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Do you find the price tags of Nvidia’s new Turing-based RTX graphics cards so high, they induce a mild bout of vertigo? Even Nvidia itself has admitted that poor sales of RTX GPUs have been down to the fact that some folks are waiting for prices to drop with the higher-end models.
But, if it’s affordability you’re after, then a more tempting Turing option may be in the works with the Nvidia GEForce GTX 1660 Ti. This rumored graphics card may drop the RTX technology – hence why it’s called GTX instead – in order to become a more wallet-friendly Turing GPU option.
The GTX 1660 Ti name might sound rather improbable – and seemingly plucked out of nowhere – but evidence surrounding the existence of this graphics card has been mounting as of late.
Nvidia has been long rumored to introduce some kind of non-ray tracing alternative to its more expensive RTX models, and it seems increasingly likely that this will be the GTX 1660 Ti – possibly alongside a vanilla GTX 1660 and GTX 1650. Whatever the case, we’ve rounded up all the latest chatter from the Internet grapevine regarding this GPU (and its potential siblings) in one easy to digest article. Because, you know, we’re good like that.Cut to the chase
- What is it? Nvidia’s affordable Turing GPU without ray tracing tech
- When is it out? Allegedly on February 15, 2019
- What will it cost? Rumored pricing sits at $279 (about £210, AU$390)
Image Credit: TechRadarNvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti release date
The GTX 1660 Ti is expected to be unleashed on February 15, according to industry sources who spoke to HardOCP. More recent third-party card leaks suggest that the 1660 Ti will be launching on February 22 instead.
Naturally, these are just rumored release dates, though, it’s more specific than speculation surrounding launches can sometimes be. Whether the cards come by the end of this or next week, the rumored launch window is imminent, so we’ll discover the truth behind it soon enough (doubtless, Nvidia won’t be able to resist a pre-launch teaser).
The alleged GTX 1660 is rumored to be scheduled for a March debut – not far behind – with the GTX 1650 supposedly following in late March to round off the range.
Image Credit: TechRadarNvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti price
According to the same sources who divulged the launch time frame, the GTX 1660 Ti is expected to retail at $279 (around £210, AU$390). That would be much more affordable than the GeForce RTX 2060, the cheapest ray tracing-capable card which weighs in at $349 (£329, AU$599).
Let’s cut quickly to the caveats here, namely that this is merely a speculated price tag, and even the rumor peddlers themselves warned that this could change before launch.
Looking at the bigger picture, the GTX 1660 Ti needs to be priced fairly below the RTX 2060 – otherwise you’d just buy the latter. That said, at $279 (around £210, AU$390), it would actually come in costing less than the outgoing GTX 1060 which retails at $299 (£249, AU$499). Mind you, with all this talk of high RTX price tags, maybe Nvidia figures it needs to court some goodwill on the pricing front.
The supposed GTX 1660 is expected to carry an asking price of $229 (around £175, AU$320), with the GTX 1650 dipping to a rumored $179 (around £135, AU$250).
Image Credit: TechRadarNvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti specs
The GTX 1660 Ti is rumored to be built around a TU116 (Turing) GPU with 1,536 CUDA cores and 6GB of GDDR6 video memory. As already mentioned, the GPU won’t have any ray tracing capabilities, so this will potentially be one of the main differences between this and the RTX 2060 – that and perhaps having fewer CUDA cores (1,536 versus the 1,920 cores on the 2060).
These specs were detailed in the initial leak of the 1660 Ti, and the presence of 6GB of video RAM is backed up by leaked model listings of Gigabyte and MSI graphics cards publicized the EEC (Eurasian Economic Commission). These specs have also been backed up by recent Russian retail leaks, along with the beta for AIDA64 Extreme’s beta.
Incidentally, that leak from the EEC is some of the most concrete evidence that proves the 1660 Ti is indeed in the pipeline. If those Gigabyte and MSI model names are indeed real, it confirms the card will be called the 1660 Ti, even if that still seems like an odd choice (the more logical progression would be the 1160 Ti).
We've also seen some slightly shakier rumors, like a photo showing the GPU being revealed as a cheeky “one more thing” item at the end of an Nvidia pre-briefing event for third-party manufacturers, which could conceivably have been faked.
As to the raw power of the GTX 1660 Ti, we’ve had a glimpse of that thanks to a leaked Ashes of the Singularity benchmark, which indicates that the GPU will be almost 20% faster than the GTX 1060. Bear in mind, though, that pre-launch benchmarks can be off the mark due to early sample hardware – or indeed made-up entirely. Even the benchmark score proves to be legitimate, this is only one game, so it hardly gives us a full picture.
Still, it’s a promising result, which actually puts the 1660 Ti in the same ballpark as the Nvidia GTX 1070 when it comes to pixel-pushing power. And considering the rumored $279 (around £210, AU$390) price tag of the Turing newcomer, you get some idea of the tasty price/performance ratio we might just be looking at. Fingers crossed, then, that all this pans out.
Luckily, we’ve seen some leaked renders of third party GTX 1660 Ti cards, that suggest we’ll see plenty of models that are factory overclocked.
There are scarce details on the specs of the GTX 1660 or 1650 as yet, assuming they exist, of course. What little we have seen suggests the GPUs will be architecturally similar to the 1660 Ti, but will use slower GDDR5 memory. The GTX 1660 may run with 1,280 CUDA cores (256 fewer than the 1660 Ti) according to reports.
If these affordable Turing cards break onto the scene as predicted, you can expect stock of the last-gen Pascal GPUs to dry up pretty quickly – although some speculation (again from those HardOCP sources) indicates that Nvidia intends to keep on producing the GTX 1050 Ti, maintaining it as a bottom-end option below the GTX 1650.
- Could the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti be one of our best graphics cards of 2019?
- Image Credit: TechRadar
Sling TV has just crossed the 2.4 million subscriber mark, according parent company Dish Network's latest earnings report. This makes it the most subscribed to live TV streaming service in the US, ahead of its rival DirecTV Now.
That 2.4 million number puts Sling TV ahead of YouTube TV, which had only 800,000 subscribers back in July 2018, and Hulu with Live TV, which only had around one million subscribers at last count. Sling's main competitor, DirecTV Now, actually lost 267,000 subscribers at the end of last year, which helped solidify Sling TV's top spot.
- Here's what we want to see from the new Apple TV
- Here's every Sling TV package and channel on the service
- Don't forget about Disney+
That being said, it’s not all good news – despite some positive growth, Sling TV could stall out or lose subscribers in the next year.
In 2017 Dish reported that Sling TV gained over 700,000 subscribers. In 2018, that number fell to only about 200,000 new subscribers. If that trend continues – or worsens – after the arrival of Apple’s live TV streaming service, it could put Dish and Sling TV in a bad spot this time next year.Sling TV saves you the dollar bills
Why is Sling so far ahead of the competition? It's likely due to the fact that Sling TV is the cheapest live TV streaming option on the market currently at $25 per month, and it was also one of the first when it launched in 2015.
The service gained traction early as a way to watch basic cable channels like ESPN, AMC, TNT and Disney for a low monthly fee and allowed cable cutters to escape from year-long contracts and costly rental equipment fees.
For comparison, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue cost $40 per month, while Hulu with Live TV costs $45 per month after a recent price hike.
That said, despite its early lead, Sling TV might have a bigger fight on its hands when Apple debuts its video streaming service some point later in 2019.
- We've ranked the best streaming services in 2019
Over the last few months, macOS Mojave has grown to be one of the best iterations of Apple’s operating system (OS) we’ve seen yet. With its system-wide Dark Mode and tools for creatives, it improved on nearly every aspect of macOS High Sierra. But, that leaves us wondering: what will macOS 10.15 look like?
Every year, we get a major macOS update, and 2019 will surely be no different. Apple hasn’t released any information for what we can expect in macOS 10.15, and we likely won’t see any official word until WWDC 2019 in June. And, while this would usually lead us to rely on macOS 10.15 rumors, those are pretty thin on the ground right now, too.
Instead, we’re going to make educated guesses based on past macOS releases, as well as craft a sort of wish list of things we’d like to see in Apple’s next Mac OS. So, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, and we’ll update it with any news or rumors that come our way.Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next version of macOS
- When is it out? Likely around September 2019
- What will it cost? macOS 10.15 will likely be free.
Image Credit: ApplemacOS 10.15 release date
Out of everything, the macOS 10.15 release date is probably the easiest to predict. For the last few years, Apple has announced a new version of macOS in June at WWDC and released it at the end of September.
We have no reason to doubt that Apple will repeat the same strategy with macOS 10.15, but Apple has been known to switch up schedules. We’ll be sure to update this article as soon as we know exactly when the new macOS will grace your Mac.
Image Credit: ApplemacOS 10.15 name
Whether it was Leopard, Lion, Sierra or High Sierra, macOS has always had a penchant for catchy names. We think Apple will have something clever up its sleeve for macOS 10.15, too, but we don’t quite know what the name will be.
We could see Apple making minor improvements to Mojave and making a minor tweak to the name, like it did from Sierra to High Sierra or Leopard to Snow Leopard. Maybe we’ll see a Dry Mojave, or just the name of another desert. Either way, we’ll know for sure in June.
Image Credit: ApplemacOS 10.15 compatibility
Apple made waves when macOS 10.14 Mojave was the first version of macOS since Sierra to change the system requirements of the OS. Because it relied on heavier graphics performance, some older Macs were left in the dust. To run macOS 10.14 Mojave you’ll need one of the following Macs:
- MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Late 2012 or newer)
- Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
- iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer, or older models with Metal-compatible GPU)
- iMac Pro (2017)
Now, we’re not sure exactly what Apple is planning in terms of compatibility with older Macs, but we’d put our money on options staying pretty much the same this time around. macOS High Sierra really didn’t have any radical requirements compared to Sierra, and we don’t think macOS 10.15 will either.
Image Credit: AppleWhat we want to see
While we’re generally pleased as punch with macOS 10.14 Mojave – even though it’s had some problems of its own – we don’t believe a “perfect operating system” exists. So, we’ve thought of some features and improvements we’d like to see in macOS 10.15, whatever it ends up being called.
Bring back Cover Flow
Apple’s macOS Mojave brought the Gallery View to Finder that, while amazing in its own right, isn’t quite as fast at scrolling through images as the old Cover Flow view, introduced in macOS 10.5 Leopard.
The way we look at it, both of these views have their own uses, but Cover Flow is much faster, and just a better way to sort through large folders of images. Is it too much to ask to have both?
More iOS apps
We already know that more iOS apps will be coming to the Mac in 2019, but we would like to see a lot more.
Just think about how great it would be to work on a project on your iPhone, and be able to seamlessly continue it on your Mac when you get back to your office or home. There’s already plenty of cross-platform capabilities built in to macOS Mojave – especially now that Continuity Camera is a thing – but we’d like to see the Apple ecosystem become even more seamless.
Can we please just cut and paste files?
Apple’s macOS Finder is usually fantastic for organization, and it’s one of the core reasons why people keep paying to use Mac devices year after year. But, Apple, please: can we cut and paste files now?
Windows users have been able to do this since before we can remember, and it would make life easier for everyone involved. It would be nice to be able to move files without dragging and dropping or pulling some Matrix-level stunts in the Terminal.
We’re not sure what Apple would have to do in order to enact this change, but it would really make our lives easier.
- Check out the best Macs you can buy today
A team of researchers have discovered a way to run malicious code on systems with Intel chips in such a way that antivirus software is unable to detect it.
When the chip giant released its Skylake processors back in 2015, the company included a new feature called Software Guard eXtensions (SGX) that allows developers to isolate applications inside secure enclaves.
The enclaves operate within a hardware-isolated section of the CPU's processing memory where applications can carry out operations dealing with sensitive details such as encryption keys, passwords, user data and more.
- Intel launches neural network on a stick
- Malware threats continue to rise and target IoT
- Half a billion Android users downloaded malware from Play Store
Researchers Michael Schwarz, Samuel Weiser and Daniel Gruss (who helped discover last year's Spectre attack) published a paper detailing how they were able to use SGX enclaves to hide malware that is undetectable by today's security solutions.Malicious enclaves
Intel has made it difficult to create and load a malicious enclave by requiring SGX to only accept and launch enclaves that have been signed with a signature key from an internal whitelist of approved keys.
While these keys are usually only given to approved developers, the researchers discovered four ways an attacker could gain access to a signature key to sign a malicious enclave. A malicious enclave would still have difficulty infecting a system because SGX enclaves are restricted to a few commands and lack access to the operations carried out by a local operating system.
However, the researchers were able to bypass this limitation by using a return-oriented programming (ROP) exploitation technique to piggy-back on Intel Transcational Synchronization eXtensions (TSX). This gave the enclave access to a wider set of commands than normal which could be used to carry out an attack.
Despite the fact that the team exploited SGX to run malicious code for research purposes, the discovery has huge cybersecurity implications since today's security products are unequipped to detect malware running inside an SGX enclave.
The researchers' paper titled “Practical Enclave Malware with Intel SGX” has now been published and it is certainly worth a read for those that want to learn more.
Via Ars Technica
- We've also highlighted the best antivirus
In a Samsung boardroom somewhere is a chart that has an X-axis for pixel count and a Y-axis for screen size, and a line that goes up, exponentially off the grid to realms unknown, forever. And somewhere on that chart is the 98-inch, 8K Q950R TV, which has just been given a UK and European release window.
Samsung’s CES 2019 QLED showstopper will hit stores in March, with the range including sizes that drop as low as 65-inches in size. Pricing is still to be determined but, lets be honest – if you need to ask, you probably can’t afford it.
Thankfully, Samsung has also revealed the European line up for its more budget-friendly ranges, including its 4K QLED line up.
Image Credit: SamsungSamsung's European 2019 line up
Showcasing its wares at the Alfandega Porto Congress Centre in Porto, Portugal for its annual Samsung Forum event, Samsung revealed that the 4K Q90R, Q85R, Q80R, Q70R and Q60R models (ranging from 43-inches to 82-inches in size) will also be hitting Europe in March.
New versions of The Frame and Serif TV will launch in 2019 too, all now making use of QLED tech, ranging in size from 49 to 55 inches. They’re designed to fit in seamlessly with their surroundings thanks to an ‘ambient’ mode which measures the TV’s surroundings and mimics it on the display when in standby mode. They’ll be hitting stores in April.
The focus is very much on big-screen TVs for Samsung, with the company expecting sales of TVs 75-inches or bigger to grow by 43% to 3 million units this year and to 5.8 million units by 2022.
“We have witnessed our customers’ unfaltering confidence and affection towards Samsung QLED TVs within the past year,” said Jongsuk Chu, Executive Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics.
“This year, our QLED 8K and 4K line-ups are addressing the growing demand in the market for ultra-large TVs and we are proud to be able to deliver our most innovative and immersive line-up to date.”HDR 10+, iTunes and Bixby
It’s not all about the pixels and the inches though – Samsung’s got a rich feature set for its 2019 screens, too.
All 2019 QLED models will feature a new ‘Ultra Viewing Angle’ technology, reworking the backlight to ensure improved contrast and colour accuracy even at tighter angles – a necessity given the ever-growing screen sizes. All but the entry level models will be making use of Direct Full Array tech too, allowing for greater control over contrast levels.
Trickling down from the 8K models is Samsung’s Quantum Processor engine, which promises to squeeze 4K-like detail from even standard definition sources. All the QLED TVs for the year will make use of HDR 10+ for brighter whites and darker blacks, but you’ll need one of the 8K screens if you want something that takes advantage of the HDMI 2.1 standard.
A dedicated iTunes app will be coming to Samsung’s 2019 smart screens too, along with AirPlay 2 support. And, if you’re looking to control your TV via voice, an updated version of Samsung’s Bixby AI assistant will sit alongside Google Assistant and Alexa voice controls, letting you bark commands at your screen.
Pricing for the rest of the range, like the 8K models, is yet to be revealed. But we’ll be passing on the details, along with our first hands on impressions, shortly.
Navigating the swarms of cheap laptop deals can be a bit overwhelming with so many options to choose from here in the UK. Luckily for you, we're checking through the net's laptop sales throughout the year, so we know how to spot a bargain.
With such a competitive scene in the UK for laptop deals, there's plenty to choose from all year round, so if you need to buy a new laptop sharpish, we should be able to find you something that fits with your budget nicely. We've even split this guide into sections based on price.
We'll give you a bit of info about each laptop we highlight too, so you can see some specs at a glance before you click through to the store and have to browse their lengthy descriptions for those vital stats you're after.
Not everyone needs a super powerful laptop, especially if you just want something for the basics like casual browsing, email and document editing, so don't feel like you have to spend £500 on a laptop for that - you can get something for far less if you want. Naturally, if you're a bit of a multitasker, love to have loads of tabs open and want a little extra grunt for media editing, we've found laptop deals with higher spec. We sometimes chuck in gaming-friendly laptops if they meet our sensible price criteria. For you Apple fans, you might be interested in our MacBook prices and deals page too.
- Here's an extensive selection of cheap gaming laptop deals
We'll continue adding the best cheap laptop deals in the latest sales as we find them. Up next, you'll find the latest prices on some of the most popular laptops around along with a list of retailers who often have a great selection of laptop sales if nothing else takes your fancy here.
- Amazon: retail giant is often the cheapest in the UK.
- AO: lots of cheap laptops at this growing electronics specialist.
- Argos: home delivery or pick up a cheap laptop locally today.
- John Lewis: models come with at least two-year guarantee.
- Very: often has plenty of voucher codes or 'buy now pay later' options.
- ebuyer: the UK computing specialists have some great promotions.
- Laptops Direct: specialist UK store has a huge selection of laptop deals.
- Dell: get a great laptop deal direct from Dell.
- Currys: the retailer that's seemingly always having a laptop sale.
On release, the Chromebook Flip reached new heights for the Windows-free laptops as it came rocking a proper Intel Core processor along with a HD screen. Most models nowadays come with 64GB of storage instead of the 32GB which is plenty for running apps and storing regular documents and a fair few media files - you can always use a USB drive for more space. For most users, the newer PixelBook is what we'd call 'overkill', not to mention considerably more expensive, so we'd recommend this model if you just need something for work, browsing the net and so on. The Chrome OS works beautifully in this 2-in-1 laptop's tablet mode too.
Plenty of stores still stock the very user-friendly Chromebook R11 and most have models in for a decent price, making it a strong alternative to similarly-priced Windows laptops. Unlike other cheap Chromebooks the R11 has a much more solid build that doesn't feel like tacky cheap plastic, so you certainly won't be embarrassed to be caught using it away from home or the office. And with a battery life that'll get you about eight hours on a single charge, you're all set to leave the charger at home each day. On-board storage is a little light, but there's plenty of free cloud storage available with Chromebooks nowadays if you have lots of media files you need access to regularly.
At around £200 and with a range of colourful models, the HP Stream 14 has been a popular pick as a first ever laptop or for those after something to cover the basics like web browsing or document editing. If you're going to use this quite regularly you may want to skip the 32GB model and look out for the 64GB version instead. Budget Windows laptops with just 32GB of storage tend to struggle with future system updates and some users report there's not enough space after accommodating the OS itself to continue updating it for long even if they've not installed any extra apps or store media files on it. If you can't find any decent 64GB prices, we'd consider a Chromebook instead for this price, as they can handle updates even if they have a small 32GB hard drive.
As one of the cheapest gaming laptops that will still run games at decent settings, the Acer Nitro 5 is well worth a look if you're wanting to get into PC gaming and play modern games too (just don't expect to be running Battlefield V on ultra settings ok?). The design is a bit too 'plastic' and there's no SSD on the cheapest models, but given the low price and the power of the internal spec inside we're more than willing to look past that to get our gaming fix on the go or even as an introduction to PC gaming without investing in a desktop rig.
A sturdy choice for a study laptop for school/college/uni. The HP Pavilion 15 has plenty of power for the average student's needs while keeping the costs sensible. There are plenty of configurations available too. Some favour speedy SSDs, while other go for larger regular hard drives, so it all depends on what you're going to need more really. Faster loading or more space for storing media files and downloads.
The Asus Transformer Mini series is one of the most reliable brands of 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids on the market. This upgrade includes a fingerprint sensor and double the RAM at 4GB for speedier performance compared to the older models. For your money, this is one of the most impressive two-in-one transformer models out there. Available in orange/white as seen above, or in a traditional grey steel colour.
Ready to stretch that budget a bit (ok, maybe a lot) further? Then be sure to check out our selection of the very best laptops money can buy as we've used our dedicated price comparison technology to find the cheapest prices for them too. You can always come back to this page if they seem a bit overpowered (and over-expensive) for what you need.
Foldable phones look set to be the big new smartphone trend of 2019. One has already launched and many more are on the way.
So settle down, read on, and start saying goodbye to your old rigid handset, because the future is flexible.Samsung Galaxy X
Image credit: Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy X - or whatever it launches as - is the most high-profile folding phone on the horizon.
It has been rumored and even talked about by Samsung itself for a long time now but it’s finally about the launch, as the company has confirmed that it’s arriving on February 20, alongside the Galaxy S10 range.
This won’t be our first sight of the phone though, as Samsung has already demonstrated the screen that’s going to be used.
Rumors meanwhile point to a 7.3-inch display, a pair of 3,100mAh batteries, 12GB of RAM and 512GB or 1TB of storage.
All that tech doesn’t come cheap though, with rumors pointing to a price of between £1,500 (approximately $1,930 / AU$2,660) and £2,000 (roughly $2,570 / AU$3,550).
Image credit: TechRadar
The phone will also support 5G, which is another thing we’re expecting a number of handsets to start offering this year.
Other details include the presence of Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset (used in the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro), and its Balong 5000 modem. We don’t know anything else about the handset yet, but we should learn more soon.
Image credit: Motorola
Motorola is rumored to be rebooting the Razr brand with the Motorola Razr V4, and rather than an old-fashioned clamshell design, it will apparently fold.
Patents have shown how it might look, which is to say, basically like you’d expect a modern take on the Razr to, with a flexible screen rather than a hinge.
The handset is rumored to be landing sometime in February, which could mean an announcement at MWC 2019. However, like most foldable phones it will probably be expensive, with a rumored starting price of roughly $1,500 (around £1,170, AU$2,010).
Image credit: LG
We’ve heard rumors that LG has a foldable phone in the works, and that’s on top of the company having mentioned "smartphones featuring different form factors" in a recent set of financial results, and having patented a foldable phone concept.
The company has also made a foldable TV already, so it seemingly has the expertise. In short then, while nothing is yet confirmed it seems like the question of a foldable LG phone is 'when' not 'if'.
And in answer to that question, we’d guess we might well see one at some point in 2019.Apple
Image credit: TechRadar
While not likely to arrive as imminently as some on this list, Apple could well have a foldable phone of its own in the works.
If folding phones prove practical then we’d expect Apple will get involved eventually, but the company usually waits for tech to be polished rather than aiming to be first, so we might not see one for a while.
Image credit: TechRadar
As with Apple, Sony also looks to be working on – or at least toying with – a foldable phone.
Evidence for this comes from a Sony patent, detailing both foldable and rollable smartphones. Of course, patents don’t always become products, but with much of the rest of the industry looking in this direction it would be no surprise if Sony is too.Royole FlexPai
Image credit: TechRadar
The first foldable phone is actually already here, and it’s called the Royole FlexPai.
Currently you can only buy it in China (unless you’re happy with a developer version), and it’s not cheap at $1,300 (around £1,000 / AU$1,825).
You might want to hold off on that import too, as in our hands-on review we found that it was both very slow and had a very slow camera. In short, it seems like little more than a proof-of-concept.Xiaomi
Image credit: Xiaomi
Don't get too excited just yet though, as this is little more than a concept device for now.
As while Lin Bin, the co-founder of Xiaomi, has posted on social media that the "Xiaomi double folding mobile phone is coming," he also said "if you like it, we will consider making a mass production machine in the future."Oppo
Image credit: TechRadar
Oppo has confirmed that it plans to announce a foldable phone at MWC 2019 in late February, however that’s all we know, no specs or other details were revealed. We should find out more soon.ZTE Nubia
Image credit: TechRadar
ZTE seemingly isn’t being left out of the folding action either, with the firm teasing a device from its Nubia sub-brand that’s set to “flex your life”. That doesn’t necessarily mean a folding phone, but it sure does sound like one.
We’ll know for sure soon, as like so many other handsets this is set to be unveiled at MWC 2019 in late February.
- There are lots of 5G phones coming soon too
Food deserts – places without access to fresh, or good quality affordable food – are a huge problem. They can occur in rural areas, but they're also common in cities, where produce has to travel huge distances to supermarket shelves, where its price is too steep for people on low incomes.
Nowadays organic fruits and vegetables are pretty expensive, because the quantities on offer are very small, and people are willing to pay for themAlexander Lyskovsky
"I lived in France for a month," says Alexander Lyskovsky, CEO of iFarm – a project that brings intensive indoor farming to cities.
"I was going to the food markets in Paris and buying vegetables and fruit. One day I started to ask sellers about the delivery system of these products to the city, I was interested in how it works. As it turned out, the customers regulate it themselves."
That realization got Lyskovsky thinking about the possibility of people running their own small farms near urban areas. Instead of having to visit a supermarket and buy vegetables flown halfway around the world, customers would also have the option of buying fresh produce grown organically on their doorstep – in just the right quantities.
"Customers could say: 'Oh, what wonderful zucchini, bring me a couple more.' That approach would change the supply chain and increase the quality of the products," he explains.Preparing the ground
Lyskovsky had no background in farming (his previous work had mainly been in videogame publishing) but he returned to his native Russia picturing a network of greenhouses and vertical farms.
We created a reporting system integrated into the cloud, where agronomists began to enter information for each crop, starting from the weight of the harvested fruit, its colour and density, and ending with notes about how it meets our internal standardsAlexander Lyskovsky
There, he enlisted the help of Maxim Chizhov (now the company's chief business development officer) and Konstantin Ulyanov (now chief construction officer), be began developing his idea.
The three were later joined by financial executive and independent consultant Yury Fedorov, who is now iFarm's head of Europe.
Despite Lyskovsky's noble goal, progress was far from straightforward. The team's biggest problem was finding high-quality farming equipment for a reasonable price. Their solution was to begin making the gear themselves, and ultimately ended up hiring 30 engineers for the job.
Seeds were also an issue. Many of those the team bought were low grade, and resulted in poor crop yields. iFarm's solution was to work with researchers and universities to develop hybrids specifically for vertical farming.
Image credit: iFarm
There was inertia in the farming industry to contend with as well. "While developing the IT system, we realized that agronomists and other specialists related to agriculture sometimes are not very open to innovation," says Lyskovsky. "Some of them still have a lot of notes on paper. Therefore we need to create a simple solution adapted for them.
"As a result, we created a reporting system integrated into the cloud, where agronomists began to enter information for each crop, starting from the weight of the harvested fruit, its colour and density, and ending with notes about how it meets our internal standards. So we reduced the time spent on data collection and automated the process."Healthy choices
Since then, iFarm has grown into a platform that lets people farm salad, berries and vegetables in minimal space in huge cities, with no pesticides or herbicides, and without the eye-watering price tag that organic produce carries in food deserts. It's a modular system that can be scaled to suit people's needs, and is automated as much as possible.
"Today, most people in the world live in cities, and according to UN forecasts, by 2050, 86% of all residents of developed countries will live in urban areas," Lyskovsky says. "Furthermore, the amount of fertile land decreases every year. After a couple of decades, resources will no longer be enough, and it will become increasingly difficult to provide megacities with fresh food."
Image credit: iFarm
New technologies like vertical farming can help give people access to fresh produce, even in congested areas where space and resources are at a premium.
"Ideally, city farming solves several problems: 1) it saves resources; 2) when compared with long-term placement, it saves space; 3) yields of vegetable crops do not depend on weather (external) conditions or human factors," says Lyskovsky.
"The result is more affordable organic foods, produced closer to home. There are no extra charges of intermediaries and surcharges for transportation."Future farming
iFarm now has five greenhouses and vertical farms in Russia, and is due to open a European pilot facility in April 2019. This will be part showroom and part farm, demonstrating how salads, basil, kale, rocket, kale, berries and flowers can be grown intensively indoors.
Lyskovsky is looking forward to the challenges of these new locations, but he's also excited about experimenting with new and different crops. Future sites will be built near partner restaurants and shops, giving them instant access to fresh produce, and In five years' time the company plans to expand even further into Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Asia, North and Latin America.
The future of food is coming – from the ground up.
However, the Galaxy S10e may be the most interesting of the three new Samsung phones, as it has been a number of years since the South Korean firm has produced a more affordable version of its top-end device.
You have to go all the way back to 2014, when Samsung announced the Galaxy S5 Mini, to find the last time it blatantly used the flagship moniker on a less high-end phone.
However now, in 2019, the proposition of the Galaxy S10e is likely to be very different, as it's tipped to maintain a premium look and feel, while cutting out some of the bigger features of the S10 to keep the cost down.
It's expected to go head-to-head with Apple's new iPhone XR, which itself offers a more affordable (but still not cheap) option to fans.
Early rumors reported the name of the handset as the Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, but the majority of rumors recently all point towards the Galaxy S10e name - including Samsung's own website.
- What is it? The affordable S10 variant
- When is it out? Launch set for February 20
- What will it cost? Probably similar to the iPhone XR
- Galaxy S10e launch date: February 20
- Galaxy S10e release date: rumored to be March 8
The Samsung Galaxy S10e launch date is set for February 20, when Samsung will be holding one of its Unpacked events in San Francisco, California.
While we expect the Galaxy S10e to make an appearance on February 20, it likely won't go on sale for another week or two.
The main Samsung Galaxy S10e release date rumor so far points to a March 8 release date, in South Korea at least.
- Galaxy S10e price: rumored €749 (around $850, £655, AU$1,190)
One Samsung Galaxy S10e price rumor puts the cheaper model at $650-$750 (roughly £500-£585 / AU$900-AU$1,040), while a more extensive leak pegs the S10e price at a slightly higher €749 (around $850, £655, AU$1,190).
The currency conversions we've done here are direct, and the final price could be different (higher or lower), but we expect Samsung to adopt a similar strategy to the iPhone XR.
Apple's affordable iPhone starts at $749 (£749, AU$1229), and we wouldn't be surprised if the Galaxy S10e price followed suit.Samsung Galaxy S10e design and display
- A 5.8-inch screen
- 1080 x 2280 and 438 pixels per inch
- A punch-hole camera
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is set to be the smallest of the three new phones, with multiple leaks seemingly confirming this.
We've been given what appears to be a pretty good look at the handset, thanks to a leak from Evan Blass (below) which shows the Galaxy S10e in a protective case alongside its larger siblings.
What you'll notice is the Galaxy S10e appears to have just two rear-facing cameras - which has also been noted by other sources - and if you look closely, a 'punch-hole' camera built into the top right corner of the screen.
The Galaxy S10e (L), S10 (C) and S10 Plus (R). Image Credit: Evan Blass
The Samsung Galaxy S10e is rumored to come in a variety of colors, with one leak suggesting it will arrive in yellow, black, green, white and blue (with blue apparently arriving later).
These images also show us the right side of the handset, where an enlarged power/lock key is rumored to house a side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
An older Galaxy S10e leak, which names the handset as the Galaxy S10 Lite, also shows a punch-hole camera in a screen which takes up the majority of the front of the phone.
This leak also pegs the screen at 5.8 inches, making it smaller than the rumored 6.1-inch S10 and 6.4-inch S10 Plus. We've also heard that the screen may have a resolution of 1080 x 2230 and a pixel density of 438 pixels per inch, as well as using Gorilla Glass 5 for protection.
If the Samsung Galaxy S10e display does turn out to be 5.8 inches, it would be the same size as the Galaxy S9 from last year.
The S10 Lite will more likely be named the Galaxy S10e. Image Credit: GSMArena/MobileFun
The 5.8-inch Galaxy S10e screen has had more mentions, including Evan Blass who posted an image (below) of all three handsets, complete with screen sizes and model IDs, on Twitter.
However, a major difference here is the front-facing camera is centrally located, which goes against the more recent Galaxy S10e leaks which have it in the right corner.
It also mentioned the supposed development name for the Galaxy S10e - Beyond 0 - as well as the SM-G970F model number.
Before this though, all the way back in June 2018, we heard that Samsung was working on three S10 handsets, with the one codenamed 'Beyond 0' set to feature a 5.8-inch display and a single rear camera.
This probably isn't the Galaxy S10e. Image Credit: @evleaksSamsung Galaxy S10e camera
- 16MP and 12MP dual-lens rear camera
- Single-lens front camera
As we've already mentioned, most of the Samsung Galaxy S10e leaks point towards the handset coming with two rear cameras, rather than the three rumored for its siblings.
One report claims the Galaxy S10e will feature a 16MP ultra-wide f/1.9 lens and a 12MP variable aperture standard lens. Elsewhere we've heard that it could have a 12MP f/1.5 wide-angle lens and a 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens.
Another leak reveals a single-lens 10MP f/1.9 front-facing camera which, according to various render leaks, will be surrounded by screen on the S10e.Samsung Galaxy S10e battery
- A 3,000mAh or 3,100mAh battery
- May sport fast wireless charging and reverse wireless charging
There's no conclusive information on the Samsung Galaxy S10e battery just yet, but it appears we're between two similar sizes - 3,000mAh or 3,100mAh.
One Galaxy S10e leak pegs the battery at 3,100mAh, but the source of this information doesn't fill us with a huge amount of confidence.
Elsewhere, we've seen a Galaxy S10e rumor which claims the handset will have a 3,000mAh power pack.
There are also reports that the Galaxy S10 will benefit from a boost to wireless charging speeds, with the handset being linked to wireless Quick Charge 2.0.
Whether or not the Galaxy S10e will also get this premium feature remains to be seen, but we wouldn't be surprised if Samsung opts to leave it out of the cheapest of the three phones.
Similarly, a reverse wireless charging feature has been rumored for the range (which would let the phones act as a charging mat for other devices), but don't be surprised if that too only makes it to the more premium models.Samsung Galaxy S10e power
- A Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 chipset
- 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage
Samsung tends to crown its new Galaxy S flagship with its latest chipset each year, and we expect the S10 trio to be no different.
The South Korean giant has already announced its new Exynos 9820 chip, and it's expected to land inside the Galaxy S10e, with leaks suggesting the phone will have the same chipset as its bigger siblings.
That's potentially good news for those considering picking up the Samsung Galaxy S10e, as it should provide similar performance to the more expensive handsets.
However, for those in the US the Galaxy S10e probably won't come with Samsung's Exynos 9820, with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 more likely to come in the trio of new phones.
Samsung has used a Qualcomm chip in its flagship handsets in the US for a number of years, and it appears to be the same case this time around.
While the S10 and S10 Plus are also tipped to come in versions with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, they may also be available in 8GB/512GB and even 12GB/1TB variants - something the Galaxy S10e won't benefit from.
That said, 6GB of RAM is still plenty and it's unlikely you'll be pushing the Galaxy S10e hard enough to require more, and the rumored 128GB of storage will be plenty for most.
Meanwhile, a different source claims the Samsung Galaxy S10e will come with either a Snapdragon 845 or 855 chipset and a choice of 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage.
The NHS has been urged to switch to email-only correspondence in a bid to modernise and save the service millions.
Secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock has called on the NHS to halt the use of fax and snail mail in the latest attempt to bring the health service up to date with technology.
Speaking at a conference in London, Hancock criticised those within the NHS who insist on using outdated methods to communicate with patients instead of more secure technological options.
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Noting that the NHS reportedly spends £8m a year on paper and £2m a year on envelopes, Hancock declared, "we can save lives, save staff time and cut costs by using an extraordinary piece of technology that has the ability to allow two people to communicate instantaneously."
"It’s called email, I don’t know whether any of you have heard of it. We’re going to use it across the NHS, not just to communicate internally, but to communicate by default with patients,” he said.
Hancock added that more than half a million letters between GPs and hospitals have gone missing over the past five years, affecting 1,788 patients - 333 of which have died as a result.
“There’s no reason why a doctor can’t email a patient confidentially… as long as the email system is secure. Being able to email a patient is important, necessary and the right thing to do. Snail mail is slower and less secure," he added.
“We can’t get NHS technology into the 21st century until we catch up with the technologies of the 20th century. There are some people reacting against the use of 20-year-old technology. We are on the side of patients, of security and privacy, of improving and saving lives,” he said.
Hancock, who was previously Digital Minister, has made several major declarations aimed at modernising the NHS, with the expansion of NHS Digital a major focus.
The NHS has been plagued with a number of disastrous efforts to modernise and digitally transform in recent years, most notably the failure of a £9.8bn IT project that finally bit the dust in 2011.
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That’s what independent developers of two key new games are saying in response to a recent Game Informer interview with Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden, in which Layden claims the company is “open for business” on cross-play.
“We made many requests for crossplay (both through our account manager and directly with higher ups) all the way up until release month,” Finn Brice, CEO of Wargroove developer Chucklefish wrote on the ResetEra forum. “We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen.”
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Likewise, Stewart Chisam, CEO of Paladins developer Hi-Rez Studios, tweeted before the release of the Game Informer interview, “It’s time to stop playing favorites and tear down the crossplay/progression wall for everyone. We have Smite, Paladins, Realm Royale ready to go when you are.”
Sony has yet to comment on these developers’ claims.A Sony at odds with itself
Sony has permitted cross-play for just two games, Fortnite last year and Rocket League a month ago. However, the Sony boss claims that getting cross-play to work with your game is as simple as asking for it, yet at least two developers publicly disagree.
So, which is it?
That much is currently unknown, but at the very least this story hints at Sony’s reticence to the whole concept of cross-play. If you ask former Sony Entertainment Online boss John Smedley, the reason for this comes down to Sony trying to control the flow of money toward its console.
“When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” Smedley wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “They didn't like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a PlayStation.”
Will Sony truly open up the gates to PS4 cross-play, or will it continue to be a difficult conversation for developers? Considering that, at this point, the only ones truly hurt by the lack of cross-play are the gamers, we’re holding out hope for the former.
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It's time to finally get those Valentine's Day flowers ordered online. Whether you'e getting them delivered to the home or workplace of your loved one, we've got plenty of options for you. There are also some neat options to get the flowers delivered in a box right through your letter box before they've opened up and bloomed. Stealth flowers in a box, we love it!
There's a fantastic range of bouquets and gifts available from our selection of florists below and online delivery from a specialist means you don't have to worry about the usual hassle of buying from a store and getting them home safely.
So yes, leave it to the professionals. And that's who we've tracked down today. We've done our research and tracked down the best online flower delivery services in both the USA and UK. Delivery charges have been accounted for too, and we made sure to mention if you can allocate specific days for delivery. Some online florists charge extra for Valentine's Day, which is to be expected really given the huge demand on the day.More Valentine's Day sales
If flowers aren't your thing, we've listed a wide selection of Valentine's Day sales and collections below from retailers such as Walmart, Victoria's Secret, Shari's Berries and more. Amazon has knocked down the Amazon Echo prices ahead of Valentine's and has a great Kindle Paperwhite deal running too. You can also find the popular Ring Doorbell devices on sale for up to $50 off.
If you're just wanting to send a card this year, we also have a guide on how to make Valentine's Day cards online.
- Amazon - A wide selection of gifts for him, her, kids, pets and more
- Walmart - Gifts that include flowers, jewelry, chocolates and perfume
- Godiva Chocolates - 20% off select Valentine's Day products + free shipping on orders $25+
- Victoria's Secret - Free slippers with $50 sleep or lingerie purchase
- Shari's Berries - 20% off gifts $29+
- Lindt Chocolates - Free Standard Shipping on orders $60+ with code FREESHIP60
- Nordstrom - Handpicked gifts that ship for free
- Overstock - Save up to 25% on Valentine's Day gifts
- Kohl's - 25-30% off select watches
If you're after something different for Valentine's Day, we've rounded up a few more retailers below. These stores have dedicated sales and promotions running right now for gift ideas to help you out. Need some offers to get you going first, well Amazon has some great Amazon Echo deals ahead of Valentine's and there's a great Kindle Paperwhite deal promotion today too.
If you're running really short of time, we've also put together a guide to making a free Valentine's Day card online.
- Amazon - a huge choice with super fast delivery options
- Asos - save up to 70% on the latest fashion
- Boohoo - the fashion retailer has big discounts running every day
- Lovehoney.co.uk - spice up your love life via the adults only website
- Travel Supermarket - book a romantic getaway today
- Very.co.uk - gifts and fashion for him and for her
Plusnet is back once again offering what is effectively one of the cheapest deals on ADSL broadband around right now, thanks to a complimentary Plusnet Reward Card.
This deal applies to new customers getting Plusnet's standard internet plan. That means average speeds of 10Mb on a 12-month contract for just £18.99 a month. Now, that is already an attractively priced tariff in its own right, but the big selling point is the £30 Plusnet Reward Card (a pre-paid Mastercard that can be spent instore or online) that comes with it. When you throw this freebie into the mix you get an effective monthly cost of just £16.50, putting it firmly on the radar of the UK's best cheap broadband deals.
Want to get your hands on this deal? Well you can see all of the details down below. Or, if it wasn't quite what you were looking for, why settle? We have a list of all of today's best broadband deals so you can find the perfect package for you.This new Plusnet broadband deal in full: Today's other best broadband deals
If you are looking for something with the cheapest possible monthly cost Onestream is offering unlimited broadband with average speeds of 11Mb for just £13.99 a month. That is the cheapest broadband package available right now coming in at a much lower price than anyone else.
If you're after cheap fibre broadband then TalkTalk is the place to be right now. Its Faster Fibre package is currently just £19.95 a month, the cheapest price on fibre right now. Or if you're willing to spend a bit more, BT is offering a fibre deal with a free reward card and Amazon Echo for just £29.99 to entice you in.
Businesses have made great strides in adopting new technologies as part of their digital transformation efforts. However, as companies have turned to new tools to increase their productivity, they continue to rely on email and other ageing technologies to communicate. Collaboration platforms have grown in popularity recently as they allow teams to work together more easily and help facilitate communication between employees.
To better understand the role collaboration platforms will play in the future of workplace communication, TechRadar Pro spoke with Workplace by Facebook’s Director EMEA, Julien Lesaicherre.
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Image Credit: Pixabay
Image Credit: Pexels
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HP has brought the world's first leather convertible laptop to India at an event held in New Delhi on Wednesday. The HP Spectre Folio represents the best of two worlds: 2-in-1 convertibles and notebooks. Alongside, the company has also updated its Spectre x360 lineup with a new and bold design that is surely going to turn heads. The Spectre range of products from HP are easily one of the best in the market and the new additions only make it a more premium series. The Folio convertible and Spectre x360 laptop offer ultra-portability without jeopardizing performance.HP Spectre Folio: specs, features and price
Being the world's first convertible PC to feature a handcrafted leather casing, the Spectre Folio does look very premium. The whole body is meticulously stitched with 100% genuine leather casing which makes it feel more like a part of the chassis than just another cover. The Spectre Folio features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS touch display with a coating of Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 for added protection. The display allows a wide, 178-degree viewing angle with thin bezels on the left and right side.
The Folio is powered by 8th generation Intel Core i7-8500Y processor and is supported by 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD. By design, the Folio does not require a cooling fan inside and due to these measures around 15mm at its thickest.
HP Spectre Folio comes in a Cognac Brown color and is priced at Rs 1,99,990. It is available across offline HP stores starting Wednesday itself.
- Also Read our review of HP Spectre Folio
The HP Spectre x360 features a rather bold design with CNC milled edges giving it a more premium look. The screen is attached to the keyboard via a 360-degree hinge and can be used as a tablet as well. It features a physical privacy camera kill switch which turns off the camera. There's a fingerprint sensor below the keyboard which supports Windows Hello through which users can log in seamlessly. HP SureView is a privacy mode which enables a white overlay on the screen for prying eyes. The Spectre x360 comes in two variants- either with Core i5 or Core i7 chipsets.
The HP Spectre x360 with Intel Core i5-8265U chipset is backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD storage. It features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS touch display with a coating of Gorilla Glass NBT.
The Core i7-8565U variant features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) touch screen which is topped with a layer of Gorilla Glass. Interested buyers can choose the Spectre x360 13 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB. A high-end variant of the SPectre x360 with 1TB SSD and a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) screen is also available.
HP Spectre x360 comes in Dark Ash Grey and Poseidon Blue colours starting at Rs 1,29,990 and Rs 1,39,990 respectively.
- Also Read our review of the HP Spectre x360 13 Convertible
If you're looking for a quality smartwatch, but don't want to pay the price of an Apple Watch, then the Fitbit Versa is an excellent option. The popular fitness tracker has been discounted from a number of popular retailers since there is a newer version of the Fitbit smartwatch out (the Fitbit Ionic) that retails for more.
The Fitbit Versa tracks all of your activity which includes steps, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity and stationary time. The smartwatch will also track your sleep, letting you know the time spent in different stages and personalized tips on how to improve. Enjoy your favorite music on the Versa with 300+ songs that you can store and be able to connect to Bluetooth headphones so you can listen to music or podcasts wire-free.
The Versa will also help you keep on track with your health and fitness goals with personalized reminders. You can also personalize your workouts with on-screen coaching that adapts by provided feedback. The Versa also has the basic smartwatch features such as getting calls, texts, and notifications and accessing your favorite apps. The Versa offers a 4+ day battery life so you can track your activity, play music, text and more throughout the day without worrying of recharging your battery.
The Fitbit Versa price normally retails for $199.99 / £199.99 / AU$299.99, but we often find a number of retailers that has the smartwatch on sale so you should never pay more than the price we've listed.
Surface Pen users will doubtless be pleased to hear that Microsoft could be considering a new method for making its stylus more accurate.
At least going by a patent that has just been published (spotted by Windows Latest) for an ‘active stylus motion vector’. An active what now?
Basically, this patent is focused on the interaction between touchscreen and stylus, and more specifically, when a touch sensor is trying to locate the stylus by scanning its sensing area to detect the proximity of the pen.
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Microsoft notes that in this case, engineers have to deal with a trade-off in terms of the accuracy of stylus location and the touch scanning frequency. The patent observes: “A touch sensor may increase stylus location accuracy by spending more time in a touch frame on sensing stylus location. However, increased scanning durations can reduce update frequency and introduce latency in interactions between the stylus and the touch sensor.”
In other words, there’s a danger of introducing lag when it comes to writing or drawing on the touchscreen – but reducing scan duration for smoother operation diminishes the accuracy of stylus location pinpointing.
Microsoft’s solution to the conundrum of how to better locate an active stylus over a capacitive touchscreen involves determining a motion vector for the pen in relation to the touch sensor.
This way, with the direction of motion determined, the touch sensor can limit its listening operations to the area where the stylus is predicted to move – thus keeping down scanning activity, while still achieving greater accuracy in terms of locating the pen.
In Microsoft’s words: “Relative to an instant measurement of stylus location, the motion vector may enhance stylus locating accuracy and listening operations by accounting for stylus motion not captured by the instant measurement.”
Microsoft’s patent for an ‘active stylus motion vector’ (Image Credit: USPTO)Better scribbling through prediction
You don’t really need to know all the ins-and-outs, mind: the central point here is that Microsoft is potentially working on giving stylus and touchscreen interaction a greater level of accuracy and maintaining smoothness, so the upshot could be the Surface Pen will simply work better.
The operative phrase being ‘could be’, because as ever, this may simply be something Microsoft’s researchers are looking into that never actually makes it to any real-world hardware.
Interestingly, one of the inventors of this particular technology mentioned in the patent document is Jonathan Westhues, Principal Research Manager at Microsoft, who headed up the group responsible for the capacitive touch and stylus controller in the Surface Hub.
In his Microsoft profile page, Westhues states: “I’m interested in capacitive user interfaces, and the novel application of concepts from digital signal processing and communications to improve performance in such systems.
“My current work relates to interfaces with similar underlying physics that go beyond finger touch and stylus, and to displays and user input more generally.”
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It can be hard being a small business today.
How does one compete with industry powerhouses that offer millions of stock keeping units and free 2-day shipping? Amazon, for example, has over 370 million products listed and Sainsbury’s (including Argos) operates 34 distribution centres in the UK alone. The human and capital resources needed to deliver on this level is out of reach for the more than 5.6 million SMBs in the UK.
In fact, large businesses in the UK make up just 0.1% of the overall business landscape but equate to 48% of turnover – illustrating their market dominance and the challenge at hand for smaller businesses to face.
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So, in a world of Amazon, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, is there room for SMBs anymore?
The answer is yes.
Image Credit: UnsplashDelivering an exceptional customer experience
While smaller businesses may not be able to offer everything their larger competitors can, they are more equipped to offer something that today’s customers want and, in fact, are willing to pay more for – an exceptional customer experience.
Providing personal, high-quality customer service is something SMBs have long excelled at. Consumers frequent their local coffee shops over bigger chains because of the feeling they get when they walk in the door. The baristas give a friendly greeting and their regular order is already waiting for them on the counter.
With the right technology, we can take this feeling into the digital world, allowing smaller companies to provide a personalised, always-on experience for all their customers – no matter where they are located.
Customer service has become a bit of a dirty word. The stigma is so awful that when a company or employee delivers a great experience it often makes headlines. Solving a simple issue may mean waiting on hold for hours or watching an inbox impatiently for a message that may never arrive. And maybe, you’ve stopped doing business with companies because of it.Great customer service in action
These terrible customer service moments don’t often sink bigger brands, but they can be enough to send smaller businesses packing. Great customer service is something that every company can deliver on and can be a powerful disruptor against industry giants. So what does great customer service look like?
While it’s not feasible for SMBs to have live customer service agents available day and night, the reality is customers don’t only shop between the hours of 9 and 5. This is where AI-powered agents can play a big part. While not all situations are right for a chatbot to handle, a good majority of the frequently asked questions that come in about a product or service can likely be handled through AI-enabled tools. This empowers customers to self-serve, keeps lines of communication open during off hours, helps take repetitive questions off the plates of the agents and gives businesses a much bigger and more attentive support staff.
It’s not easy for SMBs who may have customers in multiple regions to know who their customers are the moment they log onto an app, website or pick up the phone. AI is helping agents (real and virtual) quickly know who the customer is, their history with the brand, their preferences and potential questions or recommendations that could resolve the query. This allows businesses to spend more time on each customer’s individual journey – making sure every single customer can get that small-town coffee house experience.
Keep it Human
AI can certainly help companies serve their customers better, but it’s not a magic bullet. The one-size-fits-most experience that big box stores offer is what many customers are trying to avoid. By automating frequently asked questions, human agents are opened up to spend more time with customers that really need them, so they can provide the empathy and flexibility that bots can’t.
Exceptional customer experience will ultimately be what sets the most successful businesses apart. We live in a society that has been built on the ingenuity of entrepreneurship and the mantra that “the customer is always right.” It’s this attitude that will keep customers coming back for more, moving a one-off customer to a brand advocate, and growing SMBs into formidable competitors.
Ryan Lester, Director of Customer Engagement Technologies at LogMeIn
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Several Democrat senators, and the independent Bernie Sanders, have urged US regulators not to approve the proposed $26 billion merger of rival operators T-Mobile and Sprint.
The two companies are the country’s third and fourth largest operators, with a combined customer base of more than 100 million. Given America’s four largest networks control 98 per cent of the market, the senators fear the reduction to three players will increase prices, harm competition and disincentivise investment.
Their fears are echoed by consumer groups and trade unions, who also fear a negative impact on workers’ rights.
The proposed merger of O2 and Three in the UK was blocked because of competition fears, with antitrust bodies citing the example of increased prices in markets where the number of operators had decreased from four to three.
Sprint and T-Mobile held merger talks more than five years ago, but these collapsed due to competition concerns from the Obama administration. However, the Trump administration is believed to be more receptive.
The two bodies that could approved the deal, the US Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), are conducting their own investigations into the deal, and the group of senators have expressed their concerns to both.
The New York Times suggest there is growing speculation the deal is in doubt. There are two congressional hearings on the subject this week, and Sprint and T-Mobile have pledged not to increase prices for three years after the merger is completed in a bid to get the deal over the line.
But Sprint and T-Mobile’s main argument is 5G. They argue that neither operator has the means to build a national 5G network alone, but the combination of their assets means they could do this more rapidly than anyone else. This is because T-Mobile has long range 600MHz airwaves, whereas its rivals only have mmWave spectrum which offers vast capacity but only within a limited radius.
This could appeal to President Trump, who wants the US to be a leader in the field of next-generation networks. Trump blocked the takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom last year because of fears it would hand Huawei, and therefore China, in the 5G race.
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What would you say to paying just £20 per month for one of the best phones to come out last year? If you're answer is a resounding yes then get excited as this isn't a hypothetical situation.
This cheap tariff comes to you from phone retailer Mobiles.co.uk, which is offering the Huawei P20 Pro with 2GB of data for just £20 per month and £230 upfront. Yes, the upfront may seem like quite a lot but we've got a little trick to help out there, too.
If you use our EXCLUSIVE discount code HUWMOBTR at checkout (probably best to copy and paste it!), you'll knock an extra £25 off the cost making the price a lot more comfortable and brining the total two year cost down to under £700. When you consider the fact that the new Samsung Galaxy S10 is set to be released with a SIM-free price of over £800, you quickly realise just how incredibly cheap this deal is for a flagship device - S10 deals on contract are inevitably going to be hundreds of pounds more.
So if your mind is now stuck on cheap monthly costs, check out this Huawei P20 Pro deal in full below. Or if you can't see yourself paying that much upfront, try our Huawei mobile phone deals page for the best alternatives.This cheap Huawei P20 Pro deal in full: