Categories
Computing

Asus Zenbook Fold 17 reminds me why I love folding phones

I’m a huge proponent of folding smartphones, I think the futuristic design provides truly meaningful benefits and using one continues to be a very special experience. Therefore when I was given the chance to live with the Asus Zenbook Fold 17, a folding laptop, it was an opportunity too good to pass by.

However, the Zenbook Fold 17 isn’t all that good. But rather than put me off the idea of folding laptops, it made me even more excited about them, because, for a start, folding smartphones weren’t very good either.

Why isn’t it very good?

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 is like a Galaxy Fold on steroids, and everything that frustrated about Samsung’s first attempt at a folding phone has been repeated, just on a larger scale. It’s a device filled with compromises and concerns, and just like the Fold, you’ll have to accept, forgive, and overcome them the best you can if you want to live on the cutting-edge of laptop design.

Like what? I use a laptop for work and that means typing on it, a lot. I’m typing on the Zenbook 17 Fold right now, but not with the touchscreen keyboard. Not that it’s bad, it’s just not the fastest way. Asus packages a Bluetooth keyboard accessory that magnetically attaches to the lower portion of the screen, and it’s really well sized so I can type quickly, but that’s only after I’ve gotten used to the flex. It sits slightly proud of the screen under it due to the massive bezels and bounces up and down as you prod the keys.

Because it connects to the laptop using Bluetooth it can be used separately so you can unfold the screen and make use of the clever stand on the back, but it’s still not that stable. Plus you’ve got to carry the keyboard around with you, and like the Galaxy Fold, the Zenbook Fold 17 is not small or light. In fact, it’s as thick as at least two, perhaps even three, MacBook Airs when closed.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with its Bluetooth keyboard attached.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Just like the original Samsung Fold, the Asus folding laptop is big, unwieldy, and a bit annoying to type on. These are huge compromises when you consider a non-folding laptop doesn’t usually have these issues, and if it did, you wouldn’t dream of buying it. That’s not good news for the Zenbook Fold 17. However, don’t write it off yet.

All about the screen

Unfolding the Zenbook Fold 17 to its full, 17-inch glory is amazing. It’s by far my favorite part, as I get to watch videos on a giant screen without the inconvenience of the device taking up a giant amount of space when I’m done. It has effectively replaced my 11-inch iPad Pro for casual viewing. Unsurprisingly, it’s the same reason watching videos and playing games on a folding smartphone is so joyous, and it’s something the Galaxy Fold got right immediately too.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Fold.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Staying with the screen, the crease is visible but not that noticeable when you run your finger over it, but far worse, just like the original Fold, is the screen isn’t covered in glass, but a not-very-slidey plastic that’s probably quite durable, but unpleasant to touch. The screen doesn’t get very bright, the surface is irritatingly reflective, and the viewing angles aren’t great either. Once more, I put up with all these same things to use the original Galaxy Fold for a year after its release.

The software has been solid although my demands aren’t high, and it seems to adapt acceptably enough to being folded and unfolded, switching from laptop to tablet. However, the sensitivity of the screen and its touch responsiveness is all over the place.

The original Fold was the same, especially at the edge of the screen where it was potluck if it would recognize your input or not. Repeatedly pressing on-screen buttons to get them to work was an everyday occurrence with the Fold, and touch latency problems plague the Zenbook Fold 17 too.

The Asus Zenbook Fold 17 with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Fold.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Finally, there’s the hinge. The problems encountered with the Fold’s hinge are well-documented and forced the company to halt its release while the mechanism was redesigned. The Zenbook Fold 17’s hinge doesn’t look anywhere near as complicated mostly because it’s covered up by a sliding panel on the back, and while I’m sure it’s very well designed, the open sides and panel gaps appear worryingly ready to be filled with all kinds of detritus over time. It’s probably fine, but having seen what happened with the Galaxy Fold, it does make me a little wary.

So bad it’s good?

It doesn’t sound good at all, does it? Here’s where it gets complicated, because, after all that, I really like the Zenbook Fold 17. It’s flawed, very expensive, and nowhere near as good as my Macbook Air as a laptop, but the Galaxy Fold was also flawed, expensive, and nowhere near as good as the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Yet I took the Fold around the world with me and it was brilliant, but only because I worked around its issues, and forgave its shortcomings.

I’m so glad I did because it helped me appreciate the work that has gone into making the Galaxy Z Fold 4 the first folding smartphone I recommend you buy. The design of the phone has been improved, the typing experience is better, the hinge is much more durable, it’s lighter, and the software has been greatly refined. It’s the reason I look at the Zenbook Fold 17 so favorably because for all its first-generation niggles and issues, I know it’s just the beginning.

Yes, the keyboard is annoying, but when I take it off and it becomes a 17-inch tablet, I forget about it pretty quickly. There’s a chance the hinge may cause problems down the road, but I’ll take the risk because using the Zenbook Fold 17 feels so damn cool. With a few slight variations, this is exactly the same way I felt about the Galaxy Fold.

If you buy the Zenbook Fold 17 you’re going to both love it and hate it, in equal measure, at different times. But just like the Galaxy Fold, it’s a genesis, and the beginning of something very special. Using it will feel transformative, exciting, and truly unique. If it’s your entry point into the world of foldable screens, I think it will turn you into a true believer, just like the Galaxy Fold did for me.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Steam Link Linux release reminds us how simple game streaming can be

Valve released a Linux version of its Steam Link app, allowing the connectivity system to work on even MORE devices than before. This is just the latest in a line of operating systems made available to work with Steam Link, including Windows, Android, iOS, and Raspberry Pi. And it’s all free, provided you have a Steam account and own a game or two.

The Steam Link app was released to Linux for the first time ever, just this week. You’ll be able to download and load the Steam Link app for 64-bit x86 Linux systems now, available through Flathub. The Steam Link app for Linux can be found at Flathub right this minute.

Users can set up Flatpak with a wide variety of operating systems, as shown on their quick setup page. Through this update with the newest version of the Steam Link app for Linux with Flatpak, you’ll potentially be able to play on systems like Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Pardus, Debian, and PureOS.

Per Valve, this release was made possible thanks in part fo Collabora, Open Source navigators in-the-know. This system SHOULD work with Remote Play as well. That includes both Remote Play Together and Remote Play Anywhere.

This all surpasses the part of the Steam Link adventure that required specific Steam Link hardware, switching instead to the Steam Link app on a wide variety of devices. Steam Link Anywhere would appear, at this point, to be the most simple and powerful alternative to all other game streaming services the world over. That includes Google Stadia, NVIDIA GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and Sony PlayStation Now to name a few.

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Categories
AI

Medisafe raises $30 million for predictive AI that reminds people to take their pills

Medisafe, a startup developing a personalized medication management platform designed to help patients stay on top of their prescriptions, today announced that it raised $30 million. The company says this new investment will enable it to expand its solutions while accelerating revenues growth.

Fear of or discomfort from needles are among the many reasons patients refuse to take or keep up with medications. According to a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 20% to 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled and approximately 50% of medications for chronic disease aren’t taken as prescribed. This lack of adherence is estimated to cause approximately 125,000 deaths and to cost the American health care system between $100 billion and $289 billion per year.

In 2012, Medisafe cofounders Omri Shor and Rotem Shor, who are brothers, faced a family health emergency. Due to a miscommunication about his medication schedule, their father, a diabetic, accidentally took an extra dose of insulin. In an effort to address and prevent these sorts of mistakes from happening in the future, the brothers created Medisafe, which helps to manage prescription schedules by leveraging AI and big data.

Medisafe employs what it calls “digital drug companions” to ensure medication takers follow through with their prescriptions. After a patient enters a medication into Medisafe’s smartphone app, the app guides them through a process that entails collecting release forms and helping them through titration schedules. Powered by Medisafe’s predictive AI engine, the Just-in-time-Interventions (JITI), the app’s content changes as the patient matriculates through therapy and recovery, delivering instructions on how to administer medication, assessing eligibility for financial support programs, and ordering refills as well as collecting information for providers via surveys.

Medisafe can email and text patients to remind them to take their medications on time. Moreover, the platform can target “rising-risk” patients with analytics and insights based on real-time behavioral assessments, boosting adherence up to 20%.

“With AI integration, users’ friends and physicians can be alerted if a user has missed doses, when specific steps have not been completed, or when a patient has some kind of challenging event throughout their journey,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. “Through [Medisafe’s] platform, the company delivers average adherence rates by users of 86%, well above industry norms of 50%. Billions of successful medication doses are managed through Medisafe’s platform, preventing more than 500,000 potentially harmful drug-to-drug interactions.”

On the backend, Medisafe’s in-app Care Connector enables clinicians to remotely connect with patients should they need additional assistance. And the company’s Maestro product provides a summary of patient census, compliance configuration settings, access to program reporting, and integrations with other vendor data.

While Medisafe directly competes with Walmart’s CareZone, Shop Apotheke’s MyTherapy, TrialCard’s Mango, and Healthprize, it claims to be among the largest medication management platforms in the world with over 7 million registered users. Over the past eight years, through partnerships with pharma companies including Merck, the company has amassed a database of over four billion dosage behaviors informing JITI.

“Today’s investment allows Medisafe to expand holistic treatment support for patients to impact behavior change and ultimately outcomes. Medisafe is continuously advancing its technology to meet the dynamic needs of patients managing complex therapies,” Omri Shor said in a press release.

Sanofi Ventures and Alive Israel HealthTech Fund led Medisafe’s series C funding announced today, which had participation from Leumi Partners, Menorah Mivtachim, and Consensus Business Group, as well as previous backers Pitango Ventures, 7Wire Ventures, Merck Ventures, Octopus Ventures, Lool HealthTech, Triventures, and OurCrowd. It brings Israel- and Boston, Massachusetts-based Medisafe’s total raised to date to roughly $55 million.

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Categories
Tech News

Snapchat Friend Check Up reminds users to clean up their lists

Social networking platforms have always been a numbers game, from “engagement” numbers to “friends” numbers. The latter is sometimes used as a bragging right, showing how many followers or friends you have collected. In some cases, it’s virtually impossible for you to actually know all of those personally, and, sometimes, those can even be liabilities. Snap, once popular for its strong privacy features, is now rolling out a feature that will remind its users to keep their friends lists regularly in check.

Although it seems to have been largely eclipsed by its rivals both old and new, Snapchat once carried the public’s favor because of its strong privacy safeguards that protected its users. Of course, that also emboldened those same users to share compromising images or videos which, despite those security measures, still managed to leak out. That’s because while Snapchat itself may have strong privacy measures, it can’t always vet everyone you added as a friend.

That is why the company is now offering a regular reminder to only keep people they can trust on those lists. Friend Check Up will prompt users to review their friends, some of which may no longer really be friends or have forgotten who they even were. The feature will make it easy to prune that list, without even alerting the other party.

Who’s on your friend’s list is critical in Snapchat since some features are enabled only for those who have mutually added themselves as friends. Others work on the assumption that people in a group are real friends, not just a friend of a friend of a friend. Snapchat’s safeguards pretty much breakdown if the user doesn’t make sure there aren’t weak links in the chain.

Friend Check Up will be coming to Android in the coming weeks and on iOS in the coming months. This is the network’s latest contribution to Safer Internet Day this year, along with partnerships with the Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ youths and MindUp for parents.

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