Tech News

Free Google Home Hub and cheap bills make John Lewis broadband deals a top choice

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 09:28

When it comes to selecting your new broadband deal, there are a few factors to consider: Is it affordable? Do I recognise the brand? Do I get any impressive freebies with my package? Three questions that John Lewis's latest offer can answer an unequivocal "Yes!" to.

With the tempting proposal of a free Google Home Hub with all three of its packages, John Lewis is bringing some extra value to its broadband deals, especially considering John Lewis normally sells the hub for £119.

Luckily, scoring this google freebie with John Lewis doesn't have to cost you much. Plans start at £20 a month and none of the broadband deals on offer have any upfront costs.

We've listed John Lewis's three main packages down below, all with the free Google Home Hub. If none of them quite catch your eye, check our guide to the best broadband deals to see what else is currently available.

John Lewis broadband deals + Google Home Hub in full: How do I claim my Google Home Hub?

Your Google Home Hub will added as part of your broadband order. John Lewis says that your new Google Home device will be delivered within 60 days of activation of your service. And that there's only one per customer.

How good is the Google Home Hub?

In our review of the Google Home Hub we were big fans of the device. Fulfilling the role of a smart picture frame, smart assistant, speaker and video calling, the Google Home Hub is perfect for those constantly busy and needing a device that does 1,000 things at once.

Categories: Tech News

Exertis to offer refurbished handsets to resellers

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 09:27

Mobile distributor Exertis is to offer “high quality” refurbished handsets, along with comprehensive support, to resellers.

The company plans to offer a wide range of premium handsets and will launch the service with Samsung.

All units will be delivered as-new, complete with a USB cable, wall-charger, SIM tool and a 24-month warranty. Exertis will offer a 24-hour handset replacement as part of its 24/24 support service.

Exertis refurbished devices 

It hopes the service will be an attractive proposition for resellers targeting the business market.

“We are offering a very high quality, refurbished handset with a high level of service but at a compelling price point, said Stephen Smith, head of sales for 2nd Lifecycle.

“There is a growing market for premium refurbished handsets which provide a superior finish and an alternative to inconsistently graded devices. In addition, our solution supports a more environmentally friendly approach to the mobile phone market where devices are being re-used rather than disposed of, as well as peace of mind for the customer and an ‘as new’, out of the box, flagship phone for mid-range money.”

The market for refurbished handsets is growing, with CCS Insight predicting 2.6 million units will be sold in 2019. Refurbished handsets are seen as a way of helping consumers and businesses cope with the rising cost of flagship devices and also minimise e-Waste.

Many vendors and retailers offer trade-in programmes which discount the cost of a new device, boosting sales in what is a saturating market – especially in the high-end segment.

Categories: Tech News

Hate Twitter notifications? A snooze button could be coming to the app

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 09:25

Twitter is testing a new snooze feature that will allow you to silence push notifications from the app for specific periods of time.

The feature was discovered by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who said in a blog post that she first discovered the snooze button by "looking into the code underneath Twitter's mobile app for Android". 

According to Wong's findings, the snooze button will appear as a crossed-out bell at the top of the notifications tab within the app. 

Tapping the button will bring up the option to silence your notifications for one, three, or 12 hours – Wong says that "the notifications will still appear in your notifications tab", which she demonstrated with a mock-up image in the tweet below:

Digital wellbeing

While the majority of Twitter users won't have experienced one of their tweets going viral, this feature could be invaluable to anyone who's been unexpectedly bombarded with likes, retweets, and comments after a particularly witty (or incendiary) post. 

It could also be part of a bigger push across tech companies and social media platforms to promote the wellbeing of their users – although Twitter still hasn't confirmed whether the test will ever be available to users.

As Wong points out, "experimental features like this one could come and go", so there's no guarantee it will be released.

Android Pie and iOS both include dashboards that allow you to track the time you spend on your smartphone, breaking it down into categories so that you can see which apps you use the most throughout the day. 

Both operating systems then allow you to limit the amount of time you can spend on any given app as well as muting notifications.

Why is this necessary? Well, research has found links between teen depression, body dysmorphia, suicide and social media use, while everything from increased anxiety to election rigging and national revolts have been tied to increased smartphone usage among adults. 

By giving its users the option to mute notifications within the app, Twitter could be looking to mitigate the negative impact frequent social media use can have on teens and adults alike, while also giving them a bit of respite if they do end up going viral. 

Categories: Tech News

This cheap SIM-free Huawei Mate 20 X deal from Argos now includes a free smartwatch

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 09:16

It's rare that we get to see a discount on Huawei's larger than life Mate 20 X. But now we've seen one retailer not only bring the price tag crashing down, but also throw in a smartwatch for no extra cost.

Coming in at a price tag of £499.95, Argos has dropped the best price by a long way on the Huawei Mate 20 X. And on top of that, the retailer is also throwing in a free Huawei Band 3 Pro Watch for good measure, adding an additional £59 in value.

Considering this is a device that was priced at £799, this is a huge saving to find. The next nearest SIM-free price we can find is just under £600. Pair that with the free watch and there is no other offer on this phone worth considering.

You can see this deal in full down below and with the free watch offer continuing until September 10, you have plenty of time to grab it. Not the offer for you? Check out our guide to the best SIM-free phones instead.

Cheap Huawei Mate 20 X SIM-free + free watch Why go for the Huawei Mate 20 X?

Powered interally by a 5000mAh battery and 8GB ram processor, the Mate 20 X has some seriously powerful software. That paired with the triple camera set-up and fast charging capabilities mean you have plenty of features to enjoy as well. It's even perfect for media consumption thanks to its massive 7.2-inch OLED screen.

Read our full Huawei Mate 20 X review

Categories: Tech News

Free Fortnite PS4 bundle leads the way in Virgin Mobile's epic new mobile phone deals

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 08:33

Mobile phone deals with free gifts are a common appearance nowadays with retailers dangling consoles and freebies to win you over. However, these gifts often jack up the price of your phone deal, not really saving you any money.

But, with Virgin Mobile's latest offers that's not an issue you have to worry about. Take for example, its latest offer on the Sony Xperia 10. Costing from just £20 a month, you're getting both the handset and...a free PS4!

That PS4 also comes with a 12 month PS+ subscription and a Fortnite Bundle, offering exclusive outfits and 2000 V-bucks. That's a bundle that, according to Virgin, is worth £299, meaning a whole load of value for just £20 a month.

So what's the catch? To drop the monthly bills down to £20 you have to sign up for a 36-month contract, meaning three years with this phone. Great news for frugal shoppers, bad news for commitment-phobes.

Along with this offer, Virgin also has an iPhone XR with 100GB of data for just £33 a month. But, much like the offer above, you're tied in for the full 36 months. You can see both of these offers down below or, if those contract lengths are just too long, check out our guide to the best mobile phone deals.

More on these Virgin Mobile phone deals:

Read our reviews for these devices to find out what you're getting:

What stands out about Virgin Mobile?

Virgin Mobile isn't quite as well known as some of the other big names like O2, EE or Three but there is still a lot to love here. 

Whether it's Virigin's data rollover scheme, allowing you to use unused data from the last month or the 99% 4G coverage Virgin claims to have, Virgin has a lot to offer.

And not to mention, Virgin offers data free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter, saving your data for the things in life that matter - Netflix binge sessions mainly.

Categories: Tech News

Google has turned Image Search into yet another way to sell you stuff

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 08:00

Google has given its Image Search an makeover, and turned it into yet another way to sell you stuff. At first glance, the new Image Search looks familiar, but when you click on a product you'll now be shown prices and information about where to buy it.

Google began testing a similar feature in March, which it called 'shoppable ads'. In the initial trials, only broad search terms like 'home office ideas' or 'abstract art' would deliver prices and product links, but now virtually any search will return shopping results.

If you click a picture that isn't a product (a person or a location, for example), Google Images will produce the same information as before the redesign, but in a sidebar on the right that doesn't obscure the list of thumbnails.

Borrowed from Bing

The focus on shopping isn't the only change for Google Images; scroll down a little and you'll notice that Google has borrowed an idea from Bing's visual search by adding links to 'related searches'. 

However, unlike Bing, Google hasn't brought back the 'View Image' link, which allowed you to see a picture in isolation without visiting the page on which it's hosted. Google removed the button last year in an attempt to prevent copyright violations

The change followed a complaint by Getty Images, which claimed Google was “creating captivating galleries of high-resolution, copyrighted content" and giving them little reason to visit the site where it originated.

Via TechCrunch

Categories: Tech News

Best free website builder 2019

Latest Tech News - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 07:50

Creating a website used to be the domain (geddit?) of professional designers and coders, but thanks to free website builder applications, these days it's something anyone can tackle.

The problem is that there are so many website creation applications and services vying for attention that it can be difficult to know which one to opt for – this is where we can help.

We've collated the very best free website builders available, including a mixture of offline software and online tools.

It's usually quicker, easier and more efficient to create and edit a site entirely online with a WYSIWYG editor, but if you want complete control over every aspect of your site's design and web hosting, you'll need a desktop-based free website builder.

So whether you're looking to create a site for your business, a new blog, or you just fancy creating an online presence for yourself, here are the best free website builder services to help you out.

  • If you want website builders with more oomph and features, check out our best website builder shortlist which includes paid-for services.

Constant Contact provides an intelligent website builder and ecommerce store platform, both of which are free to use.

Setting up a website is easy using drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you to set up a design simply and easily, and insert the features you need. 

Settings are automatically optimized for mobile platforms and SEO, and there is a free image library with over 50,000 images included as part of the package.

The ecommerce platform allows for online payments through Paypal, Mollie, or Stripe. There are order and inventory features that automatically updates inventory with orders, and sends an email alert when items become out-of-stock.

While the basic level website is free, there are paid plans which add more features. Additionally, there is also a paid email marketing option available to allow you to reach new customers.

Overall, Constant Contact does a good job of setting up the basics. The free plan is a great way to set up your website, and there is a 60-day free trial if you do upgrade.

Wix makes it very easy to design a website, while giving experts plenty of power to customize elements if they need it

Wix is a big-name website builder which offers a free plan, enabling you to have the run of this service without having to put your hand in your pocket. And you benefit from one of the most impressive website editors in the business.

This editor can be run in ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) mode, which has a very basic interface to keep everything really simple and user-friendly. This is great for beginners, as you can create a basic site without even remotely breaking a sweat (a range of attractive templates are provided, as well).

Those who want to get more involved with tweaking the design of their website can step up to the full Wix editor, which boasts powerful functionality, and the ability to really hone your website and get it looking just as you want. Visual previews of page elements make it easy to pick what you need for any particular part of a web page, too.

Wix is so polished that putting together your site using the editor feels more like using a native application rather than a website builder, and it also sports excellent support for a diverse range of media, and quality customer support as well, even on the free plan. In addition, Wix Turbo was recently released which improves the performance and speed of all Wix websites.

Powerful blogging functionality rounds things off nicely, and you’re getting a truly high quality offering with the free version of this website builder.

If you want to create a website as quickly as possible, look no further than Weebly. It's so easy to use, you'll have a great-looking site online in mere minutes

Weebly offers you two ways to build your website. Both involve creating it online, and both are as quick and painless as possible.

The simplest option is to use the basic editor builder which will guide you through a series of questions before automatically creating a site for you. There is scope for customization, but the focus here is really on fast results for anyone who is terrified of designing websites.

A more hands-on approach is available if you decide to use the standard Editor. There are literally hundreds of stylish templates to choose from – and, yes, they are genuinely impressive – which you can tweak and tailor to your needs using a beautiful WYSIWYG editor.

Despite being a cloud-based website builder, Weebly gives you a great degree of control over the look of your site and placement of page elements. You can also liven it up using additional features such as a newsletter and live chat. This power and flexibility make Weebly a top-notch website builder.

WordPress is the tool of choice for many blog owners. It takes a little getting used to, but once you've mastered it, you'll love its flexibility

Causing a slight degree of confusion, there are actually two different versions of WordPress. The more complex variant can be downloaded from wordpress.org, and you will need to upload it to your own web space and install it using the automated online installer. You can then customize the templates and use add-ons to make the site your own.

This is the route many bloggers go down, but there is a simpler option for people who don’t want the hassle of fiddling about with scripts and getting dirty with hardcore editing.

The hosted version of WordPress lets you create your own site on wordpress.com. You can create everything from a blog or photo site, to a fully fledged online store, and there are a number of templates to choose from. Additionally, Mailchimp users have a benefit of adding a Mailchimp block, which can grow your mailing list among other things.

Whether you're creating a static site, or a blog-style site with regularly updated content, the online editor is a joy to use and allows just about anyone to create an impressive, professional-looking site. The only downside is the limited range of plugins and templates compared with the desktop website builder.

WebSite X5 makes building a website on your desktop easy, with good-looking templates and an intuitive site builder

Incomedia WebSite X5 received an overhaul in April 2019 with new templates, an updated interface, new paid versions and more. The main thing to note is that the service now has a free version for everyone (note that the free version for TechRadar readers is still available to download). There are two paid versions, Evo and Pro, priced at $79.99 and $229 respectively. This is a one time purchase and naturally, both versions come with additional and improved features compared to the free one. There is also a demo version of both paid versions that you can try out.

Unlike WordPress and Wix, WebSite X5 is a desktop website builder, which means you can work on your site offline and have more freedom to make your website look exactly the way you want.

There's a range of ready-made templates to choose from, or you can create your own design from scratch. Next, build up your site map, showing the hierarchy of your pages and how they connect to one another – a feature you won't find in most web-based site builder apps.

Once that's done, you're ready to start building your pages using Website X5's simple drag-and-drop interface, which includes tools for editing both rich text and photos. 

If you don't want to be tied down to an online site builder, WebSite X5 is the tool for you.

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor isn't a WYSIWYG website builder, but it provides a live preview of your site as you create it

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor is one of a dying breed of web building programs that don't use a CMS (content management system). While not in the same league as the likes of Adobe Dreamweaver, Free HTML Editor packs quite a professional punch. With split screen code/preview views, it's possible to see the effect the changes you make have straight away.

To help you get started quickly, there are a number of templates built into the program, and there are some very nice features such as tag and code suggestions as you type.

For absolute beginners, the program might seem a little overwhelming to start with, but it's worth sticking with – assuming you have some HTML knowledge. There is one slight issue; a number of features, such as spell-checking and code optimization, are only included in the paid-for version of the program.

If you've used WordPress before, you might be interested in the power of Joomla. It's not as easy to use though, so beginners are better off sticking with a simpler option like Wix

Joomla is a well-known name in the CMS world. It may not be as popular as WordPress, but it offers the same two options: build a site using the web app at launch.joomla.org and have it hosted on the company's servers, or download the software from joomla.org and host it yourself.

If you choose the latter option, you'll notice that the interface is much less approachable than WordPress. It's not completely impenetrable, but there are lots of menus and options to work through and it doesn't feel quite as polished as WordPress.

Joomla's online website builder is nearly as complex, but doesn't involve the same setup process, making it a better option for beginners. Its key selling point is a huge collection of themes and extensions, which provide endless ways to customize the way your site looks and works.

You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:

Categories: Tech News

Realme 5 confirmed to be company’s 64MP quad-camera flagship

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 23:50

Realme has been teasing the existence of its upcoming flagship since a while. Today, we get official confirmation that it will be called the Realme 5.

Realme has a fairly simple naming scheme with the models having just a cardinal number acting as the main flagship, followed by a Pro and a Lite variant later. This makes the Realme 3 from March the company’s primary flagship, with the Realme 3 Pro being an incremental update and the Realme X being the sidekick.

The number “4” is often considered as unlucky in Chinese culture and could be the reason why Realme is directly jumping to 5. Even OnePlus famously skipped 4 and straight up moved to 5.

Adding more substance to this thought, Realme’s CEO Madhav Sheth has also changed his Twitter name to “Madhav ‘5’Quad” confirming the name and the inclusion of a quad camera setup. Madhav is known to do this before the launch of each major upcoming Realme phone. For most of the last month, his name was set to “Madhav X” on Twitter.

 Realme 5: Everything we know so far 

The upcoming Realme flagship is confirmed to have a quad-camera setup with a 64MP primary camera, and is likely to be the world’s first smartphone to offer that. In fact, Realme has scheduled an event for August 8 in Delhi to talk more about this camera package and how it was put together. We expect this to be a primary + ultrawide + telephoto + depth sensor combination, bringing a lot of smartphone photography versatility.

Realme has also long been talking about a higher-end phone with a flagship-grade chipset, and the Realme 5 might just be the one to bring the Snapdragon 855 or the 855 Plus to their lineup. Historically, all Realme phones have been in the sub 20k segment but the Realme 5 is likely to break that trend.

Madhav Sheth had also confirmed that the upcoming flagship will make its global debut in India before hitting other markets, and speculations suggest that the Realme 5 will come sometime in September, right in time for Diwali festivities.

Realme has also scheduled an event for August 15 in China where more details about the Realme 5 could surface.

Categories: Tech News

Apple is adding new privacy features in iOS 13 that'll hurt Facebook

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 22:55

Messaging apps that offer VoIP calling (Voice over Internet Protocol) typically utilize an ‘always-on’ behavior in order to answer calls more quickly by continuously running in the background, but Apple wants that to stop.

As reported by The Information, Apple is implementing a change in iOS 13 – the upcoming version of its mobile operating system for iPhones – that will restrict background access of the calling functionality from all messaging apps, including Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp.

Why the change?

There are multiple reasons for the change, but the main two relate to device performance and user privacy. 

Clamping down on the apps that can run on a device in the background should help improve its battery life by reducing processing demand, which should also nudge up its overall performance.

The other, and more pressing issue, is related to what else these apps can do while they’re still silently running after the user thinks they have been closed.

In the past, concerns have been raised about the potential for companies to use their apps to collect data when running in the background, and some were guilty of doing exactly that. 

In 2015, Facebook was found to be abusing its VoIP capabilities in its main iOS app in order to run in the background, even when permissions to do so were explicitly disabled. Furthermore, Facebook had already launched the Messenger app by this point and didn’t even need VoIP functionality.

While Facebook-developed apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp are some of the more prominent to be impacted by this new change, others such as Snapchat and WeChat will also be affected.

WhatsApp in particular will apparently have to undergo a major overhaul, as “people familiar with the issue” told The Information that the app’s end-to-end encryption – along with several other features – rely on this background operation.

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Information that it didn’t collect any data via this method, clarifying that, "We are using the PushKit VoIP API to deliver a world-class, private messaging experience, not for the purpose of collecting data."

While the change will be implemented in the expected September rollout of iOS 13, Apple is providing some leeway to app developers, giving them until April 2020 to comply. If they don't, it might be safe to presume these apps could be removed from the App Store.

Categories: Tech News

Apex Legends’ upcoming Solos mode lets you ditch the team and go it alone

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 22:11

Apex Legends' three members squads are unique amongst Battle Royale shooters, allowing players to team up with friends or randomly-matched squad mates in order to have a better fighting chance against opposing attackers.

However, developer Respawn Entertainment is changing things up (albeit for a limited time) with the introduction of a new Solos mode which will take a more traditional 'every man for himself' approach when it launches next Tuesday on August 13, as revealed by the official Apex Legends Twitter account.

The new mode will be only be available for a limited time as part of the game's upcoming Iron Crown Collection Event, which will end on August 27, 2019. The event also promises new skins and other content.

As the new Solos mode is basically a trial, we imagine that Respawn may consider rolling it out as a permanent addition to the game if it does turn out to be a hit with players. 

One thing's certain: Apex Legends will play very differently as a free-for-all, as co-operation with team members is vital to the game in its current form – without its excellent ping system, is it even really Apex Legends?

Categories: Tech News

A new, faster Google Wifi router is coming – and could double as a smart speaker

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 22:08

When the Google Wifi was released in 2017, it quickly became our favorite mesh router, thanks to is diminutive size, user-friendly setup and value for money compared to the rest of the competition.

And now it appears we're getting closer to the release of a follow-up, with new revelations from Chrome Unboxed indicating that a Google Wifi 2 is already on the production line, and could see its debut later this year. 

Codenamed Mistral (meaning wind), the next-gen Google Wifi will use Qualcomm’s new QCS400 series SoCs (system-on-a-chip) as its main processor. That's an unusual choice for a router, as the QCS400s are primarily designed for use in smart speakers. The new Qualcomm SoC also supports Wi-Fi 6, the next-gen wireless technology formerly known as 802.11ax.

That means the Google Wifi 2 will be able to achieve higher peak bandwidth with better distribution across several devices, while also potentially being capable of voice input and audio playback.

It’s all in the name

While the arrival of the Google Wifi 2 is still speculation – there's also the possibility that we could see these same features included in a Google Home 2 smart speaker that doubles up as a mesh router – the codename Mistral was discovered in April 2019 by Kevin Tofel who, at the time, assumed the device was a new smart speaker or display. 

However, Google has a history of naming its Wi-Fi products after types of winds – for example, ‘Storm’ for the OnHub routers produced in partnership with Asus and TP-Link, and ‘Gale’ for the first-gen Google Wifi – the first mesh system in the 'Made by Google' hardware range.

The eagle-eyed folk at Chrome Unboxed also unearthed a rather convincing hint in a code change update for Mistral that pretty much confirms it’s a mesh router and not a smart speaker. 9to5Google has also sleuthed out some conversations between Google devs referring to both Gale and Mistral in the same breath.

In any case, Chrome Unboxed has noticed that Mistral is already in the production validation test (PVT) phase, meaning we likely won’t have long to wait before we get a better look at this faster – and potentially smarter – Google Wifi mesh system.

Categories: Tech News

Disney will bundle Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+ together for the same price as Netflix

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 17:32

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a new bundle offer that will include the company’s three main streaming services - ESPN+, Hulu and the upcoming Disney+ - all for the same price as a standard Netflix subscription ($12.99 per month in the US).

Iger made the announcement during a call with investors today, and was picked up quickly by The Verge.

The bundle, which is only available in the US, will almost certainly put pressure on Netflix and Amazon who have similarly priced services - and could be a key strategy in getting folks to ditch those services for ones offered by Disney.

“The positive response to our direct-to-consumer strategy has been gratifying, and the integration of the businesses we acquired from 21st Century Fox only increases our confidence in our ability to leverage decades of iconic storytelling and the powerful creative engines across the entire company to deliver an extraordinary value proposition to consumers,” Iger said in a press release accompanying the announcement.

Of course if you don’t want all three services, Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ will still all be available separately for $6.99, $5.99 and $4.99 per month respectively. 

Categories: Tech News

Best VPN routers 2019: top routers for Virtual Private Networks

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 17:26

Welcome to our pick of the best VPN routers of 2019. In this guide, you'll find the very best routers that can easily connect to the internet via a Virtual Private Network (VPN),. There are many reasons why you'd want one of the best VPN routers on this list, but the number one reason is that VPNs can help you browse the internet safely and anonymously.

We've carefully picked the best VPN routers no just because they are compatible with VPNs, but because they make setting up and configuring the VPN quick and easy. Many people may think that using a VPN router is for advanced users only, but the best VPN routers on this page allow pretty much anyone to set up a VPN in a matter of minutes.

The best VPN routers we list on this page can be used no matter what VPN service you sign up to. Plus, they will make sure that even with your network traffic going through a VPN, your internet speeds won't be impacted too much.

While you can sign up for VPNs through browser extensions, by using the best VPN router for your budget, you're ensuring that all your network traffic goes through the VPN. This means every device on your network can take advantage of the security and privacy benefits of the VPN you sign up with.

So, read on for our list of the best VPN routers of 2019, and at the end we have some expert advice on how to sign up for the best VPN for your needs.

Picking the right VPN for your needs

To complement your VPN router, here are our guides to picking the VPN for your requirements:

The best VPN routers in 2019

The Linksys WRT 3200 ACM is our choice for the best VPN router of 2019. Its no-nonsense design hides a remarkably versatile and powerful router that is a great choice for VPN use. You can install DD-WRT firmware for VPN compatibility, and it comes with four antenna and three bands for fast and wide-ranging network speeds. It also has four gigabit Ethernet ports and USB 3.0, making it an excellent router in its own right, even without a VPN.

Read the full review: Linksys WRT 3200 ACM

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Synology RT2600ac.

Anyone who’s familiar with Asus, and especially its more gamer-centric products knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into here – especially regarding design. However, if you're not a gamer, and just looking for the best VPN router, then don't discount the Asus RT-AC86U. It has some excellent VPN features that makes it a fast performer that won't see your internet speeds dropping too much when using a VPN. You can also install third party firmware if you want greater choice.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U 

The Asus RT-AC5300 is an excellent high-end gaming router that comes with a number of advanced features for making online and network gaming as lag and frustration free as possible. It also means it's a brilliant VPN router, and if you don't mind the expense, this is a great choice. The spider-like design won't be to everyone's tastes, but the eight antennae serve a purpose, as they can be used to direct your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, giving this router an excellent range.

Read the full review: Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band Gigabit Router

On the surface, the Linksys WRT32X might not look that different than Linksys’ heavy-hitter, the WRT3200. And, well, that’s not actually that far off. The WRT32X takes all of the successful components of that highly rated router, and puts them in a router with a custom firmware that’s extremely easy to navigate and a very subdued and attractive visual design, making it one of the best routers with VPN you can buy in 2019. You will be paying a premium for this repackaging, but if you’re looking for reliable ping performance that online gaming requires, the Linksys WRT32X takes one of the best VPN routers and tailors it to your needs.

Read the full review: Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router 



If you're looking for a dependable mid-range VPN router that combines speed with a great Wi-Fi range and features aimed at games, then you'll definitely want to consider the D-link DIR-885L/R. It has a good selection of ports, and the user interface for setting up and configuring the router is nicely designed and easy to use. It also supports  DD-WRT open-source firmware, which makes this a flexible and powerful VPN router that you can customise for your needs.

If routers had a fashion contest, Netgear’s D7800 would be among the top contenders. Its solid black finish is complemented by a quartet of antennas. Plus it’s damn fast and bettered by its inclusion of a duo of USB ports paired with an eSATA connector. The real centerpiece, though, is the VDSL 2 modem built into the Nighthawk X4S D7800, negating the need to buy or lease one separately. The outfitted software isn’t too shoddy either; a simple Dynamic QOS system makes it a breeze to govern a multitude of devices on a single home network. Best of all, it's a great router to use with a VPN.


Our pick of the best VPN to use with your router

Performance-wise, this British Virgin Islands-based provider delivered solid results in our performance tests. ExpressVPN also offers a native iPad app, and it supports iOS 8 (or better). It’s neatly organised so that you can connect with one click and immediately hook up with the fastest server available. For older iOS versions, there is a detailed setup instruction for configuring the VPN manually, thus making it a great fit for older-generation iPads.  

On the security front, ‘best in class’ 256-bit encryption is in place, along with support for OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols, and a private, encrypted DNS. ExpressVPN doesn’t log any traffic data, DNS queries, or anything that could be used to identify the user.

A quick glance at the pricing scheme shows that the service costs more than most VPNs. You don’t get to try it out through a free trial, but there is a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee available. Going the yearly route is the most affordable option of the three price plans on offer. The packages available are:

Categories: Tech News

Best secure drives 2019: top USB drives to protect your data

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 17:17

In this guide to the best secure drives of 2019, we look at the top data storage devices that will allow you carry private data around with you, safe in the knowledge that if the device itself becomes compromised, your data will remain safe.

Whenever you carry important data around with you on a USB stick or external hard drive, you're running the risk of other people getting hold of it, either through physically stealing the drives, or leaving it somewhere public.

Picking the best secure drives for your needs can be tricky, and there are a lot of devices out there that make big promises – but fail to deliver. On this page, we previously mentioned the eyeDisk, which was a crowdfunded device that promised to be unhackable. Unfortunately, it seems that's not the case, and we've removed it.

The best secure drives will use either software or hardware encryption (or best of all, a combination of both), to stop other people accessing and viewing your data. Many of the best secure drives on this list will have ways to prevent access, such as a physical keypad, and will also come with rugged, tamper-proof, cases that can further protect your files.

The D300S was announced by Kingston and is an updated version of the D300, launched in 2016, with the suffix S standing for Serialised. It appears to be a standard USB drive, but with a more robust design. However, it's the price that really stands out. There is a reason why the D300S carries such a premium according to Kingston. The drive uses custom hardware for encryption (FIPS 140-2 Level 3 256-bit) and decryption which eliminates vulnerabilities associated with any process done on the host system. That chip and the rest of the hardware is sealed in a tamper evident epoxy material that hardened when it dried. It's also waterproof up to 120cm, and can survive knocks and drops as well

diskAshur's products are some of the best secure drives on the market, and the diskAshur Pro is the company's best external hard drive yet. The key selling point of the diskAshur Pro is its physical keypad that will only grant access to the data stored within upon entering a PIN number. Asides from the physical security (which extends to IP56 water and dust resistance and even a self-destruct feature), the diskAshur Pro also comes with some enviable encryption, sporting XTS-AES 256-bit real-time full disk hardware encryption and EDGE technology to offer even more levels of safety.

If you need to have small amounts of sensitive data being carried around, then the 3NX could well be a life saver. It brings advanced data protection features to a mainstream market thanks to its attractive low price ($59 for the 2GB/4GB model) and $189 for the 128GB one. What you do get is some military grade, enterprise-level features like FIPS 140-2 level 3, real time hardware-based encryption, a platform-agnostic setup and a rugged extruded aluminum enclosure. The data is encrypted using an onboard 10-digit keypad and is powered by an onboard battery.

The ultra-rugged Aegis Secure Key 3Z is designed to keep the data safe for people who regularly work outdoors or on the road, with a rubber exterior, which is IP58 protective against dust and water, safeguards a rugged aluminium build inside and out, meaning that there is no easy way to break into this device. Meanwhile, it also features a physical keypad for keeping your data safe and secure. It's pricey, but well worth the investment.

The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key comes with a full 10-key alphanumeric keypad with two function keys plus three status lights. It then slots into a hardened epoxy-potted rugged aluminum enclosure which makes it dust and waterproof; the device is also certified IP-58 and at 46g and 93mm long. It also features built-in hardware encryption (256-bit AES) which means that it is totally independent from the host client and OS-agnostic. No keyloggers and no BadUSB vulnerability. The Aegis Secure Key has received a FIPS 140-2 level 3 accreditation from NIST, the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, which oversees US government IT and computer security, which means this is one of the most secure drives you can buy.

The Kingston Ironkey D300 (IKD300/8GB) comes with software security that can make it a bit complicated and confusing to begin with (it will initially show up on your PC as a CD drive with 14.4MB capacity), but once you've configured it, which includes setting a password, you'll have a very secure drive. With its cap on, it is waterproof (up to 4ft) and dustproof and at 51g, feels solid. More importantly though, the more compelling protection happens inside the device itself. It is a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified device with 256-bit AES hardware encryption. There is a hardware cryptographic module inside the device itself which means that the encryption and decryption is done on the drive rather than on the host PC, with digitally signed firmware which makes the D300 immune to the notorious BadUSB exploit.

Categories: Tech News

A Gears of War 5 special edition Xbox One X is coming

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 17:05

Microsoft has unveiled a series of new Gears of War 5 products, including a line of peripherals from Razer and Seagate, plus a special edition Xbox One X with a custom controller. Microsoft made the announcement on the Xbox Wire where we got some details on the branded gear.

Of the entire lineup, the product gamers will be most interested in is the special edition Xbox One X. It’s the first special edition version of the console since the Project Scorpio launch edition that was available at the console’s launch that will launch alongside the game on September 10, 2019. 

The $499 (£449) Xbox One X bundle will include the limited edition 1TB Xbox One X, a Gears 5 Kait Diaz Limited Edition wireless controller, a full-game download of Gears 5 Ultimate Edition, a full-game download of Gears of War Ultimate Edition, full-game downloads of Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War 4, and 1-month memberships to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold along with in-game Ice Kait and the Ice Jack Character Skins. 

If you don't want the custom console, you can also snag a regular black Xbox One X console with all the Gears games for the same price or a regular Xbox One S with all the games for $299 (£249). 

Get the full Gears loadout

Of course if you want to really feel like your part of the Coalition, Microsoft has partnered up with Seagate and Razer to offer a number of Gears-themed peripherals too. 

From Razer, you can get a Razer Thresher for Xbox One – Gears 5 Edition wireless headset or a Razer Turret for Xbox One – Gears 5 Edition. The latter offers a ten keyless keyboard with an inbuilt mouse mat, paired with a mouse for $299.99.

Last up, if you need more storage for your Xbox One X - and, given the console's limited 1TB hard drive, you do - there's a new $99 2TB Seagate Game Drive for Xbox Gears 5 Special Edition that has the same color scheme as the console, and if you need even more storage, Microsoft says there will also be a 5TB external drive available exclusively from GameStop for $149.

For folks who don't want a new console, the game will be available in physical and digital copy (and part of Xbox Game Pass) starting on September 10, or on September 6 if you're part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. 

Categories: Tech News

Best skins for Dell XPS 15 in 2019

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:22

The latest Dell XPS 15 7590 is one fine laptop, coming at you with powerful hardware, FHD and 4K OLED display options, and a premium chassis made from CNC machined aluminum and carbon-fiber palm rest. While it looks flashy, it might not have enough character for your liking, or you might just want to keep your XPS 15 from getting scratched up during regular use. Luckily, there are plenty of skins available that you can apply to the outside.

Wooden skins Artistic designs Laser precision cut Branded skins Wrapping up

These skins all provide style and protection for your Dell XPS 15 in a number of different ways, but if we're making a suggestion, we can't help but recommend something from Toast. Its skins are hand-crafted in Portland, Oregon from real wood, and the inclusion of customizable engravings can really give it a personal look. They stick on with a quality adhesive and all ports are left open so you don't have to worry about a hit to funtionality.

If you're in search of added protection in the form of a quality sleeve or case, we've also rounded up the best of the best that will fit the new XPS 15 7590 and older models.

Categories: Tech News

How to upgrade the SSD on the Huawei MateBook D 14

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:22

The Huawei MateBook D is an excellent laptop packing some very capable hardware. There aren't a ton of upgrades you can make to it, nor are there any you really need to make, but there are some areas you can squeeze out a little extra performance. One of these is by upgrading the solid-state drive (SSD) to get both more storage and faster data transfer speeds by using an NVMe drive in place of the SATA one that comes as standard.

Products used in this guide
The Ryzen version: Huawei MateBook D ($597 at Amazon)
Upgraded SSD: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 500GB ($110 at Amazon)
The right tools: ORIA precision screwdriver kit ($16 at Amazon)

How to upgrade the SSD on the Huawei MateBook D 14

Before you do anything involving your laptop's storage drive, ensure you have a backup of anything important. You can clone the SSD to the new one before using it with something like Macrium Reflect, but we usually recommend starting again with a completely clean install of Windows 10.

Our guide will walk you through how to do a clean install, but you'll want to make a USB thumb drive with Windows 10 on before you swap your SSD or from another PC. Grab the Windows 10 media creation tool from Microsoft to get started.

Here's how to do the swap.

1. Shutdown your MateBook D.

2. Flip it over.

3. Grab a Torx T5 screwdriver and remove the nine visible screws from the bottom of the laptop.

4. Using a credit card or plastic pry tool, pop the base off the laptop.

5. Remove the single crosshead screw securing the SSD.

6. As the SSD pops up, pull it straight back out of the m.2 socket.

7. Insert the new SSD into the socket at an angle, and push gently until it locks in place.

8. Reuse the screw from step 5 to secure the new SSD.

9. Pop the bottom cover back on and reinsert the nine screws you removed in step 3.

The hardware work is now done, and it's time to reinstall Windows.

How to install all your drivers

Once you're up and running again the only thing left to do is make sure you've got all the latest drivers installed. Windows Update will take care of most, but there are some bits that you'll want to go elsewhere for.

The first is Huawei's support page where you'll find the installer for the company's PC Manager application, which is actually surprisingly good, especially if you also use a Huawei smartphone.

After that you should go on over to AMD's support page and grab the latest Adrenalin package for the Ryzen 5 2500U.

  1. Download the AMD auto-detect tool to find the drivers for you.
  2. Manually choose the product you're looking for drivers for from the selection boxes.

If you go for the second option, you'll find the drivers you want:

  1. Go to processors with graphics and click AMD Ryzen processors
  2. Select either the Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 depending on your laptop.
  3. Then find the specific model, for example, the Ryzen 5 2500U.

You're then presented with the necessary downloads, and it's possible you'll have a choice of two, with one potentially being "optional."

Sound advice is always to go with whatever has the most recent date on it. Simply click download, and a .exe file will save to your PC to open and install. The installer will do all of the work for you — you just have to follow the on-screen prompts.

After downloading all of the latest available to your laptop from the different locations you'll be all good to go!

Easily upgrade your storage

The stock 256GB SSD isn't bad, but it's pretty easy to fill up. And since the MateBook D supports NVMe drives, if you're adding more storage you might as well add more, faster storage.

The upgrade isn't difficult, and even if this is your first time opening up a laptop, it's not a lengthy or complicated process. So long as you have the right screwdriver and a spare hour or two it's really straight forward.

Other items we used

The SSD is the focus of the upgrade, but here's what else we used through the course of this guide.

Categories: Tech News

Best microSD expansion cards for Surface Book 2 in 2019

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:20

Surface Book 2 has a full-size SDXC reader, which is great if you're taking photos from a DSLR or something, but many devices use microSD cards. Unfortunately, Surface Book 2 does not have a microSD slot, but it's worth getting an adapter to increase the capacity of your device or make it easier to transfer data from other hardware. After picking up an adapter, you'll want to choose from these excellent microSD cards.

If we were to make a suggestion

Though onboard storage may be enough for most people, the ability to quickly move media and files anywhere is incredibly convenient, which is why a quality microSD card makes all the difference. When it comes to the Surface Book 2, which doesn't come with a microSD card slot, you'll need a microSD adapter in order to plug a card. After that, the world is your oyster.

For value, it's hard to beat the Samsung EVO Select lineup, but if shear capacity is all you care about, then the SanDisk Extreme is what you want.

Adding a further 400GB to the internal capacity of the Surface Book 2 would allow you to manage content such as photography and 4K media files should you want to do some editing on the go. There are other benefits like being able to quickly move files between devices and because it's SanDisk, you'll be able to rely on high performance with a 10-year warranty.

For more accessories you might want to get for the Surface Book 2, you can check out our guide for some ideas.

Categories: Tech News

Is the Dell XPS 15 7590 good for gaming?

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:18

Best answer: As long as you avoid the entry-level model and get one with at least a Core i7 and NVIDIA GTX 1650, the XPS 15 7590 will be great for gaming.

Game on: Dell XPS 15 7590 w/ GTX 1650 (From $1,550 at Dell)

Avoid the entry level

Dell's latest XPS 15 actually starts at $1,100, but if gaming is at all on your mind then you have to disregard this entry-level model entirely. That's because while it comes with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, it doesn't have a dedicated GPU.

The processor itself is perfectly fine to play games with, but Intel UHD 630 graphics won't get you far at all. As good as Intel's CPUs are, the company still falls behind both NVIDIA and AMD when it comes to graphics.

Capable gaming laptop

As with the previous model, with the right specs inside your XPS 15, it can actually become a pretty capable gaming laptop. It's still a secondary feature — after all, serious gamers will be going to something like an Alienware laptop — but it makes an already excellent laptop even more attractive.

The latest refresh now includes 9th Gen Intel Core i7 and Core i9 processor options, with the former being absolutely perfect for gaming. The price increase for the Core i9 model is such that gaming shouldn't be your motivation for picking it up. Rather, only go for that option if you're going to be dealing with some seriously processor-intensive programs.

You also now get the GTX 1650 4GB from NVIDIA, a step up from the GTX 1050 Ti of old. It's not a massive leap forward, but as with its predecessor, it's very good for some solid 1080p gaming. You'll be able to enjoy the latest titles with relative ease compared to even some older gaming laptops.

Upgrade the RAM and SSD

If you're going to game make sure you're as prepared as you can be, whether you get the higher RAM and SSD storage from Dell or do it yourself. The GPU option is standard across the whole range, so there's nothing to worry about there. However, the 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) in the cheapest gaming-friendly model won't go very far. The 8GB of RAM may also become limiting down the road.

The good news is, even if you opt for this lower cost model now, you can make the upgrades yourself.

That's probably the recommendation we'd make. The XPS 15 is always very accommodating to SSD and RAM upgrades, and you'll always be able to make them yourself for less than you'll have to pay Dell to do them for you. Even 1TB NVMe SSDs are much more affordable now than even a year ago, and with the recent drop in RAM prices, you can quite easily go up to 16GB or even 32GB without breaking the bank.

Categories: Tech News

Dell XPS 15 7590 FHD vs 4K: which should you buy?

Latest Tech News - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:17

The three XPS 15 displays — FHD, 4K IPS, and 4K OLED — are all built into a chassis that has the same dimensions, ports, and features, though some lower-end performance hardware (and a lower price) is only available with the FHD screens. Below is a comparison of the displays and the hardware options available with each different type of display.

Dell XPS 15 FHD vs. 4K tech specs Dell XPS 15 (FHD)Dell XPS 15 (4K)Display size15.6 inches15.6 inchesResolution1920x10803840x2160Brightness500 nitsIPS: 500 nits; OLED:400 nitsColor100-percent sRGBIPS: 100-percent AdobeRGB; OLED: 100-percent DCI-P3Contrast1500:1IPS: 1500:1; OLED: 100000:1Response time35msIPS: 35ms; OLED: 1msRefresh rate60Hz60HzPower draw4.30WIPS: 10.41W; OLED: 14.80WTouchNoIPS: Yes; OLED: NoPen supportNoIPS: Yes; OLED: NoProcessorIntel Core i5-9300H; Intel Core i7-9750H; Intel Core i9-9980HKIntel Core i7-9750H; Intel Core i9-9980HKStorage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB M.2 PCIe SSDMemory8GB, 16GB, 32GB DDR4-2666MHz16GB, 32GB DDR4-2666MHzGraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 630; NVIDIA GTX 1650NVIDIA GTX 1650Battery56Wh, 97Wh97Wh Display

The refreshed Dell XPS 15 7590 now has three display options to choose from, including FHD IPS, 4K IPS, and 4K OLED. While resolution is no doubt the biggest difference, there are a few smaller traits that might sway you in the direction of one of the three options.

The FHD model, which comes at the cheapest price, is still a respectable panel despite sitting at a lower 1920x1080 resolution. It has a WLED backlight that hits up to 500 nits brightness, making it easy to work in well-lit spaces, and it has 100% sRGB and 72% NTSC color reproduction. It also gobbles up the least amount of power of the three displays, so if battery life is a high priority, it's likely your best option. Keep in mind that there is no touch function or pen support, which is likely not as big of a deal on a non-convertible device.

If you opt for the dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU for some gaming, it will perform much better and offer higher framerates at the lower resolution. If you're not buying the XPS 15 for any specialized work — design, development, or heavy editing — you should find the FHD model checks all the boxes unless you just want to bask in brilliant 4K while going about usual tasks.

The 4K IPS display comes at you with 500 nits brightness, a 3840x2160 resolution, and 100% AdobeRGB color reproduction, making it a strong contender for photo editing and other specialized work. It does use more power than the FHD model, but it also offers touch and pen support. The laptop is going to weigh slightly more than something with an FHD display, but if you prefer 4K, for casual or professional use, it should be well worth it.

Finally, the new OLED 4K display, which is non-touch, hits 400 nits brightness and has 100% DCI-P3 color reproduction, making it also a strong contender for professional work. Contrast is absolutely brilliant at 100000:1, it has a one-milisecond (ms) response time (compared to 35ms for the other displays), though it does use the most power. The OLED display is actually the cheaper 4K option of the two, coming in at about $50 less than the 4K IPS. If you need the absolute best contrast and the DCI-P3 color reproduction for professional work, this is an outstanding choice.

Performance

Performance hardware differs depending on the display you go with, and if you don't need extreme power, the FHD model is going to be quite a bit cheaper due to the hardware on offer.

Yes, you can configure a model with FHD display to have a Core i9 CPU, 32GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, NVIDIA GTX 1650 dedicated GPU, and a 2TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), but you can also go as low as an Intel Core i5 CPU, 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD, 8GB of RAM, and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630. There's also the option of saving some money with the smaller 56Wh battery, though you can still opt for the larger 97Wh battery for some serious life.

4K models are not available with the Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, or integrated Intel UHD Graphics, so if you do prefer to pay less for the weaker hardware, you will have to go with an FHD display. 4K models also seem to only be available with the larger 97Wh battery, which makes sense due to the increased power draw of the high-res display.

Bottom line? If you'd like ultimate performance, you will be able to get it with an FHD or 4K display, though if you prefer to save some money and go with the baseline hardware on offer, you will have to stick with an FHD display.

Design and features

Aside from some weight differences based on the battery and display in use, XPS 15 models hardly differ. You'll get the same ports, the same webcam, the same keyboard and touchpad, and the same optional fingerprint reader built into the power button.

The chassis is still machined from aluminum and has a carbon-fiber palmrest, and audio will be the same thanks to dual 2W speakers.

The FHD XPS 15 is a lot of laptop for most people

If you'd like to save about $250 at checkout and still get high-end performance hardware in your XPS 15, the FHD display model is quite attractive. It can also be had in low-end hardware for even further savings. Though you won't have touch function or pen support, you will get longer battery life and the NVIDIA GTX 1650, if included, will perform much better when gaming in 1080p.

The 4K XPS 15 is better for power users

Video and photo editors can certainly take advantage of the extras the 4K XPS 15 models, whether IPS or OLED, have to offer, but know that they're also a great all-around laptops for anyone who appreciates a high-res display. Once you go 4K, it's hard to go back to anything else.

Categories: Tech News

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