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We need rigorous 5G testing before we get in the driverless car

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:30

We can already foresee all the advances that 5G connectivity will bring the UK. Super-fast mobile coverage opens up all kinds of smart city capabilities from real-time connectivity that redirects entire road networks in response to traffic volumes, immediately updates autonomous vehicles about accidents or organises waste collections based on actual need rather than fixed schedules. 

Citizens will download games and films in seconds and businesses and authorities will communicate with consumers through smartphones that have become handheld supercomputers. With Uber, Waymo Toyota and Tesla all trialing autonomous cars, we appear to be close to our 5G goal.

Have we got ahead of ourselves?

Yet we may be jumping the gun with our expectations. First, we need to get hold of the right technology and some reliably accurate and detailed data about the user-experience.

The short history of 5G differs markedly from 4G and 3G which were both designed primarily as new air interfaces. 5G by contrast, has been driven by the use cases and applications already alluded to.

Driverless cars and the proliferation of internet-connected devices depend on consistent and agile 5G connectivity. So too, do services such as high-speed digital entertainment in vehicles and on-demand services for any connected object. The further development of smartphones, wearables and M2M devices all rely on the super-fast connectivity of 5G. 

The current thrust of 5G development focuses heavily on performance, with the technology expected to be capable of delivering extremely fast data, with some estimates saying the technology must achieve between 10-50 Gbps (compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbps). 

Ultra-low latencies of or below single digit milliseconds are, for example, a necessity when autonomous vehicles have to sense, process and act on data faster than a human in order to be safe. We are talking here about providing such capabilities to vehicles moving at speeds of up to 300 mph. As much as this may sound excessive, trains in Japan and China have already exceeded this benchmark in speed tests. In the near future we will almost certainly see viable commercial speeds racing towards 300 mph.

Fortunately, the overall speed and network quality of 4G throughout the country means the UK is well-positioned to undergo the 5G transformation. 4G has already reached a high percentage of market-penetration in a relatively short amount of time. Even in predominantly rural areas, UK operators provide more extensive 4G coverage than is the case in many other European countries.  In addition, the UK has been home to many independent trials of new service ideas such as smart cities, which while based on 4G coverage, have also been looking forward to definite 5G capabilities.

We need a 5G benchmark

Yet despite all this innovative thinking and testing of potential new 5G capabilities, we still lack a standardised definition of what 5G is. We need tough monitoring to establish standards in 5G trials, radio interfaces, the development of devices, security, IoT, self-organising networks (SON), network function organisation (NFV), network architecture changes and all the requirements of new services.

Bringing us to the 5G future will require continuous testing of networks and devices, so that standards can be set and improved on a continuing basis. Ambiguous standards have, in the past, led to problems in mobile networks, especially when multiple vendors are involved.

If we want standards to be objective and reliable it is vital that testing and monitoring is not solely undertaken by service providers themselves, as they will be understandably selective in the results they publish and promote, pluming up their success stories while ignoring areas failing to obtain effective coverage, or undesirable variations in speed, latency, dropped calls and so forth.

We need testing that is accurate and objective

A neutral and independent organisation will ensure that testing is thorough and leaves no stone unturned nor neglects any potential area of poor coverage. All such results also need to be released year-on-year in order to plot the progress of telecoms networks and chart service levels in order to provide clear trends. This sort of data is essential for governments and regulators, who need reliable datasets and benchmarks on which to base decisions on future developments.

Regular, rigorous and objective testing is already playing a significant role in the telecoms industry and is well-respected. The requirement for it will undoubtedly become even more important as 5G technology and its applications evolve. There is after all no chance of customers doing the research themselves before signing a contract with a service provider which is why the industry needs neutral, fair testing and monitoring.

Hakan Ekmen, Chief Executive at P3 communications GmbH

Categories: Tech News

TechRadar's downloads advent calendar: get Ashampoo Backup 2018 free

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:00

The holidays are an expensive time, so we’re bringing you a special treat: a full, free Windows program to download every day until Christmas.

Peek under the sixth door on our free downloads advent calendar to find Ashampoo Backup 2018 – a complete backup tool that could save your most precious files in the event of a storage disaster.

Backing up your valuable files isn't the most fun task, and it's easy to put off, but it doesn't have to be a hassle. Ashampoo Backup 2018 is easy to set up, and can work silently in the background while you're getting on with other tasks.

You can choose either full or incremental backups, depending on your preferences. Full backups are quicker to restore in an emergency, but take more space. Incremental backups only copy the files that have been changed since the last full backup, which is quicker and creates smaller files, but is slower to restore because all the increments have to be combined.

There's also support for versioning, letting you back up the whole history of a file and easily roll it back, and automatic file syncing. You can even make a Linux-based rescue disc in case you're unable to boot to Windows.

Data integrity checks prevent faulty backups, you can schedule tasks (with adaptive sleep mode control), and everything is wrapped up in an interface that's easy to use and understand – even if you've never used backup software before. Download it free today and start protecting your files.

In case you missed it...
Categories: Tech News

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite deal reduces price by £20 just in time for Christmas

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:00

The latest model of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has had a special pre-Christmas price drop, but this isn't the cheapest the ereader has been this year.

Amazon has taken £20 off the list price of the 2018 Kindle Paperwhite, which sees it go from £119.99 to £99.99 - but only until 9am on December 13.

However, bargain hunters should note that the new Kindle Paperwhite price has already dropped lower than that this year, with Amazon reducing the price to an even more enticing £89.99 during Black Friday.

If you're on the hunt for great Christmas presents, this price drop makes it a great buy, but if you're simply on the lookout for the lowest Kindle Paperwhite price you may want to hold out for a potentially bigger reduction next year.

Categories: Tech News

Kubernetes hit by major security flaw

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 01:34

Businesses using containers to deploy their software often rely on the popular cloud container orchestration system Kubernetes but a recently discovered security flaw could allow anyone to gain access to their containers.

The privilege escalation flaw, which was discovered by Rancher Labs' chief architect and co-founder Darren Shepard, allows any user to establish a connection through Kubernetes' API server to a backend server.

Once the connection is established, an attacker can then send arbitrary requests over the network directly to the backend. These requests are even authenticated by Kubernetes API server's Transport Layer Security (TLS) credentials.

The flaw can even be exploited by both authenticated and unauthenticated users in default Kubernetes configurations which means anyone who knows about it could potentially take control of a business' Kubernetes cluster.

Time for an upgrade

In a blog post detailing the severity of the flaw, Red Hat explained how an attacker could exploit it for malicious purposes, saying:

“Kubernetes, like all software, is not immune to security issues - the privilege escalation flaw makes it possible for any user to gain full administrator privileges on any compute node being run in a Kubernetes cluster. This is a big deal. Not only can this actor steal sensitive data or inject malicious code, but they can also bring down production applications and services from within an organization’s firewall.”

Fortunately for Kubernetes users, there is a fix but securing your containers will require an upgrade.

Kubernetes v1.0x-v1.9x are vulnerable but v1.10.11, v1.11.5, v1.13.3 and v1.13.0-rc.1 have all been patched.

While upgrading can certainly be a hassle, now that the Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw has been made public, hackers will likely try to take advantage of companies that have not upgraded their software.

Via ZDNet

Categories: Tech News

Facebook internal emails published: what the new documents reveal

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 21:40

Following a lawsuit against the social media giant, Facebook has today had some 250 pages worth of internal emails released to the public by the UK Parliament. The documents reveal previously unknown details around the company's internal behaviour, and seem to reinforce what many critics view as the social network's anti-competitive nature, alongside its abuse of user data and other troubling issues.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water for dodgy practises – in fact, it’s becoming a recurring theme ever since details of the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged early this year, but the newly-released emails provide a level of detail that's far more candid than anything previously uncovered.

The US lawsuit that's allowed the release of these emails was put forward by Six4Three, an app developer that claims its Pikinis app was the victim of anti-competitive practises by the social giant. The emails were presented as evidence in that case, in an attempt to display that Facebook has a history of similar anticompetitive practises.

A game of monopoly?

Within the emails are several examples of external companies begging Facebook not to remove user data permissions for their products – perhaps the most prominent victim of which is Twitter and its now-defunct Vine social video app.

Vine wanted to use Facebook’s user data to suggest friends on the service, but after a Facebook executive asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg via email if he could shut this feature down, Zuckerberg replied, “Yup, go for it”.

Critics have drawn attention to this kind of behavior as being potentially in violation of US and European antitrust and anti-monopoly laws, as the dominant Facebook platform can arguably be seen to be blocking competitors attempts to enter its market.

Google has also fallen afoul of antitrust laws in 2018, with the European Commission fining the tech giant US$5 billion for anti-competitive behavior in regards to its Android mobile operating system and the apps it uses by default.

Don't we want Facebook to protect our data?

“The facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data”, reads Facebook’s response to the outed emails. That may be technically correct in this instance, however while the company might not have directly traded data for dollars, the emails make a compelling argument that the same outcome was achieved – just with a few extra steps in between.

The current controversy centers around the same platform policy change of 2014/15 that ultimately brought us the Cambridge Analytica debacle, which saw Facebook prevent apps from requesting access to friends’ information. 

But by selectively “whitelisting” certain companies and apps in this policy change, the company was able to protect those apps that brought something to the Facebook platform – such as Airbnb and Netflix – while, it's argued, simultaneously blocking out any potential threats, such as the aforementioned Vine.

While that may not be seen as selling user data directly, revoking competitors’ access to that data is one way in which Facebook could weaponize customer information for its own profit.

The convenient ascent of WhatsApp

Another potentially concerning revelation from the papers has to do with Facebook’s acquisition of the now-mammoth chat app, WhatsApp. The purchase was made in February of 2014 and cost the social media giant US$19 billion.

Facebook utilized a VPN and data analytics service called Onavo to chart the growth of WhatsApp, noticing that it was overtaking the likes of Tumblr and Vine and beginning to threaten Facebook’s own Messenger services in terms of popularity.

Facebook purchased Onavo for US$100 million in 2013 – a year before its WhatsApp acquisition – a move which critics argue allowed the social media giant to track WhatsApp and other rising adversaries and nip them in the bud without any threat of competition.

Facebook responds

In response to the public release of documents, Facebook is effectively claiming that 'it’s not what it looks like', stating (perhaps fairly) that the documents were purposefully "cherrypicked" by the company behind the lawsuit, and don’t accurately detail both sides of the story.

Facebook’s statement goes into specifics, detailing each of the concerns raised thus far by the exposed communications, although arguably, many of the provided answers do not completely address the issues raised – in some cases going off on tangents and pointing towards other mechanisms involved.

The emails are also likely to raise more concerns over the coming days, as critics and regulators delve deeper into the dense cache of exposed communications.

Categories: Tech News

Best Kodi XBMC streaming boxes 2018 : the best hardware for Kodi streaming

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 19:40

Kodi boxes (otherwise known as Android TV boxes) are a massive success no matter how you slice them. The best models deliver 4K video to your TV and allow you unfettered access to audio and video streams of every format and service. If there's a better, more versatile piece of AV software out there, we've yet to see it. 

On top of giving you the capability to stream video and music files over a local network, the software also includes the ability to install add-ons to stream from almost any streaming service you could think of, including Amazon Prime Instant Video, Spotify and Netflix.

One of the main selling points of Kodi is the fact that it’s supported by pretty much any platform you could think of, up to and including macOS, Android, Linux and Windows.

The only real drawback we can think of is that Kodi doesn’t actually manufacture streaming boxes (no, the official Kodi Raspberry Pi case doesn't count), so you need to find your own device to run it on.

Luckily, dozens of manufacturers the world over are more than happy to provide some to you. In fact, to be totally honest, the requirements for running Kodi are almost laughably low: all you need is a 3D capable GPU graphics hardware controller for all rendering, a dual-core (or better CPU), and 1GB of RAM. 

That said, while there are plenty of boxes available with Kodi pre-installed, you have to be careful. So-called 'fully loaded' Kodi boxes come with lots of add-ons that give you access to pirated content. Unsurprisingly, there's a huge crackdown on these types of boxes, with the EU declaring them illegal.

The best solution is to find a compatible media box and manually install Kodi. And with this guide, we’ve gathered together the best Kodi streaming boxes on the market in 2018. For each, we've tested how easy it is to install Kodi, how smoothly it runs, and how each handles playing 1080p or 4K video

Well, this is a surprise. The Xbox One X is the best Kodi player of the year. Sporting Kodi 18 Leia, installing the media streaming suite is impossibly easy on Xbox One X - just head to the App Store to grab the latest version. That makes it way easier than side-loading the software on Amazon devices and, thanks to the processor and copious memory inside the Xbox One X, it runs like a dream. 

The only thing holding the Xbox One X (and, to a lesser extent, the Xbox One S) back from utter perfection is that some add-ons haven't been optimized for Kodi 18 yet - and, with no other options in the store, you're forced to leave some add-ons behind. 

Still, if you don't mind missing out on a few add-ons, the Xbox One X is our top pick for the best Kodi box this year.

Read the full review: Xbox One X

The Nvidia Shield is the most powerful Android set-top box that we've reviewed. It's designed with all types of 4K home entertainment in mind, from Netflix to the latest games via Geforce Now. Unsurprisingly, this power makes the Nvidia Shield one of the best boxes for Kodi.

Running Android TV on Android 6.0, the Nvidia Shield is one of the easiest boxes to configure Kodi on. With Google Play reconfigured for your TV screen and remote control, rather than a touchscreen, installing Kodi was an absolute breeze; in fact, we didn't have to type anything, since we were able to use the voice search provided by the remote control to find the Kodi app.

Kodi started in just a couple of seconds, with the box recovering from standby in a similar amount of time. There are no lengthy waits with the Nvidia Shield.

Once in Kodi performance was exceptional, with super-smooth menus and animations across the board. The menus and interface were easy to navigate using the excellent bundled remote control, too.

We tested 4K and 1080p videos, with both streaming smoothly. The Shield could also easily downsample 4K video to fill a 1080p TV, too. We had no problems using the built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi; if your network signal isn't strong enough, there's an Ethernet port in the back.

Considering the small size of the Nvidia Shield, the performance is phenomenal. If you don't care about the gaming content, the Amazon Fire TV is better value for 4K playback; if you want the absolute best performance, this is the media streamer to buy.

Read the full review: Nvidia Shield

Putting Kodi on the Amazon Fire TV takes a bit of finagling, yes, but when it's on there the world of streaming video will be your oyster. We prefer the latest iteration of Amazon's streaming device because it delivers 4K HDR video via a small, inconspicuous dongle. It's easy to hide out of sight and does nothing to mar the appearance of a perfectly clean entertainment center.

In terms of specs, the Amazon Fire TV has a Quad core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with speeds up to 1.5GHz. It uses the Amlogic S905Z SoC architecture and supports 32-bit apps. Inside you've got 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. Its Wi-Fi antenna supports  802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; 2x2 MIMO (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz dual band)  which means it can handle 4K streams without a problem. 

Our only problem with the Amazon Fire TV is that the remote isn't the best. It's made from a plastic material and, due to its small stature, can be easily lost. Minor qualms aside, however, this is probably the best Kodi box on the market right now.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV (2017)

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the most popular streaming devices among Kodi users – and it has been for a while. With the 2017 version of the Fire TV Stick, things are even better. A faster processor makes the media streamer 30% faster than the old one, according to Amazon. The new stick also features Alexa support built in (although this doesn't work with Kodi), and the device is only slightly more expensive than the original.

However, getting Kodi on the Fire TV Stick can be a bit of a hassle, as the app is not listed in the Amazon app store. Instead, you have to sideload Kodi. Once installed, though, the Fire TV stick is phenomenal. 

The included Bluetooth remote control effortlessly navigates through Kodi’s menus and interface.  While the older Fire TV struggled a little to navigate Kodi's menus smoothly, the new model has no such trouble with the default skin.

Keep in mind that the Fire TV’s HDMI output only supports up to 1080p video. Testing, we found that our 1080p videos played smoothly; 4K videos launched and were downscaled, but we soon ran into buffering problems as the Fire TV struggled to keep up with the high quality video.

If you don't care about not having 4K and want a small, simple device that can handle 1080p Kodi, as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, this is the best Kodi streaming box for you. 

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Amazon Fire TV is a top choice for anyone that wants a great all-rounder. At its heart, this media player is an excellent choice for Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix, supporting both services in 4K with HDR, but the power to play Ultra HD content means that the Fire TV is also rather good for Kodi.

As with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kodi is not available through the official app store, so it has to be sideloaded. This is slightly annoying to do, but not overly difficult. Once installed, Kodi can be launched quickly from the main menu.

Kodi runs beautifully smoothly on the Fire TV and takes just a few seconds to load. Amazon's excellent Voice Remote is great for navigation and connects via Bluetooth, so you don't need line of sight; voice commands are not supported in Kodi, though.

We tested using 1080p and 4K videos, with both playing smoothly. The Fire TV has 802.11ac Wi-Fi built in, but if your home network isn't fast enough to play video without buffering, there's an Ethernet port, too.

While streaming is the easiest option, the Fire TV has a microSD card slot so that you can load this up with movies. Given the media player's small dimensions, you can load it up with content for travelling.

If you want Kodi in 4K, but want access to other streaming services, too, the Amazon Fire TV is the box to buy.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV

Want 4K, but don't want to pay over the top for a box that can handle it? You need the Android-powered Seguro Trongle X4. 

There's always a slight fear that bargain-basement products have severe limitations, but the Trongle X4 is refreshingly good, with only the minor annoyance. Measuring just 110mm square with a height of 17mm, the Trongle X4 is also one of the smallest set-top boxes that we've seen.

Wi-Fi is built in, but the X4 couldn't see our 5GHz 802.11ac network, so could only connect via 2.4GHz. The connection was painfully slow, so we recommend using the Ethernet connection at the back instead.

As the X4 runs full Android 6.0, the Google Play Store is built in, making it straightforward to install Kodi (or other Android apps). As the play store is designed for touch, navigating it with a remote control is a little painful. It's handy that the remote has a Mouse button, so you can move an on-screen pointer to make selection a little easier, though. Once installed, Kodi can be pinned to the front screen, making it easy to launch; the only thing you have to wait for is the X4's 25s boot time, as there's no fast standby mode.

The X4's HDMI 2.0b output supports HDR10 and HLG HDR processing, along with Ultra HD resolutions, so you'll easily be able to play the best-looking content on this box.

After all of the latest updates had downloaded and installed, Kodi ran smoothly on the X4, quickly connecting to our shared folders. We tested both 1080p and 4K films, with all playing smoothly, thanks to the 2GHz quad-core Amlogic S905X CPU. Buffering becomes an issue over Wi-Fi, but we had no such problems when using Ethernet. There's even a microSD card slot (up to 32GB), so you can store content locally and carry the X4 around with you, making it great for holidays. The Amazon Fire TV and Nvidia Shield are slicker for 4K, but this is a good budget option.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a brilliant little computer for all types of projects, and its diminutive size makes it an attractive option for building a tiny Kodi media centre. The Raspberry Pi Foundation makes this easy, too, with NOOBS supporting two pre-built options: LibreELEC and OSMC. We've used OSMC for this guide.

Once installed, the Pi 3 boots into OSMC and runs you through a quick configuration wizard before moving to Kodi. After that, the Raspberry Pi 3 takes around 20s to power on. OSMC gives you a custom skin designed for the Pi, although you can switch back to the Classic option. We recommend avoiding over-complicated skins, as the Pi may struggle to run them. As it stands, the default skins work well, but the animations are only just on the right side of smooth. It's also worth buying a fast microSD card so that the Pi 3 boots quickly and remains responsive.

Thanks to its quad-core CPU, we found that that the Raspberry Pi 3 could handle 1080p videos easily. There's no Ultra HD support from the HDMI output, and the Pi 3 can't downscale 4K movies. With our test 4K footage, the Pi showed a broken image and became very jerky to use. Given the 802.11n Wi-Fi built into the Pi 3, you may find that you need to use the wired Ethernet connection if your wireless network signal isn't strong enough and you get buffering issues.

The Pi 3 comes without a case, so you'll need to budget for one. It doesn't ship with a remote, either, although you may be able to control Kodi using an HDMI CEC-compatible TV's remote; the smartphone app is otherwise the easiest method.

If you have a Raspberry Pi 3 already, it will make a decent 1080p Kodi media centre. If you don't have one, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a better choice, and cheaper considering it comes with a remote and doesn't need a case.

Read the full review: Raspberry Pi 3

The Emtec GEM Box might seem like a good choice for Kodi, but we'd only recommend it if you've already got the box itself lying around. Running Android 4.4, the GEM Box is not compatible with the latest builds of Kodi, and the Google Play Store doesn't show the software as available for download.

Instead, you have to install the Complete Kodi Setup Wizard, which gives you access to older versions of the software. From here, we could install Kodi 15.2 Isengard instead. It's fiddly using to Google Play Store to install the Setup Wizard, and we had to flick the switch at the bottom of the game controller to move between normal and mouse mode in order to select the search box and installation options.

Kodi 15.2 ran smoothly enough on our GEM Box, and we soon had it set up to stream content. Full HD content played without trouble. The GEM Box doesn't have a 4K output, nor can it downsample 4K video; our Ultra HD video just crashed the media player, and we had to cycle the power. Struggling with larger video files shows that the quad-core processor is a little behind the times.

We had no problems streaming videos over either the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections. If you want local storage, the GEM Box can take a microSD card, for locally stored video. That can make the diminutive GEM Box a handy device to carry around.

The issue with the GEM Box is its price and out-of-date operating system. If you have one already, being able to install Kodi is useful; if you want to buy a new Kodi box, look elsewhere in this guide.

The PC is the most versatile platform on Earth, so why not use it to build your very own Kodi box? Yes, the total cost will outstrip that of the other models here, but you'll get a more powerful unit that can run more than just Kodi.

There are lots of options to go for, too. The simplest is to buy a pre-made mini PC. We tested on the excellent, but not widely available, Asus VivoMini VC65. This tiny computer measures 197 x 196 x 62mm, so will easily squeeze underneath your TV. There's even a version with a built-in DVD drive, too.

The other option is to build your own computer - check out our guide on how to build a console-sized gaming PC for a good guide.  The benefit of the second option is that you can specify the exact PC you want, so that it can even play the latest games.

There are a few things to watch out for. First, integrated graphics on Intel processors only support an HDMI 1.4 output. That means you're restricted to 4K at a jerky 24Hz; you have to use DisplayPort to get the full 60Hz in Ultra HD. For that reason, you will need a mini PC with a dedicated graphics card that has an HDMI 2.0 output.

You don't get a dedicated remote control with most PCs, but the control options are huge: you can use a wireless keyboard, game controller or the smartphone app, amongst others.

This is probably the most expensive method on this list, but the resulting satisfaction from having built an HTPC entirely yourself is worth the effort it takes several times over.

Categories: Tech News

Metroid Prime Trilogy for Switch could be announced at this week’s Game Awards

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 19:34

Nintendo's beloved Metroid Prime Trilogy could finally be making its HD debut on the Nintendo Switch, according to a new listing by Swedish retailer Inet.

Based on a Google translation of the listing, the game collection is expected to be announced at The Game Awards show tomorrow (which has a great track record for big game trailer reveals), with a tentative release date of February 2019. 

Renowned at the time of release for they way it seamlessly transitioned the series from 2D platformer to first-person 3D exploration game, the first Metroid Prime is considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time, with its two sequels almost as highly regarded. 

Metroid mania

The prospect of replaying the Metroid Prime Trilogy (or for many, playing it for the first time) in a portable manner is a tantalizing one, especially with the series' upcoming entry, Metroid Prime 4, on the horizon.

Speaking of that upcoming fourth entry, it's also widely expected to be shown for the first time at The Game Awards, along with several other rumored titles, as reported by Business Insider Australia

That could include new entries in the Far Cry, Dragon Age and Borderlands franchises, along with Square Enix's long-awaited Avengers game from developers Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal. 

As for whether these games do make an appearance, you'll have to tune in and stream The Game Awards tomorrow to find out!

Categories: Tech News

The CIO’s Role in Regaining Customer Trust

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 19:09

The role of the CIO has been evolving to adapt to a fluid technological landscape, one where the customer or user experience and satisfaction are at the core of any sustainable business venture.

CIOs now face the daunting task of trying to integrate cutting edge technologies (like AI, RPA or automation) into workflows while ideally strengthening the trust bond between the company and its stakeholders.

Like a chef, they must strike the perfect equilibrium between optimal efficiency internally and ensuring that the needs of the customer are met.

Get it wrong and the customer experience will suffer, which in turn will have a measurable impact on  a number of critical business KPIs, snowballing all the way down to the organisation’s bottom line.

“In the digital era, customer trust does not come from having the shiniest new technology. It comes from using that tech to provide the most efficient, satisfactory experience possible. Every time.”

It is ultimately a real human being which will be at the receiving end of any digital transformation, as a customer and a user;  we have basic requirements that have to be serviced in order to gain trust: personalization, efficiency, expediency and access to information.

So while new technologies help to meet these requirements, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that someone actually has to start from scratch and adapt to the quirks and peculiarities of any new services.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could get a solution that gets those just-rolled-out SaaS systems to adapt to users, rather than the other way round?

The changing role of the CIO

Digital transformation has caused the role of the CIO to change into that of a CEO; not not your traditional CEO but a Chief Experience Officer. 

This job transformation has far reaching consequences as it puts both internal and external customers on equal footing, a novel approach that is spreading like wildfire among innovative organisations.

As such, this new breed of CIO is called upon to put the pedal to the metal and really push forward with an agenda to foster the right environment that will allow new processes and technologies to be adopted by stakeholders interacting with an organisation, regardless of where they are inside or outside that organisation.

That needs the right amount of support, knowledge and skills - as well as the right tools - to help them make the most of new and existing digital services to their fullest extent.

Meet a new generation of digital assistants

Say hello to Walkme, the world first Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) - a tool powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning that helps organisations get the most out of their digital assets, having a tangible impact on productivity and efficiency at every level of the business. 

Coined by one tech journalist as the most obvious tool in the world, it simplifies user experience and driving desirable actions. Walkme flattens the learning curve associated with any new technology platforms, essentially converting a dreaded process into, well, a stroll in the park.

Want to learn more about Digital Adoption (and digital innovation), then check out our guide here.

Categories: Tech News

Amazon cuts the price of TP-Link routers by up to 40% for today only

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 19:01

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching, which is a great time to binge watch a load of Netflix, or catch up with some gaming, so it may be worth looking for a new router as well to give your home network a boost.

For today (December 6) only, Amazon is cutting the price of several TP-Link routers by up to 40%, making it even more affordable to upgrade the internet in your house.

These deals are live from 00:01 AM until 11:59 PM, but Amazon might run out of stock before the end of the day, so make sure you check out these deals while they last. 

Categories: Tech News

Best camera phone 2018: the top smartphone snappers around

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 18:41

The best camera phone isn’t easy to pick out. It’s not just the latest iPhone or the camera with the most megapixels. A lot of it comes down to how well the smartphone has optimized its software to snap photos or record videos. Then there’s the matter of just what photos that camera needs to capture, as some smartphone cameras can handle certain scenarios better than others.

We’ve tested all of the best camera phones in a multitude of lighting conditions, scenarios, and with a wide variety of subjects. Knowing how each camera performs at different shooting tasks will help you know which can capture the moments you want to save.

So, before you settle on the best camera phone for you, you’ll want to determine what your needs are. Great front-facing sensors with a wide angle to snap better selfies? An array of different sensors on the back for versatile shooting? Knowing will help you decide what can suit your uses.

Want to know more about dual-cameras? Check out our video below.

Beyond the specs and capabilities of the camera itself, there are a number of aspects about the phone you’ll also want to consider. For example, getting a high-storage option or one that supports a microSD card will be helpful if you capture lots of 4K video

It's also worth thinking about battery size and screen quality - if you're going to be heading out all day and doing longer photography sessions, you'll need a battery that can keep up. 

And if you're mostly going to look at your photos on the phone, then a phone with OLED screen technology can really make your snaps pop - but if it's social media, or even printing out your photos, that's your plan then you've got a wider array of options.

We've listed all that information below, along with some of our top test snaps so you can make the right decision when it comes to choosing your next camera phone.

The Google Pixel 3 is the best camera phone you can buy right now.

Even better, you get the choice of two handsets for your best camera phone experience, with both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL boasting the same camera setup.

While most of the other handsets in our best camera phone round-up have at least two rear cameras, the Pixel devices come with just a single rear snapper.

These cameras are extremely powerful though, with an intuitive interface and AI smarts adapting fantastically to any scenario, be it beautiful vistas or low-light portraits.

What sets Google's 12.2MP rear camera apart from the competition is its consistency. We got sharper, slightly brighter photos from the Pixel 3 and 3 XL versus the iPhone XS Max (overly warm color tones), Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (not always the best HDR) and Huawei P20 Pro (frequently over-sharpened).

Behind-the-scenes, Google's dedicated Pixel Visual Core chip and machine-learning software are the magic that recognize what photos should look like and which shots you'll actually want. 

If there's one thing Google knows how to do, it's processing data and perfecting algorithms. 

And let's not forget, both phones also have dual front-facing cameras, giving you great portrait-mode selfies with beautifully blurred backgrounds.

Between the two, we'd opt for the Pixel 3 XL for the best camera phone experience. Its bigger, higher resolution display (vs the Pixel 3) works as a great viewfinder, while it also boasts a bigger battery which will keep you snapping for longer. 

Read our full reviews: Google Pixel 3 | Google Pixel 3 XL

With three rear cameras the Huawei Mate 20 Pro offers a highly versatile camera phone experience.

The P20 Pro ushered in this era of great Huawei cameras, and the Mate 20 Pro inherits its 40MP wide-angle f/1.8 lens and 8MP, f/2.4 3x telephoto with OIS and then builds on it further.

Rounding out that trio of rear-facing cameras is the new star, an ultra-wide 16MP, f/2.2 lens. It expands the Mate 20 Pro's feature set, letting you take a wider array of photos from limited positions. 

Even for casual shooting, it makes life easier when trying to fit a bunch of far-flung elements in the same photo.

The Mate 20 Pro's overall low-light performance is superior to that of most other smartphones we tested, especially with its seconds-long-exposure Night Mode.  

The phone's 3x telephoto does a great job of snagging distant shots, and the hybrid 5x zoom adds a digital blend to give you a bit more reach. It’s not perfect, but in our comparative testing, it outdid some digital-only zooms like on the Google Pixel 3.

There's a host of other features in the camera app on the Mate 20 Pro too, allowing you to really fine tune and tinker with the photography experience.

Read our full review: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 builds on the strong camera offering of the Galaxy S9 Plus, with a number of small enhancements making it even better.

The result is a handset which is comfortable shooting in any scenario, including in low light, for some truly impressive shots.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera identifies and adapts to various subjects with a new scene-optimizer feature. It adjusts the white balance and color based on 20 subjects as varied as sunsets, flowers, food, birds, text and so forth. 

Compared to even the six-month-old S9 Plus, the Note 9 camera captures more detail, but you'll have to squint to see the differences.

As this is a Note device, you get Samsung's S Pen stylus included with the handset, and you can use the button on this as a remote shutter key. 

It means you can set the Galaxy Note 9 down on a surface and walk away from it and still snap a shot using the S Pen. It's a relatively minor perk, but one we enjoy using.

One slight mark against the Note 9 is its lack of HDR video recording, but for many this won't be an issue.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Apple's latest iPhone duo boast powerful dual rear cameras, but it's not just the specs that appeal about the firm's mobile photography experience - it's also the ease of use of their smartphone snappers.

The iPhone camera app is well known for being a simple, clutter-free interface, focused on taking great snaps every time with minimal controls, modes and settings for the user to worry about.

It means that you don't quite get the same breath of shooting options as you do on the likes of the Samsungs and Huaweis, but the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max boast Apple's best smartphone snappers to date, with improvements to their low-light capabilities.

If you want a phone to pull out and take a quick snap with minimum effort, the new iPhones are some of the best camera phones around.

Apple has popularized the blurred background Bokeh effect, and Portrait Mode is one of the best implementations of the technology we've used on a smartphone, with a range of studio lighting effects adding extra pizzazz to your compositions.

Both the iPhone XS and XS Max have exactly the same dual 12MP rear cameras, with the only differences between the two being screen size, battery size and their physical size.

The 6.5-inch display on the iPhone XS Max gives you a huge viewfinder when it comes to snapping photos, but it comes with an equally huge price tag, with the still-expensive iPhone XS producing the same results in a smaller form factor.

Read our full reviews: iPhone XS | iPhone XS Max

Earlier this year the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus was our best camera phone pick, fusing an excellent all-round smartphone experience with a highly accomplished photography offering.

As you can see, it's now be usurped by a number of new camera phone releases, but  it's still a fantastic offering which has now dropped in price since launch. 

Round the back you get two cameras, with the main 12MP sensor joined by a secondary 12MP sensor directly below it. 

The main sensor is rather special, as it has a world's-first-on-a-phone f/1.5 aperture, meaning that it performs fantastically well in low light.

That's not all this sensor has up its sleeve though, as it also features Samsung's Dual Aperture Technology, allowing it to move from f/1.5 (for low light) to f/2.4 (reduces overexposure in bright scenes).

Meanwhile the second camera allows you to take bokeh-rich photos, with parts of the image blurred while other parts are in focus.

This is all wrapped up into an easy-to-use camera app with an automatic mode which takes care of most of the technological trickery, meaning all you have to do is point and shoot for a great snap.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The Huawei P20 Pro marked a significant shift for the Chinese firm, as it offers up one of best camera phone experiences on the market.

It may have been superseded by the newer Mate 20 Pro, but take nothing away from the P20 Pro, this is still a top camera phone.

Its party piece is the triple camera setup on its rear. The three cameras have a combined megapixel count of a staggering 68MP. Chuck the 24MP front facing camera into the mix as well and the phone has a total count of 92MP.

Megapixels only get you so far, but the good news here is that the Huawei P20 Pro backs up its MP count with a strong suit of camera features.

The main 40MP camera is backed up by a 20MP black and white sensor that helps with image processing, including decreasing noise and improving dynamic range - although as default the P20 Pro shoots at 10MP.

The third rear camera has a 3x 'zoom' lens and an 8MP sensor, letting you zoom into a scene without using digital zoom - which means there's very little decrease in image quality when used.

Read our full review: Huawei P20 Pro

You may be wondering how the Galaxy S9 is as far down as it is considering its bigger brother is above it. 

The reason is that, unlike the iPhone XS/XS Max and Google Pixel 3/3 XL which have identical cameras, Samsung gave the S9 Plus more photography prowess.

The Galaxy S9 is still a top camera phone though, with its powerful 12MP rear snapper (there's just one on the back of this phone) an advancement on the excellent sensor found on its predecessor.

Samsung has improved the camera's low-light capabilities on the Galaxy S9 with an industry leading f/1.5 aperture, and it's added super slo-mo, 960fps video recording to the mix as well.

The camera is even smarter though as, like the S9 Plus, it boasts Samsung's Dual-Aperture Technology, allowing it to automatically switch between f/1.5 in low-light settings, to f/2.4 in bright scenes.

The result? An easy to use camera, with an auto mode which, nine times out of ten, delivers a great photo with very little effort.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy S9

The Sony Xperia XZ3 is the best camera phone from the Japanese firm to date, with its single 19MP rear snapper proving a powerful photography option.

The user interface has been streamlined for starters, so there's less swiping to get to the various modes and frequently accessed settings are always shown on-screen, so there's minimal fiddling around when prepping your shot.

In good light, detail is strong, and a nice amount of background blur can be achieved without calling on any bokeh modes.

Where the Xperia XZ3 camera excels though is video. The digital stabilization works well in good light in particular, and the 4K HDR footage you can capture is simply breath-taking.

Sony is also still the only manufacturer whose phone cameras are able to capture 960fps Full HD slow motion, with the competition capping out at 720p. It's totally unusable in medium to low light, but it's a nice feature to have when you're outdoors on a sunny day.

Read our full review: Sony Xperia XZ3

The LG G7 ThinQ isn't the only camera phone on this list to pack more than one snapper on its rear, but it uses the two sensors it does have in a different way to everyone else.

Its primary rear camera is a relatively standard 16MP affair with a f/1.6 aperture that's accomplished enough to take decent quality snaps, but it's the second 16MP camera alongside it where things get a little more interesting.

Instead of gathering extra data to improve shots on the primary camera, or to provide bokeh-like effects, this 16MP snapper boasts a wide angle lens allowing you to cram more into every shot.

This is great when it comes to shooting landscapes or skyscrapers, and you can easily switch between the two sensors with a single tap on the screen.

Overall quality isn't quite as impressive as the Samsungs, Pixels or Huaweis above, but for those looking for something a bit different, and some serious wide-angle action, the G7 ThinQ has you covered.

Read our full review: LG G7 ThinQ

The OnePlus 6T may not be the very best camera phone here, but it's cheaper than the rest of the competition and still offers up a flagship photography experience.

The camera features a wide-angle lens paired with a 16MP sensor, as well as a secondary 20MP lens and sensor combination. Both lenses feature a f/1.7 aperture.

While OnePlus has stuck with the same hardware on the T update as the OnePlus 6, the software has been improved, notably with the addition of a new Nightscape long exposure mode. It's good, but not as good as the similar modes on the Mate 20 Pro or Pixel 3.  

Selfies are also nice and sharp, especially in good light, with the nicely exposed faces you want – and the selfie bokeh mode works well too.

Read our full review: OnePlus 6T

Categories: Tech News

This 9.7-inch iPad deal matches Black Friday discounts

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 17:33

Miss the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on iPads? Tech retailer B&H Photo has a holiday discount on the 9.7-inch iPad that chops $40 off the $329 list price.

That's a generous deal considering Apple devices rarely go on sale – even during extreme sales seasons, like Black Friday. If you were looking to pick up one of Apple's tablets for a holiday gift, this is a great price.

The iPad 2018 improved on its predecessor by implementing the A10 Fusion chip, a modified version of the processor that debuted in the iPhone X last year. This model includes 32GB of space and is Wi-Fi only, which should be just fine for most users who don't need a lot of local storage or to browse internet on the go. 

Sure, it's not the most powerful iPad on the block – that honor goes to the iPad Pro – but the newest basic iPad won't cost you an arm and a leg, either. Most consumers will be perfectly happy with the speed of the iPad 2018, and this may be the best price we'll see for this model all holiday season.

  • The new iPad 2018 ranked just behind the new iPad Pro in our best iPads list
Categories: Tech News

Best HP laptops 2018: the top HP laptops we’ve seen and tested

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 16:45

HP has been working hard on rebuilding its reputation over the last few years – primarily through the best HP laptops it has ever produced. These mobile beauties were thought to be dead just a couple years ago, but thanks to the magic of Windows 10 and the best Ultrabooks, HP’s best laptops have morphed into devices that focus on design flair rather than cheapness.

The HP revolution has brought the popular ‘privacy filter,’ called Sure View, to the best HP laptops. Plus, these fresh HP laptops have this gorgeous gold trim that we’re used to seeing in HP’s high-end HP Spectre 2-in-1s and Ultrabooks.

In our mind, the best HP laptops balance design flair with raw power, and the HP Spectre x360 is a perfect example. The 2018 model features perfectly slim bezels and is light enough to use in tablet mode comfortably. As a regular laptop, you’ll have trouble finding a better keyboard, brighter display and more powerful components – especially considering its size.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 

The HP Spectre 13 isn’t just one of the best HP laptops – it’s one of the most beautiful laptops period. The ceramic white finish is beautifully topped off by a two-prong hinge design that’s pure aesthetic. That’s not all – the HP Spectre 13 iis one of the most powerful HP laptops. It leverages the power of 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processors to a stunning degree. The HP Spectre 13 will get your work done – and look good while doing it.

Read the full review: HP Spectre 13 

The HP Pavilion 15 isn’t going to blow your mind with sheer power, but it will make up for it with finesse. It’s one of the few remaining AMD Ryzen-based laptops in HP’s stable – which could change – but the Ryzen chips here are worth paying attention to. This is the best HP laptop for anyone on a budget, it's a rare example of a laptop that can strike a golden balance between price and performance, making it one of the best laptops for college students.

You shouldn’t have to break open your piggy bank to get one of the best HP laptops, which is why devices like the HP Chromebook 14 G5 exist. It’s an economical Chromebook that never feels cheap, which is a distinction that Chromebooks wear like a badge of honor. This Chromebook in particular boasts a sleek aesthetic and passable performance, especially when you spec it out. It’s easy to see why, for people on a budget, the HP Chromebook 14 G% is one of the best HP laptops.

The best gaming laptops have a shaky reputation for their lack of upgradeability, making them more disposable than a gaming desktop by nature. Luckily, HP has subverted this issue by adding plenty of essential features that most gaming laptops lack. For instance, you can overclock the Omen X, which just means free performance – which will keep it at the top of the stack longer than competitors. For gamers, the HP Omen X is the best HP laptop on the market. 

  • Bill Thomas has also contributed to this article
Categories: Tech News

OnePlus 7 release date, price, news and rumors

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 15:31

Update: OnePlus has teased that we might see something on January 15, but don't count on it being the OnePlus 7.

The OnePlus 6T released last fall held up the company's tradition of flagship specs and features at a midrange price, but we're already starting to hear about the company's next phone, the OnePlus 7. 

Mind you, it's not much yet - OnePlus is keeping mum on how its next phone will improve on the OnePlus 6T, which included the first in-screen fingerprint sensor on a phone sold in Europe and the US. But the Chinese company has stated that the OnePlus 7 will accomplish a different milestone: it will be the first phone to come with a Snapdragon 855 chipset.

We’ll be sure to add any leaks and rumors on the OnePlus 7 to this page when we hear them. In the meantime, here’s what we hope the phone will offer, along with some speculation about it.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The next numbered phone from OnePlus
  • When is it out? Likely mid-2019
  • What will it cost? Probably at least $549 / £499 / AU$599
OnePlus 7 release date and price

The OnePlus 7 will probably land sometime in the middle of 2019. The OnePlus 6 was announced in May 2018, so May 2019 is a possibility for the OnePlus 7, though we got the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3 in June of their respective years, so June 2019 is also a possible launch period.

One outside possibility is that we'll see it on January 15, as OnePlus has teased that something is happening on that date, but that's so far removed from when we're expecting to see it that we're very skeptical.

There’s no word on what the OnePlus 7 will cost, but the OnePlus 6T started at $549 / £499 / AU$599 and prices have been gradually creeping up since the range began, so we’d expect the OnePlus 7 will cost at least that much if not more.

However, in the US you might be able to buy it from a carrier for the first time, as this is something OnePlus has said it's looking into, so you might not have to pay the whole cost upfront.

The OnePlus range isn't as cheap as it once was

OnePlus 7 news and rumors

The big rumor about the OnePlus 7 so far is a claim from the company that it will launch one of the first 5G phones next year. The OnePlus 7 isn't named, but that's likely what they're talking about (though the company's first 5G-capable phone might end up being the next one released, the OnePlus 7T).

Likewise, the company announced it will release the first 5G phone in Europe. OnePlus is partnering with the UK network EE to bring said phone to the UK at some point in 2019, though we don't know more than that - especially whether they're referring to the OnePlus 7 or 7T.

But it's entirely possible that the OnePlus 7 won't be the 5G-connected phone the company has been talking about. Sources said that the 5G device will be the first in an entirely new line, and another rumor hinted that it may start at $649 (or $100 more than the 6T).

Beyond that, the phone will probably have a glass back, since OnePlus only recently switched to glass with the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T.

It’s likely to also have an alert slider, since previous handsets in the range do, and it’s sure to have the best Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset available - tipped to be the Snapdragon 855 - with masses of RAM (the OnePlus 6 has a choice of 6GB or 8GB).

Don’t expect a microSD card slot though based on past form and the screen resolution is very much a question mark – OnePlus has consistently stuck with Full HD resolutions, but that’s feeling ever more dated so sooner or later we’d expect a switch to QHD or higher. Since the 6T got rid of the headphone jack, it's likely OnePlus won't bring it back for the 7.

What we want to see

We don’t know anything much about the OnePlus 7 yet but based on the OnePlus 6 and what’s going on in the rest of the phone world we know what we want from it.

1. A QHD screen

The OnePlus 6 has a good screen, but it could stand to be sharper

OnePlus always packs its phones full of cutting-edge specs and features, yet it always sticks with a Full HD screen, which isn’t a match for most of the top-end flagships.

That may well be keeping costs down, but it’s time the range made the jump to QHD, especially given that its screens are getting bigger, so we want to see that happen for the OnePlus 7.

2. A microSD card slot

You can get a decent amount of storage in the OnePlus 6 but you don’t get a microSD card slot, so if the amount it ships with isn’t enough you’ll have to start deleting things.

That’s not ideal and while the 256GB top size should be plenty for most people it won’t be for everyone – especially those who plan to pack their phone full of music, films and games. So adding a slot into the OnePlus 7 would be much appreciated.

3. Proper water resistance

The OnePlus 6 should survive a spill, but we want more of a guarantee from the OnePlus 7

The OnePlus 6 has some water resistance, but it doesn’t have an IP rating. So it should be able to survive a splash if you dry it off quickly but can’t really be put in the water.

Not that we’d advise doing that in general with most phones, but knowing that it would survive if you did – or if you use it in heavy rain - could give some real peace of mind that you don’t get with the OnePlus 6, so we’d like to see this improved for the OnePlus 7.

4. Stereo speakers

The OnePlus 6 has just a single speaker, and its placement at the base of the phone makes it easy to muffle, so we’d like to see it ideally moved and definitely doubled up for the OnePlus 7, with a second speaker allowing for loud stereo sound.

Sure, you’ll probably mostly use headphones anyway, but having a quality speaker setup can make all the difference when you just want to watch a YouTube video or listen to a podcast without plugging in.

5. No notch

For the OnePlus 7 we want no notch and no bezels

The OnePlus 6 is one of many recent phones to get a notch, and while it can be hidden if you prefer, what we’d really prefer for the OnePlus 7 is no notch at all.

But we don’t want a return to big bezels either. We’re starting to see phones like the Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X which have almost no bezel at all and we’d like the OnePlus 7 to join them. This isn’t out of the question, especially as Oppo is heavily linked with OnePlus.

6. Wireless charging

Despite having a glass back, the OnePlus 6 doesn’t support wireless charging, which seems like a major omission for a flagship phone.

This is probably a cost-cutting measure and, in a sense, seems reasonable, since we doubt wireless charging is a heavily used feature, but it would be nice to have.

7. An in-screen scanner

Along with an all-screen design we’d like the OnePlus 7 to have an in-screen fingerprint scanner. That way it could still have a scanner without having to awkwardly place it on the back.

And in-screen scanners are currently a high-tech novelty which could help the OnePlus 7 stand out from the crowd – or at least match up to it, depending on how many phones have them by the time the OnePlus 7 launches.

Categories: Tech News

This MSI GF63 gaming laptop deal is the best we've seen since Black Friday

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 15:13

If you missed out on any of those sweet gaming laptop deals over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season, it looks like MSI and Newegg have you covered.

The duo have teamed up to produce a limited-time deal on MSI's most accessible and affordable gaming, the GF63, to make it even more approachable. But, you'll need to submit a rebate to enjoy the entire savings.

Sure, this is no doubt MSI's most entry-level gaming laptop, but that's the point. This is the lowest price we've seen for the cost of entry into mobile PC gaming.

That price gets you enough graphics grunt to handle most of the latest games at mid-to-low settings through the 15.6-inch 1080p screen with in-plane switching.

Plus, this laptop comes with 16GB of Intel Optane memory, which should boost the speed of loading apps and games like an SSD would. That's a whole lot for a gaming laptop that's priced more like a mid-range machine. This deal expires at 11:59pm PT, so act quickly.

Categories: Tech News

OnePlus will be the first to release a 5G phone in Europe

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 14:28

OnePlus has been open about its plans to bring a phone out in 2019 that's capable of connecting to 5G, but now the company is declaring war against its competitors by claiming it will be the first to offer a 5G-capable phone in Europe.

An exact release date wasn't confirmed, but the company has unveiled a new partnership with UK network EE to bring the unspecified phone to the UK at some point in 2019.

EE is planning to launch 5G in 2019 in 16 different UK cities, so coverage will be limited to certain areas at first. You can find out all the details we know so far about EE's planned 5G service here.

Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, announced the news of the device launching with EE on stage at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit 2018. He also confirmed the phone will be powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset.

New brains

So far all we've heard for a release date is "2019", but we can venture a guess that it'll be toward the start of the year in order to beat the competition. 

Samsung has also confirmed that it plans to bring a mainstream 5G phone to market in the first half of 2019, so the company will have to work quickly to be able to achieve this.

Lau didn't confirm the name of the device on stage either. We expect this to either be the OnePlus 7, or perhaps the OnePlus 7T if the company decides to launch two phones next year. But it's possible that the company also plans to release a separate 5G device.

Rumors suggest a 5G phone from the company will see a price increase of $100 over the normal going rate for a OnePlus phone (the 6T debuted at $549 (£499, AU$599), so the company may decide to keep this a separate entity entirely.

We're reporting live from the Snapdragon Summit all week and hope to have far more details about the chipset that will be powering the first 5G OnePlus phone as well as a variety of other devices in the next couple of days.

Categories: Tech News

OnePlus 7 will be the first phone to feature a Snapdragon 855

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 14:24

We don't know the name for certain yet, but OnePlus is the first to confirm its next phone will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 inside.

Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, confirmed the news on stage at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit 2018 and said its next mobile device will feature the newly announced chipset.

Lau didn't confirm the name of the next handset, but considering the general naming convention for OnePlus handsets we can safely assume this will be the OnePlus 7.

We already expected the next OnePlus device to feature the newly announced Snapdragon 855, but it's a surprise the company is the first to announce it'll feature the new chipset.

A OnePlus first

Another interesting point is when we'll see the next OnePlus phone. We expected it to be released around April or later in 2019 as often OnePlus announces a new phone every six months, but this news suggests it'll be launching earlier.

Often Samsung and Sony have been the first to announce it will feature the Snapdragon 855, but that isn't the case for the Snapdragon 855.

We don't yet know which phone will be the first you can buy with the chipset inside though. We thought the Samsung Galaxy S10 may be the first phone on sale with the chipset, but this news may mean the next OnePlus handset is available before Samsung's next phone.

Categories: Tech News

Get up to £150 cashback with selected new Samsung phone deals

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 13:01

Have you been thinking about getting a new Samsung device? Well that idea might be about to get a whole lot sweeter as Samsung is now offering some tasty cashback deals on mobile phone deals and more up until Christmas Eve. 

You can claim back money on some of its biggest handsets including the Note 9, Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, with £150 to be claimed on the former.

This offer is available on both contracts and SIM-free Samsung devices and can be claimed with purchases from an extensive list of different mobile phone providers meaning you don't have to feel forced into a certain deal. The likes of Amazon, John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse and EE are all included - a full list of eligible retailers can be found at the bottom of this article.

You can see all of the cashback options below, as well as information on how to claim your cashback. There is also the option to claim back money on Samsung tablets and watches if that is more what you're looking for.

The Samsung phone cashback values in full:

Galaxy Note 9 - £150 cashback reward
Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus - £100 cashback reward
Galaxy A9 - £80 cashback reward
Galaxy A7 - £50 cashback reward
Galaxy J6+ - £40 cashback reward
Galaxy J4+ - £30 cashback reward

How to claim your cashback

After you've bought your Samsung phone deal and it has arrived, the first step is going to this link within 30 days of purchasing the device. That link will ask you for your IMEI number, which may sound daunting but it is easy to find. On your device dial  *#06# or go into your settings and go to the status menu to find it. 

Next, you give your details along with a scanned copy of the proof of purchase to Samsung. Finally, your cashback request will go through and, all being well, your money should arrive in the next 30 days.

You do have to purchase your new device before December 24 to be eligible. If you're still unsure of any of the details, you can see it in full on Samsung's website.

Eligible retailers for Samsung's cashback offer

Well it's safe to say Samsung hasn't scrimped on the provider options with this deal, offering the cashback with retailers including:

Three Mobile, Affordable Mobiles, Amazon (excludes 3rd  Party Marketplace Dealers) UK,, Argos, BT,, Carphone Warehouse, Currys PC World,, EE, GiffGaff, ID Mobile, John Lewis, Littlewoods, Mobile Phones Direct,, O2, Samsung Experience Store, Samsung Shop online, Tesco Mobile, Very, Virgin Mobile.

Categories: Tech News

Nokia 8.1 announced with big screen and dual cameras

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 12:17

The Nokia 8.1 has just been announced, and on paper it has got a lot of high points considering its £379.99 (roughly $485 / AU$665) price.

For a start, it has a big 6.18-inch Full HD+ (2246 x 1080) screen which supports HDR10, so you can get the most out of supported content.

The phone, which lines up exactly with a recent leak, also has a pair of cameras on the back, with both a 12MP main lens with optical image stabilization and a 13MP depth sensor. Plus, there’s a 20MP camera on the front.

Power is handled by a Snapdragon 710 chipset and 4GB of RAM, making for an upper mid-range spec. The phone has 64GB of storage (expandable up to 256GB), a microSD card slot, and a 3,500mAh battery, which supports fast charging and which the company claims can last up to two days between charges.

Up to date on Android One

The Nokia 8.1 also runs Android 9 Pie (specifically the Android One version), so it’s both up-to-date and should get speedy updates in future.

It has a fairly high-end design, with a metal frame, a notch and what appears to be a glass back, though notably there is still a substantial bezel below the screen.

While the phone has been announced, you can’t actually buy it quite yet, with the Nokia 8.1 set to hit UK stores on January 14. When it does, you’ll be able to choose between Blue/Silver, Steel/Copper and Iron/Steel color combinations. US and Australian pricing and availability has yet to be confirmed.

Categories: Tech News

Dispelling the top four flexible work myths

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 12:11

Flexible work is quickly shifting from a future of work trend to a reality for many businesses. The “work from anywhere” mindset is a sea change in how employees believe they can do their best work. With nearly 50 percent of the workforce already working remotely at some point during the work week, it’s time for enterprises to listen to employees, trust their technology, and embrace a new face of work. 

Yet, implementing a flexible work program at a company that has worked on a traditional 9-5 schedule can quickly become an intimidating process and tiresome effort to dispel executive concerns. However, the list of remote work misconceptions is shrinking as more organizations realize the value, and impact, of remote employees. Here are four traditional myths companies should reconsider when thinking about the growing flexible workforce. 

Collaboration and efficiency are going to suffer

The evolving landscape of the workforce is changing how employees interact within their companies regardless of location. 

The internet, cloud, high-speed mobile networks and other technology advances have empowered remote employees with seamless access to mobile, chat, video and other collaboration tools to not only work together, but work better and smarter. 

Technology now enables high fidelity interaction from wherever and whenever you chose to work. In fact, Fuze’s Workforce Futures research found that 83 percent of workers agree you don’t need to be in the office to be productive. The ability and flexibility to choose where and when you work encourages collaboration and maximizes efficiency and productivity both individually and as a team.  

No one's going to come into the office anymore

When a flexible work option is introduced across a company, the “why would you ever go into the office?” question may arise. 

In reality, face-to-face interactions in a workplace will never end, and according to Fuze’s research, 86 percent of workers think that in-person interaction will always be a valuable part of working life. 

The benefit of flexible work, however, is the option to connect not only where you want, but how you want. Create an office environment that is hospitable to workers’ needs, and employees will come into the office with their coworkers because they want to, not because they have to.  

Transparency will fall to the wayside

While working from home may mean taking calls in athleisure wear, it doesn’t mean slacking on accountability and multitasking on calls. 

Being transparent in a culture of flexible work is a vital piece to  maintain an employee’s trust and vice-versa. The expansion of digital communications only increases accountability and opportunity when it comes to providing information to a distributed company. 

The idea of working remotely may trigger feelings of uncertainty of the day-to-day work happenings, but in fact even greater transparency can occur when communication is a priority and the right tools are provided for employees to post their whereabouts, meeting schedules, and even broad company updates. 

A great rule of thumb is to encourage the use of video in every meeting possible, which quite literally creates transparency across a team. Over communicating may seem unnecessary to some, but in a flexible culture, it builds trust, accountability and ensures employees feel connected to their coworkers and leaders.  

Team leadership will be compromised

A strong leader will guarantee his or her employees are given the right technology, a healthy environment, and a steady flow of information. 

This is especially true for leaders and managers in the flexible and remote  workforce because of the heightened responsibility they have to oversee the operation of a team they do not not see on a regular basis. 

Leaders and managers must be proactive in planning ahead to incorporate tools and events to encourage employees to come together even if it requires some extra time, thought or resources. Regardless of location, a strong leader will set aside regular time on a weekly basis to connect with their reports, listen and identify ways to advance projects more efficiently. 

While implementing a flexible workforce can seem like a challenging process, encouraging strong communication through technology, fostering in-person office interactions, and setting a focus on transparency will build a cohesive team of accountable, productive and happy employees. 

This will ultimately debunk the vast majority of remote work myths, and will usher your company into the future of work. 

Michael Affronti is VP of Product at Fuze 

Categories: Tech News

iD Mobile releases festive deals including iPhone 6S, Note 9 and Huawei P20 Pro

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 11:28

What is Christmas all about? We are going to assume your instant response was "phone deals" because we are only five days into December and have already started to see festive deals dropping and now Carphone Warehouse-owned iD Mobile has joined in the festivities with its '12 Days Of Christmas' sales.

As the name suggests, iD has 12 deals up for grabs but they have all been released at once so you don't have to wait if one of the deals takes your fancy (this ain't no advent calendar). But the deals do end on December 19, so make sure you've grabbed the deal you want in time. 

Go straight to iD Mobiles to see all the phone deals in full

There are offers on big name devices like the Samsung Note 9, Galaxy S9 and iPhone 6S and rewards including cashback and movie credits. So scroll down to see all of the deals up for grabs. 

If none of these deals have peaked your interest don't despair, we have a best phone deals page where you will be able to search through all the top devices for all the best seasonal phone deals. 

The 12 mobile phone deals up for grabs from iD:

1.  Huawei P20 Lite, P20 Pro & P Smart: 10GB Data Boost on Plans with 2GB or more.

2. iPhone 6S: £19.00pm | 600 minutes | unlimited texts | 2GB of data | FREE upfront

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 9, S9, S9 plus, A7, J6 Plus and J4 Plus: Up to £150 Cashback on selected Samsung smartphones

4. Sony devices: 12 months membership of PlayStation Plus with all Sony devices

5. Honor 9 Lite: £9.99pm | 250 minutes | Unlimited texts | 500MB data | FREE upfront

6. Nokia 6: £13.99pm | 500 minutes | Unlimited texts | 1GB 2GB data | FREE upfront

7. OnePlus 6T: £23.99pm | 500 minutes | Unlimited texts | 500MB data | £29.99 upfront

8. iPhone 6S Plus: £18.99pm | 500 minutes | Unlimited texts | 500MB data | £29.99 upfront

9. Samsung J6: £14.99pm | 500 minutes | Unlimited texts | 500MB 2GB data | FREE upfront

10. SIM only 12GB data: £12pm | 1200 minutes | Unlimited texts

11. SIM only 4GB data: £9pm | 1200 minutes | Unlimited texts

12. Pay monthly/SIM only | £10 CHILI movies credit with every pay monthly or SIMO

Find all of these deals on iD Mobiles page 

What is iD Mobile?

iD Mobile is a sub-section of Carphone Warehouse so you can rest assured that it is a trustworthy source for your new phone deal. It piggybacks off the Three network's coverage, so pretty good for most parts of the UK. And you can use roaming in 50 destinations around the world.

Categories: Tech News