Revolution Cooking’s R180 Smart Toaster delivers smarter, faster toasting — for a price

A lot of the past decade in smart home gadgets has been figuring out just how smart we actually want our appliances to be. In a lot of cases when it comes to cooking, the old ways are best, and smart features tend to just complicate things. The new Revolution Cooking R180 High-Speed Smart Toaster ($299.95) strikes the right balance, delivering genuinely useful tech-enabled goodies, without any of the things you don’t need in a toaster — like an internet connection.

The basics

Revolution Cooking’s R180’s most immediately apparent feature is its large, prominent touchscreen display. The screen replaces your typical hardware controls, including buttons and switches, and gives you visual feedback about the toasting process when it’s underway. This is definitely part of the “smart” of the R180’s Smart Toaster designation, but the company’s “InstaGlo” heating technology might be better described as its primary differentiator.

In terms of basic specs, this is a two-slice toaster with slots that are wide enough to accommodate bagels and burger buns pretty easily. It has selectable modes for bagels, sliced bread, English muffins, waffles and toaster pastries (like Pop-Tarts). You can choose between three different heating modes, including “fresh,” “frozen” and “reheat,” and there are seven different darkness levels for browning.

There’s a standby clock display option for when the toaster isn’t in use, and the toaster can provide reminders occasionally to nudge you to remove and empty the crumb tray.

Design and performance

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The industrial design of the Revolution R180 is good, without being wacky or overly futuristic. It’s basically a brushed stainless steel rectangle, with a sloped chrome front face and large touchscreen display. The toaster unquestionably looks good sitting on a counter, however, and the slant of its front is a nice touch for ensuring prime visibility and touchscreen control access when you’re using it from a standing position. It’s also relatively compact and won’t take up too much room if you’re concerned at all about counter real estate.

The display is big and bright, and uses capacitive touch so it’s very responsive in terms of input detection. The nice thing about the interface is that even though it’s digital, it keeps things simple — everything you need is on one screen, with a standard cog icon hiding settings that let you do neat but unnecessary things like setting the time and choosing between an analog or digital virtual clock face for the sleep screen.

Using the R180 Smart Toaster is easy — there’s no internet connection to set up or app to install, you just plug it in and it starts up, presenting you with the bread type/browning level/heating mode selection screen. Tap the image associated with what you want to toast, or scroll left and right to reach others, select from the three modes and tap the browning level that corresponds with what color you want the toasted item to mostly closely resemble (the image above updates to reflect this) and hit the “Start” button and you’re off to the races.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

And it really is a race: The Revolution toaster is faster than most. I was perhaps expecting even faster given the company’s marketing claims, but there’s no question that it’s speedier than your average toaster. The other big claim that Revolution makes is about toasting quality, as it promises not to dry out your bread and provide better-tasting end products, even with tricky toasting situations like a combo dethaw and brown.

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t even really aware of these claims the first time I tried out the review unit they sent, but me and my partner both instantly noted how anything toasted in the R180 seemed not nearly as dried out as in our existing Breville toaster. And yet, the toasted parts were crisp and golden at the same time. Surprising as it might sound, Revolution’s claims bear out — the Smart Toaster really does make better-tasting toast.

Bottom line

A $300 two-slice toaster definitely seems like an extravagance — and to be clear, it is — but premium nonsmart toasters already stretch the limits of most home appliance budgets, and Revolution’s main claim to superiority is achieving a crunchy exterior while leaving the inside soft and not dried out, and it does this with aplomb. The touchscreen almost certainly adds to the cost, but it does provide a clear and easy-to-understand interface for setting desired toast goals, and it’s a pretty good-looking countertop clock when not in use. In short, Revolution’s Smart Toaster is just smart enough, and smart where it counts, for a smart appliance — but expensive enough that it’s worth taking a long, hard think about just how much you love toasted things.

Apple releases iOS 14.2 with new emojis and an accessibility feature that locates people with lidar

Apple has released iOS 14.2 today. It includes multiple new features as well as some important bug fixes and security updates. Among other things, this release introduces over 100 new emojis.

You’ll find a transgender flag, a smiling face with tear, pinched fingers, two people hugging, some insects and animals, a disguised face and more. When it comes to new variations, there will be a Mx Claus, a gender-inclusive alternative to Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Tuxedos are no longer limited to men and veils are no longer limited to women — you’ll be able to send an emoji with a woman wearing a tuxedo and a man wearing a veil.

Today’s release also includes a new accessibility feature for blind users who have an iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Thanks to the built-in lidar sensor, you can use your iPhone to detect the presence of and distance to people in the view of the iPhone’s camera.

While it is still useful beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, you can use it to receive an alert when there’s someone in front of you that is more than six feet away, and another one if they come closer to you. In addition to stereo audio alerts, you can set up a haptic pulse that goes faster as the person gets closer.

TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey has more details on the new feature:

iOS 14.2 also adds some minor features, such as new wallpapers, headphone audio level notifications when the volume is too high and redesigned controls for AirPlay.

When Apple introduced the HomePod Mini, the company talked about a new Intercom feature that lets you interact with another Apple user in your house. Today’s software updates add Intercom support for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.

If you have AirPods, you can now enable optimized battery charging. It works like optimized battery charging on your iPhone. If you plug your AirPods in before going to bed, they won’t charge at full speed. Instead, your iPhone can tell your AirPods to charge to 100% right before you wake up — it should improve your battery life.

Apple is also releasing iPadOS 14.2 and watchOS 7.1. Apple Watch users in South Korea and Russia can now try out the ECG feature with recent Apple Watch models.

Before updating, back up your device. Make sure your iCloud backup is up to date by opening the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and tapping on your account information at the top. Alternatively, you can plug your iOS device into your computer to do a manual backup in iTunes or the Finder. Once this is done, you should go to the Settings app, then “General” and then “Software Update.”

Here’s the full iOS 14.2 changelog:

iOS 14.2 includes the following improvements for your iPhone:

  • Over 100 new emoji, including animals, food, faces, household objects, musical instruments, gender-inclusive emoji, and more
  • Eight new wallpapers in both light and dark mode versions
  • Magnifier can detect people nearby, and report their distance using the LiDAR sensor included in iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Support for iPhone 12 Leather Sleeve with MagSafe
  • Optimized battery charging for AirPods to slow the rate of battery aging by reducing the time your AirPods spends fully charged
  • Headphone audio level notifications to alert you when audio level could impact your hearing
  • New AirPlay controls to stream entertainment throughout your home
  • Intercom support with HomePod and HomePod mini using iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and CarPlay
  • Ability to connect HomePod to Apple TV 4K for stereo, surround sound, and Dolby Atmos audio
  • Option to provide statistics about Exposure Notifications, without identifying you, to participating Public Health Authorities

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Apps could be out of order on the Home Screen dock
  • Camera viewfinder may appear black when launched
  • The keyboard on the Lock Screen could miss touches when trying to enter the passcode
  • Reminders could default to times in the past
  • Photos widget may not display content
  • Weather widget could display the high temperature in Celsius when set to Fahrenheit
  • Next-hour precipitation chart description in Weather could incorrectly indicate when precipitation stops
  • Voice Memos recordings are interrupted by incoming calls
  • The screen could be black during Netflix video playback
  • Apple Cash could fail to send or receive money when asked via Siri
  • Apple Watch app may unexpectedly close when opened
  • Workout GPS routes or Health data are prevented from syncing between Apple Watch and iPhone for some users
  • Audio is incorrectly labeled as “Not Playing” in the CarPlay Dashboard
  • Devices could be prevented from charging wirelessly
  • Exposure Notifications is disabled when restoring iPhone from iCloud Backup or transferring data to a new iPhone using iPhone Migration

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:


Nvidia reportedly bringing Fortnite back to iOS through its cloud gaming service

Nvidia is bringing Fortnite back to iPhones and iPads, according to a report from the BBC.

The British news service is reporting that Nvidia has developed a version of its GeForce cloud gaming service that runs on Safari.

The development means that Fortnite gamers can play the Epic Games title off of servers run by Nvidia. What’s not clear is whether the cloud gaming service will mean significant lag times for players that could effect their gameplay.

Apple customers have been unable to download new versions of Epic Games’ marquee title after the North Carolina-based company circumvented Apple’s rules around in-game payments.

Revenues and rules are at the center of the conflict between Epic and Apple. Epic had developed an in-game marketplace where transactions were not subject to the 30% charges that Apple places on transactions conducted through its platform.

The maneuver was a clear violation of Apple’s terms of service, but Epic is arguing that the rules themselves are unfair and an example of Apple’s monopolistic hold over distribution of applications on its platform.

The ongoing legal dispute won’t even see the inside of a courtroom until May and it could be years before the lawsuit is resolved.

That’s going to create a lot of hassles for the nearly 116 million iOS Fortnite players, especially for the 73 million players that only use Apple products to access the game, according to the BBC report.

Unlike Android, Apple does not allow games or other apps to be loaded on to its phones or tablets via app stores other than its own.

Nvidia already offers its GeForce gaming service for Mac, Windows, Android and Chromebook computers, but the new version will be available on Apple mobile devices as well, according to the BBC report.

If it moves ahead, Nvidia’s cloud gaming service would be the only one on the market to support iOS users. Neither Amazon’s Luna cloud-gaming platform, nor Google’s Stadia service carry Fortnite.

DJI’s pint-sized Mavic Mini gets camera and connection upgrades

We dug DJI’s Mavic Mini when the drone arrived last year. As Matt noted in his review, “It packs everything critical to be a quality drone. It has a good camera, good range and a good controller. It holds up well in the wind and is quick enough to be fun.” Today, DJI improves two of those things with the arrival of the Mini 2.

The new version, which hits retail today, is more refinement than redefinition. This is one of those cases where that’s perfectly fine, as the first release was a solid one, owing to the learnings of several generations of DJI and Mavic drones. The size and weight are essentially the same here. The Mini 2 weighs 249 grams — which comes out to about 0.55 pounds. It folds up and can be stashed away in a bag.

Image Credits: Gregory Manalo

The camera is probably the biggest upgrade here. The system is now capable of shooting 4K videos at 30 FPS. Stills, meanwhile, are 12-megapixels, and there’s 4x digital zoom (which DJI says is capable of up to 2x and still offer lossless quality). I suspect zoom is going to be a continued spot for improvement on these systems, going forward.

The other big change is the arrival of DJI’s proprietary OcuSync wireless technology — specifically OccuSync 2.0 here. The technology is also available on the latest Mavic Air. Per DJI:

OcuSync 2.0 is DJI’s world-renowned transmission technology responsible for ensuring stable, long distance, and reliable connection between the remote controller and the drone. Dual-frequency technology automatically switches between channels to help against interference.

Image Credits: Gregory Manalo

Among other things, the upgrade means a transmission rate of 19 km — around 150% of the range its predecessor delivered. Though DJI has to remind you here that you really ought to keep the tiny drone in your line of sight while operating. The battery should give you a solid 31 minutes (a slight improvement over the original’s stated 30-minute flight time).

DJI’s preprogrammed image capture is always a highlight. There are five quick-shot modes (Dronie, Helix, Rocket, Circle, Boomerang), three panoramas (Sphere, 180 and Wide-Angle) and two image modes (Triple Shot and Timed Shots).

Image Credits: Gregory Manalo

There’s a bit of a notable price bump here. The system now starts at $449 (up from $399), which includes the drone, remote and a single battery; $599 will get you two additional batteries, a charging hub and a carrying case — a solid addition.

Hands-on with Mophie’s new modular smartphone battery case

There was some confusion when the Juice Pack Connect was announced last week. I admit I was a bit confused, too. It was, no doubt, the proximity to Apple’s iPhone 12 launch that lead many to (understandably) assume that the new take on Mophie’s case is based on the handset’s new MagSafe tech.

While it seems likely that some future version of the accessory will sport that functionality, truth is there are two primary technologies at the heart of the newer, more modular battery pack: wireless charging and good old-fashioned adhesive. That means, among other things, that the system effectively works with any handset that supports Qi wireless charging.

In fact, the system is actually pretty bare bones by design. There’s not even a case included in the box. You’ve got to supply your own. Instead, the system ships with the battery pack, a grip/stand and, helpfully, two adapters. That last bit is nice in case you need a do-over or plan sharing the battery with someone else.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Installation is pretty simple. There’s even a little cardboard guide to insure you center it properly, à la the sort of frame you’d get to install a screen protector. You can install it directly onto the back of the phone, as well, but I prefer to stay noncommittal with my accessories if possible. That said, you’ll need to live with the little adapter nub on the rear of your device when other accessories aren’t attached.

The accessories slide onto the anchor from the side. The battery pack is easily the nicest-looking part of the whole rig — and the one that most closely retains the design language of the original Juice Packs. The ring/stand is a bit cheaper-feeling and feels like a bit of an afterthought to occupy the system when not charging. One of the big trade-offs is that the more compact battery design means a smaller capacity; 5,000mAh isn’t bad, but you can find a higher capacity case for cheaper.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

The other trade-off you probably already know, which is that wireless charging is slower than the wired kind. For that reason, the system is better adapted to keeping your device alive for long stretches, rather than fast charging. That said, if you’re really in a pinch and have the right cables handy, you can charge your phone up faster via the USB-C port (which is also used to top off the battery).

The Connect Stand is serviceable. It serves better as a stand than a grip. It would be useful if the company offered something more like a Pop Socket for a more solid grip. That’s the nice thing about modularity, though — they can always add more accessories. At $80, it’s not cheap, but, then Mophie products never really are.