Starting Sunday, cable companies can no longer ‘rent’ you the router you already own

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Asus’s arachnid router

Is your internet service provider charging you every month for the cable modem or router that you purchased with your own money? Or, perhaps, have you never bothered to buy those items because you couldn’t escape the fee? That fee will be illegal starting Sunday, December 20th, and you should tell your ISP that you’ll no longer tolerate it, threaten to sue, and/or take advantage of any binding arbitration clause it may have with you.

Last year, Congress passed a law that should have fixed this ridiculous loophole as of June 20th, 2020 — and though the FCC managed to extend the deadline six months by spinning up some bullshit about how cable companies didn’t have the resources to stop charging you money, the law should take full effect…

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Queen Elizabeth will deliver her Christmas Day message via Alexa this year, if you ask

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Queen Elizabeth II Delivers Her Christmas Speech
Photo by John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images

“Alexa, play the Queen’s Christmas Day message” will soon be a thing — even if you don’t live in the UK. Starting December 25th at 3PM GMT (or 10AM ET, 7AM PT), that phrase will deliver the Queen’s traditional Christmas Day broadcast, according to The Guardian.

If you’re curious what the Queen’s message might contain, you can check out transcripts of all her previous Christmas Broadcasts (going back to 1952!) at The Royal Household’s website. No doubt this one will spend some time on the COVID-19 pandemic, whose latest variant is currently forcing London to impose its harshest lockdown yet, but perhaps it’ll be a bit of an escape from the harsh reality, too.

Amazon seems to think it might be: “After a challenging year, millions of…

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The best deals of the week, holiday edition

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The holidays can be overwhelming — even during years like this one when most of us aren’t actually traveling to visit family and friends. If buying gifts is still looming on your to-do list, you certainly aren’t alone. It’s tough to find the right kind of gift for everyone, especially people who have an affinity for tech. That’s where we come in.

Below, there are a few great deals you can take advantage of now, and better, they’ll get where they need to be by December 25th. If you’re mailing packages yourself, we’ve pulled together all of the crucial shipping dates for USPS, UPS, and FedEx right here.


Deals on noise-canceling headphones

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds with noise cancellation slipped $10 below its best-ever price…

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The best last-minute digital gifts from Target, Amazon, Walmart, and more

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Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Plus are great gifts for early adopters of next-gen consoles. | Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The holiday season has arrived — but don’t panic. If you forgot to buy a gift for someone, you can’t decide what to give your loved one, or the item you wanted to give can’t be delivered on time, it’s not a problem. Digital gifts are the most convenient and easiest gifts. And with so many digital gifts to choose from — like a subscription to a popular streaming service, some extra cash for iTunes or a new game, or a gift card from your favorite retailer — we made a list of a few quick gift ideas.

Image: Disney

A streaming service like Disney Plus could be the perfect gift for a stay-at-home friend or relative.

For movie / TV show streamers

With the pandemic continuing to keep most of us inside, there’s never…

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The Verge’s 17 favorite podcasts of 2020

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Microphone (stock Lowensohn)

Many of us were not commuting as usual during 2020, so our podcast listening time may have been somewhat lessened. However, podcasts are still popular. They’re great to listen to while driving, cleaning your home, exercising, or just hanging out. There are podcasts to suit every taste, including topics like politics, history, music, and comedy. In fact, there are so many out there that it may be difficult to choose where to start. We asked the staff at The Verge what their current favorite podcasts were. Here they are — try them out and see what you think.


Lost Notes 1980

Photo: David Corio / KCRW

Lost Notes 1980

Last year, this podcast told about music’s untold stories. This season focuses on the year 1980…

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Cyberpunk 2077’s 1.05 update addresses a laundry list of bugs

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Image: CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077’s second promised hotfix is out for Xbox and PlayStation platforms. The PC version will follow “soon,” according to developer CD Projekt Red. You can read the extensive list of fixes here.

While there doesn’t seem to be anything quite as significant as the changes to reduce epilepsy risk made in last week’s 1.04 hotfix, hopefully this new update will make what has been a very buggy game have a few less issues.

The game has been out for a little more than a week, and players have been criticizing the game for its numerous bugs and performance issues, particularly on older consoles. The outcry led to Sony offering full refunds of digital copies of the game and taking the unprecedented step of yanking the game from the…

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Cyberpunk 2077’s Microsoft store listing now has a warning for bugs

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Cyberpunk 2077’s listing on Microsoft’s digital games store now includes a label warning of potential performance issues on Xbox One. “Users may experience performance issues when playing this game on Xbox One consoles until this game is updated,” the warning reads.

Players have observed numerous bugs and performance issues with Cyberpunk 2077 since its launch last week, especially on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The dissatisfaction led the company to quickly issue a statement suggesting that unhappy players try to get refunds for the game. Many players had trouble actually getting refunds, though, given Sony and Microsoft’s typically strict policies for issuing refunds of digital games.

Since Thursday evening, though, that has…

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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will have six cameras

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Samsung Galaxy S21
The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. | Photo: WinFuture

Today, we have another Galaxy S21 leak, which seems to confirm some of the specs that have been floating around, published by WinFuture. Information about and images of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S21-series phones have been landing almost daily in the run-up to Samsung’s January event. With this newest leak, we now have a better idea of what to expect — especially in the camera department. In short, the hardware appears to be a big part of Samsung’s plan to take on the highly capable iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The S21 Ultra will reportedly offer 3x and 10x telephoto cameras (72mm and 240mm equivalent focal lengths, respectively), both with optical image stabilization. That’s one additional rear-facing camera compared to the S20 Ultra’s three rear…

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Shigeru Miyamoto tours Super Nintendo World theme park in new video

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Image: Nintendo

Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto led a video tour of the company’s Mario-themed Super Nintendo World attraction at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka during the company’s latest Direct livestream.

The theme park looks to be packed with Mario iconography that will be familiar to Nintendo fans. Even the entrance Mario-themed: you enter the park by walking through a giant pipe that spits you out in the atrium of Princess Peach’s castle that first debuted in Super Mario 64.

Miyamoto showed how you can you use a special smart wristband, called the “Power-Up Band,” to interact with different parts of the zone. In one example, he punched a question mark block with the hand wearing the…

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Microsoft reportedly designing its own ARM-based chips for servers and Surface PCs

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Microsoft is designing its own ARM-based processors for servers and possibly a future Surface device, according to Bloomberg News. The processors will be used in servers for Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and be based around ARM designs, according to the report. Microsoft is also reportedly “exploring” using another chip for some of its Surface devices, but it’s not clear if this will progress into a final product.

Microsoft currently uses Intel-based processors for the majority of its Azure cloud services, and most of the company’s Surface lineup run on Intel chips, too. Microsoft has worked with AMD and Qualcomm for custom chips for its Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X devices, showing a willingness to move away from just Intel.

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Best Buy is accepting Cyberpunk 2077 returns through December 21st, even if you played it

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Image: CD Projekt Red

Best Buy has joined the list of retailers offering returns for copies of Cyberpunk 2077, with the company announcing (in a forum post) that it’ll be accepting returns through December 21st.

The move is an unusual one for Best Buy, which typically excludes opened video games from its usual return policy — in most circumstances, “opened physical copies of computer software, movies, music, video games, books, video game guides and sheet music can only be exchanged for an identical item.”

However, in light of developer CD Projekt Red’s own acknowledgement of issues with the game — and its offer to supply refunds through December 21st — Best Buy will be offering a similar opportunity for disappointed buyers to return their copies.

Per the…

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CD Projekt Red promises Cyberpunk 2077 refunds ‘out of our own pocket if necessary’

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Image: CD Projekt Red

CD Projekt Red (CDPR) has issued yet another statement regarding the ongoing Cyberpunk 2077 debacle, this time clarifying its stance on retail refunds for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game that have been riddled with bugs and performance issues since launch last week. The developer now says it will honor every refund request it receives between now and December 21st out of its own pocket.

“We’ve just started reaching out to people who sent us a message with a confirmation of receipt. We send these emails out in waves, so don’t worry if you don’t receive an answer immediately,” CDPR writes in its new statement, issued via the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account on Friday afternoon. “At the same time, we’d like you…

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Skype now has Microsoft Teams’ fun Together Mode

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Skype’s new Together Mode option featuring Verge staff.

Microsoft is bringing one of its best Teams video calling features over to Skype this week. Together Mode, which uses AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you together with other people in a virtual space, is now available in Skype. You’ll need at least five people all with webcams to enable the feature, and it will place everyone into a virtual environment as if they’re sitting next to each other.

You don’t even need the Skype app to take advantage of Together Mode, as it works through the web version of Skype without the need for an account. Skype users can create a Meet Now meeting and share the link with anyone to join.

GIF: Microsoft

Together Mode in Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft first launched…

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Microsoft offers Cyberpunk 2077 refunds for all digital sales, but it’s not pulling the game

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Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077
Image: CD Projekt Red

Microsoft says it’s now offering Cyberpunk 2077 refunds to anyone who has purchased the game via its Microsoft Store. While the company has been offering refunds to some customers already, Microsoft is now expanding this to cover anyone who has purchased the game digitally.

“We know the developers at CD Projekt Red have worked hard to ship Cyberpunk in extremely challenging circumstances,” explains a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “However, we also realize that some players have been unhappy with the current experience on older consoles. To date, we have granted refunds to the vast majority of customers who have requested one. To ensure that every player is able to get the experience they expect on Xbox, we will be…

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Riot confirms it’s making a League of Legends MMO

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Image: Riot Games

League of Legends developer Riot Games is working on a massively multiplayer online (MMO) roleplaying game in the League universe, Riot’s VP of IP and entertainment, Greg Street, tweeted on Thursday.

“My recent job at Riot has been to help develop the League universe, which we’re going to need!” Street said. “My new job is to kick off a big (some might say massive) game that many of you, and many Rioters, have been asking us to create.” If the deliberate use of the word “massive” in that quote wasn’t enough of a hint, in a reply to another Twitter user, Street confirmed the game is an MMO.

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Fortnite’s holiday event brings back airplanes

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Fortnite’s annual holiday event is back, and this time, it brings a surprise: the return of airplanes. “Operation Snowdown,” as it’s called, lasts from December 18th to January 5th, and it adds the expected to the game, including a snowy map and free unlockables like a soldier snowman called Snowmando. Everyone who logs in before January 5th will also get a free caroling emote.

The biggest feature, though, is the return of airplanes. The timing is perfect: planes were first introduced in season 7, back in 2018, which was also a winter-themed update for the game. (There was even a militarized Santa character.) They were later removed, and it sounds like their latest appearance will be short-lived as well.

In addition to the new missions…

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Time is running out to snag these deals before the holidays

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch offers some much-needed joy.

The holidays are upon us, and we’re just about to enter crunch time for gift-getting. If you haven’t made your selections, it’s possible that gifts might not get where they need to go on time — unless you pay for rush shipping or you take advantage of curbside pickup services. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but if you’re ready to make a few purchases for tech fans in your life, we have a few last-minute suggestions that also happen to be good deals. Depending on the retailer, these might not arrive in time for the holidays, but it’s the thought that counts, right? You’ve got this!

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Google’s latest Pixel Buds wireless earbuds rarely see a discount, but they’re $35 off at online store…

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Vergecast: Two new Google antirust cases and an AirPods Max review

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Apple AirPods Max earcup removed
Photo by Nilay Patel / The Verge

It seems like there’s no sign of tech news stopping for the holidays. In The Vergecast’s last regular episode of 2020, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn and Nilay Patel bring on senior reporter Adi Robertson and editor Chris Welch to explain the biggest stories in tech from this past week.

In the first half of the show, Adi explains two (!) more antitrust cases brought against Google this week: one from the Texas attorney general and the other from a coalition of 38 states. The Vergecast breaks down their arguments about Google’s alleged anti-competitive behavior around ad tech and search manipulation.

In the second half of the show, The Vergecast shift gears to a review of the latest product announcement from Apple: the AirPods Max. Chris…

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There is no ‘best’ time to release new Mandalorian episodes

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For the last eight weeks, waking up on Friday morning has come with a gamble for many Star Wars fans: check Twitter to see the latest headlines or watch the new Mandalorian episode before anyone has a chance to spoil it?

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian is a perfect example. The second season finale includes some moments that Twitter’s trending tags and “news for you” curated topic sideline are already ruining. Without getting into spoiler territory here (and use this as a warning to stay away from Twitter if you haven’t seen the finale yet), one of the proposed solutions to this problem seems simple: release the episodes at a later time. Instead of dropping episodes at 3AM ET, why not pivot to 8 or 9PM ET, similar to how Game of…

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