2020 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered review: Little tweaks yield big improvements

Polestar or not, the S60 is one sharp-dressed sedan.


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In the two years since I first drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s really only changed one thing: the brakes. But this seemingly small tweak actually makes a huge difference. With this important piece of the performance puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is finally the fully realized sport sedan it always intended to be.

Like

  • Potent hybrid performance
  • The brakes aren’t awful anymore
  • Gorgeous design, inside and out

Don’t Like

  • More expensive base price than rivals
  • T8 powertrain sounds wheezy
  • Sensus infotainment is still a little buggy

The hardware was never the issue; the big, six-piston Brembo front brakes provided lots of stopping power. But the electronic brake-by-wire software — where the brake pedal sends a signal to a computer, which then tells the brakes what to do — was poorly tuned. Volvo tweaked the software and made a few minor hardware changes, resulting in a braking experience that not only provides better feedback to the driver, but vastly smooths out the transition between the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. 

The old brakes were so hard to gauge that you’d unknowingly apply too much pressure, the nose

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Stimulus check requirements: Who qualifies for new $1,200 payment? What we know right now

The proposals for who may or may not qualify for a second stimulus check are coming into focus.


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Washington lawmakers have until August 7, a deadline imposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to reach a deal on another stimulus package. But, aside from agreeing on sending another $1,200 check to eligible individuals, Republican and Democratic leaders are still currently $2 trillion apart in their proposals, which are known as the HEALS Act and Heroes Act, respectively.

The Republican-backed HEALS Act and the Democratic Heroes Act plans largely follow the monetary guidelines of first stimulus check, which sent up to $1,200 and $500 for dependents, but far more people would qualify for payments in the Democratic plan. While the HEALS Act makes a few adjustments to who would qualify to receive payment, we don’t know how the GOP proposal could change before it eventually becomes law. 

When the IRS will send a second stimulus payment and who would qualify to receive money are two key questions for many Americans. Let’s examine who would qualify for a second stimulus payment based on citizenship, age, annual taxable income, marital status and the number of claimed dependents. 

Updated

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5 tips for using Google Meet on an iPad

A few tips to help you access Google Meet quickly, improve your image framing, access other apps, and even talk-to-type in chat.

Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Starting in mid-2020, more people turned to Google Meet than ever before. People who needed to work, teach, or learn from home discovered that Meet delivers a secure and reliable video conferencing service. Google also made Meet available for anyone to use, so that anyone with a Google account could use the service, which had originally been built for G Suite customers.

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A significant number of people chose to use Google Meet on an iPad. With an excellent camera, display, solid battery life, and an easy-to-carry size, the iPad works well as a highly portable tablet for video conferencing. Of course, it helps that you can use an iPad with a keyboard, touchpad, or a mouse, that Google Meet lets you turn on captions, and that you can present your screen from Meet on an iPad.

The following tips assume you have the Google Meet app installed on your iPad, you’ve signed in, and are familiar with the basics of Google Meet. If you’re not familiar,

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10 cross-platform commands all users should know

Learning the command line on any system can be daunting, so why not leverage that knowledge against multiple operating systems? Here are some that can help.

Image: Claudio Caridi, Getty Images/iStockphoto

As an admin, one of the things that irks me after a particularly long day is the switch over, or mental reset that comes with changing gears between Windows, Linux, or macOS. It may seem like a trifling nuisance, but it doesn’t get any easier over time when you execute a long string and press enter, only to have the console attempt to process the command and end in failure.

It’s those lost seconds that lead to minutes, then hours. Even worse is when you’re trying to figure something out and can’t quite get it, though you’re sure the command is right. Only then do you realize that you’re attempting to run a command from one shell in another.

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Some time ago, as I got more into macOS and Linux, I noticed that some commonly used commands share their usage and syntax across platforms. I began to use these whenever possible. Below you’ll find

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Razer BlackShark V2 sub-$100 headsets help keep your head in the game

The Razer BlackShark V2 (left) and V2 X (right).


Lori Grunin/CNET

Now that gaming’s booming, Razer’s brushed the dust off the eight-year-old Blackhark headset brand with a duo of overhauled versions — the stripped-down-for-esports $60 BlackShark V2 X and the more feature-rich, $100 BlackShark V2 — brandishing upgraded sound quality, microphones and designs, but retaining noise-isolating earcups. Both incorporate current-generation 50mm drivers and the same headband, but the higher-end model’s extra features come via the THX Spatial Audio and microphone settings enabled by Razer’s Synapse utility and a USB dongle, plus new TriForce Titanium 50mm drivers and some quality-of-life perks like a better cord, removable mic with foam cover and breathable fabric on the earcup padding. 

All of those are definitely worth the extra $40, even if you don’t care about the fancy surround audio, because the higher end model is far more comfortable, the boom is better on the removable mic and you can make it sound a lot better with the software. The software’s equalization profiles help improve the sound for things other than gaming. Plus I hate the rubber cable on the cheap model and much prefer the Speedflex braided cable.

The pricier BlackShark V2 is better

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Huawei snags top spot from Samsung in global smartphone market

For the first time ever in a quarter, China-based Huawei shipped more smartphones around the world than any other vendor, says Canalys.

Image: Angela Lange/CNET

Move over Samsung, there’s a new smartphone king in town, according to the latest results from research firm Canalys.

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During the second quarter of 2020, Huawei shipped more smartphones globally than any other vendor, overtaking Samsung for first place, Canalys said on Thursday. For the quarter, Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices, a decline of only 5% from the same period in 2019. Over the same time, second-place Samsung shipped 53.7 million smartphones, a 30% nosedive from last year’s second quarter.

Huawei can thank its home base of China for its rise to the top of the smartphone market. Outside of mainland China, the company is subject to US government regulations and sanctions, one reason its overseas shipments dropped by 27% last quarter.

But after being shaken by the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, China has arisen strongest of all the countries impacted by the pandemic. Factories have reopened, economic development has continued, and tighter controls have been implemented against new outbreaks, according to Canalys. With all these

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