Tech News

The Aorus 15 is the perfect gaming laptop, no matter what your budget

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:23

You need to be careful when buying a gaming laptop. While it’s easy to choose a machine with all of the latest and greatest components inside it, if they’re not put together properly, you could end up with a laptop that overheats and underperforms. Furthermore, unless money is no object, it’s important to remember that the type of games you play affect the type of gaming laptop that you should purchase. If you want to play the latest, cinematic adventures at their best, most-realistic settings, then you’ll need top-shelf graphics hardware to ensure things run smoothly. However, if you’re a competitive gamer that primarily plays popular, stalwart shooters you can save a lot of money (and still maintain maximum framerates) just by making a few sensible choices when it comes to the components used. Whatever your requirements, however, the latest Aorus 15 gaming laptops from Gigabyte have you covered.

Striking and clean looks, plus plenty of power

The Aorus 15 laptops are built using the latest technologies from Nvidia, Intel and Microsoft – and yet the body of these high-performance machines is less-than one-inch thick! The Aorus 15 employs a striking angular design that gives it a look that’s clean and instantly appealing. In Australia, this refined gaming laptop is available in two models. The Aorus 15-XA is the higher-end option, equipped with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics and a luxuriously-fast 240Hz screen, with an RRP of $3,299. If you don’t need all that power but still want the (portable) potential to play competitive shooters like Apex Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch or CS:GO without limitations, the Aorus 15-SA is the more wallet-friendly – but still astonishingly capable – alternative, priced at just $2,399. It sports Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti graphics chip and a fast, ghost-free 144Hz screen.

Both GPUs are based upon Nvidia’s latest Turing architecture, which adds AI smarts to the mix. Performance on Turing is up to six times better than previous generations, while features like DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) will adapt and continue to improve antialiasing performance as time goes on. Of particular on the RTX 2070 note is real-time ray tracing, which makes live, rendered graphics within supported games more realistic than ever before.

Inside both laptops also resides the brand-new Intel 9th-generation Core i7-9750H processor, with six-cores and twelve-threads of beefy processing power. This CPU intelligently runs from 2.6GHz to a speedy 4.5GHz depending on what’s required and yet still delivers more performance per watt than its predecessors. There’s space for up to two super-fast PCIe solid-state drives, plus a mechanical drive which can provide an astonishing 6TB of storage space. That means you’ll have plenty of room to install the latest, massive game files on a fast SSD while simultaneously recording plenty of high-definition game footage to share on Twitch or YouTube.

With a customisable backlit keyboard and Killer wired and wireless networking, the Aorus 15 is built using premium components that gamers can rely on.

Always cool – even under pressure

Of course, even the latest powerful components can generate a great deal of heat, and if that’s not managed correctly you can end up with a laptop that can slow right down due to thermal issues – something which can even result in hardware problems in the long run. Adding an army of tiny, whining fans is neither effective nor pleasant on one’s ears – and nobody wants to lug a bulky, breezy box around.

So how do you manage heat in a powerful laptop that’s only 2.4cm thick? The Aorus 15 uses brand-new Windforce technology that encompasses six heatpipes, nine inlet and exhaust vents plus two, extra-large 12V fans to shift as much cool air into the system – and hot air out – as possible. If that’s not enough, business-grade AI technology from Microsoft Azure is used for power management to ensure that only the important system elements are working when needed. It will even learn to operate more efficiently based on your usage patters – so the more you use it, the better it gets.

The Aorus 15-XA and 15-SA both feature a world-class thermal design that's assisted by AI, providing exceptional cooling performance.  

Class-leading design

A great deal of thought has gone into the Aorus 15 laptops’ whole design. All of the ports and technologies that gamers need are catered for, including Ethernet and full-sized HDMI. This ensures that the Aorus 15 can be taken to any kind of LAN event and connect with minimal difficulty while ensuring maximum performance. It can even be used for virtual reality. Killer Networking further fights lag, while Nahimic audio helps you locate shots and footsteps on the battlefield. A full complement of keys means you won’t run out of macros and shortcuts, while the RGB lighting can be customised to help with performance… and also just make your set-up look awesome! If you’re into streaming, a high-definition webcam is provided, as is an array-based digital microphone for better voice capture.

Naturally, having all these features in a laptop suggests that serious design compromises are being made. Traditionally, high-performance gaming laptops like these have come stuffed into a huge, heavy, desktop-replacement chassis: it’s refreshing, then, to see that both the Aorus 15-XA and 15-SA are comparatively both small and portable. N only is the chassis less than one-inch thick and only 2.4kg in weight, its discrete styling means it’s perfect for use in any environment, from the most conservative office to your local LAN gathering.

In back, the Aorus 15 includes a full compliment of video outputs including HDMI, mini-DisplayPort and USB 3.1 Type-C, making plugging in an extra monitor quick and easy.

No compromises

Whatever your requirements, the new Aorus 15-XA and 15-SA gaming laptops represent best-in-class choices for gamers. They hit the perfect trifecta of being portable and affordable while also offering outstanding gaming performance. They’re more than the sum of their parts and, by being backed by Gigabyte’s heritage of robust-and-reliable, high-performance PC hardware – plus a two-year international warranty – you’ve got the assurance that they won’t let you down.

For more information on the Aorus 15 gaming laptops and details on where to buy, please visit the official Aorus 15 website.

Categories: Tech News

Honor 20 Pro leaks hint at more fashion editions

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:22

Honor itself has confirmed that the upcoming Honor 20 will come in a special edition developed in partnership with fashion brand Moschino, but now leaked images suggest this might not be the only fashion partnership.

Shared by GSMArena, the images appear to be official – albeit unfinished – renders of the Honor 20 Pro in a range of colors, including gradient models that shift from blue to purple or purple to pink.

But they also contain imagery associated with Mishka NYC, suggesting that perhaps a model will be launched in partnership with the company.

In the case of the Moschino edition we know that it will come with a rear designed by the fashion brand, as well as having an exclusive on-screen theme, and coming with a Moschino case and bag. So there might be a similar selection of extras with the Mishka NYC model – if indeed such a model exists.

We would as ever take these images with a pinch of salt, especially as the layout of the quad-lens cameras on the back doesn’t match some previous leaks, but we should know the truth soon, as the Honor 20 range is set to be announced on May 21.

TechRadar will be reporting live from the event, so make sure to check back here on the day for all the news and announcements.

Categories: Tech News

Red Bull Illume competition returns for 2019

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:18

Mastered that GoPro yet? Following a three-year hiatus, Red Bull has announced the return of its Illume competition, which celebrates the best in adventure and action sports photography. And this year, things are a little different.

The competition, which was originally conceived in 2006 and is now in its fifth year, returns with new prizes and categories, one of which recognizes video captures for the first time. 

The new Moving Image category seeks the best 5-30 second video of jaw-dropping action, while another new category, Best of Instagram by Sandisk, will celebrate the most 'gram-worthy' moments.

There's even a revamped Raw category, which requires you to submit your raw files rather than any retouched and polished masterpieces to prove just how well you got the shot in-camera.

To get an idea of the kinds of images the competition is looking for, you can check out the winning shots from the 2016 competition below…

Red Bull Illume 2016 winners

If the honor of bagging one of the category accolades isn't enough of an incentive, the prizes may well be. There are over $100,000 worth of goodies on offer, with a Sony A7 III and FE 24-105 mm F4 G OSS lens going to each category winner, together with Sandisk Extreme Pro memory cards and a copy of Skylum's Luminar 3. The overall winner will also win a Sony A9 and an FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens.

The most recent Illume competition saw over 34,000 submissions from more than 5,000 photographers across 120 countries. The organizers have also confirmed that the competition will now run every two years instead of three.

Eleven category winners and one overall winner will be announced in November, and this will be followed in 2020 by a world-wide Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour showcasing all the finalist images. 

The competition is now open for submissions at the Red Bull Illume site; the closing date for entries is July 31, although the Best of Instagram by Sandisk category closes sooner. It's free to enter but, as with any competition, are sure to give the T&Cs a quick read first.

Categories: Tech News

Best APM tools in 2019

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:18

It’s safe to say that computers and other IT hardware are critical in business operations. If physical technology is slow or breaks down, then firms can end up missing deadlines and targets, causing a whole heap of trouble. And the same thing goes for software applications – companies need them to work effectively, as they rely on them.

Sometimes, amidst the chaos of huge workloads and strict deadlines, it can be hard to keep an eye on business software – problems can often slip under the radar, and even when they’re undetected only for a short time, they can still affect productivity greatly.

That’s why application performance management (APM) software exists. A major area in the field of IT infrastructure management, these tools can monitor and optimize the performance of software deployed within a business.  This is done by monitoring for traffic spikes, tracking connection issues, and looking at page load times to analyze the overall user experience. 

The aim of APM solutions is to detect and diagnose application performance issues as soon as possible, enabling them to be solved more quickly, thus saving money in the long run. Here are some of the best APM offerings out there.

  • 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: Datadog

Datadog APM is a SaaS-based platform for monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing applications. It does this through a number of features, not least by providing full-stack visibility, which allows customers to collect, search, and analyze traces across their full infrastructure, whether cloud-based, servers, or applications. 

This can be done via a global overview which can be drilled down to a specific line of code, using a combination of analytics and software metrics. Real-time interactive dashboards provide the mapping of data services and clusters, with one-click navigation allowing processes to be isolated. These can be customized according to need, such as by using drag-and-drop performance dashboards, or automated using APIs, to provide performance alerts.

Datadog's APM can be deployed on most popular libraries and frameworks with a single command, providing instant monitoring. It also supports the OpenTracing protocols for applications and framework developers for distributed vendor-neutral tracing. 

Pricing for the APM with distributed tracing begins at $36 per host per month for up to one million events per host, but is discounted to $31 if paid annually. For an extra fee you can include the trace search and analytics add-on, which costs $1.52 per million APM events if paid monthly, but is discounted to $1.27 if paid annually.

Image credit: Loupe

Loupe is an effective, feature-packed application performance management tool. Aimed at enterprises and IT administrators, this solution lets you trace events, performance and other metrics to work out the causes of issues affecting software negatively.

A good APM solution will help you find problems with apps straight away, and if you’ve got to hunt through a sprawling list of potential issues, then it’s going to be hard to do that. However, Loupe automatically groups log events so you can find and address performance issues with a minimum of fuss.  

The system also gives you a visual understanding of your application usage and offers insights into bottlenecks that can subsequently be tackled. It’s easy to get up and running with this system, as you don’t have to install anything onto your servers – the setup process is very nicely streamlined. Loupe offers a free trial, but no free tier.

Image credit: Kaseya

Plenty of businesses use the cloud along with on-premise systems, and when you have a bunch of different apps – from cloud through hybrid to traditional software installations – monitoring them all can be very difficult. Traverse Monitoring is an APM tool that aims to tackle these sort of scenarios.

It can automatically discover apps, networks, servers and systems, meaning you don’t have to dedicate time in order to configure things manually. Once it’s set up and running, Traverse will monitor each device and app to determine if there are any issues, including on-premise, cloud and hybrid technology. If a problem is identified, it’ll fire up a troubleshooting process and try to resolve it before your business is affected.

You can also back up and restore changes across your applications, and you’re sent predictive analytics concerning their overall performance.

Image credit: Stackify

If you’re a developer or have a team of software engineers working within your company, then it’s obviously quite common to come across performance issues and other bugs. Stackify Retrace is a targeted ‘devAPM’ system, giving development professionals the tools they need to find and address problems effectively.

The platform alerts developers if any issues and bugs have been found, and it can be used to improve performance levels across test and production servers. Retrace has been designed so that it provides visibility, data and actionable insights into app performance and faults. When issues arise, alerts are sent to a choice of destinations, including via email, SMS, or Slack.

There’s a centralized dashboard that displays code performance and metrics, including errors and logs. Stackify can also be used with most common app stacks, and this is a highly scalable SaaS solution, so it’s easy to install and use. Pricing is $50 (£38) per month per server.

Image credit: ManageEngine

Applications Manager from ManageEngine is a tool which does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s being marketed as an enterprise-ready, usable and affordable APM. Businesses are provided with everything they need to ensure critical applications and systems are always in perfect working order.

This solution can find and address issues involving the end user, applications and important components such as databases, servers, ERP packages, web services, cloud platforms and virtual systems.

Applications Manager works with a single install and allows you to address issues easily, plus when looking further down the road, it’s highly scalable – indeed, it can scale to up to 50,000 applications. Pricing is not detailed on the website.

Image credit: Pixabay

Other APM options to consider

There are a number of other vendors leading the way with APM solutions. Here we'll provide a few more options for you to consider as part of your IT infrastructure management.

LogicMonitor offers automated hybrid infrastructure monitoring and analytics, which means it can automatically monitor all devices, or work with a preconfigured set of rules for the tools you use. LogicMonitor's platform works with servers, cloud, VMs, storage, networks, and apps, as well as websites. In short, it offers a pretty comprehensive set of options for monitoring a wide range of necessary applications.

Dynatrace looks to simplify complexities in cloud management, not least with the automated monitoring of dynamic microservices. It makes it easy to visualize and monitor all services and provide alerts for events, not least unexpected access to files and information. As a platform it really is very comprehensive in being able to identify problems and help staff rectify them, even when such issues have previously gone unnoticed or have been difficult to pin down.

New Relic APM monitoring uses clear visualization to help identify performance levels, bottlenecks, and dependencies, by offering a complete overview of your operating environment. Aside from automated processes, the charts are well-presented and make it very clear where root causes lie, making it easier to identify and fix problems. It also works with a lot of data, not just from the apps being monitored, but also key metrics from user agents to make identifying solutions to issues easier to adapt for customer needs.

Microsoft System Center aims to make it easier to deploy, configure, and manage the IT infrastructure that you're monitoring. The interface is easy to use and reliable, but you may still find there's something of a learning curve as it has a broad range of software features. However, once you get to grips with those, it can be very easy to configure you own custom system and deployments.

Categories: Tech News

Only half of UK firms are insured against data loss

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:09

A large number of UK firms are failing to insure their valuable data, putting them at risk of major losses if attacked.

New research from Accenture found that only half of businesses in the UK are insured against data loss, despite options being available at low cost and offering high levels of security.

This was despite a quarter of business leaders saying they were aware of a malicious attempt to steal or destroy their data in the last 12 months - which rises to 34 per cent for large firms. More than one in ten say they experienced an internal threat to their data, such as accidental damage.

Costs

Accenture claims that insuring against data loss can be done at ‘a fraction of the cost’ that’s usually associated with gathering and analysing data. 

The report says that average medium-sized businesses spend £980,000 a year on data harvesting and analytics - depsite the value of the data being insured being only £65,000.

As to why data isn't being insured, the report argues that the half of businesses without protection consider data as a cost, and not an asset. 30 per cent of data gathered is also considered inaccurate, and almost three quarters (70 per cent) of people that use data don’t have access to everything they need, either.

“The disparities we’re seeing in the insured value of data versus costs associated with it, as well as those choosing not to insure, show how companies are clinging to traditional practices," said George Marcotte, Managing Director, Accenture Digital.

"These businesses still revolve around the five classic asset classes: monetary, physical, relational, organisational and human, which I imagine they will have insurance to protect. And yet they don’t put data into that category. It’s only the new platform companies that see data as a sixth asset class. Not only will they take steps to insure it, but they also take bigger steps to invest in it. As data becomes more vital to business success, not taking all steps to protect it is like forgetting to insure the crown jewels.”

“It’s only once businesses change their culture to be more data oriented that they will start to do things like insure it. Insurance is clearly not the end goal, but it’s an indicator of companies seeing data as a valuable asset instead of simply a cost to be covered.”

Categories: Tech News

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gets a Bandersnatch-style finale next year

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:08

Want more Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? While the popular Netflix sitcom came to a close after four seasons this year, it seems like there's more in store – and users will get to decide how the story is told.

Show creator Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock) revealed that the show would have one more episode release next year to officially tie up the series, with an interactive narrative in the style of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which hit Netflix in late 2019.

“We're thrilled to announce that we’re about to start production on an all-new Interactive Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt special, set to debut on Netflix in 2020," stated Fey in a press release.

She added: "Fans will be able to make choices on behalf of our characters, taking different story paths with, of course, different jokes. I think it’s a great fit for our show and will be a great way to officially complete the series.”

Frosties or Sugar Puffs?

Bandersnatch prompted viewers to make key decisions throughout the episode – from your morning cereal to where to hide a body – changing the length, tone and overall direction of the plot. 

There were countless combinations of scenes to see and a lot of rewatch (replay?) value, and it's no surprise that Netflix has big plans for interactive TV on the platform.

What other Netflix shows could we see get interactive episodes down the line? Orange is the New Black? Bojack Horseman? Our money's on something planned for Netflix's Russian Doll, which sees its protagonist in a recurring time loop: perfect fodder for choose-your-own-adventure television.

Via Engadget

Categories: Tech News

Naim's Mu-so 2 is a one-stop shop for music streaming – but it'll cost you

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:07

British Hi-Fi specialist Naim Audio has released its latest streaming box, the Mu-So 2nd Generation, five years after the launch of its predecessor. 

Promising to be a one stop shop for all your music streaming needs, it comes with AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal and Chromecast built-in, so you can play millions of songs from one device – all in high-resolution quality.

The second-gen streaming box supports internet radio, and you can also connect it up to your devices via Bluetooth for wireless streaming. Plus, if you have an extensive library of music sitting on a USB drive, the Mu-So 2nd Generation has a USB input. 

No need for a soundbar

Naim says that the  Mu-so 2nd Generation has been "re-engineered to have a 13% increase in cabinet volume, which enables bigger, better bass performance", so it should easily fill a room – and with multi-room support, you can use it to play music throughout your entire home.

The new streaming box can also double up as a soundbar to boost your home cinema setup, thanks to a HDMI ARC input; and with its sleek design, it shouldn't look out of place in your living room. 

While the aluminum casing comes in gray only, there are a few options when it comes to the speaker grille, which comes in black, terracotta orange, olive green, or a rich, 'peacock' blue color scheme. 

So, what's the catch? Well, the Mu-So 2nd Generation will set you back an eye-watering $1599 / £1299. This works out at around AU$2400, but the streaming box doesn't appear to have been launched in Australia just yet.

Like the Naim Uniti Atom, which costs around $3,300 / £1800 / AU$3795 the new Mu-So streaming box is extremely pricey – but with so much audiophile tech packed in, it might just be worth the price.

Categories: Tech News

A 5G Huawei phone will be announced for the UK next week

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:05

Originally expected to be a feature that debuted on the Huawei Mate 30, the company's first attempt at 5G is set to be on a new phone announced next week.

Huawei has invited TechRadar to an event on May 16 to see the first look at the new 5G handset in London, but the brand has yet to share any other details of the phone it'll be included on.

Huawei's Mate 20 X 5G has already been unveiled in Switzerland, so it's likely that handset we'll see launch in the UK. It could also be a reworked version of one of the company's existing handsets, such as the Huawei P30 Pro.

The other possibility is that the company is launching its Mate series of smartphones earlier than ever this year. Often the company announces them in September or October, so it'd be surprisingly early for the company to debut the Mate 30 in May.

The invite only says the event is "to celebrate the launch of Huawei’s first 5G smartphone" so there's no real hint at any extra added features we'll see on this device.

It's also worth noting that on May 21, the company's sister brand is launching the Honor 20 series. It may be that Honor plans to include a 5G version of its phone, so Huawei would like to debut its own version first.

TechRadar will be reporting directly from both the Honor and Huawei events, so be sure to check back over the next few weeks for our latest coverage of the big launches.

Via CNET

Categories: Tech News

A new camera can photograph people 28 miles away, even through smog

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:00

Researchers in China have developed a lidar-based system that can capture images of humans at huge distances, even through thick pollution.

A team from the University of Science and Technology in Shanghai created a system that can capture subjects at a distance of 28 miles using sensors capable of detecting a single photon, together with an algorithm that 'knits' together sparse data points to create a high resolution image.

The system works in a similar way to lidar, sending out a pulse of laser light and then mapping the light that bounces back. This technique means it's able to record images even through the smog that's a huge problem in densely populated cities.

Looking to the future

The system could be hugely important for autonomous cars, which rely on cameras to detect and predict the movements of vehicles and pedestrians, but would be rendered useless by severe pollution.

This will be particularly important for cities like Shanghai, where vehicle automation could lead to a huge improvement in air quality. Automakers around the world are planning fleets of autonomous taxis, which would reduce the need for privately owned cars, and therefore cut pollution on city streets.

Via Technology Review

Categories: Tech News

Windows 10 will make finding files much easier in File Explorer

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 04:55

A fresh preview build for Windows 10 has been released to fast ring testers trying out the 20H1 update – in other words, the update that’ll come out in the first half of next year – which greatly improves the search experience in File Explorer.

File Explorer is the app which you use to browse through files and folders on the desktop, and as it stands, a search conducted inside a folder window – using the box top-right with the tiny magnifying glass icon – is a rather basic affair compared to the full Windows Search experience.

So, the idea is to bring the latter full experience – meaning the search functionality you get when hunting for things via the search/Cortana box next to the Start button – into File Explorer, so that as you’re typing a search query, you’ll get a drop-down list of suggested files that you might be looking for.

If you see the file you require after you’ve only typed a few letters, you can simply click on it to open the file (or right-click if you just want to navigate to the file’s location).

The new search functionality in File Explorer (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft further explains that this change will also integrate your files stored online on OneDrive within the search results. The broad idea, then, is to make search more consistent (and useful) wherever you’re using it within Windows, which can’t be a bad thing.

That said, the feature is still in the very early stages of testing, and has only rolled out to a ‘small percentage’ of testers at the moment. It will become available to more Windows Insiders testing the 20H1 update before long, we’d imagine, but you might not see it for a little while yet.

Nifty Narrator

That’s the major change for this preview build (version 18894), but Microsoft has also done some fine-tuning on the accessibility front. That includes making Narrator (the screen reader app) more efficient when reading tables, and a new command that prompts Narrator to give a summary of a web page (highlighting details such as headings, links and so forth).

As ever, there are a load of bug fixes, and a list of known issues – because this is an early preview version, there is always the possibility of glitches which could be ‘painful’ to experience in Microsoft’s words. One of the bigger problems with this build is that the Your Phone app (which Microsoft has been tweaking a lot lately) doesn’t work with it.

In case you missed it, we also recently saw that rounded corners on windows – as opposed to sharp edges – are set to make a return with the 20H1 update for Windows 10.

Categories: Tech News

The Samsung Galaxy S11 could have a whopping 64MP camera

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 04:38

Newer phones nearly always have better cameras, and we saw that with the impressive triple-camera array on the Samsung Galaxy S10, but it looks like the unconfirmed Samsung Galaxy S11 camera could blow its predecessors, and competition, out of the water.

In a post in its newsroom, Samsung announced today it has created two new camera sensors which are designed for smartphones – one 48MP, and another with a whopping 64MP resolution.

Currently, the highest resolution camera you'll find in a smartphone is 48MP, seen in handsets like the Honor View 20 or Xiaomi Mi 9, although that's a figure beaten by traditional cameras. 

However, if Samsung introduces its new sensor to future smartphones, your mobile device could take pictures of as high quality as a professional camera.

The technology to support pictures like this has been in phone processors for a while  –  Qualcomm recently admitted its Snapdragon 855 chipset can support pictures of up to 192MP, although camera sensors are still several years out from reaching that figure.

Which phones could have the sensors?

The next major Samsung smartphone we've been hearing about is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, however we expect to see that in the next few months, so it could be too late for Samsung to add these sensors to the phone this close to release.

After that, the most likely suspect for a 64MP sensor is the Samsung Galaxy S11 (or S20, if Samsung decides to follow typical phone naming conventions), which we'd expect to see in February 2020.

Saying that, we could see the sensors in an unexpected handset – we know Samsung is working on several foldable phones for after the Samsung Galaxy Fold, and the company recently launched the Samsung Galaxy A80 with high-end camera specs.

So we could see the 48MP and 64MP sensors in a wide range of products – although we still think the flagship Samsung Galaxy S device is the most likely.

We'll likely find out sooner rather than later due to the competitive nature of the smartphone market, so stay tuned to TechRadar for all the latest phone news and reviews.

Categories: Tech News

The Huawei P Smart Z is the company’s first phone with a pop-up camera

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 04:34

The Huawei P30 has a notch, the Huawei Nova 4 has a punch-hole camera, and now with the newly announced Huawei P Smart Z, the company has a phone with a pop-up camera.

The pop-up 16MP selfie camera means there’s no bezel above the screen, and in fact there’s very little below it, giving the phone an all-screen look.

Aside from being the company’s first phone with a pop-up camera, the Huawei P Smart Z looks fairly ordinary on paper, but the specs are reasonable.

The Huawei P Smart Z is a mid-ranger with a pop-up camera. Image credit: Huawei

It has a 6.59-inch 1080 x 2340 screen, a dual-lens rear camera with a 16MP f/1.8 main lens and a 2MP f/2.4 depth sensor, and a Pixel-like design, with a two-tone color scheme on the back.

The phone is powered by a mid-range octa-core Kirin 710F chipset and 4GB of RAM, it has 64GB of storage, a microSD card slot, a 4,000mAh battery, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and it runs Android 9 Pie overlaid with Huawei’s EMUI 9 interface.

So far the Huawei P Smart Z is only available in Spain and Italy, where stores are listing it for €279 (around $310/£240/AU$450) but we wouldn’t be surprised if the phone makes it to the UK. A US release though is very unlikely given Huawei’s issues in the country.

TechRadar has reached out to Huawei to find out if they have any plans to bring the phones to the UK, and we'll update this article when we find out either way.

Via Phone Arena

Categories: Tech News

Why Nokia phones could soon be your common workplace partner

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 04:33

HMD Global has laid out its aims to be your workplace smartphone partner as its Nokia phones pass a signficiant landmark.

The company can now count 14 of its devices in the Android Enterprise Recommended program - more than any other vendor - after the Nokia 9 PureView, Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 3.2 gained Google's official thumbs-up.

Google launched the Android Enterprise Recommended programme in 2018 to make picking a top device for work easier. Every device in the program meets the company's hardware, software and lifecycle support requirements needed to offer a good user experience and businesses can safely select it knowing it has met the standards required for an enterprise device.

Recommended

“There is a huge range of device options for enterprises, and so selecting the right device(s) for your business can often feel like a challenging task," Andrej Sonkin, General Manager of Enterprise, HMD Global, told TechRadar Pro.

"We work closely with Google and are proud of our ever growing partnership....We are also working within the Android ecosystem, collaborating with companies who are participating in the new Android Enterprise Recommend Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Android Enterprise Recommended Managed Service Partner (MSP) programmes, to help offer enterprises globally the best solutions to meet their business needs.”

The Nokia 9 PureView is one of the newly-certified devices (Image credit: TechRadar)

“For enterprises, the decision of which smartphone to opt for must take into consideration what works best for the employees, the IT department and those purchasing the devices," Sorkin added.

"Additionally, the majority of our portfolio are part of the Android One family, which brings additional benefits of monthly security updates for three years and two years of Android OS updates, meaning employees will have a device which gets better over time.”

“It is really important to us that we stay ahead of market trends and react quickly to any needs from our enterprise customers. We are committed to offering enterprise solutions across all price points and business needs, but also want to change the ownership paradigm for end-users and enterprises alike. 

"It is no longer only about out-of-the-box device specs, but about how the user experience evolves over its lifetime with updates and upgrades. Our strong focus in both the Android One and Android Enterprise Recommended programs, means Nokia smartphones will just keep getting better and more secure thanks to the latest innovations from Google.”

Categories: Tech News

NordVPN kills popular free trial due to widespread abuse

Latest Tech News - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 03:32

Popular VPN provider NordVPN has terminated its seven day free trial offer but has kept its 30 day money back guarantee amidst widespread abuse by its service by scammers. 

A spokesperson for the company revealed that such abuse was so significant that it took a toll on their infrastructure and harmed their services in multiple ways.

The company was the only major VPN to offer a free trial; ExpressVPN, Hotspot Shield and IPVanish all have money back guarantee setup instead.

Widespread

Panama-registered NordVPN ranks second on our best VPN list and has more than one million customers worldwide using 5,200 servers in 60 countries. It provides whitelabel services to a number of partners including Bullguard.

The news comes days after its advert about public Wi-Fi in the UK was banned by the regulator for UK’s advertising industry, ASA. The Advertising Standards Authority said that the advert exaggerated the risk of data theft without using a VPN service.

It received a massive boost in visibility yesterday as Liverpool FC reached the Champions League; NordVPN is LFC’s official cyber security partner.

Categories: Tech News

Avengers: Endgame will hit Disney Plus in December, one month after launch

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 22:03

While Avengers: Endgame is currently shattering box office records around the world, that hasn't stopped Disney's top brass from announcing a lounge-room release for the blockbuster flick, which the company has announced will land on its highly-anticipated streaming service, Disney Plus. The date? Just one month after the upcoming service launches in the US on November 12, 2019.

“We’re very pleased with our Q2 results and thrilled with the record-breaking success of Avengers: Endgame, which is now the second-highest grossing film of all time and will stream exclusively on Disney+ starting December 11th,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company in the conglomerate's latest earnings report.

Endgame's arrival on Disney's streaming service will likely coincide with the film's release on Digital, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

World's mightiest streaming service

Avengers: Endgame will join other Marvel big-hitters that will already be available on Disney Plus at launch, including Captain Marvel, which has so far made $1.1 billion at the global box office.

Along with its stable of Marvel Studios films, the upcoming streaming platform will also play host to a number of new Disney Plus original TV shows tied directly to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – something that genre fans will no doubt welcome in light of the abrupt cancelation of Netflix's Marvel shows.

Marvel shows rumored to be in development include a Falcon and Winter Soldier series starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, a Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston, a Vision and Scarlet Witch series starring Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, and a Hawkeye spin-off starring Jeremy Renner.

It's currently unknown when Disney Plus will land in territories outside the US, although the media giant has revealed that it plans to roll out the service globally over the next two years.

Categories: Tech News

Google IO 2019's best exhibit wasn't even there

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 21:07

We got an update on Google's plans for augmented reality (AR) during Google IO 2019, and it looks like a lot of fun and games – with some promising advancements for even casual Google product users.

That includes folk who only use Google Search. During the keynote, a presenter showed how AR will be added to search results: go scrounging for info on sharks, and you'll be able to click a button to look into a lite camera app and place a 3D model of the shark in real life, as if to compare size. Another example showed a modeled skeleton-and-muscle arm flexing and relaxing – something far easier to see from different angles in AR than in a simple image.

After the keynote, we moseyed over to one of the Google IO 2019 sandboxes filled with different fun AR exhibits – all showing off different applications of AR tech that, strictly speaking, wasn't there at all.

Click through the gallery to see them all!

Categories: Tech News

Google is overhauling the Play Store's app rating system

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 20:27

Android app and game developers, and the billions of Google Play Store customers around the world, will soon see changes made to the way apps on the platform are scored.

Speaking at the Google IO 2019 developer conference this week, the Google Play team revealed that the most recent, and theoretically more relevant, app reviews will be given greater weight when considering ratings. The change follows similar moves made by Apple two years ago, when it introduced a feature that optionally allows developers to reset an app or game's rating when a new update is released.

“Many of you told us that you want a rating that reflects a more current version of your app, not what it was years ago – and we agree,” Google Play product lead Kobi Glick wrote on the company’s developer blog. “So instead of a lifetime cumulative value, your Google Play Store rating will be recalculated to give more weight to your most recent ratings.” 

Google is claiming this revised system will work better for developers but also for users, as anyone downloading an app or game from the Play Store will be able to see exactly how recent changes have impacted the user experience.

Open communications

The changes to app ratings are set to work in concert with a new replies feature that developers will be able to use to respond to user reviews on the Play Store.

Image: Google

The new system will auto-generate three responses for app developers, which will be based on the content of the user comment – developers can choose to select any reply and send it as is, choose to customize it, or come up with a new response from scratch. The replies feature is currently available only in English, but Google says more languages will be added in the future.

Google is also improving how users update their apps. The new in-app updates API is now generally available, which will allow apps to be updated while they are being used.

The new ratings system changes will come into effect  for users starting in August, however developers can already preview the recalculated ratings of their apps by logging into their accounts.

Categories: Tech News

Best wireless earbuds: the 10 best Bluetooth earbuds and earphones in 2019

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 16:53

You'd be forgiven for thinking Bluetooth headphones aren't as good as wired ones. That's because, back in the day, Bluetooth headphones weren't a great way to listen to your favorite music. Luckily, times have changed. Thanks to improvements in wireless transmission standards, such as aptX and innovations in battery technology, Bluetooth earbuds are quickly becoming the most popular way to listen to music.

So the big question is: which brands have emerged as the best when it comes to big Bluetooth improvements and the future of audio innovation? 

Audio companies like Jaybird, Plantronics, Nuforce, RHA and Jabra all are great options, as they've all committed a great deal deal of times and money to improving audio quality without sacrificing battery life. Sony, Apple and Google make good headphones, too, however. Read on for our top wireless Bluetooth earbud picks.

What are the best wireless earbuds?

Image credit: TechRadar

NuForce have really crafted something special here with the BE Sport4 earbuds. Sleek and solidly-built, these are high-performance buds that improve on their already five-star predecessors. They're ideal for exercise, although any urbanite will also find their lightweight functionality and impressive sound isolation highly appealing. Proof that wireless headphones can now compete with the best of them.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

Image credit: RHA

If you don't mind rocking the neckbuds, the Moto Surround hits all the high notes in terms of price, performance and battery life. After spending several weeks with the RHA MA390 Wireless, we came away extremely impressed with the package RHA has come up with. The headphones are built extremely well, have a fun sound signature, and can take a beating. And all at an affordable price. 

It’s main rival, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, are also excellent, however we give the nod to the RHA MA390 for its more dynamic sound and better build quality. 

Read the full review: RHA MA390 Wireless

Image credit: TechRadar

OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 6, but the company also makes headphones – the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets in-ears. But wired headphones weren't the end for OnePlus' audio escapades. Instead, OnePlus created a wireless version of its Bullets headphones and, for $70 (£70, about AU$124), they offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category. 

The OnePlus Bullets Wireless are so good, in fact, that they’ve unseated the NuForce BE6i and Beats X in our list of the best wireless earbuds. This is a pair of wireless earbuds that we have no hesitation recommending to anyone.  

Read the full review: OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Image credit: TechRadar

The Jaybird Tarah Pro headphones are wireless sport headphones for the endurance runners, athletes and fitness nuts out there. With a neck cable to keep the earbuds together, they aren’t quite ‘true wireless’, but will be practical for those concerned about dropping and losing a costly earbud in the heat of a race or training session.

It’s been a big year for Jaybird devices, with launches for the budget Jaybird Tarah, more mid-range Jaybird X4, and now the Tarah Pro to boot. As the first in Jaybird’s new ‘Pro’ range of earbuds and aimed at offering higher quality audio and materials, the Tarah Pro will suit anyone not willing to sacrifice audio quality in harsher outdoor conditions or indoor workouts.  

Read the full review: Jaybird Tarah Pro

Image credit: Beats

There will always be those who are ready to complain about the sound performance of Beats headphones, but the inclusion of Apple's proprietary W1 chip has been a boon for the strength of their wireless connectivity. 

The Beats X hence make up for their slightly bassy sound with a rock solid connection and a pairing process that, on iOS devices at least, is as painless as it's possible to be. 

Functionally that makes these wireless earbuds a joy to use, just don't expect the most detailed or broad soundstage. If you’re shopping for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes and don’t mind spending a little extra money on them, the Beats X are for you.

Read the full review: Beats X

Image credit: TechRadar

Life is full of compromises, and it's no different with the Bose QuietControl 30s. On the positive side you get a level of noise cancellation that comes close to what's offered by the brand's over-ear headphones, but the concession here is on sound fidelity, which just isn’t on the same level as that of other in-ear or over-ear headphones we’ve tested. 

There's also that neckband which adds an unfortunate level of bulk to what should otherwise be a slimline pair of headphones. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30

Or, cut the cord with these true wireless models

Image credit: TechRadar

Although the TrueConnect is RHAs first true wireless headphone, the company showed they did their research and development by making it one of the best true wireless headphones on the market today. The combination of sound quality, battery life, and wireless reliability means these are a pair of headphones you can rely on everyday. 

The Jabra Elite 65t set the standard for what true wireless headphones should be and, regardless of what RHA has done here with the TrueConnect, they’re still great headphones. Compared to the RHA TrueConnect, the Jabra has more features with its useful ambient noise mode to help with situational awareness and an app that lets you tailor sound. 

The RHA doesn’t have either of those features but we didn’t miss them, thanks to better sound quality and wireless reliability. The RHA also feels more like a premium product than the all-plastic Jabra. 

All said, if you’re shopping for a pair of true wireless headphones, the $170 (£150, about AU$265) RHA TrueConnect should be at the very top of your list.  

[Looking for a more stylish design? It comes at a price, but the Earin M-2 true wireless earbuds look as good as they sound.]

Read the full review: RHA TrueConnect

Image credit: Jabra

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

If you only have the budget for one of these, go for the Elite 65t. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

Image credit: TechRadar

The NuForce BE Free5 wireless earbuds show just how accessible truly wireless headphones are today. For around $100 (about £75, AU$134) they feature a more polished design than the more expensive BE Free8, and even sound better to boot. However, we found the left earbud would drop out briefly more than we’d like, and we hope NuForce can address this issue.   

The connection dropouts combined with the frustrating controls keep it from claiming the top spot on our list, but the BE Free5 offer undeniable value in the truly wireless headphone market. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Free5

Image credit: TechRadar

The second generation Apple AirPods, the AirPods (2019), aren't quite the AirPods 2 we were hoping for, but they still some cool features. 

They still feature the iconic design of the original AirPods (a good or bad thing depending on your point of view), and sound quality hasn't changed at all. The bulk of the upgrade comes from the new H1 headphone chip, which improves connectivity and battery life, and allows for a new ‘Hey Siri’ voice activation feature.

The AirPods (2019) also come with an optional wireless charging case means you can use a Qi-compatible charging mat to power the case, rather than sticking a cable into the Lightning charging port in the bottom of the case. 

Like their predecessors, they are super easy to pair, but they are very much optimized for using with iPhones – and they aren't exactly cheap. 

Apple has now stopped selling the AirPods, but many stores are still trying to sell off their remaining stock – head to our round up of the best Apple AirPods prices, sales, and deals for up to date information on any discounts. 

Categories: Tech News

Best Smart TV 2019: every smart TV platform ranked, rated and reviewed

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 16:24

Smart TVs are so common now that using the word 'smart' almost seems unnecessary. It's rare you'll find a new TV that doesn't come with some form of smart capability - whether that's LG's WebOS, Samsung's Tizen or Google's Android TV that's used on Sony and Hisense TVs.

And while the majority of these smart TV platforms function similarly by giving you access to apps, streaming services and basic smart home functionality, they each have their pros and cons - and for that reason we've put together a guide to the best smart TV platforms you'll find on new sets in 2019 and beyond.

We've come a long way from the early days of TV smart capability, marked by awful performance, non-existent software updates, and a general lack of manufacturer support. We want to explore what makes new platforms so great and provide you some insight as to which screens have the best performance. 

Smart TV: The State of the Union

So just where do we stand on Smart TVs? Do you know your Roku TV from your SmartCast? Your Tizen from webOS? If not, this section is for you.

In 2018, there are five main smart operating systems: Android TV, webOS, Tizen, Roku TV and SmartCast that are used by Sony, LG, Samsung, TCL and Vizio, respectively. In the UK, you'll find that Philips also uses Android while Panasonic uses its own proprietary system called MyHomeScreen. 

The vast majority of TVs use the operating systems listed above - but not all TVs. At lower price points, you probably won't find any of the above as most TV manufacturers offer a narrow proprietary service instead. These will vary between manufacturers, however, by and large, they're not as good as the ones listed above for the sheer reason that they aren't updated as frequently. 

When in doubt, try to buy one a TV with one of the above. 

That said, if you're completely undecided on which smart TV to buy, it's worth considering the value of each of these smart systems - which we'll list below.

(Scale: Awful, Bad, OK, Good, Better, Best)

Android TV (found on 2019 Sony 4K and OLED TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: OK | Number of apps: Better | Universal search: Better


  • Pros: Recommended content row. Clean layout.  
  • Cons: Most builds are very buggy and prone to crashing. 

 Android TV is the nearest the smart TV universe has to a standardized operating system, but there are still variations between brand executions.

Sony has the most comprehensive Google solution. For UK viewers, it has rather cleverly layered a YouView program guide platform on top, deftly addressing one of Android TV’s big weaknesses – catch-up TV provision. This YouView app ensures that all the main catch-up services are provided, and accessible via a roll-back 7-day EPG.

Other supporters of Android TV are Philips (via maker TP Vision) and in the US, Sharp and Hisense. It’s also available on the Nvidia Shield streaming device.   

While other TV platforms make a virtue of their minimalism, Android stacks the screen with various layers of content: There’s also a row of specific Sony selected content, followed by apps for Netflix, Amazon Video, links to the Google Play Store, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV, YouTube and so on.

Owners of Android phones/tablets can use their device to control Android TVs via Sony’s TV SideView app, and Google Assistant continues to get more and more useful with its own Android TV integration.

Android TV devices also have Chromecast built-in, which simplifies streaming from mobile Android devices (iOS users can download the AirBuddy app to Google Cast). Controllers from Logitech and Razer also promise gaming without needing a console.

There is a caveat though. In our experience, Android is the least stable of the various smart platforms, with Sony TVs exhibiting more than their fair share of failures – it’s not unusual to be notified that various aspects of the Android platform have stopped working, and some of these messages are completely inscrutable (usually the best option is to simply restart the TV).

To be fair to Google, this is becoming less of an issue as successive Android TV updates roll out – the latest incarnation is particularly slick on the Nvidia Shield, for example – but there's still room for improvement.

WebOS (found on 2019 LG OLED, Nano Cell and some UHD TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Bad | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Alexa and Google Assistant integration. Fast to navigate.  
  • Cons: The least robust in terms of apps of all the smart TV platforms. 

LG rewrote the rulebook for smart TV platforms with its webOS, starting the trend for minimal, simplified user interfaces back in 2014.

Since then it's been gradually refining its offering, leading us to the all-new WebOS 4.5 that's going to make its debut in 2019. 

The UI, which is still built around a Launch Bar for apps, inputs and features, remains tidy and customizable this year, plus you can change the running order to best suit how you use the set. If you like to Miracast images from your smartphone, grab the Screen Share app with LG's cursor-based Magic Remote and move up further up the pecking order.

App support is excellent. Netflix streams 4K with both HDR and Dolby Vision, as well as Dolby Atmos audio when available. There's also Amazon with UHD HDR and YouTube in 4K. Other options include Now TV, Sky Store, Wuaki.TV, plus all the main channel catch-up services.

As we’ve seen on earlier webOS builds, these streaming apps remain open and live, even when you navigate away from them. This means you can pause Star Trek Discovery, browse the TV listings for The Walking Dead, and then return to the action.

Other cool features recently added to the platform include 360-degree video playback (from 360-degree videos on YouTube), support for both Google Assistant and Alexa, and an OLED still image gallery. LG screens also have Freeview Play in the UK, which means a full larder of catch-up television. 

For US viewers, there's Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Google Play TV and Movies, as well as Hulu, VUDU, MLB.TV, and FandangoNow.

Tizen (found on Samsung 2019 QLED and NU-Series TVs)

Setup: Good | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Bad | Universal search: Bad

  • Pros: TV Plus offers free channels. Fast to navigate. 
  • Cons: Universal search can be hit or miss. 

Samsung is another brand keen to keep things simple - its Tizen OS clearly owes much to LG's webOS interface, in so much as it consists of icons, apps and shortcuts all accessible via icons held a horizontal strip across the bottom of the screen. A dynamically changing ‘Recent’ box in the far-left corner cycles between recently used apps and TV channels.

But it’s not overly intelligent as it stands right now, but that could change in the future when Samsung integrates its TV AI into Tizen.

For now, we like the fact that on-screen icons can be changed: a sense of identity is welcome when it comes to some AV inputs and key apps you use everyday. The OS cuts down on clutter, although this sometimes works against navigation – there are plenty of occasions when it's necessary to go hunting for a specific app. Thankfully that's made easier by a Smart Hub multimedia page that divvies up content from apps and from your own USB sticks/home network.

On some of the higher-end TVs, you'll also get Bixby built-in as well as Samsung SmartThings that allows your TV to act as the center of your connected home.

Roku TV (found on 2019 TCL and Hisense TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Better | Speed: Better | Number of apps: Good | Universal search: Best

  • Pros: Best universal search. Very easy to use. 
  • Cons: Interface feels a bit plain in 2019.

Despite Android TV and all the proprietary portals available, there's still room for other connected smart offerings. In Europe, Vestel has its own stripped back smart platform, which is used for TV companies it manufactures for, including Toshiba and JVC. It’s unfancy but does the basics.

In the US, TV maker Element now offers a screen with Amazon’s Fire TV OS built in.

But perhaps the most interesting second-division smart OS is Roku TV. 

Announced back in 2014 for TCL TVs, Roku TV has found support with low-cost US TV suppliers. Today, you can find Roku TV on quite a few Haier, Hisense, Insignia, Sharp and TCL TV models.

As a platform, Roku TV borrows the interface and feature set from the company's popular media streamers, like the Roku Streaming Stick.

What that means is that you'll find a universal search function able to scan over 30 different apps like Netflix, Google Play TV and Movies, Amazon, VUDU and more to find you the lowest price on the TV show or movie you want to watch, as well as around 4,500 channels of content to watch.

Add to that some neat features like a dedicated app that helps you keep track of upcoming movies and TV shows via the My Feed section, and a private listening mode (via headphones that plug into the remote) when you want to watch TV without disturbing the whole house.

SmartCast (found on 2019 Vizio TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: OK | Speed: Bad | Number of apps: Good | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Has Google Chromecast built-in.  
  • Cons: Slower than most other TV operating systems.

SmartCast, on paper, is a great idea. It's all the fun extras of the Android TV platform - including the ability to Cast content to your screen - with a more logical layout. 

When you turn on a SmartCast TV be prepared to see three rows - one featured row that has huge marquee images to point you to specific shows or movies; one row for recommended content and one row for all your apps. 

If you want to drill down into specific content categories or settings, you can move to one of the other tabs (there's a tab for movies, TV shows, Support and Extras) or go to the top right of the screen to perform a search.

Unfortunately, while SmartCast provides a lot of versatility in what you can stream, it's also one of the slower smart platforms and can misbehave on occasion. 

MyHomeScreen (found on 2019 Panasonic TVs)

Setup: OK | Ease of use: Good | Speed: Better | Number of apps: OK | Universal search: OK

  • Pros: Fast and responsive.  
  • Cons: A bit plain.

If you live in the UK, Panasonic's My Home Screen 2.0 is one of the most customizable smart TV platforms around. Built on the open-source code of Mozilla’s Firefox TV OS, Panasonic's My Home Screen 2.0 smart TV interface combines an intuitive minimalism with extensive customization options.

The platform looks simple but has some inspired functionality: the home screen launches with three buttons (Live TV, Apps and Devices), but you can pin more as required, perhaps for a favorite streaming service, or a specific input. There are now also folders for multiple users, while a My App button on the remote can be customised for faster access to favourite content. A revamped Media Player supports 4K HDR10 and HLG HDR, meanwhile.

App provision is good. Netflix streams in 4K with HDR, and Amazon Video and YouTube also offer 4K support. Catch-up TV service support is integrated through the provision of Freeview Play. This includes iPlayer, ITVHub, Demand 5 and All4, and usability is great across the board.

The OS is extremely convenient to live with, yet powerful enough to cater for a variety of different users, be they family members who just want their favorite channels pinned to the home screen, or TV enthusiasts keen to dive quickly between multiple sources.

What's the best smart TV?

The LG C9 boasts the latest iteration of webOS and while this game changing platform remains largely the same, there have been a few tweaks.

For a start there’s now a second tier on the launcher bar that’s very reminiscent of the one found on Samsung’s Tizen system. It’s rather ironic that LG should take inspiration from Samsung, especially when you consider that Tizen copied webOS in the first place, however the second tier is a useful feature, making it quicker to access content and adding an AI Preview that makes recommendations based on your viewing habits. There’s also a new Intelligent Edit feature that lists your apps based on how often you use them.

That’s very handy because the C9 has a lot of apps; not to mention a comprehensive selection of streaming services that includes Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Now TV, Rakuten, and all the UK TV catch-up services.

The AI-enhanced recommendation feature monitors and analyses your viewing habits based not only on content but also the time of day. It will then make recommendations according its analysis, although there’s the option to turn this feature off if it gets annoying.

There’s a new Home Dashboard that collates all connected mobile, input and home IoT devices into a single hub. You can monitor and control just about any connected device in your smart home, and LG will be adding support for Homekit later this year.

LG’s ThinQ open AI platform already includes Google Assistant, and the company plans to add Amazon Alexa via a future firmware update. You can access Google by pressing the mic button on the remote, and then voice control your C9 or simply use it as a smart assistant. 

Other new features include the ability to setup your C9 using an LG smartphone, and the ability to auto-detect connected HDMI devices. There’s also a mini-browser, a new TV channel banner, and an expanded Gallery mode with world famous travel attractions seasonally curated by TripAdvisor.

Panasonic’s My Home Screen smart platform is decidedly simple compared to much of the competition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Currently on its third generation, it remains largely the same as the Firefox OS on which it was originally based.

When you press the Home button on the remote, you get a choice of three options: Live TV, Apps, and Devices. This simplicity is the platform’s greatest strength, making it easy to navigate and find things by helpfully storing all the apps in single location; you can also pin your favorite apps to the home page for quicker access.

Since the smart platform is relatively simple, it doesn’t require a vast amount of processing power to operate, which makes it responsive, robust, and free from crashes. My Home Screen isn’t fragmented like some platforms, nor does it bombard you with recommendations – it simply delivers all the streaming and catch-up services you need.

Thanks to Freeview Play, a comprehensive list of catch-up services are included, covering BBC iPlayer, ITVhub, All4, My5, BBC News & Sport and UK Play. The iPlayer app supports 4K and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma – the broadcast version of HDR), both of which the BBC trialled during the World Cup.

There’s also Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, all of which support 4K and HDR, along with services like Rakuten and Chili Cinema. In fact the only major streaming service missing is NOW TV.

The A9F is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for high-end screen of the year. When it comes to image quality and audio performance it’s deliciously impressive. While we experienced some minor issues with Android Oreo, the UX is now logical and inclusive. It no longer feels like you’re wrestling with an octopus. 

Oreo introduces plenty of nice new features, including a recently watched content rail, curated recommendations and a favorite channel listing. Thankfully, the UI is also significantly faster than previous Android TV OS implementations. It’s a massive upgrade all round. 

If you can live with the slightly idiosyncratic design, and afford the asking price, it’s a glorious UHD display.  

While the 65Q9FN’s Smart TV system is  based closely around the Eden platform Samsung has been busy refining for the past couple of years, expect a few tasty new morsels that add to the experience without taking anything away. 

For starters there’s now compatibility with Samsung's SmartThings platform, which provides an on-screen hub for monitoring and even controlling other smart devices (fridges, washing machines, lights etc) on your network. 

There’s also much better integration of the TV listings and live broadcasting into the TV’s content searching features: there are now hour-by-hour show recommendations, for instance, as well as TV shows getting much more prominence in the content browsing menus.

Samsung has delivered enhanced interactivity with your smartphones and tablets too, as well as some seriously cool new gaming related features. 

Overall, a slick, easy to use and helpfully customizable interface belies the impressive sophistication and comprehensiveness of Samsung’s latest smart TV engine.   

Once you get this TCL TV up and running, you’ll be met with the familiar veneer of Roku TV – an egalitarian operating system that handily retains its top spot as (arguably) the best operating system year after year. It’s intuitive to use, if a bit boring, and its lack of ties to a particular streaming platform allow it to point you to all the places content can be found without bias. 

That last bit is important, especially if you’ve ever used an Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, both of which would much rather have you stream from their ancillary streaming services over any of the third-party ones. Because Roku doesn’t have ties to a major streaming service – other than a vague deal to include FandangoNow on the home screen of the OS – it doesn’t push you any direction you don’t want to go and happily supports everything from Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Amazon, to lesser-known channels like Pluto.tv, tubi, Crackle and others.

That’s to say nothing of Roku’s own streaming service that it launched at the end of last year, which provides its own collection of entirely free movies that change in and out every few months. Most aren’t anything to write home about, but you do get the occasional gem in there.

While it’d be nice to see the inclusion of artificial intelligence and personal assistants on Roku TV – similar to what LG is doing with webOS and Samsung has done with Tizen and SmartThings – all things considered, this is still one of the best TV operating systems and a fantastic TV overall.  

Vizio's 2018 P-Series is a great choice if you're after a TV that performs at an above-average level with great pricing. It has a number of top-shelf features with good black levels, but its operating system is a bit slow. 

Thankfully, there’s nothing to complain about with the TV’s 4K HDR performance. In fact, considering how much work it takes for other screens to come close to natural colors, the P-Series is supremely good right out of the box.

Categories: Tech News

WordPress revamped with new security features

Latest Tech News - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:51

WordPress is getting some much needed new security features in its latest update, WordPress 5.2, which is rolling out now to websites around the world.

The world's most popular content management system (CMS) is adding support for cryptographically-signed updates, a modern cryptography library, a Site Health section in the admin panel and White-Screen-of-Death (WSOD) protection.

Beginning with WordPress 5.2, the WordPress team will digitally sign its update packages using the ED25519 public-key signature system. This will allow a local installation to verify the update package's authenticity before applying it to a local site and can even help prevent supply-chain attacks on all WordPress sites.

Chief Development Officer at Paragon Initiatives Enterprises, Scott Arciszewski explained how WordPress 5.2 will make launching attacks against the platform more difficult for cybercriminals to ZDNet, saying:

"Before WordPress 5.2, if you wanted to infect every WordPress site on the Internet, you just had to hack [the WordPress] update server. After WordPress 5.2, you would need to pull off the same attack and somehow pilfer the signing key from the WordPress core development team."

WordPress 5.2

WordPress is aiming to improve website security with its new “Site Health” section in the admin panel's Tools menu which includes two new pages: Site Health Status and Site Health Info.

The Site Health Status page runs a set of basic security checks and delivers a report with the findings and recommendations on how to fix any issues it discovered while the Site Health Info section provides a wealth of useful information about a website and its server setup. Information is also provided about the WordPress install itself, file storage usage, plugins and themes.

The Serverhappy project is another new security feature included in the latest release of WordPress. While WordPress 5.1 included the ability to show warnings when WordPress installs were running on servers with outdated PHP versions, WordPress 5.2 includes WSOD protection that works as a safe mode for WordPress sites.

WSOD protection can temporarily disable themes and plugins when a PHP fatal error is encountered so that site admins can access their sites' backends and fix the error.

Improved security for a system used on 33.8 percent of the world's websites is certainly a welcome addition especially after Alert Logic recently discovered a vulnerability in the WP live chat plugin for WordPress that could allow attackers to upload arbitrary malicious files to vulnerable systems.

Via ZDNet

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