Thursday, November 5, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 06/11/2015


Black Friday: Why UK retailers really hate Black Friday deals
Black Friday: Why UK retailers really hate Black Friday deals

Why retailers hate Black Friday

In November 2014, Black Friday deals burst onto the UK scene in a way absolutely no one expected.
The Black Friday page on TechRadar was viewed more than 1.5 million times, UK retail websites crashed all over the place under the heavy load and UK shoppers alone spent more in one day - £810m - than on any other day in history.
This year, analysts are expecting UK shoppers to spend more than £1bn on Black Friday - a truly stunning number.
So how are retailers dealing with this new and disruptive shopping spike, how can you ensure you get the best deals and where will the best bargains be found?

Why retailers hate Black Friday

It's safe to say that retailers hate Black Friday. Many of the big ones really hate it. It demands they discount products and thus trim their already small margins at a time when customers would be spending money for Christmas anyway, as well as forcing a drastic rethink of stock levels, staffing in warehouses and in IT departments and all sorts of other logistics at a time when they'd rather be preparing for Christmas.
Last year, many stores panic-slashed product prices on Black Friday with site-wide percentage reductions at the last minute in an effort to get in on the unexpected action, and many ended up making no money as a result. One retailer told techradar that it actually made a loss on Black Friday sales in 2014.
That's the problem with many consumer electronics categories - margins for stores are already quite small.
In short, Black Friday is a brilliant thing for us as consumers, but a total nightmare for online and highstreet stores. But as Adam Simon at IT stock analyst firm CONTEXT told techradar last week, "the genie is out of the bottle now and there's no putting it back in".
black friday laptop deals

Better deals than last year

Of course, for some retailers with certain products it's a different story. and the good news is that while stores dislike discounts, Black Friday is a hot war and you've got to be in it to win it. So you can rule out a retail boycott.
Indeed, numbers from CONTEXT show that UK retailers imported more laptops in October than in any other month in history.
"What we saw in week 41 [beginning of October] was that laptop sales via distribution into retail was up 65% on the previous two years, " said Adam Simon, CEO of CONTEXT in an interview with techradar. "So we thought, 'wow, we'd better watch this space'. Week 42 has gone in the same direction and is extremely high. 70,000 notebooks were distributed to retailers."
That's economies of scale at work - the more products retailers buy in, the lower the prices they pay, and the better the deals for us punters. So if you're after a new laptop, you'd be wise to wait until Black Friday because the deals are likely to be better even than Black Friday 2014. You'll still need to be quick off the mark to get the best bargains though - allow us to be your guide on that score!
You can also expect superb deals on 4K TVs, PS4 and Xbox One console bundles, Chromecasts, iPads and smartphones as well.
The other trick that retailers are pulling this year is to spread the deals out over a wider period.
"We'll be running deals and promotions throughout November to make things easier for ourselves," one major UK retailer, which asked to remain anonymous, told TechRadar. "Consumers now expect discounts throughout this period so to make the best of it we have to plan ahead and make sure we order the right products in the right numbers to guarantee leading prices and adequate stock levels."
That's music to many a Christmas-shopping ear. So you can expect not only best-ever deals on Black Friday itself, but throughout the month leading up to the big day as well.
TechRadar isrunning a pre-Black Friday deals on which we're listing what we think are the best new bargains, so do check in with us next week to have a look.
black friday 2015

The secret nature of Black Friday deals

One interesting undercurrent of this new and exciting deals period is how secretive each retailer is being with its planned promotions. We've been in touch with all the major online stores and they're all happy to speak to us... off the record.
Most seem very concerned that their rivals will uncover their plans ahead of time and price-match their carefully orchestrated marketing campaigns. It's almost like a Tom Clancy novel, except it's Mr. John Lewis vs Dr. Amazon instead of Khrushchev vs Kennedy.
I guess that would make this article The Hunt For Black November. Or, The Sum of all Deals. Or, Clear and Present Changer. I'll stop now.

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Review: Updated: Lenovo IdeaPad 100S
Review: Updated: Lenovo IdeaPad 100S

Introduction and design

Netbooks debuted less than a decade ago with a reputation for being underwhelming. Even though these machines were inexpensive, they were also incapable of many computing tasks other than basic word processing, web surfing and occasional YouTube watching. Today, the situation is different.
Although modern netbooks still carry the same inexpensive price tags, the Intel Atom processor inside allow these systems to be more powerful, yet come packaged in sleeker, more attractive designs. Priced to take on Chromebooks, Lenovo's IdeaPad 100S sheds all the bells and whistles found on fancier, premium-priced Ultrabooks, but still delivers a full Windows experience in a travel-friendly package.
IdeaPad 100S
At $200 (£130, AU$277), the IdeaPad 100S faces some stiff competition. With a non-convertible, non-touch display, the IdeaPad 100S is more closely matched against Acer's Aspire One Cloudbook 11 ($152, £98, AU$210). However, unlike netbooks of yore, Atom-equipped models today come in a variety of form factors, designs and price. Toshiba's Satellite Click 10 ($359, £232, AU$498) is more expensive, but adds a touchscreen to the Windows 10 experience.
IdeaPad 100S
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 E ($296, £191, AU$410) offer a detachable screen, which allows users to shed the weight of the keyboard and use the devices as a tablet, while the HP Stream x360 ($197, £127, AU$273) and Asus Transformer Book Flip ($279, £180, AU$387) come with a 360-degree hinge for a convertible design.


Clad in a smooth, matte red plastic, the IdeaPad 100S is a playful, fun laptop, but one with which you can get some work done. Lenovo also offers the notebook in choices of white, blue or silver hues, but our review unit comes with a red lid and matching red undercarriage.
I appreciated Lenovo's choice of matte finishing on the IdeaPad 100S. The red color is vibrant, but not overly bright. And unlike a glossy finish, fingerprints don't show up quite as easily. Coupled with a solid build quality, the ability of the cover to look clean after a full day of use makes the IdeaPad 100S feel more premium than it really is.
IdeaPad 100S
With an 11.6-inch screen, the IdeaPad 100S is just as portable as Apple's premium 11-inch MacBook Air ($899, £584, AU$1,256). Both laptops share similar footprints, but the MacBook Air ships with a more powerful processor. The IdeaPad 100S measures 11.5 x 7.95 x 0.69 inches (292 x 202 x 17.5mm), and the difference is that the aluminum-clad MacBook Air has a more dramatic tapering.
Utilizing a traditional notebook form factor, the dimensions of the IdeaPad 100S is similar to the Acer One Cloudbook, which measures 11.5 x 7.95 x 0.70 inches (292 x 201 x 17.78mm). Despite sharing a similar screen size, the HP Stream x360 has a larger footprint, likely attributed to its convertible hinge. The Stream measures 13.11 x 9.01 x 0.76 in (333.20 x 229.00 x 19.50 mm) and weighs 3.16 lbs (1.43 kg).
IdeaPad 100S
At 2.2 pounds (0.99kg), the IdeaPad weighs slightly less than the 2.54-pound (1.15kg) Acer One Cloudbook. Both these notebooks are larger than some convertibles with smaller 10-inch displays. For example, the Aspire Switch 10 E measures 10.31 x 7.09 x 1.01 inches (261.87 x 180.09 x 25.65mm) and weighs 2.82 pounds (1.28kg) with the keyboard, but comes with a smaller 10.1-inch screen.
The Intel Atom-based Celeron-powered Transformer Book comes with the same 11.6-inch screen as the IdeaPad 100S, but adds a touchscreen and a 360-degree swiveling screen in an 11.69 x 7.92 x 0.72-in (297.00 x 201.30 x 18.45 mm) form factor. The convertible design surprisingly doesn't add much weight, and the Transformer Book weighs just a little more than the IdeaPad, coming in at 2.58 pounds (1.17 kg).


Opening up the lid reveals the 11.6-inch screen. Our review unit comes with a matte display. The 1,366 x 768-pixel screen resolution is the same as Apple's MacBook Air, and neither notebooks come with touch support.
This resolution is fairly standard for the netbook category, which is shared by the Transformer Book, Acer Aspire One Cloudbook and HP Stream x360. The Aspire Switch 10 E and comes with a 1,200 x 800 resolution screen on a 10.1-inch display, while the Toshiba Click 10 has a higher resolution 1,920 X 1,200-pixel screen.
IdeaPad 100S
Text and graphics appear slightly pixelated on the IdeaPad 100S's screen. Using the default display settings, I didn't find text or images to be too small.
Lenovo opted to use a TN, or Twisted Nematic, panel rather than IPS. Response time on screen for watching video is good, but you likely won't want to do any serious gaming on this machine given the limitations of the Atom-class processor and integrated graphics. The downside of the TN panel, compared to more expensive IPS displays, is that viewing angles are limited.
IdeaPad 100S
The limited viewing angles are rather unfortunate because they hinder the usefulness of the 180-degree lay-flat hinge design. If the screen came with wider viewing angles, Lenovo could have marketed the IdeaPad 100S as an inexpensive mobile collaboration devices for students and business users.
Even though the IdeaPad 100S may appeal to students or mobile professionals looking for an inexpensive second device for travel, the screen's brightness rating may limit the device for indoor use. Rated at around 200 nits, the screen brightness is lower than the 300 nits found on some premium laptops.
I didn't find any problems with the screen brightness when using the IdeaPad 100S indoors under ambient lighting, and the matte screen does a good job of reducing glare and reflections. However, outdoors under direct sunlight, the screen quickly washed out. I had better luck with screen readability outside under shade with the screen brightness cranked up.


Like the construction of the netbook, the keyboard on the IdeaPad 100S is solid. As is typical with Lenovo keyboard designs, the keys have a "U" or smile-shape design. Key size is slightly smaller than a full-sized keyboard on a larger ThinkPad system, and unlike the key caps on a ThinkPad keyboard, the keys on the IdeaPad are flat with a slight texture.
IdeaPad 100S
I was surprised to find that for an inexpensive laptop, the keys have a decent amount of travel when pressed. Key travel doesn't go in as deep as a full-sized laptop keyboard, but the keyboard still offered a pleasant and accurate typing experience for touch typists, which is important if you use this netbook in dimly lit environments (the IdeaPad 100S does not come with any keyboard backlighting).
A small touchpad with two clickable buttons are found just below the keyboard. The touchpad is accurate, but gestures aren't supported. You can't use two fingers to scroll nor can you call up Cortana using a three-finger tap on the touchpad.

Performance and specifications

Even though the quad-core Intel Atom processor on the IdeaPad 100S is far more capable of handling most of your computing tasks, you likely want to stick with basic apps, the browser and the cloud. To keep the price of the IdeaPad 100S low, Lenovo had to skimp on storage, and the laptop only comes with 32GB of storage.
Here's how the IdeaPad 100S that was sent to techradar was configured:


CPU: 1.33 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics (Bay Trail)
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Screen: 11.6-inch, 1,366 x 768 matte TN LED display
Ports: 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI-out, micro SD, audio combo jack
Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 (Low Energy)
Cameras: 0.3MP webcam with dual-microphone
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Size: 11.5 x 7.95 x 0.69 inches (W X H X D)


With these configurations, the IdeaPad 100S didn't have any problems opening multiple browsers, each with multiple tabs, handling documents in Microsoft Office, searching the web with Cortana, playing back full HD videos and handling casual games.
Where the IdeaPad 100S stands out is that you'll likely be able to run and install most applications and programs that are compatible with Windows, but you may be limited by the 32GB of storage. This limitation is common with inexpensive Windows netbooks, like the HP Stream x360 and the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook.
IdeaPad 100S
For comparison, Acer's Aspire Switch 10E comes with twice as much storage in the detachable screen that you can use as a Windows tablet, along with an additional 500GB hard drive in the keyboard dock for expandability.
This means you likely won't want to install large programs like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premiere Pro on the IdeaPad 100S, but unlike Chromebooks, you'll be able to run these titles if you need, just as long as you have the storage and don't mind the lags when manipulating large files.
As with systems with Atom processors, native applications load and run more slowly than more powerful AMD and Intel Core i processors. In the case of Microsoft Office 2013, once the programs load, performance is quite smooth, unless you're performing a detailed Access query or analyzing copious amounts of data in Excel.
IdeaPad 100S
For added storage capacity, business users have three options on the IdeaPad 100S. First, physical storage can be added through the USB ports as a flash drive or external drive. Second, up to 200GB of storage can be added via the microSD card slot. And third, if you find yourself always within range of a Wi-Fi signal, you can also use the cloud, like Microsoft's OneDrive. The reliance on the cloud for storage and web apps, like Office online or Google Docs, makes the IdeaPad 100S feel more like a Chromebook than a traditional Windows notebook.


PCMark 8 Home Conventional: 1,145 points
3DMark: Fire Strike: did not complete; Cloud Gate: 1,180; Sky Diver: 265
PCMark 8 Battery life: 7 hours, 41 minutes
As expected, performance isn't as strong as competing systems using more powerful AMD APUs or Intel's more mainstream Core i series CPUs. The Acer Aspire Switch 10E has a similar processor as the IdeaPad, and that device scored 1,091 points on PCMark 8. The Aspire Switch score 1,164 on the Cloud Gate graphics benchmark and 445 on Sky Diver.
These PCMark and 3DMark scores are consistent with most Atom-based systems. However, the IdeaPad 100S posted lower scores than the Asus Transformer Book T100. Atom-equipped systems like the IdeaPad 100S, Transformer Book T100, and Aspire Switch 10E all have problems completing 3DMark's graphic intensive Fire Strike test.
If you rely on the browser heavily and find yourself living in Microsoft Office, you shouldn't let these scores deter you from buying the IdeaPad 100S. I found no hiccups in opening Google Docs using the Chrome browser, editing Word and Excel documents and creating PowerPoint presentations using the IdeaPad 100S. Even 1080p YouTube videos played smoothly, both on the IdeaPad 100S and on an HDTV when connected with an HDMI cable.
Unless you venture into graphics-heavy applications, like gaming or video editing, living within the constraints of the IdeaPad 100S will reward you with long battery life. The laptop lasted for 7 hours and 41 minutes using PCMark 8's battery test with screen brightness set to 50%.
In our test, the IdeaPad 100S lasted just under five and a half hours looping an HD quality video using the VLC media player with screen brightness and volume at 50%. Audio quality on the bottom-firing speakers is loud, but quality sounds hollow at higher volume.


Even though the specifications have been modernized to meet today's computing needs, the IdeaPad 100S stays true to the netbook formula: a low cost, portable laptop with long battery life and no frills. To get the price low, you'll have to compromise on a few features found on more expensive laptops and netbooks, including a touchscreen, gesture-enabled touchpad, a screen with wider viewing angles and faster processor and graphics.

We liked

The IdeaPad 100S comes in an attractive design that's slim and light for travel. Most people will be able to get away with shoving the IdeaPad 100S into a bag without a bulky, padded laptop sleeve given the device's solid build quality and low price tag. For road warriors, the system's long battery life lets you be productive without having to be tethered to a power outlet.
Even though the IdeaPad 100S is a compact notebook, the keyboard is still pleasurable to use. I wish the keyboard came with backlighting to make it easier to travel in dim environments, but the keys are responsive with a fair amount of travel.

We disliked

Although the benefit of the IdeaPad 100S is that it runs Windows 10 at a $200 price point, I found myself neglecting to use some of the more unique features of the operating system simply because accessing those functions was too much of a hassle. With a touchscreen, I can simply tap on the Cortana search bar to call up Cortana or swipe in from the right to access the Action Center. Similarly, with a gesture-enabled touchpad, I could use a three-finger tap to summon the digital assistant or a four-finger tap to access my notifications. Instead, I was left having to navigate Windows solely with my mouse cursor.
IdeaPad 100S
Even if Lenovo couldn't afford to pack in these features on a budget laptop, the IdeaPad 100S would be much more useful in my workflow if it supported two-finger scrolling considering the limited screen real estate of an 11.6-inch system.

Final verdict

The IdeaPad 100S is an excellent, albeit basic, netbook at its price, but you have to make too many compromises with the system. Even though you can install and run Photoshop, the device's limited storage makes this a non-starter, unlike the Surface 3, which comes with a similar processor and integrated graphics. The lack of touchscreen and a touchpad that doesn't support gestures are also sore points for an otherwise capable entry-level notebook.
Unless you find yourself living primarily in the browser and storing most of your content on the cloud, investing a little bit more will give a little bit more value. Atom processors are also used on convertible and detachable notebooks, giving you the flexibility of a laptop and tablet form factors in a single device while also adding a touchscreen for a better experience.
At $200, however, the IdeaPad 100S is still a great secondary device and an excellent travel companion. It's durable enough to travel naked inside a bag without the protection of a padded sleeve and affordable enough to replace if you lose or damage it.

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Feast your eyes on the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens posters
Feast your eyes on the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens posters
Adding to the hype machine before the film's release next month, new Star Wars: The Force Awakens posters have landed, giving us a closer look at five of the main cast.
While we've already seen quite a bit of John Boyega's Finn, the new posters give us a closer look at Kylo Ren, along with a better look at Leia and Han Solo, as well as scavenger Rey, played by Daisy Ridley.
Star Wars Force Awakens poster
Of course, there are a lot more characters in the new film, old and new, and we still haven't had a look at Luke Skywalker yet, but the release of these five do seem to indicate we'll be following Han Solo, Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren pretty closely in the film.
Still, there's more than a month left until the film's release on December 18 (December 17 for UK and Australia), so expect to see more character posters, trailers, merchandise and clips added to the hype machine in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, you can check out all five posters on the Star Wars website.

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Optus using SatSleeve to plug gaps in its mobile coverage
Optus using SatSleeve to plug gaps in its mobile coverage
When a country's as large and sparsely populated as Australia it's tricky to deliver mobile coverage to every cover.
In order to get around this – and the slightly insincere boast that it's now providing 100 per cent mobile coverage across Australia – Optus is now offering Thuraya's new generation of SatSleeve models, the SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot.
Compatible with a range of iOS and Android devices, including handsets from Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and Huawei, the SatSleeve+ turns the user's handset into a satellite phone via the SatSleeve app.

What's up your sleeve?

Provided a line of sight to the satellite exists, the add-on enables users to make calls from anywhere in Australia.
Similarly, the SatSleeve Hotspot also uses the satellite signal, but instead converts it into a Wi-Fi hotspot, delivering calls, SMS, and data.
The SatSleeve+ and SatSleeve Hotspot cost $899 each, with a minimum cost of $15 per month on a month to month plan.

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Want to be an astronaut? Now's your chance
Want to be an astronaut? Now's your chance
If you want to explore the next frontier, applications to become NASA's next astronaut open up mid-Decemeber.
It's been a few years since NASA last recruited new astronauts, but it has today announced that applications will open on December 14 and will run into mid-February next year.
Of course, it's not as simple as throwing your name into the mix, as NASA does require those interested to have a degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics, experience in your field, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in a jet aircraft.
There are currently 47 astronauts in the active astronauts corps, however a lot more will be needed for a new generation of space exploration, what with plans to head to Mars within the next 15 years.
"This is an exciting time to be a part of America's human space flight program," said Brian Kelly, NASA's director of flight operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"NASA has taken the next step in the evolution of our nation's human spaceflight program - and our US astronauts will be at the forefront of these new and challenging space flight missions."

A new space age

According to NASA, the new generation of astronauts may end up flying on any of four different US-made vessels during their careers, including the International Space Station, NASA's Orion deep-space exploration vehicle which is currently being built, as well as two commercial spacecrafts, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.
"This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet," said Charles Bolden, NASA's Administrator.
"Those selected for this service will fly on U.S. made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space."
While applications will run for a handful of months starting mid-Decemeber, candidates won't be announced publicly until mid-2017.
You can find more information here or check out the recruitment video below.
YouTube :
Image credit: NASA

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Facebook's standalone breaking news app might launch next week
Facebook's standalone breaking news app might launch next week
Facebook's latest project, a breaking news app called Notify, could be in your hands as soon as next week.
Notify is close to launch and even has a list of partners lined up to bring news stories straight to its users, according to a report by The Financial Times.
Some news outlets have been reported as partners for Facebook's news app, namely Vogue, The Washington Post, CNN and Mashable. Once launched, Notify would allow for users to select news sources of their choosing and receive notifications for breaking stories, similar to how Facebook lets you know that your cousin liked a picture you posted from last week's Halloween party.
While Notify is set to be a standalone app, it's unclear how it will impact news outlets that already post stories on Facebook. The requirements for a news organization to join the ranks of Notify, especially if they already operate news apps of their own, are also unknown.
The inclusion of in-app news has shown to be the next big step for social media companies to establish a consistent online presence, as seen with Twitter's recent Moments feed and Snapchat's Discover feature, even though these features do not require an additional app.

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Google's budget Android One phone program may make a comeback
Google's budget Android One phone program may make a comeback
A new report suggests Google, or rather Alphabet, maybe gearing up to relaunch its Android One program in developing economies.
The low-cost Android One platform was launched last year in India in hopes to bring high-quality but affordable smartphones to emerging markets with the help of different vendors.
It was hoped manufacturers would use the simple and structured Android One platform to create cheap handsets costing about $100, but with only three handset released, it didn't seem like the platform would take off.
But now, a new report from the Wall Street Journal claims Google will be relaunching Android One with the same budget-friendly price tag, but with more relaxed hardware requirements.
According to the report, Android One partners will now have the chance to choose from a greater variety of suppliers for handset component, such as the ability to choose from 5 different camera suppliers rather than just the one.
Android One is expected to relaunch in "the coming months," according to the report, and it will likely happen again in India through Lava International.

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More than 1 billion users are on Facebook every day
More than 1 billion users are on Facebook every day
Now serving Facebook user Number 1,000,000,000. Actually, make that 1.01 billion.
In reporting its Q3 earnings today, the social network revealed that on average in September 2015, daily active users hit the 1.01 billion mark, a 17% increase year-on-year.
Monthly active users were also up: as of September 30, MAUs reached 1.55 billion, 14% since the same time last year.
But having a seventh of the world's population on your platform on a given day is a huge milestone for Facebook, and a sign the service is as popular as ever.
To put Facebook's daily active users in perspective, Twitter has 320 million and Instagram has 400 million monthly active users each.
Another figure from the firm: CEO Mark Zuckerberg said videos on Facebook hit 8 billion views per day, though Facebook counts a view as someone watching for three seconds.
What came through loud and clear in the company's earning call with investors is that Facebook is focused on growing video, determined to better serve advertisements, and will continue aggressively investing in new platforms, namely virtual reality and Oculus Rift.
"We had a good quarter and got a lot done," Zuckerberg said in Facebook's earnings results press release. "We're focused on innovating and investing for the long term to serve our community and connect the entire world."

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Review: Updated: Sony a7 II
Review: Updated: Sony a7 II

Key features

Updated: Sony will be adding some impressive features with firmware 2.0 releasing on November 18, including uncompressed RAW shooting and phase detect autofocus.
Sony caused a major stir in the photographic world when it introduced the 24Mp Alpha 7 and 36Mp Alpha 7R because they were the first compact system or mirrorless cameras to have full-frame sensors – the same size as a 35mm film frame. This is something that has still yet to be done by any other manufacturer.
What's more, these two cameras (subsequently joined by the 12Mp Sony A7S) are incredibly small for full-frame cameras, not too dissimilar in size to the Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M1, and offer a similar level of control.
Now Sony has created new waves of excitement by introducing an update to the A7 in the guise of the A7 II. However, some may feel that changes are rather small as, like the vast majority of the new camera's components, the sensor is the same full-frame (35.8 x 23.9mm) 24Mp Exmor CMOS device as is used in the original A7.
Sony A7 II vs Sony A7
Like the rest of the Sony Alpha 7-series, the A7 II is aimed at experienced photographers and therefore has aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes. Not wishing to exclude relative newcomers, Sony has given the A7 cameras program and automatic modes along with a collection of scene specific shooting modes. It's also possible to save images in RAW and/or JPEG format.

Steady on

The biggest news about the A7 II is that it's Sony's first full-frame compact system camera to feature in-body stabilisation. This means that the sensor can move to correct for accidental camera movements during the exposure. This 5-axis in-camera image stabilization may be unlikely to tempt existing A7 users to upgrade, but it does make the new camera more attractive than the older model to new buyers.
Sony A7 II review
Sony A7 II review
The stabilization corrects X and Y axis movements as well as pitch, roll and yaw for both still and movie recording. When a stabilised Sony lens is used on the camera the two systems combine to give optimised performance, choosing the best one to use for the focal length and each type of correction. The stabilization effect is optimised, but not cumulative, as one or the other system is used, not both.
Helpfully, those using older (or third party) lenses that cannot communicate with the camera can input the focal length manually to use the in-camera stabilization system.
Sony A7 II review
It's probably worth reminding ourselves at this point that the Sony A7 series uses Sony's E-mount. This means that these full-frame cameras can accept both full-frame and APS-C format E-mount lenses, but the image size is reduced when APS-C lenses are used. Alpha mount optics made for Sony's digital SLRs and SLT cameras can be used via an adaptor. There are also adaptors available to allow Canon and Nikon lenses to be used.

Faster focus

Although the A7 II has the same hybrid AF system as the A7, with 117 phase-detection and 25 contrast detection points, Sony claims that new focusing algorithms enable a 30% increase in AF speed, with faster and longer high-speed drive and a 1.5x improvement in AF Tracking performance.
Thanks to the firmware 2.0 updated, the Sony a7 II becomes the second Sony camera, along with the flagship α7R II, to offer fully-functional phase detection AF on A-mount glass in addition to E-mount lenses.
The tracking AF performance has also been improved by using technology from the Sony A6000 and A77 II, adding Lock-on AF (Wide/Zone/Centre/Flexible Spot) to help follow moving subjects. This means that the camera uses data about object distance from all of the AF points to inform the processor about the location of the subject, whether it is moving in relation to the background and the location of other objects in the scene.
Sony A7 II review
Sony A7 II review
This enables the camera to continue to track the subject after another nearby object has interrupted the view. There's also improved motion detection to help identify the subject and distinguish it from the background.
Sony also claims that the A7 II's start-up time is 40% faster than the original A7. It will be interesting to see whether Sony passes any of these algorithm-based improvements onto the A7 with a firmware upgrade. Sony UK was unable to comment upon this point.
Sony has also given the A7 II some of the video features of the A7S. For example, it can now record in the XAVC S, AVCHD or MP4 format. Plus, there's simultaneous dual format recording in MP4 and XAVC S or MP4 and AVCHD format to provide an easy format for sharing along with data-rich footage for editing.
Sony A7 II review
In addition, Picture Profiles offer the ability set the Gamma to Sony's S-Log2 for reduced contrast and greater dynamic range, plus the Time Code feature helps with scene identification and footage syncing from multiple cameras. You can also attach an XLR microphone via an adaptor.
On the still images side, the Sony a7 II supports uncompressed 14-Bit RAW image capture. This feature came later into the camera's life by way of the firmware 2.0 update that released on November 18. Before it, the Sony a7S II and a7R II both supported uncompressed RAW shooting.
Other specification highlights of the A7 II include a sensitivity range of ISO 50–25,600, a 0.5-inch 2.4million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), a tiltable 3-inch RGBW 1,228,800-dot LCD screen, a claimed battery life of 350 shots, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a maximum continuous shooting rate of 5fps and a standard shape hotshoe with extra contacts to connect accessories like the microphone adaptor mentioned earlier.

Build and handling

Like the other cameras in the Alpha 7-series, the A7 II has rather angular, old school appearance which many photographers will find appealing. It certainly works for me. It also feels nice and solid in the hand. According to Sony the sensor housing has been made stronger in the A7 II with more magnesium alloy than in the original camera. This, combined with the camera's moisture and dust sealing, should make the camera pretty durable, although Sony UK cannot give a rating for the level of weatherproofing.
Sony A7 II review
One surprise when using the Alpha 7 II for the first time is how loud the shutter is. You could be forgiven for thinking that it's an SLR with a mirror slapping out of the way before the shutter opens. But no, it's a compact system camera, so there is no mirror and the noise is solely down to shutter movements.

Ergonomic improvements

Sony has given the A7 II a deeper, more comfortable grip than the A7 and there's a new richly textured coating that gives excellent purchase. On the back of the camera there's also a small but effective thumb-ridge, which has the same coating as the front grip. These elements combine to make the camera feel very comfortable and more secure in the hand than the A7 when shooting or walking between shots.
Sony A7 II review
Sony A7 II review
Other changes made since the A7 include a slightly larger shutter button which has been moved forward to make it easier to reach. I found this to be a good move as the button falls under the point that I automatically reach to when holding the A7 II.
Just below the shutter release, at the top of the grip, is a small protruding dial that's used for exposure adjustments. This replaces the large dial found near the shutter release on the A7. While the new dial is a little fiddly to find when you've got cold fingers, this is a better control arrangement than on the original A7.
Shifting the shutter release off the top-plate has made room for a second custom button on the A7 II, giving greater opportunity to customise the camera. Meanwhile, the back of the camera looks almost identical to the original A7, apart from the fact that the C2 (custom) button has been relabelled C3.

Custom controls

On the subject of customisable buttons, it's worth spending some time using the camera and experimenting with different customisation settings. I found it helpful to set the button at the centre of the navigation pad/wheel to access 'Focus Settings'. Pressing it when shooting in Flexible Spot Focus Area mode then activates AF point selection mode. From here the desired point can be selected using the control dials or the navigation pad. Sadly, there's no touchscreen to speed this up.
Sony A7 II review
Sony A7 II review
I also set the down control of the navigation pad to access the Focus Area options. This governs how the AF points are selected, rather than allowing the actual point to be selected. For the majority of my time using the A7 II, I used Flexible Spot mode, usually in the Small settings, as this allows you to select a precise point for focusing automatically. However, it's helpful to have a quick route to the selection options so you can quickly switch to Lock-on AF, for example, if you come across a moving subject.
It's also possible to customise the A7 II's Function (Fn) menu. This menu is accessed by pressing the Fn button on the back of the camera and it gives a quick route to up to 12 features such as white balance, metering mode and Picture Profile. Each of the 12 slots in this menu can be customised to access one of 32 features. I found the default settings good, but it's worth experimenting and keeping an eye on which features you use. If there's an option in the menu that you don't use, or prefer to access another way, then the chances are that you can change the menu to include something more useful.

Viewing options

I found the A7 II's tilting screen useful when shooting low-level landscape format images. Although it's very good, like most screens, it suffers a little from reflections and glare in very bright conditions. It can also be tricky to see the electronic level indicator in these situations. And of course, a tilting screen is of little use when shooting upright format images.
Sony A7 II review
Fortunately, like the other A7-series cameras, the A7 II has an excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF). This provides a nice clear view of the scene with plenty of detail and, as usual with an EVF, it shows the impact of any settings adjustments – although this can be turned off if you prefer. The image in the EVF is very natural, with just a slight shimmer here and there to remind you that its an electronic device rather than an optical one. Colours are a little less saturated in the EVF than they are on the screen and in captured images, as well as in real life. While this won't trouble RAW shooters, it could lead you to boost JPEG saturation via the Creative Style options and created overly vibrant images if you are unaware of the issue.
Sony A7 II review
There's a helpful little sensor just above the EVF window which detects when the camera is held to the eye, turning off the main screen and activating the finder. This works well and is helpful on many occasions, but it sometimes turns off the screen when the camera is held close to your body or a finger passes near it, which can be a pain. Unlike some other compact system cameras, the A7 II doesn't have a button nearby that can be set to override the sensor and toggle between using the EVF and the screen. There's also no customisation option to this effect.

Design details

One the whole the A7 II's controls are sensibly arranged and the menu systems are logically structured. However, I suspect that many users looking to shoot video for the first time will be a little perplexed by the record button. It's located on the side of the thumb-ridge, an unusual place for any control and not the first place you tend to look.
Sony A7 II review
It's not a major issue to press this button if the camera is tripod mounted, or perhaps on a rig, but if you're hand-holding it you need to adjust your grip significantly to press it. This means that the first and last sections of the video are likely to include some wobble while you readjust your grip to and from a more sturdy position. The button is also very small and has a soft action that leaves you wondering if you've pressed it sufficiently or not.
Another gripe is that the exposure compensation dial sometimes gets knocked out of place. It sits on the rear right-hand corner of the top-plate (as you hold the camera) and is prone to getting moved when taking the camera in and out of a bag. I also brushed out of place with my thumb on a couple of occasions.
Sony A7 II review
With time you get used to checking it, but perhaps a lock would be good for the next incarnation. As exposure compensation is something that's used frequently, it would be helpful if any lock could be the elective type that you can choose to use if you want, rather than have to unlock the dial every time it needs to be rotated.


Sony A7 II sample image
We were very impressed by the results produced by the original Sony A7 and as the A7 II uses the same sensor and processing engine we knew that it would perform well. Our faith has not been disappointed as the A7 II produces very high quality images in a range of conditions and it's capable of capturing lots of detail.
Sony A7 II sample image
In fact our lab tests indicate that the A7 II is capable of resolving as much detail as the 28Mp Samsung NX1 in lab conditions. Noise is also controlled well through the lower, middle and moderately high sensitivity settings. By ISO 6400 there's quite a bit of chroma noise visible in RAW files viewed at 100% and when noise reduction is turned off. Simultaneously captured JPEG files in the camera's default noise reduction setting, however, look very good. The coloured speckling is concealed well without too much loss of detail. The remaining luminance noise is fine-grained and evenly distributed with no banding or clumping so images look natural even at 100%.
Sony A7 II sample image
Step up to ISO 12,800 and 25,600, however, and the noise reduction applied to JPEGs starts to take its toll, with more noticeable loss of detail and smoothing at 100%. Simultaneously captured RAW files bring the opportunity to fine-tune noise reduction to find an acceptable mid-ground with some noise visible along with greater detail. For the most part though, I would avoid the top sensitivity setting if you want to view images at high magnification or make prints at A4 size or larger.
At 100%, edges in the A7 II's JPEGs captured at low and mid-range sensitivities are a little more defined than the area between them, which makes the images look quite digital at this magnification. At normal viewing and printing sizes, however, the results look superb.
Naturally, I was keen to investigate the performance of the A7 II's stabilisation system. When using the camera with the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS lens mounted, which is stabilized, I found I could get acceptably sharp results at 70mm using a shutter speed of 1/6sec. While this stabilisation doesn't quite meet the 4.5EV maximum claimed by Sony, it is very good. It's important to remember that the results can vary from person to person and factors such as how much coffee you've drunk can have an impact!
Sony A7 II sample image
Sony A7 II sample image
In normal outdoor daylight conditions the A7 II's autofocus system is very good, being fast and accurate in most situations. It even copes well with moving subjects and can keep up with them as they move away from or towards the camera. The Lock-on AF modes are particularly good with this type of situation. Once the subject is identified, the camera draws a box around it, the shape and size of which varies depending upon how the camera perceives the subject. The box then stays over the subject as it moves around the frame – unless the subject moves a bit too fast or erratically.
I prefer to use Lock-on AF in its Flexible Spot (Small) mode as this enables me to position the AF point where I want at the start. Once the camera has latched onto the subject and thrown a box around it, however, the camera is in control of where the area goes. Even when using one of the other Lock-on AF modes (Centre, Zone and Wide) the camera usually identifies the subject and tracks it in outdoor daylight conditions.
The AF system still does a very respectable job in low lighting situations, but in very low light there's sometimes a little hesitancy and a back-and-forwards adjustment.
While the A7 II's AF system is very capable, professional or enthusiast sports photographers are probably better off with cameras like the Canon 7D Mark II or Nikon D750 which give them greater control over how a subject is tracked. I found the A7 II was able to keep up with a runner and produce a series of sharp images in daylight, with just one or two having missed focus.
For the most part the A7 II produces very pleasant colours in its default 'Standard' Creative Style mode. It's a good all-round option, but the 'Landscape' setting tends to produce more attractive landscape images with greater saturation, a little more warmth and slightly higher contrast.
Sony A7 II sample image
Sony A7 II sample image
The automatic white balance system is also a good performer and can be relied upon in a wide range of lighting conditions. As usual it struggles a bit under some artificial lighting, but it's very easy to set a Custom white balance value. You just navigate through the white balance options to the Custom Setup option, press the button at the centre of the navigation controls to select it, then aim the lens at a neutral target before pressing the central button again. You then have the option to assign the recorded value to one of the three custom settings for later selection.
Sony A7 II sample image
When shooting outside in bright winter sunshine, I found that many of my images benefitted from dialling a little negative exposure compensation when using the A7 II's 1200-zone evaluative metering system. In some cases I did this to retain the highlights and in others to give better colour straight from the camera. The benefit of an electronic viewfinder is that you can see the impact of any exposure adjustments before taking the shot, so the need for exposure compensation isn't a major drama.
Sony A7 II sample image
Sony A7 II sample image
We haven't fully tested video capability of the A7 II, but our initial assessment is that it produces high quality footage which generally looks natural.

Lab tests

We've carried out lab tests on the Sony A7 II across its full ISO range for resolution, noise (including signal to noise ratio) and dynamic range. We test the JPEGs shot by the camera, but we also check the performance with RAW files. Most enthusiasts and pros prefer to shoot RAW, and the results can often be quite different.
We've also picked out three of its chief rivals so that you can compare their performance directly.
The rivals we've chosen are:
• Samsung NX1: the highest resolution APS-C formac compact system camera, and the best AF system. Read our Samsung NX1 review.
• Fuji X-T1: a similarly old-school compact system camera to the A7 II and a popular choice amongst keen enthusiasts. Read our Fuji X-T1 review.
• Nikon D750: Nikon's latest full-frame SLR is aimed at the same audience as the Sony A7 II and offers similar versatility. Read our Nikon D750 review.


We test camera resolution using an industry-standard ISO test chart that allows precise visual comparisons. For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our camera resolution test process.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
Sony A7 II lab test
Sony A7 II lab test
Sony A7 II lab test
This is our full-size test chart. The key area for resolution is just right of centre. Here are two samples of the Sony A7 II resolution results at ISO 100 and ISO 6400 (JPEG).
Sony A7 II lab test
ISO 100: click here for full resolution image.
Sony A7 II lab test
ISO 6400: click here for full resolution image.

Noise (signal to noise ratio)

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to for the graphs below. A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
We also shoot a real-life test scene to allow for visual assessments which can help interpret and clarify the lab charts.
Sony A7 II lab test
The 24Mp Sony A7 II lags a little behind the 28Mp Samsung NX1, 16Mp Fuji X-T1 and 24Mp Nikon D750 here, but it matches the NX1 for detail resolution and beats the D750 at some sensitivity settings, so this may reveal a little more detail.
Sony A7 II lab test
After conversion to TIFF the A7 II's RAW files compare better to the competition for much of its sensitivity range, indicating that its images are cleaner and have more detail. However, there's a dramatic drop at ISO 12,800.
Sony Alpha A7 lab test
This is the the test scene used for our visual ISO (sensitivity) comparisons. The right side is deliberately underexposed because noise is generally more pronounced in darker areas, and this is where the blow-up samples below are taken from.
Sony Alpha A7 lab test
ISO 100: click here for full resolution version.
Sony Alpha A7 lab test
ISO 6400: click here for full resolution version.

Dynamic range

Dynamic range is the range of tones the sensor can capture. Cameras with low dynamic range will often show 'blown' highlights or blocked-in shadows. This test is carried out in controlled conditions using DxO hardware and analysis tools.
Sony A7 II lab test
The A7 II has a high, quite consistent dynamic range at the low to mid sensitivity settings, which means that images have a good tonal range. Our real world images also have a pleasant level of contrast, so you don't just get dynamic range at the expense of contrast. The A7 II competes well against the other cameras here until ISO 12,800.
Sony A7 II lab test
The Sony A7 II is the clear winner for raw dynamic range, indicating that its RAW files contain a wide range of tones and that they can cope with quite aggressive post-capture adjustment to manipulate contrast.


As it sits mid-way between the 36Mp Alpha 7R and the 12Mp Alpha 7S, the 24Mp Alpha 7 II is the all-rounder, generalists' model. It's likely to find favour amongst those who don't need the huge file sizes that the A7R generates and who want faster autofocusing, but who aren't primarily concerned with low-light and video performance.
That's not to say that the A7 II a Jack of all trades and master of none. It's capable of resolving a heck of a lot of detail and noise is controlled very well from ISO 50 to 6400. The autofocus system is also very fast and accurate in decent lighting conditions and it's capable of getting moving subjects sharp. Nevertheless, it probably still wouldn't be the first choice of camera for a sports photographer.
Sony A7 II review
Those weighing up the differences between the original A7, which is continuing in the Sony CSC line for now, and this newer model will find little apart from the addition of image stabilization to tempt them in the specification sheet. The differences are primarily in the handling experience. The Alpha 7 II is a very comfortable camera to use with controls generally being within easy reach. The notable exception here being the record button for video mode.
Both the A7 and the A7 II are solidly built cameras that look and feel like a professional quality device. According to Sony, the A7 II is a little more robust than the A7, but that's impossible to tell from the outside. The grips and coatings on the camera certainly make it feel more secure in your hand.
Sony A7 II review

We liked

I love the feel of the A7 II and it sits very comfortably in my hand. The thumb-ridge on the back is sufficiently pronounced and at the right angle to allow my thumb to take some the weight of the camera off my little finger which slips under the camera body. Photographers with larger hands sometimes find the Sony A7-series of cameras more comfortable to hold and the controls less fiddly to use than those on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and even the OM-D E-M5 and OM-D E-M1.
Because of the benefit to image quality and depth of field control, a full-frame camera is at the top of many photographer's wish list, and having one that is as small as the A7 II is a major bonus. The A7 II is a little bigger than the A7, but the difference isn't dramatic by any means.
Having image stabilisation built in to a camera body is a huge plus point because it means that just about any lens you mount on it becomes stabilized. We may not quite have matched the claimed compensation figures for the A7 II's system, but it enabled us to take sharp images at much slower shutter speeds than would normally be possible.

We dislike

I'm a fan of electronic viewfinders in principle, so it's disappointing that the colours in the A7 II's EVF aren't a closer match for those on the screen and the final image. There's not a huge difference and it's not really an issue for those who shot RAW files (the majority who use the A7 II are likely to), but it could cause problems for those shooting JPEGs. Videographers may also experience difficulties if they don't want to grade video clips. However, many enthusiast videographers are likely to use the A7 II's Picture Profiles and Sony's S-Log2 Gamma to produce low contrast footage that is intended for post capture grading.
Videographers may also be disgruntled with the location, size and feel of the Record button on the A7 II.
Another concern is that the exposure compensation dial is fairly easily knocked out of position. It has a reasonably stiff action, but this doesn't prevent it from being moved accidentally away from the desired setting occasionally.
As well as their small size, one of the reasons that the Alpha 7 and 7R attracted so much attention when they were first announced was their price. They are not cheap, but they are more affordable than most full-frame cameras. The A7 II is around £500/$400 more expensive than the A7, that's a big jump.


The Sony A7 II produces images with an impressive level of detail and lovely colour. Although I found that you need to keep an eye on exposure and use the compensation dial to occasionally vary it by 1/3 or 2/3EV from the recommended settings, with an EVF to show you the impact of such changes and a dedicated dial on the top-plate, getting the correct exposure is easy.
The in-camera stabilisation system is also useful and enables sharp images to be taken at shutter speeds that would not normally be possible when hand-holding a camera. It gives extra creative potential with the ability to use shutter speeds that blur moving subjects while the stabilisation produces a sharp background.
It all adds up to make the Sony A7 II a very attractive camera.

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iOS 9 now powers two out of three iPhones
iOS 9 now powers two out of three iPhones
Smiley faces are helping Apple push its latest iOS 9 software out to more iPhone and iPad owners. The adoption rate for iOS 9 stands at 66%, meaning Apple's latest mobile operating system is now found on nearly two out of every three compatible devices.
This is a jump from a 61% adoption rate two weeks ago, and the jump could be partially attributed to Apple's launch of the iOS 9.1 software update, which brought more emoji to the keyboard, a feature that could entice a younger audience to update their devices.

The fastest iOS adoption rate

Apple announced in September that iOS 9 had the fastest adoption rate of any iOS release. Unlike Android, Apple controls when OS updates are pushed out to users without having to go through the carriers, resulting in more timely updates.
For users, this means that bugs are fixed more quickly and security glitches get patched before they become larger threats. The strategy will also be adopted by Microsoft, which will also push out updates to Windows 10 Mobile directly to consumers without having to go through the carriers.
Apple is working on iOS 9.2. It has already begun seeding the second beta of iOS 9.2 to developers.

Versions by the numbers

The second most used version of iOS is iOS 8, with Apple reporting adoption at 25%. All iOS versions older than iOS 8 are used on 9% of devices.
The benefit to developers for rapid, wide-scale consumer adoption is that third-party apps may only need to be updated to support the most recent major releases of iOS, rather than multiple editions scaling back several years.
iOS 9 debuted on the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Additionally, it will also debut on the iPad Pro when that devices becomes available this month.

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Samsung's ultra-light 3K laptop puts the Surface Book to shame
Samsung's ultra-light 3K laptop puts the Surface Book to shame
Samsung has been quiet on the laptops front throughout the year, but now it's kicking the door down with two Ultra HD notebooks.
First up the Ativ Book 9 Spin is a convertible laptop beauty that features a 13.3-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 display. The QHD+ resolution makes the Samsung Spin just about as sharp as Microsoft's recently released Surface Book – albeit with a slightly wider 16:9 aspect ratio – but this convertible is considerably lighter.
Even without packing a discrete graphics chip, Microsoft's first laptop weighs a substantial 3.36 pounds, whereas the 2.87 pound Spin cuts nearly a quarter of the weight. On top of being lighter, the Spin is incredibly thin measuring only 0.59-inches. Despite its diminutive size, Samsung claims battery life can last up to 7.3 hours
It also incorporates a hinge that's nearly as seamless with an extra flap of aluminum creates a seamless transition between the screen no matter if you're using it as a traditional notebook or a tablet.
Internally the Ativ Book 9 Spin comes packing an Intel Core i7 6500U processor with an 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. Price at $1,399 (about £910, AU$1,958), it's definitely one of the more premium laptops that will release in November.
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro

Go big or go home

If you're looking for a bigger system with more power to boot, Samsung has also announced a newly 15.6-inch Ativ Book 9 Pro. It comes with 3,840 x 2,160 resolution display and four two-watt speakers to make it an amazing multi-media laptop
To drive its 4K resolution, the Ativ Book 9 has a high-powered Intel Core i7 6700HQ CPU as well as a Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics chip. To round out the package the Book 9 Pro also incorporates 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
Altogether, Samsung has managed to cram all these components into a tight 0.7-inch package that only weighs 4.45 pounds – pretty light for a 15-inch laptop. Also arriving later this month, the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro will retail for $1,599 (about £1,040, AU$2,238) and it should give the Dell XPS 15 some stiff competition this holiday.

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Steve Jobs talked about making an Apple car almost a decade ago
Steve Jobs talked about making an Apple car almost a decade ago
It looks like Steve Jobs may have had ideas about an Apple Car as early as 2008, with Nest founder Tony Fadell revealing the two had had a few discussions late last decade.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Fadell, who is credited for being the backbone of the creation of the iPod and was a senior executive at Apple in 2008, said he and Jobs had a few discussions about what they would build if they were to build an Apple car.
"We had a couple walks, and this was in 2008, about if we were to build a car, what would we build?" Fadell said of chatting with Jobs about a building a car. "What would a dashboard be? What would seats be? How would you fuel or power it?"

What could have been

Of course, as we know, Apple has not revealed any car plans beyond Car Play yet, with the focus instead on iPhones, iOS, Apple Watch, Apple TV, etc.
"At the end, it was always like, we're so busy, we're so constrained... it'd be great to do it, but we can't," Fadell said in the interview.
But things may be changing, with rumors of more talks taking place over the last few years also coming to light.
Then there's also the rumor that is placing the launch of a mysterious Apple Car before the end of this decade, in 2019.
Still, we have yet to hear anything from Apple itself, so we'll just have to wait and see what it does turn up.

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If you can't live without emojis, this is the keyboard for you
If you can't live without emojis, this is the keyboard for you
Emojis are a boon to the savvy message-sender trying to save a few characters, but switching keyboard presets on a phone or copy-pasting from a desktop can be a hassle.
Thankfully, a company called EmojiWorks has developed a fully-functional Emoji Keyboard for those who believe a smiley is worth a thousand words.
The Emoji Keyboard connects via Bluetooth to a Mac, PC or iOS device, and works just like any regular ol' QWERTY keyboard. The construction is even intentionally designed to look almost identical to a wireless Mac keyboard. With a press of a function key, however, a bevy of emoji symbols become as straightforward to type as an exclamation point or question mark.
The use of an "emoji" key function is intended to reduce time and hassle inserting the symbols into text, removing the need to look up special commands or copy-pasting. You can see the Emoji Keyboard in action below:
YouTube : Witness the Emoji Keyboard in all its glory! You cannot look away!
Based in Austin, Texas, EmojiWorks is putting out three different models of its keyboard for pre-order, with the standard model granting access to 47 of the most commonly-used emojis. The Plus and Pro models are also available, increasing the emoji count to 94 and over 120, respectively, as well as added diversity selection for those who'd prefer their emoticons not be limited to just a Simpsons-esque skin tone.
EmojiWorks is aiming to have its keyboards ready to ship internationally by December of this year, with a normal board going for $89.99 (about £59/AU$126), the Plus model for $99.99 (about £65/AU$140), and the Pro fetching a tag of $109.99 (about £71/AU$154) for those who are serious about their emoji game.

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You might soon be able to test the Cortana on iOS app
You might soon be able to test the Cortana on iOS app
Itching to get your hands on Contana on iOS? You might soon be in luck. Microsoft will begin sending a preview version of the Cortana on iOS app to beta testers.
According to a ZDNet report, some respondents to a survey Microsoft sent to Insiders asking about interest in Cortana on iOS will receive a download link via email "in the coming weeks."
Testers must be located in the US. Cortana on iOS is expected go live before the end of 2015. However, given how late the testing process is set to begin, the timeline appears to be a bit delayed.

What you'll get

If you're an Apple user who has never used Cortana, you can look forward to traditional features like the ability to search for static information, like the weather or a contact's phone number, or you can use it to automate tasks, like starting an email to a friend.
Recent Cortana developments have made the system smarter by allowing it to scan your email to automatically track flights and shipments, and offer exclusive discounts to Windows 10 users who land on participating retail websites.
The app will be external to iOS, so it won't be integrated into the operating system the way Windows 10 Mobile is integrated into Microsoft-produced phones, or the way Windows 10 is integrated into Windows-based PCs. So it'll be interested to see what feature limitations iOS users will encounter once the app goes live.

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How to use the iPhone Twitter app
How to use the iPhone Twitter app
There are many great Twitter clients for the iPhone 6S and its siblings, but we still love the free official one (known as Tweetie before it was bought by Twitter), because under the simple exterior there's a huge amount of power and a staggering number of shortcuts to help you better manage your tweeting.
We'll showcase some of the most useful features that lots of people miss, as well as all the essentials, all to help you get more out of this ace app. Remember, in iOS 8 and iOS 9 you have native Twitter support – just go to Settings > Twitter and if you haven't already got the Twitter app installed you can simply tap Install to get it, then sign in or sign up.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

1. Swipe for quick actions

On the iPhone 5 and later, Twitter includes controls directly beneath each tweet, but the buttons are small – if you want bigger buttons and more options, swipe sideways over a tweet.
Here's what the different buttons do.
Reply to tweet: Tap this icon to reply to the tweet you've swiped on.
Retweet: Share this tweet with your followers; you can either retweet it untouched, or quote it and add your own words as well.
Likes: Use the heart icon to 'like' tweets that you especially enjoy. You'll find all the tweets you've marked in this way by tapping Me and scrolling down to the Likes option. Twitter has recently replaced the star icon with a heart icon, and changed the name from Favorites to Likes, so if you've been using Twitter before, you may notice the difference.
More: Tap this three-dot button to bring up five further options. Mute enables you to remove the current tweeter's posts from your timeline without unfollowing them. Block or Report lets you block the tweeter and optionally file a report about inappropriate material.
Mail Tweet and Copy Link to Tweet make it easy to share the tweet, while Send to Reading List adds any links in the tweet to your Safari Reading List for catching up with later.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

2. Refresh

To check for new tweets from those you're following, drag the tweet stream downwards and then let go.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

3. Search and Compose

You can search Twitter by word, hashtag or username. Tap the quill icon to compose a new tweet.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

4. Notifications

Tap this to view all relevant updates, such as those about new followers and replies to your tweets.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

5. Me

This is your profile area. It's laid out in a logical fashion that's broadly simple to navigate, with easy access to your profile, tweets, photos and favourited tweets.
One feature hidden away are any lists you've set up – tap the Settings button (the cog icon) to access these. Tap Edit profile to make changes to your profile, as shown on the left.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

6. Drafts

Tap Cancel when writing a tweet and you can save it as a draft, so you can go back to edit and/or post it later.
Messages that fail to send are also saved to Drafts. Access previous drafts by tapping the Compose button, then tapping the quill button next to the Photos button.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

7. Tweet

When you've finished typing your message, simply tap the Tweet button to publish your thoughts to the rest of the world.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

8. Geotag

Tap this button to tag your tweet with your current location. It's a good idea to tag all tweets – it gives great context to them, especially when you're at a particular event.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

9. Add photo

Tap the photo button to either take a snap with your camera (tap the blue camera button) or choose an existing photo from your library – just scroll down until you find the photo you want to insert.
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

10. Autosuggest

Twitter hooks into iOS's keyboard auto-suggestion feature, so as you type you'll see suggestions appear, allowing you to speed up your data entry and providing your fingers and thumbnails with some light relief!
How to use the iPhone Twitter app

11. Notifications

The Twitter app can send you Push notifications when someone mentions you in a tweet or sends you a DM, even when the app's not open. To change what kind of alerts you get from Twitter, go to Settings > Notification Centre > Twitter.

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Mr Biffo: 10 things I want to see in the World of Warcraft movie
Mr Biffo: 10 things I want to see in the World of Warcraft movie


What you are about to read has been written by Mr Biffo, the creative force behind the 90s Teletext videogames magazine Digitiser. He now runs the show at
The World of Warcraft movie - AKA Warcraft - isn't out until next year, but as the first trailer is unleashed, the game's legion of fans are already frothing themselves into a stupor.
Here are 10 things that the movie has to include, if it stands a hope of appeasing the rabid World of Warcraft fanbase.


In true World of Warcraft style, orcs are the main antagonists of the upcoming movie. If Duncan Jones knows what's good for him, he'll be putting the orcish leader, Bickering Eric, front and centre.
Despite being a mediocre warrior at best, his relentless arguing over trivial matters became so incessant, that his fellow orcs put him in charge of their empire mostly just to shut him up - as with our own monarch.
Unfortunately, that didn't work so well, and Eric continues to find things to pick fights over: the relative temperature of his throne… whether or not wasps are the boys and bees are the girls… and if dogs can look up without shattering their own necks.


The most prized item in the World of Warcraft is Verbiosa, the Chattering Sword. Though capable of inflicting catastrophic damage upon any opponent, the enchanted blade comes with one drawback: it can talk, and will continually aim to undermine the player's confidence with its passive-aggressive comments.
Should The Chattering Sword make an appearance in The World of Warcraft movie, let's hope they include the moment where somebody attempts to flush it down a wyvern's lavatory.


These four aren't the proud warriors they at first appear to be: they're the World of Warcraft equivalent of children's entertainers.
Often in the game they can be found at a child's birthday party, on their way to a birthday party, or handing out business cards advertising their availablity for birthday parties.


Sword grow
Let's hope that the movie adheres to one of the fundamental rules of The World of Warcraft, and features swords which are grown on trees. The most bounteous and deadly of the world's many fruits, swords hang from swordtrees like pointy, metal bananas.
However, unlike normal fruit, when plucked a sword doesn't stop growing – eventually becoming so swollen and huge that it is virtually impossible to use.


One of the most popular NPCs in World of Warcraft is Birdok the Brave – a half-human/half-chicken whimsy, who hangs around near fronds, giggling as he lobs fistfuls of rotten parmesan at passing minstrels.
When confronted by a player, Birdok panics and begins to flap his arms, while craning his head back as far as it will go, his pale tongue convulsing towards the clouds. Who wouldn't want to see that on the big screen?


Werewolves are a big part of The World of Warcraft, probably, and the most famous of all the werewolves is Derek Wolfenson, a barrister's clerk from the Province of Pharbottle.
What makes him so famous? His peculiar, high-pitched voice, which sounds like an old leather satchel full of hornets on helium.


One thing everyone loves about World of Warcraft is the amount of stuff you can gather. If the World of Warcraft movie has any hope of being faithful to its source material, let us hope that it features a number of scenes where players stop to sort through the contents of their rucksacks for upwards of five minutes.


Wars can often be started over the smallest things in a world that is literally a world made out of warcraft; the stench of a pie… a weird scraping that might be an old trumpet sliding down a mound… something to do with the contents of a clog.
But the most bloody battle in Warcraft history is The Battle of the Woman On a Horse – started when two brothers couldn't agree over whether or not they had seen a woman on a horse.
The dispute spiralled out of control as old wounds were reopenened regarding a formative incident involving a Christmas Tree and a tin of molasses. The subsequent conflict claimed nearly half a million souls…


Purple Meadow
Of all the meadows in World of Warcraft, there is one that is unquestionably more purple than any other. If the ire of fans is to be kept at bay, the movie's characters should take some time to visit the meadow, and reflect upon this. "Yes," they must say. "Yes, this is the most purple of the meadows".

10. YOU

Why does everyone love World of Warcraft? Because you get to be a major player in the world. Duncan Jones' movie must take this into account, and feature characters who turn to camera from time to time, and address the audience directly.
"What do you think, my friend?" they could ask, before pausing as you add your own answer. "Don't forget our friend over here," they could add, pointing at the camera at least once in every scene.

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Forget Apple Pay: this guy has made a way to pay with your hand
Forget Apple Pay: this guy has made a way to pay with your hand
As Apple Pay and other mobile payments services grow, these guys from Sweden have taken it one step further and just made the first ever payment via the human body.
The world's first ever bio-payment was done with the xNT implant inside a man's hand and it has used the NFC chip to trade Bitcoins between two different accounts.
Patric Lanhed is the biohacker who used his implant to send money from one Bitcoin account to another by just using the top of his hand.
Lanhed told techradar, "We want to do something with the chip implant that actually mattered to people. This is a great way of using this kind of tech."

Handy payment solutions

"What we're really missing right now is the payment option – we think this could lead to something good."
Bio-tech payment
Patric has founded a biohacking organisation called Bio Pay Dev with friends Hektor Wallin and Juanjo Tara. Based in Sweden, the team aim of to develop implant payment technology to help it into the mainstream.
Patric was implanted back in the spring, but Juanjo also had the implant on Monday this week after seeing the success Patric has had. Hector has plans to get his installed very soon.
Juanjo said, "It took ten seconds – I didn't feel any pain. I thought it'd be more painful. After a couple of days I had a swelling in my hand. I know it's there but I can't feel it, there's no pain or weird sensation."
Lanhed estimates there are now over 1,000 Swedish people who are implanted as opposed to 200 earlier in the year and the technology is growing faster than ever.

"Two years from now..."

On November 3, the Bio Pay Dev team attended a software conference in Malmö, Sweden called Oredev. All 1,500 attendees were offered the opportunity to get the implant for free.
Wallin said, "This type of technology needs to be adopted by the mainstream. Right now, people go "what are you crazy" because it's impossible for them to think they'd do it themselves.
"It will come to a point where they accept it. When we reach that point more and more people will get the tech."
Security is another big issue and it's understandable why some people would be worried about "getting their upgrade" when it involves inserting a new kind of technology into your body.
Tara assures us it's all fine though. "People think there are risks with this kind of tech but you can't read it from a few kilometers away.
"The fact is the chips are passive – they're not active, they're not sending out stuff. The important thing for people to understand is the data on the chip is secure."
Lanhed said, "Maybe two years from now we'll have the actual digital solution for payments on the market.
"It would be really cool to get a credit card or PayPal on board because that's more accessible than Bitcoin."
Biohack plan to make this technology open source as well so people can play around with it themselves and add in new features.
For now it's just the Bio Pay Dev team working on the tech. The first live bio-payment was successfully carried out at the Oredev conference in Malmö yesterday.
But there's still a lot of work to do before we'll be using this instead of a credit card, or even Apple Pay.
You can watch the video of the first-ever bio-payment down below.
YouTube :

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How to follow people on Twitter
How to follow people on Twitter
If you set up a Twitter account and then don't follow anybody (the terminology Twitter uses when you decide to regularly read someone's musings), your experience is going to be severely limited.
When you log into Twitter at your Home page, you'll see comments and messages made by all the people you're following, and if you don't follow anyone then this page will be empty.
If you don't have any followers then few, if any, people will see your contributions and you won't be able to interact with anyone. To obtain followers you need to follow some other people. Many people follow right back, but not everyone does.
However, some users discover new followers on Twitter by checking out who's following people they already like. So, following people has two benefits: first you'll get to see what they're up to and be entertained by their comments; second you'll pick up other followers of your own.

Who to follow

Twitter provides several methods for finding people to follow. See the walkthrough below for techniques to find people you already know.
You can also search Twitter to find people talking about a particular subject. You'll find the link to the search tool at the top of each Twitter page. The "Trends" list on the left-hand side of your Twitter feed will also highlight topics that people are talking about.
Alternatively, check out the follower lists of some of the people that you know and like. You may find people with similar interests here. It's also worth checking out other people's recommendations.
On Fridays, many Twitter users recommend friends for other people to follow. These are tagged with #followfriday or #ff , which makes them easy to find in a search. It's not quite as popular as it once was, but some users still use it, and it's a good way of finding out who is worth following.
How to follow people on Twitter

1. Search for names

From your Twitter Home page, type the name of a person into the box under 'Follow your first 10 accounts' and click Search.
You'll then see a list of matching Twitter users, with profile pictures and biographies. Click Follow next to any people you want to follow.
How to follow people on Twitter

2. Find people on other networks

Choose Find Friends. This service logs into your Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or AOL account and searches your contact lists for people already using Twitter.
Select the service you use and click Grant Access. Then select those you want to follow.
How to follow people on Twitter

3. Suggested users

Twitter maintains a list of recommended users. It includes some celebrities, well-known companies and other successful people using Twitter. Check any of the people you like and click Follow.
Their updates are then added to your time line.

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Review: Ooznest PRUSA i3
Review: Ooznest PRUSA i3

Introduction and the kit

Forget the glossy professional finishes of the latest 3D printers, the Prusa i3 is all about going back to basics and understanding where and how 3D print technology evolved.
This Ooznest kit is based on the popular Prusa i3 design and along with the latest stream of FDM printers such as the Lulzbot Mini, they all stem from the original RepRap project by Adrian Bowers, a professor at Bath University. His RepRap project aimed to create a machine that could replicate itself and would be able to make useful goods for the person who built it, so creating a symbiotic relationship.

DIY printer

The project itself is open source so anyone with a bit of knowledge or determination can build a RepRap inspired printer for around £350 or $450 (around AU$630). Not too shabby indeed. Of course, being open source the original RepRap plans have been taken and adapted, so many companies such as Aleph Objects have been able to produce their own superb range of printers based in some part on those designs.
In fact if you have the time you can download the Lulzbot plans along with all the source files to print the plastic parts, and you can then print out your own set of parts to build your very own Lulzbot.
The Lulzbot is a commercially available printer and while it is possible to follow the plans to build your own it can be a tricky. There are a few modifications to standard parts and the instructions can be a little vague, but then again they've put a lot of time and effort into fine tuning the original design into something that they are proud of and is commercially viable.
If you do want to build a printer from scratch then at present the most recognised update to the original RepRap design is the Prusa i3.
However, once you actually get started and take a look at building your own it quickly becomes apparent that it really isn't as easy as it seems. Firstly you'll have to spend hours tracking down all the parts that you need to build it – these parts in themselves aren't particularly expensive individually, but add postage and import duties and the price really starts to mount up.
Ooznest PRUSA i3 kit
Even then once you've gathered together all of the mechanical and electronic parts to build the Prusa i3 there's still a large selection of parts that need to be printed in plastic, with a 3D printer. So in order to make a 3D printer for cheap you need to have a 3D printer, or failing that a workshop and a whole bunch of tooling.
It is therefore much easier to buy a 3D printer kit such as the Ooznest Prusa i3, as if you take this route the hard work of sourcing the parts has been done. The full list of parts needed to build a Prusa i3 can be found here if you're interested and here's the original project.
Ooznest isn't the only firm out there that currently offers a Prusa i3 kit and it's certainly not the cheapest, but what becomes very evident once the kit arrives is that the guys at Ooznest really know what they're doing.
Ooznest PRUSA i3 close

The kit

The kit costs £450 (around $690, or AU$970) and arrives in a large cardboard box, inside of which you'll find a further selection of smaller boxes all carefully labelled and tagged with the contents. Each box of parts is referred to in the build instructions, so as long as you keep it organised then the construction of the printer is relatively straightforward and no more difficult than building a Lego kit.
The instructions for the build are all located on the Ooznest website and are downloadable as a PDF, so you can actually see what's required from you before you buy the kit, and you can also check out whether you think you're up to the build prior to purchasing.

Constructing the printer

Build quality

Built around a metal framework and bolted together, the build quality really comes down to a simple matter of how well you can construct the thing, obviously enough. Ooznest has provided everything you need, so build it well and you'll get a decent quality printer, but rush through the process and the printer and quality of the prints will ultimately suffer.
As far as the parts go there are several key components that make up a 3D printer – namely the frame, electronics, extruder and hotend.
Starting with the frame the kit features a good quality pre-machined metal Prusa i3 frame to which everything – plastic printed parts, stepper motors, electronics and other components – gets bolted to.
At the heart of the printer is the RAMPS 1.4 control board which is the latest iteration of the board and a popular choice. This integrates the Arduino MEGA2560 board and stepper drivers and has a proven track record for reliability. The Hexagon all metal hotend and Bulldog Lite extruder are all really good quality parts especially at the price. This is a 12V setup that enables the use of 1.75mm filament through the Hexagon's 0.4mm nozzle, a great starting point that can be upgraded as you become more familiar with the technology.
Ooznest PRUSA i3 cables

Ooznest modifications

Ooznest has made a few modifications to the standard Prusa i3 design when it comes to its kit. Some of these changes to design have been developed by the Ooznest team whilst others are popular modifications made by the Open Hardware community.
These modifications make a big difference to the final print quality when compared with the original Prusa and include a Z-axis frame brace – two simple brackets that sit under the main vertical of the metal frame to ensure that the structure is square, and this helps to reduce frame wobble during printing.
To avoid any issues caused by bowed threaded rods, Z-axis isolators have been incorporated to keep the X and Z-axis separated, with a mechanical endstop also incorporated into the assembly which makes adjusting the Z-axis height much easier.
As with other Prusa i3 mods the power supply and filament reel are separate to the main body of the printer, and there are further mods that you can find on to update the Prusa i3. Of course these are parts that you can upgrade yourself once you have the printer up and running.
The build platform dictates the size of print that is possible once the printer is complete and this kit features a 200 x 200 x 175mm (W x D x H) build area, with the width being reduced by 5mm due to the bulldog clips that hold the Borosilicate Glass Build Plate to the heat bed. This size is on par with the Ultimaker 2 and Lulzbot Mini.
The combination of the Hexagon hotend and Bulldog Lite extruder enables temperatures of up to 295 degrees Celsius – this means that standard materials such as ABS and PLA are fully compatible. It should also mean that you'll be able to print with other materials such as nylon, although that hasn't been officially tested.
Ooznest PRUSA i3 controls
An LCD control board finishes off the design and this enables you to quickly adjust printer settings including fine tuning the X, Y and Z-axis positions, heat of the hotend, fan speed, and – if an SD card is inserted into the side – direct card printing. These are all high-end features that add to the ease of use.


Getting started

Once you've finished the task of constructing the printer which will take between five and 10 hours depending on your skill – our kit took around six hours to finish – you're ready to run through the commissioning and testing procedure, which needs to be done prior to the first print.
It takes around 20 minutes to go through the commissioning process with adjustments made using a computer and the Printrun software, and mechanically by tightening and loosening screws. Once endstops, fans and steppers have been checked and you've tackled the tricky task of levelling the bed you're ready for the first print.


Here Ooznest suggests using the Cura software by Ultimaker, which provides a solid and easy to use print interface, and again before use it needs to be calibrated for the Prusa i3 printer. Fortunately, when it comes to this process, Ooznest once again provides all the details making setup extremely quick.
With the machine added to the options and the model you wish to print loaded, it's then just a case of either attaching a USB cable to print directly or sticking an SD card into the side of the control panel to transfer the print-ready files.
Ooznest PRUSA i3 close 2
It is at this point you see the limitations of the 12V supply, which obviously doesn't have the clout of the 24V used in machines such as the Lulzbot, so warm-up times for the heat bed and hotend are quite slow. Whereas the Lulzbot is ready to go from cold in around five minutes, with the i3 you can expect a good ten minutes wait or more to warm up.
However once up to temperature the actual print speeds are pretty evenly matched, with the i3 about 15-20% slower than the Lulzbot Mini with similar print quality settings. Here you also need to take into consideration that the Mini takes 2.75mm filament as opposed to the Prusa i3's 1.75mm.
The Cura software enables the quick selection of several different print qualities without having to reconfigure the printer. In our test each of these options printed good quality prints using the supplied ABS 1.75mm filament with little issue or misprints.
In the first week the printer required a little retuning every couple of prints, but once the structure had settled down and all rogue bolts were fully tightened print accuracy and reliability came close to 100%, and not too far behind that of the Lulzbot Mini.
Print quality is also surprisingly good and easily matches that of the Lulzbot for simple structures and models. However again there is a slight limitation with the finer filament and lower voltage when it comes to bridging and overhangs within structures. That said, a small upgrade and a little tinkering would easily enable quality prints that would rival printers twice the price.
Making a side-by-side comparison between prints from the Lulzbot Mini and the Ooznest Prusa i3 shows that the i3 just has the lead when it comes to sharp edges and fine detail, and this can be put down to the smaller nozzle and filament diameter. However, when printing larger structures with overhangs and bridges the more refined quality of the Lulzbot shines through.


We liked

The big selling point for the Ooznest Prusa i3 is that you can build your own 3D printer. This kit also excels over other Prusa i3 kits due to its clearly defined boxes of parts and bags along with incredibly clear instructions on the building process.
The build process is great fun if you enjoy tinkering with mechanics and electronics, and you learn an incredible amount about 3D printing technology as you build. Handling, fitting and tuning each part as the printer comes together makes you far more adept at unravelling print issues and understanding many of the more technical aspects of 3D printing.
Once you've finished the build and start printing any preconceived notions about dodgy prints from self-build printers are quickly dispelled, and as long as you've followed the instructions and understood the processes, the end result is a device offering a print quality that rivals many printers that retail at twice the price.

We disliked

As with other kits based on the Prusa i3 design this is very clearly a homemade printer in every way. Our finished machine worked well, but despite producing good quality prints, the aesthetics of the printer or more accurately the neatness of construction left something to be desired. This is solely down to our neatness of finish when it came to tidying the cables.
Again as with the original design the power supply and filament sit separately to the main unit, and it would be nice to somehow integrate these with the rest of the machine. The manual is as clear as they come but once the build is complete a further section on upgrade ideas and projects would be a great way to complete the kit.

Final verdict

The Ooznest Prusa i3 is an incredibly addictive 3D printing kit. The build process is enjoyable from start to finish, and possesses enough of a challenge so that on completion you feel you've really achieved something, sparking a few head-scratching sessions along the way which are always overcome by simply reading the instructions properly.
The thought that has gone into this kit is staggering with high quality parts used where essential, as with the hotend and extruder, and cheap alternatives used for other less vital components such as the motor to threaded rod couplings. Money has been spent where it is needed in order to provide a basic kit that will produce good quality prints from the outset.
How good is a print from a homemade printer? Surprisingly good is the simple answer. Compared against two popular printers, the Ultimaker 2 and the Lulzbot Mini, the quality of prints produced by the i3 are closer to the Lulzbot Mini, with the Ultimaker 2 having the edge in terms of both quality and consistency.
The similarities between the Lulzbot Mini and Ooznest Prusa i3 really shouldn't be that surprising as they both come from the same origin, the RepRap design, and use the same brand of hotend, albeit with different voltages, filament and nozzle sizes.
No doubt with a bit of tinkering and an upgrade to the Prusa i3 the two would produce almost identical prints. As standard the Ooznest Prusa i3 is better at finer detail and sharp edges whereas the Lulzbot Mini is better at objects with overhangs and bridges, doubtless due to the larger nozzle and filament size, so there is a balance between the two as they both produce good prints but in different ways.
The Lulzbot Mini is twice the price, but if you buy all the upgrades needed to make a similar specification printer to the Lulzbot from the i3 kit, you'll have spent about the same.
Ultimately if you are looking to buy a 3D printer or already own one but want to know more about how they work then buy an Ooznest Prusa i3. The build process is thoroughly enjoyable and the amount you learn while making the thing is incredible. Buying a kit rather than sourcing your own parts is actually far cheaper and definitely a much less frustrating experience.
The level of thought that has gone into putting this kit together is incredible. Print quality is good and the kit should really be looked at as your first stepping stone into the world of real 3D printing, and once you're addicted there are plenty of upgrade options available to buy or print yourself.

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