Thursday, December 3, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 04/12/2015


The man behind Android may start his own phone company
The man behind Android may start his own phone company
Android co-founder Andy Rubin is developing a new Android smartphone, according to a new report.
While nothing has yet been confirmed, "people in the mobile industry" say that Rubin has been recruiting people to help build a new phone company, according to The Information.
It's also still unclear if Rubin will head the new venture, but it's been suggested by the report that the company will likely be financed through Playground Fund, Rubin's startup incubator.

Another Android phone

Rubin co-founded Android before it became one of the main focuses of Google, then left the Android division early 2013, before leaving Google altogether late last year.
He founded the Playground Fund incubator earlier this year, which, along with financing, provides resources and mentorship to tech startups making hardware devices.
With this in mind, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Rubin jump back into the mobile business, especially to build hardware for a software he knows so well.
Still, a new Android smartphone company will be entering a market full of competitors and other newcomers (like OnePlus), while also having to take on Apple and Microsoft handsets as well.

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There's now a dating site just for Disney fans
There's now a dating site just for Disney fans
Your knowledge of Disney might help you find the love of your life on a new dating site called Mouse Mingle.
The creator of the site, Dave Tavres, says he built the site because even though as he tried other dating sites, he found it hard to meet women as interested in Disney as much as he is, according to Mashable.
"As usual with my friends, they asked about my dating status and why I wasn't trying the online dating sites," he told the publication.
"I told them I had tried them, but there was no way to narrow down the searches to find women in the right distance and age range who loved Disney. That was the inception moment."

Only serious fans apply

Tavres says he began working on the site in 2011 after a trip to Disneyland. His work culminates today with the launch of Mouse Mingle.
Mouse Mingle, which costs $12.55 to join, works like most other dating site, letting you fill in your profile, add photos, and includes online chats and private messaging.
But it also asks you to share your favorite Disney things, like which theme parks are closest to you, your favorite character or songs, and even your favorite Disney-related memories, even as the website disclaims (often) that it is not affiliated with Disney in any way.
The site also adds that, while is a dating site for Disney fans, "this site is for adults, but this is not adult-themed," and a basic code of conduct needs to be adhered to.
And if you think this whole thing is a little weird and niche, Mouse Mingle joins an ever-growing list of niche dating sites.
"Niche dating sites are more common these days," Tavres told the Los Angeles Magazine.
"The first time I saw Farmers Only, I thought it was a Saturday Night Live sketch."

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UPDATED: Apple TV Starter Guide
UPDATED: Apple TV Starter Guide
Thinking of getting an Apple TV? Good for you! They run as low as $69/£59/AU$109 and you deserve it. My family and I have enjoyed using ours for years, and if the wife and kids had to choose, they'd probably ditch me before giving up the easy access to HBO, Netflix, and Disney Junior. (I don't take it personally.) Setting up an Apple TV is dead easy, but I've whipped up this quick guide to make sure you get the most out of your little black box. Come meet the new star of your living room! (And for a list of cool Apple TV accessories, click here.)

APPLE TV IS a small, square box that uses an Internet connection to stream movies, music, and more to your TV. Content is accessed through a variety of channels that populate the Apple TV home screen like apps. As I said above, the entry-level model retails for $69/£59/AU$109, and can sometimes be found cheaper depending on the deals Apple has going. Refurbished units pop up at at a discount, and past specials have paired new units with $25 iTunes cards. There have been a few revisions to the hardware over the years, so if you buy used, be sure to get a third-generation unit (which first hit the market on March 7, 2012), otherwise it won't be capable of displaying video at full 1080p HD.
The high-end version, which you'll sometimes see referred to as the fourth-generation Apple TV, can be had for $149/£129/AU$269 (32GB) or $199/£169/AU$349 (64GB). If you can spare the extra cash, the additional features are well worth it. You can access a growing catalog of games, video-streaming services, and other kinds of apps via the Apple TV App Store, and you get a nicer remote with touch-sensitive controls and a microphone for Siri voice commands. You can tell your Apple TV to do a wide variety of things, from "Open HBO Go" to "Find Walking Dead season four on Netflix" to "repeat what she just said." (Go here for a full list of features.)

TO MAKE APPLE TV WORK, you need to connect it to the Internet. A wired Ethernet connection is generally more stable, but Wi-Fi works just fine as long as the Apple TV is getting a strong signal from your wireless router (you can check signal strength on the Apple TV at Settings > General > About). To connect the unit to your TV, you need a standard HDMI cable (sold separately for as cheap as $3/£4/AU$4, depending on the length). If you want to hook up surround sound, you can use an Optical audio cable.
Apple TV Starter Guide
APPLE TV COMES WITH a remote that's super simple to use, but is kind of flimsy to hold — it's too thin and tiny to get a good grip on. It's not a major issue, but you might be better off using the free Remote app that lets you control Apple TV with your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (the app doesn't yet work with the fourth-generation Apple TV). This is by far the best option for typing the names of movies or TV shows into, say, a Netflix search field, since it takes forever to seek out letters with the arrow keys or touch pad of a regular remote. The remote that comes with the fourth-generation Apple TV (pictured above) has extra functions, such as a microphone for Siri commands, a clickable touch pad, and motion-control sensors. Apple TV also comes with a power cord, and that's it — as I said before, you'll need to buy an HDMI cable separately.
Apple TV Starter Guide
VIDEO-STREAMING APPS cover a wide variety of content, everything from YouTube videos to live sports to HBO, and new ones are added regularly. The better ones usually require a paid subscription for access to anything more than a few sample shows, either with the content provider (such as Netflix and Hulu Plus) or a cable/dish company (such as Comcast or Direct TV). For a look at some of the top-line video apps, check Apple's official page.

APPLE TV CAN ALSO stream stuff from your Mac or iOS device — it can even mirror exactly what's on your other screen. (Some apps don't support this feature, though.) You can buy music, movies, and TV shows through various channels, and stream any iTunes content you've bought on other devices — anything purchased using the same Apple ID. Apple Music subscriptions and iTunes Radio are also supported, and with My Photo Stream, you can pull your latest photos and videos down from the cloud to view on your TV. Apple TV even works with Apple's Family Sharing, so you can pull content associated with multiple Apple IDs. With so much functionality and interoperability with the rest of Apple's ecosystem, adding an Apple TV really is a no-brainer.

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Xbox One remote play on your smartphone? Sorry, not anytime soon
Xbox One remote play on your smartphone? Sorry, not anytime soon
Streaming next-gen consoles to mobile devices is awesome, letting you roam around your home playing Fallout 4 - but for some reason Microsoft hasn't given us that functionality on smartphones.
Xbox One owners can already stream to Windows 10 tablets and PCs using the Xbox app, but unlike Sony's
PS4 Remote Play, there's no phone support.
Sony's app is only compatible with a handful of high-end Xperia handsets such as the Z5 and Z5 Premium, but it's odd Microsoft hasn't introduced similar capabilities with the launch of the flagship Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL.
Techradar quizzed a Microsoft spokesperson during a recent London event on the lack of support for Windows 10 smartphones and when it expects to rectify this. The short answer: there's nothing currently on the horizon.

Sad face

The spokesperson told us "there are number of considerations to take into account for [smartphone] compatibility, although technically it should be possible."
You'll clearly get a very different experience on a small smartphone screen compared to that of a TV, laptop, monitor or even a tablet, and Microsoft shouldn't jump into mobile remote play just because Sony has.
There will be a handful of fans out there though who'd love to see the Xbox app extended to phones.
Plus, as smartphone screens continue to grow in size and resolution - the aforementioned Z5 Premium sports a 4K display - and the power inside them increases, the attraction to have full Xbox One access on our most treasured mobile device starts to make a lot sense.
Let's hope Microsoft is working on it as we speak.

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LinkedIn's mobile app update makes it easier for professionals to connect
LinkedIn's mobile app update makes it easier for professionals to connect
LinkedIn announced that its updated iOS and Android app are now available for download. The company gave its mobile apps a huge facelift as part of an effort to simplify how users to connect to other people, jobs and information. The updated apps are based on a design that CEO Jeff Weiner showcased in October, sporting a fresh look with large buttons on the bottom of the screen.
The biggest change involves how members of the professional network communicate and message each other. The new Messaging tab on the bottom of the app now feels more like direct messaging, versus the email feel of the old InMail feature. LinkedIn's more social rivals, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have all unveiled direct private messaging capabilities, and the change will help LinkedIn keep pace with the industry.
As LinkedIn keeps job-seekers on its network, this will hopefully make it easier for small business owners to recruit talent and network with other professionals. Techradar pro recently reported that an increasing number of job candidates are leveraging mobile and social to find and apply for jobs. The changes implemented by LinkedIn could help small businesses target this demographic, and candidates could benefit by choosing social networks as an alternative or supplement to lengthy job applications.

Making business social

The Messaging tab is just one of five tabs that help users navigate the LinkedIn professional network. Other tabs include Your Feed (Home), Me, My Network and Search.
The Home tab, otherwise known as Your Feed, works in a similar way to Facebook's Feed, providing you with relevant news about your network, industry, skills and functions. The feed helps you stay up-to-date with what's happening in the professional world, and LinkedIn will ask initial questions to determine your interests. You can refine these interests and unfollow topics that aren't of interest or value.
The Me tab shows everything about you, including your posts, profile and comments. It's also an easy way to get to your personal information so you can keep your digital resume up-to-date.
And finally, the Search tab is how you search for jobs, people, businesses and professional groups. LinkedIn claims that search speed has improved by as much as 300%.

A hub for small businesses

If LinkedIn is successful in registering new users and keeping them engaged, the platform could be a valuable tool for small businesses looking to recruit new talent.
LinkedIn will also compete with other job posting sites, like Monster, but as a professional network, LinkedIn offers more benefits to users and recruiters. It provides a place for users to network based on their profession or shared interests, stay current with industry trends and endorse skills and talents found in their colleagues' profiles.
The endorsement feature is meaningful, as it gives recruiters an insight into the job candidate and to see if the skills and expertise that are listed are accurate. Endorsements are similar to recommendations and reviews on Yelp.
LinkedIn also acquired a fact checking company earlier this year that will help recruiters verify the accuracy of claims made in user profiles. Ultimately, it will be up to recruiters and businesses to perform more thorough vetting during the hiring process.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox Tiny
Review: Lenovo ThinkCentre Chromebox Tiny

Introduction and design

With the release of its first Chromebox ($199, £132, AU$271) in the micro desktop form factor, Lenovo is giving business and education users the option of creating a modular, all-in-one (AIO) Chrome OS PC.
The device sports the same compact, flattened desktop form factor as Lenovo's Windows-based ThinkCentre M Series Tiny ($299, £198, AU$407), making it easy for offices to swap out older Tiny-in-One units for the new Chromebox Tiny. Lenovo also sells a separate 23-inch ThinkVision Tiny-in-One monitor ($279, £185, AU$380), which comes with a 1080p twisted nematic panel with a fast 5 millisecond (ms) refresh rate, with a slot on the rear that the Chromebox Tiny slips into. In this configuration, you would have effectively created your own modular, all-in-one desktop.
As a small form factor PC, the Chromebox Tiny competes not only against its Windows-powered ThinkCentre M73, but also against other Chromeboxes and Chrome AIO setups. The Chromebox Tiny will closely compete with the Asus Chromebox M075U ($246, £163, AU$335), HP Chromebox ($246, £163, $335) and Dell Chromebox ($329, £218, AU$448).


The ThinkCentre is a compact desktop that's even more compact than Apple's iconic miniature desktop, the Mac Mini. Encased in an angular, black aluminum enclosure with a plastic front panel, the Chromebox measures 7 x 1.4 x 7.2 inches (17.78 x 3.56 x 18.29cm) and weighs just 2.2 pounds (0.99kg), giving it the same thickness as the Mac Mini, but 0.7 inches (1.78cm) more narrow and 0.5 inches (1.27cm) shorter. The Chromebox Tiny also weighs 0.5 pounds (0.23kg) less than Apple's unit.
The Dell, Asus and HP Chromebox are even more compact, and all three share similar dimensions. The Dell Chromebox measures 4.8 x 4.8 x 1.6 inches (12.19 x 12.19 x 4.06cm), making it the most compact Chromebox. HP's Chromebox is slightly bigger at 4.8 x 4.9 x 1.5 inches (12.19 x 12.45 x 3.81cm), while the Asus measures 4.88 x 1.65 x 4.88 inches (12.4 x 4.2 x 12.4cm). Because of their plastic constructions, these three units are lighter than the metal-clad Lenovo Chromebox Tiny, coming in between 1.1 (0.50kg) and 1.4 pounds (0.64kg).
Chromebox Tiny
The unit comes with rubber feet on the bottom for horizontal use, but you could also position the Chromebox Tiny upright in a plastic stand on your desk or even mount the desktop to the rear of Lenovo's ThinkVision monitor to save space.
Lenovo maintains its signature rectangular, box-like design that's found on the company's enterprise-focused ThinkPad notebooks on the Chromebox Tiny. This likely won't deter businesses from purchasing the Chromebox Tiny, especially when it's mounted to the ThinkVision monitor to create a modular Chrome OS AIO PC, but students and home users may find HP's subtle curves and color options of white or ocean turquoise more playful.
Chromebox Tiny
Ports are also abundant on the Chromebox Tiny. You'll find two USB 3.0 ports, a combination headphone/mic jack and a large power button on the front. In the rear, there is a swiveling Wi-Fi antenna, which kind of mars the clean lines of the Chromebox Tiny.
Chromebox Tiny
You'll also find two additional USB 3.0 ports, HDMI connector, DisplayPort and a wired Ethernet jack. Lenovo's flat-tip laptop-style power connector is also found on the rear.

Specifications and performance

The Chromebox Tiny is available in two configurations. The base configuration ships with a 1.5GHz dual-core Intel Celeron 3205U processor, while the higher-end unit ships with Intel's mainstream Core i3 Broadwell processor. You can choose either 2GB or 4GB of RAM on either model.
Here's how our review unit of the Chromebox Tiny was configured:


Processor: 2GHz Intel Core i3 5005U (dual-core, 3MB cache)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
Storage: 16GB
Connectivity: 4x USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, combo mic/headphone jack, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 7.2 inches
At this configuration, the Chromebox Tiny is priced at $235 (£156, AU$320), making it a better value than the base configuration with an Intel Celeron processor. Intel's mainstream Core i series CPUs deliver better performance than ARM, Celeron or Atom processors.


Mozilla Kraken: 1,683.2
Google Octane: 18,586
The Chromebox Tiny scored 1,683 on Mozilla's Kraken benchmark test and 18,586 on Google's Octane 2.0 test. This makes it one of the faster units available. For comparison, the more powerful Intel Core i5 processor on Google's Chromebook Pixel laptop helped it post slightly better scores of 23,910 on Octane (higher score is better) and 1,430 on Kraken (lower score is better).
Chromebox Tiny
Still, the Chromebox Tiny's Core i3 chip blew away the Celeron-powered Lenovo Chromebook 100S, which delivered an Octane score of just 8,938 and Kraken marks of 3,704. The Chromebox Tiny's Core i3 processor also performed better than ARM-based processors, like the Rockchip CPU found on the Asus Chromebook Flip. Asus's convertible Chrome OS laptop posted scores of 6,795 on the Octane test and 5,447 on Kraken.


Performance on the Chromebox Tiny was great, and I didn't notice any lags when multitasking. Since I rely on the cloud for most of my workflow, I didn't mind the limitations of Chrome OS except when I need to do photo or video editing, as Adobe's Creative Suite isn't available on Google's operating system yet. For creative work, I would turn to my Mac or Windows PCs.
In my use, I have several Chrome browser windows open, each with multiple tabs for web browsing, checking my Gmail and Outlook accounts, running Google Apps to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, watching YouTube videos and running several messaging clients. None of these tasks managed to slow down the Chromebox Tiny.
Boot-up speeds were similarly fast, and the Chromebox Tiny is ready to go within five to ten seconds of pressing the power button. In use, I didn't notice the fan at all, but the fan does give a loud whirl when the Chromebox Tiny initially powers on.
Lenovo ships the Chromebox Tiny with a wired USB mouse and keyboard. If you want to shed cable clutter on your desk, you'll either have to provide your own USB peripherals or add the cost of a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to your setup.
Chromebox Tiny
I found the keyboard to be comfortable with excellent travel, and my only complaint is that the keyboard feels slightly mushy. Lenovo even equipped the keyboard with shortcut keys that are relevant to Chrome OS. The only downside is that if you rely on the Caps Lock key, you won't find it on the keyboard that ships with the Chromebox Tiny, as the key has been replaced with a search button instead.
With 4K support on the Chromebox Tiny, output to a UHD monitor made text small. I found that I needed to increase the zoom level to between 125% to 150% when working inside the Chrome browser when I connected the Chromebox Tiny to my 4K monitor. The upside is that pictures and videos look sharp.
Chromebox Tiny
It's unfortunate that Lenovo didn't make the most of the 4K output support in its Tiny-in-One ecosystem. The ThinkVision monitor is currently only available with a 1080p display and in only one size.
Since I store most of my work in the cloud on Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Music and Microsoft OneDrive services, I didn't encounter any problems with the rather limited 16GB of flash storage on the Chromebox Tiny. If you do store documents and images locally, you can expand storage capacity by connecting a USB flash drive.
Students and business owners who live in the cloud will appreciate Chrome OS's light footprint. If you can live within the limitations of Google's Chrome browser, then you'll benefit from an always up-to-date OS, low cost, speedy operations and ease of manageability.


Lenovo has made creating an AIO Chrome desktop easy by bringing Chrome OS to its Tiny-in-One ecosystem. The modular design brings several different benefits to users.
First, this makes the Chromebox Tiny easily upgradeable. In the future, if you want to keep your ThinkVision display and want to upgrade the performance of the Chromebox, you can buy a new Chromebox from Lenovo and snap it into the rear of the monitor. Second, if you want to migrate between Windows and Chrome OS, you can do that by switching out the Chromebox Tiny for a ThinkCentre M Series Tiny system.
And finally, unlike a one-piece all-in-one desktop, if you damage your display or if Lenovo makes a higher resolution ThinkVision monitor in the future, you can just upgrade the screen and keep using the Chromebox. The space-saving design of the Chromebox makes it easy to use with your existing office or home setup, so you don't need to invest in a ThinkVision display if you already have a screen you want to use.

We liked

With a metal enclosure, the Chromebox Tiny feels like a solid device, but one that takes up very little space on your desk. The Chromebox Tiny is a versatile Chrome PC that can be used on your desk or in the living room to transform your HDTV into a smart TV.
When compared to more inexpensive devices, like Asus's Chromebit, the Chromebox Tiny's higher price feels justified, as it includes a wired keyboard and mouse, peripherals you'll need to supply with the Chromebit. The Chromebox Tiny also has a much faster Intel Core i3 processor, which makes it a better value than the Asus Chromebox M075U, which ships with an older Haswell processor, and the Celeron CPUs on HP's unit. Dell's Chromebox with a similar Core i3 processor is pricier.
Chromebox Tiny
The Core i3 Broadwell processor also feels snappier when paired with Chrome OS compared to a micro PC form factor Windows desktop, like the HP Pavilion Mini and Lenovo's ThinkCentre M73 Tiny. Additionally, the Chromebox Tiny is cheaper than the Windows-based rivals, as it doesn't require as much local storage or RAM.

We disliked

The protruding swivel antenna makes the Chromebox Tiny look more like a TV box from the late 80s rather than a modern desktop. Lenovo could also do more to make the Chromebox Tiny user serviceable for easy upgrades of internal components, like adding a larger capacity SSD or increasing the RAM.
The Chromebox Tiny's black box design may limit its appeal to business users, as students and home users may prefer more stylish alternatives with playful design options. It's also somewhat ironic that Lenovo is marketing the Chromebox Tiny's desk-saving form factor, but the included peripherals are wired, contributing to cable clutter on your workspace.

Final verdict

With high-end hardware, the Chromebox Tiny delivers great performance. It's one of the cheapest ways to get Intel's Core i3 processor on a desktop, but going the Chromebox Tiny route means you'll be limited to Google's Chrome operating system.
Whether you're streaming songs on Pandora or playing a Netflix movie, browsing the web or checking your emails, the Chromebox Tiny can handle multiple Chrome browser windows and tabs without slowing down. Multitasking business users who rely on the cloud will find a lot to love about the Chromebox Tiny, especially if they've migrated to Google Apps or use Office 365.
Creative professionals and gamers will want to look elsewhere. You won't find Adobe's creative titles on Chrome OS, although there are a few third-party substitutes to Photoshop, and there aren't any native games for the platform. A Windows-powered solution or even Apple's Mac Mini will be better for these uses, but these devices come at a far higher cost.
If you're okay with Chrome OS and aren't tied to Windows, then Lenovo's Chromebox Tiny offers exceptional value for an internet-connected computing experience in a compact package.

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Microsoft Surface Phone rumours point to a release next year
Microsoft Surface Phone rumours point to a release next year
Microsoft is secretly working on a new "Surface Phone," with development led by the company's new Devices head Panos Panay, according to an exhaustive report by Windows Central.
There have been rumours that Microsoft is working on such a device for some time - but it is only recently that they have had any credibility.
The thinking is that Panay has been unhappy with the company's flagship Lumia line of phones - but it is only now that he has received a promotion putting him in charge of all Microsoft devices, and not just the Surface brand, that plans are coming to fruition.
Previously, plans to make a Surface Phone had been beset by internal politics between departments, about who would manage the project. This appears to have now been sorted. The new device is being colloquially referred to as the "Panay Phone," such is his level of personal involvement.

Surface Phone with Intel inside?

At the moment, it still appears to be early days with the engineering team exploring different technologies, but the suggestion is that the new device will use chips supplied by Intel rather than Qualcomm.
The upshot of this being that this enables crazier speculation about how the new phone may conceivably run "x86" (intel) architecture software - which would mean it would have more in common with desktop PCs and laptops than other phones.
Perhaps this isn't quite so mad though - Microsoft has recently been touting "Continuum" as a means to turn a phone into a desktop-style experience, so perhaps it wants to take things to the next step and aim for full software compatibility?
The idea behind a Surface Phone would be to further try to carve out a new category of device, which can be both mobile and desktop - to provide another key differentiation from Microsoft's competitors on Android, as well as Apple.
A Surface Phone would certainly be a much needed kick for Microsoft's phone business. Though the Surface team has been consistently innovating with the likes of the Surface Book, the latest flagship mobile, the Lumia 950 was rather underwhelming.
The Surface Phone is expected to be released around May next year - to coincide with the significant Windows 10 "Redstone" update which will be rolling out around the same time (Yes, "Redstone" is a reference to Minecraft).
Of course, it is worth remembering that at the moment this is all based on rumours. Though Windows Central doesn't name its sources, it is usually fairly reliable. So we'll have to wait and see if Microsoft will say anything about it - though we wouldn't expect any official confirmation at least this side of Christmas.

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This Amazon Fire tablet update could help you sleep better
This Amazon Fire tablet update could help you sleep better
Staring at a bright device screen can mess up your sleep, but Amazon has come up with a way to make sure its tablets don't have you tossing and turning.
Amazon's latest software update for its Fire tablets brings out Blue Shade, a feature that reduces brightness and the amount of blue light emanating from a screen to your eyes. This gives the screen a warmer orange tint that not only is easier on the eyes in low-light settings, but could also improve the way you sleep.
The health detriment of late-night electronics has become more widely known as of late. The Harvard Health Publications finds that blue light, given off by most LEDs, electronics screens and energy-efficient light bulbs, can be especially bad.
"Not all colors of light have the same effect," said Harvard in its online health letter. "Blue wavelengths, which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood, seem to be the most disruptive at night."
"Cool" blue light, in contrast to the "warm" orange-yellow given off by incandescent lightbulbs or fire, can disrupt internal clocks and ward off sleep because it more closely resembles the light of the sun. Late-night exposure to blue light can also reduce production of melatonin, a hormone critical for getting a good night's rest as it helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
Reducing the use of blue light in electronics is nothing new, with plugins like f.lux allowing computer monitors to change screen brightness and color composition in accordance with the time. However, such functions have yet to become standard across smartphones and tablets, which are far more likely to be taken to bed for one last chapter, text, email check or Seinfeld episode.
Blue Shade was not the only feature to come with the Fire tablets' latest update. Among other changes, improved parental controls were added to help guardians choose what functions are available to their children and how long they can be accessed, which helps parents sleep easy in their own way.

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Samsung's imaging technology might be in Nikon's next mirrorless cameras
Samsung's imaging technology might be in Nikon's next mirrorless cameras
Nikon has had a hard time breaking into the mirrorless camera space, but now the company has been rumored to have acquired Samsung's camera technology to catapult itself into the market.
Mirrorless Cameras reports, Nikon has acquired all of Samsung's NX mirrorless camera technology and it could make a major announcement next January at CES 2016. Supposedly some of the biggest acquisitions from the Korean imaging division included Samsung's sensor technology, video capture and processing engine.
Samsung has shuttered it camera business in the UK due to declining demand, and it's could be doing the same in the United States. If the rumors are true, Nikon's purchase of the seems tie in perfectly.
Multiple sources at Samsung have said Nikon plans to become Sony's biggest competitor. In the last few years, Sony's full-frame A7 camera lineup have started to nip at the toes of DSLR and Nikon may be planning on introducing a mirrorless solution of its own.
Beyond full-frame cameras, the rumored purchase could help bolster or reinvent Nikon's existing mirrorless cameras including the J, V AW and S-serieses. One thing we're personally hoping for is Nikon will make new models with APS-C sensors without an annoying 2.7x crop factor.
It's a change that could dramatically improve image quality and open up Nikon's mirrorless system to many more lens choices – of which Samsung has an extensively family of glass to support its NX cameras.
We asked for a comment from both Nikon and Samsung, however, both companies declined to do so noting they "do not comment on speculation or rumors."

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The first Star Wars VR experience just landed, here's how to watch it
The first Star Wars VR experience just landed, here's how to watch it
The first of a series of VR experiences tied in with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally here, but you'll need a Google Cardboard to check it out.
If you're a Verizon customer in the US, you can swing by a Verizon store and pick up a special Star Wars themed Google Cardboard. Otherwise, you can order one from Google or just
build your own.
You'll also need the free Star Wars app, available on both Android and iOS devices, where a new section, called Jakku Spy, opened up this morning offering up the first VR experience.
After you've downloaded the app and clicked on the Jakku Spy section and the first clip (the only one currently available), wait for the clip to download, then slot your smartphone into the Google Cardboard once the countdown begins.

The VR Jakku Spy

The Google Cardboard-friendly VR experiences come as part of the deal with Google that launched last month with a site that urges you to choose between the dark side or light side.
In the Star Wars app, the first Jakku Spy VR clip - or 'experience' - lasts only about a minute long, but has the BB-8 droid make an appearance on the world Jakku and you get to see the golden crawl in VR.
The series of VR experiences, which was announced earlier this year, have been developed by Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB, the AR and VR arm of Industrial Light and Magic in conjunction with the film.
There are 8 more experiences still to come, with each new clip to land every few days up until the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18.

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Updated: CES 2016: All the news before the big show in Las Vegas
Updated: CES 2016: All the news before the big show in Las Vegas

CES 2016 dates and latest news

CES 2016, the biggest tech show of next year, is right around the corner. Once we get through the slog/fun of the holidays, it's off to Vegas for a flurry of gizmos and gadgets.
To help you prepare for the show, we've gathered up all the essential information you need for CES 2016, including press conference and keynote dates, emerging trends and the latest news. On the pages that follow, we also take a stab at predicting what we'll see on the CES floor, during company pressers, and hiding behind closed doors.
Mixed in are rumors we've heard about the upcoming show, making this is your one-stop shop for all things CES 2016. Read on for all the latest, and let us know if you have your own predictions, hopes or fears (it is Vegas, after all) before CES gets off the ground.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The biggest consumer tech show of 2016
When is it? Officially January 6 - 9, 2016, plus pre-show events on January 4 - 5, too
Where is it? Las Vegas, Nevada
Why is it such a big deal? Samsung, Sony, LG and dozens more will show off the next generation of must-have tech

Important dates, press conferences and keynotes

With hundreds of exhibitors bringing thousands of gadgets to every corner of Las Vegas (and we mean every corner), it's important to know when to really pay attention. Techradar will be covering these happenings from the ground, so be sure to tune in then.
These are the confirmed press conferences and keynotes you need to know about, with dates and times:
  • Faraday Future press reveal: Monday, January 4, 7:30pm PT/10:30pm ET/3:30am GMT Tuesday
  • Nvidia press conference: Monday, January 4, 8pm PT/11pm ET/4am GMT Tuesday
  • LG press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 8am PT/11am ET/4pm GMT
  • Huawei press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 10am PT/1pm ET/6pm GMT
  • Panasonic press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 10am PT/1pm ET/6pm GMT
  • TCL press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 11am PT/2pm ET/7pm GMT
  • Qualcomm press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 12pm PT/3pm ET/8pm GMT
  • Toyota press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 1pm PT/4pm ET/9pm GMT
  • Asus press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 1pm PT/4pm ET/9pm GMT
  • Hisense press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 1pmPT/4pm ET/9pm GMT
  • Samsung press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 2pm PT/5pm ET/10pm GMT
  • ZTE press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 3pm PT/6pm ET/11pm GMT
  • Dish and Sling TV press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 3pm PT/6pm ET/11pm GMT
  • Kia press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 4pm PT/7pm ET/12am GMT Wednesday
  • Sony press conference: Tuesday, January 5, 5pm PT/8pm ET/1am GMT Wednesday
  • Intel keynote address with CEO Brian Krzanich: Tuesday, January 5, 6pm PT/9pm ET/2am GMT Wednesday
  • Netflix keynote address with CEO Reed Hastings: Wednesday, January 6, 8:30am PT/11:30am ET/4:30pm GMT
  • GM keynote address with CEO Mary Barra: Wednesday, January 6, 1pm PT/4pm ET/9pm GMT
  • Samsung keynote address with CMO Dr. WP Hong: Thursday, January 7, 9am PT/12pm ET/5pm GMT
  • YouTube keynote address with CBO Robert Kyncl: Thursday, January 7, 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET/12:30am GMT Friday
Here are the latest CES 2016 developments:

We could be in for a true Tesla rival

A mysterious auto maker called Faraday Future is set to reveal a concept car at CES 2016. That in itself isn't that out of the ordinary, but when you factor in that the electric car maker seems to have its sights set on taking down Tesla and that a kind-of staggering amount of former Tesla employees now work at Faraday Future, you get a recipe for intrigue.
Faraday Future
Faraday Future fashions itself as a company that focuses as much on technology as it does on making actual cars, and it has its hands in autonomous driving development, too. While "concept car" leaves room for everything from a cardboard cutout to a working machine, we might just get a glimpse at the next big thing in electric vehicles.

LG will show ... stuff

We like a little mystery, and LG is giving plenty of it. The company has sent out invites to its CES 2016 press conference, and while it has told us the date, time and where to show up, that's all the bones we're getting.
We know the LG G4 maker will offer "a sneak peek at what's in store for 2016." And ...well, that's about it. Years past, LG's marched out dazzling TVs and high-tech washing machines, so expect more of the same. But could we be in for some surprises, like a new smartwatch or other wearable? We'd expect something you can wear or put in your pocket at MWC 2016, but we'll cross our fingers for some exciting consumer tech from the Korean company. In the meantime, you can definitely expect LG to go toe-to-toe with Samsung and Sony for most innovative TV tech. That's pretty much a given.

Hisense plans to disrupt the TV biz

Hisense is hosting its CES presser on January 5 (go figure). But its tagline "where disruptive TV technology takes center stage" means we're definitely interested in what's to come from the Chinese firm's press conference. Plus, the company promises to "announce its biggest foray in the US market to date," a heady promise but one that could be a boon for the US TV market.
In the past, Hisense has shown decent TVs at affordable prices, though none have ever really made a splash in the US. With 22 new models planned for reveal, including 4K and the company's proprietary ULED technology, as well as "disruptive values and mass availability of HDR technology," this could be the year that Hisense really makes a name for itself.
There's also a partnership with Sharp at the Hisense booth that will yield new picture tech, an expanded 4K range and streamlined smart TV platform. We're not holding our breath that Hisense (or Sharp) will blow us away, but we'll definitely be paying attention.

Nvidia is all about autonomous driving

Nvidia's CES 2016 press conference is slated for the evening of January 4, and it's then the computing parts maker will talk about something it's clearly passionate about: cars. Autonomous cars, to be specific.
Nvidia teaser
The company is inviting attendees to hear CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveil "what's next in autonomous driving." Nvidia has focused on this very topic before, but it seems this CES, its prepared to show off its most exciting innovation yet.
We'll also be on the look out of its next-gen Tegra chip as well as any other advancements in the world of gaming that are of note.

Huawei will show us what's next

Chinese phone maker Huawei is gearing up to show its latest wares at CES 2016. The company's press conference is slated for Tuesday, November 5 at 10am local time. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, will lead a cadre of other execs as they run through the firms "newest portfolio of devices."
Huawei Watch
The theme of the press conference (besides new devices) is to showcase how Huawei continues "to inspire creativity with technologies that make people's live more connected and convenient." Hmm, could that mean a new wearable is on the docket? It seems a logical choice for a "more connected and convenient" human experience.
Huawei is also doing some progressive work on faster-charging batteries - could it be ready to show a phone with such a juicer at CES 2016? We very much hope so.

Sony CES 2016 press conference – what we know so far

Sony wants us to save the date for Tuesday, November 5 at 5pm local time. That's when it will hold its big press conference in its booth on the CES show floor.
Sony booth
We already have some idea what we're in for thanks to the company's invite (seen above). We expect TVs (duh), tablets, cameras and camcorders, as well as wearables and a phone. Whether this phone is one currently on the market (like the Xperia Z5) or a new one altogether, we'll have to wait and see. Or, we can peak behind closed doors.

Netflix and YouTube's big moment

Streaming media is certainly going to be a major topic at CES 2016. YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl is slated to give a keynote speech in Vegas, one day after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings offers his insights on stage.
Netflix on Roku
Given that media is moving online and consumers are looking for more reliable and affordable streaming options, it makes sense the two of the top dogs of the industry will offer their insights.
Netflix has made a splash at past CESes (including the 2015 edition), so it seems only fitting that Hastings will give a keynote speech at the 2016 show. Hastings is scheduled to speak on Wednesday, January 6, and will discuss Netflix's plan to go global by the end of 2016. We think he'll discuss original content that's region-specific, as well as pricing and how to keep Netflix growing without sacrificing quality.

This year's hot trends are cars and VR

Beyond streaming, two central focuses of CES 2016 will be virtual reality and cars. On the VR front, the organizing body behind CES is expanding its Gaming & Virtual Reality Marketplace. More than 40 exhibitors will show off their VR systems and environments, as well as gaming hardware, software and accessories designed for all device types. Sounds fun, if you ask us.
Ford SYNC Connect
In addition to Sony, which has a PlayStation VR headset, we wouldn't be surprised if Oculus took the opportunity of the whole world watching to discuss its Oculus Rift headset. With a launch timeframe of Q1 2016 we don't expect an exact release date to be revealed at CES, but we do expect more details, including announcements about content and/or services coming to the headset via company partnerships.
As for auto tech, CES 2016 is expanding its car-related show floor exhibits by 25% compared to CES 2015. Audi, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, Toyota and Volkswagen will all be at the show, while Delphi will use the conference to celebrate its 20th anniversary by bringing its first concept vehicle to CES.
The newest addition to the techradar team is Auto Editor Tuan Huynh, who's currently deployed at the LA Auto Show. You can expect plenty of on-the-ground insights from Tuan about the cars and car tech of CES 2016.

Social help

We'll constantly update this page with the latest news, rumors and predictions. But we also wanted to share the official CES 2016 hashtag, so you know just what to search for on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest show news (besides following @techradar, of course).
It's pretty darn easy to remember: just type in "#ces2016" and you'll open up a world of posts related to the show.

CES 2016 rumors and predictions

By Lily Prasuethsut and Farrha Khan
Now that we're mere weeks away from CES 2016, it's time we starting talking about everything we expect to see.
The casino-laden town of Las Vegas will once again play host to the show, which kicks off January 6 and runs through January 9. Of course, there will be pre-show happenings as well, including press day on Tuesday, January 5.
While it typically takes a long while before we see products announced at CES make it onto store shelves, it's never too soon to start sniffing out the goods when it comes to trends, and the next hot piece of tech.
So here's what we think we'll see at CES early next year. We'll keep this article constantly updated to make sure you're up to date on the latest phones, tablets, TVs, wearables, virtual reality and car rumors and predictions leading up to the most massive tech show of 2016.


CES 2015 saw the release of the LG G Flex 2 , which made huge waves at the show. That's largely due to the fact that LG was the only large company to release a new flagship device at CES.
Of course, we haven't heard much from the LG camp about an LG G Flex 3, but it's possible that other phone makers may jump in to grab the bragging rights for the best mobile phone to come outta Vegas.
Still, don't get your hopes up too high: it isn't typical for companies to show new phones at CES, as most wait for Mobile World Congress, held in March.
LG G Flex 2
Any handset we do see at CES 2016 will be released into the world of the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S6 and Nexus 6P, among many other new phones, so competition will be stiff.


CES 2015 also saw a dearth of memorable tablets. Dell had its Venue 8 7000 on hand, but the slate didn't make a huge splash. That didn't stop us from loving the heck out of the surprisingly thin-bezeled beauty, despite its steep price.
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with AnyPen was another tab from the show, but mostly notable for its gimmicky fork-on-screen demo.
As with CES 2015, we do expect more tablet gimmicks during the 2016 edition, but what we'd really like to see are slates with impressive features, too.
Of course, by the time CES 2016 rolls around, we'll have had plenty of time with the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4, so we'd like to see tablets that stack up against Apple's offering. Samsung usually has some new Galaxy tabs for us, although any slates it shows will likely be simply updated versions of the current lineup rather than all-new tablets.
Samsung Galaxy View
And with Windows 10 out in the wild, don't be surprised if a few new tablets emerge from CES 2016 carrying Microsoft's new OS. Those are devices we'd definitely like to see.


Just like virtual reality, wearables have certainly taken off. We've witnessed the Apple Watch bring high-end smartwatches to the masses, and seen sensor-packed fitness trackers like the Microsoft Band 2 arrive.
While a few years ago smartphones still rendered smartwatches superfluous, now smartwatches and fitness trackers are becoming even more commonplace, and in fact, take on much of the role of smartphones.
It should come as no surprise then that at CES 2016 there will be an entire area at the Venetian dedicated to wearables and fashion-oriented tech. So, what could next year possibly bring?
Apple Watch
A lot more wearables, of course, and they'll all be better... we hope.
The Pebble Steel was revealed at CES 2015, and the Pebble Time shortly afterwards. As a regular CES fixture, we fully expect Pebble to reveal a new smartwatch – one that's different from anything it's done before – at CES 2016.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers from Samsung, Sony and LG are also on our radar. With higher-end wearables that can do more, like the LG G Watch Urbane LTE, Samsung Gear S2 and Moto 360 (2015), coming from nearly every major and minor tech company on the planet, and with second- and third-gen iterations arriving at a rapid clip, new wearables, including never-before-seen concepts, are very likely to show their faces at CES 2016.
LG G Watch vs Samsung Gear
Expect a lot of fitness trackers at CES 2016, too, as we do know that companies such as FitBit will be exhibiting in January. Fitness trackers will need to take on smartwatches, which include a lot of fitness-tracking features already but in a more fashion-forward package.
But since smartwatches aren't known (yet) for their accuracy when it comes to fitness-tracking, we would like to see increased accuracy as a focus for both standalone fitness trackers and smartwatches.

CES 2016 rumors and predictions continued

Virtual reality

Virtual and augmented reality are inching ever closer to the mainstream, and some headsets are even heading out to consumers soon. We already know VR will be a main focus at CES 2016, but what exactly do we expect to see?
While we haven't heard about any headset specifically coming to CES 2016, we wouldn't be surprised to hear word on the HTC Vive (which may be getting Half-Life 3), Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR and more.
HTC Vive
And who knows – feeling the pressure to bring its HoloLens out of the shadows, Microsoft could take along its AR viewer and demonstrate its real-world applications beyond gaming.
There's also the matter of smaller firms getting into the VR and AR space, and with more room to roam this coming year, look for inventive headsets and all-new experiences from companies you've probably never heard of.
Samsung Gear VR
Of course, with all these VR and AR hardware options, we expect there to be more in the way of 360-degree video capture, with GoPro likely to lead the way. GoPro has created its own 360-degree VR video rigs, while third parties will likely have more of their own options, too.
As one of the fastest-growing spaces in tech, it feels only right that VR and AR would have a healthy presence at CES 2016. We want to see how the already-announced headsets continue to grow in usefulness and power, as well as the new devices that lesser-known names are cooking up.


If someone asks you what tech is at the heart of CES, the answer is easy: TVs. Just about all the big names try to outdo one another with the latest and greatest in television innovation.
How can we forget the LG 77eg9900 4K Flexible OLED TV? It was bold, it was big and it was expensive (all very suited to Sin City). Or Samsung's new SUHD curved TV, if only for its unique name?
LG UF9400
Previous years made a big fuss over curved and folding displays, and the perennial favorite 4K. 2015 was all about Quantum Dots, like the LG UF9400, and weird acronyms à la Samsung's JS9500 SUHD 4K TV.
It won't surprise us to see more bendy sets in 2016, and probably at a lower price. We'll likely see TVs pushing 8K and HDR tech, with SUHD tech mixed in as well, even though 4K television content has only just started to become more available, with companies like Netflix beginning to shoot shows in native 4K.
Either way, model names will probably be very long, very confusing and full of acronyms at CES 2016.
While we can expect some next-level hardware innovations, perhaps CES 2016 is the best time for TV services and streaming boxes to shine.
We saw a plethora of streaming services and set-tops at CES 2015 and throughout the year – Sling TV, Amazon Fire TV, Razer Forge TV, Nvidia Shield, Showtime, and HBO Now just to name a few. The popularity of Google's Chromecast has brought a deluge of new streaming sticks, too.
Playstation Vue
Sony has also stepped into streaming with its own in-house service, PlayStation Vue, which is now available on the PS3, PS4 and Amazon devices. The Xbox One also now has Sling TV.
Could the next CES see even more from players not already in the game? If they don't show up by Christmas, then 2016 is where we'll see 'em.


Laptops tend to show up to CES in droves. 2015 saw the debut of a beautiful entry from Dell - an updated Dell XPS 13. It seems the company is headed in a bright direction by moving towards nearly bezel-less screens and excellent all-around design, which is something we're expecting to see again on the 2016 show floor.
Lenovo's LaVie Z was also a hit earlier this year, weighing practically nothing and claiming to be the 'world's lightest laptop'. We were impressed, although not bowled over because of its meagre battery life and price. Still, at 1.72 lbs (0.78 kg) it's lighter than the new MacBook, which comes in at 2 lbs (0.9 kg).
Dell XPS 13
Speaking of the new Apple laptop, the buzz over one USB-C port is sure to reset the market in a meaningful way. Thin, lightweight and portable design is in more than ever with laptops, and it will be a race to win against the featherweights at this coming show.
The most influential computing advancement released in the lead-up to CES 2016 is Windows 10, so we're guaranteed to see numerous laptops launch at the show sporting Microsoft's latest OS. We're likely in for some tablets and 2-in-1s that aim to dethrone the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book as the most premium and potent W10 productivity machines as well.
A nice surprise would be a new Lumia phone from Microsoft. With Windows 10 Mobile inching ever closer to release, why not debut a new phone at the biggest tech show of 2016? Just sayin'.

Read More ...

Microsoft must do a better job with diversity: Nadella
Microsoft must do a better job with diversity: Nadella
Although Microsoft has increased the number of African American and Latino employees that make up its 100,000-person ranks, the number of women working at Microsoft actually decreased by 2.2% compared with last year.
As a result, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft hasn't accomplished its diversity goals, during the company's annual shareholder meeting.
Nadella told investors that his company is focused on improving diversity, and that Microsoft has been requiring its employees to take "unconscious bias" training in order to ensure that innovation and hiring decisions are made based on merit, and not because of cultural bias.

On the record

Nadella said Microsoft is "not where we want to be," in terms of gender and ethnic hiring. "Everything at Microsoft starts with our mission, and we want to talk about empowering the world and empowering every person on the planet. It has to start with diversity."
The Reverend Jesse Jackson also took the stage at the investor meeting and scolded the tech industry for its lack of diversity.
"The tech industry has made very little, if any, progress in cracking the code to transform the character and composition of their workforces, to break with old patterns of exclusion," Jackson said.
However, Jackson praised Nadella's commitment to diversity by writing on Twitter, "Your push is very welcomed."

Microsoft's diversity problem

In addition to poor diversity numbers at Microsoft, where 73% of employees are male and 60% are white, Nadella also made a boneheaded comment last year that drew the ire of equal pay activists.
Speaking on the subject of gender diversity, Nadella suggested women shouldn't ask for raises and instead trust in karma that equal pay would come their way.
The comments were offensive enough that some groups asked for Microsoft to fire Nadella.

Read More ...

Review: Kia Optima
Review: Kia Optima

Design, interior and infotainment

Mid-size sedans are the bread and butter of the American automotive industry, falling just behind pickup trucks in terms of overall sales. This highly competitive segment is where every manufacturer brings its A-game to grab a chunk of the combined yearly sales that reach nearly 2.4 million vehicles.
If you asked what I thought about Kia vehicles a decade ago, the answer would have included not-so-kind remarks and plenty of sarcasm. That was always the case when it came to Korean vehicles, which earned a reputation for terrible quality vehicles in the '80s and '90s.
Kia Optima SX
Armed with a 10-year powertrain warranty and quickly learning to build better cars, Kia kicked off the new millennium with its first generation Optima, which was as plain as vanilla ice cream. It wasn't until 2010, when Kia unveiled the Peter Schreyer-designed Optima, that I finally was able to combine the words "Kia" and "stunning" into a single sentence. Prior to joining Kia in 2006, Schreyer contributed to Audi's and Volkswagens, including the TT, fourth generation Golf and new Beetle. He is now the chief designer for all Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
Five years later, and my opinion stays the same: the 2010-2015 Optima is one of the best looking midsize sedans available, and Peter Schreyer's styling has aged gracefully. Regardless, it's time for a change, and the new 2016 Kia Optima debuted at the New York Auto Show earlier this year with subtle visual updates while presenting a completely different car.
Kia Optima SX
Styling-wise, the 2016 Optima doesn't look very distinguishable from its striking predecessor. Some may say the new model is more conservative, which I agree with. However, the 2016 redesign is the equivalent of putting on a tailored suit and tie. The new Optima keeps the same basic shape and form of the previous generation but subtly evolves visual details by smoothing out the the sharp edges and lines to add a touch more elegance while maintaining a recognizable face.
I like the new design, especially from behind. But unfortunately, as with other cars in the mid-size segment, there's excessive use of chrome details.


Inside is where you spend most of your time in a car, and Kia crafted an attractive, driver-focused cabin. Step into the Optima SX – Kia loaned techradar for review – and you're treated with leather heated seats that get very toasty. (Ventilated seats are optional on the SX and standard on the SX Limited.)
Grab the steering wheel, and you're treated to a leather-wrapped, flat-bottom wheel with thumb grips that give the car a performance-oriented look and feel. The wheel is heated and gets very warm for those cold morning drives to work in the winter.
Kia Optima SX Limited Interior
The seats are very comfortable for long drives without any shoulder or neck pain. Lumbar adjustments eliminate lower back pain by providing support that suits the curvature of your back. There's the right amount of width and side bolster to support my 5-foot, 7-inch and 195-pound frame too. The Optima SX and SX Limited feature 12-way adjustable power seats for the driver with 4-way lumbar adjustments – a 10-way power passenger seat with 2-way lumbar is optional on the SX and standard on the SX Limited.
I'm a fan of the new headrest design, a soft plush cushion with a pillow-like feel. Opt for the SX Limited trim, and the seats are wrapped in fine Nappa leather with a diamond quilt pattern – for that extra touch of class.
Kia Optima SX Gauge Cluster
Look forward, and you're treated to a pair of analog gauges for the speedometer and tachometer with an LCD display sandwiched in between. The gauge cluster LCD display provides access to vehicle settings, such as light-off delay time, automatic door locks, driver assists and more.
This way, you can make quick changes to match your personal preferences without having to bring the car into the dealership. The display also ties into the navigation software to show turn-by-turn directions and basic vehicle information including fuel economy, tire pressure and trip meters.
Kia Optima SX Limited Nappa Leather
Interior materials are good with tight fit and finish suitable for a luxury sedan in the price range. Kia employs high-quality soft touch materials on the upper half of the dashboard while the lower parts consist of cheaper hard plastics, but this is fairly normal for other mid-size cars too.
The door panels are wrapped generously in vinyl, with plenty of soft touch materials, too. Overall, the interior layout, materials and level of comfort in the new Optima are good and it's a great place to be for your daily commute and roadtrips. The driver-focused interior puts you in control of the car with easy to reach buttons and knobs and the most frequently touched surfaces, such as the armrest and steering wheel is wrapped in leather.
There is one annoyance I have with the interior, one that affects most of the Optima vehicles, and that's the foot-operated parking brake. While vehicles with adaptive cruise control get an electronic parking brake, most of the Optima models will ship with the foot-operated brake that looks more like it belongs in an '80s pickup truck than a modern car. It's a small nitpick that still bugs me since manufacturers began moving away from the hand-brake.

Infotainment system

Kia employs its AVN 4.0 infotainment platform in the 2016 Optima, powered by a Freescale i.MX53 System on a Chip (SoC) and a Linux-based operating system. The single-core ARM Cortex-A9 SoC is ancient by modern smartphone standards but perfectly adequate for in-car navigation.
Mounted high and center on the Optima dashboard is an 8-inch touch screen with a resolution of 800 x 480. The display isn't as crisp as the latest Apple Retina displays or WQHD displays on Android flagships, but you're not looking at fine details from your driving position, so I have no problems with it.
The Visuals used for the interface are easy on the eyes and easily legible from the driver's seat. Touch response is excellent without lag, despite employing a resistive (plastic, no multi-touch) touch display rather than capacitive (glass, supports multi-touch), which dominates the mobile tech world.
Kia Optima Infotainment Screen
Kia opts for physical buttons and knobs placed lower on the center stack that are easy to reach. The physical buttons complement the touch screen interface for direct access to music sources, maps, UVO (Kia's own phone-connected information services), volume, seek functions and folder navigation.
There are radio controls on the left-side of the steering wheel for similar functions, too. I appreciate the physical controls, as they provide quicker and direct feedback when turning up the volume or changing the music source while focusing on the road. Placing the steering wheel controls on the left-hand side is perfect for those that drive primarily with their left hand on the wheel.
The user interface is very intuitive, with quick access to your audio sources, UVO apps, navigation and settings – the functions aren't buried beneath layers of sub-menus. Pairing your phone is an easy process that's triggered when you press the phone button without a device paired to the car.
Navigating SiriusXM, HD radio or USB storage devices bring no surprises with a straightforward user interface. The SiriusXM 2.0 tuner features time-shifting capabilities for the first six presets.
When a SiriusXM station is set to one of the first six presets, music is constantly recorded, so you can channel surf and restart a song that's already playing. Navigation maps are plain and flat but do the job. Kia's maps aren't as detailed as the 3D maps used by Ford and luxury car makers but adequate for getting you around town.
SiriusXM NavTraffic support is integrated in the infotainment system, but I find the feature quite useless. Unless you're entering an address into the navigation everywhere you go, SiriusXM NavTraffic does not know where you're going and will not recommend alternative routes if there's a jam or congestion.
There's also the problem in which I can see a jam in front of me, but NavTraffic doesn't show any congested traffic. A subscription costs $3.99 a month after the initial three-month trial period expires, but you're better off saving the money and using Google Maps or Waze for commuting.
Kia Optima Android Auto
Those that heavily rely on a smartphone everyday will be happy to hear that the 2016 Optima supports Android Auto, which lets your smartphone take over the in-vehicle display with a Google Now-esque interface. The Kia Optima user interface lets drivers listen to music via the car's sources while letting Android Auto take over the screen for Google Now cards or Google Maps navigation.
I played with Android Auto in the car and found no performance issues with my Motorola Nexus 6.
There is one downside, though, and it's the power output from the USB port: I measured power output at 0.8-amps using a Drok USB Volt Amp Meter. This is plenty to charge the phone while using navigation, but it doesn't charge very fast.
Audio quality from Android Auto is disappointing, but that's Google's fault and not Kia's. Android Auto sends music via Bluetooth instead of the USB connection already in use, unfortunately.
Newfangled iPhone 6S users are left out at launch with the new Optima. Kia promises Apple CarPlay support with the Optima and other vehicles next year via a software update. I've played with development units (a box with the infotainment system, not in a car) and haven't encountered any issues. The feature mirrors iOS functions to the vehicle display so you have the standard home button that's now on-screen and the iOS grid layout for CarPlay compatible apps.
The infotainment system does feature apps, such as Pandora, Yelp and the UVO features. Pandora integration uses Bluetooth for Android and a wired connection for iOS. Sound quality is obviously better through iOS, thanks to the wired connection. I didn't get a chance to test out the other UVO features, as the user logins were not provided with Kia's sample car for review, unfortunately.
Kia Optima Pandora
Bluetooth phone connectivity is straightforward, with good call quality on iOS and Android that was free of hisses, pops or the person on the other end of the line complaining about not hearing me. There's nothing out of the ordinary in terms of functionality. The infotainment system can connect to phones via Bluetooth and download the contact list and call history.
Kia's phone system does not support text messages. However, you're better off using Android Auto or the upcoming CarPlay functions, as Apple and Google will let you dictate messages using cloud-based services.

Audio, driver assists and more

The range-topping Optima SX Limited trim offers an integrated Qi wireless charger for phones. The charger is available in the lower cubby, where the USB and 12-volt power plugs are located.
While standard models have two 12-volt power plugs up front, the Qi wireless charger replaces one of the plugs with a light that shows the charging status. I was able to briefly test the integrated charger with my Motorola Nexus 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S6 with success – it works as you'd expect it. The compartment is a little tight with the Nexus 6, so I wouldn't try larger phones.
Kia Optima Qi wireless charger with Nexus 6

Premium sound

Standard on the SX Limited and optional on the SX is a Harman Kardon-branded premium sound system. The system features 10 total speakers with a 630-watt, 11-channel digital amplifier. For those that are confused by the greater amount of channels to the amount of speakers, the subwoofer in the rear deck is a dual voice coil design and takes two channels to power.
Harman's Clari-Fi and QuantumLogic Surround technologies headline the premium sound system. Clari-Fi claims to rebuild musical details lost in the digital conversion process using a proprietary algorithm developed by Harman.
The sound restoring technology works on all audio sources from USB, Bluetooth to SiriusXM. I spent most of the time listening to SiriusXM in the Optima and the feature does work as advertised.
SiriusXM typically produces low bit-rates, which result in terrible sound quality that sounds very dull. In the Optima, Clari-Fi brings back a bit of warmth to the sound. It's still not as good as a CD or high bitrate MP3, but it makes SiriusXM that much more tolerable in terms of sound quality.
Kia Optima Harman Kardon sound system
QuantumLogic Surround claims to separate voices and instruments on-the-fly to re-author it into a multi-channel soundstage. The Optima provides an on/off switch for this feature in the audio settings menu. I toggled it on and off with a variety of music and preferred the feature to be on.
Harman's processing keeps the music sounding natural so it's not a major change from the original sound source. The feature raises the sound stage to ear level, so the music is livelier with better staging.
I personally like the Harman Kardon premium sound system. There's a good balance of clarity and mid-bass from the system that lets you hear clear vocals with punchy bass notes. The subwoofer is a little weak, as with most factory systems, but adding bass is a lot easier than replacing all the speakers in the car. It's a good factory system with sound quality that I could live with and not have an itch to upgrade with aftermarket gear.

Driver assists

Kia offers a suite of driver assist technologies that are optional on the SX and standard on the SX Limited to help make your commute or late night driving easier or more annoying, depending on how open you are to the technology. The available features include rear parking sensors, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive headlights, 360-degree camera and – most importantly – adaptive cruise control.
The rear parking sensors, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning and lane departure warning features are all passive functions. These features do not stand to interfere with your driving at all.
The rear parking sensors cause the car to make loud beeps when the rear bumper is getting too close to an object when you're trying to park. Blind spot detection simply sounds off an alert when you put on the turn signal and there's a vehicle in the blind spot – or if another vehicle is accelerating at a higher rate of speed in the lane you're trying to get into.
Kia Optima Blind Spot Monitor
There are two alert processes, including a flashing light located in the side mirrors and an audible alert, so you can see and hear it, assuming you use your side mirrors. The system is conservative when it comes to detecting other vehicles in your blind spot, even if the other vehicle is two car lengths away, but I believe it's better to be safe than sorry.
Rear cross traffic alert is one of those features that's nice to have if you spend a lot of time in busy parking lots. Say you're backing out of a parking spot at the mall, you perform your head checks and don't see any car coming but while backing up, the system detects a child, shopping cart or another vehicle trying to get by you. The system then alerts you, so you can immediately stop and avoid hitting something (or someone) that is now in your path.
Forward collision and lane departure warning are also passive systems. The forward collision warning simply makes loud beeps when it senses the car or object in front of you may cause a collision to encourage braking. Kia does not offer bright flashing red lights that projects onto the windshield like General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and others. Instead, there's an alert graphic that shows up in the gauge cluster display.
Kia's Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology takes the forward collision warning system one step further to make it an active safety system. AEB can automatically apply the brakes to stop the car if it detects an imminent collision to lessen the impact if not completely avoid the collision completely.
Adaptive headlights are standard on the SX and SX Limited trim levels, which Kia dubs Dynamic Bending Light (DBL). This is a feature that is very useful if you live in rural environments and drive on windy roads. The feature works by turning the headlamps with your steering wheel so the headlights follow the road.
DBL has its uses, but if your drive consists mostly of well-lit roads and freeways, you most likely won't notice it in action. Nevertheless, it works well with the HID headlights in the Optima.
Kia Optima electric parking brake
Lastly are two of my favorite features: adaptive cruise control and the 360-degree camera. The first thing you'll notice on vehicles with Kia's smarter cruise control is the switch from a foot-operated parking brake to an electronic parking brake. This small distinction is a big deal when it comes to adaptive cruise control.
Instead of turning off below a certain speed, the Optima's adaptive cruise is a full-speed system that can stop the car completely and hold it without any driver intervention. The beauty of this is that you can completely drive the car in bumper-to-bumper traffic without ever setting your foot on the brake or gas pedal. Simply set a cruise speed, a following distance and let the system speed up or slow down and even stop the car for you.
On other vehicles without the electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise will ask you to step on the brake pedal when it's at a near-stop. The electric parking brake enables the car to automatically apply the brakes at a stop, so you can simply tap the resume toggle or quickly tap of the gas pedal to get going again.
Kia Optima steering wheel
Kia's surround view monitor installs cameras in the front and below the side mirrors to stitch together a 360-degree view of the car. This makes parallel parking or just backing up a lot easier, as you can see the entire car in the infotainment screen.
The feature automatically triggers when the car is put in reverse, but switches to the front camera briefly if you put it in drive and move at a slow rate of speed. You can manually turn on the bird's-eye view of the car, plus the front camera via a button below the shifter at slower speeds to aid parking.

Performance and living with it

Kia's Optima SX and SX Limited trims come standard with the 2.0-liter turbo, 4-cylinder motor, rack-mounted, power steering motor and sport-tuned suspension. The 2.0t is rated at 245 horsepower (hp) with 260 pound-per-foot of torque, which is down from the previous generation's 274 hp and 269 pound-per-foot.
However, numbers aren't everything, as the new Optima makes peak torque at 1,350 rotations per minute (RPM) instead of 1,650 RPM. The new Optima employs a smaller, twin-scroll turbo to achieve these power ratings. The 2.0t is mated to the same 6-speed automatic as the previous generation.
While power is down on the new Optima, Kia engineers tuned the engine for a smoother power curve that improves drivability. There's no high-RPM power surge, as with the previous generation, only linear smoothness. Despite being down on power, you can spin the tires a little when flooring it from a stop and it never felt slow. I wouldn't call it fast but there's plenty of passing power at high altitudes (I drove up to 12,000 feet above sea level) thanks to the turbo.
Kia Optima on dyno
We partnered up with Drift-Office, a local tuning shop co-founded by a good friend of mine, to put the Optima on a vehicle dynamometer (dyno), which measures power output through the wheels by having the vehicle to spin rollers that measure the amount of force applied, and verify Kia's number ratings and check out the power curve. When I tested the vehicle, it was a typical Washington day with an average temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit with around 74% humidity at around 69 feet above sea level. The car was strapped down and ran three times.
Kia Optima dyno chart
The Optima made 211hp at the wheels on the first run, which shows about 12% of power loss through the drivetrain. Power loss can be upwards to 20% depending on the car, drive wheels and transmission but it produces respectable numbers.
The power curve is very linear without random power surges, and backs up Kia's claim of tuning the engine for smoothness. The later runs generated less power due to heat soak, which happens when a car is on a dyno with a large fan blowing air at it – this isn't something that typically happens in regular driving, unless it's extremely hot outside.
The US Environmental Protection Agency rates the Optima with the 2.0-liter turbo at 22 in the city, 32 on the highway and 25 combined miles-per-gallon. My lead-footed driving saw fuel economy around 20 MPG in primarily city driving. I'm sure your average driver should see the rated numbers, but it's hard not to mash the gas pedal and listen to the tires squeal.
Kia offers a 1.6-liter turbo and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder motors that are more economical as well. The 1.6-liter turbo is an economical gem that's rated for 28 in the city, 39 on the highway and 32 combined MPG, while the base 2.4-liter only gains 2-3 MPG more across the board than the turbo 2.0-liter. However, the 1.6 turbo and 2.4-liter motors have column-mounted power steering motors and different suspension tuning, so the driving dynamics are completely different. My take on the Optima's driving performance strictly refers to the SX and SX Limited.
Steering feel on the Optima gives you a feel of the surface, tight response and the right amount of weight to inspire confidence. Kia has come a long way in terms of driving dynamics, and the Optima is a solid driving mid-size sedan. There's a driver mode select button that alters steering, throttle response and transmission shifting depending on which mode you select – normal, sport or eco. I left the car in sport mode most of the time as I prefer a heavier and tighter steering feel and quicker transmission shifts.
Paddle shifters are available behind the steering wheel and mounted to the wheel, which is what I prefer instead of column-mounted paddles. The downside is that there's a noticeable delay when pressing the paddles to when the transmission shifts.
Kia Optima
If the Optima were a sports car, this would be a major drawback, but it's less of a problem as a family sedan. It does stay in the selected gear to the engine redline (the highest RPM the engine can go) when in manual mode, so you can downshift and drive aggressively through windy roads without fear of automatic upshifts mid-corner.
The power steering applies the right amount of weight at the right speeds for a pleasant drive through winding roads. Suspension tuning strikes the balance of sporty handling and comfort without noticeable body roll while spiritedly driving through the mountain roads without breaking the law (too much). The 2016 Optima isn't on the same level as the Mazda 6 when it comes to driving dynamics, but it's very close and offers an excellent driving experience.

Living with it

Everything about the Kia Optima looks good, but what is it like to live with (you know, with kids)? We partnered up with Diono, a car seat manufacturer, to test fit three car seats in the back of the car. Diono's USA headquarters is in Puyallup, Wash., where I conduct vehicle testing and a convenient place to stop by and test-fit car seats. With the help of Diono, I installed three Radian RXT convertible car seats in the back of the Optima.
The Optima has two pairs of lower LATCH anchors in the outboard seats, and the middle seat requires using the regular seat belt. Top LATCH anchors are present for all three seats. The seats were installed with the vehicle seat belts and not LATCH anchors.
Kia Optima Diono Radians
All three seats fit fine in the Optima. I tried the middle car seat in front and rear-facing positions without space issues. The only caveat is the buckle for the middle seat sits a little high, so my Diono representative had to twist it two turns so that it sits lower. I was reassured this does not affect the safety of the car seat or installation.
When rear-facing, the Radian RXT can protrude into the front of the car due to how tall it is. This is easily resolved using Diono's angle-adjuster accessory, which I tested with it as well. Ultimately, the 2016 Optima can safely fit three Diono Radian RXT car seats in the back. I am not able to test other car seats and can't confirm if other brand models will fit in a three-across configuration.

Junk in the trunk

Walk up to the trunk of the Optima with the key fob in your pocket and the car automatically opens the trunk for you. Kia calls this feature "Smart Trunk," and it makes your life easier if your hands are full, theoretically.
The Smart Trunk only activates if the car is locked and you walk behind the car. It sounds off a couple beeps as an audible warning before the trunk is opened. If it's beeping and you didn't want to open the trunk, simply walk away and it'll cancel.
In the perfect scenario, you'll have your hands full with the kids and groceries, walk up to the car and the trunk magically opens for you. In reality, Kia's Smart Trunk pops open the trunk but it doesn't have a powered trunk to automatically raise it for you, so you still have to open the trunk albeit with one less step.
Kia Optima trunk space
Kia claims the Optima has 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space, and it does have a very large trunk. To test how usable the trunk is, I keep Sumo Gigantor and Omni bean bags from Sumo Lounge around for trunk fitting tests. The Sumo sacks can easily contour to odd trunk space layouts, too. It's a fun way I devised to visualize how big a trunk is that can produce interesting images.
I dragged the Sumo Omni outside to put in the trunk of the Optima without much luck – and odd stares from neighbors. The 60 x 60 x 38-inch bean bag didn't fit due to the small opening.
While your typical boxes and suitcases should fit in the Optima without issues, it's the odd-sized item that is a problem. If you need to haul large items a lot, a sedan isn't ideal and you're better off with a wagon (estate for our UK readers), minivan or crossover.


Overall, I really like the 2016 Kia Optima. If you asked me if I would ever consider a Kia 10 years ago, I'd just laugh with a quick "heck no." The company has come a long way, and the previous generation Optima was a major change for the company's brand perception. This follow-up takes the stunning looks and makes a car that's visually familiar but a completely different animal when it comes to refinement.
Kia Optima

We liked

Said refinement includes well-devised feature implementations that aren't simply checking boxes. The infotainment system is easy to use on its own or you can add a smartphone to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay next year.
There are two USB charging ports, so front- and rear-seat passengers can charge their devices. Plus, the 360-degree camera is well implemented with a birds-eye and directional view of the vehicle. And the adaptive cruise control can stop and hold the car for you.
Driving the Optima is a good experience – the sport suspension is stiff enough to have fun through windy roads but dampens well enough for a comfortable ride. The seats are comfortable, and I didn't develop any back pains during the hours of driving or riding as a passenger.

We disliked

There are some downsides with the Optima, though it's mostly me nitpicking. The overall interior materials consist of soft touch surfaces and ergonomic control placements.
For starters, the two large chunks of black plastic on each side of the infotainment screen are confusing – the plastic feels very cheap and it looks weird. There's the standard, foot-operated parking brake on lower trim models that reminds me of my dad's '80s Toyota pickup truck.
Not to mention the excessive use of exterior chrome trim – yuck. Also, Apple CarPlay not being available until next year is a major disappointment, especially since Honda has it on the refreshed Accord.

Final verdict

Pricing for the turbocharged Kia Optima SX starts at $29,690 (AU$48,331 as the Optima GT; no UK availability yet) but you get quite a lot of kit at that price, including sportier front and rear fascias, bi-Xenon HID headlights, 12-way adjustable leather sport seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, sportier suspension and integrated navigation functions.
Add the optional $4,800 SX Premium Technology Package, and Kia throws the kitchen sink at you with the driver assist technologies, 360-degree camera, the excellent Harman Kardon premium sound system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. That brings the price to $35,315, or you can splurge and go for the range-topping SX Limited at $36,615 and treat your behind to finer-quality Nappa leather.
Kia Optima
Ultimately, I really dig the 2016 Kia Optima SX/SX Limited for how comfortable it is yet can keep up when I'm feeling spirited. The car has an excellent adaptive cruise control system that can completely stop the car, and an intuitive infotainment system that works with my smartphone. It's a mid-size sedan that is very large, with plenty of front and rear seat legroom and plenty of technology that most luxury car buyers don't get. Styling is subjective, but I am a fan.
This year's Optima may not look much different than the previous generation, but its toned down and shows a higher level of refinement, the equivalent of putting on a suit and tie. If you're looking for a mid-size sedan that's stylish and satisfies your needs for a comfortable daily commuter and family car, you can't go wrong with the 2016 Kia Optima.

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Review: Honeywell MM14CCS 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Review: Honeywell MM14CCS 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
The Honeywell MM14CCS 14,000 BTU helps ease the common misconception that the hot, sunny weather in Los Angeles is always "nice," thanks to this portable air conditioner's cool high-tech breeze that comes at a reasonable price.
Because Southern California is pretty much warm year-round and not every building has central air conditioning or a window that fits a normal AC unit, my home computer is always cranking up the apartment heat index all day long. It can get roasting.
I've thought about buying a portable air conditioner every year since I moved here, but always wondered: are they worth the price? Or can I ride out the several scorching hot weeks again? The reviews out there are mostly inconclusive, often from shoppers with no clear consensus.
Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review
Testing out the Honeywell MM14CCS for an entire summer and into the still-too-hot fall, I was able to gauge just how good a portable air condition can be over the course of several weeks.
Here's the 411 on this 14,000 BTU AC unit, which costs $549 at Amazon during Cyber Week deals this holiday season, edging out the rival Whynter Portable AC model.

Specs and performance

The MM14CCS Portable Air Conditioner is Honeywell's top-of-the-line unit that blasts out 14,000 British Thermal Units. That lets it cool a 550 square foot room in a matter of 30 minutes.
That's enough for my office to drop ten degrees, from 85 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and it does a reasonable job in my larger front room when placed it out there, too. With all windows and doors closed, making the space smaller, it drops the temperature five degrees.
Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review
It's been a pleasure to wake up in a bedroom and actually be too cold during heatwave and turn on the news and walk into another room only to realize the significant difference. That said, this isn't a magical air conditioner that will cool your entire home. This isn't a central air replacement.
Besides cooling, this particular model has dehumidification, up to 95 pints every 24 hours. It also uses an auto-evaporation system so that I didn't have to drain water from it every few days. In fact, I haven't had to drain the water more a few times over the course of my seven-week test.
During my Honeywell MM14CCS review testing I found it to deliver the promised powerful airflow and, for the most part, quiet operation of 55 dbA.
The one caveat is when the cooling turns on and off. The noise is abrupt if you're just dozing off, which wouldn't be that big of a deal once, except when the room temperature constantly hovers between that perfect temp and one degree higher, it can happen multiple times in an hour. That's when it's best to set that auto-off timer.


Along the front of the Honeywell MM14CCS is a long, blue digital LCD display that lets me transition my office from cool to cooler within a few minutes. There are capacitive buttons, which Honeywell calls its feather-touch buttons, and they're backlit so it's easy to see them in the dark. Don't worry, that blue backlight turns off after a minute.
Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review
Setting for modes of "Cooling, Fan and Dehumidification" is fairly simple to navigate (once I read the instruction stickers to determine what the on-screen icons meant), and an included remote makes the task even easier to understand and operate.
The RF remote (which requires 2 AAA batteries) includes a display of its own, showing the current mode, fan speed, current room temperature in the room and an intuitive programmable 24-hour timer.
I did have to learn is that the current room temperature is the one constantly displayed. The desired temperature, on the other hand, is shown blinking only when cycling through the degrees with the up and down buttons. It soon reverts back to the room temperature, inching closer to that perfect number.
Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review
I appreciated this 5-inch remote, but it's easy to lose, like my diminutive Apple TV remote, and I was really hoping that Honeywell MM14CCS would jump further into the Internet of Things world with a smartphone app.
Having my iPhone or Android phone set the temperature, mode and timer would have made the experience even better. To be fair, no portable air conditioner I've tried is up to "fan speed" on this development yet. However, I imagine this interconnectivity is coming in the next few years to future portable AC units.


Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review
The Honeywell MM14CCS 14,000 BTU design is what attracted me to this particular model. This two-toned black-and-silver tower has dimensions are smaller than its rivals, with measurements of 34" x 19.92" x 15.79" and a weight of 73.85 lbs. The vent opens at the top, so it really requires 36 inches of height in the end.
That makes this portable air conditioner easy to stick into a small room, and it comes with four caster wheels at the bottom to cart around between rooms. It doesn't take too much muscle to move the MM14CCS, so you won't break a sweat while the AC is temporarily off.
What can complicate your positioning of the air conditioner is the flexible exhaust hose. Like all real portable air conditioners (not glorified cooling fans), it requires the hot air it sucks out of a room to go somewhere, like a window.
Like an accordion, there's a single exhaust hose extends. It's 5 inches in diameter and stretches up to almost 5 feet in length to reach a nearby window. It's not the most eye-pleasing tube, but there's a window venting kit that acts as a panel-like attachment that's easy to install and sits in an slightly ajar window.
There's no second intake hose included, instead relying on a built-in vent on the backside of the portable air conditioner. You can of course purchase a second hose for precise room cooling. That's the one advantage of the Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner, which has two hoses that stretch 60 inches.

We liked

Cooling is the primary job of the Honeywell MM14CCS 14,000 BTU, and it accomplishes without sweating the task. It consistently took my room temperature down ten degrees when asked and it doesn't require much maintenance or space compared to other portable air conditioners.
It's modern looking with a blue LCD display and capacitive buttons, and there's a 5-inch remote control that extends all of the functionality to me while across the room. The best part is its size. Not all portable AC units are, well, portable. The wheels and dimensions make it a synch to set up in any home or small office room, and it's cheaper than its competitors.

We disliked

Honeywell made this air conditioner quiet, except when it transitions between cooling on and off. It's only an issue in the dead of night if you're using this while sleeping. It does such a good job getting to a specific temperature, then tries to keep it that way by turning on and off.
This is the best Honeywell air conditioner out there right now, but a more advanced unit adds one feature the MM14CCS: heating. The MM14CHCS adds a 12,000 BTU heat pump for $50 extra. Also, it lacks the lengthier dual hose system of the Whynter, which is also more expensive for what's roughly the same specs and design. All portable air conditioners could use an upgrade with smartphone controls, in my opinion.
Honeywell MM14CCS 14000 BTU review


The Honeywell MM14CCS, at the powerful 14,000 BTU level, is the best portable air conditioner I have found for a relatively low price. It stops short of providing the dual hose attachment of the Whynter, but I found I didn't need it. That lets this air conditioner come in at a cheaper price and it turns out to be a smaller size.
At 14,000 BTU, this Honeywell portable air conditioner, it cools, dehumidifies and acts as a fan. Sure, it's easy to find an inexpensive fan that circulates air around a room, but this sucks in the hot air and literally sends it out the window where it belongs.

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How to download and install Chrome OS
How to download and install Chrome OS

Download and install Chrome OS

How to download and install Chrome OS
The first question in your head is "why would I want to install Chrome OS, even on my old laptop, when there are perfectly adequate awesome full-fat Linux distros to choose from?"
Good question, and the answer is not everyone wants a full-fat distro, nor can everyone use a full-fat distro. Part of the success of Chromebooks – and they are successful with 5.7 million Chromebooks being sold in 2014 and 7.3 million predicted for 2015 – is their cut-down, lightweight Gentoo-based OS.
If you want to give someone easy, no fuss access to Google services it should be a tempting choice. The good news is that it's easy to install Chromium OS, which is the open source project name for the official Google Chrome OS, which is only available through officially licenced Chromebook PCs.
While it looks superficially different with a blue-theme running through it, Chromium OS taps into the same Google Accounts and services and it offers the same advantages of automatically picking up your plugins and the rest, which are stored in the Google cloud.
Built on Gentoo, it is Linux based and so has all the advantages of the Linux kernel, but keep in mind it was only rolled out in late 2009, so if you're planning on trying it on hardware older than that you might not have as much luck.
Having said that we tried it on a standard Lenovo X200 laptop from 2008 and everything worked without a hitch. A general rule of thumb is: any standard Intel hardware should work without a hitch.
One thing we do know is that non-Intel wireless adaptors do cause issues, we'll go into this in more detail in a moment.
A number of sites have maintained builds of Chromium OS. It's unlikely you'll want to build it yourself from source, so there are versions ready for VirtualBox and for running and installing off a USB drive. We're using this Chrome OS build, which is kept current.
Another popular build is over at the Hexxeh website . This doesn't appear to be maintained as of April 2013, but it will still work.

Take Chromium OS for a spin

You've got an array of options for trying Chromium OS. The easiest of them is to download an image, write it to a USB drive or SD card and boot this from your laptop or PC.
There are live disc versions too, but with writable media you're able to save your settings and carry the OS around with you.
It's not advertised within the OS but there's a command which easily copies the OS partitions to an internal hard drive.
This does wipe all existing data but with cheap SSDs it's not beyond the realms of possibility you could buy a dedicated drive.
We did try dual-booting Chromium with Linux Mint, but it seems Chromium saw this as a repair state and wouldn't play ball.
Let us know if you have more luck, as it seems a relatively straight-forward process of recreating the two ROOT-A and STATE partitions, dd over these from the USB drive and update Grub.

1. Grab a build

How to download and install Chrome OS
Grab the latest special build, these retain all previous drivers, including Broadcom wireless plus untested Realtek and Atheros wireless cards.
Note the Cx86OS and Camd64OS for 32-and 64-bit support, so ensure you grab the correct version for your hardware to make the most of your memory.

2. Boot media

How to download and install Chrome OS
The 7ZIP file is about 1GB in size and is a 2.4GB uncompressed IMG file. This needs to be dd'd to a suitably large USB device or SD card.
You are able to run and use Chromium OS from this but obviously for speed installing it on an internal SSD or HDD is the best option:
$ sudo dd if= of=/dev/sdbX bs=4M

3. Start Chromium OS

How to download and install Chrome OS
Boot your laptop with the USB stick. You'll likely need to do the magic F12/Del/Special key to adjust the BIOS/UEFI boot priorities.
You don't need to log into an account as you can use the Guest browse option. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open the developer Chrome Shell crosh. Type shell to open a real Linux shell.

4. Install Chromium OS

How to download and install Chrome OS
Warning! The next command will wipe the entire internal hard drive, we didn't have much luck with dual booting.
If you're prompted for a password use password, next at the shell $ /usr/sbin/chrome-install--dev /dev/sda and away the install will go. Once complete remove the USB stick, reboot and you're all done.

5. Get the API keys

How to download and install Chrome OS
Everything will work but parts of the OS won't be able to access Google services without signed keys. Subscribe to this Chromium Google Code group then access the Google Developers Console, and select Create Project.
Enable Drive API/SDK, Google Maps Geolocation API, Google Now for Chrome API.

6. Add the keys

How to download and install Chrome OS
The keys are case sensitive, so carefully enter them, when asked for the password, which is password. To do this open Crosh, $ shell , $ sudo su , $ mount -o remount,rw / , $ cd /etc , $ vi chome_dev.conf in vi enter the keys as detailed below.
Press Esc wq! , logout and log back in and Chromium Files should now have access.

Google API keys

This part of the walkthrough isn't strictly required and frankly it's a pain in the bum to implement as the keys are long and if your font obfuscates 1, L and I then it's a pain to enter as well.
But if you want the Chromium Files app to work nicely with your external Google Drive account, this is the way to do it.
You'll need to get the keys from the Google Developers Console. Under API you need to select Credentials followed by Create New Client ID for Installed Applications and Other type, then select Create New Key.
Two entries with your API, ID and Secret key will be listed. The second major step is adding the environmental variables to Chromium.
In vi add the following three lines to the end of the configuration file along with your new keys.

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Samsung announces new Galaxy A phones, but they won't arrive any time soon
Samsung announces new Galaxy A phones, but they won't arrive any time soon
Samsung's new Galaxy A7, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 have just been announced, but there's going to be quite the wait to get your hands on them.
The phones are first coming to the UK but not until April 2016, and the wider world could have to wait a little while longer as well. Samsung has said it will be 'expanded to global markets', which could mean a launch even after April next year.
At least the specs are half-decent: the top-of-the-line Galaxy A7 comes with a 5.5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, a 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and a 3,300mAh battery.

A long way off

The middle sibling of next year's A family is the Galaxy A5 with a 5.2-inch Full HD display, 1.6GHz octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM and a 2,900mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy A5
Then there's the littlest member (no sniggering at the back...), the Galaxy A3, with a 4.7-inch 720p display with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM and a 2,300mAh battery.
All three phones are running Android 5.1 Lollipop software, which is a shame when we'd expect it to launch with Android 6 Marshmallow given Samsung will have had the platform for months by then.
Samsung Galaxy A3
Each is also packing a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP selfie shooter, with 16GB of internal storage on each (plus microSD support up to 128GB) and Samsung's fast charging abilities on both the Galaxy A7 and Galaxy A5.
The A5 and A7 will also support Samsung Pay mobile payments thanks to the fingerprint sensor integrated in the phones.
The strange thing is that release date though, as April is a long way off and we've got both CES and MWC in between now and then.
Rumours suggest the Galaxy S7 will be announced at some point in February, so we may even see the flagship phone out on the streets before this new range.

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Updated: Best printer: our recommendations for inkjets and lasers
Updated: Best printer: our recommendations for inkjets and lasers

Overview and inkjets #1-5

In choosing the right printer, your first decision should be whether to go for a standard printer, or a multifunction device that includes a scanner and that can also work as a standalone copier. These aren't much larger than regular printers, but they're a whole lot more versatile, especially when you need to keep a copy of a letter, a bill or any other important document.
You should also think carefully about whether to invest in an inkjet or a laser. Lasers are usually associated with office environments, where they produce sharp, smudge-free printouts quickly, quietly and economically, but this can be just as useful at home or in a home office. If you use a ton of ink, manufacturers like HP are offering services that mail you new ink cartridges every month.
With that being said, here are our picks for the best printers in each class.

Inkjet printers

Best printer

1. Canon Pixma MG7520

Great for offices and amateur photographers
Print speed: 15 black ipm | Nozzles: 5,632 | Print resolution: 9600 x 2400 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to Legal | Paper capacity: 145 | Dimensions: 17.2" (W) x 14.6" (D) x 5.9" (H) | Weight: 17.4 lbs.
Photo prints
Print speeds
Dust collection
The Canon Pixma MG7520 is a steal for photography enthusiasts who don't need to print large documents or in high-volume. This 17.4 pound printer is only 17.2" wide and 5.9" tall, so it isn't exactly compact, but it is pound-for-pound a solid device. The prints it produces are exact replicas of their digital files. You'll spend hours printing photos and loving every minute of it.
Read the full review: Canon Pixma MG7520
Best printer

2. Brother MFC-J4620DW

A bulldog that does it all
Print speed: 35 black ipm | Print resolution: 6000 x 1200 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to 11" x 17" | Paper capacity: 150 | Dimensions: 18.9" x 11.4" x 7.4" | Weight: 20.6
Compatibility and connectivity
Easy to use
Slow on max settings
Mediocre design
Brother has packed a lot of features into this device, and it has also managed to keep the price low. Ink prices aren't too frightening if you go for the high capacity cartridges, and like Brother's other inkjets it can perform at very high speeds if you're not too bothered about print quality, or produce high quality output if you're willing to be patient.
Read the full review: Brother MFC-J4620DW
Best printer

3. HP Officejet X576dw

An inkjet with laser performance
Print speed: 70 black ipm | Print resolution: 2400 x 1200 optimized dpi | Paper sizes: Up to A4 | Paper capacity: 50 sheets | Dimensions: 23" x 19" x 25" (W x D x H) | Weight: 61.65lbs
Fast print speeds
Economical print costs
Large size
No built-in stapler
For many small businesses, more affordable print costs alone should be enough to make the Officejet X576dw a top contender when shopping for a new printer, but this inkjet delivers exceptional performance at tremendous value, if you can afford its high up-front cost of ownership.
Read the full review: HP Officejet X576dw
Best printer

4. Canon Maxify MB5320 review

The only All-in-One you'll need
Print speed: 23 black ipm | Nozzles: 3,072 | Print resolution: 600 x 1200 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to Legal | Paper capacity: 250 | Dimensions: 18.3" (W) x 18.1" (D) x 13.9" (H) | Weight: 28.8
High paper volume
Photo & graphic printing
Awful resolution
The MB5320 is a wireless inkjet all-in-one printer that is available in the US only for $399.99. It comes with a stacked feature set and robust paper handling that should limit paper jams and spills. The price is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), and users looking to get high-quality graphic and photo creation, might be disappointed by the quality.
However, the Canon MB5320 would be a sound addition to any small or home office looking for an efficient printer that can handle large volumes of paper without a ton of maintenance.
Read the full review: Canon Maxify MB5320
Best Printer

5. Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630

Economical print costs for volume printing
Print speed: 20 black ipm | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 optimized dpi | Paper sizes: value | Paper capacity: 330 sheets | Dimensions: 18.1" x 25.8" x 15.1" (W x D x H) | Weight: 31.3
Fast print speeds
Uninspiring design
There's a lot to love about this multifunction printer - it superbly handles office print jobs, and print quality rivals those of color laser printers. The automatic document feeder can handle double-sided scans and copies, and a specialty rear paper tray offers added convenience to the front-loading 250-sheet tray. If you need massive amounts of ink, and don't mind slow print speeds, a similar version of this printer is available in Epson's EcoTank line.
Read the full review: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630

Laser printers

Laser printers

Best printer

1. Sharp MX-C301W

The best of the best
Print speed: 30 black ipm | Print resolution: 600 x 600 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to A6 | Paper capacity: 300 sheets | Dimensions: 16 57/64" x 22 13/32" x 18 21/32" | Weight: 72.8lbs.
This compact unit is a great, multi-purpose device for small-to-medium-sized enterprise use. With a straightforward out of the box set up, quick and easy color printing, speedy scanning, and standard copying features, the Sharp MX-C301W is a competitive addition to the enterprise market.
It might be a little too much to handle for the home office user, but if you're interested in bulk printing and speed, this is a safe bet.
Read the full review: Sharp MX-C301W
Best printer

2. HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553X

Print speed: 40 black ipm | Print resolution: 3600 x 3600 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to A6 | Paper capacity: 1100 sheets | Dimensions: 18 x 18.9 x 22.9 in | Weight: 73.6
Superb print quality
Fast performance
Rather large
This is a big printer for small businesses with big ideas – it's great for producing striking marketing materials, brochures and other colorful documents without making the finance director cry. It isn't cheap, but its support for all kinds of wired and wireless printing, its cavernous paper trays and low running costs make the 553X an investment you're unlikely to regret. Just don't drop it on your foot.
Read the full review: HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553X
Best printer

3. Samsung Multifunction Xpress C460FW

A dominant laser printer
Print speed: 19 black ipm | Print resolution: 600 x 600 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to 8.5" x 14" | Paper capacity: 40 sheets | Dimensions: 16" x 14.3" x 13.1" | Weight: 30.82
Great mobile printing options
Very good text printing
Great mobile printing options
Very good text printing
If you're after a high-quality text printer that can do the odd image too, the Samsung Multifunction Xpress C460FW won't disappoint, but its photo printing lets it down. There's a lot to like about this low-cost all-in-one laser printer, but we don't think it will be the model to crack the home market.
Read the full review: Samsung Multifunction Xpress C460FW
Best Printer

4. Brother HL-L9200CDWT

Print speed: 32 black ipm | Print resolution: 2400 x 600 dpi | Paper sizes: Up to B6 | Paper capacity: 750 sheets | Dimensions: 16.1" x 19.5" x 17.5" | Weight: 61.6
Good performance
Easy setup and operation
Big, bulky and very heavy
Some software issues
The HL-L92000CDWT is a capable, affordable option for everyday home of heavy office use. It's wireless functionality, including AirPrint and Cloud Print, and high capacity toners make for excellent performance no matter how and what you're printing. Unfortunately, it's a giant beast of a machine, so make sure you have the room for it before you make a purchase.
Read the full review: Brother HL-L9200CDWT

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Updated: 9 best 2-in-1 laptops 2015: top hybrid laptops reviewed
Updated: 9 best 2-in-1 laptops 2015: top hybrid laptops reviewed

Best 2-in-1 laptops

Hybrid laptops, or 2-in-1s, are devices that are able to serve as both a laptop and a tablet, either in a detachable design that sees the touchscreen doubling as a tablet, or a convertible approach in which the notebook's hinge rotates 360 degrees for a similar effect.
Hybrid laptops are generally priced in a range between $700 (about £450, AU$800) and $2,000 (around £1,169, AU$2,131). However, some manufacturers, like Acer, make budget hybrids, and there are even 2-in-1s designed specifically for the business user, like the Dell Venue 7000 series.
Now that Microsoft has released Windows 10, expect an even greater selection of these devices to pop up, like the incredible Microsoft Surface Book, and the stellar Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Dell XPS 12 and the first 4K resolution 2-in-1 the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12.
With that, here are the best 2-in-1 laptops that we've reviewed:
Best hybrid laptops

1. Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The best iteration in Windows 10 tablets
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 256GB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing; 5MP front-facing | Weight: 1.73 pounds | Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches
Larger, sharper screen
Vastly improved Type Cover
Type Cover still sold separately
Battery life hasn't improved much
There's a new reigning king of Windows tablets and its name is the Surface Pro 4. Building on everything the last iteration got right, this new Surface slate introduces a larger screen more sensitive touchscreen perfected for everything from penning documents to painting images. Thanks to a newly redesigned island keyboard, tapping away on the Type Cover feels almost as good as a real laptop and the glass trackpad feels simply superb. Internally the Microsoft's latest also features a faster processor all in a shell that's actually lighter and thinner than the Surface Pro 3. Overall, these improvements make the Surface Pro 4 the tablet that really can replace your laptop. When you factor in price, especially compared to its cousin, the Microsoft Surface Book, the Surface Pro 4 is really the hybrid laptop king.
Read the full review: Surface Pro 4
Best hybrid laptop

2. Microsoft Surface Book

The ultimate Windows 10 hybrid laptop
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD
Futuristic design
Seamless tablet separation
Battery life falls well below promises
Major updates are still in tow
Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first ever laptop, the Surface Book. Though it has a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen that's outside of the norm for most Ultrabooks, it's one of the best designed convertible laptops ever created. As a standalone tablet, otherwise known as the Clipboard, it's the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 computers in the world, then docking it into the keyboard base affords it even more performance by way of its discrete GPU.
Read the full review: Surface Book
Best hybrid

3. HP Spectre x360

Sublime. Near-perfect.
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics:Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 (1600Mhz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD WVA Webcam (front-facing) | Weight: 3.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H)
Superbly thin
Vibrant, bright display
Excellent performance and battery life
Too heavy to use as a tablet
Weird, wide trackpad
Buy the HP Spectre x360. It easily comes as one of my most recommended machines, with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life, and sturdy build quality; all for an excellent deal at $999 (£899, AU$1,899).
If it weren't for a few missteps with the trackpad and being too hefty for tablet use, this laptop would have easily stood amongst the most highly rated laptops TechRadar has ever reviewed. Despite its flaws, though, the Spectre x360 is one of the best-looking and powerful devices HP has ever produced and well worth a look over many, many other 2-in-1 laptops.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
Best hybrid laptops

4. Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The best of the best
CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch (ClearType, 3:2 aspect ratio) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: Two 5MP webcams (1080p HD video) | Weight: 1.76 pounds Dimensions: 7.93 x 11.5 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H)
Sharp display
Perfect as laptop and tablet
Mediocre battery life
Runs hot at times
This is not only Microsoft's most striking and versatile device to date, but the most convincing poster child for the hybrid category yet. And this ringing endorsement comes from a long-time skeptic of such devices.
This version of the tablet comes in cheaper than the most affordable iPad Air and 13-inch MacBook Air combined, even with the Type Cover, and that's the point. On paper, this slate is more powerful than either Apple device, not to mention most other comparably priced laptops and tablets. The Surface Pro 3 might not be perfect, but it's far and wide the brightest shining example of a potential tablet takeover. If you're not concerned about a downgraded performance, consider the new Surface 3, which doesn't provide as much kick as the Pro, but is lighter and a lot cheaper. And, of course, if you want the latest and greatest, try the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, which we've yet to run an extensive review on.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Best hybrid

5. Toshiba Satellite Radius 15

A sharp 4K laptop
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U (dual-core, 4MB cache up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 12GB DDR3L (1600MHz) | Screen: 15.6-inch, 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) TruBrite, LED backlit, IPS touchscreen | Storage: 512GB mSATA SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7265, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 4.96 pounds | Dimensions: 14.9 x 9.6 x 0.79 inches (W x D x H)
4K screen
12GB of RAM
Short battery life
Thanks to the combination of a great price and stacked hardware, the Radius 15 is one of the few successful UHD laptops. It joins a small pantheon of 4K laptops, with the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 being its closest exemplar. In some ways, the Radius 15 is a better overall system with a more vibrant screen, a sharper design that's also thinner and smaller to boot.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is still one of the 15-inch best laptops we've ever reviewed and an incredible deal if you're on a budget. But if you're ready to make the resolution jump into 4K, you can't go wrong with the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15.
Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Radius 15
Best laptop

6. Lenovo Yoga 900

A thoughtfully refined 2-in-1 convertible
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 512GB SSD
Gorgeous display
Slim design
Shallow keyboard
Display drivers issues
Whereas the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 had a winning design and underwhelming performance, the Yoga 900 is the full package. By integrating more powerful Intel Core I processors and a larger battery, Lenovo's latest flagship convertible can stand toe-to-toe with most Ultrabooks and even Microsoft's latest Surface Book. All this extra power has only made the Yoga 900 slightly thicker and heavier, however, it still largely retains a very thin and flexible frame that folds back into tablet mode.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900 xxx
Best hybrid

7. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12

A versatile hybrid ideal for those who work as hard as they play
CPU: Intel Core i5-5300U (2C, 2.30/2.90GHz, 3.0MB, 1600Mhz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 1920x1080 | Storage: 180GB SSD OPAL2 | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless – AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD 720p | Weight: 3.48 pounds (1.5kg) Dimensions: 12..44" x 8.70" x 0.74" (31 x 22 x 1.8 cm)
Solid performance
Versatile design
Slightly heavy
No ethernet port
The Yoga 12 is a versatile bulldog of a device. You can use it as your work laptop. You can use it for play. It won't be the best pick for either of these tasks, but it won't stray too far from the upper tier either. At 3.4 pounds and 0.74 inches thick, it's just light and slim enough to claim portability. With more than seven hours of video playback, its battery is good enough to get through a workday, and it's affordably priced starting at just $845.
Packing a full HD display that can bend into four different modes, you'll enjoy this device's flexibility, even though it isn't the lightest or sexiest device on the planet. With that being said, it performs on par or better than any of the devices on this list. If you need a larger screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 is also a great option.
Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12
Best Hybrid

8. Dell Inspiron 13 7000

An attractive, versatile package
CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p front-facing webcam; built-in dual digital microphones | Weight: 3.68 pounds (1.67kg) | Dimensions: 12.99 x 8.74 x 0.75 inches (W x D x H; 330 x 222 x 19mm)
Attractive design
Sturdy construction
Lackluster battery life
A little hefty
This notebook features excellent build quality and overall system performance. It's fast, it's slick, and it is ideal for students who need to bang out papers and general users who want a fast, compact notebook to tote around.
Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000

9. Toshiba Satellite Click Mini

Affordable and attractive
CPU: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F with Burst Technology 2.0
 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
 | Screen: 8.9-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD, 16:10 aspect ratio, 10 points multi-touch screen
 | Storage: 32GB eMMC Flash Memory
 | Connectivity: Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n (up to 150 Mbps) | Camera: 5 MP Full HD rear camera with auto focus (back) and 2 MP Full HD web camera (front)
 | Weight: Tablet 1.04 pounds (472g); Tablet with keyboard 2.16 pounds (978g)
 | Dimensions: Tablet 9.25 x 0.385 x 6.34-inches (235 x 161 x 9.8mm) (W x D x H); Tablet with keyboard 9.25 x 6.72 x 0.78-inches (235 x 170.6 x 19.9mm)

Full HD touchscreen
Solid build quality
Screen colours a little off
Can't charge base separately
Toshiba has created an incredible value full HD laptop that doubles as a tablet. It's perfect for frequent travelers, students taking notes in lectures, workers in meetings and people on a budget. This machine is well built and it runs smoothly and fast.
Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Click Mini

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