Tech News

The best ever PS4 Pro bundle deal comes with 7 games for just £339.99

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 19:55

With the Xbox One X launching earlier this month at £450, Sony was always going to march in with its one year old PS4 Pro and ruin Microsoft's party with some barnstorming Black Friday deals.

As it turns out, this has happened a week early - a whole range of PS4 Pro bundle deals went live this week which are truly irresistible. The best value deal comes with three Crash Bandicoot games, Call of Duty: WWII, Fallout 4, Doom and FIFA 18 all for just £339.99 at Currys.

If you're looking to spend even less, you can also get the PS4 Pro with FIFA 18 and the three Crash Bandicoot games for just £299. That's an order of magnitude cheaper than a bundle like this cost just one week ago - so if you're after a PS4 Pro, your window is open!

The best PS4 Pro Black Friday deals:
Categories: Tech News

Germany bans kids' smartwatches over privacy concerns

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 09:30

Germany is usually stricter than most on marking the boundaries between tech innovation and personal privacy - it gave its citizens the right to opt out of Street View - and now its telecomms regulator, the Federal Network Agency, has clamped down on the sale of smartwatches for kids.

These chunky, colorful devices have grown in popularity as ways for parents to keep track of their offspring as they roam around, but according to the German authorities they're also a privacy risk, and don't meet the necessary safety guidelines. One of the main issues seems to be authorized audio transmission.

"Via an app, parents can use such children's watches to listen unnoticed to the child's environment and they are to be regarded as an unauthorised transmitting system," said Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency, the BBC reports. "According to our research, parents' watches are also used to listen to teachers in the classroom."

Changing the game

Not only are these smartwatches now banned from being sold in Germany, the Federal Network Agency is telling parents to destroy devices they've already bought. One expert speaking to the BBC said it could be a "game-changer" for the way Internet of Things and smart devices are regulated.

Outside of Germany, questions have also been raised about the encryption and other security measures applied to these kids' devices - making it easy for hackers to listen in to them or take control - though it isn't clear whether this affected this decision.

For now, parents in Germany are going to have to find another way to keep tabs on their little ones - and manufacturers are going to have to up their game when it comes to making these toy-like devices safe and secure to use.

Categories: Tech News

The BT Broadband Black Friday deals have arrived and they're strong

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:26

BT has announced its Black Friday internet offers, and they're fantastic. Sign up to BT broadband by midnight on Cyber Monday (November 27) and get a hefty Reward Card (worth up to £125), free activation and access to free BT Sport (via the app) for the duration of the 18-month contract. Lovely jubbly!

Our top pick is the super fast BT Infinity 1 fibre broadband deal. It costs £29.99 per month, but you get a whopping £100 pre-paid Mastercard, free access to BT Sport and the only thing you'll pay at the outset is £9.99 to cover the delivery of your new router. You also get free calls to UK landlines at the weekend.

If that's still a little pricey for you, or if you're one of the unlucky folk that can't get fibre broadband, then standard 17Mb ADSL costs a mere £23.99. You still get free set-up and BT Sport, but the Reward Card you get is worth £50 instead of £100.

BT Black Friday fibre broadband deals: BT Black Friday ADSL broadband deals: What is a BT Reward Card?

The Reward Card that BT sends out is a pre-paid credit card that you can use anywhere that accepts Mastercard. In short, that's around a million shops, cafes and restaurants around the world, so you shouldn't find it difficult to find places to spend, spend, spend.

It's an old-fashioned chip and pin card, rather than contactless. But do make sure that you claim your Reward Card within three months of installation, otherwise you'll lose out on all that cash.

Best broadband deals

If you're still um-ing and ah-ing over whether to go for one of these BT broadband offers, or if you want to see what other TV or phone options there are, then check out our BT broadband deals page - our bespoke price comparison table will help you choose, with packages that include unlimited calls and cheap BT Sports subscriptions. And if you want still more internet alternatives, then head on over to our main broadband deals comparison page.

Categories: Tech News

Is it time we started living underground?

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 06:00

Will we ever get sick of skyscrapers? It's been over 130 years since the world's first skyscraper went up in Chicago, and there are always plans for taller and taller buildings. At 829.8m/2,722ft, the current record holder is Dubai's Burj Kalifa, but already under construction is Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which will rise over 1km above the Earth's surface. 

But what about going down instead of up? While the focus remains on building high-rise, architects are beginning to look underground for all kinds of projects to make our cities work better. Among the most notable is Elon Musk's Boring Company, which recently published plans to build a tunnel network under Los Angeles to ease traffic. 

It's reckoned to be about four times more expensive to build down rather than up, but there are factors that make it uniquely attractive. It's warmer down there, so heating bills are slashed, and so-called subterranean buildings are less prone to earthquakes.

So as urban populations soar and real estate in cities becomes increasingly expensive, could we be heading for an ever-more-literal concept of 'downtown'? Here are some of the most intriguing plans for underground construction projects from recent years. 

For architects in Mexico City it's all about planning for earthquakes (a devastating 7.1 magnitude quake in September 2017 was just the latest), and there's a ban on building anything over eight storeys high. That makes the redevelopment of the Zocalo, the city's huge main historic square, particularly problematic.  

A radical solution comes from Mexican architects BNKR Arquitectura, which worked-up plans for an inverted high-rise called the Earthscraper. It's fashioned like an inverted pyramid that descends 65 floors into the ground, using glass in a ground-level roof to let natural light into a structure filled with offices, apartments and a museum. 

In the remote industrial zone of Mirniy in Eastern Siberia, Russia, city planners are considering a subterranean Hobbit-hole on a massive scale. The remote Republic of Sakha is a severe place to live, with temperatures ranging from an almost impossible -62°C during the seven-month-long winter to a sweltering 36C-plus at the height of summer.

Add a disused diamond quarry that now resembles a kilometre-wide crater and Mirniy doesn't have a lot going for it, but Eco City 2020 could change all that. It's a garden city designed to attract Russians and foreign tourists to Eastern Siberia. By covering the quarry in a translucent dome, the climate indoors will warm-up and a city would be constructed on three levels inside the crater, with agriculture on the lowest level, a wooded park in the middle for purifying the air, and a city on top. 

With 5.6 million people squeezed into an island of just 719 square kilometers, Singapore is desperate for space. ION Orchard, a major new shopping mall in the bustling centre, is primarily underground, and there are plans for both an oil storage facility and a 40-year rubbish dump underneath the Lion City.

With space for skyscrapers almost all used up, Underground Science City is a proposal to build a network of 40 caverns under the city's Kent Ridge Park that would extend to around 192,000 square meters. It's designed primarily to house 4,200 research scientists, IT equipment and data centres, hence the name. Will it get built? It's hard to say – some have suggested geological problems with the idea – but crowded Singapore definitely needs such radical ideas. 

Another cramped city in Asia is also ripe for a subterranean spruce-up, but in Tokyo going underground is also about protecting against earthquakes and saving precious energy resources. Proposed a few years ago by the Taisei Corporation of Tokyo, its Alice City (inspired by the world-in-a-rabbit-hole idea from Alice In Wonderland) concept has warehouses, waste recycling, sewage treatment, power stations and factories relocated underneath cities, all ranged around a cylindrical shaft. 

The concept also includes offices, shopping centres and and underground train network, with solar domes providing space and light. It also introduces the idea of a 'vertical commute' lasting 10 minutes instead of the hours workers currently spend taking trains to work from Tokyo's vast and often distant suburbs. Taisei estimates that an Alice City for 100,000 people would cost around £2 billion. 

Welcome to the world's first underground park. New York architect James Ramsey of Raad Studio proposes an underground park in the city's Lower East Side, one of the planet's mostly dense urban environments. It's a response to the fact that, despite the lack of space, Manhattan has over 13 acres of disused space underneath its streets. 

The concept involves transforming the old subterranean Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, just below Delancey Street and disused since 1948, into an area of plants and pathways called the Lowline. It will be illuminated by parabolic collectors above ground, which will redirect sunlight underground. The Lowline is projected to be opened around 2021. 

Creating an urban underground space is all the rage among architects, and no less than 'a city under the city' is proposed by Zwarts & Jansma architects in Amsterdam, a city of narrow streets and canals that's bursting at the seams. The project's acronym, AMFORA, translates into English as Alternative Multifunctional Underground Space Amsterdam.

The plan envisages 50km of multi-storey tunnels and spaces housing underground cinemas, supermarkets, leisure centers and car parks, but also the roads themselves. Every road that spurs off the city's ring road will be tunnelled underground before it gets anywhere near the congested surface of the city center. 

Zwarts & Jansma tout the project as CO2-neutral, since exhaust fumes will be filtered and trapped instead of being emitted into the atmosphere, while excess heat in the tunnels could be piped to buildings above ground. 

It's not only on Earth that the idea of living underground is being looked at. Scientists recently discovered what appears to be a skylight leading into a 50km-long underground lava tube on the Moon. Discovered by Japan's SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) orbiter – also called Kaguya – the lava tubes in the Marius Hills region of the Moon's Oceanus Procellarum may be the best place to build large-scale lunar bases, as they could protect astronauts from radiation, meteors, and extreme temperatures.

Categories: Tech News

Here's another upgrade reportedly coming to the 2018 iPhones

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 05:30

Now that the reveal of the iPhone X is out of the way, we can start thinking about what's coming to the iPhone family in 2018, and one analyst is predicting that next year's models are going to feature significantly faster baseband chips for ramping up upload and download speeds on cellular networks.

According to KGI Securities, which has a decent record in knowing what's happening inside Apple's secretive supply chain, the phones will have 4 x 4 MIMO antenna technology, an upgrade on the 2 x 2 MIMO chips used in the 2017 editions of the handset. That's not 5G speeds, but it's a substantial bump.

Another change will be that around 70-80 percent of these chips are going to be made by Intel, KGI reports - current supplier Qualcomm has hit a rocky patch in its relationship with Apple, though it will still supply the remainder of the antenna components.

Ready for 5G

It might not be the most exciting of upgrades for the iPhone 9 or whatever Apple is planning to call it, but nevertheless faster data speeds are always welcome. Trials of 5G are currently happening all across the world, so it shouldn't be too long before the technology is available - though you might have to wait until 2019 for 5G phones.

Other gossip from the world of Apple suggests we're set for three iPhones next year, with a 6.1-inch TFT LCD version catering for those who want to spend a little less on their Apple products. It looks like the form factor of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is getting ditched for good, so get used to the notch.

Of course it's still early days for rumors and speculation about the next-generation iPhone, so take everything you hear with a pinch of salt for now. If next year's launch is anything like this year's though, we'll know pretty much everything there is to know about these phones before they're officially unveiled.

Categories: Tech News

10 reasons why you need a VPN

Latest Tech News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 04:30

These days, VPN technology has made the transition from a ‘nice thing to have’ to a ‘must-have’ for many folks who are online. And that’s mainly because of concerns around online privacy, and regulations like the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK, or the legislation passed in the US earlier this year that allows ISPs to sell user data. In short, there are a number of compelling reasons why you should start using a VPN, and we’ve rounded up 10 good ones here.

1. Secure messaging

Online communications have evolved from simple text-based emails to robust cross-platform messaging services – including WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat to name a few of the more popular ones. The issue is that not all of these are encrypted, and therefore there’s the potential for messages to be intercepted and read.

Putting these messaging services through a VPN provides a higher level of security with the inherent encryption, and keeps these conversations where they belong – in private.

2. VoIP

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This is the revolutionary advance that enabled digital voice communications at a lower cost than traditional phone lines by routing calls through the internet.

The downside is that now instead of tapping individual subscriber lines, VoIP calls can be acquired and analyzed in bulk. By sending these calls through a VPN, they are encrypted, and therefore require serious decryption skills to gain access to the call, making things much harder for any snoops.

3. Online gaming

Using a VPN to play an online game might seem like a poor idea on the face of it, but it does offer some advantages. For starters, there’s anonymity, meaning you can keep your account credentials (that may contain credit card information) safe and secure.

Additionally, a VPN can be used to overcome geo-blocking restrictions, so for example, an American can continue to play a US-based game while traveling overseas. Also, in some cases, using a VPN will offer faster connection speeds as it could avoid throttling, and could also allow you to connect to a faster gaming server (which you might not have been able to access without the VPN).

Finally, a VPN can increase your level of protection against DDoS attacks – not that these are common, but gaming rivals with a serious grudge could decide to attempt to target your connection and bog it right down, lagging you out of the game. A nasty prospect indeed.

4. Avoiding government censorship

In some countries the internet is highly censored by oppressive governments. This hampers efforts to communicate outside of the regime, and prevents access to sites that we all take for granted.

Obviously enough, when you’re travelling to such a country, you will also be subject to this online censorship – so a VPN could be a necessity if you want to freely surf the web and communicate with the rest of the world.

5. Secure public Wi-Fi

When out and about, staying connected is often a necessity, and free Wi-Fi has become an important commodity for staying in touch with family members, as well as business colleagues. The added bonus is that using Wi-Fi won’t chew through your smartphone data plan.

However, using public Wi-Fi can also be fraught with hazards. These include packet sniffers, falling into phishing scams via fake Wi-Fi connections, and being hacked or infected with malware. The good news is that a VPN with a modern encryption protocol will help protect you and your precious data from these types of attacks.

6. Location-based price targeting

Businesses not only target their ads at customers, but they also adjust their pricing as well. We can (mostly) accept the fact that a supermarket chain may adjust the price of a certain item at different locations due to ‘local competition’. However, this sort of practice gets more painful when it occurs over the internet, as in essence it should be a level playing field.

Well, a VPN can even those odds right up. By being able to choose the VPN server’s location, you can change where the online shopping site will think that you are, and therefore benefit from the best price, as opposed to the one you’d have got from your real-world location.

7. Bypass restrictions 

Using a computer at certain locations, such as a school or library, will not offer the full internet, but rather a filtered, partially censored version. While in some cases this works for the protection of users, in other cases it can be frustrating when trying to look into a blocked topic.

For example, in one case a user was researching the topic of ‘breast cancer’ for informational purposes, and was blocked from doing so as the word ‘breast’ was on the restricted list to protect users from pornography. A VPN allows the user to get access to the full internet, and bypass any unreasonable restrictions.

8. Stop Google tracking

There are times when the ‘Do no evil’ company, Google, seriously starts to resemble ‘Big Brother’ as it seeks to track what every user does online, including searching their Gmail accounts to better target ads – although the firm has promised to stop this practice. Although Gmail aside, Google has plenty of mined data from other sources; it is a search engine giant, after all.

A VPN allows the user to stop Google from being the ‘camel that sticks its nose under the tent,’ and to take back control of their privacy. Without a VPN, users are literally tracked in just about everything they do online with Google’s suite of products from email, search, to G Suite apps, and when using the popular Chrome browser, among other considerations.

9. Research without a trace

There are times when some research needs to be done without tipping your hand. For example, if one company wants to look at the available jobs or policies at a competitor, it would be ideal to do this without revealing their IP address, especially if this is done from the workplace.

A VPN is an effective cloak in these cases, as the user will be assigned a totally different IP address, and it can be chosen to be geographically disparate for an additional element of safety.

10. Take control of your privacy

Quite simply, a VPN has become a necessity to keep online activities private. Email and cloud storage accounts, with their potential to be compromised, are a ripe target for hackers. Thankfully, by using a VPN and choosing a robust encryption protocol, privacy can be reclaimed.

Categories: Tech News

Our favorite Samsung Galaxy S8 deal is $200 ahead of Black Friday 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 21:46

There's an important Samsung Galaxy S8 deal in the US ahead of Black Friday 2017, and it's cheaper than the price you'll find anywhere on Amazon today.

It's $200 off the Galaxy S8 on Newegg for the superior International version of the smartphone – the one that comes unlocked to work on AT&T or T-Mobile.

It also just so happens to be the dual-SIM capable version of the Android phone, which makes it ideal for traveling outside of the US and connecting to both your existing number for calls and texts and a foreign SIM for cheaper data while abroad.

This version of the smartphone usually costs $799. You'll have to pay Newegg the full price, but that's generally the cost of buying a fully unlocked phone that isn't overtaken by carrier apps and bloatware.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is also on sale and is even cheaper. In fact, you'll pay less for this 6.2-inch phone than you would the smaller 5.8-inch S8 from Samsung. How things change in a little over half a year.

It's cheaper and faster

Maybe the best news of all is the fact that this particular Samsung Galaxy S8 phone runs the Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa-core chipset.

The Exynos 8895 proven to be faster in our review testing compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. The one thing Qualcomm's chip can do is connect to Verizon and Sprint's CDMA networks in the US. This phone cannot.

That's why this deal is beneficial to anyone solely on the AT&T and T-Mobile GSM networks, or one of the many other MVNO carriers in the US that supports GSM phones.

Saving $200 off our recommended versions of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a good start to Black Friday one week before the deals even begin.

Categories: Tech News

The best Toys R Us Cyber Monday deals 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 19:50

While Toys R Us Cyber Monday deals in the US may not be here until the end of the month, that doesn't mean you can't save on kids gifts right now. You know, the toys that are so cool you want to play with them yourself when the kids go off to bed? Yeah, there are deals on them at this very moment.

All of this is a lot easier thanks to the mega-savings that Toys R Us promises and always delivers on. This year, the US toy outlet is facing bankruptcy, and that means you may find even better Cyber Monday prices than you'd normally expect.

We've seen worthy discounts on Nerf blasters, Marvel action figures, kids tablets and even Power Wheel-style ride ons. And Toys R Us is always a good source of movie and video game deals, according to Cyber Mondays of years past. Oh, and have we mentioned LEGOs? Those are popular come the biggest shopping days of the year.

The best part about Cyber Monday 2017 is that the Toys R Us deals will be just as good online as in person in almost every case. You can shop the store without leaving the comfort of your couch. That makes sneaking away to buy toys in the middle of the night or super early in the morning a lot easier than before, making the surprise when your kids open their gifts that much easier to achieve. You gotta admit - those overjoyed faces make it all worth it.

So, what are the best Cyber Monday deals at Toys R Us? While we have time before we see big items like Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One on sale, we're already finding a lot of other early Cyber Monday deals you can consider putting away right now.

Cyber Monday quick links Toys R Us Cyber Monday quick link Early Cyber Monday deals in November Toys R Us ads to leak ahead of time

There are no leaked ads detailing the Cyber Monday 2017 deals Toys R Us will have right now, but they should come in late November. Since Cyber Monday comes after Black Friday, Cyber Monday ads may not be officially released until after Black Friday.

One place to keep an eye on is the Toys R Us Cyber Monday page. You can bet that when deals do become available, they will be listed here. 

The Toys R Us Black Friday Preview is out in the wild, so you can peruse it's pages to get a sense of all the deals you can expect all the way through Cyber Monday 2017.

Once the Cyber Monday ads do arrive, however, they will offer all the information you need to figure out what deals are worth going after, and which you can skip. 

If you do find something you like, remember there’s no such thing as unlimited stock, and being able to quickly hop on the internet and press the buy button is the surest way to get the deal you’re looking for before it vanishes.

If ads are available early from multiple retailers, then it's a good idea to compare prices and make sure you’re buying products from the store with the deepest discounts. Toys R Us will likely have a lot of good deals, but they may not be the very best ones available on Cyber Monday.

Sometimes ads detailing the deals coming on Cyber Monday leak early, so keep checking here, as we’ll post these leaked ads when they become available. That way, you can plan your shopping strategy and find the best Cyber Monday deals. We're all about eliminating shopping stress, which is a good thing, right?

Expected Toys R Us deals

Cyber Monday might be about online shopping, but for Toys R Us, there will likely be a lot of overlap with the deals happening at the toy store on Black Friday.

Video games and gaming consoles are often on sale for Cyber Monday, so expect Toys R Us to have some significant deals in this category. The new Xbox One X is already out, and this fall is going to be full of new video game releases, like Star Wars Battlefront 2. New games and consoles aren’t cheap, so any Cyber Monday deal on these items is worth looking at. Lots of deals also include bundles of consoles and games together, so be on the lookout for those if you want the best prices on multiple products at the same time.

With a new Star Wars moving coming out later this year and Rogue One inventory getting old, expect some deals on everything Star Wars. Lego has had The Lego Batman Movie and will have The Lego Ninjago Movie this year, so related products may be popular and discounted. Disney and Barbie are also popular brands for deals, and should continue to be this year.

Cyber Monday may also be a good time to look out for big and expensive items you wouldn’t want to schlep out of the store yourself. If you’re looking for trampolines and Power Wheels, Cyber Monday will be a good time to do it as these will be delivered to your door (no need to squeeze them into your car).

Toys R Us Cyber Monday advice

There’s no pushing or shoving in online shopping, but there’s still serious competition among shoppers. Look for deals early and often if you know what you want to buy. Doing so will not only help you spot the best Toys R Us Cyber Monday deals as soon as possible, but it will also help you known when the listed deal price is actually a change from the regular price. If you just want to see the best deals and decide whether they’re to your liking, just reload this webpage regularly to see any updates

Since Cyber Monday will have a lot of people visiting the same retailer sites at the same time, you might want to use a VPN to avoid internet congestion. If the local servers for Toys R Us are too busy during Cyber Monday, you might not be able to access the site, but a VPN can help you route your internet traffic to another region where it’s not so busy, so you can get to the deals before they are all sold out.

One last thing you won’t want to do is wait around when you see a deal on a product that you know you want. If a product is popular and has a really great deal on it, chances are everyone else has seen it and it will sell out quickly. You don’t want to stare at that product all day only to click the purchase button and have the webpage tell you that it’s no longer in stock. If you know what you want from Toys R Us during Cyber Monday 2017, don’t wait until the following Tuesday to get it.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft slashes Xbox game prices ahead of Black Friday for Xbox Gold members

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 19:25

It's a good day to be an Xbox fan, as Microsoft just slashed the prices on a whole pile of Xbox games through its online store well in advance of many other Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. 

You can take advantage of the deals right now if you're an Xbox Live with Gold Member, but everyone else will have to wait until November 23.

Even better, you can now pick up some of the games on sale in Microsoft's store as gifts. Just use the site as you normally would, but click "Buy As Gift" when you're checking out. You'll then be prompted to enter the intended recipient's email address, and then they'll get a code. Here's a more in-depth how-to if you need it.

Like a console Steam sale

The discounts and the amount of games for sale are frankly astounding, as some of the cuts go as deep as 64%. Many of the juggernaut hits of the year can be found in the sale, including Assassin's Creed Origins for $42 rather than the usual $60, and Destiny 2 for $39, compared to the retail price of $60.

The Evil Within 2 is half-off at $30, and the same goes for Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

The sale also includes heavy discounts for older games, such as Overwatch for $30 (down from $60) and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition for $20, down from the usual $50.

Essentially, if a game you want has a listing on the store, there's a good chance you'll find a discount for it. 

On top of all this, earlier this week Microsoft announced that it intends to slash the price of the  Xbox One S down to just $189 for Black Friday, which makes this a perfect time to rack up some games if you plan on taking advantage of the offer.

Categories: Tech News

Best touchscreen laptops

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 19:25

Whether you like it or not it's undeniable that touchscreen have change the laptop landscape forever. From more touch-friendly operating systems to the explosion of drawing applications, there are more reasons to have a touchscreen on a laptop than ever before and the huge uptick in popularity of 2-in-1 laptops perfectly corroborates this.

While it might seem like every notebook has a touchscreen, not all digitizers are born equal. Sure most are good enough to detect when you're scrolling up and down a site, there are some particularly tuned for precise digital pen usage and have specialized features.

With all of this mind we've picked out the crème de la crème of touchscreen laptops for everyone from digital artists to digital note takers. Whether you're new and looking to be part of the touchscreen revolution or looking to upgrade to that next best thing, you've come to the right place.

The Microsoft Surface Pro is bar none the ultimate touchscreen device. Not only is it a tablet 2-in-1, rather than a laptop 2-in-1, it’s also completely designed around a touch interface and the Surface Pen. Whether, you’re an artist or need a reliable digital slate for taking notes, the Surface Pro is the finest touchscreen device on the market.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

The Samsung Chromebook Pro can be likened to an extremely large Samsung Note 8 in that it has a stowable stylus and a great touchscreen handwriting notes. What’s more, every single thing you write down on the Chromebook Pro is saved to Google Keep, which then digitizes your handwriting into a text document for easy searching afterwards. Plus the Chrome OS device’s full access to the Google Play Store also allows users to play all their favorite Android games on a much larger screen than almost all other tablets.

Read the full review: Samsung Chromebook Pro

The HP Spectre x360 meets the happiest balance between tablet and laptop. As a tablet it has perfectly slim bezels for viewing all sorts of content and is lightweight enough to hold for long stretches. Then as a laptop it has great battery life to last through the day and you won’t find anything else with a more tactile keyboard.

If you’re looking a laptop with even more screen real estate there’s the 13.9-inch Lenovo Yoga 920. It’s sports just as many 4,096 levels of sensitivity as the Surface Pro but on a much larger 4K screen. This sharp-looking hybrid laptop also brings a touch of class with its unique watchband hinge and fully metal build.

Read the hand-on review: Lenovo Yoga 920

The Surface Book 2 15-inch offers the same great touch and pen experience as the Surface Pro, but on a much larger screen and exponentially more powerful hardware. Thanks to quad-core processors and potent discrete graphics, it’s ready to handle your most demanding art projects as well as playing the latest games.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

Categories: Tech News

Monster gaming laptop deal: MSI will save you $450 before Black Friday

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 17:59

For PC gamers already in the holiday shopping spirit, MSI and NewEgg have a sick deal for you way ahead of Black Friday

What you're about to see is a VR-ready, ultra-portable gaming laptop for what most budget mobile gaming rigs cost.

For a limited time, MSI is selling its GS63VR Stealth Pro gaming laptop for just $1,149. That is, specifically, a $1,599 product for $300 off – with another $150 off through a rebate mail-in card.

Inside, this laptop is sporting a 15.6-inch, Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 display powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics with 6GB of GDDR5 memory. Backing those processors are 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD + 1TB hard drive combo for storage.

This is but a taste of what you're bound to see in the coming days and week leading up to Black Friday weekend. Keep it locked to TechRadar for all of the latest in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Categories: Tech News

Best smartwatch: the top smartwatches you can buy in 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 16:18

The smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.

What's more impressive is that many of today's best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise with GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.

Oh – and they look absolutely stunning to boot. If you're thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory... think again. These choices are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.

Choosing the smartwatch that's right for you isn't easy, but we hope to make the exciting process of getting paired up with your next (or first!) smartwatch as simple as possible.

The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if we're being picky) is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. Yes, it's essentially just the Apple Watch 2 frame with some new innards... but they make a big difference.

The LTE connection is the headline event, although that's not really as useful as some might hope - plus it costs a lot more to use, and drains the battery.

What we like is the non-LTE version, which is a lot cheaper, and offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through - that's the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world, in our opinion.

It's still water-resistant so you can swim about when using it nor worry about getting it wet in the rain when you're out for a jog.

There's GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the top watchOS 4 software. 

Read the full review: Apple Watch 3

Don't get too excited about this watch unless you live in the US: it's only available there and exclusive to T-Mobile.

If you do live in the States, get very excited about the fact you can own this watch for just $96, which is a - frankly - ridiculous price.

Yes, it lacks a heart rate monitor and some of the design and software flourishes that would make it a superb smartwatch, but for the price this is simply a must-buy (if you can).

Read the full review: ZTE Quartz review

The LG Watch Style (built in collaboration with Google) offers everything that's to love from the best Android Wear smartwatches, ditches the dreaded flat tire, then fills in the gap with cool, useful features and a whole lot of… style.

Roll that all up and you're left with an extremely alluring presentation that makes a mighty strong argument for Google's wearable platform. But there are some familiar wrinkles here.

Battery life is still a low point, and, as independent as Android Wear 2.0 claims to be, Google is still in the early days of filling the new Play Store with compatible apps that are enticing enough to bother with aside from its own. 

The Style's appeal lies more in what it will be soon, rather than what it is at launch.

That said, it’s easy to express why the Style is the only smartwatch we want to put on our wrists. For a recently-lowered price, it offers just as much utility as prior smartwatch attempts, but ups the ante with a slim, dashing design and several welcome features, like the voice-activated Google Assistant and a refreshed user interface that's full of clever tweaks.

Read the full review: LG Watch Style

Despite a serious lack of original apps, the Samsung Gear S3 is one of the best smartwatch options on the market.

The intuitive controls and Super AMOLED screen from the Samsung Gear S2 are back in full form here. Plus, GPS makes its full debut on the Gear S3.

While its look is more executive than the Gear S2, it rocks a IP68-protected build and can last up to 3 days of use before needing a charge - that's some of the best battery life we've seen on a smartwatch.

Samsung recently made the Gear S3 (and Gear S2, for that matter) compatible on iOS too, so if you're looking for a more traditional-looking alternative to the Apple Watch, you may have found your match.

Read the full review: Samsung Gear S3

LG Watch Sport would be the smartwatch to beat right now, because it's a full-featured fitness tracker wrapped in a smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0. 

While other smartwatches can do "fitness tracking" that just amounts to logging runs and calories burned, this watch tracks your all-important strength training, too.

However, despite supporting an LTE connection ( so if you pop a SIM card into the back of the watch, it can make and receive calls and data – without your smartwatch nearby) it's been limited to US-only availability.

It doesn't have the best battery life, despite its bigger-than-normal size, and apps are still being announced for Google's newly refreshed platform. But it's a nice step forward for Android Wear and smartwatches in general.

Read the full review: LG Watch Sport

If you’re in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, the Asus ZenWatch 3 should be one to think about. It has a great display, useful hardware buttons and good battery life. And although it has been slow to adopt Android Wear 2.0, the long-awaited update is finally available.

It’s styling might not be for everyone, and it's lacking in a few sensors, but Asus did a commendable job designing a watch that looks more like a premium watch than a piece of lifeless technology.

Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 3

The Fitbit Ionic was always going to be a tough move for the brand, trying to enter the world of smartwatches from fitness bands.

The effort succeeds in some places: namely fitness, as you might imagine, where you can track all manner of things, from running to weight lifting to swimming. There's also dedicated bodyweight coaching sessions in there, and you can pay for items on the go using Fitbit Pay.

Where it lacks is the price - it's expensive, and the amount you can do with it compared to other smartwatches is limited. However, if you're a Fitbit fan looking to do more with the a band, this is a nice option.

Read the full review: Fitbit Ionic review

The Apple Watch 2 was the best smartwatch around - until it got replaced. It's water-resistant, which means it's more durable than most of the other devices on this list and you won't have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you're out for a jog.

There's GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the newest watchOS 3 software. Design wise it's looking very similar to the original Apple Watch. It's no longer as expensive as it once was, either.

The downside is that stocks are starting to get severely limited as Apple has discontinued it on its wooden shelves - so you'll need to pick one up sharpish if you're looking for a good alternative to the Apple Watch 3.

Read the full review: Apple Watch 2

The second generation oto 360 certainly gets our vote as one of the best smartwatches when it comes to the design - and it's also one of the most comfortable wearables around.

The new size options give the Moto 360 the extra reach it needed the first time around. That, and the new-found comfortable fit (along with the added customization to the design), brings it all together as one of the best smartwatches of 2016, and still a strong option in 2017.

Read the full review: Moto 360

Still on sale as the 'budget' Apple Watch, this device is still well worth a look.

OK, it doesn't have the water resistance, LTE connectivity or GPS of the top Apple Watch 3, but it also doesn't have the price.

Being able to check when you've got a message, or see who's calling and be able to make snap decisions, still is possible here and great when you're exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn't practical.

The new enhancements from Apple's watchOS 4 really do help this smartwatch leap forward, even if the hardware is years old now. It's now faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal. 

Read the full review: Apple Watch

Categories: Tech News

Apple HomePod release date, news and features

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 15:55

Update: Apple HomePod won't be released in 2017 like the company originally planned. Apple told TechRadar that the speaker likely won't hit store shelves until 2018, saying "We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”  

Original story continues below...

Unveiled at WWDC 2017, the Apple HomePod is Apple's answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. It's a voice assistant-equipped speaker that will help with everyday tasks, control your smart home and play music on command. 

After first appearing on phones, voice assistants entered the home in a big way with the Amazon Echo, and now Apple's looking to get into the action. 

While Apple has had a voice assistant, Siri, on its phones for some time now, it has so far been left behind when it comes to smart speakers. Competitor Google brought its own voice assistant to dedicated hardware with the Google Home speaker last year. That all changes with the introduction of the HomePod.

We first heard reports of Apple employees testing the 'Apple Speaker' in their own homes in September 2016, and another round of rumors suggested home testing was still ongoing. More recently we heard rumors that the speaker was actually entering production, and eventually Apple finally confirmed the speaker at WWDC 2017. 

So, read on for all the information we have so far about Apple’s HomePod, and if you want to know what it's like to use in person, check out our HomePod hands on review

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? A smart speaker equipped with Apple’s Siri voice assistant
  • When is it out? Sometime in 2018 in the US, UK and Australia
  • What will it cost? $349 (around £265 / AU$430)
Apple Siri Speaker release date

The Apple HomePod was originally slated for release in December 2017 at a price of $349. At least that was the plan when the speaker was first announced.

Recently, Apple told TechRadar that while the company is excited to bring the speaker to the market, it'd need some more time to do so. To that end, the HomePod won't make its original release window and should be available to purchase in the US sometime in 2018 in both white and space grey.

No UK or AU pricing has yet been announced - but we'll keep you updated as we learn more.

Apple Siri Speaker features

The HomePod is equipped with 7 tweeters on its base, along with a 4-inch upward-facing woofer. You can also pair two of the speakers together for a stereo configuration – but no specific mention yet of the ability to use the speakers in a 5.1 home cinema configuration, as is possible with rival Sonos gear.

The speaker itself is around 7-inches tall, and Apple has promised that setup will be as easy as it was with the W1 chip-equipped Apple AirPods. You'll need an iPhone 5s or later running iOS 11 if you want it to be compatible with the speaker. 

Apple has confirmed that the new speaker will be spatially aware, so it should know how to optimise its sound to suit your home. It can detect the space that it's in, directing channels as appropriate depending on its location.

Hopefully this should mean its sound won't boom too much if its left in a corner, but we'll have to see how it performs in the real world before we can say for sure. 

The speaker is equipped with 6 microphones that it will use to listen for voice commands. You can not only use it to control music, but you can also ask it questions about the music that's currently playing, such as for the name's of participating band members. "Who is the drummer in this?" was one specific (and cool) query Apple highlighted at the speaker's reveal.

You can tell the speaker when you like songs in order for Apple Music to recommend more that's similar to the tunes that's currently being played. 

Apple boasts that the microphone array is intelligent enough to cancel out background noise so that the speaker can hear you over the sound of its own music. This is helped by its included A8 chip, which Apple claims is the most powerful processor to ever be found in a speaker. 

The A8 chip first appeared in the iPhone 6 back in 2014, so it's not the newest chip Apple has to offer - but that's still incredibly powerful for a speaker. 

The  HomePod is also compatible with a number of non-music features, such as reminders, giving weather information, and controlling HomeKit supported smart home devices. 

Interestingly Apple has also said that the HomePod is "a great way to send messages", suggesting that it will include iMessage integration. 

Although the hardware is powerful, we still have some reservations about Siri as a voice assistant. Siri has some significant problems compared to competing voice services, and we'll have to see whether the HomePod is able to address these issues. 

For example, at the moment Siri heavily prioritises Apple’s own apps rather than allowing you to use alternatives. Ask Siri to play some music, and it will only be able to play songs that are located in your Apple Music app. Apple has explicitly said that HomePod is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription. 

This is in contrast to both Alexa and Google Assistant, which both allow you to use a music app of your choice, rather than restricting you to Amazon Prime Music and Google Play music respectively.

Based on some developer digging, it doesn't look like third-party apps are going to be allowed on the HomePod - at least, not to begin with.

At least the interface looks seamless. Someone recently got a sneak peak at the interface for connecting to a HomePod and posted a screenshot on Twitter. It seems that the speaker will integrate seamlessly into the control center. 

Amazon has been especially open with allowing developers to integrate their services into its smart speakers. It allows the creation of ‘Skills’ which essentially act as apps for the smart speaker, and so far there have been over 10,000 of them created for the speaker

Another issue with Siri is that it can sometimes be a little...stupid. Ask it when the Mona Lisa was painted (that's 1503, art buffs), and the voice assistant will happily tell you that ‘the answer is one thousand, five hundred and three,’ rather than being intelligent enough to realise that the year should be read aloud as ‘fifteen oh-three’. 

Of course there’s always the chance that Apple will put significant effort into improving Siri before the HomePod is released in December. Google did a similar thing when it overhauled Google Now, creating Google Assistant, in the months before the Google Home was released.

Finally, comments by Apple VP Phil Schiller which suggested that Apple was thinking along the lines of a Siri speaker with an integrated screen - turned out to be false. 

A new challenger has entered the arena

Smart speakers are one of the most unexpected and cool technologies to have come out over the past couple of years, and interesting to see each of the technology giants repurposing their existing voice assistants to work in a home context. 

Apple isn't the only one with such a device on the horizon. Harmon Kardon is readying a home speaker equipped with Microsoft's Cortana voice assistant, and between that and Google's existing smart speaker efforts, the market is set to get crowded very quickly. 

Apple has a real chance of standing out when it comes to its home automation efforts thanks to HomeKit, but it's not as strong when it comes to integrating with non-Apple services such as Spotify. 

Hopefully the HomePod's audio technology will allow it to stand out against the competition. 

Categories: Tech News

Get a free Sony PlayStation 4 with Sony Xperia XZ mobile phone deals from Virgin Mobile

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 15:29

It's the kind of mobile phone deal that Black Friday was made for. If you pick up a Sony Xperia XZ on contract from Virgin this sales season, it will give you a free PS4 Slim and a copy of FIFA 18. It's a freebie worth £229 (according to a quick look at our PS4 bundle deals round-up).

It's a nice perk, but only really worth doing if the price of the Xperia XZ is any good in the first place. Luckily, Virgin's tariffs on Sony's 2016 flagship phone are some of the lowest around. You can get them for as little as £19 per month with nothing to pay upfront. If you're happy to enter into a 36-month contract then it's the cheapest Xperia XZ deal on the market!

Click here to buy the Xperia XZ and claim your free PS4

Sony Xperia XZ with free PS4 and FIFA 18 bundle Black Friday deal
Categories: Tech News

Best Amazon Prime TV shows (November 2017): 25 great Amazon Prime Video series

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 14:40

Update: Fantasy fans rejoice, Amazon Prime Video is bringing Tolkien's world to life (again) in a new TV series that'll be exclusive to Amazon's streaming service. 

As most of the US prepares for its winter hibernation, with days getting shorter and nights getting longer, some of us are spending more time in front of the warm glow of our TV screens. Cable cutters, the name for those of us who have tossed out our expensive cable bills every month, included. 

The good news is that your Amazon Prime subscription, you know, that thing that gets you free two-day shipping, comes with hundreds of the best TV shows (and movies) – for free. The bad news is that there's a lot to choose from.

In an effort to keep your yuletides merry and stockings full, we've gone ahead and listed the best Amazon Prime Instant Video TV shows you can stream in the US. Chosen by the team, these are the shows streamed in the US that are Instant classics primed to offer up hours of compulsive viewing. 

Notice, there are more Amazon Instant Video Originals than last year, with the online retailer trying to compete with the original TV shows that are now a large part of our best Netflix TV shows.

What's the best Amazon TV show to get sucked into without regretting it by the end of season 2? Read our Prime Video recommendations to find out.

The full title, All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals and its sequel All of Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams, are pretty self-explanatory. 

But what you might not glean from the title is how much blood, sweat and tears went into the making of this show and the teams that provide your entertainment Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights. 

Anchored by head coach Bruce Arians and narrated by Jon Hamm, All or Nothing plays out like an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, pacing itself with moments of tension followed by heart-warming victories or crushing letdowns. While Netflix's Last Chance U might have the market cornered on college ball documentaries, All or Nothing takes the genre to the pro leagues.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 2

One of the first successes to come from the Amazon Originals program, Alpha House is the antithesis of Netflix's House of Cards. Yes it has a political edge but the back stabbing is replaced with a little bit of rib tickling. John Goodman is superb as one of four US senators shacked up in the same house.

While the humor may get a little too dry for some, there's warmth in the cynicism and a strange amount of believability in the characters. If you were to choose one comedy that lampoons US politics then go with Veep - but Alpha House is a decent second.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 2 

With 20-something novels to mine for source material, Bosch is a character that was always destined for the small screen. Created by Michael Connelly but brilliantly brought to life by actor Titus Welliver, the series follows the exploits of LA Homicide detective Harry Bosch and features enough grit to pave the longest of driveways.

This is no surprise - the series has been created by Eric Overmyer, who was part of the alumni that created The Wire. Bosch is another show that has been put together by Amazon Studios - proving that streaming services are becoming just as powerful as the HBOs of the world when it comes to producing compelling drama.

Number of seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 3

While social media was all a'twitter about Aziz Ansari's Master of None on Netflix, Amazon stealthily released a rom-com of its own that rivals, and in some respects even outplays, its quirky competitor.

The show is called Catastrophe and stars Rob Delaney, Sharon Horgan (who The New York Times so aptly described as the UK's Tina Fey) and Carrie Fisher in an unexpected-pregancy-turned-love-story that's two parts Knocked Up, one part Annie Hall. Catastrophe excels at blending the nuanced cultural differences between the two main characters and the horrible awkwardness of falling in love in nine month's time. Horgan's character is a bit blunt, more cynical and slightly wittier than her significant other, while Delaney's is slow-witted but wonderfully polite in all the best ways. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 3

Shows on British politics have existed since the dawn of television, but none of them were as weirdly captivating as Downton Abbey, a show about social status, entitlement and posh, rich people doing posh, rich people things. After airing in 2010 on ITV in Ireland and the UK, the glacier-paced series took the entertainment world by storm thanks to its exceptional cast and historically accurate acting and attire.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 6

Billy Bob Thornton stars as a washed-up lawyer looking for a big break who stumbles on to a big case that may well give him the solace he needs. Made by David E Kelly who loves a bit of courtroom drama, having already created Boston Legal, The Practice and Ally McBeal, the show works well as a standalone series but there's talk that it may get a second season. Goliath is part of Amazon's Original series of TV shows.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

Let me set the stage for this one: It's 1969, and there's a war going on in America. The war is being fought in business offices around the country and the group leading the charge are women in the workforce, fighting for equal rights and equal acknowledgement for the work they've performed for years. Good Girls Revolt is set in this backdrop, at a fictional news outlet where the women have for too long been swept under the rug.

The show scores major points for its poignant subject matter – both in the way that it covers the struggles of women in the workplace pre-1970, but also in the way it handles talking about the American history that the women in question are tasked with covering. Part raunchy history lesson, part stellar drama, Good Girls Revolt is a smart interpretation of a still-ongoing issue.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 1

Actor Ron Perlman has been known to play some devious, psychologically unsound characters, but his latest one - Judge Pernell Harris - might take the cake. Hand of God follows Perman's character in his descent into madness, where divine providence and real-world consequences meet and lives are forever changed.

In the vein of Memento, you'll question Pernell's sanity and whether anything is really happening or if it's all in one man's deeply troubled mind. The twist on the show is that it leans on biblical themes to add stakes - philandering, extortion and murder are commonplace here. Don't go in expecting any of it to make sense in the first few minutes, or to leave the first season feeling happy-go-lucky. This is one dark ride.

Number of seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 2

He may not have had the best career in movies, but Timothy Olyphant has become a TV stalwart thanks to a brilliant performance in Deadwood and an even better one in Justified. The premise of Justified is wafer thin - a Miami marshal is reassigned to his backwater home town after a bullet-strewn altercation - but Raylen Givens' (Olyphant) relationship with his family, old friends and foes is forever riveting and frequently bloody.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 6

Dramas have become all-too-easy to predict. There's a line drawn in the first episode between good and bad, and while there can be some crossover late in the second or third season, it's tough to feel truly surprised anymore. That said, Mad Dogs breaks every convention and isn't afraid to pair goofy, slap-stick comedy with surreal scenes of intense violence just to make you sit up and pay attention.

A US revamp of the 2011 series of the same name, Mad Dogs is one of the most adult offerings from Amazon's in-house studio, easily taking the crown from Bosch or Hand of God. It goes from The Hangover to The Godfather without warning and has the potential to be one of Amazon's first breakout dramas.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 1

There have been a number of successful Amazon pilots that have made it to a full series, but none have the epic potential that Man In The High Castle has. This adaptation imagines what the world would be like if Germany and Japan had won World War II and the Nazis had taken global control. Turns out it's a bit worse than us all driving around in VW Beetles and wearing Hugo Boss coats.

The Man In High Castle has been renewed for a third season, and you can watch the first two seasons for free via Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 2

Now into its third season, Mozart in the Jungle was this surprise winner at the 2015 Golden Globes, where it won Best Comedy Series. The show is a comedy set in the strange world of classical music. Gael García Bernal plays young conductor Rodrigo who replaces a retiring conductor played by Malcolm McDowell. Based loosely on a true story and created by the likes of Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, it's well worth a watch.

Number of seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 3

Focusing on the exploits of hacker Elliot (a superb Rami Malek), Mr Robot is Fight Club for the Tor generation, lifting a lid on a world where what Linux kernel you use is not just a badge of honor but a way of life. It's brooding at times and there's a political slant that hides just beneath the show's warm glow.

Amazon recently added the second season of the show to the streaming service, so there's no time like the present to get sucked into the madness.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 2

Some dodgy accents aside, it's a joy to watch Tatiana Maslany take on the multiple roles that are needed for Orphan Black. She launches herself into every one of the characters and is the constant that is needed to make this sci-fi yarn watchable. One of the reasons Orphan Black works so well is that it doesn't take itself too seriously but when it does it makes you believe in the myriad plot lines that flow through the series.

Amazon Prime Instant Video now offers all four seasons of the show with a subscription. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 4

The '80s is the en vogue decade when it comes to nostalgia. Not only are Seth Gordon and Adam Goldberg mining the era for their superb prime-time sitcom The Goldbergs, Red Oaks has appeared to prove that it is respectable to set shows in the '80s. Amazon-exclusive Red Oaks - made by another Green, this time David Gordon - focuses on David, a tennis player at the Red Oaks country club and his summer shenanigans. Great casting - Jennifer Grey! - some brilliant nods to '80s films, a short run time means this is a series you can eat up in one neon-fuelled sitting.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 3

Sneaky Pete's plot maybe a little cliche - a con man assumes the identity of someone else to try and make a new break in the world - but Giovanni Ribisi is superb as Marius, the titular character and there's plenty of intrigue to keep you glued to this new Amazon Original. 

Interestingly, the show is co-created by Bryan Cranston which makes him the streaming king, given he's done so well with Breaking Bad on Netflix. Don't expect Sneaky Pete to be as intense as Breaking Bad - it's a crime caper, yes, but it doesn't take itself too seriously, mixing in some jokes between tense scenes. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 1

Seemingly always vying for the top spot of Best Recently Finished Drama (we may have made up that award) with Breaking Bad, Sons Of Anarchy is a long brooding menace of a show that deserves your attention. Centered on a motorcycle gang that live by their own rules (you can probably guess what their name is from the title) the show is positively Shakespearean in its storytelling and will have you gripped from episode one.

While Ron Perlman steals the show as Clay, Charlie Hunnam's Jax is one of the best tortured souls you will see on any television show. And now Amazon Prime Instant Video is streaming all seven seasons of the show.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 7

The Americans is a cracking crime period thriller that follows the exploits of a couple of KGB agents posing as US citizens around the time Ronald Reagan became US president.

It may occasionally flit between the ridiculous and the sublime but you would expect nothing more from a show that's main conceit comprises characters dueling with duality. The '80s setting is fantastic, too, though there aren't enough shell suits for our liking.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 5

To be honest, we’re surprised that Amazon has been so quiet about The Grand Tour. We’ve seen nothing about it anywhere. No advertisements, no trailers, no Jeremy Clarkson selling his soul to promote Amazon products. Nothing. 

And that's surprising because The Grand Tour might be the best show on Amazon Prime Video this year.

Each episode is a more grandiose version of the Top Gear specials, with the presenters sent off to far-flung lands – sometimes with actual cars. Amazon needs this to be a hit, Clarkson need never worry about money again and as for the quality of the show: well, you might say it packs one helluva punch. 

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 1

The Good Wife sets out at a breakneck pace. Within the first five minutes we're introduced to Alicia Florrick (played by the award-winning Julianna Margulies) whose husband has recently been charged with sexual and political corruption. Fast forward six months and Florrick is out treading her own path as a lawyer on a pro bono case that seems to have all the odds stacked up against her. Toss in the familial fallout she faces at home and the career challenges of being a lawyer in a state where everyone knew your former husband and you have the basis of the emotional problems Margulies's character faces.

The Good Wife is a meditation not only on marital infidelity but the difficulties of getting a late start in life. As masochistic as it is addicting, The Good Wife is definitely worth 30 minutes of your night.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 7

F Scott Fitzgerald may be known for The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night but The Last Tycoon - his last and unfinished novel - is perhaps his most ambitious piece of work. It peels away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood in the '30s to show a time when backstabbing was the norm, fascism was on the rise and everyone had an unbelievable amount of money. Kelsey Grammer is superb as movie mogul Pat Brady, while Matt Bomer is also great as Monroe Stahr, the up and coming film exec who wants to make it big. The Last Tycoon is occasionally flawed but it's a sumptuous watch.

Seasons on Amazon Prime: 1

It's 2017, but we remember when shows about cops and robbers were a dime a dozen in the late '90s and early 2000s. Back then, there was a new crime drama seemingly every week that either took place in the courthouse or out on the streets where gritty, foul-mouthed badges upheld the law with a sidearm and implacable morals.

The Wire had some similarities to those shows, sure, but if you watched carefully enough the profound differences started to appear. The series wasn't afraid to talk about race and racism in the courts, nor would it back down from showing the lives of people on the fringe of society. It gave you truly deep characters on both sides of the law that you wanted to succeed, and some you just couldn't wait to see bite a bullet. If you forgot what HBO looked like before swords and sorcery, The Wire is worth tapping into for one last ride around the block.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: All 5 seasons

Anything Netflix can do, Amazon Prime can do better it seems, especially when it comes to winning a Golden Globe. Netflix may have made history by being the first streaming service to win a Golden Globe, courtesy of the acting talents of Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, but Amazon went and topped this by winning the Best TV Show prize in 2014 for Transparent.

It was much deserved. Transparent is everything you want in a TV show. It's heartwarming, funny and packs a real punch about a subject that doesn't get enough attention: transgenderism. Jeffrey Tambor's Maura Pfefferman is a television character we hope will be around for a long time.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 4

One of the biggest advantages Amazon Prime Instant Video has over Netflix is its massive back-library of HBO programming that will make anyone with a monthly subscription salivate over. While each show could have its own entry on this list we instead chose to highlight the best of the bunch, starting with The Wire. A close, though vastly different second is True Blood, a show about the preternatural, social issues and sex. Lots and lots of sex. And if that  tag line doesn't sell you, nothing will.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 6

If you have any interest in Norse mythology then the name Ragnar Lothbrok will mean a whole lot to you. Basically he was a king and powerful ruler that was a right git to the English and the French.

Vikings is a series that traces his Norse-based goings on with enough charm and scope to take on Game of Thrones in the sword and sandals stakes. Yes it takes a number of liberties with its source material but the acting is top class, as is the cinematography in a historical romp that's now deservedly in its fifth season.

Seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video: 5

Categories: Tech News

The best swim watch to buy in 2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:45

Running and cycle tracking tech has grown incredibly over the past five years with GPS watches, form-fixing sensors and power meters expanding the universe of performance insights for us try-hard weekend warriors. 

Even amateur soccer is now catered for with GPS monitors now available for casual players.

For swimmers, though, it’s been a different story. It’s taken a while for people who like a bit of pool time to feel as much love as their land-loving fellow fitness types. 

But this is changing fast as brands such as Fitbit, Apple and Samsung race to upgrade their sports watches and fitness trackers with waterproof skills.

While there still aren’t many dedicated swim trackers, the best all-round fitness trackers now offer automatic stroke detection, accurate lap and distance tracking in the pool and open water, and some even offer fairly accurate heart rate monitoring in the water.

But prices range from well under $100 /£100 to over $500 / $500, so we’ve tested the leading products on the market to find the best swimming watch for every budget.

With each generation, the Apple Watch becomes a more serious fitness device. Along with its updated running and heart rate skills, the combined new Apple Watch Series 3 and watchOS 4 now has much improved swimming smarts. 

That said, it’s still better suited to people who like to go bobbing (see what we did there) along for general fitness rather than serious swimmers.

Apple’s latest swim-carnation offers a range of features for pool and open water swimming (using the Watch’s built-in GPS). That includes auto stroke detection, automatic sets and detailed splits that you can filter for 25m, 50m and 100m all in the Workout app.

The lap and distance accuracy is solid and we loved that you could calibrate the pool length on your watch, and even down to 1m. That’s a level of fine-tuning that many dedicated swim trackers don’t offer.

While Apple’s auto stroke detection isn’t always 100%, in most cases it happily detected when we were doing front crawl, back or breast stroke and at the end of each swim you get a breakdown of your sets and strokes.

Sadly for all those hardcore swimmers, the basic swimming tracking in the Workout app offers very little beyond how many lengths you've completed in the pool. For example, there’s no option to pre-load workouts.

However, you do get the option of using third-party swimming apps such as Let’s Go Swim and Swim.com that offer a wider range of features and there’s something here for the curious triathlete too. 

WatchOS 4 lets you easily transition between different workout segments e.g. run, bike, swim without starting a new workout.

The Apple Watch will detect heart rate in the pool, though this isn’t something Apple is pushing as the accuracy of optical sensors is obviously affected by the water. However, in our tests we got readings that appeared fairly close to the numbers we’d expect.

Read the full review: Apple Watch 3

Like many of the other devices on this list, the Moov Now does much more than just keep tabs on your pool workouts. As such, we’d describe this as a capable all-round fitness tracker with skills that carry into the water - justifying it as our top fitness tracker of 2017.

The small, super lightweight tracker fits into a comfortable soft, silicone strap that you wear on your wrist and uses on-board sensors to tracks laps, distance, time, speed, swimming style and stroke count.

We really loved that Moov broke our session data down to individual lengths where you can see how many strokes you pulled, how long it took, your turn times, any breaks or pauses you made, and what stroke you were swimming.

With attention to detail like this, the Moov Now comes close to being one of the most capable products on the list; however there are some significant drawbacks.

Firstly, you have to start your session from your phone. In most cases this means doing it in changing rooms where you can leave your smartphone safe and dry back in your locker. 

A bit annoying and made worse by the lack of screen on the Now itself, which means you can’t see what’s going on while you’re swimming.

We were often left wondering if it was actually tracking at all. It also struggled a little with accuracy, dropping laps and miscounting strokes per length.

But then look at the price tag, for £50 / $60 / AU$79 and with a battery life that lets you log more than 200 workouts, you get a lot of bang for your buck and if you’re an occasional swimmer as part of a wider fitness regime then this is hard to beat.

Read the full review: Moov Now

While some of the other devices on this list cater for general fitness, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is as serious as multi-sport devices come.

A bit like combining the features of a Fenix 5 with the looks of a Forerunner 635, this triathlon watch combines dedicated pool smarts with overall training and performance features that make it the top choice for competitive amateur swim-bike-run athletes.

The watch comes with built-in activity profiles for pool and open water swimming, and you can also create your own workouts, or download sessions via Garmin Connect - plus check out your SWOLF score -  AKA your swim efficiency. 

You get your SWOLF score by adding together your strokes per length, and the time it took to complete the length. e.g. 25m length at 30 seconds in 20 strokes is a SWOLF score of 50.

The lower your SWOLF the more efficient you are. Why is this important? Well for a start it lets you compare your performance for swims in different size pools more easily.

In the water, the Forerunner 935 automatically detects stroke type as well as lengths, distance, pace and stroke count. There are also time and distance alerts, a handy countdown start, advanced rest timers and open-water swim metrics.

One thing we really loved, mainly because the other trackers failed to offer it, was the option to input drills manually. This means you can also log all the hard work you do that’s not based on stroke alone, for example kick and single-arm drills. However, we did find it missed tracking the odd length here and there.

Once your sessions are done, the new Training Status feature helps you spot if you’re undertraining or overdoing it by evaluating your recent exercise history and performance indicators, making this fantastic for monitoring training, performance and recovery.

There’s no heart rate from the wrist in the water but you can pair the Forerunner 935 with a HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim heart rate monitor for added insights. 

You can also sync data wirelessly via your smartphone to Garmin Connect and then into the Speedo On web platform for added Strava-like competition, community, training tips and advice.

Read the early review: Garmin Forerunner 935

When we tested the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro as an all-round fitness tracker, it didn’t quite float our boat. 

But thanks to a partnership with Speedo On which means the swimming brand’s app comes pre-installed, the waterproof upgrade to the popular Gear Fit 2 fares better in the pool than on dry land.

The Fit 2 Pro is impressively light and there are two strap sizes that make it comfortable for the tiny and massive-wristed alike.

The bright and colourful screen is undoubtedly a stand out feature on the Gear Fit 2 Pro and we found it really easy to see our swim data during pool sessions. 

There’s also a Water Lock feature that turns off the touchscreen functionality when you’re swimming, a bit like the Apple Watch but without the bit where you get to make your watch spit the water out.

In the pool, Samsung’s own swim app will track some basic stats but what really lifts this is the Speedo On app. 

It measures stroke type, lap time, SWOLF and pace before firing all of that data into Speedo’s own platform for more detailed analysis, additional competition and community features that add an extra edge to your training.

There’s 4GB of internal storage and offline Spotify, though because Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater, ‘streaming’ music while swimming sadly isn’t an option.

Read the full review: Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro

If you only use swimming as part of a general fitness regime, knocking out a few lengths each visit, then the Fitbit Ionic’s simple, easy-to-use interface and length, distance and pace tracking should prove more than sufficient for your tracking needs.

The fact that the app shows your swim in terms of your overall daily fitness goals is also a nice touch.

If, however, you’re a competitive swimmer or take your pool time seriously then you’ll find Fitbit’s first smartwatch somewhat on the basic side.

Like many of the all-round fitness trackers there’s no way to input drills – so a length of kick won’t register, for example – and because there’s no automatic stroke detection, changing stroke in the middle of a length can lead to data registering incorrectly.

The watch is easy to wear in the water and the sheer number of spacing holes on the strap mean it stays put even on smaller wrists. 

The swim tracking function is self-explanatory; pick 'exercise' from the apps, swipe to swim (yes, swiping worked surprisingly well in the water) and go.

There’s a settings button where you can easily input the length of the pool for tracking, and the fact that the screen stays off unless you’ve set a cue – showing you distance, laps and time every 100m for example – is beneficial, as a flashing screen entering your eye line when you’re doing your best Phelps impression can prove distracting.

You can also set the tracker to automatically recognize different exercises, including swimming, so if you do forget to press go you’re sorted.

The tracking itself, however, is where the Ionic swam into trouble. Despite inputting the pool length as 25m, we got readings of 8 lengths as 100m and 22 lengths as 450m instead of 550m.

Fitbit say that some inaccuracies may come from shorter swims, stopping to rest in the middle of the pool and stopping for more than 60 seconds at the end of a length (which we probably did when trying to work out why the 100m cue we’d set didn’t go off after four lengths).

For these reasons, they recommend you should be able to swim between 6-12 lengths without stopping to track your swims – so it’s probably not suitable for those just starting out.

Read the full review: Fitbit Ionic

Slightly older than some of the trackers on this list, and with a name that’s incredibly long, the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music is another multi-sport watch designed for people who mix up their fitness activities.

In the pool, once you’ve set the length distance, the Spark 3 tallies lengths, strokes, strokes per minute, total distance and calories. Sadly, there’s no automatic stroke detection.

One thing it does offer that some other trackers on this list don’t is SWOLF - and especially not at this price.

We also like the fact that the Spark 3 let us set session targets and get an easy at-a-glance view of how close we are to achieving those targets. 

The form factor, with the small joystick control, also made it much easier than touchscreen devices to control once we were all wet.

One big oversight that might put off serious triathletes is the lack of a tri mode to let you do combined multi-sport sessions.

With this you have to start each sport as a new session, an odd exclusion for a device that caters well for swim-bike-run in many other ways.

Read the full review: TomTom Spark 3

Categories: Tech News

The ultimate PS4 Pro bundle deal comes with 7 games for just £339.99

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:36

With the Xbox One X launching earlier this month at £450, Sony was always going to march in with its one year old PS4 Pro and ruin Microsoft's party with some barnstorming Black Friday deals.

As it turns out, this has happened a week early - a whole range of PS4 Pro bundle deals went live this week which are truly irresistible. The best value deal comes with three Crash Bandicoot games, Call of Duty: WWII, Fallout 4, Doom and FIFA 18 all for just £339.99 at Currys.

If you're looking to spend even less, you can also get the PS4 Pro with FIFA 18 and the three Crash Bandicoot games for just £299. That's an order of magnitude cheaper than a bundle like this cost just one week ago - so if you're after a PS4 Pro, your window is open!

The best PS4 Pro Black Friday deals:
Categories: Tech News

The Legend of Zelda won big at the 35th Golden Joystick Awards

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:22

After months of voting, the Golden Joystick Awards presented with OMEN by HP took place in London today. The winners have been revealed and appropriately revered, and now they’re going to dance the night away. 

So, who walked away victorious this year? We can help you there. Below you’ll find out which games were honored as the best and brightest in the industry, whether that’s because of their outstanding storytelling, atmospheric audio or stunning visuals.

Best Storytelling

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Developer: Guerrilla Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Best Visual Design

Cuphead

Developer: StudioMDHR

Best Audio

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Best Gaming Performance

Ashly Burch Aloy, Horizon: Zero Dawn

Developer: Guerrilla Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Best Indie Game

Friday the 13th: The Game

Developer: IllFonic

Publisher: Gun Media

Best Multiplayer Game

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Developer: PUBG Corp.

Publisher: PUBG Corp.

Studio of the Year

Nintendo EPD

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey

Publisher: Nintendo

Best VR Game

Resident Evil 7

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

ESports Play of the Year

Agilities' five-man Dragonblade at Overwatch Contenders Overwatch

Publisher: Blizzard

ESports Team of the Year

Lunatic-Hai – Overwatch

Publisher: Blizzard

ESports Game of the Year

Overwatch

Developer: Blizzard

Publisher: Blizzard

Best Streamer/Broadcaster

Markiplier

Handheld/Mobile Game of the Year

Pokémon Sun and Moon

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: The Pokémon Company

Nintendo Game of the Year

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

PlayStation Game of the Year

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Developer: Guerrilla Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Xbox Game of the Year

Cuphead

Developer: StudioMDHR

Developer: StudioMDHR

PC Game of the Year

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Developer: PUBG Corp.

Publisher: PUBG Corp.

Critics Choice Award

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Hall of Fame

Final Fantasy for its 30th anniversary

Breakthrough Award

Ashly Burch – Life is Strange and Horizon Zero Dawn

Most Wanted Game

The Last of Us Part II

Developer: Naughty Dog

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Still Playing

World of Tanks

Developer: Wargaming

Publisher: Wargaming

Outstanding Contribution to the UK Games Industry

Debbie Bestwick MBE – co-founder of Team 17

Lifetime Achievement

Sid Meier – Civilization, Pirates!, Alpha Centauri

Ultimate Game of the Year

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo EPD

And there you have it! Congratulations to all the winners – and we look forward to seeing you all for the 36th Awards next year.

Categories: Tech News

Best camera phone 2017: the top smartphone snappers around

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 12:05

It’s tough to work out the best camera phone on the market - there are so many smartphones to try out, so how on earth will you be able to work out which has the best snapper on the back?

The good news for you is that TechRadar tests them all thoroughly, putting them through their photography paces in all manner of lighting conditions and scenarios to help you work out which phone will give the right pictures for you.

Before choosing, it’s worth thinking about what you want from a camera phone. Do you want something that’s great at taking outdoor snaps and aren’t bothered if it’s good in low light? Is a great quick pic with friends more important than a really powerful sensor that takes amazing shots when you put the effort in?

It’s also worth thinking about battery size and screen quality - if you’re going to be heading out all day and doing longer photography sessions, you’ll need a battery that can keep up. 

And if you’re mostly going to look at your photos on the phone, then a phone with OLED screen technology can really make your snaps pop - but if it’s social media, or even printing out your photos, that’s your plan then you’ve got a wider array of options.

We’ve listed all that information below, along with some of our top test snaps so you can make the right decision when it comes to choosing your next camera phone.

 The Google Pixel 2 duo have decent sensors on the back, but amazing software processing - and both cameras are identical.

That means you can take an average picture, and instantly watch it improve before your eyes as the phone stitches together multiple images. Despite only packing a single lens, the Pixel 2 pair can both take stunning portrait shots, bringing some real definition to the mix.

The camera software isn't always the best, with a tiny bit of lag in taking the picture (and waiting for the software to kick in) but the optical image stabilisation is a real boon.

The larger screen and longer battery life on the Pixel 2 XL will attract those looking for a more premium smartphone, but it is rather more expensive as a result.

But if you want the best pictures from a phone - we'd point you in the direction of the aptly-named pixel.

Pixel 2 / 2 XL photo samples

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera is one of the very best we've tested for a number of reasons: firstly, because the dual sensors are impressive and powerful. 

The blurred background, the telephoto lens, the speed of snapping - these are all the things we're looking for on a top-end smartphone.

The longer battery life and the improved screen mean you'll be able to keep taking photos over a longer time, and enjoy them with more vivid colors too.

The thing that we love about Samsung phones is that nearly every snap you take comes out looking clear and crisp, even in low light, which is what you want from an expensive phone... and the Note 8 certainly is.

Samsung has put so many modes on here, but also made the automatic settings incredibly easy to use... it's touch and go between this phone and the Pixel 2 for best camera phone, so either will certainly satisfy you.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 photo samples

The Samsung Galaxy S8 pair are the two best phones on the market at the moment, helped ably by their excellent cameras.

They might only be single sensors, which means portrait mode isn't easily achieved (and the reason they're not top of this list) but if you don't care about that, then we'd recommend these phones.

The S8 is well-designed and fits more nicely in the hand for more comfortable photography, but the larger S8 Plus is longer-lasting and packs a more expansive screen.

The sheer range of camera settings is to be applauded here - as is an easy selfie mode - but overall, it's the fact that a quick automatic snap always looks so good in our opinion.

These are great, great camera phones - definitely check them out.

Samsung Galaxy S8 photo samples

The iPhone X has the best camera ever seen on a device from Apple - and that’s on both the front and back.

The rear double sensor is capable of taking some stunning pictures in low light or bright scenes, capturing a lot of detail and erring on the side of natural colors.

Combined with the OLED screen, that brings a lot of vivacity to images, with the results still looking great on social media. The combination of two 12MP sensors, one being telephoto and both packing optical image stabilisation, is a nice move, and you’ll find the speed of snapping desirable.

The front-facing TrueDepth camera is also very capable, bringing clear selfies and also allowing you to take blurred background snaps without using a second sensor. It’s not the best  camera on the market, but the iPhone X is easily the best Apple’s ever created and is very close to the top. 

iPhone X photo samples

 

The LG V30 is a camera that takes the best of LG’s sensors and puts them to good use - it’s at its best when things get dimmer. Not in true low light, but if there’s a little bit of illumination the V30 really comes into its own, taking sharp and swift snaps when you need them.

The 16MP sensor is the main affair here, and when you just want to take a quick snap it works well. On top of that, the second sensor is a wider-angle affair, so you can get in more of the image you’re trying to snap.

We also really like how LG has worked to explain the more complex settings to you, allowing you to learn how to use the professional mode and get more out of your smartphone photography.

The selfie camera isn’t quite up to the same standard - a shame when last year’s V20 was so competent - but overall, this is a great snapper attached to a top phone.

LG V30 photo samples

The iPhone 8 Plus is only behind the iPhone X because it’s got a slight higher aperture on the second sensor, meaning low-light photography isn’t quite as good.

Apart from that, the main camera images are almost identical to those shot from the more expensive phone, and you’ll be pleased with the results time and again. Portrait mode continues to improve and can bring some stunning results, and while the front-facing camera isn’t TrueDepth-enabled (so you can’t do blurred-background selfies) it’s still very good.

On top of that, the iPhone 8 Plus has another big advantage over the competition: you can record 4K in crisp 60 frames per second, or super slow motion video at 240 frames per second.

If you can’t quite afford the iPhone X but want a great camera from an Apple phone, this is the place to look.

iPhone 8 Plus photo samples

The thing we like about the camera on the P10 Plus is that it’s so fully-featured, and easy to use in all the modes.

For instance, the camera task bar in the app is easy to use and makes it a cinch to open up the wider-aperture mode and bring some sparkle to your snaps.

The camera app itself is fast to use, easy to interact with and overall just results in some good images. It’s not the best around - as referenced by how low down on the list this phone is - but the sensors working together bring the ability to refocus an image after it’s taken. 

Yes, that’s a feature that a number of phones here offer, but it’s - again - easy to do on the Huawei P10 Plus.

On top of that, low light performance is pretty impressive - better than on the standard P10, which doesn’t make the cut here - so that’s why we’re plumping for the P10 PIus on our ranking.

Huawei P10 Plus photo samples

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is another step forward for a brand looking to really focus (sorry) on its photography performance.

The interesting thing is the Mate 10 Pro has the weakest performance in ‘standard’ light of all the cameras on this list - it’s a phone for the more professional user, as the name suggests.

Getting close, or using the phone in low light, will result in some great shots - and that’s a lot to do with the fact Huawei is combining monochrome and color sensors into its handset for the best mix of low-light and rich images - and the results bear out.

The Aperture Mode also allows you to fit far more into the frame, so while Mate 10 Pro isn’t the best snapper overall in a smartphone, it does reward those looking to put effort into their photos - and it’s a sensor bolted onto a really rather decent camera too, with simply sensational two-day battery life.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro photo samples

The only phone on our list from 2016, the iPhone 7 Plus gets into the mix by adding in some of the fanciest Apple photography skills into a more affordable package.

Don’t get us wrong - this phone still isn’t cheap. But at the same time, it’s got two sensors that allow you take portrait-mode snaps that come out cleanly and crisply most of the time.

The day-to-day snapping is very impressive too, even after a year - yes, it’s not quite got the visual clout of the 8 Plus, or the iPhone X, but it’s better than the single sensor on the iPhone 8, and for that reason alone we’ve got it on the list.

The selfie camera could be a touch better, especially compared to some of the rivals, but the ‘screen flash’ capability helps mitigate that by offering sharp self-images on low light.

iPhone 7 plus photo samples

People can easily forget that HTC is one of the best brands for photography on a smartphone, leading the way for so many years.

The HTC U11 is another strong smartphone photography performer, with clear snaps, the ability to shoot in RAW and some of the nicest night-time shots we’ve ever captured with a smartphone.

However, the way to get those is to take them in RAW mode and then enhance afterwards - it takes a while but the results can be awesome.

The thing that irks the most about this camera is that there’s a touch of shutter lag in the mix, which gets tiresome every time you want a quick picture.

But we can forgive that thanks to the selfie capabilities - the sheer capability of HTC’s proprietary UltraPixel technology to get a great front-facing picture in low light is magnificent.

HTC U11 photo samples
Categories: Tech News

BT and Huawei team up in five-year project

Latest Tech News - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 11:47

BT and Huawei have teamed up to form a research group at the University of Cambridge. The project, set to last five years, is going to focus on a range of areas including photonics and access network infrastructure.

In addition, the group, comprising experts from the two companies as well as academics from the university, will be looking at how communications impact on society. The aim of the project is to explore ways to reduce overheads for UK business, either by reducing the  cost of network infrastructure or by boosting operational performance.

One area that the researchers are hoping to explore is in the role that new technologies have to play in delivering positive impacts for society, either by reducing inequality or by using ICT technologies to improve resilience of communities to climate change.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding, setting out future plans. The new  project is set to get under way in the first half of 2018 with five to ten researchers from BT and Huawei working alongside their University collaborators.

Research on impact of technology

 Prof Stephen Toope, vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge, said:  “The world of telecommunications has advanced rapidly over the last two decades. However, there is still work to be done to improve the technologies we use on a daily basis and to ensure that they are long-lived. By working with BT and Huawei we will be able to demonstrate that the insights delivered through our research have a broad impact.”

Gavin Patterson, BT Group chief executive added: “BT’s infrastructure is the engine of the UK economy, so it is essential that we continue to innovate in this space to enhance the UK’s competitiveness on the world stage towards and through Brexit. BT currently invests around £500m every year in R&D, and over the last ten years we’ve been the third biggest contributor to the UK’s R&D efforts.”

As well as short term projects, the research group is also looking well to the future, by using the funding to support longer-term, ‘blue skies’ research projects being progressed by postgraduate students.

Categories: Tech News

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