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NBA All-Star game 2019 live stream: how to watch Team LeBron vs Team Giannis from anywhere

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 15:35

Traditionally the NBA All-Star game has been a matchup of the best players in the Eastern Conference versus the best from the Western Conference. However, last year it decided to make things a bit more interesting by switching how the teams are picked. Each conference now holds a vote to choose their team captain who then picks their teammates the same way it’s done on the playground.

The plan was a success and this year the league is sticking with this new format - and you're in the right place to find out how to get an NBA All-Star game lve stream from absolutely anywhere.

The Western Conference has chosen - who else - LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers as its captain, while the Eastern Conference has chosen Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. The captains held their draft on a televised event and now both teams are ready to face off this Sunday.

This will be LeBron James’ second year as captain and he has picked Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden as his starters. Giannis's starters will be Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker. Team LeBron is predicted to win this year’s NBA All-Star game but anything can happen on the court this Presidents' Day weekend.

Whether you’re rooting for Team LeBron, Team Giannis or you're just a basketball fan trying to watch the league’s best go toe-to-toe, we’ll show you exactly how to watch the 2019 NBA All-Star game from anywhere in the world.

How to watch the 2019 NBA All-Star game online from outside your country

If you live in the US or UK and want to know how to catch the 2019 NBA All-Star game, then keep scrolling and we’ll tell you your best live stream and viewing options.

But if you can't watch because you're not in your home country and so your coverage is geo-blocked then we can suggest a clever alternative (and no, it doesn’t involve finding some dodgy feed on Reddit). Using a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - you can change the IP address to one in a different state or country which does have the stream so that you can watch the 2019 NBA All-Star game from anywhere in the world. The process is very straightforward… 

How to watch the 2019 NBA All-Star game in the US

If you live in the US and want to watch the NBA All-Star game on television, then TNT is your only option. The network has the broadcast rights to the event and will be showing the game at 8pm ET (5pm PT). For those who would prefer to stream the game on their computer, mobile devices or on either Apple TV, FireTV or Roku, TNT also has a streaming app available. However, you will have to login using the details from your cable subscription.

Are you a cord cutter who can’t justify the price of a premium cable package? Don’t worry as there are plenty of other streaming options that offer access to TNT and we’ll go over them in detail below.

Your options to live stream the NBA All-Star game online

Playstation Vue $44.99 per month - Playstation Vue's  basic Access package offers over 45 channels including ABC, TNT, ESPN and ESPN2. A 5-day trial to Playstation Vue is also available to help you get started.

DIRECTV NOW $50 per month - DIRECTV NOW gives users all the channels needed to watch the NBA and loads of other sporting events. Use DIRECTV NOW’s 7-day trial to test out the platform for yourself. 

YouTubeTV $40 per month - YouTubeTV gives you access to TNT, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.

Hulu with Live TV $40 per month - Hulu with Live TV includes ABC, TNT, CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.

Can I watch with with NBA League Pass?

Unfortunately no. NBA League Pass subscribers will not be able to watch the NBA All-Star game using the service. This is because games that are shown on national television (such as how TNT is showing the NBA All-Star game) are subject to NBA blackouts. 

While you won’t be able to watch Sunday’s All-Star game with League Pass, a replay of the game will likely be available once it airs on television.

How to watch a 2019 NBA All-Star game live stream in the UK

Categories: Tech News

The best Presidents' Day sales 2019: a guide to the best deals so far

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 14:46

Presidents' Day sales are officially here and that means savings and deals on TVs, mattresses, appliances and more throughout the long holiday weekend from a plethora of popular retailers.

To help guide you through all the deals and offers, we've put together a list of the best sales that are currently going on and any upcoming promotions that shouldn't be missed. We've also hand-picked the top standout deals that include categories such as electronics, appliances and home items.

We'll also tell you everything else you need to know about the Presidents' Day sale event such as the date, what sales have already started, and what deals you can expect and from what categories.

When do Presidents' Day sales start?

Presidents' Day sales have already started for several retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy, promoting deals on TVs and home and kitchen appliances. Most retailers will extend their sales till Monday, so you have the whole holiday weekend to shop for the best deals.

The best Presidents' Day sales: Our best Presidents' Day sale picks: When is Presidents' Day?

Presidents' Day always falls on the third Monday in February. It was originally held on George Washington's birthday (February 22) but was moved in 1971 to accommodate the long holiday weekend. This year Presidents' Day is on Monday the 18.

The best things to buy at Presidents' Day sales

The biggest categories that are discounted during Presidents' Day weekend are electronics, appliances, home items, and clothing. Last year Amazon offered 20% off home items, and retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Home Depot are offering discounts on large and small appliances. Mattresses are also a popular sale category with retailers like Overstock, Temper-Pedic, and Nectar offering big sales throughout the weekend. There will also be clothing sales with some retailers like J Crew discounting its whole site.

Categories: Tech News

Take a look at the upcoming LG V50 ThinQ in this leaked render

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 09:30

Just a week and a bit to go to the annual phone-fest that is Mobile World Congress, and the leaks keep coming thick and fest: like this render of the LG V50 ThinQ with Sprint branding and 5G capabilities, for example.

It's courtesy of seasoned tipster Evan Blass, so it's very likely that we're looking at a genuine picture of the LG V50 ThinQ. Would something that looks like this be enough for you to think about skipping the LG G8 ThinQ for the next model up?

LG V50 ThinQ leak (credit: Evan Blass)

Both the LG V50 and the LG G8 are set to be launched on the MWC 2019 press day on February 24, so we don't have long to wait to see both phones for ourselves – and we'll be bringing you hands-on first impressions as soon as we can.

The leaked render here seems to show a triple-lens rear camera and a notch and a dual-lens camera around the front. The fingerprint sensor remains on the back, so no in-screen reader here.

What we ThinQ we know so far

We've heard plenty of rumors and speculation about the LG G8 ThinQ but not too much about the LG V50 ThinQ at this point.

Traditionally, LG has been using the V series as a minor upgrade to the flagship G series – so the LG V40 ThinQ had a bigger screen and more camera lenses than the LG G7 ThinQ, for example, though the internals were actually pretty similar.

Expect something similar this year, with 5G the carrot being dangled to make you think about opting for the V50 rather than the G8. From what we've heard so far, the LG V50 ThinQ might cost you as much as $1,170 / £890 / AU$1,600.

We know the LG G8 ThinQ will feature a screen that doubles as a speaker, and there's talk of touch-free gesture controls as well, on top of the usual spec improvements. All will be revealed on February 24.

Via AndroidCentral

Categories: Tech News

When will self-driving cars earn our trust?

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 08:00

When it comes to safety, we hold machines and humans to very different standards. In 2016, there were 34,439 fatal road crashes in the US, but we regard driving alongside other humans as ‘safe enough’. Accidents are tragic, but they happen.

However, if roads were fully automated and there were 30,000 fatal accidents, would we be so understanding? Would we still call them ‘safe enough’ – and what does that mean?

To get a better understanding, we spoke to Chris Bessette, program manager for autonomous driving at Draper, and one of the world’s foremost experts on autonomy and LIDAR.

Draper is an engineering research laboratory that was originally part of MIT, but span off in the 1970s. It’s best known for its work in aerospace and undersea vehicles, but in the last few years it’s also begun working on safety for self-driving cars.

Autonomous cars might seem like a strange move for Draper, but as Bessette explains, it does make sense when you consider the lab’s heritage. 

“We’ve been working in lots of different areas where you have to build smarts into the platforms,” he says. “You can’t have a remote operator for a lot of the different projects that we work on, so we’ve been building the autonomic capability for decades. We’re able to leverage that in-depth knowledge that we have to help develop an autonomous, self-driving car.

“The other piece of it [is that] Draper understands what it’s like to develop a system that’s safety-critical,” Bessette adds. “Whether it be a missile, for example, or an underwater drone, the application spaces we work in demand perfection. So those thoughts really translate directly to self-driving cars.”

Safety issues

Bessette says the main safety issue for autonomous cars is perception. He splits this into two pieces: the sensors themselves, and the software. You can have the best algorithms in the world, but if the imagery from the car’s sensors is poor quality, there’s no point.

“One thing I think a lot of us take for granted is that the human eye is fantastic,” he says. “It’s so much better than any automotive-grade sensors that we have today. So the first challenge is actually getting the sensors – the cameras, the lidar, the radar etc – getting those sensors so they are closer to being on par, if not totally on par with the quality of the human eye.”

Then, once you have that high quality imagery, you need to use it to make decisions – identifying cars, people and other constraints. “That’s the other major challenge,” says Bessette, “and I think there’s a lot more work that needs to go into that.”

Draper is developing a solid state, microelectromechanical-based lidar that fits all components except the optics on a single chip. Image credit: Draper

For example, neural networks can be trained to recognize certain patterns, but those patterns can be fooled. 

“So there was an experiment where someone took a standard fire hydrant that we see all over the roads today, and they painted it to look like the Nintendo character Mario. They painted it to look like that, and it tricked all of the nets. They didn’t know that was a fire hydrant anymore.”

That’s a pretty extreme example, but it highlights how brittle the current state of the art really is. It works well enough under optimal conditions, but real world driving conditions can be downright hostile.

Defining 'safe enough'

Bessette says the question of ‘safe enough’ isn’t being discussed enough, but it’s something that Draper is giving a lot of thought. At the moment, Bessette says, the industry is too fragmented. To establish a standard, we need better co-ordination between local, state and federal governments (or their equivalents in other countries) and car designers.

“We have a lot of OEMs, for example, that are doing what they think is the right approach, but all the OEMs are designing to different requirements for what is ‘good enough’,” he says. “So I think that we need to put more co-ordination there.”

He draws a comparison with the Federal Airline Administration (FAA) – the body that regulates aviation in the US: “If the FAA wanted a new safety measure to be built into the airlines, the airlines pretty much have to fall in line in being compliant with that requirement. And there’s not really an analog that has similar regulatory authority for self-driving cars.

“I think until those authorities start to form and start to work with the car manufacturers to work out how you define ‘safe enough’, we have to figure out what that common definition is. And I think it’s going to be difficult because everyone’s designing to something a little bit different.” 

Building trust

Automakers including Ford and Jaguar Land Rover are working on various ways to help human road users feel comfortable sharing the streets with autonomous vehicles. JLR has conducted experiments on simulated roads with cars that make eye contact and beam their planned routes onto the road, while Ford is testing pedestrians’ reactions to a mock autonomous car fitted with an extensive system of light indicators.

Ford tested pedestrians' reactions to a 'driverless car' operated by a driver disguised as a seat. Image credit: Ford

In both cases, the carmakers are trying to make the vehicles’ behaviour predictable – something Bessette agrees is essential for people to feel comfortable living and working alongside machines. He cites an example from Draper’s work with another client, where humans worked in ‘teams’ with robots – each playing to their own strengths.

When the robot’s behaviour was predictable, the human-robot team was stronger than the sum of its parts. However, doing something unexpected rapidly eroded the human teammate’s trust. 

“I think predictability is absolutely key,” Bessette says. “If people see self-driving cars that are driving more how humans would, and they can say ‘Oh, that car's taking a right-hand turn like I would,” that helps them almost forget that that's a computer driving the car as opposed to a human.”

Preparing for the future

Autonomous cars are already being trialled in parts of the US (including Boston, where Draper is based), and the UK government has announced plans to begin testing driverless vehicles in Britain this year. However, we’re still a long way from trusting them outside tightly controlled conditions. 

“For example, if a car manufacturer wants to do testing here in Boston, they have to come and explain what their plan is why they want to test there,” says Bessette. “They have to effectively apply for a license. Then, if that license is granted, there are some restrictions on when they can and cannot operate for some amount of time. If results show that they're operating safely and they meet certain criteria, they can then test in a broader set of environments, whether it’s in less-than-ideal environmental conditions like rain or snow. So the reins are relaxed a little bit.”

Self-driving cars on public streets also have safety drivers, who scan the environment for dangers as they would if they were operating the car themselves, but also have a display (often a laptop) that lets them see what the vehicle is planning next. If its course of action looks dangerous, they can intervene and take manual control.

Self-driving cars can be designed to navigate safely without GPS with the help of the new Draper APEX Gyroscope. Image credit: Draper

There are companies planning to roll out fleets of totally autonomous taxis. Bessette says this transition period will be one of the biggest challenges for self-driving cars, when we have a mixture of human-driven and autonomous cars sharing the same roads. He doesn’t advocate banning human drivers from the roads when this begins, but hypothesizes that it would make things easier.

“In this transition period we're going to have a period of lots of human-driven cars on the road and some self-driving cars, and then over time the self-driving car population will increase the human-driven car population will decrease,” he says. 

“Interaction between self-driving cars and human-driven cars is going to be interesting because self-driving cars are actually programmed to be to be predictable – this comes back to trust – but they're also programmed to be very conservative probably much more conservative than your typical human driver so how this whole thing plays out will be an interesting dynamic.”

Categories: Tech News

AirPods 2 could be here next month – and might even appear in black

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 05:30

It's not easy trying to keep track of the AirPods 2 rumors: first they're said to be coming in the first half of 2019, then the next insider tip-off is late in 2019, and now a new report from China says the upgraded wireless earbuds could be here as soon as March.

Let's hope the Economic Daily News is right and the AirPods 2 are only a month away, because we can't take much more waiting. The outlet says supply chain sources point to an imminent launch – maybe at Apple's rumored March event.

The new report also echoes something we've heard before, that Apple is going to add a new black color option as well as white, giving you double the choice. The price will remain the same at $159/£159 apparently.

With Apple's March event tipped to be about digital services rather than hardware, we'd take talk of an early AirPods 2 launch with a pinch of salt for now. That said, the new report does match up with previous rumors we've heard.

AirPower to the people

The Economic Daily News also makes mention of Apple's long-awaited AirPower charging mat, which is now said to be almost ready for a launch after a lengthy delay.

With the AirPods 2 said to be coming with an upgraded wireless charging case that adds AirPower compatibility, it makes sense for the two devices to be unveiled at the same time. The mat was first teased by Apple back in 2017.

Since then a succession of engineering problems have reportedly been pushing the launch date further and further back – so let's hope 2019 is the year when we can finally charge our earbuds, phone, and Apple Watch on one Apple-branded mat.

Most rumors now seem to point to a 2019 launch for both the AirPods 2 and the AirPower mat, and it could be a very busy year for Apple in terms of new hardware.

Via AppleInsider

Categories: Tech News

VR needs to be led by creatives, not hardware cycles

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 04:00

Virtual reality is the technology of the moment. Since Oculus first appeared on the scene in 2012, the market has filled with VR headsets and visors on an immense – and perhaps unjustified – wave of hype.

Whether you’re looking to play VR video games, watch 360-degree documentaries, or just watch films really close up (for some reason), there are now a host of hardware options you can buy: the Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Samsung HMD Odyssey, and Google Daydream, to name but a few.

However, sales of headsets and other VR kit have yet to match the initial hype, and there are plenty of reasons for this: the high costs of developing new hardware, and issues around motion sickness and eye strain and the huge number of headsets now competing for space rightly making consumers wary.

But it isn’t just the hardware that’s the issue; audiences themselves simply might not be prepared well enough for widespread adoption. VR is a new medium, and one that both developers and audiences alike are still attempting to figure out and get used to.

One area where it’s hoped VR will be a transformative technology is the culture industry, where it’s being used to engage theater audiences and museum visitors beyond the usual technology circuit. TechRadar sat down with key figures at the UK’s leading art institutions to see what they thought was holding the medium back – and what they’re doing to change things.

The future of theater performance: VR headsets on the stage?

Public potential

When talking about VR hardware, it’s easy to focus on the new specs and processors being touted by its manufacturers, rather than the experiences that users of the tech are – or aren’t – having on the ground.

Relatively few people own their own VR rig, and anyone other than a dedicated tech enthusiast is reliant on experience providers to try out the latest and best technology without stumping up a serious amount of cash. Traditional bars and pubs are cottoning on to this, and VR arcades are becoming an increasingly lucrative way to pull in crowds.

Toby Coffey heads up the Immersive Storytelling Studio with the National Theatre, which is something of a trailblazer when it comes to new virtual and mixed reality technologies, as evidenced by its adoption of AR smart glasses for subtitled theatre performances.

For Coffey, public institutions have a crucial role to play in VR adoption – especially the theatre, where the immersive and spatial nature of the form provides a direct parallel to how users experience virtual reality.

The National Theatre’s latest VR project is Draw Me Close, a joint production with the National Film Board of Canada, which recently had a run of previews at London’s Young Vic Theatre. 

Illustrations by Teva Harrison in a gorgeous VR animation.

Draw Me Close is effectively a hybrid performance piece, experienced simultaneously on-stage and in VR. Audience members watch a 20-minute animated film in an Oculus headset, all while navigating a purpose-built set with live actors and props that exist both on- and off-screen.

Walking through a VR simulation with real physical interaction – opening real doors, shutting windows, and being hugged or held by live actors – manages to make characters and objects viewed through a visor feel close and familiar, creating a sense of intimacy and connection amid the isolated nature of virtual experiences.

Draw Me Close is a demonstration of VR’s potential to create emotional connections for users, something that’s often overlooked in a conversation largely concerned with pixel counts and graphics processing performance – important specs for fledgling hardware, but not the deciding factor for members of the public engaging with VR for the first time.

And for many people, a VR-theater piece is going to be the most accessible way of trying out the technology for themselves.

“If you look at the gaming industry, one of the big reasons it’s a multi-billion pound industry is because video game arcades existed in the 80s,” says Coffey. “It was a sort of intervention to get the technology in front of mass audiences.

“Public venues are the most important destination for the VR market, because we need to go to audiences first, before we put products on shelves and expect people to buy them.”

At one point you even get tucked into bed by your loving mother.

Fashion forward

The Victoria & Albert Museum is another British cultural institution that’s looking to incorporate VR into its exhibitions, promoting a growing awareness and understanding of the technology among its millions of annual visitors, while ensuring the museum remains relevant for today’s digital mediums.

One of its recent initiatives was Pigment Channel, a VR installation looking at the place of fashion, couture, and physical materials in an age of digital design processes. Despite lasting only a few minutes in VR, the installation was the result of months of development using the Unreal Engine: a games physics engine best known for powering the likes of Fortnite and Sea of Thieves.

When we spoke to artist Patrick Morgan and his collaborator Simon Fenton, Head of Games at the visual effects academy Escape Studios, they stressed the physical roadblocks still facing artists, trying to create in VR, obstacles that by extension limit the experiences available to end users.

Victoria & Albert Museum

“VR’s still in early days”, says Fenton. “Health and safety does come into it too: you can’t sit there all day with that thing on and create. It’ll make you feel sick.

“The industry’s trying to get to the point where we can paint using VR, but there’s this natural human limit we’re still coming up against.”

Morgan reports getting “the shakes” the first few times he tried painting in VR, for up to 12 hours at a time: way beyond the recommended 15-minute play sessions you’re advised to limit yourself to with something like PlayStation VR. And it’s clear the “human limit” artists come up against is also the limit of a technology that’s still being calibrated for the comfort of its users. 

But Morgan is also adamant that VR is where all creative industries are going: “I was working in concrete two years, and now I’m in VR – because of relevance,” he says. “You go to the V&A and say you’re working in concrete, they say, ‘that’s already been done’. But if you’re doing something in VR, they’re interested. It’s what new, what’s relevant.”

Morgan envisages a future where designers are largely working in VR, overhauling the traditional working processes of corporate and creative industries – even if there’s a lot of resistance along the way.

“Couture houses for example are very resistant to tech,” Morgan says. “In a few years you could see a couture dress being made entirely in VR – but you’ll lose all your seamstresses. There are a lot of people who’ll lose their roles within business.”

And for creatives to accept the role of VR in their industries, perhaps they need to be the ones at the forefront of that change.

Visitors try out Pigment Channel in VR, with artist Patrick Morgan (far right).

Embracing uncertainty

Managing realistic expectations is something the technology industry often struggles with. Hype is often self-fulfilling, after all – hype can get a product more investment, more support from retailers, and attract more prospective buyers aware of what you’re attempting to sell to them.

But if we view VR as a new cultural medium, rather than just a range of head-mounted displays, we may be able to give it the room and support to grow beyond its currently limited applications and slow-growing install base. 

The National Theatre’s Coffey recalls comments by an Oculus employee comparing current VR tech to the early stages of film: 

“He thought we were in the 8mm stage of film, in terms of VR – but I always thought we were much earlier than that. We may not even be at the 8mm stage now. We’re still developing things like eye-tracking, or emotionally responsive film [where AI analyzes your facial expression to alter the content being shown]. So much beautiful complexity has yet to be brought to the technology that would allow it to do new things.

“People keep asking, what do you think will be here? We don’t know, but we’ll keep working on finding out.”

Categories: Tech News

It's your last weekend to grab one of the best SIM only deals ever: £20 p/m for unlimited data

Latest Tech News - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 03:29

Oh Three, with this extraordinary SIM only deal you have really been spoiling us. Since this Black Friday special returned at the end of January we've been calling the network's unlimited data, calls and texts for just £20 per month the best SIMO plan ever - and we really meant it.

But come Monday, it will be time to say a very sorry goodbye. In fairness, it was supposed to disappear from Three's virtual shelves two weeks ago but was extended on until February 18. But we're not expecting such munificence for a second time - we fully expect this weekend to be the last for the foreseeable future in which you'll be able to get an all-you-can-eat SIM plan for a mere £20 per month.

There really is no catch to dodge here, simply the best SIM only deal you can get in the UK for big data. So if you've been thinking about a new SIMO and know that you're going to need plenty of leeway for Netflix binging, podcast downloading and Spotify marathons away from the Wi-Fi, sign up now...before it's too late!

Three's best ever SIM only deal in full: Why go for a Three SIM only deal?

If you haven't already been won over by this amazing offer then you'll be excited to hear that Three doesn't shy away from offering up some extra incentives as well. Whether that be free exclusive prizes or extra roaming. You can see all of best parts of a Three SIM only deal down below.

  • Wuntu - Exclusive offers and freebies with Three's rewards app
  • Go Roam - Roaming abilities in 71 worldwide countries at no extra cost
  • Travel Swagger - Get travel upgrades with Easyjet with bag drop and early boarding

Probably the only downside is that you have to commit to a whole year if you go for this offer. At £240 for an entire 12 months of all-you-can-eat data, texts and calls, we think it's still well worthwhile. But if you're a commitment-phobe who wants more flexibility to cancel, then check out Smarty's £25 per month unlimited data SIM that only makes you commit to 30 days at a time instead. 

Categories: Tech News

Google Pixelbook 2: what we want to see

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:58

The Google Pixelbook, even though its been out for more than a year, is easily one of the best Chromebooks out there. It’s a perfect example of what the Chromebook is capable of. We gave it a shining five star review for just that reason. And, more than a year later, it stands up, even in the face of the Google Pixel Slate. And, with Chrome OS updates that bring the likes of virtual desktops, it will continue to shine.

Still, in our minds, the ‘perfect product’ doesn’t exist – there’s always room for improvement. The Google Pixelbook is no exception to that rule. So, after using the Pixelbook daily for so long, we have crafted a wishlist of things we want to see in the follow-up.

Now that 2019 has officially arrived, we may be seeing a new Google Pixelbook 2 in the very near future. So, keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll keep it updated with all the latest information.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The second Pixelbook, a high-end Chromebook
  • When is it out? Sometime in 2019
  • What will it cost? Likely as much as – if not more than – the current model

Google Pixelbook 2 release date

Google has held a special annual event for the last few years, pushing new Pixel phones. This event takes place each October, with the phones launching a few weeks later.

In 2017, alongside the Pixel 2 and Pixelbuds, the company announced the first generation Pixelbook. 

Google did hold this event in 2018, but the Pixelbook 2 wasn’t there. Instead we got the Google Pixel Slate, a Chrome OS-powered tablet, which Google billed as the successor to the Pixelbook’s legacy. So, it’s possible we won’t even see a Pixelbook 2 in 2019, but seeing how the reception to the Google Pixel Slate hasn’t been too positive, we’re hoping to see a new Pixelbook this year. 

Google Pixelbook 2 price

When Google has released a Chromebook of its own, be it the original Chromebook Pixel or more recent Pixelbook, it has priced the laptops at the high end. 

Google has always positioned its devices as inspiration for its partners to strive for when developing Chromebooks of their own. 

It would be nice to see Google drop its pricing structure a couple hundred dollars, but we don’t see that happening. 

Expect the Pixelbook 2 to start around the $999/£999 mark and go up from there.

What we want to see from Pixelbook 2

The Pixelbook’s current combination of glass, metal and silicone are the same approach to design used throughout the rest of the company’s products. Turn the Pixel 2 XL around, as an example, and you’ll find a similar glass top and brushed aluminum back. Google surely will continue to refine this industrial design, solidifying it across its entire lineup.

With the Pixelbook 2, however, we would appreciate more color options. Indeed, the silver and white color scheme of the first generation Pixelbook looks stunning, but adding more color options — perhaps something as funky as the Really Blue Pixel, complete with orange button highlights like we’ve seen on the Pixel 2. 

Google is a company thats not afraid to be bold, bucking the trend of boring laptop design is something Google should embrace.

Overall spec bump
Now that Intel has released its Whiskey Lake mobile processors, we fully expect to see both the latest Core i7 and i5 in the Google Pixelbook 2. Then again, we could see Google waiting until Intel’s Ice Lake hits the market later this year.

While a webcam may not be the most used part of any laptop the Google Pixelbook 2 needs more than a 720p shooter. We aren’t asking for a 4K webcam, but in 2018, it needs at least a Full HD camera.

It’s unclear what kind of impact Linux apps (more on those in a minute) will have on system performance, but it can’t hurt to have more RAM. Right now, users are given the option of 8GB and 16GB, depending on configuration. And unfortunately, the 16GB setup is only available in the most expensive configuration — a Pixelbook with an Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for $1,649. 

For the Google Pixelbook 2, we’d love to see 16GB of RAM across more configurations, and not just for anyone with an engorged piggy bank.

There’s not a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the Pixelbook’s display. The 12.3-inch screen, with a resolution of 2,400 x 1,600 pixels and 3:2 aspect ratio, is certainly easy on the eyes. 

However, according to Evan Blass, the new Pixelbook will have smaller bezels around the screen. If that is indeed the case, then increasing the size of the display while leaving the overall size of the Pixelbook the same is something we welcome with open arms. 

Additionally, the 3:2 aspect ratio should stay. It looks good in landscape and portrait, as well as lends itself to displaying books, magazines, and movies in a natural-feeling layout. It also makes for a more realistic experience when using the stylus on the Pixelbook’s display for notes or sketches.

Better battery life
Google advertises the Pixelbook as having all day battery life, but that’s a subjective measurement. Our use has shown the battery to not quite hit that mark, which isn’t all that uncommon. 

So, we’d like to see both better power efficiency and more battery capacity out of this year’s model. Perhaps software improvements could improve power efficiency, like Microsoft has done with its Battery Saver feature in Windows 10.

Linux goes official
Project Crostini for Chrome OS is bringing official support for Linux apps. Currently, the project is only available to users who are brave enough to run Chrome OS in developer mode. 

Google is updating the project frequently as it gets closer to official public release. We can’t think of a better time to officially launch a major feature such as this than along with brand new hardware. 

Fingerprint sensor
Smart Lock is a handy feature, relying on a paired Android phone’s fingerprint sensor to unlock a Chrome OS device when the two devices are close to one another. But picking up a phone to unlock a computer is still a longer process than using a fingerprint reader on the computer itself. 

If the current design remains relatively unchanged, Google could place the reader in the power button on the left side. This provides access to the scanner, regardless of orientation, which has already been done on countless 2-in-1 laptops.

Smart Display Mode
The Pixelbook was the first Chrome OS device to ship with a dedicated Google Assistant key. Eventually the Pixelbook was updated with the the option to respond to hands-free commands, but only while unlocked and the screen turned on. 

With the second Pixelbook, Google should take Assistant one step further by adding an always-listening feature, regardless of unlock status, and replicate a similar experience to that found on the Lenovo Smart Display

Pen included
The Pixelbook works with a stylus, but it costs you an additional $99/£99  just to write or draw on your screen. 

Jotting notes on the lock screen is handy, but with the Pixelbook already sitting atop the the pricing scale, including a pen isn’t too much to ask for … is it? 

Ditch the palm rests
Have you seen what the white palm rests just below the keyboard look like after a few months of use? It’s gross. The amount of dirt that shows is embarrassing, even after you’ve cleaned them. 

Hopefully, if Google insists on using a similar material, they use something that is not white  – or at least more dirt and grime resistant. Regardless, come back to this page every now and then ahead of the possible launch for the latest Pixelbook 2 rumors and leaks.

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3: what we want to see

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:53

When the original Surface Laptop hit the market nearly two years ago, it was stuck in Windows 10 S Mode, and generally didn’t make much sense in the midst of the tablet-focused Surface Lineup. But, it all finally made sense when Microsoft launched the Surface Laptop 2 back in October 2018, refining the formula to become one of the best laptops. So, we want to know: what will the Surface Laptop 3 look like.

Beyond the obvious stuff, like an upgrade to either Intel Whiskey Lake or Ice Lake processors, a higher screen resolution and the inclusion of Thunderbolt 3 would be the most obvious upgrades – that is, if Microsoft is willing to abandon its proprietary Surface connector.

Now, obviously, we don’t have any solid information – or even rumors – about the Surface Laptop 3 yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t craft a sort of wish list of what we want to see in the third Surface Laptop. So, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, and we’ll update it with any Surface Laptop 3 rumors that come our way.

Cut to the chase 
  • What is it? The next Surface Laptop 
  • When is it out? September 2019 at the earliest 
  • What will it cost? Likely around $999 (about £780, AU$1,385) 

Surface Laptop 3 release date 

Unlike something like the Surface Pro 7, there have only been two Surface Laptop releases, and it’s a product line that’s been around for less than two years. So, we have less info to work from when guessing at a release window.

The original Surface Laptop came out in June 2017, alongside the Surface Pro. However, the Surface Laptop 2 saw an October 2018 release. So, we might end up seeing the Surface Laptop 3 sometime in 2019, but it’s hard to predict exactly when we’ll see it. We could see it launch during or before September, as it’s popular for students.

However, if Microsoft does launch it then, it would have to use Intel Whiskey Lake processors instead of the next generation Ice Lake chips, and that may not be a substantial enough upgrade from the Kaby Lake Refresh parts in the Surface Laptop 2. Therefore, we could see Microsoft waiting until 2020 to launch the Surface Laptop 3 – depending on when Intel launches its new processors, of course.

This is all speculation, of course, so you should take it with salt. We’ll update this section as soon as we hear anything about the Surface Laptop 2 release date.

Surface Laptop 3 price 

The original Surface Laptop launched a $799 (around £560, AU$1,000), with an Intel Core m3 processor and Windows 10 S out of the box. But, the Surface Laptop 2 significantly raised the price of entry, charging users $999 (£979, AU$1,499). 

This higher price point did come with full-fat Ultrabook processors in every configuration, plus the full Windows 10 Home. 

We think Microsoft will continue to charge the same $999 (£979, AU$1,499) for the Surface Book 3, to keep it competitive with similar Ultrabooks, like the Dell XPS 13

What we want to see 

The Surface Laptop 2 already improved so much on the Surface Laptop, that it’s hard to think of what else Microsoft could do to make it even better. Still, we’ve come up with a few things we’d like to see in the Surface Laptop 3, using our tech expertise as a guiding hand. 

Faster processors
The Surface Laptop 2 already vastly improved upon the CPUs on offer, moving from dual-core Kaby Lake chips to quad-core 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors. But, more speed is never a bad thing, and we’d love to see more power behind the Surface Laptop 3. 

There are technically faster Ultrabook-class processors out already, with Intel’s Whiskey Lake, but they provide such a small upgrade in performance, that it really isn’t worth upgrading. However, at CES 2019, Intel announced its 10nm Ice Lake processors, promising to increase performance two fold in certain workloads. 

While Intel’s performance claims should be taken with a grain of salt, the gains to performance and battery life that a 10nm process would afford are still exciting. 

Thunderbolt 3, please
Now that Thunderbolt 3 is becoming more ubiquitous by the minute, Microsoft absolutely needs to include the technology in its next line of laptops. Now that there are so many monitors, external hard drives and other peripherals are using Thunderbolt 3, Microsoft needs to bring its port selection to the modern age – that Surface connection isn’t going to cut it for much longer.

Fortunately, Microsoft has patented a new magnetic USB-C charger, that would have the best of both worlds. We just hope the technology is ready before the Surface Laptop 3 hits the streets.

Freshen up the design
The Surface Laptop 2 didn’t really change up the look and feel beyond adding a new black color option. And, while that isn’t really a complaint, we’d still like to see Microsoft offer a slimmer design. 

And, it’s not like Microsoft isn’t pursuing thinner designs. Microsoft has patented a thinner Type Cover, with a touchpad built right into the printed circuit board. This could lead to the Surface Pro 7 to have a smaller footprint overall, but we’d be interested to see if this design philosophy would carry over to other Surface devices. 

Thinner laptops are always in demand, so a thinner and lighter Surface Laptop 3 is definitely possible.

However, we have seen a recent patent from Microsoft that could make the fur-coated design of the Surface Laptop 3 make a little more sense. The patent describes a touch-sensitive fabric, that could give the Surface Laptop 3 more touch controls on the chassis of the device. Maybe for volume or brightness – like a fuzzy Touch Bar. 

Image Credit: TechRadar

Categories: Tech News

Microsoft Surface Pro 7: what we want to see

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:52

Over the last few years, Microsoft’s Surface Pro lineup has consistently pumped out some of the best Windows tablets and 2-in-1 laptops we’ve seen. But, when the Surface Pro 6 launched with few substantial changes, we started wondering when we could expect more meaningful improvements on the Surface formula.

Cue the Surface Pro 7, which we’re starting to see all kinds of patents for coming out of the woodwork that can change how we use Microsoft’s tablets. 

Intel’s Ice Lake processors should be launching this year, and alongside rumors of a new USB-C magnetic Surface charger in the works, we think the Surface Pro 7 may end being the most powerful yet. However, because nothing has been confirmed, keep in mind that this is all gossip and educated speculation. Still, we’ll keep this article up to date with any news and rumors, along with our wishes – so you’ll have an idea of what to expect. 

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? The next Surface Pro tablet
  • When is it out? Late 2019 at the earliest
  • What will it cost? Probably around $899 (£879, AU$1,349) to start.

Surface Pro 7 release date

Because the Surface Pro 6 essentially just came out, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the next one any time soon in 2019 much less this year at all.

The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 6 both launched in October 2015 and 2018, respectively. However, the Surface Pro 2017 saw a June release date. It’s possible that the Surface Pro 7 will launch in October 2019, but the release cadence for Surface Pro devices appears to be approximately every 16 to 18 months.

So, we might see the Surface Pro 7 until Spring or Summer 2020. We could see it hit the streets in October, if Microsoft wants to target that annualized release, but we’ll believe that when we see it.

Don’t worry, though, we’ll update this article just as soon as we hear any word – official or otherwise – on the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 release date. 

Surface Pro 7 price

The Surface Pro 6 launched at $899 (£879, AU$1,349) for the base model, but that marked an increase in price over the Surface Pro 2017, the base model of which was $799 (£799, AU$1,199). So, the pricing of the Surface Pro 7 could go one of two ways: another increase of $100, or it may just stay the same price – we doubt the price will drop again, though.

If the price does go up by another $100, and start at $999 (about £770, AU$1,380), it’ll put the Surface Pro 7 in the same league as devices like the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 – not to mention the new iPad Pro.

Much like anything else here, we won’t know the actual pricing of the Surface Pro 7 until Microsoft is ready to share it. But, we’ll update this article as soon as that happens. 

What we want to see

Because the Surface Pro 7 is so far out right now, it’s hard to predict what exactly will be in the next Surface device. However, with all the patents that Microsoft has filed recently, like a update to the Surface Pen that would make it more accurate, we have come up with a wishlist of updates we’d like to see.  

Blazing Speed
Back at CES 2019, Intel announced Ice Lake, the first 10nm Sunny Cove architecture for laptops. And, while we don’t have any kind of details about these processors or how they’ll perform, the smaller manufacturing process will inevitably lead to better performance and efficiency. 

If the Surface Pro 7 includes these new processors, you can expect much greater performance, while also getting improved battery life across the board. 

Thunderbolt 3, please
Microsoft, for obvious reasons not worth getting into here, has been hesitant to implement Thunderbolt 3 into its Surface Products. And, while this was excusable in the early days, it’s getting harder to ignore with each Surface release. 

Luckily, we have reason to believe that Microsoft will launch the Surface Pro 7 with Thunderbolt 3 support, or at the very least basic USB-C charging. Microsoft has patented a new magnetic charger with a USB-C input that would function like the current Surface charger. 

We’re truly not sure whether Surface Pro 7 will support Thunderbolt 3, as it depends upon Microsoft’s willingness to trade its proprietary technology for Thunderbolt 3, which it must pay Intel to license.

An improved Type Cover
The Surface Pro 6’s Type Cover is already one of the best tablet keyboard accessories out there. It’s responsive, has plenty of feedback, and is made of pleasant materials. But, we haven’t seen any marked improvements to its since the Surface Pro 2017. We don’t think there’s any such thing as a perfect product, so we can’t wait to see how Microsoft improves on the formula next.

And, we might have an idea of the next generation Type Cover will look like. Microsoft has patented a thinner Type Cover that should reduce the footprint of the device all around. It looks like Microsoft is planning on doing this by using a trackpad that’s built right into the printed circuit board. 

It would also use haptic feedback in the keys, to improve the tactile response of typing – which would be necessary on a thinner keyboard cover.

It’s a bizarre move, but we’re nonetheless intrigued – if Microsoft can make the Type Cover slimmer without falling in the same trap as Apple’s Butterfly keyboards, it could change the game. 

We’ve also seen a patent that would make the fabric covering the Type Cover smarter. It would feature touch sensitivity, so you could swipe through news stories and photos without having to find the touchpad or the touchscreen. We’re not sure who was asking for this tech, but it’s a cool idea nonetheless.  

Image Credit: TechRadar

Categories: Tech News

Google Fuchsia release date, news and rumors

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:43

 We were expecting to see Google announce Google Fuchsia, or Google Andromeda – a fusion of its Chrome and Android operating systems (OS) – back in October 2017. That announcement never happened. 

What will Google Fuschia look like, though? Well, the Google Pixelbook, alongside some other Chromebooks, are able to run both Android apps from the Play Store and even an early build of Google Fuchsia – which itself is rumored to run Android apps. We believe that Google Fuchsia – whenever it sees the light of day – will end up being the penultimate Google operating system across all different kinds of devices.

Essentially, we don’t know what form Google Fuchsia will actually take. Information is both thin on the ground and very abstract. But, we do know that Google Fuchsia revolves around the concept of being able to do whatever you want on whatever device you have around. We can see this approach in some recent moves by Google – like bringing Android Messages and a VR video editor to a broad range of hardware.

Actually, the Google Pixel Slate may give us a look into the future of Google Fuchsia – even if it neither runs the nascent OS, and doesn’t give a clue about the release date. With the new Chrome OS tablet, Google has changed the UI of the operating system to be more palatable on a tablet – bringing it closer to a unified OS across different families of devices. Whether or not it relates to Fuchsia remains to be seen, but we look at it like a step in the right direction.

So, regardless of what the final product is, or whether or not Google Fuchsia ever makes it to the public, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll update it with any new information comes our way.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? An Android-meets-Chrome, multi-device operating system
  • When is it out? An early form is available on the Google Pixelbook now
  • What will it cost? Likely nothing, as is with Android and Chrome

A Google Pixelbook running an early version of Fuchsia OS (Image Credit: Ars Technica)

What is Google Fuchsia?

Right now, there appears to be a divide within Google regarding what Fuchsia actually is. While the team working on it says they want Fuchsia to be the penultimate Google OS, running on all phones, tablets, laptops and smart home devices – Google’s leadership is still referring to it as an experiment. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, and what materializes out of all this experimentation.

Google Fuchsia, then, is a hybrid OS that is still very much in development. The entirety of Fuchsia OS is comprised of two distinct but connected user interfaces (UI): a phone-centric one codenamed ‘Armadillo’ and a traditional desktop UI known as ‘Capybara’ internally, according to 9to5Google.

So far, more is known about the mobile version of Fuchsia than the laptop one, but ArsTechnica was recently able to get Fuchsia running on a Google Pixelbook in an awfully early state. And, it looks like both versions should be able to run Android apps, much like many Chromebooks in 2019. So, backwards compatibility looks to be something that early Fuchsia adopters can look forward to. 

'Fuchsia is going to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in Windows 10 and iOS-to-macOS Sierra Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way.'

Dividing the OS up into two separate UI based on the hardware it’s being used with is a classically Microsoft-inspired move. Windows 10 already scales depending on whether it’s being used with a desktop computer, phone, tablet or game console. In fact, Windows 10’s only unifier is its kernel, the root code that controls the bulk of the operating system.

In the case of Fuchsia, that kernel is known as ‘Zircon’, and it’s designed to be consistently upgradeable in addition to being safe from applications accessing it constantly, adding an extra layer of security and eliminating situations in which apps are rendered incompatible with OS updates.

Whether it’s in the mobile or desktop orientation, Fuchsia is laden with Google’s Material design found all over its Android and Chrome OS products. Shadows are a big focus on the design aesthetic, using a new Vulkan-based graphics renderer known as ‘Escher’ to do the job. The result is an interface with more depth to its look than traditionally flat OS products.

Google Fuchsia as it appears on a smartphone device. Image Credit: Google

Fuchsia is also heavily focused on a cards-based interface, in which every app you open appears inside one of these cards – plus, you can place multiple apps into a single card. This orients the user around tasks at hand rather than apps. Those apps are expected to look the same across different devices because of a new cross-platform mobile app development framework, developed by Google, known as Flutter.

Beyond that, Google Fuchsia revolves around Google Assistant more deeply accessing and working with your apps and information to provide even more actions and insights. Google has referred to these apps and pieces of information as ‘entities’, according to a GitHub developer page, and they’re all accessible by Google Assistant on Fuchsia. We’ve even seen a recent demo that further illustrates how deeply ingrained Google Assistant is on Fuchsia.

And, it looks like Google will also be changing how it collects analytic data within Fuchsia, according to a report from 9to5 Google.  Fuchsia will see the implementation of a new analytic program called ‘Cobalt’ which will collect information on how you use apps within the OS. Cobalt is supposedly a part of Google’s security-minded approach to the OS, but encryption hasn’t been worked in yet – but, we’re sure Google will work better security into Cobalt eventually.

Google Chrome, or at least an early build of Chromium is up and running on early builds of Google Fuchsia, according to a report from 9to5 Google. And, while it’s not ready for the spotlight, this does mean that the fledgling OS is getting closer to being usable without days of preparation.

Finally, Fuchsia wants to be the best cross-device OS to date. To achieve this, Fuchsia uses a new tool known as ‘Ledger’ by the GitHub community. Ledger, once you’re signed into a Google Account on a Fuchsia device, will automatically save your place in all installed apps across all Fuchsia devices.

All in all, Fuchsia is Google’s attempt to get the best of Chrome and Android into a single operating system that’s more efficient both while you’re using it and when you’re away – not to mention in between those states or between devices.

This is likely where Fuchsia will make its debut.

Google Fuchsia release date

Ever since August 2016, we’ve seen a ton of rumors about Google Fuchsia’s release date – and each turned out to be false. These rumors usually come up before Google’s big Google IO developer event in California, or when we know a big hardware release is around the corner.

Back in February, it was revealed that Google’s former head of Android platform security, Nick Kralevich, had left the Android team to ‘define security’ over in the Fuchsia department. Describing it as a “new, experimental operating system,” Kralevich doesn’t hint at any specific launch window, however it does show where Google chooses to put its most crucial resources.

Right now, the speculation points to Fuchsia running within the next three years just on smart home devices, with a full public release coming within the next five years. However, even that seems to be an extremely shaky rumor – we’d be surprised if we saw it release before 2024 (or actual androids), if it ever actually comes out.

However, recent developer messages through the Android Open Source Project suggest some movement. One of the commits mentions two repos, that the folks at 9to5Google take to be the “incorporation of the official Fuchsia SDK”. Another commit mentions the Huawei Honor Play smartphone, so we could see Fuchsia tested on actual devices soon. 

What might help point to some movement for the Google Fuchsia release date, though, is a new hire from Apple. Bill Stevenson, a senior macOS engineer for Apple, announced on LinkedIn that he is joining Google to bring Fuchsia to market.

At any rate, keep it locked to this page as we draw closer to a possible release date and therefore might have some new information for you.

Is Fuchsia the end of Android as we know it? Image Credit: TechRadar

What could Fuchsia mean for Android and Chrome – and Windows and macOS?

Word on the street is that Google Fuchsia is Google’s answer to Microsoft and Apple’s united platforms. In turning Android into one of the two biggest smartphone platforms and later popularizing Chrome OS – not to mention G-Suite, Google’s web-based productivity programs. Google has already kind of become a major player on all platforms.

From the sound of it, Google is setting out to accomplish much of what Microsoft and Apple already have in place with Windows 10, iOS and macOS High Sierra. Continuity, respectively, but in a very Google way. It’s easy to expect access to Google’s inimitable search and data-tracking at your fingertips – Google Assistant and ‘entities’, anyone? – which it could boast as better than Microsoft and Apple’s, and an interface that evolves to meet the needs of the device from which it’s accessed.

Will this eventually mean the end of Android and Chrome? In name, most likely, but their principles will almost certainly live on – there's too much solid foundation not to build on top of them. Just look at the Material design language found throughout these early builds of either version of Fuchsia.

The end result, likely to be seen in a preview form later this year and in purchasable devices in 2019, will be just one platform for Google to worry about. With Fuchsia, Google will be able to push new updates and features to all versions at once, simplifying support as well as user understanding.

With that, Google will become that much more formidable a foe to Microsoft and Apple, and that much appealing an option to Android and Chromebook users all over. Who knows, perhaps it will be enough to bring people over from the other side of Microsoft and Apple’s fences.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this report

Categories: Tech News

The best Ultrabooks 2019: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:42

In 2019, the best Ultrabooks are kind of the ultimate status symbol, especially if you’re a student, a professional, or you just spend a lot of time in your local coffee shop. Rather than having a big and bulky budget laptop or Chromebook, you’ll bring out a lighter, thinner and faster laptop, one packed with the best SSDs and processors you can find today. 

These thin and light laptops are as much about portability as raw power. The best Ultrabooks aren’t going to freeze up in the middle of an important project or run out of battery on a short flight – you don’t have to worry about any of that.

So, we took the time to find all the best Ultrabooks you can buy today. From brands you recognize like HP and Dell, to those you may not be aware of, like Huawei, these thin and light beauties will get you through your work day in style. Plus, we tested and reviewed all these Ultrabooks ourselves, so you can be confident you’re getting your money’s worth.

For a few years now, Huawei has been lurking in the shadows, ready to take on the best Ultrabooks, and its time has finally arrived. Like the Huawei MateBook X Pro before it, the Huawei Matebook 13 packs in a ton of powerful hardware into an attractive shell, while keeping the price low enough for anyone to afford. Plus, we have to mention those discrete graphics – it may be one of the smallest laptops out there to pack an MX150 GPU. It’s not hard to see why the Huawei Matebook 13 is the best Ultrabook right now.

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13

Sometimes, we’ll come across an Ultrabook that completely destroys everything that came before. The Huawei Matebook X Pro is one of these Ultrabooks. This gorgeous laptop brings high-end components into an elegantly-designed package that puts even the MacBook Pro to shame. And, with its 3K touchscreen, the Huawei MateBook X Pro has a display that’s just as nice to look at as the chassis. It really is one of the best Ultrabooks you can buy today. 

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook X Pro

The Dell XPS 13 has been the best Ultrabook for years, and while it’s been dethroned by the Huawei MateBook 13, it remains one of the Ultrabooks to beat in 2019. This time around, Dell has moved the webcam from the bottom of the display to the top, fixing one of the biggest problems faced by the XPS 13 for years. Add in the updated internals, and the Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best Ultrabooks out there – even if some of the competition has caught up.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

The original Surface Laptop launched nearly two years ago, and while it was a great Ultrabook, it was held back thanks to relatively weak hardware and Windows 10 S. Thankfully, Microsoft launched the Surface Laptop 2 in late 2018, bringing quad-core processors and the full-fat version of Windows 10. Its through these core improvements that the Surface Laptop 2 is able to bring the purest Windows 10 experience on a laptop, at a price that won’t make you gasp.  

Read the full review: Surface Laptop 2

Few Ultrabooks are as brilliantly designed as the Lenovo Yoga 920, a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as illustrious to look at as it is to use. In contrast to its nearest competitors, such as Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, it’s also a far less expensive endeavor. For the modest price you pay, you’re getting a gorgeous, all-metal finish that can be flipped inside out for extended functionality. It also houses the latest 8th-generation Intel processors, just in case speed was a concern.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920

From the moment your eyes meet the HP Spectre 13, you’ll be impressed by its sheer beauty. HP has taken the already luxurious Spectre and dialed the design up to eleven with gold trim and packed it with internal specs that blow the competition out of the water. One of the first Ultrabooks rocking an 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh chip, the 2017 Spectre 13 more than doubles the CPU performance of most of its competitors. This added performance comes at the cost of battery life, but clocking in at just under 6 hours – the battery life is still passable.

Read the full review: HP Spectre 13 

Razer has been known as a gaming company for years now, but with the Razer Blade Stealth the green-themed manufacturer wants to dispel that. If you’re not convinced, this Ultrabook might change your mind by turning into a 13.3-inch, QHD+ beauty. You can no longer upgrade to 4K, but the performance this Ultrabook offers is more than worth that compromise – especially given how beautiful the chassis is.

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

It’s rare that a manufacturer thinks of everything when creating one of the best Ultrabooks, but for what it’s worth, the HP Spectre x360 comes pretty close. It’s a 2-in-1 convertible laptop,, which by itself makes it a bit of a niche product. Still, for those right-brained users out there, the HP Spectre x360 comes bundled with a Windows Ink-compatible stylus, unlike the vast majority of hybrids. That would mean very little if the HP Spectre x360 didn’t have great sound and visuals – and it definitely does.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Anyone familiar with Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop would be wise to compare the Asus ZenBook 3 to the 12-inch MacBook. The similarities are obvious, but one look at the specs and the differences stand out too. Adorned with the choice of a U-series Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, the ZenBook 3 is awfully powerful considering it’s less than half an inch thick and weighs two pounds. The port selection is sparse, but ultimately it’s well worth the sacrifice.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook 3

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing: Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Huawei MateBook X Pro

It’s no secret that Apple neglected the MacBook Air – at least until the MacBook Air 2018 launched – but, in some cases a Windows Ultrabook can be just as good. Take the Asus ZenBook UX310UA, for instance. With still-good 7th-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors, a 178-degree viewing-angle QHD+ display, a USB-C port and an aluminum build, it’s still one of the best Ultrabooks out there, even after all this time.

 Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310

  • Looking for back to school gear? We’ve picked out the best deals for you
  • Image Credit: TechRadar

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Categories: Tech News

The best gaming routers 2019

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:36

Playing the best PC games online means that you’ve likely run into a ton of lag at some point, but what if we told you that the best gaming routers could make sure your online gaming is never interrupted?

It’s true – the best routers for gaming will prioritize gaming network traffic, thanks to a handy little trick called Quality of Service (or QoS), so your gaming won’t be interrupted by someone on an hours-long Netflix binge. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for MU-MIMO Multiple user, Multi Input, Multi Output), so that everyone on your network can get their game on without having to get in each other's way. 

When you’re playing games online, a wired connection is typically considered the best way to go about it, and we’d have to concur. So, the best gaming routers will have a ton of Ethernet ports.

But, even if it would be ideal to have all of your devices hardwired to your router, you don’t want your entire apartment or home covered with a criss-cross of errant wires. That’s why the best gaming routers will also feature the latest Wifi standards – currently Wi-Fi 5. Having multiple external antennae which you can move to boost signal is a bonus, too.

into consideration the needs of gamers, we’ve gathered up all the best gaming routers 2018 has to offer.

If you’re looking for the latest router technology but you still love that old school aesthetic, the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 is right up your alley. This is a gaming router that blends enthusiast grade features and accessible setup into a package that’s appealing to pretty much anyone. And, when you add in the Alexa support, you have a router that can adapt to any situation, whether you’re focusing on winning the latest match in Apex Legends, or you have guests all connecting to your network. 

Read the full review: TP-Link Archer C5400 V2 

The Asus RT-AC5300 is one of the best gaming routers – it comes with a variety of advanced features, making online and network gaming as lag and frustration free as possible. This includes an easy-to-use yet powerful interface, as well as comprehensive QoS settings. The spider-like design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the eight antennae serve a purpose, as they can be used to direct your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, giving this router an excellent range. 

Read the full review: Asus RT-AC86U

We already covered the TP-Link Archer C5400 v2 earlier, but the manufacturer slapped an ‘X’ at the end of this one, to signify the extreme boost in performance. It’s significantly more expensive, but this may be one of the highest-end gaming routers out there. With eight ethernet ports around the back, it’s perfect for hardwiring a wealth of gaming equipment. And, the MU-MIMO and Tri-band support mean that wireless connections are also top-notch. You’ll be able to top the leaderboards wherever you are in the house.

Read the full review: TP-Link Archer C5400X

For PC gamers that are always fighting for bandwidth with roommates, a beefy gaming router like the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500 is going to be a godsend. Not only will this gaming router provide an insane 2.6Gbps of speed, but with MU-MIMO support and unique gaming-focused features like location-based connection filters and QoS, you’ll be able to get your game on lag-free. Just prepare for the high price, and maybe wait for a sale to pick it up.

Read the full review: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500

The Asus RT-AC5300 is an excellent high-end gaming router that comes with a number of advanced features for making online and network gaming as lag and frustration free as possible.

This includes an easy-to-use yet powerful interface, as well as comprehensive QoS settings. The spider-like design won't be to everyone's tastes, but the eight antennae serve a purpose, as they can be used to direct your Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, giving this router an excellent range.

 Read the full review: Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band Gigabit Router

It might look like it’s getting ready to abduct a close friend or family member, but we promise the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 isn’t as alien in function as in appearance. Rocking the latest MU-MIMO support, which improves speed when multiple devices are connected to the same network, this gaming router prides itself on its performance capabilities. Because it can handle a ton of devices, while prioritizing bandwidth depending on the needs of each device, it’s one of the best gaming routers you can buy today.  

Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600

The Asus RT-AC88U is an expensive gaming router, but it justifies the price with insane 802.11 wireless performance. Rocking four antennas and NitroQAM tech, which pushes speeds even further, this gaming router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit. But, there’s a catch – you’ll need to pick up a NitroQAM wireless adapter, like the Asus PCE AC88, to see these fast speeds. But, with speeds like this, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best gaming routers out there.

It might look like something from Battlestar Galactica – the old Battlestar Galactica – but, the D-Link DIR 885L/R is a dependable mid-range gaming router with great range and speed. If you’re looking for the best gaming router, you may want to give this one a chance – it has a good variety of port, and a nicely designed UI. It also features DD-WRT open-source firmware, which makes this router as flexible as it is powerful. 

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

Google Pixel Slate 2: what we want to see

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:17

It’s too early to tell what the future has in store for Google’s ill-fated Pixel Slate, having released in November 2018. Google may not even release a Pixel Slate 2, following the negative feedback that is now – and possibly, forever – attached to it.

The first Pixel Slate was designed to compete with Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, but an otherwise stunning, elegant device was cursed with substandard performance and software costing a bizarrely premium price. Of course, it’s a little too soon for Google to make good on this now, so – like you – we know nothing regarding the existence of a Pixel Slate 2.

One thing we do know though is that, if Google pursues a Pixel Slate 2, it needs to make some serious changes. Here’s what we’re hoping to see from a Google Pixel Slate 2 as well as some speculation on when to expect it and for how much.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Google’s next productivity tablet
  • When is it out? October 2019 at the earliest 
  • What will it cost? Possibly starting around $599 (£549, AU$845)

The first Pixel Slate. (Image Credit: Google)

Google Pixel Slate 2 release date

Since the original Google Pixel Slate was announced in October 2018 and officially released in late November, it makes sense that Google would follow suit with the next generation. 

Obviously, we don’t know how long it took for Google to design the original model, but if Google were to follow up this one with an annual release, we’d rather wait even longer for a better product.

Of course, it would be great to see Pixel Slate 2 rise from the ashes of the original around the same time this year, just in time for everyone’s favorite holiday pastime: tech shopping. Until we begin hearing from anonymous sources and leakers, this is all speculation.

The first Pixel Slate. (Image Credit: Google)

Google Pixel Slate 2 price

When we say that the Pixel Slate is pricey, we mean that it’s pricey specifically for a Chrome device with its level of hardware inside. Heck, it’s pricey for something that has been notorious for software issues.

Compared to the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro, the Pixel Slate is actually slightly cheaper, saving you $100 in the US, which you can put toward a Pixel Slate Keyboard. If Google kept the same prices and fixed its performance, consumers could be quite satisfied, especially with that stunning hardware design.

The original Pixel Slate starts at $599 (£549) with an Intel Celeron processor, a 4GB RAM and 32GB of storage space. It’s currently unavailable in Australia, but if Google decides to make Pixel Slate 2 available there and keep the same prices, it might start around AU$845.

The first Pixel Slate. (Image Credit: TechRadar)

What we want to see

The Google Pixel Slate isn’t all bad. As mentioned a few times, it’s an excellently designed tablet, a design we definitely want to see again on a Pixel Slate 2, only bigger and better. With that, we’d be happy to keep a similar design with much better software and hardware inside.

Same impressive hardware
With popping colors and Google’s Molecular Display tech that allows for high pixel density, the Pixel Slate’s gorgeous display is definitely one of its few redeeming qualities. So are its available ports, loud speakers and fingerprint reader housed in a smooth, matte aluminum finish. The tablet is also fairly lightweight at 721g, making it travel-friendly.

Of course, it won’t hurt to tweak the design in the next generation. The bezels could use a bit of trimming, facial biometric login would catch it up to the other ‘Pro’ tablets and the speakers could be much better as far as sound quality.

Better starting configuration
While the Pixel Slate’s starting configuration, at $599, was with an Intel Celeron processor, it doesn’t seem at all like you’re really saving money. Not when Microsoft Surface Pro 6’s starting config at $699 touts an Intel Core i5 and the iPad Pro’s A12X Bionic chip can easily go head-to-head with an Intel Core i7 much less a Celeron. It’s simply a raw deal.

A better processor in the Pixel Slate 2’s starting configuration – one closer in power to an Intel Core chip – is essential if Google wants to redeem this device in the eyes of consumers.

No more stuttering
While the Pixel Slate performs beautifully when web surfing and watching TV shows and movies, many have complained about uncanny stuttering when multitasking and split-screening apps or when playing some of the more demanding games.

Is it not enough that we’re already limited to what apps we can use with the Chrome OS? We have to deal with lag, too? This is something that definitely must be fixed with the second generation.

Optimization with Android apps and games
Speaking of apps, while the Chrome OS definitely supports Google Play and Android apps, the Pixel Slate has had many issues with many Android apps – from stretched out app layouts to the apps themselves all but falling apart because they aren’t optimized for Chrome. 

We’d love to see Google work more closely with app designers to fix this constant and frankly inconvenient problem. Otherwise, why pay $600 or more for a device that we can only reliably surf the Internet and play movies?

Longer battery life
Not that the Pixel Slate’s battery life is bad, but it’s not good either. Google had promised 12 hours, but many tests have proved it to be less than that. This is par for the course, but it’s nevertheless something that needs improvement.

We’d definitely like to see Pixel Slate 2 offer longer battery life to compete with Surface Pro and iPad Pro, especially if Google is finally able to fix the main issues.

Categories: Tech News

This is a great weekend to get your fibre broadband deal sorted: see the best cheap plans

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:59

There's no denying it, this has been a brilliant week for fibre broadband deals. We don't say that lightly - we see a lot of great broadband deals come and go. But this week we've seen offers stuffed with freebies, big broadband and TV deals cut in price and the UK's cheapest widely available fibre hold the rest back. 

Below, we've picked out our three favourite broadband deals from this week, all from some of the best known names in the world of internet packages. So whether it's BT with a pre-paid Mastercard and free Amazon Echo, Virgin Media with blistering speeds, TV and a £84 price cut or TalkTalk with its incredibly cheap fibre offer, there is plenty to choose from. 

And if you're sat there completely unsure whether you can even get fibre in your home, then go straight to the bottom of this article, enter your postcode and you'll know all the deals available to you.

1. TalkTalk has the UK's cheapest fibre broadband 2. BT's best fibre, with freebies and quick speeds 3. Virgin has it locked down for Broadband and TV
  • None of these deals won you over? Don't worry, there is still plenty to choose from over on our best broadband deals page
Categories: Tech News

Android banking malware hitting more users than ever

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:41

Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to steal consumer's banking credentials and new research from ESET has highlighted the often overlooked threat of fake banking apps.

The firm compiled its findings in a new white paper titled, “Android banking malware: Sophisticated Trojans vs. Fake Banking apps” which revealed that fake banking apps and sophisticated banking Trojans are the two most prevalent types of Android banking malware.

ESET malware researcher Lukáš Štefanko explained that fake banking apps pose a significant threat and could be as effective as banking Trojans, saying:

“Our analysis of the two types of banking malware – both of which have previously been discovered in the official Google Play store – has shown that the simple operation of fake banking apps comes with certain advantages that the feared banking Trojans don’t have. While banking Trojans have long been regarded as a serious threat to Android users, fake banking apps have sometimes been overlooked due to their limited capabilities. Despite not being technically advanced, we believe fake banking apps might be just as effective at emptying bank accounts as banking Trojans.” 

Fake banking apps vs Trojans

The main strength of fake apps is their direct impersonation of legitimate banking applications and if a user falls for their tricks, there is a high chance that they will treat the app as legitimate and submit their credentials.

Additionally, fake banking apps do not request for the intrusive permissions usually asked for by Trojans which tend to raise user suspicion after installation. Sophisticated banking Trojans are also more prone to detection due to their advanced techniques which act as triggers for various security measures.

To prevent falling victim to fake banking apps, ESET recommends that users keep their Android devices updated and avoid unofficial app stores. The company also suggests checking the ratings, reviews, number of installs and requested permissions before installing any app from the Google Play Store.

Fake apps often appear identical to their real counterparts which is why due diligence is required to detect them effectively.

  • We've also highlighted the best antivirus to protect you from the latest cyber threats
Categories: Tech News

Nvidia reports revenue dipping to its lowest level since mid-2017

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 13:19

In its latest earnings report, Nvidia announced it generated $2.21 billion in revenue, just managing to beat expectations the company recently lowered by $500 million. Compared to how the company faired last quarter, Team Green saw a precipitous 31% drop in revenue from $3.18 billion.

Revenue at Nvidia is also down by 24% year-over-year; at this time last year the GPU maker recorded $2.91 billion in revenue. In fact, the last time Nvidia’s revenue was so low it was Q1 FY 2018 back in May 2017 when the company reported $1.94 billion in revenue. 

The one silver-lining in Nvidia’s earning’s report was the company set multiple full-year records, including a total $11.72 billion in revenue.

There are multiple contributing factors to Nvidia’s revenue drop. One definite root cause is the cryptocurrency craze dying out in the middle of last year. Of course, another factor is the high prices of Nvidia’s Turing RTX cards dissuaded widespread adoption and resulted in lackluster sales for new GPUs.

Nvidia has already begun reacting to these new market realities by introducing a mid-range GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card and over 40 RTX-powered gaming laptops at CES 2019. We’re also expecting Team Green to release an affordable, non-ray tracing GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on February 22nd.

Going from what Nvidia has recently released and rumors of its future pipeline, it’s easy to expect more lower-priced graphics cards from Nvidia in the near future.

Categories: Tech News

Samsung launches first-ever US retail stores

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:55

As Samsung celebrates the ten year anniversary of its Galaxy line, the Korean hardware giant has announced that it will open its first retail stores in the US.

The company plans to open three Samsung Experience Stores at locations around the US with one at the Americana at Brand in Los Angeles, one at Roosevelt Field on Long Island in Garden City, New York and one at the Galleria in Houston, Texas.

Samsung's new retail stores will open on February 20, the same day the Galaxy S10 and the firm's foldable smartphone are unveiled at an event in San Francisco. The company also plans to launch pop-up stores at other malls throughout the US next month.

In 2013, Samsung partnered with Best Buy to offer minishops within the retailer's stores and in 2016 the company opened its Samsung 837 showroom in New York's Meatpacking District to provide consumers with demos of its products.

Samsung Experience

Samsung's new stores will not only allow customers to try out its products, they will actually be able to buy them as well as receive customer support and assistance including walk-in repair.

The company will use its new retail locations to push its other products besides smartphones including its TVs, tablets, wearables and SmartThings devices.

President and CEO of Samsung Electronics America, YH Eom explained the company's decision to launch its new retail stores in the US in an announcement, saying:

“Our new Samsung Experience Stores are spaces to experience and see Samsung technology brought to life, to empower people to do what they never thought was possible before. We want to build a ‘playground’ for Samsung fans—a place to learn about and try out all of the amazing new products we have to offer.” 


Categories: Tech News

Samsung slashes prices on SIM-free deals in run up to Galaxy S10 launch - S9 and Note 9 included

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:16

The countdown is ticking away...there's now less than a week to go before we can get our hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S10. As exciting as that is, if recent price leaks are true then this could be a handset way above Samsung's normal price range (especially with the suggestions of a new budget S10e model).  

Luckily for those Samsung fans on a budget, this isn't all bad news. New phone releases usually means big price cutbacks on older devices and Samsung really has delivered this year. Not only is the company offering up to £220 off the price of SIM-free Samsung devices but it is also throwing in a free wireless charger with each device.

These aren't just any random, bottom-of-the-barrel Samsung phones either. These big price reductions are on Samsung's current big four: the Galaxy Note 9, S9, S9 Plus and S8. So if the expected price of Galaxy S10 deals has given you a fright, check out these price cuts below:

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 - £899 £799 | 11% reduction |free wireless charger

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus - £869 £649 | 25% reduction | free wireless charger

Samsung Galaxy S9 - £739 £549 | 25% reduction | free wireless charger 

Samsung Galaxy S8 - £549 £449 | 18% reduction | free wireless charger

You can go even cheaper on the Galaxy S9s and Note 9 from Fonehouse or get the S9 Plus for an extra £100 less from Amazon.co.uk. But neither of these retailers offer the free wireless charger that the Samsung phone deals do or allow you to trade in your old phone (Samsung offers up to £300 depending on the phone you're part exchanging) to save even more money. 

Categories: Tech News

Underwhelming Sony Xperia L3 renders and specs leaked

Latest Tech News - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:05

Images of Sony’s upcoming Xperia L3 have been leaked online, along with specs and some clues as to the device’s features. 

The renders and information, courtesy of WinFuture, show each side of the phone as well as some angle shots. They show the device’s ports, including a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port, and some of the other features the phone has — and they also suggest a couple of omissions.  

  • MWC 2019 will be the biggest event of the year for smartphones.
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  • The Samsung Galaxy X is one of a new wave of foldable phones.

According to the leak the device has a 5.7-inch 1440 x 720 LCD screen, which is an improvement over the Xperia L2’s 5.5-inch LCD, although that had the same resolution. 

One apparent inclusion is a slot for microSD cards, and there are also speaker perforations at the top and bottom of the device. There’s no rear fingerprint sensor — instead the scanner is on the side of the device, between the volume and power buttons, and rather than a notch there’s a substantial bezel on the top and bottom of the screen. 

The front camera is just to the left of a central speaker in the top bezel, while round the back the dual-lens main cameras are on the upper-left side. According to the leak the front camera is 8MP, and the two rear lenses are 13MP and 2MP – the main difference between the Xperia L3 and the L2 is that 2MP camera, which supposedly is for capturing depth effects.

The real weakness of the device, judging by the leak, is the specs. Supposedly it’ll have 3GB RAM and 32GB internal memory, and will only run Android 8.1 on release. If the handset does come with a 3,300mAh battery as suggested that’ll go some way to making up for those shortcoming, but those are still pretty disappointing internals – in fact they’re identical to the Xperia L2’s.

The design of the handset is fairly minimalist, and it doesn’t seem to have all the features and functions of a top-range device – indeed, according to WinFuture the device will launch for €199, which converts to around $220, £175 or AU$315, so it’s clearly a budget device.

If this leak is accurate, then between the basic-looking design and identical specs to the previous device we’re not exactly blown away by the Xperia L3 – although it is meant to be a budget device, and of course these specs and renders aren’t necessarily the real deal. It’s possible we’ll find out more about the device at MWC 2019 when many new phones get announced and launched.  

Categories: Tech News