Tech News

Windows 10 crushes the competition while users ditch Windows 7

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 06:28

Windows 10 has passed something of a milestone in that according to both major analytics firms which compile stats on OS adoption, it is now present on more PCs than it isn’t on – in other words, Windows 10 has exceeded a 50% market share, going by stats from both firms.

Previously, the statistics from Net Applications showed Windows 10 hadn’t yet reached the 50% mark. In July, last month, it was on 48.86%, but in the latest figures for August, the OS has jumped over 2% to reach 50.99%.

Rival analytics firm Statcounter recorded Windows 10 as cresting the 50% mark back in September 2018, and now has it pegged with a 59.82% market share. But whichever figures you’re going by now, Windows 10 is on more than half of the PCs out there, which will obviously be welcome news for Microsoft.

According to Net Applications, in August, Windows 7 dropped to 30.34%, a loss of 1.49%. Statcounter has Windows 7 on a 30.92% market share, so both firms agree pretty much bang-on when it comes to the older OS, which is dwindling away.

End of the road

It isn’t really surprising to see Windows 7 dropping away, and Windows 10 making healthy progress, when you consider that the end-of-life deadline for Windows 7 is rapidly approaching. And obviously Windows 8 is an irrelevant consideration at this point, being present on just under 5% of machines now according to Net Applications.

As the year continues, and that January 2020 deadline gets even closer for Windows 7 users, we would expect the market share of Windows 10 to make some further impressive gains.

The last statistics we heard from Microsoft claimed that Windows 10 has now been installed on over 800 million devices worldwide, and the OS will likely reach the magic billion number at some stage next year. That is, of course, well behind the initial target date Microsoft trumpeted.

Via Venturebeat

Categories: Tech News

The best wireless headphones 2019: our pick of the best ways to cut the cord

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 06:15

Best Wireless (Bluetooth) Headphones: Welcome to TechRadar's guide to the best wireless and Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2019.

Just a few short years ago, we may have tried to dissuade you from buying a pair of wireless headphones. The technology had issues with wireless connectivity over Bluetooth and sound quality took a dive as a result. On top of all that, the batteries that were put into some of the earlier wireless headphones only lasted an hour or two, max.

Thankfully, those days are behind us and we're now living in the golden age of wireless. Thanks to advancements in Bluetooth (thanks, aptX), the best wireless headphones not only stay connected to any phone, from the best smartphones to the best cheap smartphones, in every situation. But they sound just as good as their wired counterparts, too. 

Sure, a wireless pair of headphones might cost a bit more than a similar wired model, but wireless headphones offer greater freedom of movement - making them perfect for a trip to the gym or a great companion for phones like the iPhone X and Pixel 2 that simply lack a 3.5mm aux port to connect with.

Whatever your reason for upgrading, we're here to help you pick out the best wireless headphones, regardless of your budget. What you'll find below are the top headphones we've reviewed – some of which come with neat features like noise-cancellation – all vetted by our staff so you can shop with confidence.

UPDATE: There are two new pairs of true wireless headphones checking out this week, the Libratone Track Air+, a pair of true wireless buds with noise-cancelling tech built-in. As well as the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 buds, which boast outstanding audio, comfort and don't cost an absolute fortune, either. 

Can't decide which headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below:

The best over-ear wireless headphones

Image credit: TechRadar

For the last three years, the Sony 1000X series of headphones have been our favorite wireless headphones on the market. They sound great thanks to a combination of superb wireless codecs - aptX and Sony's proprietary LDAC tech - and keep outside noise at bay thanks to Sony's ever-improving noise-cancellation algorithms. 

While the Sony WH-1000XM3 might not be a massive improvement over last year's WH-1000XM2, they're still a cut above their rivals, the Bose QC35 II, in nearly every way: they sound better, they block out noise better and have better features like Quick Attention mode that lets in all outside noise without taking off the headphones. (The latter is perfect when giving a drink order on a plane or speaking to a coworker for a brief moment before diving back into your work.) 

Great-sounding and feature-packed, these impressive Sony headphones are great travel companions and all-around excellent wireless headphones.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3

  • Looking for the best Sony headphones? Read our round up of the best Sony headphones we've reviewed so far

Image credit: TechRadar

Offering class-leading battery life, terrific style and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, the Elite 85h is easy to recommend. That said, purists will bemoan the lack of high-end codec support and there are punchier headphones on the market at this price point. When you consider that Jabra’s Elite 85h headphones are the company’s first attempt at premium wireless ANC headphones, the result is quite commendable. We can’t wait to see what the company’s next premium ANC headphones will accomplish.  

If you want an alternative to Sony's WH-1000XM3, this is it.

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 85H

Image credit: TechRadar

Bose took the already-excellent QC35 and updated with Google Assistant. The headphone is identical in every way save for the new Google Assistant button. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality, and incredible comfort. Said simply, they sound great and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.

If you're looking to save some money, however, consider the original Bose QuietComfort 35. They can also be found for far cheaper these days, and if you're not fussed about having Google Assistant built into your headphones then you can save yourself some money while you save up for QC35 II. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Image credit: TechRadar

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are the best-sounding wireless headphones you can buy, period. Sound is spacious, detailed, and makes you want to rediscover your music library. Their bulky design and average noise isolation make them terrible for travel but if you’re looking for the best sound from a wireless headphone, this is it.

Just be prepared to shell out for them.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

Image credit: Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica has a long history of producing high-quality headphones, microphones, and turntable accessories, and with the release of the ATH-M50xBT, it delivers studio-quality audio without the cord.  

The ATH-M50xBTs are designed for really high-end audio performance, with 45mm drivers and a frequency response range of 15-28,00 Hz, and it shows - we were very impressed with the warm, well-rounded sound.

The ATH-M50xBT headphones also performed well in terms of battery life and Bluetooth connectivity, however the microphone isn’t particularly strong, and you may struggle to make phone calls using them - still, that’s probably not the reason you would purchase a pair of studio grade headphones in the first place. 

Read our full review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT  

Image credit: Sennheiser

The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones are proof that you don't need bottomless cash reserves to get decent noise-canceling. Sure, they're not as powerful as the Sony WH-1000XM3 or sound as beautiful as the Amiron, but these are decent all-around wireless headphones at a good price.

Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

Image credit: TechRadar

The AKG N60NC Wireless sound like a pair of headphones that should be much more expensive than they are. 

At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that's on a level with the much more premium entries on this list. 

Our biggest issue with these headphones is the fact that they're on-ear rather than over-ear, meaning that we found that they got uncomfortable over longer periods. 

Regardless, the benefit of this is that this is a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and if you're willing to make the trade-off then these are great for the price. 

Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless

Image credit: TechRadar

The Grado GW100s sound great with a wide soundstage, clear highs, smooth mids, and extended bass frequencies. They also sport a kitsch, retro design that recalls Grado’s humble beginnings in 50’s Brooklyn.

Although the Bluetooth connection works very well, the need for a wireless pair of open-back headphones can be unclear; particularly if the design makes them unsuitable for commuting or  listening in communal areas. 

Saying that, having the option to listen wirelessly is undeniably convenient when you’re pottering around the house, and you can use these cans with an AUX cable if you're something of an audiophile who prefers a wired connection.

Overall, we feel the Grado GW100s are designed for a fairly niche market of audiophiles who crave a wide, natural sound, and who do the majority of their music listening at home. If that sounds like you, you will probably love the Grado GW100s. If not, you may want to look at closed-back models instead. 

Read the full review: Grado GW100 Wireless headphones review

Image credit: Microsoft

Overall, Microsoft’s Surface headphones are surprisingly good, with a stunningly warm sound, and generous bass frequencies, which means your music will sound great whether you’re listening to subby hip-hop or acoustic singer-songwriters.

One criticism of this warm sound is that it can take some of the attack away from lower-mid frequencies, which some users may find a bit underwhelming. However, if sharp trebles and mids tend to give you listening fatigue, these could be the perfect headphones for you.

The calling card of these headphones is the active noise cancellation, which we felt worked really well, and we loved how easy it was to control this using the inbuilt dials on each housing. 

Although we were initially unconvinced by the high price (particularly when you can buy quality cans from heritage audio brands for less), the features work so seamlessly that it feels justified.

Image credit: TechRadar

If you're a frequent traveler you're probably all too familiar with headphones that can't hold a charge and can't block out sound, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and cost less than half as much as one of the bigger names like Beats headphones, Bose and Sony. 

For a lot less ($150, £140, AU$240), Plantronics now sells the still-very-good BackBeat Go 810, which uses less premium materials but sounds nearly identical to its more expensive predecessor. That being said, we feel the Go 810 are an affordable pair of ANC headphones that will please travelers and commuters who don’t want to spend too much money on headphones.    

Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

  • Looking for something more compact? Read our guide to the best earbuds 2019
The best in-ear wireless headphones

Image credit: TechRadar

Here's where things get a bit murky - the term 'wireless headphones' is often used interchangeably with 'Bluetooth headphones' - i.e. headphones that don't use a 3.5mm jack to connect to your phone, but still have a wire running between them. While we contemplated leaving these off our list entirely, Bluetooth headphones are still well-worth considering - even if it means having a wire wrapped around your neck. 

That being said, if we had to pick a pair of Bluetooth headphones to go with, it'd be the NuForce BE Sport4 headphones: They're an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. While they're not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of Bluetooth is a bright one.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

Image credit: TechRadar

When you think of noise-cancelling headphones you probably picture bulky over-ear cans like the Bose QuietComfort 35 or the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless, but three years ago Bose turned its noise-cancelling chops to in-ear headphones, and the result was the excellent Bose QuietComfort 20i.  

Soon after that came the Bose QuietControl 30 (QC30, for short). These neckbuds offer the best noise cancellation of any in-ears we’ve tried and are comfortable enough to wear around your neck for long flights. Add to that the fantastic wireless capabilities of these headphones and you have the recipe for success. 

While we'd love to see a true wireless pair of headphones from Bose, the QuietComfort 30 are a tried-and-true stopgap that you'll enjoy all the same. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30

Image credit: TechRadar

If you don't mind rocking a neckband, the Moto Surround hits all the high notes in terms of price, performance and battery life. After spending some time 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 vibrant sound signature, and are hardy enough to take anywhere -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: Beats / Apple

Audiophiles may 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 make up for their overly 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

The best true wireless headphones

Image credit: RHA

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

You might have expected to see the Apple AirPods on the list. While Apple's true wireless earbuds are fine for certain folks - cough, iPhone users exclusively - they're not the best for everyone. If you're looking for an egalitarian pair of true wireless earbuds, you can do no better than the Jabra Elite 65t. 

Not only are these competent Bluetooth buds for use around town, with a long-enough battery life and good sound quality, but they are easily some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, offering a perfect balance of usability, features, and sound quality. If you’re in the market for the ‘ultimate’ set of true wireless headphones and don’t mind paying for them, then they are a strong choice.    

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless

Image credit: Optoma

The NuForce BE Free5 wireless earbuds show just how accessible truly wireless headphones can be nowadays. 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,, making them a great option for your first pair. 

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. 

Image credit: TechRadar

Apple AirPods undeniably popularized the true-wireless format. They work seamlessly with an iPhone, sound good in terms of their form factor, and have excellent connectivity and battery life.

Even though they are around three years old, the original AirPods still hold their own in the true wireless earbud arena, and the upgraded AirPods (2019) aren't actually very different. 

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. 

Image credit: TechRadar

From the minds behind the Ticwatch Pro, Ticwatch S and Tichome Mini , the TicPods Free have been cited as a more flexible alternative to the AirPods, coming in a range of colors, and enabled for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as Siri.

When we tested them, we thought the audio quality was impressive, and although guitars sometimes sounded a little distorted, it’s a small price to pay for the amount of sonic power you get with these in-ears. 

These in-ears are unlikely to appeal to true audiophiles but if you’re a casual listener, the TicPods Free will do just fine, and for a great price.

Read the full review: TicPods Free review

Image credit: Sony

Sony’s first pair of true wireless headphones, the Sony WF-1000X, were divisive -some users thought they didn’t offer enough bass, while others said they had too much. Some said they cut out or unpaired periodically. Others simply never had that problem. 

Criticisms came from all corners of the internet and the only reasonable conclusion one could make after sifting through all of the noise was that Sony’s headphones just couldn’t please everyone.

Now, Sony’s second-generation true-wireless headphones – the Sony WF-SP700N – are here to try it again. These true wireless headphones are better tuned for the low-end and they’re stable in almost every situation. They still offer very modest active noise-cancellation tech and a sweat-resistant PX4 rating, and the new charging case is aesthetically pleasing if not radically different in functionality from before. 

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP700N

Image credit: TechRadar

Let’s get one thing out of the way – the B&O Beoplay E8 are one of the nicest-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy. 

At $299 (£259, AU$449, AED 1,199) you can throw in a bit more cash and splurge for one of our favorite noise-cancelling headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 $349 (£259, AU$499, AED 1,449), which give you better battery life and a richer sound. But if you’re looking for a something to take to the gym and have the cash burning a hole in your pocker, then the Beoplay E8 might be just what you’re looking for.   

While they don't feature noise-cancellation, you will find a longer-lasting battery life of around four hours alongside Bluetooth 4.2. The E8 come with a stylish carrying case, and you can tweak the sound to your liking using the accompanying Beoplay app on Android and iOS.

Even without tinkering around with ToneTouch, the E8 sounds crisp and clear. Bass feedback will depend on how snug you’re wearing the E8s, but was acceptable for earphones of this size. If you’re able to look past the price point, then then Beoplay E8 is a great investment. It’s super compact, offers great audio, and looks great – what more could you ask for?  

Read the full review: B&O Beoplay E8 Wireless Earphones

Image Credit: TechRadar

Cambridge Audio is well-known for its good quality audio equipment. However, untul recently the company hasn’t ventured into the world of true wireless earbuds. 

Enter the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s: with an outstanding 45 hours of battery life, these buds combine the brand’s award-winning engineering with the convenience of truly wireless listening. 

For a pair of true wireless earbuds, the sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s is sensational. In fact, it rivals some of the best over-ear headphones, which is all but unheard of for buds of this size. 

They may not have the noise cancellation technology offered by the Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds, but they are $100 (around £80) cheaper – and have a superior battery life. 

They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods, in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

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Categories: Tech News

Mercedes-Benz A-Class: how all cars should behave

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 06:12

Mercedes' original A-Class, which launched back in 1998, was remarkably innovative for a family hatchback. Spurning the familiar hatchback design sported by the likes of Volkswagen’s Golf and Ford’s Focus, the A-Class looked like a mini MPV.

However, while it had bags of space for all passengers, its upright driving position and dull driving experience hampered its success.

Fast-forward 20 years and things look a lot more conventional from the outside, with this latest fourth-generation model hard to tell apart from the more traditional hatchback styling of the third iteration of the A-Class. But that’s just half the story.

Step into the future

As mentioned, the looks of the new A-Class are an evolution of the more traditional styling of the outgoing model. The mature and sleek looks certainly make it much less divisive than the original model, but to our eyes it doesn’t quite match the sharp lines and stance as the king of the hatchbacks, the VW Golf. 

Climb inside and you’re transported into the future, with an interior nothing like we’ve seen on any other car. That's because this is the first Mercedes to get what the company calls its MBUX infotainment system; and while you could be forgiven for expecting Mercedes to reserve its latest tech for its flagship S-Class model, it’s great to see it right here in one of its most affordable models. 

MBUX is an acronym for Mercedes Benz User Experience, which sees the A Class ditch conventional dials in favor of large widescreen cockpit featuring two displays running across the dashboard. Base A-Class models will feature two 7-inch screens, while pay a bit more and you'll get one 7-inch and one 10.25-inch display, and go for a top of the line model like the one we test drove and you get two 10.25-inch displays. 

It certainly looks very slick, with the steering wheel adorned with buttons and dials to control the two displays. Alternatively, there’s a touchpad in the central console that can also be used to interact with the A-Class – and if that isn’t enough, the central screen is also touch-sensitive. 

The quality and clarity of the cockpit are excellent, thanks in part to the 1920 x 720 pixel resolution of the two 10.25-inch displays. The instrument cluster has three styles to choose from, while the seating position, ambient lighting, favorite radio station and orientation of the navigation map can be saved as a profile.

Complaints? You’ll either find the way the color of the vents changes from blue to red when you increase the cabin temperature (and vice versa) a nice touch or a bit of a gimmick, while the overall premium level of materials is let down by the rather spindly and plasticky column stalks that operate the indicators and transmission; they feel very much like an afterthought.

Voice activation

It’s not just the tech on show that’s striking; what you can’t see is equally impressive, namely the A-Class’s speech recognition system.

Rather than demanding fixed commands such as “phone home”, the A-Class uses natural speech recognition, known as MBUX LINGUATRONIC, and is designed to understand virtually every conceivable command pertaining to infotainment and vehicle operation 

It’s activated via a button on the steering wheel, or by simply saying “Hey Mercedes”, and will understand commands like “When will we get there?” and give you an ETA, while on the rare occasion it doesn’t understand the question, it uses learning software that’s updated over-the-air throughout the car’s life to expand its repertoire. This will also see the A-Class learn new buzzwords and adapt to changing uses of language over time.

In our experience the voice recognition was spot-on for most of the commands. Everything from planning routes to calling a contact was executed almost immediately, so we pretty much never had to take our eyes off the road to fiddle with the controls. The only thing we found a bit distracting is that the air conditioning would automatically be turned down briefly to its lowest setting when we said 'Hey Mercedes'. It's then turned back up to its previous setting when the command is executed, but if you're driving in the sweltering heat, you may not appreciate this as much.

There's an app for that

Let's face it - it's 2019, so why shouldn't your car come with an app? The 'Mercedes me connect' app lets you share real-time data with your dealer when your car is due for a service, as well as providing you with useful information such as odometer reading, fuel levels, and reminders when your vehicle is due for its next checkup.

The app also allows you to remote-start the vehicle, which is handy as long as the car has a strong cellular connection.

On the road

We drove the A250 variant, which comes with a 1.9 L - 4 cylinder engine. With a power output of 165kW/224hp, it can go from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds. The engine is nice and smooth below 4,000rpm, but we encourage you to find a good road and switch to the ‘Sport’ mode for much more fun.

Overall the car drives very smoothly, and acceleration is really quick - a simple tap roars the engine to life when in Sport mode. 

Verdict

While we’re left a little underwhelmed by its exterior looks, the A-Class doesn’t disappoint inside – and that’s where you’re going to be spending most of your time. 

The sleek widescreen cockpit and array of advanced tech on offer is mightily impressive, and is complemented by a cabin that has a lovely premium feel. It’s certainly got the wow factor, and we like it a lot. 

Categories: Tech News

Is LG about to release a new Google Assistant smart speaker?

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 05:12

LG could be about to release a brand new Google Assistant smart speaker at the IFA 2019 tech show in Berlin, according to a report by the Dutch edition of Lets Go Digital.

The report highlights four smart speaker patents that were filed by LG back in August 2018 with the KIPRIS (Korean Intellectual Property Office). It suggests that IFA, which is held from September 6 to 11 this year, could be the perfect time for the company to release the follow-up to the LG ThinQ WK7 smart speaker

With LG expected to reveal its upcoming dual-screen device at the Berlin tech event – likely the LG V60 ThinQ – it's not out of the question that the company will also launch new audio hardware.


Audio on display

Of course, patents don't always make it out as tech in real-world products, but the four filed by LG in August 2018 could reveal a little about what its next smart speaker might look like.

The first patent, Model A, looks similar to the LG ThinQ WK7, albeit more angular in its design. On the top of the speaker are four buttons, while a power button appears on one of the speaker's four sides. According to Let's Go Digital, a "small display" also appears on one of the other sides, but we're struggling to make it out from where we're sitting.

Models B, C, and D are all smart displays, like on the Google Home Hub or the Amazon Echo Show. Based on the images in the patents, Model B could have a bigger focus on audio, with a large speaker grille underneath its display; the other smart display patents are far thinner and seem to have more of a focus on the display than the speaker itself. 

This wouldn't be the first time LG has released a smart display, if it does ever launch one of these concepts; the LG WK9 Wireless Speaker with Google Assistant came with an 8-inch touchscreen and Chromecast built-in, when it was launched at CES 2018. 

We'll have to wait and see whether LG actually launches a new smart speaker at this year's IFA show, but if it does it could look a little like the patents it filed this time last year.

  • IFA 2019: everything you need to know about the Berlin tech event
Categories: Tech News

LG says its 8K is better than yours, as its 8K OLED and LED TVs come to market

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 05:02

LG's latest range of 8K TVs are finally coming to market this month, over a year after they were first announced.

The 88-inch LG 8K OLED (88OLEDZ9), and 75-inch LG 8K Nanocell TV (75SM99), bridge the South Korean company's high-performing panel technology with the latest 8K resolution – which offers four times the number of pixels than a standard 4K TV, or 16 times that of a Full HD TV.

Both of these 8K televisions use LG's latest a9 Gen 2 8K processor, support HDR, Dolby Vision, and HLG formats, with Apple Airplay 2 and HomeKit support. You'll get four HDMI 2.1 ports too, in order to ensure 8K video can pass through cables at 60fps, or 4K video at 120fps.

The sets will first be releasing in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and France – with a wider rollout expected beyond September. But what's interesting about this release is LG's claim that competitors don't offer the same 8K experience.

My 8K or the highway

So what's this argument about "real 8K"? Well, LG is citing the Information Display Measurements Standard (IDMS) for pixel differentiation, arguing that 8K TVs shouldn't just be defined by the number of pixels they have (7,680 x 4,320), but also how well the TV panel can distinguish / contrast between those pixels. If those tiny self-emissive dots start to merge the brightness or colors of their output, then there's little point in having so many.

LG claims its new 8K TVs achieve this Contrast Modulation (CM) "in the 90 percent range", leading to what it calls "real 8K". (The IDMS standard only requires 25 percent for images, or 50 percent for text.)

It comes only a day after the 8K Association, an organization for encouraging the adoption and development of 8K, with members including Samsung, Panasonic, Hisense, and TCL – though notably not LG – set out its own standard for 8K TVs. Its mainly sensible stuff, such as HDMI 2.1 ports, high enough frame rates, 8K resolution, and a minimum 600 nits peak brightness, but no mention of the Contrast Modulation measurement used by LG.

As 8K becomes a more regular occurrence in people's homes, it's reassuring that manufacturers are pushing for a baseline quality for those sets, so people don't end up with TVs that don't perform as expected. Naturally different manufacturers will argue that their own in-house standards are definitive, but if it means higher-quality televisions for consumers, they can argue away.

Categories: Tech News

Facebook may soon hide 'like' counts to stop you fighting for attention

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 05:00

Facebook may soon hide 'like' counts from your friends and followers, so only you can see how well a post or picture has been received.

Prolific app researcher Jane Manchun Wong spent time reverse-engineering Facebook's Android app, and discovered code that suggests that the company may soon begin making likes and reactions private. Facebook has since confirmed to TechCrunch that it's considering implementing the feature.

If and when it arrives, other users will be able to see that a post has received some likes, but won't be shown an exact number.

A big thumbs up

Facebook is already testing a similar feature for Instagram in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Ireland and Brazil. The change is intended to make the platform less competitive and reduce bullying – something Instagram admits is a major problem.

“We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love,” said Mia Garlick, director of public policy for Facebook and Instagram in Australia and New Zealand, when the change rolled out in July.

It seems likely that a similar test for the Facebook app would also be restricted to certain regions at first. We'll keep you updated once we know more.

Categories: Tech News

iPhone 11R benchmark spotted with increased performance and RAM

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 04:58

We’re now very close to the September 10 announcement of the new iPhone range, which is likely to include, as well as the base iPhone 11, the iPhone 11R (or whatever Apple calls its successor to the iPhone XR). So we’d expect to start seeing the latter in benchmarks, and exactly that seems to have happened.

A Geekbench 4 listing for a phone called the ‘iPhone12,1’ has appeared, with specs including iOS 13, 4GB of RAM and a 2.66GHz hexa-core chipset. That’s 1GB more RAM than the iPhone XR had and a slightly higher clock speed on the chipset.

Geekbench is a software that measures the processing power of phones and tablets. TechRadar uses it as part of its testing process when we're reviewing devices, although it's only one of many ways we examine the phones.

As for scores, it achieved a single-core result of 5,415 and a multi-core one of 11,294. For comparison, the most recent iPhone XR result at the time of writing shows a single-core score of 4,831 and a multi-core result of 11,394.

So the multi-core score is actually higher on that iPhone XR result, but some other listings show it in the high 10,000’s and its single-core results never seem to reach 5,000.

Overall then if this benchmark is accurate then you can likely expect a modest performance boost from the iPhone 11R.

That assumes that the iPhone 11R is actually the device we’re seeing here, but its motherboard is listed ‘N104AP’, and it was previously rumored that the iPhone 11R was codenamed ‘N104’, so that’s our best guess.

That still doesn’t mean this benchmark is accurate though, as it could easily have been faked. So while the results are believable we’d still take them with a pinch of salt. Fortunately, we should be able to tell you first-hand how powerful the iPhone 11R is soon, at the launch event on September 10.

Via AppleInsider and MacRumors

Categories: Tech News

Apple Watch 5 could finally see sleep tracking come to Apple's smartwatches

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 04:57

It looks like the Apple Watch 5, the upcoming smartwatch from Apple that we're expecting to see launch on September 10, could be the first Apple Watch to have a feature that's arguably vital in a wearable – sleep tracking.

That's according to 9to5Mac, which heard from its sources all about 'Time in Bed Tracking' (TiBT), which is apparently Apple's name for a sleep tracking app that could come in the Apple Watch 5. It's worth pointing out that 9to5Mac's sources are generally trustworthy, which lends credence to this leak.

According to the sources, TiBT uses sensors to monitor quality of sleep, including heart rate, motion and noises made during the night. The app can tell if you get up before your alarm, and so will deactivate the ringer, and you can also set an alarm to go off only on the Apple Watch 5 if you don't want to wake up anyone else.

These are all useful features of a wearable that's got health in mind, because quality of sleep has a knock-on effect with general physical and mental health.

If these new features don't sound exactly groundbreaking, it's because most other wearables already have sleep tracking to some degree, from the affordable Xiaomi Mi Band 4 to the Apple Watch's closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Previously, you could download Apple Watch sleep tracking apps, but it wasn't a function built into the wearables, which looks set to change now.

If sleep tracking is a built-in function of the Apple Watch 5, and works directly with the Health app, it will likely be a more streamlined and reliable way of counting sheep than using a third-party app.

We'll have to wait until the Apple Watch 5 launches to find out for sure if sleep tracking is a new feature, but that likely won't be long – we're expecting to see it alongside the iPhone 11, which is being launched on September 10.

Stay tuned to TechRadar then as we examine all the announcements, helping you understand Apple's new roster of phones as well as other products like the Apple Watch 5 and iOS 13.

Categories: Tech News

Best Laptops under Rs 30,000 in India for August 2019

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 02:21

The demand for budget notebooks have always been high, be it for a college student or a home user. The sub-Rs 30,000 segment in laptops is a crowded one which is why we have come up with our very own list of the best entry-level laptops which offer good performance but are not heavy on one's pocket.

The Dell Vostro 3568 is another laptop that offers exceptional price to performance ratio. It is powered by 7th generation Intel Core i3 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD storage. The Vostro 3568 has integrated graphics and runs on Windows 10. The built quality of the Dell Vostro 3568 is exceptional and it manages to handle day-to-day tasks very easily.


The Asus Vivobook serves the needs of most students and working professionals. The build quality of the laptop is good and doesn't feel cheap. While it is a strict no-no for gamers because of the integrated graphics chipset, this laptop from Asus is a good choice if you want a machine for casual and entertainment purposes.


The HP 14q-CS0005TU is powered by 7th gen. Intel Core i3 processor making it a good performer in this price bracket. Users can play normal games on the machine but don't expect it to run some graphics intensive titles. On the outside, the laptop looks quite decent and has a good display panel. 

Overall, this HP laptop fits the bill for anyone looking for one under Rs 30,000.

The Lenovo Ideapad 330 features a 14-inch full HD display which is rare for laptops in this budget and is powered by 7th Generation Intel Core i3 coupled with 4GB of RAM. It is a good performer when it comes to entertainment or your office work and can well be your daily driver.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung's new Galaxy A90 aims to make 5G more affordable

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 02:13

After details of the Galaxy A90 5G leaked less than 24 hours ago, Samsung has confirmed that the third of its smartphones to get the 5G treatment won't be an expensive flagship, but will instead come from its mid-range Galaxy A series.

Following the earlier Galaxy S10 5G and the Galaxy Note 10 5G, the A90 5G aims to offer the same future-ready connectivity that Samsung’s more premium handsets include, but at a much lower cost.

Although official pricing has yet to be announced at this stage, it's set to launch in Korea tomorrow (September 4, 2019) and is rumored to cost around 900,000 KRW – or about $740 (£610 / AU$1,100). Whatever the final pricing, the Galaxy A90 5G will almost certainly come in at below the Galaxy S10 5G, which carries a recommended price of $1,299 / £1,099 / AU$1,999.

With that said, the cost of the mid-range market has shifted considerably in recent years – the Samsung Galaxy A70 costs £369 in the UK (AU$649, around $445) and the Galaxy A80 will set you back £579 (around $700 / AU$1,030), which is arguably pushing into premium territory.

Considering the A90 5G will be packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 – the Qualcomm's latest chipset that's found in many current Android flagships – along with a 6.7-inch FHD+ (1,080 x 2,400) AMOLED display, this handset will likely be the most expensive ‘mid-range’ phone available... if it can still even be considered for the category at all.

Some other features confirmed for the A90 5G include a triple-camera array, with a 48MP primary camera alongside another two dedicated to depth-of-field tricks and ultra wide shots, respectively. 

Those are backed up by a variety of AI tools to help optimize your snaps, and a 32MP front-facing camera with a similar arsenal of selfie-improving software tricks is housed in a small notch on the front.

Samsung also promises a dedicated Game Booster mode, 6GB or 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage (plus a microSD card slot), a 4,500mAh battery with 25W Super Fast Charging, on-screen fingerprint scanner, face recognition, and compatibility with the brand’s DeX mode.

Samsung has announced that the Galaxy A90 5G will be available in black or white from September 4 in Korea and “will expand to additional markets thereafter”. Australia is among those confirmed markets, but actual pricing and availability information was still TBC at the time of writing.

Categories: Tech News

Xiaomi readying four smartphones with Samsung's 108MP camera sensor

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 02:02

Xiaomi is developing as many as four smartphones with 108MP camera sensor on the back, after Samsung announced its highest megapixel count sensor earlier last month. At the time, Xiaomi had revealed that a Mi branded phone with the said sensor was in development.

Now, the good folks over at XDA have discovered evidence that indicate that Xiaomi is readying four smartphones powered by Samsung's ISOCELL Bright HMX 108MP sensor.

Xiaomi phones with 108MP rear camera

Using reverse-engineering decompilation tools, XDA developers found that the MIUI Gallery app will now support viewing full resolution pictures from the 108MP sensor. However, as noted by XDA, the support to view full resolution image is only being added to four smartphones for the time being.

These phones are codenamed-- tucana, draco, umi and cmi and are expected to be the first phones of their kind to sport a 108MP camera on the back.

Earlier, the gallery app in phones did not allow zooming into the picture for a full resolution view. This changed when 48MP camera sensors got into the picture and with it came the ability to zoom in.

Going by that logic, 108MP full resolution viewing is being added to phones that are going to feature a 108MP camera sensor.

In addition, the report explicitly denies Mi Mix 4 as one of the four phones in development with 108MP camera, as was previously rumoured. We also don't know at this point whether these four phones will be added to Xiaomi's Mi range or Redmi lineup.

We'll keep an eye out on the development of 108MP camera phones, but it seems there's some waiting till the end of year to have a proper look at one of these phones.

Categories: Tech News

More OnePlus TV specifications confirmed via Amazon India listing

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 02:01

OnePlus is finally moving beyond smartphones and accessories with the upcoming OnePlus TV. The Amazon listing page is now live which reveals some more key information and specifications about it. 

The OnePlus TV will be the company’s first flagship product that is not a smartphone. The company executives mentioned how the smart TV space wasn’t really innovating and how OnePlus could bring a new “fast and smooth” experience to this sector.

The landing page for the OnePlus TV is now live on Amazon India, just a few weeks before the expected launch in India. While we still don’t know what the TV will look like, but now we do have an idea of some of the hardware specifications and software features from this page. 

For starters, India will get the 55-inch variant which is ideal for the average Indian household. This will be a QLED panel which is known to dramatically improve brightness and colours. There’s also support for Dolby Vision for an improved HDR (High dynamic range) viewing experience with better brights and darker blacks. Dolby Vision is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to visuals.

Moving to the audio side of things, the OnePlus TV will sport 8 speakers in total for an output of 50 watts which is higher than most conventional TVs. Once again, the audio will be tuned by Dolby Atmos for an immersive, three-dimensional surround sound experience. This is also dependent on the source content but is great to have, regardless.

OnePlus has already confirmed that the OnePlus TV will be based on Google’s Android TV operating system, but with its own layer of flair on top. It will have Google Assistant and Chromecast built-in, along with access to Google Play to download additional apps and content. The TV can also be controlled via voice commands such as weather, calendar, controlling smart home devices and even look up specific shows and movies. 

OnePlus’ vision includes creating a network of smart, connected Android devices, and there will be some kind of synchronicity and integration with OnePlus smartphone integration too.

Reports suggested that the OnePlus TV will be unveiled in India on September 26, before making its way to other markets in the coming weeks. There’s no word on the pricing, but the TV can be expected to be a little more affordable than similarly specced offerings from other manufacturers.  

Categories: Tech News

B&O shows off its first ever soundbar – the luxurious Beosound Stage

Latest Tech News - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 00:34

Luxury brand Bang & Olufsen has quite an extensive catalog of audio products under its belt but, until now, it's been conspicuously absent in one product category: soundbars. For lounge room setups, the company has previously relied on its range of free-standing speakers that can be hooked up to your TV.

That makes the new Beosound Stage B&O’s first ever soundbar, and in keeping with B&O's premium branding the company's debuted the new product at the Venice Biennale – an annual arts exhibition in the famous Italian city. 

If you thought an arts exhibition is a strange place to launch an electronic device, there is some extra justification here – the Beosound Stage was designed in collaboration with Danish firm NORM Architects and (to this author's eye at least) seems to be both geometrically pleasing and beautifully crafted.

The new soundbar does however enter an already crowded market, so to stand apart from the crowd, B&O has stuffed the Beosound Stage with just about every feature you could ask for in a soundbar in 2019.

Internally, it's equipped with 11 front-firing speakers, each of which is powered by a 50W Class D amplifier. B&O has used four custom-made 4-inch woofers in the center channel to reduce distortion and deliver what it's calling “superbly deep bass”, with the midtones handled by a pair of 1.5-inch drivers and a 3/4-inch dome tweeter.

The main left and right channels are made up of 1.5-inch drivers and the 3/4-inch tweeters placed close to each other at 45-degree angles. 

Support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD and AirPlay 2 are also on board, along with built-in Chromecast.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is also available, along with an Ethernet socket and HDMI to hook up a TV. There’s also HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) support to speed up data transfer and ensure there's little to no lag between the soundbar and the TV. Ports for more traditional RCA connectors and 3.5mm audio have also not been forgotten.

There are four dedicated listening modes available on the Beosound Stage – TV, Music, Move and Night Listening – with each of them further adjustable via an equalizer.

The Beosound Stage comes in either an aluminum- or bronze-finish frame, and will set you back $1,750 / £1250/ AU$2,500. If metal isn't your thing, there’s also a 'smoked oak' frame option that comes with an even more premium price tag of $2,600 / £1,900 / AU$3,500. All three designs will be available on shelves from November 2019.

Categories: Tech News

Oppo let slip another Reno smartphone with a 90Hz display

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 22:25

It was only last week that Oppo unleashed its Reno 2 series of mid-range handsets, bringing three distinct new models to India. Now, Oppo's vice president Brian Shen has teased yet another Reno smartphone that is slated to land some time after September.

As representatives of the Chinese smartphone giant are known to do, Shen has taken to the social media platform Weibo to tease details of an upcoming Reno product, posting a series of partially cryptic details.

As noted in the post, the “Reno_ _ _” is not part of the Reno 2 lineup and won’t be arriving in September. In a reply to a user’s message (below) about 90Hz refresh rates being exclusive to OnePlus phones (Oppo’s sibling company), Shen seems to strongly hint that this upcoming Reno device will indeed also share this feature.

Is the Reno 5G already getting a successor?

As discovered by Ausdroid, an Oppo handset supporting 5G connectivity has been spotted on the regulatory website TENAA (the Chinese equivalent of the FCC) and, given some of its specs, it could well be the very same handset Shen is teasing.

This upcoming Reno 5G device will sport a 20x zoom camera, 3,930mAh battery, and a 6.6-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate. 

Alongside the high refresh rate, this new Reno 5G handset will support Oppo’s 50w SuperVOOC fast-charging, which could well be what Shen is referring to when he says “also _ _w super flash upgrade version”.

Given this evidence, along with Shen’s tease and Oppo’s penchant for rapid releases, it doesn’t seem too unlikely that this could be the Oppo Reno 5G 2 (albeit, with a more elegant name).

Although this is all still in the realm of speculation, the rate at which Oppo is revealing and releasing smartphones recently indicates that we will likely learn much more about this smartphone in the coming weeks, if not days. So stay tuned.

Categories: Tech News

Huawei Watch GT 2 leaked images show off new slim design

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 21:29

Launched alongside the Mate 20 series in October 2018, the Huawei Watch GT was the first wearable from the Chinese smartphone manufacturer to sport a homegrown operating system (LiteOS).

If leaked images posted on German publication WinFuture are anything to go by, it looks like history is about to repeat itself, with Huawei possibly debuting an updated version of the smartwatch later this month.

From the renders it's clear that the upcoming smartwatch will resemble the original Watch GT, but the display seems to be marginally larger, with slimmer bezels and a thinner body. Otherwise the design maintains the round face, two-button look of the original.

Press images of the upcoming Huawei Watch GT 2

Minor upgrades

According to WinFuture, the upcoming Watch GT 2 will get a 445mAh battery – a step up from the 420mAh option in the predecessor which gave it up to 14 days of use.

Other new features in the Watch GT 2 are said to be a mic and speaker which the original lacked, suggesting users will be able to make and take calls right from their wrist, but whether an LTE model could be incoming is unclear.

The leaked renders show off two different models – one ‘sports’ option while the other has a more classic look with a leather strap. The smartwatch is said to have a heavy focus on fitness, with the heart rate monitor from the first iteration making a comeback, alongside support for tracking multiple activities, including hiking, swimming, cycling and running.

Will it harmonize?

The original Watch GT was the first Huawei wearable to step away from Google's Wear OS – being powered by LiteOS. And it seems likely that the trend will continue, with the Watch GT 2 sporting an updated version of LiteOS.

However, TechRadar recently learnt that Huawei has used elements of LiteOS during the early stages of creating HarmonyOS – the Chinese manufacturer’s new alternative to the Android mobile operating system – and was designed to be used on devices already available on the market, like the Watch GT.

If Huawei does use HarmonyOS in the upcoming wearable, it will limit the number of apps users have access to, as was the case with its predecessor.

We’re expecting the Watch GT 2 to launch alongside the Mate 30 series on September 19, but speculation is rife that Huawei may choose to release the wearable earlier – perhaps during IFA 2019 – as it isn’t dependent on any software from Google.

Categories: Tech News

WordPress plugins have critical security flaw

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 18:00

Cyberattackers began using rogue admin accounts to launch attacks on WordPress sites last month and the attacks have continued, according to new research from Wordfence.

Security researchers at the firm discovered that known vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins have been exploited by injecting malicious JavaScript into the frontends of victim sites which leads visitors to these compromised sites to be redirected to potentially harmful content including malware droppers and fraudulent sites. Many of the playloads are obfuscated by the attackers in an attempt to avoid detection by WAF and IDS software.

Wordfence researchers discovered where the attacks are originating from and they have identified various IP addresses linked to web hosting providers. However, once the issue was brought to the attention of the providers, most of the IPs ceased their illegal activity except for one.

In a blog post explaining its discovery, Wordfence's Mikey Veenstra explained that most of the attacks stemmed from one IP address, saying:

“The IP address in question is 104.130.139.134, a Rackspace server currently hosting some presumably compromised websites. We have reached out to Rackspace to inform them of this activity, in hopes that they will take action in preventing further attacks from their network. We have not yet heard back.”

WordPress plugin vulnerabilities

All of the attacks that have occurred so far have targeted several known vulnerabilities from former NicDark plugins including nd-booking, nd-travel and nd-learning.

While the initial research into the campaign identified the injection of scripts which triggered malicious redirects or unwanted popups in the browsers of those who visited a victim site, the campaign has evolved by adding an additional script which attempts to install a backdoor into the target site by exploiting an administrator's session.

Wordfence also explained how WordPress site owners can avoid falling victim to this campaign saying:

“As always, updating the plugins and themes on your WordPress site is an excellent layer of defense against campaigns like these. Check your site for needed updates frequently to ensure you’re receiving the latest patches as they’re released. Wordfence users periodically receive emails informing them when updates are available as well.”

Via SC Magazine

Categories: Tech News

Email attacks are now the biggest threat for businesses

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 16:21

Business email compromise (BEC) attacks have overtaken both ransomware and data breaches as the main reason companies filed a cyber-insurance claim in the EMEA region last year according to new research from insurance giant AIG.

Statistics published by the firm in July revealed that BEC-related insurance filings accounted for 23 percent of all cyber-insurance claims received by the company in 2018.

Incidents related to ransomware came in second place and accounted for 18 percent of all cyber-insurance claims in the EMEA region. Data breaches caused by hackers and data breaches caused by employee negligence tied for third place with both at 14 percent.

According to AIG, the recent rise in cyber-insurance claims from BEC attacks was caused by poor security measures at victim companies including the use of poor passwords for email accounts, not using multi-factor authentication and the lack of employee training about email-based attacks.

Cyber-insurance claims

Although BEC attacks currently hold the top spot, AIG expects that ransomware may regain its top spot soon. As ransomware became more targeted, the number of ransomware-related cyber-insurance claims dropped last year.

This is because those launching ransomware attacks have begun to target businesses and government organizations as opposed to consumers. The number of incidents may be lower but the attackers behind them are receiving larger payouts.

As enterprise and government victims learn that they can offset losses by filing a cyber-insurance claim, AIG believes that the number of claims will go up despite the smaller number of ransomware infections recently. This trend has already become widespread in the US and a recent ProPublica investigation discovered that insurance companies are now advising victims to pay the ransom demand and then file a cyber-insurance claim afterwards.

AIG also found that GDPR has affected the number of cyber-insurance claims filed as businesses can no longer hide data breaches and have to disclose them under the regulation. Now companies are publicly revealing their data breaches and filing a cyber-insurance claim to help cover some of their costs and any fines levied against them under GDPR.

A fifth of all the cyber-insurance claims AIG received in 2018 included a public GDPR notification. However, the firm found that these claims included costs that were significantly higher than those did not include a GDPR data breach notification.

Via ZDNet

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Edge is phasing out Flash

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 14:54

Microsoft Edge will follow in the footsteps of Google Chrome and other chromium-based web browsers when it comes to retiring Adobe Flash.

Back in July 2017, Adobe revealed its plans to retire Adobe Flash in December 2020 at which time the company will no longer update or distribute the software. Other browser makers including Microsoft, Google and Mozilla as well as Facebook and Apple also announced their plans to stop supporting Flash in 2020.

At that time, Microsoft stated that by the end of 2020, users would no longer be able to enable Adobe Flash in either Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer in an announcement, saying:

"By the end of 2020, we will remove the ability to run Adobe Flash in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer across all supported versions of Microsoft Windows. Users will no longer have any ability to enable or run Flash."

Chromium-based Edge

Since its initial announcement regarding Flash support, Microsoft has begun working on a new Chromium-based Edge browser and as such, the company will now follow Google's own road map for removing Adobe Flash from Chrome. Google's plan is quite similar to the one already laid out by Microsoft and the company offered more details in a recent announcement, saying:

“In the next version of Microsoft Edge (built on Chromium), we will continue to retire Flash in the same timeframe as other Chromium based browsers. You can learn more of that timeline in this blog post. Flash will initially be disabled, and the user will need to re-enable Flash on a site-by-site basis; Flash will be completely removed from the browser towards the end of 2020. Group policies are available for enterprise admins and IT pros to change the Flash behavior prior to that date.”

Classic Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 will both continue to offer full flash functionality in 2019 and Microsoft will not be making any further changes to the Flash experience on these legacy browsers until December 2020 when Flash will be entirely removed.

Via Bleeping Computer

Categories: Tech News

The best multiplayer PC games 2019: top competitive games to play today

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 14:00

Welcome to our pick of the best multiplayer PC games of 2019.  If videogames are defined by competition, then there’s nothing more gamey than drawing your controller from its holster and taking on other players.

Whether you’re rubbing shoulders with your frenemies on the couch or taking on the world, the best multiplayer PC games are the perfect way to satiate that thirst for competition, because there’s no victory sweeter than that over another human being.

If you'd rather play together than against each other, then check out our pick of the best co-op PC games of 2019. We also have the best single player PC games and the best PC games overall.

Here are the best multiplayer games to have graced the PC platform in recent years.

1. Battlefield 1

The debate about the best Battlefield game of all time will never end, but Battlefield 1 certainly strikes a strong balance of spectacular visuals, modern mechanics, and sprawling maps from the rarely charted battlefields of World War I.

It’s arguably better than its successor, Battlefield V, thanks to a slightly slower, more methodical pace and the bold way in which it exaggerates the almost-steampunk chaos of WWI. There are gas grenades, bayonet charges, formidable special units like flame troopers, and of course Behemoths - menacing vehicles that come in to balance out a battle if it’s too one-sided. 

Battlefield 1 is quite possibly the most atmospheric and spectacular online shooter ever made.

2. Rocket League 

The blisteringly fast-paced toy-car-football phenomenon powers on, as popular today as ever. If you’re worried that it’s a bit too reminiscent of actual football, then work through that worry, because it’s so much more.

The beauty of Rocket League is in its absolute subservience to physics. Ball control is completely manual, team moves require a high level of communication and coordination, and aerial play is a whole higher layer of game to master. 

Competitive play is divided up into leagues and seasons too, ensuring that whether you’re playing 1-v-1 or 3-v-3, you tend to be matched up fairly.

3. Dota 2

It may be more of a lifestyle choice and esport rather than a mere game - both insanely popular yet weirdly niche - but Dota 2 is a shining showcase of the MOBA at its finest. Get past the tough learning curve, and you’re in for a world of meticulously balanced heroes and 5-v-5 arena combat.

The aim is simple: destroy the enemy team’s ‘Ancient’ - essentially their base - using your heroes and a steady stream of ‘creeps’ that move towards the enemy base via three lanes. Think real-time strategy meets hack-n-slash. It’s deep, tactical, and free to play.

4. Towerfall: Ascension 

After all these years, the simple charms of firing pinpoint pixel arrows at other people on a single screen remain just as compelling. Towerfall sees up to four players with a limited supply of arrows attempting to one-shot each other.

It’s accessible, but with plenty of clever tricks, such as a wraparound screen that lets you run and fire arrows between the left and right, and top and bottom of the screen. There’s also the ever-vital dodge button, with which you can catch inbound arrows and fire them right back into the silly face of your attackers.

To spice things up, you can experiment with the endless mashups of mutators - from non-homing arrows to angel wings and an ever-scrolling screen - which help keep the game fresh and surprising.

5. Overwatch

The garish hero-based shooter hit the ground at hyper-speed and never really stopped. With one of the most vibrant and varied character rosters ever seen in a game, you have a huge amount of freedom about how to play - whether it’s as a tanky hamster scampering around in a four-legged mech, or an angelic, airborne healer.

Overwatch manages to condense a lot of fun into snappy team-based game modes, making it viable for both lunch breaks or all-night blowouts. Despite the asymmetry of its characters, it’s brilliantly balanced, with just about every hero feeling both rewarding and distinctive to play as.

6. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege

Fans of the unforgiving tactical shooter series bemoaned its move into the multiplayer space, but none could have predicted the runaway success it’d become. Two teams of five face off against each other in attackers versus defenders games of bomb defusal, hostage rescues and asset protection.

The hook is that levels are partially destructible, and there’s a lengthy preparation phase during which defenders can build up their defences while attackers survey the map. No two games feel the same, and as you gain ‘Renown’ points, you can unlock new operators, each with distinctive abilities and play styles.

7. Worms W.M.D

It sometimes seems like there are a thousand variants of the classic invertebrate tactics game you can play today. The most recent iteration is Worms W.M.D, which has a bold new art style and weapons, but if you prefer a more vintage feel then Worms Reloaded or even Worms Armageddon could be for you, while 2012’s Worms Revolution dabbles in 3D graphics on a 2D plane.

Whichever you go for, the formula remains a zenith of multiplayer gaming. Up to four players control a team of worms each, taking turns on a timer to cross precarious levels and decimate enemy teams with bazookas, explosive sheep, banana bombs and cheeky melee punches. A bit like Chess, Worms is both ancient and eternal.

8. Mordhau

With so many competitive combat games revolving around guns, we figured we’d highlight a game that takes things back to basics. Building on the lineage of physics-based first-person slashers like Chivalry and Mount & Blade, Mordhau is a medieval battlefield where up to 64 players go at each other with swords, maces, throwing knives, and whatever they find lying on the ground. 

Mordhau thrives in improvisation, as even a disarmed player can unsheath a knife (or pull one out of a shield) and take out an incoming enemy with a well-placed throw. As well as team-based siege modes, there’s an excellent battle royale mode too.

9. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Maybe a controversial representative of the battle royale genre in light of the runaway success of subsequent titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends, but if you’re after serious suspense and a distilled atmosphere where you’re perking your ears for every footstep and distant gunshot, then PUBG still hits the target.

It remains one of the most played games on Steam with good reason, and major updates (such as the overhaul of original map Erangel) show that the developers are serious about refining the experience, making it less buggy and more realistic than ever.

10. Overcooked 2

The sequel to the most freewheeling and frantic (and only) co-op cooking game ups the ante, chucking you and up to three friends into kitchens of ever-increasing chaos. As a rabble of cooks, you need to cook and serve up food for a restaurant before the timer runs out. Self-organisation is key, and you’ll be screaming at each other in delighted frustration over things like the dishes not being washed or the soup setting on fire.

In later levels the kitchens are set on everything from airships to underground temples, shifting and moving, forcing your team to adapt and constantly rejig your clockwork-like system. It’s a game that helps you empathise just a little with Gordon Ramsay and his infamous tirades.

Categories: Tech News

Final Fantasy 7 Remake: trailers, release date, news and features

Latest Tech News - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 13:34

First released in 1997, Final Fantasy 7 immediately cemented its place as one of the best JRPG titles around and introduced millions of gamers around the world to the genre. Now, due to the success of Final Fantasy 7 over 20 years ago (and the pleads from die hard fans), Square Enix is releasing a remake. 

Unfortunately, those high expectations have been both a blessing and a curse for the game as the path to release hasn’t been smooth. 

But now, four years after it was announced at E3 2015, we finally have a Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date: March 3, 2020. 

We've now seen the game a half-dozen times in trailers – and even got hands on time at Gamescom 2019 and E3 2019 – but, with news and rumors still churning around the great wide web, we’ve gathered up everything we know has been confirmed, what we've played and everything fans suspect right here for your perusal.

[Update: Check out our hands on: Final Fantasy VII Remake review.]

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? A re-interpretation of the popular JRPG Final Fantasy 7 
  • When can I play it? March 3, 2020
  • What can I play it on? It’s been confirmed the game will come to PS4 first, but there are rumors it may appear later on PC and Xbox One
Final Fantasy 7 Remake trailers

The first trailer for the game was released upon the remake's announcement at E3 2015. The trailer is largely cinematic and you can watch it for yourself below:

A further trailer (this time featuring gameplay) was revealed at PSX in 2015:

There's also the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trailer that was revealed during Sony's May 9 State of Play event this year. In it, we got a great look at what the action-heavy combat would look like (think Kingdom Hearts and you'll be on the right track) and one of the series most well-remembered protagonists, Aerith. 

Check it out below:

The most important trailer we have is the one that was unveiled at a Final Fantasy 7 concert held in Los Angeles, where the game's director, Tetsuya Nomura, unveiled Remake's official March 3, 2020 release date.

It's only a minute long but it's important.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake release date

The Final Fantasy 7 remake has had something of a troubled development, which makes it all the more surprising that we'll be seeing the game as early as we are. 

The date Square Enix has given us is March 3, 2020 – but it's unclear if that's for all of the episodes (remember, FF7R is an episodic game with more than two Blu-rays worth of content) or if that's just the release date of episode one.

For some, that date is much sooner than expected considering the game's recent setback, but others will likely say it's arriving later than they wanted. 

For what it's worth, the game has been in the works since 2014 but there have been few significant official updates since the E3 2015 reveal. In that time, development of the game has moved from external developer CyberConnect2 to Square Enix’s in-house team. Overhauls like this can cause big delays to a game’s progress but according to Square Enix's Naoki Hamaguchi the decision was made out of a desire to maintain “control quality as well as keeping the schedule stable.”

The good news is now that release date is set in stone.

We also know is that the game will be available to PlayStation 4 players “first” as was promised at its E3 reveal. Saying “first” suggests this isn’t an outright exclusive and that the game will eventually come to Xbox One and PC. However, there was no indication as to how long the agreed exclusivity period would be. 

We're also expecting Final Fantasy 7 remake to be a cross-generation release, likely releasing on both PS5 and the next Xbox alongside current generation consoles.

Image credit: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 Remake news and rumors

Those Xbox One rumors
After the Xbox Germany Facebook account posted a video which suggested that the Final Fantasy 7 remake would be coming to Xbox One on March 3 2020, the same date it will hit PS4, fans were left with some pressing questions. 

However, Square Enix confirmed in a statement to IGN that Final Fantasy 7 will only release on PS4 on March 3, 2020 and that there are “no plans for other platforms”. Whether this means there are no plans for other platforms just on March 3 or whether there are no plans for other platforms for good is unconfirmed but so far it seems like the game will be a PS4 exclusive. Microsoft has deemed the Facebook video which was quickly removed an “internal mistake”. 

Preview
We got hands on with Final Fantasy 7 Remake at E3 2019 and were extremely impressed by what we saw. Remake brags seamless, Advent Children-tier cinematics and fluid, real-time combat. While the game is centered on the same story, characters and enemies, everything has been amped up to make for a modern gaming experience. Characters have new abilities and there's a few new cutscenes thrown in to add to the narrative, but essentially Remake is a game which is equally accessible to fans and newbies alike.

Midgar
The only FF7 Remake setting we have seen is the dark, steampunk city of Midgar. In order to increase Midgar's gothic atmosphere, Square Enix used lighting, coloring and effects to vary the iconic location while also including "surprises around every corner".

Cast change
Technology has come on leaps and bounds since Final Fantasy 7 was released, therefore it's no surprise that Square Enix is harnessing motion capture to enhance Remake's characters - adding more expression and therefore making the title more immersive. The Remake also has a new voice actor cast,  however developer plans to keep the original cast for other Final Fantasy games that include Final Fantasy 7's characters. 

Image credit: Square Enix

Deeper into story and characters
Square Enix has explained during a behind-closed-doors E3 2019 presentation of Remake that while the title is a "reimagining" of FF7, it aims to dig deeper into the game's story and characters - making it the equivalent of a standalone Final Fantasy game in its own right. 

Tactical Mode
Final Fantasy 7 Remake includes Tactical Mode which is essentially a Matrix-style slow motion mode that that gives you time to select your next action and aims to please those who prefer turn-based combat.

FF7 Remake is based around core values
Square Enix has assured us that Final fantasy 7 Remake is based around three core values: innovation, pushing boundaries and surprising players. In that light, the developer is approaching Remake like a new game in an effort to create new exciting experiences for a new generation. However, many of the game's original development team are continuing to oversee the title, in order to keep its heart.

E3 2019 news - Two Discs and new ATB system
At E3 2019 we learned that there are more than two Blu-ray discs worth of content planned for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. We also got an in-depth look at the combat mechanics of the game – including the new ATB system. The main takeaway is that switching between characters in the real-time battle system can be done by pressing a single button, and you'll need your entire party to beat tougher bosses. 

So what's worth pointing out here is that the sedentary turn-based combat you may remember from the original has been replaced with a FF15-style approach that allows you to control the characters and move them around the battlefield. You'll still have some familiar options in combat - like Limit Breaks - but expect combat to be a bit more engaging this time around.

During E3 2019 we also learned that Final Fantasy 7 Remake is not only episodic, but actually requires two Blu-ray discs to hold all the content. The first disc, released on March 3, 2020, will actually only take place in Midgar - that futuristic city you've seen so much of in the trailers. 

Nomura admits an announcement was premature
Square Enix's Tetsuya Nomura has admitted that both Kingdom Hearts 3 and the Final Fantasy 7 remake were announced too early.

"I am well aware of the fact that we announced it too early," Nomura told Italian gaming mag Multiplayer (translated by Kingdom Hearts Insider) . "But even in the industry, word was beginning to spread that we were working on the game, so we just decided not to keep it more secret and officially reveal it."

Image credit: Square Enix

It’s a reconstruction, not a shot-for-shot remake 
The Final Fantasy 7 remake will follow the original game’s narrative and feature the iconic characters and locations that fans love. 

Considering it’s so beloved there’s a lot of pressure on Square Enix to not stray too far from the original source material but according to director Tetsuya Nomura it won’t be a completely direct recreation. In an interview with Wired, Nomura said “We're not intending for this to become a one-to-one remake, or just the original Final Fantasy VII with better graphics.”

Nomura has said that he wants the remake to "apply to the current era" and "the current generation of players." He added the caveat that he doesn't "want to change it so much that it's unrecognizable" but it has to be offering something "fresh and new." 

To accommodate modern consoles and gamers, changes will naturally have to be made to the game both in terms of gameplay, mechanics and perhaps even to some elements of the story. For starters, early trailers show a game more akin to Final Fantasy XV mechanically, with fixed viewpoints and static backdrops swapped out for full-3D terrain, and a turn-based battle system removed in favour of a real-time action-orientated one.

Image credit: Square Enix

It’s episodic
A significant way the remake is going to differ from the original game is that its story will be told episodically. This is a detail that was confirmed back in December 2015. 

The reasoning behind the decision, according to series producer Yoshinori Kitase is that “a proper HD remake” just wouldn’t fit into one instalment and maintain the “same feeling of density of the original.”

“We've seen everyone's comments and reactions to the news that Final Fantasy 7 remake will be a multi-part series and many have speculated correctly as to the reason why we have made this decision,” he said, “If we were to try to fit everything from the original into one remake instalment, we would have to cut various parts and create a condensed version of Final Fantasy 7. We knew none of you would have wanted that.

“I hope that by explaining a little more about our design decisions that you can appreciate the size of this project and what we have planned for this remake. Going beyond the scale and depth of the world, narrative and gameplay from the original to deliver something that feels familiar yet new. As I said before, we like delivering surprises.”

Each episode will apparently be its “own unique experience” but as yet we don’t know how many episodes there will be or how they’ll be structured in relation to the original story. 

Image credit: Square Enix

No more turn-based battles 
As mentioned above, a major element that’s changing from the original game is a move away from turn-based battles. 

In an interview with Famitsu, Nomura said that battles in the remake will be “action-based” rather than command-based. Nomura didn’t go into much more detail with regards to the game’s combat system but it’s widely expected that we’re going to see a formula more similar to Kingdom Hearts and FFXV. 

This would mean a more active and seamless style of battling involving party members whom the player will be able to switch between. 

Though the loss of turn-based combat will be mourned, a move towards a system like Kingdom Hearts will be more accessible to new players. 

A PS5 release?
PS5 development kits are now said to be out in the wild, with Sony's first-party development teams working almost solely on titles for the as-yet-unannounced next-gen system. With the ambition on display here, could Square Enix be planning to shift Final Fantasy 7's remake to the next machine? 

For Sony, it'd be a system seller right out of the gates for the new console generation, and for the developers you'd imagine it'd offer more processing grunt and a little longer in terms of the development window. This is speculation at this point, but as the sun sets on the PS4, and titles like Final Fantasy 7's remake being no closer to even having a release date, it starts to seem like the looming next generation machines may be now what they're being aimed at.

(Image credits: Square Enix)

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