Sunday, May 17, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 5/18/2015


Xiaomi edges into the UK and US with Mi Store launch
Xiaomi edges into the UK and US with Mi Store launch
Industry watchers have long wondered when Xiaomi is going to grow tired of shifting millions of handsets in Asia and start turning its attention to the US, UK and Europe. Well, it looks like the answer is: next week.
As per Xiaomi's Facebook page, the Mi Store will tentatively open its doors to the west on 19 May in a beta trial. Phone accessories are the focus at first, though phones will inevitably follow later on.
"For the first time ever, fans in the US, UK, France and Germany can shop on and purchase star accessories like the 5000mAh and 10400mAh Mi power banks, Mi Band and Mi Headphones," enthuses whoever manages Xiaomi's Facebook Page.

Roll up roll up

Apparently "very limited quantities" will be available on the 19th, so if you're eager for some Xiaomi swag then make sure you sign up for a Mi Account at at your earliest convenience.
Presumably the level of interest Xiaomi sees will help it determine the right time to begin selling handsets further afield. Xiaomi''s Vice President of International and ex-Googler Hugo Barra has said the company's phones and tablets are going to arrive State-side sometime this year.
The sale begins at 1pm Central European Standard Time which is midday if you're in Britain and 7am Eastern in the US. Before too long the company should be shifting more than just chargers, smartbands and headphones.

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Microsoft to bypass operators with Windows 10 Mobile updates
Microsoft to bypass operators with Windows 10 Mobile updates
Waiting for mobile OS updates to reach your shiny handset is one of the most frustrating (first world) problems there is, so it's encouraging to hear that Microsoft is planning to take matters out of the hands of operators and manage Windows 10 Mobile updates itself.
That means new versions should arrive on your mobile device in much the same way as they do on your laptop or desktop. It's the approach used by Apple for iOS and should minimise problems with fragmentation in the years to come.
"Today, we're announcing this continuous update process applies to all Windows 10 devices, including phones," Microsoft said in a blog post. Not only does it ensure everyone has the latest features, it also helps to keep the platform as secure as possible.

Waiting times

Microsoft confirmed to ZDNet that mobile updates will roll out at the same time as desktop ones, though this doesn't apply to users running Windows Phone 8.1 - you may have to wait a little longer before your Windows 10 Mobile upgrade appears.
Carrier involvement is a particular problem in the US where updates such as this year's Denim patch can take weeks or months to come through. In future, users can expect shorter waiting times whatever part of the world they're in.
Windows 10 Mobile brings with it better desktop integration, universal apps that work across all devices, and a sleek new design. Read about everything we know so far ahead of its launch later this year.

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Week in Gaming: Bewitched by The Witcher 3, less impressed by Metal Gear's squeezable knockers
Week in Gaming: Bewitched by The Witcher 3, less impressed by Metal Gear's squeezable knockers
If Dragon Age: Inquisition was 2014's Game of the Year for me, then it looks almost certain that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be 2015's. I can't quite decide whether it's the vastly improved mechanics and interface, the gorgeous graphical upgrade or just protagonist Geralt's incredibly fine bod, but the game has completely blown me away.
It's out on the 19th May - that's next Tuesday - so it's not long before the general public can revel in the wonder that is Geralt's tight-fitting trousers. Oh my.
A sequel to the last-gen Witcher 2, Wild Hunt has G-Dog running around a map that's 1.5 times the size of GTA V's Los Santos, rescuing various damsels in distress and lopping the heads off mythical beasts. It's good old-fashioned monster huntering at its best, and even if you find that tiring or difficult, you've still got diplomacy, drinking and a Hearthstone-esque deck-building strategy card game, Gwent, to master. And did I mention Geralt's exceptionally toned butt?
Meanwhile, in the land of Things That Aren't CGI Bottoms, Kojima and Konami are still managing to fuel the most unlikely of conspiracy theories over Metal Gear Solid, but this time, it's… squidgy. Gone are the rumours of head transplants and murder, and in their place is something just downright creepy. Kojima - not all that mature to begin with, given his history of giggling over the scantily-clad babes in his games - is now in hot water over a figurine of scantily-clad Metal Gear Solid babe, Quiet.
Basically, the trouble isn't over the fact that she's dressed like a lingerie model, but that the figurine's boobs are made of a soft, squishy material, so the doll's knockers are, er, realistically squeezable. The rest of the world sighed a collective sigh of frustration and despair. Perving on an excellently formed CGI butt is one thing, but squishy boobs on what is basically a desk toy? That's taking creepy a step too far.
But as my grandmother always used to say, when God closes a door of sexism, he opens a window of anti-sexism. The upcoming Assassin's Creed game will feature (at last!) a female main character: Evie Frye, a British twin assassin, alongside her brother, Jacob. Hooray! The Brotherhood has finally accepted that maybe "holding a knife" and "jumping a lot" aren't things that only dudes can do.
AC Syndicate will be set in Victorian London, with a load of train fights, boat fights and underground boxing alongside excellent hats and facial hair. Here's hoping that the hidden blades will be replaced with hidden butter knives, because you never know when you might want a crumpet.

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How Continuum will work on your next Windows 10 for Phones handset
How Continuum will work on your next Windows 10 for Phones handset

Introduction and interfaces

For years, Microsoft has put the Windows name on phones because it's a familiar brand, but with Windows 10, it's also the name of the operating system you get on the phone. Most of the time it doesn't look like Windows 10, because the interface that looks right on a notebook or large tablet is hard to see on a small screen.
But because Windows 10 for Phones is Windows 10 underneath, with the same operating system core (Microsoft even calls it OneCore), you can plug in a keyboard or a mouse and even a screen to your phone – and when you do, the same Continuum experience that switches a notebook into tablet mode switches the phone into PC mode.
What we've now seen in multiple demos, is that Continuum for Phones changes the interface on the screen it's connected to and gives you extra tools on the handset as well. Microsoft's Keri Moran calls it a "PC-like experience" and what you see on the big screen you connect your phone to isn't exactly like a normal Windows 10 PC screen.
Control windows touch

Trackpad duties

When you first connect your phone to a keyboard and screen using the new Connect button in the Action Center (which Microsoft also refers to as 'docking'), a notification at the top of your phone screen asks if you want to use the phone as a trackpad to control the cursor on the other screen – that's an app that gives you an experience very like controlling an Xbox with the SmartGlass app on your phone. (It helps to turn the phone sideways, so it looks like a trackpad, and to put it down in front of the keyboard).
Or you can keep using the handset with the usual phone interface. Apps you launch by touching the phone screen stay on the phone screen – so you could project PowerPoint for a presentation but keep your email and personal text messages off the big screen. There will be a gesture to move an app from the phone screen to the big screen and back, a Microsoft spokesperson told us, but that's not in the builds we've seen so far.
Right click customise

Intelligent interfaces

Apps you launch from the Start screen that appears up on the big screen – which mostly looks like the Windows 10 Start menu – open on that big screen. If they're universal apps, the interface you get is the PC interface rather than the phone interface (because the app is actually the same code and has multiple interfaces within, and which one you see depends on the size of your screen).
If what you're running is a web application from the Windows Store, it will give you a different interface if it uses responsive design. But if it's an Android app packaged for Windows 10 for Phones (or an iOS app that the developer hasn't added extra features to), you'll just get the standard phone app interface, only bigger. (And of course Win32 apps packaged for distribution through the Windows Store won't run on Windows 10 for Phones handsets at all).

Miracast and wired dock

The Continuum Start screen keeps the indicators that you expect to see in the top right corner of your phone screen – you can see the network strength indicator, the clock and the battery indicator there (rather than in the bottom right where they'd be on the desktop). You can scroll up and down, open the All Apps menu or right click with your mouse to customise the PC Start screen as usual.
Watch video and do work
There's a simple taskbar with a back button, because so many phone applications expect that to be in the interface, but it doesn't show thumbnails or pinned apps. When you launch an app from the Start screen, it launches full-screen, so you can only work in one application at a time on the big screen (although you can work in a second app on your phone, for example copying text from a message that you can then use your mouse or a keyboard shortcut to paste into PowerPoint).
Currently you don't even see the clock, network and battery icons at the top of the screen, just the app. When you want a different app, you launch it from the Start menu, or use Alt-Tab to switch to it.

Miracast issues

When you connect wirelessly, Continuum for Phones uses Miracast technology, which explains the slight confusion about whether you will or won't need new phone hardware to use it – some recent Windows Phone handsets have Miracast support (although in Windows Phone 8.1 we've found it tricky to get Miracast working with devices like the Roku Stick, but with the Windows 10 phone preview Miracast has worked for standard screen projection without these issues).
New handsets will definitely have Miracast support, but you'll also need a Miracast adaptor for the HDMI screen you're connecting your phone to. We've seen Continuum demos running on standard Miracast devices that are already on sale, with a standard Bluetooth keyboard and mouse paired to the phone.
Because it's Miracast, you can connect to any Miracast-connected screen, not just a monitor. That means you can stream a movie from your phone (including streaming video from the web) onto a Miracast-connected TV using just a wireless dongle, which is when the SmartGlass-like Continuum control app is particularly useful.

Docking station

Continuum will also work with a wired dock that lets you plug in a monitor and a USB keyboard and mouse, plus it also charges your phone (and if you prefer, you can plug your phone into a wired dock so you get power but still pair a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse). Presumably that's the prototype hardware that Microsoft has said it's still working on.
Having a phone and a keyboard, mouse and screen means having a bag of gadgets to carry around, and in the longer term, Microsoft is also thinking about screens and keyboards that look like a notebook but have no processor in. That's an idea we've seen from Android device makers in the past that's never taken off, but with universal apps that give you more functionality when the screen gets larger, it could make more sense.

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Keitai: 5 top tips to get more smartphone battery
Keitai: 5 top tips to get more smartphone battery

Tips, tricks, unicorns and frippery

Welcome to the relaunched of 7 days in phones as Keitai (the Japanese for phone culture) - where instead of telling you what's already happened, we'll be bringing you weekly tips to get the most out of your phone as well as trawling the archives of phone-related nonsense and checking in with our favourite cyborg unicorn.

5 tips to improve your smartphone battery life

1. Be clean with your apps

If I could give you just one tip, it's this: if your battery has 'suddenly' become rubbish, it's not usually your phone that's killing it, it's an app.
Have a look in the battery section of your settings menu (or 'Usage' on an iPhone) and see if there's anything playing up – some apps will get caught constantly trying to sync, allowing you to just watch that battery meter fall.

2. Turn down your screen brightness

Yes, it's great that your new phone can go brighter than the sun (as that's really useful outdoors) but most of the time you don't need all those lumens. While most of you will have tagged auto-brightness already, letting your phone react to the ambient conditions, you can take it one step further.
Many phones allow you to lower the intensity of the auto brightness, so when outside and in shade have a play with this until you get to a level that's comfortable for you.
Oh, and make sure your screen lock is turned down to the minimum time. Chances are you'll mostly only glance at your phone anyway.

3. Lose the vibration

If you're constantly worried about battery, turning off the little buzzing motor in your phone can help. It's usually located in the 'Sound' settings, and most phones will need you to turn off things like notifications, key presses and other elements separately, but it's worth the effort for that extra juice.

4. Stop the background syncing

If you've not found any rogue apps in your system, then it doesn't mean there aren't any programs in there trying to nab your precious power. Go into commonly used apps and have a look at their menus, as there's often an option to alter the frequency of syncing or disable altogether.
You can take it one step further with Android, heading into 'Accounts and Sync' in the settings to cut that data off at the source, although you will have to manually check thing like Facebook #firstworldproblemsamirite

5. Go off grid

While the notion that turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is often touted as a way of saving battery, in reality it's effect is minimal and irritating when you actually want to use your fancy phone.
However, GPS is a bit of a killer still, so it's best to go into the Location Settings on the phone and tweak it to a level you're comfortable with. Things like Google Maps work better with a high degree of accuracy, and don't nab too much power, but some other random apps can spend time tracking you for no real reason – it's usually mot sinister, just badly written code.
If you want more choices, then we've got you covered there too. Check out our battery tips for Android or iPhone to really become a master of mobile electrons:

Nok-Nok-Nokia-ing on heaven's door

As the council chamber dispersed, Winston sat down noisily onto the floor, his ability at controlling the mechanical limbs still not quite where he wanted it to be.
The Nokia charger lay in front of him, perplexing his every sense. It wasn't one of the newer ones, but a plug with a fat, round tip on the end – although that wasn't what caused his unease.
It was the fact the wire was bound with the Velcro perfectly formed around the loops. It was virgin, never touched, never ripped apart. Could this really be it? Really be the link to the phone that had haunted his dreams, the thing that had caused him to wake at night screaming only to find he'd had to go and find new sheets?
He reached out gingerly to touch it, his hoof quaking with the anticipation (and the misfiring rotors in his joint) – before the floor caved in beneath his heavy body. The whole arena fell away, and Winston was thrown downwards.
He opened his eyes slowly, looking up a the fading light above. He coughed, taking in his new surroundings. Were those fire torches on the wall? What did those strange markings mean?
He stood up looking all around at the etchings before one caught his eye, glimmering slightly. He thought he could hear a mournful tune echoing in the wind 'deedle-ee-dee-deelde-ee-dee-deedle-ee-dee-deeeeeeeee…'
Without a second's hesitation he raced off after it. His time was coming. He was close to something… he could feel it. He just didn't know what.

Yeah – I'm pretty sure Qualcomm regrets this one…

I was racking my brains trying to work out which video to bring you this week – there have been some stellar efforts of late, highlighting the pure madness of press launches.
I was sitting here, head in hands, thinking 'COME ON GARETH, THIS IS YOUR JOB. YOU WERE PRACTICALLY BORN MOBI….'
That was it… Qualcomm's 2013 press conference at CES. Where it hire actors that went so over the top it made you wonder what humans really were. Where Steve Ballmer skipped across the stage. Where Desmond Tutu and a Rolls Royce both turned up.
Just watch. It really happened, I promise.
YouTube :

Scary press shot of the week

Samsing Giorgio
What's this? A Samsung Giorgio Armani phone that's every bit as fashionable as it is functional?
Look at them. So in love. There's a random lipstick mark on the top of the frame. She's so in love.
Oh, and the phone is huge in picture one, and tiny in picture two. Either that or one of those men has freakishly small hands.

Retro video of the week

You know how people are always trying to put a phone into a watch? They're not trying hard enough. The Zihotch Watch (Hey, that rhymes!) asks you to poke the numbers 117 in the rotary dial, and a Japanese voice will tell the time.
Dial the wrong number and you'll be told the number you've tried is not in service (apparently… I don't speak Japanese).
If my 'time it takes stuff to come from Japan to the rest of the world' algorithm is correct, this 2007 invention is about to hit out shelves any day now.
YouTube :

Proper stuff from the site

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New Microsoft Edge features revealed in latest Windows 10 leak
New Microsoft Edge features revealed in latest Windows 10 leak
A recent leak of Windows 10 build 10123 — the current build available to Windows Insider is 10074 — shows new features that are available to Microsoft's new Edge browser. As Microsoft Edge won't support browser extensions initially at launch, the new features revealed in the latest Windows leak may go a long way in improving browsing privacy.
There are three new Edge features that were shown in screenshots posted by Chinese website ITHome. The leak details a new private browsing session, autofill for usernames and passwords and a new view of top sites and suggested content.
Edge leak

Private browsing

Private browsing is a feature that's offered on many of Edge's rivals, including Chrome and Firefox. Through a feature called InPrivate Browsing, Edge would be able to stop cookies, passwords and your web history from being stored.
The feature is useful if you need to quickly use a public computer or a friend's laptop. With InPrivate Browsing turned on, you should be able to navigate to your email account, pay your utility bill and book your dinner reservations without having your passwords and usernames stored or your browsing history saved.
Microsoft Edge


Autofill is a useful feature if you're browsing on a personal computer. It allows the Edge browser to save your username, password and personal information. If you're logging into your email address regularly, autofill could automatically fill in your username and password, so you don't have to remember that information or have to manually type it in.
Browser extensions that handle passwords, like 1Password and LastPass, go a lot further. They can store multiple usernames and passwords for the same site and auto-generate complex passwords.

Top Sites

This is another feature that's supported on rival browsers. The top sites view allows users to quickly see the sites that they frequently visit when they initially launch the browser.
Interestingly enough, the feature is called with "top sites and suggested content." While it isn't clear at this time, perhaps Microsoft intends on introducing you to new websites, news stories and content based on your browsing history through Cortana, the virtual assistant that will ship with Windows 10.

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Diablo III celebrates its third birthday in a very Diablo way
Diablo III celebrates its third birthday in a very Diablo way
To celebrate the third birthday of Diablo III, game developer Blizzard is unleashing the "cowpocalypse," an invasion the likes of which have never been seen (unless, of course, you found that secret level on Diablo II.)
That's right, from dusk today until dawn on May 21, Sanctuary is being taken over by cows. But don't fear, Blizzard's announcement on tells us these cows are.. ahem, "udderly" harmless.
The post begins with a feigned denial of the bovine invasion and its danger: "Many of you have expressed fear. Some have asked if you should moov your families. To this we say: Hold fast. There is no cause for alarm."
"There are no homicidal heifers," the hilariously goofy post continues. "There is no invasion. And, more specifically, there is no cow level. Anyone who claims otherwise is full of bull and simply milking this terrible prank for all that it's worth."
Longtime fans of the Diablo series are sure to enjoy the homage, while keeping one eye out for hard-to-spot Cow King. Gamers who joined the series in its third installment can simply enjoy sidestepping cow patties in the Sanctuary.
Blizzard ends its post with one final word of advice to those who believe in the cowspiracy theories, "We urge you all to stay calm and remember that cows don't kill people. Everything ELSE in Sanctuary kills people."
Lead image credit:

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Review: Acer Chromebook 15 C910
Review: Acer Chromebook 15 C910

Introduction and design

If you're considering the Acer Chromebook 15 C910 ($499.99, £249, AU$620) for your next laptop, then you'd better have big ideas. Compared to most other Chromebooks, the C910 has a bigger screen, bigger processing power and it comes with a bigger price tag.
Specifically geared toward students and teachers – thanks to its rugged design and gorgeous visuals – the C910 is perfectly suitable for any consumer who doesn't mind lugging around a few extra pounds and inches.
Because of its fifth-generation Intel Core i5 processor and 15.6-inch display, the C910 is unlike any other Chromebook on the market. Its most suitable comparisons are the 14-inch HP Pavilion Chromebook ($299, £190, AU$370), and the Rolls Royce of the Chromebook market, Google's Chromebook Pixel 2 ($999, £799, AU$1,277).
Although similar in stature to the Pavilion, and similar in power and price to the Pixel, the C910 stands alone as the colossus of Chromebooks.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910


The first thing you'll notice about the C910 is how big it is. Tipping the scales at a whopping 4.85 pounds (2.19kg), the C910 outweighs the 12-inch Pixel and the 14-inch Pavilion by 1.5 and 1.4 pounds, respectively. Carrying the weight is a chassis that measures 1.0-inch (2.5cm) tall by 15.1-inches (38.3cm) wide by 10.1 inches (25cm) long. This is a substantial notebook that is not ideal for people who will be running from meeting to meeting or coffee shop to coffee shop.
It is, however, perfect for students and teachers who will be sitting at desks for long periods of time. Housed in a gorgeous black, fabric-textured chassis with a diamond matte finish, the C910 immediately improves the style of any desk space.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910
Although the matting is a pleasure to view and touch, it does easily collect dirt and smudges. One quick wipe of the surface will remove most (but not all) of the damage.
Parents beware: this laptop is not going to break or chip if your child drops or smashes it, but it won't look brand new in a year if your child plans to transport it back and forth between home and school. If you're one of those parents who likes to keep things shiny, you might want to look at carbon fiber or magnesium alloy laptops. For adults who take good care of their belongings, the shell should be fine so long as you don't place items on top of it or inside the same carrying bag.
The laptop's 15.6-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080 resolution) display is a delight. You'll be able to enjoy movies, browse the web and play games for long stretches without feeling much eye strain. Parents who enjoy watching movies with their children will appreciate the screen's wide viewing angles, which enable you to seat three people four or five feet away from the device without noticing any shadowing along the edges.
Although this display is pretty sweet, it doesn't compare to the Pixel 2, which sports a 2,560 x 1,700 IPS touchscreen. You can touch the C910's screen all you want, but it won't respond.
I wish Acer had dedicated more top panel real estate to the screen. You get about half an inch of space along the screen's border. This space would have been better served by stretching the screen out a bit to further enhance the viewing experience.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910
The same can be said about how the keyboard and touchpad are designed. Acer dedicated about three of the keyboard deck's 15.1 inches of width to the laptop's adequate but not marvelous top-facing speakers. The TouchPad, which is somewhat hollow and creaky, takes up three inches, and the keyboard takes up a little more than five inches.
This makes navigation somewhat uncomfortable, especially for people with tiny fingers and little experience typing (i.e. children). Acer should have expanded the keyboard and keys, reduced the width of the speakers, and cut the TouchPad in half.

Specifications and value

There are areas in which Acer perfectly utilizes space and weight. For example: Acer neatly slides several ports and inputs into its slight one-inch height.
This will definitely come in handy for young kids and parents who might not be tech-savvy enough to connect Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices. (Let's not even talk about how they're to prepare themselves for the USB-C revolution that the Pixel and MacBook are leading.)
Acer Chromebook 15 C910

Spec sheet

Here is the Acer Chromebook 15 C910 configuration given to TechRadar for review:
  • CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 dual-core processor
  • Graphics: Intel HD 5500 Graphics with shared memory
  • Screen: 15.6-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080)
  • Storage: 32GB SSD
  • Ports: HDMI, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Camera: 720p HD webcam
  • Weight: 4.85 pounds
  • Size: 1.0 x 15.1 x 10.1 inches (H x W x D)
Acer made waves when it first installed Broadwell processors in its Chromebook lineup. These processors are faster and more energy efficient than the Celeron processors you'll typically find on Chromebooks. This addition essentially elevated the Chromebook class from a group of notebooks only suited for light use to devices that could be used to get a little work done.
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean you'll want to use the C910 as your primary computing device. It just doesn't have enough local storage capacity to house all of your photos, music and documents.
However, in order to lure people to the Chrome operating system, Google is giving away one terabyte of free cloud storage to any new Chromebook buyer. So, if you're comfortable keeping all of your information in the cloud, you should be able to get by using this device without any additional storage hardware.

Performance and features

When comparing the performance of the C910 against the Pixel and the HP Chromebook 14, it's important to note the difference in processors. The Google Pixel 2 features a similar Intel Core i5 processor to the one under the C910's hood, while the HP Chromebook 14 features a previous generation Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell processor.
This makes a huge difference in how these units perform in benchmark tests, which will in turn reflect how they perform in day-to-day use. (Note: the Pixel can be outfitted with an i7 processor, which will dramatically improve performance compared to what I reference below).


Here's how the C910 performed in our suite of Chromebook benchmark tests:
  • Octane: 25,240
  • Mozilla Kraken: 1,301.5
  • Sunspider: 192.5
When compared to the Pixel 2, the C910 narrowly edges out the more expensive, more talked about Google notebook. In the Octane benchmark, which measures a JavaScript engine's performance, the Pixel 2 received a 24,564 during testing performed by other outlets.
The C910 outperformed the Pixel 2 during the Mozilla Kraken test, which also measures speed by pushing a device's JavaScript engine, by achieving a score of 1,301.5 compared to the Pixel's 1,428 (a lower score is better during the Kraken test). In our final JavaScript test, Sunspider, the C910 once again outscored the Pixel 2, with a 192.5 score compared to the Pixel 2's 298 (lower is better).
The head-to-head between the HP Chromebook 14 and the C910 wasn't even close. For all three tests (Octane: 11,735, Kraken: 2,615, Sunspider: 375), the HP Chromebook was nearly twice as slow as the C910. This isn't a fair comparison – it's obvious a Broadwell i5 processor is going to run laps around a Haswell Celeron processor. However, because these are the two largest devices in the Chromebook class, it's important that we show you what you're getting when you opt for the bigger screen.
In terms of real life performance, the C910 doesn't disappoint. I was able to perform a similar set of browser-based tasks on the Chromebook that I would typically run on my MacBook Pro. However, my MacBook houses almost 20,000 photos and god-only-knows how many programs I've downloaded.
This Chromebook won't be able to do that for you. But, if you're storing everything in the cloud, which you should be doing anyway, and you're just using this notebook to browse the web and word process, then you'll love the C910's performance.

Battery life

The school day will be no match for the C910. This bad boy was able to crank out a whopping eight hours and 48 minutes of continuous video playback with the volume and screen brightness set at 50%. That's not quite the 10 hours of performance promised by Acer, but it's pretty darn close.
When compared to the Pixel 2, the C910 slightly loses its edge. Our reviewer was able to push the Pixel for eight hours and 22 minutes during a more extreme test in which he set the screen brightness to 50% while tabbing between 20 webpages, listening to Google music and streaming a two-hour movie on Netflix. The C910 won't be able to last that long under the exact same pressure, but it will likely get you past the seven-hour mark.


It's easy to praise laptops for sexy features. Higher resolution screens, lighter weights, thinner frames – these are the specs you likely look for when making your purchasing decision.
But what your laptop is able to do when you work should be just as important to you as how it looks on a desk. When compared to the best Chromebook on the market, the Google Pixel 2, and the second-largest Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 14, the chunkier Acer Chromebook 15 C910 proves itself to be a worthy adversary.

We liked

If the Chrome operating system is your cup of tea, you won't find many devices that run it better than the C910. Our suite of benchmarks proved that the C910 outperforms a similarly outfitted Pixel 2, a device that costs double the money. Sure, you're not getting a touchscreen, or a fancy USB-C drive, but you're getting speed and power and almost as many hours of battery life.
The diamond matte finish is a really nice touch. If you're as bored by contemporary laptop design as I am, you'll absolutely welcome the C910 into your home. Although the chassis will scratch and stain, it's highly durable, pretty and it isn't the same old magnesium alloy and plastic that you'll find on most other laptops today.

We disliked

This laptop is big. Acer needs to find a way to reduce its weight from 4.85 pounds to something more manageable. If money is no object and you're forced to carry 4.85 pounds, then you might as well buy yourself an enterprise mobile workstation.
I'm not a fan of how the keyboard and screen are arranged. Too much valuable real estate was dedicated to plastic, speakers and a creaky TouchPad. In the next iteration, I'd prefer to see bigger, more spaced-out keys, a wider screen and a smaller TouchPad.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910

Final verdict

The Acer Chromebook 15 C910 isn't for everybody. In an era when computer manufacturers are racing to build laptops that are lighter and thinner, the C910 is a throwback to a simpler time, back when you expected your mobile computers to be shaped like bricks.
However, if you're a student or a teacher and you're typically working in a classroom, at home and little elsewhere, the C910's bulk shouldn't put you off. The Acer Chromebook 15 C910 looks amazing on a desk, it has a long-lasting battery and its performance outclasses any comparable Chromebook.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015)
Review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015)

Introduction and design

If the 2014 was the year the Lenovo X1 Carbon went through the sexy makeover, this year the 14-inch business laptop has jumped back into its old suit and tie. The third generation X1 Carbon is just as thin as and sleek as 2014 model, but Lenovo has done away with one of the laptop's most distinctive elements in replacing the row of adaptive, digital function keys with a completely traditional set.
Otherwise, Lenovo has given its latest Ultrabook a by-the-numbers refresh, with faster and more energy-efficient Broadwell processor options. The annual upgrade comes as a bit of a letdown, compared to the massive retooling the 2014 model saw.
That said, Apple is equally guilty of doing the same time and again, like with its 13-inch MacBook Pro. But with laptops like the Dell XPS 13 reshaping Ultrabooks for less scratch to boot, this Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is easily overshadowed.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review


If you were to sit the new Lenovo X1 Carbon next to it predecessor, they would look almost like identical twins. That's not really surprising, since the two 14-inch laptops share practically the same frame with a few subtle changes.
Firstly, Lenovo made a few weight saving measures by dropping the carbon-fiber lid for a carbon- and glass-fiber reinforced plastic panel that's still resilient against flexing. Similarly, the new laptop features a hard, semi-glossy finish in place of its predecessor's soft touch feel. As a result, the laptop is a bit plainer (falling in line with the rest of Lenovo's enterprise notebook fleet), but it's less prone to scratching and picking up fingerprints.
Overall, these changes have reduced the weight of the new unit by 0.05 pounds (0.02 kg). Nothing too astonishing, but every ounce matters, and this 3.1-pound (1.4 kg) machine is amazingly light for a 14-inch laptop. What's more, Lenovo hasn't sacrificed anything in the way of rigidity with its latest Ultrabook.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review
The keyboard still doesn't not exhibit the slightest bit of flex unless you're putting your entire weight on top of the machine. The laptop's base is also still made with the same magnesium-aluminum base, which offers plenty of strength, thanks to a lightweight alloy blend.
One thing Lenovo has improved upon is ratcheting tighter hinges, which prevents the screen from wobbling while you adjust it. Plus, users can still push back the display to an impressive 180-degrees, laying the laptop flat if they so wish. It won't bend back completely back, like Lenovo's Yoga series of notebooks, but the greater degree of freedom will allow for some very relaxed typing positions, if you prefer to kick back while drafting documents.
As for ports, the X1 Carbon has two USB 3.0 ports on tap along with a complement of video ports including HDMI and mini DisplayPort, plus Lenovo's proprietary OneLink connector. Curiously, an SD card reader remains to be a glaring omission. It's not a deal breaker. However, SD cards may be important to users who want to bolster on-board storage and those in creative fields that make heavy use of SD memory. (Though, it's doubtful that the creative crowd is this machine's target audience.)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review

One step back

The most immediately noticeable difference from last year's model is Lenovo has replaced the row of nifty adaptive keys with a set of standard function keys. Personally, I feel this is a big step back. These function keys would transform in virtual buttons depending on the task at hand, such as navigation controls while in a web browser or Skype would call for a set of video chat-centric commands.
Instead of these transforming keys, you're stuck with a static group of shortcuts to adjust brightness and other basic laptop settings. These are important, of course, but the adaptive function row was one of the few touches that Lenovo added to set the X1 Carbon apart.
The new model is a little less special without this unique feature not found on any other laptop. That said, it's not a stretch to imagine that Lenovo's enterprise audience received the forward-thinking change poorly.

Specifications and value

The Lenovo X1 Carbon is an impressively thin and light 3.1-pound machine, considering it has a 14-inch screen. But with dimensions measuring 13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches, or 330 x 227 x 18 mm (W x D x H), it has a tough time of slipping into small bags designed for 13-inch laptops. Meanwhile, going with a larger carrying case designed for a 15-inch notebook will have the laptop jostling about while you carry it on your back or against your hip.
While Lenovo managed to shave down its 14-inch Ultrabook into a small frame, Dell has, by some manner of Time Lord science, fitted a 13-inch screen into 11-inch laptop with the XPS 13. Regarded as one of the lightest Ultrabooks currently in existence, the Dell XPS 13 weighs in at 2.8 pounds (1.27 kg) and measures 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches (304 x 200 x 15 mm).
The 13-inch MacBook Pro, meanwhile, sits in a happy medium between the two competitors, with a 12.35 x 8.62 x 0.71-inch (313 x 218 x 18 mm) frame. However, thanks to a completely aluminum unibody design, it's also the heaviest rig out of this grouping at 3.48 pounds (1.58kg).
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review
Here is the Lenovo X1 Carbon configuration sent to TechRadar for this review:

Spec Sheet

  • CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7- 5600U (dual-core, 4MB Cache, up to 3.2GHz)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz)
  • Screen: 14-inch QHD 2,560 x 1,440 IPS Multi-touch with WWAN
  • Storage: 512GB SSD PCIe
  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, headphone + microphone combo jack, One Link connector
  • Connectivity: Intel 7265 AC Dual Band Wireless + Bluetooth Version 4.0
  • Camera: 720p HD camera
  • Weight: 3.1 pounds
  • Size: 13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches (W x D x H)
For $2,100, you can get a fully loaded configuration of the Lenovo X1 Carbon as you see above. The bumped up price comes with some serious upgrades, including a higher-resolution 2,560 x 1,440 display, top-end processor, the maximum allotment of storage with a 512GB SSD and Windows 8.1 Pro.
Those looking to pick up the a top-end Lenovo X1 Carbon in the United Kingdom and Australia will sadly be stuck looking at SSDs with a maximum storage space of 256GB and a lower-spec 2.4GHz Intel Core i7- 5500U CPU. Meanwhile, the entry-level configuration for this 14-inch Ultrabook comes with a 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U processor, 4GB of RAM and only an 128GB SSD for $1,088 (£1,199, AU$1,799).
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review
Despite the preconceived stigma of the "Apple tax," a similarly specced 13-inch MacBook Pro is actually more affordable than the priciest X1 Carbon. For $1,799 (£1,399, AU$2,499), you could get a 13-inch Retina display (2,560 x 1,600 resolution), with a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 512GB SSD and superior Intel Iris 6100 graphics.
A decked out Dell XPS 13 comes at an even more affordable $1,449, plus a high-resolution, 3,200 x 1,800 screen. That said, the US model is limited to only an Intel Core i5-5200U processor, which also powers the base-model Lenovo X1 Carbon. The Dell XPS 13 is available in the UK with an Intel Core i7-5500U Processor, a 512GB SSD and all the other top-end specs for £1,299. Interested buyers in Australia have the option of going with an AU$2,498 configuration that includes an Intel Core i7-5600U chip, but is again limited to only 256GB in storage.

Performance and features

If there's one thing the Lenovo X1 Carbon is good at, it's being a reliable work horse. Thanks to a capable Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a speedy 512GB SSD, the laptop steadily completed every task. Multi-tasking performance was similarly stellar even as I browsed the web with 15 tabs open in Chrome, double that number in Firefox alongside Skype and HipChat all while editing images in Lightroom.
Here's how the Lenovo X1 Carbon fared in our benchmark tests:


  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,568; Sky Diver: 2,816; Fire Strike: 792
  • Cinebench CPU: 297 points; Graphics: 32 fps
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,518 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 41 minutes
The Lenovo X1 Carbon does not come housing a dedicated graphics card, but it still managed to get through the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark test with 792 points. That might not sound too impressive, especially when a modest Nvidia GTX 960M inside the Alienware 13 can score 3,462 points. But you can put the Lenovo X1 Carbon through some graphically grueling tasks including playing YouTube videos at 4K and Hearthstone at full resolution on its highest settings.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review
Unsurprisingly, the X1 Carbon sails past the Dell XPS 13 with a higher-end CPU and lower screen resolution. This is clearly evident as the Dell's only put up a 739 Fire Strike score, despite the fact it comes packing the same integrated GPU as the X1 Carbon. Even processor performance on the X1 Carbon skips ahead of the XPS 13, the PCMark8 benchmark results are 2,518 points and 2,104 points, respectively.
Comparing the Lenovo X1 Carbon to the 13-inch MacBook Pro proves to be a bit more problematic, as the same benchmarks are largely not available to both Windows and OS X Yosemite, with the exception of Cinebench. According to the results of the benchmark, the MacBook Pro performs better with a Cinebench score of 310 points, whereas the Lenovo completed the same test with 297 points, and the Dell with 258 points.
Cinebench measures the speed at which a processor's cores can work in tandem to render a dense 3D image. 42 to 13 points of difference is negligible, but the scores show that the X1 Carbon, on a performance-level, is nearly on par with the MacBook Pro, while the Dell XPS 13 lags behind with its slower processor.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review

Don't leave it in the sun

In a world full of 1080p screens, the Lenovo X1 Carbon's 2,560 x 1,440 display comes as a refreshing treat. And it's only made better by the fact that it's an IPS panel (which produces accurate colors and wide viewing angles). Unlike a 4K screen, most applications actually scale fairly well to the X1 Carbon's QHD resolution, save for a bit of pixelated text in Skype and some shrunken user interfaces, such as Blizzard's client.
While, the screen is amazingly sharp and vibrant in the office, taking it outside and glare becomes a serious issue, despite the anti-glare coating designed specifically to reduce reflections. Rather than preventing glare, the screen coating on the X1 Carbon seemingly just spreads sunlight across the entire display panel. Whether you're sitting outside on an overcast day or using the machine at the windows seat of a train, you'll have a hard time discerning what's on your screen when you take this machine outside.
Another pitfall of this laptop is that its down-firing speakers sound very tinny and easily become distorted as soon as you push up the volume past 20 in Windows 8.1. Booming, full-bodied sound isn't something you would expect out of a business laptop in the first place, but the X1 Carbon isn't a machine you would want to use to host a video conference with everyone in the office.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review

Quick charge and drain

Battery life on the Lenovo X1 Carbon expired after an all too unimpressive 4 hours and 15 minutes in my testing. And this is after running the laptop on a lightweight regiment of tasks, including writing up this review in Microsoft Word, playing music with the OutColdPlayer, chatting in Skype and HipChat as well as browsing the web with 15 open tabs at any given time.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon also didn't fare too well with the PCMark8 synthetic battery life test, lasting just 3 hours and 41 minutes, However, it's a big improvement from last year's model, which ran for just 2 hours and 55 minutes, especially considering the current review unit is running a much more demanding Intel Core i7 processor over a Core i5 chip.
Switching the laptop to Lenovo's power-optimized mode ups battery life to 6 hours maximum. Another good thing about the X1 Carbon is it charges quickly, topping off a half empty battery in just an hour.
The Dell XPS 13, by comparison, was able to stay on for a much longer 7 hours and 40 minutes while on a constant loop of video playback. The incredibly small Ultrabook also ran the PCMark8 battery test for a longer 4 hours and 21 minutes.
Longevity has always been a bonus of using Macs, and the 13-inch MacBook is one of the longest lasting laptop's we at TechRadar have ever reviewed. Streaming a non-stop playlist of 1080p video, Apple's darling notebook kept going and going for a full 12 hours and four minutes.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015) review

Bundled software

Although it might feel, look and smell like an Ultrabook, the X1 Carbon is as much a business laptop as the rest of Lenovo's mobile workstation fleet. As such, enterprise users will feel right at home with the suite of productivity and utility apps Lenovo has preloaded onto its system:
  • Lenovo System update – As the name might suggest, you'll be using this tool to keep the X1 Carbon firmware up-to-date.
  • Mouse Properties – Rather than your typical Synaptics system tray client, this application handles all your trackpad preferences.
  • Lenovo Settings – A quick, visual system tray that lets you tweak settings including Airplane mode, a mobile hotspot, the camera and more.
  • Lenovo QuickControl – This program allows users to remotely control their laptop with a smartphone app, a clutch feature for presentations, available on iOS and Android.
  • Lenovo Reach – Lenovo's internal cloud storage service, which users can access with their laptop or across all Windows, Android, and iOS devices.


In 2014, Lenovo was carving a new identity for the X1 Carbon that differentiated it from other business laptops. With this latest model, Lenovo seems to be taking a step back, retreating to a traditional styling that enterprise users might be more comfortable with.
That said, the laptop has seen a fair share of improvements. Thanks to a new Broadwell processor, the X1 Carbon's performance is even better, while battery life has been extended by another hour.

We liked

If you're looking for a no-nonsense Ultrabook that's lighter than your everyday mobile workstation, then the Lenovo X1 Carbon is it.
It's a reliable business notebook with a best-in-the-industry keyboard and trackpad, plus the impeccable build quality of the machine earns it some big marks.

We disliked

In the same breath, I also have to say the Lenovo X1 Carbon has two major flaws, including screen glare. What's more, this machine's last in class battery life of four to six hours won't get you through a day's worth of off site work before running back to the safety of an outlet. Both drawbacks will (and probably should) discourage users from taking out this machine outside of an ideal office environment for too long.

Final verdict

There's no question that the X1 Carbon is an acceptable, reliable work machine. Lenovo got a lot of things right with its latest business Ultrabook: excellent performance, enough inputs and a great build quality.
There are a few imperfections, though, what with the reflective anti-glare coating and the comparatively short battery life. This laptop's greatest problem, however, isn't clear until you look at what the competition is serving up.
Priced at $2,100 (about £1,929, AU$2,599), the Lenovo X1 Carbon is considerably more expensive than both the 13-inch MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 at similar configurations. And yet both of these machines offer more in the way of screen resolution and battery life, making for a better value that's tough to refute.
The Lenovo X1 Carbon, outfitted with a top end processor, outpaces both Apple and Dell's thin laptop offerings. But the difference in benchmark scores isn't large enough to warrant paying an additional 300 to 600 bucks for this premium business Ultrabook.

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Review: Polk Nue Voe
Review: Polk Nue Voe
Headphones usually don't make grand fashion statements, but the Polk Nue Voe tries its hardest to do just that. By matching the looks of trendy eyeglasses, these in-ear headphones are more appealing than most.
A $129 (about £112, AU$160) retail price is rather expensive for the limited set of features you're getting with the purchase. Yet, the Nue Voe has undeniably fantastic audio chops and build quality. At the end of the day, even if style isn't an absolutely essential element of your tech, these earphones are still a treat.


If it weren't for a few flashy design decisions on the part of Polk, the Nue Voe would have a hard time sticking out in the flooded market of options. But with the slick tortoise pattern and golden details, these earphones are clearly after an audience that cares about looks.
Polk Nue Voe review
The earphone units are the main attraction in terms of design. Starting with the driver housing, it's clear that a lot of care was put into the build. Each piece of translucent, tortoise-patterned polymer resin features a wing that extends its shape to fit comfortably right outside your ear canal.
Polk poked a hole right through each of the jutting wings to ensure a breathable listening experience. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company also stamped its logo onto the elegant gold plastic pieces found on each of the earphones. The letters "L" and "R" are painted onto the bottom of each earpiece, so that you know which one goes into what ear.
Lifting off the silicon ear tips reveals the small speakers and a bronze-colored, cylindrical plastic piece where you can snap the included ear tips into place, of which Polk generously included seven different pairs (two sets of black memory foam tips, two sets of three-flange tips and three sets of clear silicon tips) to ensure that you can find the right fit.
Polk Nue Voe review
Moving down from the right earpiece of the Nue Voe, you'll encounter a set of inline controls. These buttons are housed in a curvy, matte-textured unit. Each button (volume up, play, pause and volume down) are detailed with the same tortoise pattern that offers up some seriously fine looks.
The buttons are rounded off with a glossy, golden ring of plastic. Flip it over, and the built-in microphone reveals itself. The cable is a little over a meter in length and it white all the way down to the glam 3.5mm plug.
Polk Nue Voe review
Again, Polk included a generous assortment of ear tips in with the Nue Voe. However, that's not all that's inside the box.
There's also a tote that's, quite honestly, much nicer than it needs to be. Made up of soft canvas, the pull-string bag can fasten shut with leather laces and is stitched on its front with a leather logo. It can easily fit the headphones and multiple sets of tips with room to spare.


The question on everyone's mind when they see an appealing product boils down to whether it can actually walk the walk. Polk's fancy in-ear headphones can do more than just sit pretty, they can provide a hearty sound with its tuned, balanced armature drivers.
In case this is the first time that you're hearing the phrase "balanced armature," it's simply a different type of driver design. Put up against dynamic drivers, like the ones found in the Shure SE215, the balanced armature design typically boasts a few benefits, but also a con by comparison.
Polk Nue Voe review
The balanced armature driver design puts through a sharper sound with more attack in the mids, but lacks the heavy bass that dynamic drivers can pump. Despite the supposed limitations of the driver design, Polk's Nue Voe has no issue pushing vibrant, bass-filled sound.
The ear tips play a large part in helping the headphones sing to their full capacity. It was an easy fitting process for me to find the tips that suited my ears best. But strangely, a size that slid with ease into one ear couldn't stay still in the other.
To remedy that, I mixed-and-matched a different, bigger eartip on one side. Through extended use, these in-ear headphones are comfortable. Though, if you're hopping over from a set of over-ear headphones, the tight seal will take some adjusting to.
Polk Nue Voe review
Using the inline controls and microphone work as expected. The buttons are easy to push and transmitting my voice was never an issue on an iPhone 5S. That said, the Nue Voe only offers limited controls (play, pause and the microphone still work) on Android or Windows Phone. It's a definite limitation, but Polk is pretty upfront about it on the packaging, so there shouldn't be any surprise disappointments.

Final verdict

While not especially feature-packed (especially if you aren't an iOS user), the Polk Nue Voe are a visually-striking set of in-ear headphones that rock the house with a specially-tuned, balanced armature driver design.
It's easy to make these tweeters sing with any genre you throw at them, and having the option to adjust volume or change the song on the fly is fantastic.
The price is a little high for someone just looking for a set of replacement earphones, but the value here is clear, especially considering all the extra goodies included inside the box.

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Windows 10 upgrade: Microsoft extends olive branch to pirates
Windows 10 upgrade: Microsoft extends olive branch to pirates
After speculation that Microsoft may offer the same free Windows 10 upgrade path to owners of non-genuine copies of Windows, Executive Vice President of the Operating Systems group Terry Myerson confirmed that only genuine Windows users can upgrade for free.
"While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state," Myserson said in a blog post, cautioning that non-genuine copies of Windows carry greater risks of malfunction, malware, fraud and data exposure.
This means that owners of non-genuine copies of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 can pay to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though Microsoft had recently announced the various versions of Windows 10, it still has not announced pricing.

Is your copy legitimate?

If you're running Windows, and you see a watermark on your desktop, Microsoft says that your system may be running a non-genuine copy of the operating system.
Myerson advises that if you have recently purchased your system and you encounter the watermark, you should return the device to the retailer.

Free for genuine copies

If you have purchased a genuine copy of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, or if your PC ships from an OEM with a genuine Windows license, then you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free within the first year of release.
Windows 10 is expected to be released this summer, and Microsoft reps and partners have hinted that the launch could be as early as July.
Windows 10 will ship with many new features and upgrades, including Continuum for seamless hand-off between tablet or desktop modes for hybrid laptops, Cortana, the new Microsoft Edge browser and other security enhancements.
"Once a customer upgrades, they will continue to receive ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device," Microsoft said. The company is changing its Windows strategy, offering Windows 10 as a service.

Older PCs

If you're running a PC that came with a licensed copy of Windows earlier than Windows 7, Microsoft says it is working with OEMs to create an affordable upgrade path to Windows 10. Unfortunately, owners of versions of Windows prior to Windows 7 will not be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
Official announcements should come from Microsoft's OEM partners like HP, Lenovo, Dell and others.

Enterprise users

Microsoft will give enterprise users more control and flexibility on how to upgrade to Windows 10 and when to apply security updates, patches and new releases to the OS.
Businesses will be given the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 through Microsoft's Windows Software Assurance program.

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An Oculus Rift setup could cost more than Xbox One, PS4 combined
An Oculus Rift setup could cost more than Xbox One, PS4 combined
At this point, your Xbox One and PS4 are in a pretty good position to take on the virtual reality throne once Project Morpheus and Microsoft HoloLens come out.
Each console costs around $350 in the US (£299/£279, AU$498/AU$549.95 for each console, respectively) and though pricing for the headsets haven't been released yet, it's safe to assume they'll both be between $400-$600 (about £254/AU$498 to £381/AU$747). If you already own a console, then the additional cost of a Morpheus or HoloLens shouldn't be too cringeworthy.
Compare that with our breakdown of what PCs need to make an Oculus Rift run like a dream and try not to weep too much.

Oculus Rift for PC price breakdown

So far we know the SDK2 version of Rift is $350 (about £400/AU$435) but the price will likely increase.
An Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD 290 equivalent or greater will cost around $400 (about £254/AU$498) and up if you want a meaty video card.
An Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater will cost around $200 (about £127/AU$249) and up depending on processor speed.
8GB RAM will add on $80 (about £51/AU$100) but again this price could head north if you want to boost up to 16GB of RAM, though adding more memory for optimized gaming has been a debatable subject in the past.
In total, you'll end up spending around $1,030 (about £654/AU$1,282), and that's not factoring in the hard drive, power supply, an updated Windows OS and new tower.
If you already have a beast of a machine, then a few upgrades here and there shouldn't hurt too much. But for the average person, the cost of a virtual reality experience on a PC using the Oculus Rift is a bit steep.
  • The first PC gaming conference will take place at this year's E3!

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Beep-beep: US government wants cars to talk to each other pronto
Beep-beep: US government wants cars to talk to each other pronto
Vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication may be the next major step in the modern evolution of automobiles, and the US government wants to see more of it.
US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has a specific vision in mind for the future of V2V and driver safety, one he outlined in a DOT blog post earlier this week.
In it he announced the DOT is pushing the timetable up on a rule that would require all new vehicles to have V2V technology.
"V2V technology is a critical element of the connected automation that makes driverless cars as safe as possible," Foxx wrote.
He laid out his plan for getting V2V into every new car in the next few years, which includes testing for any interferences that may come from radio frequencies and directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to accelerate its part in the plan as well.

Car talk

V2V development is critical as more companies like Google look to take people out of the car equation and replace them with automated systems.
The technology behind safe self-driving cars has been rapidly expanding. In March 2015, a Delphi vehicle completed a 3,400 mile journey from San Francisco to New York City, becoming the first autonomous car to go coast-to-coast. The company maintains that V2V technology is a critical component of preventing accidents and loss of life in a driverless car.
The DOT is aiming to help promote safety in the automobile revolution on the 21st century. As the changes, vehicle safety remains one of the biggest concerns surrounding self-driving cars, although perhaps we should trust them a bit more.
Lead image credit: USDOT

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The Mindy Project is the latest TV show saved by streaming
The Mindy Project is the latest TV show saved by streaming
Hulu just saved The Mindy Project, bolstering its original content lineup and giving the Mindy Kaling-led sitcom a new lease on life.
The three-season show was canned from Fox earlier this month, but apparently talks with Hulu started well before it was cancelled.
Hulu plans to air a whopping 26-episode season four, as well as continue streaming the show's past seasons. Hulu is the only place you'll find The Mindy Project available for streaming.

Netflix vs Hulu, and so much more

With the move, Hulu further positions itself against streaming giant Netflix, which has picked up shows cancelled by networks and has a hearty original content lineup.
For its part, Hulu recently scored a spin-off for The Walking Dead and every season of Seinfeld, in addition to content from the Cartoon Network, TBS, Adult Swim and TNT. It also has a number of original shows in the books, including a forthcoming James Franco/Stephen King project called "11/22/63" about the JFK assassination. Adding a popular show like The Mindy Project only helps boost Hulu's content cache against Netflix.
The Mindy Project also becomes the latest TV show to be revived by a streaming service. Community, Arrested Development and The Killing are just a few shows given a new lease on life online.
Hulu will announce The Mindy Project's season four premier date down the road.
Lead image credit: Fox

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Want to play with Oculus Rift? Then you'll need a serious PC
Want to play with Oculus Rift? Then you'll need a serious PC
On the heels of announcing a 2016 release date for the Oculus Rift, the company has now released the official specs your PC needs to run the virtual reality headset, and it ain't cheap.
Oculus notes that because delivering the best VR content is based on raw rendering costs, real-time performance and latency, you'll need a heavy duty Windows machine with the following specs to experience the Rift smoothly:
  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer
Apparently "an underperforming system will fail to deliver comfortable presence" so in addition to the cost of a Rift, you'll have to spend a chunk of change to upgrade your PC if it doesn't meet the requirements.

No Rift for you, OS X or Linux (yet)

The company also noted that "development for OS X and Linux has been paused" to focus on creating the best Rift experiences for Windows opposed to dividing attention and delivering a mediocre experience on several platforms.
There's still interest in developing for OS X and Linux but Oculus states "we don't have a timeline."
This likely means console plug-n-play is also out of the picture for now. However mobile VR seems to still be in the running with the latest Samsung Gear VR for S6 device shipping soon, and heavy emphasis on app development.
  • Will we see more Oculus news during E3 2015?

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Hands-on review: Updated: LG G4
Hands-on review: Updated: LG G4

Introduction and design

NOTE: the LG G4 units that have been sent out worldwide for review aren't finished software, so aren't indicative of the final retail experience you'll be buying. As part of TechRadar's reviews guarantee, we'll only give a star rating and final verdict when we receive the finished product, which is why this still remains a hands on review.
When the final model lands we'll update this review so you know our findings will match your experience. But in the meantime here's our extended preview to whet your appetite:
LG is on something of a comeback trail - the brand that killed it in the feature phone market then fell apart when smartphone became 'a thing' is now starting to show signs it can be a front runner again.
The LG G4 is the result of years of forward momentum, combining the insane sort of specs we're used to seeing from the Asian manufacturers with a recognised brand and decent attempt to create a usable user experience.
LG G4 review
But the last few flagship 'G' phones have had one thing in common: loads of good bits, but a slightly uneven finish. It's lacked the final polish that would have made it a market leader, but usually combined it with a cheaper price and therefore evened out the equation.
The LG G4 does a few things differently though. This time the brand has gone for some elements the user will actually want: longer battery life, improved camera and upgraded screen, and combined them with a slightly outlandish design: covering the thing in a leather coat that's certainly something the rest of the market hasn't seen yet.
There's an early sticking point that I didn't expect though: the LG G4 costs the same as a Samsung Galaxy S6, and more than an HTC One M9 and iPhone 6. Spec for spec I'd argue it warrants that price point, but it's taken away one of the key cards LG usually plays.
I've no doubt that when it starts shipping the cost will come down, but LG is clearly trying to position itself as a premium brand with the price tag to go with it.


I'm not sure what LG is doing with the G4. There are two options on offer, and I've been testing both. The first is a leather back, and the one that LG is pushing as the 'premium' model, and the latter is the polycarbonate version with a diamond effect.
LG G4 review
It's attractive enough, and has the same brushed metal effect as last year, but lacks anything like the 'wow' factor LG is going for with the leather option.
Let's start with leather (on a separate note: a dangerous statement for a first date). I'm really disappointed with what LG has done here. It's too thinly stretched over the back of the phone to be considered premium, and when you're fighting against the beauty of the HTC One M9, it's a real misstep.
LG G4 review
Leather could have been a good idea, if it had the same feel as an expensive wallet or watch strap. But the thin material used here almost feels plastic, not premium. The Moto X has a leather back option, and I know some people love it, but for many a leather back is a novelty, not a statement of wealth, luxury or quality.
And let's be honest: the leather back is just that, a back. One you can buy and clip on, rather than a part of the phone's design itself.
When it comes to the plastic version, the LG G4 doesn't feel as nice in the hand as the rest of the market's big hitters: the HTC One M9 has a really well-crafted finish, the iPhone 6 a lightweight ceramic feel that begs you to fondle it, and the Galaxy S6 has shown that Samsung's not completely inept when it comes to offering a phone made of metal and glass.
LG G4 review
The LG, on the other hand, is all about being lightweight and ergonomic in the hand. The rear cover bulges out a little to curve into the palm, which is designed to make it nicer to hold and allow for a greater battery space (3000mAh, compared to the 2500mAh on offer in the Galaxy S6, for instance).
One of the big features LG is making a big deal of is the fact said battery is removable, which explains the need for a plastic cover (easier to remove and less likely to break than a metal choice).
I'm not sold on the need to have removable battery. I know some people love the safety it brings, the idea that you can carry around a spare, but in reality I'd rather use one of the battery packs I've become accustomed to slinging in my bag - plus they're universal.
LG G4 review
Making a battery removable does have the added benefit of letting you change it out if the power pack starts playing up a year and a half into your two year contract, but it comes at the cost of design. There's a reason the S6, One M9, iPhone 6 and Sony Xperia Z3 all look better than the G4, and that's the fact they have unibody chassis.
I'm glad LG has offered this choice just so one of the market's big hitters is doing it, and if you're one of those that think the leather is equally as premium as metal, then this is a great feature to have (the cover also hides the microSD slot too).
But the lack of unibody has minimised the amount of battery space available and made a less attractive phone.
The phone itself is large without being unwieldy. Yes, we've become used to having massive phones in our hands, but where the LG G3 was just on the edge of being too big, this 5.5-inch screened device has been curved and hewn to make it a little less sharp to use in the hand.
LG G4 review
You'll still need to wriggle it around to use it day to day, but given the trade-off gives you a phenomenal QHD screen, it's worth it. That display is slightly curved, but I've not seen a great deal of use for that in general use.
The rear keys are present again - one of LG's favourite design tweaks - meaning that there's very little buttonry around the phone. The rear keys are easy to find, have a pleasant ridged effect and are distinct from other elements of the phone. I came to love them on the LG G2 and still find them really nice now.
The only other thing to point out is the infra-red port on the top of the phone - it's slight and most will miss it (and I'd rather it was on the rear of the phone as it makes controlling the TV a little easier when the phone is held up) but it's good to see its presence continuing.


This is where LG first begins to flex its muscles: the display on the LG G4 is simply mind-blowing. I've often said that the screen on the phone is the thing most brands have to get right if there's any chance of making their phone a critical success among users, as it's the element most will use more than anything else.
LG G4 review
However, while LG has a rich heritage in making impressive screens, it didn't use that power with the G3, making a darker screen that ticked the headline-making box of being the highest-res on the market.
This time around, the difference is quantum. Literally. The new Quantum IPS display on the LG G4 is really, really nice to look at, and vies for top spot with Samsung as the best on the market.
At 5.5-inches, it's not the easiest to navigate around with one hand... in fact, it's impossible. But what you get in return is a large display that displays everything amazingly well. The contrast ratio is the part that impresses me the most - it's almost as deep and rich as the Samsung Super AMOLED offering, which is really cool to see from an LCD.
The colours look rich and vibrant, which LG is talking up because it adheres to a more modern cinematic standard - the brand is all about making sure the buying public equates this phone to 'cinema quality' images.
It's an irrelevant point in practice, as it just means the colours are a little deeper, and the red especially are brighter than ever. There's a lot of science about how we all perceive different colours more strongly than others, but in reality it just means this is a very colourful screen.
LG G4 review
I really miss the ability to tweak the settings up and down - I'm all for deep, rich and even over-saturated colours, but many hate that - and one of the big advantages Samsung has is the option to change the intensity of the screen.
The other cool thing about the display is the 'Knock On' effect that allows you to wake the phone from sleep. It's really useful as it prevents the need of hunting around on the back of the phone for the power button.
It's such an intuitive way of opening the phone that I constantly do it on other handsets, irritated when it doesn't happen. It's not super accurate, sometimes needing a second to 'rest' before opening up, and the 'Knock Code' (meant to replace the PIN or swipe code method of security) is too fallible to be considered a really useful too.
Knock Code allows you to tap certain portions of the screen to create an invisible pattern that'll open your phone, but having used this for months I've never felt like it really works accurately all the time in the same way as the fingerprint scanner on the iPhones or the exceptionally speedy option on the Galaxy S6.
Some people swear by it though, so if you can settle on a code that's perfect for you and your tapping it's a nice option to have.


Last year, with the G3, LG brought out a more mature, flat and altogether less cartoonish interface than seen in previous mental splatterings for its user experience.
That option has been refined well again in the LG G4 - it's pretty colourful (in a pastel sort of way) but looks refined and takes Google's Material design language to present cleaner icons.
LG G4 review
The notification bar in particular is cleaned up, with fewer things showing there when you're pulling the shade down to see what's happening in your world. Where before there were a million sliders and icons on here, there are fewer now so it's more usable.
Q Slide apps are still on there, and I still can't really find a reason to use them. In theory, the idea of being able to float a calculator or contacts list over the top of the screen, resizing as you go and reducing the opacity to see what's behind seems like a good idea.
It means I could be browsing something on the internet, suddenly need a calculator, and then not have to drop out of the app just to do my slick sums.
LG G4 review
But even at 5.5-inches, there's not enough space for this. Every time I end up just opening the app full screen and then flicking between the two... I feel things like Q Slide just get in the way of what's good about the phone.
Actually, it's not super easy to flick between apps, as pressing the 'all running apps' button (a lovely minimalist square on the bottom set of navigation icons) takes a second to open, which is infuriating when this phone is supposed to have a powerful processor at the heart.
And that's where we get onto the reason this isn't going to be a final review just yet: the LG G4 is riddled with small bugs that make me unwilling to review it as the finished article.
The screen can't auto-rotate, the camera takes a couple of seconds to load from sleep (at least) and the homescreen rebuilds when you've used a couple of apps quickly, with the wallpaper, icons and widgets all disappearing to be flashed back up again.
Like the design, this is unbecoming of a phone that's supposed to be absolutely cutting edge. However, the good news is this is heavily indicative of a phone that's not quite finished - which also could mean the battery life will improve too.
Smart Notice was the big news from LG last year, with the phone able to tell you important things when you needed to know them, clue you in on the weather and generally be your fun-time buddy on the go.
It was rubbish.
Highlights included: 'FRIEND had a birthday today' and 'The shipping forecast for New York is...' - not exactly the cutting edge information we've all been waiting to hear.
LG G4 review
This year things are a lot better though. While there were a friend / birthday incidents again, in just a few days there were many more instances where I got a lot of useful hints, with questions about adding frequent callers to my contacts and genuine insight into the weather, telling me it would be windy later that day and a coat would make a lot sense.
The left homescreen, where HTC houses Blinkfeed and Samsung its weird Flipboard info, is no longer just the pointless 'tutorial videos' that we saw last year. It's now myriad widgets for things like LG Health, a music player and updates to your calendar. It looks nice enough, but it's pretty useless unless you're using your phone to track your health.
I wouldn't recommend it though - you won't get accurate step data, and you'll need to keep adding bits and pieces to the app to work out how healthy you're being.
The rest of the widgets are fine, but I didn't find anything was particularly useful - the calendar and music widgets both appear contextually in the notification panel, and are more useful there.
It would be great if I could have things like a Spotify widget in there - or other options I want - but apart from Smart Settings (which open apps or start certain actions when you enter a certain zone or connect something to the phone) I barely used this panel at all.
Overall, I'd say LG has once again taken a massive step towards being seen as a relevant choice to being your next smartphone by making the user interface more mature and useful - like all brands, it's thrown in some 'differentiators' to help market the phone but you can turn off most of these, as they can obscure the good bits of the phone.


Once again, I'm confused by LG. I'm not sure what it's up to with the battery life of its flagship phone, as while it's got some decent specs on board, it doesn't last long enough - especially compared to how good this brand can be on battery life.
LG G4 review
Before we get any further it's worth remembering that the LG G4's software clearly isn't finished and optimised at this point - and one of the last things any brand will do before getting a phone ready for retail is clean up the battery life, tweaking the CPU to ensure optimum efficiency.
Worryingly this software has gone on sale in South Korea already, but I'm willing to bet that the UK / US and other parts of the world see an upgrade before the phone goes on sale.
But for now, here's how the battery will last over the course of a day: Getting up, spending 10-15 minutes messing about on the phone before deciding that it's a terrible way to start the day know what? Emails can wait...will lead to an 8-10% battery drain (with brightness set to auto).
Then a ride to the station, Bluetooth music streaming, for about 10 minutes. The 45 minute commute will mostly be watching a video or two, checking feeds and listening to music wirelessly again - I'll arrive at work with about 80% remaining at best.
However, this is where it gets annoying. Despite some days being less heavy, I'll still leave work with only 30-odd% left, with minimal interaction and the phone connected to Wi-Fi. If I stream YouTube videos or use it for gaming at lunch, there's a strong chance the charger will need to come out about 4PM to ensure there's enough juice to get me home as it will be below 15%.
Even with minimal use during the day, the LG G4 was always below 15% come bedtime, if not completely run out. While I appreciate that a lot of what I do could be construed heavier usage - email is always syncing, for instance - compared to something like the LG G2 the battery life simply isn't good enough.
The upshot is my confidence in the G4's battery is not high - it's about the same as the iPhone 6 and HTC One M9, but better than the Samsung Galaxy S6.
The screen is again the big suck on the power, with all those pixels needing power and the brightness needing to be up a little higher to keep the display viewable at all times. But it seems that despite being on Android 5.1, the problems with the OS have maintained - it's the Google Services and the OS taking the second and third biggest drain slots.
LG G4 review
The large, high-res QHD screen makes sense as a reason to drain the battery, despite LG promising that the hexa-core processor should be less hungry and the GPU is smart enough to throttle less important actions. The Sony range is still the best for power management and once again confirmed that the need for a QHD screen doesn't come close to being enough of a sacrifice for better battery life.
And there's no inbuilt wireless charging, much to my wireless chagrin. If Samsung can chuck two types in the S6, then LG can put at least one standard in there - especially when there's so much wasted space under the cover.


LG G4 review
LG's making a big deal about the camera prowess of the LG G4, and rightly so: if you're going to release a new flagship phone, the screen, design, battery and camera should be the elements you get right before adding any bells and whistles on top.
The specs make for salivating reading: there's a 16MP camera on the rear, and it's fused with an f1.8 aperture that is designed to deliver spectacular low-light ability. On top of that LG has added in a huge amount of control to the camera, allowing users to choose the settings for pretty much any area of the snapper they wish to play with.
LG G4 review
That includes RAW support, which is baked into Android these days and will attract some of the more photographically-minded among the smartphone community.
However, there's the necessary 'Auto' and 'Simple' modes that will let you just take snaps as and when you want to, getting the best picture you can without having to mess around with the settings.
LG's also touting the fact its camera loads in 0.6 seconds - coincidentally faster than Samsung's 0.7 second opening speed on the Galaxy S6. However, where Samsung has added the quick open to double tapping the home button, LG's speed is only when tapping the camera icon.
You can open the camera using the rear volume key, double tapping it to fire up the snapper, but that's only when the phone is asleep - and it takes about two seconds to load. That's not slow, but it's nowhere near as fast as Samsung manages.
In practice, the LG G4 is an accomplished camera, and up there with the best I've ever tested. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 both offer phenomenal pictures just by framing and tapping, and LG probably slips the G4 just in between these two in terms of picture quality.
The low-light claims definitely hold up to scrutiny - trying it in darker, shadowy places the results were amazing, even compared to the Galaxy S6, which has excellent ability in this space too.
LG G4 review
However, the processing LG places on top of its pictures is higher, so edges seem ever so slightly less sharp than that seen on the S6's pictures - which I considered the gold standard in low light photography. It's your choice though: slightly brighter pictures, more muddy results.
In good light though, the LG G4 really comes into its own. The laser autofocus will generally give good, sharp results and the colour and brightness levels are excellent.
That said, a quick snap picture doesn't always give something sharp and in focus - that laser is either misfiring or not as impressive as the marketing sounds.
Overall, the LG G4 has a great camera, and will result in amazing pictures most of the time, with bright, clear and colourful images. The results are always too over-sharpened for my tastes, but that's been a feature of LG's camera prowess for years.
LG G4 review
It's worth noting that most of the above is talking about automatic mode, rather than the manual control, which gives brilliant pictures if you know how to play with the settings - manual focus is awesome, and altering the exposure and ISO settings never failed to get the right picture.
If you're someone who knows what they're doing with photography, this is a brilliant phone to play with - but for the automatic mode, it's not quite as impressive. Very good, but just below the best I've seen.

Music, movies and gaming

Media is an area LG has been bossing for a while now, and that's continued with the G4, thanks to great screen and onboard compatibility with loads of files, including lossless formats and the best the audio world can offer.
The music options through the app are excellent, with pretty every element of the app being something you can mess around with to get the best out of the audio experience.
We are a mostly approaching the point where there's nothing really to add to the story - sure, it's great that the phone can handle the high resolution audio, but that's not much use when you consider there aren't loads of file types that support it out there. Yes, it's good to have the 'Hi-Fi' sound option on there, but right now there's not a lot of use for it.
LG G4 review
The LG Music player is actually surprisingly basic for something from the South Korean brand that usually revels in giving you as many options as possible. In fact, only the ability to split sound between headphones and Bluetooth when both are connected is something to make me perk up, where Samsung has a whole audio suite that can tailor music to getting the best out of any headphones, no matter the quality.
I do like the 'music video' option in the settings, as it will automatically search YouTube for the video for you to watch - it would be way cooler if this played in the window though.


When it comes to movies, LG has got the bases covered once again. You'd assume that this was one of the best phones for watching videos on - after all, it's got a cinema quality screen (according to LG) and the QHD display that delivers the joint-most pixels on the market.
On top of that, the curved glass is supposed to help with reflection to make it a more pleasant experience, so overall the signs were good.
And the experience matched, for the most part. When thinking about watching videos on the LG G4 my mind instantly points out the brightness levels - I has to push them right up to the maximum to get the best picture, as glare was often something of an issue (even when commuting on a train).
When the brightness is cranked up, the picture is good – really good – but like last year, I'm still not convinced we need QHD screens. No, scrap that: we don't need them yet. There's no great content out there which really takes the full potential of these screens and makes them into a compelling reason to buy the phone, so why place the battery sucking display on there at all?
LG G4 review

You can make a case for the menus and internet browsing looking a little sharper – and they do, for the most part - but it doesn't add enough to the mix to make the LG G4 really need a super high resolution display.
The colours are deep and rich, although the red balance is really high, screaming out of the screen compared to the more muted blues and greens. It's a tricky one to review the LG G4 for movies – while the display is clear, large and super sharp (all things I'm looking for in a phone for watching videos) it seems a bit unnecessary. That said, if battery life doesn't bother you, the G4 offers excellent performance.


For gaming I was expecting the LG G4 to be excellent – even two fewer cores shouldn't hurt here, although I was intrigued to find out whether the higher res screen might drop the framerate.
As expected, it was great. The screen is expansive and responsive, the frame rate was rapid enough to crank out most of the top-end games on the market right now and 32GB of internal space should be enough to install loads of top-end options.
It's still not got the ability to run multiple games in the background – they'll still shut down as you flip between them – and there's still way too much lag when trying to push it up onto a big screen. However, these aren't really massive issues that affect your general day to day gaming.
LG G4 review
The only real issue for the LG G4 as a gaming device (although I would worry about the accelerometer performance long term given the issues with rotation I found in the phone) is the speed with which it munches the battery.
I wasn't expecting that with the 808 hexa-core processor, so it's a disappointment to see it run down so quickly.

What else should I consider?

LG has this habit of launching into a market that's already well-stocked with new high-end flagships, and as such has a slew of rivals to fight off when making a case to be your new smartphone for the next two years.
LG has historically had price on its side when it comes to one-upping the competition, and while it's not super cheap just yet it's more than likely to drop in cost quickly. So how does it stack up against the competition?

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S6
Samsung's Galaxy S6 (and its brother, the Galaxy S6 Edge) is a phone that's shown the South Korean brand still knows how to make a really decent handset.

While it's got the same QHD screen as the LG G4, the shrunken dimensions combined with the Super AMOLED screen make it a really compelling thing to look at – plus it also comes in a variety of storage sizes, from 32GB to 128GB… although does so at the expense of a microSD slot, which LG offers.
It's more expensive than LG's offering, and the gap between the two will likely continue to grow – and weirdly the S6 is a more complex phone than the G4 too, where historically LG has been all about smashing as much stuff in its devices as possible.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9
The HTC One M9 is almost the nemesis to the LG G4, adding in style and design prowess but dropping the camera and screen quality. However, there's something about the refined package that HTC has created here that makes it more impressive, with the classy Sense overlay joining well with the Boomsound speakers and metal chassis to offer something rather decent.
That said, the LG's leather back will entice some over the metal, the camera is much better here (with more modes) and the screen much better too, with both phones ending up neck and neck in battery life.

iPhone 6 / 6 Plus

iPhone 6I've included both these phones here simply because they both offer slightly different competition to the G4. The iPhone 6 is one of the front-running phones on the market simply due to the mature experience it offers, but the 6 Plus brings a larger screen (similar to the G4) as well as extended battery life.
Both thrive through the iOS app ecosystem and familiar user interface, as well as exceptional design and speed under the finger. However, LG creams the two of them with its screen technology, and even though Apple's got some great camera tech the South Korean brand still manages to provide improved snaps.


LG G4 review
Oh, this is a tricky one. You're an LG fan and you can't decide which phone to go for. The LG G4 is superior in terms of photography, the screen is better quality (although the same res) and the design is curved and enhanced.
There's more power stuffed inside and the battery life is roughly the same. So surely the new model? Well, no, as the LG G3 is lot, lot cheaper than the new offering, and comes with Android 5 too.
I'd advise the LG G4 as the phone of choice simply because it will get software upgrades for a year longer – but wait until it drops in price a little first.

Early verdict

The LG G4 is a phone that's designed to keep building the head of steam LG's creating in the smartphones space, building on the worldwide success of the LG G3 sales.
The brand should be applauded for trying something different with the design: the leather back and curved chassis are just the sort of thing that anyone looking to not be a 'me-too' brand should be doing.
There's a lot going on with the LG G4, and for the most part it's rather positive indeed.
LG G4 review

We liked

The LG G4 has a large, expansive and rich screen – one of the best on the market, without doubt. I'm going to label it as a positive as while there's not really enough content out there to make use of it (and therefore the battery sucking aspects are more annoying) the great colour reproduction and sharpness generally make everything look that much better.
The camera errs on the side of sharpness too much for my liking, and LG has repeated its usual trick of mudding the edges of some darker snaps, but overall I got great pictures time and again – the low light capabilities are exquisite at times.
The curved chassis might be thick, but that doesn't mean it felt large in the hand, and I still believe the rear buttons make sense from an ergonomic point of view.

We disliked

The battery life is still too poor – what on Earth has Google done with Android to make Lollipop so thirsty on the power?
I never, ever got through a whole day on battery with the G4, no matter what I was doing, and quickly found myself topping up at 4PM just to make sure I could make it through the commute home. Not good enough, especially when a slower processor was chosen to help with battery drain.
The leather back just doesn't work. Some out there will like the novelty, but it's not even nice feeling leather. When you feel it for the first time it doesn't feel like a quality leather wallet but more plastic leather – thin and grainy. Plus it's leather on a phone – miles away from the premium feel of the HTC One M9 or iPhone 6.
LG G4 review
The plastic options are just too cheap-feeling to be used on a flagship phone.
The interface is good, but needs some work still – the bugs in the system can be forgiven as this isn't the finished article from LG.

Early verdict

I know the number of LG fans is growing, and for good reason: the South Korean firm is working hard on bringing the best from its labs into a smartphone. The screen and camera on the LG G4 are really good additions and are genuine upgrades from last year's G3.
However, the brand still hasn't shown me it can make a truly market-leading smartphone. The decision to use leather and plastic is awful – LG needed a premium design and failed badly in trying to be a little different.
Those that value a removable battery need to realise that an all-in-one design comes at a price - so if you value the option of being able to swap out a power pack, you'll have to accept a lowering of design prowess.
It feels slightly churlish criticising the G4 in some ways, as it's a brilliant phone with a lovely screen and decent elements that people really want. Some of the issues mentioned will be fixed with new software, but there's no way to upgrade the design over the air.
However, the overall package is just too rough around the edges to say this is a really brilliant phone, which is a shame as LG has the potential to really stick it to the market leaders in performance, design and price

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Verizon snafu left its 9 million internet users easy targets for hackers
Verizon snafu left its 9 million internet users easy targets for hackers
After Verizon purchased AOL on Tuesday, May 13 for $4.4 billion, the network may already have gotten off to a rough start in the public eye.
BuzzFeed reported a vulnerability in Verizon's website that has existed on the site for weeks, which could have put 9 million of its existing internet users at risk of theft.
Thanks to a tip, BuzzFeed discovered that an error in the telecom's site, which provides services such as email to subscribers, allowed for easy access into any Verizon internet user's personal info.
Verizon has since remedied the issue, explaining it was a coding error that caused the soft spot. Regardless of the damage done, the potential for hacking millions of users' accounts raises a lot of red flags for the company and its customers. And, to make matters worse, exploiting this bug was exceptionally easy – that is, before it was squashed.

The hack

BuzzFeed's Joseph Bernstein detailed how he was able to obtain multiple Verizon accounts (with permissions of course) using a frighteningly simple formula.
By simply finding a user's IP address, which can be seen in the email header sent by a Verizon internet customer, Bernstein was able to simply "spoof" the IP address with a Firefox extension called, "X-Forwarded-For Header", and camouflage his own address with the stolen one. Upon this simple duping of the system, Verizon showcases the unlucky victim's name, email address, location, and phone number, with no more confirmation than the right IP address.
Bernstein then was able to hop on the phone and schmooze with Verizon's customer support to convince them to reset his password, which he describes as "surprisingly easily done." This is because customer support recognizes its customers by their IP address.
Just like that, he was able to get into an account he had no attachments to; free to roam, steal and change whatever he wished.
Of course, BuzzFeed was interested in the safety of others, not their personal information. Regardless, the lapse in security raises some serious questions about the mega network. Had a malicious hacker discovered this, it would have been as simple as following a recipe to sift through a Verizon customers email for bank statements, social security and more.
Admittedly, this all would be less worrisome if it had been a Jesse James-style heist that left the system vulnerable. But it's the simplicity of the exploit that is a stark reminder of the precarious nature of web security.
The company told BuzzFeed in a statement that it has "no reason to believe that any customers were impacted by this," while the bug existed. Unfortunately for Verizon's 9 million home internet customers, they'll have to take their word on it.

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Citrix gambles on the Internet of Things through new platform
Citrix gambles on the Internet of Things through new platform
Citrix is ready to take on the packed Internet of Things sector as part of the interestingly named Project Octoblu that will help save enterprise users time when using virtual workspaces.
The company's aspirations in the IoT sector comes in the form of a cloud-hosted software platform to handle devices and the first such peripheral to work in collaboration with the platform is the Citrix Workspace Hub, according to V3.
Octoblu, the cloud platform, has been created to manage machine-to-machine interaction between devices by using sensors and wireless connectivity. It uses a graphical programming language that makes it simple for developers to create workflows that control how devices or apps on the Octoblu platform work.
Citrix has been able to bring the solution to market after it acquired machine-to-machine software firm Octoblu in December 2014 and the platform is expected to be similar to the one it bought as part of that deal.
Citrix's Workplace Hub, also announced, is a small prototype that is designed to let users carry a virtual workplace with them at all times. The device has VGA and HDMI ports so that it can be hooked up to displays when required and further connectivity comes from the integrated Wi-Fi and low-energy Bluetooth chip.

Echo's in on the fun

It uses Citrix's Receiver tool to automatically access a user's XenApps and XenDesktop workspaces and it can detect when a user is on the move or out of range of connected devices so that the virtual workspace is loaded onto a mobile device straight away to remain secure. When used in conjunction with Octoblu it can also complete various tasks automatically thus saving business users time.
The last part of Project Octoblu involves a partnership with Amazon that leverages its Echo voice recognition speaker. The plan is to marry Amazon Echo's voice recognition with the Workplace Hub and Octoblu in order to allow voice control in workplaces.

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Sony set to reinvent the Xperia with the Z5
Sony set to reinvent the Xperia with the Z5
The Xperia Z4 has only just broken cover but we already have our first look at what could be the Xperia Z5 - and it's quite a departure for Sony in the design department.
The leak comes courtesy of serial tipster @upleaks, so it has some weight and respectability attached to it, and is accompanied by the simple caption "Sony Lavender".
That's the first time we've heard that name and so it's difficult to determine exactly what this is or where it fits in the Sony line-up. That said, it might just be the next flagship phone from the electronics giant.
Sony Lavender

Design for life

It certainly has a very narrow bezel, which would give the handset an expensive and high-end feel. Also visible is a front-facing LED flash reminiscent of what we've seen on the Xperia A4.
The fact that this is a very rough-and-ready rendering would match the theory that development of the Xperia Z5 is still in its early stages, so we might have to wait until 2016 to see the finished product.
In the background of all of this is the uncertainty about whether or not Sony even wants to keep making smartphones any more. If the company does plan to continue challenging Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola and the big Chinese firms then it's going to need to pull out all the stops with its next device.

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This coffee-filled robotic tentacle will perform surgery on you
This coffee-filled robotic tentacle will perform surgery on you
A flexible robot arm, aimed at improving surgical operations and filled with coffee granules, has been constructed by scientists in Italy.
The 14-centimetre-long tentacle has no rigid inner skeleton. Instead, it has a central tube with chambers that can be pumped full of air to varying degrees to lengthen or bend the arm in different directions.
In the middle of the tube is an additional chamber filled with coarse-ground coffee. When air is sucked out of that compartment, the coffee granules jam together and the arm goes rigid.
YouTube :
The goal is to provide a tool for surgeons hoping to perform minimally-invasive surgery. "Traditional surgical tasks often require the use of multiple specialized instruments such as graspers, retractors, vision systems and dissectors, to carry out a single procedure," lead author Tommaso Ranzani, from the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, told the BBC.
"The human body represents a highly challenging and non-structured environment, where the capabilities of the octopus can provide several advantages with respect to traditional surgical tools," he added.
The design was published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

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