Sunday, May 10, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 5/11/2015


CHIP is a tiny computer you can pre-order for $9
CHIP is a tiny computer you can pre-order for $9
It's a boom time for miniature electronics and amateur hacking - the Raspberry Pi devices and Arduino boards are proof of that - but there's a new tiny computer in town that's looking to dramatically undercut the competition.
CHIP (it stands for something, but we're not sure what) is a new device from Next Thing Co, and they're looking for Kickstarter funding to help get it off the ground. The basic component can be yours for just US$9 (about £5.80 or AU$11.30).
Hook up a keyboard and display and you can use CHIP to play basic games, browse the web or run LibreOffice. It comes with the free Scratch programming language so you can code your own projects.

Power to the people

It's already a runaway hit - having raked in around seven times its $50,000 goal at the time of writing - and according to Makerzine the team behind it can get to such a low price thanks to friendly relations with Chinese suppliers.
CHIP includes a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options. A PocketCHIP variation is also available complete with a small screen and battery.
This is a Kickstarter project, so the usual caveats about production and costs apply, but CHIP looks to have the necessary credentials in terms of team expertise and backing. If all goes to plan then units are set to be shipped out in December.

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Splatoon makes us want to dye - can it reinvigorate the Wii U?
Splatoon makes us want to dye - can it reinvigorate the Wii U?
Greetings, game fiends. For those of you in the UK who haven't been blown away by this week's galeforce winds or election results, prepare to be blown away by NEWS! Marvel at my fantastic segue.
For the rest of you around the world, I've got nothing. Sorry.
We can't talk about anything else until we've talked about Splatoon, Nintendo's new ink-splatting IP that even your gran can enjoy. I played a little bit shortly after E3 last year, back when the mess fest was in its infancy, and while I didn't exactly understand why everyone could turn into a squid, it was a hell of a lot of fun. A Splatoon-centric Nintendo Direct revealed more information this week: there will be an open global beta, which is an interesting new play from Nintendo. The Global Testfire, as it will be known, is running this weekend, and all participants that work at Nintendo will be wearing lab coats obviously.
There will also be free DLC, new stages added each week to the standard five available at launch, a ranked battle mode due in August, and a tournament called "Splatfest" which could earn you a special item based on how well you perform. Don't be fooled by all the colourful charm - Nintendo's added a fair amount of depth to the game, including customisable clothes, headgear and weapons, many of which can be bought from the Booyah Base. Yes, that might be Nintendo's greatest pun of all time.
But in all seriousness, Splatoon is a really refreshing effort from Nintendo that could only come from such a veteran of multiplayer gaming. Things are looking up for the company right now, following this week's announcement that it had become profitable again for the first time in four years, and titles like Splatoon continue to demonstrate why the Wii U is still a horse in this console race.
So does all that sound exciting? Of course it does, don't be silly. The game will be out on May 29, and you can check out this week's Nintendo Direct in full below.
YouTube :
The other biggie of the week was Tony Hawk. Thanks to a couple of leaks, a few more on-purpose teases, and an actual, proper reveal, we know that Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 is coming to console this year. So what's the hawkman up to now? New levels, new characters, new skateboards, probably, and co-op and solo play. Oh, and err, "projectiles", we're told.
You can create your own skate parks - expect a great deal of halfpipes put together to resemble a giant, wooden dong - and you'll be joined by a host of other skateboarders like Ishod Wair, Riley Hawk, Leticia Bufoni, and Andrew Reynolds. If you don't know who they are, don't worry - you're probably just not cool any more.
But if you find skateboards way too rad for your poor, weak body, perhaps you'll enjoy this news as much as I did (read: I squealed, rather loudly, and then went and told a load of my co-workers, who reacted much, much less excitedly. As in, not at all). Lego Dimensions is getting a whole bunch of new characters! Alongside the existing ones, including The Lego Movie, The Wizard of Oz and Lord of the Rings, a leak has sort-of confirmed that we'll also be getting expansion packs for Jurassic World, Scooby Doo, The Simpsons and Portal. These were already rumoured thanks to an incredibly blurry pack shot from a few weeks ago, so I'm more than ready to accept these rumours as being totes legit.
Portal Lego. I mean, who'd have ever thought it?

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UPDATED: Apple Watch price range breakdown: How much does it cost?
UPDATED: Apple Watch price range breakdown: How much does it cost?

Apple Watch price range

Apple Watch price
At least, our Apple Watch review is live, but way back when the Apple Watch price was announced to be "starting at $349," we had a feeling that the iPhone-tailored smartwatch wasn't going to be cheap.
Sure enough, the sticker shock peaked at $17,000. Even at its base level and limited Apple Watch battery life, this iPhone-tailored smartwatch is pricier than Google's most expensive watch, the new LG Watch Urbane, according to our Apple Watch vs Android Wear comparison.
Already knowing that, you're probably now focused on: "How much does the Apple Watch I really want cost?" With 38 different Apple Watch bands, it's hard to remember which watch costs how much.
That's why we broke down the Apple Watch price, from the $349 (£299, AU$499) Sport Edition to the $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000) gold Apple Watch Edition in this handy guide.

Apple Watch Sport price with Sport Band

Apple Watch price Sport
The entry-level Apple Watch is the Sport model with a aluminum case, Ion-X glass over the display and and rubber-like fluoroelastomer band.
It costs $349 (£299, AU$499) for the 38mm size (measured by height), and a little more at $399 (£339, AU$579) for the 42mm size. There are five colors and, with the two sizes, ten models to chose from.
Due to its attractive price, it fetched the most Apple Watch sales, according to the early estimates.
Buying the Sport Band alone costs $49 (£39, AU$79), according to the Apple Store, just in case you want to switch colors, or had opted for a leather strap and wanted to retreat to this waterproof band sometimes, like at a sweat-filled gym.
Colors include white, blue, green and pink for the bands with a silver casing. There's also one almost-all-black version; it's black band and a unique space gray casing.

Apple Watch price with Sport Band

Apple Watch price stainless steel
The stainless steel Apple Watch, in its "cheapest" form, also comes with a gym-friendly fluoroelastomer Sport Band. Its price is bumped up considerably, though.
It costs $549 (£479, AU$799) for the 38mm size and $599 (£519, AU$879) for the 42mm size, a higher price because it replaces aluminum with stainless steel case and adds sapphire glass.
Since the Sport Band itself is no different, other colors can be had for the same $49 (£39, AU$79) price as the previous Sport Band.
Colors with this Apple Watch out-of-the-box, however, are limited to white and black bands, and both models feature a silver stainless steel case.

Apple Watch price with Classic Buckle

Apple Watch price
The Apple Watch with a no-frills Classic Buckle doesn't come cheap, even though it has a stainless steel closure that's as simple as can be.
It costs $649 (£559, AU$949) for the 38mm size and $699 (£599, AU$1029) for the 42mm size on account of its leather build. Apple proclaims it has been milled in a famous tannery in the Netherlands.
Apart from the watch, the Classic Buckle is going to be sold through the Apple Store for $149 (£129, AU$229).
In the words of Henry Ford, you can have any color you want, as long as it's black. Again, a no-frills option from end to end.

Apple Watch price with Milanese Loop

Apple Watch price
The Milanese Loop really classes up the Apple Watch with a woven smooth stainless steel mesh and a magnetic, infinitely adjustable clasp.
It costs $649 (£559, AU$949) for the 38mm size and $699 (£599, AU$1,029) for the 42mm, matching the price of the classic buckle, but beating it on style.
Separately, the Milanese Loop costs $149 (£129, AU$229). It may be a good down-the-road purchase for date nights if you initially end up with the Sport Band out-of-the-box.
It comes in one color too, silver stainless steel, which matches the glossy silver Apple Watch case.

Apple Watch with Leather Loop

Apple Watch price
The Leather Loop for where the Apple Watch gets bolder with new colors, but also gets even pricier. Its leather is milled in Italy, and its magnets are hidden in the leather loop ends.
Apple is asking for $700 (£559, AU$1,029) for the watch case and Leather Loop that is only available with the 42mm watch size. That's okay with us, as the Apple Watch battery life is longer in the bigger size.
Its Apple Watch band comes in medium and large lengths and is sold separately for $149 (£129, AU$229), so it should fit the wrist of anyone who is willing to don the larger Apple Watch.
Colors consist of stone, light brown, bright blue and black.

Apple Watch price with Modern Buckle

Apple Watch price
Being modern is what Apple Watch is all about, so this top-grain leather band comes together with a two-piece magnetic closure that looks like one solid buckle.
At $749 (£649, AU$1,099), you may be modern, but this watch and band may cost you your paycheck and future paychecks. It only comes with the smaller 38mm stainless steel case.
It's also expensive apart from the watch, with a band-only price of $249 (£209, AU$379), making it the most expensive leather band available separately.
Colors are soft pink, brown, midnight blue and black, each with a stainless steel clasp that matches the Apple Watch casing.

Apple Watch price with Link Bracelet

Apple Watch price
How much for that all-metal Link Bracelet, you ask? A lot because it has more than 100 components in the band alone.
It's $949 (£819, AU$1,399) for the 38mm size and $999 (£859, AU$1,479) for the 42mm size. Apple says that it takes nearly nine hours to cut the links for a single strap. Maybe Foxconn isn't making this one.
The Link Bracelet in space gray black stainless steel brings the price to $1,049 (£899, AU$1,549) and $1,099 (£949, AU$1,629) for the two sizes.
The Link Bracelet alone in silver stainless steel costs $449 (£379, AU$679), which is more money than the entry-level Apple Watch Sport with the rubber Sport Band.
It comes in two colors with the Apple Watch, stainless steel and space black stainless steel, though only the normal stainless steel version is available as a separate band so far.

Apple Watch Edition price (low-end)

Apple Watch price
Is money no object? Then you may be one of the few VIPs willing to flaunt the limited-edition Apple Watch Edition that is made of 18-karat gold. It comes in eight extravagantly priced models.
The "cheapest" are the 38mm Apple Watch Editions with an rose gold case and White Sport Band, and the yellow gold case with a Black Sport Band at $10,000 (£8,000, AU$14,000).
The 42mm equivalents of these two color configurations are $12,000 (£9,500 AU$17,000). Yes, adding just four extra millimeters increases the price by that much.
Even Apple employees have to fork over a lot of money for the gold Apple Watch Edition. While they get half off on the Sport and stainless steel Watch, their discount is just $550 (about £370, AU$715) here.

Apple Watch Edition price (high-end)

Apple Watch price
Apple Watch Edition doesn't stop there, however. At $15,000 (£12,000, AU$21,000) is the 42mm yellow gold case with a Black Classic Buckle and 42mm yellow gold case with a Midnight Blue Classic Buckle.
There's no 38mm. It's go big or go home (to your mansion). Instead, if you want something smaller, you'll have to opt for the more expensive Modern Buckle at that size, and it breaks the bank even more.
At an unbelievable $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000) is the 18-karat rose gold case and rose gray modern buckle, and the same case with a bright red modern buckle. Its Apple extravagance at its peak.
For good reason, none of the Apple Watch Edition bands are available separately in the Apple Store and, word is, they may be locked up in a safe every night.

Apple Watch accessory: Magnetic Charger price

Apple Watch price
A magnetic charger come with every order, but if you want an extra one, the online Apple Store is selling it separately along with Apple Watch bands in its store.
The accessory comes in two sizes, much like the many watch configurations. There's a 1m cable for $29 (£25, AU$45) and a longer 2m cable for $39 (£29, AU$59).
Having an extra one around (or two) isn't a bad idea for a backpack, the office, your car or a loved one's residence. After all, that 18 hours means Apple Watch needs to charge nightly, no matter where you end up up at night.

Apple Watch requirement: Newer iPhone

Apple Watch price
Apple Watch won't work without a newer iPhone, and Apple states this on its website on just about every page. Some people, regardless, are still going to complain that they didn't know.
This may add to your end price, as the smartwatch requires the iPhone 5 or later, meaning the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are all good to go.
This makes a lot of sense. These are the same strict requirements of the company's ongoing Apple CarPlay project, which we should see more of at WWDC 2015.
Needless to say, the next iPhone 7, expected in September, will work with the Apple Watch and may even support new features.

Apple Watch requirement: iOS 8.2

Apple Watch price
Also a requirement of the Apple Watch is iOS 8.2. It's only compatible with the new update that launched the same time Tim Cook announced the smartwatch price.
Apple's smartwatch requires a container app to function and manage settings and watch apps. This is the same setup used by Android Wear watches and the forthcoming Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel.
The good news is that the even-more-stable iOS 8.3 update is out and it's free of charge. It won't cost you any extra and there's no nagging wait.

Apple Watch price wrap-up

Apple Watch price
Apple Watch, depending on the configuration, is the company's most pricey gadget. That's why I am opting for the cheapest variant.
My choice, the Apple Watch Sport, has a duller aluminum finish and a rubber-like band, but it starts at $349 (£299, AU$499). And, I can add to the bands from there, say, if I one day buy the slick-looking Milanese Loop.
More than anything, though, I know that the Apple Watch that I received on the April 24 release date is going to be dated soon.
Apple may not introduce the Apple Watch 2 in a few months (it's not Samsung) or even a year, but eventually it'll upgrade its smartwatch and I'll be glad I bought the cheapest one.

More Apple Watch coverage

Apple Watch price
There's a lot more to explore as now that we're in the Apple Watch launch window. We have already fully tested the it for our final review.
We also dove deeper into the design choices for our Apple Watch bands, taking a look at each collection, the build quality and the watch faces.
On the same day that Apple Watch began taking pre-orders, the company started selling its new MacBook 2015 with an even thinner and lighter design, a 12-inch display and similarly expensive price.
We may see an Apple Watch's software update at WWDC 2015 on June 8 along with iOS 9, and maybe an announcement tied into the expected iPhone 7 news in September. Start saving up for Apple Watch 2.

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UPDATED: Apple Watch bands: all 38 straps, sizes and case configurations
UPDATED: Apple Watch bands: all 38 straps, sizes and case configurations

Apple Watch bands: Sport vs Watch vs Edition

Apple Watch features
Apple Watch is on the wrists of its first wave of customers, meeting its release date, but picking one has been no easy decision. There are 38 different designs with varying bands, sizes, cases and prices.
There are three cases: the aluminum Sport, stainless steel Watch and gold Watch Edition. But where it gets complicated is in the number of interchangeable bands.
That's a problem for anxious early adopters who are undecided and "iForgot" the pre-order. Tremendous Apple Watch sales pushed shipping estimates back from to as far as July.
With 38 versions of the iPhone compatible smartwatch - way more than the three colors of the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and new MacBook - here's every Apple Watch band, case and default face., at least until Apple Watch 2 comes out.

Apple Watch Sport bands: Sport

Apple Watch design and colors
Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.
It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.
Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the stainless steel Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.
It's the least expensive Apple Watch at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size. Early Apple Watch sales indicate it was the most popular version.

Apple Watch bands: Stainless steel

Apple Watch design and colors
Ordering the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.
Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It stands up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.
The cost jumps to $549 (£479, AU$799) for the Sport Band, while the Apple Watch price for leather and stainless steel bands go up from there.

Apple Watch bands: Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors
Watch Edition is the most expensive Apple Watch pre-order starting at $10,000 (£8,000) due to its 18-karat gold case meant for VIPs. It'll reportedly be locked inside a safe at your local Apple Store.
It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold. Sparing no expense, Apple throws in an exclusive charging stand. How thoughtful.
Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of either leather or fluoroelastomer plastic. These special Apple Watch bands can't be ordered separately online.
That said, bands are the next step the Apple Watch buying process.

Apple Watch bands: 6 bands styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.
Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but the interchangeable bands are a lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.
I'm okay with that. I ordered the Sport band to wear at the gym and the Milanese Loop for nights on the town, and I won't have the dig into the watch case with a pair of tweezers to change it up.

Apple Watch bands: Sport band

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch sport band
Despite its name, the Sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three cases, not just the Apple Watch Sport.
The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.
The Sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch bands: Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch choices
Available with a regular Apple Watch, the Link bracelet is one of two stainless steel bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.
It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.
Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Apple Watch bands: Milanese Loop

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch bands
One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese Loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.
Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.
An out-of-the box option with the regular Apple Watch pre-orders, the Milanese Loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Apple Watch bands: Modern buckle (leather)

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch leather
A modern buckle adorns the bottom of the first of three leather pre-orders among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.
The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.
This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Apple Watch bands: Classic buckle (leather)

Apple Watch design and colors
Apple Watch models
If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.
No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.
The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Apple Watch bands: Leather loop

Apple Watch bands
Apple Watch design
This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.
The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Its Venezia leather sources from Italy, according to Apple.
Apple Watch configurations with this leather loop band have four color choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes
Less exciting than the bands, but equally important among the choices are the Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.
This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way. It does raise the Apple Watch price.
It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.
No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch pre-order price

Apple Watch bands
Now that you know everything about the design, it's time to focus on the Apple Watch price range because this is no easy purchase at any rate.
Even the entry-level Apple Watch Sport is expensive at $349 (£299, AU$499) for the 38mm version. For bigger wrists, it's $399 (£339, AU$579) for the 42mm variant.
A stainless steel Apple Watch costs $549 (£479, AU$799) or $599 (£519, AU$879) with the rubberized Sport band. Adding leather or an all-metal band costs anywhere from $649 (£559, AU$949) to $1,099 (£949, AU$1,629).
And the 18-karat gold Apple Watch price range is $10,000 (£8,000, AU$14,000) to $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), complete with VIP treatment.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches
There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.
The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent when you order Apple Watch, something we have been fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.
Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.
Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs
Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.
Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch bands wrap-up

Apple Watch
With two sizes for most Apple Watch bands, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into every smartwatch order.
Apple Watch has launched with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.
The case and band combination I went with was Sport with a white rubber band, ultimately determined by the Apple Watch price.
Such a new product is bound to be outdated in several months to a year and a half by Apple Watch 2, so I played it safe. The Milanese loop, backordered for one month, arrived sooner than Apple had expected. I began donning it just two weeks later.

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Review: Updated: Apple Watch
Review: Updated: Apple Watch


The Apple Watch is a bold device, the product of a brand trying to shake up a stuttering smartwatch market and prove that, once again, it can make a niche device cool and mainstream.
The iPhone 5-and-up-compatible smartwatch comes in 38 flavors, with different case materials, colors, sizes and interchangeable Apple Watch bands. None are inexpensive.
Starting at $349 (£299, AU$499) and peaking at an exorbitant $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), this lightweight wristwatch is meant for patient early adopters and boutique store regulars.
Apple Watch review
Is it worth that tough-to-swallow Apple Watch price? Well, beaming apps like Messages, Mail and every iPhone notification to an always-on-hand gadget is certainly a convenience.
I no longer retrieve my seemingly always-hiding iPhone 6 every time someone texts me, yet I can ping it whenever I really can't find it, usually buried beneath the couch cushions. It's the easiest way to find my iPhone yet.
What feels strange about writing this review is that there's no point in really comparing it to Android Wear at all. Nobody chooses a smartwatch first and then decides on which phone to go with it – no, if you're reading this review you're probably either doing it on the iPhone or with one close to hand, wondering if it adds enough convenience to be worth the extra cost.
That convenience is seen in the large number of apps. Checking into a flight thanks to a wrist-mounted QR code sure beats scrambling for my phone or paper boarding pass.
Apple Watch review
At least you're still being active at the same time, with those steps being counted in the Apple Watch's fitness app. It's not the most comprehensive fitness tracker, but it lets me keep tabs on metrics like my steps walked, calories burned and heart rate. Surprise: I need to move more when I'm writing reviews.
But not having to fetch my phone for each and every vibration in my pocket is very much a luxury rather than a necessity, and not one every iPhone user needs - at least for the current asking price.

Why buy an Apple Watch?

Apple Watch is often oversimplified as an iPhone on your wrist, and almost everyone I have demoed it to has accidentally referred to it as "your phone." Even I slipped up once.
It's not an unreasonable comparison. The square-shaped smartwatch is like a mini iPhone; it lets me read emails, summon Siri and make and receive phone calls from my wrist.
Apple Watch review
The size is just right too. While many Android Wear watches look and feel chunky to most, the 42mm Apple Watch fits my wrist much more unobtrusively.
An even smaller 38mm size is also available, though most people should for opt for the bigger of the two. It offers better battery life and more useable touchscreen space (but does come at a higher cost).
But do I need this Watch? On the one hand it's been great to change my behavior, as too many times I have instinctively run to my phone, charging in another room, because it's ringing or because the default SMS chime has turned me into one of Pavlov's dogs.
How many times have I missed an important call or text? Just as important, how many times have I rushed to the phone and it was an unimportant telemarketing call or a friend replying with text that simply says "OK" to something I said three hours ago?
Apple Watch review
These missed connections and potential disappointments are less insufferable thanks to the Apple Watch and its ability to either pick up or dismiss these alerts in a tenth of a second.
Custom watch faces, like we've seen from Android Wear watches, are here (although only those that Apple makes, as it's not permitting third parties to do the same thing, which sucks), as well as new exclusive technology like the pressure-sensitive Force Touch touchscreen.
Apple Watch review
There are also a large number of Apple Watch apps already, including the easy-to-use Apple Pay in the US and frequently used Uber car hailing service, which aren't available on Android Wear.

What's missing?

There are plenty iPhone features that aren't carried over to the wrist. Apple Watch is not a fully-fledged iPhone replacement.
It makes calls, but it can't add new contacts. It listens to dictated texts and sends them as an audio message or transcription, but it doesn't have any sort of edit function.
It tracks basic fitness goals, but not it's GPS-enabled, doesn't track sleep and third-party workout apps require an iPhone close by. Likewise, it can name songs through the Shazam app, but it listens with the iPhone microphone, not its own.
Having to carry a phone still is a weird disappointment to a lot of people who are missing the point of a current smartwatches. "Wait, I still need my phone?" is the response I've heard from baffled people. Of course you do. The Watch isn't big enough for watching YouTube videos on its tiny display size and trying to comment on Facebook posts while pecking away on a teeny keyboard would be terrible.
Apple Watch review
Who would want to don a giant watch capable of such specs or a large enough battery to run that? You still need an iPhone with you at all times, but you'll use it less than before.
The bigger questions: can is do enough to be worth its price, and is it fashionable enough to wear everyday, by geek chic and non geeks alike? Let's examine the design first.

Design and display

Apple's build-up to the Watch's launch was all about the style, how it was forged in Ive's clean furnaces and made of angel tears (or something), and how it's capable of replacing the emotional connection thousands of us have with our current timepiece.
Apple Watch review
That really depends on who you ask and which Apple Watch you're talking about. There are three models, the aluminum Sport, stainless steel Watch and gold Watch Edition.
I've tried on every Apple Watch model, outside of the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, before ordering, but I stuck with the entry-level 42mm aluminum Apple Watch Sport in white.
Apple Watch review
It's the cheapest configuration slightly more comfortable than its two posh counterparts that are made of heavier steel and gold.
They vary in price and unnecessary weight more than they do in attractiveness, although when switching to the steel Watch with Milanese loop I found more people preferred the shiny exterior of the more expensive model.
But if lightness is what you're after, the Sport's anodized aluminum case and Ion-X glass make it 30% lighter. It's 30g instead of the steel's 50g, and gold's 69g. That adds up on my wrist when I'm wearing this thing for 18 hours a day before the battery life is zapped.
Apple Watch review
After a day of wearing the lightweight Apple Watch on my right wrist and a heavier Moto 360 on my left wrist - for testing purposes, I assure you - I almost couldn't feel the Apple Watch. For the same test with the Garmin Fenix 3 when running – a much, much larger watch – I noted the same effect, showing Apple's got the balance pretty right here.
Its aluminum frame matches the iPhone build and is therefore duller than the shiny stainless steel Apple Watch, but it still goes with a steel band like the Milanese Loop just fine.
Apple Watch review
A bigger problem in the future may be that the Apple Watch Sport is missing the premium sapphire crystal glass, which is supposed to be almost scratch-proof. The good news is that the Ion-X glass substitute on the Sport model has proven resilient so far.
I've seen several "drop tests" videos of shattered Apple Watch Sport glass, but more relevant real-world tests would consist of minor wall and corner scraps for wearables. Geeky iPhone diehards whose equilibrium is off may want to spring for AppleCare just to be safe, but I've not seen a problem.
Everything else is the same among all the models. The case sits 10.5mm off of my wrist, slightly thicker than an Android Wear watch, but it has a stylishly curved glass and rounded off corners on the top, and a small bump to its black composite back's heart rate sensor.
Apple Watch review
It's reasonably thin for now, but I can already imagine Apple making a "world's thinnest smartwatch" several times over for the Apple Watch 2 and beyond.
Its thickness does leave room for two large buttons, a classy sounding digital crown and an uninspiringly named "side button." Both are located on the right side for twisting and pressing through menus. A microphone and speaker are on the left side.
Apple Watch review
The Apple Watch Sport band is made of fluoroelastomer, which is Apple's fancy way of saying synthetic rubber, which is supposed to be extremely durable. Time will tell.
The smooth strap, available in white, black, blue, green and pink colors, feels comfortable and is easier to buckle than any prong-clasped Fitbit I've tested. It tucks the excess band in a hole so that it hides behind the beginning the strap.
The difference between using the Sport model with the rubber strap and the Watch with Milanese loop felt like I was stepping up to a "proper" Watch. That's more the band than the model itself, so a swift switch between the two (providing you outlay the high cost to buy another band) is fine to improve the look.
Apple Watch review
My watch came with two bands in the box, a larger and shorter size in the same white color. Changing the strap was incredibly simple and required no tooling, unlike the Moto 360. A secure fingernail tip-sized button underneath the watch releases each strap.
Apple Watch review
Although many Android Wear smartwatches work with third-party 22mm bands, the transition to a new Apple Watch band is more seamless. Cheaper third-party straps are also said to be on the way.
Overall, the design of the Apple Watch is probably the biggest thing it's got going for it. As one of the first to walk around wearing this new timepiece, I felt both awesome early adopter as people asked in hushed tones to see the new Watch, and embarrassed as other would see me as having paid a large amount of money for something that doesn't really do a huge amount yet, another follower of whatever Apple does just for the sake of owning it.
The truth was somewhere in the middle – and after a few months, both will die down and the idea of having a smartwatch on the wrist won't seem so crazy, which will perversely help the Android Wear story too.


Behind the Ion-X or sapphire glass of the Apple Watch sits a bright and colorful OLED. It's sharper than other smart watches, most notably the pixelated LCD of the Moto 360.
It's the right screen technology for smartwatches, as OLED displays draw much less battery when showing a darker screen. With OLED only the pixels used are turned on, and fewer pixels equals less battery drain.
Apple Watch review
That's why most of the Apple Watch faces are surrounded by deep black background. It also helps the colorful app icons and watch face element pop.
The 38mm Apple Watch resolution is 272 x 340, while a 42mm version is 312 x 390. The bigger display's necessary extra power is offset by a larger Apple Watch battery.
Apple was able to design a sharp-looking flexible OLED display for the Watch, but it didn't go as far as creating a circular screen for a truly classic watch look.
Last year's Moto 360 did exactly that to the envy of iPhone owners who weren't able to get in on the modern smartwatch craze outside of the first two Pebble watches.
Apple Watch review
All of Apple's flowery marketing rhetoric about reinventing the classic watch look - from digital crown to complications - didn't also translate into that that traditional round watch look, which is one of my largest criticisms with the design. I appreciate that the square is better for interacting with the Watch, but with the apps interface being spherical and 'traditional' watches just look better when round.
Apple Watch is more colorful than its iPhone-connected rivals though, especially the new Pebble Time, and readable in all but the brightest sunlight. But it comes at the expense of its battery life.

Battery life and clever charging

Apple Watch is supposed to have 18 hours of battery life, which would translate into a full day if I were to ever keep to a normal sleeping schedule.
I was able to lengthen the uptime of my watch to a full 24 hours on days in which I didn't make battery-taxing phone calls with it, or use the half-as-power-hungry heart rate monitor.
Apple Watch review
I'll put it simply: I think Apple deliberately downplayed the battery life of its Watch to make sure it didn't get hit with angry users should the numbers not stack up. I've had days where I've been for a couple of hours' run and it's still easily lasted the day, and not once in the week of testing did I get to the evening approaching critical levels of power.
Apple Watch depletes the battery in three hours if used for non-stop phone calls. Working out with the heart rate monitor or listening to music does the same in six hours. Conversely, just checking the time every so often boosts it to 48 hours.
But you'll also need to think about the future here. Like Nokia's old attempts at smartphones, the battery life on the Watch is good because you don't find yourself wanting to play with it a lot because, well, it doesn't do a whole lot right now.
Apple Watch review
That's going to change though. As developers get their hands on the Watch and start making use of the inbuilt NFC or other sensors, you'll find the battery life will drop faster as more apps start making a play for its reserves.
Talking of which, a 72-hour Power Reserve mode kicks in when the Apple Watch battery reaches 0% so that it doesn't shut off completely. It only tells the time doesn't keep the fancy watch face.
This sent me running to a charger since it does nothing else in this catatonic state. Making it even more perilous, it was actually a bit difficult to exit this catatonic state. The watch takes a solid minute and a half to reboot, which initially made me think I didn't know how to reboot the device and was accidentally resetting it every time.

Power Reserve mode

The official Apple Watch recharge time is 1.5 hours to 80% and and 2.5 hours to 100%. That's a bit slower than the average smartwatch. Moto 360 charges up in 2 hours flat. But I've been able to completely recharge my Apple Watch in the same 2-hour window.
Apple Watch review
The 205mAh battery pack is predictably sealed into the device, and is smaller than the battery on other Android Wear devices.
My faster-than-expected charging time may be because, at 0%, the watch still has its limited time-checking Power Reserve state to go. I had charged the watch when it and entered this special mode, so it technically had some juice left to it.

Inductive charger

Apple Watch's inductive magnetic charger takes cues from the company's popular MagSafe chargers, which come with all MacBook Air and MacBook Pro computers (but not the New Macbook).
It combines a MagSafe magnet with an inductive charger for a wire-free solution. It helps when you're in the dark or in tight situations, like a coach seat on an airplane, and need to simply clip on a charger and be done with it. Magnets, boss.
Apple Watch review
As much as I don't like having yet another type of cable to carry around, it's way better than the flimsy Pogo charger designs used by Pebble, LG, Samsung and others. It wire-free design also means that Apple Watch is sealed and is therefore water-resistant to a point.

Using the Watch day to day

There's something a little more complicated about this shrunken Apple product compared to the now familiar iPhone and iPad. It took a few days to wrap my head around the interface, which is surprising for an Apple product. The Watch is nowhere near as intuitive as most will expect.
I immediately started receiving texts and emails on my wrist, as expected, and I could easily dismiss what wasn't vital. This sudden flurry of notifications was actually welcomed. However, to do much with these alerts, I had to learn to bounce between three menus: watch face, app launcher and glances, and the methods of flicking between them doesn't feel natural.
This learning for users curve exists because the software tries to do too much at once, and smartwatches offer extremely limited interface real estate. Plus, the Apple Watch is part of a brand new product category for everyone.
Apple Watch review
Remembering to swipe down to see my backlog of notifications or swipe up to see my pinned "Glances" widgets is complicated by the fact that this only works when in the watch face menu. It doesn't work in any other app or the app launcher menu, where with the iPhone swiping up or down is pervasive.
Sometimes I hit the side button because it looks like the iPhone sleep/wake button only to realize that it brings up my contacts list. Pressing in the digital crown does the trick here. Double tapping the crown will switch between apps, but it's a soft press and doesn't always feel like it's registered, and the easiest way to get back to time is to let the watch dangle by the wrist and then bring it back up again.
Apple Watch review
That's not intuitive, and is the sort of thing that gives the Watch naysayers (of which there appear to be a few) ammunition when you're having to jump through hoops just to tell them the time on your watch.
There's also the issue of slowdown that flickers intermittently throughout Watch use, with opening the settings menu the biggest offender. Hit the teeny icon (you can scroll the digital crown to make things bigger, but that feels like an odd extra step) and you're greeting with icons that have no words next to them, and a couple of seconds later everything blinks into view.
The same happens with most lists, where using the digital crown to scroll through is fluid, using the finger (the more intuitive way to do things) lags and jumps a bit.
Apple Watch review
As first generation software, it's just not always as intuitive as it could be. Luckily, the setup is fairly seamless. I booted up my iPhone's Watch app, which came with iOS 8.2, and it asked me to take a photo of my new Apple Watch. Done. It was paired.
Syncing my existing apps happened automatically too, but took a couple of minutes. After that, I was able to customize my watch face and load up a springboard of circular apps. The device connects using a weird fusion of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but unlike the phone, you can't use Bluetooth when the Watch is in flight mode, which makes Bluetooth music streaming a no-no when in mid-air.
The My Watch menu within the iPhone companion app is astonishingly complex, which may end up being a good thing once I get the hang of it but will displease Apple fans who crave simplicity, where the thing just works.
I can disable notifications for specific apps and just about every setting can be mirrored from the iPhone or be set up individually, from Do Not Disturb to Messages notifications. Texts can repeat twice all the way up to ten times if I hate myself.
Apple Watch review
Apple Watch doesn't contain all of the intricate gears of a Swiss watch, but it has a lot of moving parts to its software. It has taken a few days to learn and configure to my liking, but I feel as though the less-interested iPhone audience, like my new smartphone-owning parents, needs to wait until it's further refined and more apps come to the Apple Watch app store.

A brilliant new breed of apps

The Apple Watch needs a headline feature, and while it doesn't really have it yet (beyond sending random pictures to other Watch-wearers) the apps that live on it are going to be the real reason to buy one.
Sure, they're not there yet, but the in-built choices and first goes from third parties are pretty good already, meaning this is a device with a lot of potential.

Watch faces

Apple's watch faces take advantage of the pressure sensitive Force Touch display. Holding down on the glass, with a bit of exertion, zooms out of the current watch face and loads up a gallery of faces, from the information-packed Modular to the toe-tapping Mickey Mouse. Utility ended up being my favorite because it was simple, yet fit all of my customizations.
Apple Watch review
These let me insert information snippets onto the watch face, such as the full date, my next calendar appointment or the sunrise and sunset time if I really wanted to know daily. Most faces make room for smaller, pre-select spaces in the corners too. These let me display the critical Apple Watch battery life percentage, my daily fitness graph and the time in another city, which has been great for traveling.
There are "millions" of combinations, according to Apple, but these custom pre-determined spaces can't be moved around and, in reality, there are just ten faces. Apple has yet to open up its watch face API to developers and it's currently banning third-party faces.
Apple has to catch up to Android Wear here as it's one of the things I love about Android Wear (the Goldeneye and PacMan faces are real crowd pleasers) and if Apple is serious about making the Watch personal, being able to choose more faces is a must.

Built-in apps

Apps, on the other hand, are open to developers, and it shows. There are loads are launch, and the best Apple Watch apps are those from Apple itself. Siri answered my basic questions, like "who is the governor of New York" and "when in the next Phillies game." Anything more in-depth than that, and the silent virtual assistant proposes you "handoff" to your iPhone.
Apple's built-in timer let me set the timer for cooking and the laundry, without requiring me to take out my iPhone (which were in my other jeans).
Apple Watch review
Passbook worked flawlessly at the airport (although be prepared for the 'Early Adopter' syndrome when you try and check in at a desk where the attendant has no idea why you want to use your watch) and Apple Pay enabled me to buy food at McDonald's (for testing purposes) while I continued to play on my smartphone.
Apple Pay on a phone? That's so 2014.
We're still waiting for the payment to come to markets other than the US, with the UK set to receive the update sometime in 2015, so that function isn't going to be of use to everyone.
But a real USP of the Watch would be that runners who have left the phone at home can still get vital hydration or a ride home in an emergency thanks to the contactless capabilities of the Watch.
Well, that's if I'd ever use the Apple Watch as a standalone running device, which I'd struggle to at the moment (more on that later).
There's no camera on the Apple Watch, but it doesn't have a Camera Remote app that let me snap photos remotely in conjunction with my iPhone's iSight camera. That was handy, unlike the actual Photos app, which was a tiny way to look at your photos from the phone.
Apple Watch review
The watch isn't a particular visual experience and it's restricted by its 8GB of internal storage (with about 6GB available), with Music running into the same dilemma, so controlling your iPhone's music collection is a better choice.
That said, you can pair a set of Bluetooth headphones and tell your iPhone to shove some of your playlists over to the Watch. However the most you can have on there is 2GB of music (which you have to change from the 1GB default) so this is no iPod replacement.
It's good for music when you're out running though, and is a nice touch from Apple letting you choose between the phone and Watch for audio pleasure.
Apple Watch review
Apple Maps on Apple Watch let me navigate the streets of New York City without forcing me to foolishly take out my iPhone at every new turn, like a tourist. The iPhone app also opened up in my pocket, just in case I needed to change up the directions or see the route in full. No, there sadly isn't a native Google Maps app here and no metro directions. Maybe with iOS 9.

Calls and messages

Calling someone through an Apple Watch isn't the most ideal way to talk to chums, especially in a noisy environment. It sounds like a speaker phone with a little more static. But it works well in an otherwise quiet location or when your phone is two floors above you.
The Apple Watch side button leads to a dedicated "favorite contacts" menu, which let me text and call my friends and family.
Apple Watch review
I found sending a speech-to-text transcription a bit easier on the Apple Watch than any Android Wear watch. Apple's way of doing it doesn't rudely cut me off and hurriedly send a broken text message when I stop mid-sentence. I actually get to think about what I want to say. I value that distinction.
Apple Watch review
Apple Watch users have the added bonus of including very simple sketches and attention-grabbing taps to other Watch owners using the timepiece's Taptic feedback vibration. Heartbeats can also be exchanged for what may be the weirdest / creepiest Apple Watch feature.
Apple Watch review
It's novel at first, but after receiving my tenth heartbeat from the same few People Watch owners, it has become fairly annoying.

Third-party apps

Apple Watch apps from developers are hit or miss when it comes to design and performance. I can request a car with Uber, receive breaking news alerts from CNN and track my lost wallet with the Title app on Apple Watch. But many of them are read-only apps. Instagram is here, but you can only see a few recent posts and comments are limited to emojis at the moment.
Twitter, the New York Times and Nike+ Running made the jump to Apple Watch, but a number of other essential third-party apps are missing, at least in native form. This includes Facebook, Google Maps and the iOS Gmail app, which forced me to switch back to Apple's default mail app.
Apple Watch review
Sure, Facebook main app notifications pop up on the watch, as do emails snippets from the Gmail app, but seeing anything beyond "Lily posted a comment on your timeline" or reading the full email requires an iPhone for now. Worse, getting two Facebook comments or emails makes it even more vague.
"You have two messages." That's less than helpful, Apple Watch. Thanks. This is unlike Instagram's native app or Apple's built-in Mail app with interactive controls on the wrist.
Many third-party apps need to load faster and include finer controls that go far beyond "Show App on Apple Watch." This is up to developers and over time I'm sure some really great apps will begin to appear that take advantage of this new tech location.

Running and fitness tracking

Apple Watch isn't a fitness band, watch or fashion accessory, despite taking a bit from each of those camps. It's hard to define what it really is, which means that users may struggle to justify the purchase.
What has saddened me in the time since launch is finding out that Apple won't be selling it properly into the health market. Apparently early tests to add in a stress sensor and blood pressure monitor failed, (beautifully partly because of hairy arms) so the Apple Watch - at least version one - will be a cut down version of what it could have been.
Apple Watch review
The fitness tracking is comprehensive (in as much a fitness tracker can be) in that it wants you to exercise for 30 minutes per day, stand for at least a minute for 12 hours and burn enough calories every 24 hours. It'll also tell you steps and distance travelled, which is a staple of the tracker.
But like these trackers, it's pointless. I'm not saying that it doesn't help clue you in on sedentary habits, but nearly every person who isn't already active, but would like to be, will go through these phases: jumping to attention whenever the Watch tells them to stand, poring over their data to see how well they've done and making sure all the rings get filled.
Apple Watch review
Until the day they don't. Then a sense of guilt wanders in. So our hero promises to redouble their efforts, walking further the next day to make up for it. Except they inevitably slip again and then guilt roars higher. Then it's a couple of days with unfilled rings, and the nudges from the Watch become unfriendly. Why have you bought something that's telling you that you're not fulfilling your goals all day long?
The Watch also constantly told me to stand up just minutes after sitting down, which gave me very little trust in the app.
I know this is an extreme case, and many people are capable of ignoring the messages, but that misses the point. While a device that can act like a coach is good, if it was a person the goals would change each day. They'd be linked to a challenge, would increase or vary over time – it would give victory to this gamification.
And that's the very, very big problem I have with the Apple Watch when comparing it to a running watch: it's far too basic to be considered a rival to a Garmin or Polar device, and for the new user it doesn't have any way of helping you get fitter.
Starting up the Workout app and you've got a pleasing amount of options to choose from, with elliptical and rowing machines bound to attract those people that "always mean to use them things at the gym."
Apple Watch review
But running is the main focus, with Apple joining up with Christy Turlington-Burns to show how she trained for the London Marathon using the Apple Watch.
Perhaps she honestly did the entire time, but she would probably have wished for a more in-depth device during the training. The Apple Watch will ask you how many calories you wish to burn, how far you'd like to go or how long you'd like to run for (or just an open-ended goal) and then off you pop, with rings appearing to let you know how close to your goal you are.
Apple Watch review
But that's it. And it's up to you to improve, with "beating your best time / burn / distance" the only thing the Apple Watch will let you do. If this is for the beginner then it should be giving you different workouts to keep things interesting, helping you progress to improved running power.
There are so many apps out there which can do the same thing, so why can't Apple nail this area? There's also the fact GPS isn't on board, so unless the phone is tethered you won't get accurate data.
Actually, even with the phone in a bag, pocket or pouch the GPS is still a little on the generous side, compared the Garmin Fenix 3 which I tested against. Over a 5KM run, the Garmin was a shade under the distance, but Apple added another 160m onto the distance.
Apple Watch review
The heart rate monitor is also not up to the task. It needs a much tighter fit than the Watch seems to be able to offer and when running, and checking to see how hard I was working, the monitor constantly showed a much higher BPM than the chest strap was showing.
This means users will get erratic results, and it's not possible to tell when you're overtraining and the heart rate soars at low levels of exercise, which again makes the Apple Watch not great for training if you don't invest a little.
One thing that did impress me is that it can connect to sensors, so adding in a heart rate monitor like the Wahoo Tickr X, which can connect to nearly every device going, which instantly improved the health chops of the Apple Watch.
But having to fork out to improve a certain area when you've already paid so much for the Watch isn't going to impress everyone.
Apple Watch review
You can use other apps here but they won't work without the phone connected, which again makes them slightly redundant. That said, for those running with a phone religiously bandaged to their arm (which is a lot of people) the second screen on the wrist is a really nice addition, opening up your pace and distance info in real time when before you wouldn't know anything until you finished your jaunt.
All this leaves me feeling like the Apple Watch 3 will be a brilliant running watch, when there are enough sensors and apps from third parties can use them to bring all the power of their standalone devices to the wrists of people who don't really care about running, Trojan Horsing a clever running plan into their lives.
But for now, it's hard to recommend the Watch as a fitness device unless all you want to do is be poked to stand up once in a while.


Apple Watch review
The constant question I had when writing this review is: what's the Apple Watch actually for? It's one thing to get one in for a review, another when you've got no reason to buy one other than it looks a bit fancy.
The Apple Watch both surprised and disappointed in that respect, with some things impressing me with their intuition (being able to add in heart rate monitors was a nice touch, and the overall polish of the interface on the OLED display wasn't something I was expecting from a first gen product).
Some things didn't work as well as I'd have liked (I was surprised that the interface was so fiddly for an Apple product) but they were relatively few.

We liked

The overall look and feel of the Apple Watch, as with most products from Cupertino, was a major plus for me. The last thing you want is a watch that you have to apologize for visually just so you can find out when Ebay has found some things you might like to bid on without having to get your phone out of the pocket.
Having used a number of smartwatches over the last two years, there's something about the slickness of the Apple Watch that appeals. Yes, it doesn't do a huge amount right now, but no smartwatch does, and Apple is primed to get the best of the developers' produce - in just the same way as the iPhone and iPad did - to get the apps that will really supercharge the Watch.
Apple Watch review
And once you've bought the Watch and got over the high price, it is a genuinely useful thing to have around at times. Being able to check when you've got a message or see who's calling and be able to make snap decisions feels like the future, especially when exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn't easy.

We disliked

The Apple Watch feels exactly like you'd expect it to: a first attempt. Apple's fused its own design ethos with the limited technology around at the moment to make a compelling smartwatch - but it's still a smartwatch, a device that doesn't really have an easy answer when your pals ask 'So, what's so good about that?'.
The fact the time isn't always showing on the face isn't brilliant either - while the wrist raise is among the most infallible I've encountered, there are still times when I'm lying down, want to know the time and have to tap the watchface to find out.
Apple Watch review
When the old technology beats the new, that's where a problem needs to be solved.
And while I find it hard to even bang the 'Apple has made a product that costs more than it should' drum again, this is still a very expensive luxury. You don't need it in the same way a smartphone is a necessity, and unlike the iPad, it's more expensive than the competition by some distance.
The fitness angle feels underpowered at the moment too - there's a lot of potential there, but the Apple Watch is not something I'd recommend to anyone that's serious about getting into shape... unless they're desperate for all the other elements this device offers too.

Final Verdict

For iPhone users desperate for a smartwatch, the Apple Watch is perfect for you. It relays some iOS apps and all notifications to my wrist without requiring me to constantly pull out and unlock my phone, and that's a nicely convenient thing to have.
This concept is going to become more useful when the hype dies down and new apps emerge, as the best smartwatches work better as an unexciting fashion piece or fitness tracker that fades into the background.
That contrasts with an iPhone or an iPad that you constantly pull out to play with in an idle few minutes, and ironically by being better connected with the Watch you'll hopefully start to rid yourself of the smartphone addiction. If you're asking why it can't play YouTube or take photos, you're really missing the point.
It's a time-telling and time-saving convenience, though one that still requires a nearby iPhone and a hefty sum to buy. The Apple Watch price is rightfully getting mixed reviews from fans. That's why I ultimately recommend the cheapest aluminum Apple Watch Sport with another band for the moments when you want to look more 'grown up'.
It has same dimensions, functionality and battery life as the pricey steel and gold models and when you look lustily at the inevitably improved Apple Watch 2, you won't lose as much money when you stuff this one straight on Ebay.

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Hands-on review: Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac
Hands-on review: Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac
Virgin Media has been upgrading its user speeds (and cost of services) almost on a yearly basis. It also regularly updates the router shipped to new customers (and existing savvy customers who might look for a new one) but, as is the case with most vendor-sourced routers – like the BT Home Hub 5 or TalkTalk Super Router – you won't be able to buy one as it remains the property of the service provider for the entire duration of the contract.
So meet the Super Hub 2ac, a rebadged Netgear wireless router, the biggest claim to fame of which is its maximum theoretical download speed of 1.3Gbps, achieved thanks to the 802.11ac protocol. The device has been drip-fed to select Virgin Media customers for at least six months and your best bet, should you want to grab one as a Virgin Media customer, would be to give them a call.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2AC rear


The Super Hub 2ac looks almost identical to the Super Hub it replaces. It stands vertically as a black monolith (you can't wall mount it) with four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back (the USB port is inactive) and a power button. You won't be able to connect any peripheral or storage device to it unfortunately.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac front
A WPS button is located at the front with LED status lights to indicate 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi activity, network traffic, cable connection and power.
Flip the router over and you find a sticker with default SSIDs and passwords for the two radios along with other security details.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac bottom
Connecting to the Super Hub 2ac is a straightforward process – you will need to activate your line again, a step that is clearly explained in the self-install package that accompanied my router. I also checked that the firmware was the latest one (v1.01.11).
You can use both radios at the same time, and with a combined five internal antennas (two for 2.4GHz, and three for 5GHz), the router offers a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 1300Mbps.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac interface
Accessing the control panel of the Super Hub 2ac provides you with a fairly basic set of features. You can disable wireless functionality (using it as a modem only), tweak the security mode, change the SSID and the password, tinker with the channel settings, as well as altering port characteristics and filter down to IP/MAC address.
You can also set up your own DMZ address as well as adding two guest networks per wireless channel (so four in all) and locally administered MAC addresses.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac top
Virgin Media did a great job of providing all the necessary information in a well-packaged box. You can even reuse the latter to send your old router (remember it is a leased one) back to them when you're done.


Measuring the performance of such a device is a bit of a red herring given that: (a) your download speeds will depend on a bewildering array of variables; (b) only Virgin Media broadband users will be able to get the Super Hub 2ac; (c) a router is unlikely to be the crucial deciding point between competing broadband services; (d) you can always use it as a modem and use an external router if that fits your needs better.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac angle
Just bear in mind that up to 20 concurrent Wi-Fi devices can be connected to the hub before experiencing a marked deterioration in your user experience according to Virgin Media, although your mileage will of course vary.
That said, if all you want to do is surf, the Super Hub 2ac is fast enough based on my anecdotal testing. I did reach speeds in excess of 150Mbps when testing the device via (I sat next to the router). My line speed is rated at 152Mbps. I didn't connect the device to a NAS or any storage devices to carry out file transfer tests, nor did I overload the hub with multiple devices running concurrently.
Virgin Media Super Hub 2ac plug

Early verdict

Virgin Media's router is simple to install, so much so that the company offers it as a quick-start, self-install option which works well if you're an existing customer. The device itself is a bit of a let-down but that's to be expected – after all, the company is not expected to provide customers with a first-class router with bells and whistles. Instead, they went for a just-good-enough option, the one chosen by the rest of the competition (TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet, BT, etc).
Like all branded routers, you can't buy the Super Hub 2ac (where would you use it anyway?) and if you are not happy with its performance, you can always get a cheap wireless router to supplement it.

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Google's new Nexus set to continue the phablet theme
Google's new Nexus set to continue the phablet theme
Google's Nexus phone launches have never really followed the schedule of other companies, so while we've seen a lot of high-profile handsets make their bow in the first half of 2015, this year's Nexus has yet to appear.
When it does show up, we're expecting Huawei to be the company behind the phone, and a well-informed Chinese analyst has just joined up a few more dots in regards to what's in store.
He says the new Nexus will feature a 5.7-inch display with a QHD (1440 x 2560 pixel) resolution. It's also going to come with the Snapdragon 810 installed, according to people with the inside track on Google's plans.

5, 6 or 7?

Exactly where this fits into the Nexus line-up isn't very clear. Some rumours suggest the Huawei phone will be a replacement for the Nexus 5 while others say it's the successor to the Nexus 6. We've also heard whispers of a second top-end Nexus coming this year made by LG.
With a 5.7-inch screen the Huawei Nexus would fit right between the 4.95-inch display of the Nexus 5 and the 5.96-inch display found on the Nexus 6. It looks like fans of small displays are going to be out of luck.
Of course the Nexus 7 name is already taken so Google's going to have to do some imaginative thinking to come up with a new numbering system - or perhaps it will just keep the 5, 6 and 7 names in place and release new versions every year or two.
Via PocketNow

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10 of the best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs
10 of the best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs


Caine intro slide
Linux distributions can be separated into various categories based on use case and the intended target group. Server, education, games and multimedia are some of the most popular categories of Linux distros.
For security conscious users, however, there's a growing niche of distros aimed at protecting your privacy. These distros help ensure you don't leave a digital footprint as you go about navigating the web.
However, for the truly paranoid, privacy distros are only one part of the equation – and the greater part of that equation involves penetration testing distros. These are distros designed for analysing and evaluating network and system security. These efforts feature a vast array of forensic tools to help you test your configured systems for potential weaknesses.
In this article, we've highlighted 10 of the best privacy and pen testing distros.


This Ubuntu-based distro is designed for pen testing. With the lightweight XFCE as the default window manager, Backbox is incredibly fast.
The software repositories are constantly updated to provide you with the latest stable version of the included tools, which can help you perform web application analysis, stress tests, vulnerability assessment, privilege escalation and much more.
Unlike most other distros that feature a vast array of applications, Backbox makes a conscious effort to avoid redundancy. You'll only find the best possible tool for each specific task or purpose. The tools are sorted into well thought out categories that make them easy to spot.
The project's wiki offers a quick introduction and usage options for many of the included tools. Although primarily designed as a pen testing distro, Backbox also features Tor, usually found in privacy distros to help you hide your digital presence.


Arguably the most popular pen testing distro, based on Debian Wheezy, Kali is developed by Offensive Security Ltd and is a rewrite of its earlier incarnation known as BackTrack Linux.
Available as 32-bit and 64-bit images, you can run Kali off a USB stick or CD, or even install it to disk. The project also supports the ARM architecture and can be run on Raspberry Pi, and it features hundreds of pen testing tools. The default desktop is Gnome but Kali lets you build a custom ISO if you'd rather work with another desktop environment. This extensively customisable distro also allows users to modify and recompile the Linux kernel to their exact requirements.
Kali's popularity can also be gauged by the fact that it's a supported platform for MetaSpoilt Framework, a tool that lets you develop and execute exploit code against a remote machine.


Available for 32-bit and 64-bit machines, Pentoo is a pen testing distro that's based on Gentoo Linux. Existing Gentoo users can optionally install Pentoo, available as an Overlay, on top of their Gentoo installation. The XFCE-based distro supports persistence, so when running off a USB stick, all changes you make will be saved for future sessions.
The included tools are divided into some 15 different categories such as Exploit, Fingerprint, Cracker, Database, Scanner, and so forth. Being based on Gentoo, the distro also inherited the Gentoo Hardened feature set, which allows additional security configuration and control of the distro itself. You can use the Application Finder utility to quickly locate particular apps nested inside the different categories.
As the distro is based on Gentoo, there's some amount of work involved in getting your network card and so on to work. When booting, choose the Verify boot option and configure all your devices.

Security Onion

Security Onion
Based on Ubuntu, this distro is designed for intrusion detection and network security monitoring. Unlike penetration testing distros that you can think of as offensive security distros, Security Onion is more of a defensive distro.
That said, it features many of the offensive tools found in pen testing distros in addition to a number of network monitoring tools such as Wireshark packet sniffer, Suricata intrusion detection software, and others.
Along with XFCE, the distro also provides most of the essential apps featured in Xubuntu to function as a regular desktop. Security Onion is not intended for hobbyists and a certain level of familiarity with network monitoring and intrusion detection is a must to be able to work with the complex apps on offer. Thankfully, the project regularly features guides and video tutorials to help users make the most of the included software.


Caine is an acronym for Computer Aided INvestigation Environment. Available as a Live disk, the latest edition of the distro is based on Ubuntu 14.04 and uses SystemBack as the installer. It can be run from the hard disk, once installed, or even as Live USB or CD. The distro strives to provide a user friendly interface and features a host of tools to aid in system forensics.
It stands out from its peers because of some of the included tools such as rbfstab, a utility that safely mounts plugged devices as read-only for forensic examination.
In addition to a large number of memory, database and network analysis applications and various other forensic tools, Caine also features all the other popular apps found in most desktop distros such as browsers, office tools, email clients, etc.


With a Gentoo derivative on our list, how can Arch be far behind? Described as a lightweight expansion of Arch Linux, BlackArch is available as an installable Live image – but Arch users can install BlackArch on top of their existing installation. The project recommends using the dd command to create a Live USB and not UNetBootin.
The default login for the live session is root:blackarch. At over 4GB, the distro ships with the choice of several different window managers such as Fluxbox, Openbox, Awesome, etc.
Unlike the other pen testing distros, BlackArch is also an adept privacy distro. In addition to the many forensic tools, the distro also offers anti-forensic tools, such as sswap and ropeadope to securely wipe the contents of the swap and the system logs respectively, and many more tools designed to ensure your privacy.

Parrot Security OS

Parrot Security OS
Developed by Frozenbox, an Italian network dedicated to IT security and programming, like BlackArch this Debian-based distro can be used for penetration testing or for maintaining privacy. And also like BlackArch, Parrot Security OS is another rolling release distro. The default login for the live session is root:toor.
The installable Live image offers several boot options such as persistence mode and even encrypted persistence. In addition to the forensic tools, the distro also features several anonymity tools and even cryptography software.
The customised Mate environment presents a very slick looking desktop and Parrot is blazingly fast even on older machines with only 2GB of RAM. The distro features several niche utilities such as apktool, which is used to re-engineer Android APK files.
For privacy conscious users, there is a special category under Applications, labelled anon surf, from where users can enable anonymous surf mode (which uses Tor) with a single click.

JonDo Live-CD/DVD

A Debian-based distro designed specifically for surfing anonymously, JonDo is an anonymising proxy available for various platforms including Linux, BSD, Windows and Mac. The live distro offers users the option of using the JonDo or Tor proxy to protect their privacy online.
The included applications, where possible, are all pre-configured to allow for anonymity. For instance, Pidgin is configured for anonymous instant messaging. The distro includes several different IM clients such as Pidgin and TorChat, and also privacy-enabled browsers like JonDoFox and TorBrowser.
The project hosts a forum board, wiki and various tutorials to help you make the most of the anonymising tools included with JonDo.


Based on Fedora, Qubes is an install-only distro that strives to provide security through isolation. The distro relies on Xen to create isolated virtual machines for the different desktop functions. Each virtual machine only has access to services that it needs to perform the designated function, thus limiting the potential security threat. Despite all that virtualisation wizardry, Qubes offers a coherent and streamlined desktop.
To install the distro, you must follow the instructions offered on each step of the text-based anaconda installer (which you can see in the image above). The distro gives you the choice of installing Qubes with KDE, XFCE, or both.
While Qubes offers the choice of standard partitioning and LVM, on our test machine the install only worked if we chose the third option: BTRFS. The installation process is complicated, especially in the age of graphical installers, but the effort yields an incredibly secure distro.


As with JonDo Live, Tails Linux also ships with a number of internet apps pre-configured for anonymity. You can use the persistence mode to store settings and files for future sessions when running Tails from a USB drive. Indeed, according to the project's website, you can even run Tails from an SD card.
By default the distro uses the Tor network to anonymise all internet traffic, be it web browsing, email or IRC and instant messaging. Tails wipes all traces of your activity from the disk and uses top-of-the-line cryptographic tools to encrypt all files, emails and instant messaging.
Several important add-ons like AdBlock Plus, NoScript and others are enabled by default in the Tor-enabled Firefox. The latest release ships with Electrum Bitcoin wallet and lets you camouflage the system to resemble Windows 8, along with the usual tricks like spoofing the MAC address.

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5 things Hololens does that even Iron Man can appreciate
5 things Hololens does that even Iron Man can appreciate

Welcome to the future

Microsoft HoloLens
Imagine a world where impressive, immersive eye-candy doesn't stop as soon as you step away from your computer screen. A place where smartphones exist but they're actually considered low-tech compared to the augmented reality-powered goggles you wear from dawn until dusk.
This is the world Avengers' Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, lives in, but more and more his world and our world are converging.
The one technology getting us closer to Iron Man-status? Microsoft HoloLens.
Of course, as exciting as it is, HoloLens can't quite help us live like Tony Stark yet. Microsoft has shown off some nifty use cases for HoloLens, but the reality of the AR viewer is that it's still a work in progress.
So instead of taking this feature as a hard-and-fast "HoloLens is the future, right now!," treat it as a side-by-side comparison of all the eye-candy from the Iron Man and Avengers movies and the best HoloLens demos that left me drooling and buying a ticket on Microsoft's hype train.
So, how is HoloLens going to make us into Iron Man? Here's five ways.

By controlling a robot remotely

HoloLens controls a robot
When Microsoft rolled out a two-bit robot as part of its developer conference keynote last week, I had my doubts. How was a rolling stick, encased in LEDs and seemingly useless sensors going to change engineering?
Then, before I could ponder it any further, the robot sprouted a head and said, "Holo World." The head, of course, was a virtual one, only capable of being seen by the presenter wearing the HoloLens.
Using only touch gestures to plot movement paths and adjust settings using a somewhat basic interface that, most likely, would make Tony cringe if he ever saw it, the presenter moved the animated robot around the stage to the audience's delight.
Now, admittedly, a small, motorized stick with sensors isn't as cool as the Iron Man suit, but the idea of controlling a robot using Microsoft's new visor is actually pretty rad.
What did it look like in Iron Man?
Tony Stark controls Iron Man

By diagnosing a problem with a human body

HoloLens human body
Evolution has done wonders for the human body. From a highly specialized brain to the feedback mechanisms that dictate the release of hormones and start chemical reactions, the human body is no stranger to enhancements.
That said, at the end of the day we're still bags of meat - systematically flawed and bound by an expiration date. It's good, then, that technology has come a long ways in the past few hundred years and now allows us to diagnose more diseases more readily than ever before.
Microsoft may have shown us the future of the healthcare field at Build when presenters pulled up an anatomically detailed human figures they said could help medical students learn by seeing where organs are, how they function and visualizing broken bones.
Again, not as cool as when Tony Stark pulled up a real-time version of the gold and crimson suit, but still very cool.
What did it look like in Iron Man?
Tony Stark Hologram Iron Man

By designing a vehicle

HoloLens designing a vehicle
Manufacturing is tricky. Parts need to come together in exactly the right way to produce a working, efficient and ultimately safe product.
The HoloLens demonstrated its ability to help automotive engineers cobble together the motorcycles of the future using augmented reality.
The finished result, a neon-green bike clearly inbound for Neo from The Matrix, may not be the pinnacle of eye-catching design, but it does make for a cool demo for engineers tired of seeing their designs on a computer screen.
What did it look like in Iron Man?
Tony Stark designing a car

By making international video calls

Windows HoloLens
Even the best entrepreneur/playboy/engineer needs to make a phone call every once in a while to keep business afloat.
Using the Windows 10 Universal Skype app, the HoloLens can connect you with friends, family and even potential business partners from around the world while beaming their faces onto any surface in your house.
Whether you use the technology to talk face-to-face with an arch-nemesis hacker who's sworn vengeance against you and your entire corporation, or simply to wish Mom a happy Mother's Day, however, is up to you.
What did it look like in Iron Man?
Tony Stark phone call

By creating a three-dimensional map

Microsoft HoloLens
OK, so recreating a map in Minecraft may not have the same kind of impact that saving the city from a gang of auto-piloted kill-droids has, but it's still pretty nifty.
Microsoft clearly set out to show how HoloLens can apply to nearly every field, from enterprise to entertainment. For gamers, we see this in the form of Mojang's loveable, moddable and all-around-brain-building open-world game, Minecraft.
Using the HoloLens you'll be able to walk around the map, creating structures and terraforming the land however you see fit.
Overall, it feels a bit rudimentary to use an insanely powerful machine to display a game as simplistic as Minecraft, but this is only a small window of what gaming could look like with a truly powerful AR device.
What did it look like in Iron Man?
Iron Man 3D Map

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Official: Canon spots a problem with the 750D/760D
Official: Canon spots a problem with the 750D/760D
We've been following a story first reported by Roger Cicala of US camera hire company LensRentals on DP Review, who says he had to return some samples of a batch of Canon EOS 750D/Rebel T6i and 760D/Rebel T6s cameras due to defects in the sensor unit.
Canon EOS 750D/760D
These took the form of sensor spots across the whole sensor area – but these were within the multiple layers of the sensor stack and not on the surface. The spots are not immediately visible but can be seen with an angled light.
Canon Rebel T6 sensor spots
Like regular sensor spots, it seems they become more prominent in images taken at small lens apertures – this increases the depth of focus at the sensor plane and makes out-of-focus spots on the sensor, or in this case within it, become more clearly defined.
This story has been widely circulated since Cicala first reported his findings, but now Canon has made it official with a 'proactive' Product Advisory Notice on its US website.
Canon says the fault is caused by 'optical irregularities' within the sensor design and confirms the appearance of 'dark circular patterns' under 'certain shooting conditions'.
The company says it's possible to check if a camera is affected using its serial number and an identifying mark on the battery cover:
Identification Procedure:Serial Number: [XXnnnnnnnnnn]
EOS Rebel T6s: If "XX" is "01" or "02", the phenomenon described above may occur.
EOS Rebel T6i: If "XX" is "01" or "02", the phenomenon described above may occur.
"n" represents any digit.
NOTE: If the battery cover contains the marking illustrated below, the camera is NOT affected by the phenomenon described above even if the first and second digits of the serial number are of the numbers mentioned above.
Canon Rebel T6 sensor spots
Canon says affected cameras will be inspected and repaired. This information is for Canon US customers. Canon owners in different territories should check with their local Canon Customer Support Center.
We've just posted our own hands on reviews of the EOS 750D/Rebel 6Ti and 760D/Rebel 6Ts cameras and saw no obvious evidence of sensor issues with our samples.
Read: Canon EOS 750D/Rebel 6Ti hands on review, Canon EOS 760D/Rebel 6Ts hands on review

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Hands-on review: Updated: Oculus Rift
Hands-on review: Updated: Oculus Rift

Hands on at CES 2015 and GDC 2015

Update May 2015: We have a consumer Rift release date! Sort of.
Oculus revealed it plans to start shipping the Rift to the general public in early 2016. It also teased what Rift will look like when it starts arriving for customers. Pre-orders open up later this year, though we still don't have a price for the VR viewer yet.
Even more details are due in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to this space for more on Oculus Rift.
Oculus Rift
Hands on review continued below ...
Oculus didn't announce a new SDK or final build of the Rift during GDC 2015, but there was a new demo on the show floor that we tried out.
Still focusing on immersive experiences, the Rift took us into a scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo meets the fearsome Smaug for the first time. Except you're Bilbo.
With the dragon still hidden underneath the piles of gold, you can take the opportunity to get closer to the shiny trinkets all around you, like a conveniently placed helmet on a treasure chest nearby. Of course prodding it means you're just crazily poking the air in real life.
Then all of sudden, Smaug starts shifting causing rivulets of gold to fall towards you. At this point, not only are the VR visuals stunning making you want to greedily pocket the goods, but the sound of the clinking coins coming at you with 360 degree audio is starting to make you think twice about sneaking into a dragon's chamber - especially when Benedict Cumberbatch/Smaug starts telling you he can smell you.
The quick demo ends with you getting fried in a fiery inferno of dragon breath. The flames burst up from all directions making you really feel the heat and then the scene goes black. Morbid. But so deliciously fun.
It's not the awesome shoot out we experienced with Move controllers and Sony's Project Morpheus but if watching movies on the Oculus will be anything like this in the future, count us in.
Update CES 2015: We went hands on with the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype during CES 2015, however the demo was the same one revealed during Oculus Connect. The company has also continued to remain mum on the spec details of the latest audio equipped HMD.
Though the audio itself has a few new things under the hood. Specifically, a new Oculus Audio SDK will be part of the CV1 package. This means devs will be able to incorporate 3D positional audio for an even deeper immersive experience. The same SDK will be available for the Samsung Gear VR, another virtual reality venture Oculus is part of.
We've included a few photos of the CES experience and an interview with Oculus's Head of Mobile, Max Cohen where he explains the significance of adding sound to VR.
YouTube :
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
Update November 12 2014: There has been a recent 0.4.3 release of the Oculus PC SDK, which features Linux support, a number of performance and stability improvements and support for developing Rift content with Unity Free. Another PC update will be released this month, perhaps to coincide with the impending release date of the head mounted display.

Hands on Oculus Connect 2014

Oculus held its first ever Oculus Connect virtual reality conference in Hollywood on September 20, and the growing company used the opportunity to show off its newest Oculus Rift prototype: Crescent Bay. The lighter, more comfortable Crescent Bay Rift prototype has beefed-up specs and, for the first time, integrated headphones designed by the engineers at Oculus VR.
But unlike with past prototypes like DK2 or "Crystal Cove," Oculus is being less than upfront about Crescent Bay's specifications. They bumped the last headset up to 1080p, and Crescent Bay certainly appears to have an even higher resolution, but the company won't confirm as much.
That's because they want to focus on the Oculus Rift as a full package rather than as a simple amalgamation of its various components, all of which will no doubt change by the time the consumer version Rift - CV1, as the company refers to it - is finally ready.
Oculus Rift
"It's the combination of the resolution with the optics, with the mechanical engineering and industrial design of this thing, that allow for it to look like it's a higher resolution, even though it may or may not be," Oculus Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell told TechRadar. "The synergy of all the components together is what takes it up a notch."
What Oculus instead focused on with the Crescent Bay demos it showed off at Oculus Connect was the level of "presence" the Rift can make users feel under optimal conditions and with content designed specifically to be as immersive as possible.

Down with the Bay

Whereas every past official Oculus Rift demo took place with users seated, this time the company had journalists and other Oculus Connect attendees standing up and walking around with the headset strapped to their faces.
In interviews afterward, Mitchell and Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey emphasized that the stand-up Rift experience is not the experience that they're stressing for consumers, but was simply meant in this case to crank up the immersion as high as possible. Mitchell called this demo "conceptual," and Luckey said "the Oculus Rift is a seated experience. It's very dangerous to stand up."
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
As true as that may be - you probably shouldn't try walking blindly around your home while the Oculus Rift is tricking your brain into thinking you're on a different planet or in a submarine - the stand-up experience demonstrated with Crescent Bay at Oculus Connect was undoubtedly the most immersive and impressive virtual reality demo ever.
The experience consisted of about a dozen demos developed by Oculus's new internal content team. Luckey said these demos are the cream of the crop as far as what Oculus has developed, and many more experiences were scrapped or sidelined. Over several minutes they showed off a variety of potential Rift applications, eliciting a number of very different responses.

The demos

The Crescent Bay demos took place in a highly controlled environment: a small, empty room with four plain, grey walls. A camera - larger than the one used with Crystal Cove - was mounted on the wall, tracking users' positions as they walked around a small, black mat on the ground.
By tracking the Crescent Bay prototype's white-studded surface (these nubs are now located all around the headset, including on the back of the strap) this camera can accurately understand your position in the room, allowing you to walk around freely in virtual space. Not to get too dramatic, but it really is a mind-blowing experience.
The demos themselves consisted of several non-interactive environments, from a creaking submarine chamber to a sunny museum in which a life-sized (looked that way at least) T-Rex sniffs around and ultimately steps directly over you.
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
These short experiences lasted less than a minute each. One highlight took place at the top of a skyscraper in a steampunk, BioShock-inspired city. Standing up in that grey room, you could walk to the edge of the virtual roof and look down hundreds of feet to the traffic below. And as with the T-Rex's roar, the Crescent Bay Rift's attached headphones - technically stereo, but with simulated surround sound - made the experience seem all the more real with traffic noises, hissing wind and more.
That demo called to mind the Game of Thrones "Ascend the Wall" Oculus Rift experience designed by visual effects firm Framestore. Used by HBO at promotional events like the premiere of Game of Thrones' fourth season, Ascend the Wall put users inside an actual metal cage - replicating the elevator from the series - that rumbled and blew cold air at them as they virtually ascended to the top of the show's fictional 800-foot-high Wall.
The more points of feedback these demos are able to simulate, the more "presence" users feel, Oculus contends. These feedback points range from that feeling of cold air being blown in your face - which is not very practical - to ambient sound, which is practical - to something as simple as standing up, which is not ideal for every situation but nevertheless ramps things up considerably.
"You stand up, and suddenly your balance kicks in, and you're like, 'woah!' and you feel your weight shift subconsciously," Mitchell explained to us after the demo. "When you stand up suddenly [your subconscious] is totally engaged."
Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
All of these demos showed off the ways that standing up can enhance virtual reality. For example, within environments that appear small, like a tiny cartoon city or a sci-fi terrain map that could be used for a strategy game, walking around makes you feel like you're playing an Ender's Game-like simulation.
But one of the most fun demos involved simply standing and facing a curious alien on a distant planet. As the user bends down and moves around to better examine the alien, it does the same to the user, clucking in a strange tongue. You actually get the sense that it's talking to you, and it's easy to see how this type of interaction could be used to make video games better.
Yet another demo had you staring into a mirror, with your head represented by a floating mask. No matter how hard I tried or how fast I moved, I couldn't detect a shred of latency as the mask in the mirror reflected my every movement. Again, the grey room in which this took place was a more controlled environment than most people's homes, but it was nevertheless impressive.

Early verdict

The final experience - and the most game-like - showed off exactly how cool an Unreal Engine 4 Oculus Rift game might be. Futuristic soldiers shot at a hulking robot as it fired right back, explosions sending cars flying in slow motion as the point of view crept slowly down the street toward the machine. It felt natural to physically dance around, dodging incoming bullets and ducking under flipping vehicles, no matter how ridiculous I might have looked to onlookers who couldn't see what I was seeing.
This could legitimately be the future of gaming - if Oculus can figure out the input problem. Although many Oculus Rift demos have used an Xbox 360 controller, there's still no standard input device for Rift games. Like Crescent Bay's integrated audio, though, this is a problem Oculus is actively working on.
"There's a very real possibility that we would have come to the conclusion that audio is something we were going to leave to third parties," Luckey told us at the conference. "We came to the conclusion that we had to do it ourselves, and we had to do a good job, because it was so important to get right. I think input is in that camp."
That's just one of the problems Oculus needs to solve before the Rift is ready for consumers, and given that Crescent Bay is just the latest of many prototypes it's unclear when it will be. But when Oculus Rift CV1 is ready, it has the potential to change entertainment forever.

Hands on at Comic-Con and GDC 2014

Update: Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 is on its way to game makers and it's being used for by movie studios. We revised our hands-on review and added facts about its Galaxy Note 3 screen and Mac support.
Hands on impressions by Matt Swider and Alex Roth
As Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 starts shipping to pre-order customers, we got more face time with the virtual reality headset at PAX Prime and Comic-Con.
Codenamed Crystal Cove, the updated Oculus Rift DK2 costs $350 (about £207, AU$373). That's $50 (about £30, AU$53) more than the first-generation developer kit.
However, the improved specs make it well worth the price bump if you're a developer with a passion for cutting-edge technology and the patience for beta hardware.
The face-worn display outfits developers with an HD screen that's 1080p or 960 x 1080 per eye. It finally meets our next-generation gaming needs.
Believe it or not, the Oculus Rift DK2 display actually uses the 5.7-inch Super AMOLED panel from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Behind its rubber casing is same exact front panel, "Samsung" logo and all.
YouTube :
This makes sense. Oculus was rumored to be working with Samsung on the South Korean electronics giant's own virtual reality headset. Whether or not that pans out remains to be seen.
Despite both the physical and theorized Samsung ties, Mac compatibility has been added to the Oculus Rift DK2, making good on the start-up company's promise to support Apple machines. All five OS X game developers are rejoicing right now.
Oculus Rift DK2 drops the first interation's control box in favor of integrating the guts into the headset itself. Only a single cable - HDMI and USB woven together - dangls from your face.
The new kit also comes with a motion-tracking camera, which allows for greater movement within the world of the Rift. It looks a bit like a webcam, and a lot like a PlayStation Eye camera from the PS3 days.
It features a blue "on" light and an Oculus logo, but its true power isn't visible to the naked eye. It uses forty infrared LEDs on the headset to track your head movements and integrate them into the game. These LEDs were visible on the version we tried at CES 2014, but not anymore.
Oculus Rift review
In the demos we saw at GDC 2014, this meant players could lean in for a closer look at in-game objects and characters. These were the same demos we saw at CES, with the exception of a new one by Epic Games, which integrated the player into the game a unique way.
The game was a one on one battle between two sword and shield wielding avatars. It takes place in a living room, where players can see representations of themselves seated in the room, controller in hand. To keep an eye on the fight we had to swivel our head and crane our neck.
Oculus Rift review
The Rift was a surreal experience as always; when our opponent turned his head or leaned forward it gave his neck a stretched, snake-like appearance. And when one of the battling avatars leapt up onto your lap, you half expect to feel his little feet on your legs.
Oculus Rift review
If you've used the previous Rift, know that Crystal Cove is a night and day difference. The higher resolution makes all the difference in the world; it's like going from Skyrim on a four-year-old PC to one from last year.
Oculus Rift review
Note that we say last year; the Oculus Rift still isn't sporting visuals that you could call next gen. There are still jaggedly rendered objects, but the immersive nature of the experience trumps graphics any day, and is one you need to see to believe.
Oculus Rift review

Movies come to Oculus Rift at Comic-Con

Oculus Rift review
Comic-Con 2014 provided a different sort of experience - with entertainment at the forefront - and maybe one we can expect more of now that Facebook owns Oculus VR.
Both Twenty Century Fox and Warner Bros. were backing new Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 units at the cosplay-filled San Diego convention with demos for their X-Men and Into the Storm films.
The X-Men Cerebro Experience provided the more surreal experience as attendees slipped into the wheelchair and saw through the eyes of mutant leader Professor Charles Xavier. He, fittingly, donned the just-as-snug brain amplifying mutant detector Cerebro on his own head.
The concept involved seeking the shapeshifting mutant Mystique by looking 360 degrees in any direction. She was hiding in a Comic-Con crowd that was fictitious and barren - it would have been cooler if it used augmented reality here.
The actual hunt was automated and fairly boring, but Professor X's replica wheelchair at the Fox booth provided developers with the opportunity to predict the location of our limbs and torso. It accurately overlayed his body onto our own.
Obviously, this demo didn't call for much movement and that worked to the movie studio's advantage. It could easily trick your mind into thinking that the Professor's subtle finger tap on the armrest was your own with a "Wait, I didn't just do that!"
Oculus Rift review
Oculus Rift review
Into the Storm upped the energy level with simulated tornado winds inside a small glass both built by Warner Bros. Through the first-person perspective, we saw three characters hunker down behind a gated sewer entrance, truck-sized debris smash against its ironclad bars and pipes burst with gushing water.
It didn't have the advantage of a stationary wheelchair-bound character to map our bodies and there was no interaction whatsoever, but Warner Bros did aptly demo its new disaster movie with this terrifying scene recreation. It also messed up our hair.
Both X-Men Cerebro Experience and Into the Storm also gave us insight into how big-name movie studios intend to use Oculus Rift to invent new ways of enjoying theatrical experiences. Video games were just the beginning.

Hands on CES 2014

Oculus Rift gets more impressive every time we see it, and the futuristic virtual reality headset's appearance at CES 2014 was definitely no exception.
Since E3 2013 Oculus VR has gained impressive talent and raised an extra $75 million in funding, and the result is the Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype (named for a state park in southern California). It's significantly easier on the eyes than older versions of the headset and, by extension, closer than ever to the Rift's final, fully functional, consumer-facing form.
The two game demos Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell showed us in a private meeting room at CES were designed to showcase two new features: positional head-tracking and low persistence, both of which help make the virtual reality experience more immersive and address some users' complaints with the headset, including motion blur-induced nausea.
Oculus Rift review
The head-tracking is the most obvious improvement. The new white studs on the Oculus Crystal Cove prototype's face are indicators that communicate your head's position to a new external camera, mounted near your monitor. As a result the full movements of your upper body, not just the sideways and up/down movements of your head, are detected and translated to the game world.
That means you can lean forward while playing CCP Games' extremely impressive 3D space-shooting game EVE: Valkyrie, bringing your in-game face closer to your space ship's various monitors and switches so you can better read their warnings and instructions. Since the very first demo Oculus Rift has inserted players into virtual worlds, and with this addition it's a more immersive experience than ever.

Get low, low, low, low

Second and more subtle is the low persistence, which makes the Oculus Rift's somewhat notorious motion blur a thing of the past. Now the graphics remain more clear and sharp even when you move your head around rapidly. There's still a tiny amount of blurring, but it's a massive improvement over the previous version of Oculus Rift.
To prove it Mitchell turned low persistence off and then on as we moved around, and although the image became darker with it on, it almost totally alleviated what was previously one of the Rift's biggest issues.
EVE: Valkyrie
The tech behind the low persistence is somewhat complex, but Mitchell explained the gist of it. Essentially the new "Crystal Cove" Oculus Rift's OLED display has zero latency, so it takes the pixels no time at all to change color.
Even then, Mitchell said, there was some blurring, but Oculus alleviated it even further by programming the pixels to consistently but imperceptibly flicker on and off, only turning on when they have "good" data to display.
That new OLED display is also full HD 1080p, just like the prototype Oculus showed off behind closed doors at E3 2013. That of course helps as well.

Wizard Chess

We played EVE: Valkyrie at E3 2013 as well, though on the older, lower-resolution Oculus Rift. In 1080p, and with minimal motion blur and the new positional head-tracking, it was even more immersive now than it was back then - and that's saying something, because even that first time it was totally mind-blowing.
Piloting a space ship with an Xbox 360 controller while you look around the cockpit and target enemies with the motions of your head is one of the most impressive gaming experiences ever created. It feels like the first time you played Super Mario 64, or Halo, or Wolfenstein - completely fresh and like it has the potential to change the world of gaming. And right now it's only a demo.
Oculus Rift demon
The other software Oculus had at CES was a very basic defense game built by Epic Games in Unreal Engine 4. It's an evolution of one of the original Oculus Rift demos Oculus showed around - the one where users simply walked or floated around several beautiful but interaction-light Unreal Engine 4 environments, including a snowy mountain and the lava-filled lair of a scary-looking demon lord.
Now, that demon sits on his throne across from you, the player, he being your apparent opponent. Around you is his cavernous, fiery lair, and before you is something like a 3D board game with moving pieces. He sends tiny dwarves marching inexorably toward your goal, and you press buttons on the Xbox 360 controller to fire arrows, cannonballs and flamethrowers at them.
Oculus Rift review
There are two views: one overhead and one from closer to the game's level, almost like you're leaning down toward it to put on your thinking cap. And thanks to that positional head-tracking you can actually lean forward to peer into the game and examine the little dwarves up close. You can look into their faces as they're pinned with arrows and crisped with fire.
The experience of playing a game inside a game world is not unique to Oculus Rift. This little game, though still very basic, could conceivably be a mini-game within some epic, sprawling RPG. But like with everything else, playing it on Oculus Rift makes you feel like you're really there.

Early Verdict

Mitchell said the camera that enables the positional tracking may be only a temporary solution. But whatever Oculus settles on to make sure the final version of Oculus Rift features full six-point head-tracking will be included with the unit, whether that means bundling a camera in or something else.
There's still no projected release date or final pricing for the consumer product that the Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype will eventually become, despite rumors of a Christmas 2014 goal that Mitchell would neither confirm nor deny. And the conspicuous indicator lights on the Crystal Cove's front aren't final either, Mitchell revealed, even if they do look kind of cool.
Mitchell and his colleagues at Oculus VR seem to think the Rift still has a long way to go. That may very well be true, but the fact is the Oculus Rift is the coolest product in the world right now, and it gets better every time we see it.
Alex Roth and Matt Swider also contributed to these hands-on previews

Earlier previews

Update: It's E3 2013, and it's been several months since TechRadar last saw Oculus Rift. The virtual reality headset has undergone two major changes since January: a new prototype now comes with full HD 1080p visuals, and it's now got something resembling an actual video game.

Hands on impressions by Matt Swider and Alex Roth
We went hands on at the show to check out what's new with Oculus Rift, and we came away extremely impressed.

Catching snowflakes

Oculus VR is now using Epic's Unreal Engine 4 to demo its Rift headset. Specifically, the company is showing players the lava and snow demo that debuted in videos in late March. Wearing the standard-definition headset (similar to the one we saw at CES, but with an extra top strap for added comfort), we felt like we should be able to catch a snowflake with an open mouth when we looked up at the virtual sky.
It's that real-looking, and when we put on the brand new prototype HD Oculus Rift that sensation was only heightened.
Oculus Rift is incredibly immersive, and part of that is thanks to its true stereoscopic 3D. The two screens inside the goggles become extensions of your own eyeballs, and your brain quickly adapts to the point that you'll raise your arm and expect to see them in the game world. You can truly sense the world's depth, and despite knowing it's an illusion it feels very real.
Oculus Rift E3 2
We didn't experience any nausea, but we only used it for a few minutes. We did get a touch of vertigo as we looked down from the top of a virtual mountain, though.
The consumer version of Oculus Rift, which Oculus VR Vice President of Product Nate Mitchell said is coming in "months and not years," will likely come in HD like the prototype we saw at E3. As you can imagine it's absolutely a superior experience.
Mitchell was hesitant to divulge too many specifics, though, mostly because they're always subject to change. "We want to continue to improve the hardware," he said. "Display technology keeps getting better. Sensor technology keeps getting better. We're adding new features and things like that, a lot of which we haven't announced."
He said they want to keep the price point around $300 (about UK£191, AU$312), though.
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To infinity (and beyond)

The other big development in the world of Oculus Rift came not from Oculus VR itself, but from EVE Online developers CCP Games. The first development kits for the headset went out a few months ago, and in that time CCP built an impressive demo that they showed off at E3 this week.
In it players fly a spaceship using an Xbox 360 controller while the Oculus Rift tracks their head movements. This works incredibly well because just like when you're controlling a vehicle in real life, you can look around and move independently.
The multiplayer demo - which unfortunately is just that, a tech demo - allowed multiple players to fly around in a large outer space environment while shooting lasers and missiles at one another. We could shoot lasers straight forward while targeting other players above and to the sides of our ship by simply moving our head and visually targeting them.
Oculus Rift E3 3
The sense of space in this demo (no pun intended) was simply astounding. Tilting our head down, we could see our knees in the game; we found ourselves moving our arms and expecting our in-game avatar's arms to move as well.
That sensation caused some dissonance as our brain tried to differentiate the virtual body it was seeing from the body it's attached to. That could be solved with a Kinect-style sensor that tracked your arm movements used in tandem with Oculus Rift, though Mitchell said they don't have plans for anything like that.
The dev kits are out there, though, and it's not impossible. In fact, it seems we're just beginning to explore the possibilities of Oculus Rift, and if what we've seen so far is any indication then it's time to get very, very excited for what's in store.
Original article: Oculus Rift made headlines last year for its wildly successful Kickstarter project. The enterprise to create a commercially viable virtual reality headset raised $2,437,429, and at the pre-CES 2013 Digital Experience event, TechRadar got to experience Oculus Rift eyeball-to-eyeball.
The VR headset has been through several iterations, but the one we saw at CES was the most refined. It isn't perfect (and as we found out, it might not ever be perfect for some players) but it's undoubtedly superior to any previous attempts at a virtual reality display.
Instead of a clunky skull-encompassing helmet, Occulus Rift is more like a set of ski goggles, with room inside for small eyeglasses if you wear them.
Inside are two lenses, which each feed a separate 640 x 800 image to your eyeballs. Combined, they form a unified 1280 x 800 image.
Motion tracking means it responds to your head movements, as though you're looking around an actual 3D environment.
Oculus VR (the company behind Rift) showed off its remarkable new kit with the Epic Citadel demo - a standard video game input (in this case, from Xbox 360) in first-person view.
This plunged us into a medieval marketplace populated by humble townsfolk and knights in armour, with snow softly settling around us.

Wear it well

The first time we moved was rather perplexing and disorienting. It's almost like walking for the very first time.
However, the visuals seem extremely fluid and natural. And in less than a minute, we felt that Oculus Rift really could be the new face of playing games.
Unfortunately, not long after that TechRadar's motion-sickness susceptible reviewer began to feel something else. He was only able to tolerate ten minutes before nausea spoiled the party.
Oculus Rift
The time it takes for sickness to kick in appears to depend on the game's frame rate, camera system and other factors that have yet to be isolated.
But surprisingly, while Oculus VR's representatives say this initial reaction is common among first-timers, they also report that most (though not all) players subsequently become accustomed to the experience.

Early verdict

There is still no target release date for the final product, let alone price. At CES, two versions were shown: the somewhat rough prototype, which is covered by black tape; and the developer kit, which looks far more polished.
But whenever it appears, Oculus Rift seems set to mark a big shift in gaming. Clearly, though, there's work to do if the headset is to fulfill its potential - we can't see it becoming truly popular if it gets a reputation for making players sick.

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Apple may offer free trials of new Beats Music streaming service
Apple may offer free trials of new Beats Music streaming service
Apple may be catching some flack for putting the pressure on Spotify to abandon its free music streaming, but Re/code reports Apple's upcoming streaming service may offer a few gratis tunes of its own.
While Apple will fund its streaming service (presumably the Beats Music relaunch) through paid subscriptions, it does plan on offering a free trial period of up to 3 months long, though it's reported Apple won't ever offer an unlimited free music tier like Spotify does.
The report also says that Beats Music is taking a page from Soundcloud's book by adding a feature that lets users upload their own music, a unique tool that could separate it from the rest of the music streaming service pack.

More iTunes

We may also see a new version of iTunes Radio that benefits from the addition of human DJs (including the popular BBC jockey Zane Lowe) as well as four producers from BBC Radio 1, according to Music Business Worldwide. An improved radio function could elevate Beats Music to better compete with Pandora.
Although Spotify's free streaming was intended to eventually lead users to paid subscriptions, only a fourth of its users actually pay for the service - a fate Apple's trying to avoid.
If the rumors prove true, we'll see the company credited for pushing the $0.99 DRM-free MP3 file also credited with putting a permanent price on streaming. Though Apple's reach may ensure that it has some level of success, Tidal's similarly ambitious efforts have thus far been fairly muted.

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Review: LG Watch Urbane
Review: LG Watch Urbane

Introduction and display

Frankly, LG's first smartwatch didn't offer much. Though, its second, the LG G Watch R, has proved to be far superior despite being a bit plasticky. It seems like the third time's a charm for LG, with the LG Watch Urbane looking the sleekest of the bunch.
However, the Urbane is essentially a dressed up G Watch R with nearly identical dimensions and innards.
With more premium materials, the watch is, of course, going to cost more. Though at $349 (£259, AU$459) - the same price of the cheapest Apple Watch - it doesn't seem like LG is asking for too much. Still, you can pick up its predecessor for $100 less and pretty much have the same smartwatch.
Pricing aside, the Urbane has a distinct look that's certainly polished, but it's clearly been tailored for a certain demographic. Despite images of women sporting a variation of the Urbane, it looks like this watch was made for businessmen. This isn't a huge problem, of course, but good luck getting women interested in wearing a chunky piece of metal and leather that won't fit right.
The Urbane has the advantage of being the first Android wearable with the latest Lollipop 5.1.1 software. But again, the other smartwatches will get updated soon, meaning there's really nothing special about the latest LG timepiece save for its style.


LG Watch Urbane
The LG Watch Urbane sports a 1.3-inch P-OLED display (320 x 320, 245ppi) which matches the LG G Watch R to a tee. The Urbane is also a bit smaller than its rounded rival, the Moto 360, which comes in at 1.56-inches.
Like the G Watch R, the Urbane's screen is lovely to stare at but sometimes looks pixelated, depending on which watch face you plop on the front. I found the Classic face had the most pixelation on the dial. The moons on the Moonphase face also look a little blotchy.

Design and comfort

Where the G Watch R looks perfect for runners and outdoor enthusiasts, the Watch Urbane fits best in the world of suits and the modern day Mad Men types.
The Urbane has a clean, stainless steel body that allows you to change out its 22mm strap, should you wish to switch out the genuine stitched leather for something made of silicone, metal or even a different leather strap.
LG Watch Urbane
You can also choose between a rose gold or silver watch body, likely LG's attempt at drawing in a larger pool of potential female watch buyers. However, the material of the Urbane's body will do nothing to hide the fact that it's still gigantic and bound to dangle on slimmer wrists.
The Urbane's bezel has been thinned out and slightly flattened, instead of the sporty G Watch R's detailed dial that dipped slightly inward towards the face.
LG Watch Urbane
There are no buttons on the body of the Urbane, but a traditional watch crown has been placed on the right. It doesn't do much other than serve as a back button when pushed.
LG Watch Urbane
At 45.5 x 52.2 x 10.9mm, the Urbane's dimensions are nearly the same as the G Watch R's dimensions of 46.4 x 53.6 x 9.7mm. However, the Urbane is noticeably heavier at 66.5g compared the the G Watch R's 62g.


I wouldn't say the Urbane is entirely uncomfortable for everyone. But, as someone with tiny wrists, it just doesn't fit properly.
Even at the last strap hole, the Urbane remained a sad, colossal mess unsure of where to sit on my arm. I imagine it would be comfortable on more average sized wrists with the stock leather strap. Switching out the bands may help, but I can't help but think that the 1.3-inch display on a small wrist will look ridiculous no matter what.

Interface, apps and fitness

The Android 5.1.1 software installed on the LG Watch Urbane definitely puts it above the other Android smartwatches out there - but it's only a matter of time before most of them are outfitted with the update.
An always-on screen isn't a new feature, but 5.1.1 allows you to conserve battery life by displaying a partial watch face with less colors and detailing. Holding your wrist up will switch it back to the main watch face.
My personal favorite is the addition of hands-free gestures. You can flick your wrist toward you or away from you to skip through Google Now cards or dismiss them. It doesn't work as a method of reading through emails by scrolling down, though. Aside from this downside, the process is seamless and satisfying, especially after using the Apple Watch's extremely annoying system of dismissing notifications one by one.
Another big new feature is Wi-Fi support, which means the smartwatches with built-in Wi-Fi can connect to a network and still receive notifications, send messages and use any apps you want, even if your phone isn't nearby. However, your phone still needs its own Wi-Fi or LTE connection in order for the watch to work. It's been super handy with the Urbane, not having to worry about having my Android phone with me at all times around the house or office.
LG Watch Urbane
The previous Android Wear app interface was a huge, confusing mess, but thankfully it has been de-cluttered. With the new update, all you have to do is tap on the watch face screen or swipe left to see a cleaned up version of your app list. The three most recently used apps stay on top, while the rest are listed alphabetically underneath.
Keep swiping left to find your contacts, and another left-swipe will take you to the voice control screen where you can say "OK Google." A series of options are listed below the voice command to help give you ideas.
Lastly, you'll be able to draw out emoticons. Specifically, doodling an outline or random sketch will make the software determine what you were trying to draw, list out a bunch of options and then let you pick the correct one to send. It's not always perfect, but it works well enough. I tried drawing a bird face, and Android Wear thought I meant pizza, where a smiley face pulled up several different smiley emoticons.
LG Watch Urbane
I actually don't really see the point of this feature if you can't send the drawing itself, like Apple's sketchable messages. I do, however, like the variety and ability to send multiple emoticons in one message, compared to the Apple Watch's method of allowing only one emoticon message at a time.

Apps and fitness

Despite the majorly upgraded software, there's still nothing particularly ground breaking pre-installed on Android Wear. There's the standard compatibility with Google's apps: Agenda, Gmail, Play Music, Stopwatch Timer and Flashlight along with Amazon, Find My Phone, LG Pulse and checking your recent calls.
You can browse Amazon by vocally searching for an item, scroll through lists one thing at a time and then either purchase via 1-click buys or add to your wishlist.
LG Watch Urbane
Find My Phone calls your missing Android phone, which is pretty neat. LG Pulse keeps track of your heart rate by logging metrics and letting you tag them to differentiate between types of activities. Along with the Fit app, Pulse monitors your steps.
That's about it for stock Urbane and Google fitness apps. You can download more, but a few listed in the Android Wear store strangely don't even show up on the Urbane, so it can be a hit and miss situation.

Specs, compatibility, performance and battery life

The LG Watch Urbane is a timepiece that has all the normal specs you'd expect from an Android Wear device.
The 320 x 320p P-OLED 1.3-inch screen sits on top of a Snapdragon 400 chipset, clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. There's 4GB of onboard storage and the ability to install your own music on there as well for tunes without a phone.
The Urbane infuriatingly still doesn't come with GPS - LG's reasoning for this is that it will kill battery life. But given you'll get about 30 hours of use out of this watch between charges anyway, it seems like daily re-powering is the only way forward here. So, a little extra functionality couldn't hurt.
The heart rate monitor on the back, combined with the barometer and accelerometer inside, make it a good watch to use when walking out and about in the wild. Then again, there are many other devices that are equally as stylish and better suited to the task.
This watch is also only IP67 rated, meaning the Urbane is resistant to dust and water. In regards to the latter, the Urbane should remain operational even if gently submerged in a tank of still tap water at room temperature for about 30 minutes, up to a depth of 1 meter.
And, if you hadn't guessed already, the Urbane is only compatible with Android devices running Android 4.3 and later.

Performance and battery life

Interestingly, while switching between the various watch faces, the Urbane crashed and needed to reboot. I was pretty surprised that this little task could completely stop the watch, but it happened again later on when I was trying different apps.
It's quite possible the software has a few kinks to iron out - which is still disconcerting. But hopefully all the bugs will be squashed before the update hits the other smartwatches. For the time being, the Urbane seems stuck with a couple of crashes here and there.
LG Watch Urbane
The Urbane's 410mAh battery is the exact same power pack found inside the LG G Watch R. Both can last far longer than the pitiful Moto 360, but unsurprisingly can't make it as long as the Pebble Steel.
With emails, notifications, downloading apps and the usual testing, my Urbane lasted two days on a single charge - much like the G Watch R. This is slightly longer than the day and a half that my Apple Watch offers.
You'll also find the Urbane requires a familiar magnetic charging cradle. It's basically the same one the G Watch R uses. In fact, you'd think they could be interchangeable, but of course, they're not.


The LG Watch Urbane is a beautiful timepiece but it's twin, the LG G Watch R is pretty much identical. Knowing this, it's tough to outright recommend the Urbane for anyone other than the fashion obsessed.

We liked

The battery life of the Urbane isn't ideal, but it's far better than most other smartwatches. The design of the wearable is also a head turner, with its classic circular face and simple timepiece feel. The on-board Android 5.1 software is also a huge perk, thanks to its improved interface and new features.

We disliked

That same elegant design is also a bit irritating on another level - it's far too large. Sure, there are plenty of massive analogue watch faces that we're all used to seeing.
But, if a smartwatch is going to be marketed to both men and women, it would be wise to offer multiple size options, or at least something closer to a middle ground. The Urbane is also the most expensive Android Wear watch to date, but it doesn't exactly stand out from the G Watch R apart from its fancier looks.

Final verdict

The LG Watch Urbane is the watch you should get if you want a premium looking LG G Watch R. You'll basically be breaking out $349 (£259, AU$459) for a smartwatch you could have for $100 less.
Again, there's no doubt that the Urbane is a lovely-looking wearable, but when the Lollipop 5.1 update rolls out to the other Android smartwatches, there won't be much incentive to pay such a hefty chunk of change. In fact, while 5.1 brings significant improvements, it still doesn't make the Urbane a must-have wearable that can stand in for my mobile device. I still need my phone nearby for proper messaging and calls, plus a lot of apps still require the phone to even work right.
That said, if you're looking for a polished equivalent to the Apple Watch, the Urbane isn't a bad Android Wear smartwatch. However, you might be better off waiting for the next LG wearable. Having made it this far, LG's next could hit the sweet spot with an appealing design, affordable price point and perhaps a killer feature to really stand it out from the wearable crowd.

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In Depth: Google Project Fi plan vs AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint
In Depth: Google Project Fi plan vs AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint

Google Project plan price vs other US carriers

Google Project Fi is the search engine giant's plan to disrupt the high cost and ineffectiveness of US carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Never content with the status quo on this broader issue, the company has particularly focused on is making the internet more accessible and affordable in other ways. We've seen this through Android, which is currently the most popular mobile OS on the planet.
We're also starting to but surely see this through Google Fiber, which is currently in eight different US cities at a price millions of people are paying for a fraction of the speed.
Google Project Fi plan price vs ATT, Verizon T-Mobile, SprintThe move has shaken up local competition, forcing AT&T to offer affordable gigabit internet in Austin, and Time Warner Cable to do the same in Charlotte, North Carolina. These are just a couple examples, and where I used to live in Ohio, Cincinnati Bell began rolling out similarly priced gigabit internet in September 2014.

What is Google Project Fi?

Clearly, Google's master plan to force archaic models out is working, and with the announcement of Project Fi, it's wanting to further shake up mobile.
Google Project Fi coverage map
Launched on April 22, Project Fi is the tech giant's own wireless carrier. Running off of T-Mobile and Sprint's network and so far limited to Google's Nexus 6 phone, it's a no-contract carrier with a focus on Wi-Fi connectivity. If this sounds familiar, that's because Republic Wireless has been doing this since 2011 aside from also utilizing T-Mobile's network. Project Fi customers can make calls over Wi-Fi, and seamlessly transition over to cellular when stepping out of range.
Thanks to the Hangouts app, users can make calls or send and receive texts through their designated Project Fi phone number on tablets, desktops or laptops. However, where Google is particularly trying to make a splash is the pricing, and the fact you'll be credited for data you didn't use.
Also, similar to T-Mobile, users won't have to deal with extra charges when in another country. Currently, Google includes data access in over 120 countries, though it is throttled down to very blah 3G speeds.
We wanted to see how Project Fi's plans stack up to some of the major competition it's looking to influence: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Because of Project Fi targeting the individual user rather than family, we'll keep that in mind.

Google Project Fi plan price

Project Fi's plans are very straightforward, and start at a base price of $20 per month. For every gigabyte, you pay $10 per month on top of that.
Google Project Fi price comparison
For example, if you opt for and use 2GB of data, you'll pay $40 that month. However, if you only use up 1.5GB, you'll be credited $5. If you go over 2GB, you'll simply pay the normal rate of $10 per gigabyte.
Plans go all the way up to 10GB, and this includes being able to tether another device such as a laptop or tablet at no additional cost.


On Verizon, the well-hidden "single line plan" still exists and will run you $60 per month for 1GB of data or $75 per month for 2GB of data. Buying the Nexus 6 outright, 2GB of data on a single line plan will cost you $60 per month off-contract.
However, if you need more than 2GB of data, you'll need the More Everything Plan. It starts at $40 per smartphone per month, and 3GB will run you $50 per month.
Google Project Fi vs Verizon plans price
If you join Verizon Edge, you'll be paying $75 per month for 3GB of data instead of $90 per month, but that doesn't include the monthly payment of your smartphone spread over 24 months for the chance to upgrade earlier, and without upgrade fees. That's also the same you'll pay if you bought the Nexus 6 outright through Verizon.
Bringing your own phone, through Verizon's prepaid plan, you'll pay $60 per month for 2.5GB of data, and that includes unlimited talk and text. If you need more data, it'll run $10 for 1GB or $20 for 3GB.


AT&T's Mobile Share Value plans are very similar to Verizon's More Everything plans, and start at $25 per month for 1GB of data, plus $40 per month per smartphone.
Google Project Fi vs ATT plans price
3GB will run you $40 per month, and 6GB will run you $70 per month. At the 3GB level, you'll be paying $80 per month or $65 per month if you opt for the "Next" program, which also allows you to upgrade earlier by making monthly smartphone payments over 30 months.
However, if you were to buy the Nexus 6 upfront through AT&T, you'll pay $65 per month for 3GB of data off-contract. Data does rollover into the next month, so say you were to only use 2GB, you'll have an additional gigabyte the next month.
It's worth mentioning that through AT&T's GoPhone plan, by bringing your own phone, you'll pay $5 less per month, but have to get 4GB of data instead of 3GB.


Sprint is still shouting unlimited data from the rooftops, and an individual plan will run you $60 per month or $50 per month with the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.
Google Project Fi vs Verizon plans price
The same $60 per month applies if you were to purchase the Nexus 6 outright through Sprint.
Like Verizon and AT&T, if you want the chance to upgrade earlier without paying fees, this, again, doesn't include monthly smartphone payments.


T-Mobile also offers unlimited data at $80 per month, not counting the monthly cost of your smartphone since the carrier completely done away with contracts.
Google Project Fi vs T-Mobile plans price
However, if you don't need unlimited data, you can get 1GB for $50 per month, 3GB for $60 per month, and 5GB for $70 per month. Where other carriers will charge you if you go over your data allowance, T-Mobile will instead throttle you down to 2G speeds for the remainder of the billing period.
Announced back in December, Data Stash lets customers on the 3GB and 5GB plan rollover their unused data, and that unused data doesn't expire for up to a year. It's worth mentioning that T-Mobile doesn't count data used by a growing list of music streaming services, which could definitely work out in your favor.

Google Fi plans vs everyone else breakdown

The average US mobile subscriber consumes 1.8GB of mobile data per month, according to a report published by Mobidia in November 2014. Taking that into account, here's how much at least 2GB of data would run you across each carrier:
Google Project Fi plans price comparison
Monthly price for calls, texts and data:
Project Fi: $40 for 2GB, $50 for 3GB, $60 for 4GB, etc.
Verizon: $75 (2GB) on-contract or $60 (2GB) off-contract
AT&T: $80 (3GB) on-contract or $65 (3GB) off-contract
Sprint: $60 (unlimited) OR $50 for iPhone 6 or 6 Plus
T-Mobile: $60 (3GB) plus monthly smartphone cost
Project Fi is the clear winner in terms of pricing, though AT&T matches it at 4GB if you bring your own phone. We can't forget that Project Fi currently only works with the Nexus 6, which starts at $649 for the 32GB model. Thus, the off-contract pricing is a bit fairer match-up.
Although Verizon only charges $599 for the Nexus 6 32GB, at $60 per month you're only getting 2GB of data versus 4GB through Project Fi. While Sprint and T-Mobile offer the Nexus 6 at the same price you'll pay through Google, AT&T is a little less unreasonable charging $699.
For the average smartphone owner, Project Fi makes a lot of sense. You'll end up saving money over the long run compared to other carriers, and the fact it works with T-Mobile and Sprint's network will give you a little more peace of mind. Of course, depending on where you live, coverage might be a nightmare.
And right now, in its current state, Project Fi leaves a lot of customers off the table by only supporting the Nexus 6. A 6-inch display is simply too big for many people.
Project Fi, similar to Google Fiber, is in its early stages. More devices will be supported over time, and once Google can offer other smartphones at $399 or less, it could have a serious winner on its hands.

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Microsoft confirms there will be no Windows 11
Microsoft confirms there will be no Windows 11
Microsoft says that Windows 10 will be its final release of the iconic operating system that's installed on over 90% of computers.
"Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10," said Jerry Nixon, Microsoft's developer evangelist, at the Ignite tech conference.
Instead of releasing an entirely new and different version of its desktop OS every few years, Microsoft is taking an Apple-like approach to subsequent Windows releases, standardizing on Windows 10 as its Cupertino-based rival has done with OS X. Under this new strategy, Microsoft will deliver regular improvements to Windows through software updates.

Windows as a service

In the past, Windows users could go to a store, purchase a copy of Windows and install it on their PCs. With the release of Windows 10 this summer, Microsoft is radically changing the way users upgrade Windows.
For the first time, Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as a free upgrade to all Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users. Starting in July, for the first year of Windows 10's availability, owners of these prior releases can upgrade through Windows Update over-the-air at no cost.
Microsoft will continue this strategy of delivering Windows as a service, delivering frequent updates to Windows 10. There are also new methods to download Windows, including downloading the updates through multiple sources to get them quicker. Users can download Windows updates through Microsoft's servers and from local and internet-connected PCs that have already obtained the updates.

Taking a mobile-first approach

Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is taking a cloud-first, mobile-first approach to its business, and this also applies to Windows. Windows will employ a strategy similar to how mobile operating systems split up the core components to deliver faster updates .
The Start menu and built-in apps are now unbundled from the main OS so users can get faster updates. Rather than waiting for a full Windows update, Microsoft is delivering smaller standalone app updates, a feature we're seeing in the Windows Insider Preview - formerly known as the Windows 10 Technical Preview build - with the Mail and Calendar apps.
This unbundling effect has allowed smartphone manufacturers to update core apps - such as the camera, photo gallery, mail and others - without having to wait for mobile operators to push out a larger OS-wide update.
Like Windows, Microsoft employs a similar strategy with Office. With Office 365, Microsoft's subscription service for Office already delivers the most up-to-date Office experience to users, regardless of the OS or device you're running. Office 365 subscribers will have access to Office 2016, which brings cloud-based collaboration, when that version hits retail.

The next generation

After the launch of Windows 10 this summer, Microsoft is rumored to have started work on its next update, codenamed Redstone. Redstone is expected to arrive in 2016, bringing Windows 10 support to more devices, like HoloLens.

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Hands-on review: Updated: Samsung Gear VR (S6)
Hands-on review: Updated: Samsung Gear VR (S6)
Update: If you're willing to plop down $199 (£199, about AU$251) and live in the States, you can now pick up the new Gear VR headset from both Samsung and Best Buy online, and in stores May 15. Global availability has yet to be announced.
Samsung's relaunch of the Gear VR so soon after the last model is odd: everyone expected it to be a simple case of sticking your new Galaxy S6 in the same port and it would work just fine.
It's hard to work out whether anyone would be annoyed about Samsung bringing out another model so soon after the last one. It's always irritating when a company does that, but in this instance it feels like getting angry about a brand making a new case for its new phone, rather than using the one from last year.
It's a very expensive case, admittedly, coming at nearly £199 (around $300 / AU$400) if it follows the same pricing strategy as 2014's Gear VR.
Gear VR S6 review
But it's designed for the new phones – the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge – and there will be very, very few people that bought the Gear VR for the Note 4 and were looking to get the next model so soon after.


If you've seen the Note 4 Gear VR version, you've seen this one too. It's precisely the same, except for the fact it's a little bit smaller (less phone to chuck in there) and a little lighter – plus the straps have been modified to provide a more comfortable fit.
Gear VR S6 review
The side panels are still present and correct for navigation and moving through the interface, so a judicious amount of swiping and tapping helps you navigate through the myriad Samsung options and menus in the Milk VR app.
Gear VR S6 review
Gear VR S6 review
They are also slightly shrunken though, with very little loss in usability it seems – that wasn't a hard mark to hit, as they weren't that accurate on the Gear VR anyway.
I still found the device slightly uncomfortable to wear, as the lenses are slightly too close to your eyes – anyone with lovely and attractive long eye lashes will find they crush against them and distort the image.
The focus jog wheel on the top of the new Gear VR is a little stiff, but I get the feeling that this would actually help lock in the clarity of hat you're watching without constantly moving around and adding the fuzz.

A new virtual world

I only had a limited time with the new Gear VR, so there were a couple of things that I wanted to try out.
I firstly had another look a the 360 film of a circus (slightly different to the one used on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4) to work out if the picture was any more clear, as the previous model was cool, but had very clear pixellation thanks to blowing up the image.
Gear VR S6 review
It is still slightly fuzzy though, which is a slight shame. I was hoping the improved 577ppi of the smaller screen on the Galaxy S6, while still offering the same QHD resolution, would have made it better.
However, I still think it's excellent for watching videos, and something I'm keen to do more of. It does need to be a slightly less chunky design, but the overall use was good as a home entertainment device.
Gear VR S6 review

Gaming was cool too, although I only played a small 3D platformer that was just me running a troll through some doors, then occasionally setting his stick on fire. Not the most engaging, but I didn't care.
Because being able to look up at a volcano, or look down at the canyon, was brilliant. It's so simple, but combined with the Bluetooth gaming controller I can see this being a real reason for developers to get on board.

Early verdict

There's not much new on the Gear VR (S6 edition). It's the same thing that's been through a slight bodyform, making it 15% lighter and with more ergonomic straps.
The lower pixilation wasn't apparent during my time with it, but playing in the immersive world with the gaming controller was a new one for me – and I loved it.
Is it perfect? No. But VR is one of those things that seems like it's becoming a real trend – and it's one of those times that you feel like it's just astoundingly awesome that I hope Samsung (and others) manage to push the message on properly.

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Samsung Gear VR for Galaxy S6 now available
Samsung Gear VR for Galaxy S6 now available
You won't have to wait till the holidays for the new Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition for S6, after all.
Pre-orders of the mobile VR headset went live at the end of April and now both Best Buy and Samsung are taking orders online.
The S6 Gear VR is selling for $199 (£199, about AU$251) and you can pick one up in store on May 15. There's no word yet on global availability.
Just like the first Gear VR needing a Note 4 to work, you'll have to hand over additional dough for a Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S6 Edge for the VR experience to come alive.
  • We're betting virtual reality will be huge at E3 2015

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PC sales slow ahead of Windows 10 launch
PC sales slow ahead of Windows 10 launch
Leading up to the launch of Windows 10 this July, market research firm Canalys and GPU manufacturer Nvidia expect a decline in the PC market.
"We see a very soft market going into Q2," said Nvidia CFO Colette Kress. The company lowered its guidance from $1.18 billion to $1 billion for the second fiscal quarter in an earnings call with analysts.


Analysts are lowering their expectations for the PC market, with Canalys reporting that desktop PCs are hit the hardest. Shipments of desktops fell by 13%, and the category is no longer benefiting from the boost driven by users migrating from Windows XP.
"The global PC market, including tablets, experienced an annual decline of 7% in Q1 2015, reaching 115.7 million units worldwide," the report read, noting that Apple was able to hold on to its first place position despite a 16% drop in PC shipments. Lenovo, HP, Samsung and Dell round out the top five PC manufacturers.
In addition to softening demand leading up to the launch of Windows 10 this summer, Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling cited fluctuating exchange rates as a challenge, which "means PC market declines will be greater in the second quarter than they were in the first."
With DirectX 12 a standard supported by Windows 10, Nvidia hopes that the demand for graphics performance will help increase the number of new PC shipments this summer.


After holding steady for two consecutive quarters, notebooks experienced a small slip, falling 4%.
According to Canalys, notebooks face challenges on two fronts. On the Microsoft side, restrictions to the Windows with Bing program to notebooks with displays smaller than 14 inches may inhibit growth of more expensive, larger notebooks. On the Google side, inexpensive - and more powerful - Chromebook models are competing against less expensive Windows notebooks.

Tablets and hybrids

The tablet market is in decline due to weak demand in mature markets, high saturation and cannibalization from smartphones with large screen sizes. Canalys expects growth in the tablet market will likely result either from business purchases or replacements of existing devices.
Despite declines in the tablet market, shipments of convertible tablets have doubled year-over-year led by Asus, Lenovo and Acer. Canalys's views are in line with the recently released IDG report.
Hybrids, or convertible tablets, come with removable keyboard docks and are seen as more productive, versatile devices suitable for work and play. Examples include the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12, Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3, Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series and Acer Aspire Switch R11. Although a few hybrids ship with Google's Android operating system, many of these devices run Windows.
Adoption of two-in-ones will likely continue to grow with the release of Windows 10. Microsoft's Continuum feature comes with an adaptive user experience that makes it easy for these devices to switch between tablet and desktop modes.

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Buying Guide: Mother's Day tech gifts: What to give a new mom
Buying Guide: Mother's Day tech gifts: What to give a new mom
There's no tougher job than being a mom, let alone a new mom running on little sleep and tons of anxiety.
With Mother's Day on Sunday, why not give the new mom in your life a helping hand? We've gathered a trio of tech that may just make Mom's life a little easier, and perhaps even gift her a few precious minutes of extra sleep.
The gift ideas below are affordable, and we've included a free app that we think should be on every new moms' mobile device. Read on, and if you have any new mom tech gift ideas, let us know in the comments!

D-Link HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Baby Camera DCS-855L

The new mom in your life probably spends most of her day hovering over her infant's crib. Newborns make lots of goofy sounds: they cry, they whimper, they spit up - and it's Mom's job to make sure everything is okay. With D-Link's Wi-Fi baby monitor, Mom can take a step back (literally) and watch her baby from another room. D-Link's genius product lets moms control everything via her smartphone. She can capture HD video, pan and tilt for better angles, take photos, play audio and even speak directly to her baby - all via the My D-Link Baby app. She can also set up audio notifications in case the little one needs immediate attention. What's especially cool about this device is that an internet connection isn't even necessary! Mom can simply connect her smartphone to the camera's built-in wireless network to begin watching her baby from a (safe) distance.
Price: $229

Snuza Hero Portable Baby Movement Monitor

The first few months of a child's life can be a scary time for new mothers. It's not uncommon for new moms to wake up several times just to check her little one's breathing. Fortunately for the mom in your life, Snuza has invented a portable device that detects abdominal movement and will send Mom an alert if her baby has been still for too long. Mom can simply clip the small and lightweight device onto her baby's diaper and the Hero will begin monitoring for movement. Using a series of vibrations, notifications and alarms, the Snuza Hero escalates in alert intensity if the baby hasn't stirred or breathed at a frequent enough pace within any given 60-second period. This isn't a flashy device by any means, but it will help Mom get her needed rest by saving her a few trips to the crib each night.
Price: $99

The My Shush app

My Shush app
If you've ever heard a mother shushing her newborn when it cries, don't worry, she's not being rude. It turns out babies are soothed by white noise because it reminds them of the sounds they heard while still in the womb. There are several expensive devices on the market that produce an endless loop of ambient noise, which will help calm a baby quicker than you can say, "Hand me an Advil." However, the free My Shush app for iOS works just as well as any of these devices (albeit with fewer unnecessary features and settings). With My Shush, Mom can simply record herself shushing for five seconds, and the app will produce the sound into perpetuity. Recommend this app to any new mom and you'll surely put a smile on her face this Mother's Day.
Price: Free

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