I vividly remember the first time I saw the Mercedes-Benz Vision CLS concept car. It graced the December 2003 cover of Automobile Magazine alongside other iconic concepts from that year’s Frankfurt Auto Show, but the Vision CLS was special. A near-production look at the first modern “four-door coupe,” the Vision CLS was the genesis of a trend that truly disrupted the industry. For 10-year-old me, the gorgeous design was revolutionary.Now, 19 years later, the CLS is nearing the end of its third generation, and while it’s still beautiful, it’s no longer the showstopping trendsetter it once was. Instead of putting a sparkle in my eye, the 2022 CLS450 just makes me sad.That disappointment is in large part due to the CLS’ styling. As I said, it’s still a great looking car, but the proliferation of the four-door coupe-style roofline throughout every size and class of sedan makes the slippery shape less novel. It doesn’t help that Mercedes’ other four-door coupes, the CLA and AMG GT, look even better. The blacked-out trim from the $400 Night package and the nonmetallic Midnight Blue paint on my test car does the car no favors, and as part of the Manufaktur catalog, that shade costs $6,500. This third-gen model has always kind of looked like a bar of soap — not always in a good way — but the update for 2022 at least gave it a more interesting front fascia and star-pattern grille.One bright spot is the CLS’ cabin, even though it’s nearly identical to the E-Class. The pair of 12.3-inch screens features Mercedes’ MBUX software, and while it’s feeling a little old compared to the touchscreen setup in cars like the new C-Class, it’s still a great system. Navigation comes standard, as do Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I love this CLS’ combination of Sienna Brown leather and flowing lines of piano black trim (a $1,300 option), and as a whole, the interior feels well put together. There’s definitely less headroom and legroom in the CLS compared to the E-Class, but I don’t find it to be too cramped or claustrophobic. Enlarge Image At least the interior is fab. Daniel Golson/CNETThe CLS450’s powertrain is one of its best attributes. It uses Mercedes’ stellar 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-6 engine, which has a 48-volt integrated starter/generator mild-hybrid setup. Total output in the CLS450 is 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The I6 is a buttery-smooth engine with more than enough torque and quick throttle response in any situation, though the nine-speed automatic transmission can sometimes be clumsy.Despite sharing its platform and chassis components with the E-Class, the CLS somehow rides much worse. This CLS450 has the $970 AMG Line styling package that adds staggered-width 19-inch wheels with Continental ProContact all-season tires, and combined with steel springs and conventional dampers the CLS has a choppy, too-stiff ride even on smooth roads. 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard, and the CLS450 at least has fairly neutral handling characteristics with steering that’s direct but lacking in feedback. But it’s not any sportier to drive than an E450, and it’s a far cry from the AMG GT 4-Door. Enlarge Image This shape was once a revelation. Daniel Golson/CNETThe CLS450’s starting price of $74,000 (including $1,050 for destination) does get you a lot of stuff, with standard features including LED lights, heated front seats, a sunroof, keyless entry, 64-color ambient lighting, automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. But my CLS450 has pretty much every option, ringing in at a fairly absurd $93,780. Added items include the $2,300 Premium package (Burmester surround sound system, parking assist and a surround-view camera setup), the $1,950 Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping assist, automatic lane-change assist and lots more) and the $1,100 Acoustic Comfort package (additional insulation and heat/noise-absorbing glass). Other standalone options are $550 soft-close doors, $200 wireless charging, $450 ventilated front seats, $440 power rear sunshade and a $350 perfume dispenser, because of course.Even with no options the CLS450 is $10,200 more expensive than an E450 4Matic, and it doesn’t really come with any additional features. The E-Class has a much smoother ride, more interior space and trunk room. And while the E-Class doesn’t look as striking as the CLS, it’s certainly classy and set to age better. Plus, you can still get the E-Class in AMG E53 form, which starts at just $2,050 more than the CLS450; the AMG CLS53 is no longer offered in the US. Enlarge Image The CLS’ future might look brighter, though. Daniel Golson/CNETMaking matters even worse, the CLS is overshadowed by another car in the Mercedes lineup: the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. The entry-level GT43 model has the exact same powertrain as the CLS450, but with a massively better chassis and driving dynamics. The GT is better looking and has a hatchback to boot, and at $93,550 to start, the GT43 is only $230 more than this CLS test car. Granted, you need to pile up the GT43 with options to get it to match the feature content on this loaded CLS, but the GT is a much better-rounded car even with the higher price.There’s hope on the horizon, though. Early this year, Mercedes unveiled the Vision EQXX concept, a compact electric four-door coupe that evokes the brand’s prewar streamliners. While it doesn’t directly preview a specific production model, the innovative EQXX is a look into upcoming EV sedans from the brand that will wear fresh design language. Mercedes is getting ready to shake up the segment once more, and looking at the EQXX makes me feel 10 years old again. Score Breakdown Performance 7.5Features 9Design 7.5Media 8.5 Specs See full specs Engine Turbo/Supercharged, Straight 6 Cylinder Engine, TurbochargedDrivetrain All Wheel DriveMPG 25 MPGPassenger Capacity 5Body Type Sedans
Thirsty Suitors: Battle Your Exes in This Colorful, Dynamic Action Game – CNET
Thirsty Suitors is a stylish story-driven action title that puts a new spin on relationships, family pressures, culture and self-expression — all in the framework of a turn-based fighting game.Coming to PC via Steam, the game has you playing as Jala Jayratnae, a young woman who’s come back home for her sister’s wedding. Jala’s exes…
Thirsty Suitors is a stylish story-driven action title that puts a new spin on relationships, family pressures, culture and self-expression — all in the framework of a turn-based fighting game.Coming to PC via Steam, the game has you playing as Jala Jayratnae, a young woman who’s come back home for her sister’s wedding. Jala’s exes get wind that the notorious heartbreaker is back in town and confrontations abound. Jala suddenly finds herself face-to-face with broken friendships, broken hearts, the demands of her parents, and perhaps the biggest question of all: What kind of person does Jala want to be? Ahead of the release, I got to see a preview of the game. It’s from Chandana Ekanayake, the creative director for indie, minority-led studio Outerloop Games. Skateboarding is your main method of transportation in the game. Outerloop In terms of gameplay, Thirsty Suitors presents this story in a fresh way by mixing elements of role-playing games and dating sims with exciting turn-based combat. You begin by determining your in-game stats via the sort of short quiz you might encounter in a teen romance magazine. This is also where players get familiar with Jala’s skateboard, her main method of transportation. Along the way, Jala and her sister Aruni (presented as the game’s narrator and Jala’s inner voice) banter with razor sharp, witty dialogue that smartly delivers exposition without feeling like an information dump. Jala has barely arrived in town when she faces her first battle, with Sergio, her boyfriend from third grade. The confrontation is hilariously creative and dynamic, with options to flirt with Sergio or spurn his advances, ways to use his “thirst” against him with Quick-Time Events, and more. With every battle, Jala can level up and earn rewards.Check out the trailer here: This might be reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but Thirsty Suitors is far from a knockoff. In Jala’s battle with Sergio, vulnerabilities and honesty start seeping through his macho persona, and the player sees him as a person instead of a stereotype. In addition, Thirsty Suitors puts a spotlight on consent and emotional maturity. The exes all respect Jala’s rejection, and not every ex wants to rekindle the romance. Thirsty Suitors examines relatable issues through a unique, often overlooked perspective: Jala is a queer woman of South Asian descent. This carefully considered perspective lines up with Outloop Games’ mission to tell stories of underrepresented cultures and themes. According to Ekanayake, many parts of the game are based on the team’s personal experiences. Ekanayake, who came to the US from Sri Lanka, said he hadn’t seen many positive characters representing South Asia.”Usually I was one of — or sometimes the only one — of a few minorities on a team,” Ekanayake said of his two and a half decades in the video game industry. “Over the years, I’ve wanted to see more stories that represent myself and other minorities.” Jala’s relationship with her parents might be strained, but her mom is always ready to step in during an ex battle. Outerloop Ekanayake said that sharing immigrant stories, like his own parents’ journey to the US, is important to him. Now as a parent himself, Ekanayake said he has a better understanding of the sacrifice his parents made for their children. Family seems to be a big theme in Thirsty Suitors. For instance, during Jala’s battle with Sergio, she summons a giant specter of her mother, who deals Sergio a mighty blow with her shoe. Jala’s relationship with her parents is strained, and players learn this when she second-guesses calling her folks to ask for a ride home. In addition to reconciling with her former flames, Jala must try to repair her familial relationships. This is done through action-packed cooking segments similar to how the ex battles play out. If you’re not fighting your exes, you’re doing battle in the kitchen with your family. Outerloop Like the battles with her exes, the cooking segments look like they’ll also be a bit over the top. Juxtaposing these funny, hyperbolic situations with serious issues of generational trauma, heartbreak, love and reconciliation makes Thirsty Suitors feel like something new. “Even in dire situations, humans survive because they find moments of connectedness or humor, and I feel like there’s a place [for that] in games,” Ekanayake said.Thirsty Suitors doesn’t present answers with clear-cut rights and wrongs, nor will players find any outright bad guys. You’ll merely encounter characters who’ve made mistakes and who try to figure out what comes next.
Sims 4 Werewolves Game Pack Launches June 16: Everything to Know – CNET
The Sims 4 Werewolves, the new game pack from Electronic Arts and Maxis, launches June 16 for Steam, Origin, PlayStation and Xbox. The new pack will introduce players to the world of Moonwood Mill and the ability to turn into a werewolf. Ahead of launch, developers held a preview demo of the pack, which will add…
The Sims 4 Werewolves, the new game pack from Electronic Arts and Maxis, launches June 16 for Steam, Origin, PlayStation and Xbox. The new pack will introduce players to the world of Moonwood Mill and the ability to turn into a werewolf. Ahead of launch, developers held a preview demo of the pack, which will add a new level to established supernatural gameplay. Expanding on the game packs that introduced spellcasters, vampires, aliens and ghosts, Sims 4 Werewolves lets you explore lycanthrope life. Here’s what players can look forward to in the pack.Welcome to Moonwood Mill The Sims 4 Werewolves includes a brand new world: Moonwood Mill. Werewolf Sims have made this abandoned factory and logging town bordered by untamed wilderness their home. The new world felt like a mix of Granite Falls (Outdoor Retreat), Forgotten Hollow (Vampires) and Evergreen Harbor (Eco Lifestyle). The new world houses two werewolf packs and a few new lots, three of which were designed by Sims YouTuber James Turner. Moonwood Mill will also feature new story items like the Moonpetal Flower at Howling Point, the elusive Luna Fish in Lake Lunvik, sparring pits, entrances for adventure moments and underground tunnels. And where would werewolves be without the moon? The new game pack features moon phases that will impact werewolf Sims. Previously in-game nights only displayed full moons, but now players can tell what part of the lunar cycle they’re currently in (similar to monitoring your eco-footprint or the season in other packs). Your werewolf Sim may have increased skills and mood changes during certain moon phases. The new game pack will include new Create A Sim options, build items and storytelling options. EA The pack also includes new build and buy items like a mossy roof, claw mark wall decals, industrial style furniture and a smaller telescope (which unlocks a new meteor-related death for Sims). I love creating rundown builds or fixer-uppers when playing The Sims 4, and these new items have already given me dozens of ideas. Werewolf 101Moonwood Mill is home to two werewolf packs that your Sim can try to join: the traditional Moonwood Collective and the scrappy Wildfangs. Sims can join a pack by completing trials, which are available by interacting with the group’s pack leader. Trials include showing off your howling skills, sparring, presenting the pack leader with a gift and more. Once your Sim is in the pack, they must maintain the pack’s values to remain in good standing. The game leaves a lot of room for your own storytelling: Blend in with the pack, overthrow the Alpha or live as a lone wolf? You won’t be able to start your own pack, but you can create a werewolf club with the Get Together pack.Like occult Sims in the Vampires game pack and Realm of Magic, the Werewolves pack requires your Sim to level up. Being a werewolf includes a skill tree that your Sim can advance through with ability points, unlocking qualities like marking their territory, the ability to travel faster by digging tunnels or napping anywhere.Will you join the Moonwood Collective, the Wildfangs, or strike out on your own? EA The pack also includes at least one new aspiration — Wildfang Renegade, which would apply for Sims who want to join that pack. It’s likely there’s a corresponding aspiration for the Moonwood Collective. Like the globe of magical charge for spellcasters, werewolves have a unique needs panel. In addition to a wolfish appetite, you’ll need to monitor your Sim’s fury orb. If your fury orb fills up, it may trigger an uncontrolled transformation and rampage. Controlled transformations is a skill that must be mastered.And, yes… you can woohoo as a werewolf. The pack includes a new werewolf-specific romance option called Fated Mates. According to the developers, teens and older werewolves can find a Fated Mate in another werewolf. Once two Sims are Fated Mates, the pair get increased romantic relationship loot gains, special sentiments and their relationship cannot decay. In addition, if they romantically interact with a Sim that’s not their Fated Mate, they might get a tense moodlet. Designing your Sim’s werewolf formYour Sim’s werewolf form is highly customizable. EA Like vampires, you can link or unlink your Sim’s werewolf form to their human form. You can customize almost every aspect of your Sim’s wolf form in Create-A-Sim. Choose how your wolf’s howl sounds and the wolf pelt has tons of customization options. Also body scars are now available for the first time.You can choose the coat color and pattern manually or scroll through premade pelt swatches. This aspect works a bit like the Cats and Dogs expansion pack. Keep your wolf form traditional or get creative with Paint Mode, manual drawings, stamps and stencils. The pack comes with some new eclectic grunge outfits that your Sim — werewolf or human — can wear as well. Though, if you keep your Sim in werewolf form, other Sims might have a frightful reaction to you. There’s also a very cute new wolf-onesie for toddlers. Check out the trailer here:
Fitbit Tips: 12 Tricks to Get the Most Out of the Fitness Device – CNET
Fitbit is essentially synonymous with step tracking, but the company’s newer smartwatches and fitness bands are capable of more than just tracking activity. The Google-owned digital health company has packed its recent wearables with updates and features, including new metrics like a readiness score, a faster pairing process for Android devices and the ability to…
Fitbit is essentially synonymous with step tracking, but the company’s newer smartwatches and fitness bands are capable of more than just tracking activity. The Google-owned digital health company has packed its recent wearables with updates and features, including new metrics like a readiness score, a faster pairing process for Android devices and the ability to measure stress levels on the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5. Fitbit sells a range of different trackers and smartwatches. The $100 Inspire 2 fitness band is among the cheapest, while the $300 Sense smartwatch is at the high end. And even though Fitbit is working with Google on a Pixel Watch for later this year, Fitbit is still supporting its trackers with plans for new Fitbit devices to come. Because the software and features differ between devices, some of these tips might not work on all models. The steps listed below could also vary depending on whether you’re using an iPhone or Android device. Now playing: Watch this: Wearable tech trends in 2022: Smartwatches to smart earbuds 11:45 See the time even when the screen is offFitbit’s always-on display option (not pictured) makes it easier to see the time quickly. Lexy Savvides/CNET Fitbit devices are designed for fitness and activity tracking, but they double as a watch. You can make it easier to see the time at a glance without having to raise your wrist or tap the screen by enabling always-on mode. As the name implies, this makes it possible for the screen to show the time even when the display is asleep. Just remember you’ll have to sacrifice a little battery life to get this benefit.The instructions for enabling this feature vary depending on which Fitbit you own. On the Charge 5 and Luxe, swipe down from the clock face, tap the Settings option, choose Display Settings and then select Always-on display. On the Sense and Versa 3, swipe right from the clock face and tap the always-on display symbol, which looks like a clock.On the Versa 2, swipe down from the top of the screen to see your notifications. Then, swipe down again to access the control center. Tap the quick settings icon and press the always-on display icon. Choose which stats you want to see first during a workoutThe Fitbit Versa 2. Sarah Tew/CNET Exercise goals and preferences can vary depending on the person. Some people may care more about calorie burn, for example, while others prioritize heart rate. That’s why you can choose which stats you want to see during a workout on the Fitbit Sense, Versa and Ionic series. Get started by opening the watch’s Exercise app and choosing the workout you’d like to customize. From there, tap the gear icon in the top left if you own an Ionic, Versa, Versa Lite Edition or Versa 2, and select the Customize stats option. Then, choose which stats you want to see in the top, middle and bottom slots on your device.The directions are a little different for Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 owners. From the Exercise app, select the workout you’d like to customize and then swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the device’s exercise settings. Under the Show stats section, you can select the top, middle and bottom options to edit the stats you’d like to see in each slot. Pair your Fitbit with Android just by holding it near your phone Lisa Eadicicco/CNET Fitbit and Google want to make setting up your new device almost effortless. Taking a page from Apple’s book, Google’s Fast Pair feature speeds up the pairing process by connecting your new Fitbit to your Android phone when the two devices are near one another. You just need to turn on your Fitbit device and make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is enabled to get started, and then you should see a prompt to download Fitbit’s app. It works on models such as the Luxe, Charge 5 and Inspire 2.Customize your exercise optionsYou can edit your exercise shortcuts on certain Fitbit devices. Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET We all prefer certain workouts over others, whether it’s running, spinning, yoga or just walking. Luckily, Fitbit lets you tailor the list of available workouts to your liking on certain devices. Just open the Fitbit app, tap on your profile picture and select your device. Then, tap Exercise Shortcuts to modify your Fitbit’s workout options. You can select the + Exercise Shortcut button to add a new activity type, swipe left on a workout to delete it or use the Edit button to reorder your workouts. Just note that the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 do not have a shortcuts list, but Fitbit says all workout modes are available in the exercise app for the Sense, Versa and Ionic series watches. Start an exercise with a single press on the Fitbit SenseThe Fitbit Sense. Lexy Savvides/CNET The Fitbit Sense’s exercise app is easy to access, but there are times when you may want to start a workout instantly. Customizing the Fitbit Sense’s wake button can help you do just that. Press and hold the side button, and your watch will pull up several different apps and features that can be launched by long pressing this same button. Options include the alarms app, weather, Spotify, your voice assistant of choice and more. Scroll down until you see Exercise, and select the workout mode you’d like to launch when long pressing the side button. If you don’t want to choose a specific workout, you can also choose to have the exercise app open when the side button is long pressed.Additionally, you can customize the side button’s long press actions through the Fitbit Sense’s settings menu. Swipe over to the Sense’s app screen and tap the Settings icon. Choose Shortcuts, and then select the Press & Hold option. From there, tap Exercise and choose the activity you’d like to launch when long pressing the wake button. Find your lost Fitbit Inspire 2 with the Tile appThe Fitbit Inspire 2 now works with Tile. Fitbit Smaller fitness trackers such as the Inspire 2 can be easy to lose or misplace. That’s why Fitbit has partnered with Tile to build its Bluetooth location-tracking service directly into the Inspire 2. You’ll have to download Tile’s app and make sure your fitness band’s software is up to date before using it. But once it’s set up and registered in the Tile app, you’ll be able to ring your Inspire 2 if it’s within Bluetooth range or see its last location on a map. Use your Fitbit to find your phoneThe Sense smartwatch supports Fitbit’s Find My Phone feature. Lexy Savvides/CNET We’ve all been there; maybe you left your phone in your jacket, or perhaps it slipped in between the couch cushions. That’s where Fitbit’s Find My Phone app comes in handy. Just open the app on your watch and your Fitbit will prompt your phone to ring and vibrate until it’s found. The Fitbit app must be running on your phone for this feature to work, and it’s available on the Fitbit Sense, Versa 2 and Versa 3. Pay for Starbucks from your wrist Lisa Eadicicco/CNET The Starbucks Card app lets you add your Starbucks gift card or rewards program number to your Fitbit smartwatch so that you can pay without having to reach for your wallet or phone. You can install the Starbucks Card app on your Fitbit through the Fitbit mobile app, but keep in mind that it’s only available for the company’s smartwatches including the Sense, Versa lineup and older Ionic watch, according to the app listing.Fitbit also has its own contactless payments system called Fitbit Pay that lets you store your credit card on your wrist. It works with contactless card readers similar to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay. Have Fitbit tell you if you should hit the gym or take it easyFitbit’s Daily Readiness Score tells you when it’s time to exercise or rest and recover. It’s exclusive to Fitbit Premium subscribers. Google Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether it’s time to push yourself or take a rest day. Fitbit is trying to help with its Daily Readiness Score feature, which rolled out in November and is similar to the Oura ring’s Readiness Score. Fitbit issues a score based on factors like your recent sleeping habits, heart-rate variability and activity that indicates whether you should exercise or prioritize recovery. It works on the Fitbit Sense, Versa 3, Versa 2, Charge 5, Luxe and Inspire 2, but it’s only available for Premium subscribers and must be enabled in the Fitbit app. You also have to wear your device for at least four days, including overnight. Adjust your stride length to make step counting more accurate Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET Fitbit automatically calculates your stride length after you track a run with GPS. But you can also measure your own stride length and add it to the app manually. To do so, Fitbit suggests counting your steps as you walk or run at a location where you can easily tell the distance, such as a track. You should also travel at least 20 steps when measuring your stride, according to Fitbit. Then, divide the distance traveled in yards or meters by the number of steps. Once you’ve measured your stride length, open the Fitbit app and tap on your profile picture in the top right corner. Under Settings, choose Activity & Wellness and tap Exercise. Tap Stride Length and enter your measurements.Listen to your exercise stats during a workout Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET Fitness trackers make it easier to see exercise statistics at a glance, but it’s not always feasible or comfortable to look down at your wrist during a workout. That’s why Fitbit’s app can dictate certain metrics audibly, such as distance, time, average pace, split pace and calories burned. You can choose which of these stats you’d want to hear during your workout, and also customize the frequency of alerts by distance or time. Open the Fitbit iPhone app, tap your profile picture and scroll down to the Activity & Wellness category under Settings. Tap Exercise and scroll down to see the Play During Exercise option, which can be found underneath the list of auto recognized exercises. If you’re using the Android app, tap the exercise tile in the Today feed and press the stopwatch icon in the top right corner. Then, toggle the switch next to Use voice cues to enable or disable this option.Turn off those reminders to move Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET We can all probably use a reminder to get up and move around for a bit, especially when working from home. But those little nudges may not be helpful for everyone, and some might find them annoying. To turn move reminders on or off, open the Fitbit app on your phone and tap your photo in the top left corner. Choose your Fitbit device from the list, and scroll down to the Reminders to Move option. From here, you can turn reminders on or off completely, or set them for certain time windows or days of the week.