“Tesla bumps up Model Y price after EV tax credit adjustment” by Emma Roth

An image showing the Tesla logo on a black vehicle
The Model Y just got more expensive. | Image: Getty Images

Tesla raised the price of its Model Y electric vehicle (EV) just hours after the US Treasury Department adjusted its EV tax credit rules, as first reported by Bloomberg. While the Tesla Model Y Long Range now costs $1,500 more at $54,990, the Model Y Performance went up by $1,000 to $57,990, excluding shipping fees.

On Friday, the Treasury Department updated the way it classifies vehicles that qualify for its $7,500 EV tax credit as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The change should allow more vehicles — including the Model Y — to qualify for the credit, as it no longer puts certain SUV crossovers in the same category as sedans.

Previously, some models of the Model Y, alongside the Cadillac Lyriq, weren’t eligible for the EV tax credit because their sticker prices exceeded the maximum $55,000 suggested retail price for sedans. Tesla slashed prices across its entire lineup last month to boost sales and allow its five-seater Model Y to qualify for the federal tax credit, a major shift from the pattern of price increases we saw last year.

But now that the government uses the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Fuel Economy Labeling standard instead of the EPA’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard to classify vehicles, the Model Y and Cadillac Lyriq now fall under the SUV category. This gives Tesla more wiggle room when it comes to pricing, as vehicles in this category can be priced at up to $80,000 to qualify for the tax credit.

It’s still unclear how the Treasury Department’s list of qualified vehicles will change come March, though. That’s when the agency’s expected to release its guidance on how to apply the IRA’s strict rules surrounding the sourcing and manufacturing of the minerals and battery components used in EVs.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/4/23586035/tesla-model-y-price-increase-ev-tax-credit

“Spotify’s founder helped develop an AI-powered body health scanner” by Emma Roth

Daniel Ek and Hjalmar Nilsonne next to Neko Health’s body scanner.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek (left) and Neko Health co-founder Hjalmar Nilsonne (right). | Image: Neko Health

Spotify founder Daniel Ek is getting into the healthcare industry. A post shared on LinkedIn names Ek as the co-founder of a startup, called Neko Health, which specializes in providing body scans powered by artificial intelligence (AI), as reported earlier by European news outlets Sifter and Tech.eu.

“After four years of intense research and product development, we are officially launching Neko Health today,” the post reads. “The company was founded by Hjalmar Nilsonne and Daniel Ek with the vision to create a healthcare system that can help people stay healthy through preventive measures and early detection.”

According to a translated version of Neko Health’s website, the Swedish company’s non-invasive full-body scanner can detect and measure the growth of birthmarks, rashes, and age spots. It also utilizes a separate scanner to pick up on any abnormalities in heart function, blood pressure, and pulse throughout the body.


Image: Neko Health
The full-body scanner awaits.

Neko says the company’s 360-degree body scanner comes equipped with over 70 sensors that collect more than “50 million data points on skin, heart, vessels, respiration, microcirculation and more.” This data is then analyzed by a “self-learning AI-powered system” that spells out the results for doctors and patients. Clients get results at their appointment, and can even view and track their results on an accompanying app.

“Our mission is to build a proactive healthcare system, one that is focused on preventing diseases,” Nilsonne writes in a post on LinkedIn, citing the rising costs of healthcare in Sweden and the European Union. The full-body scans, which Neko says only take a few minutes, are currently open to the public in Sweden and cost 2,000 SEK (or around $190 USD). At this time of writing, the scans are currently sold out.

Ek’s foray into the healthcare industry isn’t exactly a surprise. Rumors about the startup have been circulating since November, and Ek has long hinted at getting involved in healthcare. In 2013, a report from The Financial Times revealed that Ek “spends spare hours thinking about how to fix a ‘screwed-up’ healthcare system.” “I’m not the inventor, but I may be the person that’s dumb enough to go against the system and try to beat it on its own terms,” he said at the time.

It’s obviously too early to tell what kind of impact Neko Health could have on the healthcare industry, but it sounds promising. Similar technology has emerged in the past, with Facebook and New York University teaming up to make MRI scans faster using AI, and researchers developing AI technology that scans your retina and predicts your risk of heart disease. But Neko Health employs this technology on a larger and more accessible scale, and it’s exciting to think about its potential.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/4/23585948/spotify-founder-daniel-ek-ai-body-health-scanner

“Meta wins fight to buy VR startup Within” by Makena Kelly

Image of Meta’s word mark on a red background.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

A California judge is allowing Meta to close its acquisition of virtual reality fitness startup Within despite an ongoing antitrust case by the Federal Trade Commission, according to an unsealed ruling. On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that the court denied the FTC’s request to block the deal but with a one-week delay that will give the FTC time to appeal. The orders were posted on Tuesday, and a status hearing on the case is set for February 7th.

The FTC sued in July of 2022 to stop Meta’s acquisition of Within, which makes the popular VR app Supernatural. The agency argued that Meta’s purchase would expand its dominance in the consumer VR market, where Meta has staked many of its resources in recent years. The commission highlighted Meta’s previous merger with the company behind Beat Saber in 2019, claiming that the addition of Within would eliminate a “beneficial rivalry” between the two companies.

Meta fought the decision, but in December, it agreed to delay its Within acquisition until January 31st — although Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth said in a hearing that the company might drop the deal if it “doesn’t close in a timely manner.”

“Though Meta boasts considerable financial and VR engineering resources, it did not possess the capabilities unique to VR dedicated fitness apps, specifically fitness content creation and studio production facilities,” the ruling reads. “As a VR platform developer, Meta can enjoy many of the promising benefits of VR fitness growth without itself intervening in the VR fitness app market.”

The FTC apparently faced internal disagreements over whether to intervene in Meta and Within’s deal, and its pursuit of the case stands in stark contrast to several relatively smooth Meta (formerly Facebook) acquisitions, including its purchase of VR startup Oculus in 2014. “Out of respect for the court’s orders, the FTC is not in a position to comment at this time,” FTC director of public affairs Douglas Farrar told The Verge in response to a request for comment.

“We are pleased that the Court has denied the FTC’s motion to block our acquisition of Within,” Meta spokesperson Stephen Peters says in a statement to The Verge. “This deal will bring pro-competitive benefits to the ecosystem and spur innovation that will benefit people, developers, and the VR space more broadly. We look forward to closing the transaction soon.”

If this week’s order stands, it would represent a loss for agency head and antitrust crusader Lina Khan. The defeat would come as the FTC fights to stop another game-related merger: Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. The two cases have significant differences — particularly the small size of the VR market compared to the overall games industry, as well as the FTC’s choice to specifically focus on the market for fitness VR apps in the Within case, not VR or games in general. Nonetheless, the decision could indicate an uphill battle to limit tech industry consolidation — despite persistent attempts to give antitrust watchdogs teeth.

Update February 4th, 12:50PM ET: Updated to add a copy of the unsealed filing as well as a statement from a Meta spokesperson.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/1/23575041/meta-within-vr-acquisition-ftc-antitrust-lawsuit-injunction-denied

“Samsung’s colorful Galaxy Chromebook 2 is on sale for its best price to date” by Brandon Widder

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook open, angled slightly to the right on the corner of a bed. The screen displays The Verge homepage.
The midrange Galaxy Chromebook 2 packs plenty of bang for just $499. | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Happy Saturday, readers! During its Unpacked event on Wednesday, Samsung introduced a new line of Galaxy Book3 laptops with better displays and Intel’s 13th Gen Core processors. However, if you don’t need an ultraportable laptop or a high-end machine squarely aimed at the MacBook Pro 16, Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 is on sale at Amazon and Best Buy in its fiery, “fiesta red” colorway for $499 ($200 off), its lowest price to date.

The midrange Chromebook 2 certainly isn’t the most powerful Chromebook you can get — blame it on the 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10110U processor — but it should suffice for everyday work use and multitasking, especially with the machine’s 8GB of RAM. Moreover, it touts decent battery life (when compared to the original 2020 model) and a gorgeous QLED panel that makes use of Samsung’s quantum-dot technology, resulting in better contrast and more accurate colors regardless of what you’re watching. Read our review.

Winter doesn’t officially wrap until mid-March, but if you’re looking to get a headstart on your spring cleaning, the Roborock S7 is currently on sale for Verge readers at Wellbots with free shipping for $429.99 ($220 off) when you use the offer code VERGEVAC at checkout.

The hybrid vacuum / mopping robot doesn’t boast AI obstacle avoidance like our top robovac pick, the Roomba j7, but it’s efficient at cleaning both hardwood floors and carpets. It also offers support for all the major voice assistants — specifically Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri — and comes with a handy “VibraRise’’ feature that lifts the mop up when it senses carpet, preventing you from dousing your carpet and making a mess when you’re trying to do the exact opposite. Read our Roborock S7 Plus review.

Apple’s second-gen HomePod has arrived, and while we’re not likely to see discounts on the new model any time soon, there’s much to be said about its stylish counterpart, the HomePod Mini. The compact, Siri-equipped smart speaker — which is currently seeing a rare $15 discount at Verizon — comes in an assortment of colors, from a bright yellow to vibrant orange that can add a splash of color to any room.

The Mini is not going to dish out the kind of sound associated with the bigger, more expensive model, but it offers all the same smart home features, allowing it to serve as a hub for both HomeKit and Matter-compatible accessories. It also sounds surprisingly good for its size, so if its new temperature and humidity sensing tricks don’t get you excited, you can at least rest assured that you’re getting a well-balanced speaker that’s just as suited for podcasts as Britpop. Read our review.


A few more discounts to kickstart your Saturday

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/4/23585096/samsung-galaxy-chromebook-2-roborock-s7-robot-vacuum-apple-homepod-mini-speaker-deal-sale

“Twitter will let businesses keep their gold checkmarks — for $1,000 per month” by Emma Roth

An illustration of the Twitter logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter wants to cash in on businesses on the platform by charging them $1,000 per month to keep their gold checkmarks, according to a report from The Information. As noted by The Information, brands who don’t pay the $1,000 per month fee will lose their gold badges, although it’s unclear when that will happen.

Internal messages viewed by the outlet also reveal that Twitter’s looking to tack on an extra $50 per month charge to add badges to each account affiliated with the business. This aligns with a screenshot posted by social media consultant Matt Navarra, which shows what appears to be an email between Twitter product manager Evan Jones and an unnamed business.

“As an early access subscriber, you’ll get a gold checkmark for your organization and affiliation badges for its associates,” the email reads. “If you’d like to subscribe, Verified for Organizations is $1,000 per month, and $50 per additional affiliated handle per month with one month of free affiliations.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Twitter rolled out gold badges ahead of its Verification for Organizations program (formerly called Blue for Business), which allows companies to “verify and distinguish themselves on Twitter.” It also lets companies add badges showing miniature versions of their Twitter profile pictures to accounts belonging to employees, executives, and anyone else associated with the brand, just like the tiny Twitter logo on Twitter product manager Esther Crawford’s profile.

Navarra later followed up with another screenshot of a direct message between another business and product manager at Twitter, who once again confirms the $1,000 per month rate. Twitter still hasn’t officially revealed any pricing information for its Verification for Organization subscription and started offering early access to the program last month. The company didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment, as the company no longer has a communications team.

The pricey subscription is just one of the many changes CEO Elon Musk has implemented in an attempt to boost revenue and chip away at Twitter’s $12.5 billion debt. In addition to mass layoffs, Musk started charging users $8 per month for a blue checkmark, and will soon start forcing developers to pay for access to Twitter’s API after unceremoniously kicking their apps off the platform last month.

And while Musk promised to share Twitter’s ad revenue with creators, he says they’re only eligible if they pay for Blue. The company has also been auctioning off office furniture and other assets after reportedly failing to pay rent in several locations, including Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/4/23585612/twitter-gold-checkmark-business-subscription

“11 great movies from the 2023 Sundance Film Festival” by Andrew Webster

A still photo of Priya Kansara in Polite Society.
Priya Kansara in Polite Society. | Image: Sundance Institute

It was a busy festival filled with gruesome horror, inventive sci-fi, and plenty more films that will be coming to theaters and streaming services in the coming months.

As always, Sundance is a great preview for the year ahead, a chance to get a glimpse at some of the indie films that will be hitting theaters and streaming services over the coming months. This year, the festival returned to an in-person format after a few years online, and the lineup was pretty solid. It was a particularly good year for horror, with stories about evil fairies, depraved vacations, cursed hands, and a reimagining of Frankenstein. We also got some interesting new science fiction — including a movie that Hideo Kojima will almost definitely love — and plenty more.

Here are a handful of our favorites to keep an eye on.

Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out

Director: Jake Van Wagoner; screenwriter: Austin Everett

From our review:

Anyone over the age of 10 will likely be able to predict where the various plot threads in Aliens Abducted My Parents are going. They’re ones you’ve seen in countless family-friendly flicks before. But here, the familiarity breeds a sense of comfort, the same kind that comes from putting on a classic ‘80s romp from Steven Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis. It works in part because of the sweet chemistry between Buster and Tremblay and also because — as you can probably guess from the title — the movie isn’t afraid to get weird. There’s goofy gadgetry, questionable science, and just generally a lot of silly humor. And as predictable as it can be, it gets pretty real toward the end, with a gut punch that stands out in an otherwise lighthearted picture. It also does a great job of keeping its big mystery a secret until just the right moment.

A still photo of Marin Ireland and Judy Reyes in Birth/Rebirth.
Image: Sundance Institute
Marin Ireland and Judy Reyes in Birth/Rebirth.

Birth/Rebirth

Director and screenwriter: Laura Moss

From our review:

Though it’s very much a story about people trying to conquer death with science, the unexpected genius of Birth/Rebirth lies in the way it frames Celie and Rose not just as mad scientists but also as people whose personal experiences with grief become the core of a connection they both desperately need. There’s a pointedly sociopathic alienness to the way Ireland inhabits Rose and her mannerisms that never really goes away as she and Celie, who Reyes portrays with a blend of embittered passion and hope, become something akin to friends and accomplices in a series of depraved crimes. But Birth/Rebirth is careful to remind you how much of what they’re doing is born out of love and rooted in a belief that women should be in full control of their reproductive lives.

At a time when shows like House of the Dragon have demonstrated how Hollywood still has a fondness for spotlighting the many ways that childbirth can kill women, Birth/Rebirth stands out as an example of how that reality can be depicted on-screen in all its horror without feeling voyeuristic or devoid of any substance. That’s not to say that Birth/Rebirth isn’t at times a difficult film to sit through — it definitely is — but the disconcerting sense of dread it leaves you feeling is crafted with the deftest of hands. It’s sure to be one of Shudder’s most talked-about movies when it debuts sometime later this year.

A still photo of Beauty Gonzalez in the horror film In My Mother’s Skin.
Image: Sundance Institute
Beauty Gonzalez in In My Mother’s Skin.

In My Mother’s Skin

Director and screenwriter: Kenneth Dagatan

From our review:

There are a few things that In My Mother’s Skin does notably well. It’s very efficient with its scares; it spends long periods of time building up the dread, with slow panning camera shots filled with lots of “what the hell is that!” moments just waiting for you to spot. And when you do finally see the creatures and the violence they inflict, and all the ensuing blood, it’s so absolutely ferocious that, at times, I had to look away. (I watched this movie right before going to bed, which I wholeheartedly do not recommend.) There are also some fantastic performances here; Gonzalez is the stuff of nightmares when she turns it on, Curtis-Smith manages to inhabit both the light and dark of a possibly evil fairy, and Napuli turns in a shockingly impressive vision of a child terrorized by supernatural forces. It all wraps up with an ending that is both open to interpretation and extremely messed up.

Perhaps the strangest thing about In My Mother’s Skin is where most people will end up watching it. Ahead of Sundance, where the film premiered, Amazon announced that it had acquired the rights and that the movie would hit Prime Video before the end of 2023. It’s a strange place for an independent Filipino horror movie that will join an eclectic lineup dominated by an incredibly expensive TV show — but I’m just glad it has a home, as it’s one of the most terrifying things I’ve watched in a very long time.

Infinity Pool

Director and screenwriter: Brandon Cronenberg

From our review:

Even the worst vacation you’ve ever had — screaming kids, delayed flights, cruise ship food poisoning — has nothing on Infinity Pool, the latest from director Brandon Cronenberg (son of body horror master David Cronenberg). What starts as an escape to a picturesque resort swiftly turns into a bizarre and gruesome game of violence and brutality, with a little existential horror thrown in for good measure. Infinity Pool doesn’t fully explore the elements that kick off its high-concept premise, but it’s worth it to watch two talented actors absolutely lose their shit.

A photo of Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers in the film Landscape With Invisible Hand.
Image: Sundance Institute
Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers in Landscape With Invisible Hand.

Landscape With Invisible Hand

Director and screenwriter: Cory Finley

From our review:

In Landscape With Invisible Hand, the alien invasion doesn’t incite violence or an all-out galactic war: it screws up the economy. The sci-fi flick from director Cory Finley, based on a novel by M. T. Anderson, premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It takes place in a future where an alien race has descended on Earth, bestowing advanced technology and the riches that come with it — but only for the human elite. What follows is a somewhat messy fable about capitalism and art, one that looks at the aftermath of an invasion rather than the event itself.

A still photo of Jonathan Majors in Magazine Dreams.
Image: Sundance Institute
Jonathan Majors in Magazine Dreams.

Magazine Dreams

Director and screenwriter: Elijah Bynum

From our review:

When Jonathan Majors takes to the bodybuilding competition stage in writer / director Elijah Bynum’s arresting new drama Magazine Dreams, it’s impossible not to feel as if the movie’s in direct conversation with the way that its lead star’s fame has become wrapped up in the public’s fascination with his body. Magazine Dreams’ deep dive into the life of an obsessive, aspiring pro lifter longing for a shot at fitness fame is one of the most difficult pieces of cinema to debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But as it’s breaking your heart and making you sweat, Magazine Dreams is also laying bare many painful truths about what it means to be trapped in a world where objectification and dehumanization are the prices you have to pay for a shot at stardom.

A still photo of Rita Edochie in Mami Wata.
Image: Sundance Institute
Rita Edochie in Mami Wata.

Mami Wata

Director and screenwriter: C.J. “Fiery” Obasi

From our review:

Out of all the films that debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, none were quite as visually striking as Nigerian writer / director C.J. Obasi’s Mami Wata, a monochromatic modern-day myth about a small village during a time of upheaval. One doesn’t need to be familiar with Mami Wata’s eponymous embodiment of the divine feminine to appreciate its story about multiple generations of women doing everything in their power to keep their people safe. But as you let Mami Wata wash over you, the film paints a picture of people fighting to understand their beliefs in forces larger than themselves. And in each of those people, you can see shades of Mami Wata.

A still photo of Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rosalie Craig in The Pod Generation.
Image: Sundance Institute
Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rosalie Craig in The Pod Generation.

The Pod Generation

Director and screenwriter: Sophie Barthes

From our review:

In writer / director Sophie Barthes’ peculiar new sci-fi satire The Pod Generation, there’s little doubt or disagreement about how overworked, hyper-surveilled, and disconnected from nature many people are. Set in a near future where things like freshly 3D-printed toast have become the norm, most everyone understands how deeply messed up it is that their child-obsessed society’s given up on any semblance of a public educational system. People who have quality healthcare through their jobs know that they’re a privileged class, and it’s no secret how that kind of stratification can be harmful. It’s just that people are far, far too enamored with and preoccupied by the beautifully designed technology that controls most aspects of their lives to care.

Polite Society

Director and screenwriter: Nida Manzoor

There are a lot of movies you could compare Polite Society, the debut feature film from Nida Manzoor, to. It has bits of John Wick, Bend it Like Beckham, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World all mashed together into an over-the-top story of family drama. But it’s also very much its own thing — and it’s an absolute blast the whole way through.

The story centers on Ria Khan (Priya Kansara), who dreams of being a stuntwoman, spending most of her time training and making videos for her YouTube channel. No one else really believes in her except for her sister Lena (Ritu Arya), an art school dropout who struggles under the expectations of her parents. The dramatic twist is something seemingly simple: Lena meets Salim (Akshay Khanna), the son of a wealthy family, and after a brief stint of dating, the two get engaged.

For Ria, this is basically the end of the world, and she hatches a plan to free her artistic sister from the clutches of marriage. What follows is a delightfully ridiculous romp, as Ria uses her budding action movie skills to fight her way to the truth. There’s a twist that requires a big leap of logic, but it’s easy to look past because Polite Society is just so fun, from the surprisingly slick action sequences to the daunting villain played by the wonderful Nimra Bucha. But holding it all together is the hilarious, heartfelt performance from Kansara, which is the glue that makes all of the film’s disparate parts stick together. – Andrew Webster

A still photo of Catarina Oliveira in Sorcery.
Image: Sundance Institute
Catarina Oliveira in Sorcery.

Sorcery

Director and screenwriter: Christopher Murray

In writer-director Christopher Murray’s Sorcery, the indigenous Huilliche ancestry of a 13-year-old Chilean girl named Rosa (Valentina Véliz Caileo) makes her an imperiled third-class citizen in her small late-19th-century island town. Rosa’s a devout Christian and a diligent worker for an imperious family of German settlers, but neither her faith in Jesus nor her sense of duty is enough to keep her employers from murdering her father in a fit of sanctimonious rage. Though the idea of renouncing her belief in Christianity and its God was once unthinkable to her, it’s all Rosa can do at first to feel some sense of control in her chaotic life. But when Mateo (Daniel Antivilo), the enigmatic leader of a local group of Huilliche witchcraft practitioners, takes Rosa in, her heritage starts to play a very different role in her life, and she sets out on a mission to avenge her father’s death.

Sorcery’s a poignant story about how people can channel powerful feelings like grief and love into forces that feel almost supernatural, but it’s also a very haunting tale about native peoples rallying together to push back against the destruction wrought by settler colonialism. From Mateo’s teachings, Rosa’s able to gain a deeper understanding of how the persecution of her people and their faith stems from a fear of the innate power that they, the natives of the land, have always possessed. While Rosa’s driven by an all-consuming rage that pushes her to make things right by getting even, Caileo portrays her with an uncanny kind of controlled, simmering tension that speaks volumes even when she’s silent.

Cinematographer María Secco captures Chile’s natural beauty with a foreboding, majestic quality that serves as a constant reminder of what gives Rosa her strength. By showing you just how rooted in nature Rosa’s magic is, Sorcery leaves little doubt about who its demonic monsters really are. – Charles Pulliam-Moore

A still photo from the horror movie Talk To Me.
Image: Sundance Institute
Talk To Me.

Talk To Me

Directors: Danny and Michael Philippou; screenwriters: Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman

From our review:

What follows is a fairly standard ghost story, but one that’s elevated by urgency and brutality. Seriously, when bad things happen in this movie, they’re really bad — “I had to look away from the screen” bad. Possessed kids brutalizing themselves, horrifying visions of the afterlife, and deaths that, even when you see them coming, are so violent you can’t help but wince. That’s perhaps to be expected from a film helmed by the proprietors of a YouTube channel full of goofy and gory videos. But the Philippou brothers show a remarkable amount of restraint in Talk To Me. There’s more to the violence than pure shock value; it punctuates the story, which — once it gets going — moves at an unrelenting pace. The twists and turns aren’t necessarily all that surprising, in retrospect, but they come at you so quickly that it feels like you barely have a minute to catch your breath.

If nothing else, Talk To Me is a shockingly competent debut — and not at all what I expected from a horror movie made by YouTube stars. It may be a movie about viral videos — but the film itself is much more than an extended YouTube skit.

source https://www.theverge.com/23584385/sundance-film-festival-2023-best-movies-trailers

“Nix’s Hydration Biosensor is for athletes who sweat the details” by Victoria Song

Hydration doesn’t have to be this high-tech or complicated, but nerdy endurance athletes might find the data worth the price.

Everywhere I look, people and gadgets are yelling at me to hydrate. On social media, the algorithm bombards me with fitness and beauty influencers who say I should drink a gallon of water a day. (Glowing skin! Shed that last stubborn five pounds! More energy!) The various smartwatches I test all have these hydration widgets for tracking my daily water intake. Not too long ago, I had a “smart” water bottle that flashed hourly rainbow LED lights as a reminder to drink up. Most recently, I’ve been wearing this little pod on my bicep. It, too, tells me to hydrate — but in a way that’s surprisingly useful.

The $129 Nix Hydration Biosensor is a pod-and-patch combo that alerts endurance athletes when they should hydrate during a workout. It claims to give personalized hydration recommendations, as well as calculate your individual electrolyte loss depending on certain factors like weather and sweat rate. It’s overkill. Hydration doesn’t need to be this expensive or complicated. But for data nerds and endurance athletes, the Nix sensor does offer some practical guidance that, for some, may just be worth the price.

Easier to use than Gatorade’s sweat patches

A few months ago, I tested the Gatorade Smart Gx bottle and the Gx Sweat Patch. It was another gadget-patch combo that claimed to read your sweat in the name of more intelligent hydration, but I wasn’t a fan. Not only did it feel like a vehicle to sell me more Gatorade, the sweat patch never worked for me. It left me wary that the Nix sensor would also be a device that was better in concept than execution. But while the products are similar, Nix delivers a better overall experience.

The Nix sensor has two components: a reusable sensor pod and single-use patches. The patches are made of a latex-free adhesive that’s comfortable to wear. It reminds me of KT Tape in that it’s flexible enough to move with you but sticky enough not to slide off your skin when you start sweating. The patches are small (2.75in diameter), and I didn’t have any issue fitting it on my bicep. Before a workout, all you have to do is align the pod with the grooves in the patch’s sensor attachment and twist until it locks in place.

Close up of the hexagonal Nix sweat patch showing area where pod sensor clips in.
The patches have an attachment where you clip in the Nix sensor pod. Then you peel off the backing and slap it on your bicep.
Close up of the back of the Nix Hydration Biosensor pod
The back of the sensor pod. To lock or unlock it from either the charging case or patch, you align the grooves and twist.

While the sensor and patch were easy enough to wear, the big test was whether it’d be able to read my sweat, especially since I’m testing this in the winter. Not only do I sweat less in winter, but I’m not one of those robot runners who can log 10 miles in the freezing wind in nothing but a T-shirt and shorts. Aside from sweat detection, I was curious to see whether the sensor would catch on my long sleeves or if wearing multiple layers would cause any issues.

Apparently, my bicep is sweatier than my forearm, and it made a difference. According to Nix, the bicep is one of the best places to estimate your total bodily fluid and electrolyte loss while delivering a good user experience. (Gatorade’s patches go on the forearm, and neither patch is validated for other parts of the body.) On three out of four test runs, the Nix sensor was easily able to get a reading. I’ll get into my botched run below, but I assure you it wasn’t because it couldn’t detect sweat. As for my sleeves, I didn’t have any problems except for when I had to reconnect the sensor after already putting on my shirt. All that means is, in winter, you’ve got to be careful to make sure everything’s connected before you head out.

Nix also makes it easier to upload and sync data. It basically works like any smartwatch or fitness tracker. When you’re done with the workout, you end it in the app, wait for Bluetooth to do its thing, and voilá. Data appears. (Syncing can take a hot second, but that’s not unusual.) You can do this with the patch on or off, too. Conversely, Gatorade makes you snap a picture of the patch, and the whole system relies on analyzing the sweat-activated ink pattern on a used patch, which, if you’re not sweaty enough, won’t work. Even if you are sweaty enough, sometimes you’ll have to retake the photo as well.

Another thing I appreciated was the charging case. It might seem too big, given the size of the pod, but I actually like that. I’ve used and misplaced plenty of foot pods and other small wearables with small cases. This is big enough to easily find, whether it’s on a nightstand or stashed in a bag. Plus, the lid has a slot where you can stick a patch for convenience. And because it’s a charging case, you don’t really have to worry about the battery. The sensor pod lasts 36 hours on a single charge, but so long as you’re putting it back in the case when you’re done, you won’t have to worry about it for a few months.

Picture of Nix charging case and sensor pod side by side.
This charging case might seem big given the how small the sensor pod is, but it also makes it harder to lose.

Nix also provides real-time hydration alerts. This was a hit-or-miss feature for me since the alerts mostly come from the Nix app on your phone. If I had the Nix app open and on screen, the alerts were more noticeable. If I decided to have one of my many other fitness apps open, I tended to miss them entirely. You can opt to get them on your Apple Watch or certain Garmin smartwatches, but again, I’ve customized my workout views to show me exactly what I want to see, so this wasn’t my favorite option. Plus, the app warns that it can take about 25 minutes before there’s enough sweat for the sensor to read, but it could also take a bit longer. During one test, I didn’t see any relevant data until 35 minutes into the run and constantly checking took me out of the zone. I like distraction-free running, so I preferred reviewing my data after a workout and then applying what I learned to the next. But, at the risk of dogpiling on Gatorade, at least you have the option for real-time alerts if you want them.

Connectivity could be better

While the Nix sensor wipes the floor with Gatorade’s sweat patch, there are some downsides. For me, the biggest one is connectivity. While I didn’t have much trouble with the sensor’s Bluetooth during setup, it crapped out on me twice during testing. One of those times was pretty minor. I’d already finished an hour-long run when I noticed the sensor had lost connection to my phone. Because I was home, I was able to take the pod out of the patch and reinsert it before getting in the shower. Everything reconnected, problem solved. I was also still able to upload my data.

The second time was my botched test run. I had put a fully charged pod into a patch, correctly placed it on my bicep, got dressed, laced up my shoes, started up all my other wearables, and… forgot to hit start in the Nix app. (It was early, and I’m not a morning person.) I didn’t notice my goof until halfway through a 105-minute long run. I tried to start a belated workout — some data is better than no data, right? — but the pod wouldn’t connect to my phone. This was despite the fact I could see the Nix was on, and if LED indicator lights are to be believed, working. I tried fiddling with the sensor, locked and unlocked the sensor through my sleeve, turned my phone on and off, and then tried turning the pod on and off. No luck. I tried the whole rigamarole a few more times later in the run, just in case it was my location. Nada. It wouldn’t reconnect to my phone until I was back home. At that point, I tried to see if it could upload my sweat data but no luck there, either.

That royally sucked. I missed out on valuable long-run data, and long runs are when hydration is most important! Even worse, these are single-use patches, and I’d wasted one. It costs $25 for a refill pack of four, meaning each patch is $6.25. Human error played a large role in this, but better connectivity could’ve at least saved the situation. I made a silly mistake, but not an implausible one.

I get why the sweat patches are single-use. Adhesives never stick quite as well after the first time. Plus, you’d have to wash off old sweat for accurate data, and adhesives break down with water and soap. But knowing this doesn’t stop these patches from feeling wasteful — both monetarily and environmentally. Nix does have a partnership with Terracycle, so you can at least recycle used patches for free. I appreciate the option, but I had to root through Nix’s FAQs to even find out about it, and the whole process requires a bunch of extra steps. People are lazy, and I have a feeling most used Nix patches will end up in a landfill anyway.

Close up of Nix sensor pod with the green indicator light up top on.
The sensor has a green LED indicator light so you know when it’s on and working. Depending on your workout clothing, you might also be able to see it through your sleeves.

While I’m airing my gripes, it’s a bummer that the Nix sensor doesn’t support workout types outside of indoor/outdoor running and cycling. You don’t really need granular hydration data for yoga, pumping iron at the gym, or a short HIIT workout, but it’d be nice for long hikes, other types of strenuous cardio, or outdoor sports. Hopefully, Nix will add support for more activity types down the line.

I was also disappointed to see Nix is iOS-only at the moment. The company says that Android compatibility is slated for this month (February 2023), but it wasn’t available when I was testing the device.

Data fit for Type A athletes

To get accurate results, Nix recommends a sweaty run or cycling session that lasts at least 45 minutes. Once you successfully log a workout, the app spits out a summary that includes the exercise, whether it was indoors or outdoors, and what you used to hydrate. You’ll also see temperature, humidity, dew point, solar load, wind, and altitude. As for hydration metrics, the app will tell you how much fluid and electrolytes you lost during the workout, as well as your sweat composition (aka, how salty your sweat is).

There’s also a more general sweat profile that aggregates data from multiple workouts. There you can see your estimated sweat rate, electrolyte loss rate, sweat composition, and Nix Index, a proprietary score that’s meant to show how sweaty a particular workout was for you.

Person holding Nix sensor in palm with open charging case in the background.
I like how you can also stick a patch in the top of the charging case’s lid.

When I told my spouse about this, they gave me a withering look. It’s the same one they give me whenever I explain a new doodad I’m testing and the data it tracks. It’s derision incarnate. You see, my spouse and I are polar opposites when it comes to fitness data. My spouse is one of those naturally gifted athletes who manage to run like the wind on four hours of sleep and a half-eaten protein bar. They only begrudgingly use an Apple Watch to stream music because they can’t be bothered with offline playlists. They have never once reviewed their workout stats. This sensor isn’t for easy-going Type B athletes like my spouse.

It’s for people like me, the Type A doofuses that use color-coded spreadsheets for training logs and set out their workout clothes the night before. The nerds who look up and compare multiple training plans and energy goo nutrition labels before settling on one. The ones who look in the mirror and think, “I, a quantified sicko, can be optimized for maximum performance.”

I’m fully aware that I don’t need Nix to run a well-hydrated 13.1 miles. I’ve run plenty of races before I ever tried Nix and have always crossed the finish line in one piece. But I also know I can do better. I appreciate knowing I sweat about 7.8 ounces of fluid and 365mg of electrolytes per hour in the winter. I like knowing I should use a sports drink with roughly 47mg of electrolytes per ounce. You can do the math yourself, but it’s a headache. Sports drink companies don’t make it easy to figure out and compare electrolyte levels, and marketing tends to focus on carbs instead.

That’s why it’s cool that there’s a handy chart right in this app I can reference that lets me compare electrolyte levels of popular sports drink brands. Turns out Liquid IV is the one that most closely matches my electrolyte needs. It’s not hard proof, but anecdotally, my training has improved since I coincidentally made the switch from Maurtens a few months ago. I will 100 percent use this information when I’m preparing my next long run.

The bottom line is it helps me plan my runs, which in turn alleviates my anxiety about completing said runs to my ridiculous and arbitrary standards. If planning helps you feel more confident about a run or a biking session, then there are a few scenarios where I can see the Nix sensor being a worthy investment.

Close-up of the Nix sensor pod in profile view while attached to the patch on someone’s arm.
The sensor pod isn’t that thick, either, so it fit comfortably under my long sleeve tech shirts. Just make sure everything’s connected and ready to go before you step out the door.

For example, if you’re a triathlete who frequently races in all sorts of climates. The Nix could be helpful in fine-tuning your hydration strategy whenever you train in an unfamiliar environment. Or, if you’re particularly heat sensitive, this might help you increase summer mileage safely. People just starting to tackle longer distances could also benefit. Personally, I’d have liked a starting point when I was new to hydration and fueling strategies.

But paying $130 for a sensor and $25 for patch refills is a lot, especially since you’re not going to be wearing a patch for every workout. For most people, this is most effective as a benchmark tool that you break out when the weather, your environment, or your training regimens change. A little extra to give you a slight edge. That’s the thing about gadgets like these. They’re not essential. They’re a “nice to have” if, and only if, the expense makes sense.

If you’re sold on the idea of hydration patches and trying to decide between this and Gatorade Gx patches — just go with Nix. It’s more expensive up front, but in the long run, you get four patches in a $25 refill compared to two. It’s also more thoughtfully designed, works reliably, and gives you more actionable data. It’s what Gatorade was trying to do, but better.

source https://www.theverge.com/23582865/nix-hydration-biosensor-review-wearables-hydration

“Contractors who work on YouTube Music are striking” by Mitchell Clark

YouTube’s logo with geometric design in the background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Over 40 contractors for YouTube Music are going on strike — a first at Google, according to the Alphabet Workers Union (or AWU). The action is in response to an order to return to in-person work next week, something that many of the workers say they can’t do. They’re demanding a return-to-work policy that’s “fair, flexible, and does not threaten the safety and livelihoods of workers,” according to an AWU press release.

The workers are part of the YouTube Music Content Operations team via Cognizant, a subcontractor for Alphabet, Google and YouTube’s parent company. Their jobs are to “ensure music content is available and approved” for the platform, according to a prior press release from the AWU.

The objections to the return to office plan stem from pay and availability. According to the AWU, the contractors are paid as little as $19 an hour, making it difficult to afford the relocation, travel, or childcare costs that they didn’t have to pay when working remotely, instead of at an office in Austin, TX.

An unnamed spokesperson for Cognizant told Engadget that the return to office policy had been “communicated to [the workers] repeatedly since December 2021,” and that they had taken the positions “with the understanding that they were accepting in-office positions, and that the team would work together at a physical location based in Austin.” Google would not provide an on-the-record comment for this story, but the company has told the National Labor Relations board that it does not see the workers as its employees, according to Bloomberg.

The contractors are currently attempting to unionize with the AWU, which filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to represent the contractors in October. Last week, the AWU filed an unfair labor practice charge against Alphabet and Cognizant, claiming that the return to office was being used to “interfere with the fair voting conditions mandated by federal law,” as Sam Regan, one of the workers put it in a press release.

There have been previous organized labor actions at Google. In 2018, tens of thousands of workers walked out to protest how Google handled sexual harassment, spurred on by reports that it had paid Android co-founder Andy Rubin $90 million in severance after he was accused of sexual assault. And in 2022, a group of Cognizant contractors working on Google Maps were able to get their return-to-office pushed back after threatening to strike.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/3/23585093/youtube-music-contractors-strike-google-remote-work

“Nvidia says there’s a fix for Discord slowing down your GPU” by Mitchell Clark

Illustration of the Nvidia wordmark on a green and black background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Nvidia says there’s a fix for a recently discovered issue where Discord being open in the background limited the performance of some graphics cards. According to a tweet from the company, the patch will download automatically when you log into Windows, so you won’t have to go through the trouble of manually downloading a graphics driver or other software update.

The issue, which affected systems with cards like the RTX 3080 and RTX 3060 Ti, was seemingly caused by a recent Discord update. It kept GPUs from reaching their maximum memory clocks, missing by around 200Mhz. That came with a slight performance penalty when playing games, which isn’t exactly ideal given that Discord is made to help you talk to friends while gaming.

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According to Nvidia, the fix comes as an app profile update. Before now, it was possible to manually apply it, but the process wasn’t exactly straightforward and involved downloading a profile manager and then exporting, editing, and re-importing profiles.

source https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/3/23585155/nvidia-discord-slowdown-fix-rtx-update

“The best deals on 4K TVs” by Cameron Faulkner

A photo of the LG C2 OLED TV displaying a screensaver of the Earth.
We’ve got deals on all sorts of TVs, ranging from affordable (yet feature-packed) models to high-end OLED and Mini LEDs that can really wow you. | Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

The future looks bright for those who are looking to nab a great TV in 2023 at a substantial discount. Although a fresh slate of new models was announced at CES 2023, it might be a while until many of them arrive — and even longer before they receive a discount. However, you don’t have to wait until later this year to land a great deal on a mid- or high-end TV from Sony, LG, TCL, or Samsung, as many models of the flagship models from last year are currently selling for hundreds of dollars less than their original list price.

Right now, there are a number of discounted 4K TVs to choose from, spanning a wide variety of prices, size configurations, and feature sets. Whether you want a secondary TV for the bedroom or a high-end OLED that’s built for a cinema-like experience, we’ve picked out the best TV deals across three common categories.

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The best 4k TV deals


The best 4K TV deals for most people

TCL 6-Series

The TCL 6-Series R646 model has a Mini LED QLED panel, with HDR10 Plus support and 4K gaming at 120Hz via HDMI 2.1, as well as hands-free Google Assistant voice commands and the Google TV interface that offers all major streaming apps. It’s a good option if you are looking to balance price and performance, and the 55-inch model is currently on sale at Best Buy and Amazon for (pending availability at your local Best Buy) Read our TCL 6-Series Google TV review.

LG UP7300PUC

LG’s UP7300PUC isn’t blessed with a memorable name, but the 75-inch 4K LED TV offers a lot of bang for your buck. We haven’t personally tested this model, but its features and size are impressive for $599.99, its current price at Best Buy. It has two HDMI inputs (one of which is eARC), an optical audio port, and an ethernet port. It comes with LG’s webOS software built-in, too, which grants you access to all of the major streaming apps, plus many others. It’s easy to find other 60Hz smart 4K TVs on sale, but its other impressive aspects — namely its size and price — aren’t so common.

Sony X80J

Sony’s 55-inch X80J TV, like the others above, has Google TV software built-in, so you won’t need to purchase any additional streaming boxes, like an Apple TV or a Chromecast. The LED panel also supports HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision HDR and has four HDMI ports (one of which is HDMI ARC). It’s a relatively low-frills affair, but it seems like a good deal that’s currently available at Walmart, where you can buy the 55-inch model for $598 instead of $799.99.

The 65-inch X75K with the Google TV interface is also on sale at Best Buy for $579.99 ($120 off) and offers very few differences, as far as I can tell. It features three HDMI ports instead of four, but if you want a bigger TV for your money, it could be a good choice.

The best 4K TV deals for those on a budget

TCL 4-Series (Google TV model)

Like its predecessor, TCL’s latest 4-Series remains one of the more affordable options on the market. The 2022 model swaps the built-in Roku interface found on the prior model for the Google TV platform, however, and thus offers built-in support for Google Assistant (via the included remote) and more personalized content recommendations. At the same time, the LED TV continues to support HDR10, all the major streaming apps, and a standard 60Hz refresh rate.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED

Amazon’s latest iteration of the Fire TV Omni launched in late 2022, and we’re already seeing sizable discounts. It debuted at $799.99, but the 65-inch model is currently selling for $549.99 at Best Buy. We haven’t tested the new QLED model yet, but it seems to build on the last-gen model with a better design. It supports Dolby Vision IQ for HDR — allowing it to adjust itself depending on the amount of ambient light — along with the same hands-free Alexa perks offered by the previous model and local dimming for more realistic lighting in scenes. My colleague Chris Welch has all the major details in his announcement post.

The best deals on 4K TVs for the PS5 and Xbox Series X

Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X can play 4K games with HDR at up to 120 frames per second. So, naturally, if you don’t have a TV that takes full advantage of your console, it might be time to upgrade to one of the models below. Note that, for the best experience, you’ll want a TV that supports HDMI 2.1.

LG C2 OLEDs

If you’re looking for an impressive TV, we recommend turning your attention to LG’s 2022 C2 model. The 4K TVs touts support for Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate tech, along with a 120Hz refresh rate and low input lag. It also boasts a settings pane dubbed “Game Optimizer,” which conveniently brings together a host of game-centric settings — refresh rate, latency, etc. — for quicker access.

Additionally, we recommend the last-gen C1 model, if you can still find it at an especially great discount. But the price is coming down for the C2, which we like because it weighs less and is available in a 42-inch variant (that costs about . The C2 also offers a few additional features over the C1, like a brighter “Evo” panel, the ability to log into different user profiles, and a new “dark room” setting that’s designed to reduce eyestrain. See what our reviewer Chris Welch has to say (spoiler: lots of good things).

The 48-inch LG C2 costs around $949.99 at Best Buy and B&H Photo, while the 55-inch costs $1,299.99 ($300 off) at Best Buy.

If you’re in need of another OLED option,. It has HDMI 2.1 ports with 4K/120Hz support and a brilliant display, but we feel more comfortable recommending LG’s model unless you really want to save a bit of money. Vizio’s debut OLED launched with several software issues, though many of them seem to have been resolved.

LG’s QNED Mini LED TV

OLED prices aren’t for everyone. If you want something that’ll still look amazing, LG’s QNED Mini LED lineup offers many of the same perks for less. The Mini LED backlighting allows for better contrast, more brightness, dynamic HDR, and improved color accuracy over LG’s previous LCD TVs. Crucially for gamers, they also have HDMI 2.1 ports with 120Hz support at 4K resolution.

The 65-inch model, which has webOS for built-in streaming apps, is currently discounted to $999.99 at Best Buy. This is $700 off its original price, which is quite the discount. However, if you have the space and budget for going even bigger, the 75-inch version is $1,499.99 ($1,000 off) at Best Buy.

source https://www.theverge.com/22371561/best-4k-tv-deals-sale-lg-samsung-sony-tcl