While brief sales on iPhones are relatively common, it's rare to see permanent price drops outside of a hardware refresh cycle. Walmart is willing to give those cuts a shot, however. Visit the company's stores from this point onward and you can pick up the 16GB iPhone 4S in its AT&T, Sprint or Verizon forms at $39 on contract, instead of $90. The 16GB iPhone 5 for those same networks is dropping to $129 from its usual $190; sorry, T-Mobile fans, you're out of the loop for now. It's not hard to understand Walmart's sudden generosity -- when the iPhone range is nearing its annual upgrade, the lower prices should keep current units moving.when.eng("eng.perm.init")
Friday, October 4, 2013
We know you've got questions, and if you're brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here's the outlet to do so. This week's Ask Engadget inquiry is from Diego, who wants to give his son the gateway drug into photography. If you're looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.
"I'm an amateur photographer, and my 10-year-old son has started to show an interest in what I do on weekends. I've shown him a thing or two on my DSLR and he wants to learn the basics, but I'd prefer it if he didn't do it on my $1,500 rig. His birthday's coming up, and I'd like to get him something that he can use for himself, that lets him customize ISO, white balance, aperture etc. Naturally, I was thinking of just a regular compact camera, but if you can suggest something else that won't break the bank, I'll gladly listen. Thanks!"
So, we turned this question over to one of our photo experts, who suggested that really, if you've got the budget for it, you might as well pick up a very old, very cheap DSLR. For instance, you can pick up an old Canon Rebel XT for around $200, and while it won't be shiny and new, will let them play with features and settings beyond the average compact camera. But what do we know, eh? This is the part of the weekend where we poll our community for their sage wisdom, so have at it, chums.when.eng("eng.perm.init")
It looks like the battle for affordable smartphone flagships is heating up. Hot on the heels of TCL / Alcatel's tasty $280 Idol X comes word of Gionee's ELIFE E6, also boasting a 5-inch 1080p display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor (MediaTek MT6589T) with 2GB RAM and 13-megapixel BSI camera with flash. In addition to these main specs, the Chinese handset allegedly packs a 5MP front-facing shooter and 2000mAh+ battery, runs Android 4.2.1 (Jellybean) and features a svelte 8mm profile. Gionee is officially expected to launch the ELIFE E6 in Beijing on July 10th for somewhere between $320 and $360. Availability is unknown, but with MediaTek's SoC supporting both 42Mbps HSPA+ and TD-SCDMA (no LTE here, folks), this phone is likely destined to China, India and other APAC nations.when.eng("eng.perm.init")
The moon is far from old hat. In fact, after exactly four years on the job, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is just scratching its jagged surface. The dearth of info on our celestial neighbor isn't stopping us from trying to send personal space messages to a far-flung star system, though. Why? Blame it on our huge brains, which we've now mapped in detailed 3D. Yes, this is alt-week.
After numerous orbiting missions and six personal visits, you'd think we'd know our moon pretty well. But the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) which launched four years ago has brought such a wealth of new information, it's hard to know where to start. For one, we now know the lunar topography better than any other planet, including our own (what with the ocean and all). Other discoveries include deep craters which are the coldest places we've yet seen in our solar system, evidence of ice at the moon's surface and fault lines showing that the moon has recently shrunk. On top of that, the LRO has scanned the moon's crust while other missions deliberately crashed into it, received a laser signal from earth in the form of the Mona Lisa and even plotted the lunar surface in 3D. Evan after all that, NASA says that the moon is still a cypher in many ways -- luckily, the LRO still has a lot of years left in it.
Speaking of nearby mysterious objects, how about the gray matter inside your head? Researchers from the Human Brain Project recently finished mapping the brain of a deceased 65-year old woman by first scanning it via MRI, then slicing it into 7,400 20-micrometer layers. After repairing and digitizing each one on a flatbed scanner, the result was a 3D map accurate to 20 thousandths of a millimeter -- too large to see individual neurons, but small enough to see the overall cell structure of the brain. The terabyte-sized neural atlas is available for anybody to download (registration required) and could prove valuable to future research projects. While it doesn't show brain activity or function, such data could be integrated later to help create a computational model of the brain. That in turn could become a jumping-off place or "mother ship" for future research that leads to a better understanding of neurological diseases, childhood development and even structural differences between individual brains. Meanwhile, you can use your own to see how they did it in the video above.
The lack of a smoking ray-gun hasn't stopped people from wanting to believe in alien life, and a new website called the Lone Signal project aims to, er, help those folks. Rather than just beam a generic message itself into random space, though, the group will now let you send your own, personalized dispatch to those hypothetical green men via the Jamesburg Earth Station radio dish. It chose a very specific red dwarf star system 18 light-years away called Gliese 526 to receive the transmissions, even though scientists aren't even sure if has any planets, let alone life. Still, such uncertainty didn't stop futurist Ray Kurzweil from sending the first message, which says in part: "As you receive this, our computers have made us smarter, the better to understand you and the wisdom of the universe." Though we may not be so profound, the rest of us can also send a single message for free, but naturally, Lone Signal isn't just doing it as a kindness. Subsequent tidings will run $0.99, or about $3 for a photo, and you can even purchase a whopping 4,000 credits for $100 or so. The chatty among us might find that to be a good deal, but just remember: you won't hear a reply of any kind for at least 36 years.when.eng("eng.perm.init")
Ever wondered what it’s like to rent your home to Lindsay Lohan? The answer is in this Wall Street Journal article, which checked in on the celebrities burglarized in the now-immortal Bling Ring, to see who left and who stayed.
Paris Hilton is still in her narcissist's temple (Sofia Coppola shot her in it for Elle this month), and Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr recently listed the “gated estate” hit by the teen criminals to rent for $18,000 a month. Megan Fox's husband Brian Austin Green sold his in 2010, and Rachel Bilson sold hers last year, both for a small profit.
Lohan was living in a $10,000-a-month rental in the Hollywood Hills at the time. “We were desperate to rent the house, which was expensive, so we thought, 'What's the worst that could happen?'” owner Jenna Gering, also an actress, told the Journal. Nine months later, her house was on the national news. Lohan moved out “immediately” following the burglary. The Journal writes:
Sounds uncharacteristically responsible, but then again, this was 2008.