Tech News

Lenovo's Thinkpad X1 foldable laptop will get bent out of shape before Surface Neo

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 08:20

The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 is a foldable laptop/tablet hybrid, and the company has just revealed that it will be coming out in Q2 2020 – several months before Microsoft’s dual-screen foldable Surface Neo hits stores.

This could be a real advantage for Lenovo, by getting out its innovative laptop form factor before Microsoft has a chance to release its own.

The reveal comes at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona, when Gianfrano Lanci, chief operating officer at Lenovo announced that “It will start shipping probably Q2 next year."

That’s still some time away, though crucially before the date of the Surface Neo launch, which Microsoft has pegged as “Holiday 2020” – which is Q3.

According to Lanci, the "hardware is ready but we need to still fix certain things from a software point of view and that doesn't depend 100 per cent on us."

This sounds remarkably similar to what Microsoft said about the Surface Neo, as the hardware is apparently pretty finalised, but software support – such as having Windows 10 application work over dual (or bendable) screens still needs to be worked on.

It seems reinventing the laptop isn’t that easy after all.

Foldable Thinkpad

The Thinkpad X1 will have a single OLED display with a 2K resolution – which can be folded in half. It will be powered by Intel hardware and will run Windows, possibly Windows 10X – a version of Windows 10 that is designed for dual screen devices. Microsoft’s Surface Neo will also run it.

However, unlike the Thinkpad X1, the Surface Neo will have two separate screens, with a hinge allowing it to be folded.

The two companies are obviously hoping that their innovative new devices will win over customers who are using more traditional laptops. If Lenovo can get the Thinkpad X1 out before the Surface Neo, that could make Microsoft’s job a lot harder.

Via The Register

Categories: Tech News

The best iPad apps of 2019

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 08:14

Apps set the iPad apart from other tablets, whether you need to work on office tasks, learn something new, make music, watch a movie or become a digital artist.

But which apps are worth your cash and time? We’ve tested thousands to come up with our definitive list of the best apps for iPad right now.

You'll find them split into categories on the following pages, but first see below for our favorite iPad app of the last two weeks.

iPad app of the week: AudioKit FM Player 2 ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

AudioKit FM Player 2 is an open-source iPad synth that’ll beam you back to the 1980s. Its many and varied presets are based on over 150 samples, and bathe your ears in classic sounds from the likes of Yamaha’s DX7 and TX81Z.

A slew of knobs to twiddle, along with an arpeggiator and 16-step sequencer, give you plenty of scope for shaping sound. This is the kind of synth where you can merrily hold down a single key, fiddle with settings, and suddenly realize half an hour’s zoomed by.

The app plays nicely with the iPadOS music ecosystem, too. It will work with MIDI keyboards, and also other music apps – in fact, AUv3 support means the entire interface can be loaded into GarageBand, whenever you fancy getting your Kraftwerk on.

The best iPad art and design apps

Our favorite iPad apps for painting, sketching, drawing, CAD, pixel art, graphic design and animation.

Imaengine Vector (free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Imaengine Vector is two apps in one. In its most basic form, it’s a photo filter app. Load a picture or use your iPad to take a photo, and you can select from a number of filters. Most of them are eye-popping, transforming your image to anything from ink sketch to abstract art.

That alone is worth the outlay, but tap the ‘editor’ button and Imaengine Vector transforms into a full editing package, enabling you to adjust every stroke, and add to the image with lines and shapes of your own.

The app’s interface is a touch esoteric, and would do better if it avoided shoving all the buttons right at the edge of the iPad’s display. But that’s the only major shortfall in this powerful app, which can produce some seriously arresting visuals.

Live Home 3D (free + IAP)

Live Home 3D is for people who fancy partaking in some interior design. Whether you want to experiment with your own home, or design an entirely new one, there are plenty of tools here for doing so – in 2D and 3D alike.

Even for free, there’s loads to delve into, from creating bespoke floor plans to projecting your finished masterwork on to real-world surroundings in AR. Thousands of materials and models are available to deck your virtual home out so that it resembles the real thing.

There are two paid tiers: Standard ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99) removes watermarks and is flexible regarding import/export; Pro ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99) gives you more customization in terms of drawing, output quality, and light editing. In all versions, the app is powerful, usable, and entertaining.

Linea Sketch ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Linea Sketch carefully balances power, ease of use and control to help you capture visual ideas.

Rather than drowning you in features and toolbars, tools sit in slimline strips at the side of the screen.This makes it a cinch to select colors, work across five layers (into which you can import photos), choose backgrounds and grids, and get on with sketching. You can adjust the thickness of pen lines, block in areas with a fill tool, use a blend tool to make your work feel less digital, and convert rough scribbles to adjustable geometric polygons by way of ZipShapes.

This still isn’t a full-fledged artist package – you’d need Procreate for that – but as a base for visual notes, quick design sketches, and drawing without fuss, there’s nothing better on iPad.

Affinity Designer (US$19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

Affinity Designer brings desktop-grade vector illustration to iPad. Its huge range of tools are ideally suited to anything from high-end illustrations through to interface design. Every stroke always remains editable, and you can zoom to an absurd degree, and never lose detail.

The app works nicely with Apple Pencil or your own digits, and has a smart gestural system where holding fingers on the screen mirrors desktop keyboard modifiers. Elsewhere, you can pinch layers to group them, or drag one layer on to another to create a mask.

This is an app you can get lost in – but in a good way. The more you use it, the more you realize its sheer scope. And it even shares a file format with Affinity Photo, so you can bounce documents between the two without losing anything.

Core Animator ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

Core Animator is an app for creating motion graphics on your iPad. If you’ve ever seen Adobe Animate (formerly Flash), you’ll feel at home. If not, the app might take longer to get to grips with, but you’re helped along by built-in tutorials and Core Animator’s usable, logical interface.

The basics involve adding objects to a canvas and manipulating them at various ‘keyframes’ on the timeline. You can adjust each one’s position, rotation, scale, and opacity, and Core Animator deals with all the frames in between.

It’s worth noting there are no drawing tools, so you must import elements created elsewhere. The app also demands time and patience, but give it both and you can end up with superb results.

Concepts (free + various IAP)

Concepts is an advanced vector-based sketching and design app. Every stroke remains editable, and similar flexibility is evident elsewhere, with varied grids (dot; lined; isometric), definable gestures, and an adjustable interface.

With version 5, Concepts’ design revamp transformed the main toolbar into a space-efficient tool wheel, from which Copic swatches pleasingly explode when you switch colors. As such, the app’s a touch alien at first, and can be fiddly if you don’t have a Pencil.

But Concepts soon becomes natural and fluid in use, and it’s apparent the app’s been designed for touch, rather than a developer hammering desktop concepts into your iPad.

If you’re not a professional architect, illustrator or the like it might be overkill, but if you’re unsure, you can get a feel for the app for free. IAPs subsequently allow you to unlock shape guides, SVG and PDF export, infinite layers, and object packs.

Clip Studio Paint Ex for manga ($8.99/£6.99/AU$11.49 monthly)

Clip Studio Paint Ex for manga brings the popular PC desktop app for digital artists to the iPad. And we mean that almost literally – Clip Studio looks pretty much identical to the desktop release.

In one sense, this isn’t great news – menus, for example, are fiddly to access, but it does mean you get a feature-rich, powerful app. There are loads of brushes and tools, vector capabilities, effect lines and tones for comic art, and onion skinning for animations. It also takes full advantage of Pencil, so pro artists can be freed from the desktop, and work wherever they like.

The app could do with better export and desktop workflow integration, and even some fans might be irked by the subscription model. But Clip Studio’s features and quality mean most will muddle through the former issues and pay for the latter.

Procreate ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Procreate is the kind of digital painting app that could feasibly tear jobbing artists away from the desktop. Feature rich, it also has an immediacy that makes it approachable for relative newcomers looking to paint on a touchscreen.

The interface is unobtrusive; by default, tools are accessed from a strip at the top of the screen, and brush size and opacity sliders sit at the left. Simple gestures can take you full screen, or undo a duff stroke.

This simple interface is augmented with a slew of features: custom, sharable brushes; layers with masking; drawing guides (such as isometric grids); live symmetry effects; Quickline for snapping strokes to straight lines; warp and liquify. As your skills advance, you can export video of you painting your masterpiece – or a 30-second timelapse ready for social media.

Pixaki ($24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99)

With visible pixels essentially eradicated from modern mobile device screens, it’s amusing to see retro-style pixel art stubbornly clinging on.

But chunky pixels are a pleasing aesthetic, evoking nostalgia, and you know thought’s gone into the placement of every dot. Pixaki is an iPad pixel art ‘studio’, ideal for illustrators, games designers, and animators.

At its most minimal, the interface shows your canvas and some tool icons: pencil; eraser; fill; shapes; select; color picker. But there are also slide-in panels for layers/palettes, and the frame-based animation system.

Bar a slightly awkward selection/move process, workflow is sleek and efficient (not least with the superb fill tool, which optionally works non-contiguously across multiple layers), and the app has robust, flexible import and export options.

Perhaps most importantly, Pixaki’s just really nice to use – more so than crafting similar art on a PC or Mac, and although pricey it’s worth the money for anyone serious about pixel art.

Stop Motion Studio Pro ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Animation can be painstaking, whether doing it for your career or just for fun. Fortunately, Stop Motion Studio Pro streamlines the process, providing a sleek and efficient app for your next animated masterpiece.

It caters to various kinds of animation: you can use your iPad’s camera to capture a scene, import images or videos (which are broken down into stills), or use a remote app installed on an iPhone. Although most people will export raw footage to the likes of iMovie, Stop Motion Pro shoots for a full animation suite by including audio and title capabilities.

There are some snags. Moving frames requires an awkward copy/paste/delete workaround. Also, drawing tools are clumsy, making the app’s claim of being capable of rotoscoping a tad suspect. But as an affordable and broadly usable app for crafting animation, it fits the bill.

Comic Life 3 ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

There are plenty of apps that enable you to add comic-like filters and the odd speech balloon to your photos, but Comic Life 3 goes the whole hog regarding comic creation. You select from pre-defined templates or basic page layouts, and can then begin working on a Marvel-worrying masterpiece.

Importing images is straightforward, and you get plenty of control over sound effects and speech balloons. For people who are perhaps taking things a bit too seriously (or actual comic creators, who can use this app for quick mock-ups), there's a bundled script editor as well.

Oddly, Comic Life 3's filters aren't that impressive, not making your photos look especially hand-drawn. But otherwise the app is an excellent means of crafting stories on an iPad, and you can export your work in a range of formats to share with friends - and Stan Lee.

The best education apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for learning something new – from astronomy to human history.

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life hints at the future of consumable media. At its core, this is an educational journey into over 30 creatures and their habitats. You learn how living things on Earth are interlinked, and the way in which everything is constructed from the same fundamental building blocks.

It’s the presentation, though, that sets the app apart. The main interface comprises sets of 3D scenes you can twirl and explore. Embedded within, you’ll find over a thousand high-res images, short videos narrated by Brian Cox and engaging essays.

The result is something that borrows from magazines, books, television and apps, successfully merging them all into something new. Especially on the larger screen of the iPad, the dazzling visuals and text alike all get a chance to shine.

Solar Walk 2 - Planet Explorer ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Solar Walk 2 is a digital orrery. It offers a stylized 3D view of the solar system, and tapping on any planet or moon whisks you toward it within seconds, like you’re piloting a rocket from NASA’s dreams.

The view can be manipulated by standard iOS gestures, although this app is also really nice to just leave in a docked iPad so you can watch moons and planets orbit their parents.

When you want to science things up a bit, though, the app’s ready and willing. An interactive facts panel provides stats, graphs, and the means to crack open a planet to see what’s inside. Add some IAP and you can travel with famous space missions like Voyager 1. In all, it’s a cracking alternative to a real-world orrery – and a lot more portable and interactive, too!

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 ($24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99)

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 represents a leap forward for iPad education apps and digital textbooks alike. In short, it turns your iPad into an anatomy lab – and augmented reality extends this to nearby flat surfaces.

You can explore your virtual cadaver by region or system. Additionally, you can examine cross-sections, micro-anatomy (eyes; bone layers; touch receptors, and so on), and muscle actions. If you want to learn what makes you tick, it’s fascinating to spin a virtual body beneath your finger, and ‘dissect’ it by removing sections.

But the AR element is a real prize, giving you a captivating, slightly unnerving virtual body to explore. Ideal fodder for medical students, then, but great even for the simply curious. And although it’s pricey for the latter audience, the app’s often on sale, and has dropped as low as $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49. Snap it up if you see it cheap.

LookUp ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

There are quite a few dictionary apps on iPad, and most of them don’t tend to stray much from paper-based tomes, save adding a search function. LookUp has a more colorful way of thinking, primarily with its entry screen. This features rows of illustrated cards, each of which houses an interesting word you can discover more about with a tap.

The app is elsewhere a mite more conventional – you can type in a word to confirm a spelling, and access its meaning, etymology, and Wikipedia entry.

The app’s lack of speed and customization means it likely won’t be a writer’s first port of call when working – but it is an interesting app for anyone fascinated by language, allowing you to explore words and their histories in rather more relaxed circumstances.

Redshift Pro (($17.99/£17.99/AU$27.99)

The ‘pro’ bit in Redshift Pro’s name is rather important, because this astronomy app is very much geared at the enthusiast. It dispenses with the gimmickry seen in some competing apps, and is instead packed with a ton of features, including an explorable planetarium, an observation planner and sky diary, 3D models of the planetary bodies, simulations, and even the means to control a telescope.

Although more workmanlike than pretty, the app does the business when you’re zooming through the heavens, on a 3D journey to a body of choice, or just lazily browsing whatever you’d be staring at in the night sky if your ceiling wasn’t in the way.

And if it all feels a bit rich, the developer has you covered with the slightly cut down – but still impressive – Redshift, for half the outlay.

Sky Guide ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

There are quite a few apps for virtual stargazing, but Sky Guide is the best of them on iPad. Like its rivals, the app allows you to search the heavens in real-time, providing details of constellations and satellites in your field of view (or, if you fancy, on the other side of the world).

Also, when outside during the daytime (at which point stars are inconveniently invisible to the naked eye), you can use augmented reality to map constellations on to a blue sky.

Indoors, it transforms into a kind of reference guide, offering further insight into distant heavenly bodies, and the means to view the sky at different points in history. What sets Sky Guide apart, though, is an effortless elegance. It's simply the nicest app of its kind to use, with a polish and refinement that cements its essential nature.

Earth Primer ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

When you're told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you've read the rest of the book.

Although ultimately designed for children, it's a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.

Journeys of Invention ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Touch Press somewhat cornered the market in amazing iOS books with The Elements, but Journeys of Invention takes things a step further. In partnership with the Science Museum, it leads you through many of science's greatest discoveries, weaving them into a compelling mesh of stories.

Many objects can be explored in detail, and some are more fully interactive, such as the Enigma machine, which you can use to share coded messages with friends.

What's especially great is that none of this feels gimmicky. Instead, this app points towards the future of books, strong content being married to useful and engaging interactivity.

The best movie and entertainment apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for having fun with your iPad, whether reading, watching TV, using Twitter or delving into interactive art.

Tayasui Color 2 ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Tayasui Color 2 is a rare iPad coloring app, in that it’s properly premium and doesn’t delve into the murky world of subscriptions. That means it’s more limited than its contemporaries – you get just 18 illustrations – but you’re not forking out for something you may only dip into on occasion.

The app has other benefits, too, not least a beautiful design that makes it feel like the most tactile offering on the platform. The illustrations sit within a flip book of virtual stiff card pages. As you color, sound effects mimic real-world tools, which is especially mesmerizing if you’re using a stylus. 

There is one minor issue, in the illustrations not scaling as well as they might when you zoom in – they get a bit blurry. But otherwise, this is a wonderful premium take on iPad coloring.

Infuse Pro 6 ($24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99)

Infuse Pro 6 is a video player for people who prefer hoarding over streaming. If you’ve curated a collection of favorites, Infuse can get them on your iPad, wherever they happen to be stored.

Unlike equivalent apps, Infuse doesn’t need a server running. Point it at a local network drive, a PC/Mac, or cloud storage, and it will browse folders, load cover art, and – on a tap – stream whatever you choose. There’s support for a wide range of formats, subtitles can be downloaded in an instant, and iCloud syncs your library and playback progress across devices (including Apple TV).

If you’re unsure, a free version exists. Unless you upgrade via subscription, it has fewer features, although remains extremely capable. But if you’re really serious about video on your iPad, this pay-once edition is well worth the outlay.

Reeder 4 ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Reeder 4 is a premium RSS client. You subscribe to website feeds, which can be browsed individually or as a whole, ensuring you never miss an article from favorite sources.

Although you can opt to view the original web pages, you’re better off with Reeder’s own reader, which removes cruft, leaving you with just text and images. For sites that only provide synopses, entire articles can be loaded with a touch of a button. There’s also a ‘Bionic Reading’ mode can also be invoked, emboldening specific letters in words to slow you down, so you take in more of the text.

Despite the odd flub (a default theme that very much needs the ‘increase contrast’ option on; finicky animations), Reeder remains ahead of the pack. It’s a must-buy if you want a better way to take in news and other articles on your iPad.

David Bowie is… ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

David Bowie is… takes 2013’s blockbuster Bowie exhibition and stuffs it inside of your iPad as an AR experience.

Curated by theme rather than chronologically, the exhibition is a set of interactive scenes, ‘projected’ onto your desktop. Optional narration by Gary Oldman adds backstory as you examine lyrics, costumes and videos, exploring the life of a music icon.

On iPad, David Bowie is… works especially well. The screen’s squarer aspect ratio makes examining content less awkward than on iPhone, and the larger display lets everything shine. The only thing that might give you pause is the price, but for far less than a ticket to the original exhibition, you get unlimited access to all the goodies – including dozens of songs and videos – without having to peer over other people’s shoulders.

Bloom: 10 Worlds ($7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99)

Bloom: 10 Worlds is the follow-up to 2008’s Bloom, which never made it to iPad. That app had you tap the screen to simultaneously play notes and create spots of color. The former looped and slowly evolved; the latter disappeared into the background like ripples in a pond.

10 Worlds expands this premise out from a ‘single’ into a full album. There are 10 takes on the format to enjoy, each with its own visuals and audio. The visuals in particular have been significantly improved from the original Bloom, replacing that app’s hard geometric forms with a more painterly approach.

However, it’s the intriguing mix of instrument, album, and art that still shines through. The result is an essential addition to iPad, perfectly complementing existing Eno/Chilvers collaborations Scape and Reflection

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged (US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged takes a warehouse-sized art exhibit and transforms it into a virtual space. This means instead of getting a digital book, where you swipe between stills, you instead experience the context and atmospherics of the original show, dragging the screen to move, or actually walking around in AR, adjusting your view on the basis of where you hold your iPad.

Fairey – creator of the iconic ‘Hope’ image of Barack Obama – is on fine form here, exploring issues relating to social media, celebrity, and the notion of constructing your own reality. Optionally, his narrative can accompany your journey around his work, adding extra insight. But however you check out Damaged, it proves itself to be the finest example of a virtual gallery on mobile, looking to the future rather than the past.

Tweetbot 5 (US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Tweetbot 5 is a premium Twitter client. Unlike Twitter’s own client, which is determined to present tweets as it sees fit, Tweetbot lists tweets in order, omits ads, and doesn’t clutter up your mentions feed with notifications about retweets and likes. There’s a night mode, for tweeting in the dark, iCloud sync across devices for keeping your place, and nice sound effects that make the app feel alive.

On iPad, the app of course supports Split View and Slide Over, but it also has its own built-in column view. This means if you’re the kind of person who lives on Twitter, you can, for example, simultaneously scroll through your feed in the main pane, while chatting with people via direct messages in another. Top stuff for power users – or anyone who wants to avoid social network noise.

Islands: Non-Places ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Carl Burton’s Islands: Non-Places is listed in the App Store as a game, but don’t believe a word of it. Really, this ten-scene artistic endeavor is a surreal, mesmerizing semi-interactive animated film.

Each ‘non-place’ is somewhere you’d usually ignore or stay only on a very temporary basis, but here, the mundane is subverted through unusual and unexpected juxtapositions.

You’ll find yourself staring at a luggage carousel, before the bags begin a lazy Mexican wave. Elsewhere, palm trees ride mall escalators, while a run-of-the-mill seating area is suddenly flooded, a warning siren slicing its way through inane background chatter.

The result is frequently disorientating, but Islands also has the capacity to surprise, and is often oddly beautiful.

Chunky Comic Reader (free or $3.99/£3.99/AU$4.49)

There's a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.

Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they're gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good.

Paying the one-off 'pro' IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.

Scape ($11.99/£11.99/AU$17.99)

Pop music is about getting what you expect. Ambient music has always felt subtly different, almost like anything could happen. With generative audio, this line of thinking became reality. Scape gives you a combined album/playground in this nascent genre, from the minds of Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.

Each track is formed by way of adding musical elements to a canvas, which then interact in sometimes unforeseen ways. Described as music that "thinks for itself", Scape becomes a pleasing, fresh and infinitely replayable slice of chillout bliss. And if you're feeling particularly lazy, you can sit back and listen to an album composed by the app's creators.

The best health, diet, and exercise apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for cooking, relaxing, de-stressing and keeping fit.

Streaks Workout ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Streaks Workout is a personal trainer squeezed into your iPad. But unlike many of its contemporaries, Streaks doesn’t make assumptions about your skill level and environment. You don’t need any equipment, and the app is flexible enough to fit around your capabilities and interests.

To rapidly kick things off, you can select exercises to use within random workouts, and choose from one of four timers. These range from the reasonable six-minute Quick to the arduous half-hour Extreme. As you exercise, the app records how you do, building up a log of your efforts.

At any point, you can create your own custom exercises, making the app truly yours. And with data syncing across the cloud, there’s no excuse for not working up a sweat, since Streaks can always be with you on iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

Cosm ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Cosm is a mash-up of mental wellness aid and ambient instrument. Fire up a new session, prod the screen, and a calming note will play. Tap a few more times, and you’ll soon realize you’ve composed a custom loop to serenade you into the infinite.

So far, so Brian Eno’s Bloom – but Cosm takes things further. You get control over tuning, volume, and instrumentation. Most importantly, your compositions can be saved, whereupon the app encourages you to add a written note about how you feel.

The idea is to create a kind of journal that’s driven in part by the compositions you make – or at least to make compositions that give you a boost when you later return to them. Whether or not you’re a fan of Eno’s iPad apps, Cosm is well worth investigating.

Paprika ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Paprika is ideal for people who live in the kitchen. Whereas other cooking apps are content to serve up some recipes and a shopping list, Paprika is a full-fledged scrapbook and meal planner you can use for every aspect of your culinary world.

Recipes can be added manually or snipped from favorite websites. Anything added to the app can be adjusted, if you decide you’ve figured out a way to improve the dish or preparation methods, or fancy adding some photos. Beyond that, there’s an ingredients tracker, meal planner (with Calendar integration), menu creator, and the means to print recipes.

It’s not as visually flashy as the likes of Kitchen Stories and Tasty, but Paprika feels like the best bet for anyone whose iPad spends almost as much time in the kitchen as they do.

Streaks (US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Streaks is habit-forming – in a good way. It’s effectively a to-do manager that focuses on what you want to do in your life – and bad habits you want to eradicate.

To get started, you create tasks, assign icons, and define durations. The app’s flexible regarding how often tasks should be done; and you can create time-based ones (whereupon the app temporarily becomes a timer), those that interact with Apple’s Health app, and ‘negative’ ones you don’t want to ‘complete’. Streaks then tracks your progress in handy graph form.

The app’s iPhone origins are obvious, not least in the main display that’s optimized for six tasks and therefore looks comical on iPad. But it’s nonetheless great to have this superb app in native form on Apple’s tablet, and iCloud sync ensures any changes you make are accessible across all your Apple gear.

CARROT Fit ($3.99/£3.99/AU$4.49)

CARROT Fit is the answer if a more sensible exercise app just isn’t doing it for you. Like CARROT Weather, this fitness tool is helmed by a snarky, sarcastic AI. Here, she comes across like the deranged offspring of HAL 9000 and a personal trainer. To wit, she’ll threaten, ridicule and bribe you, in order to “prevent your body from blimping up.”

The actual exercise bit is, broadly speaking, conventional, in that you partake in recognizable routines. But even there, CARROT Fit has a very distinct character, referring to push-ups as ‘Kowtows to Cthulhu,’ and subtly renaming the seven-minute workout ‘7 Minutes in Hell.’ Still, you’ll likely need some humor when sitting on the floor in a sweaty heap after a few minutes of exercise, and CARROT Fit has that over its straight-laced contemporaries.

White Noise+ (free + US$2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP)

White Noise+ is a sound machine designed to reduce distractions by way of ambient noise. Many apps in this space are a bit new age and flowery, and quite a few are, frankly, rubbish. Fortunately, White Noise+ is none of those things, instead providing a thoroughly modern, tactile take on noise generation.

The app’s based around a grid akin to smart drums in GarageBand. Here, you get 16 slots, into which you drag icons that represent different sounds. Those toward the top play more loudly, and those toward the right have more complex loops. Your mixes can be saved, and sleep timers and alarms are available if you want to use White Noise+ for meditation sessions – or for waking you up should you doze off.

You get a handful of sounds to play with for free, but the full set requires a one-off IAP. Given the quality of the app, it’s well worth the outlay.

Jamie Oliver's Ultimate Recipes ($6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99)

We're not sure what makes this edition of the famous mockney chef's recipe book 'ultimate', bar that word being very clearly written on the icon.

Still, Jamie Oliver's Ultimate Recipes is certainly a very tasty app. The 600 recipes should satisfy any given mood, whether you're after a sickeningly healthy salad or fancy binging on ALL THE SUGAR until your teeth scream for mercy.

Smartly, every recipe offers step-by-step photos, so you can see how badly you’re going wrong at any point. And when you've nearly burned down the kitchen, given up and ordered a pizza, you can watch the two hours of videos that reportedly tell you how to "become a real kitchen ninja".

Note: this doesn't involve wearing lots of black and hurling sharp objects at walls, sadly.

The best kids apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps, learning tools and games for toddlers and children.

Thinkrolls Space ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Thinkrolls Space continues the great tradition of the Thinkrolls series, giving young children a play experience that marries dexterity tests and puzzle-solving logic. Here, over 200 mazes are set across seven unique planets, and the player is tasked with getting trundling protagonists to the exit. As ever, there are all kinds of hazards in the way.

Given that this game is set in space, there’s a sci-fi/fantasy vibe to proceedings. Plasma fields, teleporters, and vanishing rainbow bridges must be dealt with, along with a cast of oddball aliens, including sleeping robots and cheese monsters that helpfully devour tunnels of moon cheese.

This iPad app has no timers, no IAP, and its challenges are specifically designed for different skill levels, making it a good bet for families with kids of different ages. Top stuff all round, then. (Pun intended.)

Pango Musical March ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Pango Musical March is arguably not at the educational end of the children’s apps on our list. However, it is a lot of fun for any kid with a musical bent – or who just loves watching colorful cartoon critters do their bidding.

On selecting a musical style (or all four at once), a bar with instruments appears at the foot of the screen. Drag one up to an empty spot and a band member starts to play and march. Add to the musical menagerie for a suitably disciplined slice of marching band goodness – or a barely listenable cacophony.

With no ads, time limits, nor competitive elements, this is a playful and relaxing app for younger children to experiment with, and the visuals look superb on the iPad’s large display.

Image credit: Sago Mini

Sago Mini Village ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Sago Mini Village was reportedly inspired by Minecraft, but designed very much with young children in mind. Therefore, you’re still building your own world from blocks, but these are a bit chunkier than Minecraft’s, and this is a resolutely solo experience.

It’s colorful fare, as you’d expect from a Sago Mini title, set in a fantasy land populated by gnomes. The more buildings that are constructed, the more gnomes move in – and then they start exploring and interacting. There are plenty of entertaining animations and fun surprises throughout.

With offline support and no IAPs, Sago Mini Village is ideal fodder for any young child who loves to build, during those times when it’s not possible to litter your real-world environment with piles of plastic bricks.

Pango Paper Color ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Pango Paper Color is akin to coloring in a living world of origami. Across four scenes, including a forest and a farm, you see objects constructed before your very eyes. You then tap to add colors, whereupon the objects spring to life. Everything looks superb on the iPad’s large display.

Although primarily designed for children, Pango Paper Color is a really nice experience for all kinds of iPad user. Fans of animation will appreciate the effort that’s gone into it; or if you just want something different to relax with, it fits the bill.

For kids, though, this one should really hit home. They can learn to mix colors, photograph and share their scene; and when they’re done coloring, they can fold up all that virtual paper – and then start all over again!

Women Who Changed the World ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Women Who Changed the World is an animated storybook designed to inspire children by telling them the stories of some of history’s bravest and most brilliant women.

Whether you’re finding out about Amelia Earhart’s pioneering aviation exploits or Rosa Parks’ instrumental civil rights battles, the app is a feast for the eyes with colorful illustrations and delightful animation. The stories themselves cover the basics, and provide enough intrigue to urge readers to find out more.

The interactive components are a bit slight, and occasionally obscure what you must do to continue. But otherwise, this ad-free, IAP-free title is the sort of app every child could do with exploring, to more fully understand how incredible women have made the world a better place.

Sizzle & Stew ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Sizzle & Stew shows why young children – along with sloths and llamas – need supervision in the kitchen. Your kid helps the furry duo concoct culinary ‘delights’ that would give a Michelin Star chef chills.

Creating dishes involves partaking in all manner of havoc in the kitchen. Want to microwave a carrot into oblivion? Go for it. Stick broccoli in the oven until it’s unrecognizable? Sure. In the washing machine, too? That’s even tastier. (Just as well, then, that these beasts will eat anything.)

With its absurdist, open-ended, risk-free nature, Sizzle & Stew is bound to appeal to kids. Even better, on iPad a simultaneous two-player split-screen mode has room to breathe, so you can pit your skills against your kid’s – shortly before finding out neither of you’s likely to get a TV chef gig.

Toca Life: Office ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Toca Life: Office gives your kids a chance to play out what they imagine their working parents get up to all day – albeit in exciting environments likely more colorful and interesting than the real thing.

For young children, there’s plenty of fun to be had simply in moving the little figures about, and poking backgrounds to see what happens. For slightly older kids, exploration can prove rewarding in other ways – there’s a secret exit from the jail, a working copy machine in the office, and a cafe where you can merrily experiment with what’s on the menu.

Neatly, there’s even a recording feature, so kids can get creative and act out a scene, which can then be shared with friends. In all, this is another superb Toca Boca creation that ticks all the right boxes.

Bandimal ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Bandimal is a music toy for the rest of us. Actually, its App Store description states it’s a music composer for kids, but ignore that because Bandimal is great fun for everyone.

It offers three slots into which you swipe an animal. A quick tap opens a dotted grid, on to which you assign notes by prodding the dots. These trigger loops when the playhead moves over them, and there are no wrong choices.

There’s a drum track too, along with some basic effects and a speed dial. And as you’re composing, your little menagerie will bop to the beat, with animation that’s so much fun it’s sure to make any cartoonists in the vicinity a touch envious.

You might avoid Bandimal because you’re not a musician. Don’t. This app’s only to be avoided if you hate fun.

Zen Studio (free + IAP)

Zen Studio is a unique, beautifully conceived painting and coloring app. Instead of giving you a blank canvas for free-form scribbling, Zen Studio opts for a triangular grid. Tap spaces and they fill with your selected color as a note plays. This combination of coloring and ad-hoc melody proves very relaxing – for children and adults alike.

In its free version, this is an entertaining app, but it’s worth grabbing the main $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99 IAP. This lets you save unlimited drawings (rather than just eight), and unlocks white paint, which acts as an eraser on compositions with white backgrounds.

It also provides access to a slew of tutorials. These have you build up a picture by coloring inside stencils, which even a two-year-old should be able to cope with – and then subsequently scrawl over when the stencils disappear.

Little Digits ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Little Digits is a new spin on finger counting, making use of the iPad’s large screen, and its ability to recognize loads of fingers pressing down at once.

The app’s most basic mode responds to how many fingers are touching the screen. Use a single digit, and the app chirps ONE! while a grinning one-shaped monster jigs about. Add another finger and the one is replaced by a furry two. You get the idea.

Beyond this, the app offers some basic training in number ordering, addition and subtraction, making it a great learning tool for young children.

But the smartest feature may well be multiple language support and recording. This means you can use the app to learn to count in anything from French to Swedish, and record custom prompts if your own language isn’t supported.

Metamorphabet ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

You're probably dead inside if you sit down with Metamorphabet and it doesn't raise a smile — doubly so if you use it alongside a tiny human. The app takes you through all the letters of the alphabet, which contort and animate into all kinds of shapes. It suitably starts with A, which when prodded grows antlers, transforms into an arch, and then goes for an amble. It's adorable.

The app's surreal, playful nature never lets up, and any doubts you might have regarding certain scenes — such as floaty clouds representing 'daydream' in a manner that doesn't really work — evaporate when you see tiny fingers and thumbs carefully pawing at the iPad's glass while young eyes remain utterly transfixed.

Toca Nature ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

On opening Toca Nature, you find yourself staring at a slab of land floating in the void. After selecting relevant icons, a drag of a finger is all it takes to raise mountains or dig deep gullies for rivers and lakes.

Finishing touches to your tiny landscape can then be made by tapping to plant trees. Wait for a bit and a little ecosystem takes shape, deers darting about glades, and fish swimming in the water. Using the magnifying glass, you can zoom into and explore this little world and feed its various inhabitants.

Although designed primarily for kids, Toca Nature is a genuinely enjoyable experience whatever your age.

The one big negative is that it starts from scratch every time — some save states would be nice, so each family member could have their own space to tend to and explore. Still, blank canvases keep everything fresh, and building a tiny nature reserve never really gets old.

Foldify Dinosaurs ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

We're big fans of the Foldify apps, which enable people to fashion and customise little 3D characters on an iPad, before printing them out and making them for real. This mix of digital painting, sharing (models can be browsed, uploaded and rated) and crafting a physical object is exciting in a world where people spend so much time glued to virtual content on screens.

But it's Foldify Dinosaurs that makes this list because, well, dinosaurs. Who wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect of making a magenta T-Rex with a natty moustache? Should that person exist, we don't want to meet them.

The best music and audio apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for sampling, being a DJ, making music and listening to podcasts.

NanoStudio 2 ($24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99)

NanoStudio 2 is the successor to NanoStudio, an iPhone app that let musicians bash out songs on iPhones before GarageBand for iOS was a twinkle in Apple’s eye. Now less ‘nano’ (being iPad-only), the follow-up is a remarkably powerful tool for recording, sampling, editing, and mixing.

The app was six years in the making – and it shows. Built-in synth Obsidian is among the best on iOS, and is hugely versatile in the noises it can create. Drum machine Slate adds rhythm, and if that’s not enough, NanoStudio 2 lets you effortlessly incorporate Audio Units like Poison-202 and Minimoog Model D.

There is an electronic bent to NanoStudio 2, so it’s not ideally suited to people into more traditional sounds. Otherwise, this usable, feature-rich music production environment is a must-have for iPad musicians.

djay (free + $4.99/£4.49/AU$7.49 monthly)

djay is a full-featured DJ solution for iOS. You get a two-deck mode with crossfader, looping, and effects for free, but splash out on the pro subscription and you’re instantly equipped with enough DJ power to keep you spinning decks into the small hours.

You get a two-deck view with flanking libraries – and a four-deck view when two isn’t enough. There’s VJ mixing when you fancy adding some video, support for a slew of controllers, and over 1GB of samples you can fire off to stamp your personal style over whatever’s blasting from the local sound system.

Naturally, it’s total overkill (albeit fun total overkill) for the typical home user; but if you’re a pro DJ armed with an external controller, it may well be enough to chuck all that traditional kit on eBay.

Ferrite Recording Studio (free or US$28.99/£28.99/AU$46.99)

Ferrite Recording Studio at first looks like a souped-up voice memos app, but beneath lies a powerful multi-track editor, so if you’re armed with an iPad, the app and some time, you can create your own podcast.

For free, there are limitations: an hour of recording, ten-minute projects and three tracks. Go Pro and Ferrite gives desktop editors a run for their money: 32 tracks, projects up to a day long, and recording time limited only by the space on your iPad.

The pro version adds further handy tools for improving recordings, such as effects, auto-leveling, MP3 chapters and dead air removal, bt the most impressive thing is how this all comes together. Ferrite might be powerful, but it’s also extremely usable. It therefore comes highly recommended if you’ve any interest in multi-track voice recording projects.

Audiobus 3 ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

There are so many amazing music-making apps on iPad that it’s hard to choose between them. With Audiobus 3, you sort of don’t have to, because it acts as a kind of behind-the-scenes plumbing.

Virtual cabling might not sound sexy, but it hugely boosts creative potential. You can send live audio or MIDI data between apps and through effects, mix the various channels, and then send the entire output to the likes of GarageBand.

Much of these features are new to Audiobus 3, and this latest update also adds Audio Unit support, enabling you to open some synths and effects directly in the app.

With support for over 900 iOS products in all, Audiobus 3 is an essential buy for anyone serious about creating music on an iPad.

Poison-202 ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

So, you’ve picked up an iPad synth to compose music, play live, or bound about like a maniac, pretending you're on stage at Glastonbury. Fortunately, Poison-202 is ideal for all such sets of circumstances.

The moody black and red graphic design is very 1990s, but it's Poison-202's sounds that hurl you back to the halcyon days of electronic music. Aficionados of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Orbital will be overjoyed at the familiar (and brilliant) sounds you can conjure up simply by selecting presets and prodding a few keys.

And if you're not satisfied by the creator's (frankly awesome) sound design smarts (in which case, we glare at you with the menace of a thousand Keith Flints), all manner of sliders and dials enable you to create your own wall-wobbling bass and ear-searing leads.

There are iPad synths that have more ambition, and many are more authentic to classic hardware; but few are more fun.

Model 15 ($29.99/£28.99/AU$46.99)

Your eyes might pop at the price tag of this iPad synth, but the hardware reissue of this amazing Moog was priced at a wallet-smashing $10,000. By contrast, the Model 15 iPad app seems quite the bargain. To our ears, it's also the best standalone iOS synth on mobile, and gives anything on the desktop a run for its money.

For people used to messing around with modular synths and plugging in patch leads, they'll be in heaven. But this isn't retro-central: you can switch the piano keyboard for Animoog's gestural equivalent; newcomers can work through straightforward tutorials about how to build new sounds from scratch; and those who want to dive right in can select from and experiment with loads of diverse, superb-sounding presets.

Fugue Machine ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

This music app is inspired by layered composition techniques used in some classical music. You tap out notes on a piano roll, and can then have up to four playheads simultaneously interpret your notes, each using unique speeds, directions and transpositions. For the amateur, Fugue Machine is intuitive and mesmerising, not least because of how easy it is to create something that sounds gorgeous.

For pros, it's a must-have, not least due to MIDI output support for driving external software. It took us mere seconds to have Fugue Machine working with Animoog's voices, and the result ruined our productivity for an entire morning.

(Unless you count composing beautiful music when you should be doing something else as 'being productive'. In which case, we salute you.)

Korg Gadget ($39.99/£38.99/AU$62.99)

Korg Gadget bills itself as the "ultimate mobile synth collection on your iPad" and it's hard to argue. You get well over a dozen varied synths, ranging from drum machines through to ear-splitting electro monsters, and an intuitive piano roll for laying down notes.

A scene/loop arranger enables you to craft entire compositions in the app, which can then be shared via the Soundcloud-powered GadgetCloud or sent to Dropbox. This is a more expensive app than most, but if you're a keen electronic-music-oriented songwriter with an iPad, it's hard to find a product that's better value.

Overcast (free)

Podcasts are mostly associated with small portable devices - after all, the very name is a mash-up of 'iPod' and 'broadcast'. But that doesn't mean you should ignore your favourite shows when armed with an iPad rather than an iPhone.

We're big fans of Overcast on Apple's smaller devices, but the app makes good use of the iPad's extra screen space, with a smart two-column display. On the left, episodes are listed, and the current podcast loads into the larger space on the right.

The big plusses with Overcast, though, remain playback and podcast management. It's the one podcast app we've used that retains plenty of clarity when playback is sped up; and there are clever effects for removing dead air and boosting vocals in podcasts with lower production values.

Playlists can be straightforward in nature, or quite intricate, automatically boosting favourites to the top of the list, and excluding specific episodes. And if you do mostly use an iPhone for listening, Overcast automatically syncs your podcasts and progress, so you can always pick up where you left off.

The best office and writing apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for writing, email, editing PDFs, spreadsheets, coding and file management.

Textastic Code Editor 8 ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Textastic is a text editor for coders. It’s tasteful and minimal, yet packed full of features for optimizing workflow.

When using just an iPad, the custom keyboard row provides fast access to a range of characters. If you’ve got a physical keyboard, you can configure keyboard shortcuts for important actions. Fonts can be customized, and new themes selected.

The built-in file transfer manager enables you to access documents stored remotely; and although Textastic cannot be used as a Files location, you can get at local content via On My iPad. Want to go old school? Try printing off your code on paper.

As ever, there are limitations to an iPad coding editor, meaning you’re unlikely to create web pages or apps from scratch using the app, but it’s ideal for making edits when on the move – or on the sofa.

Cardhop ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Cardhop reimagines the Contacts app – in a manner that makes it far more usable and useful. It uses existing iCloud data (and can integrate other address books), but rethinks how you get to data and actions.

A powerful search field utilizes natural language. This can be used to get at data that’s otherwise buried deep – ‘phone John’ or ‘FaceTime Jane’ – or to rapidly add new contacts by typing in a few of their details prior to tapping a button.

When browsing, notes are always accessible – handy if you use that field. There’s a tab specifically for birthdays, and another for recently accessed contacts – and that syncs across iCloud. Also, tap a piece of data in a card, and an action (like a call or email) isn’t immediately triggered – instead, you get a pop-up with options. Every detail feels considered and polished.

FE File Explorer Pro ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

FE File Explorer Pro plugs a hole in iPad file management – namely, getting at things that aren’t stored on your iPad or on iCloud. The usable, Apple-like interface makes it a cinch to connect to, explore, and preview or download your files, whether they’re on a PC or Mac, a network drive, or on remote cloud services other than Apple’s.

There’s drag-and-drop awareness, the means to flag files as favorites, and password support if you want your documents locked down. Perhaps best of all for people who work a lot on their iPads, FE File Explorer Pro integrates directly into Apple’s Files. Activate it as a location, and Apple’s app then gains seamless access to a huge range of storage options that are otherwise out of reach. Top stuff.

Memento: Modern Reminders ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Memento: Modern Reminders is an alternative to the Apple Reminders app. It uses the same database, meaning you can at any point switch between the two apps; the main reason for splashing out some cash on Memento is speed – the app just makes it much easier to do stuff.

For example, when creating or editing a reminder, a smart keyboard row gives you speedy access to time and location alerts. The former provides useful options like ‘this evening’ and ‘tomorrow morning’.

Beyond that, there’s a Reminders feed that shows everything in a single scrolling pane, a tab for reminders with time alerts (‘For You’), powerful notifications management, and a visual design that looks far more like something Apple would create than Apple’s own app.

PDF Expert by Readdle ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

On the Mac, PDF Expert by Readdle is a friendly, efficient, usable PDF editor. If anything, the app’s often even better on iPad.

You can grab PDFs from iCloud or Dropbox. Pages can be rearranged by drag-and-drop, and you can add or extract pages with a few taps. Adding pages from another document sadly remains beyond the app, but you can merge two PDFs in its file manager.

As a reader, PDF Expert fares well, ably dealing with large PDFs, and the text-to-speech mode can read documents at a speed of your choosing. Similarly, the app makes short work of annotations, document signing, and outline editing.

Buy the ‘Edit PDF’ IAP ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 on top of the original price) and you can directly update text, redact passages, and replace images. You’re obviously a little limited by a document’s existing fonts and layout, but this functionality is great if you spot a glaring error while checking a vital PDF on your iPad.

iA Writer ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

iA Writer provides a writing environment suitably focused for iPad, but that also makes nods to the desktop.

The main screen is smartly designed, with a custom keyboard bar offering Markdown and navigation buttons; if you’re using a mechanical keyboard, standard shortcuts are supported.

Further focus comes by way of a typewriter mode (auto-scrolling to the area you’re editing) and graying out lines other than the one you’re working on.

Elsewhere, you get an optional live character count, iCloud sync, and a robust Markdown preview. We’d like to see a split-screen mode for the last of those (as per the Mac version), but otherwise iA Writer’s a solid, effective and affordable minimal writing app for iPad.

Scrivener ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

On the desktop, Scrivener is widely acclaimed as the writer's tool of choice. The feature-rich app provides all kinds of ways to write, even incorporating research documents directly into projects. Everything's always within reach, and your work can constantly be rethought, reorganised, and reworked.

On iPad, Scrivener is, astonishingly, almost identical to its desktop cousin. Bar some simplification regarding view and export options, it's essentially the same app. You get a powerful 'binder' sidebar for organizing notes and documents, while the main view area enables you to write and structure text, or to work with index cards on a cork board.

There's even an internal 'Split View', for simultaneously smashing out a screenplay while peering at research. With Dropbox sync to access existing projects, Scrivener is a no-brainer for existing users; and for newcomers, it's the most capable rich text/scriptwriting app on iPad.

1Password ($2.99 per month)

Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain way back in iOS 7, to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app license details.

But there are other benefits: the app’s cross-platform nature means it gives you a solution if you also use Windows and Android. And with it being a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and accessible.

The app is free to try for 30 days, after which point you must pay a monthly $2.99 subscription ($4.99 for a family of five). For the peace of mind and usability the app brings, it’s well worth the outlay.

The best iPad photo and video editing apps

Our favorite iPad apps for shooting and editing photos and videos and adding filters.

Darkroom (free or $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Darkroom is a photo editor for iPad. On a device that’s not exactly short of photo editors, that might not excite you, but Darkroom differentiates itself from the crowd.

Open the app and it immediately presents your existing images. Tap one and you’re ready to edit. Tap a tool and a sidebar slides in, providing fast access to a superb range of tools for cropping and making adjustments. Throw some IAP at Darkroom, and these expand into even more professional territory by way of curves and color-correction tools.

None of that probably sounds all that different, but Darkroom’s no-nonsense approach, sleek interface and deep integration with iOS/iPadOS set it apart. It’s user-friendly and straightforward, yet powerful, and feels like something Apple at its very best might have created itself.

Pixelmator Photo ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Pixelmator Photo wants your photos to be better. If you’re in a hurry, the app’s AI smarts (trained on 20 million professional photos) will correct lighting, exposure and shadows with a single tap. Unlike many rival apps, the results are natural and pleasing rather than over-saturated and fake-looking.

If you’ve a more creative or experimental bent, you can revel in film-like filters, or delve into a sidebar packed with buttons and sliders. The latter includes everything from curves to selective color tools, of a kind more befitting expensive desktop-grade software.

Given the low cost of Pixelmator Photo, about the only reason you shouldn’t buy a copy is if you don’t like the idea of making your photos look better with little effort – which would be a very odd position to take!

Glitch Art Studio (free + $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 IAP)

Glitch Art Studio is an effects app that aims to make even dull photos and videos look interesting. The filters are based around glitches and animated distortion, and can be edited to the point you can barely tell what the subject was.

Depending on whether you’re in it for speed or control, you can delve into presets or a bunch of individual menus respectively. Either way, you’ll end up concocting something resembling the display of a barely working old television, or some kind of deranged hallucinogenic episode.

On iPad, the larger canvas lets you fully appreciate the effects on offer – which are deeply impressive. If you’re fed up with filters that ape old paintings, use Glitch Studio to bring your creative photographic endeavors kicking and screaming into the (relatively) modern era.

VideoGrade (US$5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

VideoGrade is a color-grading app for video, giving you a taste of Hollywood on your iPad.

It’s a powerful app, but one that’s nonetheless straightforward to use. On launch, it finds all your videos. Select one and tools are displayed at the right-hand side of the screen. Open a menu, drag a slider, and changes are made instantly. Any tool used gets a handy green dot next to its name, helping you keep track of complex adjustments.

Filters (color changes, levels, pixelation and so on) are applied live, and a single tap fires up a full preview. Combinations of settings can be saved for later reuse. Also, the app’s various presets are available as a Photos extension. That means you needn’t even delve headlong into VideoGrade itself to apply some of its magic to your favorite videos.

Retrospecs (free or US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Retrospecs is a photo filter app that revels in the history of computing and gaming. Rather than turning any photo or image into a tiny Picasso with a tap, it instead reimagines whatever you load as if it was on the screen of a Game Boy, Apple Mac or C64.

In fact, over 40 systems exist once you pay for the IAP (you can test Retrospecs for free with a small selection), and if that’s not enough, you can fashion your own custom emulations. For properly authentic retro output, you can edit dither modes, add glitch animations, tweak CRT effects and more.

Full support for video combined with some bonkers filters (PETSCII! Teletext!) adds scope for YouTube weirdness. But even if you only grab Retrospecs because you’ve always wondered what your face would look like on a NES, it’s worth the outlay.

Typorama (free + IAP)

Typorama is about adding text to your photos – or creating typographic designs from scratch – with a minimum of effort. Select a photo, flat color, or a stock image background, choose an output size, and you’re ready to get started.

Other apps in this space let you select fonts, but Typorama has you select designs. Enter some text, tap a design style, and what you typed is instantly transformed. If you’re not keen on what you see, tap the style again for variations.

You can add multiple type layers, and apply shadows and gradient effects to each one. There’s also a 3D rotation/perspective tool, and a selective eraser. Some features are locked in the free version and you must put up with watermarks, but there are various IAP available, including the ability to unlock everything for $5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99.

Affinity Photo ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

Affinity Photo extinguishes any lingering doubt regarding the iPad’s suitability for creative professionals. In short, it’s Serif’s impressive Mac/PC Photoshop rival, carefully reimagined for the touchscreen.

This is pro-level photo/image-editing fare, and you need the hardware to match – at least an iPad Air 2, but preferably an iPad Pro – but with the right kit, you get a huge range of features for image editing, creation and retouching.

The live filters and liquify tools are particularly impressive, responding to edits in real time. Working with a finger or Pencil is pleasingly tactile in a manner desktop equivalents can’t match.

RAW shooting/processing support, the ability to add fonts, layer isolation, and robust Files integration all cement Affinity Photo’s place among the iPad app greats. And if you become an expert, there’s even a ‘Show Touches’ option for making tutorials that other users can follow.

Artomaton - The Motion Painter (free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP)

Artomaton - The Motion Painter is an ‘artificial intelligence artist’ – recreating photos as sketches and paintings. For free, you get a small selection of media, but pay a $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 IAP and you unlock the full range, including the arresting ‘Pointil’ (as in ‘lism’), scribbly crayons, and a lovely sketch/watercolor combo.

Unlike most competing apps, this one has many settings for adjusting properties, such as vignettes, stroke width, hatching angle, and color saturation.

It even works with video, and although it takes some time for Artomaton to draw all of the individual frames (just a 20-second clip will need close to 200), output with ‘Sketch&Water’ has a gorgeous scratchy hand-drawn quality.

For free, then, this is a great download; but grab that paid IAP for something really special.

Mextures ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

The iPad may not be an ideal device for shooting photos, but its large screen makes it pretty great for editing them. And Mextures is perhaps the finest app around for anyone wanting to infuse their digital snaps with character by way of textures, grunge, and gradients.

The editing process is entirely non-destructive, with you building up effects by adding layers. In each case, textures, blend modes and rotation of scanned objects can be adjusted to suit, and you can experiment without fear of edits being ‘burned in’.

Particularly interesting combinations can be saved as ‘formulas’ and shared with the Mextures community – or you can speed along your own editing by downloading one of the many formulas that already exist.

LumaFusion ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

If you find iMovie isn’t quite doing it for you from a video editing standpoint, take a look at LumaFusion. This multitrack editor is designed with the more demanding user in mind, and is packed full of features to keep you editing at your iPad rather than nipping to a Mac or PC.

The main timeline provides you with three tracks for photos, videos, titles and graphics, and you get another three audio tracks for complex audio mixes involving narration and sound effects. Should you wish to take things further, LumaFusion includes a slew of effects and clip manipulation tools seemingly brought over from the developer’s own – and similarly impressive – LumaFX.

Occasionally, the app perhaps lacks some of the elegance iMovie enjoys, and LumaFusion is certainly a more involved product than Apple’s. But if you want fully-fledged video editing on your iPad, it’s hard to think of a better option.

Hipstamatic ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

On iPhone, Hipstamatic lets you switch between a virtual retro camera and a sleek modern camera app. On iPad, it all goes a bit weird, with the former option giving you a camera floating in space, and the latter making you wonder why you’d use a tablet for taking snaps.

But Hipstamatic nonetheless gets a recommendation on the basis of other things it does. Load an image from your Camera Roll, and you can delve into Hipstamatic’s editor. If you’re in a hurry, select a predefined style – Vintage; Cinematic; Blogger – and export.

Should you fancy a bit more fine-tuning, you can experiment with lenses, film, and flashes. And plenty of other adjustments are available, too, such as cropping, vignettes, curves, and a really nice depth of field effect.

VideoGrade ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

iPad video editors tend to have a bunch of effects and filters lurking within, but with VideoGrade you can go full-on Hollywood. On launch, the app helpfully rifles through your albums, making it easy to find your videos. Load one and you get access to a whopping 13 colour-grading and repair tools.

Despite the evident power VideoGrade offers, the interface is remarkably straightforward. Select a tool (such as Vibrance, Brightness or Tint), choose a setting, and drag to make a change. Drag up before moving your finger left or right to make subtler adjustments.

Smartly, any tool already used gets a little green dash beneath, and you can go back and change or remove edits at any point.

All filters are applied live to the currently shown frame, and you can also tap a button to view a preview of how your entire exported video will look. Want to compare your edit with the original video? Horizontal and vertical split-views are available at the tap of a button. Usefully, favorite filter combinations can be stored and reused, and videos can be queued rather than laboriously rendered individually.

Snapseed (free)

Apple's Photos app has editing capabilities, but they're not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of from a number of tools and filters, and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image.

You get all the basics - cropping, rotation, healing brushes, and the like — but the filters are where you can get really creative.

There are blurs, photographic effects, and more extreme options like 'grunge' and 'grainy film', which can add plenty of atmosphere to your photographs. The vast majority of effects are tweakable, mostly by dragging up and down on the canvas to select a parameter and then horizontally to adjust its strength.

Brilliantly, the app records applied effects as separate layers, and each remains editable until you decide to save your image and work on something else. Combinations of edits can be saved as custom filters you can subsequently apply to more images with a tap.

The best productivity apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for being productive with notes, to-dos, reminders, mind-mapping, calendars and calculators.

Image credit: Super Useful Ltd

Magpie (free + $2.99/£2.49/AU$4.49 per month)

Magpie is a mash-up of a notes app and a reminders system, designed for anyone who tends to remember things using photos. Of course, Apple’s own Notes app enables you to add imagery, but Magpie is fully optimized for the task.

In each named list, you can store unlimited numbers of notes. Photos are given prominence within the interface, but you can add text notes, along with a price, link, and location map. The layout of entries is excellent – a big plus over what Notes offers.

The lifetime purchase price of $35.99/£34.99/AU$55.99 is perhaps a touch ambitious, and it would be good to see exported notes match the app’s own gorgeous layouts. But Magpie nonetheless proves its worth for gift lists, and as a means for creative types to craft organized sets of visual reminders.

NordVPN (various IAP)

NordVPN is a VPN for your iPad. It secures and encrypts all internet traffic from your device, making it almost impossible for anyone else to decipher. Because you can connect to servers in specific countries, you can also use it to get around geographic restrictions.

This might all sound a bit suspicious, but VPNs are increasingly vital. They enable you to secure your connection on public Wi-Fi, and to access key websites and services that would otherwise be inaccessible – whether for political or commercial reasons.

NordVPN works very nicely on iPad. It’s easy to set things up, and a breeze to use. Connections tend to be reliable and only rarely noticeably slower than standard Wi-Fi. Do, though, subscribe via the NordVPN website rather than through the app, because you’ll get much better offers.

MindNode 6 (free + $14.99/£14.99/AU$22.99)

MindNode 6 is a desktop-quality mind-mapping tool. You can start with a blank canvas and a central thought, and add further nodes to connect. Or there’s a Quick Entry system that converts a bullet-point list to a mind map with a single tap.

Either way, once you get going, you’ll appreciate MindNode’s flexibility. The app makes good use of the touchscreen, allowing free-form diagram construction, or you can enforce stricter layouts by way of pre-defined positioning. 

Should your mind map become complex, you can focus on one part, fading out the rest. Stickers, images, and color options ensure what you create can have added context and visual interest.

With iCloud support, your mind maps are available to other iOS devices as well. And a wide range of export formats means the ideas you get out of your head are easily shareable with others.

1Blocker X - Adblock ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

1Blocker X - Adblock blocks annoyances that may otherwise worsen your internet browsing experience on iPad.

Approve 1Blocker X in Settings, then configure it to block adverts, trackers, social widgets and more on a global basis. You can also hide specific web page elements, if they annoy or bother you. The net result is nippier browsing and more privacy.

If there are sites you’d like to support by not blocking their ads, 1Blocker makes this easy, too. You can manually define a whitelist in the app itself, or whitelist directly in Safari from the Share sheet.

With 1Blocker X being a premium app, and the indie creators prizing privacy, you can be sure this is the real deal. In short, it’s best-in-kind on iPad, and highly recommended.

Yoink (US$5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

Yoink is what’s known as a ‘shelf’ app – a kind of souped-up clipboard that can be used to collate files and content from disparate sources.

On iPad, Yoink proves especially useful, working in Split View and Slide Over, and making it a cinch to gather images, text, URLs and documents. You can import items as well, and even get at things you’ve stashed on other devices by way of iCloud sync.

With extended use, Yoink feels like an app that sweats the details. Copying and removing items depends on the status of a padlock icon. What you’ve saved in Yoink can be browsed in Apple’s Files app. You can edit text documents within Yoink, and interact with it via Siri. In all, it’s indispensable for power users – or anyone wanting a place to quickly store items before subsequently sharing them. 

LiquidText PDF Reader (free + US$29.99/£29.99/AU$46.99)

LiquidText PDF Reader has a misleading name. Although it is for reading and annotating PDFs, thinking it only capable of those things does the app a disservice. Really, you should consider it a hugely powerful product for dynamically gathering your thoughts, and quickly getting at important content within documents.

For free, you can import PDFs (along with Microsoft Office files), make highlights, and drag excerpts to a work area. Go pro and you can gather and link information across multiple files.

The app feels perfectly suited to the touchscreen. You can use Apple Pencil to scribble live ink lines that become dynamic links between documents. Gestures enable you to quickly collapse lengthy documents to read highlights, search results, or non-contiguous pages. For students, researchers, and anyone who wants to go beyond paper, LiquidText is a must-have.

Noted (free + $0.99/79p/AU$1.49)

Noted cleverly combines an audio recorder and notepad. The rich text editor is like a simplified Pages, with predefined styles for headings and lists, image support, and a highlighter for drawing a reader’s attention to important bits.

That’s nothing new on iPad, but the way text and audio integrate is. During recordings, tapping the tag button adds an inline ‘#TimeTag’. Tapping this tag later will jump to the relevant point in the recording. This means you can spend more time in meetings and lectures listening, and later return to flesh out brief notes, adding context based on the audio.

Naturally, Noted’s own format is bespoke, but you can share notes with other users via iCloud. Otherwise, you can export audio to M4A format, and everything else to PDF. In all, then, an ideal productivity aid for a wide range of scenarios.

OmniOutliner 3 (from $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

OmniOutliner 3 is a desktop-quality outlining tool that aims to bring structured writing to the masses.

It’s effectively two apps in one. Essentials is about quickly getting down and organizing ideas hierarchically. It’s quick and easy to add, promote and demote items (including with a physical keyboard, so you don’t have to keep reaching for the screen), and to shift rows around with drag and drop. The built-in search further elevates the app from more basic tools, filtering out non-matching rows so you only see only what’s relevant.

If your needs are greater, you can opt for Pro (US$39.99/£38.99/AU$62.99). This pushes the app towards word processing and spreadsheet territory, adding automation, styling options for document types (lists, book drafts, mathematical and so on) and section navigation from a sidebar. In either incarnation, the app is excellent, and a free two-week trial lets you switch between both versions to see which best suits.

Things 3 ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

Things 3 is a powerful task manager based around to-dos. Its ultimate aim is to ensure you get more done, and this is achieved by a smart and sleek workflow model that makes it simple to collect your thoughts, figure out your day, and plan far into the future.

The app can be as expansive or as simple as you need it to be. You can live in the Today and Upcoming views, working from basic to-dos, or add extra context and nested lists for more complex tasks. As of iOS 11, Things 3 added support for Split View and drag-and-drop, so you can drag links or emails right to a to-do.

This is the kind of app where you quickly wonder how you lived without it. And although it’s pricey when you buy it across iPad, iPhone and Mac, the time you’ll gain ensures it’s good value for money.

Notability ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

There are loads of note-taking apps for the iPad, but Notability hits that sweet spot of being usable and feature-rich. Using the app's various tools, you can scribble on a virtual canvas, using your finger or a stylus. Should you want precision copy, you can drag out text boxes to type into. It's also possible to import documents.

One of the smartest features, though, is audio recording. This enables you to record a lecture or meeting, and the app will later play back your notes live alongside the audio, helping you see everything in context. Naturally, the app has plenty of back-up and export options, too, so you can send whatever you create to other apps and devices.

Soulver ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Soulver is more or less the love child of a spreadsheet and the kind of calculations you do on the back of an envelope. You write figures in context, and Souvler extracts the maths bits and tots up totals; each line's results can be used as a token in subsequent lines, enabling live updating of complex calculations. Drafts can be saved, exported to HTML, and also synced via Dropbox or iCloud.

Initially, the app feels a bit alien, given that people have been used to digital versions of desktop calculators since the dawn of home computing. But scribbling down sums in Soulver soon becomes second nature.

The best iPad weather and travel apps

Our favorite iPad apps for weather forecasts and planning a journey.

CARROT Weather ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 + IAP)

CARROT Weather is a weather app helmed by a human-hating AI. As you check whether it will be sunny tomorrow, CARROT will helpfully call you a ‘meatbag’ and threaten to hurl cows at you.

It sounds gimmicky, but the constant snark adds color and personality to a kind of app usually devoid of both. That’s the case elsewhere, too: the forecasts are beautifully illustrated, and make fantastic use of the iPad’s large screen. The Today view widget is excellent, and the multi-layered maps are detailed.

The main downside is this comes at a cost – literally. Mapping data is pricey – as are notifications. If you want the best of both, you’ll need an IAP sub. But even in its standard incarnation, CARROT gives you information and entertainment, propelling it ahead of strait-laced competitors.

WeatherPro for iPad (US$0.99/79p/AU$0.99)

WeatherPro for iPad is a weather app for people at the geekier end of the spectrum when it comes to meteorology and forecasts. It’s far from the prettiest app in the world, but it does pack a ton of information into your iPad’s display.

Set up several locations and their current conditions sit in a scrolling pane at the side of the screen. For the current selection, you can in the main pane check out a rainfall radar, along with the outlook for the coming week. And that’s way beyond a few symbols and temperature predictions – graphs and wiggly lines outline sun hours, precipitation, wind, and more.

For at-a-glance forecasting, you’re probably better off with Dark Sky. But for digging into the details, Weather Pro’s a good bet, especially considering the small outlay. 

Dark Sky Weather provides weather forecasts with an emphasis on hyperlocal rainfall. The Forecast tab displays current conditions, with a handy map indicating the movements of nearby storms. If rain’s imminent, its severity is shown in graph form.

Below that are outlooks for the next 24 hours and upcoming week. The app also includes notifications, including the means to make custom ones triggered by changes in temperature, rain/snowfall, wind, UV, and humidity.

In the past, Dark Sky never felt optimized for iPad. It’s still a bit wasteful of space (notably in the tricky-to-parse Next 24 Hours view), but the latest redesign feels more considered and less like a blown-up iPhone app.

Also, the Map view is best experienced on a tablet, where you can watch the ebb and flow of temperatures and rainfall across a virtual Earth you spin with a finger.

Dark Sky Weather (US$3.99/£3.99)

Poison Maps ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Poison Maps is an app for finding points of interest – POIs – on maps. Hence: Poison Maps. If you were hoping it’d provide insight into finding toxins, you’re out of luck, but for restaurants, hotels, banks, tourist attractions, parking, shops, hospitals and so on, it does the job – millions of such POIs can be found by way of the efficient search function.

This might strike you as unnecessary, given the existence of the entirely free Google Maps, but Poison Maps has some trump cards. First, it has interesting and useful interface components, such as signs that clearly denote the distance to and direction of off-screen POIs.

Beyond static POIs, cycling and transport routes are built-in. Poison Maps also works offline, so should you find yourself in a new town and without a data connection, you’ll still have a fighting chance of finding the things you need.

Tinyclouds (US$1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Tinyclouds is an adorable weather app. That’s perhaps a slightly odd description to use for something that’s usually utilitarian, but then Carrot Weather (elsewhere in this list) showcases how weather apps can have a character of their own, and Tinyclouds is certainly unique.

Select a location (you can store several within the app) and it provides a big temperature reading at the top of the sidebar, along with a forecast for the rest of the day and an outlook for the coming week. The rest of the screen is an ever-changing isometric city, with cars zipping about, its weather mirroring that of your chosen location.

The app does, admittedly, feel like a sketch – it could do with more detail, and at least a wider range of views. Still, as a simple, great-looking weather app for a docked and charging iPad, it’s well worth a couple of bucks.

Ventusky (US$2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

Ventusky is a weather service that started out online, but feels like it was always destined for iPad.

Select a location and the main view enables you to switch the large map between various weather layers, including temperature, precipitation, snow cover, and air pressure. If you’re a weather nerd (and/or British), drag upward and you get an extended forecast to scroll through, along with a ton of graphs and data to bury yourself in.

The one snag is Ventusky lacks Dark Sky’s animated radar, and so you don’t see storms rolling in – just where they will be during a three-hour window. Even so, the wind streaking across your display as tiny white lines helps you understand why conditions are the way they are.

In short, then, this app looks great, is wonderfully tactile, and is pleasingly different from its contemporaries.

Living Earth ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

As a combination clock and weather app, Living Earth works well across all iOS devices, but use it with an iPad in a stand and you've got something that'll make other clocks in the immediate vicinity green with envy.

As you might expect, your first job with the app is to define the cities you'd like to keep track of. At any point, you can then switch between them, updating the main clock and weather forecasts accordingly. Tap the weather and you can access an extended forecast for the week; tap the location and you get the current times and weather for your defined locations.

But it's the Earth that gets pride of place, taking up the bulk of the screen. It shows clouds by default, although weather geeks can instead choose colors denoting temperature, wind speed or humidity values. Then with a little swipe the globe rotates, neatly showing heavily populated locations during night time as lattices of artificial man-made light.

Google Maps (free)

You might argue that Google Maps is far better suited to a smartphone, but we reckon the king of mapping apps deserves a place on your iPad, too. Apple's own Maps app has improved, but Google still outsmarts its rival when it comes to public transport, finding local businesses, saving chunks of maps offline, and virtual tourism by way of Street View.

Google's 'OS within an OS' also affords a certain amount of cross-device sync when it comes to searches. We don't, however, recommend you strap your cellular iPad to your steering wheel and use Google Maps as a sat-nav replacement, unless you want to come across as some kind of nutcase.

Categories: Tech News

Arlo Video Doorbell boasts 180-degree view so you never miss a package again

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 08:01

Smart home security brand Arlo has announced its first ever video doorbell, which boasts an industry-leading 180-degree view that could rival the likes of the Ring Door View Cam

According to the company, the Arlo Video Doorbell is "designed to capture what traditional video doorbells can't," with a vertical field-of-view that gives you a bigger, more precise picture of your front porch. 

It captures footage in a smartphone-friendly square aspect ratio, which means you can see things like parcels left on your doorstep, while HD video keeps the footage clear. 

Other cool camera features include night-vision, motion detection and alerts, digital zoom, and tamper detection – which sounds a siren if someone attempts to remove the doorbell.

What about the price?

The new video doorbell also comes with two-way audio, allowing you to have conversations with whoever is at your door. As well as this, the Arlo Video Doorbell can deliver direct-to-mobile video calls and alerts when packages, people, animals, or vehicles are detected. 

This means you can quickly reply to your delivery driver as well as warding off would-be intruders (or any neighbourhood pets that keep getting through your cat flap and eating your cat's dinner). 

As it connects to your mechanical or digital doorbell, it should prove fairly easy to install, and will receive continuous power through the existing wiring. 

According to Arlo, the Video Doorbell will launch in early 2020, with pricing still to be confirmed – however, we do know that buyers will receive a complimentary three-month trial of Arlo Smart, which gives access to 30-days of cloud recordings so you can store and view video clips.

If Arlo can undercut the Ring Door View Cam's $199 / £179 (around AU$340) price tag, it could represent some real competition for the current market-leader. For now, we'll have to wait until pricing for the Arlo Video Doorbell is announced to find out.

Categories: Tech News

Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure is the perfect game for those who hate the gym

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 08:00

I’ve been on a weight loss mission for about a year now. Well, let’s call it a ‘healthier lifestyle’ mission. Between cutting down my portion sizes, being more particular in my food choices and generally trying to be more active, I’m over half way to my target weight. And then I hit the dreaded plateau - that point when you no longer put on weight or lose it, you just idle at the same number. 

It’s at this point that it became obvious that I need to introduce more exercise into my life. Sure, I have a gym membership and go twice a week (when my schedule allows) but it’s hard to get the motivation to actually go. That’s before taking into account the anxiety-pushing task that is actually going into the weight room to earn those ‘gains’, when all the regulars look like they’ve fallen out of Arnie’s ‘Pushing Iron’ documentary. 

The alternative? Weights at home. In itself, it’s a difficult task when you’re limited by space and it quickly grows tedious - especially when you’re not really sure if what you’re doing is actually helpful. 

That’s why I was intrigued by Nintendo’s latest foray into fitness: Ring Fit Adventure.

Along with many others, I was initially hesitant about Ring Fit. On the surface it seems like just another piece of gaming exercise hardware that inevitably ends up in your over-packed closet when the novelty wears off, but having tried out Ring Fit Adventure for myself, I think I might be sold.

Fighting fit

Nintendo will struggle to escape from under the cloud of the Wii Fit, the exergaming phenomenon that invaded millions of homes in the mid 00’s. But while the Wii Fit and the accompanying Wii Balance Board were gaming household staples, they weren't exactly the pinnacle of exercise equipment and quickly grew into yet another boring novelty object.

Ring Fit Adventure aims to succeed where the Wii Fit failed: offering a more legit exercise experience alongside a fun, adventure focused game. It’s quite the marvel. Especially when combined with the highly successful Nintendo Switch console.  

Featuring two new pieces of hardware for the Nintendo Switch, the Leg-Strap (which straps to your leg with one Joy-Con) and the Ring-Con (a pliable wheel that you hold in both hands), Ring Adventure sees you ab-crunching, downward dogging and jogging your way to victory. 

"At one point I found myself deep squatting to fend off an adorable yoga mat"

The main campaign sees you on a mission to take down an evil body-building dragon called Drago. Yes, really. To do this you must complete various levels on the path to the big bad, but this isn’t like Mario. Armed with the Ring-Con, you must jog (yes, literally) along some beautifully, Nintendo-esque environments, pulling and pushing the ring to smash boxes, jumping crevices and sucking up resources on your way - the latter can be used to customize your avatar.

Somewhere along your journey you’re likely to encounter some evil fitness equipment such as animated kettle bells. The only way to defeat them? With exercise, of course (also known as Fit Skills). 

At one point I found myself deep squatting to fend off an adorable yoga mat and occasionally pressing the Ring-Con against my abdomen to create a shield to block the floppy, antagonists attacks. If you hit the timing and posture of the exercises right, you can get extra points and experience to level up your avatar and earn extra in-game gains (yes, gains are an actual skill).

Calorie counting

While the campaign is definitely a lot of fun, providing short four and five minute bursts of exercise, it’s not exactly a huge calorie burner - with each level burning around nine calories. However, it is useful for getting your general fitness level up, even offering you the ability to check your heart rate by pressing your right thumb against the IR reader. 

You’ll also be asked how you found each level, your goal weight and offered warm-up and cooldown exercises to avoid injury. 

Where Ring Fit Adventure truly shone for me was out of campaign mode, where you have the option to take part in training for individual muscles or sets that target particular areas of the body. With my fear of the weight room, I really enjoyed having some tough arm and shoulders workouts which truly made me feel the burn without feeling self conscious. The Ring-Con is essentially a Pilates ring, but you have an in-game trainer telling you exactly how to do the exercises and tracking your posture. It felt worthwhile.

If actual workouts aren’t what you’re after, then there’s also some exergaming mini-games you can try out alone or with friends. Nothing brings the family together like seeing how many pumps of an exercise ring you can do in a minute. There’s even a leaderboard to track who is the fittest. 

There are so many activities to take part in that actually you could get a pretty decent workout just jumping between them all, and curb off any boredom. 

Burnout

While my experience with Ring Fit Adventure as a fun exercise experience was positive, there were a couple of major drawbacks to the hardware.

Firstly, the leg strap kept sliding down. It’s held on with Velcro but if you’ve been jogging and fighting off kettle bells then it begins to get a bit loose. Secondly, and this was the biggest issue, the actual Ring-Con struggles when it comes to leg exercises.

Let me paint you a picture: I'm sitting in the birthing position on the floor with the Ring-Con in between my thighs and suddenly, while I try to inner thigh press, the ring goes flying across the room like a bat out of hell. 

Balancing the ring in between your thighs is tough and it’s something which could have been avoided with a grip. While playing a game that requires me to squeeze the ring between my thighs every time I want to jump, I was more wondering about keeping the ring in place than the jumps. It’s a tad frustrating. 

Complete workout?

The Ring Fit Adventure isn’t going to change your life, but it is a fun, adventure-orientated approach to exercise. If, like me, exercising in a gym can make you nervous, then performing some basic exercises at home can be much more convenient. 

If exercising isn’t your main goal, and you just want something family-friendly and fun to play, then Ring Fit offers that too - with plenty of mini-games to try out when you're bored of the main campaign mode. 

Is Ring Fit a novelty? Yeah, kind of. But it’s also something which can genuinely help you enjoy exercise rather than avoid it. Personally, I’ll be using mine on those days when squeezing in a gym session isn’t in the cards.

Categories: Tech News

This ace OnePlus 7 Pro deal is the iPhone 11 competitor you may have forgotten about

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:56

The flagship phone market never stops moving. Every day seems to be a new phone, whether it be from Apple, Samsung Huawei or, case in point, this week's Google Pixel 4 deals coming to market. And with so many releases, its easy to forget about some, so let us remind you of one very tempting choice - the OnePlus 7 Pro.

There are myriad reasons this might have slipped past your radar - OnePlus doesn't have Apple level brand recognition, it's competed with an endless range of top 2019 devices or most likely, it was exclusive to Three, with a disappointingly small amount of contracts available.

However, like a needle in a haystack, we've found a stellar OnePlus 7 Pro deal offering Black Friday level pricing way before the event even starts. There is 100GB of data up for grabs for £40 a month and £29 upfront - £116 cheaper than the same offer on the iPhone 11.

And it's not just the iPhone 11 this OnePlus 7 Pro deal is competing with. The Google Pixel 4, Huawei P30 Pro and even the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus have to put up a good fight against this device.

We've listed everything you need to know about this offer below. Rather go for something else? You'll also find Three's 100GB offers on all of the OnePlus 7 Pros closest competitors.

This wonderful OnePlus 7 Pro deal in full: Three's other 100GB data mobile phone deals: So what's so good about the OnePlus 7 Pro?

Sporting a novel pop-up camera, the OnePlus 7 Pro possibly has the closest screen to 'infinity' currently on the market. Its 6.67 AMOLED screen, offering a 90Hz screen refresh rate, is uninterrupted by teardrop cameras or hole punches like its competitors. 

Inside the phone, you'll find a immensely powerful Snapdragon 855 processor and a 4000mAh battery, easily getting you over a days battery life. All of that paired with the powerful triple camera lens set-up and fast charging abilities makes this a top choice for any big phone fans.

Read our full OnePlus 7 Pro review

  • Still unsure what to go for? Check out our best mobile phone deals to see all of your options across every device.
Categories: Tech News

Half-Life VR game could land on Valve Index this year – but is it Half Life 3?

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:43

Will there be a Half-Life VR game? And will it stand in for the infinitely-postponed Half-Life 3 game that's haunted fans of the bestselling franchise for years?

Speculation is mounting over a VR title planned for the Valve Index VR headset that launched earlier this year. Valve has said that it would release its first flagship VR titles releasing before the end of 2019, and evidence suggests that a game set in the Half-Life universe could be it.

YouTuber Tyler McVicker has released a video essay on the mounting clues for a Half-Life VR game, including multiple mentions of something called "HLVR" in the source code for existing Valve devices and software – as well as mentions of "Headcrabs" and the iconic "Crowbar" you get to smash them with.

There's also reference to adorably-named "Grabbity Gloves", which sounds like a straightforward recreation of the Half-Life 2 Gravity Gun using hand-based gestures / Valve's knuckle controllers – meaning you could throw and grab items in a similar way to the VR game Vader Immortal, where you manipulate the Force to do the Star Wars villain's bidding.

Wishful thinking?

We reported on similar rumors in 2018, when it emerged that Valve might be working on its own VR hardware to release to market – which became the Index headset.

We're wary of anything vaguely Half-Life related popping up in the rumor mill, given the years of disappointment for those of us hoping for a fully-fledged Half-Life 3 game.

On the other hand, a Half-Life VR game would be a highly smart move for shifting units of the relatively new Valve Index headset, as those years of built-up frustration would no doubt convert into some sizable hardware sales.

McVicker speculates that the game will likely be announced in 2019 but not be released until 2020 – and could constitute a 12-16 hours of gameplay. He also suggests that players could take the role of Alex Vance, a major character from the existing Half-Life games, and that the game would be set in the period between Half-Life and Half-Life 2.

So not a Half-Life 3 game, then – but if a HLVR game is the way that Valve chooses to reboot or revisit the game's universe, then more Half-Life titles could always be on the way.

Via RoadtoVR

Categories: Tech News

The benefits of multi-cloud operations

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:34

Alongside on-premise servers, cloud platforms have rightly taken their place as part of IT infrastructure management at most businesses. 

Cloud is widely appreciated for its ability to improve business agility, deliver cost savings, open new streams of revenue, improve application performance and unlock routes to leverage emerging technologies. 

It is these benefits that have seen businesses investing in their droves. While the technology is booming, the sheer amount of choice on offer can make it challenging for a business to choose a cloud platform which meets its exacting requirements. 

However, making the right choices around cloud is crucial for optimum business efficiency.

The multi-cloud phenomenon

A typical multi-cloud environment is usually made up of one private cloud, which is either operated by the business or managed by a third party, and at least two public clouds. This environment drives many benefits for businesses, particularly in removing the need to depend on a single cloud vendor – which can be costly and unreliable. 

As competition between cloud providers is fierce, a business is spoilt on the choice of platforms from a technical and cost perspective. A company can also optimize its return on cloud investments by flexibly spinning multi-cloud resources up or down to meet business requirements.

Because different vendors will naturally innovate in slightly different areas, a business leveraging multi-cloud can exploit developments as soon as they become available. With the ability to ‘fail fast’ - intensively test and incrementally develop new services - a hybrid cloud approach can also support businesses in rapidly rolling new services out to customers to stay at the forefront of innovation and maintain a healthy competitive edge. 

  • Empty list

A multi-cloud strategy also leads to robust and reliable application services. Should the primary cloud fail, another cloud can provide the flexibility for failover as part of a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) provision. The robustness of this model makes it popular with organisations operating services that cannot withstand downtime, such as financial institutions. 

The use of more than one cloud vendor is also beneficial to retaining an infrastructure which can meet the shifting demands of the regulatory environment. For example, data protection laws may stipulate that a company must retain data in certain geographies for data sovereignty. By leveraging a multi-cloud architecture, a business can flexibly select services and providers originating in different datacenter regions and availability zones. 

As well as staying in line to the tune of the regulator, the range of public cloud services on offer, from bare-metal servers to serverless computing, among others, is dynamic and impressive. Public cloud providers continually update the services they offer, and this enables companies to shift to more advanced workloads without having to buy, install and operate more of their own infrastructure.

The role of hybrid cloud

These benefits are fuelling a surge in popularity around multi-cloud deployments, but that is not to take away from the values offered by its close relative, hybrid cloud. Such deployments, while similar to multi-cloud, use a combination of on-premise servers, private cloud and public cloud, with tight operational coupling between the platforms. 

This is useful for managing changeable, or dynamic, workflows - for example allowing an organisation to run workloads internally, but then flexibly ‘burst’ them into the public cloud if compute demand increases. 

A transactional order entry system, used by retailers and airlines, for example, which experiences increases in demand around events like Christmas, or Valentine’s Day, would be a good candidate. Less critical resources, such as development workloads, can be hosted by a third-party cloud provider; mission-critical workloads can be managed in the private cloud. 

Such an approach is also cost-effective, as organisations can run workloads in the least expensive cloud  possible on a workload-by-workload basis. For example, an organisation can take advantage of the virtually limitless on-demand resource of a public cloud for the bulk of its operations, but then pay for a smaller private cloud where necessary, whether that’s to take advantage of serverless computing services for compute-intensive operations, or for workloads which require the added security of private cloud. 

Where a hybrid cloud strategy may cause difficulties is in the interaction between private clouds and public cloud providers, as this demands API compatibility and excellent network connectivity. Businesses can attempt to mitigate these problems by developing hybrid cloud workflows which can work with multiple cloud providers – but this introduces involved workload design and testing. 

Monitoring hybrid cloud deployments poses challenges caused by this added complexity as well. Hybrid cloud differs to the best-of-breed element of multi-cloud, where different clouds aren’t necessarily dependent on orchestration between one another, but are instead deployed in a way which allows organisations to operate applications in their most optimal environment. 

Take back control

Legacy on-premise servers are resources which are deployed within a business’ IT infrastructure. The enterprise is responsible for maintaining the server, its cost, power consumption and all related processes.

In an on-premise environment, an enterprise retains all its data and remains in full control of what happens to it. This is beneficial for organisations working in a highly regulated area, such as banking or government, as they require a certain level of security and privacy – which on-premise delivers.

However, on-premise business servers create high levels of cost due to hardware maintenance, power usage and software updates, among others. On-premise solutions can hinder growth, so they are not ideal for start ups or any business targeting growth, particularly as they cannot be scaled as flexibly and effectively to demand as public cloud platforms can, without incurring greater up-front cost.

It is challenging for any business to grow, maintain flexibility, enjoy cost efficiencies, reliable platforms and better respond to a dynamic regulatory environment – all at once. However, the chances of achieving this tricky balancing act increase markedly if a business transforms with cloud technology.

In particular, a multi-cloud approach enables businesses to maximise their investment, remove inflexible vendor lock-in, innovate freely and meet the needs of their customers. From both a business agility and cost-efficiency point of view, achieving a balance of public and private cloud options in a multi-cloud setup is proving to be the winning tactic.

 

Stephan Fabel is the Director of Product at Canonical - the publisher of Ubuntu.

Categories: Tech News

Best standing desk 2019: the most comfortable standing desks ranked

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:18

Welcome to our pick of the best standing desks in 2019, but why should you buy a standing desk? Sitting is the new smoking is the new cliché which the mainstream media certainly picked up and ran with, although researchers have warned that shock headlines built around this phrase devalue the perceived risks of the truly damaging habit of smoking.

All this publicity has doubtless helped drive the popularity of standing desks, though, making people sit up and take notice – or indeed stand up and take notice. And while the danger is that sitting cannot remotely be equated to smoking – the American Journal of Public Health points out that the latter increases the risk of premature death (due to any cause) by around 180% – sitting is still bad for you.

The same researchers found that excessive sitting (for something like more than eight hours a day) is still very harmful, potentially increasing the risk of premature death (or developing some chronic diseases) by around 10% to 20%.

Standing all day can be as bad for you as constantly sitting, though, so the theory with standing desks is actually to mix up sitting and standing – the best standing desks are height adjustable – varying your posture to hopefully also help with potential ergonomic issues and related aches and pains.

Some studies have found “an improvement in discomfort and pain as people use the desks”, and not just with the obvious lower back pains long hours in a chair might cause.

Of course we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that being sedentary is the real enemy here in terms of the damage done to the body, whether you’re sitting, standing, or doing handstands.

So whether you have an ordinary or standing desk, don’t forget to regularly move away from it, walk around, and generally get your blood pumping a bit in some manner. Beyond simply standing or sitting, you should be moving some of the time (which is why things like ‘walking meetings’ are catching on with more progressive businesses).

At any rate, if you’re considering purchasing one of the best standing desks, we’ve picked out the top products right here, from high-end smart desks to more wallet-friendly options, as well as desk converters and even a standing desk targeted at gamers.

As a final note, along with your standing desk, it’s well worth considering the purchase of an accompanying mat to stand on, to make things easier on your feet and help with comfort levels. Many standing desk makers offer bundled mats of one kind or another, though you may find a cheaper product by shopping around online elsewhere.

The best standing desks 2019 at a glance:
  1. Uplift V2
  2. ApexDesk Elite
  3. Fully Jarvis Bamboo
  4. Varidesk ProDesk 48 Electric
  5. FlexiSpot Manual Height Adjustable Desk
  6. FlexiSpot EN1B
  7. Stir Kinetic Desk M1
  8. Evodesk Gaming Desk
  9. Uplift E7 Electric Standing Desk Converter
  10. FlexiSpot ClassicRiser Standing Desk Converter
The best standing desks of 2019

Uplift V2 is a standing desk that benefits from top-notch build quality, and prides itself on stability. An issue which can be found with some standing desks is that they might be a bit wobbly, particularly when extended to higher levels. Uplift is nicely stable, though, thanks to built-in stability braces.

Dual-motors mean the desk can change heights quickly, with a smooth and quiet action, and anti-collision tech is also in the mix (meaning if the desk is lowering and hits something – like your seat, or heaven forbid your head – it stops).

The desk also benefits from a large number of mounting points for accessories, with some pretty nifty extras that can be hooked up to this thing – including an under-desk hammock (yes you read that right – it attaches underneath when the desk is fully raised up). If there’s any testament you need to the stability of this unit, it’s being able to sleep in a hammock under it!

There are loads of choices for desktop sizes and colors (and indeed frame colors), you get built-in cable management, and there are curved or corner desk models. The products are backed by an impressive seven-year warranty, too.

The Uplift is available in standard and commercial standing desk versions (the latter has even more stability thanks to a crossbar), and those outside the US can order a unit to be shipped. However, it will be delivered as ‘palletized freight’, and could be expensive – so the maker suggests purchasing the Uplift frame only and sourcing your own desktop for it locally.

Need a lot of desk space for all your stuff, like multiple monitors, or other peripherals? Then ApexDesk Elite is a good port of call for another high-quality desk which delivers some serious walnut real-estate (other woods are available, of course!) – and the real bonus is that it’s nicely priced for what you’re getting here.

There are actually two sizes with a 60-inch and 71-inch version of the Elite, but obviously if you want maximum desk space, go with the latter, which also has a depth of 33-inches – more than most (it’s a few inches deeper than the Uplift, for example).

It’s a superbly built standing desk with a dual-motor lifting system, featuring a smooth, albeit a little slow, lifting mechanism (and a controller with the ability to set four preset heights). The lifting capacity is just over 100kg to ensure you can indeed fit plenty of hefty bits of hardware on top of this desk. The Elite is sturdily built with the center beam providing greater stability (without having to have a crossbar underneath).

Furthermore, you can get some pretty smart deals on these desks if you shop around, and if you go the ApexDesk route, you’ll likely get a lot of desk for your money.

Another top-notch standing desk is the Jarvis Bamboo, which as the name suggests is fashioned from bamboo – it’s environmentally-friendly in that the bamboo is sustainably grown (without pesticides), plus it has a tough polyurethane coating.

Underneath that is a frame capable of supporting over 150kg, and with a full extension suitable enough for someone who is as tall as 6-foot 7-inches. It’s a sturdy desk and moves into position very smoothly (and quietly) with adjustments made using a simple up/down control panel, or an upgraded programmable handset (which you can use to set different heights into the memory).

You can get the Jarvis in the standard rectangular desk shape, or contoured (with a concave curve at the front). There are all manner of nifty options with this standing desk, as well, including desk lamps, drawers, and a desk shelf for your monitor – or indeed if you want to get really fancy, a gas-activated monitor arm.

It’s not so much a standing desk as a thing of beauty in terms of its design – and eco-friendly credentials – but like the other higher-end products here, it doesn’t come cheap.

This is a solid standing desk which is nicely stable, and is another model to benefit from a crossbar between the legs to provide some extra stability at those higher extensions (it rises to an impressively high level, too, and Varidesk says it’s suitable for users up to 6-feet 6-inches tall).

A further perk here is the ease with which the ProDesk 48 can be put together – indeed, the company claims it will only take five minutes, and customer feedback online seems to pretty much bear this out.

There’s a control panel, with three different height levels that can be committed to memory, and a good cable management system to hide away any untidy leads. While this is the 48-inch desktop, ProDesk also comes in a 60-inch size for those who want a bit more real-estate to spread out on.

Those who want a budget option for a standing desk should check out this FlexiSpot offering. As a manually operated product, it keeps costs down, but the real secret for the cheapest possible way to go here is simply to buy the frame only. It’s a low-cost yet still well-built and sturdy frame, and if you can source your own desktop – assuming you’re decently handy with DIY – you’ll be able to put together a truly wallet-friendly solution.

That said, you can purchase this frame with a desktop at some retailers, and that’s another affordable option. The inclusion of the desktop does push the price up to not much less than a motorized desk – and as such, you might be better going with our next entry, as in this case, the relatively small saving likely isn’t worth it unless you’re really set on a manual crank mechanism (perhaps for reliability, and less potential for anything to go wrong).

It’s really the DIY route we are thinking about here, which may well be tempting for handier folks (even more so if you can work with wood, or maybe even re-purpose your existing desk).

If you want a motorized standing desk, but you don’t want to pay the earth, then check out the FlexiSpot EN1B. It benefits from a quiet motor lift, with a keypad that allows for three height presets that can be customized. There’s also a programmable alarm to let you know when it’s time to change from sitting to standing (or vice versa), which is quite nifty.

The frame is built using double-steel tubing and is pretty solid, but may suffer from a touch of the wobbles when extended to its very highest levels.

The FlexiSpot EN1B is impressively cheap compared to rival motorized products, providing some great features at this wallet-friendly level, plus the company backs the desk with a five-year guarantee (and the motor gets a slightly shorter three-year guarantee). Note that in the UK, the equivalent model is the FlexiSpot E1.

If money is no object, and you want a truly smart standing desk, then check out the Stir Kinetic Desk M1. It not only looks smart, with its contemporary-looking curved lines, but it actually is smart, being cloud-connected and monitoring the way you use it, learning from that data, and adapting to your needs.

It will gently remind you when it’s time to change position with a feature called ‘whisperbreath’ whereby the desk gently raises itself an inch, and lowers itself again – a quick and subtle prompt that can be ignored if you wish. And when you do ignore it, the M1 will learn from your likes and dislikes (like maybe not being so keen to stand up first thing in the morning).

The controls come in the form of a 5-inch touchscreen built into the surface of the desk, and the M1 offers multiple logins to make desk sharing easy. Indeed, the desk can even recognize users by their Fitbit (which it syncs with) and then automatically load that particular person’s data and preferences.

On top of this, it’s a beautifully finished high quality desk, and if you’re willing to pay top dollar for these smart features, the Stir Kinetic Desk M1 could be the right choice for you.

Evodesk makes some great standing desks, including one specifically aimed at gamers. So what features are targeting the gaming market, exactly? Firstly, the desktop can be a large one, with options for a 48-inch desktop all the way up to a 72-inch behemoth.

And secondly, that desktop has an Evoguard finish – in other words a finely-textured surface similar to a high quality mouse mat, which is perfect for using your gaming mouse on. The Evodesk Gaming Desk also has a curved (concave) edge for better ergonomics, and an option on an integrated Harman Kardon sound system.

This desk is well-built and nicely stable, which is obviously critical for when the action gets furious, and you’re mousing like crazy on that Evoguard finish. The Gaming Desk is adjustable to 250+ different height positions, with a smooth raising/lowering action (and comes with the usual memory settings).

Some of the features may seem a little gimmicky, like the built-in speakers – serious shooter players doubtless have their own far superior set of headphones, for instance – but overall this hits the mark as a quality desk which makes some worthwhile advances for keen gamers.

Note that it might be worth forking out a little extra for an oak or bamboo desktop for long-term hardiness, as wear-and-tear could be one of the concerns for those intending to mouse directly on the Evoguard surface.

If you don’t want a fully-fledged standing desk for whatever reason, you can always turn your existing desk into one by using a converter solution such as the Uplift E7 Standing Desk Converter.

There are a number of similar products, but Uplift gets the nod as the overall champ because it is not only a fantastically built affair – just like the company’s Uplift V2 full desk – but it has a nifty keyboard tray. This hangs down lower than the main platform, meaning you’re in the right ergonomic position to type and use your mouse, while looking comfortably at the monitor on the platform at eye-level (the same being true when you’re sat down).

You also get a neatly integrated keypad for one-touch adjusting of the height, and a memory function so you can save your sitting/standing settings. This can be a much more compact – and indeed somewhat cheaper – solution than a full standing desk.

If you prefer a cheaper standing desk converter rather than the powered model from Uplift above, then check out the FlexiSpot ClassicRiser. This is a manually adjustable model, which is obviously where a lot of the cost-savings come into play, but it’s still a nifty solution nonetheless, despite being considerably cheaper.

The ClassicRiser is easy enough to operate when raising or lowering the platform, which is achieved with a light squeeze on a lever at the side, and like the Uplift, it has a wide keyboard tray below the main platform (although this is removable).

You can select from different-sized platforms from the smallest 27-inch (M1) offering up to 47-inches (M3), with a range of various options available including monitor arms, anti-fatigue mats, and indeed an under-desk exercise bike. The M1 model is unsurprisingly the cheapest, but it doesn’t cost much more to ramp up the size to an M3.

Categories: Tech News

Early appetite for 5G is a boost for operators and vendors

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:15

Successful early marketing campaigns and strong operator momentum have generated consumer demand for 5G services, according to a study by CCS Insight.

Analysts believe there will be one billion connections by 2022, two billon by 2024 and three billion by 2025, with more than half of people stating 5G would pay a significant role in their next smartphone purchase. These are more optimistic than other projections.

Nine in ten people in the UK have heard of 5G, more than the US where networks launched six months earlier. Online gaming and home broadband services were two of the new applications cited as a reason for adoption.

5G adoption

The figures are a boost for operators and smartphone manufacturers seeking to increase revenues, but there are still some barriers to adoption. Many consumers are tied up in long-term contracts, while the cost of 5G smartphones is still high. Meanwhile, Apple is not expected to launch a 5G handset until next year at the earliest.

One third of people in the UK say they don’t need 5G and seven in ten want proof of 5G’s value before committing to a new contract. There is also a reluctance to pay more for 5G, although in the UK this will be less of a problem with some operators indicating they won’t charge a premium.

Kester Mann, an analyst with CCS Insight believes these barriers to adoption will be solved.

“There's a real opportunity for operators, handset makers and other players to gain market share in 5G by offering more-innovative service plans and to better communicate 5G's benefits," he said. “And over the next year 5G-capable smartphones will appear at much more attractive prices than the current highs of $1,200 (£1,000).”

Better than expected momentum in Europe will also help drive adoption. There now more than 17 live 5G networks on the continent, including four in the UK. However China will be the major market for 5G, with the country’s ambitious plans for rollout benefiting the entire industry. By 2025, it is predicted there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections – around 40 per cent of the global total.

"Chinese operators' desire for a fast debut in 5G is good news for everyone. Smartphone makers and their component suppliers are racing to create products at competitive prices to benefit from a market where we expect about 100 million 5G-capable phones to be sold in 2020 alone,” added Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insight. “These new, lower-priced 5G devices will be welcomed by operators in other markets, as they will help them attract customers to their 5G networks, and might prompt demand for phones to bounce back a little in Western markets.”

Categories: Tech News

Firefox 70 will hide some website security information – but it's for a good reason

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 07:14

Firefox 70 is just around the corner (the stable release is expected on October 22), and it's bringing a new set of features to show you whether or not the site you're visiting is actually secure.

When you fire up the updated browser, you'll notice quite a few changes at the left-hand side of the address bar that Mozilla hopes will make things more transparent.

Currently, if a site has an Extended Validation (EV) certificate (a document that validates the identity of its owner) its owner's name will be displayed in green text beside the URL, like so:

This is intended to give users more confidence about the site's providence, particularly when shopping online, and help them avoid phishing scams.

It's a good idea in theory, but because some of the world's biggest companies (including Facebook, Google and Amazon) have never used EV certificates, people don't typically think to look out for them.

For that reason, Mozilla has decided to tuck EV details away, and in Firefox 70 they will only be visible if you decide to click the padlock icon in the URL bar (just as Google did with the release of Chrome 77 in September).

Changing priorities

Instead, Firefox 70 will put more emphasis on showing whether a site uses SSL encryption, making it clear that it's a necessity rather than a nice optional extra.

The green padlock that appears in the address bar for HTTPS sites will become gray, and any site using an HTTP or FTTP connection will have the padlock struck through in red.

"This change will hide the indicator from the majority of our users while keeping it accessible for those who need to access it," explained Firefox developer Johann Hofmann in a blog post. "It also avoids ambiguities that could previously arise when the entity name in the URL bar was cut off to make space for the URL."

Via ZDNet

Categories: Tech News

Three down: network responds to huge outage as connectivity slowly returns

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:48

Update: Multiple users are now reporting that the data service is returning, albeit slowly. If you've been affected, Three advises restarting your phone to restore connectivity.

Three suffered a huge network outage overnight, with many users complaining they can't access data or calling.

Three first confirmed via Twitter that there is an issue with voice and data that's being looked into, and has released the following statement to TechRadar:

"Three is currently experiencing technical difficulties with our services across voice, text and data which means that some customers will be experiencing an intermittent service.  Our engineers are working on the issue now to fix the problem as soon as possible. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”


Three's Twitter response looks like it was written quickly on a mobile - minimal capital letters suggest that this was dashed off as the public outcry has grown quickly. Three's Twitter support page also hadn't been updated - beyond replies - since September 3, although it's now pinned the same Tweet from the main account).

Multiple members of the TechRadar team saw data and calling down overnight and this morning, but are now finding that connections are being restored by restarting their device.

Turning your phone off and on again may bring back data connection - our tests of doing such are showing a 4G signal and data connectivity grinding back into life.

Could this be the reason?

One engineering-focused Twitter user, Peter Clarke, has pointed out that there are network migrations - moving systems over to new, better ones - happening at the moment, and this could well have caused the issues:


The #ThreeDown campaign is trending at the moment - with thousands taking to Twitter to express outrage at the situation.

Looking at tools that monitor and track outages across mobile networks (such as Down Detector) it seems that the issue is increasing across the country - likely as users exit their home Wi-Fi and realise that data isn't picking up the signal.

The problems seem to be largely affecting big cities, with Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Norwich and especially London reporting large volumes of outages.

Down Detector was showing a huge spike in outage reports a7 8AM

We're seeing that the reports of the outage are starting to drop as connectivity begins to return - the number is starting to drop rapidly, so it seems issues are being resolved:

Users reporting issues began to tumble around 10AM

Now what?

A lot of users are demanding compensation, although the question of whether compensation will be given out for an outage under 24 hours is a tricky one.

If you feel you deserve some level of recompense, you can head over to Ofcom to see what options are available to you - and we've asked whether Three will be providing compensations to affected customers.

We'll update this story as and when we find out what's actually happening to Three's network - but this isn't the best timing for the provider, as rival O2 has pushed out its 5G services across the UK on the same day.

And it looks like we've already reached the point of British bitter humour - the jokes about the outage have already started rolling out...

And is this the weirdest #ThreeDown tweet out there?

Categories: Tech News

Loads of HP laptops are getting early Black Friday price cuts already

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:46

If you've been thinking of getting a new HP laptop, you may not need to wait for Black Friday 2019 or Cyber Monday 2019, as we've noticed that several HP laptops have already had some pretty impressive price cuts.

The HP laptops on sale are from a range of retailers, and include various different categories, including budget laptops, AMD-powered laptops and HP Chromebook.

We've picked out some of the best HP laptop deals we've found so far. Also, make sure you check out our pick of the best Black Friday laptop deals that have already gone live.

We also have a guide on how to buy a laptop on Black Friday, which can help you get the very best deals for the best laptop for your needs on Black Friday, so make sure you check out our tips there if you want to bag a bargain.

Categories: Tech News

The Witcher TV series: everything you need to know about the Netflix show

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:30

First revealed in 2017, The Witcher TV series is produced by Netflix and is based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. 

Over eight episodes, Superman actor Henry Cavill will bring to life Geralt of Rivia – a mutated, supernaturally-gifted monster hunter who becomes embroiled in the conflict between two powerful human nations: the Nilfgaardian Empire and Northern Kingdoms. 

It’s a fantastical setting – there are elves, dwarfs, and cryptozoo of incredible monsters – but it’s nevertheless rich with relatable stories. The books and games are as capable of telling tales of petty human prejudice as they are epic stories of unmatched scale and sweep. And, best of all, we don’t have long to wait: the show will be aired in late 2019. 

Don't call it a Game of Thrones copy, though – with at least one cast member for The Witcher, Royce Pierreson, saying the comparisons don't hold up to the unique flavor of the show (via Digital Spy). We also have a Game of Thrones prequel show coming anyway to scratch that itch...

Cut to the chase:
  • What is it? A fantasy drama, based on the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher will also be familiar to the fans of the massively-popular video game series of the same name.
  • Where can I watch it? The Witcher is set to be a Netflix exclusive.
  • When can I watch it? A firm release date has yet to be set, but The Witcher TV series should air towards the end of 2019.
The Witcher release date

There's no official The Witcher release date announced, though a now-deleted Facebook post (via PC Gamer) may have leaked it. The post said The Witcher TV show was only 97 days away, from September 11, meaning the first episode (or the whole season) could drop on December 17 – perfect for some Winter watching.

The Witcher TV series trailers

Ahead of its full release, Netflix has given fans a glimpse of what the show has to offer in a reasonably lengthy trailer. Take a peek at what’s in store from The Witcher TV series trailer below:

A shorter teaser was released by Netflix Italy, as seen below. It's only 16 seconds long, and jumps between shots quite fast, but if you want another glimpse of Cavill as Geralt, giant spiders, and some of the medieval fantasy environments, it's 16 seconds of pure Witcher gold. Or silver.

The Witcher TV series cast and crew announcements: Henry Cavill and more

It’s a prestigious production. The showrunner is Daredevil and The Defenders writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Cavill brings measured star power to the role of Geralt - a stoic, wary, and refreshingly nuanced hero, exploring a world that struggles to accept him. 

It helps that Cavill is also a massive fan of the series – apparently, he called his agent every day until the role was confirmed (via Vulture).

Series author Andrzej Sapkowski is also on board as creative consultant, and there’s direct creative links to the video games, too: CD Projekt Red's Tomas Baginski – the man behind the stirring cinematics seen at the start of all three titles – is earmarked to direct at least one episode.

In terms of characters, anyone who’s read the book or played the games will recognise plenty of faces. 

Anya Chalotra plays Yennefer of Vengerberg, a fiery, independant sorcerer and longtime paramour of Geralt; Freya Allan plays Ciri, a destiny-touched Witcher whom Geralt takes under his wing; and we’ve even seen Geralt’s faithful horse, Roach. (Or one of the Roaches, at least: Geralt is over 100 years old and gives every horse he has the same name – he’s been through a few.) 

Dandelion, the bard who documents the events of the story and Geralt’s best friend, will also feature, but he’ll be using his name from the books: Jaskier. This Polish word actually refers to the buttercup flower, which feels far too Princess Bride for this moody fantasy setting. 

The Witcher TV series: story rumors

As anyone familiar with the books or games knows, The Witcher is all about moral ambiguity. The showrunners have promised that characters we’ll hate when we first meet them could become ones we love later on. And even Geralt himself isn’t a classical hero: Witchers kill monsters for money, not altruism, and the SDCC trailer suggests that coin is all Geralt cares about early on. 

Cavill has already mentioned that despite Geralt being a hero, he “won’t treat everyone perfectly”. And even the show’s tagline, "The worst monsters are the ones we create" hints at some thematic things: chiefly that in this world, having your horse devoured by a griffon is the least of your problems.

The topline description of the story is simply about a monster hunter struggling to find his place in a grasping, war-torn world. But it’s worth reiterating this is based on the books, not just the games, and that might allay some fears of yet another failed video game adaptation. Because it’s based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, events will take place before the game trilogy. 

But even if you’ve only played the games, there’s plenty here you’ll recognise. We don’t yet know exactly which stories are being adapted, but based on the trailers and on what Hissrich has said about The Witcher’s “disjointed family” it sounds like the tumultuous relationship between Geralt, Ciri, and Yennefer will be the primary focus. 

There are eight Witcher novels - as well as a glut of short stories - and it sounds like the show will take inspiration from the five books that deal with Geralt’s relationship with Ciri. Does this mean that there will be no specific references to the games? That depends. Hissrich has said that if the show runs for multiple seasons, we may eventually get to the games, but right now she’s taking it one season at a time. 

She has confirmed, however, that the Witcher bathtub beloved by our sister site PC Gamer may make an appearance. She told io9 at San Diego Comic-Con that yes, "There is a bathtub. I won’t tell you who’s in the bathtub, but there is a bathtub."

The Witcher TV series production design

Design-wise, it’s impossible not to infer some inspiration from the games, although there are some differences. The initial response to the first make-up test of Cavill as Geralt was mixed - specifically, the blond wig made him look more like a Creatine-pumped Legolas than the lithe character we recognise from the CD Projekt Red series. But it makes more sense seeing him in motion in recent trailers, and Geralt’s (apparently very uncomfortable) studded mail armour feels like it could be an in- game drop. 

Not all the armour we’ve seen has been positively received: fans of the game were less sold on the crumpled Nilfgaardian armour seen in leaked footage from the set, with one commenter eloquently describing the soldiers as, "ballsacks with swords." There’s a chance it might look this way in order to add some post-production effects, or this could be the finished product. 

And then there are Geralt’s swords. Or to be more accurate, , singular. Game Twitter was more-aghast-than-normal on learning the Netflix version of the Butcher of Blaviken only carried one sword, rather than the two he uses in the game (steel for humans, silver for monsters). But this, again, is true to the source material: Geralt has two blades in the books, but he keeps his silver sword on his horse, Roach. Later images confirmed this: you can see a seductive glint of silver pommel on the image below:

On balance, there are plenty of reasons to be positive. The series won’t break the curse of terrible video game adaptations, because it isn’t one. Instead, Hissrich can draw on a vast selection of stories from a fully fleshed out fantasy universe. There’s a large, dragon-shaped fantasy gap in our TV schedule right now; The Witcher may be exactly the thing to fill it.

Categories: Tech News

PS5 will keep the PS Now platform, but why won't Sony bring it to mobile?

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:27

With the PS5 launch date now confirmed, gamers the world over will be speculating as to what features and services the PlayStation ecosystem will maintain from the current generation – and which ones will be dropped.

For now, though, it looks like the PlayStation Now platform – which lets you stream a curated list of legacy PlayStation games directly to your console – will still be available on PS5.

Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu recently featured an interview with software engineer Yasuhiro Osaki, who works at Sony Interactive Entertainment.

According to DualShockers, Osaki confirmed that PS Now would continue on the next-gen PS5 console, though with some surprising limitations given wider trends in streaming for games – including a lack of support for PS Now for mobile.

Everybody else is doing it

Mobile is big business for games these days, with tentpole free-to-play games like Fortnite, PUBG, or COD: Mobile being pushed on iOS and Android devices – and the Apple Arcade subscription service pitching iOS and iPadOS as go-to platforms for quality indie titles.

When it comes to game streaming, too, Google Stadia could prove a disruptive force when it launches in November this year, with a per-title payment model that will let players access games through a huge array of devices and platforms, from mobile and tablets to browsers and smart TVs.

With Microsoft also pursuing mobile, with its Project xCloud streaming service, Sony could well be left behind by a lack of flexibility – something that may not come as a surprise to anyone who's been trying to use cross-play between Sony and other platforms, although we recently saw a change of heart from Sony on that front.

Both Sony and Microsoft allow gamers to access their respective game streaming / subscription services on PC, but as players come to expect easy access to their titles wherever they are, with whatever devices they have to hand, not supporting PS Now on mobile could be a death knell for the service in the upcoming console wars, however many price cuts Sony brings to the platform.

Categories: Tech News

Germany gives Huawei the 5G green light

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:26

Germany has confirmed it will allow mobile operators in the country to use Huawei’s 5G equipment in a major boost for the vendor.

New security guidelines published by German communications regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) make no specific provisions for the company, instead placing additional requirements for all manufacturers.

The guidelines state that vendors must be trustworthy, critical components must be certified, security monitoring must be introduced and that only trained professionals are to be employed in security related areas.

Huawei Germany

There are also provisions for redundancy and a call for operators to avoid monocultures, presumably by musing kit from multiple vendors.

"It is essential to protect information and communication systems against threats,” said Jochen Homann, President of BNetzA. “The updated security requirements for telecommunications networks and services play an important role in this.”

Such a move had been expected despite pressure from the US to ban Huawei in Germany. The company has been blacklisted in the US on national security grounds and Washington is urging its allies to follow suit. However the US has not produced any evidence to support its claims and Huawei has frequently and emphatically denied any wrongdoing.

There is little support from mobile operators for a ban who fear costs would rise and innovation would decline as a result. Meanwhile Huawei has called for a cross-industry approach to security.

“We welcome the move the German Government has taken to create a level playing field for 5G network vendors,” said a Huawei spokesperson. “Germany has set higher and consistent security standards for all vendors. Advanced declarations and process-based inspections will be adopted, and all vendors are equally and fairly welcome to participate in the construction of 5G networks if they fulfill the security requirements.

“This fact- and standards-based approach is of exemplary significance for addressing global cyber security challenges. Politicizing cyber security will only hinder technology development and social progress while doing nothing to address the security challenges all countries face. Huawei will continue to work openly with regulators, customers, and industry organizations to ensure that mobile networks are secure.”

Categories: Tech News

Using EDR for layered security

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:25

It is public knowledge that cybersecurity risks are increasing, not just in volume but, crucially, in scope.  

The attack surface has expanded with the advent of more and more devices in the organisation network. Twenty years ago, most enterprises relied solely on on-premise infrastructure. 

The few employees who did have personal devices, in an era before smartphones and BYOD policies, had most of their data and computing assets kept behind a relatively defensible perimeter, protected using conventional security for their IT infrastructure. Mostly, it did its job - but the job description has been ripped up and rewritten. 

The advent of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) has created inter-device connectivity on a scale previously unseen. With an expanse of new devices equating to a wide array of new entry vectors; a defensible perimeter is now insufficient in isolation. 

According to Gartner, the number of IoT devices globally will surge to 5.8 billion by the end of 2020, a rise of 21.5% from 2019. Computing has been reconfigured and, unless cybersecurity keeps pace with it, enterprises will expose themselves to the full consequences of intrusions, from data loss to regulatory compliance. 

Internal and external visibility

Conventional approaches, primarily preventative in scope, never have a 100% success rate in isolation. There needs to be a preliminary stage to this, a precursor which makes use of advanced AI tools to drive analytical monitoring of the endpoints and the threat landscape. An enterprise that understands the threats it faces and its own internal vulnerabilities will be in a strong position against breach prevention. 

Transparency here is key. For endpoint security to work, there must be improved visibility. Having defense systems in place is part and parcel of modern cybersecurity but the need for analytics, and the awareness that we exist in a rapidly evolving technological landscape, is increasingly a requirement. A response is great but a detection system which can stop threats at source is even better. 

In the efforts to adopt and maintain a good security posture, the requirement for a layered security approach is increasingly becoming public knowledge. The form that this may often take, however, is less apparent. Enter Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), a layered security approach, proactive in its analytics and defence mechanisms and reactive in its rapid response to breaches. 

Endpoint Detection and Response today

The Endpoint Detection and Response market is experiencing rapid growth, estimated to be worth $1.54 billion in 2020, up from $238 million in 2015. As endpoints become more intrinsically linked to business networks, securing them has inevitably become more important.

In its purest form, EDR is a monitoring solution which augments a cybersecurity system through the analysis of every single event on the endpoint. It is an extension of the EPP (Endpoint Protection Platform). Instead of blocking a single activity, it has a constantly activated monitoring system through which threat actors can be located and acted against.

Expanded attack surfaces require not only a wider perimeter but one which is more intuitive and advanced, embedded with AI capabilities so intrusion attempts can be detected upon entry. Layered security is designed exactly for these instances. With numerous defence capabilities, from perimeter firewalls through to cloud-based detection platforms, there can be a holistic approach to cybersecurity - one which encompasses every angle of attack. 

The layering element of security is tangible here. EDR is a total solution, one which helps organisations ‘cover all bases’ from cybercrime in its multiple facets, the ultimate goal being not only to detect and counteract threats, but to proactively search for them and stop them at the gate. 

Cloud-based sandbox file testing is comprehensive in its analysis of threat vectors, with the potential to create threat visualisation maps within databases. This provides consistent assurance of security, with actionable, easy-to-use intelligence and reporting. 

Assurances extend beyond security, with a streamlining of regulation practices a core benefit for enterprise. EDR solutions provide tangible benefits by establishing to regulators, customers and compliance staff that data security is of paramount importance to the business. 

EDR solutions demonstrate that whilst threats are being constantly monitored, highly detailed information about endpoint events can be developed coexistent to this and retained, with remediation of security threats occurring as quickly as possible in response.

Layering for the future

The picture is clear: cybersecurity systems must be multi-faceted and layered, not only to protect sensitive data but to ensure breaches are properly accounted for. Multiple endpoints within business networks is the status quo for enterprise; only a modernized, advanced cybersecurity platform can help them operate at speed without sacrificing the constant need for security monitoring. 

The cybersecurity space is not and never will be stagnant - which means that, more than ever, there must be a predictive element to supplement the systems in place. Layered security, built upon the premise of adaptability and with a future-orientated lens, is the only solution capable of dealing with threats in their present and future form.

 

Terry Greer-King is the VP EMEA of SonicWall.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung Galaxy Note 11 could have an in-screen camera

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:20

The next step in the journey to removing bezels on smartphones is likely to build cameras into the screen, and it’s a step Samsung might almost be ready to make, as a report suggests that at least one of its 2020 handsets will have an in-screen camera.

That’s according to “industry sources” speaking to The Elec (a South Korean tech news site). The site goes on to speculate that the Samsung Galaxy S11 or Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 might be the first Samsung phone with this feature, but elsewhere we’ve heard that might not be the case.

According to @UniverseIce (a leaker with a good track record) neither of those phones will have an in-screen camera – but they agree that some 2020 Samsung handset will.

So what does that leave us with? Well, the Samsung Galaxy Note 11 is the other obvious option, if such a handset even launches. It’s possible,though, that Samsung won’t use a flagship phone to trial this new tech. It might test the feature out on something lower profile, such as a new Galaxy A handset.

That could make sense, since the technology might initially be imperfect, and it could be a risk putting it in one of the company’s best-selling phones. In any case, once Samsung packs an in-display camera into any widely-available handset it probably won’t be long before other companies follow suit.

Note that Samsung won't necessarily be first. Oppo and Xiaomi, for example, have already shown off in-screen cameras in concept devices, but it will likely take a company like Samsung to make the tech mainstream.

Categories: Tech News

UE Wonderboom 2 - one of our best Bluetooth speakers - gets a huge price cut

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:20

If you're in the mood for a top Bluetooth speaker then you could do a lot worse than checking out the UE Wonderboom 2 - and it's got a massive 30% discount at Amazon.

This is the lowest price we've seen for the floatable waterproof speaker, bringing it down from £89.99 to just under £62, which qualifies as a top bargain.

The Wonderboom 2 is optimized for listening outdoors, with an 'Outdoor Boost' mode, an IP67 dustproof/waterproof rating, and an impressive 13 hours of battery life – an increase of 30% compared to its predecessor.

Rugged design and powerful sound solidify the Wonderboom 2 as one of the best portable waterproof speakers you can buy – that's why we awarded it 4.5/5 stars when we reviewed it back in June.

It comes in a range of cool colours, but this particular deal only applies to the peach-hued model. 

Today's best portable speaker deal

While a saving of over £28 is never to be sniffed at, it's worth bearing in mind that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up very soon – and that means the Wonderboom 2 could be discounted even further, but not by that much more.

If you want to wait, make sure you bookmark our Black Friday deals page for the latest news from the massive sales event; however, if you're in a hurry to get your hands on a new Bluetooth speaker, you can check out the deal above.

Via What Hi-Fi?

Categories: Tech News

Intel Core i9-9900KS hits 5.2GHz on air – and could be an overclocker’s dream

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:12

Intel’s incoming Core i9-9900KS, a new top-end CPU which is expected to launch later in October, has apparently already been purchased by a Redditor and overclocked with impressive results – hitting 5.2GHz just on air (in other words, with no fancy liquid cooling solution).

As is usually the case with these sort of pre-release leaks, though, we have to be cautious about whether this could be fabricated – although the denizen of Reddit in question did post a (purported) picture of the retail box. Apparently the chip was mistakenly listed – and errantly sold – by a retailer in the Czech Republic.

The Redditor admits to being a “total OC [overclocking] noob”, and using just air cooling – a Noctua NH D15 – overclocked the CPU to 5.2GHz over all cores with the voltage set to 1.36V, while benchmarking in Cinebench R20.

Assuming this is genuine, it seems to be an impressive indicator of the overclocking potential of the Core i9-9900KS. Even if the actual Cinebench result achieved isn't totally mind-blowing.

The chip recorded a result of 5,356, and as Tom’s Hardware notes, a stock 9900K hit 4,984. So the overclocked 9900KS is just over 7% faster in this comparison. Although an overclocked 9900K at 5GHz scores 5,266, so the gain is only 1.7% in this case.

That said, this is only one benchmark – and not a gaming one, which is where the real interest will be – and of course the 9900KS may well have a good deal more potential to be pushed further considering this result was obtained by a self-confessed newbie with a simple air cooler. It’s also worth noting that the purported 9900KS was only paired with the ‘cheapest DDR4 RAM’ (2666MHz) the Redditor could find.

Very good chip

The Redditor also observed: “Very good chip indeed. In a Prime95 small FFTs 16 thread test it managed to stay at ~5020MHz for the whole test which I terminated after 20 minutes. Cooled with NH-D15, it reached max temperature 83°C and average temperature 75°C in the test. I didn't touch BIOS settings yet, so these are all out of the box results.”

And in GTA Online, Intel’s Core i9-9900KS ran itself at 5,010MHz and “stayed there rock solid”, with a CPU load hovering around 15% and temperature at 57°C.

Intel has already been busy pointing out that the CPU is capable of reaching the promised 5GHz boost across all eight-cores, and drawing comparisons to AMD’s recent controversy over boost clocks not reaching advertised levels. And that small anecdotal test (again, assuming all this is true) appears to bear this out…

The Core i9-9900KS is essentially a heavily binned version of the 9900K, meaning Intel has simply reserved the best versions of this chip which are capable of reaching 5GHz across all cores (the vanilla Core i9-9900K can only achieve that feat on a single core).

So effectively you are paying for one of the top 9900K chips, although even then, within the 9900KS range there will still be variances in tolerances for overclocking, and CPUs which can be pushed further than others.

Another point to note here is that if retailers actually have stock of the Core i9-9900KS, it hopefully won’t be long before these processors are officially on sale. As mentioned, Intel has said the chips will launch in October, so we could be looking at next week.

Categories: Tech News

Everything you've posted to Yahoo Groups will soon be deleted: here's how to save it

Latest Tech News - Thu, 10/17/2019 - 05:06

It's probably been a long time since you last used Yahoo Groups, which is part of the reason Yahoo has decided to shut the service down later this year. 

If your memory of Yahoo Groups is a little fuzzy, it offers like-minded users the opportunity to gather and discuss particular topics, much like Tumblr or Reddit. Members of a Group can share files, have conversations, conduct polls and send messages to one another in a friendly, communal way. At least, that was the idea.

Yahoo hasn't given a formal explanation for shuttering Groups, but it seems likely that the service has simply been overwhelmed by competition from more successful platforms. As a result, the company plans to start shutting it down on October 21, when users will no longer be able to upload new content.

The process will finish on December 14, when everything will be erased permanently from Yahoo's servers. Files, polls, calendars, conversations, folders calendars – not a trace will remain.

Download your data

That window gives you a few months to download your data before it's gone for good, and it's well worth doing; you might not recall exactly what you've shared on Yahoo Groups over the years, but there may be the odd photo or file that you'll look back on fondly, or posts that you'll want to hang onto.

To grab your content, head over to your Yahoo Group's page and you should see a link to download everything directly. Alternatively, you can log into your Yahoo account on Verizon Media's Privacy Dashboard and request the data.

There might be quite a lot to package up, depending on how active your Yahoo Groups were, so you'll receive an email once it's all archived and ready to download.

Via The Verge

Categories: Tech News

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