Microsoft reportedly in talks to buy AI company Nuance Communications – CNET

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Microsoft may be close to closing its second largest acquisition ever.

James Martin/CNET

Microsoft is in talks to acquire AI and speech company Nuance Communications in a deal that would value the company at about $16 billion, Bloomberg reported Sunday. The Burlington, Massachusetts-based company's technology helped launch Apple's digital assistant Siri.

The two companies are discussing a price of about $56 per share, Bloomberg reported, a 23% premium over the stock's close on Friday. The deal would be Microsoft's second largest acquisition ever, after its $26.2 billion deal to buy LinkedIn in 2016.

Like many tech companies, Microsoft has invested heavily in artificial intelligence in recent years. Last year, the company unveiled an enormous supercomputer for AI work that contained 285,000 processor core. in 2018, the company acquired XOXCO, a startup that develops conversational artificial intelligence, aka chatbots.

Neither Microsoft no Nuance immediately responded to requests for comment.

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Don’t buy a new TV at the wrong time. Here’s when prices will fall – CNET

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Whether in-store or online, big or small, OLED or LCD -- TV pricing follows an annual cycle.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

There's an annual pricing cycle of pricing for all televisions, be they 4K, 8K, OLED, QLED, Mini-LED or just plain LCD. Knowing that cycle might save you some money or at least some pricing anxiety. What's the cycle, you ask? I'm not even going to make you scroll. Here it is in a nutshell: CES, Super Bowl, spring shipments, minor summer price drops, fall/Black Friday/holiday major price drops.

New TVs are announced at CES in January. They're not available then, however. There are often sales in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl in February, but they're on the previous year's models. Current model year TVs start shipping in the spring, and that's when they're at their most expensive. There's sometimes a slight price drop in the summer, but not always. During the fall and leading up to the holidays there are usually bigger price cuts. Black Friday and Cyber Monday often have the best deals, on both cheap doorbuster models as well as the best TVs, and those prices can often be had throughout December and the holidays. That brings us back to CES in January and the cycle begins anew.

So when is the best time to buy a new TV? It's not as easy to say "when it's cheapest" because that's often when new models are right around the corner. Plus, the cheapest TV might not be the best value. Let's dig a bit deeper.

Are you happy with what you have now?

Forget all the new tech. If your TV works and you're happy with it, keep it. Don't feel any pressure to upgrade. 

Modern TVs are, on average, brighter and have better picture quality than the TVs from a few years ago. Unless you're the type of videophile who wants to tweak every setting and fixates on nits and color accuracy, however, you probably don't need a new TV.

The pressure to upgrade is pervasive in our tech culture, but TVs tend to last longer, and be perfectly functional longer, than most devices. They don't, for example, have batteries that lose capacity like mobile phones, or have wires that wear out like headphones. A TV from 5 or even 10 years ago likely works fine, though it might not look as good as the current 4K HDR TVs. So again, if that's not a huge deal for you, you can likely keep what you have for a few more years. 

This is even true when considering new consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. If you've got a PS4, Xbox One or any console connected via HDMI, the new consoles should work fine. They might look better on a new TV, but they'll still look great on yours.

Read more: Best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S

If your TV is having issues, or you just want something larger, that's a different story. New TVs are much cheaper per inch than TVs of the past. You'll be able to replace your current TV with something the same size, looks better and is cheaper than your old TV. Or you can pay the same amount as your old TV and get something that's far bigger.

Sales

The biggest single days for TV sales are, of course, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are always some incredibly cheap 4K TVs on offer. But that's not the whole story.

First of all, the TVs that get the biggest discounts are usually either no-name brands, or low-end models from name brands. They're fine if you just want a cheap TV, but they're not going to offer the picture quality of an even slightly higher-end model. The best TVs go on sale as well, but deep discounts on those are less common. 

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TC sales happen all year, but Black Friday season sees the biggest discounts.

Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Second, massive discounts on TVs are rare in general. It might be counterintuitive, but TVs typically don't have much mark-up. There isn't a lot of profit in a $500 TV. So unless the store is trying to clear out stock, you shouldn't expect a gigantic drop in price even during sales. Plenty of good discounts are available, they're just not going to be "50% off" or similar, unless there's a specific reason that model is getting such an extreme discount. Or it's a doorbuster in limited quantities.

Third, most big companies don't allow stores to offer their own pricing. This is called UPP, or Unilateral Pricing Policy. It means that a TV from that company is going to cost the same, whether it's on Amazon, in Best Buy, or anywhere else. Well, anywhere else that wants to continue selling TVs from that company.

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Most TV pricing is set by the manufacturer so it stays the same from store to store.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If this sounds sketchy, it is, but that's a topic for a different article. The result is there's usually no point in worrying if one store is going to have a sale. In most cases, either every store has a sale on that TV, or none do. Of course, that TV might go on sale (everywhere) next week. Some stores offer price protection in case this happens. Some credit cards do as well. Amazon, it's worth noting, does not offer price protection.

What about next year's TV tech?

To put it succinctly, there's always something new around the corner. If this is your worry, it should give you peace of mind that even if something new hits the market next year, it's going to be very expensive. 

For example, MicroLED looks very promising, but you could buy a Porsche or two for the price of one MicroLED TV. It will be years before that's mainstream tech.

Mini-LED, on the other hand, is available now. It's a technology that promises close-to-OLED picture quality for less money. It's likely we'll see more brands with Mini-LED in the future. 

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On the left, the image as you'd see it on a mini-LED TV. On the right, an illustration of the mini-LED array on the back of the TV. With that many LEDs, the backlight has a greater "resolution," so there can be finer distinctions between light and dark. The ideal, like OLED and microLED, would be per-pixel illumination, but mini-LED is a step closer to that without the cost of the other two technologies. 

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Also rolling out across the country is NextGen TV, aka ATSC 3.0. This is free over-the-air 4K TV, and while it's moving forward quite quickly and might already be available in your city. There are even some models with tuners built in that are available now. Don't feel you need to rush to upgrade, or get those specific models, since worst case you'll be able to buy a cheap external tuner and connect that to your TV.

There's also HDMI 2.1. While 2.1 has several new technologies that are great, it's not going to make any current TVs obsolete (unless it's a current 8K TV, but that's yet another story). As long as your current TV works with your current sources, you should be fine. 

Really old TVs, older than 10 years, might have issues connecting to modern streaming and disc sources, but there's no real workaround for that. If your TV doesn't work with a new Roku or Blu-ray player, then you might need to upgrade if you want to use one of those.

So should you get a new TV?

Here's the short version:

Get a new TV now if:

  • Your current TV is having issues, or is too old to connect to a streaming service like Netflix.
  • You're willing to buy from a place that has a price-match policy, in case there's a sale.
  • You want something bigger than what you have now.

Don't get a TV now if:

  • Your current TV works fine.
  • There's literally anything else you need or want to spend money on.

If you've got the itch for something new, but you're still on the fence, consider giving your TV a bit of a makeover. If you've never adjusted the settings, it's easy to do and will probably make your TV look better than it ever has. That might tide you over for a bit.

And if you finally decide that, yes, you're ready to buy a new TV now, we at CNET do have some guidelines and suggested 2021 models.


As well as covering TV and other display tech, Geoff Morrison does photo tours of cool museums and locations around the world, including nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castlesairplane graveyards and more. 

You can follow his exploits on InstagramYouTube and on his travel blog, BaldNomad. He also wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-sized submarines, along with a sequel

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Amazon wins in union rejection, but scrutiny of its labor practices isn’t going away – CNET

Bernie Sanders speaks at an outdoor rally supporting the Amazon union effort in Bessemer, Alabama.

Bernie Sanders is among the politicians supporting Amazon workers who want to unionize. The union's objection to the Bessemer election could keep the issue in the public eye and energize efforts at other facilities.

Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images

Amazon prevailed Friday in its fight against labor organizing at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, with workers rejecting the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union by a ratio of 2-to-1. The union's definitive loss could be the end of the road for its effort in Bessemer, but the labor fight at Amazon may just be getting started.

The union, which has already filed an objection, argues that Amazon improperly swayed the vote, and it may yet win the chance to redo the election. Whether or not it does, the effort garnered the backing of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and words of support from President Joe Biden, becoming a national story that could catalyze future attempts elsewhere -- especially as reports about the working conditions continue to spill out. 

Meanwhile, Amazon is trying to position itself as a leader on labor issues and directing the conversation away from unions. In a statement Friday, the company emphasized its advocacy for a $15 federal minimum wage for the "40 million Americans who make less than the starting wage at Amazon, and many more who don't get health care through their employers." 

Even if no warehouse workers try to organize in the near future, the scrutiny on working conditions at Amazon is likely to get even more intense. The National Labor Relations Board is reportedly considering investigating the company for a possible pattern of unfair labor practices, after receiving 37 complaints of retaliation from Amazon workers who say they were fired or disciplined for organizing walkouts or complaining about working conditions. And Amazon's thousands of workers, called essential during the coronavirus pandemic as they processed orders while risking infection, will likely continue calling attention to conditions they say leave them exhausted, at risk of injury and in fear of losing their jobs.

"People are not going to give up," said Kirthi Kanyalam, director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. "They are too big an employer."

A union determined to keep going

It's uncommon for a union to object to a lost election when workers have voted it down by such a wide margin, said Andrew MacDonald, a labor attorney who represents employers but who wasn't involved in the Bessemer election. There's a high cost to running an organizing drive, and a big loss can send a signal that the union has lost worker support. 

But the RWDSU announced its intention to object before the NLRB publicly released its final tally.

"That says to me that they feel strongly," MacDonald said. "It's not over yet."

If the fight keeps going, it could help maintain the union's momentum in organizing efforts elsewhere in the country. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said Friday that the union is already talking about unionizing with workers at other Amazon warehouses. Additionally, the giant union federation AFL-CIO is working with the RWDSU on its unionizing efforts, adding heft and resources to the tiny union's endeavors. Separately, Teamsters organizers are reportedly talking with workers at two Iowa Amazon warehouses about a potential union drive. 

In its fight to redo the Bessemer election, the RWDSU takes issue with Amazon's anti-union tactics, including mandatory employee training sessions that argued against unions and that the RWDSU says were filled with falsehoods. It also criticizes Amazon for pressing the US Postal Service to install a mailbox at the Bessemer warehouse after the NLRB ordered Amazon not to host a drop box for ballots. 

Read more: Amazon union defeated, pushes for election redo: What you need to know

The union argues that the mailbox could've given employees the impression that Amazon was involved in collecting and counting votes -- which it wasn't. Amazon says only the post office had access to the mailbox.

Still, some of the conditions that may've led workers to reject the union will still be at play in future union elections, in Bessemer and in most other places in the country. In particular, fear of getting laid off or of seeing a whole facility shut down can often drive employees to reject the union, said Rebecca Kolins Givan, a professor of management and labor relations at Rutgers. 

That's especially the case in places like Alabama, where Amazon warehouse workers earn almost twice as much as the state's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The Bessemer facility brought thousands of jobs with pay higher than $15 an hour to the region. Workers' fear of losing that could make it hard for the union to make its case a second time, and it could also derail other union drives.

The future of labor relations at Amazon

Even if union drives fizzle out, Amazon will still have to face the NLRB and public opinion on its treatment of workers.

Based on 37 complaints from Amazon employees that the company fired or disciplined them in retaliation for organizing walkouts or complaining about working conditions, the NLRB is reportedly considering launching an investigation into Amazon's general practices. Amazon has settled some of the individual cases while saying the company disagrees with the claims. If the NLRB finds Amazon has a pattern of violating labor laws, it could hit the company with fines, however small they may be in proportion to Amazon's 2020 profits of $21.3 billion.

Additionally, the union drive and media attention have put pressure on Amazon to improve working conditions, said Michael Pachter, a financial analyst who follows Amazon for investment firm Wedbush. He added that Amazon would do well to address the complaints workers have made about breaks and job security -- and not simply rely on its wages and benefits as proof that it's doing the right thing.

"It's in everybody's best interest that the company treats the employees right," Pachter said. "If they can do so without a union, that's better for shareholders."

The challenge for Amazon is balancing competing needs: to treat workers well and to maintain control over its warehouse operations, which power the company's promise of two-day delivery. While no company wants to be unionized, Amazon's leadership especially prizes the company's ability to innovate, retail management expert Kalyanam said. 

That shows in the company's history of developing technology to improve its own operations, and then use tech to build a whole new business. The most striking example is Amazon Web Services, the cloud business that currently brings in the majority of Amazon's revenue. Innovations in robotics and automation at Amazon warehouses could potentially create the next big revenue generator.

The company wants to avoid labor negotiations slowing down that process, Kalyanam said, adding that "They would consider that an existential threat."

Amazon seems less concerned about having to pay its workers a bit more. As Amazon pushes for a higher federal minimum wage, it could drive up its own labor costs. If its competitors pay $15 an hour, the company could find itself paying even more to attract workers to its facilities. This likely doesn't worry Amazon, though, said Rutgers labor expert Rivans.

"That just demonstrates that this is not about the money," she said, "This is about control."

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Clarence Thomas and Section 230: Why the justice’s musings matter – CNET

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made waves last week when he suggested giant social media companies should be regulated like utilities. 

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas fired a warning shot Monday at social media giants Facebook and Twitter that could signal the possibility of stricter regulation and a potential radical shift in thinking around the First Amendment and the hotly debated topic of Section 230

On Monday, Thomas and the other eight Supreme Court justices handed down a ruling in a case involving former President Donald Trump blocking users from his Twitter account. The court vacated a lower court's ruling that said Trump's actions were unconstitutional. Since Trump is no longer president, the Supreme Court said, the case was moot

Still, Thomas took the opportunity to write a short concurring opinion, which explained why the government should regulate social media companies like so-called "common carriers," a designation often bestowed on utilities like telephone networks. This line of thinking would restrict social media companies from taking down content from their sites, ensuring that everyone could have equal access to the platforms. 

"If the analogy between common carriers and digital platforms is correct, then an answer may arise for dissatisfied platform users who would appreciate not being blocked: laws that restrict the platform's right to exclude," Thomas said in his opinion.

The short opinion could have big implications for the brewing scrutiny of a decades-old law that shields companies such as Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over content users post on their platforms. Lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle are calling for reforms to Section 230, a provision in the Communications Decency Act that gives legal protections to social media companies. 

Calls for reform have taken on new urgency as social media sites battle a flood of troubling content, including disinformation about the coronavirus vaccines, the outcome of the US presidential election and the deadly attack on the US Capitol. But exactly how to institute reforms is something politicians on opposite sides of the political spectrum don't agree on. 

Democrats argue that Section 230 prevents social media companies from doing more to moderate their platforms, such as taking down or limiting hate speech and disinformation about COVID-19. Republicans take the opposite view. They want the law repealed because of their perception that the Silicon Valley powerhouses are biased against the right and work to censor conservatives, like Trump, while giving liberal politicians a pass. 

Thomas, who's long expressed originalist views about the First Amendment, echoed conservatives' concerns over censorship. His comments from the highest court in the US could amplify these complaints and help them gain traction in Congress. 

"There's a lot of appetite for legislative reform for 230," said Gautam Hans, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who specializes in First Amendment law and Section 230. "The opinion itself calls into question some of the current provisions ... which I think means that some legislators will use that to say look, 'We have a Supreme Court Justice who thinks we have some problems here. Why don't we go in and try to fix that?'"

What could that legislation look like?

As rhetoric heats up around reforming Section 230, lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum have introduced a flurry of legislation over the past year. But so far none of it has gained much traction. 

Some bills call for liability protections to go away entirely, while others alter or refine the protections. There are bills that limit the scope of Section 230 by restricting types of activities protected under the law. Other bills strip away liability protections and would have companies earn those protections by showing they're politically neutral in how they moderate content. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also proposed a fix to the law. In testimony to Congress last month, he called for more transparency from social media companies and suggested that companies "be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it." He also said companies shouldn't be held liable for content that evades their detection. 

The issue of social media bias has mostly been a conservative talking point that Republican senators, such as Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, have used to berate Zuckerberg and Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, at congressional hearings. Republican lawmakers have repeatedly questioned the executives on these claims in spite of scant evidence such bias exists. 

Thomas' opinion, which no other justice on the court joined, talked about the unprecedented control "of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties." And he predicted the court would be forced to address how the law handles large social media platforms. He called threat to free speech a "glaring concern."

In the opinion, he addressed the lower court's ruling that Trump had violated the First Amendment by blocking people from his Twitter account. Instead of Trump violating free speech, Thomas argued that the social media platforms had threatened the First Amendment. He claims the sheer size of the platforms and the power they wield to completely shut down Trump's account is evidence of their far-reaching power.

"[I]f the aim is to ensure that speech is not smothered," he wrote, "then the more glaring concern must perforce be the dominant digital platforms themselves."

He also took aim at Google, which he said "can suppress content by de-indexing or downlisting a search result or by steering users away from certain content by manually altering autocomplete results."  He said Amazon "can impose cataclysmic consequences on authors by, among other things, blocking a listing."

Thomas' warnings build on arguments he made in a ruling in October that urged the court to narrow its interpretation of Section 230. He suggested the law has been applied too broadly. 

It may be difficult for lawmakers to translate Thomas' opinion directly into legislation, Hans said. But he added that it's likely Thomas' arguments could be used to boost proposals that call for a sort of "Fairness Doctrine" for extremely large technology companies. 

How Thomas' views have shifted 

Thomas' argument for justifying government regulation, however, is inconsistent with arguments he's made in the past. He argues that these large companies should be treated as common carriers, but it was Thomas who in 2005 wrote the Supreme Court decision in Brand X to allow the Federal Communications Commission not to regulate broadband providers as common carriers. 

More recently, Thomas signed on with his conservative colleagues on the court to the Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck decision, which was written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh and held that the public access channel MNN hadn't violated the rights of two of its employees when it shut down the airing of a program they'd produced that was critical of the channel. In the opinion, Kavanaugh ruled that MNN was a private company and wasn't subject to the same requirements to protect the First Amendment as the government. 

"What I find very strange about all this is that just two years ago, Thomas signed on to an opinion that basically said something very different than what he wrote this week," Hans said. Hans said these inconsistencies make him question whether Thomas' views are based on law or are more influenced by politics. 

"Maybe I'm just one of those cynical people who thinks this is all just about politics," he said. "But I think if the facts on the ground about social media companies were different, I don't think he would have written this opinion."

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WWE 2K22 game debuts at WrestleMania 37 – CNET

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WWE

WWE 2K20, the last game in the WWE 2K series, was a disaster. A turbulent development period led to a buggy, glitchy mess of a game, and the problems ran deep enough that there was no WWE 2K21 at all. The series is back now though, with a trailer for WWE 2K21 debuting at WrestleMania 37.

The teaser showed a photo-realistic graphic of Rey Mysterio, followed by in-game footage of Mysterio hitting a 619 move on Cesaro. Seemingly acknolwedging the franchise's recent troubles, the game's tagline reads: "It just hits different." 

Previous WWE 2K games have been developed by Japanese developer Yuke's in conjunction with games studio Visual Concepts. WWE 2K20, however, was the first game in the series solely handled by Visual Concepts. Yuke's had developed every WWE game since 2000's original SmackDown on the PlayStation 1.  

WWE 2K20 was eviscerated by fans on social media for its graphics, which in many instances were worse than those in WWE 2K19, and for glitches that often rendered it unplayable. WWE 2K20 holds a 43 rating on Metacritic.

More information on WWE 2K22 is coming soon, promises the game's social media account.

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter gets set to explore Mars – CNET

In the coming days, NASA's Ingenuity helicopter will make a historic attempt at the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The space agency is targeting no earlier than Wednesday, April 14, for this first flight attempt.

Here, the Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover's rear hazard camera on April 4, 2021.

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NASA delays Ingenuity helicopter’s historic first flight on Mars – CNET

An artist's concept of NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter taking flight.

An artist's concept of NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter taking flight.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer to see a helicopter flying around on Mars. NASA has decided to push back the Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight due to a safety alert during a high-speed spin test of Ingenuity's rotors, the space agency said Saturday. The flight, originally set for Sunday, will now happen "no earlier than April 14," a Wednesday, the space agency said in a statement. But the copter is "safe and healthy," NASA said.

During Friday's rotor test, "the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a status update. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from 'Pre-Flight' to 'Flight' mode."

The agency added that the watchdog timer "oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed."

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The space agency said the Ingenuity team is diagnosing the issue and will reschedule the rotor test based on its findings. NASA had previously said Ingenuity's flight date might shift as engineers make adjustments and go through preflight checks. 

When Ingenuity eventually winds up flying, it'll be the first time humans have achieved powered, controlled flight on another planet. The experimental copter, carried to Mars by NASA's Perseverance rover, could open up a whole new way to explore other worlds.

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WWE WrestleMania 37 Night 1 results, surprises and full recap – CNET

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When WrestleMania 37 Night 1 went to air, things didn't look good. The show opened with announcer Michael Cole informing us that bad weather above Tampa, Florida's Raymond James Stadium meant that the show's start would have to be delayed. After 30 minutes of stalling, the show opened properly.

And that's when the surprises started. The first bout was Bobby Lashley defending his WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre. Drew seemed like a sure thing -- but Lashley made him pass out with his Hurt Lock. WrestleMania started with a shocker. 

It was a mostly good show from that point on, with one weak match and many good ones. As far as WrestleManias go, though, it was saved by the main event. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair killed it, and in the end Belair stood tall as SmackDown Women's Champion.

So Night 1 is officially in the books. But like NXT TakeOver was spread over Wednesday and Thursday, Sunday night will see a second night of WrestleMania. That's where we'll see the most anticipated match of the weekend: Reigns versus Bryan versus Edge. That kicks off on Peacock at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

WrestleMania opened with bad weather. 

WWE

Bianca Belair wins SmackDown Women's Championship

In a star-making babyface performance, Bianca Belair beat Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania 37 Night 1. It was the best match on the show. Sasha Banks was on fire, and put on an absolute great performance that helped Belair look like a star.

The was great before the two even locked up. Belair and Banks were overwhelmed with emotion at main eventing the show, as the two were visibly tearing up as the bell rang. Once they locked up, though, both women were all business.

The point of this match was to get Bianca Belair over as a top bobyface. It was a success. All of the key spots showed off her crazy athleticism, like the bit where she got Banks in a military press on the outside and walked up the stairs, holding Banks in the air, before tossing Banks inside. Then there was the wicked suplex spot, where Belair hoisted Banks up for a vertical suplex, walked around the ring and bounced her off two sets of ropes, with Banks fighting back twice and almost countering it only for Belair to use her strength to re-lift Banks back to a vertical position, ultimately landing the suplex.

From what I could see, this was the stiffest match on the card -- or at least, it looked the stiffest. I mean that in a good way. All the action was tight, a hallmark of Banks' matches. There was a bit where Banks put her knees up to counter Belair's 450 Splash, and it looked like Belair crushed her ribs on the impact. Sasha also gave a lot with her body, crashing into the barricades and later the turnbuckles with Meteora attemps that Belair dodged.

Banks' creative flair was on show too, as she used Belair's long braid throughout the match. The high point here was when she wrapped Belair's own hair around Belair's shoulder before locking in the Banks Statement. Towards the end of the match, Belair hit back by whipping Banks with her long braid, slapping her leg (I hope) so it sounded like a gunshot. It was great. The finish came after a 450 Splash. Belair went for the KOD, Banks countered to go for the backstabber, but Belair countered again and scored the KOD for the pin.

Rating: 4.25 stars. Bianca Belair could be WWE's next big thing. She has everything. Incredible athleticism, highly marketable look and, as this showed, the ability to have great matches -- even if Sasha Banks deserves a lot of the credit for this one. 

With WWE's track record at making babyface stars, she's unlikely to reach that level. But we can complain about that in the future, if and when those mistakes are made. This was a breakout moment for her, and a fabulous WrestleMania main event. 

Bad Bunny and Damian Priest beat The Miz and John Morrison

Bad Bunny is the biggest star of the show so far. This whole match was laid out to make him shine, and he did great in his role. His offense was surprisingly tight, and he took his share of bumps too. You could tell he's a true fan who wanted to do this the right way. He pinned The Miz when Priest hoisted Miz on his shoulders and Bunny did a top-rope splash.

Miz and Morrison enter with a gang of bunnies, singing their parody rap song. Bad Bunny got a major superstar's entrance, with a prerecorded clip of him sitting atop a trucker arriving in the arena. He then got fireworks with his big entry. The crowd is hotter for Bad Bunny as he starts the match out with Miz than they've been for anything on the show, other than maybe Cesaro and Rollins.

It started with basic stuff, Bad Bunny hitting strikes on an incredulous Miz and getting the better of Miz in a few wrestling exchanges, including an armdrag counter. This lasted a good few minutes, with every moved being milked. Eventually, Miz cut Bunny off and Miz and Morrison got heat on him until Bunny tagged in Priest. 

Priest ran wild, and he and Bunny even hit stereo Falcon Arrows. Later, Bunny did a Canadian Destroyer to Morrison on the ground, which led to the finish. 

Rating: 3.5 stars. You can gripe about Miz and Morrison looking weaker than a celebrity star, which is an absolutely fair argument. But this in WWE, so considering the expectations that entails, this can't be considered anything other than a success. If I'd change anything though, I'd have given more shine to Damian Priest.

Braun Strowman obliterates Shane McMahon

Braun Strowman defeated Shane McMahon in a steel cage match after throwing him off the very top of the cage, a gnarly looking bump, and then hitting a powerslam.

Before the match began, Strowman was ambushed by Elias and Jackson Rikker, who smashed him with chairs. They threw Strowman and a chair into the ring, allowing McMahon to continue barraging Strowman with chair shots. From here, the flow of much of the match was that Strowman would fight back from below, only for McMahon to find a new weapon and cut him off. At one point, McMahon retrieved a sheet of steel from the top of the cage and clocked Strowman with it. Later, as both were ascending the cage, McMahon found a toolbox up there.

The best spot of the match was when McMahon climbed atop the cage and began his descent down to the floor. He stuck his arm through the cage to flip Strowman the bird, but Strowman jumped up and grabbed his arm. He then ripped the cage apart and pulled him back in. They then scaled to the top of the cage -- where Strowman threw him off in pretty brutal fashion.

Rating: 3.25 stars. The wrestling itself wasn't much, as you'd expect, but it did its job. We got the memorable Shane McMahon bump and the cool moment of Strowman ripping open the cage. Importantly, at under 12 minutes it wasn't long enough to really drag.

AJ Styles and Omos win Raw Tag Team Championships

Omos joins the club of wrestlers who've won a championship in their first match. He and AJ Styles defeated The New Day to win the Raw Tag Team Championships.

The story of the match was simple. Styles started out for his team, and The New Day did everything they could to to keep him from tagging Omos. They cut him off from his side of the ring, and the drama came whenever Styles would get close to Omos. This was kind of weird, because that's tag team psychology 101 -- except AJ and Omos are heels, not babyfaces. 

In any case, once Omos eventually did get tagged in it was very much game over. He entered the ring and threw both Kingston and Xavier Woods around. Styles hit a sweet Phenomenal Forearm by springboarding off Omos' shoulders. Omos planted Kingston with a double-arm chokeslam and pinned him with a single foot. 

Rating: 3.25 stars. Simple but sensible story. The downside is that AJ Styles, the best wrestler in the match, was relegated to the role of selling rather than providing thrilling offense. But it did its job of introducing Omos. From what we saw here though, it looks like Omos is severely limited, as all he did was a few shoves, a few throws and one average-looking chokeslam.

Cesaro pins Seth Rollins

This wasn't the classic match some (I) hoped it would be, but it was still a strong. It ended with Cesaro swinging Rollins 23 times in the Giant Swing, then pinning Rollins after a Neutralizer.

The story of the match was that Cesaro was trying at every turn to catch Rollins in the Giant Swing, and that Rollins escaped each time in increasingly creative fashion. Rollins also worked over Cesaro's arm. At one point, midway through, Cesaro got the swing but, after about 9 rotations, his arm gave out. Seth Rollins later showed off a new top-rope move, an awesome corkscrew splash.

Cesaro hit a surprise Neutralizer for a two count. Moments later, Rollins got a near fall with a Pedigree. The high point of the bout came when Rollins went for a Curb Stomp but Cesaro countered with an awesome uppercut. He then swung Rollins with a UFO firemans carry, got the 23-rotation Giant Swing and Neutralizer for the pin.

Rating: 3.75 stars. A very good bout, but not a classic. At just over 11 minutes, it would have benefited greatly for an extra 4-6 minutes of time. I suspect these two will have a stronger match with more time at an upcoming pay-per-view.

Tamina and Natalya win tag-team turmoil match

In what will hopefully be the weakest bout of the night, Tamina and Natalya won a tag team turmoil match to become the number one contenders for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. The rules of the match are that two teams start, and that once one team is defeated another takes its place, with there being five teams in total. 

Naomi and Lana start the match off against Carmella and Billie Kay. After a minute or two of sloppy action, Kay pins Naomi with a rollup and added leverage from Carmella. The Riott Squad are in next and they almost immediately defeat Kay and Carmella with tandem finish,. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke are in next -- with Brooke actually slipping on the stage on the way to the ring. Hate to see it.

After about five minutes of average-at-best wrestling, the Riott Squad elimianted Rose and Brooke with a cradle. The announcer actually got mixed up and said The Riott Squad was eliminated, but the referee corrected him. Natalya and Tamina were the final team. The most noteworthy spot was Tamina kicking out of the same double-team move the Riott Squad elimianted Billie Kay with. 

Tamina and Natalya then hit a Hart Attack on Ruby Riott, and then Tamina scored a pin after a top-rope splash.

Rating: 2 stars.

Bobby Lashley retains WWE Championship

WrestleMania opens with a shocker: Bobby Lashley beat Drew McIntyre with the Hurt Lock. McIntyre didn't tap out, Cole was eager to point out, he passed out.

It started slow, but the match ended up being very good. It began with standard stuff, exchanging moves in the ring with some brawling on the outside. It picked up about halfway through when McIntyre hit a trifecta of Future Shock DDTs for a two count. Moments later, McIntyre nailed a very impressive over-the-top-rope dive to Lashley on the outside, like Undertaker's famous dive at WrestleMania 25.

Back in the ring, Lashley locks in the Hurt Lock but McIntyre powers out.  McIntyre gets a submission of his own, locking in a Kimura Lock -- potentially signalling a return of Brock Lesnar. The announcers are selling that McIntyre has one last weapon to use in the Claymore Kick. Sure enough, after a big boot, McIntyre sets up the Claymore. Here's where things get dumb. McIntyre has it set up but, as he starts running for the kick, he's distracting by MVP yelling from the outside. Like, he stops in his tracks to look at MVP.

Again: MVP yelled at him from the outside. Not even from the apron. And it stopped McIntyre. So bad.

Lashley then takes advantage and, after some more action, successfully locks in the Hurt Lock and McIntyre passes out.

Rating: 3.5 stars. Shock finish with good action. Would have been better without the confoundingly stupid "distraction." We'll have to see how this plays out, as it could be leading to something worthwhile, but it feels like a bad move to cut off McIntyre like this. He was protected strongly for the past year, and it looks like an abrupt change of course to have him pass out clean to Lashley, who though protected has been a midcard star for the past few years. 

Weather delay opens the show

The Tampa, Florida area that's housing WrestleMania had heavy rain and storms in the hours preceding WrestleMania, and the main show opened with Michael Cole explaining they have to delay the action for a few moments due to weather concerns. Brutal. 

They're now stalling with backstage interviews. We hear from Shane McMahon, before Bobby Lashley comes into the backstage area to talk trash about Drew McIntyre. McIntyre then joins the set and they get into a confrontation. Lashley is sequestered off and McIntyre cuts a fiery promo. 

WWE is clearly stalling on the fly here, transitioning from backstage interviews to the kickoff-show panel to the announcer's at ringside. The promos are actually pretty good, way better than the scripted stuff we see each week, but this is still grim.

At 5: 25 p.m. PT, Cole tells us the weather delay will end within five minutes. After a brief Bianca Belair interview, a promo for the WWE Championship match opens. Here we go. 

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WWE WrestleMania 37: Results, live updates and match ratings – CNET

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WWE

After a year of no fans, WrestleMania 37 opened in an unexpected way: With a weather delay. Tampa, Florida's Raymond James Stadium is open-air, and experienced heavy rain and thunder in the hours preceding the show. Michael Cole opened the main show at 5 p.m. PT explaining that there was a delay to wait for the weather to clear up. It took about 30 minutes for that to happen, with backstage promos and interviews filling the time. A bizarre half hour. 

Still WrestleMania is back in front of fans. WrestleMania 37, which takes place on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11 on NBC's Peacock streaming service, is the first WWE pay-per-view to take place in front of a live crowd since last March. No amount of rain can drown the excitement over that.

The main event of Night 1 will see Bianca Belair challenge Sasha Banks for the latter's SmackDown Women's Championship, as well as Drew McIntyre defending his WWE Championship. Other bouts include Braun Strowman versus Shane McMahon in a steel cage and, my personally most anticipated match, Cesaro versus Seth Rollins. Click here for a full run down of both night's cards.

Check back to this page from 5 p.m PT/8 p.m. ET on Saturday as the main card of WrestleMania 37 Night 1 begins, as I'll be updating it with results and analysis from the show.

WWE

Cesaro pins Seth Rollins

This wasn't the classic match some (I) hoped it would be, but it was still a strong match. It ended with Cesaro swinging Rollins 23 times in the Giant Swing, then pinning Rollins after a Neutralizer.

Rating: 3.75 stars.

Tamina and Natalya win tag-team turmoil match

In what will hopefully be the weakest bout of the night, Tamina and Natalya won a tag team turmoil match to become the number one contenders for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships. The rules of the match are that two teams start, and that once one team is defeated another takes its place, with there being five teams in total. 

Naomi and Lana start the match off against Carmella and Billie Kay. After a minute or two of sloppy action, Kay pins Naomi with a rollup and added leverage from Carmella. The Riott Squad are in next and they almost immediately defeat Kay and Carmella with tandem finish,. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke are in next -- with Brooke actually slipping on the stage on the way to the ring. Hate to see it.

After about five minutes of average-at-best wrestling, the Riott Squad elimianted Rose and Brooke with a cradle. The announcer actually got mixed up and said The Riott Squad was eliminated, but the referee corrected him. Natalya and Tamina were the final team. The most noteworthy spot was Tamina kicking out of the same double-team move the Riott Squad elimianted Billie Kay with. 

Tamina and Natalya then hit a Hart Attack on Ruby Riott, and then Tamina scored a pin after a top-rope splash.

Rating: 2 stars.

Bobby Lashley retains WWE Championship

WrestleMania opens with a shocker: Bobby Lashley beat Drew McIntyre with the Hurt Lock. McIntyre didn't tap out, Cole was eager to point out, he passed out.

It started slow, but the match ended up being very good. It began with standard stuff, exchanging moves in the ring with some brawling on the outside. It picked up about halfway through when McIntyre hit a trifecta of Future Shock DDTs for a two count. Moments later, McIntyre hit a very impressive over-the-top-rope dive to Lashley on the outside, like Undertaker's famous dive at WrestleMania 25.

Back in the ring, Lashley locks in the Hurt Lock but McIntyre powers out.  McIntyre gets a submission of his own, locking in a Kimura Lock -- potentially signalling a return of Brock Lesnar. The announcers are selling that McIntyre has one last weapon to use in the Claymore Kick. Sure enough, after a big boot, McIntyre sets up the Claymore. Here's where things get dumb. McIntyre has it set up but, as he starts running for the kick, he's distracting by MVP yelling from the outside. Like, he stops in his tracks to look at MVP.

Again: MVP yelled at him from the outside. Not even from the apron. And it stopped McIntyre. So bad.

Lashley then takes advantage and, after some more action, successfully locks in the Hurt Lock and McIntyre passes out.

Rating: 3.5 stars. Shock finish with good action. Would have been better without the confoundingly stupid "distraction." We'll have to see how this plays out, as it could be leading to something worthwhile, but it feels like a bad move to cut off McIntyre like this. He was protected strongly for the past year, and it looks like an abrupt change of course to have him pass out clean to Lashley, who though protected has been a midcard star for the past few years. 

Weather delay opens the show

The Tampa, Florida area that's housing WrestleMania had heavy rain and storms in the hours preceding WrestleMania, and the main show opened with Michael Cole explaining they have to delay the action for a few moments due to weather concerns. Brutal. 

They're now stalling with backstage interviews. We hear from Shane McMahon, before Bobby Lashley comes into the backstage area to talk trash about Drew McIntyre. McIntyre then joins the set and they get into a confrontation. Lashley is sequestered off and McIntyre cuts a fiery promo. 

WWE is clearly stalling on the fly here, transitioning from backstage interviews to the kickoff-show panel to the announcer's at ringside. The promos are actually pretty good, way better than the scripted stuff we see each week, but this is still grim.

At 5: 25 p.m. PT, Cole tells us the weather delay will end within five minutes. After a brief Bianca Belair interview, a promo for the WWE Championship match opens. Here we go. 

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Logitech Harmony universal remotes discontinued – CNET

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The Harmony Elite.

Sounds like Harmony universal remote controls will be fading out. Logitech said Friday that it'll no longer make the gadgets -- meant to simplify your wrangling of a multi-component home theater system -- though they'll still be available for a while from various retailers.

Don't panic if you're a Harmony fan, however; Logitech says the company won't leave you empty-handed.

"We plan to support our Harmony community and new Harmony customers, which includes access to our software and apps to set up and manage your remotes," the peripherals maker said in a post on its support site. "We also plan to continue to update the platform and add devices to our Harmony database. Customer and warranty support will continue to be offered."

Harmony has had a fan in CNET reviewer David Katzmaier, who earlier this year included several Harmony devices in his roundup of the best universal remotes for 2021. "Logitech Harmony wrote the book on the universal remote control devices," Katzmaier said.

Now, though, home theater setups have generally simplified around built-in streaming apps and attached sound bars. And most newer connected devices can also be controlled from smartphones and tablets using apps, too.

Still, if you're the sort who says, "You can take my Harmony when you pry it from my cold, fell-asleep-while-binge-watching-The-Witcher hand," you can check out a Q&A in that same Logitech support post.

CNET's John Falcone contributed to this report.

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