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Google’s New Family Broadcast Feature Sends Messages From Speakers to Smartphones

The Google Nest Hub on a white deskCameron Summerson

Today, Google is announcing a bunch of new tools on Google Assistant smart speakers, displays, and even smartphones. The hook is that these are great tools for moms on Mother’s Day, but between you and me, they seem pretty legit for everyone, all year round. 😉

To start, the Broadcast feature is getting a supercharged feature that it’s needed for a long time: integration with smartphones. You could always broadcast from your smartphone to smart speakers and displays, but now you’ll also be able to broadcast from your smart speakers or displays to smartphones in your Google Family Group. The best part? It will work with both Android phones and iPhones. Dope.


When you broadcast to your family group, the message will hit all the smart speakers and displays in your Google Home, plus send a notification to all the phones in your Family Group. Phone users can then respond to the notification with voice or text. This is a fantastic update to a great feature. Love it.

Beyond Broadcast, Assistant speakers and displays are also getting new stories from partners like Pottermore Publishing and Penguin Random House. For example, you’ll be able to ask Assistant to “tell a Quiddich story” or “talk to Who Was” for stories from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or stories from PRH’s Who Was series, respectively.

New games are also on deck here, too. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader will be available on Nest Hub, which should help you keep your pride in check. Apparently, you can even win fake money, which is…something, I guess?

"Who Was" integration in Google Assistant on a Nest HubGoogle

Finally, Family Bell is getting a few new reminder options for things like watering plants and cleaning up. There are even new songs to help—just say “Hey Google, sing the clean up song” to get a little jingle similar to the handwashing song. More songs will also be available, like the “brush your teeth song” and “go to sleep song.”

These features should begin rolling out today, though there’s no word on when they’ll be available to everyone.


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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cameron Summerson

Signal Tries to Expose Facebook’s Garbage Ad Collecting Practices, Gets Banned

A Signal ad describing the reader as a "newlywed pilates instructor," and "cartoon crazy."Signal

We all know that Facebook collects user data for targeted advertising, but just how specific is that data? A new Instagram ad campaign by Signal shows people the uncomfortably-precise personal data that Facebook collects and sells. At least, it would, but Instagram shut the project down before it went live.

Advertisers on Facebook and Instagram can choose between several data points to target potential customers. These data points aren’t just reflections of your location or the pages you follow on social media, they’re highly specific and can include information on your hygiene, sexuality, education, relationship history, employment status, and more.

If it hadn’t been shut down, Signal’s “transparent ad campaign” would tell Instagram users the exact data points used to serve them ads. In a blog post, Signal shared some examples of these ads, which are full of invasive lines like “you have a new baby and just moved,” and “this ad thinks you do drag.”


Facebook stopped the uncomfortable ad campaign before it went live and banned Signal from advertising on its platforms. Signal chalks this up to a moral failing, stating that Facebook is happy to collect and sell personal data “unless it’s to tell people about how their data is being used.” So long as Facebook keeps its ads business invisible, it can avoid controversy and user backlash.

Of course, Signal is a business looking for more users. The company knows that its encrypted messaging app, a popular alternative to the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, will appeal to people who are interested in this Instagram ads stunt. So I guess I’ll do the dirty work and link to Signal below. You can also learn more about Signal’s “transparent” ad campaign on the company’s blog.

Download on the Apple App StoreGet it on Google Play

Source: Signal via MacRumors

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Linksys Launches Two New Congestion Busting Wi-Fi 6E Routers

A Linksys Altas Max 6E router in a living room.Linksys

With more and more Wi-Fi devices from smart speakers to smartphones in our homes, it’s easy to congestion issues are worse than ever. Wi-Fi 6E promises to solve that with a new communication band, and Linksys just launched the first two Wi-Fi 6E routers, the Hydra Pro 6E and the Atlas Max 6E.

If you want to be on the forefront of technology, expect to pay a pretty penny along the way. Standard Wi-Fi 6 routers already cost a lot of money, with “budget” systems still commanding over nearly $150 for a single router. But Wi-Fi 6E will cost you even more, with a starting price of $500 for a single router.

That’s because Wi-Fi 6E goes beyond Wi-Fi 6 routers. Wi-Fi 6 communicates over the same 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as Wi-Fi 5 routers. But it uses new technology to broadcast further and device channels into smaller subchannels to avoid technology. Wi-Fi 6E has all that, plus an extra band on the 6 GHz spectrum.

The upside is, you get another band that most people probably aren’t using, thus avoiding congestion. The downside is, only Wi-Fi 6E compatible devices can connect to the new band. Everything else will connect to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Buying now is future-proofing for later.

Linksys Hydra Pro 6E: Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6E Router

A Linksys Hydra Pro 6E router on a white background.Linksys

Linksys has two freshly certified Wi-Fi 6E routers for your consideration today. The first is a standalone router that can connect to other Linksys VELOP mesh routers. It’s the choice to go with if you only need one router in your home or if you want to add a big boost to a central point and prefer to layer in less expensive Wi-FI 6 or Wi-Fi 5 VELOP mesh routers elsewhere.

The Hydra Pro 6E router goes for $499.99 and is a tri-band Velop mesh Wi-Fi 6E router. It covers up to 2700 sq. ft, can handle up to 55+ devices, and provides speeds up to 6.6 Gbps which is well above what most can get from their ISPs. On the back, you’ll find a 5 Gigabit WAN port, along with four ethernet ports, and a USB 3.0 port. It uses a 1.8GHz Quad-Core processor to keep up with network-intensive tasks.

You can buy the Hydra Pro 6E from Linksys today.

Linksys Atlas Max 6E: Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6E System

A three-pack Atlas Max 6E system on a white backgroundLinksys

If you want to go all in and don’t mind sinking $1,199.99 into your Wi-Fi system, the Atlas Max 6E is about as advanced a router you can get. It comes as a three-pack tri-band system that supports Velop mesh routers. In theory, you can purchase multiple Max 6E systems or layer in other Velop routers like the Hydra Pro or any Linksys Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 Velop router.

For $1,199.99, you get a truly powerful Mesh system capable of covering 9000 sq. ft. while connecting 195+ devices per node, and supporting speeds up to 8.4 Gbps. If you have a smart home, this mesh router should keep up even better than a Wi-Fi 6 system. Each node has a 5 Gigabit WAN port, four ethernet ports, and a USB 3.0 port. It uses a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core processor to handle all the devices you can throw at it.

You can buy the Atlas Max 6E from Linksys today.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

An Android Bug Let Some Apps Improperly Access COVID-19 Tracing Data

Google Android figure standing on laptop keyboard with code in backgroundquietbits/

A privacy flaw in the Android version of Apple and Google’s COVID-19 exposure notification app potentially allowed other preinstalled apps to see sensitive data, including if users had contact with a COVID-positive person. Google is now working on rolling out a fix.

Privacy analysis firm AppCensus first noticed the bug in February and reported it to Google. However, according to The Markup, Google failed to address it at the time. The bug goes against multiple promises made by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and several public health officials that the data collected from the exposure app would not be shared beyond an individual’s device.

“The fix is a one-line thing where you remove a line that logs sensitive information to the system log. it doesn’t impact the program, it doesn’t change how it works,” said Joel Reardon, co-founder and forensics lead of AppCensus in the same interview with The Markup. “It’s such an obvious fix, and I was flabbergasted that it wasn’t seen as that.”

The article also shared a quote from Google spokesperson José Castañeda, who stated “We were notified of an issue where the Bluetooth identifiers were temporarily accessible to specific system level applications for debugging purposes, and we immediately started rolling out a fix to address this.”

Hands holding Android phone and iPhone together displaying their logos, respectivelyDaria Nipot/

In order for the exposure notification system to work, it needs to ping anonymized Bluetooth signals of devices with the system activated. Then, in the event one of the users tests positive for COVID-19, it works with health authorities to send an alert to other users who came into contact with that person with corresponding signals that are logged in the phone’s memory.

The issue is that, on Android phones, contract-tracing data is logged in privileged system memory. While most of the apps and software running on these devices don’t have access to this, apps that are preinstalled by manufactures like Google or LG or Verizon do have special system privileges that allow them to potentially access these data logs, making them vulnerable. 

AppCensus has found no indications that any preinstalled apps have collected data, however, nor did it find this to be the case with the exposure notification system on iPhones. The company’s Chief Technology Officer, Serge Egelmen, emphasized on Twitter that the bug is an implementation issue and not the fault of the exposure notification system and that it should damage the public’s trust in public health technologies. 

via The Verge

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Amazon’s New Fire HD 10 Tablets are Faster, Sleeker, and Productivity-Focused

The Fire HD 10 Plus Productivity bundle.Amazon

Amazon’s next-generation Fire HD 10 and HD 10 Plus tablets are now available for pre-order, equipped with brighter screens and more RAM than their predecessors. And oddly enough, Amazon is offering the new tablets in “Productivity” bundles that include a Bluetooth keyboard and 12-month Microsoft 365 subscription.

The new Fire HD 10 is the largest tablet in Amazon’s lineup. It has thinner bezels than its predecessor, with a 10% brighter display and 3GB of RAM (one more gigabyte than the previous HD 10 tablet). The new Fire HD 10 also sports an unnamed 2.0 GHz Octa-Core processor, which should offer better performance than the Quad-Core processor found in the recently-released Fire HD 8.

Starting at $150, the new Fire HD 10 is a steal. But if you want a bit more horsepower, you can drop an extra $30 on the new Fire HD 10 Plus. Amazon says that the Fire HD 10 Plus has a premium soft-touch shell, plus Qi wireless charging support and 4GB of RAM for heavyweight apps and games. Like other Fire “Plus” tablets, the Fire HD 10 Plus automatically turns into an Echo Show smart display while wireless charging.

As tablets become a more popular option for remote work or education, marketing the affordable Fire HD 10 as a productivity device just makes sense. Both the Fire HD 10 and 10 Plus are available in “Productivity” bundles, which include a Bluetooth keyboard case and a 12-month Microsoft 365 Personal subscription. These bundles start at $270 (or $220 if you pre-order), but would cost at least $280 if you purchased everything separately.

Keep in mind that Amazon Fire tablets cannot run Google apps without sideloading, which may limit their usefulness as remote work tools. For over $200, a Chromebook might be a better investment, especially if you want a reasonably-sized screen.

The all-new Fire HD 10 and HD 10 Plus tablets are available for pre-order now in 32GB and 64GB storage configurations. Amazon’s Fire 10 “Productivity” bundles are also available with special pre-order discounts. Amazon says that pre-orders for the new tablets and ship May 26th.

All-new Fire HD 10 tablet, 10.1″, 1080p Full HD, 32 GB, Black

The Fire HD 10 tablet is better than ever with an Octa-Core 2.0 GHz processor, 3GB RAM, and a brighter display.

Introducing Fire HD 10 Plus tablet, 10.1″, 1080p Full HD, 32 GB, Slate

The all-new Fire HD 10 Plus costs just $30 more than the standard HD 10 tablet, but packs an extra gigabyte of RAM, a premium soft-touch finish, and wireless charging.

All-new Fire HD 10 tablet, 32 GB, Black + Bluetooth keyboard + 12-month Microsoft 365 Personal subscription (auto-renews)

The standard Fire HD 10 Productivity Bundle includes Amazon’s newest tablet, a Bluetooth keyboard case, and a 12-month subscription for Microsoft’s 365 productivity suite.

Introducing Fire HD 10 Plus tablet, 32 GB, Slate + Bluetooth keyboard + 12-month Microsoft 365 Personal subscription (auto-renews), without ads

Why settle? Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Plus Productivity Bundle includes Amazon’s most powerful tablet, plus a Bluetooth keyboard and a 12-month Microsoft 365 subscription.

Source: Amazon

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Zoom’s New Immersive Mode Puts Everyone Together in the Same “Room”

A Zoom call with all participants seemingly in the same conference roomZoom

With more people working from home, video conference calls have become a new normal. But video calls still aren’t the same as an in-person meeting, and Zoom hopes to bridge some of that gap with a new Immersive Mode. It changes the call to make everyone appear to be in the same room.

Immersive Mode works somewhat like Microsoft Team’s “Together Mode” by cutting out people at the head and shoulder level and grouping them in a shared virtual background. Unlike standard virtual backgrounds where everyone picks their own backdrop, Immersive Mode tries to make it seem like you’re all in the same conference room or classroom.


Zoom took things a step further than Microsoft and made a few options for the shared virtual background. While the class and conference room settings are the predictable option, there’s an art gallery view if you want a “classy” look. That mode retains some of the participant’s actual background to achieve the “painting” look. And you can create your own Immersive Mode backgrounds, though Zoom says you’ll want to use the same file type, aspect ratio, and resolution recommendations it has for virtual backgrounds.

A Zoom call with every participant in a "painting" in an "art galley."Zoom

Zoom says both free and pro users can take advantage of Immersive Mode, you’ll just need to update to the latest version of Zoom on desktop and mobile. Anyone without the update will see generic backgrounds instead. If the call has more than 25 people, the extras will go into a thumbnail strip view at the top of the screen.

Immersive Mode is rolling out right now, and hosts can turn it on and adjust and resize participants today.

Source: Zoom

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

The 8 Best USB Microphones

Razer Seiren X, Blue Yeti, and Audio-Technica 2005USB against purple backdropRazer, Yeti, Audio-Technica

Finally getting tired of the subpar sound from your webcam mic? For professional recordings, it’s already a no-go, but even for video calls, webcam audio is generally hot trash. Fortunately, USB mics can deliver some solid audio quality at reasonable prices, along with a simple setup process—so let’s look at the best around.

What to Look for in a USB Microphone

There’s a decent amount of stuff to consider when looking at a microphone, whether those are cold-hard specs or the physical design of the product itself.

  • Audio Quality: There’s little point in picking up a microphone if it’s going to sound awful. The issue is it’s hard to gather how good a mic sounds just from the product listing. Looking at the specs sheet can help a little, but it’s not 100% reliable even if you know everything about how microphones function. This is where reviewers can come in handy; looking up a couple of sound tests online is your best bet for getting a taste of how a microphone sounds. And all the microphones on this list offer quality that matches their price tags of course.
  • Sampling Rate and Bit Depth: This is more important if you’re trying to do professional recordings with your microphone. The sampling rate and bit depth both have to do with how much data is being sent by the microphone, which doesn’t matter if you’re just joining voice calls. The standard rate and depth are 44.1 kHz and 16-bit, respectively (commonly called “CD Quality”). Anything higher is called “high-definition audio,” so if you’re planning on doing professional recordings, it’s worth looking out for mics with a higher sampling rate.
  • Polar Pattern: You can think of a polar pattern as the area around a microphone where it will gather sound. There are a few pickup patterns out there, with the most popular being “cardioid.” This pattern focuses on picking up sound directly in front of the microphone, which can also help eliminate background noise. Other popular patterns are stereo (which uses the left and right channels for a more immersive sound), omnidirectional (which gathers sound from every direction), and bidirectional (picks up sound from in front and behind the microphone). Some mics also have settings to let you switch between these patterns.
  • On-Device Controls: Many microphones will have dials or buttons to adjust certain things. It’s a useful feature to be able to mute the microphone or adjust the gain (volume, basically) on the fly without having to mess with any software. Many mics will also include zero-latency headphone monitor jacks, which are useful if you want to, for example, hear your audio live while recording a voiceover.
  • Software: Speaking of, the software of a microphone is important to be aware of. Microphone software can range from a versatile, feature-packed tool to a place where you just change the gain of your microphone. Usually, the former is preferable, but not every microphone needs a complex software suite, so we’ll go into detail on how each software manages.

Best Overall: Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti microphoneBlue

The Yeti is a well-known name in the world of microphones, but it’s a safe call for voice calls, streaming, and voiceovers. For features, the Yeti keeps things simple yet practical; there’s a dial for adjusting volume through the zero-latency headphone jack, a mute button, and a switch for adjusting the polar pattern (it supports omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, and stereo).

It uses a sampling rate of 16-bit, 48 kHz, which is adjustable through Blue’s Sherpa software, alongside the gain. The simple mic stand the Yeti comes with is fine for setting it up, but Blue also offers a dedicated boom arm mic if you need more movement (and most third-party arms will support the Yeti as well). Thanks to a combination of smart features, an elegant design, and good support among the accessory market, the Yeti is an easy choice to make.

But that’s not where the Yeti’s legacy ends, as there are a couple of other microphones under the Yeti label that, while similar to the original, offer some unique features. First up is the Nano, the Yeti’s smaller follow-up that still delivers similarly great audio—in fact, it even has a higher bit depth at 24-bit.  Besides that, the specs are extremely similar, though the Nano only supporting cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.

Second is the Yeti X, which is an upgraded version of the standard Yeti that offers better specs and audio, alongside a more versatile dial that can now adjust the gain. It’s a worthy upgrade if you already have a Yeti, or want something with some more features.

Best Overall

Blue Yeti

A well-garnered microphone that balances price, features, and quality excellently.

Best Mid-Range Pick: Blue Snowball

Blue Snowball microphoneBlue

If the Yeti clan is out of your price range, then Blue still offers an excellent substitute—the Snowball. The Blue Snowball is an oddly shaped microphone that still delivers some great audio quality. With a sample rate of 44.1 kHz and bit depth of 16-bit, the microphone does a good job for the money. You still have a couple of polar patterns to switch between, namely cardioid and omnidirectional, and Blue Sherpa still controls your microphone gain. There are no on-device controls to speak of, nor is there a headphone jack, but considering the more casual approach to this microphone those are understandable.

And if the Snowball is still out of your price range, then the Snowball iCE lowers the price even further. This microphone is only capable of using the cardioid polar pattern and cuts down the number of condenser capsules (which, put basically, is the tech inside the microphone that actually records audio) from two to one. This does decrease audio quality overall, but the iCE still sounds fine and is more than enough for video calls.

Best Mid-Range Pick

Blue Snowball

Another option from Blue that offers some solid audio quality for a lower price.

Best Budget Option: Fifine K669B

Fifine K669B microphoneFifine

Considering how inexpensive this microphone is, it still delivers an impressive level of audio quality. The K669B is a basic microphone though; there’s no software, no headphone jack, and it only supports the cardioid polar pattern. The mic still sounds good though, it has a gain dial on the front, and it records at 16-bit, 48 kHz. If you don’t need anything fancy, the K669B is good enough for most audio purposes—but it will disappoint if you try to use it for anything professional. Just turn off your fan when using it, because most reviewers cite it as being pretty sensitive to background noise.

Best Budget Option

Fifine K669B

An inexpensive mic that, while sensitive to background noise, still lives up to the price tag.

Best Premium Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ microphoneAudio-Technica

Forget fancy features and software, if you just want great audio quality, the AT2020USB+ has it. Audio-Technica makes some of the best microphones around, and the AT2020USB+ is a shining example of that. It records at 16-bit, 48 kHz and has two dials on the bottom; one for mixing audio from the mic and computer, and the other for headphone output volume through the zero-latency jack. It’s limited to the cardioid pattern, which is unfortunate, but if you’re just doing voice recordings that shouldn’t be an issue —you’d want to use cardioid for that either way.

If you’re looking to do professional recordings but aren’t quite ready to make the jump to XLR, then the AT2020USB+ is a nice middle ground.

Best Premium

Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

A high-end USB mic that delivers quality sound.

Best Ultra-Premium: Blue Yeti Pro

Blue Yeti Pro microphoneBlue

We have one more stop to make in the Blue realm, this time with the Blue Yeti Pro. While it is technically a part of the standard Yeti family, the Pro offers a lot more upgrades than even the Yeti X in terms of quality—for a much higher price. It records at a max of 192 kHz, 24-bit (adjustable through Blue Sherpa), and can be switched between cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo polar patterns. It also keeps the headphone output volume dial, zero-latency jack, and mute button of the standard Yeti.

But the most interesting feature of the Yeti Pro is it’s not solely a USB microphone—it also includes an XLR port. XLR is an alternative connector for microphones capable of transferring higher-quality audio signals, which makes it preferable for professional recordings. It does have some drawbacks, however. It’s more complicated and requires an audio interface to work. This feature makes the Yeti Pro a smart choice if you think you’ll want to switch to XLR in the future with the simplicity of USB to start.

Best Ultra-Premium

Blue Yeti Pro

Another mic from Blue which offers high-quality audio and a choice between USB and XLR connection.

Small and Powerful: Razer Seiren X

Razer Seiren X MicrophoneRazer

If you’re familiar with Razer, then it’s no surprise that all its microphone released over the years are marketed as “gaming microphones.” However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from the Seiren X, because at the end of the day, it’s a great microphone in a sleek and compact package. There’s been a lot of these smaller microphones released over the past few years, mostly targeted at streamers, and the Seiren X makes a compelling case for itself.

The Seiren X records at 48 kHz, 16-bit which can be adjusted alongside the gain in Razer Synapse. The most unique part of the Seiren X is the polar pattern it uses: Super Cardioid—an even more focused version of standard cardioid. This helps eliminate background noise, which is something a lot of other USB microphones struggle with. It also features a zero-latency jack, a dial for adjusting the volume, and a mute button.

Then there’s the Seiren Emote, which is extremely similar to the X but uses the “Hyper Cardioid” polar pattern, which is even more focused than Super. It also has an LED panel on the front of the microphone that can display small images and animations. This is mostly a fun alternative to the Seiren X than an upgrade per se, although you’d be forgiven for thinking the latter as the Emote is nearly twice as expensive as the X.

Small and Powerful

Razer Seiren X

A sleek and compact microphone that uses a unique polar pattern.

Best for Streamers: Elgato Wave 3

Elgato Wave 3 microphoneElgato

While any of the microphones we’ve listed so far would make for competent streaming microphones, the Wave 3 is a special case. Elgato is well-known for making some of the best streaming peripherals you can buy, and the Wave 3 is no different.  In terms of hardware, it’s a pretty solid offering; compact form factor, a sampling rate of 24-bit, 96 kHz, cardioid polar pattern, and a versatile dial that can adjust gain and headphone output volume. (There’s also a zero-latency jack.) There’s also a dedicated mute button located on the top of the mic.

But the software is where things get more interesting. Through Elgato Wavelink, you can access a lot of features and settings that simplify the streaming experience. The main feature is you can balance and mix up to nine audio sources, including the microphone itself, games, or other programs. And then there’s the “Clipguard” setting, which automatically balances your microphone audio to avoid clipping on stream. Clipping occurs when your audio is too loud and overloads your microphone. Clipguard will ensure your audio never gets to that point by dynamically lowering the gain.

It’s a feature-packed microphone, but admittedly expensive. That’s where the Elgato Wave 1 is handy—it loses the multifunction dial and dedicated mute button, but still keeps the great functionality of Wavelink.

Best for Streamers

Elgato Wave 3

A feature-packed microphone built for streamers.

Versatile: Audio-Technica AT2005USB

Audio-Technica AT2005USB microphoneAudio-Technica

The final microphone on this list is one for users who want some freedom. The AT2005USB features a sampling rate of 48 kHz, 16-bit, and uses the cardioid polar pattern. So nothing too unique there, but unlike most of the other mics on this list, it has an XLR port alongside a USB. This allows you to switch from USB to XLR on the fly (assuming you have an audio interface for the XLR) and choose whether you want the simplicity of USB or higher quality audio of XLR. This is also a dynamic microphone, which means it’s more suited for recording loud noises and instruments than the other microphones here (which are all condenser mics).

Either way, the microphone still sounds pretty good for the mid-range price point, so if you want the ability to switch connector types at will, it’s an inexpensive way to do so.


Audio-Technica AT2005USB

An XLR/USB microphone that performs better when recording loud sounds and instruments.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Geico Customers’ Driver’s License Numbers Stolen In Months-Long Data Breach

A laptop on the Geico website.Casimiro PT/Shutterstock

A security flaw allowed “fraudsters” to steal driver’s license numbers from Geico’s online sales system, according to a data breach notice filed with the California attorney general’s office. Geico has since fixed the vulnerability, which went unnoticed for over a month, but asks that customers look out for fraudulent unemployment applications.

The cause for this data breach is still unclear. Geico states that its online sales system was compromised using data gathered “elsewhere,” which could imply that hackers broke into accounts using login information or personal data leaked from other websites. Still, Geico says that it fixed the problem, so there may have been a bug in its sales system—the insurer’s report is just too vague.

From the Geico data breach notice:

We recently determined that between January 21, 2021 and March 1, 2021, fraudsters used information about you –which they acquired elsewhere — to obtain unauthorized access to your driver’s license number through the online sales system on our website. We have reason to believe that this information could be used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits in your name. If you receive any mailings from your state’s unemployment agency/department, please review them carefully and contact that agency/department if there is any chance fraud is being committed.

Unemployment fraud is a common form of identity theft that requires a driver’s license and other personally-identifying information. The fact that Geico’s is laser-focused on unemployment fraud is concerning, and suggests that hackers broke into the online sales system using customers’ personal information.

But again, we don’t know what happened because Geico’s notice is too vague. Geico hasn’t announced (or doesn’t know) how many U.S. residents were affected by the breach, though the number could be quite large. Companies are only required to notify the California attorney general’s office when over 500 state residents are affected by a data breach—and again, that’s just people who live in California.

If you’re a Geico customer, keep an eye out for any mail from your state unemployment office. Geico says that it does not know if your driver’s license number was stolen from its website, though it will give you a year of IdentityForce identity-theft protection and insurance if a fraudster files for unemployment under your name.

Sources: Geico via TechCrunch

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

The 4 Best Wi-Fi Range Extenders

best Wi-Fi range extendersNetgear, TP-Link

Do you have a Wi-Fi router that struggles to reach every corner of the house, office, garage, or backyard? If so, you might need a range extender. A mesh system could fix the problem, but that requires replacing your entire network. Instead, get a Wi-Fi range extender to improve the existing setup you already have, that way you can work or stream Netflix from any room in the house.

What to Look for in a Wi-Fi Range Extender

As the name suggests, a range extender picks up your router’s Wi-Fi signal, then uses additional power and more antennas to boost the signal even further. Typically, the terms “Wi-Fi extender,” “booster,” and “repeater” all mean the same thing, with extender being the most popular name. Basically, it’s a mini router you can strategically plug into the wall wherever it’s needed most, then reap the benefits.

A Wi-Fi range extender is different than a Mesh Wi-Fi system, which is a slightly newer technology. With an extender, instead of buying all new gear, you simply add a boost to your current home internet setup.

  • Speed & Specs: When looking for a range extender, you’ll want to choose something that matches (or exceeds) your current Wi-Fi router. If you have a dual-band AC1200 router, get at least a dual-band AC1200 extender. That way, the extender isn’t bottlenecking the system any more than it has to. Or, if you happen to own a Wi-Fi 6 router, get a Wi-Fi 6 extender.
  • Range: Typically, extenders under-deliver on promises, but you’ll still want to pay attention to the suggested increase in range. When it says it’ll cover a 2,000-sq. ft. house, don’t expect a miracle, but definitely get an extender offering enough range for your situation.
  • Price: Finally, choose something that will fit your needs without being too expensive. If you consider spending too much on an extender, you might as well switch to a whole-home Mesh setup.

Best Overall: Netgear Nighthawk X4

Netgear X4 range extenderNetgear

The Netgear Nighthawk X4 (EX7300) is the best overall Wi-Fi range extender for several reasons, even if it’s a little pricey. It’s one of the fastest plug-in extenders around delivering stable AC2200 speeds, supports MU-MIMO technology to stream to several devices in your home, has four internal antennas, covers over 2,000 sq. ft., and has an ethernet port to hardwire something like a game console or PC.

We also love the X4’s smart roaming feature. Most range extenders don’t use the same Wi-Fi network name as what’s already in your house and instead have an “Ext” at the end. As a result, devices will disconnect from your main router and connect to the extender as you move around your home. With the Nighthawk X4, that doesn’t happen. It’s all one fast, smooth, seamless experience.

Most Future Proof: TP-Link AX1500

TP-Link WiFi 6 Range ExtenderTP-Link

Another solid option and a great Wi-Fi range extender that’s a little more future-proof is the TP-Link AX1500. This offers plenty of range, two external antennas, but more importantly, it has Wi-Fi 6. Many people still don’t have Wi-Fi 6 routers, but they’re becoming more common by the day. Without diving into what makes Wi-Fi 6 great, just know that it’s faster, broadcasts Wi-Fi signals further, won’t have as much interference, and performs better in crowded areas like apartments.

The TP-Link AX1500 will extend the range of your home Wi-Fi over 1,500 sq. ft. with quick and stable speeds, work with newer routers in the future, whether that’s a TP-Link mesh router or any Wi-Fi 6 model.

Best Budget: D-Link AC1200 Dual

D-Link Wi-Fi boosterD-Link

If you just want to get a better Wi-Fi connection in one room of the house or your garage and don’t need the best or fastest option, consider the affordable D-Link AC1200. This is a solid dual-band (2.4 and 5Ghz) Wi-Fi range extender that offers decent speeds and coverage under $50. It supports AC1200 speeds, has two external antennas you can aim for the best connection, and it still has an ethernet port if you need one. It’s a good little booster, just don’t expect it to work upstairs and across the entire house.

Best Premium: Netgear Nighthawk X6

NetGear X6 extenderNetgear

Last but not least, we wanted to recommend something a bit over the top-. It’s a premium Wi-Fi range booster unlike any other for those that need the best. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 (EX7700) is a powerful tri-band Wi-Fi range extender offering fast AC2200 speeds, fast-lane technology, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and Netgear’s smart-roaming feature.

Smart roam ensures you only have one Wi-Fi name to look for and connect to, instead of also connecting to the extender. And with tri-band backhaul, the X6 uses one band for communicating with the main router, leaving both the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands free for 4K video streaming, gaming, and more from any area of the house. This thing is as capable as they come, but has a price tag to match.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Cory Gunther

Segway Makes Futuristic Hydrogen-Powered Motorcycles Now, Because Why Not

The Segway APEX H2 hybrid motorcycle.Segway

Check out Paul Blart’s new ride! Segway, the company that made ridiculous upright scooters in the 2000s, just announced its upcoming Apex H2 motorcycle, a futuristic vehicle with a hybrid hydrogen-electric powertrain.

Chinese startup Ninebot acquired the Segway company back in 2015 thanks to an $80 million investment from Xiaomi and Sequoia Capital. Since then, Segway has morphed into an ambitious electric vehicle company, developing rugged four-wheelers, delivery robots, scooters, and go-karts.

After showing off several concept motorcycles, Segway is finally ready to put the Apex H2 intro production. The Tron-inspired bike runs on a hybrid hydrogen-electric powertrain, which is a short way of saying that it pulls energy from a battery and from fuel cells filled with gaseous hydrogen. The hybrid design offers better mileage than an all-electric system, without the environmental consequences of a typical combustion engine.

Lined with Tron-inspired LEDs, the Apex H2 can accelerate from 0 to 60 MPH in under four seconds. It has a max speed of 94 MPH, faster than the original Segway but slower than many motorcycles, and it emits water vapor from its exhaust pipe. Still, the bike’s bizarre design may scare off hardcore motorcyclists, as the Apex H2 uses a swingarm instead of a suspension fork, which usually results in poor steering and suspension.

The Apex H2 will enter production in 2023, and should go on sale in that same year. Segway says that the bike will cost ¥69,999, approximately $10,699. That’s not a bad price for a futuristic hydrogen-electric vehicle, and it could entice motorcyclists who are weary of the Apex H2’s unconventional, and potentially inconvenient design.

Source: Ninebot via Robb Report

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

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