Tech News

Amazon might be reconsidering its second headquarters in New York

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 18:39

After facing opposition from lawmakers and residents, Amazon might not built its second headquarters in New York after all.

Sources who are “familiar with the company’s thinking” spoke to The Washington Post on Friday, and said the e-commerce giant might reconsider its deal in the face of vocal opposition to the deal. 

Even if the deal falls through with New York, the deal with Virginia would still stand. 

“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia have been so welcoming,” a source familiar with the matter told the Post.

The blowback began after an anti-Amazon rally that was held the day after the deal was announced and has been a point of contention at local town halls, according to Vox.  

Don’t celebrate / mourn the loss of Amazon just yet 

While the Post’s report cited two people who were familiar with the matter, a third has spoken to The New York Times’ City Hall reporter and said that there were no plans to abandon ship just yet.

To that end, Amazon has been issuing statements to media outlets telling them that the company has no plans to remove themselves from the deal and said “Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.”

Amazon is set to start construction on its second headquarters in 2020... as long as the company decides to stick with its original plans.

Categories: Tech News

Best 75-inch 4K TVs: the best home cinema-sized TVs you can buy

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 17:15

While TV tech is always changing, one thing has always held true: Bigger TVs will be cheaper next year than they were this year. The processes to make them will become more refined and streamlined, while more factories will be built to handle the influx of larger-sized TVs.

That doesn't mean that you should expect to buy a 90-inch flatscreen for pennies on the dollar, but that does mean that 70- and 75-inch TVs will be more affordable in 2019 and 2020 than any year prior to that. 

But, it's not all good news for fabulously large TVS: this size range, above all, is beset with cut-price offerings. Since top 75-inch TVs are always going to come with an eye-watering price tag, affordable brands have rushed in to make this once-unobtainable size much more affordable. The result is that many 75-inchers are being manufactured using legacy LCD technology, which was built for small screens and whose images fail to impress even at the 40-inch size. So at a screen four times bigger, the results are... well, what you might expect. 

While you might be tempted to go for the very lowest priced 75-inch TV, just remember that the technology employed to create a great picture is four times more important than at other sizes. 

TechRadar's 75-inch TV buying advice

First and foremost, be really careful about TV sales that sound too good to be true. If you see a 75-inch 4K TV for around $600, it's probably going to let you down in terms of picture performance.

So who's the main culprit that causes ugly images in the 75-inch range? Bad backlighting. While the cheapies use edge-lit LED panels that produce poor black levels and contrast, the bigger brands opt for either direct, full array LED panels – or in the case of LG, OLED panels. Both illuminate across the whole screen, and create both luscious color and 4K clarity.

Currently, our favorite 75-inch TVs are LG's series of OLEDs, which boast exceptional black levels and premium HDR. They're perfect for a dark room experience, like a home cinema, though for brightly-lit rooms you may want to consider Samsung's QLED TV series. Then there's Sony, whose efforts are impossible to ignore, and a few more affordable brands to tempt you to buy a 75-inch TV for relatively small spend.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our favorite 75-inch 4K TVs right now, listed below for your convenience. Each series in this list has been tested and approved by our expert team of reviewers, so you can buy with confidence.

Is this the best TV out there? This 77-inch 4K OLED TV delivers astonishing image quality, and despite its huge size retains much of the streamlined minimalism LG's C8 line-up is famous for. That's despite it not being as bright as LCD and QLED TVs, and not supporting the HDR10+ standard. However, that lack of brightness results in lusciously deep blacks that dramatically increase the dynamic range of its images. 

The roll-call doesn't stop there either: vibrant colors, wide viewing angles, instant response times, astounding detail with native 4K content, and a WebOS platform that remains the best smart TV platform around all help the OLED77C8 standout from the crowd. Aesthetically, LG's C8 Series of OLED TVs – also available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes – go for size-zero looks, with a black metallic trim around the panel's edge that's just ridiculously small.

Read the full review: LG OLED77C8

Is QLED as good as OLED? The jury is out on that one. It's different, for sure; the full array LED backlighting on this 75-inch QLED TV can't get near OLED for contrast nor black levels, but it's higher peak brightness gives it an advantage for 4K HDR material. Consequently, the colour volume created by the Q9FN is awesome, especially at this mighty size. Brighter and more colourful than the first-gen QLED TVs, the Q9FN has HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax. 

Away from technology, it slips-up on styling. Despite an external connection box creating a one-cable TV, the basic chassis design both lacks wow factor, and is a little chubbier than it should be. We also noticed an issue with viewing angles that makes the Q9FN unsuitable for hanging on a wall at eye-line (not that you should be doing that anyway). Those foibles aside, this monster screen is nevertheless Samsung's best TV ever.

Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV

OK, it looks a little weird. Sony's decision to fit this 75-incher with two large feet gives it a slightly absurd look that's also impractical; who has a table that wide to put a TV on? Luckily, elsewhere the XF90 (called the X900F in the US) looks great, with a brushed metallic finish hiding some truly top tech for the money. Key is Sony's decision to use a direct LED lighting system with local dimming, which helps create some serious quality, particularly during 4K HDR material. 

Meanwhile, the effect of Sony's X1 Extreme video processor is to remove noise so intensely that new levels of detail are revealed. On a big TV, that's important. We also love the way the XF900 up-converts standard dynamic range (SDR) images to HDR. In fact, the only thing we're really annoyed about on the XF90 is its use of Android TV as its smart TV system, which (Chromecasting aside) is both cluttered and confusing. The X900F is also available as an 85-inch version in the U.S.

Read the full review: Sony XF90/X900F

A Chinese brand that's been trying to break the UK and US markets in the past few years, this is Hisense’s flagship TV. Is it the best 75-inch TV around? No, but it makes a play for the top spot by offering full-array LED local dimming for its LCD panel, which means lots of brightness and good black levels. In fact, it's so bright that 4K HDR material looks fabulous. That's probably more than can be said for its treatment of standard definition fare; mediocre upscaling that fails to clean-up the source, and some washed-out colours, are the low points. 

Another minor complaint is the chassis, which despite a premium metallic finish is a little chunkier than it could be. However, with a soundbar tucked away in its desktop stand, there's little to complain about when it comes to design. Solid audio reproduction – and at high volumes – is the final flourish on a TV that marks out Hisense as a serious AV brand to watch. 

Read the full review: Hisense U9A (H75U9A)

Hitachi's biggest ever TV – manufactured by Vestel – is not the best 75-incher around. In fact, it has some significant issues with its images. So why is it anywhere near out top five? Price, that's why. The 75HL16T64U is on sale for the price a TV four times smaller cost just a few years ago, and if you're after a budget home cinema, it's the one to go for. 

Does it look great? Not really; the 75HL16T64U's faux-metallic plastic isn't going to fool anyone, and the frame around the screen is pretty wide, too. This TV is all about practical pricing and design. YouTube and Netflix are here, though, and while black shades and dark colours don't look great, and nor does HDR material, the 75HL16T64U does manage to make native 4K material look both pin-sharp and completely free of motion issues. Paired with a 4K Blu-ray player, the 75HL16T64U is a bargain.

Read the full review: Hitachi 75HL16T64U

It was announced at CES 2019 that TCL's awesome (and inexpensive) 6-Series would be getting a 75-inch version starting in 2019. The TV will offer Dolby Vision support, and comes with Roku TV as its smart platform.

While TCL's 6-Series didn't impress us quite as much as the other TVs on this list, it is a competitive screen at its price point, offering bright, colorful HDR and exceptionally clear images. If you have deep pockets and a checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d still tell you to reach deep and shell out for LG’s C8 OLED or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED. But, as that’s not always realistic, TCL's fantastic 6-Series will provide you exceptional performance at a price more folks can afford.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series

Categories: Tech News

Best 75-inch 4K TVs: the best home cinema-sized TVs you can buy

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 17:15

While TV tech is always changing, one thing has always held true: Bigger TVs will be cheaper next year than they were this year. The processes to make them will become more refined and streamlined, while more factories will be built to handle the influx of larger-sized TVs.

That doesn't mean that you should expect to buy a 90-inch flatscreen for pennies on the dollar, but that does mean that 70- and 75-inch TVs will be more affordable in 2019 and 2020 than any year prior to that. 

But, it's not all good news for fabulously large TVS: this size range, above all, is beset with cut-price offerings. Since top 75-inch TVs are always going to come with an eye-watering price tag, affordable brands have rushed in to make this once-unobtainable size much more affordable. The result is that many 75-inchers are being manufactured using legacy LCD technology, which was built for small screens and whose images fail to impress even at the 40-inch size. So at a screen four times bigger, the results are... well, what you might expect. 

While you might be tempted to go for the very lowest priced 75-inch TV, just remember that the technology employed to create a great picture is four times more important than at other sizes. 

TechRadar's 75-inch TV buying advice

First and foremost, be really careful about TV sales that sound too good to be true. If you see a 75-inch 4K TV for around $600, it's probably going to let you down in terms of picture performance.

So who's the main culprit that causes ugly images in the 75-inch range? Bad backlighting. While the cheapies use edge-lit LED panels that produce poor black levels and contrast, the bigger brands opt for either direct, full array LED panels – or in the case of LG, OLED panels. Both illuminate across the whole screen, and create both luscious color and 4K clarity.

Currently, our favorite 75-inch TVs are LG's series of OLEDs, which boast exceptional black levels and premium HDR. They're perfect for a dark room experience, like a home cinema, though for brightly-lit rooms you may want to consider Samsung's QLED TV series. Then there's Sony, whose efforts are impossible to ignore, and a few more affordable brands to tempt you to buy a 75-inch TV for relatively small spend.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at our favorite 75-inch 4K TVs right now, listed below for your convenience. Each series in this list has been tested and approved by our expert team of reviewers, so you can buy with confidence.

Is this the best TV out there? This 77-inch 4K OLED TV delivers astonishing image quality, and despite its huge size retains much of the streamlined minimalism LG's C8 line-up is famous for. That's despite it not being as bright as LCD and QLED TVs, and not supporting the HDR10+ standard. However, that lack of brightness results in lusciously deep blacks that dramatically increase the dynamic range of its images. 

The roll-call doesn't stop there either: vibrant colors, wide viewing angles, instant response times, astounding detail with native 4K content, and a WebOS platform that remains the best smart TV platform around all help the OLED77C8 standout from the crowd. Aesthetically, LG's C8 Series of OLED TVs – also available in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes – go for size-zero looks, with a black metallic trim around the panel's edge that's just ridiculously small.

Read the full review: LG OLED77C8

Is QLED as good as OLED? The jury is out on that one. It's different, for sure; the full array LED backlighting on this 75-inch QLED TV can't get near OLED for contrast nor black levels, but it's higher peak brightness gives it an advantage for 4K HDR material. Consequently, the colour volume created by the Q9FN is awesome, especially at this mighty size. Brighter and more colourful than the first-gen QLED TVs, the Q9FN has HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax. 

Away from technology, it slips-up on styling. Despite an external connection box creating a one-cable TV, the basic chassis design both lacks wow factor, and is a little chubbier than it should be. We also noticed an issue with viewing angles that makes the Q9FN unsuitable for hanging on a wall at eye-line (not that you should be doing that anyway). Those foibles aside, this monster screen is nevertheless Samsung's best TV ever.

Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV

OK, it looks a little weird. Sony's decision to fit this 75-incher with two large feet gives it a slightly absurd look that's also impractical; who has a table that wide to put a TV on? Luckily, elsewhere the XF90 (called the X900F in the US) looks great, with a brushed metallic finish hiding some truly top tech for the money. Key is Sony's decision to use a direct LED lighting system with local dimming, which helps create some serious quality, particularly during 4K HDR material. 

Meanwhile, the effect of Sony's X1 Extreme video processor is to remove noise so intensely that new levels of detail are revealed. On a big TV, that's important. We also love the way the XF900 up-converts standard dynamic range (SDR) images to HDR. In fact, the only thing we're really annoyed about on the XF90 is its use of Android TV as its smart TV system, which (Chromecasting aside) is both cluttered and confusing. The X900F is also available as an 85-inch version in the U.S.

Read the full review: Sony XF90/X900F

A Chinese brand that's been trying to break the UK and US markets in the past few years, this is Hisense’s flagship TV. Is it the best 75-inch TV around? No, but it makes a play for the top spot by offering full-array LED local dimming for its LCD panel, which means lots of brightness and good black levels. In fact, it's so bright that 4K HDR material looks fabulous. That's probably more than can be said for its treatment of standard definition fare; mediocre upscaling that fails to clean-up the source, and some washed-out colours, are the low points. 

Another minor complaint is the chassis, which despite a premium metallic finish is a little chunkier than it could be. However, with a soundbar tucked away in its desktop stand, there's little to complain about when it comes to design. Solid audio reproduction – and at high volumes – is the final flourish on a TV that marks out Hisense as a serious AV brand to watch. 

Read the full review: Hisense U9A (H75U9A)

Hitachi's biggest ever TV – manufactured by Vestel – is not the best 75-incher around. In fact, it has some significant issues with its images. So why is it anywhere near out top five? Price, that's why. The 75HL16T64U is on sale for the price a TV four times smaller cost just a few years ago, and if you're after a budget home cinema, it's the one to go for. 

Does it look great? Not really; the 75HL16T64U's faux-metallic plastic isn't going to fool anyone, and the frame around the screen is pretty wide, too. This TV is all about practical pricing and design. YouTube and Netflix are here, though, and while black shades and dark colours don't look great, and nor does HDR material, the 75HL16T64U does manage to make native 4K material look both pin-sharp and completely free of motion issues. Paired with a 4K Blu-ray player, the 75HL16T64U is a bargain.

Read the full review: Hitachi 75HL16T64U

It was announced at CES 2019 that TCL's awesome (and inexpensive) 6-Series would be getting a 75-inch version starting in 2019. The TV will offer Dolby Vision support, and comes with Roku TV as its smart platform.

While TCL's 6-Series didn't impress us quite as much as the other TVs on this list, it is a competitive screen at its price point, offering bright, colorful HDR and exceptionally clear images. If you have deep pockets and a checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d still tell you to reach deep and shell out for LG’s C8 OLED or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED. But, as that’s not always realistic, TCL's fantastic 6-Series will provide you exceptional performance at a price more folks can afford.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series

Categories: Tech News

Trump anticipated to ban 5G networks from using Chinese tech

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 17:00

Sometime in the next few weeks, Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would ban equipment made by Chinese telecoms from US wireless networks, sources told Politico.

The order has reportedly been long-delayed, and a report indicated the Trump administration was and there’s been internal pressure in the Trump administration to sign the order before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) industry convention in Barcelona at the end of the month. 

The order plays into the Trump administration’s trade war and tensions with China, but it also reflects the US, European and Western-allied countries’ apprehension to install Chinese telecom tech into their current and future wireless infrastructure. 

The US government has been the most outspoken in its suspicions that companies like Huawei have uncomfortably close ties to the Chinese government, and alleged that the company’s tech may even endanger wireless network security with preinstalled backdoors granting Chinese government access -- insinuations Huawei has vehemently denied. 

Naturally, this is all heating up as 5G looms, which will require specialized infrastructure to make networks ready for the new wireless standard. 

The US government has reportedly singled out Huawei in particular, banning its tech (along with tech from ZTE) from government use last fall and urging allies not to buy Huawei communications technology. The larger ban Trump is expected to sign in the next few weeks was originally reported to concern only Huawei and ZTE, but now it’s now rumored to include telecom equipment from all Chinese companies. 

 Where does that leave the US? 

There are other companies to turn to, of course, but Huawei leads the global telecom equipment field with 28% of the market, per Telecom Lead ( ZTE has just over 5%, below Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia). 

But Huawei’s share of the US telecom equipment market is smaller than other countries like the UK, instead mainly supplying smaller American wireless providers, many in rural and remote areas. Banning Huawei could hurt those small carriers, the company stated, and could leave the country falling behind in 5G.

In any case, should the ban be signed, the US will head into MWC with a more concrete policy about who it’s inviting to build out American infrastructure as the world marches toward 5G.

  • We're still not sure when the Samsung Galaxy S10's 5G version is coming -- here's all we do know
Categories: Tech News

Trump anticipated to ban 5G networks from using Chinese tech

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 17:00

Sometime in the next few weeks, Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would ban equipment made by Chinese telecoms from US wireless networks, sources told Politico.

The order has reportedly been long-delayed, and a report indicated the Trump administration was and there’s been internal pressure in the Trump administration to sign the order before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) industry convention in Barcelona at the end of the month. 

The order plays into the Trump administration’s trade war and tensions with China, but it also reflects the US, European and Western-allied countries’ apprehension to install Chinese telecom tech into their current and future wireless infrastructure. 

The US government has been the most outspoken in its suspicions that companies like Huawei have uncomfortably close ties to the Chinese government, and alleged that the company’s tech may even endanger wireless network security with preinstalled backdoors granting Chinese government access -- insinuations Huawei has vehemently denied. 

Naturally, this is all heating up as 5G looms, which will require specialized infrastructure to make networks ready for the new wireless standard. 

The US government has reportedly singled out Huawei in particular, banning its tech (along with tech from ZTE) from government use last fall and urging allies not to buy Huawei communications technology. The larger ban Trump is expected to sign in the next few weeks was originally reported to concern only Huawei and ZTE, but now it’s now rumored to include telecom equipment from all Chinese companies. 

 Where does that leave the US? 

There are other companies to turn to, of course, but Huawei leads the global telecom equipment field with 28% of the market, per Telecom Lead ( ZTE has just over 5%, below Cisco, Ericsson and Nokia). 

But Huawei’s share of the US telecom equipment market is smaller than other countries like the UK, instead mainly supplying smaller American wireless providers, many in rural and remote areas. Banning Huawei could hurt those small carriers, the company stated, and could leave the country falling behind in 5G.

In any case, should the ban be signed, the US will head into MWC with a more concrete policy about who it’s inviting to build out American infrastructure as the world marches toward 5G.

  • We're still not sure when the Samsung Galaxy S10's 5G version is coming -- here's all we do know
Categories: Tech News

Amazon offers suggestions on facial recognition guidance

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 15:02

As criticism over its facial recognition system Rekognition has grown among lawmakers and consumers alike, Amazon has come out in favor of legislating the technology and has even proposed guidelines on how to do so.

In a blog post, Amazon Web Services' VP of Global Public Policy, Michael Punke laid out five proposed guidelines on how the technology should be used responsibly.

However, Punke's suggestions come at a time when the company has been criticized for selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies despite the fact that researchers claim to have discovered gender and ethnic biases in the system.

Currently there are no federal rules regarding the use of facial recognition technology which is why Washington lawmakers are considering creating their own bill to regulate its use.

Federal regulation

In his blog post, Punke suggested that federal regulation is necessary to control the use of facial recognition technology, saying:

"We understand why people want there to be oversight and guidelines put in place to make sure facial recognition technology cannot be used to discriminate. We support the calls for an appropriate national legislative framework that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their use of facial recognition technology." 

While Amazon is now supporting the idea of federal regulation, the e-commerce giant has been hesitant to support Washington's state legislation due to a provision which would require facial recognition software to be open to third-party testing.

Facial recognition has huge implications for law enforcement but its potential for misuse is too high for the technology to be used without proper safeguards in place.

Via ZDNet

  • We've also highlighted the best VPN to help protect your privacy online
Categories: Tech News

New MacBook Air deal brings it to that magic $999 number

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:14

If you were burned by Apple price spiking the new 2018 MacBook Air over its previous models, B&H Photo and Amazon are thinking of you.

Both retailers have slashed a cool $200 off the list price for an entry-level MacBook Air, likely for a limited time given just how big of a name "MacBook Air" is.

If you're on Amazon, only the silver and gray colors are available at the discounted rate at the time of writing. Over on B&H, it's solely the gray model that's enjoying the price cut, again at the time of writing.

Simply put, this is the price that Apple should have gone with when releasing the new MacBook Air in the first place. Now's your chance to get one of these gorgeous laptops at the price it was meant to be.

Via The Verge

Categories: Tech News

Opera browser adds VPN

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:52

Opera has announced that it is adding a built-in VPN to its Opera for Android browser in an effort to better protect its users safety online.

The company is already quite familiar with VPNs as it launched and later discontinued its free VPN app for Android called Opera VPN.

Now the company has taken things a step further by including a VPN inside its Android browser and beta users around the world will be the first to test out the new feature.

Opera explained its decision to add a VPN to its browser in a blog post announcing the new feature, saying:

“This exciting new feature in Opera for Android is designed to empower you with increased control and privacy of your browsing. You no longer need to download separate, paid-for apps to shield your browsing when on public Wi-Fi. Just tap on “Settings” in your Opera browser and activate VPN.”

A convenient VPN solution

Users will no longer have to download a separate app to protect their devices with a VPN and Opera's solution also offers unlimited data and the company has said that it won't keep any usage logs.

Locations are limited by region and you will have the option to connect to servers in Europe, America or Asia though you won't be able to choose an exact server location by country. 

Still, for a free VPN, Opera's built-in solution sounds promising and perhaps other companies will follow suit.

The company also offers a free, unlimited VPN as part of its desktop web browser and you can try it out now to get a feel for how it will work on mobile.

Via Mashable

Categories: Tech News

Google makes Chrome bug detection tool open-source

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:56

In its latest effort to aid developers in finding bugs in their software, Google has announced that its scalable fuzzing tool ClusterFuzz will now be open-source and available to all.

The search giant has been using the tool internally for some years now and it has allowed developers to find over 16,000 bugs in Chrome.

A few years ago, Google launched its OSS-Fuzz service which utilised ClusterFuzz, though it was only available to open-source projects.

Fuzzing is an automated method for detecting bugs in software that works by feeding large numbers of unexpected inputs to a target program. While the process may crash an application, fuzzing is quite effective at discovering memory corruption bugs that can often have serious security implications.

Fuzzing at scale

For fuzzing to be truly effective though, it must be continuous, carried out at scale and integrated into a software project's development process. This is why Google created ClusterFuzz which is run on over 25,000 cores.

ClusterFuzz is able to provide end-to-end automation, from bug detection, to triage, to bug reporting and finally to closing bug reports automatically.

In addition to detecting bugs in Chrome, Google's tool has discovered 11,000 bugs in over 160 open-source source projects that utilised OSS-Fuzz.

Fuzzing has grown in popularity recently due to the fact that more and more software testing and deployment is automated.

ClusterFuzz is now available on Google's GitHub repository and the company has even provided detailed instructions for developers that wish to begin using its tool to integrate fuzzing into their workflows.

Via TechCrunch

  • We've also highlighted the best antivirus to protect your systems from the latest cyber threats
Categories: Tech News

SSD vs HDD: which is best for your needs?

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:35

Welcome to our SSD vs HDD guide, where we'll look at the pros and cons of traditional hard drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD) to help you choose which one is the best for your needs.

When you’re looking to buy a new computer or laptop, or if you’re researching ways to upgrade your machine, you’ll see a lot of references to both hard drives and SSDs, but which one is best for you?

Here we'll compare the two storage mediums, look at which tasks they excel in, and which ones they’re not so good at.

If you’ve got a desktop PC, then you’ll have the luxury of being able to install both types of hard drive at once. If you go down that route, this guide will help you identify the best ways to use those drives to maximize their performance.

Before we dive into comparing SSD vs HDD technology, let’s take a quick look at each type of drive.

A traditional hard drive uses a spinning disc

What is a traditional hard disk drive (HDD)?

If you have a desktop PC it will most likely have a traditional hard disk drive, on which the operating system, along with any applications you install, and your files and folders, are stored.

A traditional hard drive contains a circular disc – known as a platter – that stores your data. The disc spins, allowing the read-write arm to read data on the disc (or write data to it) as it passes.

The faster the platter spins, the faster the hard drive works, which can impact how quickly your operating system responds, and how long it takes applications installed on the drive to load and open.

Older hard drives use an IDE port to connect to the motherboard of a PC, but most modern hard drives use a SATA connection. The most recent version of SATA, SATA III, is found on modern motherboards, and enables the fastest possible data transfers for a HDD.

Solid State Drives (SSDs) offer faster ways to store data

What is a solid state drive (SSD)?

A solid state drive (SSD) is newer storage technology, but it’s still been around for a while now, and if you have a modern laptop, it’s likely that it uses an SSD.

As the name suggests, an SSD – unlike a traditional hard drive – has no moving parts. Instead, it uses NAND flash memory. The more NAND (Negative-AND) memory chips an SSD has, the more storage capacity it has. Modern technology allows SSDs to have more NAND chips than ever, which means SSDs can have capacities similar to HDDs.

Many SSDs come with SATA III ports, which means they can be easily installed in place of a HDD, and many also come in the 2.5-inch format that smaller hard drives also come in. However, the maximum data throughput of SATA III is 600MB/s, and while this is fine for HDDs, SDDs are capable of much faster speeds, which means if you have an SSD with a SATA III connection, the drive’s performance is actually being held back by its SATA connection.

On the left is the SATA III connection of a hard drive

To avoid that bottleneck, you can get SSDs that have a PCIe connection. These drives slot into the PCIe lane of a motherboard, enabling much faster speeds. However, if you have a smaller motherboard, or you use your PCIe lanes for other devices, such as graphics cards or sound cards, then you may not want an SSD taking up a lane.

Another increasingly common connection for SSDs is the M.2. If your laptop uses an SSD, it’s most likely using an M.2 connection, and most modern desktop PCs have motherboards with an M.2 port. M.2 SSDs are typically smaller than other SSDs, which means they can be easily installed without impacting your other components.

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is the newest SSD technology, and offers incredibly fast data transfer speeds.

This SSD uses a PCIe connection for improved speeds

SSD vs HDD: price

When you’re choosing between an SSD and HDD, the first big difference you’ll notice at first is the price. SSDs are typically more expensive per gigabyte than traditional hard drives.

However, it’s worth noting that some SSDs are more expensive than others. Older SATA III SSDs are cheaper than M2 and PCIe SSDs, and because the technology has been around for a while, certain SATA III SSDs aren’t all that more expensive than a traditional hard drive.

Check out our best cheap SSD deals guide for help finding the best price for an SSD.

If you want the most capacity for the least amount of money, HDDs are the way to go. Manufacturing processes for traditional HDDs mean they're now relatively cheap to produce, which makes them more affordable.

You can get some large HDDs for very low prices, but if you’re keeping important data on the drives, it’s best to check out user reviews and reports about their reliability.

We’ve also got a guide on the best cheap hard drive deals, which can help you to bag a bargain.

SSD vs HDD: capacity

Closely tied to the price when comparing SSDs and HDDs is the capacities of the drives. Generally, if you’re after a lot of storage space, HDD is the way to go.

HDD capacities range from 40GB up to 12TB for commercial hard drives, while there are even larger capacities for enterprise use. These days you can get a 2TB hard drive for an affordable price, which offers you plenty of space. HDDs around the 8TB to 12TB size are primarily used for servers and NAS devices, where you need a lot of space for holding backups.

Generally, we’d recommend having several smaller hard drives rather than a single large hard drive. This is because if the drive fails, you may lose all your data – if your data is held across several drives, if one drive fails, you won't lose everything.

So, HDDs are good for storing lots of large files, which makes them good for holding photos, videos and games.

In the past SSDs generally weren’t capable of such large capacities, but thanks to advances in technology you can now get SSDs with terabytes of storage. However, this comes at a premium, and large SDDs often come with prohibitively high price tags.

If you can, it’s a good idea to go for a smaller SSD, maybe around 160GB–256GB, to hold programs such as your operating system, for which you want to take advantage of the SSD’s higher speed, and then use a HDD to store other files where speed isn’t as important.

An SSD with an M.2 connection

SSD vs HDD: speed

In the match-up between SSDs vs HDDs, speed is where we really begin to see a difference. Solid state drives have always been much faster than traditional hard drives, but with SSD technology advancing all the time, and the SATA III bottleneck removed, the difference is now starker than ever.

First, let’s look at HDD speeds. Because these drives using a spinning platter, the speed of the drive is largely dependent on the RPM (revolutions per minute) the drive is capable of – and the higher the RPM, the faster the drive can perform. Many budget hard drives have an RPM of 5,400 RPM, which is the slowest speed modern hard drives are capable of – you’re better off going for a drive that can achieve 7,200 RPM, which is what most modern HDDs will be rated at.

You can get higher-RPM drives, up to 10,000 RPM and even higher, but these are rarer and more expensive.

The higher the RPM of a hard drive, the faster it performs

SSD and HDD speeds are measured in MB/s (megabytes per second) for both read (how fast the drive can read data) and write (how fast data can be written to the drive).

There are other factors in play that determine HDD speeds, such as capacity, but in general a SATA III hard drive at 5,400 RPM will have speeds of around 100MB/s, while a 7,200 RPM will be 150MB/s.

Because SSDs don’t have any moving parts their speeds aren’t dependent on RPMs, but on the technology – and the data connection – of the drive.

A solid state drive with a SATA III connection should achieve around 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write speeds, though some will be faster – but will max out at 600MB/s.

So, even with a SATA III connection, which limits the speed of SSDs, you’re getting around four times the speed of traditional hard drives. However, if you use one of the better-optimized connections for SSDs, the speed difference really opens up.

Average speeds for PCIe/M.2 SSDs range from around 1.2GB/s up to around 1.4GB/s – and if you’ve got the budget there are even some that can reach 2.2GB/s.

So, you’re looking at around 10 times the speed if you go for one of these SSDs. When it comes to speed and performance, SSDs are definitely the way to go.

SSHDs combine the best of SSDs and HDDs. Image credit: Seagate

SSD vs HDD: other considerations

There are other things you should consider when thinking about whether to buy an SSD or HDD. For example, because SSDs don’t have any moving parts they're more robust, which makes them a better choice for laptops and other mobile devices.

An SSD can also use less power than a HDD, which means laptops may benefit from longer battery lives when using an SSD – although this will depend on the kind of SSD you use, and what you use it for.

So is an SSD or a HDD best for you? While SSDs are faster, more robust and more power-efficient, HDDs are more affordable – especially when it comes to larger capacities.

As we mentioned earlier, if you have the option then it may be worth getting a smaller SSD for your operating system and apps, along with a HDD to store your files. There are also hybrid drives, known as SSHDs, which offer the best of both worlds, with the speeds of SSDs and the capacities of HDDs in a single drive, and which are worth considering if you don’t have the space in your device for multiple hard drives.

Image credits unless stated: Future Publishing

Categories: Tech News

Get 10GB of data for only £5 a month with this great value SIM only deal on EE

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:18

Whether you've just bought yourself a brand new phone or your contract has come to an end, cheap SIM only deals can be an absolute life saver when you find yourself lacking a phone contract.

And luckily, UK mobile retailer Fonehouse currently has some of the cheapest SIMO deals out there thanks to a huge cashback promotion. There are two deals that especially stand out, both of which are on EE. The first gets you 10GB of data for an effective price of just £5 per month and the second ups it to 20GB of data for an effective £7 each month after cashback (just scroll down the screen after you've clicked through to see these top tariffs).

There is a bit of a catch here though if you want to get these SIMs at such a low price. Both of them are only this cheap after cashback by redemption. That means a little bit of persistence, claiming your money back in instalments during the third, fifth, ninth and twelve month of your contract. So although the monthly payments may be a bit more expensive in the first instance, the savings in the long run are incredible.

So if you want to get your hands on what are, effectively the cheapest big data SIMO deals out there scroll down for all of the details. Or if you don't want the hassle of cashback, check out our best SIM only deals page for all the other options available. 

These cashback SIMO deals on EE in full:
Categories: Tech News

Carbonite acquires Webroot for $618m

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 12:06

The data backup and storage company Carbonite has announced that it has acquired endpoint security provider Webroot for $618m.

The deal will allow Carbonite to combine the strengths of both companies to provide customers with automated cloud security software that has emergency backup already built in.

This would be a game-changer for the cybersecurity industry and the company's CEO Mohamad Ali explained how combining both companies products would benefit users to investors on a conference call, saying:

“Imagine a product that not only secures your endpoints, but if something gets through, automatically recovers it by going back to an older version of your environment or an older version of an infected file. Nobody does this today. We have the opportunity to create a whole new way of securing and recovering.” 

Endpoint security with cloud backup

Carbonite will use cash on hand as well as a $550m loan from Barclays, Citizens Bank and RBC Capital Markets to fund the acquisition which is its largest to date since purchasing Mozy from Dell for $145m last year.

The company estimates that it will be able to generate $50m by selling to Webroot's customers while simultaneously saving $20m as a result of the acquisition.

The fact that Webroot has built automation into its endpoint cybersecurity tool helps set it apart from its competitors in the space and was one of the main reasons Carbonite was drawn to it. According to Ali, other tools are capable of monitoring devices on a network for intrusions but they rely on human operators to take the next recovery steps while Webroot can take action automatically.

The deal is expected to close by the end of March though Carbonite predicts the news will immediately start to boost the earnings of the combined companies.

Via Xconomy

Categories: Tech News

Best 65-inch 4K TVs 2019: the best big screen TVs for any budget

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:30

Sometimes 55 inches just isn't enough. TV viewers are expecting bigger, more impressive displays than ever, and the fleet of high-spec 65-inch televisions hitting the market are set to satisfy that.

TV makers tend to save their best processing and panel technology for the truly big screens too, so if you're investing in a 65-inch set, it's likely you're getting the best the company has to offer.

The massive screen size will be a problem for some – not to mention the price tag that usually come with it. But if you want to know the very best 65-inch TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG, and TCL, we've put together our extensive list of the top ten 65-inch TVs current available to buy.

Most of the sets below will have launched last year – 2019 has barely started, after all – though new models arriving throughout the coming year. 

If you can't wait for a new model or a price drop on any listed below, then go ahead. But if you want to get the very latest bigscreen tech into your home, we'll be updating this guide as new market-leading TVs are released.

  • If a 65-inch TV is going to be far too big for your home, then take a look at our top pick of the best best 55-inch and best 40-inch TVs instead.

Not only are there upcoming new models to consider, but there’s also the monster size. After all, a whole 65 inches of TV display won't fit well into every home (and won't fit at all in some). 

So if 65-inches is a little too big, then go down to a 55-inch TV. That way, you can save yourself some money by sacrificing some screen size real estate. 

But assuming you’ve done the math and the measurements and a 65-inch TV will a) fit into your home and b) not break the bank when you buy it, then there’s still a lot to consider. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you figure out which 65-inch model is for you. 

Best 65-inch TV sets: making a choice

The sets in this list give you a wealth of choice at the popular 65-inch TV size, but as we've said, sometimes a lot of choice gets confusing. That's why we're here to try and help you answer the question: which one is right for you?

Currently, our favorite 65-inch 4K TVs are LG's series of OLED TVs, boasting exceptional black levels and premium HDR in the form of Dolby Vision. On the other hand, they aren't the best option for brightly lit rooms. 

If your living room's ratio of windows to doors is too high, you might want to consider Samsung's QLED TV series for your 65-inch 4K TV purchase instead. In comparison to the LG mosels, these are bright and colorful, and pack in technology that helps them cope with overly bright environments. 

Of course, Sony TVs come with both OLED and LED panels, and you can't go wrong with these either – so you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out the best 65-inch TV set.

Don't forget 60-inch TVs either – we haven't highlighted any in particular in this list, but you still get a decent-sized set, all the benefits of a 4K resolution, and the usual set of smart TV features too. Oh, and they're cheaper.

As you consider what you can afford, how bright your room is and where it'll look best in your living room, let's take a look at our favorite 65-inch 4K TVs right now. Each one in this list has been tested and approved by our expert team of reviewers, so you can make a well-informed decision.

65-inch LG OLED65C8

The big question this year for 65-inch 4K TV buyers with money to spend is QLED or OLED? QLED is Samsung's LCD-based screen tech, while LG makes not just the panels for its own OLED TVs but the other makers too.

An OLED like the OLED65C8 is hard to beat for a cinema-like environment. This 65-inch TV actually has much better contrast, and probably color, than your local cinema screen. 

It uses WebOS software too, which just about the best smart TV interface out there in our humble opinion. 

Cinematic images, smart software and slick design – what more could you want? Well, as you're asking, Samsung's QLED TVs are much brighter (which does wonders for HDR), and their motion handling is a little better too. However, for the image quality fundamentals of color and contrast, the LG OLED65C8 still wins in our opinion. 

This TV is so high up our list for its practicality, though. It costs less than other OLEDs, or Samsung's top QLED, which makes it our top choice.

Read the full review: LG OLED65C8

65-inch Samsung 65Q9FN

The Samsung 65Q9FN deserves bold statements, so here's one: this is the best LCD TV we've ever seen. It might be the best TV to date for some. 

Sure, it may not be perfect, but this is the closest you can get to a 65-inch TV that has it all. Its HDR images are amazing, and its upscaler engine makes content of almost all resolutions look great. 

The Samsung 65Q9FN uses direct LED lighting to avoid the halo-ing seen in older LCD TVs, while delivering blacks that, in most conditions, don't look too far off those of an OLED TV. Even the sound is the best that we've heard from a Samsung TV in years, so it's a strong all-rounder.

In perfect cinema-style conditions you'll see deeper blacks from an OLED though. Sony's latest TVs have more advanced motion handling, and image quality does take a hit at an angle, so keep that in mind. However, you can't do any better at the moment if you want ultra-bright HDR images, as well as great contrast. 

Read the full review: Samsung 65Q9FN

65-inch Panasonic TX65FZ952B

The Panasonic TX65FZ952B is perhaps the classiest OLED TV around – it comes with a clever soundbar, but detach it and the TV looks restrained and minimal. The soundbar also has a mammoth 12 drivers, for audio actually worth listening to. 

Picture quality is fantastic on this 65-inch 4K TV set, edging out LG's models with better handling of areas of shadow, which can look a little noisy in the LG sets. Not so here, however.

On the downside, there's no Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision processing, which seems a shame when the audio and visual sides are otherwise so strong. 

The price also needs to be considered. At several hundred dollars (or pounds) more than the LG C8 or Sony KD-65AF8, you had better appreciate the extra magic Panasonic has put into this 65-inch TV's processing and calibration.

Read the full review: Panasonic FZ950/952

65-inch LG OLED65E8

The LG OLED65E8 is similar to the LG C8 you'll find above. But why is it lower on our list of the best 65-inch 4K TVs? Let us explain.

This is the premium alternative to the C8. It has a better speaker system and a more impressive-looking 'floating' stand design. 

However, underneath the gloss and audio improvements, you get more or less the same TV, with the same Alpha 9 processor.

The OLED65E8 is a few hundreds dollars/pounds more expensive than the C8, so think carefully about whether the upgrade is worth it. We use a surround sound speaker system with the TV, so the benefits of the improved drivers are minimal. 

Read the full review: LG OLED65E8

65-inch Sony A8F/AF8 OLED

There are nowadays a handful of choices if you want a 65-inch OLED TV. Sony, Panasonic and LG all make them, and each offers multiple options. 

In some ways the 65-inch Sony KD-65AF8 is the best of the lot. Its processing is excellent, making SD and HD look better than the LG competition, and this is largely down to great upscaling algorithms. 

Its motion handling is excellent too. And when you add that to the vivid color and flawless contrast of OLED, you're on to a winner. 

Be prepared for some frustration, though, because the Android TV software is awkward and prone to crashes (it's made us want to snap the remote a few times in the past).

Like other OLEDs, the Sony KD-65AF8 can't go as bright as Samsung's latest QLED TVs either, making HDR look a little less potent. 

Check out the full review: Sony A8F / AF8 OLED

Sony XBR-65X900F

The Sony XBR-65X900F was one of the first 65-inch 4K TVs of 2018, taking over from 2017's Sony XBR-65X900E

Improvements include greater brightness, which improves HDR performance, and even better motion handling. In fact, we doubt you'll find smoother motion handling on any other set.

Image quality is also fantastic, with great black depth and insight – even SD content looks good. As this is an LCD you don't quite get the perfect blacks of OLED, but it gets as close as LCD can. 

Like previous Sonys, the Sony XBR-65X900F uses Android TV, which can be frustrating at times. However, it does give you access to masses of apps, games and streaming services. Sound quality has improved too, although this TV's speakers won't, of course, make an action movie's explosions shake your floorboards. 

In the UK this 65-inch TV set is known as the KD-65XF9005.

Read the full review: Sony BRAVIA XBR-65X900F

65-inch B&O BeoVision Eclipse

Do you have serious money to spend? No other 65-inch 4K TV makes the visual impact of the B&O BeoVision Eclipse. 

It has a motorized stand that tilts the screen to match your viewing position, and it has an oversized, ultra-loud sound bar built into the frame too. The B&O BeoVision Eclipse stands on the floor, not on a TV stand or perched on the wall (though there is the option to wall mount it). 

B&O teamed-up with LG to produce this set, so you get roughly the same image quality and the same software as one of LG's top-performing OLEDs – that means stunning contrast and flawless black levels. Sure, a high-end LCD has higher brightness and more powerful-looking HDR, but the cinematic look of OLED is hard to beat. 

And the price? At $15,595 (£10,795, $19,990) this is the most expensive TV on our list of 65-inch 4K-capable sets. It's not for everyone, but is a piece of striking living room furniture as well as one of the best TVs around. 

Read the full review: B&O BeoVision Eclipse

65-inch Sony A1E OLED

If you have the money to bankroll them, the 65-inch 4K TV 65A1E – and the A1E OLED series overall – are crowd-pleasers in just about every way. Their 'picture only' design has been beautifully realized, managing to be simultaneously subtle and dramatic. Meanwhile, their vibrating screen delivers a far more powerful and effective sound performance than we'd ever thought possible.  

The real stars of the show here, though, are the A1's exquisitely detailed, contrast-rich and colorful pictures. These prove emphatically what we've long suspected: more brands using OLED technology can only lead to good things for TVs in general.

In 2018 Sony has replaced the A1 with the BRAVIA A8F, but the only real difference is the stand design. If you find this TV at a great price, jump on it, as it's still one of the best 65-inch TV sets on the market.

Read the full review: Sony Bravia OLED A1E

65-inch LG OLED65B8

If OLED displays seem too expensive, LG might just have your plan B. The LG OLED B8, like the OLED B7 before it, offers a great entry point into the OLED display technology.

It's exactly the same OLED panel as the more advanced W8, C8, or E8 televisions from LG, so even if it's the runt of the litter, you're still getting some serious OLED contrast levels at more affordable price.

The B8 has stuck with last year's processor while the rest of the family get an upgrade, but you're still getting a great base level of image quality. The body of the set has also been slimmed down to only 1.85 inches, seemingly without impacting on the sound quality from its built-in speakers.

If you're looking to get a taste of OLED for a good £200 / $200 less than the C8, the B8 is still an example of great image quality and gorgeous design. Get on that OLED ladder.

Read the full review: LG OLED B8 (OLED55B8, OLED65B8)

65-inch TCL 6-Series Roku TV

There's no doubt in our minds – the TCL P6-Series was hands down the best budget TV of last year in the sub-$1,000 price range. It made our Best TVs of 2017 list, as well as our Best 4K TVs of 2017 list, alongside OLEDs from Sony and LG, and QLED TVs from Samsung – all of which cost two, three, four or even five times as much as TCL’s budget-friendly series.

If there was a downside to last year's models, one that could've and should've been fixed by year's end, it was the fact that the TVs were limited to one size – a paltry 55-inch screen. Worse, production couldn’t keep up with the heavy demand once word got out how spectacular those TVs were. 

Thankfully that's all changed this year and the TCL 6-Series is now available in a gorgeous, affordable 65-inch TV size that not only looks phenomenal, but goes easy on your wallet as well for a 4K screen.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)

Philips OLED 803 4K

Philips has significantly upgraded the picture processing power of its 2018 OLED TVs, and the benefits of this new-found brawn can be seen writ large, with enhanced contrast and spectacular colors. 

The brand’s second generation P5 Perfect Processing Engine offers twice the picture processing power of the original, and that was a pretty impressive chip in its own right.

The effectiveness of Philips second generation P5 picture engine may sometimes be subtle with real-world content, but it gives this 65-inch TV set an edge when it comes to playing 4K or HD in SDR. 

Buyers should weigh the visual benefits against the minor irritations, like poor catch-up TV provision, just two full-spec UHD HDMI inputs, and the lack of Dolby Vision. The Philips Hue-compatible Ambilight room lighting system, and the promise of an early Android TV updates, however, might just balance the books. 

With a competitive price point for the technology on offer, the 803 is arguably Philips most compelling OLED proposition to date.

Read the full review: Philips OLED 803 4K HDR TV

Everything you need to know about the new TV launches of 2019:

The Philips TV range 2019: everything you need to know from OLED+ to ‘The One’

Sony TV lineup 2019: every Sony Bravia and Master Series set coming this year

LG TV catalog 2019: here’s every LG TV model coming this year

Samsung TV catalog 2019: here’s every new Samsung TV coming in 2019

Panasonic TV lineup 2019: the one Panasonic TV we've seen so far

Categories: Tech News

Is it worth getting insurance for my iPhone?

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:22

When it comes to phone prices nobody manages to push the limits with more staggering speed than Apple and its iPhones. Ever since the iPhone broke the £1,000 price mark, and added even more glass to the handset - which is also bigger and harder to hold - damage has been more likely. Turning your thoughts to iPhone insurance is only natural.

So should you get your smartphone insured to make sure that glass is protected from drops, the device is covered for theft and, crucially, your hangover after a big night doesn't also have to be compounded by a lost phone without cover?

What's covered by an iPhone-based insurance policy?

Cover will vary from policy to policy so be sure to check you've got cover for everything you need. The main things to think about are theft, loss and damage. But beyond that you might want to check the fine print to make sure it covers water damage specifically.

Another factor is calls made after a phone is stolen - not all policies cover this either so you might want to check twice before picking a cheaper policy that may not cover this. 

If you want a replacement phone while yours is gone, then that might be another part of the policy you need to look out for and add.

Who needs to insure their iPhone?

Anyone with a relatively new iPhone could use insurance. Unless you have some way of never losing, breaking or having your iPhone stolen (and please let us know if you do!) then insurance is needed. That or you're rich enough to just replace it outright, of course.

Some home insurance policies cover gadgets, but not outside the home. So you may wish to add your iPhone to that policy, but it will mean paying a greater excess on all your home insurance if you claim.

How much will it cost to insure my iPhone?

Prices will vary depending on what model you splashed out on. Typically you're going to be looking at a cost of between £70 and £180 per year.

You could find a decent policy on a new iPhone XS or iPhone XR costs you around £100 for the year, or £10 per month. As that storage space and value goes up so too does the insurance price. Something the keep in mind when picking which iPhone to go for in the first place perhaps - insurance on an iPhone SE will be far less, of course.

Not sure which iPhone to go for? Then see our expert guide on choosing the best iPhone.

Insuring your iPhone with Apple 

Rather than going for a third-party insurer, Apple itself does offer a level of cover itself called Apple Care+. This service won't cover you for loss or theft but it will help when it comes to damage. So combing this home insurance could be a smart combination to cover your iPhone for damage while protecting your policy rate.

This cover will cost you an excess each time you claim but that's just £25 for a new screen, which can be claimed twice in a year. For any other damage that'll cost you a £79 excess (correct at the time of writing).

Your best options for insuring your iPhone

Your options are essentially: home insurance, Apple Care+, third party cover, cover by your network provider or insurance from your bank. To find the best cover for you, check out our Apple iPhone insurance guide here.

Want to combine insuring your iPhone together with other gadgets? It could save you money in the long run. If that sounds tempting, then head over to our guide on getting the best gadget insurance cover for mobiles, laptops, tablets and more.

Categories: Tech News

Building trust in open source: a look inside the OpenChain Project

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:00

Open source software provides businesses with a number of benefits including cost, flexibility and freedom. This freely distributed software can also be easily altered by any business that is familiar with its source code. 

However, licensing issues do arise which could present a major hurdle for an organisation's legal team. This is why the OpenChain Project was set up to help introduce common standards regarding how companies declare their open source efforts are compliant with licensing standards.

TechRadar Pro spoke with OpenChain's General Manager, Shane Coughlan to gain a better understanding of how open source licenses work and to learn how the Linux Foundation is making it easier for businesses to take advantage of open source software.

Image Credit: OpenChain

Image Credit: Linux Foundation

Categories: Tech News

Apple HomePod 2: rumors, news, release date and more

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:39

Following the yearly iPhone launch event on September 12, we still don't know much about what the next HomePod will look like. There's been speculation that the Apple HomePod 2 may actually be a compact version of the original, with the name Apple HomePod Mini being rumored.

However, with no mention of an updated HomePod at September's launch, we just don't know whether Apple are about to bring out a bite-sized HomePod Mini to counter smart speaker rivals Google and Amazon.

According to a Bloomberg report in July 2018, Apple could be looking to release the HomePod 2 in early 2019, which would make sense based on the release date of the original HomePod.

The original Apple HomePod has been on sale since February 2018 and has so far been met with mixed reviews. While many people praised it as a speaker, when it comes to its capabilities as a smart home hub, there are those who question whether it’s worth its rather high price point. 

With reports claiming that sales aren’t doing particularly well, the stage could be set for a HomePod Mini, and though Apple is yet to make any kind of confirmation we have heard a few whispers about it – a cheaper and smaller HomePod could be exactly what the brand needs to draw in those who have yet to be convinced.

We've already seen how well the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Dot have done, so it would make sense for Apple to follow suit. Regardless of whether it’s in the works or not, this is exactly what we’d like to see from the HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini if it ever comes. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The new Apple HomePod smart speaker could either be the HomePod 2 or the rumored HomePod Mini
  • When is it out? With no mention at Apple's September launch event, an early 2019 release date is looking more and more likely
  • What will it cost? No pricing just yet but, if it is a smaller version, it’s likely to be cheaper than the fully-fledged HomePod 
Apple HomePod 2 release date

Considering the Apple HomePod 2 hasn’t actually been announced yet and there isn’t really any kind of historical pattern when it comes to previous releases for this this product, making a guess on a release date is tricky. 

We're also not yet certain whether the new HomePod will be full-sized, or a mini version of the original. We were surprised not to hear any details at Apple's yearly iPhone launch, which kept the smart home news limited to a HomePod OS update coming on September 17, with new search features, multiple timers, and additional Siri languages.

There have been rumors this year that we could see the product released before the end of 2018 – but we’re taking this information with a pinch of salt until Apple makes an official announcement.

Bearing in mind that Samsung has its own smart speaker on the way in the form of the Galaxy Home, Apple might want to make its next move sooner rather than later.

Apple HomePod 2 and Apple HomePod Mini news and rumors

There’s not exactly a glut of HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini rumors out there but there have been a couple of reports worth picking up on. 

Face ID and 3D gestures

A recently filed patent by Apple suggests that the second generation smart speaker could support Face ID.

According to MacRumors, the patent describes a "countertop speaker" that could "identify users in the vicinity of the speaker using facial recognition, as well as measure the distance of users [in relation] to the speaker".

The patent also explained the countertop speaker would be kitted out with "various sensors and cameras that gather hand gestures and other three-dimensional gesture input."

Beats branding

One of the more recent rumors around a new HomePod came from a Chinese tech firm called Sina, stating that there could be a cut-price HomePod with Beats branding in the works.

We haven’t seen a great deal of Beats-branded releases since Apple purchased the company in 2014, so this might be a chance for Apple to revive the name while repositioning the reportedly floundering HomePod to a brand new (perhaps younger) audience. 

According to the report, the new HomePod would cost around $199 (about £150, AU$260), which is in line with previous rumors and would go some way to combating criticisms of the speaker’s high price point.  This is a report which should, however, be taken with a fistful of salt. 

The first report of a Mini HomePod

Back in March 2018, only a month after the HomePod’s release, there was a report from Economic Daily that Apple was planning to release a more affordable HomePod at some point in 2018. 

It was rumored that this cheaper HomePod would launch in the US in the second half of 2018 for around $200 (around £145, AU$260), which is significantly lower than the device’s current $349 / £319 / AU$499 price point. In this report it wasn’t made clear how Apple was actually planning to lower the price of its speaker, but a brand new and smaller Apple HomePod Mini could be a way to do this.

You've seen the rumors that the Apple HomePod 2 could actually be a HomePod Mini, but either way, here are the things we'd like to see from the new version:

Bluetooth connectivity

Sure, smart speakers are all about voice controls, and the fact that they’re standalone devices that don’t need to be hooked up to another audio source in order to playback tunes and podcasts. But, sometimes, a few added options are just convenient – especially if you’re trying to play back a track that, for whatever reason, can’t be found on the smart speaker’s streaming service of choice. 

It may not be cutting edge in the smart speaker world, but there’s still the odd occasion when Bluetooth connectivity would be useful – and in the case of a HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini being tied to Apple Music, that’d be particularly useful for anyone looking to access, say, Spotify streaming. Which brings us onto our next point…

Open access to other music services

If you buy one of the current Apple HomePod speakers, you’re essentially locking yourself into Apple’s audio ecosystem. So, iTunes purchases aside, that’s $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 a month for a single Apple Music streaming account, or $14.99 / £14.99 / AU$17.99 for a family account.

That’s fine if you’re an iPhone-owning Cupertino disciple, and Apple Music is a fine service definitely worth investing in. But, if you’ve already committed to Spotify or Google Play Music or any of the other myriad smaller streaming options, that could be a frustrating restriction. 

By knocking a few bricks out of its walled garden and letting other services have a look in could give a new Apple HomePod a user base boost – and it could be paired with incentives to jump to Apple Music, if Apple played a savvy long-game.

More color options

The Apple HomePod is certainly an attractive speaker, with its fabric mesh covering and cylindrical size subtle enough to fit among many decors. But that’s not always what you’re looking for – sometimes you want a gadget that separates you from the pack, as evidenced by Apple’s Beats headphones. 

That brand has been built around bold colorful designs, and if the rumors that the HomePod 2 or HomePod Mini is to feature Beats branding prove to be true, we’d like to see the speaker embrace Beats’ colorful aesthetic as well.

Better Siri performance

Apple’s HomePod does well on sound but when it comes to smarts it’s somewhat lacking. Compared to Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, Siri is rather limited in what it can do for you as a smart home hub. This isn’t great considering it’s one of the most expensive smart speakers on the market, and Siri is your main means of controlling it.

With that in mind, we’d love to see better Siri performance in a new HomePod iteration when it comes to performing commands quickly and accurately. There are rumors that Siri will be cut from the device entirely to save on cost, but we’d rather see some improvements. 

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft publicly puts Internet Explorer on death notice

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:37

If you’re still using Internet Explorer (IE) on your computer, stop it. This is the overwhelming gist of a blog post published by Microsoft speaking primarily to IT professionals, but its message ultimately reaches end users like us.

The blog post is titled “The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser,” and goes on to detail how using this dated web browser creates what’s known as “technical debt” within businesses. Technical debt collects all of the implied costs of additional work caused by opting for easier or incumbent technology solutions rather than adopting modern tools that would take longer to implement but solve more problems long term.

Because IE isn’t even considered by a growing majority of web developers, people and businesses using the browser to access modern websites are at an inherent disadvantage. Certain materials or features won’t even be available to them on modern websites through IE today.

In fact, Microsoft’s Chris Jackson even refers to IE as a “compatibility solution” rather than a true web browser in the closing arguments of his post. And, that’s how the company has been treating IE for several years, at least since the debut of Windows 10, yet apparently far too many businesses are still relying on the app.

But, what’s the alternative?

The issue with Microsoft’s missive regarding the perils of using IE in 2019 is that the alternative that it presented with the launch of Windows 10, Edge, may work just fine for most end users, but it runs on different standards than the most popular browser today, Google’s Chrome, as well as others such as Mozilla Firefox.

That’s why Microsoft is finally rebuilding its Edge browser to run on Google’s Chromium backend web standards. This will make the browser more immediately compatible with the rest of the internet, but critics of the move say this will also cede a bit more control to Google regarding common web standards.

It’s unknown currently when that change will be implemented, but the upcoming April 2019 Update is a safe bet.

The technology world at large has been trying to send IE off to the farm for years, but this message from Microsoft is the strongest yet that it plans to do the deed itself soon enough. Prepare yourselves for the end of an era … and start using a decent web browser already.

Categories: Tech News

Apple HomePod 2 could support Face ID

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:28

Details about the rumored Apple HomePod 2 have been thin on ground so far, but a recently filed patent by Apple suggests that the second generation smart speaker could support Face ID.

According to MacRumors, the patent describes a "countertop speaker" that could "identify users in the vicinity of the speaker using facial recognition, as well as measure the distance of users [in relation] to the speaker".

So, while Apple hasn't explicitly named the HomePod 2, a Bloomberg report in July 2018 suggested that Apple could be looking to release the HomePod 2 in early 2019, so it would make sense if the patented tech was designed for a second gen smart speaker. 

Having Face ID built into the Apple HomePod 2 could provide an additional layer of security for users, as well as allowing for multiple user profiles, with each user identified via facial recognition. 

The patent also explained the countertop speaker would be kitted out with "various sensors and cameras that gather hand gestures and other three-dimensional gesture input."

If the countertop speaker mentioned in the patent really is the HomePod 2, it may be possible to control it by waving or clapping for example, with no need to actually touch the device itself. 

According to the patent, the smart speaker could have LEDs woven into the fabric to provide "visual feedback for the hand gestures," as well as being configured to "display alphanumeric characters through the fabric that change depending on time of day". So, it sounds like the HomePod 2 could potentially double up as a clock.  

Sounding emotional

MacRumors also identified a rather unusual potential feature of the Apple HomePod 2 in the patent – an "emoji-based avatar that would adapt to a user's mood or actions," perhaps even mirroring your emotions. 

Like any patent, it's not guaranteed that any of this technology will ever be rolled out to the public, or even if it applies to the rumored Apple HomePod 2 – and with no release date confirmed,  we are as in the dark as ever (despite the promise of LEDs). 

Via MacRumors

Categories: Tech News

Exclusive Now TV deal: 50% off Sky Cinema passes for the hottest new movies

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:15

Getting Sky Cinema in your home is cheaper than ever today thanks to our exclusive Now TV offer. We've teamed up with the streaming service to offer you a 50% discount on multiple packages. So if you're a big fan of blockbusters but don't enjoy getting ripped off at your local cinema, this is an unmissable bargain.

As detailed below, new Now TV customers can save big on two, four or six-month Sky Cinema passes. Hurry though, as this offer expires on February 14.

TechRadar's exclusive Now TV deal

We know what you're thinking. You probably already have at least Netflix or Amazon Prime at home (fancy a free trial by the way?), so why do you need another subscription service? Well, it's the super newness of Sky Cinema's content that's won us over.

Sky Cinema, on regular Sky and on Now TV, gets a new premiere every day. And just look at the current highlights: Avengers: Infinity War, The Greatest Showman, Black Panther, A Quiet Place, Solo, Red Sparrow, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Ready Player One, The Shape of Water and many more of the hottest films you've been waiting to watch. Netflix and Amazon just can't compete in terms of up-to-date cinema hits.

This is a great chance to take advantage of a low price. After the discounted period ends, payment will resume at the standard £9.99 a month, but you're free to cancel at any time, there's no long term commitment at all.

While you're looking for Now TV deals, we think it's worth considering the Entertainment pass too (or at least the 14-day free trial) as it's packed with great shows like The Handmaid's Tale, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy (ok, so there's some rubbish on there too), Tin Star, The Walking Dead and more. There are discounts of up to 40% right now or over 50% if you combine it with six months of Sky Cinema.

Want to learn more about Now TV? We've rounded up every deal, pass and device on our Now TV deals page. Or if you'd prefer the full-on Sky treatment, there's the latest Sky TV packages to consider too.

Categories: Tech News

Taking advantage of Google My Business

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:00

Despite only having been around since 2014, Google My Business (GMB) has become an indispensable tool for small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs). GMB listings are slightly different to organic Google listings – they’re influenced by the user’s location, unlike organic results. This means prioritising local rankings, because these are what affect Google Search for people searching for businesses that are local to them. As of 2018, GMB makes up 25% of the top local ranking factors on Google.  

Google says it determines its local results by relevance, distance and prominence. Relevance and prominence are factors that using GMB can improve. With nearly one third of all mobile searches being location-based queries, it’s time to start taking advantage of Google My Business if you haven’t already.  

What does Google My Business offer?

GMB is a free tool that allows you to create a Business Profile that appears on Google Search and Maps. Your Business Profile offers vital information like your location, contact details, photos and reviews, and generates a knowledge panel on the right side of the results page; similar to a featured snippet. This knowledge panel offers information ‘unique to your business’ in a digestible format. Without a Business Profile, it’s highly unlikely that your business will appear in the local panel on Google search and Google Maps.  

GMB also offers analytic capabilities. The Insights tab lets the owner of the listing see how they’re performing on Google Maps and results pages. It has three available views: visibility, engagement and audience. These can show you how many people view your page, who they are and how they engage with you.  

As mentioned before, Google determines local rankings with relevance, distance and prominence. These factors are all based on information that Google can find about your business online. Creating a Business Profile lets business owners input that information directly to Google, meaning GMB is an excellent way of updating all of the information available about your business in one fell swoop.   

Image Credit: Unsplash

Business profile

Your company’s online information needs to be regularly updated to maintain its accuracy. Your local rankings will be damaged if your opening hours aren’t clear, or you have an old address listed on some pages of your website. More than half of negative factors that negatively influence local rankings are caused by incorrect or unreliable GMB information.  

Many third-party services rely on Google for information, so if your Business Profile is up to date, your business will have consistent contact information available online. There are a lot of fields to fill out on your Business Profile but it’s worth it. If you leave empty fields, Google will let anyone suggest an edit, which could lead to incorrect information being listed.  

Image Credit: Google

GMB Posts 

You can use Posts to share updates, events and product offers directly to the local panel. This is a great way to market to potential customers without them needing to find your social media page or website. Posts allow you to offer a one-click CTA which can be whatever you choose. You can have up to ten of these live at any time, which is an excellent opportunity to promote exclusive sales or signups.  

If you regularly post text, your GMB page will continue to increase in prominence and relevance, as it allows you to include more keywords with new content. The platform also allows you to share photos and videos. Visual content is more engaging than text – Google tracks engagement with your Business Profile as part of its local ranking criteria. So, using a variety of GMB Posts can work in the same way as blogging or posting on social media.   

Reviews

Reviews are important for trust and credibility - and they have a definite effect on local rankings. Good reviews increase positive sentiment and bad reviews offer an opportunity to reach out to the customer, retroactively improving bad experiences. When customers post reviews featuring your keyword, this will also count towards your SEO ranking. Encouraging feedback in customer surveys and on your website will help you understand areas where your business performs well and identify areas for improvement.

When it comes to Google Search and Maps, reviews allow your business to show up on the Map Pack; the list of businesses on the Google Maps results page near your location. This will bring up your contact information, total amount of reviews and average rating. A good rating can help you stand out amongst competitors, so reviews are an invaluable tool. 

Google My Business and the future of local rankings

So, is it worth making a Business Profile?

As far as tools go, GMB is immensely useful - It offers the opportunity to feature prominently on Google Search and Maps and it’s free. Given the many updates to GMB in the last few years and how much it impacts local rankings, it’s not going anywhere. Optimising your business’s local ranking results is a continual process that will keep changing as Google updates its criteria but making a Business Profile is definitely a good way to climb the rankings. For SMBs, Google My Business is a must.

Kate Menzies, Content Writer at Fifty Five and Five

Categories: Tech News

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