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Free-to-play Apex Legends has a paid-for boxed release

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 15:31

I'm always a little baffled by the idea of physical versions of free-to-play games - but anyway, if you fancy owning an exclusive Bloodhound or Lifeline skin, you can soon pick them up in boxed editions of Apex Legends.

Two physical editions of Apex Legends will go on sale for $19.99 (£16.18) each on 18th October, and will be available from retail stores (for PS4, Xbox One and PC). In each themed edition you get a legendary character skin, a legendary weapon skin, an exclusive banner and badge, plus 1000 Apex Coins to spend in-game. Given those 1000 coins normally cost £7.99 and a Legendary skin costs 1800 AC, it does seem to get you a little more bang(alore) for your buck.

If you want a closer look at the contents to decide between the devil and angel on your shoulders, check out the blog post here.

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Categories: Video Games

Control details two big expansions, the first of which is PS4 timed-exclusive

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 15:26

Control developer Remedy has detailed its plans for the game's post-launch content. Two paid expansions will arrive in 2020, with an end-game level challenges mode due first in December.

The first of the paid expansions, The Foundation, will be a timed-exclusive launch on PlayStation 4. It's a detail buried in the press release and not in the studio's public blog post on the subject, which feels a bit sneaky.

"The Season Pass and individual Expansions will be available for purchase on Xbox One and PC, following the PlayStation 4 Expansion 1 'The Foundation' release," a line of small print reads. "The AWE expansion will release on all platforms on the same date."

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Categories: Video Games

Daemon X Machina review - a clanking Armored Core successor with moments of magic

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 15:15

It really has been far, far too long since the last truly decent mech game, and the Nintendo Switch's Daemon X Machina comes so very close to being exactly what we've been waiting for all these years.

That's down, in part, to its heritage, and its leanings; this is at heart a spiritual successor to FromSoft's beloved Armored Core series that's been missing in action for so long, with series producer Kenichiro Tsukuda onboard. Indeed, it comes so close to that formula that it feels like a direct follow-up to 2008's Armored Core: For Answer, injected with some lysergic colour to help give it an identity of its own.

That formula, should you need reminding - and it's fair enough if you do, given its absence across the past decade - is simple. Customise a robot as you daub it in decals and choose from myriad parts, juggling stats and the resources required to run certain pieces of armour and mods until you've got a build that's just to your liking. Then go forth and be badass in your big bastard mech.

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Categories: Video Games

Sound Blaster AE-9 review: do you really need a sound card in 2019?

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 15:02

Do you remember Sound Blaster? For a brief moment in time in the 90s, these sound cards were an essential upgrade for any gaming PC. They gave you a place to plug in your pre-USB joystick for bouts of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, as well as substantially better audio quality than whatever was built into your PC - if you were lucky enough to have anything at all. Nowadays though, even basic motherboards include integrated audio hardware with perfectly fine quality, plenty of inputs and fancy software features - that you've probably never used. And of course, GPUs can pipe out digital surround sound over HDMI too. Surprisingly perhaps, new Sound Blaster cards are still in production today - and after testing Creative's new flagship model, the $350/£299 AE-9, I think discrete audio hardware is still worth considering today. Here's why.

First, high-end modern sound cards can actually replace a lot of other audio equipment. The AE-9 is a perfect example, as it comes with both a sound card that goes in your PC and an 'audio control module' or ACM that sits on your desk, joined by a mini HDMI cable (and a stern warning not to plug anything else into the mini HDMI port). The ACM serves as both a headphone amp and an audio interface, with room to plug in both ¼ inch and ⅛ inch headphones plus XLR, ¼ inch and ⅛ inch microphones (with optional +48V phantom power). You can also plug in auxiliary devices, like your smartphone or MP3 player, via phono inputs on the back of the box. Meanwhile, the sound card itself includes four line out ports (two phono, two ⅛ inch) plus optical in and out, allowing a full set of 5.1 surround-sound speakers to be connected. As well as the AE-9's built-in Acoustic Engine processing, you can also opt for Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect Encoding - sadly, the more recent Dolby Atmos and DTS:X standards aren't supported, nor are 7.1 surround sound setups·

While audio interfaces like the FocusRite Scarlett often include more knobs to turn and switches to flip (there's only a volume wheel, a three-point impedance switch and a couple of extra buttons on the AE-9's ACM), there's enough here to handle most simple use cases - like hooking up a powered XLR condenser microphone for streaming, recording a musical instrument or keeping both headphones and speakers connected at all times. Having everything in one place, instead of split across multiple boxes, is convenient if a little messy.

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Categories: Video Games

Comcast Sues Maine To Stop Law Requiring Sale of Individual TV Channels

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast and several TV network owners have sued the state of Maine to stop a law that requires cable companies to offer a la carte access to TV channels. The complaint in U.S. District Court in Maine was filed Friday by Comcast, Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal, A&E Television Networks, C-Span, CBS Corp., Discovery, Disney, Fox Cable Network Services, New England Sports Network, and Viacom. The companies claim the Maine law -- titled "An Act To Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs" -- is preempted by the First Amendment and federal law. The Maine law is scheduled to take effect on September 19 and says that "a cable system operator shall offer subscribers the option of purchasing access to cable channels, or programs on cable channels, individually." The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced. "I submitted this bill on behalf of Maine's hundreds of thousands of cable television subscribers," Representative Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent, said in testimony when the bill was being debated in March. "For far too long, consumers have been forced to purchase cable TV packages which include dozens of channels the consumer has no interest in watching." But the current system involving service tiers and bundling "reflect[s] the exercise of First Amendment rights -- both by the programmers who decide how to license their programming to cable operators, and by the cable operators who decide how to provide that programming to the public," the industry lawsuit said. The lawsuit also says that "an array of federal statutory provisions precludes Maine from dictating how cable programming is presented to consumers." The state law "is expressly preempted by several provisions of the Communications Act," including a section that "prohibits state and local authorities from regulating the 'provision or content of cable services, except as expressly provided in' Title VI of the Communications Act," the lawsuit said.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Big in Japan sale returns to the PSN store

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 13:54

Sony has brought back the 'Big in Japan' sale with some considerable savings up for grabs on many top Japanese-developed games.

Take yourself over to the PSN store where you'll find up to 70 per cent off a vast number of PS4 games, including the likes of Devil May Cry 5, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Resident Evil 2. Meanwhile, multiple entries from the Yakuza, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid series are all reduced.

Having had a quick browse through all the offers myself, there are definitely a few good deals. Many have seen these prices in the past before, though, or you can find them slightly cheaper as physical copies. For example, Judgement is £27.95 on PS4 at The Game Collection. Nevertheless, here are the highlights!

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Categories: Video Games

Fortnite brings back two fan-favourite locations today

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 13:06

Fortnite update 10.30 is now available and it's a biggie - with two POIs from the past brought back into the game.

Moisty Palms is a mash-up of the long-gone Moisty Mire location and desert city Paradise Palms. Head within its boundaries and you'll find yourself in a Fortnite version of Prop Hunt. Crouch and you'll be disguised as a random object, which looks a bit like this:

Greasy Grove, meanwhile, has been freed after three seasons buried beneath Polar Peak's ice. It has emerged with a new fast food restaurant in charge - sorry Durrr Burger fans - which serves tacos. Head within Greasy Grove's limits and, well:

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Categories: Video Games

Wilmot's Warehouse is a puzzler with an intriguing roominess at its centre

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 13:00

Wilmot's Warehouse is a puzzle game that's made me really think about puzzle games. This shouldn't be surprising, since the people who made it were also some of the people responsible for the glorious game Hohokum, which made me think about all kinds of unexpected things. Hohokum was expansive and constantly surprising, Wilmot's Warehouse is tightly focused - and constantly surprising. It's surprising, I would argue, in a way that puzzle games usually are not.

Wilmot's Warehouse, which is out now for PC, Mac and Switch, is all about running a warehouse. Peer beneath the abstracted visuals and you are a little guy in a very big room, taking in consignments of various goods, storing them, and then delivering specific goods to people who want them, when they pop up behind a roller-door at the far end of the playing area. Everything is a little square here. You are a little square, the people who order specific goods are little squares. And the goods themselves are little squares, divided up by different designs - some have stars or crosses on, others resemble springs or security cameras or magnets.

You can only see the specifics of the goods when you're very close to them, and the warehouse is pretty big. This suggests that the game is all about tension. I was prepared for a sort of satirical look at how awful it is to work at Amazon, say, with the relentless grind of new goods coming in and the orders stacking up, the warehouse measureless to man. I was ready to panic - and there is certainly some of that to Wilmot's Warehouse. But there's something more too. Something really interesting.

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Categories: Video Games

Konami gives free myClub coins to PES 2020 players because the game launched without the correct team lineups

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 12:43

Konami is giving free myClub coins to PES 2020 players because the game launched without the correct team lineups.

PES 2020 launched on Tuesday, 10th September without a planned release day update that would have implemented the latest transfer window data,

It means PES 2020 came out - and is still at the time of writing - a game in which Arsenal has Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey on their books, and Real Madrid forward Eden Hazard is leading the line at his old club Chelsea.

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Categories: Video Games

281 Alleged Email Scammers Arrested In Massive Global Sweep

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 12:00
The Department of Justice today announced the arrest of 281 suspects in connection with email scams and wire transfer fraud. The action is the biggest of its kind yet against this type of digital scammer, and is a strong symbol of law enforcement's sense of urgency in trying to contain a rapidly growing threat. Wired reports: You're familiar with crimes like this, even if you don't know them by their proper name of "business email compromise" schemes. It involves the coordinated crafting of compelling scam emails that trick employees or vulnerable individuals into sending money, then using strategic mules to wire the funds back to the perpetrators. Such scams have ballooned in recent years, costing victims tens of billions of dollars over time. The DOJ said the new round of arrests took four months to carry out across 10 countries, and resulted in the seizure of almost $3.7 million. Tuesday's law enforcement initiative, dubbed Operation reWired, involved extensive international coordination to make 167 arrests in Nigeria, 74 in the United States, 18 in Turkey, and 15 in Ghana. The remainder took place in France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. Research and law enforcement investigations have shown that a large proportion of all email scamming originates in West Africa, specifically Nigeria, but the scams have spread, partly because some West African actors have moved around the world. The new arrest of 281 suspects involved global coordination among law enforcement agencies. In the U.S. alone, Operation reWired involved the DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury, the State Department, and the Postal Inspection Service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

Dreamcast classic ChuChu Rocket is getting an Apple Arcade sequel

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:39

20 years on from the Dreamcast's launch, one of the platform's most iconic games - no not Skies of Arcadia - is getting a sequel. It's ChuChu Rocket!

Named as ChuChu Rocket Universe, the action puzzler follow-up will launch for Apple Arcade, the iPhone and iPad subscription service detailed in full last night for games with no ads or in-app purchases.

The visuals may now be 3D but the gameplay should be familiar - use arrows to direct ChuChus to their rocket while avoiding the evil KapuKapus.

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Categories: Video Games

LG B9 OLED gets a rare, deep discount to £1449

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 11:10

Today marks the first major price drop for the 55-inch B9 OLED, LG's mainstream OLED model for 2019, dropping from a launch price of £1800 to just £1450 on Amazon.co.uk. By comparison, the same model costs £1600 at John Lewis, Currys and other British retailers. The B9 uses the same panel as the C9 and E9, providing the superior contrast and beautiful colour reproduction that has made OLEDs so desirable, but uses an older processor to hit a much lower price point. Today at £150 off, the B9 becomes even better value.

While the B9 is brilliant for watching TV and films thanks to its inky blacks and gorgeous colours, we also recommend LG's 2019 OLEDs as the best options for HDR gaming. A lot of this is down to their near-instant response times and extremely low input lag (13ms at 4K/60), which ensure that fast-moving action is represented on-screen accurately and with minimal delay. Several Digital Foundry staffers use LG OLEDs at home for this reason, as everything from retro games to modern 4K marvels on the PS4 Pro, Xbox One X and PC are well-represented.

While the B9 is an excellent value OLED, it does miss out on a few features due to its slightly older processor. The biggest one for PC gamers may be the fact it lacks official G-Sync support, which was recently announced by Nvidia and LG for the C9 and E9 models. G-Sync is a kind of variable refresh rate or VRR technology, essentially synchronising game frame-rates with TV refresh rates to allow for smooth judder-free and tear-free gameplay without the sluggish feeling of traditional v-sync. Curiously, the LG B9 does support VRR over HDMI 2.1 on the Xbox One X, so it's possible that G-Sync may also work unofficially - we'll have to find out when Nvidia's updated driver is released.

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Categories: Video Games

Gears 5 review - a great campaign marred by painful progression

Eurogamer - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:00

Gears 5 has a great campaign I'm happy to root for. On the competitive multiplayer front, though, it's a mixed bag. Gears 5 stalwarts Horde and Versus return like battleworn COGs from yet another fight against the relentless Locust menace, but annoyances mar the party. Escape mode offers something new, but it falls flat. And through it all runs a progression system that would feel bad in a free-to-play game, let alone a full-price game.

Let's start with the campaign, an entertaining 12-hour tour of Sera's unseen landscapes. Initially playing as JD, Marcus Fenix's generic soldier son, then for the bulk of the time as the impressive Kait, whose apparent Locust heritage is giving her the mother of all migraines, we are treated to a lean, mean, fighting machine of a campaign which features mechanics not seen in a Gears game before, such as sort-of open worlds, action role-playing game-style ultimate abilities, and the chance to approach combat in a few different ways.

I've gone back and forth on whether these new open worlds - a frozen wasteland and then a red desert - are good for the Gears 5 campaign, or simply serve to pad out the traditional fast-paced, linear action of previous games in the cover shooter series. Certainly the open-world sections, which you explore via a skiff, break up the pace, provide a platform for squad banter and look nice at times - but you're just travelling from one place on the map to your objective, which is clearly marked. There's little reason to explore. Only once did I stumble across something in the desert that turned out to be of interest. The rest of the time I knew where I was going and felt little reason to deviate from the path of least resistance getting there.

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Categories: Video Games

Jack Ma Steps Down On 20th Birthday of Alibaba

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:00
Jack Ma has stepped down from the position of chairman at the company he co-founded exactly 20 years ago. Ma announced his retirement plans last year, saying at the time he wanted to spend more time focusing on education. ZDNet reports: Ma bid farewell to Alibaba, sporting a rock star wig and guitar at an employee event Tuesday, according to Reuters. "After tonight I will start a new life," Ma reportedly said at Tuesday's event. "I do believe the world is good, there are so many opportunities, and I love excitement so much, which is why I will retire early." His retirement was not the end of an era, the former English teacher said when he announced he was stepping down, but "the beginning of an era," adding also at the time, "I love education." CEO Daniel Zhang succeeds Ma as chairman of the board, effective September 10, 2019. Ma stayed on for a year to "ensure a smooth transition of the chairmanship." "I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan for ten years," Ma wrote in a letter to shareholders and customers in September. "When Alibaba was founded in 1999, our goal was to build a company that could make China and the world proud and one that could cross three centuries to last 102 years. However, we all knew that no one could stay with the company for 102 years. A sustainable Alibaba would have to be built on sound governance, culture-centric philosophy, and consistency in developing talent. No company can rely solely on its founders."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Diesel Cars Emit More Air Pollution On Hot Days, Study Finds

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Emissions from diesel cars – even newer and supposedly cleaner models -- increase on hot days, a new study has found, raising questions over how cities suffering from air pollution can deal with urban heat islands and the climate crisis. Research in Paris by The Real Urban Emissions (True) initiative found that diesel car emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) rose by 20% to 30% when temperatures topped 30C -- a common event this summer. Emissions from a range of vehicles were found to be many times higher than those declared by manufacturers in laboratory tests, confirming earlier findings following the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, in which Volkswagen cars were found to emit 40 times more NOx on the road than during laboratory tests. Certain pollutants from motorcycles -- often considered a cleaner alternative to four-wheeled vehicles -- were also found to "greatly exceed" averages for both petrol and diesel cars. Yoann Bernard of the International Council on Clean Transportation, which carried out the study, said real NOx emissions had been found to be up to 18 times higher than those recorded in vehicle manufacturers' tests, even in newer vehicles that are supposed to be cleaner.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Fukushima To Possibly Dump Radioactive Water Back Into Ocean

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 03:40
omfglearntoplay shares a report from CNN: Eight years after Japan's worst nuclear disaster, the government is not sure what to do with the contaminated water that remains -- but its environment minister says dumping it into the ocean might be the only choice. To cool fuel cores at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, operator Tokyo Electric has pumped in tens of thousands of tons of water over the years, according to Japanese national broadcaster NHK. Once used and contaminated, the water is put into storage. Now, storage space is running out. And during a televised press conference Tuesday, Japan's environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said he believed the only solution was to "release it into the ocean and dilute it." "There are no other options," he said. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that a decision has not yet been made. "There is no fact that the method of disposal of contaminated water has been decided," he said. "The government would like to make a decision after making thorough discussion."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Apple Unveils Its 7th-Gen iPad With a 10.2-Inch Display

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 03:20
In addition to launching new iPhones today, Apple unexpectedly announced a new 7th-generation iPad, featuring a larger display and support for Apple's forthcoming iPadOS update. Ars Technica reports: This new model comes with a 10.2-inch 2160x1620 "Retina" display, up from the older model's 9.7-inch panel, and an A10 Fusion chip. The latter is the same chip used for the existing 6th-gen iPad, and that chip was first introduced with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus -- so don't expect a significant performance upgrade. Still, it should provide enough power for the entertainment, Web browsing, and casual work needs this iPad is primarily aimed at. The design is otherwise very similar to before -- thicker bezels, home button, roughly one-pound weight, and all -- and Apple still claims the tablet will get up to 10 hours of battery life. The device still comes with either 32GB or 128GB of storage. Naturally, the new iPad will come with Apple's forthcoming iPadOS update, which will give the device a more robust multitasking system. It'll be able to connect to thumb drives and SD cards, too, and it'll work with Apple's Smart Keyboard attachment and the first-gen model of the Apple Pencil stylus. Apple did not switch to a USB-C port here as it's done with its higher-end iPad Pros, though that's not surprising with a cheaper tablet like this. The device will retain the $329 starting price of the previous 9.7-inch iPad and will begin shipping on September 30, with pre-orders available on Tuesday. Education customers will be able to get it at a slight discount of $299.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Is Microsoft a Digital Nation and Does It Have a Secretary of State?

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 03:00
Longtime Slashdot reader cccc828 shares a report from The Economist, which poses the question: Is Microsoft a digital nation and does it have a secretary of state? "The answer of Brad Smith, the software giant's top lawyer, is, well, diplomatic," the report says. "Nation states are run by governments and firms need to be accountable to them, he says. But yes, he admits, he worries a lot about geopolitics these days." Here's an excerpt from the report: Mr Smith presides over an operation comparable in size to the foreign office of a mid-sized country. Its 1,500 employees work in departments like "Law Enforcement and National Security" or "Digital Diplomacy Group." It has outposts in 56 countries, sending regular cables to headquarters in Redmond, near Seattle. Mr Smith is as itinerant as a foreign minister. In one year he visited 22 countries and met representatives of 40 governments. [...] Mr Smith says a coherent corporate foreign policy is simply good business: it creates trust, which attracts customers. His doctrine indeed sits well with Microsoft's business model, based on sales of services and software. It can afford to be more of a purist on privacy and the spread of disinformation, the most politically contentious tech issues of the day, than giants whose profits come from targeted advertising on social networks. Acknowledging Microsoft's mixed record in the past, the article concludes: A dose of hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable in an organization the size of Microsoft. Critics level a more fundamental charge against its foreign policy, however. Where, they ask, does it -- and fellow tech giants -- derive the legitimacy to be independent actors on the international stage? This is the wrong question to pose. As businesses, they have every right to defend the interests of shareholders, employees and customers. As global ones, their priorities may differ from those of their home country's elected officials. And as entities which control much of the world's digital infrastructure, they should have a say in designing the international norms which govern it. At a time when many governments refuse to lead, why should the firms not be allowed to? Especially if, like Microsoft's, their efforts blend principles with pragmatism. How does your company deal with the ever more complex realities of world politics?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff

'Ban All Watches From Exams To Stop Cheating'

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 02:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: All watches should be banned from exam halls to discourage cheating, says an inquiry into the extent of malpractice in exams taken by pupils across the UK. Smart watches, connected to the internet, are already banned from use by students taking public exams. But the review, commissioned by exam boards, says it is becoming difficult to distinguish between hi-tech and traditional watches. Review chairman Sir John Dunford called for a "blanket ban" on watches. The Independent Commission on Examination Malpractice, set up by exam boards to investigate the prevalence of cheating in public exams in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, says that overall there is a "very low level of malpractice." "It can look as if it's a time-telling watch and actually, you press a button and it becomes an email-type watch," said Sir John, a former head teachers' union leader. "If you don't ban them all I think you're giving a very difficult job to invigilators who are looking round an exam room. So I think the obvious thing to do here is to ban watches."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

VW Announces Its 'ID.3' Electric Car For the Masses, Praises Elon Musk

Slashdot - Wed, 11/09/2019 - 01:40
Qbertino writes: The VW ID.3 (VW German Minisite and Configurator) is a compact car with a design loosely based on the very successful VW Golf line. The base model costs less than $33,000 with ranges of 330, 420, and 550 kilometers (or 205, 261 and 340 miles). Along with the car comes a new corporate identity with a newly designed logo reminiscent of the dawn of VW, signaling VW's transition into the electric era it announced with fanfare a while back. VW also isn't too shabby about giving credit where credit is due. "Without Elon Musk my job would be considerably harder," VW Chief Strategist Michael Jost was quoted as saying a few days ago. The base model of the ID.3 will only charge up to 50kW, but owners who want to charge faster (up to 100kW) can pay extra for that ability. "100kW charging will come standard on the midrange 58kWh version, while even faster 125kW charging will be available on the top-tier ID.3," reports The Verge. "The company is also offering an eight year / 160,000 kilometer warranty on the ID.3's battery pack."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geeky Stuff
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