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Updated: 1 hour 44 min ago

Tokina unveils affordable opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF lens

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 10:39

Tokina has confirmed full details of its latest wide-angle zoom lens, the opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF.

The lens bears the same basic specifications as the company's existing AT-X 16-28mm f/2.8 PRO FX, although it arrives with a smarter design and additional internal technologies. 

Like that lens, however, it covers the dimensions of a full-frame sensor and is set to be available in Canon EF and Nikon F fittings, making it compatible with the likes of the Nikon D850 and Canon EOS 6D Mark II.

Built around 15 elements arranged over 13 groups, the lens features three aspherical elements that include a large P-MO element towards the front of the optic. Three glass molded Low-Dispersion (SD) elements have also been included here, as are Multi Coatings on the elements to help improve light transmission.

Like the previous AT-X 16-28mm F2.8 PRO FX, the new lens has an integrated petal-shaped hood at its front, partly to block extraneous rays of light from causing aberrations such as ghosting and flare but also to protect the bulbous front element from any damage. 

On the inside, nine blades make up the diaphragm to help keep bokeh round and natural, while the focusing motor makes use of a Silent Drive module for fast and quiet focus, something that works with a new GMR magnetic AF sensor to boost speed and accuracy. Focusing itself is internal, with the familiar One-Touch Focus Clutch mechanism also allowing the user to quickly switch between autofocus and manual focus by snapping the focusing ring back and forth. 

The lens is capable of focusing 28cm away from the subject, and has a focus distance window with markings in both feet and meters designed into its casing. Tokina also states that the direction of the manual focusing ring's travel has been designed to match that of Canon and Nikon lenses. 

The Tokina opera 16-28mm f/2.8 FF will be available in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts from March. The lens is already available to pre-order, priced at $699 in the US and £699 in the UK; pricing for Australia has not yet been confirmed.


Categories: Tech News

Best e-commerce platform of 2019: get an online store now!

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 10:25

The rise of the web has allowed countless businesses to reach a wider market. Not only that, it has given rise to countless new online-only businesses, fueled by the exponential rise of mobile connections.

It's not surprising, then, that one analyst claims that the SMB e-commerce platform market will break the billion dollar barrier.

There's no doubt that the web provides a huge opportunity for companies, but it’s important for organizations to make the most of that opportunity. In order to sell your products or services online, your website has to be appropriately equipped.

Building an online store from scratch is a mammoth task, and fortunately, an unnecessary one. Today, there is a huge variety of e-commerce platform packages from which to choose. 

Most e-commerce platforms will provide businesses with standard functionality such as the ability to showcase products in an online catalog, take payments online, manage customers and provide with after-sales.

Others will provide more sophisticated functionality, such as online marketing features, the ability to manage or integrate with in-store systems and the provision of APIs.

Which e-commerce software is best for your business depends entirely on your specific requirements. If you're an online-only outfit, then POS integration won't be necessary, but you may get a lot of business from overseas, in which case foreign currency support would be a requirement.

In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the best e-commerce platforms available right now, before moving on to consider other options you might want to explore in terms of creating your own e-commerce solution.

The best e-commerce platform packages


Shopify is perhaps the most well known e-commerce platform available. It was set up in 2006 by founders Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand and Scott Lake who, as the story goes, felt that there wasn't a simple-to-use e-commerce platform available and so built their own. The company claims that: "You don't need to have any technical or design experience to easily create a beautiful online store." 

According to Shopify, it's possible to get one of its online stores up-and-running within minutes. Users can choose from a wide range of templates, or they can design the look and feel of their store themselves. It accepts a comprehensive range of credit cards, has Level 1 PCI compliance and 256-bit SSL encryption for security, and it offers 24/7 support via phone, instant messaging or email.

The platform provides a full CMS with which users can manage the functionality and layout of their online store. Users can manage their store on-the-go using Shopify's mobile apps, and the platform itself is fully responsive, meaning the store will be optimized for visitors regardless of whether they access it from a desktop computer or a mobile device.

Shopify also offers users unlimited hosting for their stores, in-depth analytics of how visitors are using the store, and functionality for marketing such as SEO optimization, a discount and coupon engine, gift cards and email marketing tools. You can test out Shopify with a 14-day free trial.


Bigcommerce was established in 2009 and promises to "support your business, not just your store." In addition to offering support via phone, instant chat and email, it also offers articles and videos to help with e-commerce, and access to a team of e-commerce experts who can provide advice and guidance about online selling. Their experts are qualified in both Google Analytics and Adwords.

Like Shopify, Bigcommerce provides a variety of templates and themes to help stores look their best and get up-and-running quickly. Alternatively, users can design their own store or use Bigcommerce designers to do so. The platform incorporates a full-featured CMS that allows users to run an entire website, rather than just a store.

Users can benefit from detailed and flexible product management, optimized search engine rankings, along with a variety of integrated marketing tools and analytics. Payments can be accepted via 40+ pre-integrated gateways and shipping details can be customized as per the business's requirements. As of late, some new features have been added like support for Amazon Import and Link and Shopping in Instagram Stories. The platform offers automated order processing, flexible tax rules depending on where orders are made and shipped, and support for multiple currencies. You can test out Bigcommerce with a 15-day free trial.


Volusion has been around for almost two decades, having been set up in Texas over in the US in 1999. The company touts its platform as being an "all-in-one e-commerce solution", and offers a free 14-day trial (no credit card required).

As with other e-commerce platforms, users are offered a variety of templates from which to choose, and can also customize templates if they so wish. Should a more complex design be required, Volusion offers a custom design service that can incorporate branding and a firm's social media presence.

The platform provides the site and product management tools you'd expect, marketing functionality for SEO, social media, and affiliate outlets, along with emails and order management functionality for fast order processing, accepting payments, tax calculations and POS integration.

In addition to its platform and associated services, Volusion offers apps from its partners, support for users and a knowledge-base for help with e-commerce. Users can draw upon blog posts, guides and webinars. As of October 8th 2018, there are no more transaction fees.


CoreCommerce was set up in 2001 and focuses on providing e-commerce services to small and medium-sized businesses. The company places an emphasis on simplicity and transparency, promising that its platform is easy-to-use and that customers will not fall foul of any hidden charges.

Perhaps CoreCommerce's most unique aspect is that all of its features are offered to all customers regardless of what plan they are on. Price plans are determined by the number of products, the number of email addresses, the amount of bandwidth and the amount of storage required by the user (and higher-end plans also benefit from additional support).

As with other e-commerce providers, CoreCommerce offers functionality for store design, product management, order processing and marketing. Of its headline features, the platform offers unlimited product customization options, a built-in blogging engine, and secure hosting that is provided by Rackspace and comes with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You can try CoreCommerce out with a 15-day free trial.


Having been founded in 1997, 3dcart is the oldest of our featured providers here. It was set up with a view to incorporating as many of the most requested e-commerce features into one platform as possible.

The company says it has six core values by which it operates: ongoing innovation, good service, simple solutions, fostering trust, keeping employees and customers happy, and stimulating prosperity amongst employees and customers.

Some of the platform's innovative features include a module that users can install to offer gift-wrapping, a purchase order system, the option of running a loyalty program and the ability to offer recurring orders. Many of these features are very specific, meaning that stores can be highly tailored to the needs of each business.

Stores can be designed using one of the many templates offered by 3dcart, or users can design their own store. A quick edit bar means that making changes to the design of a store is simple. Product images are fore-fronted with 3dcart's auto-zoom feature and products can be sold via Facebook with its store integration. As with some other platforms, users can blog directly from 3dcart and tools are provided for setting up coupons, sending newsletters and affiliate marketing.

In addition to its platform, 3dcart offers a number of professional services. Users can request help with SEO, PPC, shopping feed management, social media, Facebook ads and conversion consulting. Help can also be provided to ensure that a user's store is set up to the highest standard. Services such as site cloning, setting up custom tracking, data migration and training are offered.

In addition, 3dcart can provide SSL certification. Hosting is guaranteed at 99.9% uptime and 24/7 support is provided via phone, email or online chat. You can test out the service with a 15-day free trial.

Also consider:

Alternative means

If you don’t want to go the route of using an off-the-shelf package, what other options are available for you to explore? That’s what we’re going to look at in the second half of this piece…


Is eBay right for your business?

Opening its doors in 1999, eBay UK now has over 14 million users, with over 10,000 people using the site for a business that is their primary means of income. It's not just about people selling unwanted goods - businesses have used the simplicity that eBay offers to set up lucrative operations. Even the larger brands such as Argos, Debenhams and House of Fraser are using eBay to sell online.

With sophisticated tools now available you can be up and running with your store in just a few hours. The eBay Seller Centre has all the information you need. Each store is managed via eBay's familiar user interface, and there are a number of eBay-provided tools to help manage, track and promote your shop once it's established.

Using eBay as the platform for your business could be ideal if your business wants to sell goods on a fixed price basis. The complete integration of the PayPal e-payments system into eBay takes care of this essential component of your store.

The key with eBay is to look closely at the costs involved and also the transaction fees that PayPal charge before moving forward and setting up your own store.

How to create your own e-commerce solution

Of course if you want complete control over every aspect of your new online store, building each page yourself will be the best course of action. Hiring someone to code your website is one option. If you decide to do this follow these steps:

  1. Ask the company for live examples of their work to look at
  2. Write a detailed brief of the site you want created. The more detail the better to avoid confusion
  3. Ensure you understand the price you are being charged and how many revisions this price includes
  4. Always have a signed agreement or contract before work commences
  5. Ask whether the designers will host your site and if you will be able to make updates yourself or if all updates must go through the design agency at an additional cost
  6. Ask for the copyright of your design to be assigned to your company, as your website is an important part of your business' intellectual property
  7. Put into your contract, details of how the agreement can be amicably dissolved if things go wrong


You also don't have to build your site completely from scratch. Buying a template can give you all the basic pages your site needs. You can then either modify them yourself using an application like Dreamweaver, or hire a coding expert to make the changes. Website templates are available from a number of vendors including Template Monster.

If you already have a website and want to add e-commerce functionality, this can be easily achieved with a number of applications including:

Final advice

Whichever route you decide to take when building your website always remember:

  1. You need to ensure your store can be easily updated and managed.
  2. Good professional web hosting is vital to ensure your site is always available.
  3. Look for payment and shopping carts that are intuitive and efficient to use.
  4. Customer service is king these days. Businesses shouldn't just efficiently take customers' money, but should also properly support them.
  5. Make sure that your store is fully integrated with all the leading social media sites.
  6. Put security first – shoppers are now more comfortable buying online, but always ensure your site uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) which is now the industry standard for online payments.
  7. Above every other consideration should be your site's visitor experience. Don't forget your competitors are just a mouse click away in the world of e-commerce. 

Setting up your online store should be approached carefully and diligently to ensure you put a professional and efficient site live. Internet shopping continues to expand. Make sure your business doesn't miss out on a sales channel that shows no signs of slowing down.

Categories: Tech News

Soon you'll be able to stream 4K movies on multiple screens in your car

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 04:02

In car connectivity is set to take another leap forward with the introduction of the Qualcomm QCA6696 automotive chip at MWC 2019.

It may not sound that appealing, but this chip provides new functionality which could change what's possible within your car.

The chip brings the next generation of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to the automotive industry, including support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

Movies and more

The introduction of a Wi-Fi 6 connection in the car means you'll have access to even faster internet speeds, allowing you to stream 4K movies on multiple screens at the same time.

Meanwhile the Bluetooth 5.1 support brings with it Qualcomm aptX Adaptive audio which delivers high fidelity voice and streaming audio support.

What's more, the new chip will improve signal in built up and busy areas, which means you should be able to maintain a constant connection when you're in the middle of the city or sitting in a traffic jam.

Qualcomm claims the QCA6696 chip is capable of achieving download speeds of up to 1.Gbps, which is currently faster than many home broadband connections.

There is a little bit of a wait until we see the benefits of this new chip in action though, with the first vehicles to pack it expected to roll off production lines in 2021. 

At least by then 5G networks will be far more established, which means you should be able to get excellent performance pretty much anywhere you go.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

Categories: Tech News

Customer Experience ‘disconnect’ puts pressure on financial services to modernise

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 04:00

The collective rise of the tech giants and challenger banks is placing significant pressure on traditional financial institutions. Disruptive digital savvy ‘newbies’ are designing their entire ethos around simplifying and enriching the customer experience, and anyone slow to respond could find themselves serving as another stark reminder of the pace at which customer loyalties can change. 

Essentially, the customer experience (CX) in financial services has reached an impasse. While a whopping 94% of financial services professionals see CX as a key differentiator in their crowded and competitive market1, only 30% of respondents see it as a business challenge that’s prioritised by the board – signalling a worrying disconnect between recognising the importance of CX and bringing it into the spotlight as a critical business imperative.

What’s more, only 13% of professionals indicate that their company takes an integrated, organisational-wide approach to CX. Failure to collectively prioritise customer experience, involve the entire business in its application, and give it a seat on the board is a false economy and represents an unnecessary additional risk during a time of considerable competitive market change. 

But encouragingly, many banks and financial institutions are now recognising the need to react in order to fend off the threats of digital disruption posed by fintech start-ups such as Ant Financial, Atom and Monzo, along with large, established businesses like Alibaba, Google and Amazon branching out into financial services. Industry and regulatory experience, together with a history of innovation and deep pockets to invest, will allow many institutions to catch up and leverage the rapidly increasing data-driven interactions with customers to bring new ideas and services to the table. 

From top to bottom, and from the outside in

While financial services incumbents still have the majority of customers on their side, many have been slow to transform. Complex and costly legacy IT systems are difficult to adapt and change, and with millions of customers calling or logging-in to access a wide array of services daily, incumbents need to walk a fine balance between change and stability. 

Our research shows that around 70% of organisations rely on either non-board level or divisional managers to own separate and disparate customer contact channels. Even more concerning is that nearly 10% of financial services professionals indicate there’s no ownership structure at all for customer experience.

And with only 28% of financial services professionals saying that all employees take accountability for delivering against CX guidelines, there clearly needs to be an improved ownership model of CX in order to ensure everyone is reading from the same book. For example, best practice shows that appointing a single person accountable for the customer experience across the organisation ensures the right structure and processes for delivery are in place across every customer touchpoint, which contributes towards an organisation-wide view of CX and a coherent CX strategy.

What’s more, we believe that CX can only work if it’s constructed from the outside in. A customer experience strategy has to be designed around the customer first, and distributed for organisation-wide buy-in second. This approach is proving the catalyst for disruptive financial services businesses looking to completely revolutionise customer engagement. They’re doing far more than merely revising processes and points of contact – they’re transforming their thinking and entire culture. 

Image Credit: Pexels

Automation, analytics and self-service mean technology is the differentiator

The explosion of automation, data analytics, and self-service solutions is allowing many forward-thinking financial services organisations to build next generations platforms to ensure rich and rewarding digital experiences for their customers. When asked to identify the top three trends being prioritised by their CX team, analytics (44%), digital business transformation (39%), and self-service solutions (36%) were the most common technology changes underway.

Automation, particularly in terms of operational efficiency, is critical for financial services companies looking to not only improve costs, but also to drive increased customer analytics and business intelligence. It’s cyclical; using automation to improve one area will invariably have a positive impact on another. Whether that’s by reducing queues and waiting times in call centres through enhanced interactivity and service accessibility, or providing live-servicing video banking platforms – there’s no doubt the application of automation and advanced analytics is unlocking some real transformative potential.

Nonetheless, research indicates there’s still significant value in traditional face-to-face customer interactions, so companies must be careful of not tipping the balance too far in favour of technology and putting themselves at risk of becoming a faceless and untrusted corporate machine.

Strategy first, technology second

Technological advantage is nothing without the right customer-centric business strategies and attitudes. With almost one in five companies operating without a formal CX strategy, it comes as no surprise that so many organisations are seeing low net-promotor scores and little commercial improvement, despite investing heavily in new digital channels.

It's equally clear that far too few financial services organisations are engaging directly with their customers or using data analytics to transform customer data into market intelligence. While bringing all areas of the business into the same conversation should be seen as the starting point, the lack of a coherent CX strategy that’s fully focused on the customer will leave many organisations struggling to remain relevant as the financial services world continues to undergo such rapid and dramatic change.

Steve van den Heever, Group Sales Director of Financial Services at Dimension Data

Categories: Tech News

HTC 5G home hub gets you ready for superfast internet

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 03:01

HTC is helping users get ready for 5G with the launch of a new smart home hub that could take the hassle out of getting connected.

The HTC 5G Hub, revealed today at MWC 2019 in Barcelona, does pretty much what it says on the tin, acting as a central portal for all your devices to hook up to the superfast next-generation 5G networks.

Built with both work and play in mind, the hub looks to cut down on the hassle of getting all your devices online, meaning you can say goodbye to unnecessary wires and extension leads cluttering up your home or office.

(Image credit: HTC)

Designed to replace existing home routers, users can monitor their data usage and speed of their connections via a 5in HD screen, and the hub can even be disconnected to keep you connected on the go.

Thanks to its high-speed connectivity, the hub is able to stream 4K videos to a second screen with no drop-off in quality. 

It can also act as a mobile hotspot for up to 20 users, meaning multiple devices can get in on the action, making it the perfect gaming companion - particularly if you got your hands on HTC's Vive VR headset.

HTC has already signed up a number of major operators around the world to support the new hub, including Three UK and Deutsche Telekom, with more hopefully on the way soon.

The HTC 5G Hub will go on sale in the next few months through selected retailers, however there's no news on price just yet.

“HTC is proud to bring to market the world’s first 5G mobile smart hub,” said Cher Wang, Chairwoman and CEO of HTC. 

“5G will be the game-changer for VR and AR, and the new HTC 5G Hub will seamlessly deliver the great bandwidth of 5G to our devices, driving our vision of Vive Reality—a boundless, immersive environment where human experiences will come to the forefront.”

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

Categories: Tech News

Mobile and train operators urged to improve coverage on railways

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 03:01

Mobile operators and train companies have been urged to improve the state of railway connectivity after nine in ten passengers reported difficulties in accessing voice, text and data services.

Research from uSwitch found that 88 per cent of people had issues connecting the Internet, with 56 poor cent struggling to maintain a 4G or 4G signal. More than half said they had experienced dropped calls, while 38 per cent had been unable to send a text message.

There have been moves by operators to improve coverage along major rail routes, while the government has also sought to identify ways to improve the situation – including 5G. There has also been a suggestion that Network Rail’s fibre network could be used to provide the necessary backhaul.

Mobile railways

However, improving cellular connectivity is challenging because signals tend to bounce off train carriages rather than penetrate them. Most train operators have therefore turned to Wi-Fi to alleviate the issue, but this has proved an unsatisfactory solution. Two thirds of passengers say they find train Wi-Fi difficult to connect to.

One of the other intriguing findings from uSwitch’s report is that the most popular applications are social media and music streaming. This shows that it isn’t just commuters frustrated by the lack of coverage.

“[Train] Wi-Fi connections are rarely as fast or reliable as the broadband people enjoy at home, which limits the performance of data-demanding apps and services people have become accustomed to using all the time,” said Ru Bhikha, mobile expert at uSwitch.

“On top of that, free networks which aren’t password protected are increasingly susceptible to fraud - it doesn’t take much for a potential hacker to mimic the name of a train network, encouraging the user to route all their unencrypted and sensitive data through this phony hotspot.

“Combined with the fact that many rail operators have introduced time limits caps - some of which are as little as 15 minutes - means that these WI-FI networks are often both unfit for purpose and a possible security hazard.

“This, coupled with patchy 3G or 4G reception en-route, can make for frustratingly intermittent connectivity during the morning commute.

“Both network providers and rail operators should work together to deliver the infrastructure needed to serve the vital arteries carrying Britain’s workforce.”

Categories: Tech News

Sony Xperia 1 release date, price, news and features

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 02:45

Sony has issued a new flagship phone every six months for the last few years, and the company has done so yet again with the brand new Xperia 1.

This is the flagship phone following up the Xperia XZ3, but instead of the long-rumored Xperia XZ4 name the company has decided to slim down its branding for a more easy to understand Xperia 1 name.

The company isn’t starting from the bottom in terms of hardware though – this is the most advanced Sony phone yet, taking a lot of what made the Xperia XZ3 great, mixing in a little of the Xperia XZ Premium and adding a few extra features and quirks we’ve never seen before on a Sony phone.

We’re soon set to try out the phone at MWC 2019 and we’ll be sure to share all of our first impressions of the phone, but for the time being you can find all of the details we know so far about Sony’s flagship choice below.

Sony Xperia 1 release date and price 

Image Credit: Sony

We've yet to find out exactly when the Sony Xperia 1 will be on sale, but it's expected to land at some point in Q2 2019. As for what it will cost, the UK price is set at £849, which is around $1,110 / AU$1,550.

That makes it more expensive than the Xperia XZ3, which cost £699 / $899 (around AU$1,260) at launch.

Sony Xperia 1 display 

The big upgrade here is a brand new aspect ratio, though not everything else is new, as once again Sony is using a super-sharp 4K display.

The Xperia 1 comes with a 6.5-inch display, and while on paper that may sound huge it’s unlikely to feel as big in the hand because of the new aspect ratio the company is using, which is 21:9.

It’s an OLED display with the company’s own BRAVIA tech division working toward improving the panel so it should be at least a match for the display on the Xperia XZ3.

The company has adopted the 21:9 aspect ratios to give you a wider display for watching films and when you’re looking at photos. The reasoning here is because most filmmakers make their projects in 21:9, so it makes sense to watch in that same aspect ratio on your phone.

If you’re watching other content in a different aspect ratio it will appear with black bars along the edges of the phone, but the company says that shouldn’t happen a lot as almost 70% of films on Netflix are apparently 21:9. Lots of content on other streaming services is also available in 21:9.

Films you buy from Sony’s own virtual store can also play in that aspect ratio, but if you’re watching TV shows that weren’t originally shown in that aspect ratio it’s unlikely they’ll play on your phone without black bars down the sides.

Sony Xperia 1 design 

Image Credit: Sony

Because of the aspect ratio, the Xperia 1 is a much longer phone than others you’ve seen on the market. It has dimensions of 167 x 72 x 8.2mm, but we don’t currently know how much it weighs.

Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is used to protect the glass panel on the rear of the phone, and there’s a long border (rather than a notch) at the top of the display to house the important front-facing camera tech.

You’ll have the choice of black, grey, white or purple colors for the phone. The Xperia 1 doesn’t feature a 3.5mm headphone jack, but it is IP68 water resistant, so you’ll be able to let this slip into the sink without worrying about the internals flooding.

There is a fingerprint scanner on the Xperia 1 but it’s built into the side of the handset on the right edge. There’s no in-screen fingerprint scanner technology here.

Sony Xperia 1 OS and spec 

Under the hood you'll find the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, so you’ll get all the benefits of the top-end processor working behind the scenes, but it’s important to note that this phone isn’t capable of connecting to 5G.

Sony has yet to unveil when it plans to move into the world of 5G, but if you buy the Xperia 1 you’ll have to upgrade your phone in future to make use of that technology.

Alongside its top-end chipset, the phone has 6GB of RAM which should be more than enough to keep this phone chugging along. There’s also 128GB of storage so you can fill it up with apps and media. 

If you want more space for the movies you’re going to watch on this widescreen display you’ll be able to make use of the 512GB microSD card capacity.

When it comes to audio, the Xperia 1 has Dolby Atmos Hi-Res audio built into it and the speakers are, according to Sony, some of the best the company has ever made. We’ll be sure to push them to their limits during our full review.

The phone also has NFC and Bluetooth 5.0. And of course it runs Android 9 Pie.

Sony Xperia 1 battery and camera 

Powering this phone along is a 3,330mAh battery with fast-charging support, but there’s no wireless charging here if you were hoping to avoid using the USB-C jack.

As for the camera, this is the first time we’ve seen Sony embrace a three sensor rear setup. The company has also dropped the megapixel count in its camera, opting to use three 12MP sensors at the same time.

There’s a 12MP wide-angle lens combined with a super wide-angle 12MP lens and a 12MP telephoto shooter. All three parts of the camera are set to work in tandem, and the idea here is that you’ll be able to get super wide shots that are easy to view on the 21:9 display.

There’s also 4K video recording with a variety of other features including a new mode called Cinema Pro. The idea here is that you can film and edit video like a professional using the app that’s supplied directly on the handset, and we’ll be sure to test this out further soon.

On the front of the phone sits an 8MP front-facing camera, which doesn’t sound like much but considering Sony’s recent history we’re hoping it’ll be a suitable selfie shooter.

Be sure to check back soon for our hands on review of the Sony Xperia 1, and if you haven’t read them already read our hands on Xperia 10 review and our hands on Xperia 10 Plus review too.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

Categories: Tech News

Sony Xperia 1 and Xperia 10 bring cinema-like ratio screens for your Netflix binges

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 02:45

Sony’s latest range of smartphones are all about watching films, video and TV with a 21:9 aspect ratio display.

The Xperia 1 – that’s the flagship for Sony's latest range – as well as the Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus all come with the widescreen display, which are the first phones to be announced with a 21:9 aspect ratio.

A lot of other manufacturers currently offer 18:9 or 19:9 aspect ratio displays, but Sony is offering this taller display so you can watch films on your phone in their original format.

A tall order

Sony claims almost 70% of all films on Netflix are in a 21:9 aspect ratio, and you'll be able to watch them in that format here alongside content from Sony's own store and Amazon Prime Video.

If the content isn't filmed in 21:9, you'll still be able to watch it with black bars down the sides of the display.

It's not just about watching video either as the company claims the aspect ratio enhances gaming as well as offering a better format for viewing photos you've taken with the phone's cameras.

You can read our hands on Xperia 10 and Xperia 10 Plus - the new mid-range devices in Sony's range - and we have more information on the Sony Xperia 1 that you can read ahead of our upcoming hands on review.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone. 

Categories: Tech News

Oppo foldable concept phone looks eerily similar to Huawei Mate X

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 01:12

Oppo is working on its own version of a foldable phone which seems to take a couple of lessons from the Huawei Mate X, the latest foldable phone on the block. 

After Samsung announced its Galaxy Fold last week, Huawei entered the race just yesterday when it showcased a foldable phone with minimal bezels.

On Monday, Brian Shen, VP at Oppo took to Weibo and gave us our first look at their yet unnamed foldable phone. 

Shen noted that the company doesn’t think that a foldable phone brings about a whole lot of improvement in user experience, which is why Oppo is not mass producing its foldable phone just yet as it wants to observe the response from consumers first. 

The Weibo post was accompanied by a couple of close-up shots of the phone in question which reminded us of the Mate X. 

Image Credit: Brian Shen

Inspired by Huawei Mate X?

Taking little cues from the Mate X, it looks like Oppo's foldable phone has a bigger screen when it opens up to a tablet. The bezels on the Oppo foldable are a bit more in comparison to the Mate X. 

Even the camera implementation looks similar to the Huawei counterpart as it uses the rear cameras to shoot selfies. It also features a sidebar-like design on the back which houses the dual-camera setup and the branding near the bottom edge. The top edge of the sidebar also seems to house the power button.

There’s just no information regarding the internals of the Oppo foldable phone and it looks like it may be a while before we hear anything official from the company.

Categories: Tech News

Intel 11th-generation iGPU benchmarks leak, promising AMD-slaying speeds

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 00:13

Last December, Intel revealed its new Gen11 integrated graphics solution at its Architecture Day event, and now we might have an idea of what the chipmaker's upcoming iGPU (Integrated Graphics Processing Unit) is truly capable of.

Spotted by a Reddit user over the weekend, some in-depth benchmarks for a Gen11 part have leaked online, with the results from GFXBench and CompuBench indicating an iGPU that effectively outperforms other 15W chips – that includes AMD's current Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2400G, and Intel's own Core i5-8250U.

As reported by Tom's Hardware, the Gen11 chip in question boasts up to one teraflop of 32-bit and two teraflops of 16-bit floating point performance right from graphics processor integrated into the CPU – no standalone graphics card necessary.

The Gen11 Iris Plus Graphics 940 iGPU that's been tested is roughly 62.97% faster on average than the AMD Vega 10 (as seen in the aforementioned Ryzen 7 2700U) in the GFXBench 5.0 benchmark test. Admittedly, that number is due in large part to the older Manhattan test, which returns an abnormally high score. When that's removed from the equation, that number drops to a more reasonable 44.81%.

Of course, these benchmark scores are completely unofficial for the time being, and are likely not a true reflection of Gen11's real-world gaming performance. That said, they are incredibly impressive results – for a complete rundown of the Gen11 benchmarks, head over to Tom's Hardware.

Categories: Tech News

Synology Active Backup for Business is your one-stop centralised backup solution

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 22:28

Perhaps it’s not surprising that half of all small businesses are still unprepared for data loss. The complexity of backing up multiple environments using multiple tools with multiple licenses makes both setting up a new backup regimen (or updating an existing one) a modern-day Herculean trial. But Synology’s new Active Backup for Business is here to help. 

The company known primarily for NAS storage devices – that work with multiple providers and myriad technologies – has now leveraged that experience to create a single backup solution. This manages remote and local servers, virtual machines and PCs – plus the applications on them – with one central software environment that requires neither local client installs nor separate, expensive licenses. In short, with Active Backup for Business, Synology has become a fully-fledged backup service provider.

To find out more about why backup is still so critical (yet overlooked) and how Active Backup for Business makes it super-simple to self-manage, we spoke to Jenn Yeh, Product Marketing Manager at Synology.

Advanced Backup for Business provides a centralised management console where you can see the status of all your devices and backup jobs.

TechRadar: We hear the same stories about hacking, ransomware and businesses failing to back up properly all the time. Why aren’t things getting better?

Jenn: The main things that stop businesses from operating complete backup protection are having a mixed-backup environment and a limited budget. They are slowly becoming aware of the importance of robust backups but the cost and complexity of backing up data that’s distributed across various clouds, plus virtual and physical systems, is very challenging. To reduce expenditure, some businesses apply file-level backup instead of system-level backup. Others back up data without  proper restoration policies which leaves them at great risk of cyber-attacks and data loss.

TechRadar: A major perceived pain point for business backup strategies is that it requires multiple solutions to accommodate multiple vendor technologies. Is that still true?

Jenn: Generally speaking, it is true. A 2016 Spiceworks survey found that organisations use an average of 4.1 backup solutions. What’s more, many companies are still inclined to purchase their storage servers and backup software separately when setting up their IT infrastructure. This increases the time and expense of procurement, configuration and ongoing technical support.

The compact DiskStation DS918+ supports Advanced Business Backup with up to 50 PCs or VMs.

TechRadar: What is Synology Active Backup for Business?

Jenn: Active Backup for Business is an all-in-one, license-free, business-grade data protection solution which centralises protection across diverse IT environments. It protects across virtualised environments, physical servers, file servers and personal computers and is based upon our award-winning DSM operating system. Admins can single-handedly deploy all of their desired protection via a centralised admin console. On top of this, we also offer Active Backup for Office 365 and G-Suite to protect workloads stored on public cloud. These are license-free as well.

TechRadar: How does it differ to previous offerings?

Jenn: Before launching Active Backup for Business, Synology’s own software solutions, Snapshot Replication and Hyper Backup, helped users to back up data stored on a Synology NAS to remote sites. Synology Drive and Cloud Station could also help sync and backup data to NAS but business users were unable to manage their mixed backup environment with a simple-but-centralised solution. Now that’s changed. By allowing business users to back up their distributed workloads to Synology NAS, they can also achieve what we call a “3-2-1 backup” strategy (three copies: two media types, one offsite) to ensure data security. Bare metal backup is also available. 

TechRadar: How is the pricing model cheaper than the competition and their license fees?

Jenn: Costs can be significantly reduced. Unlike other solutions we, as a storage server provider, have a greater advantage when developing and bringing integrated backup solutions like this to our users because there are no additional licensing costs.

You can restore system backups to a virtual machine first to ensure they meet your full requirements before finally deployment.

TechRadar: How does the pricing change for SMB versus enterprise?

Jenn: Active Backup for Business is an all-in-one backup solution. Businesses do not need to worry about any ballooning costs stemming from licensing that’s linked to the size of a userbase. The only cost to our users – SMB and enterprise – is the hardware (NAS) expense. 

TechRadar: It backs up PCs, servers, virtual machines and cloud services. What can’t it backup?

Jenn: We started out by supporting the platforms and environments that held the largest market share; such as VMware and Windows. But we don’t support Hyper-V and Linux yet: these represent the next milestones on our road to continuous improvement.

TechRadar: Do Changed Block Tracking (CBT), Windows VSS and global deduplication work with all backup tasks?

Jenn: Active Backup for Business leverages CBT and Windows VSS (the native Windows snapshot service) to ensure the reliability of incremental backups on PC, servers and VMs. This allows businesses to only back up incremental data, saving transfer time, network bandwidth and the storage volume. For global deduplication, it works at block-level across devices, platforms and versions. This dramatically optimizes storage capacity and we’ve seen amazing deduped rates range from 40% to 60% in many of our customer sites.

File and folder versioning provides multiple copies of your backups in case you need to go back further.

TechRadar: Does Active Backup for Business count as onsite backup, offsite backup or both?

Jenn: With our forthcoming feature, it will be both. In the next update, Active Backup for Business will enable the replication of backup files to an additional Synology NAS. Even when the primary backup server is out of action, you can still re-link the backup tasks via the second NAS, completing your recovery plan. 

TechRadar: Why do people need to backup Office 365 and G-Suite email and applications?

Jenn: Backing up Office 365 and G-Suite data to a Synology NAS helps preserve important documents that need to be legally held. It’s not easy to obtain old, deleted company emails directly from Google or Microsoft!

Human error is usually responsible for unintentional data loss in these scenarios so an on-premise backup solution makes sense. Businesses also needn’t worry about having insufficient cloud storage space to hold large amounts of data. More and more businesses are recognizing the benefits of storing their data separately.   

TechRadar: How does VMware agentless backup work? How does it get through security intrusion detection?

Jenn: Integrated with VMware official SDKs, Synology Active Backup for business asks users to verify their VMware account before starting the backup tasks.

For those looking to support a larger organisation, the DS1618+ will let you backup up to 200 PCs or VMs.

TechRadar: Synology is still known for its hardware NAS devices. Which product works best with Active Backup for Business?

Jenn: It is hard to select one best product for Active Backup for Business as this is a flexible package and users can customize their own backup strategies based upon their existing storage capacity and personal needs. It’s widely supported on our Intel-based, 64-bit NAS devices running on a BTRFS file system.  

TechRadar: Does Synology use its own technology?

Jenn: Of course! Our IT administrators used to back up virtual machines by writing scripts. Now, Active Backup gives our IT administrators more resilience by offering scheduled backup and centralized management features. In addition, we haverun our official website and internal services on Synology Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) since 2017. Our software engineers run their build machines on VMM too. In essence, we are our own customers and this helps with leveling-up the reliability and performance of our products.

TechRadar: Finally, how do you expect Active Backup for Business to change the market?

Jenn: Backup shouldn’t mean expensive, recurring costs to your businesses. Through Active Backup for Business, we’d like to raise awareness of the importance of data protection to the greater, business market. This integrated and modernized backup solution will benefit budget-constrained businesses with just a one-off hardware cost. We are confident that our users will be able to protect their workloads more efficiently and with a lower barrier to entry.

  • If you’d like to learn more about Active Backup for Business, plus how it can help streamline and enhance backup for your organisation, click here to find out more.
Categories: Tech News

5 security resolutions for 2019 you need to implement right now

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 21:20

Most of us will usually start the New Year with some resolutions. You promise to yourself to that you will drink less, eat better, exercise more and perhaps start saving a little bit of money towards a well-deserved holiday.

Few of us, however, put data security at the top of our New Year resolutions - but prevention is better than cure, especially since ensuring the devices in your household are secure could save you time, money and a lot of grief.

It can be done easily and quickly simply by following our checklist, so here’s all you need to know to stay safe.

1. Make sure you have security solutions on all your devices

Having a security solution in this day and age is no longer enough to keep hackers and cybercriminals out. You’ll need to make sure that you have a security solution on all of your devices and ensure that the security suite runs scans regularly. On top of all that though, don't forget to install the latest version of your security solution which not only contains updated features but also usually runs faster and can tackle the latest online threats.

(Tip: Rather than buying one antivirus per device, why not save with a family pack? You can protect your family with Bitdefender Family Pack for less than $0.25 per day to secure up to 15 devices)

2. Check if you have the latest version of your browser, operating system, and applications

Your OS (Operating System) powers your devices, so make sure that it is also up to date across your smartphone, tablet and PC. Windows 10, for example, regularly issues both minor and major upgrades, as do Apple and Google (for Android and Chrome). Although they usually are automatic, they do require restarts and often users just postpone these ad infinitum. 

If this applies to you, just do the right thing: restart your device, and even if it takes an hour or so for everything to settle down, this will ensure you are ready to face external threats.

(Tip: Look for a centralised security portal like Bitdefender’s Central which allows you to manage security on your devices remotely and access support team directly)

3. Install a VPN to protect your privacy

A VPN protects your online presence by encrypting all your internet traffic, making you almost invisible even on unsecured public wireless networks. This shields you not only from third parties but also from criminals and hackers, keeping your personal data truly private.

(Tip: Bitdefender security solutions all come with basic, free VPN for life)

4. Change your passwords if your emails are on the naughty list

Nearly 6.5 billion accounts have been compromised in various cyber attacks over the past decade according to popular security website, haveibeenpwned.com. The site has one purpose: to let you know whether your email address (and password) was found amongst the list of compromised accounts. Just put your email in to find out. Takes a few seconds and consider yourself lucky if you get a green light for a clean bill of health.

(Tip: Get a password manager to help you secure your passwords and other sensitive data in a private vault. Security suites, like Bitdefender’s Internet Security 2019, usually include one for free)

5. Keep your files safe from ransomware

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to your data, which is why you need to make sure that your personal files, photos, and documents are safe from this file-encrypting threat. While having a backup is more than recommended so that you can quickly recover in case of an infection, it’s probably best that you avoid ransomware altogether by installing a security solution that has multiple layers of security specifically built to protect against ransomware. From using machine learning to detect new and unknown ransomware samples, to setting up protected folders that ransomware can’t get into and encrypt your files, make sure that your security solution is built for the task.

(Tip: Bitdefender has multiple layers of protection against ransomware that can safeguard your documents, pictures, videos, and music against any kind of ransomware attack.)

Categories: Tech News

5 security resolutions for 2019 you need to implement right now

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 20:56

Most of us will usually start the New Year with some resolutions. You promise to yourself to that you will drink less, eat better, exercise more and perhaps start saving a little bit of money towards a well-deserved holiday.

Few of us, however, put data security at the top of our New Year resolutions - but prevention is better than cure, especially since ensuring the devices in your household are secure could save you time, money and a lot of grief.

It can be done easily and quickly simply by following our checklist, so here’s all you need to know to stay safe.

1. Make sure you have security solutions on all your devices

Having a security solution in this day and age is no longer enough to keep hackers and cybercriminals out. You’ll need to make sure that you have a security solution on all of your devices and ensure that the security suite runs scans regularly. On top of all that though, don't forget to install the latest version of your security solution which not only contains updated features but also usually runs faster and can tackle the latest online threats.

(Tip: Rather than buying one antivirus per device, why not buy family packs? You can protect your family with Bitdefender Family Pack for less than 1p per day across up to 15 devices)

2. Check if you have the latest version of your browser, operating system, and applications

Your OS (Operating System) powers your devices, so make sure that it is also up to date across your smartphone, tablet and PC. Windows 10, for example, regularly issues both minor and major upgrades, as do Apple and Google (for Android and Chrome). Although they usually are automatic, they do require restarts and often users just postpone these ad infinitum. 

If this applies to you, just do the right thing: restart your device, and even if it takes an hour or so for everything to settle down, this will ensure you are ready to face external threats.

(Tip: Look for a centralised security portal like Bitdefender’s Central which allows you to manage security on your devices remotely and access support team directly)

3. Install a VPN to protect your privacy

A VPN protects your online presence by encrypting all your internet traffic, making you almost invisible even on unsecured public wireless networks. This shields you not only from third parties but also from criminals and hackers, keeping your personal data truly private.

(Tip: Bitdefender security solutions all come with basic, free VPN for life)

4. Change your passwords if your emails are on the naughty list

Nearly 6.5 billion accounts have been compromised in various cyber attacks over the past decade according to popular security website, haveibeenpwned.com. The site has one purpose: to let you know whether your email address (and password) was found amongst the list of compromised accounts. Just put your email in to find out. Takes a few seconds and consider yourself lucky if you get a green light for a clean bill of health.

(Tip: Get a password manager to help you secure your passwords and other sensitive data in a private vault. Security suites, like Bitdefender’s Internet Security 2019, usually include one for free)

5. Keep your files safe from ransomware

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to your data, which is why you need to make sure that your personal files, photos, and documents are safe from this file-encrypting threat. While having a backup is more than recommended so that you can quickly recover in case of an infection, it’s probably best that you avoid ransomware altogether by installing a security solution that has multiple layers of security specifically built to protect against ransomware. From using machine learning to detect new and unknown ransomware samples, to setting up protected folders that ransomware can’t get into and encrypt your files, make sure that your security solution is built for the task.

(Tip: Bitdefender has multiple layers of protection against ransomware that can safeguard your documents, pictures, videos, and music against any kind of ransomware attack.)

Categories: Tech News

Telstra secures the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ as 5G exclusives

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 20:16

After Telstra announced it would be the first to offer 5G handsets last month, the telco has now revealed further details on exactly what this means.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ will both be available exclusively from Telstra when the 5G devices first launch. The telco will also be receiving the yet-to-be-revealed 5G Oppo handset when it arrives as well, but Optus will be sharing this honour.

With MWC 2019 in full swing and showcasing new technologies such as folding phones and 5G connectivity, it’s no surprise that Telstra has chosen this platform to reveal the news.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G [Image credit: TechRadar]

While Samsung launched a trio of new Galaxy phones only last week, its 5G version of the S10 offers an even more premium experience – 6.7-inch display, double storage capacity, and four rear cameras on top of its flagship 5G feature.

The V50 ThinQ from LG, on the other hand, doesn’t do too much to differentiate itself from the V40, apart from a larger 4,000mAh battery and a 5G-compatible Snapdragon 855 processor.

We’re yet to learn any concrete news on the new Oppo handset, apart from the fact that it will be sporting the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor.

LG V50 ThinQ [Image credit: TechRadar]

Although it’s not mentioned how long Telstra’s exclusivity with these handsets will last, the telco stated that we can expect the units to be available in the first half of 2019. An exact date hasn't yet been announced.

These deals are no doubt helped by the fact that Telstra has a considerable head start in the rollout of 5G, with 200 sites already switched on by the end of 2018 and a bold statement from CEO Andrew Penn that it is “5G-ready now”.

Optus, on the other hand, has yet to reveal much about its mobile 5G rollout, although it will soon have 5G home broadband in select areas. Vodafone doesn’t expect “widespread availability of 5G devices until about 2020”.

Categories: Tech News

Lenovo’s affordable new laptops give you the choice of AMD or Intel CPUs

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 18:01

Lenovo has revealed a clutch of new laptops over at MWC, including a wallet-friendly convertible, as well as a fresh all-in-one PC, and an interesting 7-inch tablet which boasts phone functionality.

The IdeaPad C340 convertible is pitched as an affordable 2-in-1 notebook sporting a 360-degree hinge and a choice of 8th-gen Intel and AMD Ryzen processors.

On the Intel side, there will be 14-inch and 15-inch variants available with a choice of Intel’s Pentium 5405U, Core i3-8145U, Core i5-8265U or Core i7-8565U processors. They will be backed up by 4GB to 16GB of system RAM, and up to a GeForce MX230 graphics solution (or you can stick with the integrated GPU).

Or if you prefer the AMD route, then your only choice will be a 14-inch model which can be powered by an AMD Athlon 300U mobile CPU, or a Ryzen 3 3200U, Ryzen 5 3500U, or a Ryzen 7 3700U at the top end. All of those come with integrated AMD Radeon Vega Graphics (although with Ryzen 7 you get integrated Vega RX), and you can choose between 4GB or 8GB of system memory.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad C340 in tent mode (Image Credit: Lenovo)

You’ll be able to pick either a Full HD or HD (1,366 x 768) touchscreen, whichever machine you plump for, and battery life is rated at up to eight hours, with a rapid charge mode available that juices up to 80% in an hour flat.

Lenovo notes that the bezels are nicely slimmed down on three sides (save for the bottom bezel), and the top cover of the notebook is glass fiber. You also get a privacy shutter for the webcam, and there’s an optional fingerprint reader for added security, too. Pricing for the IdeaPad C340 starts at $450, or $500 for the 15-inch version, although all models start at €599 (around £520) in Europe.

More IdeaPads

Lenovo also unveiled the new IdeaPad S540, an ultra-slim notebook crafted with premium materials.

As with the C340, the manufacturer offers a choice of 14-inch and 15-inch models powered by up to Core i7 8th-gen Intel CPUs, a 14-inch laptop driven by AMD processors, again up to a Ryzen 7 3700U.

The Intel flavors can be equipped with up to 12GB of system RAM, and integrated graphics or a GeForce MX250 – with the option of a GTX 1050 on the 15-inch laptop. On the AMD front, you can also have up to 12GB of system memory, but you can’t specify a discrete GPU, so you’ll have to live with Vega integrated graphics.

These laptops carry the same slim bezels, webcam privacy shutter, and rapid charge tech for the battery as the C340, with the Intel models increasing battery longevity to up to 12 hours (it’s up to eight hours on the AMD side).

As for the price here, the IdeaPad S540 starts at $730 or €799 (around £695) for the 14-inch AMD model, $850 or €899 (around £780) for the 15-inch Intel offering, and finally, $880 or €899 (around £780) for the 14-inch Intel variant.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad S340 (Image Credit: Lenovo)

If that wasn’t enough for you, Lenovo also showed off the IdeaPad S340, which has been refreshed with new Intel and AMD processors, and a slimmer profile, with a choice of striking colors including abyss blue and sand pink.

With this laptop, you can choose both 14-inch and 15-inch versions with either Intel or AMD processors, with Core i3, i5 and i7 options for the former, and up to a Ryzen 7 3700U when it comes to the latter.

All machines can be specified with up to 12GB of system RAM, with Vega integrated graphics for the AMD notebooks, and either integrated or a GeForce MX250 on the Intel side.

There’s an optional touchscreen and backlit keyboard with the IdeaPad S340, and again you get that webcam privacy shutter and rapid charge technology. Pricing starts at $370 or €549 (around £480), although note that the 14-inch AMD model will only be available in Europe and not the US.

In Europe, all of the Intel-powered laptops launch in March, and the AMD notebooks will follow in April, with the exception of the 15-inch IdeaPad S540 with Intel CPU which won’t appear until April.

For the US market, all the notebooks will arrive in April, save for the 14-inch IdeaPad S540 with Intel processor which will be delayed until June.

Lenovo’s IdeaCentre AIO A340 (Image Credit: Lenovo)

All-in-one PC plus Tab V7

Lenovo also revealed the IdeaCentre AIO A340, a slim all-in-one PC which comes in 22-inch or 24-inch spins, with an optional touchscreen, up to an Intel Core i5-8400T processor, with AMD Radeon 530 graphics and up to 8GB of system memory.

Pricing starts at $500 or €499 (around £435) for the 22-inch model, and $680 or €599 (around £520) for the larger version, with the machines going on sale in March for Europe, April for the US market.

The firm’s Yoga ANC headphones also got an airing at MWC, sporting a premium finish, with noise cancellation and support for USB-C and Bluetooth 5.0.

The Yoga ANC also benefits from a boom-less microphone, and quick charge technology (charging in under two hours). They will be priced at $170 or €158 (around £138), and are due to arrive in June for the European market, and July for the US.

Lenovo’s Tab V7 (Image Credit: Lenovo)

Finally, Lenovo’s Tab V7 was wheeled out, although note that this will only be available in Europe, Asia and Latin America – it won’t see a US release.

It’s a 6.9-inch tablet that carries phone functionality, built around a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chip, and boasting an 18:9 aspect ratio IPS screen with a Full HD resolution and narrow bezels.

The Tab V7 can carry 3GB or 4GB of memory, 32GB or 64GB storage, and benefits from twin front-facing speakers with Dolby Audio. There is a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front-facer, and you get a fingerprint sensor plus facial recognition on the security front. It also has dual-SIM capability, and a 5,180mAh battery.

The V7 will carry an asking price of €249 (around £215) and will hit the shelves in April (and as noted, won’t be available in the US).

  • MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.
Categories: Tech News

LG hints strongly at flexible phone plans, but says time isn’t right

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 16:18

LG has confirmed its interest in flexible phones, and dropped a huge hint that it’ll be getting into that market, but believes that the time isn’t right now.

The statement came from Kyle Yoon, senior product manager for LG Mobile, during a briefing asking why the brand hasn’t launched a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X:

“When it comes to foldable, [the day will come] when we’ll all have a foldable device. That’s only if the Play Store has [apps in] a native resolution in those ratios, if the price of foldables will come down - we want to deliver a device more people can use that’s affordable and [offers] more content with 5G. We’re focused on that first but foldables… yes, we will have those devices.”

LG has curiously decided that instead of just staying out of the big-screen market altogether, it’s choosing to release an add-on instead: the LG DualScreen.

The LG DualScreen extender (Image credit: TechRadar)

This clips onto the LG V50 and provides a second 6.2-inch display that flips out to increase the real estate available for the user - but it’s a long way from the widescreen fold-out phones that Huawei and Samsung have made, with thick bezels in between.

It makes sense that LG wouldn’t want to jump feet-first into the flexible smartphone market, as it’s mobile arm has posted losses for a number of quarters now. 

LG Electronics’ president and head of mobile, Kwon Bong-seok, said recently that the brand wouldn’t be doing anything dramatic as it looks to re-establish itself in the smartphone market - but also reiterated that LG was ready to go with a flexible phone when the opportunity was right.

Good to stay flexible?

It’s an interesting move from LG - we’ve seen two brands announce commercially-available products this year, and a host of other companies (such as Xiaomi and Alcatel) have shown off concept devices, so if LG has something to prove its technological prowess in this area, why not go for it?

It feels like the DualScreen is an attempt to offer the market something, which makes something that’s just. fine as an accessory feel almost like an apologetic move now so many brands are talking about a glossy, flexible future.

It would be good to see LG pushing back to the sharp end of the smartphone market, as it’s a company with some genuine innovation and technological prowess inside - and the more players competing for consumer dollars will just lead to better phones. 

Will LG offer a flexible smartphone by the end of 2019? It could very well depend on the performance of Samsung and Huawei’s efforts, which will go on sale in the coming months.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.  

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Azure Kinect could power the next generation of VR

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 16:08

Microsoft wants to make creating AI-powered apps simpler than ever with a new developer kit that harnesses the power of both Azure and HoloLens.

At its launch event at MWC 2019 in Barcelona today, the computing giant unveiled the Azure Kinect Developer Kit, a single device that combines all of the company’s high-end AI sensors in one place.

That’s right – the Kinect technology first rolled out to aid Xbox gaming is being boosted by some powerful AI tools such as depth and motion-sensing technology.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Azure Kinect

Azure Kinect can be used to help developers create services that better understand the physical world, meaning richer virtual and augmented reality experiences.

Using a new time of flight depth sensor developed for its newly-announced HoloLens 2 headset, Azure Kinect can accurately sense depth and pinpoint how human bodies move.

The sensor is paired with a high-definition RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array to enable greater accuracy than ever before.

Microsoft says this could cover a wide range of use cases, mentioning an existing trial which is helping detect patients who could suffer a potentially fatal fall whilst in a hospital. Azure Kinect is being used by a healthcare tech firm called Ocuvera to determine early clues to the most at-risk patients, and notify a nurse to tend to them before they fall.

Preorders for the Azure Kinect DK are open today starting at $399, however only the US and China will initially be able to do so, with more countries hopefully following soon.

  • MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.
Categories: Tech News

LG G8 is coming, but the LG V50 isn't far behind with 5G

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 13:53

LG has unveiled not one but two smartphones at MWC 2019: its new flagship LG G8 alongside the company's first 5G phone, the LG V50 ThinQ.

The LG G8 has some intriguing features, including advanced hand-scanning tech for aerial gesture controls and even authentication. But its unveiling is a bit overshadowed by the V50’s 5G capability given the industry’s excitement with the high-speed communication system. 

Regardless, LG has followed most other phone makers in announcing a flagship handset with a few new bits to charm casual consumers, while also introducing a phone poised to harness 5G for customers eager to buy cutting-edge tech.

  • First look at the LG DualScreen, the company's alternative to foldable phones
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G might beat the other 5G phones to market
  • HMD unveils the 5-camera Nokia 9 PureView
 LG G8: gestures to the max 

The LG G8 looks to be a suitable flagship with a couple novel advances. The phone uses a depth sensor (which LG is calling ‘Z Camera’) combined with time of flight tech to intricately track hand movement in front of the camera. 

This system, if it works well in its final software, can scan through skin to identify users by the shape of their veins, a unique biometric identifier LG calls Hand ID. 

The logic? Facial identification can be fooled by 2D images, but vein identification is far harder (it requires a pulse, for one). This system also tracks hand movements, allowing users to use midair gestures for certain controls.

The phone also lacks a front speaker, opting instead to channel sound through the front display, which LG is calling Crystal Sound OLED. It packs a 6.1-inch QHD+ display and a flat (no camera bump) rear cover.

 LG V50 ThinQ: the first 5G 

The LG V50, on the other hand, packs several cutting-edge components to link up to 5G (whenever network infrastructure is built out enough to deliver 5G, anyway). The phone packs the brand-new Snapdraon 855 chip with a Snapdragon X50 5G modem along with a Qualcomm connectivity chip to enable the phone to connect to WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5. 

The V50 is highly-specced in every other department, packing a 6.4-inch QHD+ OLED display, a 4,000mAh battery and even a vapor chamber to keep the phone cool while engaging in demanding activity, like streaming media or playing games. 

The LG V50 will be available from Sprint exclusively in the coming months, per an official press release. Other service providers will eventually get the phone; Verizon has already announced it will carry the phone “this summer" in the US, which means by September.

  • MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.
Categories: Tech News

LG DualScreen: first look at LG's alternative to foldable phones

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 13:45

Well, this is something new: LG's take on the foldable world of smartphones is that we don't need them... just yet. What we all want really is a second screen that we can bolt on the side.

What to call it? How about the LG DualScreen? That sounds about right, and that's just what's appeared at MWC 2019. Designed as a companion to the LG V50 (curiously not the LG G8) this is essentially a fat ol' case that the phone clips into.

From there you'll get access to another display that can communicate with the phone, giving you the equivalent of a secondary monitor for your phone that's tethered onto the side.

We've got no idea when the LG DualScreen will be coming to the market, or the cost, but it can't be that far away - we'd expect it to launch before the summer this year, and we highly doubt it will be cheap.

Design

The LG DualScreen clips fairly nicely alongside the LG V50, but it adds rather a large amount of heft to your unit. It draws power and data from the pogo pins at the rear of the phone, although the information is sent wirelessly.

It's not Wi-Fi, rather a specific short-throw signal that allows for low latency connection - important if you're (spoiler alert) using the DualScreen as a gamepad.

The DualScreen doesn't look good though - it's a fairly chunky device that's lighter than the phone, which makes the balance a little off. We're not saying we'd rather it was heavier, but we guess that it's a little bit unbalanced compared to other 'real' foldable phones.

The bezels around the 6.2-inch OLED screen (which is only Full HD, rather than the QHD option on the V50) are rather chunky and look a little cheap compared to the phone itself, and their presence means that you can't have any apps that spread over the two screens.

LG believes that this is fine, as too few apps are capable of working in these large-screen modes that the likes of Samsung and Huawei are throwing out with their foldable devices.

The rear of the phone is shiny and it's easy to get smudged with fingerprints - but there's nothing new there and holding the device with both screens shut feels like you're holding a solid phone indeed. 

The hinge of the screen also folds the whole way around, so you can prop up the V50 with the DualScreen on and watch a movie, or use the rear screen as a viewfinder for the camera.

A new way to use your phone

So how does the LG DualScreen actually perform? Does it make anything easier or more immersive, or is it just a total gimmick?

Well, it's somewhere in the middle. Seeing the device demonstrated, with the LG reps skillfully navigating through the different camera or gaming modes, makes everything look quite slick. Pick it up with no instruction though, and you're instantly lost.

Firstly, there's a small power button that appears on the side of the screen that you'll need to tap to activate the other display. This menu allows you to switch the screen that's in play, or show what's on one display on the other.

This is a fiddly experience as it's too small, and flipping the displays around didn't feel hugely intuitive (or have a point to it, necessarily).

We tried watching a video while browsing the web, and in fairness it worked rather well. You could easily stream a YouTube video or Netflix show on one side and then browse for info on the other - but all that did was increase guilt that we're not focusing enough on what's important in life, adding in another distraction.

The gaming mode was the most appealing, with the DualScreen functioning as the place to see the gameplay and the bottom for gamepad controls, with four to choose from. This was easily the coolest bit, but despite LG claiming it worked just like a Bluetooth controller, it wasn't easy to set up for a few games.

The camera is probably where the LG DualScreen was at its most impressive, with the phone showing you the live image on the screen and then the options available if you used the other sensors and how that would change your photo.

The screen quality of the DualScreen was just fine though, and at no point did we feel it was too low-res. We wish it was the same 6.4-inch size as the phone though, if nothing else just to make things more aesthetically pleasing

Early verdict

The LG DualScreen shows promise. It feels like something that needed to be made to convince users that there's something innovative in the pipeline, worth waiting for and spending a little more for. It's certainly a boon for the LG V50's innovation reputation, if nothing else.

The overall effect could have been more premium though, and it would have been wonderful if LG had made more easy-to-use features. Like its phones, it's the interface that gets in the way the most, with the DualScreen not acting in the way you might expect and packing some fat bezels too.

We're still waiting for the price to really deliver a verdict here, but we don't expect it to be cheap and it's hard to see how many people really want something like this at the moment, especially when foldable phones are drawing the eye so much.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.  

Image credits: TechRadar

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft HoloLens 2 brings even more VR power

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 12:33

Microsoft has revealed an upgraded version of its HoloLens mixed reality headset at MWC 2019.

The HoloLens 2 was unwrapped at a media event today by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who noted that, “this new medium is just the beginning of experiencing what's possible - when you connect the digital world with the physical world to transform how we work, rest and play.”

“Our collective opportunity has never been greater... this future is here.”

(Image credit: Microsoft)

HoloLens 2

Four years on from the original device's launch, HoloLens 2 offers a significant hardware upgrade on the first-generation device, providing more immersion than ever before.

The new unit will offer than double the field of vision than the original Hololens thanks to a newly-designed 2K MEMS display that features eye-tracking for the first time.

HoloLens 2 also adapt to you personally, learning from your gestures to lead to even more in-depth experiences, calibrating to an individual's own hands, and can now adopt holograms in real-time thanks to new “intent detection” tools.

Security is provided by the same iris authentication tools used in Windows Hello, with logins starting as soon as you put on the device.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Comfort and open

Microsoft has also improved the comfort of the design, scanning the heads of thousands of people to create a more elegant, universal-fit design system that it says can fit more kinds of people than ever before – even if you wear glasses.

HoloLens 2 is also lighter and more durable due to a new carbon-fibre build that “sets a new standard for comfort”, Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said.

Microsoft showcased a number of impressive demos in its event designed to show off the sheer scale of use cases it anticipates for HoloLens 2, from construction workers to nurses to schoolchildren.

The device will be ready to use out of the box for business customers, as well as all Microsoft's own suite of mixed-reality specific solutions on Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

This now includes a new Guides feature that will allow companies to train workers faster than ever before, offering step-by-step instructions for mechanics, construction workers or maintenance crews.

And thanks to the new HoloLens customization program, companies can tweak the kit to their own needs, adding specific services, apps or branding.

Microsoft is also opening an open app store, allowing developers to create their own marketplaces for content, and will support all web browsers - not just Edge. Firefox is the first big partner to sign up, with its new browser offering available on HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2 preorder are open now, with price schemes starting at $125 per month, or an enterprise edition available soon, costing from $3500.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest showcase for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2019 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

Categories: Tech News

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