Engadget Expand is our annual event that's all about you -- our fans. It's not your typical tech conference that's priced for people fortunate to have an expense account. We make the event completely FREE thanks to our generous sponsors, giving you the chance to experience the future -- right now. And while you're at it, you get to meet your favorite Engadget editors.
When you join us at the Javits Center North in New York City next week on November 7-8, you'll be set loose on our show floor. You can check out some of our exhibitors and get your hands on gadgets that people can't buy yet (or in some cases, build your own in our workshops), head to our Expand stage and hear from some smart and inspiring people and so much more.
Taking over our stage
Our stage will ooze intelligence thanks to our banner lineup of experts and influencers in the tech and science worlds. On Friday, musician and producer RJD2 will melt faces and blow minds (you'll have to wait to see how). Then, on Saturday, DARPA's Arati Prabhakar will talk about the future of defense with our Editor-In-Chief, Michael Gorman. That afternoon, four-time Olympic Medalist Angela Ruggiero will be there to talk about how technology is helping athletes perform better and stay safer.
We'll also have a robot dance party, talk about VR's use outside gaming, life on Mars, the future of food and a lot more including our Insert Coin competition, where these 10 semi-finalists will show off their projects onstage at Expand for a shot at our $10,000 Judges' Choice and $15,000 Reader's Choice awards.
What else can you expect during our two-day event? Peruse our full schedule for yourself and thumb through the gallery above to see our roster of speakers.
Get your hands dirty
Bring lotion, because your hands are going to get a workout. We've grabbed some of our friends at Make: Magazine, LEGO(R), DODOcase, SparkFun and Eyebeam to set up workshops designed so that even the most novice tech nerd can walk away amazed at what they did.
For example, you can meet the folks from DODOcase and build your own cardboard VR headset that works with your smartphone (the above is a similar version by Google, given out at this year's I/O). Make: Magazine will offer a couple of workshops, one of which will let you build a gadget that brings human interaction and social media together. And you can watch folks build a robot using LEGO(R) MINDSTORMS(R).
Our workshops run on a schedule during the weekend, so definitely check out our itinerary and get to the exhibits early, as supplies are limited.
Eat 3D Printed Fruit (and more!)
You'll get advice from the Geek Squad, experience 3D Fruit Printing with Dovetailed, wear a Ringly, ride LEIF, put on KOR-FX and a whole lot more. What else can you expect? Flip through the gallery below or head to our sponsors page to find out more.
And now for some light housekeeping...
If you're going to be in New York City November 7-8, get your free tickets right here and we'll see you at the Javits Center North. Since it's a free event, there likely will be lines to get in, but we'll make it go as fast as possible to get you in... faster. It's also a good idea to check out these directions to make your trip to the Javits Center even smoother.
If you're not going to be anywhere near New York City, we'll pack our site with dispatches from the show floor and our livestream from the stage (which, you can even Chromecast to your TV to watch all the Expand action while in your boxers).
You are done (DONE!) taking selfies with a phone like some plebeian -- you only take DSLR selfies now, even though it's a pain transferring photos using a camera without built-in WiFi. A camera attachment called Lumera wants to solve that problem by giving you a way to upload high-res snapshots to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with a single click. To integrate the WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy device with a DSLR, you need to attach it via the tripod screw and plug it into the camera's mini-USB port. So long as you define the social networks of your choice on its accompanying app, you won't have to take out your phone to upload pics anymore. The app itself is pretty useful, though: it can stream whatever the camera's viewfinder is looking at, set timelapses and access the DSLR's settings remotely.
In addition to giving you an easy way to upload high-res pics, Lumera can also connect to a portable drive via USB, enabling you to transfer images on-the-go if you're running dangerously low on storage space. Now, here comes the not-so-good news: Lumera only works with select Nikon and Canon DSLRs for now. But, the list is still a lot longer than the models those companies' own wireless adapters can support, and the device itself is loads cheaper.
While the brands' wireless attachments typically cost around $600 to $800 each, you can get the Lumera for only $125 -- that is, if you back its campaign right now on Kickstarter, where its developers are attempting to raise CA$90,000 (US$80,000). They plan to use the money to conjure up the final engineering design that takes backers' feedback into account before going into production. Barring any delays, the device will start shipping out by May 2015, but if you can't wait that long and have a knack for MacGyvering things, you can always try to build something similar on your own.
A lot can happen between the time and the sun rises and sets -- especially in the future we live in. So, what's new 'round these parts? Well, Samsung debuted super thin, all-metal smartphones; our Joseph Volpe penned a eulogy for Nintendo's Wii U and our Sean Buckley reviewed ASUS' new gaming laptop, the ROG G751. There are more stories than that, though, and you can find those in the gallery below!
When you hear someone else speak, specific neurons in your brain fire. Brian Pasley and a bunch of his colleagues discovered this at the University of California, Berkeley. And not only that, but those neurons all appeared to be tuned to specific sound frequencies. So, Pasley had a thought: "If you're reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head," so why can't we decode that internal voice simply by monitoring brain activity. It's similar to the idea that led to the creation of BrainPort, which lets you "see" with your tongue. Your eyes, ears or vocal chords don't really do the heavy lifting, it's your brain. And if you can give the brain another source of input or output you might be able to train it to approximate a lost ability like speech.
Building the thought decoder began by developing an algorithm tailored to each individual subject. The participant was asked to read a passage, for instance John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, aloud to get a base reading. Then they were asked to read it to themselves. And finally, to just sit and do nothing. That allowed the team to isolate which neurons were firing when vocalizing the text. Then a visual representation of the sound waves is created and those sounds are matched with particular brain patterns. Then while the participants read silently to themselves the decoder is able to reconstruct the words based purely on what neurons are firing.
Of course, the technology is far from perfect. While the results were described as "significant" a reliable device that can translate thoughts in to words is a long way off. But the team from Berkeley is optimistic that one day they'll be able to give the gift of speech to someone who is paralyzed or "locked-in."
[Image credit: Science Photo Library - SCIEPRO/Getty Images]
Filed under: Science
So, you noticed that NVIDIA has trotted out its latest GPU architecture and you're wondering if you should retire your old gaming laptop for something with a little more... pep. You aren't alone. Every time NVIDIA downsizes its flagship GPUs for the notebooks, manufacturers flood the market with new and improved laptops promising to give desktop gaming rigs a run for their money. The phrase "desktop-class" usually gets thrown around with reckless abandon, but the new machines never quite match the performance of their fully grown counterparts. Will this year's Maxwell-based 980M GPUs fare any better? Let's find out: The ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) G751 just landed in Engadget's bullpen, and it's aching to be reviewed.
Look and feel
In a world where most notebooks strive to get thinner and lighter, 17-inch gaming laptops stand out like the sorest of thumbs. Thick, heavy chassis and enormous screens almost make them a parody of portable computing. It's a necessity, of course, but it's also a shame -- few gaming rigs embrace their size as a means of standing out. Fortunately, ASUS' ROG G751 does, owning its gargantuan frame by taking liberties with the standard tropes of laptop design. Even at a glance, you can tell it's a little different: Instead of placing its screen hinge on the far edge of the machine's base, the G751 pivots its screen a few inches away from that edge. This leaves a distinctive, large "brick" jutting out from behind the laptop's open lid.
This look is typical of ASUS' heaviest gaming machines, but it's more than just visual flair -- it's a surprisingly well-thought-out design. Not only does moving the screen closer to the user make the laptop seem a little less large while it's being used, but it also gives the machine an isolated area to vent heat away from the user. It's a unique design, and it gives the rest of the machine's chassis license to be fairly subtle by comparison. The ledge and lid have a few brushed-metal accents and the vents are flared with red paint that lends them a sort of "jet intake" look, but the rest of the machine is covered in a matte, almost soft finish. It's nice.
Looking for connections? There are plenty on the G751: two USB 3.0 ports, a VGA connector, three audio jacks, Ethernet, HDMI and even a Thunderbolt port can be found on the machine's right edge. Two additional USB 3.0 connectors are arranged on the left side, as are the rig's optical drive (a Blu-ray burner) and SD/MMC card reader. Although "huge and heavy" are expected from 17-inch gaming notebooks, I'd be remiss not to mention the GT751's measurements, so here they are: 16.4 x 12.5 x 1.7 inches (length, width and thickness) and a total weight of 8.5 pounds. While I can't fault a single inch of that frame for poor build quality, it is an admittedly (and unsurprisingly) cumbersome laptop.
Keyboard and trackpad
The ROG's island-style keyboard doesn't look like much at a glance, but spend a little time with it and you'll find it littered with subtle tweaks designed specifically for PC gamers. Mostly, it's little things: an extra layer of red coloring running around the edges of the W, A, S and D keys, for instance, or the small, tactile "bump" on the W key to help players find it without looking down. There are a few custom keys, though -- including three programmable macro keys (labeled m1, m2 and m3) and specific buttons to launch NVIDIA GeForce Experience, Steam and ASUS' own "gaming center" menu (more on that later).
While none of these are unwelcome, they're also not really necessary: the GeForce Experience button seems to merely replicate the program's own screen-capture hotkey functionality, and the Steam button simply launches Big Picture mode in a few less clicks than using the mouse would. They don't take up any extra space, at least. The keys themselves are a general delight, falling 2.5mm with each depression and featuring just enough tactile resistance to feel satisfying. If you need a little more flair beyond the keycaps' red lettering, you can always hit fn+f4 to activate a dark red backlight.
I couldn't find anything wrong with the machine's trackpad, either -- the ROG's mouse surface is large, responsive and quite apt at handling multi-finger gestures. Better still, the quality of its buttons match the keyboard's fine balance between tactile resistance and a soft landing depression. The buttons aren't at all stiff or clicky. It almost feels like the machine's entire suite of inputs has been broken in beforehand, but not worn out in the slightest. There's nothing to complain about, and that's more than I expect from most laptop keyboard and mouse setups.
Display and audio
The ROG's 17.3-inch IPS display hits all the right notes: It's large, bright and has exceptionally wide viewing angles. At a glance, it's not the most vibrant display I've ever seen, but ASUS has included tools to tweak that. Tapping the ROG button offers easy access to the machine's "Splendid Technology" display tool, which offers three default color profiles and a slider for manual adjustments. All in all, it's a solid, well-balanced screen and its anti-glare matte finish doesn't hurt either.
Few gaming machines skimp on visual fidelity, but audio is another matter -- I've encountered so many laptops with subpar speakers that I've come to expect it. When I couldn't find visible evidence of the ROG's speakers, I was worried audio would be the laptop's cardinal sin. It is, but it's not that bad. While the machine's stereo speakers are clear and loud enough to fill a small room, they're also a bit tinny, and can even sound muffled if the PC's MaxxAudio equalizer program is ticked to the wrong setting. They're passable, but they can't compete with your gaming headset. Par for the course, really.
I did eventually find the speakers, by the way: They're hiding on either side of the screen's hinging mechanism, visibly obscured by the laptop's display itself. While this struck me as odd at first, I soon realized it's another tip to the G751's thoughtful design: By leaning the speakers against this hidden ledge, ASUS is able to point them directly at the user. Most laptop speakers push sound up from the machine's flat base, but I found this horizontal configuration to be a nice change.
Performance and battery life
|PCMark7||PCMark Vantage||3DMark06||3DMark11||ATTO (top disk speeds)|
|ASUS ROG G751 (2.5GHz Core i7-4710HQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 980M 4GB)||6,191||23,861||29,752||
E14,516 / P11,304 / X4,304
|1.06 GB/s (reads); 775 MB/s (writes)|
|GT70 Dominator (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 880M 8GB)||6,308||23,431||27,775||
E11,433 / P8,344 / X2,877
|1.4 GB/s (reads); 498 MB/s (writes)|
|Razer Blade 14-inch (2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ, NVIDIA GTX 870M 3GB)||5,664||19,994||24,255||
E9,533 / P6,541 / X2,236
|542 MB/s (reads); 257 MB/s (writes)|
|MSI GS60 Ghost (2.4GHz Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB)||5,909||22,602||22,898||
E7,908, / P5,152 / X1,519
|537 MB/s (reads); 495 MB/s (writes)|
|Alienware 14 (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, NVIDIA GTX 765M 2GB)||5,310||21,502||20,868||
E6,529 / P4,211
|507 MB/s (reads); 418 MB/s (writes)|
|Alienware 17 (2.7GHz Core i7-4800MQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB)||5,647||22,114||27,137||
E10,638 / P7,246
|509 MB/s (reads); 420 MB/s (writes)|
|MSI GT70 Dragon Edition (2013) (2.4GHz Core i7-4700MQ, GeForce GTX 780M)||6,111||20,250||N/A||
E10,519 / P7,416
|1.19 GB/s (reads); 806 MB/s (writes)|
|Samsung Series 7 Gamer (2.30GHz Core i7-3610QM, GeForce GTX 675M)||N/A||11,515||21,131||
Okay, we've established that the ROG G751's exterior trappings are pretty nice -- but what's on the inside? A veritable cornucopia of silicon goodies, including a 2.5Ghz Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980M graphics processor, a 256GB SSD paired with a full terabyte of HDD storage and 24GB of DDR3 RAM. With specifications like that, it's hard to expect anything but top-tier performance and, well, I got it.
ASUS' new kit handled some of my heaviest-hitting games with aplomb, clocking a solid 50 frames-per-second average in Crysis 3 on maximum settings and a healthy 41 fps in The Witcher 2 with Ubersampling enabled (that jumped to 93 fps with the feature disabled). Large-scale action brawlers like Ryse and Shadow of Mordor held strong at 60 fps as well, though the former title can dip as low as 30 and 20 fps with supersampling dialed to max. Battlefield 4 easily eclipsed 100 fps, depending on the map, as did Alien: Isolation and BioShock: Infinite. The only game in my library that made the G751 groan at all was Metro: Last Light Redux, and only when I dialed SSAA to 4x. Turn that setting down to a more modest level and the game could run anywhere from 60 fps (SSAA 2x) to beyond 100 fps (SSAA disabled).
Gauging battery life in high-performance gaming laptops requires a very special kind of perspective: With very few exceptions, these machines rarely last more than four hours in even the best scenarios. The G751 is merely average in this regard -- Engadget's standard battery test (a standard-definition video looped endlessly at a fixed brightness) exhausted it in three hours and 40 minutes. Objectively, that's almost a good run for a machine of its caliber, but when you consider the fact that MSI's 2013 GT70 Dragon Edition and Razer's two most recent Blade laptops lasted almost an hour longer, it feels like a step backward.
|ASUS ROG G751||3:40|
|Razer Blade 14-inch||6:24|
|MSI GT70 Dragon Edition||4:34|
|Razer Blade (2014)||4:27|
|Razer Edge Pro||3:40|
|Razer Blade 2.0||3:29|
|MSI GT70 Dominator (2014)||3:21|
|MSI GS60 Ghost||3:13|
|Digital Storm Veloce||2:53|
|Samsung Series 7 Gamer||2:11|
Still, there's a silver lining -- gaming rigs may not be making heavy strides in general-use longevity, but they are starting to last a little longer while playing actual games. NVIDIA's Battery Boost feature (a special mode that limits game frame rates and voltage levels to extend battery life) ran a GeForce Experience-configured session of Borderlands 2 for a full hour and a half before giving in. The same test, with the same game, configured to the same graphics settings with Battery Boost disabled? Only 59 minutes. That's not a huge leap forward, but at least it's progress.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test all of Maxwell's latest features on the ROG G751 -- notebook-friendly technologies like Dynamic Super Resolution and Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing haven't been enabled for NVIDIA's mobile chipset yet. The company tells me an update will change this in the near future, however, and that the GTX 980M inside the ASUS' latest flagship is compatible with both. Not familiar? Here's the skinny: Dynamic Super Resolution (or DSR) will let the machine run games at a higher internal resolution than the laptop's monitor can natively display, increasing visual fidelity in games you're already running at maximum settings. The new anti-aliasing trick, on the other hand, will provide the same graphical upgrades as modern AA techniques, but with less of an impact on your frame rate. They both sound like great features for laptops, but sadly, they aren't ready yet.
The G751 comes with an odd assortment of necessary, unnecessary, useful and completely redundant tools, almost all of which bear some sort of ASUS or ROG branding. The aforementioned ASUS Gaming Center (the one that has a dedicated keyboard button) acts as a home screen for the laptop's most useful software pack-ins: the ROG Audio Wizard, MacroKey and ASUS' Splendid Display manager. These programs let the user tweak audio, keyboard and display settings, respectively, and all complement the G751's hardware in some way. The Gaming Center also has a profile manager that lets the user create different preconfigured mixes of audio and display settings.
Other tools are less necessary, but still somewhat useful. ROG GameFirst III, for instance, monitors and manages network traffic. Want to see what programs use the most data? You can find out here. It also prioritizes bandwidth by program, allowing the user to give their favorite games or apps a larger share of their download speed at will. There's also an application that disables USB charging if the battery dips below a certain level -- not a hindrance, but not a feature I would have missed if it weren't present. Finally, there are a couple programs I could do without: ASUS LiveUpdate, which seems to mirror WIndows' own update tool with an ASUS logo, and ASUS Screen Saver ...which just sets your PC's screen saver to a noisy and flashy advertisement for the laptop you're already using. Pointless, weird and annoying.
Configuration options and the competition
Like the look of those performance tests, but still want more? That can be done. The $2,499 unit ASUS lent me can be upgraded for an additional $500, converting its Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU to an i7-4860HQ and increasing its allotment of DDR3 RAM to a full 32GB. Both machines feature the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M (4GB GDDR5), but the higher-end machine (officially labeled as the G751JY-DH72X) has a little more storage space: a larger 512GB SSD paired with the same 1TB hard drive.
The G751 can be had in three lower-end specifications too (officially numbered the G751JT DH72, TH71 and CH71) -- all of which feature Intel's Core i7-4710HQ CPU and NVIDIA's second-best notebook GPU: the GeForce GTX 970M (3GB GDDR5). These machines are mostly separated by RAM and storage configuration. The bottom-dollar unit, the $1,499 CH71, comes with 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB HDD and a DVD multi-drive. Tack on an additional $150 (for the TH71), and you'll walk away with twice the RAM and a Blu-ray reader. The most expensive of the lower tier (the DH72) is kind of an odd machine, and also the worst value: Priced at $1,899, it's identical to ASUS' cheapest configuration in every respect, save one: a 256GB SSD. While it's true that an SSD always gives a machine a bit of pep, $400 is a pretty big premium for a boot drive.
ASUS wasn't the only laptop manufacturer to embrace NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture, of course: Machines of comparable power (and just as many configurations) can be had from most of the usual suspects. MSI's GT72, for instance, can be built to match our review unit for $2,650. Too thick and too expensive? Try MSI's upgraded GS60 Ghost: It packs an Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, GTX GeForce 970M graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD into a slim 0.78-inch frame for $1,999.
If you're willing to delve into less-mainstream brands, there are even more options. Maingear's Nomad 17 can be had with either the GTX GeForce 970M or 980M, starting at $2,099 and $2,399, respectively -- but both can be kitted out with various upgrades that can raise that price by several thousand dollars. AVADirect offers a customizable laptop with high-end components too, a Clevo P150SM-A machine that can cost anywhere from $1,600 to $3,600, depending on how you want to build it. Still, choosing from an offbeat manufacture can bear powerful fruit: Both the Gigabyte Aorus X7 Pro ($2,599) and Digital Storm's Behemoth laptop ($2,704 to 4,021) offers Maxwell GPUs (the 970M and 980M, respectively) in dual-chip SLI configurations. The extra power may cost you more than just cash, however -- NVIDIA's Battery Boost feature won't work with SLI enabled.
Finding a machine with top-tier specs, screaming performance and a screen big enough to make you think twice about using an external monitor is easy -- but not every high-performance gaming rig is a good laptop. That takes smart design choices, great build quality and attention to detail; all things ASUS' latest ROG flagship has in spades. The G751's unique design, excellent keyboard and mouse buttons and sturdy build are what make it stand out from the competition, though admittedly, screaming performance doesn't hurt either.
As beautiful as the look of the Moto 360 is, there are people who would prefer something that's styled more like a traditional watch. For this, the MB Chronowing, created by fashion designer Michael Bastian and engineered by HP, could be the perfect solution. The new wearable, which will be compatible with iOS and Android, combines smartwatch features with an appearance reminiscent of older watches. Aside from that, the MB Chronowing can let you control your music right from your wrist, as well as display email/text notifications and sync with a calendar or alarm. And, better yet, it does these things while looking quite elegant -- after all, it does come from a fashion designer.It will be available on the website Gilt.com on November 7th, starting at $349 for the base, silver-plated model; if you're willing to spend $649, the black one comes with sapphire glass and an alligator strap. Yes, an alligator strap.
[Image credit: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal]
In the last few years 3D printing has gone from a niche within a niche, to one of the most headline-grabbing fields in tech. Consumers haven't exactly embraced the technology, but it is beginning to trickle down into the homes of more hobbyists and entrepreneurs. The DIY community has fallen in love with its versatility and even NASA has embraced it as a way to do ad hoc repairs on the International Space Station. But really, that's just scratching the surface of what 3D printers are capable of. Vaiva Kalnikaitė and her company Dovetailed used fruit juice to print edible fruits, and surgeons have used 3D-printed parts to repair injuries. There are even people out there printing human organs and homes. We're going to be sitting down with Kalnikaitė and Anna Kaziunas France, digital fabrication editor at Maker Media, at Engadget Expand on November 8th. But in case you need a little tease to get you in the mood, we've got a short Q&A with Kalnikaitė after the break.
What is the biggest challenge facing the 3D printing field today?
Relevance to everyday consumers. At the moment, I think people struggle to imagine useful ways that they would use 3D printers in their everyday lives. I think that, at the moment, consumer 3D printers are on a trajectory to become something like sewing machines -- requiring specialized skills (like 3D modeling) and the inclination to want to design and make bespoke objects.
"Consumer 3D printers are on a trajectory to become something like sewing machines."
For 3D printing to achieve widespread adoption, both the design tools and materials choices need to grow substantially. One way to do this is by having tools that are very good at designing or customizing specific kinds of objects, rather than general-purpose 3D-modeling tools. In terms of materials, we need to move beyond just plastics. We are particularly interested in edible materials, for example.
Other than rapid prototyping, where is 3D printing going to have the most impact?
I think that the kitchen is an interesting space that we are just starting to explore. The kitchen is one of the places in the home where new and interesting appliances are welcomed. The promise that 3D printing brings in terms of customization, personalization and enabling creativity mesh well with people's interest in cooking and food. We are just beginning to see how 3D printing can make food preparation more creative and even convenient, allowing people to play with new flavor combinations, presentation and bespoke nutrition.
"The kitchen is one of the places in the home where new and interesting appliances are welcomed."
Is 3D printing ever going to replace more traditional methods of manufacturing?
For certain scales of production -- certainly. For mass manufacturing, the benefits of 3D printing seem less clear. But for "markets-of-one," 3D printing opens up possibilities that traditional methods have never been able to fulfill.
We've got plastic down pat; what's the next frontier in printing materials?
We are particularly excited by the idea of 3D printing "liquid structures," and this is what we're focused on. We look at techniques that allow you start with a liquid as your construction material, and encapsulate it into individual droplets that can then be shaped into beautiful and colorful 3D structures.
Using liquids as construction materials opens up a lot of interesting possibilities -- everything from edible things like fruit juice, to cosmetics and biological systems.
Will there come a day when people stop buying physical goods, and instead purchase files that allow them to print products at home?
"There are some really interesting and beautiful objects that are only available as 3D files."
This is already happening! At least the purchasing files part -- printing them at home is still some way off. There are some really interesting and beautiful objects that are only available as 3D files. Online 3D suppliers and 3D-printing services mean that you can get these objects made in precious metals or ceramics, which makes them more desirable and useful than the plastic objects you can currently print at home.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]
Virgin Galactic's latest plane/rocket, dubbed "SpaceShipTwo", crashed after takeoff this morning above the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Director Stu Witt told Bakersfield, California's KGET that the plane crashed east of Mojave. Two pilots helmed SpaceShipTwo, and their condition is still unknown; KGET reports that one fatality was mentioned in police and fire rescue scanner calls, while one parachute was reportedly spotted post-crash. Associated Press is reporting "one fatality, one major injury" from the crash, citing the California Highway Patrol.
Virgin Galactic initially reported an "anomaly" with the ship, and is now reporting the ship as a "loss." The company's Twitter account says the status of the two pilots is "unknown at this time." It's not clear what caused said "anomaly," nor is it clear how the ship crashed. SpaceShipTwo is the space-faring component of Virgin Galactic's plane/rocket combination; the plane component is known as "WhiteKnightTwo," and it apparently landed without incident. Virgin Galactic issued the following statement:
"Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today. During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so."
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is an eight-person plane/spaceship combination. This morning's flight in Mojave, California was a test conducted by Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites. It took off from a runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port just after 9AM PT, slung beneath its plane component ("WhiteKnightTwo"). 45 minutes later, it reached 50,000 feet and the rocket component (SpaceShipTwo) was freed for solo flight. Virgin Galactic reported an "anomaly" with the ship soon after, via Twitter.
This isn't SpaceShipTwo's first test flight -- a successful test flight was completed last summer. The ship even has a lengthy list of passengers waiting to ride to sub-orbital flight, including Virgin owner Richard Branson. It's been a bad week for space flight, as Orbital Science's unmanned "Antares" aircraft exploded at launch on Tuesday.
We'll keep updating this post as we learn more.
Update: One tweet from Aviation Safety shows the crashed aircraft from overhead, which we've embedded here:
Update 2: ABC News captured the following images of the crash, via Twitter:
Update 3: Virgin head Richard Branson issued the following statement via Twitter:
Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.- Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 31, 2014
Update 4: The Federal Aviation Administration says it's investigating the crash.
[Image credit: Getty Images]
If you've committed your streaming dollars to one of Roku's recent offerings, you're about to get access to a load of new content. The company announced today that Google Play Movies & TV is now available in its Channel Store for folks in the US, UK, Ireland and Canada. Similar to the mobile app, pausing when an actor is on screen will allow you to bring up his or her name via those handy Info Cards. You know, in case you're having trouble remembering. Mountain View's library of film and television episodes is accessible from current-gen gadgets (that's all devices after June 2011) now, and support for Roku TV is on the way.
If you prefer to carry Samsung's most recent handset instead of that newfangled iPhone 6, Sprint is now offering the Android option for lease. Until now, the carrier allowed customers to rent Apple's phone for $20 a month for two years. After that, you can either continue service month-to-month or send it in for something new. It'll be interesting to see how popular the option is with a phone that's been out for a bit, but the Galaxy S5 Sport is available for lease, too. If you're on the fence, or have a tight budget, Sprint's unlimited everything plan is $10 per month cheaper for iPhone 6 users/lessees.