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The best free audio editor 2019

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 11:03

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best earbuds 2019: the best earbuds, earphones and in-ear headphones for any budget

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:50

Best Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best earbuds, in-ear headphones and earphones you can buy in 2019.

Earbuds. Earphones. In-Ear headphones. Whatever you call them, they're undoubtably one of the most convenient ways to listen to your music, whether you opt for wired, wireless, or true wireless earbuds

They can be found in check-out counters, airports and gas stations worldwide – but just because you can find them down at your local convenience store doesn't mean that's where you should buy them. Instead, the best earphones are often found online from manufacturers like 1MORE, RHA, Shure and Nuforce. 

Of course, there are plenty of big brands making some of the best in-ear headphones, and with Apple rumored to drop its second generation true wireless AirPods 2 in 2020, there could soon be even more to choose from. 

If those names don't sound familiar, don't worry - we've got information on all of the best buds and their manufacturers. 

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

To that end, not only are the best pairs of in-ear headphones ultra-comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but newer models can be completely wire-free and support Hi-Res audio codecs like LDAC and aptX HD. 

Our current favorite true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 go one step further, combining truly wireless sound with high quality noise cancelation tech.

While you won't find any discount-bin earbuds on our list, you can rest easy knowing that the 'buds you see below are durable, long-lasting and sound (for the most part) out-of-this-world. As we review more models this list will change, which means you can expect that you're getting the best headphones on the market at any point and any time you buy them. 

The best earbud and in-ear headphones FAQ: quick questions answered

Which brand's earphones is the best? That totally depends on what you're looking for. But we're careful with our lists. That means all of the earbud and in-ear headphones below come from brands we trust – you can't go wrong with our picks below.

What are the best cheap earbuds? At least half of the buds in this list are below the £80/$80 mark, which makes them ideal for those who need a new set of headphones but can't justify a splurge. We recommend taking a good look at the RHA MA390 Wireless, as well as the 1More Triple Drive In-Ear Headphones. If they're still too pricey for your current budget, then check out our guide to the best cheap headphones of 2019.

Which is better, earbuds or headphones? It's up to you. Some people love the feel and immersive sound experience of over-ear headphones, others prefer the freedom and compact size of in-ear headphones and earbuds. It all depends on what your priorities are. 

How do I keep my earbuds from falling out? Although most of the high-end in-ear buds and headphones are designed to stay put, everyone's ears are different. Which means there's still a chance they'll fall out – especially if you're running or moving. If this keeps happening, we recommend opting for a pair built with sports in mind, these tend to have better support and even a different design that anchors them into your ear better.

Should I buy wireless earphones? Wireless and true wireless earbuds are a great option for those who want to listen to music on the go without the hassle of tangled cables getting in their way. However, some audio purists think that the sound quality afforded by Bluetooth connections still doesn't compete with traditional wired models.

The best earbuds and in-ear headphones of 2019:

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges. 

For $100 (£100, about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better sounding and built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price. 

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Their rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. But, for their price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE's Triple Driver in-ear headphones. 

Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

Image credit: TechRadar

Considering it's still rare to get noise-cancellation in wired earbuds at all, the fact that Sony has managed to pack it into a pair that are not only wireless, but true wireless is very impressive indeed. 

The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – it won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

That being said, in spite of a few minor problems we feel that Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3: Not only are these hands down the best-looking True Wireless headphones out there, but they combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans, they’re a persuasive alternative.

Battery life is above average, and that compact charging case is pretty slick too. On-ear volume controls similar to the PowerBeats Pro would've been nice, but again, that's really not a deal-breaker in our books.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

While truly wireless earbuds are undoubtedly the future of portable audio, they still present compromises in battery life and wireless reliability. Plus, they’re easy to lose if you’re not careful. Neckbuds, or earbuds that are worn around the neck, are a great alternative to true wireless earbuds as they offer longer battery life for continuous listening and stronger wireless performance. 

That being said, if you're interested in picking up a pair, it's hard to do better than the RHA MA390 Wireless, which easily stands as one of the best neckbuds on the market. After spending several weeks with them, we came away impressed with the package RHA has come up with: The headphones are built extremely well, have a fun sound signature, can take a beating and still remain relatively affordable. 

It’s main rival, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless (featured below), are also excellent, however the RHA MA390 offer more dynamic sound and better build quality. 

 Read the full review: RHA MA390 Wireless

Image credit: TechRadar

Good sound is subjective, yes, but there are things that we can all agree on that make a headphone sound good: Bass should be tight and impactful, highs detailed but not harsh, and mids that are smooth like honey. 

Most headphone manufacturers shoot for these specs, but what if you want a little more bass or want to increase the energy of the highs? For most headphones, your only option is to mess with equalization. But RHA has a different idea. 

The RHA T20i is an excellent sounding pair of in-ear headphones with a neat party trick: customizable filters. These filters thread into the headphone housings and let you choose from Bass, Treble, and Reference. Each filter makes an audible impact and are easy to swap out on the go. 

As a package, the build quality, sound, and customizable filters make the RHA T20i a must-have for audiophiles on the go. In fact, they sound so good, they made us want to give up our wireless headphones.

Read the full review: RHA T20i

Image credit: Optoma 

The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: earbuds that are good for basically all situations. While they're specifically designed for use in the gym and on the track, the BE Sport4 do an awesome job isolating audio in a crowded city environment and are even good enough for home listening.  

The BE Sport4 earbuds have claimed 10-hour battery life, which we found to be pretty close to the mark in our time with them, and from empty you can get two hours of use from just a 15-minute charge – ideal for those needing a quick top-up while they put on their trainers and pack a gym kit. 

Consider this a warning shot fellow audio manufacturers: build and audio quality do not need to be sacrificed in order to keep earbuds affordable. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

Image credit: TechRadar

OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 6, but the company also makes headphones - the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets in-ears.  

For $70 (£70, about AU$124), the OnePlus Bullets Wireless offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category. Sure, true wireless headphones are en vogue now, but tethered wireless headphones offer better battery life and signal strength for much less money. 

Read the full review: OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Image credit: TechRadar

NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They're an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. 

While they're not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

Image credit: Jabra 

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

While the Jabra Elite 65t are easily one of the highest scoring true wireless headphones we've reviewed, there are a few others on the market worth considering: If you want a pair of exercise earbuds, there’s the Jabra Elite Sport which has a higher water resistance and handy sports-oriented features. For audiophiles who don’t mind stretching the budget, the active noise cancelling Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads will want to try the SOL Republic Amps Air.  

If you only have the budget for one of these, though, go for the Elite 65t.

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

Image credit: TechRadar

With the appealing candy apple detailing, Sennheiser gets you in the door. But once you're in, you'll stay for the killer sound quality that comes from the Momentum In-Ear earphones.

These are the among the best deals in the headphones market as it stands today. The company has a version available for each flavor of mobile OS –Android and iOS – so everyone can get in on the goodness.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Image credit: TechRadar

They're expensive, but the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones are worth every penny. 1MORE hit it out of the park with this flagship pair of in-ear headphones with its balanced sound build quality, smartphone compatibility and price. These in-ear headphones will make mobile audiophiles very happy. 

The only reservation that we have is that the Quad Drivers face tough competition from 1MORE’s own cheaper Triple Driver sibling which costs half the price (which sit pretty at the number one spot on our list). 

In terms of value, the 1MORE Triple Driver headphones are the winner but for those who want just a bit better build and more detailed sound, the 1MORE Quad Driver headphones are worth the extra money. 

Read the full review: 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

Image credit: TechRadar

While they can't quite top other in-ears like the exceptional1MORE Triple Driver or RHA's T10i, Optoma's NuForce HEM6 does bring a lot to the table. Namely, that includes a great-sounding – and ultra-comfortable – pair of headphones. 

So, why are they so far down the list? 

While the NuForce BE Sport3 strikes the perfect balance between performance and price tag, the HEM6 skews a bit towards the expensive side without offering enough of a difference in performance to warrant the sticker price. That's not to say these are a bad pair of headphones – they're quite the opposite – it's just that we feel there are better values out there in the headphone world.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce HEM6

Additional resources: 

Categories: Tech News

iPhone XR deal bargain: free upfront, £45 a month and completely unlimited data

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:42

Usually, when investing in a new mobile phone deal with a higher data plan, you'll incur a huge increase to your monthly costs. Or at least a big chunk of cash to pay at the outset. And yet, we've tracked down an iPhone XR deal not only offering unlimited data but also charging less than the average contract to get it.

This offer comes from retailer Mobile Phones Direct, dropping unlimited data on Vodafone for a price of just £45 a month. There's no upfront costs to pay and unlike some of Vodafone's unlimited contracts, no caps to your download speeds. You even get to choose between a two year subscription to any one of Amazon Prime Video, Now TV Entertainment, Sky Sports app or Spotify Premium - a fantastic added bonus!

Considering we rarely see iPhone XR deals drop below the £40 mark without being hit hard by upfront costs, this feels like the best offer we've seen on the handset in a long time, maybe even ever. Don't forget that there isn't a penny to pay upfront.

We've listed all of the details of this contract down below for you to look through. Or if this is still too pricey, unlimited data and all, check out our guide to the best mobile phone deals for everything else available right now.


This ultimate unlimited data iPhone XR deal in full: What's good about the iPhone XR?

As one of the best iPhones currently on the market (well, until the iPhone 11 comes out!) there is a lot to love with the iPhone XR. Above everything, the battery really stands out. This is the largest and best performing battery on any Apple device at 2942 mAh.

Sporting Apple's Liquid Retina display and a powerful A12 bionic chip, going for Apple's more budget flagship doesn't have to mean taking a hit on specs.

Read our full iPhone XR review

Categories: Tech News

QLED TV: Samsung's panel technology explained

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:40

So, what is QLED? If you're on the lookout for a new television, you'll likely have come across the odd QLED TV from TV maker Samsung – but it can be hard to pick out exactly what makes it different from the other panel technologies out there.

Essentially, QLED TV is a proprietary panel technology developed by Samsung for its top-tier televisions. By using a metallic quantum dot filter, QLED panels enhance color and contrast, boosting the capabilities of HDR and 4K images compared to other non-quantum dot LCD-LEDs.

There's a little more to it than that (QLED models now include Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant and a nifty Ambient Mode to help them blend into your room better) but what you just read is the crux of what makes a QLED a QLED. 

It isn't quite a revolution in TV displays, but it does offer a high visual standard beyond the realm of regular LCD televisions. 

There are more QLED TVs than ever in Samsung's 2019 TV range, even if the competition from rival panel technologies – OLED, for one – remains stiff.

Here we'll cover everything you need to know about QLED, how it compared to basic LCD-LED TVs, and whether a QLED TV is worth investing in.

What is QLED?

It's a bit of an enigma, to put it lightly. Literally QLED means – or we suppose it means – quantum dot light-emitting diode (QLED, not to be confused with OLED TVs), but this Samsung-baked concept is basically just the latest set of enhancements to the same quantum dot technology that the company has been working on for the past few years. 

Technically speaking, Samsung's QLED TVs are not QLED at all, well, at least in the way that we understand the term. A 'proper' quantum light-emitting diode element emits its own light – the clue is in the name – whereas Samsung's latest TVs use a separate LCD backlight (and an edge-lit backlight, at that) just like any other LED-LCD TV. So where the QLED moniker comes from, we're not sure. 

How does a QLED TV work?

It’s complicated, but hang in there with us. So, to start, all QLED TVs have a quantum dot filter. This year, there’s a new refined aluminium compound that help make the dots more efficient (and therefore brighter) and more effective at passing pass light through, which creates wider and more accurate colour. 

So what is a quantum dot filter exactly? It’s a film of tiny crystal semi-conductor particles that can be precisely controlled for their colour output, which replace the red, green and blue colour filters that old TVs used.

Samsung says that its QLED TVs use the new filters to display 100% coverage of the DCI/P3 color space (read: much deeper black levels and sparkling HDR), and maintain that performance whatever the brightness. 

They’re so bright, in fact, that Samsung's QLED TVs can manage anywhere between 1500 nits to 2000 nits brightness. Considering 1000 nits is needed to produce HDR, that's proper bright, though exactly how anyone could stand the glare of 2000 nits, we're not sure. Sunglasses, anyone?

While the advances in brightness are intriguing, Samsung claims that the new QLED TVs have a newly designed pixel panel structure to allow better off-axis viewing. For a living room environment, that could be QLED's big selling point.

Vials containing quantum dots before they get put into a TV. © Jamie Carter QLED vs LED

Beyond the 'paradigm shift' hyperbole of Samsung's marketing, it's really important to understand that QLED isn't really anything new at all. In fact, it's really nothing more than the latest – possibly among the last technically possible – tweaks to existing LED-LCD technology that's dominated bigscreen TVs for the last decade.  

QLED's innovations – deeper blacks, better colours and wider viewing angles – tackle three traditional problems of LED and LCD technology, but they're the same problems that are addressed year in, year out by TV makers. Only upcoming reviews will reveal if, in fact, QLED is a significant step forward from traditional LED-LCD screens – but chances are good that we'll see some real improvements in these areas with Samsung's new sets.

QLED vs OLED

Perhaps a more important comparison is QLED vs OLED. The latter uses pixels that emit their own light, but OLED displays are manufactured only by Samsung's arch-rival LG, and now used by Sony, Philips and Panasonic, too.

There's no doubt that QLED, for now, has an advantage in terms of brightness (so in theory may better handle HDR content – though might just as easily overcook it), but if you're looking for a 'paradigm shift' in picture quality and the next-gen display technology, OLED is still the frontrunner. The latter uses individually lit pixels to achieve better contrast ratio and richer blacks that LED-LCD will never be able to hit, quantum dot filter or no. You can see the best of the bunch in our best OLED TVs roundup too.

At over 1500 nits. Samsung's QLED TVs are ultra-bright. © Jamie Carter What happened to SUHD?

QLED and SUHD are essentially the same thing; the new messaging is more about marketing than technology, although the jump from 1000 nits on the top-end SUHD TVs to 1,500 to 2,000 nits on the flagship QLED TVs is perhaps more revolutionary than it seems at first. Put simply, for a buying public still getting to grips with what UHD is, SUHD just proved too confusing, so Samsung has dropped it. (It also probably didn't help that the 'S' in SUHD didn't really mean anything ... although we're not convinced that QLED is much clearer.)

Samsung's QLED TVs come with a swivel 'Studio' stand. Should I buy a QLED TV?

Samsung's QLED TVs are claimed to be all about the brightest possible, most accurate coloured images pictures, which therefore work with all kinds of content in all kinds of lighting conditions. 

To an extent, those claims are true. The developments Samsung has made in recent years in improving QLED panels have made for some incredible high-end televisions, such as 2019's Samsung Q90 QLED. And Samsung's been sensible about using QLED as a by-word for premium hardware as well as brilliant picture quality.

That all seems a decent package for the living room, but whether you should buy a QLED TV will ultimately come down to price. You're still paying thousands for a good QLED television, and the longevity of QLED may lie in how successfully Samsung can bring the technology to more mid-sized budgets. For now though, QLED offers a bright picture of what's to come.

Categories: Tech News

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: which is the smart speaker for you?

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:30

If you're in the market for a smart speaker, you'll need to weigh up which you'd like. Is it the Amazon Echo or the Google Home? How do you split two of the best devices out there? Well, hopefully we can help.

As you would expect from two of the biggest names in tech, the Amazon Echo and the Google Home are both very polished smart speakers, and neither would look out of place in your home. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are both maturing and becoming more useful with every passing day too.

Both the Amazon and Google smart speakers (and their assistants) let you get answers to questions, set timers and alarms, control smart home devices, and much, much more – all with spoken voice commands.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home devices have a lot in common then, but they are also some key differences to talk about. You need to be aware of what you're getting before you part with any of your hard-earned cash.

We know that the smart speaker is at the center of most smart homes: but is the Amazon Echo or the Google Home right for you? Here's what you need to know.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home FAQ: quick questions answered

Is Alexa better than Google? That's a tough question because they're both similar and we find it difficult to pick between the two. Which one you decide to go with may well depend on which you personally prefer and what kind of products you're using than which is technically 'better'. 

Having said that, Alexa tends to be better when it comes to support for a wider range of devices, as well as better smart home integration. So if you have a lot of smart home devices already, Alexa might be your best bet. 

However, lots of users who have put the two devices head-to-head believe Google Assistant could be the smarter of the two. And, with Google's A.I. learning experience, it has the biggest potential for the future. 

Is there a monthly fee for Echo? No. You don't have to pay anything extra after you've purchased an Echo product. Although you do get some perks if you're an Amazon Prime member, like access to Amazon Music.

Can Alexa drop in on Google Home? No. Alexa's Drop In feature only works with other Alexa-enabled devices. 

What's the difference between Echo and Google Home? As we've said above – very little right now. They're both very capable smart assistants that respond to voice commands and work well with many smart home devices. Read our full head-to-head below to get a better idea of the specifics. 

Which is the best Alexa speaker to buy? It really depends on what your needs are; if you want something with a screen try the Amazon Echo Show. Looking to save money? Try the budget-friendly Echo Dot. While this guide will focus on Echo speakers, Alexa is built-in to a number of third party speakers these days, including the Sonos One

What works with Google Home? With Google Assistant, your Google Home can control your Philips Hue lightbulbs, Honeywell thermostat, Nest security camera, and smart TV (as long as it's compatible). Check out our roundup of things Google Assistant can do for more info, or head to the Google Assistant partners page for all the brands Google Home can work with.

Amazon Echo: the different models compared

Let’s kick off with the smart speaker that started it all. Back in 2014, Amazon launched the Echo, and it's now up to its second generation model: standing 148 mm tall and sounding pretty decent for its price, with Bluetooth and WiFi connections supported, it's an impressive bit of kit. It also features that signature blue ring around the top telling you when it's heard the "Alexa" wake word.

The Amazon Echo Dot

Perhaps the most popular Echo of all though, and one of our favorite smart home devices full stop, is the Echo Dot – that's likely because it’s the cheapest of the entire bunch and is about the same size as a hockey puck, making it a no-brainer for those who want to try smart home tech for the first time. 

Now in its third generation, the Echo Dot doesn't have the best audio quality in the range, so it's best suited for rooms where music playback won’t be its primary function. That said, you can pair it up with a Bluetooth speaker or another audio device using an AUX jack connection, making it a cost-effective upgrade you can make to any aging Hi-Fi system.

The Amazon Echo Plus

Then there's the pricier, 2nd-gen Echo Plus: slightly taller than the vanilla Amazon Echo, with improved sound and integrated smart home hub features – meaning it can be more tightly integrated with the various other bits of smart home kit you've got installed.

The Amazon Echo Show

And what about the newly upgraded Echo Show? It's essentially an Amazon Fire tablet with an Alexa-enabled speaker built in, so you can get Amazon Prime Video or the weather forecast up on screen as well as having responses read out to you. It's a perfect gadget for the kitchen (think recipes and video watching).

Amazon has also recently launched a mini version of the Echo Show, called the Echo Show 5. With a 5.5-inch screen, it'd designed to sit on your bedside table whilst still being big enough to watch videos on. 

The other smart speaker in the Amazon Echo line to come with a screen is the Echo Spot, which you can think of as an upgraded Echo Dot – this Echo is perfect for a bedside table, with the ability to make video calls through its circular screen.

The Amazon Echo Spot

All of these devices have access to the majority of Alexa's skills (think voice-controlled apps) available, though only the Plus can truly double up as a bridge for your smart home devices – while all Echo products can talk to things like smart bulbs and thermostats, it’s only the Plus that lets you do away with individual hubs for each additional gadget family.

All the Amazon Echo smart speakers have a certain sense of style about them, as you can see from the pictures above – especially after the most recent 2018 refresh, with all that fabric and all those curves. For more details on each Amazon Echo device, check out the full reviews below:

Google Home: each model compared

Google's smart speaker range is a little smaller than Amazon's, with four Google Home speakers to choose from, including the recently unveiled Google Home Hub – the only one of the range to feature a screen.

The Google Home Mini

The smallest of the three is the Google Home Mini speaker. Like the Echo Dot, the speaker is puck shaped, if a little more pebble-like with softer edges, and has a top side covered in a fabric speaker mesh. You can pick up the Google Home Mini in a range of colors, with four flashing LED lights illustrating when it's listening to your commands and showing the volume level.

The Google Home

In the middle of the range taking on the Amazon Echo devices is the standard Google Home speaker, which looks considerably different to the Mini. It has the appearance of a small vase, with a two-tone color design (multiple shades are available here too) and a sloping top side that houses a touch control panel.

The Google Home Max

The Google Home Max, meanwhile, looks much more like a traditional loudspeaker, and is the largest of the bunch – it doesn't really have an equivalent Amazon Echo device either. It's boxy in design, closer aesthetically to the Google Home Mini (with the mesh speaker covering), and can stand in either a portrait or landscape orientation to suit the space you've got.

While the vanilla Google Home is an acquired taste in terms of design, both the Mini and Max are subtly attractive, and should fit into any surroundings without much concern.

Google Home Hub

There's also the Google Home Hub, unveiled in October 2018, which takes on the Amazon Echo Show directly. It can show videos, the weather, recipes, music artwork and so much more, but it doesn't have a camera – so video calling is out of the question.

Most recently, Google released the Nest Hub Max, putting Google Assistant in a 10-inch smart display. It's the first product to come out under the converged brand name of Google and smart home security brand Nest.

Like a larger version of the Google Home Hub, the Nest Hub Max is big-screen smart display for your home, with a front-facing camera for video calls and the facility to check on your home remotely. 

It's not out yet, but we're told the release date is set for July 15 in both the US and UK, while Australians should be able to get it "this winter" (between July and August 2019) according to Google. 

To find out more about each version of the Google Home, check out the full reviews below:

Keep in mind that, with both Alexa and Google Assistant, third-party speaker manufacturers are increasingly choosing to integrate the voice helpers into their own products

So, if there's an audio manufacturer you're particularly fond of, it may be worth holding out to see if it has any plans to join either of the smart ecosystems – at this point, it's highly likely that most all audio devices in the near future will come equipped with some sort of microphone and voice control system.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: smart features

The smart features of the Google Home and Amazon Echo lines are broadly similar – speak to them, and you’ll be able to do anything from playing back music, having general knowledge questions answered, controlling smart home gear, and setting alarms and timers... and that's just scratching the surface of the Amazon Echo vs Google Home debate.

Both Google and Amazon are committed, long term, to improving their respective voice platforms, and each has done a good job so far of enticing third-party smart device manufacturers – from thermostat makers to smart lighting companies – to make their products compatible with each service. With a base level of commands available to each, with either a "hey Google" or "hey Alexa" wake command, control of the digital world is just a vibration of your vocal chords away.

The Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers do take a slightly different approach to the way their abilities are accessed.

Google Home's abilities are, by default, accessible to all – barring pairing up third-party smart home devices with your Google Home system, if you've made a request that the Google ecosystem can understand, it'l carry out the required response unprompted.

Alexa, on the other hand, relies on the installation of skills – individual, app-like sets of related voice commands focussing on certain topics or abilities. Handled and activated through the Alexa app on smartphones, these can range from getting information on local transport times, or to activating voice-controlled games. 

There's no right or wrong approach really – Google's is simpler, but Alexa's encourages faster and broader development and support from third-parties.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: audio

As you'd expect from such a wildly varying range of shapes and sizes, you get very different sound performance across both ecosystems, let alone when comparing Amazon Echo against Google Home in general. Here's a broad breakdown of how they sound in relation to each other.

If you can only afford the entry-level devices, and music remains a top priority for you, go for the Google Home Mini, which sounds a lot better than the Echo Dot. Unless you hook up a Dot to another speaker over Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack, it's just too thin and harsh to fully enjoy. 

If you're looking for a small Echo speaker, your best best then is the Echo Spot, which despite its size offers a richer sound. The screen, however, massively increases its expense, so bear that in mind.

The Google Home Max

As you move up the size scale, the Google Home is too bass-heavy to be truly enjoyable. It also has worse clarity than the latest generation of the Amazon Echo speaker and the Echo Plus. So, if you're limited to around $100/£100, the Amazon Echo may be the best choice from an audio perspective.

With a slight premium in price, and the inclusion of Dolby processing, the Echo Plus sound is more dynamic than the standard Echo, as you'd hope.

And, despite its looks, the Echo Show sounds better than the Echo Plus and Echo, though not so dramatically as to forgive it some of its other failings.

If you're going for pure sonic superiority between the Echo and Google Home ranges however, opt for the Google Home Max. Its bass is well tuned, its mids and highs well defined, and its top volume levels loud without verging into highly distorted territory.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: price

There's such a range of prices across the two speaker platforms that, in fairness, there’s something for every wallet size when it comes to the question of Amazon Echo vs Google Home.

It's more about what you’re expecting to get from your smart speaker of choice: Amazon, offering the widest spread of options, hits both the most affordable and expensive price points between the two brands, with the Echo Dot at the lower end and the screen-packing Echo Show at the top. Google, on the other hand, sits somewhere in the middle.

You can compare the latest pricing between the ranges below.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: verdict

There's no easy answer to the question of whether you should go for Amazon Echo or Google Home as your smart speakers of choice. Both lines are very accomplished and, so long as you temper your expectations in line with the amount of money you're going to spend on buying into one of the lines, all sound good enough for their respective price points.

The choice really then comes down to the preference of ecosystem as opposed to the hardware. Are you heavily invested in Google's services? Then Google Home is probably for you, as the two areas are only going to become ever-more-closely linked. Google's natural language understanding is superior too, even if its voice implementation still needs some refinement.

However, in terms of sheer value for money and the already vast reach of its collaborations and abilities, Amazon's Alexa devices seem the more sensible bet at this stage. It’s a close run race, with Google's powerful search capabilities potentially seeing it through in the long run. But there’s something to be said for Amazon’s more focussed approach – from our experience so far, Alexa currently feels like the more reliable assistant. But that could change. Either way, place your bets – you're unlikely to come away disappointed whether you opt for an Amazon Echo or a Google Home smart speaker.

Categories: Tech News

Fake iPhone Lightning cable will hijack your computer

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:25

iPhone users have been warned to be on the lookout after reserachers uncovered a scam using fake Lightning charging cables.

A fake Apple charging cable, similar to those used to charge up iPhones, could be use to hijack a laptop or PC just by plugging in, security researcher Mike Grover, also known as MG, has revealed. 

When plugged into a Linux, Mac or Windows computer, and connected via Wi-Fi, the O.MG Cable can give a hacker full control over the system, allowing them to carry out commands remotely.

Attack

Grover revealed the cable at last week's DefCon cybersecurity convention, highlighting what he says has been an under-investigated area of mobile security.

"It looks like a legitimate cable and works just like one. Not even your computer will notice a difference. Until I, as an attacker, wirelessly take control of the cable," he told Motherboard.

Grover says that the cable, which fortunately is only a prototype, could be utilised in a number of ways by criminals, allowing them to download and launch malware, remove devices from Wi-Fi networks, and even reconfigure systems.

The cable takes advantage of a flaw in the computer's operating system that detects the cable as part of an input device, or what’s known as a human interface device (HID). 

Once connected via the IP address of the cable, hackers can start to issue commands using a mouse and keyboard, as operating systems consider HID devices to be input devices. This allows them to manouevre around the hijacked device, download malware or open up software such as browsers to run malicious payloads.

Grover says that the cable, which fortunately is only a prototype, could be utilised in a number of additional ways by criminals, allowing them to download and launch malware, remove devices from Wi-Fi networks, and even reconfigure systems.

Via Motherboard

Categories: Tech News

9 things Google Assistant can do that you may not know about

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:24

Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, and if you've got an Android phone, tablet or Google Home device, don't forget that you've got Google Assistant built-in.

It may not have captured the public's imagination as much as its smart counterparts, particularly Alexa, but it's just as useful. In fact, there are plenty of things the voice-activated assistant can help you with that most users don’t even know it’s capable of doing.

To make sure you’re getting the most from your trusty voice-activated partner, we’ve gathered together nine handy, but not necessarily obvious, Google Assistant features that will help to make it genuinely useful in loads of situations you might not have expected.

Google Assistant FAQ: quick questions answered

What is Google Assistant? Google Assistant is Google's voice assistant, and it's available on smartphones and smart home devices. Powered by artificial intelligence, it's Google's answer to Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana. 

How do I turn on Google Assistant? If you're using a phone or tablet, touch and hold the Home button, or say "OK Google." A the top-right of the screen, touch More Settings. Then, under Devices, select your phone or tablet. This is where we can turn on Google Assistant, by selection "OK Google" detection on or off. 

If you have a Google Home, you'll just need to plug in the device and follow the set-up instructions.

How to use Google Assistant? Once activated, you need to long hold the Home button and Google Assistant will ask you what you want. You should be able to trigger it by saying "OK Google" too.

Is there a charge for Google Assistant? No. But you'll need a compatible device.

Can you give Google Assistant a name? If you want Google Assistant to respond to something other than "OK Google", you can change the wake phrase to "Hey Google". In the future, there might be a way to rename it. 

1. Find your way home (and check for traffic updates)

Image credit: Google

Drawing on the sheer breadth of information at Google’s search engine fingertips, it’s safe to say Google Assistant has a lot of potential uses, including the ability to find the best route to a certain location.

Just say “Get me home” and it will draw information from Google Maps to show you (or tell you) the best route based on your current location. 

You can also use the voice-activated element to check traffic updates, and get the latest information on diversions and closures. This feature is especially useful if you primarily use Google Assistant on the move.

2. Make a shopping list… with your voice

Image credit: Google

Google Assistant has been designed to assist you, after all, so it makes sense that something as mundane (yet important) as making a shopping list can be done with your voice. 

No more scrabbling for a piece of paper (only to lose it) or typing one out in your drafts – you just need to say “Add [item] to my shopping list.”

Not only does Google Assistant collate all those items into one place, it will even read back what’s on your currently saved list to ensure you haven't left anything out, enabling you to go about your day with one less thing to worry about.

3. Listen to the latest news headlines

Image credit: Google

Most of us are so busy these days that even taking the time to browse the latest stories on Twitter or your chosen RSS feed can feel like a drag on your time. 

So why not use Google Assistant to read them out for you? It’s not an obvious feature, but if you say “Play the news” Assistant will start reading out stories from your preferred news sources.

You can ask it to stop, pause and play at any time, and you can even ask it to read stories from a specific source or specialist media site. If you’re running around the house trying to find your keys while grabbing a piece of toast before work, it’s a great way to keep up to date.

4. Control your smart home

Image credit: Google / TechRadar

If you’re like us and you’ve started to slowly add more and more smart devices to your home – be they thermostats, lightbulbs or ovens that preheat themselves – then you can use Google Assistant to connect you to them via a single voice-controlled hub.

Open Google Assistant, press the menu icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and select Settings. From there you can add any compatible smart devices (and many devices are compatible) that are currently active in your home. 

From Philips Hue lightbulbs to Honeywell thermostats, plenty of gadgets will respond to your voice-activated commands.

5. Convert money, measurements and more

Image credit: TechRadar

Whether you’re looking to check how many dollars you can get to the pound or wondering how many inches there are in a kilometer, you can rely on your voice-activated servant to do the math for you. 

Google Assistant can perform almost any conversion calculation, and it will read out the answer.

The same goes for translations. If you’re wondering what the word for ‘Hello’ is in Swedish, you just have to say “What’s the Swedish word for ‘hello’?” and Assistant will instantly respond with the correct answer: “Hej!”

6. Screen your phone calls

The Google Pixel 3 XL (Image credit: Google)

Tired of getting dogged with cold calls from automated messages and companies trying to sell you a dodgy service? Well, Google Assistant can help with that, too. 

If you happen to own a Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, the voice-activated service includes a feature that will answer certain calls on your behalf.

It’s one of the many ways Google is evolving Assistant, with the Call Screen feature enabling you to leave Assistant to answer the call and even record a transcript of the conversation so you can review it later. Telemarketers, beware...

7. Queue up your favorite shows on Netflix

A promotional image for Netflix's Black Mirror anthology series (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix has made its way onto most our smart devices, and whether you’re still mourning the cancellation of Daredevil or looking for a belly laugh or two with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Google Assistant can help connect you to your favorite TV shows and films, all with voice commands.

Simply say, for example, “Play Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle on Netflix” and – as long as Netflix is set up on your Android device, you’re signed into the app and you've connected it up – Google Assistant will queue up the show/film and start playing it in a matter of seconds.

This is handier on a TV with Google Assistant built in than on some other devices, but it’s a simple way to call up a movie to watch on your phone too.

8. Check appointments and emails

Image credit: Google

If you're using Google Assistant there’s a good chance that you use some of Google’s other services, including Gmail and Google Drive, so why not use Assistant to connect to some of these apps? 

If you use Gmail as your work account, you can ask the utility to check through your emails for certain keywords, or bring up an appointment that’s been added to your Calendar app.

You can even use Google Assistant to take notes with Google Keep, should you need to jot down a quick thought or idea while you’re busy with other tasks. This feature is especially useful if you need to catch up any new emails you’ve yet to read or respond to.

9. Let Assistant entertain you

Image credit: Google

Struggling to find someone to enjoy a quick game with? Want to test your grey matter while you have a few minutes to spare? Well, Google Assistant can help on both accounts by challenging you to a game of solitaire or naughts and crosses / tic-tac-toe.

It can also tell you some awful jokes or puns, and even read out an inspirational quote or message if you’re need of a little motivation – you can even ask Assistant to find something funny for you to watch by checking currently trending videos on YouTube.

Categories: Tech News

Don't check your work email on holiday - here's why

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 10:04

Checking your work email on holiday may be putting corporate security at risk, new research has warned.

A report from Palo Alto Networks has urged anyone taking company smartphones and tablets abroad to beware unsecured Wi-Fi networks that could be used to hijack unprotected devices.

The company is urging users to make sure their work devices are protected when used away from the office, connectiing to a corporate or trusted VPN provider.

Cautious

Palo Alto's research found that over a third (34 percent) of UK workers would be likely to use their work device on an open Wi-Fi network when they go on holiday.

Younger workers were more likely to fall victim to checking, with more than a third (35 percent) likely to connect a work device onto a password-free network at an airport, bar or restaurant.

“Everyone should be extremely cautious about using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, whether it’s their personal or a work-issue device," said Alex Hinchliffe, European threat intelligence analyst, Unit 42, Palo Alto Networks. 

"And while the behaviour revealed by our study is worrying as it suggests too many people are all too ready to overlook company policy on acceptable use, it is encouraging that there are steps that businesses can put in place to educate employees properly on cybersecurity best practices. If you must have online access, you should use a secure VPN over an open connection or seek out secured Wi-Fi services.”

Categories: Tech News

6 things to know about the technology in the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 09:55

When a brand new car comes along, it’s always exciting to see what new technology will pop up. In a recent test of the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon, three standout features impressed me the most – although the truth is the Arteon is surprisingly similar to the discontinued VW CC. They are both lower profile sedans with a roomy interior. Here are my top findings... 

1. The trunk opens automatically

One automotive trend that makes perfect sense has to do with automated trunks. In the Arteon, you can walk behind the vehicle with your hands full carrying groceries or soccer gear, flip your leg behind the vehicle, and the trunk will pop open. Of course, you need to have the keyfob in your pocket, which can be annoying if someone else is driving and has the key

2. The hood acts as a cushion for pedestrians

The hood technology in the Arteon is surprisingly similar to what you will find in the Buick Regal GS. (I wrote about this recently and explained how the tech works.) The idea is that, in an accident, if someone is in front of the car, the hood will deploy using pyrotechnics in the hinges to soften the fall. It happens in a split second but could save a live.

3. The rear view camera pops out of the logo

This one is a bit of a technical wonder. As most cars use back-up cameras these days, they are becoming standard and even a bit boring. On the Arteon, the camera pokes out of the VW logo, which you also grab onto to open the trunk and pull. I’ve come to the point where I use the back-up camera on cars as much as the rear view mirror and wide mirrors.

4. You’ll get a warning if you leave the sunroof open

The Arteon continues the trend VW started in other models using the app to warn you about a potential disaster. If there’s rain in the forecast and you leave the sunroof open, the Car-Net app will notify you about the problem. We’ll have to wait for a future model that allows you to also close the sunroof using the app (that will require a seperate power source most likely).

5. The car can park itself

The Arteon has a feature called Park Assist that can search for a parking spot and then automatically turn the steering wheel for you to assist with parking. It’s handy for people who are not great at parallel parking, although I’ve always found it is faster to park myself. I do like that the Arteon sensors can tell if the parking spot is big enough for the car.

6. The ambient lighting is actually ambient

I noticed with the Arteon that you can change the interior color, and the hues they picked are surprisingly soft and subtle. Interior lighting is customizable in many other models, particularly from Ford, but sometimes the colors are a bit harsh or annoying. 

On The Road is TechRadar's regular look at the futuristic tech in today's hottest cars. John Brandon, a journalist who's been writing about cars for 12 years, puts a new car and its cutting-edge tech through the paces every week. One goal: To find out which new technologies will lead us to fully self-driving cars.

Categories: Tech News

The best antivirus protection for start-ups or big business

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 09:23

Business antivirus have evolved beyond recognition within the last few years, mathcing the bewildering array of ever-changing cyber threats they have to fight. 

Avast’s Business Antivirus Pro is TechRadar’s #1 Business Antivirus - here's just a few reasons why this is the case.

1. It is now cheaper than ever, and you can save even more

TechRadar readers can get an exclusive 35 percent discount off the suggested retail price of our award winning Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus. At $48.75 per user with an annual subscription, it is a fantastic bargain and you can save by opting for a multi-year subscription and for multi users. A 200-user, 3-year package, for example, will cost you less than $19 per user per annum. Plus you can try the whole package with a 30-day free trial.

2. There’s a VPN included

A VPN allows you to secure your employee’s connection to any website via encryption. This is particularly useful when using public Wi-Fi in hotels and airports and while it doesn’t eliminate the threat of cybercriminals spying on your personal data, it does mitigate the risk significantly. SecureLine VPN is Avast’s solution and is included free of charge.

3. It has powerful management features

With Avast Business management console, system administrators can acquire, deploy and manage endpoint protection licenses remotely while Patch Management identifies critical vulnerabilities in third-party applications and makes it easy to roll out pre-tested patches from the Avast Business Cloud Management Console to target devices.

4. Meet the password manager

A growing number of applications and accounts means more passwords for employees to memorize. Fortunately, there’s a more convenient and secure option: store login details in Avast’s password manager, behind one solid master password. You can also generate new, safer passwords, autofill saved ones and sync them between devices.

5. Sharepoint protection as standard

Microsoft’s Sharepoint is one of the most popular ways across businesses of all sizes to store, organize and share company data. Avast users can be sure that every file on Sharepoint is safe and malware-free with Sharepoint protection, a plugin that will scan every single file that is uploaded and downloaded. Avast Sharepoint is developed exclusively for Windows Server operating systems.

6. The shield quintet

Avast integrates five shield-like features: webcam shield, email shield, web shield, behavior shield and file shield. All of them are designed to protect the client machine they run on through a variety of methods; nothing revolutionary, just sheer common sense and a pinch of artificial intelligence. However, this back-to-basics approach means that no (virtual) stones are left unturned and every nook and cranny of your operating system is covered.

Categories: Tech News

Google and NatWest have decided voice-activated banking is a good idea

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 09:01

Google has teamed up with NatWest to let customers manage their current accounts through a smart speaker. Ask a Google Home device an everyday question like 'What's my balance' and the speaker will give you a spoken response. If you don't quite catch the answer, the same message will appear in text on your phone.

The system could be a huge help to people who find online or phone banking tricky, including elderly and disabled people, but combining banking with smart speakers leads to some understandable security concerns.

A few weeks ago Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS revealed that Google hires contractors to listen to users talking to its Google Assistant app (though their phones or Google Home devices), and transcribe the speech to make the voice recognition software more accurate.

One contractor supplied the broadcaster with 1,000 speech samples. Of those, 153 seemed to have been recorded accidentally, and many contained personally identifiable information.

Following the report, Google published a blog post explaining that the contractors are 'language experts', who only review around 0.2% of audio samples. These snippets of sound aren't tied to a specific user account, and the experts are told to only transcribe commands specifically directed at the app. It also explained how to prevent the app storing your data, or delete it after a certain period of time.

Listen up

Google has taken steps to ensure your speaker won't announce your account balance without being explicitly asked to. Rather than simply saying 'Hey Google', you'll also have to recite a pair of digits from a four-digit password. This will be a new login credential – not the PIN attached to your debit or credit card.

NatWest acknowledges that not everyone will like the idea of having their balance read out to anyone within earshot, but believes the idea has potential and is currently running a three-month trial with 300 users.

For now, the available commands are quite simple (you can check your balance and hear details of recent transactions), but in the future the bank hopes you'll be able to use your voice to manage your money without touching a single screen.

“We are exploring voice banking for the first time and think it could mark the beginning of a major change to how customers manage their finances in the same way mobile banking made a huge impact," Kirstie Bennan, head of open experience at NatWest, told The Guardian.

It remains to be seen whether the recent bad press about voice assistants and privacy will be enough to put people off chatting to a virtual cashier (Amazon and Apple have been called out for similar practices), or if the convenience of voice is enough to win account-holders over.

Categories: Tech News

Cincinnati Masters 2019 live stream: how to watch the tennis online from anywhere

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 08:26

Ohio's hardcourt tennis event of the year is back for the 2019 Cincinnati Masters - a staple of the tennis calendar. This year the ATP Masters 1000 event will see the likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic take to the courts for the men's Western & Southern Open title, and the likes of Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep in the women's. You can live stream Cincinnati Masters tennis from anywhere in the world using this guide.

The $6+ million prize fund is looking pretty appealing right now to the players as they get ready for this tournament that, last year, saw Djokovic take the win over Federer in the final (sound familiar?). Federer is entering this year, in the build up to the US Open Grand Slam, but he'll have to get past Murray first as the two are expected to meet in the third round - if the latter's body lasts that long.

Kiki Bertens is back to defend her crown on the women's side of the draw, and Simona Halep will be looking to capitalise on her Wimbledon victory. Naomi Osaka has had some disappointing months in 2019 - now is the time for her to ramp things up ahead of her US Open defence later this month.

You can watch all the action from wherever you happen to be in the world using this handy guide. Read on to find out how to live stream the Cincinnati Masters from anywhere on Earth.

Live stream the Cincinnati Masters tennis 2019 from outside your country

For your watching options in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, we have more details below - just scroll down the page.

But if you try to watch your domestic coverage from somewhere outside your home country, you'll soon find a problem...geo-blocking. That's where the broadcaster prevents you from watching the feed overseas.

How to watch the Cincinnati Masters 2019: US live stream

Out of the US but still want to watch your home coverage? Then we'd recommend checking out our guide to the best US VPN and following our instructions above.

The best way to stream the Cincinnati Masters 2019 in Canada

How to live stream Cincinnati Masters tennis in the UK

How to live stream Cincinnati Masters tennis in Australia

Categories: Tech News

The Irix Cine is an innovative lens that lets a filmmaker capture more

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 07:47

From the very first moment the idea was born, lens-maker Irix knew that the Cine 150mm camera lens was to be its most versatile and advanced tool for a filmmaking artist yet. 

Irix’s goal was for it to comprise functionality, stunning visuals, and outstanding performance in any environment – allowing filmmakers to discover completely new areas in film image creation. 

The Irix Cine 150mm, with its short telephoto focal length and leading parameters, is equipped with everything both professional and amateur cinematographers would need to create their masterpieces – with numerous functionalities and features bringing variety and uniqueness to your shots.

Smooth bokeh, with 11 rounded aperture blades

Where does the border between fantasy and reality lie? Macro wouldn’t be what it is without a dreamlike blur that makes the vital parts of your shot really pop. While designing the 150mm Cine, Irix paid the utmost attention to its aperture mechanism design. 

A system of eleven aperture blades provides a soft, delicate bokeh within the whole range of aperture values – while the rounded shape of the aperture minimizes the diffraction, resulting in sharp, detailed images. 

Alternatively, drop your actors out of focus to truly bring out the emotion onscreen, using a soft, blurry veil to craft one-of-a-kind cinematic shots that won’t be easily forgotten. Thanks to the Irix Cine 150mm, every single scene should enchant the audience.

Sealed to withstand it all

Has your shot ever suffered due to unpredictable atmospheric conditions? How many times did sudden rain or snow ruin your perfect setup? 

While shooting, you have to fully believe in the equipment you’re working with: it has to be sturdy, reliable and lasting. That’s why the lens housing of the Irix Cine 150 mm T3.0 Macro 1:1 is equipped with five rubber seals (four in the PL-mount version) and other sealing solutions, creating a durable barrier for dust, rain or accidental splashes of water. 

A sealed construction ensures the safety of both the optical lens system and the camera sensor – meaning the only thing that needs your attention while working are the shots themselves, allowing you to actually immerse yourself in the moment.

Magnetic mount system

One of the features that sets the Irix Cine apart is its MMS, or Magnetic Mount System (patent currently pending). 

Designed especially for Irix Cine products, the MMS is a completely new system that ensures a reliable and easy mounting of accessories, making a potentially arduous attachment process now instantaneous and effortless. 

Why spend precious moments of your life fixing the mount, when you could simply take advantage of a well-balanced magnetic force system? Irix’s MMS system is also being planned for other functional accessories the company plans to release and develop down the line.

  • Prices for the Irix Cine 150mm lens start at €1,195 / £1,027 for the Canon EF, Sony E, or MFT compatible lens – and €1,295 / £1,113 for the PL Mount lens. Buy the Irix Cine 150 mm T3.0 Macro 1:1 lenses in the official store.
Categories: Tech News

How data analysis in sports is changing the game

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 07:42

Who can forget when the unpredictable happened and Leicester City won the Premier League in 2016? Thanks are due, in part, to data and analytics. When it comes to data-driven insights in football, the club is one of the most advanced in the Premier League. This year, in an attempt to ramp up their analytics approach ahead of the upcoming season, Leicester City appointed its first Head of Football analytics.

We are witnessing data becoming entrenched in sports, for the same reason it is becoming embedded into the enterprise – to stay at the forefront of innovation. Collecting and analysing data onsite during an event allows for tactics to be decided in real time, but also offers the opportunity for data to be used for long term research and development of sports equipment and machinery such as F1 cars or bicycles.

It’s not only football that is being transformed by data’s mounting capabilities; technology is revolutionising sports across the board, from tennis to motor racing, to cycling.

Game, tech and match: the technology behind Wimbledon 

Whilst Wimbledon remains steeped in British history, tennis was actually one of the first sports to embrace innovation, dating back to 2006 with the first use of 'Hawk-Eye' to challenge line calls. More recently, the tournament is providing an elevated stage to exhibit innovations beyond the baseline. Powered by sophisticated cloud computing, the tournament now has a multitude of data-driven insights and AI services for organisers, fans and even players to use, to drive efficiency as well as fan engagement. 

This year, technology at the tournament has ramped up, thanks to an AI-powered service that uses cameras and sensors to track all factors of play and create a tight and effective highlights package. Each bit of action, from player grunts, crowd cheers, to the sound of the racket is monitored and ranked via its statistical importance within the match. This allows analyzers to understand exactly when play is happening, and to clip the best moments almost instantly, to make them available for the world to enjoy. 

Putting data in the saddle

While data analytics can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place, it has been equally pivotal in revolutionizing the sports fan experience of viewing the games. During the course of last year’s Tour de France, over 150 million data points were collected and transformed into compelling stories of innovation for fans to engage with across mobile, social, digital and broadcast.

The complicated challenge of improving the viewer experience is achieved by each bicycle being fitted with a simple device that captures a GPS positioning point every second. In the same vein, this location data is tapped into for the cyclists’ own performance evaluation and decision making optimization. Data is utilized to calculate real-time insight into the cyclist’s progress, such as rider speed and relative distance. Comparing this with third party data allows for deeper analysis to reflect on gradient and elevation gain, weather impact and even visually enhanced 3D mapping.

Data: Motorsport’s Secret Weapon

Motorsports has currently reached an unprecedented level of technical sophistication due to engineering proficiencies, thanks in part to data. Almost every race car is now equipped with a device that enables engineers, technicians and drivers to measure, understand and evaluate car driver behavior and interaction. In turn, allowing them to accurately adjust strategies to optimize overall performance.

For example, the Mercedes AMG-Petronas Formula One Team has become one of the most successful teams in F1 history, but finding new means to efficiently collect, manage and share ever-increasing amounts of data used to improve racecar design and performance can be a challenge.

Mercedes required an infrastructure that is portable, and that accommodates for the multi-disciplinary design and engineering requirements. Pure Storage eliminates the need for bulky equipment, while also improving performance - allowing the team to put performance-critical workloads trackside.

Team members both trackside and at the factory now have instant access to critical data used to continually improve race car performance, ensuring that the race cars are functioning optimally at every second on and off the race course.

Data analytics for a winning formula

For too long, data has been treated as a liability and not an asset, often due to challenges to collecting, storing and managing massive volumes of it. Yet the ever-improving capabilities of big data platforms are creating undeniable opportunities for industries across the board – from medicine, construction, retail, to banking. Data is becoming recognized as one of the most important assets for innovation today, especially in sports, where benefits are reaped by both sportsmen and viewers alike.

What distinguishes the winners from losers when it comes to data-driven sports, is that they have developed the ability to manage data as an asset. To achieve this, organisations need to have a modern IT infrastructure in place to collect, manage and store the data in real-time (and more importantly to achieve that much desired gold medal or trophy).

 

James Petter is the VP International of Pure Storage.

Categories: Tech News

Best iPhone 2019: which Apple phone is the best?

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 07:40

Now that Apple is releasing multiple phones each year, the best iPhone isn't necessarily the newest, as there are so many new devices to choose from – even more when the phones are, as some would argue, not a huge upgrade on previous years'.

Naming a best iPhone isn't as simple as looking at plain specifications, because value and usability can't be defined so easily – and even those metrics get changed since the best iPhone deals can sway the value of each device.

As such, we've taken the time to use each iPhone extensively, to work out all the features and functions new and older iPhones provide. We've snapped with their cameras, played many games, and weighed the value you get for the price.

So without further ado, this is our list of the best iPhones on the market right now, which likely won't be changed much until the new iPhone 11 comes out later this year.

Best iPhone: which one should you buy today

Image credit: TechRadar 

The iPhone XS Max is the best iPhone you can buy right now. It's Apple's biggest and best iPhone – if your hands and wallets are large enough. It has an expansive 6.5-inch OLED screen with HDR10 support to make colors pop. It's the perfect phone if you want a giant screen.

Behind that huge screen is an improved dual-lens 12MP camera. Apple outfitted it with Smart HDR and increased the sensor size to capture larger pixels. Don't let that static 12MP number fool you. The iPhone XS Max (like the XS) has new depth-sensing capabilities for adjustable bokeh (background blur) during and after a shot.

The TrueDepth camera returns with faster Face ID recognition, and your 7MP selfies get better depth control and Smart HDR, too. And, of course, Animoji returns with the iOS 12 benefit of having Memoji now. 

The iPhone XS Max is more expensive than the iPhone X and iPhone XS that replaces the X, of course. But if you're paying for it over the course of two years in a contract (or through the Apple Upgrade Program), it's not that much more month-to-month.

Read our in-depth iPhone XS Max review

Image credit: TechRadar 

Believe it or not, the iPhone XS is Apple's best 'small' phone. It has a 5.8-inch screen, so it's more one-hand-friendly than the Max, but still a sizable upgrade for some people. 

It's an upgrade over last year's iPhone X, our previous best iPhone recommendation, though you'll have to look more closely for the changes – the design isn't different at all. It has a Smart HDR-capable 12MP camera, enhanced TrueDepth front-facing camera, and a fast A12 Bionic chipset, exactly like the larger iPhone XS Max.

In fact, this all-screen phone is pretty much the iPhone XS Max in last year's smaller form factor. It does have a smaller battery than the Max and obviously a smaller screen, but you will still capture the same great photos and videos on this device and play the same games. There's no different there. 

Read our in-depth iPhone XS review

Image credit: TechRadar 

The iPhone XR is a great upgrade for the average consumer who doesn't want to pay for the most expensive iPhone money (a lot of money) can buy. This is Apple's 'cheap' iPhone, at least when it comes to recently launched handsets. It's also the best iPhone of the new trio for battery life.

It stands out with a variety of iPhone XR colors: Blue, White, Black, Yellow, Coral, Red. This contrasts heavily with the rather muted colors of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Yet it shares the same internal specs: Apple's fast A12 Bionic chipset and a 12MP dual-lens camera with a single lens on back. 

You don't get the dual-lens camera like you do on a higher-tier iPhone, so you miss out on telephoto shots. But Smart HDR is the real perk to taking great photos, and that's here.

It's cheaper, it's more colorful and it has a big 6.1-inch screen. That's enough for most people, especially those who aren't insistent on an impressive OLED screen.

Read our in-depth iPhone XR review

Image credit: TechRadar 

The iPhone X is as impressive as it is expensive, but if you really want the best iPhone today and don't want to wait for the iPhone XI, this is the one to get today. Millions of Apple fans already have since it launched almost seven months ago. It's the future of Apple's smartphone.

It has a large all-screen display, except for a notch cutout at the top that houses a new TrueDepth Camera. This takes selfies to another level and can also map your face to an iPhone X-exclusive Animoji. If you don't know what that is by now you probably won't care.

The iPhone X is Apple's 10th anniversary smartphone and has just about everything iPhone users have been asking for, from a more forward-leaning design to faster specs and new features. You'll just have to get used to Face ID instead of reaching for that non-existent fingerprint sensor.

Read our in-depth iPhone X review

Image credit: TechRadar 

The iPhone 8 Plus is the best iPhone if you're not willing to take the plunge into Apple's proposed smartphone future and need that Touch ID fingerprint sensor. It remains popular due to its screen size, cheaper price and physical home button.

It does have several key features you'll like, however. It's among the first iPhones to have both wireless charging and fast charging, and the camera has improved. Its dual-lens camera doesn't have OIS in the telephoto lens (a feature saved for the X), but it's still a great way to snap a photo at long distances.

It won't turn nearly as many heads with its bezel-heavy design, but the iPhone 8 Plus is the iPhone built for big hands and slightly smaller wallets than the new iPhone X.

Read our in-depth iPhone 8 Plus review

Image credit: TechRadar

This is actually the best-selling iPhone from Apple, and for several good reasons. First, we get it, you refuse to budge from the 4.7-inch iPhone screen size and, frankly, we don't blame you. Every time we go back to this iPhone with 'normal' dimensions, we feel like we just went on a smartphone vacation. Second, its price is way more reasonable for a lot a folks than the iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus.

Just because the size is the same as iPhones of old, doesn't mean the technology behind it is, though. The iPhone 8 features the same A11 Bionic chipset as the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, and it too debuted wireless charging and fast charging on an Apple smartphone.

The camera is still fantastic, even if it doesn't have the dual-lens capabilities that are exclusive to the X and Plus, and you'll dig iOS 11 at this size more so than the even smaller iPhone SE.

Read our in-depth iPhone 8 review

Back in 2016 the iPhone 7 Plus was the best phone Apple had ever made, and it remains a winner for its longevity and price. It's larger than the iPhone X though despite its smaller display, so if you're after a smaller phone with a bigger screen, this won't be the best choice for you with its 5.5-inch 1080p display.

The big upgrades over older iPhones are the waterproof design and a new dual-lens camera that allows you to snap with two 12MP lenses at the same time. It allows for better optical zoom as well as a bokeh mode to blur the background of your photos and put the main focus on the foreground.

Battery life on the iPhone 7 Plus is much improved upon the iPhone 6S Plus, and while it's still a costly option it's much cheaper than it was at launch, making it one of the best iPhone choices for people looking for a deal.

Read the full iPhone 7 Plus review

Despite the iPhone SE's small size and relatively modest price tag, it's still an upper mid-range phone. It has the same boxy yet premium design as the metal-clad iPhone 5S and the same powerful Apple A9 chipset and rear camera as the iPhone 6S.

It lacks the 3D Touch features and higher-resolution front-facing camera of the iPhone 6S and beyond. The screen is also less impressive all round, thanks in large part to a lower contrast ratio. But it compares well to many mid-range handsets.

It's also the most powerful 4-inch iPhone you can get, so for fans of compact form factors this is an obvious choice. But the best bit is its price, as it's one of the cheapest iPhones you'll find on the market and it's something of a bargain by Apple standards.

Read the iPhone SE review

Don't fancy the large iPhone 7 Plus above? Why not opt for the iPhone 7, which is a smaller and cheaper alternative.

This was one of the first iPhones to lack a headphone jack, but it does come with a water-resistant design that means your phone is likely to survive the odd dip in the sink rather than just being frazzled right away.

There's no dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7, but you can still take some absolutely incredible photography with the 12MP sensor.

If you own an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S, you may not see much difference with the this phone but the newer processor and camera tech may be enough to entice you to buy it if you can't stomach the high price of the iPhone 8.

Read the full iPhone 7 review

The iPhone 6S, as you probably know, is Apple's flagship from 2015. The Apple A9 chipset and a chunky 2GB of RAM, up from 1GB on the previous model, make it far superior in raw power to 2014's model and still reasonably speedy by today's standards, and it's got some other tricks too.

It has a 12MP rear camera and a tried-and-tested 8MP front-facing camera, which at the time was the best selfie shooter Apple had on a phone.

It does sport largely the same design and screen as the iPhone 6 though and the latter in particular is starting to feel a bit dated in the face of super sharp QHD screens from rivals - and from the newer iPhone X.

This was the first iPhone to sport 3D Touch though, which makes the screen pressure-sensitive and offers new tricks for enhanced emailing and shortcuts around the home screen.

Read the full iPhone 6S review

Categories: Tech News

Best LG phones 2019: finding the best LG phone for you

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 07:22

LG phones aren't exactly the most mind-blowing new smartphones out now, not with the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Huawei putting out novel new devices all the time, but while they have trouble keeping up, they do provide some unique features you might like.

Thanks to the hand gesture control and vein scanning tech in the LG G8 ThinQ, or the LG V50 ThinQ's dual-screen option and 5G connectivity, LG phones have something for people who want a handset that's a little... different.

In particular, LG's affordable smartphone offerings might be tempting to you, and as such LG devices might be a good choice for people on the market, who don't exactly need crazy features.

If you're looking for a new phone and have set your sights on LG, then these are the best phones it sells right now, and we'll run you through what makes them stand out from the crowd.

We constantly update this list when LG unveils new devices (if they're worthy, of course), or when software updates change the ranking in any way.


Image credit: LG

The LG G7 ThinQ is the latest in one of LG's two flagship phone lines (the other being the V series). Although it has effectively been succeeded by the LG V40, the G7's lower price and high-end specs help it win out.

The phone packs a powerful Snapdragon 845 chipset, giving it about as much horsepower as you could need. With 6.1 inches of high-resolution OLED display, it's definitely pretty where it counts and gets extra bright, helping visibility in direct sunlight. It's all rounded out by an glass front and back with a notched display; Overall, the design is uninspired, but serviceable.

While LG's AI features are neat in theory, it's really the flexibility offered by the wide-angle camera on the back that helps the device stand out. On the media side, the LG G7 has surprisingly  powerful speakers if you like to listen to music or podcasts directly from your smartphone.

Read our hands-on review: LG G7 ThinQ review

Image credit: TechRadar

The LG V40 ThinQ is to the G7 what the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is to the Galaxy S9: a  similar yet bigger and slightly higher-spec sibling. The V40 has a 6.4-inch OLED display that's both sharp and ready to display HDR10 content. On top of that, the phone features a versatile five-camera system with three on the rear and two on the front, even adding in HDR10 video recording.

Unsurprisingly, the LG V40 also runs on a Snapdragon 845 chipset, but comes with 6BG of RAM by default. The notched display is another feature it shares with the LG G7. 

Audiophiles can enjoy the 32-Bit Quad DAC built in and the support for DTS:X surround sound. If you're adventurous, the phone's IP68 rating against water and dust along with its MIL-STD-810G shock resistance are reassuring, so you don't have to worry as much about damaging your investment while out and about.

Read our hands-on review: LG V40 ThinQ review

Image credit: TechRadar

The LG G8 ThinQ was LG's attempt at a 'futuristic' phone – it has Hand ID that scans the veins in your hand to open the phone, and gestures that let you navigate the device just by waving your hand through the air above the phone.

Not all of these work perfectly though, and so the LG G8 ThinQ doesn't exactly fill all its promises. 

But the handset still has some great features, like a cutting-edge chipset and a vibrating screen that functions as a speaker, so you can do a lot worse than it.

Read our full review: LG G8 ThinQ

Image credit: TechRadar

LG's V35 ThinQ may seem like it's on its way out (and it is), but it's not all that old yet. The phone still has 2018's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 chipset paired with 6GB of RAM, which has the potential the keep up with the demands of most smartphone users for the next couple years. And, that's perhaps why the LG V35 still costs a bit more than we'd like to see.

Its design is bland, with no all-screen display, notch, or anything like that. But it does have a large, 6-inch OLED display. The phone's rear camera system includes a wide-angle lens on one sensor, and it has 4K HDR video recording capabilities.

While it may not be the most exciting phone in 2019, it still has life in its internals, so if you can find a good discount going on, it may be worth your while.

Read our hands-on review: LG V35 ThinQ review

Image Credit: LG

A mid-tier phone doesn't have to be a bad phone, and that's clear with the LG Stylo 4. While we haven't had a chance to review it, it has a lot going for it at its price. The phone packs a large 6.2-inch display with a FHD+ resolution, though it's not an OLED display. Still, the screen works with LG's active stylus, making it something of a budget Galaxy Note.

It comes running Android 8.1 on a Snapdragon 450 chipset with 3GB of RAM, so it should offer decent performance for everything outside of gaming and heavy multi-tasking.

Aside from the stylus and large screen, there's not all the much to truly get excited about. But it beats going with a three-year-old flagship running a three-year-old operating system just to save some money.

Image Credit: LG

The LG Q7+ is an upgraded version of the LG Q7 (itself a minor upgrade from the Q6), and is a decent phone at a good value. The immediate catch is that it's not the best phone for every carrier (though there is a special edition that comes unlocked). That said, if you're on T-Mobile or Metro, it's a great mid-budget option.

The Q7+ offers a 5.5-inch display with a FHD+ resolution. It may not be OLED, but it also doesn't have the thickest bezels you'll find on a cheap phone. But the Q7+ makes up for its so-so looks with its internals.

The phone's Snapdragon 450 chipset inside is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It runs Android 8.1 out of the box, so it won't feel overly dated anytime soon (LG hasn't announced when the Q7+ will get the latest, Android 9 Pie). It even gets an aluminum frame and an IP68 rating, so you don't have to worry about a bit of rain killing this phone. If you don't want to spend a lot, this is definitely one to look at.

Image credit: TechRadar

If you're not a serious smartphone user and just want something that's good enough on a budget, the 2018 model of the LG K8 is decent pick. The Snapdragon 425 chipset and 2GB of RAM should do the job for light use, like texting, emailing, and web browsing. The 5-inch screen is even HD, with decent contrast provided by LG's in-cell technology.

The plastic back and thick bezels don't make this a sexy phone, but it's substantially cheaper than any of the other handsets on this list (discounts notwithstanding). Just plan on getting a microSD card if you anticipate taking a lot of photos or recording a ton of video, as the small 16GB of storage is partially taken up by the OS and pre-installed software. 

Read our hands-on review: LG K8 (2018)

Categories: Tech News

The best Nokia phones of 2019: find the right Nokia for you

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 07:06

The name Nokia has almost become synonymous with 'mobile phones' and 'cell phones' since it's such a long-running brand (even if that name has been passed between companies a few times).

Because of that, Nokia has gathered its fair share of dedicated fans, who enjoy Nokia phones' low prices but relatively decent specs. But there are so many Nokia phones, it can be hard to choose which to buy, if you're on the market.

Never fear, TechRadar's here, and we've made this buying guide to help you find the best Nokia phone out now, and also to compare the various phone models available.

On top of that, Nokia is always launching new phones, and we're expecting it to release more at IFA 2019 in September, so there's never time to release a definitive list.

That's why this list of Nokia phones is constantly being updated, to take into consideration each new handset as well as software updates to older models.

Image credit: TechRadar

The Nokia 9 PureView is Nokia's most recent flagship phone, and it comes with cutting-edge features to match. In particular, it comes with one important feature (or five depending on how you count it) in the form of its five-sensor rear camera, which is the most we've seen in a smartphone.

It's not exactly an expensive phone either, compared to some of the flagships you can buy today, so if you want a photographic smartphone powerhouse without taking a chunk out of your bank account, this may be the phone for you.

The Nokia 9 PureView has problems, as most phones do, but it represents the best Nokia has to offer right now.

Read our in-depth Nokia 9 PureView review

Image credit: TechRadar

The Nokia 8.1 was our favorite Nokia phone until the Nokia 9 PureView came along – it's a competent mid-range device offering up a tried-and-tested Snapdragon 710 chipset, functional camera, and adequate battery, all for a relatively low price.

For such a low-priced phone you'll certainly be impressed by its screen, with 2280 x 1080 Full HD+ and an 81% screen-to-body ratio, and an elegant design to match.

It's by no means a powerful smartphone, and it won't rival high-end models in terms of specs of functions, but at its price band it's a tempting device.

Read our in-depth Nokia 8.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

Nokia phones are often reliable handsets that lack any defining or distinctive features, and the Nokia 8 is a prime example of this. It looks great, with an impressive display and beautifully designed body, but many of the other features could be defined as 'fine'.

The dual cameras were acceptable in 2017 when the phone was released, and features like the 3.5mm headphone jack and physical front button which used to be commonplace but aren't any more, may appeal to users who like these features.

With the Nokia 8 you're getting a solid handset that won't let you down, but won't be an icebreaker at parties either.

Read our in-depth Nokia 8 review

Image credit: TechRadar

While the Nokia 6.1 doesn't quite have all the bells and whistles of the other Nokia handsets above, it's still a great device – especially given many of the downsides we could attribute to it wouldn’t realistically be expected on a phone of its price.

It's a tough device with a robust design and strong frame – fans of solid and secure phones will love the Nokia 6.1's durability.

It also packs some pretty impressive specs for its low price, with a competent chipset and splendid screen – yet its camera loadout isn't as impressive as it could be.

Read our in-depth Nokia 6.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

The Nokia 7.1 isn't exactly a miracle of a phone, but with such a low price tag you'll find the device great for everyday use if you don't need the high processing power.

That tall, bright, sharp screen really stands out for us though, and it makes video watching a pleasure – you can easily forget you're not using a modern flagship with it.

And at such a low price point, you definitely won't come away from the Nokia 7.1 feeling like you've got a bad deal – it's a reliable and snappy Nokia smartphone.

Read our in-depth Nokia 7.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

The Nokia 7 Plus is exactly what you'd imagine from a Nokia handset, in that it's half the price of a flagship from its era yet it comes packed out with all the features you'd expect.

In particular the handset has an impressive camera loadout for its price, and can last for a long time under heavy use. There are drawbacks to the phone too, but it's still an impressive Android device.

Read our in-depth Nokia 7 Plus review

Image credit: TechRadar

You wouldn't guess to look at it that the Nokia 5.1 is another mid-range smartphone – its metal body, classical styling and sleek design make it look like a premium device.

Of course it's what inside that counts too, and the Nokia 5.1 doesn't have the best specs which it's why it's a little lower on our list – but that doesn't mean it's a bad phone, and it'll serve your needs easily.

The Nokia 5.1 also has a great screen, with a Full HD+ display, which is rare in its price category  – but it should be this low cost that draws you in in the first place, as few phones that look this good cost so little.

Read our in-depth Nokia 5.1 review

Image credit: TechRadar

While the Nokia 3.1 Plus is one of the cheapest in Nokia's line of already-affordable handsets, it's still a great device, and with Android One it's future proof so you won't need to be shelling out extra for an upgrade soon.

For its low price, it's got some great features, including an impressive battery life, a dual-lens rear camera setup and good-looking screen.

While it does cut some corners to keep the price low like a low storage limit and mono speakers, it's still a great device if you're looking to spend as little as possible on your new Nokia phone.

Read our in-depth Nokia 3.1 Plus review

Categories: Tech News

Virgin Media hopes convergence will build on mobile gains

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 06:56

Virgin Media hopes a new range of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) products will increase revenues and improve customer churn after reporting a slight increase in mobile subscribers in Q2.

The company now has 3.15 million mobile users, up from 3.09 million last year, as revenues fell by 1.9 per cent due to lower non-subscription revenues.

This can in part be explained by lower handset revenues caused by longer device refresh cycles.

Virgin Media convergence 

However, a soft launch of FMC started in April and Virgin Media started marketing the products in June. This resulted in 57,000 post-paid additions as cable customers took out a mobile contract. The percentage of converged customers increased from 19.5 percent to 19.9 percent.

Rival BT is also working on converged products that combine the Openreach fibre network, the EE 5G network, and BT’s Wi-Fi network.

On the fixed side, Virgin added 130,000 new premises to its network was part of the ongoing ‘Project Lightning expansion’. Its network now reaches 15.6 million properties, up from 15.1 million last year. A final target has not been revealed, but it is expected to be in the region of 17 million.

Overall revenues for the quarter were £1.28 billion – up 0.4 percent year on year – and the company said that the reaction from customers about an average 4.9 percent price increase alter this year were “within expectations”.

Virgin is pressing ahead with plans to rollout speeds of 1Gbps to all customers by 2021, with one million premises covered by the end of the year.

Crucially, customers will not have to have any physical line upgrades to enable the new speeds, which Virgin Media says will help meet growing customer demand for data-intensive applications such as cloud gaming, 4K and 8K streaming, and Virtual Reality.

Categories: Tech News

Virgin Media hopes convergence will build on mobile gains

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 06:56

Virgin Media hopes a new range of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) products will increase revenues and improve customer churn after reporting a slight increase in mobile subscribers in Q2.

The company now has 3.15 million mobile users, up from 3.09 million last year, as revenues fell by 1.9 per cent due to lower non-subscription revenues.

This can in part be explained by lower handset revenues caused by longer device refresh cycles.

Virgin Media convergence 

However, a soft launch of FMC started in April and Virgin Media started marketing the products in June. This resulted in 57,000 post-paid additions as cable customers took out a mobile contract. The percentage of converged customers increased from 19.5 percent to 19.9 percent.

Rival BT is also working on converged products that combine the Openreach fibre network, the EE 5G network, and BT’s Wi-Fi network.

On the fixed side, Virgin added 130,000 new premises to its network was part of the ongoing ‘Project Lightning expansion’. Its network now reaches 15.6 million properties, up from 15.1 million last year. A final target has not been revealed, but it is expected to be in the region of 17 million.

Overall revenues for the quarter were £1.28 billion – up 0.4 percent year on year – and the company said that the reaction from customers about an average 4.9 percent price increase alter this year were “within expectations”.

Virgin is pressing ahead with plans to rollout speeds of 1Gbps to all customers by 2021, with one million premises covered by the end of the year.

Crucially, customers will not have to have any physical line upgrades to enable the new speeds, which Virgin Media says will help meet growing customer demand for data-intensive applications such as cloud gaming, 4K and 8K streaming, and Virtual Reality.

Categories: Tech News

Securing a future without passwords

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 06:33

How many times are you unable to use digital applications because you’ve forgotten your password? Are you left scrambling through endless loose papers with passwords scribbled down to find out which password is for which account? Perhaps you prefer using similar passwords across multiple accounts? Chances are, we are all guilty of doing this at some point as we too often opt for convenience over security.

It’s not hard to see why. To make employees lives easier and more flexible, large enterprises are deploying an average of 163 cloud applications to help in this process. Yet it’s hard to fathom the sheer scale of logins required for users to access these services, which plays a big part in workers choosing insecure methods to help them remember passwords. 

The wider implications of this are significant. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 80 per cent of hacking-related breaches are a result of weak or compromised credentials, while 29 per cent of all breaches involved the use of stolen credentials. The consequences of a breach can be catastrophic, with the average cost of a stolen record $148, and the total cost incurred from a data breach averaging at $3.86m - far from small numbers.

To tackle this, we need to shift away from failing password-only authentication systems, and instead seek more appropriate ways to strengthen security and keep our personal credentials safe.

Inadequacy of passwords

Okta recently commissioned research delving into passwords and found that an alarming 78 per cent of respondents use an insecure method to help remember their password, with 34 per cent admitting to using the same password for multiple accounts. But should workers take the blame? A psychology study by Sasse supports the notion that we can only remember a finite number of passwords, increasing the likelihood of using repeat passwords.

Another study (Schacter) found that many choose passwords that are easy to remember or strike an emotional significance within us. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated and personal by the day, the chances of having a password discovered and personal data exposed to risk, increase. And sweeping digital transformation strategies across the enterprise will see more services become digitized; likely heightening the number of weak passwords. 

Beyond the password conundrum

Overcoming the reliance on passwords is not going to happen overnight, but with technology advancements, such as biometrics, there is finally encouragement for a passwordless future.

There are real-life examples of this in motion. India’s Aadhaar identity system gives citizens a unique 12-digit number based on their biometric and demographic data, enabling access to welfare, tax payments and social services. Estonia has also followed a similar initiative through its e-Identity system, which provides its citizens a digital identity via a chip-and-pin e-card designed to authenticate people.

National identity systems such as these show promise for the enterprise to adopt similar digital identities in the workplace, built off more personal data. Unlike passwords and usernames, personal data such as biometrics are much harder to replicate or even break as this data is unique to an individual.

Biometrics as a solution

Okta’s research showed a growing appetite and acceptance of biometrics as an added layer of security at work or even a long-term replacement of passwords. A staggering 70 per cent of respondents feel there are advantages to using biometric technology in the workplace. However, 86 per cent of respondents have some reservations about sharing biometrics with their employers, demonstrating that workers are ready for the ease of use, but need to gain trust and education of organisations’ use and protection of data.

While biometrics may be more of a longer-term goal, organisations can start with adopting contextual factors to ease authentication processes. Factors such as geolocation and IP address can help validate a user and grant them access to workplace applications. If these factors are considered ‘trusted’, then access can be granted without the need to enter a password.

In today’s society, there is mounting pressure to tackle incidents of cybercrime. We must all do our part in being more vigilant and careful with the information used in authentication processes. But this should not only be the responsibility of employees. Enterprises need to move away from their reliance on passwords, which have failed us an authentication method for far too long. By adopting passwordless technologies such as biometrics and contextual factors, businesses can increase security and tackle data breaches more effectively.

 

Jesper Frederiksen is the General Manager, EMEA, for Okta.

Categories: Tech News

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