Poor Bing. Microsoft's underdog search engine used to have a quiet home on iOS and Spotlight for the Mac, but Apple today said in a statement to TechCrunch that it's parting ways with Bing for most search services.
Basically, this means that when Siri gives you a list of search results rather than answering your question directly, it'll be creating the list with Google rather than Bing.
“Switching to Google as the web search provider for Siri, Search within iOS and Spotlight on Mac will allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari,” Apple's statement said, emphasizing the appeal of uniformity.
But Apple isn't embracing Google in its entirety. Bing will still be the default engine for image searches for both Siri and Spotlight, possibly because Bing's searches aren't as curated as Google's (which, among other things, makes it a big hit with the porn community).No going back
Video searches, rather pragmatically, will default to YouTube searches. Keep in mind that's still technically a win for Google.
And if you don't like Google and want to change it back? Too bad. iOS won't let you change the default engine for Siri, although you can work around it and flat-out ask Siri to search for something on Bing.
Apple didn't give any reasons for the switch apart from the desire for consistency, but it's possible money was involved.
As CNBC first reported, the Bernstein research firm made a splash in August when it suggested Google could be paying Apple as much as $3 billion a year to remain the default search engine on Safari for iPhones and iPads.
In that context, maybe Google's just trying to get a little more bang for its seemingly bottomless bucks.
- Don't miss our hands on iPhone X review
Earlier this month, Apple announced it would start pricing videos in 4K on iTunes at the same price as HD videos to celebrate the launch of the Apple TV 4K, and there was much rejoicing.
Apparently, there was a lot of negotiating from competitors, too. Today, Amazon slashed the prices on all of its own 4K videos, making them infinitely more affordable than they were just hours ago.
According to Pocket Lint, until recently you could find yourself paying as much as $30 for a 4K video from Amazon US. Now, though, you'll find some of the titles for as low as $5, while newer programs will cost you a little more. But only a little: you probably won't have to spend more than $20.
The catch? Amazon still has a pitiful 4K selection compared to iTunes. The silver lining, though, is that some of those 4K videos will likely come free with a Prime membership when Amazon finally releases its expected app for the Apple TV 4K.
For that matter, Amazon itself is expected to release a new Fire TV box with 4K and HDR support soon as sales of the old model have temporarily ceased and leaks of newer models are starting to pop up.
The price slash is a seemingly small bit of news that could have a massive impact, as few things spur the adoption of new technology quite like making that technology affordable. With more accessible pricing, in other words, the 4K revolution is at last coming to the people.
Via The Verge
- Here are some great 4K HDR movies and TV shows to get you started with your new Apple TV 4K
Update: It isn’t the thinnest or most stylish laptop you can buy, but the Acer Swift 3 is one of the best laptops today. Offering a whole lot of bang for the buck in terms of performance and inputs, read on to number 11 to find out more about the Acer Swift 3!
If you're looking to discover what is the best laptop to buy before the end of 2017, you've come to the right place. We've tested hundreds of the latest laptops, including all of the best models from the most popular and trusted brands, so that you can be sure you're getting the best laptop for you at a price that makes sense.
So whether you're after a thin and light laptop to throw in a bag every day, a desktop replacement to stay at home, a gaming laptop to have fun with in the evenings, a 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a touchscreen tablet or a cheapo Chromebook - we've got lots of recommendations for you!
Rest assured, while there are 15 laptops in this list, the order they're placed in doesn't particularly matter. We've included something for everyone, starting with the Dell XPS 13 which we think is the out-and-out best laptop in the world right now. And underneath that you'll find a whole range of our top recommendations - so whether the one you like the look of is at number 1 or number 15 - rest assured every laptop in this list is worth buying and gets a solid recommendation from us.
What's more, our funky price comparison tools will show you where you can buy each one for the absolute cheapest price, so you won't have to trawl through the web comparing prices. If you want to see a more comprehensive list of prices and retailers, simply click the 'view all prices' link on each widget!The best laptops of 2017:
Slim, light, powerful and majestic - Dell’s 2017 flagship XPS 13 is the best laptop in the world. If you're after a brilliant all-rounder with powerful performance, a superb screen and extremely slim dimensions it simply cannot be beaten. This laptop squeezes a 13.3-inch 'Infinity Edge' screen into an 11-inch frame- that means it's the smallest/slimmest 13-inch laptop out there, with the screen stretching almost all the way to the edge of the device. Couple that with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Core i7 and Core i5 processors, plus the availability of a multi-use USB-C port, standard USB 3.0 and SD slots, and what you end up with is the worlds' most popular Windows laptop. You can buy this one in many flavours too - the most expensive versions have super high-res multi-touch screens plus Core i7 processors and loads of memory and storage, but you can save money in several steps which include opting for a non-touch full HD screen, Core i5 processor and less memory/storage etc. But rest assured, whichever version of the Dell XPS 13 you go for, it'll be best in class and well worth the money.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
If you love the look of the Dell XPS 13 but you don't want to pay the steep asking price, the Asus Zenbook UX310UA is the best alternative. It costs substantially less - in fact it's usually about half the price - while retaining a fabulous screen, excellent build quality and looks, plus top performance for everyday tasks. Because of this, it's also a viable alternative to the 2017 Macbook if you want something super slim that's not a Mac and doesn't cost as much. Like most laptops of this kind, it comes in various specifications so the cheaper versions have Intel Core i3 CPUs and full HD screens while the most expensive options come with a super high res display and Intel Core i5. Whichever one you go for, though, you're getting a fantastic laptop. Asus has long been a great brand for offering great value on these kinds of laptops so it's not much of a surprise that in 2017 we find ourselves recommending another Asus laptop in this price bracket.
If you're after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book 2017. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop. To add more versatility, Lenovo has now added the option to buy it with either Windows 10 or Android 6.0 onboard - which one you choose will depend how you're more likely to use the device. The screen on this thing defies the cheap asking price and the keyboard and capacitive touch-keyboard are both fantastic too. This is a great option if you want something cheap for basic computing tasks, for creating art using the built-in Wacom digitizer or a train device for watching movies. But for more heavy lifting you'd be better off choosing one of the options above as the Intel Atom CPU in this thing is great at saving power and making the battery last for ages but not so good at super speedy processing.
If you're after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, welcome to the 13-inch Macbook Pro with touchbar. It's the best laptop Apple has ever made, and builds new features into the classic design. Of course the headline feature is the touchbar - it's a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you're a massive fan of the Macbook Pro 2017 you'll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. For a start, this laptop is very expensive for what is is, especially considering the better value alternatives. On top of this, it's not as powerful, the screen is lower-res versus the competition and isn't touchscreen friendly, plus the battery is a bit disappointing too. So if you're open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 as a more modern, cheaper alternative. But if you're a steadfast Apple die hard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!
The Macbook Air is dead - long live the new Apple Macbook! It's the slimmest, slickest and best-looking Macbook Apple has ever built and it's one of the most popular and best-selling laptops on the planet. It will not serve as a main productivity machine - it's a lot less powerful than the Macbook Pro and has only one IO port in the form of USB Type-C. But in terms of being a super slim and light Macbook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and giving you the same slick OS X performance, the Macbook is a beautiful machine.
Part of a new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops in 2017, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is both ridiculously powerful and astonishingly thin and light. Make no mistake, this thing is large compared to a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13, but compared to gaming laptops of the past this effort from Asus is something of a holy grail achievement. Your expectations of a 15-inch gaming laptop will never be the same after seeing the Zephyrus in action. It's expensive of course, but with powerful Core i7 CPU and GTX 1080 graphics it'll be easily powerful enough to play the best games for many years to come on the built-in 1080p screen. It's an ideal top-end desktop replacement that is, possibly for the first time ever, also extremely portable.
If you're after a new gaming laptop and you don't have the kind of money that you need for the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is your best option. It comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is easily powerful enough to lubricate the best games on the built-in 1080p display while general performance in Windows is super slick thanks to the Core i5 CPU. If you're going to be moving around a bit, you'll be pleased to know that the battery life on this laptop is also superb - we got nearly 8 hours out of it while watching HD video. A gaming session with Tom Clancy's The Division on medium settings for two hours only dropped the battery to 66%. This is far better than similarly priced rivals. So in the reasonably-priced category, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is definitely the best laptop around at the moment.
A Chromebook doesn't run Windows, Android or Apple's Mac OS. Instead it's powered by Google's Chrome OS - a super lightweight operating system based on the Chrome web browser. It's a great way to save money on a laptop (no Windows license to pay for and no need for top-end Intel chips etc) while still retaining all of the productivity options you'd get on a full-blown windows or Mac OS laptop. The Chromebook Flip is the best Chromebook out there at the moment, offering truly premium build quality, a fabulous touchscreen and keyboard and excellent performance. All while offering great value for money too. For students and teachers it's a brilliant option, and it could also be for you if you're a bit of a technophobe who just wants a simple laptop to browse the web, watch videos and write emails on.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is 2017's best laptop for you if you're looking for the perfect cross between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet - you get the main unit itself with kickstand but if you want the Surface Pen or the fantastic Type Cover keyboard you'll need to pay extra for a bundle or buy it separately. Often the best value option is a bundle but even the tablet on its own represents pretty good value. The Surface Pro, alongside the also-excellent Surface Book laptop, is to Windows what the Pixel is to Google's Android. It's the benchmark Windows device, with software and hardware working together in perfect harmony. So if you need a new laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is the best does-it-all 2-in-1 option. If you want this but need something a little cheaper, check out the Acer Switch 3 below!
If you want the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you want to spend a lot less, the Acer Switch 3 2017 is definitely the your best option. It's designed around essentially the same concept as the Surface Pro and it's a less capable thanks to slightly lower power innards, but for most tasks it's a brilliant little machine. What's more, to add further value this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with the keyboard upgrade which means no little extras to pay for. As usual it comes in several different versions, with USB Type-C, 8GB RAM, an IPS display and Intel Core i3 7100U CPU coming with the more expensive option.
While you may have been convinced that ‘budget Ultrabook’ was an oxymoron up until this point, the Acer has turned this common misconception on its head with the Swift 3. That’s because the company has taken the all-aluminum chassis of the Acer Swift 7 and stuffed some more affordable components inside for everyone to enjoy. It doesn’t run macOS, but the Acer Swift 3 does put the age-old MacBook Air to shame in about every other regard, including the nigh-unbeatable price tag. Of course, in the process of demolishing the competition, Acer did have to cut a few corners in order to keep the price so impressively low. So although you can’t expect much in the way of an Ultra HD display or quality onboard sound, the performance benchmarks alone give even the Surface Laptop a run for its money.
Read the full review: Acer Swift 3
See more like this: The best cheap laptops 2017
If you're after a low cost Windows laptop that you can slip into a bag and carry around all day without noticing the weight, the Asus Transformer Mini T102HA is a fantastic device. Honestly it's not the fastest laptop in the world, so don't expect to do any video editing. But for simple every-day tasks it's more than adequate. What's more, it's similar to the other 2-in-1 laptops in this list in that it can become a tablet - you can choose whether or not to take the keyboard with you. And it comes as standard so you don't need to pay extra for it.
If you love the look of the XPS 13 at the top of this list but need something a little bigger with more graphics power, the Dell XPS 15 2017 could be the best laptop for you. Packing the same InfinityEdge technology, the screen extends right to the edge of the machine which means it's as small as it's possible to make a 15-inch laptop in 2017. It's quite pricey though, depending on which version you get. The very top end version has a 4K colour-accurate display which makes it perfect for graphic design, and gaming performance is decent as long as you play at either a lower resolution or on medium settings.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 15
If you're after a workhorse 15-inch laptop that'll give you loads of grunt for your money with top features and excellent design, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin is the best laptop for you - despite the silly name. You won't want to be carrying it around too often as it's a bit heavy for that, but otherwise it's a superb laptop. The keyboard is lovely to type on and the HD screen is HDR capable which makes it ideal for watching video and editing images. It's a cracking alternative to the Dell XPS 15 but for a lot less money.
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
And finally - HP's best 2-in-1 laptop is a really stunner. It's super thin and light while packing in fantastic performance and a fast charging battery. It's expensive, but for the money what you're getting is the best ultra portable laptop available in 2017. As with many laptops on the list, this laptop comes in a number of different builds - with the bottom end one starting with a full HD screen while the top end model packs in a 4K one. Whichever one you go for though, you're getting a fabulous laptop that you'll love carrying around with you.
General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. That’s not to say they can’t be fast, but you’ll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $600 or £400.
Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny – $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800.
2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off, but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops are available right now. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.
Chromebooks: Where you’ll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than $300 or £200 and some can even withstand a slight tussle.
Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny desktop PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800 and they’ll likely be the ones to take advantage of AMD’s laptop-grade Ryzen processors first.
Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, the best Windows tablets pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.
Just four years ago, Google Glass showed us that technology and fashion could be a horrifyingly awkward combination in the wrong hands.
Google seems to have atoned for its sins, though, with Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket with the search giant's Jacquard technology, which lets you control your Android device or iPhone with a few pats and swipes on the left sleeve.
After months of quiet hype,the jacket is finally going on sale at select locations this Wednesday, with wider availability opening up next week. In line with previous statements from Google at SXSW last March, The Verge reports that it'll sell for $350 (about £260 / AU$440).
Don't expect the Commuter Trucker Jacket to fully replace a wearable device like the Apple Watch for that price. It is chiefly aimed at foot and bike commuters who need rapid information or access to their music without stopping to fumble with their phones, and so the touch-sensitive Jacquard fabric supports only a few gestures that you can set up with an accompanying app.
You can brush up or brush down on the sleeve to change musical tracks, for instance, or you can double tap your sleeve to tell Google Maps to set a course for home. Merely holding the fabric makes the whole interface to shut off if you need some quiet.
And, yes, you can wash it, so long as you remove the little plastic tag you attach to the cuff before tossing it in the machine. After all, it's basically just a regular $150 Commuter Trucker Jacket from Levi's with Google's Jacquard fabric, but that combination makes it a fun toy and a charming conversation piece.
Best of all, unlike with the Google Glass, you probably won't look like a square while wearing it, and that's partly because Google went straight to the source rather than relying on a bunch of techies to create stylish digs.
"We don't want to be in the garment business; this is not our place to be," Project Jacquard chief Ivan Poupyrev said when we interviewed him in 2015. "There's a depth of knowledge in these apparel companies that none of us have, because they're spending years and years - in the case of Levi's, hundreds of years - learning."
You can pick up the jacket in a few select Levi's stores beginning Wednesday, September 27, or you can wait until October 2 to pick one up on Levi.com.
- Here's what we know about the Google Pixel 2
It’s hard to keep a secret – especially if that secret is a new product collaboration between Sonos, one of the largest and most well-known audio manufacturers in the world, and Amazon, a company that needs no introduction.
The fruit of that collaboration is a still unannounced smart speaker that has the brains of Amazon’s Alexa and the audio brawn of a Sonos Play:1 speaker.
And while the speaker has yet to be publicly recognized by either party, pictures of a sample unit have already started to make their way around the internet.
Photos popped up Monday on Caschys Blog, a technology enthusiast website run by blogger Carsten Knobloch. Knobloch says the pictures were submitted anonymously by a reader who claimed to receive a unit ahead of its unveiling.
Unfortunately, hours after the article was posted, it was mysteriously taken down ... but not before sites like The Verge and others grabbed a photo of it.The interface of the future
While it’s possible that someone is trying to stir up some trouble with a doctored image, the pictured speaker does match the description of Sonos’ FCC filing right down to the interface – the FCC filing had the same exact play / pause button and microphone icons in the same layout as this leaked device.
So what’s one to make of all this?
Sonos definitely has a new speaker coming out and this, very likely, is it.
We'll reach out to Sonos to learn more about the potential smart speaker and will update this article when we learn more.
- Speaking of speakers, these are the best Bluetooth speakers of 2017
The Taiwanese electronics firm has released a new Aero 15 X model featuring an Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics chip in the component maker's newer and thinner Max-Q design. This is Gigabyte’s second Max-Q gaming laptop, after the GTX 1080-equipped Aorus X5 MD, and Gigabyte claims the higher-end GPU should yield about 40% better graphics performance than the original model.
Aside from the new Max-Q graphics chip, the Aero 15 X is identical to its Nvidia GTX 1060-powered predecessor. Both machines feature 7th generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ processors, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB SSD all wrapped up in the same chassis.
We honestly would have appreciated a bump in screen resolution above Full HD, but at least users will still get an X-Rite, Pantone-certificated panel for true color reproduction.
Gigabyte has yet to share pricing or a release date, but we’ll update this post with the information as soon as it’s available.
- We'll see soon enough whether it's truly one of the best gaming laptops
The Ionic will arrive at major retailers around the globe on the first of next month, including at Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Verizon in the US.
And the new Apple Watch and Android Wear rival won't be alone: the new wireless Fitbit Flyer headphones also go on sale the same day. The sweat-proof headphones cost $129.95 / £109.99 / AU$199.95 and will be available at major global retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Target.
Featuring GPS, heart-rate tracking, guided workouts, contactless payments and five-day battery life, the Ionic costs $299.95 / £299.95 / AU$449.95. For comparison, the Apple Watch 3 without LTE costs $329 / £329 / AU$459.Fitbit Flyer headphones
The Fitbit Ionic comes in three color combos, and a Classic or Sport accessory band can be purchased for $29.95, while a leather band is sold for $59.95.
Also releasing tomorrow is the Fitbit SDK, allowing developers to create apps to build out the Fitbit smartwatch experience.
- These are the best Apple Watch apps for your Apple timepiece
Earlier this year, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2017), the company revealed the follow-up to macOS Sierra, almost facetiously named macOS High Sierra.
As you might have guessed from the subtle name change, the differences found in macOS High Sierra are similar in magnitude to those we saw when OS X Leopard became Snow Leopard back in 2009.
While most Apple fans’ heads were turned to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X at the September 12 press event held at Steve Jobs Theater, Mac users rejoiced as the release date for macOS High Sierra was stealthily announced that exact same day, namely September 25.
- Before long, some of the best laptops will run macOS High Sierra
Having launched in September of last year, the original macOS Sierra was very well received, bringing better integration between Macs running the software and iPhones and Apple Watch devices.
Apple’s macOS High Sierra, on the other hand, seems to be building onto functionality that’s already in place. So while the list of changes might be shorter than last time, they should nonetheless be received with open arms. Here’s everything we know about macOS High Sierra.Cut to the chase
- What is it? The 2017 edition of Apple’s Mac operating system, macOS
- When is it out? Available to install as of September 25
- What will it cost? macOS High Sierra is free to download
Apple unveiled macOS 10.13 High Sierra at the WWDC 2017 keynote event, which came as little surprise, as it's traditional for Apple to announce the latest version of its Mac software at its annual developer event.
But, it wasn’t until September 12 that Apple revealed that the full version of High Sierra would release on September 25. There was a developer version of the operating system you could enroll in leading into the final release, but fortunately that’s no longer necessary to take advantage of the latest features found in macOS 10.13.
Instead, simply head over to the App Store on your Mac and it should be featured on the front page shortly, if not already. Otherwise, do a query for macOS High Sierra in the search bar.macOS 10.13 High Sierra features
Although some Hackintosh users are worried about the security checks on EFI firmware that will be automatically deployed every week, Apple has introduced a number of exciting new features with macOS 10.13 High Sierra.
These include improvements to Safari – which will now thwart ad-tracking and auto-playing videos – and a more comprehensive Spotlight Search in the Mail App. Moreover, when you’re writing emails, the app now allows split view for the compose window – and it will use up to 35% less disk space as well.
The Photos app has been updated in macOS 10.13 High Sierra as well, with a better sorting tool to boot. All of this is complemented by a new layout, better facial recognition thanks to neural networks, and better syncing across all Apple devices.
Editing tools, too, have seen improvements, in turn making it easier than ever to enhance the quality of your photos without learning the ins and outs of Photoshop or Camera RAW. And of course, you can count on Instagram-like filters being a part of this.
One of the biggest changes that comes with macOS High Sierra is with the file system. It’s ditching the HFS – which Apple has used for around 30 years, and is now using the Apple File System (APFS) instead.
Every Mac that’s upgraded to macOS High Sierra will make this files system change automatically with the exception of those sporting Fusion Drives and older HDDs. Likewise, all new Macs will ship pre-formatted for APFS.
To be exact, APFS is a 64-bit file system that supports native encryption and faster metadata operation. This may all sound a bit techy, but the bottom line is that this will make your Mac feel a lot faster, while also being more secure and more transparent about the nature of your files and folder contents.
The update also brings HEVC, or H.265, video compression to the Mac. Apple claims that this new standard can compress video files 40% more than the previous-generation H.264 standard. The end result will be faster video streams at higher resolutions – ahem, 4K – and smaller video files sizes when stored locally.VR finally comes to the Mac
One of the biggest bits of news surrounding macOS High Sierra is that it will finally bring support for virtual reality headsets officially. Namely, the HTC Vive and Steam VR will work with Macs running the new OS this autumn.
However, to use such a device, you'll need at least a 5K iMac or MacBook Pro – or, any Mac that can run the new OS with an external graphics card box attached via Thunderbolt 3. Support for such devices will come part and parcel with macOS High Sierra, but won't be an active function until spring 2018.macOS 10.13 High Sierra compatibility
Fortunately, in the act of creating a macOS iteration that only moderately shakes things up, the barrier to entry didn’t change at all. As long as you’re rocking one of the following Mac models, you’ll be good to go with macOS High Sierra on day one:
- Late 2009 iMac or newer
- Late 2009 MacBook/MacBook (Retina) or newer
- Mid-2010 MacBook Pro or newer
- Late 2010 MacBook Air or newer
- Mid-2010 Mac Mini or newer
- Mid-2010 Mac Pro or newer
- 2017 iMac Pro
Bear in mind that if you want to take advantage of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) benefits posed by macOS High Sierra, you’ll need a Mac donning – at the very least – an Intel sixth-generation Skylake processor. That means that, yes, Kaby Lake will do just fine.
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this report.
- Now, here's how to download macOS High Sierra
The Google Pixel 2 XL release date and price will be unveiled on October 4, according to every leak we’ve seen over the last six months, and it’s going to be usher in some big changes.
It’s the larger version of Google’s flagship smartphone, the Google Pixel 2, which we have already covered in length, and the sequel to last year’s 5.5-inch Google Pixel XL.
We expect the same things to differ between the big and small versions as today’s do: the screen size, the resolution that it runs at, battery capacity and of course, price. However, recent Pixel 2 XL leaks show that the camera sensor is located in a slightly different place than the core Pixel 2, so there might be a story to tell there, too.
There’s plenty to say, so here’s everything we know about the Google Pixel 2 XL, including all confirmed details, as well as a tidy roundup of the many rumors that have come along.Cut to the chase
- What is it? Google's next plus-sized smartphone
- How much will it cost? Rumors point to $849 (about £630, AU$1079)
- When will it release? Launch set for October 4, release likely in the weeks that follow
Like its predecessor, the Pixel 2 XL won’t be a cheap phone. But a recent trove of insider info claims that it might be more expensive than before.
Compared to a launch price of $769 (£719, AU$1,269), which was a $100 jump up from the smaller Pixel, Google’s new Pixel 2 XL will reportedly launch for $849 (about £630, AU$1079). This means that there will be a wider $200 gap between the two options. Want that extra battery and screen resolution? It’s going to cost you.
And that’s just for the 64GB model, which to be fair, is double the capacity of last year’s 32GB base model Pixel XL. But if you want 128GB, the price will go up another $100, bringing you ever so close to the cost of a iPhone X at $949.
As far as when you’ll be able to have your very own Pixel 2 XL, our best guess puts its release shortly after the October 4 event. We wouldn’t be surprised if pre-orders begin following the event’s conclusion with a release occurring later in October.Google Pixel 2 XL screen
As was the case when comparing the original Pixel devices, the screen resolution of the Pixel 2 XL sticks out as one of the biggest advantages to going big. Both are likely to feature a vibrant AMOLED display, though only the larger 5.5-inch model will feature a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, a spec that lends brilliantly to virtual reality applications via Google Daydream.
If Google sticks with this resolution, it will be one of the few companies to release a flagship phone with the yesteryear aspect ratio standard: 16:9. It’s easy to find many examples of phones that stretch this ratio to 18:9, which results in a much taller look.Left: Black & White Pixel 2 XL, Right: Kinda Blue Pixel 2 (Source: DroidLife) Google Pixel 2 XL design
Moving onto the design surrounding the display, which of late has almost been as important as the screen itself, early leaks suggested that Google’s new phone would feature slim bezels, much like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30. However, more recent mumblings have indicated that the new fleet of Pixels will retain the family’s signature bezel-licious look on the front.
The Pixel 2 XL’s lack of visible differences on the front side might be disappointing given the number of bold looks introduced this year from the likes of the Essential Phone and the Samsung Galaxy S8. But a recent glimpse at what could be the final Pixel 2 XL design show an overhauled design on the phone’s rear.
Looking at the above image, the divisive split of glass and aluminum is still here, but it looks a bit more confidently executed this year. Otherwise, the button layout looks similar.
For those interested in picking up with the Pixel 2 XL in a wacky color (raises hand), the leaked batch of colors available might disappoint. It will be available in “Just Black”, a melding of black aluminum with charcoal-backed glass, or “Black & White”. While the latter is exactly how it sounds (the top being black, bottom being white) this color’s power button is a bold orange. Some have described this as the “panda” look, but I’m settling on penguin given the orange power button.
Unfortunately, the Google Pixel 2 seems to be getting the cool color. Have you seen “Kinda Blue” above? It’s colorful in a subtle, yet brilliant way.
The Google Pixel 2 XL (and the smaller version) will omit a 3.5mm headphone jack, according to many sources, making it the first Google-made phone to ditch the port. Whether this is an effort to strut the wireless codec smarts built into Android Oreo or just a means of ensuring a waterproof device, another popular rumor, this exclusion is almost guaranteed to be more controversial than its design.Google Pixel 2 XL camera and battery
The camera performance is one of the original Pixel’s strongest suits and hopefully, Google can build upon that success in the Pixel 2 XL.
Leaked benchmarks have shown off a 12MP rear-facing camera that’s capable of shooting video in 4K and a 7MP front-facing camera, which by themselves aren’t extraordinary specs, but we’ll have to see if Google puts it to special use.
Keep in mind that we’re not certain if the camera specs on the Google Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL will match or differ. Given the fact that the rear-camera’s location seems to be slightly adjusted between the two models, it’s always possible that the Pixel 2 XL’s higher price will bring along some souped-up camera abilities. Of course, Google Lens will certainly make this phone more capable than most.
The original Pixel XL featured a 3,450mAh battery and the word has been quiet as to whether Google is shifting that capacity around. Chances are good that it will, at the very least, stay the same. Here’s to hoping that it’s not reduced, like we saw with the Moto Z2 Force.Google Pixel 2 XL specs and OS
The Google Pixel 2 XL was speculated to be the launch phone for the next generation of Snapdragon chipsets, specifically the Snapdragon 845 or 836. Sources close to Qualcomm have recently squashed such a rumor, so it’s about guaranteed that it will feature the Snapdragon 835, a celebrated spec that is plenty fast and efficient even as we move closer into 2018.
Paired alongside this powerful, ubiquitous system-on-a-chip is 4GB of RAM, which if true, won’t have moved an inch since last year’s model. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus 5 are famous examples of devices with 6GB of RAM, though the gains won’t be noticeable to most using today’s applications. Heck, the iPhone X will ship with 3GB of RM, so 4GB is very much still a viable offering.
Moving onto software, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will be the true showcases for Android Oreo, even though several phones already have the software. Sure, you can experience just about everything else that Google’s latest operating system update has to offer on the Google Pixel, Google Nexus 6P and Sony Xperia XZ1, but the latest is likely to have some special treats.Right image lists "Active Edge" feature (Credit: 9To5Google)
Spotted in the phone’s supposed FCC listing, the Pixel 2 XL will pick up the HTC U11’s most interesting feature: its squeeze-friendly sides. Google is rumored to be rebranding the feature to be called “Active Edge” and will give users a new way of interacting with the device, which could be a super handy feature given this particular phone’s larger size in the hand.
While stock Android offers a few shortcuts, like double tap the power button to launch the camera, Active Edge will likely offer many more options due to its customization. We imagine it could be used for things like launching Google Assistant without the need for a dedicated button (ahem, Bixby) or executing any other task, really.
Will the Google Pixel 2 XL have a superior camera like the leaks show? Will it indeed be waterproof and lack that age-old headphone jack? Stay tuned for our hands-on review of the Google Pixel 2 XL when it’s unveiled on October 4.
Best Bluetooth Speaker Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy in 2017.
A Bluetooth speaker is the easiest and most convenient way to get music playing from your phone throughout your home or even further afield.
With improvements in wireless connectivity and battery life it's possible to get a pretty decent sound from an often surprisingly small chassis.
There are a formidable number of different kinds of Bluetooth speaker however. Some are more at home inside where they can be kept dry and clear from danger, while others are built to be rugged and waterproof.
Here's a quick look at our best Bluetooth speakers list:
- UE Boom 2
- JBL Charge 3
- Bose SoundLink Mini II
- UE Wonderboom
- Creative Muvo 2C
- B&O Beoplay P2
- Marshall Kilburn
- Bose SoundLink Color II
- JBL Flip 4
One of the biggest questions we get asked when talking to folks about Bluetooth speakers is: How do I pick out the best one? The answer is to set your budget, figure out a list of must-have features and then shop within those constraints.
Some common features that people search for are water-resistance (and water-proofed speakers), voice calling and device charging, a feature that allows you to plug your phone or tablet into the speaker to siphon off a bit of juice when it's running a bit low.
Another good way to narrow down your search is to select a speaker based on the activity you're going to do with it. A great travel speaker might not have the exact same attributes as the best home listening speaker, for example.
That being said, we've tried to highlight some of the most common use cases below and have selected a speaker that fits perfectly with that scenario.
This sequel to the UE Boom nails everything a Bluetooth speaker should be. It's loud, yet detailed. Portable, but still incredibly durable. Plus, even better, the addition of waterproofing turns what used to be the best Bluetooth speaker around for most occasions into the best one for every occasion.
If you're deep in the search for your next –, or first – Bluetooth speaker, you can stop looking now. (But if you're looking for a little more power, the Megaboom – also from UE – is a great choice, too.)
Read the full review: UE Boom 2
As a package, the JBL Charge 3 offers a compelling set of features and excellent sound quality to boot. It punches well above its weight, playing loudly and distortion-free. The Charge line of speakers have been on our shortlist of recommendations for a long time and the latest iteration maintains JBL's dominance in the portable Bluetooth speaker market.
Read the full review: JBL Charge 3
The Bose SoundLink Mini II is relatively ancient, having been released in June 2015. However, writing off the SoundLink Mini II because of its age would be a mistake, as it remains one of the best sounding wireless speakers. That said, it punches way above what its size would suggest, producing deep bass, sparkling highs and a lush midrange. While most wireless speakers sound OK, the Mini II proves that small speakers don’t need to compromise on sound.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Mini II
When someone asks us for a recommendation for a waterproof speaker, the UE Roll 2 was always on the top of our list. We loved the Roll 2’s unique form factor, 50-foot wireless range and, obviously, it sounded good, too. Where it was lacking was in the bass department. Logitech, UE’s parent company, has fixed the Roll 2’s lack of bass by creating the appropriately named UE Wonderboom.
In our eyes, the UE Wonderboom bests the Roll 2 in just about every way –except for the Roll 2’s handy bungee cord. Still, ignoring that, if you’re looking for one of the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers on the market today, it’s hard to do better than the UE Wonderboom.
Read the full review: UE Wonderboom
The Creative Muvo 2C is a speaker than punches well above its weight in terms of its sound quality. This tiny Bluetooth speaker is one of the smallest we've seen to pack its own bass radiator, which results in much better dynamic range than many other speakers at this price point. Plus, it's also feature rich in terms of its inputs, allowing you to play music either over Bluetooth, a 3.5mm jack, USB or even insert a microSD card to play MP3 files directly.
Of course, that being said, if you spend more you'll get a more refined sound, better bass still, and a longer battery life. But if you're looking for a budget speaker than the Muvo 2C is hard to beat at this price.
Read the full review: Creative Muvo 2C
B&O created a hit with the Beoplay P2. It’s a well-designed speaker that’s extremely easy to use, has a well-built companion app, and it sounds great. On top of that, the speaker is ultra-portable without compromising on much bass content. Sure, you could get something a little bigger (and stereo) for the same price, but at this size the sound quality justifies the price. The smart gestures are a nice touch too, although we wouldn’t buy the device solely for that reason.
Read the full review: B&O Beoplay P2
The Marshall Kilburn might not appear to be the best choice in Bluetooth speakers. It’s large, heavy, doesn’t have USB charging and isn’t waterproof – plus, AED 1,299 is a lot to pay for a Bluetooth speaker.
But none of this matters because the Kilburn sounds so darn good.
Over a month's time, we fell in love with the Kilburn’s design, feel and pristine sound quality. There’s no other portable Bluetooth speaker on the market quite like it. It’s a head turner and conversation piece. It’s a piece of audio art that you’ll be proud to show off to your friends during a party.
Read the full review: Marshall Kilburn
It seems just about every speaker company has a wireless speaker that can take the abuse of being outdoors and Bose, a company most well-known for its brand of excellent noise-canceling headphones, is no different. If you’re looking for something from Bose to take with you on your next hike, the AED 549 SoundLink Color II is the company’s only splash-proof speaker that can stand up to the elements with an IPX4 rating.
Read the full review: Bose SoundLink Color II
Bringing bluntness over refinement, the JBL Flip 4 is a good Bluetooth speaker for the rugged outdoorsman in your friend circle. It’s rough, tough design makes it perfect as a portable speaker to accompany all aspects of your life while its sound is solid without worrying your home audio system.
It’s all weather friendly design is a win, but a lack of definition and distinction in the mid-range ultimately means its sound quality is not quite up to scratch when compared with some, more high-end portable speakers.
Read the full review: JBL Flip 4
- Now need something to listen to? Check out our collection of the best podcasts
Over at the Ignite conference, Microsoft has revealed four new laptops which run Windows 10 S and are designed specifically for ‘firstline workers’ (frontline staff) in conjunction with the company’s new Microsoft 365 F1 plan.
The latter is a new enterprise plan for Office 365, and the laptops in question come from Acer, HP and Lenovo.
Acer has a pair of notebooks which are scheduled to emerge at some point in the fourth quarter, namely the Acer Aspire 1 and Acer Swift 1, both of which will be ultra-slim models.
The Aspire will be a 14-inch laptop and the Swift a 13-inch model, retailing at $299 (£220) and $349 (£260) respectively.
HP’s Stream 14 Pro will likely be the first Windows 10 S notebook of the bunch to emerge, though, with the vendor planning to release the device next month. It’s a 14-inch ultraportable priced at $275 (£205), and will be the cheapest of the lot.
Lenovo’s V330 will likewise be a 14-inch ultra-slim laptop with a price tag of $349 (£260), but this one won’t appear until February of next year.Fool-proof and secure
The idea is that the notebooks are easy to set up, deploy and manage, with Windows 10 S ensuring the machines are fool-proof and inherently far more secure against the likes of cyber-attacks, malware and other threats (only software vetted by Microsoft and downloaded from the firm’s app store can be installed on them).
And in terms of easy management, Microsoft notes in a blog post: “Windows 10 S was designed with Modern IT in mind, including cloud-based identity and management with Azure Active Directory and Microsoft Intune.
“Together with Windows Update for Business, organizations can manage and update Windows 10 S devices using the power and convenience of the cloud.”
- Maybe these new models will make our list of best business laptops
Update: It looks like the situation with TVAddons might not be as bad as some had initially feared as the organisation has recently clarified that the law firm that is currently holding its domains is separate from the one currently suing it. As always, be careful with which Kodi add-ons you choose to install.
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If you want to stream content to your TV, then Kodi (or XBMC, as it used to be known) is just about the best bit of software for the job. With a big, friendly user interface, support for loads of streaming formats and services, Kodi is a joy to use.
As well as allowing you to stream video and music files over a local network, the software also includes the ability to install plug-ins to stream from a variety of services including Amazon Prime Instant Video, Spotify and YouTube.
One of Kodi's main strengths is that it is available for a huge number of platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. The downside is that Kodi doesn't make its own streaming box (no, the official Kodi Raspberry Pi case doesn't count), so you need to find your own device to run it on.
There are plenty of boxes available with Kodi pre-installed, but you have to be careful. So-called 'fully loaded' Kodi boxes, come with lots of add-ons that give you access to pirated content. Unsurprisingly, there's a huge crackdown on these types of boxes, with the EU declaring them illegal.
The better option is just to buy a compatible set-top box and install Kodi on it yourself. Here, we've rounded up the best collection of clean set-top boxes that you can add Kodi to. For each, we've tested how easy it is to get Kodi, how smoothly it runs, and how each copes playing 1080p or 4K video.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick has long been a top streamer for Kodi users. With the 2017 version of the Fire TV Stick, things are even better. A faster processor makes the media streamer 30% faster than the old one, according to Amazon. There is also built-in Alexa support (although this doesn't work with Kodi), and the device is only marginally more expensive than the original.
Installing Kodi on the Fire TV Stick is a bit of a pain, as the app is not listed in the Amazon app store. Instead, you have to sideload Kodi. Once installed, the Fire TV stick is exceptional.
- Check out our guide on how to install Kodi on a Fire TV Stick
Via the Bluetooth remote, it's quick to navigate through the menus. While the older Fire TV struggled a little to navigate Kodi's menus smoothly, the new model has no such trouble with the default skin.
There's only 1080p support from the Fire TV's HDMI output. Testing, we found that our 1080p videos played smoothly; 4K videos launched and were downscaled, but we soon ran into buffering problems as the Fire TV struggled to keep up with the high quality video.
If you don't care about not having 4K and want a small, simple device that can handle 1080p Kodi, as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, this is the device to buy.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV is a top choice for anyone that wants a great all-rounder. At its heart, this media player is an excellent choice for Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix, supporting both services in 4K with HDR, but the power to play Ultra HD content means that the Fire TV is also rather good for Kodi.
As with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kodi is not available through the official app store, so it has to be sideloaded. This is slightly annoying to do, but not overly difficult. Once installed, Kodi can be launched quickly from the main menu.
- Check out our guide on how to install Kodi on the Amazon Fire TV
Kodi runs beautifully smoothly on the Fire TV and takes just a few seconds to load. Amazon's excellent Voice Remote is great for navigation and connects via Bluetooth, so you don't need line of sight; voice commands are not supported in Kodi, though.
We tested using 1080p and 4K videos, with both playing smoothly. The Fire TV has 802.11ac Wi-Fi built in, but if your home network isn't fast enough to play video without buffering, there's an Ethernet port, too.
While streaming is the easiest option, the Fire TV has a microSD card slot so that you can load this up with movies. Given the media player's small dimensions, you can load it up with content for travelling.
If you want Kodi in 4K, but want access to other streaming services, too, the Amazon Fire TV is the box to buy.
Read the full review: Amazon Fire TV
The Nvidia Shield is the most powerful Android set-top box that we've reviewed. It's designed with all types of 4K home entertainment in mind, from Netflix to the latest games via Geforce Now. Unsurprisingly, this power makes the Nvidia Shield one of the best boxes for Kodi.
Running Android TV on Android 6.0, the Nvidia Shield is one of the easiest boxes to configure Kodi on. With Google Play reconfigured for your TV screen and remote control, rather than a touchscreen, installing Kodi was an absolute breeze; in fact, we didn't have to type anything, since we were able to use the voice search provided by the remote control to find the Kodi app.
Kodi started in just a couple of seconds, with the box recovering from standby in a similar amount of time. There are no lengthy waits with the Nvidia Shield.
Once in Kodi performance was exceptional, with super-smooth menus and animations across the board. The menus and interface were easy to navigate using the excellent bundled remote control, too.
We tested 4K and 1080p videos, with both streaming smoothly. The Shield could also easily downsample 4K video to fill a 1080p TV, too. We had no problems using the built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi; if your network signal isn't strong enough, there's an Ethernet port in the back.
Considering the small size of the Nvidia Shield, the performance is phenomenal. If you don't care about the gaming content, the Amazon Fire TV is better value for 4K playback; if you want the absolute best performance, this is the media streamer to buy.
Read the full review: Nvidia Shield
Want 4K, but don't want to pay over the top for a box that can handle it? You need the Android-powered Seguro Trongle X4.
There's always a slight fear that bargain-basement products have severe limitations, but the Trongle X4 is refreshingly good, with only the minor annoyance. Measuring just 110mm square with a height of 17mm, the Trongle X4 is also one of the smallest set-top boxes that we've seen.
Wi-Fi is built in, but the X4 couldn't see our 5GHz 802.11ac network, so could only connect via 2.4GHz. The connection was painfully slow, so we recommend using the Ethernet connection at the back instead.
As the X4 runs full Android 6.0, the Google Play Store is built in, making it straightforward to install Kodi (or other Android apps). As the play store is designed for touch, navigating it with a remote control is a little painful. It's handy that the remote has a Mouse button, so you can move an on-screen pointer to make selection a little easier, though. Once installed, Kodi can be pinned to the front screen, making it easy to launch; the only thing you have to wait for is the X4's 25s boot time, as there's no fast standby mode.
The X4's HDMI 2.0b output supports HDR10 and HLG HDR processing, along with Ultra HD resolutions, so you'll easily be able to play the best-looking content on this box.
After all of the latest updates had downloaded and installed, Kodi ran smoothly on the X4, quickly connecting to our shared folders. We tested both 1080p and 4K films, with all playing smoothly, thanks to the 2GHz quad-core Amlogic S905X CPU. Buffering becomes an issue over Wi-Fi, but we had no such problems when using Ethernet. There's even a microSD card slot (up to 32GB), so you can store content locally and carry the X4 around with you, making it great for holidays. The Amazon Fire TV and Nvidia Shield are slicker for 4K, but this is a good budget option.
The Raspberry Pi 3 is a brilliant little computer for all types of projects, and its diminutive size makes it an attractive option for building a tiny Kodi media centre. The Raspberry Pi Foundation makes this easy, too, with NOOBS supporting two pre-built options: LibreELEC and OSMC. We've used OSMC for this guide.
Once installed, the Pi 3 boots into OSMC and runs you through a quick configuration wizard before moving to Kodi. After that, the Raspberry Pi 3 takes around 20s to power on. OSMC gives you a custom skin designed for the Pi, although you can switch back to the Classic option. We recommend avoiding over-complicated skins, as the Pi may struggle to run them. As it stands, the default skins work well, but the animations are only just on the right side of smooth. It's also worth buying a fast microSD card so that the Pi 3 boots quickly and remains responsive.
Thanks to its quad-core CPU, we found that that the Raspberry Pi 3 could handle 1080p videos easily. There's no Ultra HD support from the HDMI output, and the Pi 3 can't downscale 4K movies. With our test 4K footage, the Pi showed a broken image and became very jerky to use. Given the 802.11n Wi-Fi built into the Pi 3, you may find that you need to use the wired Ethernet connection if your wireless network signal isn't strong enough and you get buffering issues.
The Pi 3 comes without a case, so you'll need to budget for one. It doesn't ship with a remote, either, although you may be able to control Kodi using an HDMI CEC-compatible TV's remote; the smartphone app is otherwise the easiest method.
If you have a Raspberry Pi 3 already, it will make a decent 1080p Kodi media centre. If you don't have one, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a better choice, and cheaper considering it comes with a remote and doesn't need a case.
Read the full review: Raspberry Pi 3
The Emtec GEM Box might seem like a good choice for Kodi, but we'd only recommend it if you've already got the box itself lying around. Running Android 4.4, the GEM Box is not compatible with the latest builds of Kodi, and the Google Play Store doesn't show the software as available for download.
Instead, you have to install the Complete Kodi Setup Wizard, which gives you access to older versions of the software. From here, we could install Kodi 15.2 Isengard instead. It's fiddly using to Google Play Store to install the Setup Wizard, and we had to flick the switch at the bottom of the game controller to move between normal and mouse mode in order to select the search box and installation options.
Kodi 15.2 ran smoothly enough on our GEM Box, and we soon had it set up to stream content. Full HD content played without trouble. The GEM Box doesn't have a 4K output, nor can it downsample 4K video; our Ultra HD video just crashed the media player, and we had to cycle the power. Struggling with larger video files shows that the quad-core processor is a little behind the times.
We had no problems streaming videos over either the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections. If you want local storage, the GEM Box can take a microSD card, for locally stored video. That can make the diminutive GEM Box a handy device to carry around.
The issue with the GEM Box is its price and out-of-date operating system. If you have one already, being able to install Kodi is useful; if you want to buy a new Kodi box, look elsewhere in this guide.
The PC is the most versatile platform on Earth, so why not use it to build your very own Kodi box? Yes, the total cost will outstrip that of the other models here, but you'll get a more powerful unit that can run more than just Kodi.
There are lots of options to go for, too. The simplest is to buy a pre-made mini PC. We tested on the excellent, but not widely available, Asus VivoMini VC65. This tiny computer measures 197 x 196 x 62mm, so will easily squeeze underneath your TV. There's even a version with a built-in DVD drive, too.
The other option is to build your own computer - check out our guide on how to build a console-sized gaming PC for a good guide. The benefit of the second option is that you can specify the exact PC you want, so that it can even play the latest games.
There are a few things to watch out for. First, integrated graphics on Intel processors only support an HDMI 1.4 output. That means you're restricted to 4K at a jerky 24Hz; you have to use DisplayPort to get the full 60Hz in Ultra HD. For that reason, you will need a mini PC with a dedicated graphics card that has an HDMI 2.0 output.
You don't get a dedicated remote control with most PCs, but the control options are huge: you can use a wireless keyboard, game controller or the smartphone app, amongst others.
This is probably the most expensive method on this list, but the resulting satisfaction from having built an HTPC entirely yourself is worth the effort it takes several times over.
Following Microsoft’s rebranding of the Windows Store to be the Microsoft Store – at least in the preview version of Windows 10, for now – it seems that the company does indeed plan to sell its own hardware alongside third-party devices via the operating system’s built-in shop, as we previously speculated.
The renaming to Microsoft Store means that Windows 10’s integrated shop falls in line with the branding of the firm’s bricks-and-mortar outlets and web store.
And just like the latter, the Windows 10 store will soon sell hardware including Surface devices, as well as laptops and tablets from third-party manufacturers, Windows phones and the Xbox One (and not just apps and entertainment content, as is currently the case).
According to a report by MS Power User, other devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers (Fitbit is cited as an example) will also be available for purchase.Hello to convenience
Pretty much everything you can buy from the existing web store, in other words, and having it conveniently accessible directly from within Windows 10 will obviously be a boon in terms of convenience – with purchases easily verified via Windows Hello security.
As mentioned, all this is happening just in the preview version of Windows 10 at the moment, but MS Power User actually managed to purchase a media remote for the Xbox One using the system.
So while this isn’t actually confirmed as yet, given that the system is apparently fully functional even under testing, it certainly seems like this will be happening – possibly when it comes to next month’s big Fall Creators Update for Windows 10.
Another point to note is that the system is also being trialed with Xbox One testers, which adds further weight to the report. But as ever, we can only be 100% certain when Microsoft makes an official announcement.
- One of Microsoft’s Surface devices is on our best laptops list
Right before the festive season kicks off, Samsung India has announced its special Samsung Shop Anniversary sale on Samsung India's online shopping platform, Samsung Shop from September 25 to September 30, where the company will be offering discounts and special deals on across its wide range of products. The list of product includes a number of smartphones along with televisions, wearables, mobile service packs and audio accessories.
Commenting on this, Sandeep Singh Arora, Vice President, Online Business, Samsung India, said- “Samsung Shop is a one-stop online store for our consumers who love to purchase the latest Samsung gadgets and accessories. We are happy to spread the joy on our anniversary with these special offers on our bestselling products. With special features like free delivery, no cost EMI financing schemes and live chat, we will continue to provide a superior experience to our valuable consumers”.
The smartphones listed for the deals include Galaxy S8, S8+, Galaxy On Max, Galaxy On Nxt 64GB, Galaxy J3 Pro, Galaxy On7, On7 Pro, Galaxy On 5, On 5 Pro. The customers can also exchange their old phone for a new Samsung phone. Moreover, Samsung is also offering 5% cashback for ICICI Bank Credit Card customers.
Other offers include free delivery, no cost EMI, delight delivery and live chat. There is also a special offers section for corporate employees where they will be getting exclusive deals on Samsung products for 365 days a year.
Samsung is already running a ‘Never Mind’ offer where it is offering one time screen replacement on select phones and tablets at a price of Rs. 990. The offer is valid up to Oct 21. On top of everything, there is a Triple Zero Offer on the smartphones which includes zero down payment, interest rate and processing fee.
Update: Sea of Thieves wasn't always going to be a pirate-themed adventure. When we spoke to design director, Mike Chapmen, at a recent Xbox One X preview event he told us that it could have revolved around vampires, zombies or even dinosaurs. Read the rest of our conversation with Mike right here.
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It’s been a while since we’ve seen a game from Microsoft-owned, UK-based studio Rare that wasn’t Kinect-based. From 2009 to now, the studio has been tasked with Kinect Sports Rivals, a remake of ‘90s fighting game Killer Instinct and the Xbox avatars, but now they’re back to their old tricks with new tools, making the fantastic-looking open world MMO, Sea of Thieves.
In true Rare fashion the game features a charming art style that embraces the lighter side of the seven seas. This is not a game world that's in any sense dark and realistic, you can fire yourself out of canons to get around quickly, and you eat bananas to restore your health.
Read on for everything we know so far about Rare's pirate odyssey.Cut to the chase
- What is it? Rare's upcoming open-world Pirate odyssey
- When's it out? Spring 2018
- What can I play it on? Xbox One and PC
At E3 2017 we were presented with another trailer for the game which shows off what we can expect the game to look like on the upcoming Xbox One X.
The trailer highlighted the game's signature Rare visuals and showed off a team of four as they sought to retrieve a chest of treasure to bring it back to their ship. The players explore islands where dangers appear in form of the ghosts of previous player who remain able to attack you, and you'll have to be especially careful while you're busy digging up your treasure, which takes a believably long amount of time.
You can check out the game's latest trailer below.What is Sea of Thieves?
The pirate-themed action-adventure game will group you up with friends or strangers to plunder the seas and islands together, fighting others in big ol’ pirate ships, landing on sandy beaches, discovering treasure maps and having to work with your crew to figure out where the booty’s at.
Sea of Thieves is heavily co-operative, although there are combative elements with other parties, too. You and your crew will have to figure out how to man a ship, with people taking over different jobs, which means that you'll have to communicate if you want to avoid accidentally doubling up on tasks.
At our hands on session at 2017's E3 conference we found out the dangers of this first hand. Our ship came under attack from enemy pirates, who promptly used their cannons to blow a hole in the hull of our ship. When this happens you'll need crew members to patch up the ship using timber, and others will need to use buckets to get rid of the water flooding the hull.
Fail to communicate and you'll find everyone switches to dealing with the biggest problem, which lead to our cannons being completely unmanned while everyone ran around with buckets filled with sea water.What piratical things can you do?
You’ll be pleased to know that all the greatest hits from a life lived on the seas and beyond the law can be found in Sea of Thieves. From sailing around with your grog-soaked crew, singing shanties of wenches and booty, to getting scurvy, there’s everything you might want from a pirate’s life.
In our hands on demo at E3 we had a choice of three different quests to choose from. Two involved solving riddles to find treasure, while a third appeared to involve the much simpler task of going to the right island and finding the point marked with a red 'x' on our map.
With little faith in our riddle-solving abilities, we opted for the latter quest.
What's interesting about Sea of Thieves is how minimal the UI is. The quests were listed on a piece of parchment that our character held, and looked at, within the game's world, and when we picked a quest the game relied on us literally telling our teammates what were were doing rather than having an immersion-breaking arrow appearing in the environment.
Then, when you get to the island with the treasure on it, you'll need to read your map alongside your compass to work out where you are since the game gives you no clues as to your location on the map itself.
This meant our team had enormous difficulty finding the treasure, and eventually we were forced to leave the island empty-handed and in serious need of some rum.
However, were we to actually find the chest the rest of the team would have had to defend the person carrying it as they made their way back to the ship. Both NPCs and other players will try their best to ambush you, and your team will need to work together to survive.
Naval combat is another key element of the game, and in these instances your canons are your best friends. Your team will need to work together to get the cannonballs from beneath the deck into the canons themselves, after which point you'll be able to fire them at enemy ships to try and send them down to Davy Jones' Locker.
If you prefer a hands on approach you can board enemy ships to take on their crew using a combination of swords, muskets, and flintlock pistols. You can either swim aboard other ships, or, if you're feeling brave, you can literally fire yourself out of a canon to get there quicker.
Between searching for booty, fending off attacks from other ships, and trying to navigate through dynamic weather, it's looking like you'll have plenty to occupy your time in the world of Sea of Thieves, but you'll also be able to take a more laid back approach and explore the world for yourself if you don't want to follow the quests laid out for you.What if I don’t want to have a crew?
Solo pirates are more than welcome - there are ships ranging from massive ones that take a whole crew to the tiny ones that take one or two pirates to manage. And you won’t be at a huge disadvantage either - if many, many tiny ships gang up on a larger one, you just may be able to take them down with the advantage of speed and maneuverability and share the booty between you. Or...not. You’re a pirate, you don’t have to share.How can I play it?
You can actually play it already, if you’re part of the Insider Program - which is sort of like an open beta granted to some of the people who apply.
Because Sea of Thieves is being developed in close partnership with the community, to ensure that the game is what the players want, the team hold development play sessions with the “Insiders” to find out which parts they enjoy, which parts need fixing or changing, or what the community discovers along the way.
For example, the developer found that players are most happy when either all of them are using voice chat or none of them are, rather than a mix. As a result, the developer is exploring ways of pairing players together with those that have similar voice chat preferences.
The game will come out on Xbox One and Windows 10 some time later this year, and players from both platforms will be able to play freely with one another regardless of whether they're using a mouse and keyboard or a controller to play.Who can I play as?
The character avatars are customisable, with the ability to change gender, physique, appearance, and outfits, although the game does not have skill trees or character classes. You’ll be able to further customise your character as you play with new, fancier outfits and even prosthetics. There will also be opportunities to deck out your… decks, with new cannons, sails, flags and all the other fancy ship accessories your little pirate heart could desire.What's the world like?
The focus of the world will be on its vast oceans, which will be dotted with islands from Caribbean-style archipelagos to dense jungles. Some have NPCs, ready to dish out quests; others will be deserted; some may even have a rival pirate crew on the same mission as you.
The treasure maps that will feature heavily in the finished game are not the kind of map-marker slog you might expect. Instead, they will require actual, geographical orienteering - looking for trails, landmarks and recognisably shaped rocks. Even when you find that treasure, you’ll have to then take it back to your ship, with all the animal, human and physics-based treacherousness that that entails.
And what if you die? Well, in true pirate fashion you’ll be booted to Davy Jones’ Locker, where you can swap stories with fellow ghosts and attempt to board a ferry back to the world of the living by performing quests for the ferryman. Your sunken ship can be plundered in the meantime, so don’t take too long...Will there be cross-play?
There will indeed! At Gamescom 2017, two members of the game's development team took to the stage and confirmed in a no bones about it way that cross-play will indeed be coming to the game.That means whether you're playing on Windows 10 PC or Xbox One, you'll be able to play together.
A brand new build of the game was available for fans to play at the show on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, but the team stated that before the game is eventually released in early 2018 everyone will have the chance to try playing it before they buy.
Everyone is talking about iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus from Apple. If you plan to buy either of the brand new phones from Apple, you should check out the plans on Sky Mobile.
Deals start at only £32 a month on Sky Mobile for the new iPhone 8, plus there are lots of great benefits that no other UK network offers.
The iPhone 8 comes with an all-glass design, fantastic rear camera, a new A11 Bionic chipset, iOS 11 software, wireless charging capabilities and much, much more.
It’s the most accomplished device from Apple yet and is the perfect new phone to upgrade to, but why do we think you should go with Sky Mobile?
There are many reasons. One of those is that Sky Mobile offers you the ability to get a new phone every 12 months rather than being locked into a two year contract. It means you’ll never be left behind and you’ll be able to always have the latest and greatest phone.
You only have to pay an extra £5 a month and £99 upfront for the privilege to swap to a brand new phone in just a year, and it’s all thanks to the Swap12 plan from Sky Mobile.
However, if you don’t mind keeping your phone for two years you’ll be eligible to upgrade after 24 months with the standard Swap24 plan and get Sky’s lowest monthly price.
Sky Mobile is also the only UK network to offer data that rolls over month after month. In fact, Sky Mobile lets your unused data pile up over time and you can use it for up to three years.
It means if you’re on a 2GB a month contract and you can only use 1GB in September you’ll then have 3GB to use in October. All of this will mount up in what’s called your Sky Piggybank, so you can save your unused data for when you really need it.
If you’re already a Sky TV customer you’ll also get Unlimited Calls and Texts on whatever data plan you choose, saving you £10 a month. And you can take up to five SIMs per household, so the savings can really add up.
Plus you can also sync up your recordings from Sky+ to create your own playlist to watch on your phone.
It’s particularly smart if you don’t want to waste time working out what to watch as it’ll either download over Wi-Fi or you can stream it over your 4G connection too.
The last great benefit of Sky Mobile is it lets you choose the exact package you need.
If you want more data than minutes, you can choose that. But if the next month you find yourself using up more call time than expected, you can then change your plan to reflect that.
You can mix up your plan with Sky Mobile to suit you, and that’s just a few of the many reasons the network is the best place to buy your new iPhone.
Check out Sky Mobile’s official iPhone 8 prices for the new phone so you can get the latest from Apple now using the country’s most innovative network.
If you've outgrown your point-and-shoot camera or are no longer satisfied with the snaps you get from your smartphone, and feel like you're ready to take your photography to the next level, then an entry-level DSLR is the most obvious choice.
You may also want to consider a mirrorless camera as an alternative, although you won't find one with a viewfinder at the same price as a DSLR.
If you are thinking about a mirrorless camera, then you might want to read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences. Or, if you're not sure what kind of camera you need at all, then read our easy-to-follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy?
Entry-level DSLRs deliver a big step up in image quality from a compact camera or smartphone, offering far more manual control and the ability to change lenses to tackle a huge variety of projects. Don't worry though – there are also a host of auto modes to help you out until you're comfortable with the more creative controls.
Obviously, the more features you want, the more you'll pay, but do you actually need them? Our top camera is one of the cheapest on the market, but still offers impressive performance and image quality, plus enough features to handle most assignments, especially if you're still learning.DSLR bundles
If you're buying your first DSLR, it makes sense to go for a 'kit', which generally includes the camera body along with an 18-55mm lens. This covers a broad zoom range, perfect for everything from landscapes to portraits, but that's just the start.
The key advantage of DSLRs over compact cameras is that you can add to your kit with, for example, wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses, a flashgun, and other accessories, to make the most of whatever types of photography you're into.
Canon and Nikon offer the largest collections of DSLR lenses, but Pentax and Sony also offer decent ranges. You're not limited to own-brand lenses either, with the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Tokina selling quality lenses at prices that are often lower than the camera manufacturers' equivalent lenses.
Nikon's D3400 builds on the brilliant D3300, which was until recently our top pick. Sharing pretty much the same design and specification as its predecessor, the D3400 adds Nikon's SnapBridge bluetooth connectivity to transfer images directly to your smart device to make it that much easier to share images. The 24.2MP sensor resolves bags of detail, while the D3400 is also a very easy camera to live with. Its clever Guide Mode is a useful learning tool that gives real-time explanations of important features. There's no touchscreen, but otherwise this is our favorite entry-level DSLR right now.
Read our in-depth Nikon D3400 review
The EOS 800D sits at the top of Canon's entry-level EOS DSLR range. Sporting a newly designed 24.2MP sensor that delivers an improved high ISO performance, the EOS 800D's autofocus also gets a boost, now with a 45-point arrangement that's backed up by excellent live view AF system. There's also newly designed graphical interface that will certainly make this camera even more appealing to new users, but the absence of 4K video and the quality of the exterior materials disappoint. Perhaps the most expensive option out there, but definitely one of the best.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 800D review
The D5600 competes directly with Canon's EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D at the upper end of the entry-level DSLR market. Where Nikon's D3000-series cameras are designed as cost-conscious introductory DSLRs, the D5000-series is preferable if you want to get more creative. The D5600 sports a large 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, and while the live view focusing speed could be quicker, the 39-point AF system is the best you'll find in a entry-level DSLR. There isn't much wrong with the D5600's 24.2MP sensor either, delivering excellent results, while the logical control layout of the D5600 makes it easy to use.
Read our in-depth Nikon D5600 review
Replaced by the D3400 last year, the D3300 and D3400 share a very similar set of features (and design for that matter). The biggest difference between the two though is the D3300's lack of connectivity - if you want to transfer your images to your smartphone or tablet, you'll need to invest in Nikon's cheap plug-in Wi-Fi adapter that plugs into one of the ports on the D3300. With stocks running down as the D3400 takes hold, the D3300 is becoming less easy to come by, but if you do track one down at a good price, then you'll get yourself a great beginner DSLR.
Read our in-depth Nikon D3300 review
The EOS 750D may have just been superseded by the EOS 800D, but is still a great option if the price of the newer model puts you off. While the sensor isn't quite as good as the one in the 800D, it's still very good, while the vari-angle touchscreen is still one of the best around. AF performance could be better, but overall this is still a very capable entry-level DSLR.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 750D review
The D5300 was around for little more than a year before the D5500 technically replaced it (which has in turn be replaced by the D5600). It shares the same 24.2MP sensor with an identical maximum ISO25,600 sensitivity as the D5500, whilst the D5300's EXPEED 4 image processor and 39-point autofocus system have also been carried over to its replacement. The D5300 doesn't sport fancy touchscreen control, you do get GPS instead, while the D5300's 600-shot battery life will still outlast a Canon T6i / 750D. All in all, it may not be the latest entry-level DSLR, but the D5300 is still a smart buy.
Read our in-depth Nikon D5300 review
Canon introduced the EOS 100D to compete with the influx of compact system cameras and it was the smallest DSLR available when it was introduced in March 2013. Now replaced by the EOS 200D, its slightly bulkier proportions make it feel more like a slightly pared-down 800D than anything unique. It's not a bad option for new users, but there are better-value alternatives available at the moment.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 200D review
Stick the EOS 700D next to the 750D or the 800D and you'll struggle to tell them apart. The EOS Rebel 700D is really intuitive to use, regardless of your ability, but the 700D's sensor can trace its roots back to the 550D that was released in 2010 and it's now outclassed in terms of noise suppression and dynamic range. The 9-point autofocus system is also dated and you don't get Wi-Fi connectivity. The 700D's slashed price does make it a tempting proposition though, but the 750D or 800D is a more future-proof choice.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 700D review
The EOS 1300D is Canon's cheap and cheerful entry-level DSLR. While not featuring quite the same impressive spec as pricier models up the Canon range, you still get a solid set of features for the beginner including Wi-Fi and NFC technology built-in. This means you can transfer images to your smartphone for super-quick sharing. Images from the 18MP sensor are more and adequate, but is starting to show its age against rivals with higher pixel counts.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 1300D review
Pentax is renowned for producing DSLRs with maximum bang per buck, and the K-70 is no exception. Weatherproof DSLRs that are rain and dust resistant usually cost a packet, but the K-70 offers this protection at a reasonable price so you can shoot in all conditions. Just remember that you'll have to partner it with more expensive WR (weather resistant) lenses to get the full benefit. Regardless of the lens you use, the new hybrid live view autofocus system makes live view shooting an enjoyable and practical alternative to using the viewfinder. Pentax's in-camera Shake Reduction system cuts camera shake and can even correct slightly skewed horizons. The only reason the K-70 isn't higher on our list is Pentax's relatively restricted lens range.
Read our in-depth Pentax K-70 review
Despite having decades of fantastic original programming under its belt, the BBC has never made it particularly easy for its viewers to access it all.
If the series you wanted to watch wasn’t a recent broadcast or one of the limited number of older shows available to watch on the catch-up oriented iPlayer, you pretty much had to purchase a digital download or DVD, or pray that third-party streaming services such as Netflix had picked it up.
Now, however, the BBC has finally decided to draw fans of its programs away from the scraps strewn across the web with a brand new iPlayer category called From the Archive.Keeping up with the competition
Launching September 25, this new section on iPlayer will be the place to go to for classic BBC series. There’ll be 450 titles at launch but the broadcaster has promised to add more over the coming years, at no additional cost to the licence fee payer.
Right now you’ll find content such as Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekend series, a collection of the early work of David Attenborough and you’ll be able to revisit classic interviews conducted by BBC entertainment stars like Michael Parkinson and the late Terry Wogan.
The BBC has also said that it’ll also be possible to access footage that “hasn't been shown since first broadcast,” including the Great War Interviews, a series of conversations filmed in the 1960s with World War One veterans. Though these interviews were available on the BBC website before now, bringing them directly into iPlayer makes them far more accessible to a much wider audience.
From the Archive is arguably a natural and sensible direction for the BBC to go in following the closure of its digital store earlier this year. While the BBC Store put the same emphasis on accessing classic BBC programming, it didn’t seem to anticipate that most of its viewers preferred the convenience of streaming content to digitally purchasing and downloading it.
With Amazon and Netflix drawing in viewers (and even offering some of the most popular series from the BBC’s own back catalog) this large streaming library will be essential for the broadcaster to remain competitive.
At the beginning of this year BBC committed to re-inventing iPlayer by 2020 in an effort to become the UK's biggest streaming service. With From the Archive, it looks like we're seeing the early stages of this attempt.
You can see the new From the Archive section for yourself right here.
A gimbal is a photographic accessory that comes in two flavors: one is a motorized device designed for video that helps to keep a camera steady while it’s being moved around, while the second is a tripod head that enables photographers to shoot with long telephoto lenses on a tripod while offering maximum movement for tracking moving subjects such as wildlife.
Motorized gimbals for video offer stabilization over three axes, which means nearly all movement of the camera can be counteracted to keep video footage fluid and smooth. Shooting with a gimbal gives you the freedom of traditional handheld shooting, but the footage captured is completely smooth and cinematic in appearance.
Without a gimbal, handheld video footage can look shaky – such footage is a shooting style in its own right because of the raw, 'documentary' look it creates.
Once the preserve of professional filmmakers, in recent years motorized gimbals have dramatically dropped in price, making them much more affordable for enthusiasts. Gimbals for mobile phones, action cameras and compact cameras can be bought for not much more than £100/$100, although you'll need to spend more to get the best quality; professional models aimed at larger cameras can cost upwards of $1,000/£1,000.
The other type of photography gimbal is a special type of tripod head that’s designed for photographers using heavy lenses with long focal lengths. These heads aren’t motorized like video gimbals, but instead enable you to smoothly rotate your lens around its center of gravity and tilt it up and down with ease, all while keeping it steady.
This makes a gimbal head ideal for wildlife and airshow photographers who need both stability and the ability to track moving subjects. These heads are heavier and much more bulky than ball heads or three-way heads, and wouldn’t be ideal for landscape or architecture photography for instance.
After launching the Nokia 8 last month in London, HMD Global is all set to launch the handset in the US. The manufacturer, HMD Global will be launching a buffed up variant of the phone that will feature 6GB RAM and 128GB storage at an event expected on Oct 20.
According to a report by Nokia Power User, the US FCC listing by the company shows a variant with slight changes in specs as compared to the phone that was launched globally. The changes now suggest Nokia 8 to come with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage in the US market. The report also mentions that the phone will have ANT+ and WCDMA Band IV support.
To recap, the Nokia 8 features a 5.3-inch QHD display with Gorilla Glass 5 protection. It is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor mated with a 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage which is expandable up to 256GB. It runs on Android Nougat 7.1.1 and a 3090 mAh battery sits under the hood. The phone has twin 13-megapixel camera setup at the back in a stack of RGB and monochrome sensor.
The cameras come with a “bothie” feature which allows the user to capture images and videos simultaneously from both the front and rear cameras. It also has the IP54 rating which is listed as splash proof in the spec sheet of the phone. However, this does not confirm whether the phone is waterproof or not.
The company will be launching the Nokia 8 4GB variant in India tomorrow at an event in New Delhi for which the invites are already sentN. We expect the price of Nokia 8 to be set around Rs 45,000. At this price point, the Nokia 8 will compete against the recently launched Sony Xperia XZ1, while most other phones with Snapdragon 835 fall either under 40K mark or above it. However, the Mi Mix 2 may join the league soon once it's made official in India.