Cowboy releases updated e-bike with new carbon belt

Electric-bike maker Cowboy has released a new iteration of its bike, the Cowboy 3. It’s a relatively small update that should make the experience better for newcomers. The first orders will be delivered at the end of July and the Cowboy 3 is now slightly more expensive at €2,290 or £1,990 ($2,500).

The bike still looks a lot like the Cowboy 2 that I reviewed last year. It has a triangle-shaped aluminum frame with integrated pill-shaped lights. The handlebar is still perfectly straight like on a mountain bike.

Compared to the previous generation, the company has replaced the rubber and fiberglass belt with a carbon belt. It should be good to go for 30,000km.

Like on the previous bike, there are no gears or buttons to control motor assistance. As soon as you start pedaling, motor assistance kicks in automatically.

But the gear ratio has been tweaked on this version. It’s now a bit lower, which means it’ll be easier to start pedaling at a traffic light. It’s going to have an impact on your top speed though as electric-bikes assist you up to a certain speed and you have to rely on your good old feet above that legal limit.

The wheels and tires have been slightly tweaked as well. Instead of off-the-shelf Panaracer tires, Cowboy is now using custom-made tires with a puncture protection layer. Rims are larger as well.

The saddle, hydraulic brakes and brake pads remain unchanged. The Cowboy 3 still features a detachable battery, something that is still missing from VanMoof’s e-bikes and the newly announced Gogoro Eeyo e-bikes.

Overall, the bike weighs 16.9kg. It now comes in three colors — black and two shades of grey.

New and existing Cowboy customers will be able to download a new version of the app with a handful of new features. You’ll be able to turn on auto-unlock to… automatically unlock your bike when you approach without having to open the app on your phone.

With theft detection, users will receive a notification as soon as your bike is moving. There will be a new crash detection feature that notifies an emergency contact and an air quality indicator in the app.

Cowboy releases updated e-bike with new carbon belt

Electric-bike maker Cowboy has released a new iteration of its bike, the Cowboy 3. It’s a relatively small update that should make the experience better for newcomers. The first orders will be delivered at the end of July and the Cowboy 3 is now slightly more expensive at €2,290 or £1,990 ($2,500).

The bike still looks a lot like the Cowboy 2 that I reviewed last year. It has a triangle-shaped aluminum frame with integrated pill-shaped lights. The handlebar is still perfectly straight like on a mountain bike.

Compared to the previous generation, the company has replaced the rubber and fiberglass belt with a carbon belt. It should be good to go for 30,000km.

Like on the previous bike, there are no gears or buttons to control motor assistance. As soon as you start pedaling, motor assistance kicks in automatically.

But the gear ratio has been tweaked on this version. It’s now a bit lower, which means it’ll be easier to start pedaling at a traffic light. It’s going to have an impact on your top speed though as electric-bikes assist you up to a certain speed and you have to rely on your good old feet above that legal limit.

The wheels and tires have been slightly tweaked as well. Instead of off-the-shelf Panaracer tires, Cowboy is now using custom-made tires with a puncture protection layer. Rims are larger as well.

The saddle, hydraulic brakes and brake pads remain unchanged. The Cowboy 3 still features a detachable battery, something that is still missing from VanMoof’s e-bikes and the newly announced Gogoro Eeyo e-bikes.

Overall, the bike weighs 16.9kg. It now comes in three colors — black and two shades of grey.

New and existing Cowboy customers will be able to download a new version of the app with a handful of new features. You’ll be able to turn on auto-unlock to… automatically unlock your bike when you approach without having to open the app on your phone.

With theft detection, users will receive a notification as soon as your bike is moving. There will be a new crash detection feature that notifies an emergency contact and an air quality indicator in the app.

The Sonos Arc is an outstanding soundbar, on its own or with friends

Sonos has been releasing new hardware at a remarkably consistent and frequent pace the past couple of years, and what’s even more impressive is that these new releases are consistently excellent performers. The new Sonos Arc soundbar definitely fits that pattern, delivering the company’s best ever home theater sound device with performance that should convert even diehard 5.1 traditionalists.

Basics

The Sonos Arc is a soundbar that’s designed to integrate wirelessly with your Sonos home audio system, as well as accepting audio from your TV or A/V receiver via HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC). Just about every modern TV should have at least one HDMI ARC port, and basically that just means that in addition to acting as a standard HDMI input for video sources, it can also offer audio output to a connected speaker or stereo system.

The Arc also comes with an HDMI to optical digital audio adapter in case your setup lacks ARC support (if a TV doesn’t have that, it almost surely has a TOSLINK digital audio output port) to cover all the bases. It also works as a wireless speaker that connects via Sonos’ dedicated mesh networking tech to other Sonos speakers you may have, so that it’s one more addressable multi-room speaker in a whole home wireless audio setup.

Arc can also be combined with other Sonos speakers, including the Sonos Sub, as well as Sonos One, One SL, Play:1 and others for setting up a more complete wireless 5.1 setup with a subwoofer and two rears. That’s an optional enhancement, however, and not necessary to take advantage of the Sonos Arc’s excellent virtual surround rendering, which with this new hardware also includes Dolby Atmos surround sound encoding for the first time on a Sonos soundbar.

Design

The Sonos Arc really comes from the modern design pedigree that Sonos has put into its hardware releases since the debut of the Sonos One, which means monoblock coloring (in either black or white), smooth lines and rounded hole grill designs that look a lot more contemporary than the contrast color grills on the Play:1 for example.

Arc looks like a spiritual successor to the Sonos Beam, the first Sonos soundbar to feature a built-in mic and support for virtual voice assistants including Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. But it’s also a lot larger than the Sonos Beam at 45″ long – much more like the Sonos Playbar and Playable that marked the company’s entry into the category.

For a sense of how long it is, it runs almost the full length of my LG 65″ C7 OLED TV. It’s also a bit taller than the Sonos Beam, coming in at 3.4″. For my use, that was still short enough that it doesn’t obscure any of the TV’s display when it’s sitting on a TV bench in front of the television from my regular viewing angle, but your mileage may vary, and if you had a similar setup with the Beam, just note that you’ll need a bit more clearance with the Arc.

The larger size isn’t just for show – it helps Sonos delivery much better sound vs. the lower-priced Beam. Inside the Arc, there are 11 drivers, including two upwards-facing ones, and two that face out either end of the long cylindrical soundbar. The end effect of all of these drivers, and the true distance separation that’s made possible by its long profile, is much more effective left/right/rear sound separation.

On the back, there’s a vent bar that provides additional sound quality improvements and holds the mounting outlets for attaching the Arc to a compatible wall mount. Either wall-mounted or resting atop furniture, the Arc is an attractive piece of hardware, and with just two cables required to run to power and the TV, it’s a minimal solution to home theater clutter that should mesh well with most home decor.

Performance

I mentioned this briefly above, but it’s amazing what the Sonos Arc can accomplish in terms of sound separation and virtual surround immersion with just a single speaker. It’s easily the best sound rendering I’ve experienced from a Sonos soundbar, and likely the best audio quality from a soundbar I’ve heard, period.

Stereo sound field testing shows that audio tracks really well left-to-right, and the Dolby Atmos support really shows its benefits when you have content that offers it. Speech intelligibility is also really fantastic on the soundbar alone, whereas with the Beam, I’ve found that it can suffer in some situations unless you have a Sonos Sub added to your system to take care of the low end frequencies and allow the soundbar to produce better clarity on the high end.

The Arc definitely benefits from pairing it with a Sonos Sub and other Sonos speakers acting as rears, but the soundbar on its own is a much better performer than anything Sonos has previously offered, in case you’re looking to save some money or you just want to focus on the most minimal sound setup possible that isn’t just terrible built-in TV speakers.

Sonos has also included a microphone on the Arc, which allows you to use it with either Alexa or Google Assistant to play music, turn on the TV, and do plenty more. It’s a great feature that’s optional, if you’d rather leave the mic off or not connect any assistants, and for me it’s perfectly suited to a device that essentially sits at the center of the living room experience. The mic seems very able to pick up commands even in a large room when you’re quite far away from it, so it could be the only voice-enabled smart speaker you require in even a large open-concept living/dining/kitchen space.

The Arc also acts as an Apple AirPlay 2 speaker out of the box, which means you can use it wireless. For minimalists, this is yet another selling point, since it means you can use it wirelessly with an Apple TV mounted to the back of your TV for instance – ridding yourself of one more wire if you want. It’s also super easy to stream any music or audio from your phone to the Arc as a result, even without opening up the Sonos app.

The updated Sonos app

Speaking of that app, the Sonos Arc is exclusively compatible with Sonos’ new, forthcoming mobile app, which arrives on June 8. This app will live alongside the existing one, which will continue to be available in order to support older, legacy Sonos hardware that won’t work with the more modern version.

This new Sonos app, which I used as a beta during the testing period for the Sonos Arc, is not as dramatic a change as I was expecting. The app definitely offers a better, cleaner and more modern interface, but everything is still located pretty much where you’d expect it to be if you were a user of the existing version. Most of the changes are probably happening under the hood, where the app is presumably designed to work with the more modern chipsets, higher memory and updated wireless technology of more recently-released Sonos speakers and accessories.

Long story short, the new app is a pleasant, fresh take on a familiar control system that seems both more performant and aesthetically better suited to modern Sonos speakers like the Arc. Even in beta, it didn’t give me any problems during my two weeks testing the Arc, and worked perfectly with all my services and voice assistants.

Bottom line

The Sonos Arc is definitely a premium soundbar, with a $799 price tag and great audio quality to match. It’s a fantastic successor to the Playbar and Playbase that exceeds both of those in every regard, and a great companion to the Beam that means Sonos’ home theater lineup now offers excellent options for a range of budgets.

If you want the best, most versatile and well-designed wireless soundbar available, the Sonos Arc is the speaker for you.

The Sonos Arc is an outstanding soundbar, on its own or with friends

Sonos has been releasing new hardware at a remarkably consistent and frequent pace the past couple of years, and what’s even more impressive is that these new releases are consistently excellent performers. The new Sonos Arc soundbar definitely fits that pattern, delivering the company’s best ever home theater sound device with performance that should convert even diehard 5.1 traditionalists.

Basics

The Sonos Arc is a soundbar that’s designed to integrate wirelessly with your Sonos home audio system, as well as accepting audio from your TV or A/V receiver via HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC). Just about every modern TV should have at least one HDMI ARC port, and basically that just means that in addition to acting as a standard HDMI input for video sources, it can also offer audio output to a connected speaker or stereo system.

The Arc also comes with an HDMI to optical digital audio adapter in case your setup lacks ARC support (if a TV doesn’t have that, it almost surely has a TOSLINK digital audio output port) to cover all the bases. It also works as a wireless speaker that connects via Sonos’ dedicated mesh networking tech to other Sonos speakers you may have, so that it’s one more addressable multi-room speaker in a whole home wireless audio setup.

Arc can also be combined with other Sonos speakers, including the Sonos Sub, as well as Sonos One, One SL, Play:1 and others for setting up a more complete wireless 5.1 setup with a subwoofer and two rears. That’s an optional enhancement, however, and not necessary to take advantage of the Sonos Arc’s excellent virtual surround rendering, which with this new hardware also includes Dolby Atmos surround sound encoding for the first time on a Sonos soundbar.

Design

The Sonos Arc really comes from the modern design pedigree that Sonos has put into its hardware releases since the debut of the Sonos One, which means monoblock coloring (in either black or white), smooth lines and rounded hole grill designs that look a lot more contemporary than the contrast color grills on the Play:1 for example.

Arc looks like a spiritual successor to the Sonos Beam, the first Sonos soundbar to feature a built-in mic and support for virtual voice assistants including Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. But it’s also a lot larger than the Sonos Beam at 45″ long – much more like the Sonos Playbar and Playable that marked the company’s entry into the category.

For a sense of how long it is, it runs almost the full length of my LG 65″ C7 OLED TV. It’s also a bit taller than the Sonos Beam, coming in at 3.4″. For my use, that was still short enough that it doesn’t obscure any of the TV’s display when it’s sitting on a TV bench in front of the television from my regular viewing angle, but your mileage may vary, and if you had a similar setup with the Beam, just note that you’ll need a bit more clearance with the Arc.

The larger size isn’t just for show – it helps Sonos delivery much better sound vs. the lower-priced Beam. Inside the Arc, there are 11 drivers, including two upwards-facing ones, and two that face out either end of the long cylindrical soundbar. The end effect of all of these drivers, and the true distance separation that’s made possible by its long profile, is much more effective left/right/rear sound separation.

On the back, there’s a vent bar that provides additional sound quality improvements and holds the mounting outlets for attaching the Arc to a compatible wall mount. Either wall-mounted or resting atop furniture, the Arc is an attractive piece of hardware, and with just two cables required to run to power and the TV, it’s a minimal solution to home theater clutter that should mesh well with most home decor.

Performance

I mentioned this briefly above, but it’s amazing what the Sonos Arc can accomplish in terms of sound separation and virtual surround immersion with just a single speaker. It’s easily the best sound rendering I’ve experienced from a Sonos soundbar, and likely the best audio quality from a soundbar I’ve heard, period.

Stereo sound field testing shows that audio tracks really well left-to-right, and the Dolby Atmos support really shows its benefits when you have content that offers it. Speech intelligibility is also really fantastic on the soundbar alone, whereas with the Beam, I’ve found that it can suffer in some situations unless you have a Sonos Sub added to your system to take care of the low end frequencies and allow the soundbar to produce better clarity on the high end.

The Arc definitely benefits from pairing it with a Sonos Sub and other Sonos speakers acting as rears, but the soundbar on its own is a much better performer than anything Sonos has previously offered, in case you’re looking to save some money or you just want to focus on the most minimal sound setup possible that isn’t just terrible built-in TV speakers.

Sonos has also included a microphone on the Arc, which allows you to use it with either Alexa or Google Assistant to play music, turn on the TV, and do plenty more. It’s a great feature that’s optional, if you’d rather leave the mic off or not connect any assistants, and for me it’s perfectly suited to a device that essentially sits at the center of the living room experience. The mic seems very able to pick up commands even in a large room when you’re quite far away from it, so it could be the only voice-enabled smart speaker you require in even a large open-concept living/dining/kitchen space.

The Arc also acts as an Apple AirPlay 2 speaker out of the box, which means you can use it wireless. For minimalists, this is yet another selling point, since it means you can use it wirelessly with an Apple TV mounted to the back of your TV for instance – ridding yourself of one more wire if you want. It’s also super easy to stream any music or audio from your phone to the Arc as a result, even without opening up the Sonos app.

The updated Sonos app

Speaking of that app, the Sonos Arc is exclusively compatible with Sonos’ new, forthcoming mobile app, which arrives on June 8. This app will live alongside the existing one, which will continue to be available in order to support older, legacy Sonos hardware that won’t work with the more modern version.

This new Sonos app, which I used as a beta during the testing period for the Sonos Arc, is not as dramatic a change as I was expecting. The app definitely offers a better, cleaner and more modern interface, but everything is still located pretty much where you’d expect it to be if you were a user of the existing version. Most of the changes are probably happening under the hood, where the app is presumably designed to work with the more modern chipsets, higher memory and updated wireless technology of more recently-released Sonos speakers and accessories.

Long story short, the new app is a pleasant, fresh take on a familiar control system that seems both more performant and aesthetically better suited to modern Sonos speakers like the Arc. Even in beta, it didn’t give me any problems during my two weeks testing the Arc, and worked perfectly with all my services and voice assistants.

Bottom line

The Sonos Arc is definitely a premium soundbar, with a $799 price tag and great audio quality to match. It’s a fantastic successor to the Playbar and Playbase that exceeds both of those in every regard, and a great companion to the Beam that means Sonos’ home theater lineup now offers excellent options for a range of budgets.

If you want the best, most versatile and well-designed wireless soundbar available, the Sonos Arc is the speaker for you.

This three-axis tourbillon movement is a 3D printed marvel

The three-axis tourbillon is one of the most complex watch complications in the world. Originally based on a design by watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, this type of tourbillon – literally “whirlwind” – rotates the balance wheel of a watch in order to ensure that gravity doesn’t adversely affect any part of the watch. It’s a clever, complex, and essentially useless complication in an era of atomic clocks and nano materials but darn if it isn’t cool-looking.

Based on this original, simpler model, this new three-axis tourbillon is available for download here. It consists of 70 potentially fiddly parts and runs using a basic motor.

As you can see, the main component is the balance wheel which flips back and forth to drive the watch. The balance wheel is contained inside a sort of spike-shaped cage that rotates on multiple axes. The balance wheel controls the speed of the spin and often these devices are used as second hands on more complex – and more expensive – tourbillon watches. Tourbillons were originally intended to increase watch accuracy when they were riding in a vest pocket, the thinking being that gravity would pull down a watch’s balance wheel differently when it was vertical as compared to being horizontal. In this case, the wheel takes into account all possible positions leading to a delightful bit of horological overkill.

Get A Free Star Wars Edition Google Cardboard

IMG_7180 The Star Wars: Force Awakens train is a rollin’ and Google has gotten involved in a few different ways. One was by offering a special edition Google Cardboard in four Star Wars limited edition themes in Verizon stores on December 2nd. They were handed out to Verizon customers for free, but I was told that a lot of stores ran out. Welp. If you want one, you can still get one. For free.… Read More