Tech News

EU publishes guidelines on building ethical AI

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 13:20

As artificial intelligence begins to play a greater role in our everyday lives, the EU has published its first guidelines for the ethical development of AI, warning tech giants that algorithms must not discriminate against users due to their age, race or gender.

The European Commission has laid out seven principles it believes will help create “trustworthy” AI programs while reaffirming that businesses must still comply with existing legislation on privacy, consumer protection and environmental standards.

By publishing its ethical AI guidelines first, the EU hopes that its high ethical standards will provide a competitive  advantage for businesses in the region and that eventually its guidelines will be adopted on a global scale.

EU commissioner for the digital economy, Mariya Gabriel explained how the EU's approach to ethics in AI differs from that of other countries or businesses, saying:

“AI is developing at an exponential pace. We don’t want to stop innovation but the added value of the EU approach is that we are making it a people-focused process. People are in charge.”

Trustworthy AI

To help draw up its guidelines on ethical AI, the EU consulted a group of 52 experts from a variety of industries including tech companies, non-governmental organizations and academics.

While the guidelines are non-binding, a pilot phase will run until early 2020 to give businesses a chance to give feedback on them before they become official.

While the full list can be found here, the guidelines cover a wide variety of topics including human agency and oversight, technical robustness and safety, privacy and data governance, transparency, diversity, non-discrimination and fairness, environmental and societal well-being and accountability.

The US and China currently the lead the way in AI development which is why the EU has decided to focus instead on the ethics of AI as it looks to shape the technology's future in the region and perhaps even one day the world.

Via The Financial Times

Categories: Tech News

EE named UK's best performing network again

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 09:42

Once again, EE has been named the UK’s best mobile network according to OpenSignal, but its rivals have all made “encouraging” progress.

OpenSignal collated more than 1.4 billion measurements from 260,000 devices between December 2018 and February 2018 to determine how each operator behaved in real world scenarios.

EE won all five of OpenSignal’s categories and has the fastest speeds, lowest latency and greatest availability of all four major networks.

UK's best network

The only category where it was seriously challenges was video experience, where Vodafone almost emerged victorious.

The average speed on EE was 29.6Mbps – an increase of 3Mbps from the previous testing period – faster than Vodafone (21Mbps), Three (18Mbps) and O2 (14.1Mbps). Vodafone’s score also rise by nearly 3Mbps, while Three’s speeds have increased by 15 per cent in the past six months.

Although the impact of 5G networks won’t be felt on these results for some time to come, OpenSignal expects EE to break the 30Mbps barrier later this year, largely thanks to greater availability of 4G, network upgrades, and customers moving off of 3G tariffs.

In terms of availability, EE 4G was available on 89 per cent of occasions compared to 84 per cent on O2, 83.4 per cent on Vodafone and 76 per cent on Three. EE’s figure rises to 90 per cent in regions of the UK while Vodafone and Three also made gains.

Categories: Tech News

Amazon has slashed prices on Samsung Note 8 and 9 deals in its Spring Sale

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 09:20

When Amazon.co.uk launches a sale, it really goes all out. And you sometimes have to dig through a lot of rough to get to the diamonds - we learned that the hard way during the last few Amazon Prime Days.

So when we find the deals that are actually worth singing about, we do so from the rooftops. And that's exactly the case with the Amazon Spring Sale reductions on Samsung's awesome Galaxy Note 8 and Note 9 duo.

So what are the savings? The most eye-catching offers come on Amazon's Samsung Note 9 SIM-free prices, where you can get £200 off the RRP of the 128GB model and a massive £250 off the starting price of the 512GB version. That means SIM-free prices of £699 and £849 respectively.

Happy to go back a further year for a 2017-released Galaxy Note 8? Then the saving is even more extreme. There's a stated 39% off the usual price, bringing it down to under £500. That's an extraordinary price for a phone this good.

So if you've been eyeing up new mobile phone deals and like the look of Samsung's Note series, now's the time to strike. The only question you'll need us to answer next is what the best SIM only deals to put in it are!

Read more on Amazon's Spring Sale:

Categories: Tech News

Fresh Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D / EOS 200D II rumors surface

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:59

New details have emerged of an upcoming Canon EOS Rebel SL3, also known as the EOS 250D, EOS 200D II and the EOS Kiss X10.

Nokishita has stated that the upcoming model has been registered by a Russian Certification body. It goes on to say that the camera is the successor to the Kiss X9 – the name given to the Rebel SL2 in some territories – and that the model will be officially confirmed this month. 


Details have now emerged of the camera's specs. The model is said to pack a 24.1MP APS-C sensor and Canon's latest DIGIC 8 processing engine. That partnership is said to allow for 4K video recording to 25/24p – something we've not seen on a Canon DSLR aimed at this audience before.

The cheapest current Canon EOS DSLR to feature 4K video recording is still the EOS 5D Mark IV, although the option has been included in the company's PowerShot SX740 HS, as well as the EOS M50, EOS R and EOS RP mirrorless models – and of course, in the company's Cinema EOS range of cameras.

Other specs are said to include a version of Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which is present on the existing EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, although the system here is said to offer 3,975 "positions". Given that the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system on the most recent EOS RP offers 4,779 points, this figure seems credible.

A Digital Lens Optimizer, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also feature, while the option to extract 8.3MP stills from 4K videos – something we've seen elsewhere in Canon's 4K portfolio – also looks like it will make the cut.

Leaked images of the new model reveal that camera will mirror the Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D in offering a port for microphones and another for remotes, together with USB and HDMI sockets on the other side. The camera also looks set to be available with the same 18-55mm f/4-5.6 II IS STM lens as the EOS Rebel SL2, although kits with additional lenses are likely.

The model would follow the Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D and Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D that were announced in 2013 and 2017 respectively. Last year, Canon added a more junior Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D and EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D pair of DSLRs to its stable.

The release date for the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D / EOS 200D II is rumoured to be 25 April, so we may well see an announcement confirming the camera very shortly.

Categories: Tech News

Best cloud analytics of 2019

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:52

Business Analytics is the practice of consolidating and examining business intelligence. This helps you better understand the performance of a particular employee, department or product. With enough data you can also use business analytics to make forecasts about future performance.

There are a number of business analytic tools available online. In this guide, we’ve focused on cloud analytics, as keeping your data online keeps your information in sync across your organization.

All of these tools not only allow you to import data but generate detailed reports, which you can then share with your colleagues. As they’re based in the cloud, many platforms follow a flexible per-user pricing model so you only have to pay more as your organization grows.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.

Image credit: Microsoft

Power BI is a business analytics service provided by Microsoft. 

This solution helps users to consolidate all their useful data analytics into one place. Power BI is a suite of analytics tools which help gain insights into your organization. Subscribers can use it to access many supported cloud-based and on-premise sources such as Salesforce, Excel and Sharepoint. 

Users can analyse data and find patterns they may missed in relation to their business. This is done through features such as quick measures, forecasting, grouping and clustering. Users more comfortable with Excel can use DAX formula to control this analytic tool.

Power BI is very visual. Users can create reports with interactive data visualizations. The dashboard is simple to use and includes a handy drag and drop feature. Reports are created with formatting, theming and layout tools.

The ‘Power BI Desktop’ plan is free and suitable for single users. It includes connections to a variety of different data sources, visual tools and analytic visualization tools.

The ‘Power BI Pro’ package is $9.99 per month per user. Clients can build dashboards that deliver a real-time, 360 degree, view of their business. It includes automation of updates, collaboration, audits, governance and distribution to users with apps.

The ‘Power BI Premium’ plan is based on capacity pricing. This can be calculated from the Power BI website. 

Some online users have complained the dashboard isn’t fully customizable.

Image credit: Host Analytics

Host Analytics EPM suite is a cloud-based performance management solution.

The solution is security conscious and uses AES-256 encryption. Data is backed up hourly.

The suite is geared towards medium to large businesses. The easy to use dashboard allows users to manage financial and operational processes. The forecast and planning tools analyse the effects of different projects on your company.

Host Analytics works from a centralized database. Users can enter and manage multiple sets of books, journals and allocations. The solution allows users to transfer data from each source to its dashboard automatically, relieving users of the tedium of copying data piece by piece.

The suite allows users to run analyses through a variety of reports. You can run, present and publish data as you see fit. Reports can be published using Microsoft PowerPoint, Word or the Financial Package Publisher. The dashboard includes standard reporting templates but users can customize their own templates to suit their business needs. Some reviewers have mentioned difficulties with doing this.

Demos are available upon request. Users need to contact Host Analytics directly to obtain a quote.

Image credit: Zoho

Zoho is a software development company based in India. It was founded in 2006. 

The analytics application allows users access to an easy to use dashboard. It is part of Zoho’s software suite but works as a stand-alone package also. The interface is user friendly. From here users have access to a help center, a snapshot tour, a variety of data samples and live chat.

Zoho Analytics allows users to load data onto their reporting center with just a few clicks. The automation feature runs reports without prompt based on the type of data you have entered.  Users can share data and collaborate on tables and reports.

More in-depth reporting is available but this is more suitable for experienced users. This advanced reporting includes a handy drag and drop feature which is used to insert data into columns you create. With a variety of filters, users can sort data, queries and output visualizations as needed. Analysts can also run custom made SQL (Structured Query Language) queries.

The ‘Basic’ package is $25 per month and includes two users, 0.5 million rows, unlimited reports, over 100 data connectors, Zoho Apps connectors, slideshow and daily sync.

The ‘Standard’ plan starts at $50 per month. Extras include 5 users, 1 million rows, hourly data sync, groups support, workspace admin role and data backup.

The ‘Premium’ tier starts at $125 per month. Along with 15 users and 5 million rows, users also receive logo rebranding and private links.

The ‘Enterprise’ package is $495 per month. This includes 50 users, 50 million rows, 5x performance and live chat support.

Some reviewers have note that the advanced features take some time to master.

 Image credit: Domo

Domo is a software company which specializes in business intelligence tools and data visualization. It was founded in 2010.

Users can manage all functions from the main dashboard. It is straight forward to use and easy on the eye. The dashboard works in real-time. Users can view data relating to multiple business areas, return-on-investment, key performance and indicators.

Domo has its own App Store where users access free and paid connectors. Also, included are a huge variety of plug-ins which help with tools such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoints.

The ‘Workbench’ imports large amount of data via XML, ODBC and Excel amongst others into the solution. 

The ‘Analyzer’ application allows users to view results they are most interested in. Less interesting data can be hidden with one-click. Users can filter the data they want to share with other users.

Domo offers a free 30-day trial. This includes 5 users, 5 million rows of data and hourly data refresh. The ‘Standard’ package offers a free trial plus up to 20 users and available consulting.

The ‘Professional’ package includes all of what the ‘Standard’ package has to offer plus unlimited users, 250 million rows, on-demand data refresh and premium support.

The ‘Enterprise’ plan has all the features of the ‘Professional’ package plus unlimited data, advanced governance, security and HIPAA compliance.

Pricing for all packages is available upon request.

Image credit: IBM

IBM's Cognos Analytics is a business intelligence platform and self-service analytics solution that uses AI and machine learning. The aim is to discover patterns of information other products cannot find using advanced pattern detection, and provide both answers and actionable insights through the natural language-powered AI assistant.

Cognos Analytics can be run from the cloud or on your premises. Either way, data in the form of spreadsheets or CSV files can be uploaded to the program, where the data sources can be combined and modeled. Cognos recommends what it believes are the best chart types for visualization, and reports have geospatial-mapping capabilities. Charts can also be augmented with other media, such as voiceovers, and interactive elements can be incorporated.

The Premium tier costs $70 per user per month and runs as an on-demand SaaS solution, and allows for a multi-tenant cloud and multiple cloud sources. There's an Enterprise version available for critical performance needs which also allows other IBM services to be bought in and integrated, but you will need to get a quote for pricing in this case.

There's a free 30-day trial available which allows full use of the product.

Categories: Tech News

How Wipro digitally transformed to better serve its clients

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:30

Undergoing a digital transformation is a much more involved process that simply handing out smartphones to employees. Rather, it requires a change in culture at an organization, at all levels from the CEO to every employee at a company. While the term digital transformation has become a buzz word in the tech industry, businesses that actually take the time and put in the work have seen surprising results and even increased revenue.

TechRadar Pro spoke with Wipro Digital's President Rajan Kohli who shared his insights from the company's own digital transformation efforts.

Image Credit: Wipro

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Categories: Tech News

iPhone, Samsung and Huawei phones part of Virgin Mobile's ace new 100GB data deals

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:23

When it comes to buying a brand new mobile phone deal, the one thing more expensive than a top of the line smartphone is when you want to get it complete with a massive data allowance.

But if you've been considering dropping a daunting amount on the newest iPhone deals or a top of the line Samsung phone deal, we might have found a better option for you. Currently offering some of the best phones in the world at market leading monthly prices, Virgin Mobile could be the way to go. It's set its 100GB tariffs at only £4 more than its 1GB contracts.

With the offer of 100GB of data with no upfront costs on phones ranging from the brand new Huawei P30 and P30 Pro, to the Samsung Galaxy S10 and brilliant iPhone XR - there is a lot of options here. The last two mentioned handsets are available for £36 and £34 per month respectively, which is outrageously cheap considering there's nothing to pay upfront.

So why are these prices so good? Virgin Mobile has a tendency to offer 36 month contracts on phones, adding an extra year to your time with the phone. Considering how affordable these contracts are for 100GB and how well phones last these days, that will be music to the ears of some - or torment to those who need the newest phone every year!

But if a three year tie-in is fine by you and you're ready to get a brand new, big data deal for less then you can find all of the contracts down below or explore them at your own leisure on the Virgin Mobile page.

The full list of 100GB data Virgin Mobile deals

All of these offers are completely free upfront, 36 month contracts and offer up 100GB of data. They include 5,000 minutes of calls and unlimited texts, too. The only differences are the handset and the monthly cost.

- Samsung Galaxy S10 for £36 a month 

- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus for £39 a month

- Samsung Galaxy S10e for £31 a month

- Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for £41 a month

- Huawei P30 Pro for £38 a month

- Huawei P30 for £32 a month

- Huawei P20 Pro for £28 a month

- iPhone XR for £34 a month

- iPhone XS for £44 a month

- iPhone XS Max for £48 a month

- iPhone X for £41 a month

- iPhone 8 Plus for £32 a month

- iPhone 8 for £29 a month

Categories: Tech News

Incredible Sky TV offer gets £234 price cut - but you'll have to be quick

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:02

First thing's first, this Sky TV deal expires on April 11, so there's not much time left to make up your mind. We can help you out though as we're used to seeing various promotions offered for TV bundles and this one is a bit of a stunner.

It's the sort of bundle that'll make you wish weekends never had to end, such is the huge quantity and quality of content included at a discounted price with a 20% saving on those monthly fees. 

Sky Entertainment is the bundle's foundation and comes with all Sky TV packages nowadays. This includes channels like Sky Atlantic, Comedy Central, Fox, Sky One and more - so yeah, you're all set for Game of Thrones season 8 and its upcoming feature-length episodes. You also get a Sky Q box which allows you to record multiple channels simultaneously while watching another.

Sky Cinema is packed with movies you won't find on other services, plus it gets a new premiere every day. You're also getting Sky's new Ultimate on Demand bundle which includes Sky's enviable selection of box sets and a Netflix subscription (so get your old sub cancelled for this better value option!). Sky Kids is also included for free with thousands of child-friendly TV episodes. Good thing they can watch them on a tablet as you'll surely be too busy watching stuff on the TV yourself with this much content to choose from.

We've got our eye on the best Sky TV deals on a regular basis, and this is easily the best offer we've seen this year.

As you go through the checkout process you can add optional extras, too. The most tempting of which today is the complete Sky Sports bundle (that's every Sky Sports channel in HD) for just £23 a month down from the usual £30 - saving you £136 on the usual price for 18 months of Sky Sports.

The only thing you have to worry about once you're all set up is the miserly number of hours available to you each day.

Categories: Tech News

After a Wear OS watch? Today is a great time to pick up the TicWatch Pro

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 08:01

It's not quite as cheap as we saw it on Black Friday last year, but the TicWatch Pro has been discounted as part of Amazon's big spring sale in the UK and it's a great price if you've been considering buying it.

Often you'll be spending £219.99 on a brand new TicWatch Pro, but today it's down to £171.18. That deal is only running until 11:59PM BST on April 9 though, so you'll have to snap it up fast.

You'll have the choice of either the black or the silver version of the TicWatch Pro. Both are restricted to a leather strap, so there's no silicone alternative for you to buy here.

The Mobvoi TicWatch Pro may not be from a big name brand, but it sits in our list of the best smartwatches money can buy. We previously saw the watch sell for £164 on Amazon over Black Friday, but this discount isn't far off what it cost then and it's well worth considering as your next Wear OS watch.

Categories: Tech News

5 reasons why healthcare institutes should use reboot to restore software

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 07:30

Healthcare organizations are one of the biggest consumers of emerging technologies. 

From simple desktop computers to sophisticated diagnostic equipment, technological innovation is the driving force behind the rapid advancement in health and patient care services. However, such deep penetration of technology in healthcare has been possible due to the computing devices becoming increasingly user-friendly. 

Or rather, users have learned to imbibe the latest in-trend technologies to leverage the gamut of possibilities that digitization has brought along with it. However, due to constant usage, computers deployed in medical facilities are always susceptible to organized cyber threats, unintentional configuration drifts, and mishandling of sensitive patient data. Prompt resolution of these issues is not possible each and every time, mainly because of the diversity of devices, number of staff members accessing each device and the size of the facility.

Legacy solutions for maintenance, management, and troubleshooting of medical computers are unable to match up to the rapid innovation and evolution in the healthcare sector. IT specialists responsible for the upkeep of medical computing devices are constantly looking out for advanced and scalable solutions to provide the expected service. In this regard, the reboot to restore technology has been gaining ground as the most effective and efficient solution for preserving the optimal working condition of each endpoint.

Here are the five major problems that healthcare IT staff has to tackle 24/7, and how these can be tackled by leveraging the reboot to restore technology.

Problem 1: configuration drifts

Computing devices in healthcare organizations are accessed by staff members from disparate teams. These professionals have to make prompt decisions frequently to tackle medical situations, that include matters concerning life and death. This also includes changing system settings and performing diagnosis as and when required to deliver patient care services with the level of agility that is expected from them. Providing such flexibility for staff is necessary for the mission-critical environment like that of a healthcare facility. But protecting systems integrity from configuration drifts has become a fundamental challenge for IT personnel managing such facilities.

Solution

The reboot to restore technology addresses such challenges by locking the admin-defined system configuration and preventing staff activities from having any permanent effect on the predefined state. By redirecting the changes made during ongoing sessions to a temporary space, the technology preserves the baseline settings while ensuring the smooth continuation of desired functions. In case of a configuration drift, the unwanted changes can be discarded and the original system configuration can be restored immediately by simply rebooting the device.

Problem 2: malfunction and performance decline

Computers in medical centers are used 24*7 due to the very purpose of their mission-critical functioning. These devices are accessed by multiple people including doctors, nurses, support staff, office admins and even patients for various requirements. Countless files are created on a daily basis, most of which are often for one-time use, redundant, or unnecessary. Similarly, the use of web-based applications or downloading/installing of unauthorized files and programs fills the medical computers with automatically generated add-ons, cookies, extensions, plugins and so on. The excessive load of unwanted elements consumes additional system resources, thus clogging its processing capability and resulting in performance deterioration.

Solution

The reboot to restore technology serves as the one-stop solution for addressing computer malfunction and performance degradation caused due to the aforementioned reasons. If a system shows even minor signs of malfunction, or its performance dips by even a fraction, the staff member using it only needs to restart the device. The instant restoration functionality of this technology comes into play and wipes out the unwanted files and inputs while reloading the admin-defined system configuration. Hence, the optimal performance of the device is restored within the time required for it to reboot.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Problem 3: malware

Malware is getting increasingly sophisticated with each passing year, and their primary targets are organizations that contain the most sensitive data. As healthcare facilities leverage cloud and other advanced technologies, the threat of malware infiltration due to unwanted system changes is common. IT personnel at medical institutes face the paradoxical challenge of preventing the malicious programs from affecting the desired state of systems without imposing restrictions on usage. 

Solution

With the reboot to restore technology in place, baseline state of healthcare devices remain unaffected even if accidental or unauthorized changes occur, irrespective of how advanced and harmful they are. The technology provides impenetrable protection to the admin-set configuration. When an infected device is restarted, the malware or virus is completely eradicated and the baseline state is rolled back.

Problem 4: downtime

A survey of healthcare information systems (HCIS) by Ponemon Institute revealed that medical institutes face 2.7 total system outages on average over a period of two years, which is the highest when compared to other sectors. The same survey also revealed that healthcare facilities suffer the second-longest downtime as each incident renders a system unavailable for more than a couple of hours. At a more granular level, individual systems (endpoints or servers) experience more than one outage instance every year. The figures effectively draw the picture of system downtime in the healthcare sector and the critical need to fix it.

Solution

The instant system restoration capability of the reboot to restore technology virtually reduces downtime to zero. From minor glitches to complete system failure, issues of any magnitude can be resolved with just a restart. As long as the issue is not originating from hardware, the reboot to restore technology can resolve an issue in approximately the same time taken for a device restart. Since the technology empowers end users by minimizing dependence on traditional troubleshooting methods with lengthy execution process, the only period for which devices remain unavailable is the reboot time.

Image Credit: Pexels

Problem 5: overloaded IT teams

Staff strength of healthcare facilities ranges from hundreds to thousands, depending on their scope of service. However, irrespective of the size of the medical center, its IT team comprises only a handful of technology specialists. Expecting a few people to monitor hundreds of endpoints and actively resolve issues as and when they occur is unrealistic, which manifests in the form of problems stated above.

Solution

The reboot to restore technology significantly reduces the load on IT professionals managing a healthcare center. The technology makes every staff member capable of troubleshooting even unprecedented issues as they only have to restart the device to restore its pristine state. Manual intervention is required only in case of hardware failure or as part of the organization’s protocol. This allows technology experts to focus on more critical concerns rather than just troubleshooting for the most part of the day. 

The five problems stated above, and the relevant capabilities of the reboot to restore technology, aptly underscore why healthcare institutes should leverage this innovation for maintaining their medical computers. Reboot to restore software solutions are, therefore, rapidly expanding their customer base in the healthcare sector. More importantly, these software solutions come along with myriad additional features that assist healthcare IT staff in managing the entire infrastructure more effectively and efficiently.

Jose Richardson, Marketing at Faronics

Categories: Tech News

Virgin Media could open cable network to rivals

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 07:23

Virgin Media could open up its cable network to its rivals for the first time, creating significant competition for Openreach in the wholesale market.

Cable broadband in the UK has long been positioned as a premium product due to its speed advantage over the copper and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) services available from providers, such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk, that use the Openreach network.

The company is testing 8Gbps broadband in Cambridgeshire for example.

Virgin Media wholesale

However, Openreach’s ongoing plans to build fibre to the premise (FTTP) have led Virgin Media’s parent company Liberty Global to conduct a review, according to The Daily Telegraph. FTTP will erode Virgin Media’s speed advantage and its key differentiator.

The newspaper says Liberty is debating whether it makes more sense to move into wholesale – a market that offers lower margins but also presents an opportunity for greater market share.

Broadband providers would welcome the extra competition and although Openreach’s coverage is far greater than that of Virgin Media, the £3 billion ‘Project Lightning’ project will see the cable network reach 17 million properties. Sky is reported to be interested in a wholesale agreement.

But the move could threaten Virgin Media’s core business, especially since rivals would be able to offer cheaper cable services. One suggestion is that Virgin could limit wholesale access to the ‘Project Lightning’ areas of the network, especially since expansion has been focussed in parts of the UK already served by Openreach.

That would protect Virgin’s core subscription base while also offering competition in Openreach areas.

In February it was reported that Virgin Media was considering a takeover bid for Hull-based telco KCOM.

Categories: Tech News

AMD Ryzen CPUs continue to dominate Intel chips, selling twice as many

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 06:53

AMD is still well and truly dominating Intel in the processor world, selling more than twice as many chips as its rival according to one retailer.

The latest stats from German retailer Mindfactory, for the month of March, pegged AMD as selling 69% of all CPUs, meaning Intel only held a 31% market share.

This is a familiar story by now, as if you rewind six months to the retailer’s September 2018 figures, AMD held almost two-thirds (65%) of the market. And that has increased slightly since, with AMD at 69% in November, shifting 16,000 units compared to Intel which managed just under 8,000 sales.

In these most recent March statistics, AMD sold around 13,000 units compared to Intel’s 6,000, opening up the gulf even further.

Of course, we can’t judge the overall market based on sales figures from one single retailer, but it does give us a fair idea of the lay of the land, and we can also take the historical perspective into account. In recent times, Intel’s sales have remained relatively flat at Mindfactory, whereas AMD has picked up huge momentum, selling twice as many CPUs in November 2018 as it did in November 2017.

As Wccftech, which highlighted the figures, points out, this is now the third quarter in a row in which AMD has outsold Intel’s chips, making the former’s domination of the market pretty clear-cut (at least from this relatively limited perspective).

Gremlins in Intel’s works

AMD has clearly been buoyed by its competitively priced Ryzen processors, and equally, Intel has been held back by production difficulties with its latest silicon – particularly stock shortages of more affordable CPUs (with its manufacturing issues, Intel has chosen to focus more on high-end models, as they carry more of a profit margin).

Which was the best-selling processor of all at Mindfactory? That would be the Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU, the 2600X spin of which is our pick for best mid-range processor currently.

Intel’s top-selling chip was the mighty Core i9-9900K, believe it or not, despite its cost, which reinforces what we were saying earlier about the firm’s shortage of low-end CPUs.

Therefore it’s not particularly surprising to hear that if you compare revenue rather than unit sales, AMD is only just in the lead, accounting for 54% of the money flowing into the German retailer’s coffers. So Intel is barely behind in terms of profit rather than pure numbers of CPUs shifted.

Categories: Tech News

Revolutionary Algorithmic Lace bra wins the 2019 Lexus Innovation Awards

Latest Tech News - Tue, 04/09/2019 - 06:46

The Lexus Design Award is a big deal. You can tell that as the six finalists who, gathered in a trendy warehouse space at the epicenter of Milan Design Week, talk eagerly about their innovations. 

The ‘super six’ as we’ll call them have been whittled down from a total of 1,548 worldwide entries from no less than 65 countries. And, on the day the press got to give them a grilling about their inventions, the handful of finalist’s were also due to find out who was going to win the 2019 Lexus Design Award just a few hours later.

To be honest, all six of the finalists are winners. Just to get this far in a competition that has grown in stature since it was first launch back in 2013 is a huge boost for these innovators. Inventing things is one thing, but getting them to market is incredibly difficult, particularly when you’re often doing it under your own steam. They all seem unanimous is stating that the support from Lexus has been invaluable.

Algorithmic Lace merges traditional craft with modern innovation (Image credit: Rob Clymo)

However, what adds another level of excitement to the 2019 Lexus Design Award showcase is the diversity that’s on offer. There’s the groundbreaking Algorithmic Lace bra, and Arenophile, which seeks to find a new purpose for desert sand. Flood mitigation housing project Baluto is clever, while Green Blast Jet Energy, which harnesses wasted jet engine energy to produce power, seems really promising too. 

Hydrus, meanwhile, seeks to minimize the effects of offshore oil spills whilst Solgami is an origami-inspired blind system for windows that can generate electricity and improve illumination. It’s a real mixed bag. And, perhaps surprisingly for a competition started by a car manufacturer, there isn’t much here to do with the automotive industry.

In an exercise that looked more like a speed dating event than a chance to talk to inventors about their ideas, TechRadar got to work our way around the warehouse space talking to most of the creators.

Meet the inventors

We kicked off by meeting Lisa Marks, from the USA. Her idea? That Algorithmic Lace bra. This, in essence, is a bespoke bra made specifically for women who have undergone a mastectomy. It’s been custom crafted, she tells us, using a new technique involving algorithmic patterning to make three-dimensional lace.

Lisa Marks's Algorithmic Lace bra, designed for women who have underdone a mastectomy (Image credit: Rob Clymo)

The idea is quirky, but undeniably clever. What’s most intriguing about the story is that Lisa, an industrial designer, has managed to blend craft research with algorithmic design in the first place. Her thinking suggests a real community-based mentality; she wants to promote sustainable methods to help craft communities.

Creating lace by hand and combining it with tech seems a bit strange, but it all starts to make sense as she elaborates on the concept. The idea is so impressive it ends up bagging Lisa the 2019 Lexus Design Award a hour or so later.

The good vibes continued as we moved on to Ben Berwick, an affable Australian who’s developed Solgami. This fascinating invention uses origami geometry to give apartment residents a closer connection to their external environment.

It’s basically a neat twist on the window blind, which helps to both illuminate poorly lit urban spaces more efficiently as well as generating electricity. It seems to be one of those ideas that, you think, must surely have been done already. Except it hasn’t. 

Solgami is an origami-inspired window blind that generates energy and helps light gloomy spaces (Image credit: Rob Clymo)

Given the amount of windows that exist around the globe, the invention has the potential to be huge. Berwick developed the concept initially while he was doing a Master’s degree in engineering at the University of Tokyo. It is, however, an invention that could be rolled out anywhere. Ben cites hospitals as the perfect place where he could take the idea next. 

We also met Dmitriy Balashov, a Russian entrant who specialises in industrial design. His idea is equally impressive when you consider the potential. Green Blast Jet Energy is an innovation that makes it possible to harvest the otherwise wasted energy of aircraft as they take off. Considering major airport hubs around the world have jets taking off as frequently as every minute it seems like this invention has serious potential too.

Green Blast Jet Energy, designed by Dmitriy Balashov, harvests waste energy from jet aircraft at takeoff (Image credit: Rob Clymo)

Of course, in a way having the idea is the easy bit. Jumping through the many logistical loops and making an invention commercially viable is something else entirely. It’s an issue that LDA judge John Maeda thinks is perhaps the biggest part of the challenge.

Before he became a technologist, Maeda started out in venture capital, so he knows a thing or two about finance. Raising it for unorthodox ventures isn’t easy he explains over a coffee. But, being in a competition like this certainly helps open a few doors along the way.

That’s something winner Lisa Marks will find a little bit easier having taken that prestigious first prize. “Lexus doesn’t have to do this,” she said as she accepted her award. “They could be a successful brand without it. But it shows their commitment to design and to a better world.” 

Categories: Tech News

The best PS4 Pro prices, bundles and sales in Australia (April 2019)

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 23:55

Sony beat Microsoft to the punch with its new 4K gaming system, the PS4 Pro, and you should definitely grab one.

Here you'll find the best prices around on the PlayStation 4 Pro console and any bundle deals available so you can score Sony's excellent 4K system and jump right into the amazing array of PS4 games available at the moment.

We've got a dedicated page if you're looking for some excellent prices on the PlayStation VR and PlayStation Camera.

Keep this page bookmarked and we'll update it with bundles as they arrive, or scroll further down if you've got any burning questions about the new 4K PS4 Pro. To compare PlayStation 4 Pro prices in real time, check out our pick below, or visit our sister site Getprice.

The best PlayStation 4 Pro bundles

While Playstation 4 Pro bundles are constantly shifting from store to store, we've listed and ranked the best current options from the major retailers below so you don't have to do the sniffing and scratching yourself. 

Remember that the value of a bundle will ultimately come down to whether or not you were going to purchase the included game (or games) anyway and while some bundles are obviously better priced than others, you should check to see if that saving is worthwhile.

Need an extra controller on the cheap? Take a look at the best DualShock 4 deals.

What is the PS4 Pro?

Although the PS4 Pro isn't a 'next-gen' console necessarily, it is an upgrade of the PS4 and features the coveted 4K and HDR options that we're hearing so much about. 

The new machine will allow game developers to include 4K options in their games, so expect the like of Uncharted 4, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Days Gone, Horizon: Zero Dawn and more to look even better on a 4K TV.

HDR, or High Dynamic Range is the other buzzword to be excited about as the PS4 Pro will allow for extra detail to be seen on a range of games and also a wider range of colours not usually displayed by traditional HD TVs.

Will my old PS4 games work on PS4 Pro?

Yes. While not every game will be patched to take advantage of the new 4K/HDR capabilities, all of your old games will still work. Not only that, but the default upscaling (if you have a 4K TV) will likely see some improvements to the visuals and the boosted console power may give a slight nudge to the frame rates for some smoother play.

What else can I watch in 4K/HDR on PS4 Pro?

With services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video adopting 4K and HDR, with an ever-growing library entering the services, the PS4 Pro will be excellent as a streaming and media hub for your home theatre. There's also a lot of free 4K content on the YouTube app, and Stan has plenty of 4K although no HDR-compatible content yet.

Does the PS4 Pro support 4K Blu-rays?

No. The Xbox One S does support them though, so this was a bit of a surprise from Sony. So if you're specifically after a 4K Blu-ray player then head over to the competition, but as many viewers are crossing over to streaming services for their digital viewing, this may prove a wise move from Sony in the long run.

Do I need a 4K TV to run a PS4 Pro?

You don't NEED a 4K TV, no. The PS4 Pro will still run as per normal on a regular 1080p TV, although you won't get the benefits of upscaling or HDR though. There's a chance you may see a frame-rate boost or a slim amount of extra detail, but we wouldn't expect a massive leap.

If your mind is on a 4K TV, then you should probably go with a Pro rather than a Slim as it'll future proof you for a while and, realistically, the price jump is worth the longevity. Be sure to look out for a TV that supports HDR too, in order to take full advantage of the PS4 Pro's capabilities.

Will PlayStation VR be better on the PS4 Pro?

Maybe. Early reports seem to suggest it will as the PlayStation VR frame-rate is better on PS4 Pro and the resolution gets a bit of a bump too. You don't need a PS4 Pro to use PlayStation VR but this increase in specs may contribute a little to the immersion.

Does the PS4 Pro have optical audio support?

Yes! Although the optical audio output has been removed from the PS4 Slim, PS4 Pro owners  will still be able to use optical connections for their soundbars and sound systems.

What are the best games on PS4 Pro?

After scrounging through our back catalogue of PS4 games that have received a Pro update patch, we've come up with a feature packed with the games that look the best and have a noticeable difference. Take a look at our extensive list - The best PS4 Pro games.

Categories: Tech News

The best PS4 prices, bundles and sales in Australia (April 2019)

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 23:54

With the release of the PS4 Pro, Sony's non-4K console has seen some incredibly competitive prices in both the bundles and the regular Slim model consoles. There's also the new white PlayStation 4 Slim which is looking cooler than ever, so we've helped you out by rounding up the best prices below.

Below you'll find all of the absolute cheapest standalone PS4 deals from Australian retailers, followed by our pick of what we think are the bundle deals that offer the best value, so you can dive straight into the wealth of amazing PlayStation 4 games on offer right now. 

The PS4 is currently in a number of different forms. Directly below, you'll find the best deals for the new PS4 Slim which has come in to replace the original model with a slimmer design (just like the Xbox One S). 

The best PS4 Slim deals:

The PS4 Slim is... slimmer, quieter and smaller

The new PS4 Slim effectively replaced the original PS4 when it launched in September 2016 for around $440 (500GB) or $510 (1TB). This smaller, lighter and more power efficient model also ends up being cheaper than the model it replaced, so there's little point looking out for the original model. 

Check out the list below for up-to-date deals on the PS4 Slim. 

However, as always the best deals come in the form of the bundles, so you should scroll further down this page as you may be able to nab one cheaper than a standalone console! The PS4 Slim is available in black or white. To compare PlayStation 4 prices in real time, check out our picks below, or visit our sister site Getprice.

The best PS4 console and bundle deals

As is more often becoming the case, the most attractive way to get a cheap PS4 is with a bundle with extra hardware or extra games. These are the best PS4 bundle deals currently available in Australia – we update these deals on a regular basis.

Need an extra cheap PS4 controller? Don't forget to check our Best DualShock 4 deals. Or maybe a cheap PlayStation VR deal?

Categories: Tech News

The ACCC isn’t happy with NBN Co’s plan to raise prices on low-speed services

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 22:43

Two weeks ago it was revealed that NBN Co intended to disincentivise users from taking its lowest speed tier by essentially making NBN12 plans either less affordable or more congested, and now the ACCC has weighed in on the matter.

The chairman of the Consumer Commission, Rod Sims, has given a speech at the Sydney CommsDay Summit in which he discusses the “growing affordability issue for people on lower incomes” and its connection to adjustments in the NBN pricing for lower speed tiers.

The expected price increase will come as a result of NBN Co withdrawing a discount it offered to RSPs (Retail Service Providers) which in turn enabled them to pass on the low prices of 12mbps plans to its customers.

With the removal of the discount on the horizon, suppliers have already raised the costs of their entry-level plans, or otherwise abandoned them altogether, and the services that are still offering 12mbps at affordable prices are expected to suffer from congestion.

According to the ACCC’s statement, “the cost of accessing the NBN to supply a 12 megabit service has increased substantially and is now, amazingly, close to the cost to supply a 50 megabit service."

The ACCC has proposed that “NBN Co’s entry-level services be anchored to existing ADSL pricing” as customers don’t have a choice to take up the new, and sometimes inferior service once their old one has been withdrawn.

“We were never meant to get to a situation where some consumers, in switching to the NBN, will be left worse off by paying more, or getting less”.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is out and ready for testing

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 22:29

Back in February, Microsoft revealed that anyone would be able to test the company's upcoming Chromium-based Edge web browser without the need to be a Windows Insider.

As of today, the OS giant's highly-anticipated Chromium-based Edge browser is officially available to download and try out. You can pick up in-development Dev and Canary versions from the Microsoft Edge Insider website, with the app's Beta version listed as 'coming soon'.

At present, the Dev Channel version is the most stable option, with this early build updated weekly by the Microsoft Edge team. The Canary Channel build is updated daily, making it far less stable, though it does have the benefit of receiving new Edge features first. 

Seeing that it's based on Chromium – the same back end as Google's Chrome – existing Chrome extensions are fully supported, and plans are also underway to let users sync across their favorites, browsing history and more from Google's browser, as reported by The Verge

So far, the Dev and Canary builds of Edge are only available to Windows 10 users (64-bit), though you can ask the site to notify you when Windows 7, Windows 8 and macOS versions are released.

Categories: Tech News

Virginia vs Texas Tech March Madness live stream: how to watch 2019 Championship Game from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 18:23

We wait all year for March Madness and then, before you know it, we're down to the Championship game. As ever, it should be a sporting spectacle worth watching and it's really easy to see  from a number of outlets. Keep reading and we'll tell you how to get a Virginia vs Texas Tech March Madness live stream regardless of where in the world you are.

Even entering the closing stages of each Final Four March Madness 2019 match-up, it wasn't clear who would be playing in Minneapolis's Championship game. Virginia and Auburn were locked in a tight match and during the last quarter it seemed as if Auburn had it in the bag. However, Virginia’s Kyle Guy made three free throws with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock to win the game and advance his team to the National Championship for the first time in the school’s history.

Texas Tech's best player Jarret Culver was missing in action while the team’s most dynamic player Tariq Owens suffered an ankle injury and had to be helped off the court. But guard Matt Mooney showed the world that the Red Raiders can do more than play defense with 22 points that helped the team win the game and earn their spot at the National Championship.

So here we are, the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers will play the third seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders in the 2019 NCAA Tournament National Championship game at the US Bank Stadium. 

Whether you’re a Virginia fan, a Texas Tech fan or just a fan of college basketball, we’ll show you exactly how to watch tonight’s National Championship game from anywhere in the world so you don’t miss a single basket. Don't miss out on a March madness live stream.

How to live stream Virginia vs Texas Tech from outside your country

It's pretty easy to watch if you're in the US this Saturday night - scroll down and we'll tell you your myriad options for streaming the 2019 Championship Game.

But if you discover that your chosen broadcaster from your home country is geo-blocked then we can suggest a clever alternative (and no, it doesn’t involve finding some dodgy feed on Reddit). Using a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - you can change the IP address to one in a different state or country which does have the stream so that you can live stream March Madness 2019 from anywhere in the world. The process is very straightforward… 

How to live stream March Madness 2019 in the US

CBS is the place to watch the National Championship game on your TV. Nice and easy, assuming you have access to that station.

If you'd sooner watch online then you can find the action on the NCAA’s own March Madness Live app. The app and accompanying website will show the game when you login using the credentials from your cable provider.

Don’t want to pay for a premium cable subscription to watch March Madness? Don’t worry as there are a number of streaming services that give you access to CBS. To make things easier for you, we’ve listed some of the best TV streaming services below.

And don't forget about our handy little VPN trick if you're outside the US when you try to watch and find that your preferred broadcaster's coverage is geo-blocked.

Your options to live stream March Madness online

One streaming service worth considering to watch this year's tournament is Sling TV. The company is currently running a promotion where new users can get 40% off its Sling Orange and Sling Blue packages for the first three months. Basically this means you can watch March Madness 2019 on Sling TV for as little as $15 per month during the tournament. Don't want Sling? Then these other options are worth a look, too.

PlayStation Vue $44.99 per month - PlayStation Vue's  basic Access package offers over 45 channels including ABC, TNT, ESPN and ESPN2. A 5-day trial to Playstation Vue is also available to help you get started.

DIRECTV NOW $50 per month - DIRECTV NOW gives users all the channels needed to watch the NBA and loads of other sporting events. Use DIRECTV NOW’s 7-day trial to test out the platform for yourself. 

YouTubeTV $40 per month - YouTubeTV gives you access to TNT, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.

Hulu with Live TV $40 per month - Hulu with Live TV includes ABC, TNT, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.

Worldwide March Madness live stream with ESPN Player

March Madness is a phenomenon that doesn't necessarily translate that well globally. But if you want to know what all the fuss is about or you're a US expat wanting to catch the college basketball, then ESPN Player has you covered.

It's available in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia and comes at a cost of £9.99/€11.99 for the next month (or £69.99/€79.99 for a whole year to get additional content from ESPN).

That gets you live and on-demand coverage of every game from the 2019 March Madness, available on desktop and mobile devices.

In the UK and not all that baffled by the popularity of university sport? Then the BT Sport ESPN channel is where you need to be for this one.

Categories: Tech News

Best racing wheel: Logitech vs Thrustmaster vs Fanatec vs Hori

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 16:45

Unlike the best gaming keyboards or gaming mice, a racing wheel is decidedly niche. That doesn’t mean that the best racing wheels aren’t worth your time – especially if you play a lot of racing PC games.

And, while low-end racing wheels might bring back memories of playing cheap racing games in the arcade, the best racing wheels out there can simulate what it feels like to drive a real race car. It all comes down to a feature called force feedback, with a series of motors making you fight with the wheel, simulating what you’d feel when tearing up the track in a Mini Cooper, or whatever your favorite set of wheels is. 

But, how do you find the top racing wheels? Well, we here at TechRadar have gathered up all the best racing wheels on the market right now. So, from Logitech to Thrustmaster, we’ll make sure you get a racing wheel that’s up to snuff. 

Image Credit: Logitech

Logitech G29 / Logitech G920

Rotation: 900 degrees | Feedback type: Force Feedback | Drive type: Helical gears | Compatibility: PS4/PS3/PC (G29) Xbox One (G920)

For: Good included pedals, leather-coated wheel

Against: Non-smooth force feedback, dated tech

For years Logitech made virtually the default console race wheels. The Logitech G25 and G27 were crackers. 

The Logitech G29 (PS4) and G920 (Xbox One) are great too, but are quite similar to those older wheels. That comes with good and bad parts. 

First, they’re a lot more affordable than the direct Thrustmaster alternatives, the T300 series wheels. The quality of the wheel itself is great too. 

There’s a metal core and leather stitched over the parts your hands grip. Fanatec and Thrustmaster charge a lot more for leather wheels.


The Logitech G29 gets you higher-end extras at no extra cost. Its pedal board is much better than anything else at the price too, with a board that has a clutch and very solid metal plates. It’s not plastic rubbish.

There is one reason to prefer a Thrustmaster wheel, though. The Logitech wheels still use a completely gear-based system for their force feedback rather than belts. While it’s very powerful, you can feel this geared effect as you turn the wheel, as its motion is a bit notchy rather than completely smooth. 

After a while you get used to it, but it makes the whole experience that bit less realistic; unless you drive a Flintstone’s era car it shouldn’t feel notchy, right?

The Logitech G29 and G920 are also a bit noisier than the more expensive belt-driven models.

Image Credit: Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster T300 RS / TX Ferrari 458 Italia Edition

Rotation: 1080 degrees | Feedback type: Force Feedback | Drive type: Helical gears | Compatibility: PS4/PS3/PC (T300 RS) / Xbox One (TX)

For: Powerful and smooth force feedback, solid wheel

Against: Good pedals cost more, rubber wheel as standard

The Thrustmaster T300 RS and TX are the ‘default’ enthusiast racing wheels from Thrustmaster, and they’re some of the best around. There’s now an even more expensive T-GT, but as that costs £699/$799 it’s out of reach for most budgets. 

What makes the Thrustmaster T300 RS and its brothers so easy to recommend is the new force feedback system. It’s not geared, using a series of belts instead, powered by brushless motors. This gives it the perfect combo of power and smoothness, for a sense of realism and immersion you can’t really beat at the price. 

Any force feedback wheel will add a whole new dimension of fun to reasonably realistic racing games like Forza Motorsport and Driveclub, but at the price these Thrustmasters are the obvious choice. There’s a little gnawing rumble as you fight against the wheel, which is the feel of the motor working, but it’s otherwise great. 

The belt system does cause a fair bit of heat after a while, necessitating a fan system that kicks in after you’ve been playing for 10 minutes or so. However, it’s not too distracting, and quieter than the Logitech G29 in action. 

Xbox One owners need to check out the TX set, while it’s the T300 RS for PS4 owners. The dream, of course, is a wheel that works with all systems, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get that with this generation. 

There are a few downsides to these generally great wheel sets, and it’s all about the parts outside of the wheel base. The steering wheel is solid and very grippy, but uses a rubber grip rather than a leather one. We’ve been using the pictured Ferrari 458 wheel, and the Xbox and PS4-enhanced models are largely similar.

Many people will be fine with the material, but after using the G29 we did miss the feel a little. 

The pedals that ship with many variants of the T300 RS and TX aren’t great either, like the set we’ve been using in the pic. The pedal caps are metal, but this is really just a basic plastic construction, without the stiffness of a great board or more advanced features like a high-end progressive brake. 

There’s a solution, but it’s not cheap. These wheels are actually part of a system – you can get other steering wheels and more advanced pedal boards, the T3PA and the fab T3PA Pro. There’s even a manual gearbox if you want a proper old-school driving feel. 

Fresh out of the box the Thrustmaster T300 RS lacks a few of the Logitech G29’s touches, but its force feedback is a lot better.

Image credit: Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster T-GT

Rotation: 1080 degrees | Feedback type: Force Feedback | Drive type: Belt system | Compatibility: PS4/PC

For: Excellent force feedback, Quiet, High-quality wheel covering, The perfect wheel for Gran Turismo Sport

Against: Wheel diameter a little small, Slightly notchy turn feel, Pedals are not a major upgrade

The Thrustmaster T300 RS and TX are the ‘default’ enthusiast racing wheels from Thrustmaster, and they’re some of the best around. There’s now an even more expensive T-GT, but as that costs £699/$799 it’s out of reach for most budgets. 

What makes the Thrustmaster T300 RS and its brothers so easy to recommend is the new force feedback system. It’s not geared, using a series of belts instead, powered by brushless motors. This gives it the perfect combo of power and smoothness, for a sense of realism and immersion you can’t really beat at the price. 

Any force feedback wheel will add a whole new dimension of fun to reasonably realistic racing games like Forza Motorsport and Driveclub, but at the price these Thrustmasters are the obvious choice. There’s a little gnawing rumble as you fight against the wheel, which is the feel of the motor working, but it’s otherwise great. 

Read the full review: Thrustmaster T-GT

Image Credit: Thrustmaster

Thrustmaster T150 / TMX

Rotation: 1080 degrees | Feedback type: Force Feedback | Drive type: Belt and gear | Compatibility: PS4/PS3/PC (T150) / Xbox One (TMX)

For: Great Value, good force feedback

Against: Slightly notchy feel, cheap pedals

While those with plenty of cash to spend should definitely consider the T300 RS and its brothers, there’s also a lower-cost version that still has many of the same benefits at half the price.

For PS4 fans there’s the Thrustmaster T150; for Xbox lovers, the Thrustmaster TMX. They use the same wheel base tech, but have the controls and compatibility chips needed to get on-board with these seemingly picky consoles. 

So, what are the differences between T150 and T300 RS? The main one is that while the T300 RS has force feedback driven entirely by belts, the T150 uses a combo of a helical gear system and a belt.

Predictably enough, then, the effect is half-way between the Logitech G29 and T300 RS. It’s smooth-ish, but not entirely, and you feel the effect of the geared motor as it pulls against you when you take a corner at high speed. 

Given the price, the results are great, though.

The parts that seem a little cheap in the more expensive Thrustmasters are even more budget-y here, though. All-plastic, flimsy pedals are miles off what you get with the Logitech wheel. Their low-resistance action makes them feel like arcade racer fodder, while the force feedback is definitely deserving of the most navel-gazing of realistic driving sims. 

The exterior of the steering wheel part itself is also all-plastic, without the metal parts that make these wheels seem a bit less toy-like. There are still sports car-like metal spoke shifters behind the wheel, though.

A wheel that packs in a lot of substance if not the luxury touch, the Thrustmaster T150 is probably the best budget wheel around. You can get an even cheaper model, the T80, but as that’s not a force feedback model it’s in a completely different, lower league.

Image Credit: Fanatec

Fanatec CSL Elite 

Rotation: 1080 degrees | Feedback type: Force Feedback | Drive type: Belt | Compatibility: PS4/PS3/PC, Xbox One

For: Very smooth and powerful FF, highly customisable

Against: Basic wheel doesn’t have rumble, can get very expensive with upgrades

Fanatec makes some of the best, and most expensive, racing wheels going. The Fanatec CSL Elite is actually one of its more affordable models, made with a mainstream audience in mind, not least because it supports consoles rather than just the PC.

As usual there are different versions for Xbox One and PS4, and the Microsoft version is actually slightly cheaper.

The force feedback is a level above what you get in the Thrustermaster T300 RS too, even smoother and with a more precise feel, a little faster and cleaner. It’s an excellent wheel base, and also has a rev counter, supported by some games.

Fanatec’s pedals are excellent, with seriously tough metal frames and proper progressive brakes, and you can even choose how stiff the brake is. It goes so stiff, in fact, that to really get the most out of the CSL Elite you want a frame into which you screw the pedals. But the price alone tells you this is an enthusiast wheel.

Just looking at the Fanatec CSL Elite, you can tell it’s made by nerdy obsessives. After all, who else would choose that funky grey disco ball effect on the base? Not all will love the look, but at least it’s not super-shiny. 

The included wheel is big, well-made and looks like it could survive the apocalypse. Heck, it wouldn’t look out of place on a Mad Max car. However, Fanatec also makes some much nicer wheels. Like the Thrustmaster wheels, this is part of a system you can upgrade.

The included P1 steering wheel has rubbery grips and no vibration motors in the thing itself – all the effects come from the force feedback motors. Some of the pricier steering wheels (which you can plug into the same base) do have vibration too, though.

You need serious money to get the most out of the CSL Elite, and the basic setup isn’t cheap. But as long as you don’t look too much into what you’re missing with a replacement wheel to avoid upgrade-itis, you’ll be very happy.


Image Credit: Hori

Hori Apex / Overdrive

Rotation: 270 degrees | Feedback type: N/A | Drive type: Belt | Compatibility: PS4/PS3/PC (Apex) / Xbox One (Overdrive)

For: Relatively low cost, good for arcade racers

Against: No force feedback, a lot lighter than the rest

The Hori Apex/Overdive looks a lot like the other wheels here, but it’s actually rather different. This isn’t a force feedback wheel, relying on rumble instead.

Fire up a game like Project Cars and the Thrustmaster T150 will decimate the Hori for quality of experience. However, the Hori is perfect for arcade racers, some of which only have rumble effects rather than force feedback programmed in anyway. The more expensive wheels are lost on a game like Need for Speed. 

The Hori isn’t. It rumbles when you drift, hit a barrier or car, or go over road markings, but you don’t have to fight with the wheel. There’s a little bit of resistance to turns, and the wheel rights itself when you take your hands off, but there aren’t motors in the base at war with your arms.

As a result, the Hori is also much lighter than any other wheel here. You’ll still need something to clamp it to, but this is the one wheel here that won’t seem hard done by if it’s not treated to a proper frame or wheel stand. 

Clearly made for racers where you’ll use nitrous every 4.5 seconds, it tries harder than the rest to put all the main PS4 buttons at your fingertips; there’s a pair of them right on the wheel rim itself. You can also alter the D-pad to emulate the DualShock’s own D-Pad, or either of the analogue sticks. 

There are good bits, sure, particularly the lower price. However, the Hori Apex/Overdrive is easily the most toy-like wheel in this group. It has plastic gear shifters, fairly cheap plastic pedals and no parts to upgrade. It also has very limited rotation compared with all the other wheels here, turning just 270 degrees rather than 900 or 1080. 

This is what Hori was aiming for, though – it's a maker of arcade gear, and this is clearly an arcade wheel. And while the Logitech G29 makes it look like a toy, it’s miles better than the no-brand £30/$50 racing wheels you may have tried over the years. 

Categories: Tech News

Asus to announce ROG Phone 2 by Q3 2019: Report

Latest Tech News - Mon, 04/08/2019 - 09:53

With its ROG Phone in 2018, Asus entered the race to create a phone that's dedicated to gamers and gaming. However, the Taiwanese electronics maker isn't alone in its quest. Asus’ direct competition is with the Razer Phone followed by Xiaomi's sub-brand Black Shark. There are a couple of other brands that have surfaced since the past year like the Nubia Red Magic series and Vivo’s iQOO series.

Now, according to a new report, Asus is gearing up to launch the successor to its gaming smartphone, the ROG Phone. At this moment, we’re not sure if the successor will be called Asus ROG Phone 2 but it wouldn’t be surprising if the company decided to go ahead with that moniker.

The report, published by DigiTimes states that Asus will launch the ROG Phone 2 by the third quarter of 2019. It also reveals that Asus is working on a partnership deal with Tencent which when finalized will enable the companies to promote it in China. Just last month, Razer also tied up with Tencent for its software and hardware but a consumer targeted software or service is yet to be seen.

To recap...

Asus launched the ROG Phone in India at a price tag of Rs 69,999 back in November last year. The phone boasts of a 6-inch AMOLED screen having a 90Hz refresh rate along with 1ms of response time. Asus has also tweaked Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset so that it can provide more juice for smoother performance and while playing some graphics-intensive titles. In addition, the ROG phone features air triggers that can be used while playing games, has its own cooling system in place and the 4,000mAh battery supports 30W Quick Charge 4.0. 

Categories: Tech News

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