DT Daily: Subaru Ascent attempts to climb a mountain of competition

Six Stars Ascending 

Here in the Northwest where Digital Trends is headquartered, just about every third car on the road (or off of it) is a Subaru Outback or Forester. OK, maybe every fourth car. Why? Because with everything from sandy beaches to high desert to ski-resort tipped mountains, we need a car that can essentially go… anywhere. And up until now, the one type of car Subaru hasn’t really perfected is the “Big SUV.” But at long last, the Japanese automaker has birthed their biggest baby, the Subaru Ascent. Automotive tester Stephen Edelstein took the new Suby to task, after Subaru kindly decided to roll it out here in Oregon, where Subarus literally outsell… just about everything.

The Ascent features a new 2.4-liter turbo flat-four engine, their latest All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, and a whole bunch of tech including their suite of “EyeSight”driver aids, Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and a booming Harman/Kardon sound system. The Ascent starts at about $32,000, but our test rig was kitted out to the tune of about $45,000. And yes, the roof rails are already car-top-tent compatible. Bottom line? The Ascent is a capable rig that competes, but there is a lot of competition. Check out Stephen’s hands-on review to see how it stacks up.

Guessing game 

Just when you thought the nightmare of the Spectre and Meltdown CPU bugs was over, here it comes again. This time, the problem is called “speculative store bypass,” and it’s related to the Spectre bug afflicting Intel CPUs and some other computer chips. A patch, update and so forth to deal with the problem is already available, but the downside is that those fixes can also affect CPU performance. One test by Intel indicated that CPU performance could suffer from 2 to 8 percent.

However, it looks like the SSB exploit is pretty tough to exploit, as it were, so some users may decide to pass on the patch in order to preserve performance. Good idea? It might depend on how you – and others – use your PC. The Spectre, Meltdown and SSB bugs are hardware-related (the flaw is in the physical CPU), so while software and firmware can patch things up, they are not permanent fixes. Intel says the next generation of chips will not have the flaws, but at this point, we’ll just have to take their word for it.

Whoopsies

HTC has just let slip their next flagship phone, the U12 Plus, according to an eagle-eyed tech watcher who says the company “accidentally” posted up the phone on a “test” website. The page has since been pulled down, but of course, not fast enough for tech watcher Roland Quandt, who quickly sucked up all the tech details.

The U12 Plus will likely feature a notch-free 6-inch 2880×1440 LCD screen with minimal bezels, 6 gigs of RAM, 64 or 128 gigs of storage, the new Snapdragon 645 chip, “BoomSound” speakers, Android Oreo, dual cameras out back and a toilet-resistant IP68 rating. Sounds pretty solid. Pricing looks to be more than $900 but less than $1,000, and there will be several color options. The official U12 release date is Wednesday.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.