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Updated: 11 min 58 sec ago

Apple and Qualcomm agree to stop suing each other

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 15:55

Apple and Qualcomm’s current legal clashes, including a blockbuster patent argument with literally billions of dollars on the line that just started its opening arguments, are all officially over. Both companies have signed an agreement to dismiss all ongoing litigation, renew licensing and chip supply contracts, and even secured a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, per a press release.

Apple and Qualcomm have been fighting in court for years. The aforementioned patent case was the largest of several legal disagreements: Apple brought suit against Qualcomm in 2017 for $1 billion, alleging the latter was overcharging its licensing fees for mobile communication tech – and then Apple would have to pay Qualcomm again for its modem chips to stick in iPhones. 

In opening remarks, Apple lawyers characterized this by saying Qualcomm “double dips,” making $16.1 billion in chip sales and an additional $7.23 billion in licensing fees from Apple in the years 2010 to 2016, according to CNET. The trial ballooned into a $27 billion, five-week affair with Qualcomm wanting damages of its own for breach of contract.

But now, that fight is over. Per the agreement, both companies have reached a “six-year license agreement” starting April 1, 2019, which includes a two-year option to extend, as well as a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

End of current litigation...everywhere

Per the agreement, all global lawsuits between the companies have been dismissed. They had been engaged in legal battles in China, Germany and elsewhere.

The companies have been exchanging legal challenges for years. Back in March, a separate trial was resolved in favor of Qualcomm, with a San Diego court slamming Apple with a $31 million fine for infringing on the chipmaker's patents.

Until we hear more details, it's unclear which company compromised more to nail down their new agreement. But the way is cleared for Apple to pack iPhones with Qualcomm chips again in every region – and Qualcomm is one of the only producers of a modem chip that connects to 5G networks, a chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G...

Perhaps Apple decided it would be easier to settle rather than depend on Intel's shaky promises or acquiesce to putting a Huawei 5G chip in the company's future phones?

  • Here are all the 5G phones coming out in 2019
Categories: Tech News

Fitbit sale at Amazon: save on the Fitbit Alta and Charge 2 activity tracker

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 15:45

Summer is just around the corner, and if you're looking to get in shape, a fitness tracker can be the perfect companion to help you. Lucky for you, Amazon has the best-selling Fitbit Alta on sale for only $84.99. That's the best price we've found for the top-rated activity tracker.

The Fitbit Alta is made for everyday wear, with an ultra-slim and lightweight design. The Alta tracks activities such as steps, distance, and other exercises, and will even give you friendly reminders to stretch your legs and start moving. The water-resistant Fitbit also tracks calories burned and records your sleep to provide you with helpful insights.

Once you download the Fitbit app, you can track all of your activity on your smartphone or computer and follow progress you've made. You can also get personalized workout videos, and log your exercises to help you meet your fitness goals. The Alta has an impressive battery life of up to five days, and offers basic smartwatch features such as call, text and calendar notifications.

If you want a fitness tracker that also offers heart rate monitoring, you might be interested in the Fitbit Alta HR. The Alta HR has all the features of the Fitbit Alta, but continuously tracks your heart rate, and has a slightly longer battery life. The Fitbit Charge 2 is more advanced than the Alta HR and not only monitors heart rate but also includes GPS technology and features a larger display screen. Both activity trackers are on sale at Amazon.

Fitbit deals:

If you're interested in other Fitbit discounts you can find the best cheap Fitbit sale prices and deals that are currently available.

If you're interested in the Fitbit Versa we have the cheapest Fitbit Versa prices and deals that are going on.

You can also learn more about the above fitness trackers by checking out our Fitbit Alta review, Fitbit Alta HR review and Fitbit Charge 2 review.

Categories: Tech News

Apple HomePod 2 could provide stereo sound anywhere in the room

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 15:06

Apple's long-awaited HomePod 2 smart speaker could sound even better than the original, if new patents granted to the tech company are anything to go by. 

Apple's patent for a 'Multi-listener stereo image array' describes a system where "multiple people can experience a stereo audio effect, regardless of where they are seated," according to Apple Insider.

In layman's terms, the patent describes a system that uses multiple drivers and advanced sonic processing to send an audio signal to each person in the room – and each of them will hear the appropriate left and right channel, no matter where they are. 

Now, you might wonder how the HomePod will know where you're standing in the room. For that, Apple has a second patent that it calls "System and method for dynamic control of audio playback based on the position of a listener." 

Again, sparing you the technical jargon, the patent describes a system that uses an imaging device (i.e. a camera or sensor of some sort) to see where people are located in the room as well as how they're sitting or standing. 

The idea, more or less, is that the next HomePod will be able to tell what you're doing – if you're lying down, walking closer to the speaker or walking out of the room completely – and change the sound by amplifying or reducing volume, or completely pausing the audio until you come back. 

Psycho-acoustics are really something, huh?

If you're coming from the world of two-channel sound, this might all sound a bit... implausible. Or at least unlikely to ever be developed. 

But as crazy as this all sounds, there really are a number of companies working on 3D sound at the moment. Creative has its solution called Super XFI, and Sony has 360 Reality Audio that made its debut at CES 2019, not to mention Dolby Atmos and DTS:X that have been on the market for years. 

Now, all of these solutions work differently – Creative uses a software solution, Atmos uses upfiring speakers and 360 Sound is both an audio format and a technology. The main takeaway: not only is this possible for Apple, but other companies are already doing something similar.

Will all these technologies finally give Apple's next HomePod the edge on the better-selling Amazon Echo and Google Home? We'll just have to wait to find out.

Nick Pino also contributed to this article

Categories: Tech News

Windows 10 October 2018 Update: release date, news and features

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 15:03

Microsoft, in its continuous mission to make Windows 10 better than ever, finally released the Windows 10 October 2018 Update at the end of last year. This update follows in the footsteps of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, much like previous versions of the OS, brings a ton of new and exciting features to freshen up your PC experience. With new features like the Windows 10 News app and improved phone integration, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update revolutionizes the way we use Windows 10.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update also brings some improvements to Windows Mixed Reality and even some Hololens improvements. If this sounds attractive, you’ll be happy to know that – after getting pushed back due to it deleting user data – the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is available now. 

However, problems seem to keep emerging. For instance, the latest Windows patches are experiencing conflicts with some antivirus apps, like Avast and Avira, causing users PCs to slow down or lock up. But, hey, at least you can remove a USB drive without ejecting it now.

So, now that you can download and install the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, we thought it was about time to jump into all the details. So, keep this page bookmarked and we’ll update it with any new information that comes our way. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The next major update for Windows 10
  • When is it out? The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is available now
  • What does it cost? As with previous major Windows 10 updates, it is free
Windows 10 October 2018 Update release date

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally out now, even though there are plenty of problems. 

It was initially launched back at the beginning of October, but it was pulled after bugs were discovered that were deleting user data. But, Microsoft has lifted that restriction, and it’s available to download once more. Then, earlier in March, Microsoft released a patch that fixed some performance issues related to the ‘Retpoline’ Spectre fix. But, this same patch broke some PC games. 

Either way, if you haven’t updated yet, we’ll show you how to download and install the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Or, if you just want to wait until the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (we don’t blame you), you’ll be happy to know that update has entered the last stage of testing, and should be out at the end of May 2019.

The Fall Creators Update came out in October

Windows 10 October 2018 Update name

While Redstone 5 is what it was called during development, the actual name is going to be the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. It’s not as catchy as past launches like the ‘Anniversary Update’, or the ‘Creators Update’, but at least it has a very clear title, we guess. 

Windows 10 October 2018 Update confirmed features

Now that the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is available, we know all of the features that made it into the final update. From the Cloud Clipboard that lets you copy and paste between devices to the new release of DirectX Raytracing, which takes advantage of the new Nvidia Turing cards, here are all the features that are included in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.

Improvements to Windows 10 Fluent Design

Microsoft introduced elements of the Fluent Design user interface with the April 2018 Update, and at its Build 2018 event, it showed off more effects and features that will come in Redstone 5.

So, expect more apps, including standard Windows programs, using the Fluent Design interface, and there will be some eye-catching 3D effects for Mixed Reality experiences.

Improved Game Mode and Game Bar

Windows 10 Game Mode was already a clear benefit to gamers – even if it’s barely noticeable. With Windows 10 Redstone 5, Microsoft has stated that it’s adding more options to game mode to further optimize gaming performance, but it didn’t really get into specifics.

However, the improvements to Game Bar might be more noticeable, and even actually useful to PC enthusiasts and power users. Instead of having to run a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, users will be able to see visualizations of system utilization – think GPU, CPU and RAM usage, as well as frame rate. This will be an amazing addition, and will go a long way to informing users why their games start to run slow. 

Intelligent multitasking with Sets

While Sets is one of the more hotly-anticipated new features, Microsoft recently pulled it from Redstone 5's preview builds.

According to Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar in a blog post announcing the 17704 preview build, “we’re taking Sets offline to continue making it great. Based on your feedback, some of the things we’re focusing on include improvements to the visual design and continuing to better integrate Office and Microsoft Edge into Sets to enhance workflow”. 

So what is Sets, anyway? Well, the basic idea is to bring the concept of tabs from the web browser to the entire interface of the OS in general, so you can have windows with tabs that contain web pages, apps, folders – a mix of everything essentially.

At Build, Microsoft showed off more about the potential of Sets in Windows 10, showing how you can have an open document, and clicking a web link will open the web page in a tab next to the document, with everything you open organized in that Set. 

You’ll then be reminded with prompts while your working about the tabs, which should give you intelligent help when working across a variety of documents, apps and websites.

It doesn’t look like Sets is going to make it into the final release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, but we might get it in the next major Windows 10 release.

Storage Sense

In the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Microsoft implemented a new storage feature called Storage Sense. This will automatically free up storage space on your hard drive by getting rid of old files you don’t use anymore. It’ll take these files and back them up on OneDrive, so you’ll still have access to them – without clogging up your hard drive. 

You’ll have to manually enable this feature in Redstone 5, but it could be a great option for anyone that doesn’t want to manually sort through hundreds of files to optimize storage performance.

Better Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites (or web apps) that are implemented as native apps and act just like a normal app would, giving users notifications, live tiles, and even working offline in Windows 10. At Build 2018, Microsoft showed how these web apps will integrate better with Windows 10 in Redstone 5.

They will look and behave more like standard Windows 10 apps thanks to an improved interface, and Microsoft also revealed that you’ll be able to download the apps directly from its Edge web browser.

Improved Your Phone app

Microsoft is making a big deal of having Windows 10 work with all manner of devices, and with Redstone 5, we should see a radically improved Your Phone app that will allow you to easily interact with your smartphone through Windows 10.

This is done by downloading the Your Phone Companion App (previously named Microsoft Apps) on Android. This app still has the ability to highlight other Microsoft Android apps, though will now allow you to interact with your PC through your phone.

You’ll be able to read and reply to text messages from your Windows 10 device, as well as easily share files, photos and more between your PC and your phone.

Windows 10 News App 

With Windows 10 Redstone 5, we’re going to get a more refined News App, which will let users gather all the news relevant to them in one curated spot. Including hints of Microsoft’s fluent design, it’ll fit right in to all of the other recently revolutionized tools in Windows 10.

Microsoft is hoping to use this news apps to take on services like Apple News or Google News, with a focus on an easy, intuitive news experience. 

Cloud clipboard

A new feature spotted by people using an early version of Redstone 5 is the cloud clipboard, which will allow users to copy and paste across different devices thanks to the new cloud-powered clipboard. User can trigger the new function by simply hitting Windows Key + C.

The copied content will then be available in other Windows 10 devices, and in the future Android and iOS devices as well.

 Microsoft Mixed Reality improvements 

It wouldn’t be Windows 10 without improvements to Mixed Reality, and the October 2018 Update should have them in spades. In one of the most recent Windows 10 Redstone 5 builds, Microsoft included a variety of improvements to Mixed Reality quality of life, including the ability to seamlessly take screenshots and immediately import them into an email.

And, if you’re using a backpack PC to fuel your Mixed Reality desires, you’re in luck. Microsoft has removed the requirement to connect a monitor to use a Mixed Reality headset.

Improved search previews

Another feature due to arrive with Windows 10 Redstone 5 is improved search previews. These now support apps, documents and other files, and should make searching Windows 10 even easier.

Categories: Tech News

The cheapest Samsung Galaxy Buds prices, deals and sales in April 2019

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:58

Along with the Samsung Galaxy S10 phone, Samsung has also launched a pair of true wireless headphones - the Samsung Galaxy Buds. The Samsung Galaxy earbuds are available for purchase now, so we've put together a list of the best prices and sales from several retailers below.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds come in a small compact case that doubles as a charging station. One full charge provides an impressive six hours of play time, and the charging case provides up to an additional seven hours.

The Galaxy Buds are lightweight and compact and come with three adjustable ear tip and wingtip sizes so you can find a size that's right for you. The water-resistant earbuds also feature touch controls so you can turn up the volume, skip songs and more with a touch to your ear. You can also control the Galaxy Buds from its compatible app which offers a "Find My Earbuds" feature if you ever misplace them.

The Samsung earbuds deliver quality audio by AKG which provides powerful bass and a balanced range of sound. You can also control how much surrounding noise you want with the Ambient Aware feature. This lets you customize what you want to hear while still blocking out background noise. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds prices

The Samsung Galaxy Buds currently retail for $129 (£139 / AU$249) which is actually cheaper than Samsung's previous truly wireless headphones, the Gear IconX ($149.99 / £157). The only features that the Galaxy Buds lack when compared to the Gear IconX are the ability to load your music to the earbuds, increased water-resistance and audio coaching for exercises. The Samsung earbuds are also cheaper than Apple's Airpods ($159/£159) which makes the Galaxy Buds one of the most affordable high-end wireless earbuds on the market.

You'll find all of the prices below from several different retailers so you can find the best deal that's currently available. 

You can learn more about the Samsung earbuds with our Samsung Galaxy Buds review. You can also shop more of the best cheap wireless headphone deals and sales that are currently going on.

If you're interested in Samsung's newest phone you can find the best Samsung Galaxy S10 prices and deals and you can also shop the best Samsung Galaxy Watch Active prices and deals.

Categories: Tech News

OPPO Reno with unique pop-up camera and 10x zoom launches in the UAE

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:31

OPPO today unveiled its hotly talked about Reno series at a global launch event in the UAE. The Reno series is the Chinese tech company’s latest premium smartphone range and another attempt to offer a creative solution to the dreaded notch. It has a unique selfie pop-up camera that slides up like a wedge from the top. 

The Reno series includes two models, the flagship Reno 10x Zoom and a slightly underpowered Reno Edition, both of which will sport the side-swing pop-up camera. Folks in the UAE can start pre-ordering the Reno series in Ocean Green or Jet Black from April 17th and pre-orders open up in Saudi from April 18th. 

As for pricing, the Reno Edition will be available for AED 1,899 / SAR 1,899 for the 6GB/256GB configuration but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for pricing details on the Reno 10x Zoom which will come in a 8GB/258GB config. We do expect the 10x Zoom to a bit pricey but OPPO will be partnering with Etisalat to offer 24month smart pay options to consumers. 

Reno and Reno 10x Zoom Specs

The Reno 10x Zoom and Reno Edition will sport sizable 6.6-inch and 6.4-inch FHD+ OLED displays respectively. Both models will have Android P and all the software bells and whistles that come with OPPO’s premium range as well as VOOC 3.0 charging via USB-C ports and in-display fingerprint scanners. They both will also have the most talked about feature, a16MP f/2.0 pop-up side-swing selfie camera on top capable of taking selfies in low-light conditions.

The flagship 10x Zoom model will powered by the latest Snapdragon 855 processor coupled with 8GB RAM and 4,065 mAh battery capacity. There are three cameras on the back starting with the main 48MP main sensor capable of shooting 4K video with a 13MP telephoto lens and an incredulous 10x hybrid zoom for super close-up shots. No headphone jack on the 10x Zoom but does have stereo speakers and supports Dolby Atmos.

Specs are slightly watered down for the Reno Edition that has a Snapdragon 710 under the hood with 6GB RAM and a respectable 3,765 mAh battery capacity. It only has two cameras on the back but adds in a headphone jack that’s been ditched on the Reno 10x Zoom. The main sensor is a 48MP lens that can also capture 4K video coupled with a 5MP telephoto lens for those artsy bokeh shots. 

OPPO will also work with Etisalat and Zain to enhance 5G development in the region by carrying out commercial 5G smartphone co-tests. 

Categories: Tech News

Barcelona vs Manchester United live stream: how to watch today's Champions League online from anywhere

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:15

If the first leg was a tad underwhelming, tonight's rematch should be an absolute cracker. To the neutral football fan, Barcelona against Man United has to be the draw of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Two of the very biggest names in world club football meet in the second leg of their 180 minute encounter and we're here to tell you how to live stream Barcelona vs Manchester United from absolutely anywhere in the world.

So which way is this huge tie going to go? Manchester United's renaissance under Ole Gunnar Solskaer has slowed down a little in recent weeks - culminating in that 1-0 loss at Old Trafford a week ago.


But they will still be buoyed by their impossible comeback win against PSG in the last 16. Paul Pogba's Premier League form may have dipped, but the likes of Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard should be on hand to offer the fire power.

Barcelona's superstars don't require much of an introduction - Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic...oh yeah, and a guy called Lionel Messi. Between them, they'll be licking their lips at United's defensive frailties and very hopeful indeed that they grab capitalise on their away goal advantage and reach the semi-finals. They have had the liberty of resting players in La Liga, too, with their massive points advantage at the top.

We honestly can't predict who's going to come out of this on top - we're just hoping for an absolute feast of football. To ensure that you don't miss a minute, read on to see how to get a Barcelona vs Manchester United live stream no matter where you are in the world.

Use a VPN to watch Champions League football outside your country

If you try to watch your domestic coverage of this Champions League game away from your home country, then you'll inevitably find that it's geo-blocked. Thankfully, there's a way around this, namely via a VPN. That allows you to 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 Man U game live in the UK 

How to watch Barcelona vs Manchester United: live stream in US

How to live stream Champions League football in Canada

How to live stream Barcelona vs Man United 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

Apple's macOS 10.15 could officially support iPad as a secondary display

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 13:42

Apple may offer a new way to extend its Mac displays to monitors and even iPads in the major macOS release for 2019, according to 9to5Mac

The company has long touted the displays on its devices as being among the best around, with devices like the 2018 MacBook Pro supporting the cinematic DCI-P3 color space, and Apple's Retina Displays offer pixel densities that keep visuals crisp.

The report suggests a new feature code-named Sidecar is coming to macOS 10.15 to offer new ways to extend Mac displays. While we've seen some curious third-party methods to add Retina displays to a MacBook, native support from Apple in macOS is likely to prove a more convenient way for users, especially those with a suite of Apple devices.

While Sidecar appears aimed at making use of multiple displays easier, by adding new options to the green button on the top of application windows in Mac, the biggest perk will likely be the ability to use iPads as connected displays.

A handy little sidekick

According to the report, Macs running macOS 10.15 will be able to extend their displays to iPads and move application windows onto the iPad displays. Since on-the-go workers aren't likely to tote around a second monitor in their backpack or laptop bag, the option to use an iPad as a display extension can make extra screen real estate a reality while retaining mobility.

Another bonus for creative professionals is that they'll be able to use the Apple Pencil on their connected iPads – assuming they're using a model that already supports the Apple Pencil. This would make the iPad an effective drawing tablet without needing to rely on mobile versions of apps. Users would be able to take advantage of full desktop versions of software like Adobe Photoshop while using the iPad's stylus support.

One huge detail that remains to be clarified is whether the connected displays will require a wired connection, or whether they'll work wirelessly.

  • These are the best Macs we've tested recently
Categories: Tech News

The best printer for students 2019: top picks for printing out coursework

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 13:12

If you or a loved one is at school or college, then our guide of the best printer for students in 2019 is here to help. Buying the best printer for the student in your life can help them with their studies, printing out notes, homework and research.

Having the best student printer means you don't have to go to an internet cafe or library to print out your stuff. This can help save time, money and stress when those deadlines loom.

Of course, if you're looking for the best student printer you're probably on a budget, so we've picked the best student printers that don't cost the earth. We're not just talking about initial outlay when you first buy the printer, but we've also picked the best printers for students that have low running costs as well.

With our list of the best printers for students, we've put together our top picks that will suit a student's needs, no matter what educational institute they are at.

If you're also looking for a laptop, make sure you check out our best laptops for students 2019 guide.

Image Credit: HP

Thanks to its two-way cloud-based network connection, you can operate this ‘smart printer’ from your mobile device with or without a Wi-Fi network. It has no USB or Ethernet ports and no scanner either. Instead it relies on wireless connectivity while the Tango companion app harnesses your smartphone’s camera to scan and straighten images for printing. All this allows the Tango X to be smaller than other inkjets and cheaper too. It is particularly user friendly, thanks to the excellent app and can even be voice controlled with the assistance of Alexa. Replacement ink cartridges are rather costly, but you can sign up to HP’s Instant Ink program to make some saving while having replacements sent in the mail. 

Image Credit: Brother

Brother’s entry-level inkjet 3-in-1 bundles all of the features a student could need in one compact and compact unit. With USB ports front and rear, an SD Card slot and Wi-Fi, it’s well connected, with high print and scan resolutions and a low price point. It prints somewhat slowly at 12ppm in mono, but duplex documents appear crisp and consistent and photos on glossy paper look lifelike enough for a budget model.   

Read the full review: Brother DCP-J774DW

Image Credit: Canon

Canon has done well to shrink its smallest AIO to the size of a shoebox without loosing functionality or the big touchscreen display. It can hold 100 sheets of paper in the main tray and 20 more in its second tray and still find room for five ink cartridges, giving it an advantage over its four-ink rivals when it comes to photo printing. Duplex printing is not fast, but colour documents and photos are worth waiting for.

Image Credit: Epson

As the smallest member of Epson’s Premium range of home printers, the XP-6105 is well suited to student accommodation. Apart from a fax facility, it is fully featured with Wi-Fi, auto duplex printing, USB and SD card slots all built in and the ability to print on any kind of media from blank CDs up to A4 photo paper. It lacks a touchscreen display, but it’s easy to use and the for the money, the performance is impressive.

Image Credit: Kodak

It is unusual to find a printer that’s both cheap to buy and cheap to run, but Kodak has managed this in the Verité 65 Plus and has done so without sacrificing any key features. The coloured inks are combined in one cartridge, but replacements cost less than other brands and the Eco mode eeks out more even more pages per cartridge. It is fully featured too with a duplex mode and both Wi-Fi and NFC built in. It is slow to print and the photo quality is underwhelming, but mono and mixed documents are impressive given the price.    

Read the full review: Kodak Verité 65 Plus 

Image Credit: HP

Prices vary widely for this model, but the 2130 seems to be one of the most affordable all-in-one printers out there. It’s a very basic machine, but if you don’t need Wi-Fi (it has an Ethernet port), or auto duplexing, or a display of any kind, this stripped back machine will print, scan and copy much like any other budget AIO. Of course, the real cost comes when you replace the inkjet cartridges and the setup tri-colour cart included in the box is only good for up to 100 pages and replacements are quite expensive. 

Image Credit: HP

At less than £50 (around US$64, AU$90), this fully featured three-in-one printer looks like a steal. It can print scan and auto duplex print and has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in for easy mobile operation. It can handle all kinds of paper up to A4 size and has a clear, albeit mono, display. Ink refils, as you probably guessed, are expensive, but HP’s Instant Ink subscription service eases the cost and currently, a 12-month free trial is included with your purchase.   

Image Credit: Canon

Canon’s latest range of cartridge-less inkjets includes this entry-level mono printer that’s well suited to student life. Although the initial cost is rather high, the box includes enough ink for 6,000 pages and refills bottles have a much higher yield than cartridges. Perfect for churning out that dissertation. Despite the small size, it can hold 250 sheets of paper in the main tray and another 100 in the rear tray. Duplex printing is quite quick and with Wi-Fi built in, you can scan and print wirelessly using AirPrint and Canon’s excellent PRINT app. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

By swapping ink cartridges for bottled ink, this printer has a far higher page yield and much lower per page cost. You can clearly see when the ink reservoirs are running low and with Wi-Fi built in, it’s easy to scan and print using your mobile device. It can auto duplex print and includes an automatic document feed and fax facility. 

Image Credit: Epson

If you need to print a lot of black and white pages and space and money are limitning factors, this compact print only device has the answer. The up-front price might seem daunting, but it includes enough black ink for 6,000 pages. That’s because instead of a cartridge, you will be filling up a reservoir from the supplied ink bottle yourself and replacement bottles are far cheaper. Wi-Fi is built in and it can turn out duplex pages at a somewhat slow, but steady rate of 15ppm and there’s room in this streamlined machine for 150 sheets of paper. 

  • Check out our list of the best printers, no matter if they are inkjet or laser
Categories: Tech News

What PlayStation 5's 3D audio chip could mean for gamers

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 12:46

Immersive audio is a growing trend, with the rise of object-based surround sound technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in the world of film – but how will immersive audio translate to the world of gaming?

In an interview with Wired, lead architect of the long-awaited PlayStation 5 Mark Cerny confirmed that the next-gen console will support what he calls "3D audio" – something he says will "make you feel more immersed in the game as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side".

While Cerny didn't elaborate on how the technology works, he confirmed that it won't require "any external hardware", with the audio chip forming part of the third-generation AMD Ryzen chipset that will power the PlayStation 5. 

Atmos-pheric audio

It could work in a similar way to Dolby Atmos, an audio format that positions different sounds in a 3D space – however, Dolby Atmos requires external hardware like a compatible soundbar with up-firing tweeters that propel sound right up to your ceiling. 

Similarly, Sony's own foray into immersive audio, 360 Reality Audio, currently only works with compatible headphones, and would require games sound designers to place every individual instrument and effect within a virtual sphere.

With many of the PS5's games likely to be cross-platform, it would be exceedingly difficult to ensure that all game designers create their soundtracks and sound effects in this way. Furthermore, with the PS5 expected to to have backwards-compatibility with PlayStation 4 titles, there would be a huge number of games that wouldn't support Sony 360 Reality Audio. 

An illustration of Sony's 360 Reality Audio
Image credit: Sony

Clever chips

What's more likely, is that the PlayStation 5's 3D audio will work in a similar way to Creative's SXFI technology, which uses a holographic algorithm to replicate the immersive soundstage of a full surround sound system through a pair of stereo headphones. 

As well as manufacturing a pair of headphones with this technology built in directly, the Creative SXFI Air, the company has also created a headphone amp that can transform an ordinary pair of cans into super-immersive SXFI holographic headphones.

This kind of technology could feasibly be put through a different system, like the speakers built into your TV, for example – which would fulfill Sony's promise to deliver 3D audio without the need for external hardware.

Battle royale games like Fortnite could benefit from 3D audio
Image credit: Epic Games

How would 3D audio enhance the gaming experience?

The benefits of playing a game "as sounds come at you from above, from behind, and from the side", are abundant. Imagine how the experience of playing a first person battle royale game like Fortnite would be transformed if you could actually hear the footsteps of your enemy sneaking up on you.

Or, how much more engrossing puzzle games like Fez would be if you could hear synths bubbling up around you as you succeed in finding your next clue. 

When speaking to Wired, Cerny conceded that there was a "frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4".

"With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”

So we can be fairly certain that the PlayStation 5's 3D audio chip will mark a big improvement from the sound quality produced by the PlayStation 4 – but, unfortunately, with Cerny quelling rumors that the PS5 will come out this year, we might be waiting awhile on that audio upgrade.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Office is a top target for malware devs

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 12:19

New attack and exploitation data from Kaspersky Lab has revealed that Microsoft Office products are now the top target for cybercriminals.

During a presentation at its Security Analyst Summit, the company explained to attendees how 70 percent of the attacks its antivirus products detected in Q4 2018 were trying to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office.

The platforms targeted by cybercriminals have changed significantly during the last two years as Office used to account for just 16 percent in 2016. Now hackers have moved way from targeting web browsers and Adobe Flash in favor of Microsoft Office.

However, according to Kaspersky, “None of the top most exploited vulnerabilities are in MS Office itself. Rather, the vulnerabilities exist in related components.”

Outdated components

CVE-2017-11882 and CVE-2018-0802 are two of the most exploited vulnerabilities yet they do not exist in Office itself but rather in the software's legacy Equation Editor component.

A researcher at Kaspersky Lab explained why malware authors prefer simple, logical bugs, saying:

"A look at the most exploited vulnerabilities of 2018 confirms exactly that: Malware authors prefer simple, logical bugs. That is why the equation editor vulnerabilities CVE-2017-11882 and CVE-2018-0802 are now the most exploited bugs in MS Office. Simply put, they are reliable and work in every version of Word released in the past 17 years. And, most important, building an exploit for either one requires no advanced skills."

By taking advantage of components that have been used in Office for years, these vulnerabilities are able to affect a wide range of users and not just those on the latest version. Also Microsoft will not likely remove these components any time soon as they would seriously impact Office's backward compatibility.

Via ZDNet

  • Keep your devices and software protected from cybercriminals with the best antivirus
Categories: Tech News

Get a 6 months TV Entertainment Pass free with Now Broadband's cheap internet deals

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 12:00

The juggernaut that is Game of Thrones has been the talk of the TV town for a good few months now and finally season 8 has arrived. Not surprising that fans have been falling over themselves trying to find ways to watch Game of Thrones for free.

The problem is that unless you venture to nefarious means (ok, so perhaps not Cersei levels of nefarious), you have to pay to watch the final series of Game of Thrones. Unless, that is, you take advantage of Now's latest broadband and TV offer.

That's because Now is throwing in six whole months of Now Entertainment Pass - and that means every episode as it goes out or on catch-up - when you sign up for any of its current cheap broadband deals. They start at just £18 per month, venturing up to £25 a month for fibre and £30 bills if you want its very fastest broadband plan. And unlike most other internet providers these days, you'll only be tied into a 12-month contract, rather than the more common 18-month term.

You can read more about these Now bundles below, or alternatively head over to our guide to the best Sky TV and broadband deals for even more options for packaging up Game of Thrones with your new broadband plan.


What do I get with a Sky Entertainment Pass?

Now TV is well known for its TV packages (it is in the name after all). And the Entertainment Pass gives you access to 11 new channels including Vice, MTV and Comedy Central and more than 300 box sets to binge on.

Most importantly, of course, Sky Atlantic is included in those stations. Giving you a one-way ticket to Westeros for season 8.

Now Broadband and TV deals in full:

Read more:

Categories: Tech News

Fresh rumors of new Canon mirrorless and PowerShot cameras surface

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:56

Canon may be planning to announce at least two mirrorless cameras and a PowerShot compact shortly – that's if registration information leaked by Japanese camera rumors website Nokishita is to be believed.

The website has published details of four models that are said to have been registered with overseas certification bodies. Two of these, currently titled PC2358 and PC2367, are believed to be updates to the EOS M mirrorless range. 

Nokishita claims that details of the two models were included in a recent update to Canon's EOS Utility program. Based on details of the battery in each model it surmises that the PC2358 is likely to succeed either the EOS M5 or EOS M6 (pictured above), while the PC2367 should replace either the EOS M100 or EOS M50.

Given that the EOS M50 was only announced last year, a replacement for the EOS M100 – which was released in 2017 – seems more likely. The upcoming model is said to use Canon's LP-E12 battery, which ships with the EOS M50 and discontinued models, while an LP-E12E variant of it is supplied with the EOS M100 as standard.

Both models are said to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, technologies that have featured on many recent Canon cameras, from compacts and mirrorless bodies through to DSLRs.

New PowerShots too?

Details of two further cameras, currently dubbed the PC2355 and PC2366, have also surfaced. The website believes the latter of those is a Mark III update to the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. The NB-13L battery said to be used by the new model is currently used by the G7 X Mark II, as well as by other PowerShot models such as the G1 X Mark II and SX740 HS.

Canon now offers two mirrorless camera lines – the APS-C-based EOS M series and the newer and more senior EOS R series. The EOS R line has two full-frame models, the EOS R and the EOS RP, while the EOS M line hasn't seen any new bodies added since the EOS M50 in February. 

Despite the launch of the EOS R system, Canon has pledged to continue supporting both the EOS M line and its DSLR line. Most recently, it introduced the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D as its latest entry-level DSLR. 

Categories: Tech News

Man City vs Tottenham live stream: how to watch Champions League quarter-final online from anywhere

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:55

With four English teams left in this year's UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, it was pretty inevitable that a couple would meet in the last eight stage. After the draw pitted Manchester City and Spurs against one another, we began salivating. 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.

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, with the chance of an unprecedented quadruple still on the cards as they continue to go toe-to-toe against Liverpool for the Premier League title. And they have an attacking force that includes Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne is hard to resist.

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

Ring Doorbell sale at Amazon: save $50 and get a free Echo Dot

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:55

Amazon is celebrating spring this week with new discounts on some its most popular devices. You can find price cuts on Amazon tablets, streaming devices, home security cameras and more. You can also find smart home bundle deals that offer discounts on the best-selling Ring products that include a free Echo Dot.

Amazon is offering a $50 price cut on the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and including a free 3rd generation Echo Dot. The Ring Pro works with Amazon Alexa and will send alerts to Echo Devices and allow you to hear and speak to visitors entirely hands-free. The Ring Video Doorbell allows you to monitor your home from anywhere by sending alerts to your smartphone when motion is detected or when someone presses the doorbell.

Unlike the previous models, the Ring Pro features advanced motion detection with a camera view that generates motion alerts within user-set motion zones. The Ring Pro also features four different faceplates options (nickel, black, bronze and white) while the other models only offer nickel and black. 

A 3rd generation Echo Dot retails for $49.99 on its own, so with this bundle deal, you're saving $50 on the Ring doorbell with a combined savings of $100 when you include the Echo Dot. 

Shop more of Amazon's Ring home security deals that all include a free Echo Dot.

Amazon Ring Home Security deals:

See more home security camera discounts with the best Ring Doorbell deals and sales and shop more Amazon device deals with the best cheap Amazon Echo prices, deals and sales that are currently available.

Interested in other smart home sales? We have the best cheap smart home devices and gadget deals that are currently available.

You can also learn more about Amazon Prime Day 2019: everything you need to know about deal day in July.

Categories: Tech News

The best free video converter 2019

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:48

There are so many different video formats around, a free video converter is an essential piece of software for any PC. The best video converters are simple to use, and can handle a huge array of different file types.

There are many reasons why you might want to convert a file to a different format. You might want to play a particular video on a device that has limited storage and there need to reduce the size of the file. You might want to keep your entire video collection in the same format, but have a few rogue entries messing up your system. Or you might want to change a video recorded in a strange format on your phone into something that is more easily shared with others.

If you're converting videos from YouTube, bear in mind that downloading videos is against its terms of service. It's also potentially a copyright infringement unless you have permission from the copyright holder, or the video is in the public domain. 

With that in mind, here's our pick of the best free video converters.

Any Video Converter Free will handle videos from any source, including YouTube and files from your PC. It's the best video converter you can download today (Image credit: Anvsoft Inc)

When it comes to the number of supported file formats, Any Video Converter Free certainly doesn't disappoint.

It handles online as well as offline files, meaning that if you like the look of some videos on YouTube, you can quickly and easily convert them into a format suitable for offline viewing on your mobile without worrying about your data allowance.

More than just YouTube, you can also download and convert videos from Facebook, Vimeo, Metacafe and more, and Any Video Converter Free also features the option to rip audio from CDS and DVDs.

You'll find support for all of the video formats you can shake a stick at, including ready made profiles for different devices, and editing options such as trimming, cropping and rotating allow for basic cleanup tasks. If you want to get creative, you can experiment with video effects to achieve a unique look as well.

If you need more options, Developer Anvsoft also offers a premium video converter, Any Video Converter Ultimate, which can remove DRM protection, convert videos in batches and burn videos to disc.

Freemake Video Converter is brilliant, and can even convert videos from online sources like YouTube – though you'll need to wait three days to unlock this feature (Image credit: Freemake)

Freemake has built up something of a name for itself for producing powerful yet easy to use software, and making it available free of charge. Freemake Video Converter is no exception, continuing the company's enviable track record.

The free video converter can not only convert files from your hard drive to almost any format, it can also be used to download and convert online videos from the likes of YouTube.

With simple editing tools to trim unwanted footage, the ability to add subtitles, and convert to and from DVD, Freemake Video Converter has all of your everyday conversion needs covered – and more.

When you first install Freemake Video Converter, some features (including converting YouTube videos) will be locked. After three days you'll receive a free Web Pack as a gift, which will lift this restriction. Look out for a notification in the System Tray telling you when the Web Pack is available.

Free HD Video Converter Factory is much more than just a conversion tool – it also includes a basic video editing suite to get your converted videos looking their best (Image credit: Wonderfox)

Free HD Video Converter Factory prides itself on being so easy to use that its website features a 10-second guide to getting started. This might seem like an exaggeration, but it's actually true. You can drag and drop a video onto the program interface, or use the selection menu, select the format or destination device and hit the Run button. That really is all there is to it.

You'll be pleased to know that the software's convenience doesn't come at the expense of features. While you can start the conversion process in a matter of seconds, you may wish to spend a little more time customizing the output.

Cutting, cropping and impressive special effects are all on hand to give your videos the look you want, and the way destination formats are presented is highly intuitive.

Beginners can select a profile tailored to a specific playback device, while more advanced users can make a manual selection and customize things further.

Handbrake can convert just about any type of media file – not just videos (Image credit: The Handbrake Team)

HandBrake is a free video converter that's well known to Mac users, but less famous in the world of Windows. It is worth noting that this is still something of an experimental program and it hasn't even reached version 1.0 in its Windows incarnation, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked.

Available for Mac, Windows and Linux, Handbrake is a great choice for anyone who works on multiple platforms, but is also great for anyone who is dedicated to Windows. 

A slight word of warning: the other programs featured in this roundup have very approachable interfaces, but the same cannot really be said of HandBrake. The program is powerful, but utilitarian.

There are a lot of features that allow for precise control of video conversion, including cropping, advanced filtering and frame rate adjustment, as well as presets for those who just want quick results. Handbrake may take a while to get used to, but the output is worth it.

Earlier this year the Mac version of HandBrake was compromised with malware, but the software is now secure and safe to download.

Free Video Converter is easy to use, but has one major disadvantage: the videos it converts will be branded with a subtle watermark. If that's a dealbreaker, try one of the tools above instead (Image credit: DVDVideoSoft)

DVDVideoSoft is known for its superb free media software that performs exactly as advertised, and Free Video Converter is no exception. Its interface is clean and uncluttered, and it can convert batches of videos with ease.

Free Video Converter has a small set of output options (MP4, AVI, MPEG and MP3 are available, plus an option optimized for iOS devices), but that might be plenty if you're not used to working with video files, and the likes of Handbrake or MediaCoder look excessively complicated.

There's a choice of quality settings, and you can merge several clips into a single file while they're converted.

It's a shame that videos converted with Free Video Converter are watermarked. The mark isn't terribly intrusive, but it prevents this otherwise excellent software ranking higher in this list.

Check out our video below for the best free video editors.

Categories: Tech News

Razer Core X Chroma eGPU beefs up power supply and adds fancy lighting

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:21

Razer has revealed a refreshed external graphics processor (eGPU) enclosure which has gone on sale in the US now, and will follow shortly in other territories including the UK and Australia.

The Razer Core X Chroma is the follow-up to the Core X eGPU enclosure released in 2018, and as you would expect, it makes a number of improvements, such as boosting the power supply to a 700W model (previously it was 650W).

Also, as the name suggests, another fresh introduction comes in the form of support for Razer's Chroma RGB lighting, with two lighting zones that can be fully customized (with 16.8 million possible colors on offer) via Razer’s Synapse 3 software. (You may recall that Chroma lighting was incorporated with the Razer Core V2 external GPU, which preceded the previous Core X model.)

As for connectivity, you get a Gigabit Ethernet port, along with four USB Type-A ports. You hook up the external GPU to your laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 port, and you can use the device to charge a USB-C capable laptop with up to 100W of power, a nifty additional benefit.

Note that the Core X Chroma is capable of fitting a three-slot-wide desktop graphics card, and installation of the GPU is a simple matter, and doesn’t require any tools – you just slide out the tray, insert the card and secure it with a thumbscrew.

Image Credit: Razer

Power boost

Of course, the idea of these external GPU (eGPU) enclosures is to massively boost the power of your gaming laptop when you’re using it at home – as opposed to on the go – just by plugging it into the Core X Chroma on your desk. Even the most powerful mobile graphics solutions can’t deliver the same oomph as a full-fat desktop card.

As mentioned, your notebook will need a Thunderbolt 3 port with external graphics support, and with Windows 10, you must be running the latest update (October 2018 Update). The enclosure is compatible with Nvidia and AMD PCIe graphics cards.

However, sadly on the Mac, you can only use AMD Radeon GPUs (you also need to be running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later).

The Razer Core X Chroma is now on sale in the US and Canada direct from Razer.com with an asking price of $399.99. That’s the bad news – this has been upped from $299, the asking price of the vanilla Core X, so you do pay for the lighting bells and whistles and slightly beefier PSU. And of course, there’s the cost of the graphics card to go inside on top of that.

Razer’s Core X Chroma will also be available ‘soon’ in the UK and Australia, as well as a number of other territories: France, Germany, Nordics, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. The European asking price is pegged at €429.99 (around £370, AU$680).

  • These are the best PC games of 2019: the must-play titles you shouldn’t miss
Categories: Tech News

The best free audio editor 2019

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:17

Whether you work with sound files on a weekly basis or only a couple of times a year, a great free audio editor will save you valuable time and effort.

The complexity of some audio editing softwaremight scare you away if you're a new user, but it's more likely to be the price tag that sends you running. Never fear, though – there are free tools that pack professional-level audio editing tools in a user-friendly interface that you can master in minutes.

Whether you're looking for a tool to help create a soundtrack for your home movies or something to help you convert your old record and cassette collection into MP3 format while removing background static, there's a free audio editor out there for you.

Audacity is as powerful as many premium audio editors, and is used by many podcasters (Image credit: Audacity)

Available for any desktop platform you care to mention, Audacity is our first choice free audio editor. It has a huge following, and it's one that is entirely justified. It's a powerful tool that would put some paid-for product to shame, and although the interface might initially seem slightly intimidating, it's actually surprisingly approachable even for beginners.

Audacity is equipped with an extensive suite of built-in tools, enabling you to edit pre-recorded files, capture sound through an attached microphone, or even stream music and podcasts. There's support for a wide range of audio formats for both importing and exporting, and the range of built-in effect is impressive.

There's also a great selection of third-party plug-ins to make it even more versatile (one of our favourites is autotune add-on Gsnap, for that Drake§ effect), and a comprehensive manual is available to help you to get to grips with the more complicated aspects of the program.

Its sheer power and incredible set of features make Audacity the best free audio editor you can download today.

Ocenaudio isn't as feature-packed as Audacity, but it's easier to master (Image credit: Ocenaudio)

Like Audacity, Ocenaudio is available for multiple platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). While not bursting with features, it's a great tool for everyday audio editing. Real-time effect previewing should help to speed up your work as there's no need to apply a change just to try it out, and a highly precise selection tool makes it easy to apply the same effect to multiple sections of a file.

You can use Ocenaudio to work with locally stored files, or even open those hosted online. The audio editor's somewhat sparse interface quickly becomes a joy to use, and if you spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the keyboard shortcuts, you should fly through common tasks in no time.

Ocenaudio offers good range of effects, with more available as plugins, and there's even the option of exporting your creations as a ringtone for your iPhone.

Free Audio Editor from DVDVideoSoft makes tweaking, clipping and converting sound files as straightforward as possible (Image credit: DVDVideoSoft)

There are several programs named Free Audio Editor, which is understandable (developers want their software to rank well on Google, after all), but not particularly helpful for users. Here we're referring to the software created by the media experts at DVDVideoSoft rather than the tool by FAEMedia.

Unlike Audacity, this software won't help you create and master note-perfect recordings or eliminate background noise – but that's not what it's designed for. Free Audio Editor makes trimming and converting sound files as straightforward as possible – even for people who have never used a similar program before.

Free Audio Editor's interface is a simple icon-driven affair, with no potentially confusing menus and drop-down lists. The main attraction is a simple cutting tool, but Free Audio Editor also includes an excellent metadata editor for music files (complete with cover art), and a great selection of export formats so you can store tracks in a format suitable for your playback device of choice.

Ashampoo Music Studio 2018 has a smart, professional design and is packed with tools for editing and managing your music library (Image credit: Ashampoo)

The first thing you'll notice about Ashampoo Music Studio 2018 is that it looks great (the only indication that it’s free software is a tiny ad at the bottom of the interface for Ashampoo Music Studio 7) and is extremely easy to use. 

The editor itself is simpler than Audacity's – not least because it only offers a single track – but it’s ideal for smaller tasks like splitting a file, trimming it, or normalizing its volume. Ashampoo Music Studio 2018 includes cut, copy and paste tools, and although there are no advanced noise-reduction tools or other corrective filters, it has everything you need for basic editing.

As the name suggests, this software is designed with music in mind, and includes several additional tools for playing and managing your songs. 

You can build playlists by importing individual tracks or whole folders, and rip audio from videos (though only if they’re already stored on your PC – there’s no facility for downloading them). Music Studio 2018 can also edit metadata tags, convert between common formats, and check files for missing or corrupt metadata

There’s a tool for creating CD labels and jewel case covers (something you’re not too likely to use these days), but the built-in disc ripping and burning tools are welcome additions.

Acoustica is an impressive audio editing and music production tool. The more advanced features carry a price tag, but the Basic Edition is still superb (Image credit: Acon Digital)

Acoustica Basic Edition is a particularly great audio editor if you're looking for a tool for producing music. Not only can you make your own recordings and open files from your PC, you can also import tracks straight from CDs, edit them, and export them in the format of your choice.

Unfortunately there's no free edition of Acoustica 7; the most recent version of Acoustica Basic is version 6, which you'll find on Acon Digital's site under 'Old versions and discontinued products'. It's a shame the company has decided not to continue the free product, and if you're looking for a free audio editor with room to grow, you might want to look elsewhere.

Opting for the free version means missing out on options such as a multi-track editor and support for 7.1 surround sound, but you still get a lot to play with. It has a very professional look and feel, and the Effect Chain – an area where you can build up and play with a layered series of filters – is a particular highlight.

There's support for DirectX and VST plug-ins, so you can easily expand the program's repertoire. If you want to get a taste for music editing with the freedom to move beyond the basics when you feel ready, Acoustica Basic Edition is an excellent starting point.

It's just a shame that the software is only available for Windows for now.

  • Want to go all-in on the audiophile experience? Check our list of the best turntables
Categories: Tech News

PS5: All the games, specs, news, and rumors for Sony’s Playstation 5

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:57

There's a new PlayStation coming. Whether it's called the PS5, PlayStation 5 or something else remains to be seen, but there's new gaming hardware on the way from Sony, confirmed by Mark Cerny, the key architect of the next-gen console.

The PS4 consoles (both PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro) are officially reaching the end of their life cycle (that's direct from Sony), so thoughts are inevitably turning to the PS5. And now Sony has finally started to spill the beans on what's coming next.

Even though we don't know exactly what to expect from the PS5 (or if that'll even be its name),  we do know that the rumors, wish lists and alarmingly convincing 'leaked' renders in the run up to a console reveal are a big part of the fun.

In that spirit, we've gathered together everything we most want to see from the PlayStation 5, based on what we now know from Cerny's revealing interview, and what its stand-out features might be when it arrives. 

PS5 confirmed specs: the concrete details we now know

A bespoke 8-core AMD chipset based on third generation Ryzen architecture, with a GPU taking the best bits of the Radeon Navi GPU family; a built-for-purpose SSD storage system; 3D audio; backwards compatibility with PS4 games and PSVR hardware; 8K TV support. It's all been revealed by PlayStation top-dog Mark Cerny, the man behind the construction of the PS4, and now in charge of the next-gen console's development.

While the look of the console remains a mystery, it internals are coming into focus, and they're very promising. That AMD one-two-punch of CPU and GPU unlocks the powers of ray-tracing, an advanced lighting technique that can bring next-level immersion to gaming visuals. It's a Hollywood technique that's used in big-budget CGI spectacles, putting into context the level of visual fidelity you can expect.

With 8K TV support comes far more detailed textures, and much larger ones at that. The news of a bespoke SSD drive will be heartening then – just because the games will be becoming more complex, that doesn't mean they'll be slower to load too. It's estimated that the new SSD is 19 times faster than traditional SSD storage methods.

Audio will reach a new "gold standard" on PS5 too, according to Cerny, thanks to a new audio engine that will deliver immersive sound – particularly if you're using headphones. While the details remain unclear, expect something resembling the experience seen with a Dolby Atmos set-up.

Sony remains tight-lipped about some specific plans for the PS5: the PlayStation 5 release date remains a mystery, for instance. 2019 has been ruled out, but it will definitely be revealed in the coming months, thanks to Sony Interactive Entertainment's President and CEO Shawn Layden confirming as much in an interview with Golem.de. In addition, Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida had also previously confirmed the company is working on a next-generation console in an interview with the Financial Times. It's been four years in the making already.

Back in May, Sony Interactive CEO John Kodera revealed to the Wall Street Journal that the PlayStation 5 would not be releasing until at least 2021. That now seems a reasonable guess, debuking a report from Ace Securities that claimed the PS5 could release as soon as Christmas 2019 - earlier than the Xbox Two.

One such rumor is that the PS5 could be backwards compatible with the PS4, PS3, PS2, and original PlayStation, meaning its games library could stretch right back to the glory days of the mid 90s. The PS4 element of that rumor is now confirmed, as well as PSVR support. The rest of Sony's vintage catalogue? That remains to be seen.

PS5 release date

Image credit: Sony

With no official word yet on a PlayStation 5 release date, and Sony officially confirming it won't be at E3 2019, it's difficult to pin down exactly when we might get to see a PS5 console.

Some analysts are predicting the PlayStation 5 release date could be around 2020 or 2021, for example, while others say 2019 – so just the three-year window, then. With 2019 now ruled out by the Wired interview, 2020 seems the most realistic launch window.

Speaking to GamingBolt, Michael Pachter said that though he thinks the PS5 will be a half-step and will be backwards-compatible with the PS4 Pro, he doesn't think we'll see it until "2019 or 2020, but probably 2019". This speculation now seems entirely wrong – the early specs suggested by Cerny suggest a significant hardware leap forward, with the 2019 date now ruled out.

More recently Pachter clarified this claim, saying that Sony would most likely release the new console in 2020. He added that at this time he thinks the PS4 Pro will become the base model PlayStation and will see a reduction in price. 

Meanwhile a recent report from Kotaku's Jason Schreier backs up this thinking. He spoke to a number of developers about likely release dates with most of the conversations pointing to a 2020 release. He writes: "There is information about the PlayStation 5 floating around at both first- and third-party companies, but it’s far more limited than it would be if the console’s release was imminent."

Sony's new CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida, also recently released a three-year business plan for the company which predicted the company's profits would dip in the run up to 2021. This is the kind of dip that may come as the PlayStation 4 reaches market saturation, before the launch of the PS5.

So mark your calendars for 2020 and 2021 then...

PS5 competition

Image credit: Sony

Although we're hideously impatient for news of a PlayStation 5 release date, we can't fault Sony for taking another few years to really milk the last of the PS4, given its huge and loyal player base. After all, the PS4 Pro is still relatively new to the market and its direct competitor, the Microsoft's Xbox One X, is an even more recent release. 

Thanks to recent leaks, we already know Microsoft is working on the next Xbox, which is likely to be announced at E3 2019. So it's likely Sony is also deep into development of the PS5.

If we're honest, we can't really see any urgent need to start a new generation right now. And given Microsoft's growing commitment to backwards compatibility, we think it's key for Sony to really think carefully about its next steps. 

Despite Yasuda's report, a two to three-year wait make a lot more sense to us. However, it could be Sony is trying to throw Microsoft a sucker-punch from left-field by releasing earlier than expected.

In addition, Slightly Mad Studios has announced it is working on a high-powered next-generation console called the 'Mad Box'. It's pedigree remains to be seen, but more interestingly is the reveal of Google Stadia – a streaming-focussed gaming service from the kings of the internet. With streaming undoubtedly set to be a key component of any console going forward, Google's expertise in internet infrastructure it them a dark horse entrant into the gaming race.

PS5 news and rumors

Image credit: Sony

Solid news on the PlayStation 5 is starting to come into shape, but as always, we do have rumors about what could be coming down the line – and we've collected and assessed them right here.

Patent suggests backwards compatibility
According to a newly-uncovered patent, the PlayStation 5 may be capable of emulating the PlayStation 4, PS3, PS2 and original PlayStation, aka the PSX as well as souped up next-gen titles. Mark Cerny's interview has now confirmed that, at the very least, PS4 and existing PSVR titles will work across generations.

Kenichiro Yoshida confirms next-gen
In an interview with the Financial Times, Sony president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said: “At this point, what I can say is it’s necessary to have a next-generation hardware."

Ace Economic Research Institute report
Gaming industry analyst Hideki Yasuda, from Osaka-based firm Ace Economic Research, has claimed in a recent report that the PS5 could arrive in time for Christmas 2019 (via T3). 

The report estimates that "the introduction of the PS5 will be at the end of 2019". If this is true, then it'll be a massive blow to Microsoft who has confirmed the Xbox Two (codenamed "Xbox Scarlett") will not launch until 2020. However, Cerny's interview all-but-debunks that claim. We may see a PS5 by the end of 2019, but you certainly won't be able to buy it.

PS5 game development is in full swing
Daniel Ahmad, analyst with Niko Partners, has been in discussions with sources at first party Sony development houses, and believes that PS5 games are now the sole focus for the majority of in-house Sony teams. With dev kits in the wild, this makes a lot of sense – but Ahmad states also that the PS4 line-up has been secured for the time being too. Looking at the PS4 back catalogue, don't be surprised then if there ends up being plenty of cross-generational PS4-to-PS5 titles, too.

John Kodera talks life cycles
PlayStation's John Kodera has been discussing the future of the PS4 at a Sony Corporate Strategy Meeting and, by extension, inadvertently creating space for prospective PS5 release year rumors.

During the meeting, Kodera made it clear that Sony is still very much behind the console but warned that sales are expected to slow, in line with expectations as market saturation approaches. As a console gets to this point in its lifecycle, it's natural to start looking forward to the next iteration. 

Kodera stated that the time passing from now until 2021 would be a period where Sony would hunker down – which suggests that a new big idea could be around the corner. Perhaps 2021 will be the time to expect the PS5?

No E3 2018 appearance – and no E3 2019 showcase either
E3 2018 has come and gone with no mention of the PS5 during the event. Instead, Sony offered up deep dives into four big games: Death Stranding, Spider-Man, The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima. Only Spider-Man has since released, opening the possibility for the others to jump to PS5. As for E3 2019, Sony has confirmed it won't be attending, so if the PS5 is to appear before 2020, it'll be at a Sony-exclusive event.

Image credit: CD Projekt

Eurogamer tech analysis
A recent report from Eurogamer has attempted to narrow down a possible release date based on when technologies advanced enough to justify a generational leap will be available to Sony. The most important things that will need to advance will be the console's processor and its memory and in both cases, Eurogamer has determined that we're unlikely to see a new console released before the very end of 2019. Given the potentially-transformational technogies Mark Cerny has outlined, a release date beyond 2019 seems most sensible.

Even if Sony did manage to push its console out more quickly, the cost of production would make the PS5 far too expensive, making it more likely that we won't see the console released until the end of 2020, if Sony has any intention of making it an appealing proposition. 

Andrew House talks the next generation
Former Sony chief, Andrew House, has been speaking about what the next generation of consoles could look like at the GamesBeat conference recently. Though House refused to comment specifically on the PlayStation 5 itself, he did say that he believes physical discs will stick around for a while yet, as a result of the need to continue tapping into developing markets where downloadable titles may not be quite as compatible with limited internet infrastructure. Mark Cerny has since confirmed that physical media will indeed continue to be supported by the new PlayStation. 

In other markets, however, he thinks that streaming games will be a big part of the next generation of consoles.

House also stated that he thinks the PS4 and the PS4 Pro still have a long life in them yet. This doesn't necessarily cancel out the rumors that the PS5 will be with us in the next one to two years; if the reports that the console will be backwards-compatible are true then the PS4 generation will remain relevant long into the lifecycle of the PS5. Regardless, given that House was unwilling to comment on the PS5 despite being pushed, these details can only be considered speculation at the moment.

The SemiAcccurate report
SemiAccurate (via ResetEra) is claiming that it's received some leaked information on the yet-to-be-announced console and says that the number of dev kits which have been distributed suggests the console could be released sooner than expected. 

In addition to this, SemiAccurate also reports that Sony will use this console to push its VR efforts even further, with VR-tech baked in at the Silicon level, and will sport a GPU based on AMD's Navi architecture with a CPU that's potentially a custom item from AMD's Zen line. The Navi rumors have since been confirmed by Cerny, with the Sony guru also confirming that PSVR will work with the new machine.

Image credit: TechRadar

The PlayStation Plus news
A recent announcement in relation to the PlayStation Plus service has ignited some speculation. It's been announced that from March 2019, PS Plus will no longer offer free PS3 or PSVita games and will instead focus on PS4 titles. This has led to some wondering over whether or not Sony is attempting to phase out these older generation titles in preparation for a new generation. This is, of course, pure speculation but it's interesting that Sony would be willing to reduce its game offering to only two games (as it informed Polygon) without any other excuse than wishing to focus on titles for an already highly successful console. Whether Sony is truly making way for the PS5 or whether it's going to offer a higher quality of PS4 game is unclear and it seems we'll have to wait a while to find out what the final plan for PS Plus is.

PS5: Can we have proper 4K gaming?

Image credit: Sony

The PS4 Pro offers a tantalising hint of what 4K gaming could be like. But the stark fact remains: it still doesn’t have the grunt to do native 4K consistently. 

Its “checkerboard” technique of taking single pixels and using each to render four pixels in 4K resolution is clever, and it can do native 4K output, but it often has to sacrifice resolution to keep performance consistent. 

Chris Kingsley, CTO and co-founder of developer Rebellion, dangles an even more ambitious technological carrot in front of a putative PS5: “Obviously new hardware should be able to support 4K TVs and possibly even 8K TVs at a push!” 

Native 4K support will be a basic requirement of the PlayStation 5. And, thanks to the Mark Cerny's confirmation, 8K will be supported in some form too.

But 4K base-line visuals won't be all – it's been confirmed that the new console will support ray-tracing graphical capabilities. The past two GDC events gave us a glimpse of what the next generation of games might look like using the technology, and it's left us extremely excited for the PS5.

Real-time ray tracing was revealed to be the next big thing in rendering while Epic Games gave us a taste of how it might be used to create the most lifelike characters ever. Using its capture technology, the Unreal Engine creator displayed a future with character models so realistic they bring us close to crossing the uncanny valley. Watch a performance from Andy Serkis below to see just how capable these new development technologies are:

“Honestly, between five and ten years from now, I don't think you're going to be able to tell the difference between the real and the virtual world,” Epic CTO Kim Libreri told GamesIndustry.biz, “You'll see hardware that can support these kinds of capabilities pretty shortly, and then, finally, the greatest blockbuster with the most complicated effects, within ten years, you'll be able to do that in real-time.”

PS5: The VR effect

Image credit: Sony

Sony became the first console manufacturer to embrace virtual reality, thanks to the PlayStation VR, but if you examine PlayStation VR closely – and observe how it operates on the PS4 Pro – it invites speculation about how a PlayStation 5 console might take VR to a new level. Sony's Mark Cerny has confirmed that existing PSVR headsets will work with the next-generation PlayStation console, but wouldn't be drawn into confirming a PSVR 2 release just yet.

Currently, PlayStation VR operates at lower resolution than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – but, as it stands, even its current incarnation almost pushes the base PlayStation 4 beyond its limits. Running a PlayStation VR on a PS4 Pro brings improved frame-rates, which are very handy indeed in terms of the overall VR experience, but even the PS4 Pro can’t overcome the resolution constraints set by the PlayStation VR headset.

Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration of PlayStation VR

So it’s a good bet that, seeing as PlayStation VR has proved incredibly successful, Sony will want to return to the market with a second, markedly higher-tech iteration: which would provide an obvious selling point for the PlayStation 5. 

And if a PlayStation VR 2 headset could be sold without an external black box, it should be markedly cheaper, further accelerating VR’s march into the mainstream. A recent report from SemiAcccurate, which claims that the PS5 will have virtual reality capabilities built-in at silicon level, suggests this will indeed be the case – a feature that was hinted at by Cerny, too.

PlayStation VR

Rebellion’s Kingsley makes another good point about second-generation VR. “Anything that reduces the leads has to be a good thing,” he says. 

The umbilical cord which currently attaches VR headset-wearers to their consoles or PCs obviously goes against VR’s entire immersive nature, and we’re already beginning to see, for example, a third-party implementation for the HTC Vive that renders it wireless. Oculus is pushing the wire-free space forward to with its Oculus Go and Oculus Quest hardware. It’s a safe bet that the capacity for running a wireless PlayStation VR 2 will be built into the PS5. 

But Kingsley’s PlayStation VR 2 wish-list goes further: “Wide vertical and horizontal field-of-view would be top of my list, and of course, that would require 4K resolution per eye, and high dynamic range would be great too.” 

HDR and wider fields of view should be achievable but sadly, we don’t reckon full 4K VR is likely to be a possibility even for the PS5. As Kingsley points out, that would require 4K rendering per eye, which equates to 8K rendering overall, which we expect to be beyond the PS5’s capabilities. 

That said, perhaps Sony will find some clever technological bodge to get around that before it releases its fifth PlayStation console. Foveated rendering techniques, using eye tracking to render only the items you're focussing on in high definition while other elements are reduced in quality, could be one potential technique used.

Ratchet and Clank

What form will the PS5 take?

It has been suggested that future consoles like the PlayStation 5 could take radically different forms to current ones, thanks to advances in cloud computing and game streaming, doing away with the components that make today's devices so bulky. However, we reckon it's unlikely that Sony will take a more Nintendo-like approach and put the PS5 in a tiny box.

One reason for that is that with the PS4, Sony has only just committed to using what are basically the innards of a PC – the first three PlayStation variants used proprietary components (and which in the PS3 impacted sales). Developers, certainly, were massively relieved that the PS4 took the PC route. 

"We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.”

Chris Kingsley

“Developers want the ability to make the best games using the minimum amount of effort. We want to focus on being creative and getting things to just work,” Kingsley says. “So the hardware should be based around current console hardware, which is in turn based on PC hardware. We always want fast CPUs and GPUs, but lots of fast RAM is also very important – it’s no use having fast processors if they are starved of data.” 

All the above are achievable, but will the PS5 still have a hard disk? It certainly will – but not the sort that you know currently. Sony has confirmed it will be employing a bespoke solid state drive in each PS5, allowing it to increase loading times by an estimated 19 times compared to existing SSD technology.

It seems certain that Sony is very keen to hear what its community thinks – recently a group called PlayStation Voice sent out surveys to members of its closed community asking them what their expectations of the PS5 are. One community member posted the email they received and found themselves removed from the group for breaking its non-disclosure agreements. 

According to PSU, PlayStation Voice is a community run by third-party consumer insight agency, Join the Dots. Once information has been gathered, it's fed back to clients (the client in this case presumably being Sony PlayStation).

Admittedly, this doesn't tell us much about PS5 itself, other than that things are likely to be still in the very early stages. While it's unlikely that Sony would use the information gathered from its communities to decide exactly which features will be included in the console, the ideas of fans can certainly spark a good deal of inspiration.

PS5 and streaming games

Of course, if games were just streamed to the PS5 that high-res texture storage problem would disappear entirely, and Sony already has a game-streaming service in the form of PlayStation Now

There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the console for those with mega-fast broadband

One of the biggest issues here remains around broadband speeds. Even 4K TV requires a minimum of 25Mbps broadband in order to provide satisfactory streaming, and it’s doubtful whether 4K game streaming – with extra information on top of the visual side – would even work reliably at such speeds. There would be nothing to stop Sony launching a small form-factor cloud-based version of the PS5 console for those with mega-fast broadband, perhaps with a mobile phone-style subscription model that has an upfront hardware costs (something Microsoft is thinking about). 

But for the PS5 to sell anything like its predecessors, there would have to be a conventional version with similar innards to the PS4, which going from the Cerny interview appears to be the case.

PS5 games

PS5: optical discs or not?

The rise of downloadable games, which continue to eat into the physical disc market, means that pundits have been predicting that consoles will go discless for about a decade now. However, PS5 won’t be the first system to risk venturing down that road, with physical media still confirmed to be supported.

Sony has taken a lot of (justifiable) flak for not putting a 4K Blu-ray drive in the PS4 Pro – making it a less attractive purchase for film and TV buffs than the Xbox One S or the Xbox One X.

Surveys continue to show that gamers are still attached to the possibility of buying games on physical discs – not least because they can then sell them (a practice that the games industry hates), and keep hard disk space usage at a manageable level.

If Sony were to axe the Blu-ray drive from the PS5, gamers would expect several terabytes of storage in compensation. 

Kingsley gives a developer’s view on the topic: “I think the days of delivering films and games via disc are on the decline, as most people are going digital; however, some people like physical discs, so who knows  whether that decline will level out and remain present but at a lower level than now?”

Download figures have been on the rise over the last year but EA CFO Blake Jorgensen has said that he thinks consoles and disc drives will continue to stick around.

“Consoles and disc drives probably stay around for a long period of time [...] I think it's the consumer deciding what's the easiest way for them to buy a game.

“And it may mean they no longer have a store down the street from them so they decide to buy it [digitally] maybe it's easier for them to do.”

PS4

So when can we expect the PS5?

Given that the PlayStation 4 was launched in 2013 and Sony’s previous consoles arrived in six-year intervals, it would have been easy to project that it would launch the PlayStation 5 in 2019 at the earliest. The sort of technology available then should easily allow full native 4K games without saddling the PS5 with a massive price-tag and, by 2019, 4K TVs will be the norm, rather than the exception, in the average household. It appears, however, that Sony will be taking at least an extra year to refine its product and for the hardware it requires to mature.

So perhaps 2020 might be the year in which Sony unleashes the PS5 on the world, as the first native 4K console with wireless VR... as long as Microsoft doesn’t get there first.

What games can we expect to see on PS5?

The entire PS4 library, including PSVR games, will be supported by the PS5. That much is known. But there are now games being developed specifically for this new PlayStation 5 console generation and the extra power it's likely to offer.

Already we've seen CD Projekt Red mention that it's developing for this generation as well as the next, and alongside the rumors that there are already developers kits out in the open, we think there's a good chance that Cyberpunk 2077 will be one of the early PS5 titles. Likewise, a knowing glance from Cerny during his Wired interview pointed towards Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding being a cross-generation title, too.

At this point, any first-party PS4 game in the pipeline – from Ghost of Tsushima to The Last of Us 2, would be prime candidates for PS5 cross-gen upgrades. And, given the success of God of War, Gran Turismo and Horizon: Zero Dawn, it'd be crazy to assume anything but the possibility that their successors will be heading to the PS5.

Either way, given what we now know about the PS5, the future of gaming with PlayStation seems very bright indeed.

Check out our PS4 vs PS4:PSVR compared and explained video below.

Categories: Tech News

Moving to a driverless future

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:30

The starting point of the vehicle development process is occupant safety. Shifting responsibility from driver to carmaker to prevent accidents has a major impact on the development process. Carmakers will have to prove the thoroughness of their development processes when people get injured or killed by wrong manoeuvres from autonomously driven vehicles. 

This implies automated driving systems will have to react in a safe manner to all possible traffic scenarios under any possible weather and road conditions. The technology enabling this is complex. It requires an integrated system of systems, with mechanical, electrical and software components. For an optimised design, these components cannot be treated as separate artefacts. Software and hardware need to be developed in sync to achieve required hardware costs and system performance. 

A key variable in automated driving systems is sensor configuration. New sensors are being introduced at a rapid pace and more advanced sensor fusion algorithms are being developed. There is an infinite number of possible compositions to generate a 360-degree image of the environment around the vehicle, supported by different sensor types, quantities and positions on the vehicle. Sensors are typically a significant cost factor in vehicles, making configuration selection a potential market differentiator. 

Potentially the biggest challenge, however, is the confidence the vehicle will perform to its specifications. Not only during the development stages, but in real traffic with occupants and for many years. This requires a validation and verification process that allows for performance testing in a large number of circumstances. The process should be able to be repeated for different car evolutions over time, allowing performance comparisons for design exploration purposes. 

Finally, design decisions and verification results during the vehicle development process need to be traceable. To optimise the vehicle development process, supporting integrated hardware and software development with instant optimization capabilities for sensor configurations and with a highly automated and repeatable validation and verification process is necessary. It is only scalable for mass production if the requirements, the system and simulation architectures, the models and the performance validation results are managed carefully. This would make it possible to continuously improve the product, respond to liability claims and limit redundant work by maximizing re-use of digital data. 

System on chip 

The time when automotive electronic control units (ECUs) are off-the-shelf components is about to end. The high compute loads and stringent requirements for low-energy consumption, combined with the specific environmental conditions, make it inevitable that specific chips will be developed for autonomous driving applications. This drives the need for the automotive industry to work much closer with the chip makers and have parallel product development processes with multiple interdependencies. 

Long development cycles and the high cost of chip wafers put a stress on this relationship. However, Mentor, a Siemens business, supports the chip development process with virtual and emulated representations of early stage chip design. This enables integrated design exploration and early stage validation and verification of future system performances with realistic compute performances. Furthermore, Mentor simulation solutions can be used to optimise the thermal and durability performance of chips and systems.  

Image Credit: Ford

AD compute platform 

The autonomous platform covers the control system hardware configuration. The system boundaries are the sensors on the vehicle and the actuator outputs at the vehicle’s communication bus. It is a complex assembly of electronics and wiring that requires optimised calculation time, energy consumption, thermal performance, electromagnetic capability (EMC) and multiple other attributes. Functionally, the autonomous platform translates an environment with all kind of actors into electric signals at the system outputs that make the car follow the anticipated trajectory. 

Although currently automated driving solutions like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and auto- mated parking systems are typically delivered as a combined product of sensors and processors, there is a strong expectation the car of the future will have a centralized architecture for a combined array of functions. A set of sensors around the vehicle will be used to build a 360-degree representation of the environment of the vehicle that can be used for all automated driving functions. A central processor unit will run sensor fusion algorithms on raw sensor data and generate an object list of the vehicle’s surroundings. 

Determining the ultimate product 

To produce autonomous driving cars in large quantities, it is not feasible to add additional resources to the current vehicle development teams and simply enlarge the toolchain with additional software solutions. The requirements for energy efficiency, comfort, drivability and durability will not be reduced. 

In fact, they might become more difficult with occupants doing things other than driving. Automated driving and connecting to larger networks also factors into this dilemma. Balancing the factors that influence vehicle performance in often conflicting domains is optimally done in an integrated process and toolchain. This is a key for developing shared, autonomous mobility.

Matthieu Worm, Programme Lead Autonomous Driving at Siemens PLM

Robin Van der Made, Product Manager at TASS

Categories: Tech News

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