Categories
Computing

Steam Deck battery life: 5 tips to extend your play time

The Steam Deck is a great device, but it has a major flaw: Battery life. In the best of cases, you can get around four hours before charging, and in the worst, the Deck can die in as little as 90 minutes. We rounded up the five Steam Deck battery life tips so you can extend your playtime as long as possible.

If you just picked up your device, make sure to read our top Steam Deck tips so you can get the most out of it. We also have a roundup of the best battery packs for the Steam Deck, which are essential if you plan on taking the handheld on a long trip.

Reduce screen brightness

The easiest way to save battery life on the Steam Deck is to turn down the brightness of the screen. Valve includes an option for dynamic brightness in the settings, but you shouldn’t use it — it’s way too sensitive, and the constant adjustment could actually decrease your battery life. Set it manually to the lowest point you can while still being able to see the screen.

Valve sets the default screen brightness fairly high. With God of War, we were able to play for just over an hour longer with the brightness down to its minimum setting. That’s the difference between playing for two hours and three hours in a demanding game like God of War. It’s simple, but screen brightness goes a long way to improve the Steam Deck’s battery life.

Use the frame rate limiter

The Steam Deck laying on a laptop.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Beyond reducing the screen brightness, always use the frame rate limiter on the Steam Deck — even if you don’t need to. We recommend setting the frame rate limiter to 30 fps in the Quick settings menu regardless of the game you’re playing. This is especially true for games that hover between 40 fps to 50 fps on the Steam Deck. Those extra frames could represent 45 minutes or more of extra battery life (as we saw in God of War).

You can also adjust the refresh rate of the display, which you should do to match whatever your frame rate is set at. The refresh rate won’t save as much battery life as turning on the frame rate limiter, but the two together can give you an extra hour or more of playtime.

Limit power and GPU speed

Power limit settings on the Steam Deck.

If you don’t mind a bit of trial and error, limiting the Steam Deck’s total power and GPU speed can massively improve battery life without sacrificing performance. You’ll find both in the Quick settings menu, and you’ll have to play with the exact numbers depending on the game you’re playing and the frame rate you want to hit.

We recommend turning on the frame rate overlay on your Steam Deck to see how much power the device is consuming and the clock speed of your GPU. From there, set the TDP and GPU around the mark you see in the overlay. It’s best to start low, see where your frame rate is at, and then slowly increase from there until you can maintain the frame rate you want.

For example, we limited the retro-styled platformer Blasphemous to 5W and were able to maintain a steady 60 fps (and improve battery life by around an hour and a half). The Steam Deck allows you to store these settings as per-game profiles, too, so you can set everything up once and keep your battery life steady.

Use FSR

Performance overlay on the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck supports AMD’s FidelityFX Super Sampling (FSR) upscaling, and it’s hands-down the easiest way to save battery life. FSR essentially runs your game at a lower resolution, which takes a lot of strain off of the Steam Deck to improve battery life (and reduce fan noise in the process).

Using FSR on the Steam Deck is a little confusing, though. You can turn it on in the Quick settings menu, but you’ll need to turn down your in-game resolution for FSR to actually do anything. The Steam Deck has a resolution of 1,280 x 800, so bump down your resolution to 960 x 600 to save some battery life (or 640 x 400 if you need your battery to last even longer).

Turn on half rate shading

Half-rate shading option on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Valve recently added half rate shading to the Steam Deck, which is an interesting piece of graphics tech that can massively improve battery life. Shading is a complex topic, but the short of it is that every pixel on the screen needs a color value — and figuring out all of those colors takes a lot of power. Half rate shading cuts the rate in half, essentially only shading half of the pixels on-screen and using nearby pixels to fill in the missing information.

The result is that your game looks like it’s running at a lower resolution, even if half rate shading isn’t exactly the same as FSR. Keep this tip in your back pocket, though. Several Steam Deck games don’t allow you to adjust the resolution, so half rate shading can be a major help to save your battery life.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Microsoft’s zero-percent cut on Windows apps doesn’t extend to games

When Microsoft revealed its store’s new design for Windows 11, it also had great news for developers. The tech giant will allow them to use their own or a third party commerce platform in their apps starting on July 28th. If they choose to do so, the company will no longer take a cut from their earnings, and they can keep 100 percent of their revenue. In its announcement, Microsoft mentioned “app developers” specifically. Turns out that’s because they’re the only ones who can enjoy the incentive: The company has confirmed that the revenue-sharing exemption doesn’t apply to games.

Microsoft makes big money from game sales and subscriptions like any other company that runs a digital platform. It even admitted that it sells Xbox consoles at a loss, knowing that it’ll make profit from getting a 30 percent commission from game developers. While it’s unlikely for Microsoft to let go of game commissions entirely, it will implement lower rates for games starting on August 1st. It will only take 12 percent of a developer’s revenue instead of 30, at least when it comes to PC releases sold through its store.

By lowering its commission rate, Microsoft is following Epic’s lead. Epic has been getting a 12 percent cut of developers’ earnings since it opened its own PC games store in 2018 and has been the most vocal critic of Apple’s 70/30 revenue-sharing model. 

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Categories
Computing

How To Extend Your Wi-Fi Range With Another Router

A single Wi-Fi router is no match for a larger home. You’re bound to run into a dead zone sooner or later, and then all is lost — especially if you have kids. Luckily, there’s a way to skip all the drama, and all it takes is a secondary router.

A secondary router acts as an extender that takes your Wi-Fi signal and re-transmits it. That’s a fresh data stream right out of thin air. Here’s how to do it.

Do a 30/30/30 reset

Before we configure everything, let’s make sure your DD-WRT router is using the default settings. To do this, we do what is called a hard reset — or 30/30/30 reset — which removes all configurations from the NVRAM of your router. Here’s how it’s done.

Note: As the DD-WRT Wiki warns, there are situations in which you shouldn’t do a hard reset or 30/30/30 reset. Don’t perform them while the router is upgrading. Don’t do them for Linksys EA series routers (as doing so can brick them). And don’t do them for any ARM routers.

Step 1: With the router plugged into the power supply, hold the Reset button located on the bottom of the router for 30 seconds. Your router will reset, and this is normal. Keep holding the button.

Step 2: Now, keep holding the Reset button, and unplug the router. Wait for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Keep holding the Reset button, and plug the router in. Keep the Reset button pressed down for 30 seconds.

That’s right: You’re holding the button for 30 seconds with the router on, then 30 seconds with the router off, then 30 seconds with the router on again. When this is done, you’re ready to do some configuring.

Setting up DD-WRT as a wireless repeater

Keep in mind that some router models (especially older routers) do allow you to set up the router as a repeater natively, which means you don’t need to use DD-WRT. Fortunately, many of our steps below can be used with native settings that allow it, even if things look different: Linksys, for example, has a different interface, and the method that Netgear’s Nighthawks use is also a bit different, while the Asus mode differs as well. Look for these options before downloading DD-WRT just to make sure they aren’t available. This can save you some time. Otherwise, you can proceed full steam ahead with DD-WRT.

If the router is currently plugged into any network, unplug it — we don’t need any Ethernet cables for a repeater. Now connect to the router wirelessly. The default SSID will be “dd-wrt,” and you’ll need to set an admin username and password.

Step 1: First, head to the Wireless section and click the Basic Settings tab.

dd-wrt-repeater-wireless-settings

Step 2: Set Wireless Mode to Repeater.

Step 3: Set Wireless Network Mode to match your router. This might require some research on your part, though Mixed is fairly universal.

Step 4: Set the SSID to match your router. We chose Potcasting, because that’s the name of the router we’re hoping to repeat.

Step 5: Under Virtual Interfaces, click Add.

Step 6: Give the new virtual interface a unique SSID. We used Potcasting-Repeat, but you can use whatever name you like. Just don’t use the same name as your primary network.

Step 7: Hit Save, but do not hit Apply Settings just yet. You should wait until you’re completely finished.

Now let’s head to the Wireless Security section.

dd-wrt-repeater-security-settings

Step 1: Under the Physical Interface section, make sure the settings exactly match those of your primary router. For example, if your primary router uses WPA2 Personal with TKIP encryption, set things the same here, and enter your key as you would if you were connecting from a PC or phone.

Step 2: Next, under the Virtual Interfaces section, you’ll establish the settings you’ll use to connect to this router. It’s best to make these identical to the settings in the Physical Interface section.

Step 3: Hit Save, but hold off on Apply Settings.

Almost done! Now, head to the Security section, disable the SPI Firewall, and uncheck everything housed under Block WAN Requests. Then, hit Save.

Finally, head to Setup and select Basic Setup. Under Network Setup, change the Router IP to a different subnet than that of your primary router. For example, if your main router’s IP is 192.168.1.1, set the repeater’s IP to 192.168.2.1. Don’t change the other number sets (192, 168, etc.) in the address, just this one.

dd-wrt-repeater-network-settings

With all of this done, go back to every page you configured and make sure all of the settings are correct. When you’re sure everything is right, hit the Apply Settings button. Your router will restart, and eventually, you’ll see the SSID you chose earlier for your repeater. Connect to it, and verify that your internet is working by heading to the Digital Trends website (or any other). If it works, you now have a wireless repeater!

If you can’t get this working, review your settings, or find more information on the DD-WRT wiki.

When it comes to physically placing it in your home, the repeater depends on receiving a wireless signal from your primary router to do its job, so placing it in a dead zone likely won’t do you much good. Ideally, the repeater should be placed near the dead zone, but close enough to the router to still get a decent signal. Experiment with different locations until you’re happy with the coverage and speed.

Can you use a router app?

Possibly: Today’s router apps can help manage more complex systems that involve repeaters. Both the Nighthawk and the Asus apps allow you to set up compatible routers as repeaters. Again, the router has has be on and signaling to work, but an Ethernet connection is not required. In the case of Asus, as you can see, it’s as simple as detecting the router and starting the setup by selecting the repeater option. For the Nighthawk app, you will want to select the router you use as a repeater, then enter the Nighthawk app and let it detect the router once you are connected. Both apps should have options to continue setup as a repeater.

However, this usually only works if your router app natively supports switching to a repeater, and the apps may play better with some routers than others. Note that the process is even easier if you are getting a compatible Wi-fi extender from the same brand, but that means you wouldn’t be able to save by recycling an older router as a repeater.

If the app doesn’t work, you’ll need to make the changes from DD-WRT on a desktop. Many router companies have phased out repeater modes, so they aren’t common on newer routers and their apps. Some router setups, like Google Nest WiFi’s mesh system, just aren’t compatible with extension modes at all because of the way they work. That’s why we recommend DD-WRT.

Setting up DD-WRT as a second access point

Make sure that your router is not plugged into anything but the power. Connect wirelessly — the default SSID will be “dd-wrt,” and you’ll have to set an admin username and password.

You’ll start at the Basic Setup page. Some router settings will have an extra mode called AP Mode or Bridge Mode that is specifically for setting up a second access point. If you find this mode, you should certainly try to activate it: Your router may then pick up a lot of the information listed below automatically, saving you a lot of time. Just be careful you aren’t unintentionally activating a repeater mode instead: These router setting terms can be vague, so it’s always important to study the details of your own router settings page.

dd-wrt-access-point-basic

Here you need to:

Step 1: Change the local address to something other than what your primary router uses. We used 192.168.1.2. Take note of this IP, because you’ll need it later to configure your access point.

Step 2: Enter the IP address used by your primary router under Gateway. This is typically 192.168.1.1, but check to make sure.

Step 3: Disable the DHCP Server. This will prevent your access point from fighting your router to assign IPs.

Step 4: Assign the WAN port to switch. This isn’t necessary, but it gives you an extra port later if you need it.

Step 5: Hit Save, but don’t click Apply. Your router isn’t ready, and it will misbehave if you apply the new settings too early.

Next, head to the Wireless section, and make the following changes on the Basic Settings sub-page.

dd-wrt-access-point-wireless

Step 1: Make sure Wireless Mode is set to AP. It should be the default.

Step 2: Choose an SSID. This can be the same as your primary router if you’d like, but if so, ensure that this access point and the router are using different channels. For example, if your primary router is set to Channel 1, set this one to Channel 11 to avoid conflicts. If that’s too complicated, just use two different SSIDs.

Step 3: Hit Save, but not Apply.

Now, go to the Wireless Security subsection. If the SSID is the same as your primary router, ensure that your devices switch seamlessly between the two access points by copying the security settings here. If the SSID is different, use whichever security settings you prefer. WPA2 is the setting we recommend if you want to be sure your network’s secure.

Now disable the firewall by navigating to the Security section. A firewall is unnecessary since the router won’t filter your internet connection, plus it’s a potential source of problems.

Take a look at the settings above. If they look good, click Apply Settings and restart your router. Then connect it to the network near a dead zone.

As long as there’s a wired connection available, you can place the Access Point in the extreme corners of the dead zone. That will give you better coverage where you need it most, but it depends on where you have wired access to the network.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

Luum’s AI-based Lash Robot can delicately extend eyelashes for customers in beauty salons

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Luum has created an AI-based Lash Robot that can delicately extend eyelashes for customers in beauty salons.

I’ll let you absorb that for a minute. Luum CEO Philippe Sanchez said in an interview with VentureBeat that the lash extension procedure is ideal for robotics because it’s a tedious job for humans, who often have to bend over while adding extensions to each individual lash, which takes a lot of dexterity and concentration over two or three hours.

The Luum robot can do the same procedure — where it grabs someone’s eyelash and adds an extension to it — in under 20 minutes.

“This is a treatment that is semi-permanent that women do once,” Sanchez said. “It takes about two hours to three hours to be applied by a lash expert. And you look very natural and beautiful. And the advantage for a woman is that you do that once. And the whole treatment lasts for about a month or so.”

Sanchez said that Luum took a prototype of a human-safe machine that had already been fully tested. The company adapted it to lash extensions and is planning to open the first stand-alone studios for administering the procedure in San Francisco later this year.

Above: Are your eyelashes real?

Image Credit: Luum

The robot has dexterity on the scale of a nanometer, and Sanchez claims the process is both safer and more accurate than human eyelash application. During the pandemic, having a robot next to a human subject is also safer than having a human breathing on their client (even masked) for hours. While the robot does replace a person who would otherwise do the procedure, Luum still requires a human to operate the machine.

“The machine doesn’t replace anyone,” Sanchez said. “It’s a tough job today. It takes a lot of concentration, and it is tedious. Now that person can leverage the machine and spend time delivering a bespoke service with aesthetic guidance.”

Lash extensions are popular in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and China. There are an estimated 34,000 salons in the U.S. that offer the service.

The robot costs about $125,000. That’s a big capital investment for a salon, but Sanchez said it’s a bargain compared to employee costs over a four-year or five-year process. Senior lash artists get paid $250 to $350 for a job, and Sanchez believes the service with the robot can cost less than $200. Over time, the savings could turn out to be quite big for the robot replacements. Since eyelashes eventually fall out, customers have to come back for another service.

“The human can bring a creative touch to finish the service, and they can now serve many more clients in a day,” Sanchez said. “The robot is here to empower a lot of artists to be even more productive in servicing the client and actually doing the job that is much more rewarding. That’s a different view of looking [at] how technology can increase labor productivity.”

Sanchez, who worked on a bionic exoskeleton company called Ekso before this, joined the company about a year ago. Nathan Hardin, a robotics expert who previously worked for Sanchez at Ekso, founded Luum. To date, the Oakland, California-based company has raised $10 million from Foundation Capital and others. And it has 15 employees.

The company has worked on the project for about three years. Hardin, a robotics veteran who built the Ekso exoskeleton, met a mentor who decided to start a lash artist business. Hardin was amazed by the artist’s dexterity and thought it would be a great job for a robot.

Last year, the company was able to show that it could place a lash safely on a person’s eyelid. Over the past six months, the company has expanded its robot’s capacity. Over the next six to nine months, the company will continue improving the technology. Luum is making the early robots in Berkeley, California with a team of veteran engineers who have expertise in computer vision. Production machines will be made in Japan.

“We are pushing the limits of those robotics, the limits of computer vision,” Sanchez said.

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