Tech News

Netflix's Witcher series will stream by the end of 2019

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 04:59

The Netflix adaptation of The Witcher will be released before the end of 2019, the company has confirmed.

That's according to an investor call (reported by Deadline). Netflix's chief content office Ted Sarandso revealed the news, which will come as music to the ears of series fans who had been expecting a 2020 launch at the earliest.

While it's The Witcher computer game series that most TechRadar readers will be familiar with, its actually the games' source material, the books of Polish author Andrzej Sapowski, that the show will be taking its core inspiration from. He will work as a consultant on the show, which is being filmed in Hungary, with the series being overseen and written by Lauren Hissrich.

Geralt of Metropolis

So, who's who in the world of live-action Witchering? Superman himself, Henry Cavill, will be donning a flowing grey wig to take on the lead role of monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. Ciri is played by Freya Allan, Yennefer by Anya Chalotra and Triss Merigold by Anna Shaffer.

Hissrich states she is a "huge" fan of the Witcher video games, but has attempted to return to the books in order to make sure "the show we were creating was its own unique thing".

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter late last year, she said: "One of the things I feel most strongly about is people being afraid that we're going to strip out the cultural context of The Witcher, to remove its Slavic roots, the very thing people in Poland are proud of. That couldn't be further from the truth. What I've always wanted to do is take these Slavic stories and give them a global audience."

  • More of a Star Wars fan? Here's what Disney+ has in store for you.
Categories: Tech News

A cheaper Nintendo Switch may launch before the next-gen version

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 04:57

Rumors of Nintendo revamping its Switch console in the near future have been pouring in over the last few months, and one report even suggested it'll come later this year.

A new report from trusted Japanese newspaper Nikkei has suggested Nintendo will be introducing a smaller, and therefore more affordable, Switch model before then.

This new model will be aimed at those who want portability and to play the console while on the move, but it'll still come with the same ability to connect to your TV.

Nikkei's report says sources believe there's still a more powerful version of the console coming, but that it won't launch at the same time.

Whether that goes against the report from The Wall Street Journal, which suggested the model will launch by the end of the year is not explicitly clear. This report doesn't explicitly suggest that we couldn't still see both models before December.

If the Nintendo Switch's price is a little high for you at the moment, you may want to wait a while to see if this cheaper and smaller console ever materializes. We'd expect it to be missing a couple of features though to ensure that smaller price tag, but this report doesn't suggest what any of those would be.

Quality of Life update

The same newspaper story also shared an update on Nintendo's Quality of Life project, which was a piece of sleep tracking technology that was teased and patented by Nintendo back in 2015.

The company reportedly halted work on the tech before December last year, and it may have been stopped long before that too.

One of Nikkei's sources said they have heard the company wasn't able to produce a  “Nintendo-like product" with the technology that was developed so it was cancelled.

Via The Verge

Categories: Tech News

Best TV 2019: here are the big-screen TVs worth buying this year

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 21:13

Best TV Buying Guide: settle in for TechRadar's round-up of the best TV sets you can get your hands on in 2019.

Although it's still early days for 2019, we can already tell that this year will be one of the best for TVs. We caught our first glimpse of this year's futuristic flatscreens in early January at CES 2019 and walked away impressed with all the new tech Samsung, LG and Sony have cooked up for us later this year.

The first of these new screens, the Samsung Q90, is already available now, and it's an early contender for TV of the year. While we expect LG to arrive with a vengeance with its lineup of 2019 OLED screens in the next month or two, if you want something right now, Samsung's the way to go.

If you've got your mind made up to buy a Sony, Vizio or LG from last year, however, that's totally fine. Below you'll find our list of the best screens out right now, along with their key specs, while the second page will teach you more about what makes a TV tick and why those specs matter so much. 

Editor's note: While every TV on our list offers both a 4K resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, we also have a list specifically tailored to those features in the form of our best 4K TV 2019 list.

"Should I buy a TV now or wait it out?"

This is a question we get a lot. Like most technology (cough, iPhones) TVs are getting incrementally better all the time – which means, yes, if you wait a year - or even a few months - there will probably be a bigger, flashier TV out there for less money. 

But while doing so will certainly net you a larger screen at a better price, some of the best panels are already being manufactured today. While tomorrow's screens might be a bit larger, a bit brighter and a bit cheaper, today's screens are just as competent in their own right. 

We can say that with confidence knowing that most manufacturers have finally embraced the three most important standards in TVs: Ultra HD, Wide Color Gamut and HDR (HDR10 and Dolby Vision). If a TV you're looking at doesn't support at least one of these, you should probably look somewhere else.

Not sure where to start? Here are the best TVs we tested this year.

Image credit: Samsung

Last year, the Samsung Q9FN was the TV to beat. It won plaudits galore for its features and image quality, not to mention its excellent, improved smart platform that came with Bixby support and Samsung SmartThings.  

However it wasn’t perfect and there were legitimate complaints about viewing angles and an over-aggressive local dimming system that crushed detail just above black. 

Samsung has clearly taken these criticisms to heart, and directly addressed them in the Q90. The new model has a visibly superior viewing angle that holds its own against an OLED TV, and the local dimming delivers deep blacks without losing shadow detail. To that end, the new Ultra Black Elite filter is nothing short of a revelation, rejecting ambient light in a way that just staggers belief.  

The Q90 is able to deliver images that can directly compete with an OLED, with natural colors, bright highlights, deep blacks, and well defined shadows. It can also surpass any OLED when it comes to HDR, with images that are often breathtaking in their detail and dynamic range.

In fact our only real criticism would be that, unlike some of the competition, the Q90 doesn’t support Dolby Vision. However in all other respects the Samsung Q90 is an absolutely stellar TV that takes QLED to another level.

Read the full review: Samsung Q90R QLED TV

LG C8 OLED Series (2018)

At the top of our list for 2018 is the LG C8 OLED – available in both 55 and 65-inch iterations. It's here because it combines an impressive picture, an extensive set of features, an attractive design and its unrivaled smart platform, to deliver one of the best TVs we have seen to date. It’s not as bright as an LCD TV but those deep blacks make a huge difference to the dynamic range of the image. It’s also capable of vibrant and gorgeous colors, not to mention an astounding level of detail with native 4K content.

There are other OLEDs worth considering this year (see: Sony's A1E and A8F OLED or LG's own E8 and W8 OLED models) but we think the OLED C7 offers the best price-to-performance ratio of any TV under the sun in the year 2018.

Read the full review: LG OLED C8 (OLED55C8, OLED65C8)

Samsung Q9FN QLED (2018)

After an underwhelming debut, Samsung’s QLED technology really needed to bounce back in style in 2018. It didn't surprise us in the least, then, to discover Samsung threw the kitchen sink in with its new Q9FN QLED Series of TVs. 

As well as being even brighter and more colorful than last year’s equivalent model, Samsung's 2018 flagship screens use a completely different lighting system to combat its predecessor’s contrast problems: Full Array Local Dimming rather than edge-lit LED lighting. The FALD panel works in tandem with Samsung QLED Quantum Dots to produce a picture that's brighter and more colorful than near any we've seen come from the South Korean manufacturer. 

Do those features alone make Samsung Q9FN the best TV on the market? No, but throw in technology like HDR10+ and Q HDR EliteMax – what Samsung bills as its maximum High Dynamic Range experience that’s exclusive to the Q9FN – and there's very little doubt in our mind that this was Samsung's best TV ever until the Q90 came along. 

Read the full review: Samsung Q9FN QLED TV (65Q9FN)

Samsung Q900R QLED TV

With most people - *cough* content providers - only just getting to grips with 4K resolution, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Samsung had gone nuts by introducing the world’s first true 8K TV. And yet, while it's easy to be critical about the Samsung Q900R, it truly does usher in a new era of TV picture quality. 

Its native 8K pictures are incredible, looking just like the real world - only better. But even more crucially given the dearth of true 8K content for the foreseeable future, the 85Q900R makes all today’s lower resolution sources look better than they do anywhere else, too.  

Whether 8K delivers the same impact on smaller screens remains to be seen, but if you have a big enough room and budget, the 85Q900R is a vision of the future that’s actually spectacularly worth buying today. 

Sony’s second-generation OLED flagship, the A9F, is coming at a good time – just as Samsung and LG have stepped up their games with the Samsung Q9FN QLEDand LG E8 OLED, Sony has fired back with a phenomenal OLED of its own.

Even better than the A1E before it, the A9F is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for high-end screen of the year. 

While we experienced some minor issues (notably Black level crushing on Dolby Vision, and that Netflix Calibrated mode), niggles are to be expected on a set as ambitious as this. If you can live with the slightly idiosyncratic design, and afford the asking price, it’s a glorious UHD display.  

LG E8 OLED Series (2018)

Having potentially pushed the hardware capabilities of its current OLED screen technology as far as they can go, LG has for 2018 turned its attention to the software that drives these screens - and this shift in focus has yielded surprisingly impressive results, improving and even removing many of the residual niggles associated with 2017’s already in truth outstanding OLED sets.

The OLED65E8 loses a bit of ground sonically from its predecessor, and there’s some stiff competition this year from Samsung’s new Q9FN flagship LCD TV, but all the growing legions of OLED fans will probably need to hear is that the OLED65E8 is comfortably the best OLED TV LG has ever made.

Samsung Q8FN QLED TV (2018)

Although it’s clearly a step down from Samsung’s all-conquering Q9FN, the Q8FN is still a fantastic TV. Phenomenally bright, colorful and ultra sharp - it has all the right stuff for getting huge impact from today’s cutting edge picture sources.

Worth calling attention to, this is a fantastic TV for HDR content as its direct lighting system manages to produce a whopping 2,100 measured nits of light from a 10% white HDR window. This sort of brightness is unparalleled for the TV’s price point, and ensures that it delivers the upper extremes of HDR’s extended brightness range with spectacular effectiveness and punch. 

So why isn't it higher on our list? If you watch the TV from an angle, color saturations reduce, and backlight blooming becomes much more noticeable. Also, Samsung’s Auto motion processing system is a bit over aggressive, causing too many distracting side effects for comfort. 

Sony Bravia X900F Series (2018)

OK, so you don't want (or can't afford) Sony's new A9F OLED or the fantastic-but-pricey Z9F. So what should you buy? Check out the X900F series. With superb 4K image clarity, powerful SDR-to-HDR remastering, and a smooth direct LED backlight, Sony is offering something very different with the X900F. We loved the consistency of its images, the eye-popping vibrancy of its wide color gamut panel and its easy-to-watch HDR – you get spectral highlights without accompanying eye fatigue. 

Given this set’s high-but-fair price point, any niggles we have are negligible. The X900F is highly recommended and deserved our Recommended award. 

Read the full review: Sony Bravia X900F (XBR-65X900F) review

TCL 6-Series (R615, R617) (2018)

If you had deep pockets and checkbook filled with blank checks, we’d tell you to reach deep and shell out for only the best TVs on the market - LG’s crazy-thin OLED W8 or Samsung’s ultra-bright Q9FN QLED (both featured on this list). But that’s not realistic. For the vast, vast majority of us, our budget to spend on a TV is limited to somewhere under $1,000 - and often less than that. 

To that end, it’s absolutely fair to say that the TCL 6-Series is the best TV you can possibly get in this price range. Its performance per dollar is unmatched and its picture quality - despite a few minor flaws - will truly impress you.

Read the full review: TCL 6-Series (R615, R617)

If Samsung sold you on the idea of a quantum dot TV only to scare you away with their price, the Vizio P-Series Quantum is a good compromise. It’s a big, bold and affordable screen that supports most forms of HDR and has the ability to light up the room with its 2,000 nits of peak brightness. 

It might not be able to hit the inky black levels of OLED, and suffers from slow startup, but it is by far the best value quantum dot TV on the market.

Read the full review: Vizio P-Series Quantum (PQ65-F1)

Continue on to page two to read about what to look for when buying a TV! 

What TV technology is best? Which is the best LCD TV? Which screen size is best for your living room? What's the difference between LCD and LED TVs?

The answers aren't always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful even for the tech-savvy - there are so many brands, so many features, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies and flavors to choose from.

So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new TV.

What types of TV are there out there?

There are a lot of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses so here are some basics to consider:

A few years back, all LCD TVs were backlit by always-on, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. This ageing technology has been superseded by the superior LED method on more expensive sets, but is still standard on some cheaper models.

LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, cheaper TVs usually use Edge-Lit LED screens over Direct or Full-Array LED screens.

With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can't achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.

The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and LG, Sony, Philips and Panasonic have all adopted it in their flagship sets.

Quantum Dot
Quantum Dot is Samsung's big play in the LED TV space. With it, the brand claims that it's able to produce more colorful pictures than LG and Sony while offering even brighter panels. LG's Super UHD TVs all use a variation of Quantum Dot called Nano Cell, and Hisense makes a number of Quantum Dot TVs for the US and China.

Plasma TV
Plasma has almost entirely been phased out at this point, but PDP (plasma display panel) TVs use glass panels containing millions of tiny cells filled with a mixture of inert gases. Electricity excites the gases, causing them to illuminate the pixels across the screen. Plasma, while arguably superior to LCD in terms of contrast and colour accuracy, is only viable on large (42in+) screens and has been dropped by all but a handful of manufacturers. You'll be lucky to find one on the shelves these days.

Curved TV
Some manufacturers are now making TVs that have slightly curved screens. But unlike old CRT TVs, the curve is inwards rather than outwards. The idea is that this makes every pixel equidistant from your eyes, delivering a more satisfying picture. However, there are drawbacks for this type of screen - the main one being that if you sit far enough to one side – more than 40 degrees or so – the curve clearly starts to affect the image's geometry, foreshortening content near to you and compressing the image's centre.

What resolution tech should I go for?

HD TVs come in two resolutions. Sets with the HD ready are required to be able to display a minimum 720p picture, and generally has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Meanwhile, Full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It's highly advisable that you don't go for anything less than full HD in this day and age, and really you should be looking almost exclusively at 4K sets.

Ultra HD and 4K
The resolution of Ultra HD is exactly four times higher than full HD - 3840 x 2160. It means a far more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD but there are currently a few options for watching native 4K content, but terrestrial broadcasters in the US have yet to adopt it as the new standard. Read more about 4K.

The next big thing in TVs, HDR produces astounding levels of visual fidelity and can be found in some of the latest Ultra HD TVs. HDR is a technology and a standard. Content needs to be mastered in HDR and you need an HDR TV to see it. What HDR offers however, is worth the extra steps to get it - you'll see increased contrast and more realistic colors, enhancing the image to a more cinematic level.

What else should I consider?

Buying a flatscreen television is a major investment and one that you can't afford to take lightly. Just popping into the closest store and grabbing the first plasma or LCD you see won't get you the best deal, the screen that suits your needs, or the gear you require to make the most of your new purchase.

Size matters

People tend to pick the size of their flat TV based on the amount of space they have for it, this isn't necessarily wise. Flat TVs take up much less space than you might think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two further away from your viewing position, making the picture appear smaller.

Also, with hi-def, you can have a bigger screen and the same viewing distance without worrying about seeing blemishes inherent to the source. A 4K TV's lack of noise means that the ideal distance to sit from the screen is three to four times the height of the TV.

How to calculate the right size HD TV:

The trick here is to ensure that your TV is big enough to fill your line of vision, but small enough to be sharp and clear. Remember, if you intend to only watch standard-definition sources, the bigger the screen gets, the worse the image will look.

The ideal screen size can be calculated by multiplying the distance that you intend to sit away from it by 0.535 and then rounding this up to the nearest size.

So, if you sit 80in away from your TV, the ideal size is 42-inch (80 x 0.535= 42.8).

What features should I look out for?

Features are too numerous to go into here, but here are some things you should consider.

Photo viewing: If you have a digital camera, a TV that has a slot for memory cards or a USB socket for a card reader will let you view your photos onscreen.

Here are some of the things we look for when we review a screen, so you should, too...

Contrast: Bright whites shouldn't have any signs of green, pink or blue in them, while blacks should look solid and not washed out, grey, green or blue.

Colours: Look at how bright and solid they are; how noiseless their edges are; how 'dotty' richly saturated areas are and how natural skin looks, especially in dim scenes.

Fine detail: How much texture does the screen give? Does a tree look like a green lump, or can you see the individual leaves

Edges: Check for ghosting, bright halos and jaggedness, especially around curves.

Motion: Check moving objects and quick camera pans for smearing or blurring, trailing, jerkiness and fizzing dotty noise.

Image artefacts: Look for blockiness, colour bands, grain, smearing, dot crawl: anything that looks like it's added by the TV picture processing or a weak TV tuner. Tinker with a TV's picture settings before making a final decision. Factory settings are rarely good for everyday viewing.

What about sound?

To provide the best audio to complement the pictures, your TV should be hooked up to a surround sound system, but this isn't always an option. So, here's what we listen for when testing a TV's speakers:

Bass: Deep, rounded rumbles that don't cause the set to rattle or speakers to distort, cramp or overwhelm the rest of the sound; but that expand when needed.

Vocals: Voices should sound open, rich and clear, not boxed in, nasal or thin.

Trebles: Treble effects should sound clean, rounded and smooth in loud scenes and shouldn't dominate the soundstage.

Soundstage width/depth: A good TV should throw the sound away from the TV, to the sides, forward and back, to give an extra dimension to what's on screen, without losing any coherence.

How many HDMI sockets do I need?

For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles etc, those HDMI ports will fill up fast.

Do I want to hang my TV on the wall?

First off, you'll need to consult a construction expert to check that the wall in question is strong enough to support a flatscreen. Then find out if the set you want is designed to be wall-mounted and, if so, ask if the relevant bracket is included in the basic package or as an optional extra.

Will I be connecting it to a home cinema?

If the answer is no, you might want to think more carefully about your set's audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you'll need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how dialogue sounds and how much low-end rumble the bass is capable of.

Conversely, it's pointless paying out more cash for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a decent home cinema system.

Happy shopping!

Categories: Tech News

Ubisoft gives away Assassin's Creed Unity for free so you can see the Notre-Dame

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 20:41

Following the tragic burning of the Notre-Dame Cathedral spire in Paris, Ubisoft – the developers behind the historically driven Assassin’s Creed series – has responded charitably.

For the next week (until April 25), PC users will be able to download Assassin’s Creed Unity for free, an entry into the franchise that lets users explore late 18th-century Paris during the French revolution. The game includes a recreation of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

“Ubisoft wants to give all gamers the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of the cathedral”, the publisher’s statement reads. “You can download Assassin’s Creed Unity on PC for free here, and you’ll own it forever in your Uplay games library.”

In a 2014 interview with Geek Ireland, level designer Caroline Miousse said that the in-game interior and exterior of Notre-Dame took 14 months of production “and it took three weeks to dress its interior in accordance to the Revolution era”. The result is a fully explorable 90% scale model of the real deal.

Assassin's Creed Unity's depiction of the Notre-Dame cathedral [Image credit: Ubisoft]

On top of the free video game offer, Ubisoft is joining in the efforts to restore the iconic Paris landmark by pledging €500,000. The developer also encourages “all who want to help with the restoration and reconstruction of the Cathedral to join Ubisoft in donating”.

Assassin’s Creed Unity is available for free download for PC users from “April 18th at 00:00 to April 25th at 17:00 (your local time)” and can be accessed via this page.

Categories: Tech News

Facebook is developing its own voice assistant for Oculus VR and smart speakers

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 20:40

Facebook is working on its own voice assistant to compete with rivals Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. According to CNBC, the social media giant has been developing an artificial intelligence-based digital assistant since 2018, with the project being spearheaded by the team handling the Oculus devices.

The project has officially been confirmed by a company spokesperson, who stated that Facebook is "working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across [the company’s] family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products".

Exactly how Facebook plans on integrating the assistant into its products is as yet unclear. Its Portal video chat speakers currently use Amazon’s Alexa assistant to power its voice-recognition.

Shh, someone’s eavesdropping

This isn’t the first time Facebook has tried its hand at an AI assistant. In 2018, the company canned its chat assistant called M only a year after its launch because users didn’t seem to need its help at all.

It remains to be seen whether the new Facebook voice assistant takes off or not, but after 2 years of privacy-related scandals, it’s likely that its launch will be received with skepticism by many users. Just this month alone, it was revealed that 146GB of Facebook data containing over 540 million user records was exposed on an unsecure server.

The company's Portal smart speaker was also launched soon after the news broke that a Facebook hack had leaked the data of 30 million users. This may be one of the reasons why the devices failed to take off and are currently selling at heavily discounted prices in the US.

Whatever the future might hold for the Facebook assistant, it’s clear that the company is trying to futureproof its own hardware. It will face stiff competition, with Alexa and Google Assistant already well-established in what is starting to feel like a crowded market.

Categories: Tech News

Android Pie update, features, release date and phones list

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 16:15

Update: We've taken a deep dive into Android Pie's Digital Wellbeing feature, looking at what it offers and whether it's any good.

Google's Android Pie update launched in late 2018, improving the operating system to make your phone more personal, more efficient, and overall easier to use.

After plenty of testing, we've found Android Pie to be a splendid feature-filled operating system update with one big catch that will have you asking: when is the Android 9 Pie release date for my phone? 

Good news for some of you: the final software is on Pixel phones and the Essential Phone, as well as plenty of older flagships from Samsung, Nokia and LG. More will be added to the list – which we will update in detail below.

The truth is the Android Pie release date will be staggered for many people, with manufacturers like Samsung, LG and others (and in the US, the carriers) required to tweak the software. Many phones were updated by the end of 2018, but owners of some phones will have to wait later into 2019.

Expect noticable design changes, helpful shortcuts, and a big focus on AI through adaptive settings. We have a full Android Pie features list below, too, along with a phones list detailing which devices are compatible. 

Here's what you'll see with Android Pie when it comes to your phone.

Cut to the chase
  • What is Android Pie? It's Android 9, the newest version of Android
  • When can get you Android Pie? Right now on select phones, 2018-2019 for others
  • How much will Android Pie cost? It will be a free update

Android Pie release date

This... is complicated. 

Android Pie release date: rollout has started
You can download Android Pie today on Pixel phones via a free over-the-air update. It started 'rolling out' on Monday, August 6, according to Google. You should see it in the software update menu by now...if your phone is ready to update.

As expected, Google Pixel phones were the first to get the update, and all can be upgraded. The Essential Phone also got Android 9 Pie when it launched. 

Phones that have come out past Android Pie's launch date generally support the new OS out of the box – especially those that are launching in 2019. The big question is when older phones are getting updated. 

Here's which phones have already been updated, divvied up by manufacturer.

- Asus Zenfone 5/5Z

- Nokia 8/8 Sirocco
- Nokia 7.1/7 Plus
- Nokia 6/6.1
- Nokia 5/5.1/5.1 Plus
- Nokia 3.1/3.1 Plus
- Nokia 2.1 (Go edition)

- Honor View 10
- Honor 8X

- HTC U11 Life

- Huawei P20/P20 Pro
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro
- Huawei P10

- LG G7 One

- Moto Z3/Play
- Moto G6/G6 Play/G6 Plus
- Moto One/One Power
- Moto X4 Android One

- OnePlus 6/6T
- OnePlus 5/5T

- Oppo R15

- Razer Phone 2

- Galaxy S9/S9 Plus/S8/S8 Plus
- Galaxy Note 9/8
- Galaxy A8/A8 Plus/A8 Star

- Xperia XZ2/XZ2 Premium/XZ2 Compact,
- Xperia XZ Premium/XZ1/XZ1 Compact

- Vivo X21/X21UD
- Vivo Nex S/Nex A

Android Pie release date: soon 

  • Sony
  • Xiaomi
  • HMD Global
  • Oppo
  • Vivo
  • OnePlus
  • Select Android One phones

Android Pie release date: later (2018-2019)
What about an Android Pie release date for Samsung, LG and other top phones? We expect many manufacturers to announce launch dates when their phones are updated, which may be later than was initially projected. This is typical of Android updates, especially in the US where carrier approval is required.

On to the major Android Pie features.

Adaptive battery life

Android Pie has been designed to give you a more consistent battery by using on-device machine learning to figure out which apps you'll use in the next few hours and which you won't use until later, if at all today.

With 30% reeducation in CPU app wake-ups for apps, adaptive battery helped us eke out a few more hours of device use when we tested it. And now the software is final, so it should be even better. 

Google partnered with Deep Mind to refine its deep learning algorithms and it's having a big effect on Android battery life, according to Dave Burke, Google's VP of Engineering for Android. Adaptive brightness is the most meaningful new Android Pe feature in our own deep minds.

Adaptive brightness

Current auto-brightness settings aren't good enough, according to Google, and that's why it's giving phone makers a more power efficient way to calibrate phone screen brightness based on both the environment and learned behavior.

Google calls this adaptive brightness and claims that 50% of users who tested this Android Pie feature have stopped manually adjusting the brightness because of it. Even if you still reach to manually adjust the brightness, overall, you should be doing it less. That's what we experiencing when running Android Pie on a Pixel 2.

App actions

Google is inserting more prediction tools into its app drawer. Previously, you'd see a top row of predicted apps, normally based on your usage history. That was helpful.

Android Pie goes a step further with app actions that predict what you'll do next, and these shortcuts sit in a row right underneath the predicted app icons. This boils down to shortcuts for calls, or a run routine based on the fact that you just plugged in headphones and run every day at this time with an app like Strava. It's like Android Pie is reading your mind.

App slices

You won't see app slices until later this year, but Google has issued an API to developers to create more shortcuts around its operating system interface. This is starting in search, of course (after all, this is Google, we're talking about).

The best example at Google IO was with the ride-hailing app, Lyft. Searching for 'Lyft' will provide the app as an answer, but also shortcuts to your top destinations, like work and home, each with a price already listed. It's saving you from having to go into the app menus in order to select these options.

App slices via the search bar can extend to Google Photos, too. If you look up Hawaii, you'll see photos from a vacation, for example, and checking into a hotel may soon be easier when you look up your hotel name. Instead of having to wade through the clunky third-party app, you may be able to just select 'check in'.

Android Pie navigation changes

Android Pie has a new system navigation interface in order to make multi-tasking easier to understand, with a single clean home button. It's very much an iPhone X horizontal bar to replace the typical home and recent buttons.

This is part of Google's plan to make the UI simpler and adapt to the all-screen phone designs out there. It's more approachable to new users, according Google.

You can swipe up from the bottom anywhere in the operating system to see recent open apps as well as five predicted app at the bottom of the screen to save you time. Swiping up a second time and you'll see your app drawer. With this one-two swipe gesture, Google has essentially combined the all-apps and overview spaces gesture into one.

You can do one better than Apple's iPhone interface. Android Pie will let you scroll through all of your apps very quickly by sliding right and left with the horizontal bar at the bottom. It's like a video you're scrubbing through, but for app selection.

Form our experience, it takes time to get used to the navigation changes (as do almost all software changes), but retraining your brain for Android Pie is worth it in the end. Everything feels intuitive. 

Volume slider and screen rotation fixed

The volume slider has moved again, and this time it's off to the right side near the volume rocker. That makes sense, but it does more than just get a new home.

Pressing the volume keys will now adjust the media volume instead of sometimes (but you're not quite sure when) controlling the ringer volume. The ringer can be turned on and off through a software toggle button when you adjust the volume. Your reaction may be like ours: "Why wasn't it always this way?!"

You can also now manually control screen orientation. This is done via a pop-up icon that appears when you rotate the screen. You won't have to rely on the phone to (often mistakenly) rotate the screen for you.

Android Pie 'Digital Wellbeing'

It's no secret that we use our smartphones too much, and you probably do, too (you are on a technology website, after all). But how much time?

Like a Fitbit tracker gauges for activity and informs to motivate you, Google's Android Pie update includes a 'Digital Wellbeing' dashboard to monitor how long you've been using your phone and specific apps.

Digital Wellbeing is supposed to aid you in understanding what you're spending too much time on so that you can adjust your behavior. 

It even comes with an app timer and to send you notifications when you cross a self-imposed threshold, and a new Shush feature is launching as a Do Not Disturb shortcut when you turn your phone over on its front face. In addition to silencing alarms, it won't even display visual notifications. 

Think of Google as eliminating both audible and visual noise from your life when these modes are enabled.

Digital Wellbeing is one of the biggest, most fundamental new features in Android Pie and we've already taken a deep-dive into it, explaining it in detail and giving an early verdict on it. 

Given that it's still in beta we were fairly impressed, but noted that it needs a degree of pro-activeness to get much from it and that it could really do with parental controls. You can find our full thoughts on it here:

Making room for more Android notch displays

Android Pie makes room for notched displays, and we've seen a lot of them on new Android phones in the last few months – pretty much everyone but Samsung.

The use of a notch cutout means that some of Android's standard interface staples have shifted.

Looking for the time? It's now on the top left corner of the screen. App notification icons pile next to it, which could get dicey if A.) you use a lot of apps, or B.) your next Android phone has a notch (Google has planned ahead for this, thankfully.)

Some other design changes we noticed: Text is more sharp, there's generally more color in the menus, transition animations have been touched up, and some stuff has been moved around. It looks and feels fresh, even in this very early software build.

The Pixel Launcher now has a rounded-off edge, matching the look of notification windows that you see when you wake up your phone. This is obviously a minor touch, but it plays into the overall look that Google is going for with Android Pie.

Ambient Display has been overhauled, at least compared to what came before it on Pixel XL and what currently exists on the latest Pixel 2 XL Oreo software. The date and day of week no longer display underneath the time, but it still displays app notification icons.

You'll have to squint to notice this welcome improvement

The biggest change here is that down at the screen's bottom, it displays the battery percentage, so that you don't have to wake it to know whether you need to plug in or not. We look forward to Google making more updates to Ambient Display as the dev preview continues.

  • We also have a wish list for Wear OS
Categories: Tech News

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has a durability problem

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 15:23

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is an ambitious foldable phone, but one with mounting durability problems, according to a handful of press who got early access to it.

We've seen a total of five broken Fold screens – four in which it isn't working at all and one instance in which half of the 7.3-inch tablet-like display is flickering.

Reviewers and analysts from CNBC, Bloomberg, The Verge, Android Central and YouTube tweeted about their experience after one and two days with the phone.

In some but not all cases, Samsung has already replaced the broken review units. If problems persist, it may run into its other dilemma: a shortage of Fold units.

Don't remove the film

Not everyone we talked to has had a problem with the Samsung Galaxy Fold screen, so we wouldn't call this widespread. But, again, it's been two days – it's very early.

The biggest take away for soon-to-be-Fold-owners is this: don't remove what looks to be protective plastic film on the screen. It's actually supposed to be there, as some people have found out the hard way that doing so may break the display.

At least it's not on fire

The official Samsung Galaxy Fold launch is April 26 in the US and May 3 in the UK and Europe. There's not much time to correct the issue if it becomes more pervasive.

There are at least two good things for people who pre-ordered. Samsung is offering a one-year warranty in most markets when you purchase the Fold, and at least it's not catching on fire yet.

We'll continue to update this story as we hear more from the tech reviewer community.

Categories: Tech News

New Microsoft Surface Hub 2S finally replaces original model

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 14:55

Microsoft's update to the original Surface Hub is finally coming. The tech giant announced the new Surface Hub 2S in New York City today with a launch date that will be a little more than a year after the company first teased the Surface Hub 2.

The Surface Hub 2S will arrive in the US this June, with more markets to follow thereafter. Those additional markets will be ones where the original Hub was sold. The starting price in the US will be $8,999 (about £6,900, AU$12,680).

In addition to a new form factor and updated specs and features, the Surface Hub 2S was announced alongside two mobility accessories that will be sold separately. The first is a rolling mount made in partnership with office furniture maker Steelcase, and the second is the APC Charge Mobile Battery that allows the Surface Hub 2S to be used without a connection to a wall outlet.

What's new in the Surface Hub 2S

The new Surface Hub 2S will have a 50-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a 4K+ Pixel Sense display. The display will still be a touch panel with support for the Surface Hub 2 Pen, and it has an anti-glare coating. The display has narrow bezels, and has reduced its thickness by 60 percent compared to the original Surface Hub. It's also 40% lighter.

Eight beam-forming microphones, dual speakers and a dedicated subwoofer are built into the Surface Hub 2S. The Surface Hub 2 Camera and Surface Hub 2 Pen are both included and attach to the device, with eight magnetic mounting points for the Pen. The camera has a 4K resolution and 90-degree FOV.

The Surface Hub 2S is built around a computing core that includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD.

While the original Surface Hub models had display panels with 120Hz refresh rates and 100-point multi-touch, these details are currently missing from the Surface Hub 2S specs.

Just a starting point

The 50-inch Surface Hub 2S is just a starting point. A Surface Hub 2 Display is also coming that will not include it's own computing component. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise configuration options are in the works as well. And, an 85-inch version of the Surface Hub 2S will go into testing in 2020.

The computing component of the Surface Hub 2S is modular, making the device both serviceable and upgradeable. Eventually, the device can be updated to the forthcoming Surface Hub 2X by swapping the computing core, which will allow a multi-unit "tile" setup with multiple devices oriented vertically and placed side-by-side. A second set of dormant speakers and another array of microphones will be activated when switched into the new setup.

However, the Surface Hub 2X – like the 85-inch Surface Hub 2S – will not be available until sometime in 2020.

Categories: Tech News

Here's your first official look at the OnePlus 7

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 13:28

OnePlus 7 has just been teased by founder and CEO, Pete Lau in a post on Twitter. Lau had earlier revealed April 17 as the date when he would reveal details about the next OnePlus product. All the details about the upcoming OnePlus product are encapsulated in the form of a 5-second video clip which Lau shared alongside a caption.

It reads, "Excited to share the next product from OnePlus will unleash a new era of Fast and Smooth. Especially Smooth! Smooth is more challenging than Fast - a true test of hardware and software.  The new product is just beautiful - I can't wait for you to see it!"

"Fast and Smoooth" 

The video shared by him focus on the term "Fast and Smoooth", but these are very generic hints to go by in the first place. We already know OnePlus is going to stay true to its philosophy of providing a slick experience and OxygenOS has time and again proven that claim.

A phone we believe to be the OnePlus 7 is displayed in the background of the video which when looked from a distance resembles the number 7. This indicates that the product CEO Lau is talking about is indeed the OnePlus 7. 

If one looks closely at the picture, the edges of the phone seem to curve around the corners. This curve seems slightly more than what we have seen on the OnePlus 6T and it is quite likely that it'll have a fresh design.

The three o's in the word "Smoooth" could hint at a possible three camera setup on the OnePlus 7. The rumours surrounding the phone claim that the company will be introducing at least two variants of the OnePlus 7 and the high-end model could very well feature three cameras while the regular model may only have dual cameras.

Additionally, a recent report claimed that the OnePlus 7 Pro is going to feature an upgraded QHD+ resolution screen which has a 90Hz refresh rate. We might be reading in between the lines a bit more than usual, but if the OnePlus 7 Pro does happen to feature a display with 90Hz refresh rate, then it could corroborate with the teaser tagline "Fast and Smoooth".

Categories: Tech News

Man City vs Tottenham live stream: how to watch today's Champions League online from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 12:55

Man City or Spurs. Spurs or Man City. It's the quarter-final tie that guarantees an English presence in this year's UEFA Champions League semi-finals, but which club will proceed? The tie is on a knife-edge and we'll make sure that you don't miss out on a Man City vs Tottenham live stream, regardless of where in the world you are.

When the draw was made, all logic suggested that Manchester City were clear favorites entering into this Champions League football tie across the two legs.

It's been a phenomenal season for the sky blues, with the chance of an unprecedented quadruple still on the cards as City continue to go toe-to-toe against Liverpool for the Premier League title. And an attacking force that includes Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne is hard to resist for the best of teams.

But it was Spurs who came out on top at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium thanks to a goal from the brilliant Son Heung-min, and they have the advantage as they head up the M1 to Manchester. Without talismanic striker Harry Kane, they'll be weakened in attack. But this one's all about defence - will centre backs Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen be able to keep a clean sheet?

Make your predictions and settle in for what could be an unforgettable night of European football. In this guide, TechRadar will tell you everything you need to know about how to live stream Man City vs Tottenham. And you can do so from anywhere you are.

Use a VPN to watch Champions League football outside your country

Try to watch your domestic coverage of tonight's Champions League game and you'll soon find that it's geo-blocked. It's annoying for sure, but if you're desperate to watch your home broadcast then there's a little trick you can try by using a VPN service. It's really easy to do as well, particularly if you use our number one recommended provider ExpressVPN.

How to watch Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur in the UK 

How to live stream Man City vs Tottenham soccer in US

How to live stream Champions League football in Canada

How to live stream Man City vs Tottenham in the Champions League: Australia

How to watch Champions League football in New Zealand

How to live stream the UEFA Champions League football in India

Categories: Tech News

Porto vs Liverpool live stream: how to watch today's Champions League online from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 12:28

With Liverpool 2-0 up on aggregate after their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg, this tie is done and dusted...isn't it? Well a trip to Porto is never easy and two goal deficits can easily be overturned (just ask PSG!). With this TechRadar guide you can live stream Porto vs Liverpool no matter where you are in the world.

As you'd hope and expect from a last eight Champions League clash, these are two of world football's biggest names and they're no strangers to going a long way in this competition.

Who could forget Liverpool's Miracle of Istanbul in 2005 when they won their most recent of five titles. And Porto's last was equally memorable, led there by a long-forgotten manager called Jose Mourinho, or something.

After easing through the first leg at Anfield 2-0, Liverpool are overwhelming favorites going in to this one. Juggling the two plates of Champions League and the Premier League title, Klopp's men could be just a few wins away from one of their most famous seasons. They'll be relying on their trio if attackers Salah, Mane and Firmino. Porto are involved in an equally exciting title race in the Premeira Liga against Benfica, but it will be a huge uphill battle if they want to make it to the semi-final.

It's poised to be a fascinating second leg of the Champions League last eight knockouts, so make sure you follow the instructions below for how to live stream Porto vs Liverpool from wherever you are in the world.

Use a VPN to watch Champions League football outside your country

If you're away from your country but are desperate to get around geo-blocking from your home broadcaster, don't sweat. Thanks to the tools provided to you by a VPN service, you can tune in no matter where you are in the world. And best of all, it's really easy to do, especially if you use our number one recommended provider ExpressVPN.

Stream the Liverpool game live in the UK 

How to watch Porto vs Liverpool: live stream in US

How to live stream Champions League football in Canada

How to live stream Liverpool vs Porto in the Champions League: Australia

How to watch Champions League football in New Zealand

How to live stream the UEFA Champions League football in India

Categories: Tech News

SimpliSafe home security sale: save 15% and get a free camera

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 12:18

Secure your home and save money with this limited-time promotion from SimpliSafe. The home security company is offering 15% off several of its best pre-packaged or build-your-own security systems and includes a free SimpliCam. This week-long sale ends at midnight on Tuesday, April 23.

SimpliSafe is a well-known home security system that features 24/7 monitoring for your home or business. SimpliSafe allows you to build a system that's tailored to your space and needs or lets you select from several pre-configured security systems. There are no contracts with the wireless system that's built to withstand power outages, downed Wi-Fi, cut landlines, and anything else you can think of. You'll always feel secure with a 24/7 monitoring center that alerts police when your home needs help.

This promotion not only gives you a 15% discount, but also includes the top-rated SimpliCam for free. The security camera provides live 24/7 HD video that you can monitor from your smartphone or tablet. The SimpliCam alerts you the instant motion is detected, and the sensors can even distinguish the unique heat signature of humans.

Like we mentioned above, this promotion only lasts until Tuesday, so you should make sure to take advantage of this rare deal while you can. 

SimpliSafe Home Security Sale:

You can find more home security sales with the best cheap home security camera deals that are currently available.

You can also shop more smart home deals with the best cheap smart home devices and gadget deals.

Categories: Tech News

AMD Ryzen R1000 SoC to power the still-unreleased Atari VCS

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 12:11

AMD has updated its lineup of embedded systems-on-chip (SoC) with two new variants. Alongside that announcement comes news that Atari is going to use one of the new SoCs to power the upcoming Atari VCS gaming and entertainment console, Guru3D reports.

The new AMD Ryzen Embedded R-Series will come in two variants, the Ryzen R1606G and R1505G. Both are nearly identical, packing dual-core CPUs with four treads and three Vega GPU compute units. The R1606G has slightly higher base and boost clock speeds than the R1505G, but otherwise the core specs are the same.

Some of the other key aspects of the SoCs that were touted in a launch video from AMD include "dual 10-gigabit Ethernet," the ability to "drive billions of pixels" and run "3 simultaneous 4K displays." The SoCs are also low power, going as low as 12 watts, so manufacturers can build them into passively cooled systems. 

What they'll do for Atari

AMD offered up some comparisons to give a sense of how powerful the new R-Series SoCs will be, with up to three times more performance-per-watt than the AMD R-Series SOC RX-216GD in Cinebench R15 (CPU), and four times the performance-per-dollar compared to i3-7100U in Cinebench R15 and 3DMark 11 (CPU AND GPU). 

Sadly, that information doesn't give much of a basis for comparison in gaming performance for the Atari VCS. Without knowing the price of the R-Series chips, there's little to get out of a price-per-dollar comparison. But, we can draw some comparisons to the hardware we see in other popular gaming consoles.

Comparing the 2C/4T CPUs and 3 GPU compute units in the R-Series to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, and there's a large difference in core count and GPU compute units. And, by the time the Atari VCS comes out in December 2019 (if it's not delayed yet again), it could be looking at imminent competition from an even more powerful PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two.

Variety reported that Michael Arzt, COO of Atari Connected Devices, said the Atari VCS would be able to support "4K 60fps content" and will also allow users to install other operating systems. Language is important here, as "4K 60fps content" could very well be streamed video. The R-Series chips are not likely to push 4K 60fps in anything but the most basic games, which it may do for the retro games launching with the console.

One place the new chips could shine though is in game streaming. Because they support dual 10-Gigabit connection, they'll be able to easily support the bandwidth required for a quality game streaming experience. While that may make the Atari VCS a capable platform for Goolge's Stadia gaming streaming service, the $239 (about £180, AU$340) asking price for the console may be hard to justify for many gamers.

Categories: Tech News

The Nikola Wav is an electric jet ski with a 4K screen in the dash

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:55

Bouncing along the waves on a jet ski can be terribly dull, so electric vehicle company Nikola Corporation has come up with a solution: embed a waterproof 12-inch 4K display in the dash to distract you from all that tedious scenery.

The Nikola Wav (which The Verge reports is pronounced 'wave')  takes its inspiration from sports bikes, and features such unusual goodies as LED lights and cruise control. 

The Wav isn't just a concept either – Nikola is taking reservations (though it isn't divulging the price yet) and hopes to start shipping in the mid-2020s.

Meanwhile, on land...

The Wav was one of five zero-emission vehicles Nikola unveiled at an event in Arizona on Tuesday. The company also took the wraps off two semi-trucks (the Nikola Two and Tre) and the Reckless, a military ATV.

For those with a taste for fun, it also revealed an electric off-road vehicle called the NZT, which stands for Net Zero Toll and resembles a dune buggy crossed with a Smart car.

Like the other vehicles on show, the NZT is fully electric. It boasts a range of up to 150 miles, front and rear cameras, a low center of gravity for stability, 3,000lb towing capacity, and a 13-inch infotainment display for those dreary moments on the dunes.

The NZT is also fully waterproof, and can be safely submerged up to a meter, meaning it won't be troubled by snow or wet crossings on the trails.

It's available to reserve now with a starting price of $80,000 (about £60,000 / AU$112,000), and is expected to go into production in 2021, giving you a little time to save up.

Categories: Tech News

ExpressVPN inches closer to a 100% secure server with TrustedServer initiative

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:48

Popular VPN provider ExpressVPN has introduced a new server platform called TrustedServer, one which runs on system memory (Random Access Memory) without the need to have local storage (hard disk drives or solid state drives).

Doing so means that as soon as a computer is shut down, all the information on the server vanishes and cannot - in theory - be recovered. The next time the server is rebooted, a fresh version of the stack (the operating system and the VPN infrastructure running above it) is spawned, like a brand new PC.

This is an inhouse technology developed by ExpressVPN, an industry first for the market, but one that has proved popular in enterprise where in-memory computing (IMC) helps businesses speed up transactions- SAP HANA relational database management system being perhaps the most well known example.

A new dawn in privacy for VPN

The software stack has been deployed on the entire server range (3000+) that ExpressVPN operates and comes from a single cryptographically signed read-only image, which eliminates any risk associated with misconfigurations or obsolete/unpatched software.

This approach, ExpressVPN explains, is different from traditional containerization on bare metal servers as there’s no host OS to speak off as the stack integrates the host OS and is loaded every time.

The TrustedServer initiative brings the concept of a 100% secure server closer but is still - technically - vulnerable to Spectre-type vulnerabilities when an attacker uses a running program to access the system memory. But the chances of this happening are infinitesimal and would first require a catastrophic chain-of-events to happen.

ExpressVPN has confirmed that it will be releasing more details about TrustedServer and we will amend this article with relevant updates in due course.

  • ExpressVPN is currently ranked as the top VPN in our best VPN buyers guide and they've let us have a special offer just for TechRadar readers...
Categories: Tech News

Degoo offers 200GB free cloud storage to TechRadar readers

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 11:12

Cloud storage company, Degoo, is not a household name. But it has managed to carve itself a niche inside the busy cloud storage market with two offerings that have attracted more than 15 million users over the past seven years with an estimated 20,000 people joining Degoo every day.

The Swedish company has teamed up with TechRadar to deliver an even better deal - get 200GB free cloud storage for a year with no strings attached. After 12 months, this will revert back to its regular 100GB package which is still plenty for most. Note that the free version carries adverts in the feed on Android. 

One of the cheapest cloud storage offers

Even better, you can get a staggering 10TB for just $99.99 for two years. That’s a 58% saving off from the standard price of $9.99 per month and is exclusive to TechRadar. It's a price that's far less than the cloud storage competition. iDrive for example charges $149.25 for 5TB for two years while pCloud charges $170 for 2TB for two years. 

Unlike some competitors, there’s no file size limits and you don’t need another Degoo account to receive files. Uploaded files are encrypted in chunks (zero knowledge encryption) and spread out to data centers on four continents to eliminate the risk of having your account compromised.

Carl Hasselkog, CEO of Degoo, told TechRadar that its infrastructure is five times more efficient than Dropbox per stored byte. The free version has basic storage replication and no zero knowledge encryption plus a 90-day account inactivity limit.

Categories: Tech News

Huawei P30 Lite confirmed for UK launch

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:58

Vodafone UK has confirmed that it will sell the Huawei P30 Lite in the UK.

The announcement from the mobile network reads: "The new Huawei P30 lite is coming soon to Vodafone UK. Customers will be able to purchase the new device on Vodafone's Red Entertainment plans which include a choice of Amazon Prime Video, Sky Sports Mobile TV, Spotify Premium or a NOW TV Entertainment Pass." 

While Vodafone says the P30 Lite will be with us "soon", there's no firm release date just yet, but we do know all about the handset as it's already launched in other countries around the world.

P30 Lite specs

The Huawei P30 Lite comes in below its namesakes - the flagship P30 Pro and P30 - with a still-large 6.15-inch Full HD display, mid-range Kirin 710 chipset and a triple camera setup which doesn't reach the same heights as its siblings.

Those three cameras consist of a 24MP main sensor, 2MP depth sensor (for portrait mode shots with a blurred background) and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor, allowing you to cram more of your scene into each shot.

Round the front you get a 32MP camera, which is the same as the selfie snapper on the P30 and P30 Pro.

There's also a 3,340mAh battery, Android 9 and a headphone jack on the base of the handset which sits alongside a USB-C port and speaker.

We also don't know what the Huawei P30 Lite price will be in the UK, but a rough conversion from the UAE price (where it's already on sale) puts it at around £230. We'll keep you updated with all the latest information when we get it.

Categories: Tech News

OnePlus 7 Pro leak points to a massively upgraded screen

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:46

OnePlus usually makes a few compromises on its handsets to keep the price low, but it sounds like none of that will be happening on the rumored OnePlus 7 Pro, as a new leak has detailed many of the specs and they sound like a serious upgrade.

The information, shared by Ishan Agarwal on behalf of Android Central, is mostly focused on the screen. A screen which will apparently have a QHD+ resolution (up from FHD+ on the OnePlus 6T) and a 90Hz refresh rate.

Currently most phones have a refresh rate of 60Hz – though the Razer Phone and Razer Phone 2 go as high as 120Hz. A higher refresh rate can make interacting with the phone feel more smooth and silky, and can be especially beneficial in games. The screen is also said to be Super AMOLED and – based on previous leaks – will probably be curved.

Other features of the OnePlus 7 Pro apparently include a 4,000mAh battery with 30W Warp Charge (a super-fast charge previously seen on the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition), plus USB 3.1 and dual speakers.

There’s supposedly also a triple-lens camera, as has previously been leaked. This is said to include both wide-angle and telephoto lenses. This leak doesn’t say anything about the other lens, but previous reports put it at 48MP.

A true flagship

With all this the OnePlus 7 Pro could be a real rival for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS, since it’s sure to be very powerful and is rumored to have a pop-up camera.

But – aside from the fact that these spec claims should be taken with a pinch of salt – there’s also the question of price, as this might not undercut big-name flagships by as much as we’re used to from OnePlus.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to, since a standard OnePlus 7 is also rumored, so buyers might have the choice based on what features they want and how much they’re prepared to spend.

And if you really have a lot of cash to throw around then you might even be able to pick up a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, as that has previously been rumored as well.

None of this is certain yet but we should have all the official details soon, as the OnePlus 7 range is rumored to land on May 14.

Categories: Tech News

iPhone XR is UK's best selling smartphone

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:45

The iPhone XR was the UK’s best-selling smartphone during the first three months of the year, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, with the cheaper handset encouraging owners of older models to upgrade.

Apple launched the iPhone XR alongside the higher-spec iPhone XS and XS Max in a bid to appeal to more price points and encourage those with older devices to upgrade to a newer model without breaking the bank.

Whereas 16 per cent of iPhone XS and XS Max owners upgraded from an iPhone X, just one per cent of iPhone XR owners upgraded from that earlier model.

iPhone XR

Overall, iOS market share fell from 37 per cent to 35.9 per cent in the UK, as Android increased its share from 62.7 per cent to 63.8 per cent.

Apple fared well in the US, where the iPhone XR accounted for one in ten devices sold and apple increased its share by 6.5 percentage points to 45.5 per cent. Motorola also enjoyed a three-year high, mostly at the expense of LG which suffered its worst performance over the same period.

However, Android remained dominant in Europe, accounting for 79.3 per cent of all sales in the EU’s biggest economies. This can be attributed to solid gains for Chinese firms Huawei and Xiaomi, but also due to Samsung’s performance in Italy and Spain and demand for the Samsung Galaxy S10 range.

Earlier this month, Gartner predicted smartphone shipments fall 0.5 per cent from 1.81 billion to 1.8 billion this year, before rising 1.2 per cent to 1.83 billion during the following 12 months. The figures are the latest in a series proclaiming modest or declining growth in the sector, fuelled by increasing prices, a perceived lack of innovation, and market saturation.

It is hoped that 5G and new form factors such as foldables will see the market return to growth.

Categories: Tech News

New Nintendo Switch: everything we want to see from the next Switch console

Latest Tech News - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:31

New Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch 2, Switch Pro, Switch Mini, or a pair of new Switch consoles – whatever the new handheld from Nintendo is called, there's going to be at least one other Switch model coming down the line at some point soon.

With the Nintendo Switch coming up to the two-year mark, it's safe to say the hybrid handheld / portable console has taken the world by storm. It's the fastest selling console ever in the US and making Nintendo an absolute shedload of money. 

But hardware ages quickly nowadays, and Nintendo will be looking to a hardware upgrade to ensure its console stays relevant and attractive to today's gamers. So how to build on a success like the Switch?

Hardware upgrades are nothing new for consoles, let alone those from Nintendo. The Japanese gaming giant has a fruitful record for iterating its handheld consoles: there have been multiple models of the 3DS family available in different sizes, shapes, and with varying 3D capability, but all able to play the same game cartridges as each other.

Even Sony and Microsoft have come round to iterative releases, offering mid-cycle upgrades such as the Xbox One S, Xbox One X, or PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro.

So when will we see a new Nintendo Switch, and what new features will it offer? While we wait for more definitive answers, we've run through the likely (and unlikely) possibilities below...

[Update: Sony official confirms PlayStation 5 details.]

New Nintendo Switch release date

With your average console lifecycle floating around the five or six year mark, an announcement this summer to be followed by a winter release would see Nintendo on par for a mid-generation console refresh. It's far from unusual for Nintendo – everything from the Gameboy to the Wii to the 3DS received multiple updated across their life spans. 

But given that Nintendo hasn't officially confirmed there's a Nintendo Switch 2 in the works (the latest rumors seem solid but are based on a Wall Street Journal report), it's hard to guess what kind of release date we’re looking at. .

We know that the company is hoping the Switch will go further than the standard five to six year lifecycle of a console, after Shigeru Miyamoto told investors as much in a Q&A. Prior to this, Nintendo's consoles have usually topped out at the five to six year mark before moving onto the next generation. 

Clearly Nintendo has something up its sleeve for the Switch 2, and we wonder if it's going to follow in the footsteps of Sony and Microsoft, both of which launch hardware upgrades at strategic intervals to prolong the current generation. 

Based on these industry trends, it would make sense for Nintendo to release an upgraded version of the Switch hardware between two and three years into its lifetime, which would mean we could see Nintendo Switch 2.0 in 2019 or 2020. With an iterative approach that sees a power upgrade and some design refinements, it could be that we see the Switch line run easily into 2022. 

We'd expect Nintendo to release a new model before the Xbox Two or PS5 hits shelves – likely in late 2019 – chiming with a report from the Wall Street Journal that predicted a new Nintendo Switch model in mid-to-late 2019. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has since shut those rumors down, however, saying no successor was currently in the works. 

But if the new Nintendo Switch ends up with a 2020 release, it's likely that it will be in direct competition with the next Xbox and PS5 release as Sony has already confirmed we won't see the PS5 in 2019 and we haven't got high hopes of seeing Xbox Scarlett by the end of the year - even if we do expect the next Xbox to be announced at E3 2019...

New Nintendo Switch price

Obviously redesigns cost money, and redesigns with improved hardware doubly so. Rather than jack up the price, though, we imagine the new model will match the current £279 / $299 pricing, alongside a price drop for what will then become the outdated model.

If, however, the new Nintendo Switch model is actually a premium or 'Pro' version that sits alongside the standard console, or even a cheaper handheld-only 'Switch Mini' – then we could see that figure jump considerably in either direction. (Given the naming conventions of the 3DS, we think 'New Nintendo Switch' is a likely moniker.)

New Nintendo Switch news and leaks

Now, despite the fact that Nintendo hasn’t confirmed it’s planning to release a Nintendo Switch 2, there have been reports and leaks which suggest plans are, at the very least, being made.

Two new Nintendo Switch devices
Rather than being a straight-up Nintendo Switch 2, a Wall Street Journalreport suggests that Nintendo is working on two individual variants that, rather than making the current Nintendo Switch obsolete, would put it in the middle of a range growing to suit all budgets.

According the publication's sources, the first of these new devices will be aimed at budget gamers, and will see the Switch presented in a more traditional handheld-first format. It'll replace removable Joy-Cons with fixed ones, and ditch their HD Rumble feature in order to bring costs down, making it presumably more difficult to play in the docked mode with a TV without the purchase of a separate controller.

The second new version of the Nintendo Switch, going by the rumor, is a little harder to pin down, but would be a premium version of the console with "enhanced features targeted at avid videogamers." That's not to suggest it would be aiming for 4K or HDR visuals, but would more likely have features and services baked in that would accommodate the modern obsession with streaming to platforms like Twitch.

The 5.0 firmware dig
Though the Nintendo Switch’s 5.0 firmware update wasn’t up to much on the surface, hackers on Switchbrew dug into the upgrade and found evidence which suggests a hardware refresh is in the works. 

Switchbrew discovered references to a new T214 chip (which would be a small improvement on the current T210) as well as an updated printed circuit board and 8GB of RAM instead of the current 4GB. 

While any kind of chip upgrade could simply be Nintendo’s response to some hardware security problems which have emerged with the current SoC – like the homebrew hackers who have started creating pirated Switch titles – the new PCB and increased RAM suggest something more than this: a more powerful device.

Labo's cardboard accessories show Nintendo's intense focus on peripherals

It's important to note that the files uncovered by these Switchbrew members contain neither a timescale nor a definitive statement of intent from Nintendo. 

The Switch is proof that state-of-the-art technology isn't the sole key to success in a wider sense, but it’s important to remember that as far as handhelds are concerned, the Switch is at the cutting edge and Nintendo will need to keep it there. If these hardware upgrade rumors turn out to be true, Nintendo has plenty of time before it has to do any kind of refresh. 

AR and VR support are unlikely 
If Nintendo does release a Switch, we’re inclined to say it’s unlikely that it’ll feature any kind of AR or VR technology support. 

Despite patents suggesting otherwise, Nintendo has repeatedly said it’s not interested in pursuing virtual reality and this has been reiterated as recently as January 2018 by the MD of Nintendo France who cited a lack of mainstream appeal for the technology. 

Nintendo appears to be more interested in peripherals which keep players grounded in the real world. With its motion controllers, cardboard Nintendo Labo accessories and amiibo, Nintendo seems like it’s very conscious of keeping players aware that they’re physically playing a game.

Don't expect to see this anytime soon

What about 3D?
Another Nintendo patent came to light in early 2019: this time for a 3D sensor array that sits above your television, and creates a stereoscopic image in a similar way to the 3DS, meaning you wouldn't even need glasses.

3D visuals felt like a passing gimmick even with Nintendo's handheld consoles – and the troubled Microsoft Kinect camera will no doubt keep it wary of unnecessary TV peripherals. But getting convincing 3D imaging on standard 2D TVs may the step needed to bring 3D gaming mainstream.

Could it support 4K?
While Sony and Microsoft push at the 4K market, there isn’t really any big reason for Nintendo, the company that staunchly sets itself apart from other hardware producers, to follow suit. 

In the same interview where he dismissed VR, Nintendo France General Manager Philippe Lavoué also brushed off 4K saying that the technology has “not been adopted by the majority” and it would, therefore, be too early for Nintendo to jump in. 

Nintendo didn’t enter the HD console market until 2012 when it released the Wii U. This was around four years after Sony and Microsoft and at the point when more than 75% of US households actually had HD displays in their home. 

Miyamoto however has said he wished Nintendo had done the jump to HD sooner than this, saying that the display technology became popular around three years before Nintendo expected it to. It's expected that by 2020, 50% of US households will have adopted 4K technology and it might be at this point that Nintendo decides to join the 4K fray, rather than waiting until the 75% market saturation of before. 

New Nintendo Switch: what we want to see

More screen, less bezel
One way of iterating productively on the Nintendo Switch would be cutting back at its rather sizeable bezel. An upgraded screen could cut into that dark space without interfering with the console's general dimensions, and could even pave the way for 1080p play on the handheld itself, instead of its current 720p resolution.

What will likely prevent Nintendo messing with its formula too much are the Joy-Cons. If the body of the console changes considerably, the millions of Joy-Cons already on the market would suddenly become obsolete to upgrading players – maybe a good money-spinner for new peripherals, but something that would very easily irritate its player base.

Charge less for necessary accessories or sell better bundles
While in theory everything you need to start playing your Nintendo Switch is in the box, there are some sold-separately accessories that still feel pretty essential yet they’re very expensive.

Things like Joy-Con compatible steering wheels are fun, utterly unnecessary and they’re also relatively cheap. Additional Joy-Cons and charging grips, on the other hand, are surprisingly expensive. For Nintendo Switch 2, we’d either like to see things like Joy-Con charging grips come as standard, or see a wider range of bundles which include accessories like these for a more reasonable price. 

At least with this console, the charger came as standard unlike the 3DS. Baby steps, we suppose.

Keep it iterative 
The basic concept of the Nintendo Switch is great as it is and other than some small hardware advancements we actually don't want Nintendo to change too much. 

What we definitely don’t want is for the current Nintendo Switch library to be unusable. If Nintendo is going to bring out a second generation Switch console, we want it to take the Microsoft backwards compatibility approach with the games. Switch games aren't cheap and we want them to last as long as possible. Given the Nintendo 3DS can play all Nintendo DS games, we know this is something Nintendo isn't against.

A smaller, more portable dock
While we like the design of the Nintendo Switch at the moment, when it comes to the console’s docking station we’d like to see something smaller and more portable, something which third-party manufacturers are already delivering – even if Nintendo seems set on bricking consoles that use them.

Third parties are releasing smaller more portable docks

More internal memory
We love the fact that the Nintendo Switch has expandable memory – with some great Nintendo Switch SD cards out there – but we’d like to not have to rely on it quite as quickly as we’ve had to. If a Nintendo Switch 2 is in the works, we’d like to have an option with more internal memory for those that rely largely on a digital library. Given a large number of Switch games (particularly indie titles) are digital only, this seems especially important.

Battery life that lives on
We're hoping Nintendo will use a hardware upgrade as an opportunity to improve the console's rather small three-hour battery life in handheld.

Complaints about the battery life have somewhat subsided as players realised they didn't need as long a battery life as their day-long-lasting smartphones. There are also plenty of workarounds like portable chargers and battery banks to get around this. But stretching out the battery to a six-hour charge might be what cements the console as a truly practical handheld device.

(Image credits: Nintendo)

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Categories: Tech News