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Updated: 33 min 18 sec ago

Don't miss these great Surface Pro sales and deals from Amazon this weekend

3 hours 56 min ago

Surface Pro sales are here this weekend thanks to Amazon and Microsoft, spoiling us for choice when it comes to picking up a (relatively) cheap Surface deal on these fantastic premium tablets.

Our pick of the bunch is this Surface Pro 7 with a bundled black Type Cover for $799 (was $1,029.99) - a massive saving of $230 overall. Not only are you getting a handy accessory here that's worth $100 by itself alone, but you're also getting an upgraded spec Surface Pro deal, with a 10th gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD - which should give you plenty of space for all those movies, apps and games.

If you're on the hunt for a Surface Pro X sale then Microsoft is also offering a tasty $300 saving on this 128GB model for $849 (was $1299.99) - which also features 8GB of RAM, making it the mid-tier upgraded spec version. This is a good consideration if you need something thin, light, but still packs a bit of power under the hood. Plus, these Surface Pro X's also feature LTE cellular connectivity built-in, which is a nice bonus.

UK Surface Pro sale hunters will also be glad to know you can pick up a Surface Pro 7 deal at Amazon right now for just £798 (was £899). This is the same upgraded spec previously mentioned with the US deal, so you're getting a really speedy tablet though the black Type Cover isn't being bundled here. If you wanted, however, you could pick one up separately and still be under budget. 

Not in the US or UK? Check out the best Surface Pro sales in your region below.

Surface Pro sales and deals in the US
  • Amazon - check out more Surface Pro deals
  • Best Buy - also has a fantastic selection of Surface Pro deals
  • Microsoft - has price cuts of up to $300 on some Surface Pro deals
Surface Pro sales and deals in the UK
  • Amazon - check out more Surface Pro deals
  • Currys - also has a fantastic selection of Surface Pro deals
  • Microsoft UK - features savings of up to £300 on a range of Surface deals

Not what you're looking for? Check out our dedicated Surface Pro deals page, where we're always on the lookout for the best prices across the whole range. Need something small? Head over to the best Surface Go prices and deals page, where we're looking to save you big cash on this little (but awesome) tablet.

The new Dell G5 15 special editions offer great cheap gaming laptop deals

4 hours 2 min ago

It's a great time to be looking for a cheap gaming laptop deal right now with Dell just releasing some brand new special edition G5 15 gaming laptops, which you can pick up right now for $862.39.

These new G5 15's are a departure for Dell, offering exclusively AMD components inside and subsequently offering an interesting and excellent value alternative to the standard Intel equipped machines at this price point. Under the hood, they're packing a brand new 4th gen Ryzen 4600H processor, Radeon RX 5600M graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The brand new, cutting edge AMD components here make these a worthy option for a sub-$900 gaming laptop deal and great gaming rigs at this budget range.

If you'd like a higher-end alternative gaming laptop deal, there's also $250 off this Dell G5 15 for $1,299.99 (was $1,599) at Dell this weekend, which is another great option. With an Intel Core i7-9750H, a GeForce RTX 2060, and  512GB SSD, this is definitely up from the G3 15 and perfect if you're really serious about your gaming but still want to save some cash on the side.

Not in the US? Check out the best gaming laptop deals in your region below.

Gaming laptop deals this weekend
  • Dell - save up to $524.99 on a gaming laptop deal
  • Best Buy - also a fantastic place to pick up a cheap gaming laptop deal
  • Want the best deals this year? Check out Amazon Prime Day 2020

Not what you're looking for? There are some great alternatives in our cheap gaming laptop deals page, where you'll see the latest from Acer, Asus and Lenovo. If you're simply looking for something for casual use, then our cheap laptops deals page is the best resource anywhere on the web for saving some cash on a laptop deal.

Grab a brand new Dell XPS 13 deal with these price cuts from Dell and Amazon

4 hours 7 min ago

Fantastic Dell XPS 13 deals are dropping this weekend in the US and UK, including this neat little discount on a brand new 2020 Dell XPS 13 for $1,049.99 (was $1,099.99) at the official Dell store.

They're also offering an eye-watering discount on this specced out 2019 Dell XPS 13 for $1,129.99 (was $1,249.99), which is a great $120 saving on an absolute beast. Featuring a 10th gen Intel Core i7-10710U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD this is one powerful machine and a good buy for anyone who's looking for the ultimate working from home machine that also has a real touch of style.

If you're in the UK, you're not being left out either since you can now pick up a 2019 Dell XPS 13 for under a grand with this XPS 13 deal for £999 (was £1,099) at Amazon. This one's got a 10th gen Intel Core i5-10210U processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, which are excellent mid-tier specs for a premium laptop at this price point.

All these Dell XPS 13 deals come equipped with fully HD InfinityEdge displays, which are almost borderless, support 100% sRGB color spectrums, and have 400-nit brightness. All in all, these machines are a joy to use for both work and casual use, as all your favorite shows, movies, and games will all look stunning on these great little machines.

Not in the US or UK? Check out the best Dell XPS deals in your region below.

Dell XPS 13 deals in the US and UK
  • Amazon - head over to see the other great Dell XPS deals on offer
  • Dell - offering savings on a range of Dell XPS deals as well as other laptops
  • Want the best deals all year? Check out Amazon Prime Day 2020

Want to see what else is around? We recommend our main Dell XPS deals page, where we're comparing each generation and size, as well as checking all the best retailers to find the best deals each week. We've also got a best cheap laptop sales page, which is a good option if you're looking for something that's a little bit cheaper than these Dell XPS deals.

Sky and EA Sports team up to offer crowd noise for the Premier League restart

5 hours 7 min ago

When the English Premier League kicks off again on Wednesday June 17, Sky viewers in the UK will have the option to watch matches with simulated crowd noises developed in partnership with EA Sports.

"A range of bespoke and team-specific crowd noises and chants" will be on offer "to bring the vibrant atmosphere of the Premier League to the restart" according to Sky, though we're assuming they're all going to be family friendly.

If you're not keen on the simulated cheers and boos – which we expect will sound a lot like they do on FIFA – then you can turn them off with your remote, but they might just add a little more atmosphere to the occasion.

"With live sport on hold for over two months, we've spent a lot of time thinking about how we broadcast in new ways to bring fans together, even if they can't meet up to watch the match," says  Sky Sports managing director Robert Webster.

Behind closed doors

With lockdown restrictions starting to be eased in most parts of the world, some sporting contests are now able to get back underway, with appropriate social distancing and other health and safety measures in place.

The German Bundesliga has been running since the middle of May, with games playing out in front of empty stadiums. Some broadcasters have started piping in recorded crowd noises on top of the feed, including Sky Deutschland.

According to ESPN, that fake audio was put together by Sky Deutschland itself, using recordings from earlier in the season. Engineers are able to adapt the crowd noise if there's action in either penalty area.

Presumably the UK version will run along similar lines, though Sky hasn't revealed much in the way of detail. The involvement of EA Sports suggests there will be some artificial crowd noises, but we'll have to wait until June 17 to hear what it sounds like.

Via The Verge

New iPad Air 4: what we want to see

5 hours 7 min ago

If rumors are to be believed, the new iPad Air could be the next iPad Apple releases, likely sometime in 2020, after the iPad Pro 2020 from earlier in the year, and before perhaps a new iPad Mini towards the end of the year or in early 2021.

The iPad Air is Apple’s second most top-end tablet, sitting above the iPad Mini (2019) and entry-level iPad ranges, but not packing all the features and specs of the top-end iPad Pro line. The last entry to the series was the iPad Air 3 in 2019, so this new tablet would be the iPad Air 4 - though it might not be called that.

Leaks have started rolling in for the new iPad Air 4, which you'll find below, but there’s not enough just yet to get a clear picture of what the upcoming Apple tablet will offer.

As such, we’ve also come up with a list of features we’d like to see in the slate, based on what the iPad Air 3 was like along with the best points of Apple’s other tablets, and what the company’s competitors are doing in the tablet market.

So read on for everything we know about the iPad Air 4, and what we want to see from the new tablet.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Apple's next mid-range tablet
  • When is it out? Perhaps towards the end of 2020
  • How much will it cost? Possibly around $499 / £479 / AU$779

iPad Air 2019

New iPad Air 4 release date and price

While we’ve heard some iPad Air 4 leaks, we haven’t heard anything about a release date or price, so we’re going to have to delve into some hearty speculation.

Apple doesn’t typically rely on yearly release patterns for its tablets, unlike its phones, which is why the iPad Air 3’s March 18, 2019 release date wasn’t repeated a year later. Instead, we’re expecting to see the new iPad Air at some point before the end of 2020, although it’s possible it will land even later.

In terms of price, Apple doesn't always change the cost of its tablets for new iterations, and instead often discounts the older models to differentiate them. The iPad Air 3 launched for $499 / £479 / AU$779, so the next-gen version will likely cost roughly this as well, though the price might rise slightly if there are enough upgrades.

New iPad Air 4 leaks and news

iPad Air 2019

We’ve heard one big leak which has given us some key possible details about the new iPad Air - it details two big changes the tablet could have over its predecessor.

For one, the iPad Air 2020 could have USB-C connectivity, instead of a Lighting port, while the other detail mentioned is an 11-inch size, over the 10.5-inch iPad Air 3.

These changes would make the new iPad Air 4 seem more like the iPad Pro 2020 than previous models. That could help further differentiate it from the basic iPad range, but risks making it overly similar to the Pro range.

Another smaller leak suggested the iPad Air will get an in-screen fingerprint scanner, a technology Apple hasn’t embraced despite most top-end Android phones using it. We're not totally convinced that Apple would add this tech to an iPad Air before an iPad Pro though.

New iPad Air 4: what we want to see

This is what we want to see changed, or new, in the iPad Air 4.

Apple Pencil 2

1. Apple Pencil 2 connectivity

The iPad Air 3 only worked with the original Apple Pencil, which certainly had its drawbacks (it was a real pain to charge, for example). Recent iPad Pro models use the second-generation Apple Pencil, which solves all the original’s issues and more.

So we'd like to see the new iPad Air work with the Apple Pencil 2, rather than the original. If Apple wants its new iPad Air to work like an ‘iPad Pro Lite’ instead of a bigger version of the entry-level iPad, this would be the kind of change it needs to make.

iPad Air 2019

2. Drop the Touch ID and physical button

Another indicator of the iPad Air’s budget DNA is its use of Touch ID, with a physical button and a big bezel to house it - the entry-level iPad uses this design, while the recent iPad Pro models use Face ID and have much thinner bezels.

Whether or not Apple wants the iPad Air to seem more like the Pro units, it needs to stop using this antiquated design for its mid-range tablets, and leave such a build for the entry-level tablets or iPad Minis.

Instead, we’d like to see Apple roll Face ID out to the iPad Air units or, as one leak states, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, so the bezel can be drastically reduced.

iPad Air 2019

3. A newer chipset

Something that’s likely to happen, but which we’d certainly like to see anyway, is the new iPad Air models using a newer chipset, possibly the A13 Bionic we saw in the iPhone 11 range.

This would give them great processing power, but likely wouldn’t increase the cost too much (as Apple wouldn't need to develop a new chipset).

The 2020 iPad Pro units only use a variant of the iPhone XS’s A12 Bionic chipset though, so if the iPad Air 4 used the A13 it would likely actually be more powerful than the Pro units, so it’s not guaranteed Apple will give the iPad Air this much of a boost.

At the very least though, we'd like to see it have the same chipset as the iPad Pro 2020.

iPad 10.2 with Lightning port

4. A USB-C port

One rumor suggests the new iPad Air 2020 will have a USB-C port, instead of the Lightning port Apple’s devices tend to use, and this is a change we’d really like to see.

USB-C ports allow for faster charging, and also quicker data transfer, so both for productivity and general use it’s far more useful than Lightning.

The iPad Pro 2020 units have USB-C, so there’s certainly a precedent for Apple using this tech, and in fact it’s been rumored for a few years that iPhones will start using it too, although that’s not actually happened so far.

iPad Air 2019

5. The same (relatively) low price

We’ve been calling the iPad Air line ‘mid-range’, but in the grand scheme of Apple’s tablet line-up it’s much closer to the entry-level iPads and iPad Minis than the pricey iPad Pro models. We’d like this to stay the same for the iPad Air 4.

Lots of the leaks (and our requests) make it sound like the iPad Air 4 will be a lot more like an iPad Pro than previous devices in the line, but this doesn’t mean it needs to cost as much as one.

Keeping the price low would allow more people to purchase the tablets, and possibly even convince a few to upgrade to the top-end iPad Pro line the next time they need a tablet.

These GoPro deals offer premium action cameras for less this weekend

5 hours 20 min ago

GoPro deals can save you up to $100 / £90 on premium Hero 7 and Hero 8 models this weekend - excellent news if you've been getting better acquainted with your bike over the last few weeks. Not only are we seeing these discounts on the older generation of GoPro action cameras, but the latest Hero 8 Black model is also sharing in the fun. 

That means 4K video at 60fps with a wealth of image stabilization options, slow motion, noise suppression, and live streaming features to boot. In the US, you can save yourself a cool $100 on both models, with the Hero 7 Black dropping down to $229 and the Hero 8 Black on sale for $299.99. If you're in the UK, you can save £90 on the older model (now available for £289) or £50 on the latest release (sitting at £3297.99). Or, if you're feeling particularly thrifty right now, you can also pick up a GoPro Hero 7 Silver for £100 off (now £179) and forego some of the fancier features.

These GoPro deals will serve anyone looking to shoot high octane footage on the go, and with a wide selection of professional features on offer you're also getting premium control over your video. If you're just after cheap action camera deals and sales under $100, however, we've got you covered.

GoPro deals in the US GoPro deals in the UK

If you're in it for the long game, you can always hold on until Amazon Prime Day 2020, but with so much up in the air nothing's for certain right now. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 release date, news, and rumors

5 hours 37 min ago

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 could launch very soon, with rumors of the upgraded true wireless earbuds ramping up in the lead up to the brand’s next Unpacked event, which is expected to take place in August. 

In late April, the South Korean company registered the brand name 'Samsung BudsX' in the UK and Europe, which suggests a new version of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus could be on the way. It’s not clear whether the ‘X’ is a placeholder, but we think they’ll probably be called the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

Since then, leaked images of the successors to the Samsung Galaxy Buds have shown a strange bean-like design, while noted leakers like XDA Developers’ Max Weinbach have claimed that the new wireless earbuds are on the way. 

The original Galaxy Buds were Samsung’s answer to the Apple AirPods when they launched on March 8, 2019, and they were followed in February 2020 by the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. 

Cut to the chase
  • What are they? The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, a pair of true wireless earbuds.
  • When will they launch? We think August 2020, but that’s TBC.
  • How much will they cost? Likely similar to the Galaxy Buds ($149 (£139 / AU$249).

Neither of Samsung's first attempts were able to outperform Apple's AirPods or the AirPods Pro in terms of popularity or proficiency – which is why a new, better version of the Galaxy Buds is such an exciting prospect. 

Details about the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 (or Galaxy Buds X, as some outlets are calling them) are fairly thin on the ground at this stage, but that hasn’t stopped us from collating everything we know so far – and everything we want to see – from the second generation true wireless earbuds. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 release date

The next big release window for the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 will be at the company’s Unpacked event, which we’re expecting to take place in August 2020.

That's when we think the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 will be released too, based on previous phones in the range. That month has now also specifically been rumored, but due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Unpacked will apparently be an online-only event, and the timing could change.

In any case, we’re not the only ones expecting to see the Galaxy Buds 2 soon. In a tweet showing off the new Galaxy Buds Plus color, XDA Developers’ Max Weinbach said “I find it weird they keep launching new colors right before the BudsX are rumored to launch”.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 price

There’s no word on pricing yet, but the most recent Galaxy Buds Plus went on sale in March for $149.99 / £159 / AU$299, so we’re expecting something similar when the next earbuds arrive. 

With new Apple earbuds also expected to launch in the near future (whether they will be the AirPods 3 or the AirPods Pro Lite remains to be seen), Samsung would do well to undercut its biggest competitor with its next-gen buds – after all, price is a huge deciding factor for those looking to buy new headphones

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 design

If leaked images are to be believed, the design of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 will be drastically different to that of its predecessors. Based on the 3D renderings that have appeared, there are going to be big changes in the design.

The images come courtesy of WinFuture, and it seems the small stems on the current Galaxy Buds Plus are ditched in favor of a bean-like shape – and indeed the codename for the earbuds is rumored to be "Beans".

WinFuture's sources say the new Beans buds are 2.8 cm (1.1 inches) in length, so they should fit snugly in most ears. There are no silicone tips though, so any noise cancelling tech – if it exists – might suffer as a result.

Based on the leaked renders, it looks like the Galaxy Buds 2 will come in three colors: white, black, and light blue. 

WinFuture says that the back of each earbud “fills the upper part of the ear, while the lower part and thus the integrated loudspeakers protrude into the ear canal”. This bean-shaped design isn’t a form factor we’ve seen before, so we’re excited to see how they look and feel when they’re finally released. 

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 fitness-tracking

The trademark filing discovered earlier this year revealed some of the features we might see from the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, including “software for measuring distance, speed, time, changes in heart rate, activity level, calories burned."

It’s worth bearing in mind that the specs described in trademark filings don’t always show up in the final product, but these biometric sensors could make the new Galaxy Buds a great pair of running headphones like the Powerbeats Pro

The trademark filing also describes “wireless earsets incorporating software for providing a fitness guide”, which means they could come with a built-in voice assistant (Bixby, perhaps) that can help bolster your running performance by giving you real-time advice based on data collected by biometric sensors.

If Samsung does release a pair of fitness-tracking headphones, we’d expect to see an IPX4-or-above waterproof rating, which would keep them safe from sweat or rain.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: what we want to see

Both the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus were decent true wireless earbuds, but there are a few improvements we’d like to see. 

Noise cancellation

We were disappointed to find no noise-cancelling tech in the Galaxy Buds Plus – we were expecting them to be Samsung’s answer to the Apple AirPods Pro.

Once the preserve of bulky over-ear headphones, noise cancellation is increasingly common in true wireless earbuds, especially after the success of models like the Sony WF-1000XM3. 

It’s about time that Samsung brought the technology to its line of Galaxy earbuds, and we hope that the Galaxy Buds 2 will deliver. 

Improved sound

The Galaxy Buds 2 didn’t sound bad by any means, but we’d like to see an improvement in the audio quality with the next generation. 

One way Samsung could achieve this is by introducing support for Hi-Res Audio codecs like aptX, aptX Low Latency or, even better, Sony’s LDAC. 

Longer battery life

The Galaxy Buds Plus boasted a far longer battery life than the original Galaxy Buds, but the charging case left something to be desired. The earbuds themselves contain 11 hours of charge, while the charging case provides an additional 11 hours, bringing the total battery life to 22 hours. 

That 11-hour battery life is pretty long for earbuds – but for the charging case, it’s not a huge amount of battery. For comparison, the Apple AirPods contain 5 hours in the buds themselves, with an additional 20 hours provided by the charging case, for 25 hours in total. We’d love to see the charging case of the Galaxy Buds 2 afforded a longer battery life so you can charge more than once on the go.

Can't wait for the Galaxy Buds 2? Check out the best Samsung Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds Plus deals we've found today:

Watching The Simpsons on Disney Plus? Here's when it gets bad

6 hours 7 min ago

The Simpsons' true 4:3 aspect ratio has been restored on Disney Plus, and while other animated series like Goof Troop and Chip 'N' Dale: Rescue Rangers are seemingly doomed to a stretched 16:9 picture forever, it's a major win for hardcore fans of the service's only adult animated sitcom. 

If you're considering a Simpsons rewatch, you probably recall that the show's quality drops off at a certain point. When this occurs is arguably a matter of opinion based on your generation: for Millennial audiences like me, the consensus is that seasons 3-9 represent The Simpsons' golden age (with a season or two of leeway on either side). I have a younger brother who contests it lasts longer, until about season 13.

Either way, the rich world of Simpsons meme culture has crystallized around seasons 1-10, and the popular Simpsons quote of the day Twitter account strictly shares scenes from seasons 1-11 only. People are still watching new episodes of The Simpsons now, of course, with season 32 on the way later this year. But for me and many others, there's a definite golden age, then there's everything else – which is to say 300+ episodes I've never seen. 

I won't comment on those, simply because I don't know the newer seasons nearly as well. But I do want to discuss the episodes that represent the series' obvious decline, based on my own experience of watching these earlier seasons 40+ times. 

Let's pinpoint the second my heart rips in half

When does The Simpsons get bad?

The signs of trouble start in season 9. A lot of people point towards The Simpsons episode 'The Principal and the Pauper' as a 'jump the shark' moment. This episode features the revelation that Principal Seymour Skinner is, in fact, an impostor, when the real Skinner returns from a POW camp long after the Vietnam War. Our Skinner, it turns out, is really a former bad boy called Armin Tanzarian. 

This is a wild story, and it's extremely controversial among fans for the way it retcons the Skinner character. But the execution of this episode is actually very good: it features a number of great jokes, even if the plot is hard to swallow. 

The episode is a commentary on The Simpsons' audience at the time and its inability to accept change, but the episode 'The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show' did the same thing more successfully. That's because the latter episode used the in-universe cartoon Itchy and Scratchy as a proxy to explore fans' relationship with the show as it changes. In 'The Principal and the Pauper', The Simpsons actually changed its canon in a way that some fans didn't like (credit to the podcast Talking Simpsons for this observation).  

'The Principal and the Pauper' is arguably a misfire, then, but it is a thematically interesting episode that I always find entertaining to watch. Besides, an implausible storyline is just one of the negative elements that recur in later Simpsons episodes. The show had been doing ridiculous plots for years: Homer went into space in season 5. In season 8, he had cannonballs shot at his chest just so he could hang out with some '90s bands and impress Bart.

A more damaging factor in these later seasons is the unnecessary inclusion of guest stars playing themselves. And the first time that really becomes a problem is in the episode 'When You Dish Upon a Star', which arrived in season 10. 

In this episode, Homer accidentally lands through the skylight of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger's holiday home, leading to him befriending the stars (and director Ron Howard). He betrays their trust, ultimately, when he steals their underpants and other possessions, and the celebrities get a restraining order against him. That's the entire story.

As well as being terribly dated – Basinger and Baldwin divorced 18 years ago – the story is the guest stars and nothing else. This episode again has a number of great jokes, but I think it's a far worse effort than 'The Principal and the Pauper'. The difference is that 'The Principal and the Pauper' is still an emotional story about the Skinner character with an intended theme, whereas 'When You Dish Upon A Star' makes no attempt to invest you in its story. 

It just doesn't feel like an episode you'd find in seasons 3-8, and I think this illustrated the show's ongoing decline at the time, even if worse episodes followed in subsequent seasons.

Season 10 has plenty of great episodes otherwise, but a lower hit rate than season 9. The episode 'Monty Can't Buy Me Love', which ends with Mr Burns draining Loch Ness and capturing the mythical monster, is another weaker effort that lacks a necessary emotional or thematic core to the story. 

Then it just got worse from there

I still don't really think season 10 is a bad year of the show, and I always like it on a rewatch. It just shows more signs of problems to come: episodes without an emotional element, repetitive plot lines, guest star overload. 

Season 11 is the first bad season of the show, in my opinion. The episode 'Saddlesore Galactica', like 'The Principal and the Pauper', is often called out as an instance of 'jumping the shark'. It features The Simpsons getting a horse, a plot line that had already featured in another episode (which the show points out). 

In addition, the horse-racing plot of the episode takes a left turn when it turns out all of Homer and Bart's rival jockeys are actually supernatural creatures who live underground.

This is pretty bad, but even this episode has jokes I like. This one, for example:

But I think by this point, the damage was already done to The Simpsons. The Mel Gibson episode 'Beyond Blunderdome' at the start of season 11 is another one built around a guest star and little more, even if the jokes are very good. 

The episode following 'Saddlesore Galactica' features the pretty sour death of Maude Flanders, which felt like a publicity stunt, and suggested the writers lacked the same care for the characters that the audience had. The show was already off its game – this creative decision was just another sign of that. 

Even season 11 has a real masterpiece of an episode, though: 'Behind the Laughter', a sharp parody of the VH1 behind-the-scenes documentary series. And even season 12 has two of my all-time favorites: 'Skinner's Sense of Snow', where Skinner and the kids are trapped in the school by a snow storm, and 'Trilogy of Error', which tells three interlocking stories about the family members during the same day, Run Lola Run-style.  

Having a Simpsons marathon just stops giving me the same buzz after a certain point, though, and I inevitably forget my spot and just start again from the good episodes. And that cycle has continued for at least the last ten years. 

The Simpsons' decline was inevitable

The older I get, the less I care that The Simpsons dropped off in quality after the '90s. Having 10 good or great seasons of a TV show is miraculous when you compare it to almost anything else. 

Arrested Development managed three good seasons then two terrible ones. Community lasted for six years, and I only really love 4.5 of those. Curb Your Enthusiasm is still great after ten seasons, but creator Larry David takes entire years off between series, which The Simpsons can't do. 

Repetition was inevitable, and maintaining this form was impossible. You can only do so many fresh-feeling episodes where Homer gets a new job, or Bart misbehaves in a way that goes too far, or an episode where Marge or Homer ponder an affair, or one where a disillusioned Lisa finds a new outlet for her intellect. 

According to this Wiki, Bart has had 21 love interests. He's 10 years old. 

The Simpsons doesn't offend me with its continued existence – not when people clearly still enjoy it. It's a fundamental truth to me, though, that The Simpsons had a golden age and then it lost some kind of magic. Maybe its success was tied in some supernatural way to the '90s, and when the decade ended, that magic went away. 

In some ways, I wonder if The Simpsons might benefit from a shift in format over the coming years. Perhaps 13 episodes on Disney Plus per year instead of 22 on Fox would be a better way to release the show (though Fox is still airing the show for season 32). 

Either way, I have over 300 episodes of The Simpsons on Disney Plus waiting for me that I've never seen. Not having to change DVDs might just be the thing that finally gets me to watch them. 

PS5 patent offers a closer look at the dev kit’s cooling solution

7 hours 25 min ago

We still don’t know what the PS5 will look like but a recently published patent for its dev kit suggests that Sony is taking cooling and ventilation very seriously in this upcoming generation. 

The utility patent, filed by Sony in late 2019 but published on the World Intellectual Property Organisation Database in June 2020, highlights the dev kit’s “plurality of cooling fans” which work with a heat sink in order to improve airflow and keep the console cool. 

Although this patent appears to be for the PS5 dev kit—which is unlikely to resemble the final console if previous PlayStation dev kits are anything to go by—previous reports on the PS5 have suggested that its cooling system will be something special.

Keeping cool

Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that the PS5’s cooling system is “unusually expensive at a few dollars per unit” as Sony has “opted to lavish more on making sure heat dissipation from the powerful chips housed inside the console isn’t an issue.” 

Shortly after that, Sony itself touched on the console’s cooling solution with Mark Cerny noting during the console’s spec deep-dive that the team had to tackle the “engineering challenge of a cost-effective and high-performance cooling solution, designed for” the console which will be running “at essentially constant power” with variable frequencies for its CPU and GPU. Cerny stopped short of revealing specific details of the cooling solution, noting they were being held back for a future teardown. 

With all of that considered, while there’s no guarantee that the PS5 dev kit or the cooling system shown in this patent will match up with the final consumer console, it seems likely that Sony has devised a similarly robust solution.

Sony’s PS5 gameplay event that was scheduled for earlier this week was postponed in order to “allow more important voices to be heard” amid the ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. However, it has since said that a new date will be announced “soon”. 

Whether or not this event will give us a closer look at the design of the PS5 is unknown but with the end of 2020 and the console’s release window fast approaching it’s unlikely we’ll have to wait much longer to see it. 

Via LetsGoDigital

5 things PS5 must improve over the PS4

8 hours 7 min ago

The PS4 has been a runaway success for Sony ever since it launched in 2013. With over 102 million units sold to date, the PlayStation 4 will be remembered as one of the most popular video game consoles of all time – and rightly so. 

Nevertheless, there’s always room for improvement, and Sony needs to ensure that some of the foibles of its predecessor are not repeated for PS5. The early signs point to the Xbox Series X providing stiffer competition this time around, too, so anything Sony can do to strengthen the PS5’s appeal in the eyes of consumers can only help its chances of success. 

So what does Sony need to change? Here are five things PS5 must improve over the PS4 if PlayStation wants to keep its crown as the king of consoles. 

1. The build quality and battery life of the controller 

The PS4 controller has been dogged with two prevalent problems: susceptible build quality and a pitiful battery life. When the DualShock 4 first released, players lamented a multitude of issues that affected the controller – from sticking L1 and R1 buttons, snapping trigger buttons, or the analog sticks’ rubber-coating wearing away. The latter problem was only resolved a few years later, when Sony finally decided to switch to a more durable material.

The meager battery life has also been a point of contention with the DualShock 4. With an average 4-7 hours of charge, due in part to the controller’s criminally-underused touchpad and always-on lightbar, it simply doesn’t last long enough for the majority of gamers. Compare the DualShock 4 to the Nintendo Switch Pro controller, which lasts up to approximately 40 hours, and it’s hard to make excuses for Sony’s battery-sapping pad. 

The DualSense controller simply has to do better, then. But with so much technology and fancy features packed into it, Sony might struggle to get the balance right once again.

2. The noise levels of the console 

Commonly compared to a jet engine during takeoff, the PlayStation 4 has been routinely mocked for its poor acoustics. The launch models of both the PS4 and PS4 Pro were notoriously loud, and games such as God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn could send the PS4’s fans into overdrive. 

When stacked up against its whisper-quiet rival, the Xbox One, it’s hard not to feel shortchanged by Sony’s machine. The PS5 needs to be much quieter, then, and with the next-generation consoles pushing out a serious amount of power, keeping thermals and noise levels in check will be a significant technical challenge.

3. Cross play and cross save support 

When cross play was first announced for Fortnite, Sony was less than forthcoming about if or when its console would support it. Eventually, after some hollow reasoning and increasing pressure from players, the company reluctantly changed its stance on cross play support.

Sony is still way behind the likes of Microsoft when it comes to supporting cross play and cross save support, however, and even Nintendo have done a better job of letting gamers play together. Remember #4ThePlayers, Sony?

4. Proper backwards-compatibility

After both the PS4 and Xbox One launched with no backwards-compatibility support, Microsoft shocked the gaming community when it revealed that it was bringing back hundreds of Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles for its current-gen console. Not only that, but Microsoft continued to improve on its backwards-compatibility program with the Xbox One X release, which let older games benefit from the console’s increased power. For Xbox Series X, the situation sounds like it will only improve further, with retroactive HDR support and the ability for some games to run at higher resolutions and framerates. 

Sony, on the other hand, has previously only offered older games through its much-maligned cloud-streaming platform, PlayStation Now, or through the PS Store as a select number of digital downloads. As a result, not only have gamers been forced to pay for games they likely already own, but they’ve also had a worse experience in the process due to the frustrating nature of cloud gaming.

Sony has promised that the PS5 will be backwards-compatible, but at this stage, we’re still none the wiser as to how comprehensive that support will be, and whether previous PlayStation generations will even be supported. With such a rich history of games to tap into, it would be a huge missed opportunity if Sony overlooked the importance of backwards-compatibility support. 

5. PlayStation Now isn't tempting enough

Speaking of PlayStation Now, there’s no denying that in its current state, it’s largely been overlooked by the PS4’s install base. The streaming platform has had problems with pricing, an average library of games and stern competition from Microsoft’s subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, to deal with, and just hasn’t taken off.  

PS Now made a positive change in recent months, though, by allowing PlayStation fans to download titles, much like you can with Xbox Game Pass. But the games the service gets don’t tend to stick around for as long, and tend to be many years old. 

The streaming side of the service is also still too unreliable, and the quality isn’t quite there. With Microsoft’s Project XCloud already confirmed to be part of Xbox Game Pass, and generally being well-received despite only being in beta, Sony might find itself suddenly behind the pack, despite having a years-long headstart.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Fold 2 tipped to launch on August 5

9 hours 7 min ago

We might finally have a date for the next pair of Samsung flagship phones, the Galaxy Note 20 and the Galaxy Fold 2: the two handsets are rumored to be launching on Wednesday August 5, according to multiple sources.

Those sources are the often reliable Ice Universe on Weibo as well as Korean news site the Dong-A Ilbo, so these rumors carry some significant weight – even if nothing is certain until it's official (just in case you're thinking about booking the day off work).

The August 5 date wouldn't be a huge surprise, because August has previously been mentioned as the month when these devices would break cover. It seems Samsung is keen to get everything unveiled as early in that month as possible.

With a global pandemic upon us, the launch event will of course be online only, but we'd expect it'll be in a format where everyone can tune in, so you'll be able to see the hardware for yourself as it's shown off by Samsung.

What to expect

Interestingly, Ice Universe also predicts that Samsung is going to reveal the Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, a 5G version of the Galaxy Z Flip, and the Galaxy Watch 2 at the same time – so we're in line for a plethora of new devices.

Recent leaks have suggested that the Galaxy Note 20 models won't vary too much from the Galaxy S20 phones that Samsung launched back in February, although there might be some tweaks to the configuration of the on-board cameras.

As for the Galaxy Fold 2, we've been hearing that it's going to come in at a cheaper price point than the original Galaxy Fold. Rumors also suggest that Samsung won't be including a stylus with the phone when it eventually breaks cover.

Whatever we've got in store – and whatever date these products actually show up – it looks like being a busy month or two for Samsung, and we will of course bring you the latest rumors and leaks before the big reveal.

Via Gizmodo

Why now is the perfect time to buy an electric bike

9 hours 8 min ago

As the world starts to make tentative steps towards leaving lockdown, and starts to establish a ‘new normal’, it’s a great time to reconsider your everyday travel needs – and an electric bike could be exactly what you need.

Electric bikes have come a very long way in recent years, and are no longer defined by clunky looks, noisy motors, or limited range. Modern e-bikes look almost identical to standard push-bikes, with only a slender battery pack marking the difference, and can help you keep moving for over 100 miles, depending on their capacity.

Curious? Here are the other reasons why now is the perfect time to consider making the switch to an electric bike

It’ll transform your commute

Working from home is great, but it’s not always possible (or desirable). For many people, public transport is the most practical way to get to work, but maintaining a distance of two meters between passengers means the capacity of buses and trains is vastly reduced. That means longer journey times, longer waits, and a great deal of frustration.

A conventional bike can be a great alternative for commutes that are too long to walk, but they have some distinct drawbacks – not least of which is working up a sweat. Having an electric motor take some of the strain means you’re less likely to arrive at work needing to change your shirt.

Some electric bikes, like the newly launched Cowboy 3, also eliminate the risk of oil smears on your pants by replacing the usual chain transmission with a belt (which is also much less likely to cause mechanical problems during your journey).

It's more hygienic

Electric bike hire schemes have sprung up in cities worldwide, but many have put their services on hold during the pandemic due to the difficulty of properly sanitizing handlebars between riders. Having an electric bike of your own eliminates that problem.

It also means no more touching buttons, ticket machines, door handles, parking meters, or anything else you’d usually need to tap and poke on a typical journey by car, bus or train.

It's great exercise

An electric bike is also a great way to enjoy some gentle cardio – particularly if you’ve not been particularly active during the pandemic. Cruising on an e-bike is much less effort than doing all the word yourself, but can still get your heart pumping.

You can choose to push yourself harder, too. Most electric bikes will only boost your speed to around 15mph, which is a reasonable pace, but definitely won’t make you the speediest cyclist on the road. If you want to go faster, that’s fine – but you’ll need to do all the work yourself.

You can even switch off the electric motor entirely whenever you like, only using it when you’re tired, or need an extra boost to get up a particularly steep hill.

It makes cycling accessible

If you’re a little older, have a condition that makes you tire easily, or have an injury, an electric bike can make cycling enjoyable again – even if you haven’t stepped on a pedal in years.

An e-bike is also an excellent way to get out and enjoy the countryside if you’re lucky enough to live within pedalling distance of some green space, which can be a great way to relieve stress and improve overall wellbeing. With less energy spent pedalling, you can go further, faster, and enjoy your surroundings more

It's greener

Yes, the power to charge your bike’s battery could have been generated by a fossil fuel power station, but it’ll still have a far smaller carbon footprint than any kind of car – even an electric one – due to their lower power requirements, smaller size and lighter construction. As the energy mix moves more towards renewables, that situation will only improve.

An electric bike also has a smaller amount of ‘embodied energy’ (the amount of energy needed to manufacture it) than a car.

It's just fun

If you’ve never tried an electric bike before, the initial burst of speed as the motor engages might take you by surprise – but it’s exhilarating. You might have a regular bike gathering dust in a garage or shed, but we’d be surprised if you can resist that power-assisted rush for long.

Oppo launches its first fitness band - no word yet on Indian launch

11 hours 29 min ago

Oppo had launched the Reno 4 series yesterday in China. However, the new Oppo Band managed to steal the show. It marks the company’s entry into fitness trackers after smartwatches. The new wearable from the company comes in three variants - the Oppo Band, Oppo Band Fashion and Oppo Band EVA and prices are around the CNY 200-300 bracket.

Design and Specifications

The new smart band from Oppo comes in multiple colours and offers a few strap options. Interestingly, all the three models above have the same display and internal specifications but differ on the external side. They feature a 1.1-inch AMOLED display and an overall design which more or less resembles other bands in the market.

The display has a resolution of 294x126 pixels and Oppo says it covers 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. A 2.5D curved glass protects the display from the outside.

The Oppo Smart Band is powered by the Apollo 3 chip under the hood. There is Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC (Oppo Band Fashion exclusive) present for connectivity and payments. It also has water resistance up to 50 metres with a 5ATM certification.

Fitness Tracker Features

Oppo also mentioned that the Smart Band will feature more than 160 watch faces. However, users can have only 5 watch faces at a time on their band while the others can be accessed and changed from the dedicated Health app.

The main highlight of the band is that it has up to 12 sport modes. These include outdoor running, walking, treadmill, indoor cycling, Fat loss running and more. Additionally, there is a real-time heart rate monitor, a SpO2 sensor to monitor the Blood-Oxygen levels.

Users can also track their sleep cycle, workout routine, etc. Additionally, the band also alerts users for the messages and calls they receive. Auxiliary features include app notifications, Music controls on-the-go, weather, Find my phone, and basic controls like the Stopwatch, Alarms.

All these can be done via the Oppo Health app on smartphones running Android 6.0 and iOS 10.0 and higher versions. It has a 100mAh battery and Oppo claims 14 days of battery life on a single charge. The band comes with a pogo pin charger to juice it up completely within 1.5 hours.

Prices

The Oppo Smart versions differ only in the strap designs and colours. The standard Oppo Band has Black and Purple colour options and is priced at CNY 199 ($28).

The Oppo Band Fashion comes in Black and Sandal colours with a floating strap on either side. It is priced at CNY 249 ($35). Similar designed Oppo Band EVA has a Neon Genesis Evangelion Anime-themed strap compared to the Band Fashion. It is priced at CNY 299 ($42).

Will it launch in India?

While there is no official word on whether Oppo would launch these devices in fitness conscious India or not, the fact remains that the wearables market in the country had grown a whopping 168% in 2019 with basic devices continuing to dominate. 

A report by IDC India said that while ear-worn devices grew the most, wrist bands too shipped more than 1.5 million units during the period witnessing a 30% year on year growth. Xiaomi and Titan were the market leaders with 48.9% and 14.5% share in this fast growing market. 

Given this market scenario, it would be a major miss if Oppo does not bring its bands to India, especially given that the tier-2 and tier-3 cities are witnessing a growing trend of fitness consciousness. We believe that the Oppo's new products priced at around Rs.2200 to Rs.2500 would be a good fit here.

Amazon Fire HD 8 has one tiny feature I'd love to see in new iPad Pros

12 hours 42 sec ago

The new Amazon Fire HD 8 is a budget tablet designed as a lightweight and portable entertainment machine - it's a little curious then, that it has one small but useful feature you won't find on any iPad or Samsung tablet you can buy, not even the top-end iPad Pros.

This feature is the placement of the front-facing camera - something so minor it's hard to even call it a 'feature' - but the implications of this move are pretty big when it comes to video calling, something many people do daily on their smartphone, tablet or laptop. 

Simply put, the Amazon Fire HD 8's front-facing camera is above the display when holding the tablet landscape, the orientation you typically use for video chats, but when holding any other tablet this way (including the iPad Pro, which is my go-to slate), it's to the side.

Does this sound like an incredibly tiny feature that barely makes a difference in the way you use your tablet? Maybe, but hear me out.

The problems with video chat

The iPad Pro's front-facing camera is in the bezel to the right of the screen.

Video chatting is impersonal, and not only because you're not talking face-to-face - when you're on an online call, you're looking at your screen to see who's talking, and this means you're not looking at the camera. To other people, then, you appear to be looking too far to the left, right, or above, instead of straight ahead.

If you're looking to the side, or away from the screen, you can seem disinterested in the conversation, and that's no good whether you're chatting with friends or family, or are on an important work call.

Even when you're aware people are on a video chat and are just looking at their screen, not the camera, we're so used to face-to-face interaction and body language, it can be hard to always bear that fact in mind.

Amazon Fire HD 8 to the rescue

The iPad Pro is one of the worst offenders for distant front-facing cameras in tablets, especially if you use a 12.9-inch model - when staring at the centre of the screen, you're looking far away from the camera, so it seems you're staring into the distance instead of engaging in a conversation.

The new Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) has something that we've barely seen on tablets before, though - not even on the 2018 model. That is, as we've already stated, a front-facing camera that's above the screen when holding it horizontally.

Given the Amazon Fire HD 8's screen isn't huge (8 inches diagonally, hence the name), when you're looking at the screen, it seems that you're staring straight ahead. We've put comparison pictures below to show the effect of this.

Suffice to say, when using the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) compared to any other tablet, it makes the conversation experience that bit more personal and direct. 

People actually think we're listening to them talk. We'd love to see this appear in more business and productivity-centric tablets, like the iPad Pro, just to make that video calling experience that bit better.

In fact, the iPad Pro would benefit from this changed camera location more than any tablet thanks to its Face ID - currently the feature doesn't always work if you're staring at the screen, and you have to make an effort to look at the camera when you're turning on the tablet for it to work. If a future iPad Pro had a relocated front-facing camera, Face ID functionality would be greatly improved.

iPad Pros clearly aren't designed for use when holding the device portrait either - not only are they too big to hold like this, but the various stands Apple makes for them only work in landscape.

There's likely a reason most tablets have the front-facing camera array in the position they do, but by tweaking this and moving the snapper slightly, video calling would be greatly improved and the range of other front-facing camera features, like AR and facial unlocking, would benefit too.

Dell: It would be a ‘tragedy’ to return to pre-pandemic working norms

13 hours 7 min ago

Businesses across the globe have been strong-armed by the coronavirus pandemic into overhauling established ways of working.

Many firms previously hesitant to allow employees off the leash have come to recognize that the benefits of a remote-first model - including access to a wider talent pool and improved work-life balance - do not come at the expense of productivity.

However, as countries begin to relax lockdown measures, it remains to be seen to what extent the changes made necessary by the pandemic will remain in place in the long term.

According to Richard Rawcliffe, VP & GM, UK Public Sector at Dell Technologies, it is vital that ground gained in the march towards modernization as a result of the unhappy pandemic isn’t surrendered once restrictions on life and work have been lifted.

“We’ve all learned a lot [since the start of lockdown], and it would be almost a tragedy if we then went backwards and reverted to the way things were,” he told TechRadar Pro.

Future of work

Unlike many businesses, Dell Technologies has long been a proponent of remote and flexible working. The company’s flirtation with remote work began circa 11 years ago with the introduction of its Connected Workplace initiative.

According to Rawcliffe, roughly 65% of the Dell workforce were afforded a level of flexibility even prior to the pandemic, with 40,000-50,000 employees working remotely at any given time.

For this reason, the firm was as well equipped as any when the need arose to transition to a universal remote working system. But Rawcliffe recognizes that many businesses weren’t so lucky.

“There are a number of organizations that probably thought their infrastructure was good enough, and are now finding that good enough isn’t actually good enough,” he said. “It was built for the way in which they were working [prior to the pandemic], without offering that crucial level of flexibility.”

“The reality is that the global pandemic has been more influential in driving digital transformation than almost any other factor. Where the opportunity has been taken to modernize infrastructure and automate processes that surround existing working practices - those are the [companies] that have transformed their businesses.”

For Rawcliffe, who himself has worked from home on and off for 30 years, the move back to some semblance of normality represents a pivotal moment for businesses, which must decide whether to lean in to remote-first culture, or not.

“[The widespread transition to remote working] has validated the things we’ve always wanted to talk about with our customers. We’ve all got a chance now to change how we think about work - and work is no longer all about going to the office.”

Redmi 9 with official renders appear on e-commerce stores - here's what we learnt

13 hours 7 min ago

From the Xiaomi’s budget lineup of smartphones, the Redmi series never fails to make it to India and the upcoming Redmi 9 series is expected to debut soon. However, the smartphone has been listed on an e-commerce site in the Philippines ahead of launch. This entry has tons of renders detailing all aspects and key features with seemingly-official renders. 

The listing on a Philippines store reveals more than just an overview of the device. The device has shortly been listed for a price tag of PHP 6990 (~Rs.10,603). However, this could be just a placeholder price for the time being.

The website further expands to reveal the device having a circular ring around the camera and textured design on the back. The circular ring around the camera reminds us of the Poco X2.

As leaked earlier, the bigger 6.53-inch FHD+ dot-drop display is almost confirmed now. However, there is a mention of the word AMOLED in the listing which could just be erroneous. We expect it to have an IPS LCD panel. 

Interestingly enough, the promo material all but confirms Mediatek’s Helio G80 SoC which is different from the CPU leaked earlier. There are other variants in the series as well which, like the Redmi 9C, is also likely to have MediaTek CPUs. The listing claims a 214% boost over the previous Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 on the Redmi 8.

As speculated, the device has quad-cameras housing a 13MP f/2.2, an 8MP ultra-wide lens with a 118-degree field of view, a 5MP Macro and a 2MP depth sensor on the back. 

An LED flashlight and fingerprint sensor accompanies the camera setup on the back. On the front, there is an 8MP selfie shooter. There is a headphone jack, USB-C port on the bottom, and an IR blaster and secondary mic up top.

The Redmi 9 will have a 5,020mAh battery and the listing claims 14 hrs of navigation and 34 hrs of calling. However, there is no mention of fast charging support.  There are three colours - Green, Purple, and Grey.

The storage versions listed have  3/4GB of RAM and 32/64GB respectively. There is no word on the launch but the new entry indicates the device could debut sooner than we expect.

AMD Ryzen + Arduino: This motherboard has an exceptional feature found nowhere else

17 hours 7 min ago

A tiny company has combined an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1605B with a Microchip ATmega32U4 MCU for real-time I/Os and Arduino compatibility.

The UDOO Bolt V8 costs $418 (roughly £330/AU$600) before tax/shipping and VAT and was one of the hardware success stories of 2018 for crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, despite shipping much later than expected.

It's essentially a motherboard with a quad-core Ryzen CPU with 32GB eMMC 5.0 storage, Vega 8 graphics and two DDR4 SODIMM sockets, plus a stylish brushed metal case and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth M2 card.

You can drive up to four 4K displays via HDMI and DP alternate mode on USB Type-C. In addition, there are two M2 slots and one SATA, with a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, audio connectors and a 65W power supply unit.

The ATmega32U4 comes with its own set of digital I/O pins, which sets it apart from the competition, especially as the board is surprisingly small (120 x 120mm) -  although still bigger than the Raspberry Pi (85 x 56mm).

The Bolt V8's unique selling point is the fact the Arduino controller can act as a virtual valet to the Ryzen chip, waking it up when necessary (e.g. to perform a resource-hungry task such as mining or encryption).

Who is this board aimed at? Makers, developers but also anyone interested in a powerful computer in a small form factor with plenty of connectivity options. Yes, it is expensive, but then it is also one-of-a-kind.

Bear in mind
  • If the UDOO Bolt V8 does not ship to your region, you may have to use a specialist parcel forwarding service if you want to take advantage of the deal.
  • If you've managed to get hold of a cheaper product with equivalent specifications, in stock and brand new, let us know any we'll tip our hat to you.

Jio's hot streak continues: Silver Lake comes back to invest $600 million more

17 hours 18 min ago

This has to be some kind of record. It is pandemic time. There is lockdown everywhere. Economy in most countries is in a tailspin. And in this situation, Reliance Industries digital subsidiary Jio Platforms has raised $12.2 billion in just under two months.

On a day when Abu Dhabi-based sovereign firm Mubadala committed itself to invest $1.2 billion in Jio Platforms, it emerged that Silver Lake and its co-investors will invest an additional $600 million (Rs 4,546.80 crore) in Jio Platforms, in addition to the nearly $750 million  (Rs 5,655.75 crore) it had put in on May 4, 2020. 

Silver Lake’s investment values Jio Platforms at an equity value of Rs 4.91 lakh crore and an enterprise value of Rs 5.16 lakh crore, and will translate into a 2.08% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis. 

Silver Lake is the global leader in large-scale technology investing. Its mission is to build and grow great companies by partnering with world-class management teams. Its investments have included Airbnb, Alibaba, Alphabet’s Verily and Waymo units, Dell Technologies, Twitter and numerous other global technology leaders.


With this investment, Jio Platforms has raised $12.2 billion (Rs 92,202.15 crore) from leading technology investors in less than six weeks including Facebook, Silver Lake (previous investment), Vista, General Atlantic and KKR, Mubadala and now Silver Lake again, in less than six weeks. The market belief is that Reliance has targeted raising Rs 85,000-Rs 90,000 crore from stake sales in Jio Platforms.

Jio Platforms, with more than 388 million subscribers, has made significant investments across its digital ecosystem, powered by leading technologies spanning broadband connectivity, smart devices, cloud and edge computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, augmented and mixed reality and blockchain.


Vote of confidence on Jio

Commenting on the aggregate investment brought by Silver Lake, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd, said, “Silver Lake and its co-investors are valued partners as we continue to grow and transform the Indian digital ecosystem for the benefit of all Indians. We are pleased to have their confidence and support, as well as the benefit of their leadership in global technology investing and their valued network of relationships, as we drive the Indian Digital Society’s transformation." 

He added: "I would like to emphasise that Silver Lake’s additional investment in Jio Platforms, within a span of five weeks during the Covid-19 pandemic, is a strong endorsement of the intrinsic resilience of the Indian economy, which will surely grow bigger with comprehensive digital enablement.”

 Commenting on the investment, Egon Durban, Silver Lake Co-CEO and Managing Partner, said, “We are excited to increase our exposure and bring more of our co-investors into this opportunity, further supporting Jio Platforms in its mission to bring the power of high-quality and affordable digital services to a mass consumer and small businesses population." 

"The investment momentum behind Jio validates a compelling business model and underscores our admiration for Mukesh Ambani, his team and their courageous vision in creating and building one of the world’s most remarkable technology companies," he added in a press release.

While Jio is blazing new trails, its Indian competitors Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are struggling, and are said to be in talks with Amazon and Google respectively in a bid to lure in investments.

(You can read everything about Jio Platforms and its various investors in our comprehensive coverage here).

Fake VPN messages used to lure Office 365 phishing victims

18 hours 16 min ago

A new phishing campaign is targeting Office 365 customers by impersonating their organizations in messages telling them they need to update their VPN configuration while working remotely.

The phishing emails used in the campaign are made to look as if they come from an organization's IT support department in an effort to lure employees into opening them. According to the email security firm Abnormal Security, so far 15,000 targets have received these convincing phishing emails.

VPN usage has soared with more employees working from home than ever before as a result of the pandemic which is why this and other recent phishing campaigns have been so effective. Employees rely on VPNs as a means to connect to their company servers and access sensitive data while working remotely.

Office 365 credentials

The attackers behind this campaign have gone to great lengths to make not only their phishing emails but also their phishing landing pages more convincing.

For starters, the attackers are spoofing the sender email address in their phishing emails to match the domain of targets' organizations. The VPN configs sent in these emails actually take users to a phishing landing page that accurately impersonates Microsoft's Office 365 login page. This fake login page is also hosted on a domain owned by Microsoft.

By abusing the Azure Blob Storage platform, the attackers have made it so their landing page has a valid Microsoft certificate that displays the secure padlock since they are using a web.core.windows.net wildcard SSL certificate. Most users would see that the certificate was issued by Microsoft and not even think twice about entering their Office 365 credentials.

In a blog post, Abnormal Security warned that this campaign is widespread and that numerous versions of this attack have been spotted in the wild, saying:

“Numerous versions of this attack have been seen across different clients, from different sender emails and originating from different IP addresses. However, the same payload link was employed by all of these attacks, implying that these were sent by a single attacker that controls the phishing website.”

To avoid falling victim this campaign, users should only enter their Office 365 credentials on official login pages hosted by Microsoft on its microsoft.com, live.com or outlook.com domains.

  • Also check out our complete list of the best VPN services

Via BleepingComputer

VMware snaps up network security firm Lastline

20 hours 22 min ago

VMware has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the network security firm Lastline as the company continues to try and position itself as a provider of cloud-native security tools.

Both companies' boards have approved the transaction which is expected to close during Q2 of this year pending regulatory approval.

As reported by TechCrunch, a source told the publication that VMware plans to lay off around 40 percent or 50 of Lastline's employees as part of the acquisition. However, spokespeople from both companies did not confirm this nor did they provide a comment on the matter.

Cloud-native security

Lastline was founded back in 2012 by a team of computer science professors from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Northeastern University which includes Christopher Kruegel, Engin Kirda and Giovannia Vigna.

The company provides businesses with threat detection services ranging from malware analysis to intruder detection and network traffic analysis. Lastline is a cloud-native platform that can secure businesses cloud deployments and on-premises networks as well as multi-cloud and hybrid environments.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, the company's CEO John DiLullo explained how joining forces with VMware will allow Lastline to further protect its customers, saying:

“The protection of our customers is at the center of what we do at Lastline. By joining forces with VMware, we will be able to offer additional capabilities to our customers and bring to market comprehensive security solutions for the data center, branch office and remote and mobile users.”

Via TechCrunch