The Oculus ‘Santa Cruz’ headset will be the realization of a VR dream

Oculus gave more details about its its next-generation VR headset today at the Oculus Connect 4 developer conference. It also said the headset would become available “in the next year.”

The catch: The headset is still a prototype, and it will only be made available to developers.

The new headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, is the company’s first prototype headset with “inside-out tracking” technology, meaning it doesn’t require external cameras or other accessories to track your position in the room. What’s even more exciting is that the headset will also be able to track two newly designed wireless controllers with six degrees of freedom.

In short, the Santa Cruz headset will be the first high-end VR system from Oculus that doesn’t require being tethered to a powerful PC. It also crucially features positional tracking — tracking the position and head movements of the wearer in addition to tracking the handheld wireless controllers. Basically, it’s a standalone VR headset that works all by itself.

The next-level tracking system is enabled by a set of four cameras placed on the outer corners of the new Santa Cruz headset. By placing cameras around the rim, the display can actually track the position of the both the user and the controllers.

The Santa Cruz headset will be paired with new prototype Santa Cruz controllers. The new controllers feature a ring covered in LEDs aimed upward, in order to make them more visible to the tracking cameras on the outside of the headset. 

Existing Oculus Touch controllers also have LEDs, but the ring that houses them is facing downward, and they are tracked by an external camera that must be attached to a PC. The newer version should make it much easier to setup and use Oculus VR products. The new controllers also use infrared emitters, rather than LEDs, meaning they won’t have a distracting glow.

The new controllers shouldn’t be much of a change for older users. They still include a trigger, touchpad, and buttons similar to the existing Oculus Touch controllers. It is important, however, to mention that this is a prototype system, so by the time they’re commercially available, they could change significantly.

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If Oculus delivers on everything it’s promised, the Santa Cruz headset will be a realization of the dream that VR developers have long been chasing. Users have often complained that current systems require a cable being attached the headset — which makes it easy to trip over or get tangled in while you’re immersed in a virtual world.  Soon, developers will no longer have to worry about stumbling over cables that attach to their headsets or having to mount positional trackers around the room. This is a huge deal.

The Santa Cruz headset first premiered in October 2016 during the Oculus Connect 3 conference. At it’s unveiling, Oculus emphasized that the PC that typically powers VR headsets would be replaced with a small minicomputer placed in the rear of the head strap.

So what components are actually included in the Oculus Santa Cruz prototype? Unfortunately, those details are still unclear, and the company has not yet revealed specifics about the processing power and technical specifications of the system. 

For now, we have only these short demos to rely on. But if it works as well as the video showed today, it’s certainly something worth being excited about.

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Get your fluffy cat snuggles without the cat

Qoobo is a therapeutic toy that is basically a pillow with a wagging tail. Different strokes or pats will activate various tail wags and vibrations that look and feel fairly realistic. It might look strange, but it’s a great alternative if you’re allergic to cats.

Oculus ‘Dash’ replaces your computer monitor with VR


Oculus Rift has a whole new user interface that lets you customize your VR Home space and replace your traditional computer monitor with nearly unlimited VR screenspace. Oculus Core 2.0 is rolling out in beta in December.

Oculus Dash

Dash is reminiscent of a Minority Report-style interface, where windows dangle in the air and can be moved around with the wave of a hand. Dash will let you code inside VR, but also bring along your favorite desktop experiences like Facebook and Messenger, YouTube, Spotify and even Google Chrome.

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Oculus Dash lets you use traditional desktop computer apps, code and communicate with friends all at once

The Oculus Dash preview showed an app picker that includes Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Spotify and Google Chrome

Developers will especially enjoy the ability to debug VR apps while actually running them via Visual Studio, Unity and Unreal. Screens appear in full-fidelity inside Dash, and you can access the rest of your PC beyond the core apps.

Customizable Home

The revamped Oculus Home lets you make your startup screen for Rift into your fantasy geek palace. You can pick all sorts of sensible or sci-fi furnishings, like art, seating and toys. You can show off trophies of your in-game achievements, and even play retro video games by popping cartridges into old-school game machines. Oculus is planning to let you hang out with friends inside Home in the future.

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It all seems heavily inspired by Aech’s basement headquarters from Ready Player One. Creating a familiar, customizable spaces inside VR could get people more hooked on Oculus’ products. The Sims proved insanely popular, and the new Oculus Home could let you build your virtual home around you rather than beneath you.

Meanwhile, Dash could be the answer for developers and others who rig together multiple physical monitors to give them extra screenspace. Dash will make the screen all around you, so you could shove your music app behind you, and leave chat apps in the sky while your whole front-facing view is consumed by the work at hand. Spending whole work days inside VR sounds a bit exhausting, but for hardcore multi-taskers, Dash could truly be the new computing platform Mark Zuckerberg envisioned when he acquired Oculus.

The Oculus Rift and Touch controllers just got another big price drop

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and Touch controllers now cost $399, Oculus announced during the Oculus Connect keynote today.

The Oculus Rift launched in 2016 for $599 with the Touch controllers launching months later for an extra $99. Before today’s price drop, the bundle was available for $499.

The announcement of the price drop came after Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (which own Oculus), revealed a new standalone VR headset called Oculus Go and shared updates on Project Santa Cruz, an updated version of the Rift that uses inside-out movement tracking, effectively making outside trackers and sensors obsolete. Both are expected to arrive in 2018.

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The latest Range Rover is a plug-in hybrid that can still handle off-roading

Land Rover has announced the 2019 Range Rover P400e plug-in hybrid, among the first of a wave of electrified vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover.

A 296hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with a 114hp, 85kW electric motor for a total output of 398 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. Land Rover estimates the Range Rover PHEV can go up to 31 miles on a fully charged battery, too, which would put it well above other plug-in hybrid SUVs such as the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 T8. A 7kW on-board charger is included, but DC fast charging isn’t available – the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is still the only plug-in hybrid SUV to offer that.

Two modes give drivers some control over how the gasoline engine and electric motor are used, too. Land Rover says a Predictive Energy Optimization uses GPS altitude information when a route is put in the navigation system to determine when to put the car into electric mode or hybrid mode for greater efficiency and conservation of the electric-only range.

Being a Range Rover, however, Land Rover claims the PHEV has credible off-road skills too, with the Terrain Response system calibrated to take advantage of the torque available from the hybrid system. Even though most Range Rover owners stick to the pavement, this plug-in version

The addition of the PHEV variant is part of a number of changes to the 2018 Range Rover lineup that include minor styling revisions and upgraded technology features, such as seats that can be folded using a smartphone app.

The gasoline and diesel Range Rovers go on sale at the end of the year, while the PHEV model should reach US dealerships by spring.

Battle for the Android throne: Can the Google Pixel 2 best Samsung’s Galaxy S8?

Google has unveiled the Google Pixel 2, the latest in its Pixel smartphone series. To say we were impressed with the company’s first model would be an understatement, and with this latest iteration, Google masterfully built on solid foundation.

Loaded with a Snapdragon 835 processor and an even more advanced camera, the Pixel 2 — all gruff about the bulky bezels aside — is certainly no sophomore slouch. That said, how does this latest iteration measure up against Samsung‘s flagship Galaxy S8? Let’s take a look, with this side-by-side smartphone showdown.

Specs

Galaxy S8
google pixel 2 vs samsung galaxy s8
Pixel 2

Size 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm (5.86 x 2.68 x 0.31 inches) 145.7 x 69.7 x 7.8 mm (5.7 x 2.7 x 0.31 inches)
Weight 155 grams (5.47 ounces) 143 grams (5.04 ounces)
Screen 5.8-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED 5-inch AMOLED display
Resolution 2,960 x 1,440 pixels 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
OS Android 7.0 Nougat Android 8.0 Oreo
Storage 64GB (U.S.) 128GB (International) 64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slot Yes No
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 4GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
Camera Rear 12MP with OIS, front 8MP 12.2 MP rear with OIS, 8 MP HD front
Video 4K at 30fps, 1,080p at 60fps 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 120fps, 720p at 240fps
Bluetooth Yes, version 5.0 Yes, version 5.0
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, heart rate, proximity sensor, iris scanner Barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor, Active Edge
Water resistant Yes, IP68 Yes, IP67
Battery 3,000mAh 2,700mAh
Charging port USB-C USB-C
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Colors Black, silver, gray, blue, gold Black, Blue, and White
Availability AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Unlocked from Samsung  Unlocked from Google, Verizon
Price $725 $650
DT review 4 out of 5 stars Hands-on Review

Both the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 pack the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB of RAM. It means you should expect almost the same performance, though the Pixel 2 may edge out a little as the software is simple, pure Android. Samsung has its TouchWiz user interface layered over Android, and while it’s much improved, it still can slow down the operating system over time. Google also makes Android, and by designing its own phone, it’s able to optimize the hardware and software far more than Samsung can.

In terms of storage, you get more options to choose from with the Pixel 2 as there’s a 64GB and 128GB variant. With Samsung, you’re stuck with the 64GB model in the U.S., though there’s a MicroSD card slot which lets you add more space if you want.

It’s a close round, but we’re giving the edge to the Pixel 2.

Winner: Google Pixel 2

Design, display, and durability

samsung galaxy s8 review device 12

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Aesthetically speaking, one of the biggest mobile trends in 2017 has been the move away from thick bezels — the edges flanking the front of the screen. These two phones look vastly different, because one embraces this trend, while the other is far from it. The Galaxy S8 features minimal bezels, and looks even more stunning thanks to the curved screen. The all-glass build gives the phone a seamless, smooth feel in your hand and the skimpy, bezels offer a more immersive experience by bringing the screen virtually to the edge of the device.

With the second iteration Pixel, Google has retained large bezels. The Pixel 2 maintains the unique aluminum and glass build mixture on the rear which we like, but one can’t help but notice the thick, almost clunky, edges around the screen. The Pixel 2 looks straight from 2015.

Thin bezels aren’t just an aesthetic advantage — it allows the smartphone to offer more screen in a smaller frame. If you look at the dimensions of both devices, you’ll find the S8 almost has the same dimensions as the Pixel 2, but it offers a much larger 5.8-inch display, over the Pixel 2’s 5-inch screen.

The S8’s Super AMOLED display takes up 83-percent of the front panel, and the 2,960 × 1,440 pixels pixel resolution offers pristine image quality. The Pixel 2’s AMOLED screen has a standard Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, and while it still looks great, the Galaxy S8’s screen is simply sharper at 570 pixels-per-inch. It’s overkill, compared to the Pixel 2’s 441 ppi.

The Pixel 2’s Full HD screen makes it more efficient from a processing and battery-consuming perspective, but the HDR Premium-certified Galaxy S8 allows you to watch sharp High-Dynamic Range (HDR) content — the latest craze in mobile.

Unlike the Galaxy S8, Google decided to do away with the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Pixel 2 for no specific reason. A headphone jack adapter is included in the box, but if you lose the dongle, you’ll have to rely on USB Type-C or wireless earbuds. This is a deal breaker for a lot of people, and it easily helps Samsung win this category. There is one positive for the audio department on the Pixel 2 — you now get front-facing stereo speakers. It certainly beats having a down-firing speaker like on the original Pixel or the S8.

The Galaxy S8 and the Pixel 2 are both water- and dust-resistant, but Samsung goes a step further with an IP68 rating, meaning the device should be able to withstand a plunge in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. The Pixel 2 has an IP67 rating, which similarly lets you take the phone underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

It’s not a contest. The Galaxy S8 boasts a gorgeous, immersive design; packs a higher-resolution, bigger screen; and has a slightly better water-resistance rating. The Pixel 2 may win in a drop test, though, as the Galaxy S8 is covered in glass.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Camera

googles newest gadgets pixel 2 hands on white rear camera

The original Google Pixel was heralded as the best camera phone available and with the follow up Pixel 2, Google built on this solid foundation. In fact, camera review site DxOMark recently gave the Pixel 2 a score of 98 out of 100 — the highest rating ever awarded for a smartphone.

In our brief hands-on time with the Pixel 2, we saw virtually no shutter lag while snapping shots with the optical image stabilization-equipped 12-megapixel camera. The Motion Photos feature, which is almost the same as Apple’s Live Photos, allows you to capture three seconds of video by simply tapping the shutter icon. Best of all, the Pixel 2 has a Portrait Mode feature without the need for a dual camera set up. Machine learning and software algorithms help identify the primary subject in a photo, and the background is then blurred for images that pop. As it’s all done via software, it works with the front-facing 8-megapixel camera as well for spectacular selfies.

The Galaxy S8 12-megapixel rear camera is pretty much the same camera that was in the previous Galaxy S7. When we tested the S8, our broad daylight images had great picture quality with accurate colors, and low-light images were solid. There’s a Portrait Mode-like feature called Selective Focus, but it doesn’t work as well as Apple’s. More skilled photographers will appreciate the Pro mode feature, which allows you to manage shutter speed, focus, and ISO. There’s also a “Wide Selfie” mode that allows selfie aficionados to pivot the camera slightly to the left and right respectively for a broader field of view, making those larger group selfies less cramped.

We’ll have to do more testing, but from what we’ve seen the Pixel 2 seems to have the better camera at the moment.

Winner: Google Pixel 2

Software

Google Pixel 2

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

As Google designed the hardware and Android software for the original Pixel, the smartphone felt more fluid compared to other Android devices. This looks to be the case with the Pixel 2, but the key advantage with the Pixel-series is the phones get the latest security and version updates first. Case in point: Android 8.0 Oreo released in August, and the Pixel 2 devices will launch with it installed. The S8 still runs last year’s Android 7.0 Nougat.

The Google Pixel 2’s software is the pure Android experience. It may not be chock full of features like the Galaxy S8, but it’s simple, fast, and gorgeous. Samsung has improved TouchWiz’s design over the years and it looks great on the S8, but we prefer the more minimal, uncluttered experience on the Pixel. You get Google Assistant on both smartphones, but Samsung’s device comes with Bixby, an assistant you can use to control phone functions via your voice.

Regardless, the ability to get fast version and security updates gives the Pixel 2 the win.

Winner: Google Pixel 2

Battery life and charging

samsung galaxy s8 review device 9

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We found the Galaxy S8 to offer just about a full day of battery life with some change, based on medium to high usage. That’s thanks to its 3,000mAh battery capacity. Samsung goes a step further and offers wireless charging on the S8, as well as fast charging.

We weren’t fans of the battery life on the original Pixel, as we found it struggling to stay alive by 7 p.m. on a regular work day. We’re sad to see a small downgrade in battery capacity from the 2016 Pixel, from 2,770mAh to 2,700mAh in the Pixel 2. Android 8.0 Oreo and the Snapdragon 835 processor do promise battery life improvements, but we’re skeptical we’ll find better battery life on the Pixel 2. We’ll have to do more testing. It’s capable of fast charging, but you won’t find wireless charging on board. Samsung takes the cake here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S8

Pricing and availability

Samsung-bogo-galaxy-s8-samsung_galaxy_s8_device_6

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel 2 is available for pre-order now and will set you back a cool $650. It’s available unlocked from the Google Store, or directly from Verizon. It’s not as widely available as the Galaxy S8, but it still works with all major U.S. carriers.

The Galaxy S8 will cost you $725 unlocked from Samsung, but you get more choice when you want to purchase it as all major carriers sell it, and so do many retailers. The Pixel 2 still gets the win, though, as the price is substantially less expensive than other phones using the latest Snapdragon 835.

Winner: Google Pixel 2

Overall winner: Google Pixel 2

While the Google Pixel 2 probably won’t win any awards for design anytime soon, the phone itself is worth every penny. Google bolstered the latest Pixel 2 with a faster, more efficient processor,  and even somehow managed to upgrade the already spectacular camera. The Galaxy S8 is still one of our favorite smartphones of the year and the display is more capable than the Pixel 2, however, when juxtaposed across the gauntlet, the Pixel 2 is our pick in this match up. If you want a headphone jack, go for the S8.

Amazon’s all-new Kindle Oasis is faster, lighter, and more water-resistant

Why it matters to you

If you’ve been holding out for a Kindle that doesn’t mind getting wet, the Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis might be just what the doctor ordered.

Tablets are great for checking email and binge-watching old seasons of Game of Thrones, but they don’t offer the best reading experience. Ebook readers — the slim, compact, and glare-free devices that don’t strain your eyes and last for days on a single charge — have them beat in that regard, but you don’t need to convince Amazon.

On Wednesday, the Seattle-based retailer took the wraps off the all-new Kindle Oasis, a 7-inch ebook reader with a sleek exterior, built-in support for Audible audiobooks, and top-to-bottom waterproofing.

The new Kindle Oasis has a larger (7 inches) and thinner (0.13 inches) high-resolution 300 ppi screen that fits 30 percent more text on a page than the 2016 Oasis and flips pages faster than any other Kindle. Its ergonomic finish is designed to rest in your palm “like the spine of a book,” and its custom-designed aluminum backplate weighs in at just 194 grams — 10 grams lighter than Amazon’s ultra-compact Kindle Paperwhite.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. The display of the new Oasis is shielded by Amazon’s “strongest cover glass” and has built-in light sensors that adjust the screen’s brightness based on ambient lighting conditions. It’s also completely waterproof, a Kindle first. Amazon says it’s IPX8-rated to protect against immersion in up to two meters of water for 60 minutes. And it has a fast-charging battery that delivers a full charge in less than two hours.

amazon kindle oasis 2017

The improvements are more than skin deep. The Oasis ships with Audible, Amazon’s library of more than 375,000 audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and radio shows, which stream wirelessly via the ebook reader’s Bluetooth radio to headphones, speakers, and earbuds. And new accessibility options offer custom fonts, inverted black-and-white color schemes, enlargeable home screen shortcuts, and ragged right alignment.

That’s all in addition to longtime Kindle features Whispersync, which syncs pages, bookmarks, and annotations across all of your Amazon devices and apps, and Word Wise, which pulls up definitions of challenging words and phrases.

“Ten years ago, we introduced our first Kindle with the mission of delivering any book ever written in 60 seconds or less,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices and Services, said. “With a larger 7-inch, 300 ppi display, waterproof design, and Audible built right in, the all-new Kindle Oasis is our most advanced Kindle ever. It’s thin, light, and waterproof design allows readers to stay engaged in the author’s world in even more places than ever before.”

The new Kindle Oasis is available for pre-order globally starting at $250 for 8GB (twice the capacity of last year’s model) ahead of an October 31 ship date. It comes in a 32GB configuration with cellular connectivity for $350, and launches alongside new fabric covers ($45) in indigo, sandstone, and charcoal colors, and premium leather covers ($60) in midnight, saddle tan, and merlot.

Amazon says support for Audible content will roll out to Kindle devices (Gen 8) and the 2016 Kindle Oasis in the next few months, and that the new accessibility options will come as a free over-the-air update to Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 6) and newer Kindle devices immediately.

Huawei Honor 7X packs an edge-to-edge screen and dual cameras for $300

Why it matters to you

Huawei’s Honor 7X is an impressive package for the price tag, but it’s exclusive to China for now.

Leave it to Honor, Huawei’s fast-growing middle-market brand, to launch an uncompromising new phone at a compelling price. On Wednesday, it took the wraps off the Honor 7X, an edge-to-edge phone with a 5.93-inch screen, dual rear cameras, and a speedy eight-core processor.

The Honor 7X is the spiritual successor to last year’s Honor 6X, and it looks every bit the part. It has an all-aluminum unibody that’s curved on all four sides, exceptionally narrow edges right and left of the screen, and IP67 waterproofed lining that repels water up to three and a half feet deep for 30 minutes.

The Honor 7X’s high-end housing packs a curved 5.93-inch edge-to-edge screen with a 2K resolution (2160 x 1080 pixels) and an 18:9 aspect ratio, an upgrade from the 6X’s Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) screen. Under the hood is Huawei’s homegrown eight-core Kirin 659 system-on-chip, Malit-T830 MP2 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a Bluetooth 4.1 chip, and a fingerprint sensor.

honor 7x

But the processor isn’t the only thing filling out the Honor 7X’s insides. A 3,340mAh battery with support for Huawei’s fast-charging SuperCharge tech supplies a “full day” of power, and a internal memory chip (in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes) and microSD card slot provide ample space for video, music, and photo storage.

The Honor 7X doesn’t disappoint when it comes to photography. It has a dual rear camera — a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor — which can capture Portrait Mode-like bokeh shots with in-focus foregrounds and blurred backgrounds, and an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

On the software side of things, the Honor 7X ships with Honor’s custom-designed EMUI 5.1, which is based on last year’s Android 7.1 Nougat. Judging by the aggressiveness of Huawei’s Android Oreo rollout (the newest version of Android), though, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Honor 7X upgraded with new firmware soon after its release.

honor 7x

The Honor 7X is available for pre-order starting October 11 in black, gold, and blue colors, with sales kicking off on October 17. The 32GB model retails for 1,299 yuan ($200), the 64GB model is 1,699 yuan ($260), and the 128GB model is 1,999 yuan ($305).

The only bad news is that the Honor 7X won’t be shipping globally anytime soon. It’s only available in China, and Honor has yet to announce availability for the U.S. or Europe. That may change in the near future, but for now, the Honor 7X is a mainland exclusive.

Amazon’s all-new Kindle Oasis comes with Audible, can survive a drop in the pool

Why it matters to you

If you’ve been holding out for a Kindle that doesn’t mind getting wet, the Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis might be just what the doctor ordered.

Tablets are great for checking email and binge-watching old seasons of Game of Thrones, but they don’t offer the best reading experience. Ebook readers — the slim, compact, and glare-free devices that don’t strain your eyes and last for days on a single charge — have them beat in that regard, but you don’t need to convince Amazon.

On Wednesday, the Seattle-based retailer took the wraps off the all-new Kindle Oasis, a 7-inch ebook reader with a sleek exterior, built-in support for Audible audiobooks, and top-to-bottom waterproofing.

The new Kindle Oasis has a larger (7 inches) and thinner (0.13 inches) high-resolution 300 ppi screen that fits 30 percent more text on a page than the 2016 Oasis and flips pages faster than any other Kindle. Its ergonomic finish is designed to rest in your palm “like the spine of a book,” and its custom-designed aluminum backplate weighs in at just 194 grams — 10 grams lighter than Amazon’s ultra-compact Kindle Paperwhite.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. The display of the new Oasis is shielded by Amazon’s “strongest cover glass” and has built-in light sensors that adjust the screen’s brightness based on ambient lighting conditions. It’s also completely waterproof, a Kindle first. Amazon says it’s IPX8-rated to protect against immersion in up to two meters of water for 60 minutes. And it has a fast-charging battery that delivers a full charge in less than two hours.

amazon kindle oasis 2017

The improvements are more than skin deep. The Oasis ships with Audible, Amazon’s library of more than 375,000 audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, and radio shows, which stream wirelessly via the ebook reader’s Bluetooth radio to headphones, speakers, and earbuds. And new accessibility options offer custom fonts, inverted black-and-white color schemes, enlargeable home screen shortcuts, and ragged right alignment.

That’s all in addition to longtime Kindle features Whispersync, which syncs pages, bookmarks, and annotations across all of your Amazon devices and apps, and Word Wise, which pulls up definitions of challenging words and phrases.

“Ten years ago, we introduced our first Kindle with the mission of delivering any book ever written in 60 seconds or less,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices and Services, said. “With a larger 7-inch, 300 ppi display, waterproof design, and Audible built right in, the all-new Kindle Oasis is our most advanced Kindle ever. It’s thin, light, and waterproof design allows readers to stay engaged in the author’s world in even more places than ever before.”

The new Kindle Oasis is available for pre-order globally starting at $250 for 8GB (twice the capacity of last year’s model) ahead of an October 31 ship date. It comes in a 32GB configuration with cellular connectivity for $350, and launches alongside new fabric covers ($45) in indigo, sandstone, and charcoal colors, and premium leather covers ($60) in midnight, saddle tan, and merlot.

Amazon says support for Audible content will roll out to Kindle devices (Gen 8) and the 2016 Kindle Oasis in the next few months, and that the new accessibility options will come as a free over-the-air update to Kindle Paperwhite (Gen 6) and newer Kindle devices immediately.

Pick up rewards for all the shopping you do with the Drop app

Why it matters to you

Think you ought to be personally rewarded for all the money you’re giving to your favorite stores? Drop is here to help.

Who says shopping is only about spending money? With Drop, you can make money during the process, too. The millennial-focused rewards program launched in the U.S. on Tuesday, October 10 after meeting with success in its home country of Canada. Fresh off a $5.5 million funding round, it’s no wonder that Drop will be available to help you earn some extra cash even as you exercise your credit card.

Promoted as the most user-friendly, flexible rewards program available, Drop allows shoppers to collect all their rewards in a single app, rather than collecting countless brand-specific cards or creating various accounts. Simply link your credit or debit card to the app and start collecting points — think of it as an extension of your existing credit card rewards program (after all, it’s just as easy to use).

“Drop offers what young people want: a seamless experience,” says founder and CEO, Derrick Fung. “We are incredibly excited to begin our expansion into the U.S. to give millennials a platform to earn the easiest rewards they’ve ever earned, doing what they already do daily.”

Featuring a truly impressive list of merchants, Drop’s cross-merchant rewards experience gives shoppers an almost alarming level of flexibility when it comes to collecting points for shopping. With brands including Sephora, Bloomingdales, The Body Shop, Amazon, Under Armour, MeUndies, and Boxed, you’ll have no shortage of stores (both online and brick and mortar) to peruse with the added benefit of collecting perks. Be warned though — don’t take Drop as a sign that you can spend in a free-for-all — those points don’t rack up that quickly.

Drop also notes that it’s a boon to brands, as shoppers can link multiple cards to their Drop accounts, giving partner brands a more holistic view of customers’ shopping habits. The privacy implications are a bit alarming, sure, but are you really going to put down your plastic anytime soon?

“Drop is a unique concept that brings brand-agnostic rewards to millennials to give them a fun, intuitive experience they crave, while also giving brands an opportunity to hook new, loyal customers,” said Mark Fernandes of Sierra Ventures, one of Drops’ investors. “We’re excited to be an integral part of Drop’s international expansion and seeing them scale beyond the massive success they’ve seen in the Canadian market.”