53| Engadget

Meta just announced a major update for its AI assistant platform, Meta AI, which has been built using the long-awaited open source Llama 3 large language model (LLM). The company says it's now the most intelligent AI assistant you can use for free. As for use case scenarios, the company touts the ability to help users study for tests, plan dinners and schedule nights out. You know the drill. Its an AI chatbot. Meta AI, however, has expanded into just about every nook and cranny throughout the companys entire portfolio, after a test run with Instagram DMs last week. Its still available with Instagram, but now users can access it on Messenger, Facebook feeds and Whatsapp. The chatbot also has a dedicated web portal at, wait for it, meta.ai. You dont need a company login to use it this way, though it wont generate images. Those recently-released Ray-Ban smart glasses also integrate with the bot, with Quest headset integration coming soon. On the topic of image generation, Meta says it's now much faster and will produce images as you type. It also handles custom animated GIFs, which is pretty cool. Hopefully, it can successfully generate images of different races of people. We found that it struggled with this basic concept a couple of weeks back, as it seemed biased toward creating images of people of the same race, even when prompted otherwise. Metas also expanding global availability along with this update, as Meta AI is coming to more than a dozen countries outside of the US. These include Australia, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan, Uganda and others. However, theres one major caveat. Its only in English, which doesnt seem that useful to a global audience, but whatever. As for safety and reliability, the company says Llama 3 has been trained on an expanded data set when compared to Llama 2. It also used synthetic data to create lengthy documents to train on and claims it excluded all data sources that are known to contain a high volume of personal information about private individuals. Meta says it conducted a series of evaluations to see how the chatbot would handle risk areas like conversations about weapons, cyber attacks and child exploitation, and adjusted as required. In our brief testing with the product, we've already run into hallucinations, as seen below.  Engadget/Karissa Bell AI has become one of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pet projects, along with raising really expensive cattle for beef in a secluded Hawaiian compound, but the companys still playing catch up to OpenAI and, to a lesser extent, Google. Metas Llama 2 never really wowed users, due to a limited feature set, so maybe this new version of the AI assistant will catch lightning in a bottle. At the very least, it should be able to draw lightning in a bottle, or more accurately, slightly tweak someone elses drawing of lightning in a bottle.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-rolls-out-an-updated-ai-assistant-built-with-the-long-awaited-llama-3-160053435.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 16:51:47| Engadget

TSMC is the worlds biggest chipmaker and its products are found in everything from phones to game consoles and computers. But devices using TSMC chips could become more expensive if manufacturers opt to buy ones that the company makes outside of its home base of Taiwan. If a customer requests to be in a certain geographical area, the customer needs to share the incremental cost, TSMC CEO CC Wei said on an earnings call. In todays fragmented globalization environment, cost will be higher for everyone, including TSMC, our customers and our competitors. Talks with customers over price increases have already started. As the Financial Times points out, its more expensive for TSMC to manufacture chips outside of Taiwan (where over 90 percent of the planets most advanced semiconductors are made). But the company will be passing on those costs amid a push by companies and governments to increase chip supply outside of Taiwan, over which China is attempting to control. TSMC has plants in Japan and is building several in Arizona, the first of which started operating this month and is expected to go into full production this year. Its also constructing a plant in Germany. In addition, the US government last week agreed to provide the company with $6.6 billion in funding under the CHIPS Act, which seeks to bolster semiconductor manufacturing in the country. In return, TSMC pledged to up its US investment by $25 billion to $65 billion. Aligned with that, the company announced plans to build a third US plant by the end of the decade and to start making more advanced 2nm chips by 2028. Meanwhile, TSMC expects its manufacturing costs to increase in Taiwan. Thats because power prices there are soaring. An earthquake earlier this month is also expected to have a negative effect on the companys profitability, as is its struggle to make the manufacturing of its most advanced 3nm chips more efficient. Apple, NVIDIA, AMD and Qualcomm are among TSMCs more notable customers. So if they end up buying chips from the companys US, Japan or Germany fabs, their manufacturing costs could go up. Take a wild guess whod end up having to eat the cost of those increased expenses so device makers can maintain their profit margins.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tsmc-will-charge-more-for-chips-made-outside-of-taiwan-possibly-making-devices-more-expensive-145146879.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 16:00:50| Engadget

Theres a new invite-only app going semi-viral among VCs, tech execs and other Silicon Valley personalities. Its called Airchat and its trying to revive the concept of an audio-first social media app. The premise is similar to Clubhouse, the audio app that had a viral moment at the height of the pandemic in 2021 and inspired copycat features in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit before gradually fading into obscurity. But unlike the original version of Clubhouse, Airchat isnt built around live audio streams that require users to all tune it at once. Its more like Twitter or Threads, except posts can only be shared as voice notes. The app uses a timeline format, and automatically plays audio clips as you scroll your feed. You do have the ability to pause the playback and read text instead each post is accompanied by an AI-generated transcript but posts and replies can only be shared by recording an audio clip. There dont seem to be any time constraints on how long individual clips can be, I found at least one post where a user spoke for a full hour just to see if it would work (it did). It sounds a bit gimmicky (because it is), but the app has all the hallmarks of the kind of social apps that briefly go viral among a certain segment of extremely-online Silicon Valley nerds. Its led by a pair of well-connected tech founders: AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant and former Tinder exec Brian Norgard. Its invitation-only and has drawn a number of well-known tech personalities among its early users: Y Combinator CEO and San Francisco political provocateur Gary Tan, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, OpenAI founder Sam Altman, VC and Elon Musk confidant Jason Calacanis. Over on X, Airchats high-profile user base is building hype and creating FOMO for those who havent been able to score an invite. (The app had to briefly shut off invites over the weekend due to an influx of new users, according to Ravikant, Airchats CEO.) Its not clear exactly how many users Airchat has just yet, but it seems to be in the low tens of thousands. The app has been downloaded close to 50,000 times, research firm Appfigures told Engadget, but its likely some of those downloads have come from people who dont yet have an invite. Ravikant, who seems to be one of the most-followed users, currently has just over 11,000 followers in the app. Using Airchat is, well, noisy and a bit confusing. Upon joining, the app asks to tap your contacts list to find friends who are already on the app, but finding people to follow beyond that can be challenging. The app doesnt have the equivalent of a for you feed with recommended content so your only options are to manually search for users or lurk in conversations that do appear in your feed and check out other users posts and follows. When I signed up, there were four people from my contacts in the app, only two of whom are actual friends. I followed them and the apps founders and a couple other familiar names. I then began randomly following other users as conversations began to appear in my feed. This was a terrible strategy as my feed was quickly dominated by the voices of a few especially active (but not terribly interesting) posters. With so many new users all joining at the same time, at one point my feed was just a bunch of people talking about Airchat. Its also somewhat jarring to actually hear the voices of people youve followed on social media for ages but havent interacted with IRL. The app defaults to playing back audio at 2x speed, which tends to make peoples speaking voices sound a bit unnatural, but is also kind of necessary for long-winded posts. The bigger issue, though, is that its not entirely clear what Airchat is for. There are a handful of channels, smaller groups dedicated to chatting about specific topics like coffee or astrology or AI or war, but conversations are disjointed and hard to follow. There seem to be some corners with spirited discussion. The coffee channel has 755 members and has lots of earnest discussion of pour-over techniques and photos of latte art. The channel is also moderated heavily, according to Ravikant (Airchats moderation policy is self moderation, which means they expect you to make good use of blocking and muting features, though an FAQ states they will remove users for harassment, impersonation, foul behavior, and illegal content.) More creative users are also finding ways to play with the audio-centric format. I found an ASMR group that consisted mainly of people speaking in breathy whispers that kind of gave me the ick (one person did post a nice clip of their cat purring). I listened to a few poetry readings in the poetry channel, but didnt have the patience, even at 2x speed. Theres also a lot of talk of in-app karaoke, though I have yet to see it actually happen. Some might see these kinds of gimmicks as the start of some new paradigm, where people use their voices to unlock new ways of interacting. But all I can think about is how Clubhouse, at its peak, had similar gimmicks: in-app game shows, open mic nights and (very NSFW) moan rooms. It was new and interesting at a time when most people were stuck at home with nothing to do, but the novelty wore off quickly. While Clubhouses initial success sparked copycat features from almost every other major social media company, many of those have since shut down due to lack of interest. Even Clubhouse itself is a shell of what it once was. While the app still exists, its an entirely different service than the one that briefly captured the attention of bored tech workers. The company laid off half its staff in 2023 and has since pivoted to audio-centric group chats.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/airchat-is-the-latest-app-trying-to-make-social-audio-cool-again-140050450.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 16:00:00| Marketing Profs - Concepts, Strategies, Articles and Commentaries

Some 43% of small business owners say they oppose a potential US ban of TikTok, according to a recent survey. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 16:00:00| Marketing Profs - Concepts, Strategies, Articles and Commentaries

Explore how to balance content volume with content relevance, enhancing buyer engagement by crafting content that resonates with your audience and drives conversions. Ask yourself these questions. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 15:15:17| Engadget

As learning language models (LLMs) continue to advance, so do questions about how they can benefit society in areas such as the medical field. A recent study from the University of Cambridge's School of Clinical Medicine found that OpenAI's GPT-4 performed nearly as well in an ophthalmology assessment as experts in the field, the Financial Times first reported. In the study, published in PLOS Digital Health, researchers tested the LLM, its predecessor GPT-3.5, Google's PaLM 2 and Meta's LLaMA with 87 multiple choice questions. Five expert ophthalmologists, three trainee ophthalmologists and two unspecialized junior doctors received the same mock exam. The questions came from a textbook for trialing trainees on everything from light sensitivity to lesions. The contents aren't publicly available, so the researchers believe LLMs couldn't have been trained on them previously. ChatGPT, equipped with GPT-4 or GPT-3.5, was given three chances to answer definitively or its response was marked as null.  GPT-4 scored higher than the trainees and junior doctors, getting 60 of the 87 questions right. While this was significantly higher than the junior doctors' average of 37 correct answers, it just beat out the three trainees' average of 59.7. While one expert ophthalmologist only answered 56 questions accurately, the five had an average score of 66.4 right answers, beating the machine. PaLM 2 scored a 49, and GPT-3.5 scored a 42. LLaMa scored the lowest at 28, falling below the junior doctors. Notably, these trials occurred in mid-2023.  While these results have potential benefits, there are also quite a few risks and concerns. Researchers noted that the study offered a limited number of questions, especially in certain categories, meaning the actual results might be varied. LLMs also have a tendency to "hallucinate" or make things up. That's one thing if its an irrelevant fact but claiming there's a cataract or cancer is another story. As is the case in many instances of LLM use, the systems also lack nuance, creating further opportunities for inaccuracy.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/gpt-4-performed-close-to-the-level-of-expert-doctors-in-eye-assessments-131517436.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 15:00:58| Engadget

There are a frankly ridiculous number of Chromebooks on sale to choose from, but Google's Chromebook Plus initiative that launched last fall has gone a long way towards standardizing some key specs for ChromeOS devices. That in turn has made it a little easier to pick ones that'll provide a consistent quality experience without breaking the bank. Acer's latest Chromebook Plus 514, which the company just announced today, is a good example at first glance, it looks like it checks most of the boxes I'm looking for when recommending a basic Chromebook that'll work for most people.  To make things confusing, Acer already sells a few Chromebook Plus 514 models; this one is the CB514-4HT and is priced at $399. Look for that SKU if you want to make sure you're getting the latest one. This laptop is powered by Intel's 13th-gen Core i3-N305 processor and pairs that with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage that latter spec is a bit of surprise and is a lot more storage than I'd expect to see on a $400 Chromebook. To meet the required Chromebook Plus specs, this laptop includes a 1080p webcam with a privacy shutter. While the resolution is pretty solid, not all webcams are equal so we'll have to see how this one performs in real life. Acer The display is a 14-inch, 1080p touchscreen, so it's not quite as tall as the 1,920 x 1,200 screens that I've seen on a number of other Chromebook Plus laptops. But again, at the price I'm not going to complain too much. It has a decent selection of ports, too: two USB-C and USB-A slots along with a microSD card reader. I wouldn't have minded seeing HDMI here, as the USB-C ports could quickly be taken up by power and a monitor, but I just keep reminding myself this computer is only 400 bucks.  Acer says that this laptop will hit stores in early May, though the specific SKU we're talking about here should also be at Costco as early as next week. The company also says it'll have some other configurations available in the near future, though they didn't say what'll change. I wouldn't be surprised to see a model with less storage or perhaps no touchscreen, which could drive the price down even more. If so, this might be a great budget option. But even as is, you should get a pretty good laptop here for the price.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/acers-new-399-chromebook-plus-514-hits-the-mark-for-a-solid-budget-laptop-130058747.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 15:00:56| Engadget

We are living in a second golden age for console gaming. Active communities, open developer tools and easy distribution have given new life to many once-dead systems. If there's one company who deserves the most thanks for bringing a love for '80s and '90s cartridge-based console gaming back to the semi-mainstream, it's Analogue. It started with the CMVS, an obsessive (and expensive) wood-grained reboot of the iconic Neo Geo. Then came the Analogue Nt in 2014, which brought easy, high-def NES gaming to our homes . In 2017, the Super Nt did the same for SNES gaming, then the Mega Sg for the Sega Genesis and, most recently, the Analogue Pocket, which supports everything from the Game Boy to the Neo Geo Pocket thanks to a series of adapters. Analogue's latest is something different. While all those before have lived and died by their cartridge ports, the new Analogue Duo takes us to the next generation of gaming: optical. That's right, Analogue has entered the multimedia era with this love letter to one of Japan's most beloved consoles, a machine that barely made a dent elsewhere in the world. That system is the TurboGrafx-16, known as the PC Engine in its home market of Japan. It launched there in 1987, beating the Sega Genesis to market by two years and the SNES by three. It rocketed to huge popularity, ultimately outselling Sega and keeping pace with Nintendo for much of its life. By the end of its run, its library offered nearly 700 games. It didn't fare so well in the US. The TurboGrafx-16 didn't come here until 1989, arriving after the Genesis brought blast processing to the masses. Nintendo and Sega soon engaged in a marketing war of epic proportions. NEC's humble TurboGrafx-16 didn't stand a chance. It didn't help that it wasn't really a 16-bit console. Though it offered support for 16-bit graphics, it only had an 8-bit internal processor, so it couldn't match the power of the competition. The add-on CD-ROM didn't help. Despite hitting the market years before the Sega CD, the Genesis add-on included an additional processor to deliver an early taste of 3D processing. The TurboGrafx drive was just that: an optical drive. The system struggled in the US for a few more years before NEC pulled the plug in 1994. In Japan, new games hit the system all the way through 1999, meaning that even the most hardcore enthusiasts in the US missed out on the bulk of the PC Engine's best titles. And, since the Analogue Duo can play imported games just as readily as local ones, it's a great excuse to dig deeper into that library. Out of the box Tim Stevens for Engadget The Analogue Duo is a slender console that shares an aesthetic similar to the PC Engine Duo, which was released in the US as the TurboDuo. NEC's Duo integrated the CD-ROM peripheral into a single, sleek, unified device. But, the Analogue unit feels far nicer. Its plastic body feels sturdier than the brittle stuff used on consoles back in the '90s, and the bottom is even rubberized. In fact, the Duo feels more like a high-end piece of home theater equipment, whereas the TurboGrafx-16 feels like a 30-year-old toy. Up front are two slots. On the left is where cartridge-based games go, either on HuCard or TurboChip, the two media formats NEC used over the years. On the right is the CD-ROM slot. Output to your display is via the HDMI port on the back, but there's also a 3.5mm headphone jack with its own volume knob if you want some private listening. You'll also find a port on the side for wired controllers, but since this uses the smaller Japanese connector, not the larger American one, you'll need an adapter to use TurboGrafx-16 controllers. Around the back is an SD card reader for firmware updates or the like, plus a USB-C port through which the system gets its power. At the heart of the system is an Altera Cyclone V processor, a dual-core Arm Cortex field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip that can be effectively coded to act like any other processor. It's that core which enables the Duo to emulate the PC Engine and all its derivatives over the years. There's none of the lag and glitchy performance that you'll get when running ROMs through an emulator. This is as close as you're going to get to a modern reboot of the PC Engine, but with much cleaner output. Output Analogue Whether you're playing domestic or imported games, everything will look stellar. As with previous Analogue releases, the Duo outputs a 1080p signal over HDMI, resulting in the absolute cleanest way to play your games on a modern digital display. While there are ways to get an HDMI signal out of a TurboGrafx-16, ranging from RGB adapters that clip on the back to outputs soldered onto the system itself, even running through something like a scanline converter you're unlikely to ever get a signal this crisp and clean. But for those who like to preserve a taste of the old school, Analogue includes a few different gameplay modes to deliver a CRT-like look and feel. To be fair, even the greatest of games for this system don't offer much in terms of high-fidelity graphics compared to modern titles. But there are plenty well worth your time. Gate of Thunder is one of them, and its among the best side-view shooters, or shmups, ever to hit a console. The quality of games like this helped establish the PC Engine's success in Japan. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, though, is generally believed to be the single greatest title for the system. Released on CD-ROM in 1993, exclusively in the Japanese market, this is still ranked among the top Castlevania titles of them all. It's damned good, and plays excellently on the Analogue Duo. Load times for this game and others are quite fast, and the drive isn't as noisy as many console CD-ROM add-ons were back in the day. Gaming on the Analogue Duo The Analogue Duo delivered flawless compatibility and playback for virtually every game I threw at it, with only one falling short: SCI: Special Criminal Investigation which, thank goodness, has nothing to do with the CSI television series. SCI is the sequel to Chase H.Q., which was big in American arcades. Its unique mix of driving and shooting, as well as the inclusion of amazing period cars like the Nissan 300ZX Turbo made it a real favorite of mine. In fact, this was the first game I tried to play on the Duo. So, imagine my horror when the Analogue system wouldn't play it or even reognize it. It just displayed a blank screen, much like what happens on a region-locked US TurboGrafx-16 console when trying to play a Japanese game. So, I went into the Duo's settings, explicitly changed the region to Japan, and the game played without issue. This is the only game that the Duo failed to appropriately identify the region of, which is a minor annoyance at best that I'm sure will be fixed soon in one of Analogue's frequent updates. Firmware updates are easily applied via the integrated SD-card reader, which is also where your save games for CD-based titles are stored. This makes them easy to back up or even edit. With the appropriate USB adapter, it's also possible to import your old save games. Controllers Tim Stevens for Engadget If there's one fly in this ointment, it's the controllers. As usual, Analogue partnered with 8BitDo to provide peripherals for the Duo. The $24.99 gamepad is the standard offering, and while it looks good in photos, in the hand it's somewhat underwhelming. For one thing, it feels just as light and flimsy as 8BitDo's other products, with buttons that rattle when you shake the thing. The controller doesn't even offer the same weight and solidity as the original TurboGrafx-16 controllers, which certainly aren't standouts themselves. But the 8BitDo controllers have a major advantage: they're wireless. They pair quickly and easily with the Duo and work without lag. They also feature a dedicated home button to bring up the Analogue menu. There is, though, one final kicker with the controllers: they charge over micro-USB. It's 2024, 8BitDo. Even Apple has moved to USB-C. Wrap-up I really enjoyed testing the Analogue Duo. It was an opportunity to play releases I hadn't dug out in years, and also to experience some games I hadn't yet tried, all rendered in immaculate detail. That said, it's easy to see this as a very niche release for Analogue, a company whose obsessive fans are already far from mainstream. Software emulation is infinitely cheaper and still delivers great results, but those of us who love classic console gaming know that there's just something different about running it from the original media. Whether that extra something is worth the extra cost is between you and your accountant. Despite being Analogue's most expensive release in years, and despite supporting a decidedly underappreciated console, the Analogue Duo is yet another excellent quality of life improvement for retro gamers and collectors. I can't imagine playing my HuCards any other way.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/analogue-duo-review-a-second-chance-for-an-underappreciated-console-130056763.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 15:00:37| Engadget

DJI is entering the portable power station market in the US and Europe with the launch of the Power 1000 and Power 500 aimed at home users or road warriors. The devices (released in China at the end of last year) can be used to power small appliances or charge devices like laptops or drones, and work in concert with solar panels to provide power on the road.  The Power 1000 (13kg or 29 pounds) has a 1,024 Wh capacity and can output up to 2,200W enough to run a home microwave oven for about 1.3 hours and a car refrigerator for 19 hours, or charge a drone up to 12 times. The Power 500 (7.3 kg or 16.3 pounds) delivers 512 Wh of capacity and 1,000W of output for half the price. DJI The larger version supports 1200W fast recharge or 600W standard recharging (540W and 270W for the smaller version). Both can be fast-charged in 70 minutes for a 100 percent battery or 50 minutes to an 80 percent charge. Along with standard AC plugs, both have a pair of USB-C PD output ports that support 140W/100W charging for the Power 1000/Power 500 enough for most laptops. The market is fairly saturated with such devices (Jackery, Bluetti, Anker, others), but DJI is pitching this as an ideal way to charge its drones and other products. Released in China in December, it was already available in the US at Amazon and elsewhere via the grey market.  The Power 1000 is now on sale for $1,000 at DJI's store, while the Power 500 costs $500. You can add a 120W Zignes solar panel for $299. For the latter, you'll need DJI's Power Solar Panel Adapter Module or DJI Power Car Power Outlet to SDC Power Cable. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/djis-new-backup-battery-can-power-small-appliances-charge-your-drone-130037610.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

2024-04-18 15:00:16| Engadget

The Samsung Galaxy A35 smartphone is officially available for US customers. We knew it was coming to the US, but we didn't know when. The phone starts at $400 and is available in two colors. Its already been available in the UK since March. The Galaxy A35 is squarely a midrange device, so dont go expecting flagship features. However, this is still a capable smartphone with plenty of bang for your buck. Samsungs A-series devices tend to be among our favorite low-cost smartphones. This model boasts a 6.6-inch Super AMOLED display with a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz, just like its cousin the Galaxy A55. The Galaxy A35 also features the companys Vision Booster software, which automatically adjusts the screens tone to suit different ambient lighting conditions. It also includes Samsungs proprietary Knox Vault technology, which originally debuted with the Galaxy S21. This is a separate memory device within the phone for storing sensitive data like blockchain keys, biometric information and authentication credentials. The A35 and the A55 are the first midrange devices in Samsungs lineup to get this tech. Android Police has reported that the A35 features a modest Exynos 1380 processor, with an option for 6GB or 8GB of RAM. As for storage, theres a 128GB model and a 256GB model, with no microSD card slot for additional room. It includes three rear cameras. Theres a 50MP main camera and a 5MP macro lens, with a relatively pedestrian 8MP ultra-wide lens. The front includes a 13MP camera for selfies and the like. Theres also optical image stabilization (OIS) and video digital image stabilization (VDIS) to offset camera shake. Again, these phones start at $400 and are hitting store shelves right now. They come in two colors with, with names like Awesome Navy" and "Awesome Lilac." Not sure something can induce awe just by saying so, but whatever. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsungs-galaxy-a35-midrange-smartphone-is-officially-available-in-the-us-130016998.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising
 

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