Monday, December 7, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 08/12/2015

Techradar



Updated: Best iPad apps 2015: Download these essential apps now
Updated: Best iPad apps 2015: Download these essential apps now 

The best iPad apps

iPad apps
If you've got yourself a shiny new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4, you'll want to start downloading the best iPad apps straight away. And if you already have an iPad Air or older iPad, you might want to update it with some new apps.
It's the apps that really set iOS apart from other platforms - there are more and higher quality apps available on the App Store for the iPad than any other tablet. So which ones are worth your cash? And which are the best free apps?
Luckily for you we've tested thousands of the best iPad apps so that you don't have to. So read on for our 60 best iPad apps - the definitive list of what applications you need to download for your iPad now.
If you are looking for games, then head over to Best iPad games - where we showcase the greatest games around for your iOS device. Or if you're rocking an iPhone 6S head over to our best iPhone appslist.

1. 1Password (Free)

iPassword
Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. It can also hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. Your stored data can then be accessed on more than just Apple's platforms. The core app is free, but you'll need to pay $14.99 to get access to all its features.

2. Madefire Comics & Motion Books (free)

Madefire
The iPad has given new life to comics, providing the perfect digital home for them with its big, sharp, colourful screen and Madefire Comics makes the most of it by stocking motion comics. As the name suggests these include movement rather than just static panels and often feature music and sound effects too, bringing you into the story like never before. With big names and an ever growing library Madefire is essential for comic fans.

3. Air Video HD ($7.99)

Air Video HD
Even the most expensive iPads in Apple's line-up don't have a massive amount of storage, and space is rapidly eaten up if you keep videos on the device. Air Video HD acts as an alternative: stream movies from a PC or Mac, auto-encoding on-the-fly as necessary. There's also full support for offline viewing, soft subtitles and AirPlay to an Apple TV.

4. Elevate (free)

Elevate
We could all use a bit of brain training from time to time and Elevate is a great way to do it. It aims to improve your writing, reading, speaking, listening and maths skills through a variety of daily challenges, which keep your brain active and test you in entertaining ways. A beautiful interface makes it a joy to use and the core app is free, but extra features can be added with a subscription.

5. ABC iview (free)

ABC iview
ABC iview brings together the national broadcaster's best programming for on demand consumption. A pioneer in Australia's streaming services, iview offers hundreds of hours of viewing for Aussies of all ages, as well as live streaming of the 24 hour news channel and ABC1, plus custom shows created especially for the digital platform.

6. Byword ($9.99)

Byword
Word processing is something the iPad fares remarkably well at — if you have the right app. Byword is a no-nonsense distraction-free editor that just lets you get on with writing. There's Markdown support, helped along by a custom keyboard row, and also a live word/character count. For anyone publishing to the web, a single $7.99 IAP provides integration with the likes of WordPress and Tumblr.

7. Comic Life ($7.99)

Comic Life
Comic Life provides a creative way to tell a story or present some of your favourite photographs. The many templates provide a starting point and theme, and you can then import photos, add captions, and design special effects. Comics can be sent to friends in a variety of formats, or to your Mac or PC to carry on working in the desktop version of the app.

8. Day One ($7.99)

Day One
Journalling is one of those things that people always think will fall out of fashion, but it never quite does. Day One has plenty of advantages over a paper-based diary, though; wrapped up in a beautiful interface is the means to add images, weather data and music info, along with formatted text. Individual entries can be 'published' to share with people, and of course everything you create is fully searchable.

9. Coda ($14.99)

Diet Coda
Panic's Coda is a hugely popular Mac app for coding websites, and the iPad app is no slouch either. Coda provides a touch-optimised means of editing files, which can either be done live on the remote server or by downloading them locally first. Syntax highlighting, clips and a built-in Terminal make this a great app for any web designer on the go.

10. DM1 ($10.99)

DM1
Drum machines are always a lot of fun, but many of those available for iOS are rather throwaway, their options exhausted within minutes. DM1 is pretty much the exact opposite, packed with a huge number of drum kits, a step sequencer, a song composer and a mixer. Inter-App audio, Audiobus and MIDI support also ensure what you create doesn't end up in a percussion-rich silo.

11. Dropbox (free)

Dropbox
Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices. The iPad client works like the iPhone one (hardly surprising, since this is a universal app), enabling you to preview many file types and store those marked as favourites locally.

12. eBay (free)

eBay
Use eBay for iPad and you'll never touch eBay in a web browser again. It's fast and efficient, beautifully showcasing important details and images in its main results view. Gallery images can often be displayed almost at a full-screen size, which is particularly useful on an iPad with a Retina display. Speedy sorting options are also available.

13. Evernote (free)

Evernote
Like Dropbox, Evernote (a free online service for saving ideas – text documents, images and web clips – that you can then access from multiple devices) works the same way on the iPad as it does on the iPhone. It benefits from the iPad's larger screen, which enables you to see and navigate your stored snippets more easily, but it's handy knowing you'll be able to access all your notes on any other device, or any future device you might buy, like the iPhone 7.

14. Fantastical 2 ($14.99)

Fantastical 2
Apple's own Calendar app is fiddly and irritating, and so the existence of Fantastical is very welcome. In a single screen, you get a week view, a month calendar and a scrolling list of events. There's also support for reminders, and all data syncs with iCloud, making Fantastical compatible with Calendar (formerly iCal) for OS X. The best bit, though, is Fantastical's natural-language input, where you can type an event and watch it build as you add details, such as times and locations.

15. Flipboard (free)

Flipboard
Initially, Flipboard looked like a gimmick, trying desperately to make online content resemble a magazine. But now it can integrate Flickr and other networks, beautifully laying out their articles, Flipboard's muscled into the 'essential' category – and it's still free.

16. Airbnb (free)

Airbnb
Airbnb makes travel affordable and social, as rather than staying in a hotel you can stay in someone's house. Options range from crashing on someone's sofa to renting a private island, or if you have a spare room you could even rent your own space out. The iPad app is one of the best ways to browse it too, letting you search and book using an attractive image-heavy interface.

17. GarageBand ($7.99)

GarageBand
Apple's GarageBand turns your iPad into a recording studio. It includes a range of smart instruments, MIDI editing and song arrangement so you can make music anywhere. It's not free any more, but you get access to all of its instruments and sounds for one fairly low fee.

18. GoodReader ($7.99)

GoodReader
GoodReader is the iPad's best PDF reader. You can annotate documents, extract text, and now also rearrange, split and combine documents. The app previews various other files as well, can create and extract ZIP archives, and is capable of connecting to a wide range of online services. Alongside Dropbox, it makes a great surrogate Finder/Preview combination — a must-have for iPad power users.

19. iBooks (free)

iBooks
Going head-to-head with Kindle, iBooks is a decent ebook reader, backed by the iBookstore. As you'd expect from Apple, the interface is polished and usable, with handy cross-device bookmark syncing, highlighting, and various display options. It's also a capable PDF reader, for your digital magazine collection.

20. IM+ (free)

IM+
Although the iPad enables a certain amount of basic multi-tasking, anyone who constantly juggles a number of instant messaging services will soon be tired of leaping between apps. IM+ is a good solution, enabling you to run a number of IM services in a single app, and there's also a built-in web browser for checking out links.

21. iMovie (free with new device or $7.99)

iMovie
You're not going to make the next Hollywood hit on your iPad, but iMovie's more than capable of dealing with home movies. The interface resembles its desktop cousin and is easy to get to grips with. Clips can be browsed, arranged and cut, and you can then add titles, transitions and music. For the added professional touch, there are 'trailer templates' to base your movie on, rather than starting from scratch.

22. Kickstarter (free)

Kickstarter
After a stint on the iPhone, Kickstarter has now arrived on Apple's slates and it's the perfect fit for it, giving you a big window into thousands of projects which you can back with a tap. Browse by categories and sub-categories, select how to sort projects or just search for a specific one. Just be careful. Last time we launched the app we emerged six hours later and hundreds of pounds poorer. We eagerly await delivery of our smart socks.

23. iStopMotion ($14.99)

iStopMotion
There's something fascinating about animation, and iStopMotion is a powerful and usable app for unleashing your inner Aardman, enabling you to create frame-by-frame stories. There's also time-lapse functionality built-in, and the means to use the free iStopMotion Remote Camera with an iPhone on the same network.

24. iTunes U (free)

iTunes U
If you're still convinced the iPad is only a device for staring brain-dead at TV shows and not a practical tool for education, check out iTunes U. The app enables you to access many thousands of free lectures and courses taught by universities and colleges, thereby learning far more than what bizarre schemes current soap characters are hatching.

25. Journeys of Invention ($14.99)

Journeys of Invention
Touch Press somewhat cornered the market in amazing iOS books with The Elements, but Journeys of Invention takes things a step further. In partnership with the Science Museum, it leads you through many of science's greatest discoveries, weaving them into a compelling mesh of stories. Many objects can be explored in detail, and some are more fully interactive, such as the Enigma machine, which you can use to share coded messages with friends.

26. Kindle (free)

Kindle
Amazon's Kindle iPad app for reading myriad books available at the Kindle Store is a little workmanlike, and doesn't match the coherence of iBooks (you buy titles in Safari and 'sync' purchases via Kindle). However, Kindle's fine for reading, and you get options to optimise your experience (including the ability to kill the naff page-turn animation and amend the page background to a pleasant sepia tone).

27. Korg Gadget ($30.99)

Korg
Korg Gadget bills itself as the "ultimate mobile synth collection on your iPad" and it's hard to argue. You get 15 varied synths in all, ranging from drum machines through to ear-splitting electro monsters, and an intuitive piano roll for laying down notes. A scene/loop arranger enables you to craft entire compositions in the app, which can then be shared via the Soundcloud-powered GadgetCloud or sent to Dropbox. This is a more expensive app than most, but if you're a keen electronic-music-oriented songwriter with an iPad, it's hard to find a product that's better value.

28. Launch Center Pro ($7.99)

Launch Center Pro
The idea behind Launch Center Pro is to take certain complex actions and turn them into tappable items — a kind of speed-dial for tasks such as adding items to Clear, opening a URL in 1Password, or opening a specific view in Google Maps. Although the list of supported apps isn't huge, it's full of popular productivity apps; and should you use any of them on a regular basis, Launch Center Pro will be a massive time-saver and is well worth the outlay.

29. Microsoft Word for iPad (free/subscription-based)

Microsoft Word
It was a very long time in coming, and there were fears Microsoft would make a half-hearted effort to get Word on to the iPad. In the end, we actually got a surprisingly powerful, touch-optimised, high-quality word processor and layout app. The subset of tools you get from the PC version is more than sufficient, and for free you can use the app as a viewer. For editing, you'll need an Office 365 subscription (from $12.99 monthly), and this will also give you access to Excel and Powerpoint, along with office apps on other platforms.

30. Movies by Flixster (free)

Movies by Flixster
One for film buffs, Movies figures out where you are and tells you what's showing in your local cinemas – or you can pick a film and it'll tell you where and when it's on. The app is functionally identical on iPad and iPhone, but again the extra screen space improves the experience.

31. Notability ($9.99)

Notability
There are loads of note-taking apps for the iPad, but Notability hits that sweet spot of being usable and feature-rich. The basic notepad view is responsive, but also enables you to zoom and add fine details. Elsewhere, you can type, import documents, and record audio. Notes can be searched and, crucially, backed up to various cloud-based web services.

32. Numbers ($14.99)

Numbers
We mention Microsoft's iPad efforts elsewhere, but if you don't fancy paying for a subscription and yet need some spreadsheet-editing joy on your iPad, Numbers is an excellent alternative. Specially optimised for Apple's tablet, Numbers makes great use of custom keyboards, smart zooming, and forms that enable you to rapidly enter data. Presentation app Keynote and page-layout app Pages are also worth a look.

33. Paper By FiftyThree (free)

Paper
There's a certain train of thought that apps shouldn't ape real-world items, but we dismiss such talk. They just shouldn't ape real-world items badly! Paper by FiftyThree gets this right, with beautiful sketchbooks in which you can scribble, then share across the web. Books and the pen tool are free, and other tools are available via In-App Purchase.

34. PCalc Lite (free)

PCalc Lite
PCalc Lite's existence means the lack of a built-in iPad calculator doesn't bother us (in fact, we'd love to replace the iPhone Calculator app with PCalc Lite as well). This app is usable and feature-rich – and if you end up wanting more, in-app purchases enable you to bolt on extras from the full PCalc.

35. PicFrame ($1.49)

PicFrame
PicFrame is a simple app, but one that's beautifully honed and a delight to use. You choose a template and then import photos, which can be zoomed or adjusted via filters. Additionally, captions can be overlaid and the frames tweaked until you have the perfect composition. Once you're done, your creation can be shared on social networks or via email, and saved to your camera.

36. Pocket (free)

Pocket
Pocket and Instapaper have long battled it out for 'article scraper' king, but Pocket trumps its rival in appealing to iPad-owning cheapskates. Instapaper requires a purchase for iPad goodness, but Pocket is free. It's also very fast, offers tagging, includes a great original article/plain-text toggle, and has a vaguely Flipboard-like visual grid-based index.

37. Sequential (free)

Sequential
We've elsewhere mentioned Comics, but Sequential has a slightly different take on the medium. It's an altogether more upmarket affair, aimed at graphic novels and collections of sequential art that are supposed to be taken seriously. Therefore, this isn't so much everything but the kitchen sink, but a repository for a carefully curated selection of some of the best comics ever created.

38. Autodesk SketchBook (free)

Autodesk SketchBook
We tend to quickly shift children from finger-painting to using much finer tools, but the iPad shows there's plenty of power in your digits — if you're using the right app. Autodesk SketchBook provides all the tools you need for digital sketching, from basic doodles through to intricate and painterly masterpieces; and if you're wanting to share your technique, you can even time-lapse record to save drawing sessions to your camera roll. The core app is free, but it will cost you $5.99 to unlock the pro features.

39. Sky Guide ($4.49)

Sky Guide
Augmented reality is still in its early days, but Sky Guide shows off the potential of merging the virtual with the real. Using your iPad, you can search the heavens in real-time, the app providing live details of constellations and satellites within your field of view. Away from the outdoors, Sky Guide doubles as a kind of reference book, offering further insight into distant stars, and the means to view the sky at different points in history.

40. Skype (free)

Skype
In theory, we should be cheerleading for FaceTime, what with it being built into iOS devices, but it's still an Apple-only system. Skype, however, is enjoyed by myriad users who haven't been bitten by the Apple bug, and it works very nicely on the iPad, including over 3G.

41. Skyscanner (free)

Skyscanner
Skyscanner's website is pretty good, but the iPad app's another great example of how an app's focus can really help you speed through a task. You use the app to search over a thousand airlines, and it provides straightforward competitive journey lists and comparison graphs. If you're planning a flight, it's an indispensable download.

42. Snapseed (free)

Snapseed
Apple's Photos app has editing capabilities, but they're not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of effect types and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. It's a fun tool, but there's plenty of control for anyone determined to get their photos just so.

43. Soulver ($4.49)

Soulver
Soulver is more or less the love child of a spreadsheet and the kind of calculations you do on the back of an envelope. You write figures in context, and Souvler extracts the maths bits and tots up totals; each line's results can be used as a token in subsequent lines, enabling live updating of complex calculations. Drafts can be saved, exported to HTML, and also synced via Dropbox or iCloud.

44. TED (free)

TED
TED describes itself as "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world". The app pretty much does as you'd expect – you get quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. However, it goes the extra mile in enabling you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you've enjoyed a particular talk.

45. Adobe Slate (free)

Adobe Slate
Need to make a newsletter, invitation, or report? Then you need Adobe Slate. The app lets you combine text and images into a visual story that flows like the best digital magazines. It's simple to use, letting you effortlessly create a professional story and it's easy to share too, giving you a link which allows your readers to open it on phones, tablets and computers.

46. Traktor DJ ($14.99)

Traktor DJ
Traktor DJ wisely dispenses with skeuomorphic representations of deck-spinning; instead of virtual vinyl on your iPad, you get waveforms, providing visual cues regarding what you're playing. The app is efficient and simple to use, enabling you to define cue points and loops, along with dropping in effects; helpfully, Traktor DJ also attempts to tempo-match songs from your iPad library. It's a very different approach to iPad DJing, but one that works wonderfully.

47. TuneIn Radio (free)

TuneIn Radio
Output your iPad's audio to an amp or a set of portable speakers, fire up TuneIn Radio, select a station and you've a set-up to beat any DAB radio. Along with inevitable social sharing, the app also provides an alarm, AirPlay support, pause and rewind, and a 'shake to switch station' feature - handy if the current DJ's annoying and you feel the need to vent.

48. Wikipanion (free)

Wikipanion
The Wikipedia website works fine in Safari for iPad, but dedicated apps make navigating the site simpler and faster. Wikipanion is an excellent free app, with a sleek iOS 7-style design, an efficient two-pane landscape view, and excellent bookmarking and history access.

49. Yahoo Weather (free)

Yahoo Weather
With weather apps, you're frequently forced to choose between lashings of data or something that looks lovely. Yahoo Weather combines both, offering a stunning interface that happens to be rich with information. The maps are a touch weak, but other than that, this is an essential weather app, especially considering Apple doesn't provide an iPad equivalent itself.

50. YouTube (free)

YouTube
When the YouTube app presumably became a victim of the ongoing and increasingly tedious Apple/Google spat, there were concerns Google wouldn't respond. Those turned out to be unfounded, because here's yet another bespoke, nicely designed Google-created app for iOS. The interface is specifically tuned for the iPad, and AirPlay enables you to fire videos at an Apple TV.

51. Stan (Free plus subscription)

Stan
Australia's Streaming Video on Demand market has exploded in 2015, with Aussie service Stan going head to head with the might of Netflix. The Stan app is polished, responsive and has an abundance of excellent content to watch, with a monthly subscription fee of $10 which can be purchased via in-app purchase.

52. MindNode ($14.99)

MindNode
Mind-mapping is one of those things that's usually associated with dull business things, much like huge whiteboards and the kind of lengthy meetings that make you hope the ground will swallow you up. But really they're perfect whenever you want to get thoughts out of your head and then organise them.
On paper, this process can be quite messy, and so MindNode is a boon. You can quickly and easily add and edit nodes, your iPad automatically positioning them neatly. Photos, stickers and notes can add further context, and your finished document can be shared publicly or privately using a number of services.

53. Earth Primer ($14.99)

Earth Primer
When you're told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you've read the rest of the book.
Although ultimately designed for children, it's a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.

54. BIAS FX ($14.99)

BIAS FX
For most guitarists, sound is the most important thing of all. It's all very well having a massive rig of pedals and amps, but only if what you get out of it blows away anyone who's listening. For our money, BIAS FX is definitely the best-sounding guitar amp and effects processor on the iPad, with a rich and engaging collection of gear.
Fortunately, given the price-tag, BIAS FX doesn't skimp on set-up opportunities either. A splitter enables complex dual-signal paths; and sharing functionality enables you to upload your creations and check out what others have done with the app.

55. Status Board (free)

Status Board
We love our iPads, but during the day tend to spend our time glued to glowing laptop and desktop displays. There's always the sense the iPad could be doing something. With Status Board that something is acting as a status display for you or your business. You drag and drop customisable panels, including clocks, weather forecasts, calendar details and website feeds, thereby giving you constant glanceable updates for important info.
A one-off IAP ($14.99) unlocks further options that are mostly perhaps more suited to business environments (graphs, tables, HTML, photos, countdowns and text); and in either case support for HD displays enables you to present your status board really large, should you feel the need.

56. Pixaki ($10.99)

Pixaki
With visible pixels essentially eradicated from modern mobile device screens, it's amusing to see pixel art stubbornly refusing to go away. Chunky pixels are, though, a very pleasing aesthetic, perhaps in part because you know effort and thought has gone into the placement of every single dot. For our money, Pixaki is the only app worth considering for iPad-related pixel art.
It's simple and elegant, with straightforward tools, an extremely responsive canvas, global and document-specific palettes, and multiple brush sizes. Extra points, too, for the opacity slider's handle being a Pac-Man ghost.

57. Foldify Dinosaurs ($5.99)

Foldify Dinosaurs
We're big fans of the Foldify apps, which enable people to fashion and customise little 3D characters on an iPad, before printing them out and making them for real. This mix of digital painting, sharing (models can be browsed, uploaded and rated) and crafting a physical object is exciting in a world where people spend so much time glued to virtual content on screens.
But it's Foldify Dinosaurs that makes this list because, well, dinosaurs. Who wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect of making a magenta T-Rex with a natty moustache? Should that person exist, we don't want to meet them.

58. Audiobus ($7.99)

Audiobus
Although Apple's Inter-App Audio, baked deep into iOS, has gained traction, it's Audiobus that leads in terms of app compatibility. The audio-routing system enjoys support from over 600 products, covering a huge range of DAWs, synths and guitar apps. With the multi-routing IAP ($7.99), you can create complex chained effects and other sophisticated set-ups.
And if you've multiple iOS devices, Audiobus Remote (also $7.99) provides a second screen for your session, simplifying recording, sample triggering, preset selection, and more.

59. SidTracker64 ($19.99)

SidTracker64
When someone talks about bringing back the sounds of the 1980s, your head might fill with Human League and Depeche Mode, but if you played games, you'll instead think of Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway, chip-tune pioneers whose music graced the C64, leveraging the power of the MOS Technology 6581/8580 SID (Sound Interface Device) chip.
SidTracker64 is a niche but wonderfully designed iPad app that's a complete production package for creating SID tunes. It's unashamedly retro in terms of sound, but boasts a modern design, with powerful editing and export functionality. If you're only into raw chip-tune noises, Audiobus and Inter-App Audio are supported; but if you're an old-hand, you'll be delighted at the bundled copy of Hubbard's Commando, ready for you to remix.

60. Scanbot (Free + $7.99 IAP)

Scanbot
There are quite a few scanners available for iOS, but Scanbot is the one you should keep on your iPad, primarily because it does a whole lot more than just scanning. That's not to say it doesn't do that bit well, because it does; scans are crisp, clear, optionally automatically cropped and straightened, and shareable to a wide range of services.
But pay the IAP and you gain access to smart file-naming, the means to add new pages to existing scans, and text recognition. This not only enables searches of filed scans, but also the automated extraction of key information- phone numbers; URLs; email addresses- into a smartly conceived actions menu.

61. Assembly (Free plus IAP)

Assembly
Illustration tools are typically complex. Sit someone in front of Adobe Photoshop and they'll figure out enough of it in fairly short order. Adobe Illustrator? No chance. Assembly attempts to get around such roadblocks by turning graphic design into the modern-day touchscreen equivalent of working with felt shapes — albeit very powerful felt shapes that can shift beneath your fingers.
At the foot of the screen are loads of design elements, and you drag them to the canvas. Using menus and gestures, shapes can be resized, coloured, duplicated and transformed. Given enough time and imagination, you can create abstract masterpieces, cartoonish geometric robots, and beautiful flowing landscapes. It's intuitive enough for anyone, but we suspect pro designers will enjoy Assembly too, perhaps even using it for sketching out ideas. And when you're done, you can output your creations to PNG or SVG.

62. Chunky Comic Reader (Free)

Chunky
There's a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.
Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they're gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good. Paying the one-off 'pro' IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.

63. Metamorphabet ($5.99)

Metamorphabet
You're probably dead inside if you sit down with Metamorphabet and it doesn't raise a smile — doubly so if you use it alongside a tiny human. The app takes you through all the letters of the alphabet, which contort and animate into all kinds of shapes. It suitably starts with A, which when prodded grows antlers, transforms into an arch, and then goes for an amble. It's adorable.
The app's surreal, playful nature never lets up, and any doubts you might have regarding certain scenes — such as floaty clouds representing 'daydream' in a manner that doesn't really work — evaporate when you see tiny fingers and thumbs carefully pawing at the iPad's glass while young eyes remain utterly transfixed.

64. Tweetbot 4 ($7.99)

Tweetbot
It's been a long time coming, but finally Tweetbot gets a full-fledged modern-day update for iPad. And it's a good one, too. While the official Twitter app's turned into a 'blown-up iPhone app' monstrosity on Apple's tablet, Tweetbot makes use of the extra space by way of a handy extra column in which you can stash mentions, lists, and various other bits and bobs.
Elsewhere, this latest release might lack a few toys Twitter selfishly keeps for itself, but it wins out in terms of multitasking support, granular mute settings, superb usability, and an interesting Activity view if you're the kind of Twitter user desperate to know who's retweeting all your tiny missives.

65. Fugue Machine ($14.99)

Fugue Machine
This music app is inspired by layered composition techniques used in some classical music. You tap out notes on a piano roll, and can then have up to four playheads simultaneously interpret your notes, each using unique speeds, directions and transpositions. For the amateur, Fugue Machine is intuitive and mesmerising, not least because of how easy it is to create something that sounds gorgeous.
For pros, it's a must-have, not least due to MIDI output support for driving external software. It took us mere seconds to have Fugue Machine working with Animoog's voices, and the result ruined our productivity for an entire morning. (Unless you count composing beautiful music when you should be doing something else as 'being productive'. In which case, we salute you.)











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Old phone, new deal: Woolworths post-paid offering includes Galaxy S5
Old phone, new deal: Woolworths post-paid offering includes Galaxy S5
Continuing Woolworths partnership with Telstra, the supermarket giant has announced a new post-paid mobile plan that includes the fast-ageing Samsung Galaxy S5.
For $38 a month, customers signing up for the deal will receive the Galaxy S5 handset, 1GB of data, $1,000 of standard national calls, unlimited standard national SMS, and free calls to other Woolworths customers.
1GB certainly isn't a generous helping of data these days, but additional 1GB data packs can be purchased for $10. Customers also won't be caught out when their bill comes around as the plan offers a hard limit, meaning once your data's up it's up.
Unfortunately, as the 24-month contract nears its end that Galaxy S5 handset is going to be looking pretty sluggish. Already 20 months old, the S5 will look positively ancient by the time Christmas 2017 rolls around.

It's pre-paid, baby

Woolworths is also upping its pre-paid offerings, increasing data and call inclusions by up to 40 per cent, with bonus data until 15 Feb 2016.
The company's $30 mobile recharge package now includes unlimited standard national SMS, $1,000 of standard national and international calls, and 2GB of data, with an additional 500MB until 15 Feb.
The $45 package includes unlimited standard national calls and SMS and 4GB of data, with an additional 1GB until 15 Feb.
Both packages include unlimited calls to other Woolworths users.
Obviously Woolworths isn't chasing the data-hungry segment of the market, but does anyone really deserve to be stuck paying off a Galaxy S5 that's left limping after a future Android update?











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Go, go Foxtel Go, now streaming on more Android devices
Go, go Foxtel Go, now streaming on more Android devices
After an insufferably long period of only being available on a limited number of devices, Foxtel has announced that its subscribers can now use the Foxtel Go app on any Android phone running Jellybean 4.1 and above.
The announcement follows Foxtel’s recent move to let new subscribers start using the Foxtel Go app within 15 minutes of signing up to the service.
The news should please the Foxtel subscribers that have been waiting to take advantage the app, which provides access up to 78 channels, depending on the user’s Foxtel package, to smart devices over a 3G/4G or Wi-Fi connection.
The Android version of the Foxtel Go app is available now on the Google Play store, while iPhone and iPad users can also find the app on the App Store.











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Review: Updated: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Review: Updated: Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Update: The Amazon Fire TV Stick has recently seen a major revamp and will now include a voice search-enabled remote at no additional cost.
Original review below...
The set-top box landscape has changed. It used to be a full-size battle royale where three titans – the Roku 3, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV – duked it out for control of your television. Then, in July of last year, Google released Chromecast, a set-top box built into a thumb drive form factor and fits entirely behind a TV.
In many ways the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the successor to the full-size Fire TV, looks similar to Google's impulse buy offering from last year. But whatever it may look like, its arrival onto the set-top scene can only mean one thing: The time of the titans is over, and a new age of streaming sticks is here.
The Fire TV Stick is petite and powerful, currently available in the US, as well as the UK. It fits flush with most TV's HDMI ports and, unlike its main competitor Chromecast, comes with a fairly decent remote. In terms of content, you'll find just about everything here. Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Showtime Anytime, HBO Go and more have already joined the party, while Amazon's Prime Instant Video basically sits at the head of the proverbial table.
Amazon Fire TV Stick review
Almost everything feels right about the Amazon Fire TV Stick, but most of all is its $40/£35 price tag. It's $10/£5 more than Chromecast, but $10/£10 less than the Roku Streaming Stick; it feels like a supremely good value for what you get in the box.
Where Amazon Fire TV Stick stumbles, however, is its deep-rooted attachment to its mother service, Amazon Prime. Without Prime, the set-top stick feels devoid of personality.
fire TV Stick
Yes, you can still get those great aforementioned apps, yes you'll zip around from one section of the interface to the next thanks to its powerful components, and yes you'll even get a 30-day trial for free just for buying the streaming stick – but, after the trial runs out or you choose not to commit to Amazon's service, the whole experience feels sterile without Prime.

Design, setup and performance

At this point in the game, a streaming stick is nothing new. It's a plastic, thumb drive-sized device that plugs into any HDMI port (not just MHL-equipped ports) and draws power from a USB port on the TV or from a wall outlet via the included converter. The exterior itself isn't all that exciting – it's 3.3 x 1.0 x 0.5 inches (84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5 mm) and has the Amazon logo on one side – but it's the lack of any distinct features that help the Fire TV Stick blend into the back of any TV. It even comes with an HDMI extender cable in case you've got a wall-mounted setup and no additional space to spare in the back.
Amazon Fire TV Stick review
While these extras are something the $30 Chromecast comes standard with, the more expensive, $50 Roku Streaming Stick does not. Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that really count, and Amazon scores major points for putting the consumer first.
After you've got the stick firmly seated in an HDMI port you've got to provide a power solution. You'll need to connect the micro-USB powered stick to either a USB port on the TV or, attach the adapter and plug it into the wall. If you choose the former, you'll get a warning when you boot the system up for the first time. It'll tell you that it can't draw enough power from the USB port to provide the ideal experience.
The TV I used for testing, a TCL Roku TV (ironic, I know), had more than enough power for the job and never once did the streaming stick fail due to lack of juice. If you're in a similar situation, just ignore the warning and move on.But, besides the one micro-USB port on the exterior, you won't find any other ports on the sides of the Fire TV Jr., which means there's no way to hardwire the device to your router.
Stick
In practice, this lead to a few hiccups here and there, but because it's equipped with dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) and supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks, the Stick can handle some the diciest of connections with ease, though, without a hard-line in this is certainly a YMMV situation.
It's impressive that the Amazon Fire TV Stick requires so little energy, especially once you find out what the Fire TV Stick has going on inside the box – namely, a Broadcom dual-core processor, 1GB of memory and 8GB of storage. Comparing that to the Chromecast, which sports a single-core processor, 512MB of memory and 2GB of memory, Amazon's miniature stick comes out the clear winner.

Apps and games

Where the full-size set-top boxes like the Nexus Player and Apple TV struggle with too little content to choose from on their platforms, Amazon Fire TV has an abundance of apps at your disposal. All of the primary suspects are here and accounted for: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Showtime, NFL Network, Pandora, Spotify, Crackle, Rdio and more.
While the Roku 3 sports over 1,000 channels (read: apps), the Fire TV Stick has a number closer to several hundred with multi-function apps and games mixed in with the entertainment channels.
Amazon Fire TV Stick review
Perusing the store, I discovered some new interesting apps like TripSmart – a travel channel that provides videos on exotic locales – and an old favorite, 2048, optimized for the big screen. Like Roku, there's a lot of shovelware mixed in with the good stuff, which means you'll have to root around the mud to find the two or three real gems in a given list.
Games are also present and accounted for on Amazon's smaller system, and for the most part the less-intensive titles play incredibly well. Disappointingly though, you won't find many graphically demanding games here like The Walking Dead Season 1 or 2.
Nor are you likely to spot Grand Theft Auto here anytime soon. That doesn't seem to be due to any fault of the hardware – the system boasts the right specs for those higher-end games – the content simply isn't there.
Tv Stick
The lack of games doesn't necessarily hurt the system, however. If you want to have a streaming system that's jam-packed with gaming goodness, consider the full-size Amazon Fire TV or Nexus Player. Both have a dedicated gamepad sold separately and have a great selection of titles.
Speaking of separate controllers, the full-size Amazon Fire controller can also be paired with the Fire TV Stick. But many of the 200-plus games available on the console don't necessarily need – or work better – with a controller instead of the standard remote. Home entertainment enthusiasts, on the other hand, will be glad to see Plex here, as it has been MIA on a few of the other systems I've tested recently. PlayStation TV: I'm looking at you.
The launch line-up of apps is as strong as it's going to be outside of a Roku product, and though I wish it were a little more AAA game-oriented and much more platform-agnostic (searches only return Amazon content. Also, a shared Google Play library would more than make up for any shortcomings in selection). That said, this is still a fairly balanced ecosystem.

Remote

One of the biggest advantages of buying the Amazon Fire TV Stick over the other guys is the remote. It weighs next to nothing and errs on the cheap side, but on it you'll find a few sparse, but powerful, buttons: back, home, menu, rewind, play/pause and fast forward. At the top you'll find a circular directional pad and a central button that does just about everything else.
TV Stick
If you're a Fire TV owner you'll notice that this remote doesn't come with the built-in mic and voice-search button. The functionality still exists if you use the accompanying Fire TV app, but it doesn't exist on the pack-in peripheral. If you really need it, though, Amazon sells the full-size remote separately for $40 or allows you to sync your old Fire TV remote to the Stick without much of a problem.
Amazon Fire TV Stick review
The remote also works over Bluetooth, which means it won't need direct line of sight to the Stick itself – a handy feature considering 95% of users will want to keep the Fire TV out of sight behind the television. It may not win the award for "most durable remote," but the remote is exactly like the Stick: simple and efficient.

Interface and navigation

The interface is a direct replica of the full-size Amazon Fire TV's menu. It's crowded and content-rich, making it a bustling, ever-evolving free-for-all for something to watch. It's may not be as clean-cut or aesthetically pleasing as some of the other menus we've seen on rival boxes, but Amazon chose to leave well enough alone and it's hard to argue against that reasoning.
The users who'll see the most benefit here are compulsive Amazon media shoppers. Anytime you buy or rent a show or movie from Amazon, it will populate automatically in the "video library" sub-menu on the home screen. By doing this, Amazon builds a positive reinforcement cycle of buying new content on its storefront then showcasing everything you own in one centralized location.
And, thankfully, zipping around from one section of the interface to the next takes no time at all. The hardware delivers responsive results in tenths of a second and, when you finally decide on what to watch, Amazon's predictive technology takes things one step further by pre-loading the first few seconds of the Amazon Instant movies you are most likely to watch.

Verdict

Chromecast is still the all-around winner when it comes to streaming sticks. It's not as fast as Amazon's Fire TV Stick, nor is it as feature-packed as the Roku Streaming Stick, but it's reliable, plays nicely with Android devices (as does the Fire Stick) and costs less than a night on the town.
The Roku Streaming Stick is the agnostic brother to the other two. If you can't decide which e-tailer to give your money to, and would rather give it to the services themselves, this is the streamer for you. It also has the most content than any other platform. However just be prepared to wait a bit longer for it to load, speed really isn't Roku's strong suit.
Regarding the contender at hand, the Fire TV Stick is best suited for those people who have really sunk their teeth into the Amazon ecosphere. When you strip everything else away, it feels like a device specifically engineered for Amazon Prime subscribers and generally compulsive Amazon shoppers.
If you're using Amazon's Cloud Drive to store photos, you'll be able to display them with two clicks on the remote. And if your watchlists get longer than your shopping list, you'll have a great time going through the store and finally catching that 2006 Martin Scorsese film with Leo Dicaprio. (It's called The Departed and it's fantastic.)

We liked

The Amazon Fire Stick is dead simple to setup and, once it's going, you'll be impressed with just how much there is to see and do with the system. Menu screens populate in a fraction of a second and some smart on-board technology gets videos started faster than the competition.
If you've bought into Amazon's tablet and media ecosystem, you'll almost definitely want the low-cost addition to add to your collection. It'll sync up seamlessly with these devices but, unlike Chromecast, doesn't require them in lieu of a remote.
If you haven't already ponied up the $99 a year for Prime you'll find less here than on other systems but, at worst, you'll still have access to services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Showtime Anytime and a few other key players.

We disliked

You also won't find the same kind of niche content on Amazon's storefront as you would on the Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick. There may not be a major clamor for that one Korean channel you've never heard of, but someone, somewhere will be slightly broken-hearted when they can't find it here.
Content, as a whole, is also largely dependent on the Amazon Store. It makes sense why search results only display Amazon Video links, but there's nothing worse than paying $3.99 for a movie only to find out it was available on Netflix for free.
Lastly, there just isn't a great selection of triple-A games. There's enough casual games for a lifetime, but if you're looking to play the highest-end games that Android has to offer, you'll need to upgrade to a full-size box.

Final verdict

It's easy to dismiss the Fire TV Stick as a cash-in on the streaming stick fad, but doing so would be a real disservice to the work and innovation Amazon packed into its pint-sized product. It's a step forward for streaming sticks and sets a new standard of what is and is not acceptable from here on out. Namely, it provides a remote, a good interface and 99% of the key services for a very reasonable price tag.
The only real faux-pas here is intentional, and that's the stick's almost unreasonable dependence on Amazon Prime to function in full. It's by far the least impartial of the three major streaming sticks – the other two being Chromecast and Roku – and around every corner is trying to sell you on a movie, game or TV show you didn't necessarily know you wanted until right then.
It's not the best game console hybrid either. Though that's to be forgiven as its full-size sibling, the Amazon Fire TV and optional accompanying controller, are there to pick up the slack.
The Fire TV Stick is a present from the ecommerce giant to media lovers everywhere. While it has its flaws, by and large the final product is one any TV or movie enthusiast will be happy with – as long as they have an Amazon Prime account.











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TechRadar Deals: The best mobile phone deals in December 2015: UK edition
TechRadar Deals: The best mobile phone deals in December 2015: UK edition

Mobile phone deals

mobile phone deals
This is a mobile phone deals buying guide jam packed full of the UK's best mobile phone deals on all the best handsets and from all the best UK networks. At the top of the page you'll find the latest and best Black Friday mobile phone deals, and below that you'll find a chart in which you can choose your desired handset and find the very best mobile phone deal for your own needs. Whether you're after a free phone, lots of data, the lowest possible monthly cost or all of the above, you'll find the perfect deal on this page! If you want to dig a little deeper and find more recommended phone deals for each individual phone, scroll to the bottom and you'll find specialised pages full of mobile phone deals on all the top 20 handsets in the UK.
Search for the best mobile phone deals for you by choosing your desired smartphone:
Loading the best mobile phone deals...

Mobile phone deals: special offers for Christmas 2015:

iPhone 6S 128GB |
£170
£100 upfront | 1000 mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB | EE 4G | £34.99pm
Using the code XMAS70 at Mobiles.co.uk you can pay just £100 (saving £70) for the iPhone 6S 128GB, on a contract with EE. For £34.99 per month, you'll get 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB data. This deal should please anyone who wants to be on EE which, let's face it, is the UK's most popular (and best?) network.

the best mobile phone deals
iPhone 6S 128GB |
£300
£100 upfront | Vodafone 4G | 1000 min | Unlimited txt | 2GB data | 2GB | £34pmUsing the code XMAS200 you can save £200 on the upfront cost of the iPhone 6S 128GB and pay £100 upfront instead of £300, this time with a slightly cheaper contract from Vodafone. You're talking £34 per month for 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB data from Vodafone. So this deal will save you 99p per month - a further saving of £23.76 over the two years,

the best mobile phone deals
Samsung Galaxy S6 32GB | Vodafone 4G |
£50
FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 6GB data | £31 per month
Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone are running a really great pre-Black Friday deal on the Samsung Galaxy S6 until Wednesday 18th November. Use the code SMARTSAVE50 at Carphone Warehouse to get the Galaxy S6 for FREE instead of paying £50 up front. Comes with a great value 6GB 4G plan from Vodafone. See our story on this deal, or jump straight to it:

Get this deal at Carphone Warehouse
the best mobile phone deals

Mobile phone deals by handset:

If you want to dig deeper into choosing the best deals on the best phones, you can check out our regularly-updated mobile phone deals buying guides for individual handsets:
the best mobile phone deals
iphone 6s deals

iPhone 6S deals

Grab the best possible deal on the brand new iPhone 6S
Read our guide: iPhone 6S deals
the best mobile phone deals
iphone 6s plus deals

iPhone 6S Plus deals

Get the best possibly price on Apple's best ever big-screen phablet phone!
Read our guide: Best iPhone 6S Plus deals
the best mobile phone deals
iphone 6

iPhone 6 deals

Our guide to picking up Apple's best-ever iPhone on contract for the cheapest possible price.
Read our guide: Best iPhone 6 deals
the best mobile phone deals
iphone 6 plus

iPhone 6 Plus deals

Looking for a super-sized iPhone? Check out our phone deals page dedicated to the iPhone 6 Plus
Read our guide: Best iPhone 6 Plus deals
the best mobile phone deals
samsung galaxy s6 is the best phone

Samsung Galaxy S6 deals

Want to pick up Samsung's best ever Galaxy phone? We've got a guide to finding the best deals.
Read our guide: Best Samsung Galaxy S6 deals
the best mobile phone deals
s6 edge deals

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge deals

Want to pick up Samsung's best ever Galaxy phone? We've got a guide to finding the best deals.
Read our guide: Best Samsung Galaxy S6 deals
the best mobile phone deals
s6 edge+ deals

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ deals

This has got to be the most visually stunning phone out there right now.
Read our guide: Best Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ deals
the best mobile phone deals
HTC One M9

HTC One M9 deals

HTC's amazing new phone is possibly the best looking Android phone ever.
Read our guide: Best HTC One M9 deals
the best mobile phone deals
z5 deals

Sony Xperia Z5 deals

Sony's new flagship handset is its best ever, with fingerprint scanning and a truly excellent camera.
Read our guide: Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals
the best mobile phone deals
z5 compact deals

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact deals

With all the goodness of the mothership Z5, the Z5 Compact is a bit smaller and we think it's great.
Read our guide: Best Sony Xperia Z5 Compact deals
the best mobile phone deals
galaxy s5 deals

Samsung Galaxy S5 deals

Or if you're looking for last year's Samsung flagship for a lower price, this one could be for you.
Read our guide: Best Samsung Galaxy S5 deals
the best mobile phone deals
lg g4

LG G4 deals

LG's amazing new phablet is possibly its best phone ever and it's not as expensive as you'd think.
Read our guide: Best LG G4 deals
the best mobile phone deals
mobile phone deals

HTC One M8 deals

2014's best mobile phone is now available at some great prices. Check out our guide to them here.
Read our guide: Best HTC One M8 deals
iphone 5c deals

iPhone 5C deals

If a cheap iPhone is what you're after, check out our guide to iPhone 5C deals - they're awesome!
Read our guide: Best iPhone 5C deals
the best mobile phone deals
mobile phone deals

iPhone 5S deals

You could also opt for last year's iPhone flagship - now available with some cheap deals!
Read our guide: Best iPhone 5S deals











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TechRadar Deals: The best Sony Xperia Z5 deals in December 2015
TechRadar Deals: The best Sony Xperia Z5 deals in December 2015

Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals

sony xperia z5 deals
Check out our Black Friday deals page for all best deals this November!
Sony has a new phone to show off in the form of the Xperia Z5. The Xperia camera has been taken to the next level, offering 23 megapixels and a new hybrid auto focus mode designed to help you get the right shot, first time, every time. We've tested it and can attest to the excellent camera and it's also got great battery life and a lovely 5.2-inch IPS full HD screen. As usual with the Z series, it's also waterproof and this year comes with a fingerprint scanner for added security and easier unlocking. On this page you'll find all of the best Xperia Z5 deals so you can be sure you get the best price for the next generation Sony phone.

Black Friday deal:

Sony Xperia Z5 32GB | Free Bluetooth speaker | EE 4G |
£99
FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £32.49pmSave up to £99 on the upfront price of the Sony Xperia Z5 with the Black Friday voucher code BLAFRIZ5. That leaves you getting the phone completely free upfront instead of paying £99/£84.99 depending on your choice of colour. The phone comes with a superfast 4G contract from EE which will cost you £32.49 per month, offering unlimited minutes and texts and 5GB data. Not only that, but you'll also get a free Sony Bluetooth speaker worth £80 at the same time.

More options: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact deals | Samsung Galaxy S6 deals | iPhone 6S deals
sony xperia z5 deals
the best xperia z5 deal

The UK's best Xperia Z5 deal:

O2 network | Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £39pm
This deal with O2 is our top choice once again. Clearly all the networks were a little confused on the phones release because this is a steal for the Xperia Z5. It offers a good balance of monthly fee, excellent allowances and most importantly a free phone. And of course, you get 5GB data with this deal, which makes it real good value for money. Total cost of this deal is £936 over 24 months.
Get this deal: direct from Mobiles.co.uk
sony xperia z5 deals
O2 network | Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £31pm
O2 is doing great this month - if you're not looking for as much internet as the deal above you can save a bit of your cash and go for a slightly cheaper deal here. You still get a free phone, unlimited calls, unlimited texts and a worthwhile 3GB of data. Total cost of this deal is £744 over 24 months.
Get this deal: direct from Mobiles.co.uk
sony xperia z5 deals
Vodafone network | Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £46pm
Our third favourite deal comes from the red network this month. If you're a really heavy data user this is what we'd recommend. It comes with 20GB of data which will likely keep you going for the whole month and the phone itself is free. Total cost of this deal is £1104 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
Now let's break down the best Sony Xperia Z5 deals by network...
sony xperia z5 deals
iPhone 6 deals on EE

Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals on EE

The place to go if you want high-speed 4G
32GB: £249.99 phone | 500 mins | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £19.99pm
This is the absolute cheapest Xperia Z5 deal available on the EE network right now. It's a hefty upfront fee, yes, but with the £19.99 monthly cost it works out cheaper than all the other available deals over the two years. It's also about £40 cheaper than last month as the network is working its Xperia Z5 deals out. So if you want the phone on EE and lifetime cost is your primary concern, this is the best deal out there right now. Total cost of this deal is £729.75 over 24 months
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £34.99pm
This is a great Xperia Z5 deal, offering a great balance of monthly fee, excellent allowances and most importantly a free phone. You end up paying a lot more than the deal above, but this is free to start with and the phones cost is split between 24 monthly payments. Plus there's a good amount of data here with 4GB. Total cost of this deal is £839.76 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £44.99pm
If you want a fantastic Xperia Z5 deal on EE and you need lots of data, this is the one for you. Hopefully 10GB is enough data for you as EE isn't offering up unlimited deals and you're only paying £10 extra a month more than the 4GB deal above. Plus, you get £70 cashback for signing up - that's free money! Total cost of this deal is £1009.76 over 24 months
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
sony xperia z5 deals
iphone 6 deals on o2

Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals on O2

The network with extras like O2 Priority
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £31pm
We included this deal from O2 last month, but now it's even £5 cheaper making it a much better buy. Here you get a good amount of data as well as unlimited calls, texts and your free phone. Plus O2 offer up benefits like O2 Priority that allows you into events before anyone else and even a £1 lunch once a week. Total cost of this deal is £744 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £39pm
This deal is a good one on O2 from Mobiles.co.uk. A free phone is always welcome and you also get unlimited minutes and texts, 5GB data and all for £39pm. That's a pretty balanced deal and much better than some of the deals we though were good last month. Though you might say that it's not quite as attractive as the EE deals above. Total cost of this deal is £936 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £54pm
If you're after lots of data and a free Xperia Z5, you're going to have to pay for it. This deal isn't particularly cheap but it does offer up a huge 20GB of data and a free phone as well as unlimited minutes and texts. It's quite a bit more per month than the 10GB deal from EE above this, but it's still pretty good value in our book and gives you double that amount of data. Only think about getting this if you're a real power user though. Total cost of this deal is £1296 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse
sony xperia z5 deals
vodafone

Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals on Vodafone

Offers extras like Spotify and Sky Sports
32GB: £79.99 phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £34pm
This is the absolute cheapest Sony Xperia Z5 deal we can currently find on Vodafone and it's a good one. Yes you have to pay almost £80 up front for the phone but the payoff is just £34 monthly and you get 2GB data, which seems fair. Total cost of this deal is £895.99 over 24 months.
Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 6GB data | £39pm
This is a great deal on Vodafone, once again via Mobile Phones Direct, and it's even cheaper than last month. The phone is free and you get 6GB of data for just £39pm when last month it was £45. This is ideal if you're after lots of data. Total cost of this deal is £936 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB | £46pm
If 6GB just isn't enough, this is the next best deal for data lovers. It's 20GB with a free phone, unlimited everything else for £46 per month. That's the same price as what EE is offering it for so you have the choice between the two networks. This is certainly the best data-tastic option we can find on Vodafone right now. Total cost of this deal is £1104 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
sony xperia z5 deals
iphone 6 deals on Three

Best Sony Xperia Z5 deals on Three

The network with unlimited data
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls, texts and data | £51pm
Three didn't have the Sony Xperia Z5 in stock last month so the network is still trying to work out its deals in full. The best option is probably the unlimited data package Three offers and you can get that combined with unlimited calls, texts and a free phone for £51 a month. It's not particularly cheap, but if you're a really heavy data user this may be your choice. Total cost of this deal is £1224 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Buy Mobiles
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | 600 minutes | unlimited and texts | 2GB data | £43pm
Three isn't particularly cheap and we don't recommend this deal over the other networks, but you may want the benefits Three offers. If so this could be your choice. You get 2GB of data without having to pay a huge amount of money for unlimited data like the deal above. Only go for this though if you particularly want to be on Three. Total cost of this deal is £1032 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Buy Mobiles
sony xperia z5 deals
32GB: Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 8GB data | £46pm
Once again, this isn't the best deal out there. But if you want to be on Three and need more data than 2GB but not as much as unlimited, this could be the best choice for you. Three offers benefits such as free 4G internet and the Feel At Home package that allows you to travel to over 20 different countries without spending extra on using your phone. Total cost of this deal is £1104 over 24 months.
Get this deal: from Buy Mobiles
sony xperia z5 deals











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Week in Gaming: The more you hate Game Of The Year lists, the stronger they become
Week in Gaming: The more you hate Game Of The Year lists, the stronger they become
Old man 2015 is stumbling to a close, and you can almost taste the broken New Year's Resolutions already. But the end of a year doesn't just mean Christmas, frantic shopping and miserable weather - it's also Game Of The Year time, the most magical time of all, when everyone gathers around a keyboard to share in the hatred and vitriolic responses to a bunch of people talking about things they like. It's wonderful.
But I'm not here to ramble on about why getting angry at lists is stupid - I've already done that. So I'll ramble instead about why lists are great instead.
An entire website has been founded on the list feature, and it's hardly surprising that people still visit Buzzfeed like it's some kind of daily pilgrimage to find out Which Harry Potter Character's Bum Is Most Like Yours and Are You A Horse?
We like quizzes and lists. They organise everything into a neat, easily digested little packet of word-nuggets. We like making them, too, because, yes, it's sometimes less work as it means you don't have to stitch all the little disparate paragraphs together, and it's also pretty fun to rank things you like.
Witcher
When it comes to making Game Of The Year lists, though, the fun and novelty soon turn to angst and aggression. Imagine, if you will, 15 prestigious and smart people (because all games journalists are, obviously - that's why we were all chosen at birth by the Great God of Games Criticism) in a room, each with their own biases and prejudices.
Some people grew up clutching the N64 controller and falling in love with Super Mario games; others grew up on Lara and her pointy chesticles. Some love Sonic, while others think he's a smug, prickly arse who should have been run over a long time ago.
And so these biases and prejudices carry over into talking about games. We are humans and (though we are nearly perfect because of the aforementioned grace of the Great God of Games Criticism) we like to defend things we like and get angry that other people like the wrong things. Every GOTY list you see has been painstakingly constructed over the course of several beer-filled hours, often at the cost of friendships, tranquility and sanity.
MGS
But why bother? If everyone's just going to tear the list to shreds in the comments, what's the point?
It's like I said before: everyone loves lists. Not only do we get a little tingle of endorphins when everything slots nicely into place in a final top 20, like a jigsaw made of emotions and opinions, we also get a lot of traffic from all the people who want to yell at us that a list made by many different people differs from their list, made by one person.
It is very unlikely that a GOTY list represents the actual list of any one person who helped make it.
Is that clickbait? Probably. But the whole concept of clickbait is silly. Of course websites want clicks, you numpty. And we're not going to tell you our top 20 in the title, because then you won't click. And then we don't get paid, and then we have to leave our jobs to work somewhere else, and let me tell you, a PPI call centre frowns on you making a Top 20 Worst Phone Calls Of The Year List.
Halo
Let us have our indulgent list features. Let us tell you which games we liked best. If you like, you can ignore the numbers. It doesn't matter, after all. Just like Buzzfeed can't actually decide your romantic future or political leaning, no GOTY list can change how you feel about anything.
We're not even saying the Witcher 3, or Fallout 4, or MGS V, or any of the other contenders are The Best Game, full stop. We just like them, and we like lists. And that is:
1. Good
2. Completely fine
3. Horse











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Microsoft wants your clever ideas for new HoloLens apps
Microsoft wants your clever ideas for new HoloLens apps
They're not short of a brainy boffin or two at Microsoft headquarters but the company still wants to hear what the rest of us think: if you're struck with inspiration about the best way to make use of HoloLens then you can now submit your thoughts to its developers.
"The Microsoft HoloLens community is bursting with spectacular ideas for how holographic computing will transform our world," explains Microsoft. "We believe the most incredible HoloLens apps will come out of ideas you imagine together."
You can submit your augmented reality imaginings until 11 January at which point a Twitter vote will decide on the best one from a shortlist of three approved by Microsoft. If your idea is chosen you'll be able to be part of the process of making it come to life.

HoloLens ideas factory

The Microsoft HoloLens team will take care of the coding and designing, so it's a great opportunity to get your AR app idea out there without having to build it yourself. Ultimately the project will then be made open source so the rest of the HoloLens community can play around with it.
You can check out some of the ideas that have already been floated if you're looking for inspiration. Microsoft has previously shown the headset being used to play Minecraft on a physical table and to battle robot insects bursting through a living room wall.
The winning app stands a good chance of being ready before HoloLens is: expensive, early prototypes will go on sale to developers at the start of 2016 but it looks likely that the rest of us will have to wait many more months to get our hands on a fully finished HoloLens.











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How to protect Windows 10 from viruses for free
How to protect Windows 10 from viruses for free

Keep Windows 10 free from viruses

Windows 10 is Microsoft's most secure operating system ever thanks to powerful anti-virus tools that help keep you protected from internet nasties.
While keeping your Windows 10 machine virus-free is easier than ever before, there are still things you can do to help keep your data safe. For complete protection there are several powerful free tools to download to prevent malicious software from infecting your machine.
There are also a number of best practices you should follow so you don't put yourself at risk online. Follow our guide to guarantee safe computing, knowing you can enjoy browsing the internet safe in the knowledge your data is safe.

1. Windows Defender

If you've upgraded from Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, then you'll recognise Windows 10's built-in anti-virus tool, Windows Defender. It comes installed automatically and runs in the background, making sure you're protected (without you even realising!).
If you've upgraded from Windows 7, think of Windows Defender as an upgrade from Microsoft Security Essentials.

2. Scan for viruses

Windows Defender keeps everything secure behind the scenes. However, if you want it to scan your computer to make sure you've not picked up any malicious software, type Windows Defender into the search box on the taskbar and press [Enter].
Select 'Quick' and press 'Scan now' to sweep your files and folders. For a deeper scan select 'Full'.

3. Customise your scan

If you want more control over what Windows Defender scans select 'Custom', then click 'Scan now'. A window will appear with a list of hard drives you can choose to scan.
If you want to scan one, check the box (all sub folders included will be ticked as well). If you want to go deeper, click the '+' symbol to view the folders on each drive, allowing you to customise what scans.

4. Keeping Windows Defender updated

The reality is new threats regularly crop up, which means its essential Windows Defender is kept updated so it has the tools to combat the latest attacks.
You can manually update Windows Defender, or check it is updated, by clicking 'Update'. However, it's best to update automatically, and by default its updates will be included with Windows 10 updates.

5. Viewing quarantined files

When Windows Defender finds an infected file it quarantines it, so you can safely check the file before deleting it. Sometimes quarantined files are, in fact, harmless.
To check quarantined files, click the 'History Tab' in Windows Defender, then click 'View Files'. If you think it is a virus, click 'Remove all', if not select 'Allow item' – but only if you're sure it's safe.

6. Windows Defender settings

For even more control over how Windows Defender operates, click 'Settings'. This gives you access to further advanced settings. You can turn real-time protection and cloud-based protection on and off (though we'd recommend leaving both on), and you can add exclusions.
If you are certain a file is not a virus, add it here and the scanning process will speed up.

7. An alternative - Avast Free Antivirus

Windows Defender is good, but for even more security there are alternatives you can install. Windows Defender will pause if you install another antivirus, so no conflicts will occur.
Avast Free Antivirus is a popular free anti-virus software alternative. If you want more tools there are paid versions that offer additional features.

8. Another alternative - Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is a free tool that often finds and eliminates viruses and malware that other anti-virus scanners miss. It's fine to run alongside Windows Defender, and we'd recommend letting it scan your PC if Windows 10 is behaving strangely and Windows Defender has not detected any viruses.

9. Virus-free best practice - part one

The best way to keep your PC safe is by following some best-practice advice. Be wary of sites you've not visited before, and take notice of pop-up adverts that appear. While most are safe, some will try to trick you into downloading files.
Other pop-ups make it look as if Windows is asking you to download an antivirus program as you are infected. Never click these.

10. Virus-free best practice - part two

B e careful opening attachments sent via email or instant messaging, especially if you don't know the sender. If something seems too good to be true, there's a reason.
So if you see a message saying you've won something in a competition you never entered, then this hasn't happened. Common sense will help you know whether to download something or leave it alone.











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Blood sampling could be coming to Google's future smartwatches
Blood sampling could be coming to Google's future smartwatches
The smartwatches of today are packed with all the basics needed to count your steps and measure your heart rate, but Google has plans for something a little more advanced: a blood-sampling mechanism for wearables that gathers much more information about the state of your health.
Google patent
Such a device is outlined in a new patent Google has filed in the US, and it could potentially help those with diabetes and other conditions where regular blood tests are useful. Instead of taking a trip to the doctors you could just carry on watching Netflix.
As with every new invention we see at the patent stage, there's no guarantee we'll ever see this in an actual product, but it gives a good idea about the direction Google's thinking is going in - more advanced health tracking and diagnosis, obviously.

Getting under your skin

The mechanism outlined by Google in its patent uses a gas-powered microparticle that's blasted into your skin, quickly drawing a small vial of blood into a pressurised container. Samples could be sent to a lab or measured using a small hand-held device.
There's no doubt that wearable devices that can more accurately measure our health are going to be useful - remember Google's smart contact lenses? - but whether we're all comfortable handing over our medical information to the company's data servers is another matter.
Now we've all got miniature computers in our pockets and on our wrists, miniature medical devices are the next step, and Google will no doubt be eager to set the pace. If you don't like the idea of a blood-sucking smartwatch, perhaps a smart pill sounds more palatable.











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Is cloud-powered business intelligence genuinely useful or mere hype?
Is cloud-powered business intelligence genuinely useful or mere hype?

Introduction and data gravity

All hail democratised data. Until recently, business intelligence (BI) software was all on-premise and then only for analysts who knew how to code, or those that had the support of data science and IT staff.
But with infrastructure quickly shifting to a cloud model, new cloud-powered BI software is appearing that promises to empower everyone and anyone within an organisation to work with data directly, in real-time. Is cloud BI really the democratisation of data, or too good to be true?

Why is cloud BI appearing?

Gartner predicts that the BI market will to grow by 8.7% per year until 2018, and with a good chunk of the BI industry now migrating to the cloud, BI's 'cloudification' makes sense.
"Broadly speaking, cloud BI tends to go hand-in-hand with an organisation's IT infrastructure move to the cloud," says Nat Van Gulck, Business Intelligence Solutions Manager at Trustmarque. Cloud BI is typically all-you-can-eat, it's self-service, it's pay-as-you go, it's dashboards, reports and data visuals. It's whatever you want, when you want it.
That's the theory, but the reality is that putting BI on the cloud is one big experiment that has only just begun.
A good chunk of the BI industry is now migrating to the cloud

Cloud BI: The argument in favour

Cloud BI is about taking the IT out of data analytics and saving money. "Cloud BI eliminates the need for businesses to invest in heavy infrastructure or dedicate much of their IT team's time to managing the environment," says Nick Whitehead, Senior Director, Oracle Business Analytics & Exalytics EMEA. "Adopting and managing the latest business analytics capabilities in the cloud is also much simpler and faster, as companies can instantly take advantage of new innovations that vendors rollout to the market 'cloud-first'."
We're talking self-service and very visual analytics – think instant reports and summaries that can be easily integrated into another, previously isolated, dataset – that the IT department never have to get involved with.

Increasing the breadth of BI

Doing BI on the cloud is more efficient, flexible and stable compared to server-based tools, but just as persuasive is the ability to both share critical business insight, and to integrate it.
"It empowers users to pervasively share BI analysis across the enterprise," says Peter Baxter, MD EMEA at Yellowfin, which is now working with Microsoft Azure to deliver free cloud BI available via the Azure marketplace.
"These capabilities enable organisations to rapidly deploy various different virtual BI instances in parallel across the company, creating an interwoven fabric of data," says Southard Jones, VP of Product Strategy at Birst. "This enables companies to bridge the divide between centralised and decentralised analytics and drive more analytics to more users, rapidly."

The 'data gravity' problem

Everything has a centre of gravity, but where is it for the data in your organisation? The chances are, that centre-point is on the move. "Business intelligence solutions gravitate close to an organisation's largest data stores," says Van Gulck. Doing the analysis close to the data's location means reduced direct analysis query times, while transfers into a data warehouse can be much cheaper to run.
"As the data gravity continues to shift towards cloud-hosted infrastructure, we expect a corresponding increased uptake of cloud BI solutions," says Van Gulck.
Amazon QuickSight promises insights within 60 seconds

Amazon QuickSight

Amazon QuickSight is a newly launched cloud-powered BI service that offers customers of AWS quick and easy visualisations of their data, such as graphs, tables and stories. It's aimed at everyone in an organisation, not just data scientists.
"Non-technical builders also want to be able to understand what's going on with the data, get those insights, and turn them into actions," said Andy Jassy, SVP, Amazon Web Services, when launching the product during October's AWS Re:Invent 2015 in Las Vegas. "And the technical people want the business people to do that so it takes away some of their ticket-load."
Jassy also stated that Amazon QuickSight would be a tenth of the cost of traditional BI software, which he called "kinda janky". It's all driven by SPICE, a parallel, in-memory calculation engine. "As soon as we recognise an AWS customer we take all their data in the various AWS data stores and we move it to our query data so they get their first data visualisation in 60 seconds," Jassy explained.

The cloud-only curse

Generating reports quickly, and more visually, is great, but cloud-only tools like QuickSight are necessarily limited. "QuickSight can only visualise data in specific AWS data sources," says Jones. "Not every application is hosted in the cloud today, and not all information can be migrated over … a complete cloud BI solution handles visualisation and data – and can extract data from anywhere, cloud or on-premise – and also live query it anywhere, too."
In short, Amazon QuickSight is great for projects and pilots. But is it the future of BI? Not yet.

Power BI hybrid solution

Microsoft Power BI: The hybrid solution

Hosted on the growing Microsoft Azure public cloud, Power BI is a data visualisation solution very different to Amazon QuickSight. This is self-service BI available on data anywhere in the Microsoft data platform, including on-premise databases that are connected.
Power BI's dashboard consolidates data from multiple sources
That's key because even if cloud BI is considered cheaper, you can't put data on the cloud overnight; it's both expensive and time consuming. So even if everyone agrees that BI should take place wherever the data is, large datasets are likely to remain in flux for some years to come. Cue hybrid approaches that let organisations get one foot in the cloud.
"A number of vendors offer cloud-only solutions, but many businesses still favour a hybrid model as they make the transition to becoming fully cloud-based," says Whitehead, whose Oracle Business Analytics product supports both cloud and on-premise deployments.
So is Microsoft's hybrid the wisest choice? "Microsoft Cortana Analytics on Azure allows for a number of hybrid cloud scenarios where a data store on-premise may be queried directly by Power BI," says Van Gulck, though he stresses that any data management layer must be correctly architected by specialists.

Lifted and shifted

A lot of so-called cloud BI really isn't what it claims to be. "The fallacy of cloud BI is what you see in legacy or other 'fake' cloud solutions, which are really just on-premises solutions lifted and shifted to the cloud," says Jones. "All that does is shift costs of operations from customer to vendor – it does not provide any additional value to the customer."
The promise that cloud BI can analyse information from massive pools of data, across disparate and multiple systems, and make it easily accessible in the day-to-day running of businesses is "far from the reality" according to Tom Cahill, VP of EMEA at Logi Analytics.
"Cloud BI is struggling to gain adoption for standard business operations," he says. "Companies certainly use private clouds to run BI apps, but when it comes to BI as a service in the cloud, typical use-cases to date have been either experiments, mostly limited to silo-ed departmental deployments, or time-bound projects." Is the cloud the right place for analytics users' day-to-day needs? The jury is out.
Is cloud BI just hype right now?

Are companies hesitant to embrace cloud BI?

Data security and data sovereignty are hugely live issues. Banks and government agencies' approach to the cloud has been famously tentative when it comes to entrusting sensitive corporate or financial information to the medium.
"Having solid security mechanisms in place, such as data partitioning and multi-tenant capabilities, will help instil confidence and quell concerns when adopting cloud-based BI deployments," thinks Baxter, "particularly as the cloud continues to be a tried and tested technology in other areas."
Some think that companies are right to be hesitant to embrace the cloud for their BI. "Moving and processing very high volumes of data using a cloud service is still unachievable, certainly for now," says Cahill. For him, cloud BI is more of a concept than a reality – and not a very convincing one unless the movement of data and restructuring of IT systems can be figured out.
Without that, he says that it won't be a viable solution for 99% of self-service analytics users, adding: "Cloud BI will remain as hype."











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Mr Biffo: Videogames aren't movies, so what's with all the realistic characters?
Mr Biffo: Videogames aren't movies, so what's with all the realistic characters?

Introduction

What you are about to read has been written by Mr Biffo, the creative force behind the 90s Teletext videogames magazine Digitiser. He now runs the show at digitiser2000.com.
Imagine a playground. In that playground is a see-saw. On one side sits Lara Croft. At the opposite end is Rico Rodriguez, the protagonist from Just Cause 3. As usual, Rico is drunk, and letting off fireworks.
Balancing the two at the pivot point is no less a figure than Nathan Drake, from Uncharted, cracking jokes, and flashing his most charismatic smile at Lara, while she sits there shivering, and complaining about the cold. If you peer just behind the swings you might see Big Boss tying some balloons to a bench.
This is the playground of video game narrative, a place where all are welcome. Unfortunately, in recent years it has become overrun with big kids from the estate. The ones who all stand around trying to look grown up, smoking cigarettes, and looking at the little kids playing and having fun. They stand there and roll their eyes, and go "Cu! They're, like, so immature".
This year, games wanted to be grown-up more than ever before. For some, that meant pretending to be movies. 2015 began with The Order 1886, a game so in love with cinema, and so ashamed of being a video game, that it had even been run through an Instagram 'film grain' filter. The type of grain being, of course, the most important thing movie directors keep in mind when trying to make their films cinematic…
xx
And recently – for those of us fortunate enough not to be locked out by Microsoft's Xbox One exclusivity deal - we saw Rise of the Tomb Raider. This is the sequel to the 2013 reboot, which gave Lara Croft the backstory demanded by all of us, in much the same way we didn't clamour to hear about Pac-Man's struggles with pharmecuticals and the ghosts of his past.
That said, Lara's reinvention kind of worked in the original reboot; I got that this vulnerable young girl had to learn to survive on her own terms, without the paternal safety net. Somehow – for this writer at least – the Lara Croft of Rise of the Tomb Raider came across like a bland, whingey, psychopath.
"Hmmm, yes, it's some sort of scroll," she'll monotone while scrabbling around in the dirt. And in the next breath she'd be gouging someone's eye out with the business end of an arrow.
Narrative dissonance is what all the cool kids are calling this gulf between video game story and video game action. It had never been an issue for me – not least because once upon a time all the story you ever got in a game was "All your base are belong to us" . Somehow in Rise of the Tomb Raider it finally started to grate on my craw.
The industry seems needlessly obsessed with wanting to flesh out our video game characters. Where 3D was one the buzzword of the industry, as far as the visual dimensions went, now it's all about making the characterisation three dimensional.
Ultimately, I'm torn. Games don't need to be dumb. We should all strive to make them as smart, and as witty, as possible. An action movie will undoubtedly resonate more if it's stuffed with ideas, and well-realised characters, and twists, and turns. Without that you get, well, the Tomb Raider movies.
But an action movie is not the same thing as an action video game. Inevitably, unless a developer goes out of their way to create a non-lethal experience, the characters in a video game will embark on a campaign of mass-slaughter. They will be shot repeatedly, fall into ravines, and be flung through walls. And then they will get up, and do it again, without a hint of bones broken, or post-traumatic stress.
Just Cause
The more you strive to make your character realistic – either in the cut scenes, or by having them grunt and groan their way through levels (only for that to drop away the second an enemy presents itself) – the more you draw attention to the incongruity.
Barely a month after Rise of the Tomb Raider we get Just Cause 3 – a flawed, shallow, game by anyone's measure – but it crystalised for me exactly what my issue is. Just Cause 3 revels in its videogaminess. It wouldn't work as a movie, and has no pretensions to being a movie.
Rise of the Tomb Raider does, but if you put it on the silver screen it'd be a hard 18 or R; Lara Croft might be the victim in the situation, but does she really need to jam her climbing axe in so many skulls? Audiences would be the ones left with PTSD.
Grand Theft Auto V got around all this by making at least two of its central characters arguably insane. In that sick, grubby, world, who wouldn't go on a rampage of slaughter? In The Last of Us I bought it because I bought into Joel's desperation to keep Elly alive. The stakes were sufficiently high, the world sufficiently broken, that I was with him every step of the way.
Conversely, Fallout 4 may be set in a similarly post-apocalyptic world, but its arguably compelling opening sequence – which gives your character a strong motivation – falls apart the second you start wasting your time on other characters' problems, and trying to build sheds.
Maybe it doesn't matter to anybody but me. Maybe it's not an issue, but sometimes I just wish developers and publishers would have more confidence in their games, without misunderstanding what makes them sophisticated and smart. If I want a game with big character scenes I'll play Life is Strange. If I want a movie I'll go to the pictures. If I want to shoot aliens I'll play a video game.











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Gallery: Here are 8 more PlayStation VR games you can look forward to
Gallery: Here are 8 more PlayStation VR games you can look forward to

PlayStation VR games from PSX 2015

PSVR
PlayStation Experience 2015's keynote was full of supplemental trailers and tidbits of games announced at E3 2015 but there were exciting PlayStation VR titles on stage too.
No release date was revealed nor a price point, but there seem to be a decent amount of games on the horizon for the PS4 virtual reality headset.
We've already been impressed with our demo time and are looking forward to Q1 of 2016 when we'll hear more about PSVR.
Until then, add these eight titles to the growing roster of VR games you'll be able to play next year.
If you've missed the keynote where these games were shown for PSVR, here's the whole presentation.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCuMLqEiiws

Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin

PSVR
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin tells the story of what happens immediately after the cliffhanger ending of Psychonauts.
The VR title is a new game that bridges the story gap between the original Psychonauts and the forthcoming sequel, Psychonauts 2.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7r2ZI7dPsY

Rez Infinite

PSVR
Sega's classic shooter Rez is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR as Rez Infinite.
The PS4 version supports 1080p resolution, 60 fps and 7.1 channel audio support while the VR version supports 120fps and 3D audio.
Creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi noted during the PSX panel that "Technology has caught up to Rez" which is why there will be a VR version of the game.

Golem

PSVR
Exclusive to PlayStation, Golem seems like a truly meta-looking VR game where you don't play as the golem - rather you're someone with the ability to control golems, seeing through their eyes and directing their movements.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAC8_DHvb78

Eagle Flight

PSVR
Eagle Flight was developed by Ubisoft Montreal's FunHouse division. Eagle Flight's version of Paris is complete with the city's famous landmarks, but with a slight twist: the setting takes place 50 years after humans left the city.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8GwRiTTO3o

Job Simulator

PSVR
Announced earlier in the year, for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, it looks like Job Simulator will also be available on the PSVR.
Job Simulator is what it sounds like, if you also include robots who have taken over the world's boring jobs.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlLw9LEmEfw

Modern Zombie Taxi Co.

PSVR
Modern Zombie began as a fun VR demo with the player driving a car around filled up with rag dolls but that soon evolved into a full game.
Full of slapstick humor, you're basically driving the undead around town as their taxi driver.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0kdIFijtg

100ft Robot Golf

PSVR
100ft Robot Golf looks completely nuts and insanely fun. Apparently you'll get to control giant robots...who golf.
Smash buildings to sabotage your fellow players, customize robots and more.
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wkuoPRFo_8

Ace Combat 7

PSVR
The latest installment in the Ace Combat franchise from Bandai Namco will be exclusive to PlayStation VR.
The game has been alive and well for over 20 years so making the move to VR should give the aerial dogfighting series a new life.











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Review: Tag Heuer Connected
Review: Tag Heuer Connected

Introduction to the Tag Heuer Connected

If you wanted any more proof that smartwatches are a genuine 'thing', you're looking at it. Tag Heuer, one of the most established Swiss watch brands, has waded into the segment with its very own Android Wear-powered device.
The wearable was unveiled last month at an event in New York, and it's being sold as the 'most premium' Android Wear watch to date, but is it any good? Luckily for you (and me) the Tag Heuer Connected has been firmly strapped onto my wrist for a while now to find out.
Let's start with the cost, the Tag Heuer Connected is a whopping £1,100 (US$1,500, around AU$2,100). That's not a patch on the £10,000+ Apple Watch Edition, but it's far more expensive than most of the smartwatches currently available, which hover around the £250 (US$229, around AU$320) mark.
What do you get for that cash? First off you get a body made from grade II titanium, the strap is rubber, and it comes running Android Wear.
The Tag Heuer Connected is the first to make use of Intel's new Atom processor made for a wearable. It clocks in at 1.6GHz, and also comes packing 1GB of RAM, and a 410mAh battery, which beats the competition on paper.
TAG Heuer Connceted Review
On the surface it sounds like Tag Heuer could be onto a winner, but there are some less well thought out aspects of the Connected, such as the jarring mix of premium build and cheap-ish feeling of Android Wear, and the sub-standard screen, which I'll get onto now...

Display

The screen on the Tag Heuer Connected is slightly disappointing, it's not incredibly sharp or vibrant. This is probably due to the fact it's a transflective LCD panel, this gives is a dull matt look. This was probably a conscious decision made by Tag to make it appear more like a mechanical watch face, and in that respect, they've succeeded.
But place the Connected next to other high-end smartwatches, the Huawei Watch, Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2 in particular, and you can't help but feel disappointed by the Tag Heuer's screen.
This is partly due to the transflective display, which doesn't require a backlight in sunlight, and therefore should save battery life. It also makes viewing in sunlight easier, and I certainly didn't have any problems with that.
The screen is by no means terrible, it measures 1.5-inches in diameter and has a resolution of 360 x 360 pixels, giving a pixel density of 240 ppi. To put that in perspective the Huawei Watch has a ppi of 286, and the Samsung Gear S2 and 42mm Apple Watch have 302 ppi. It's a shame the Tag's screen isn't as sharp as some rivals, especially considering the price.
Tag Heuer Connected Review
At 1.5-inches, it's one of the biggest circular smartwatch displays I've seen, larger than the Moto 360 and Huawei Watch's, both with 1.4-inch displays, although, the extra 0.1-inch doesn't add much to the usability.
In a reversal to how Android Wear usually works, the 'Ambient' screen mode is turned on by default with the Tag Connected. This means after several seconds of inactivity the screen will dim, but still display the time with a reduced interface. It's a useful feature, which allows you to check the time without flicking your wrist to wake the screen.

Design, Comfort and Battery Life

Design and Comfort

If anyone is going to design a comfortable, attractive watch, it should be an established Swiss brand with 155 years worth of experience. Thankfully, Tag Heuer have delivered. The design is based on their Carrera collection of watches, looking very similar to the Heuer 01.
The Connected comes in one size, and it's rather chunky at 12.8mm thick with a 46mm diameter. It's clearly designed for male wrists, and would probably look out of place on more slender arms.
The body is manufactured from grade II titanium, so it's reasonably lightweight at 52 grams (81 grams including the strap). That's the same metal Tag uses for its mechanical watches, so it should be hardwearing and durable. Certainly, in the time I've spent with the watch, I didn't manage to scratch or dent it.
The case only comes with one colour/material, but the watch does come with a variety of strap options. All of them are vulcanised rubber, but there are several colour choices, including, green, blue, orange, red, white, black, and yellow.
TAG Heuer Connecteed Review
These straps are proprietary, so you can't swap them for any old strap, and if you would like to change straps, you'll have to visit a Tag Heuer shop so they do it for you.
I'm still undecided whether the lack of design options is positive or negative. On one hand, it's nice to have the option to design a really personal wearable, on the other, Tag knows more about designing watches than you. The Connected will be rare, so it's unlikely you'll come across someone else wearing one.
The vulcanised rubber strap does give it a sporty feeling and aesthetic. It looks and feels okay, but it certainly doesn't feel like it cost £1,100 (US$1,500, around AU$2,100). Whereas the Huawei Watch straps and more-expensive Apple Watches straps feel luxurious and premium, the Tag's just doesn't evoke the same feeling, for me.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
The Tag is however the most watch-like smartwatch I've seen to date. Unlike the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S2, which clearly resemble tech products strapped to your wrist, the Tag Heuer could easily be mistaken for a traditional, mechanical watch, especially with the numbered tachymeter around the bezel (which doesn't rotate).
In terms of interacting with the device, most will take place through the large, circular touchscreen. There is a large crown-esque button on the right-hand side featuring a Tag Heuer logo. This is the power and home button. It protrudes quite a way, and feels like it should rotate similar to Apple's Digital Crown, but doesn't.
On the rear of the watch, where you'd expect a heart rate sensor to be, you'll find a plastic back and nothing else. This is both surprising and disappointing, especially given the Connected's sporty-styling. Now, this isn't a big deal for me, or many others who aren't interested in health and fitness monitoring, but it's a big let down for sporty-types. It's also a shame the rear is made from plastic, considering it's a £1,100 watch.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
In a way, the design sums up the company, because although Tag Heuer is an established Swiss watch maker, their motto is "Swiss Avant-Garde Since 1860". In fact, TAG is an abbreviation of Techniques d'Avant Garde. So the company is based around experimental or innovative thinking, not necessarily the most 'traditional' watch brand.
The Tag Heuer Connected is rated IP67, which means it's splash-proof water resistant. You don't need to worry about it in a rain shower, but take it off before you go swimming.

Battery Life

The Tag Heuer sports a 410mAh battery, which is above average for a modern smartwatch (most have around 300mAh).
Tag Heuer claims this is good for around a "minimum 25 hours battery life, based on typical usage". That's pretty spot on, I managed to eek out two full days usage when wearing it.
That's a bit disappointing, especially considering the Samsung Gear S2 manages to last between two and three days with a small 250mAh battery. Presumably this is because the screen is always on (although, that can be turned off), and powerful Intel chip (although that's purely speculation).
TAG Heuer Connecteed
In short, battery life is not a stand out feature.
The charging dock is a magnetic disk, the Tag Heuer sits in there securely, but because the strap doesn't fully open, the watch can't sit flat on the desk. It's not wireless, also, there are gold contacts on the charging disk and rear of the watch.
It's a pleasant enough dock, and features a standard microUSB connection, which cuts down on the number of wires you need to carry around, if you're an Android user.

Interface, Specs and Performance

Interface

As our recent reviews of the Moto 360 and Huawei Watch show, Android Wear has really improved of late. Thanks to frequent updates from Google, the OS is maturing, and getting slicker.
Google doesn't usually allow hardware manufacturers to apply their own UI skins, but Tag Heuer has managed to persuade the search giant to allow them to darken the menus slightly. It's a small change, and probably only noticeable when viewed back-to-back with other Android Wear devices, but it's an attractive addition none-the-less.
Apart from that, the on-screen experience is almost to every other Android Wear watch. This has both benefits and disadvantages, it creates a seamless experience, but also makes them feel too samey, and especially in the case of the Tag Heuer Connected, not overly 'special'.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
That's not a problem on the Sony Smartwatch 3 or Asus Zenwatch, which are relatively cheap, but on the Connected it means you're just not getting the premium experience you're expecting. The luxe feel is limited to the titanium casing and a few Tag-specific virtual watch faces.
If you compare this to Apple's Watch OS 2, the Cupertino company's software simply feels more flashy and premium, it's equally at home on their £299 as the £13,000 model. Android Wear's great, but it doesn't have that scalability. It's the wearable OS of the people, if you will.
In terms of functionality, the Tag Heuer Connected runs the most recent version of Android Wear, 5.1.1. This includes some of the most important features, including Wi-Fi, watch-to-watch communication, gesture support and iPhone compatibility.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
The UI is your familiar Google Now information card layout. These pop up vertically from the bottom of the screen. You can scroll through these cards with a flick of your finger or by quickly rotating your wrist.
The cards can be expanded to view additional information, or dismissed if they're not relevant.
The improved UI means contacts and apps can be viewed by swiping from the left, and swiping down will reveal quick settings.
It's an intuitive layout, and quickly becomes second nature, but it certainly isn't perfect. For example, I think there is too much swiping, tapping and flicking involved (however, I also find the Apple Watch UI too fiddly, so it's an improvement over that). The best smartwatch OS that I've used is Tizen on the Galaxy Gear S2, it's a perfect mix between the two.
Android Wear's voice control really stands out, with the watch constantly listening for the command 'OK Google'. It then works like voice control on your smartphone, except it's easier, because it's on your wrist. Very useful when you're driving or running etc. as long as you don't mind looking slightly crazy, having a conversation with your wrist in public.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
One area where manufacturers can really stand out is with custom apps and watch faces, obviously, thanks to Tag's considerable experience, this is where the Connected really stands out.
The watch comes with four pre-installed watch faces, three designed by Tag Heuer: GMT, Chronograph, and a traditional three-hand face. They're all attractive faces, look very traditional, and come with the option of black, blue or white colour schemes. The idea is that you shouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Connected and a mechanical watch. At a glance, I'd say they have succeeded.
These watch faces are also interactive, the Chronograph face has a stopwatch second hand, which is a lovely little touch.

Specs and Performance

The Tag Heuer Connected comes packing a brand new Intel 1.6GHz processor and 1GB RAM. That's more powerful than any other recent Android Wear device, most of which have 1.2 GHz processors and 512MB RAM.
That extra power makes swiping around the operating system and opening apps quick. I certainly didn't have any problems with lag during our review.
The Connected has 4GB of storage on board for music and apps, which is plenty (as long as you don't attempt to save the entire Whitney Houston back catalogue on it).
TAG Heuer Connected Review
In terms of sensors, Tag Heuer has included an accelerometer and gyroscope for activity tracking, but no heart rate sensor. That's not a big deal, if, like me you're not bothered about fitness tracking, but for some that'll seem like a big omission. There's also no GPS, so it's not going to serve as a real running watch alternative.
Seriously though, would you want to wear a hefty, expensive watch to the gym and when running? Of course, it'll still count your steps throughout the day, which can then be viewed on the Google Fit app on your smartphone.
Connectivity-wise, the watch will connect to your smartphone with Bluetooth 4.1, and it also has Wi-Fi, which allows you to receive notifications even if your phone is elsewhere, as long as both have a connection to the internet. There's no NFC.

Apps and Compatibility

Apps

Google Play is full of Android Wear apps now, it's just as well populated as the Apple Watch app store. There are big names such as Whatsapp, Endomondo, Tinder, IFTTT, to name a few. But the quality varies dramatically, some are ugly, some don't work on certain watches, and surprisingly, some are pretty decent. In that respect, Android Wear still lags behind the Apple Watch in terms of top quality, big name apps. However, if you need to do something on Android Wear, there's probably an app for it.
Android Wear does come with some preinstalled apps from Google, including a calendar, Hangouts, Maps, and Google Fit. All work well, exactly how you'd expect.
TAG Heuer Connected Review
Tag Heuer has also designed some apps for the Connected, these are mostly timing apps, such as an alarm, stopwatch and timer. Functionality is pretty basic, but they are very attractive applications and a pleasure to use.

Compatibility

Naturally, as the Tag Heuer Connected runs Android Wear, it's compatible with all Android smartphones. But as it runs the latest version of the operating system, it's also compatible with iOS devices running iOS 8.2 or higher.
However, iOS compatibility is currently limiting - you certainly don't get the full smartwatch experience. You do get notifications from your iPhone, including texts, Facebook notifications, reminders and calendar alerts. But you won't be able to interact with these notifications. For example, you can read a text, but you won't be able to reply to it.
In short, the Tag Heuer Connected works with both Android phones and iPhones, but if you are an iPhone user, it's no Apple Watch replacement.
Deeper iOS integration may come in the future, but only if Apple makes changes to its APIs. Of course, that may never happen, especially considering Apple will want to sell as many Watches as possible.

Verdict

The Tag Heuer Connected is a very desirable smartwatch, but it's clearly not perfect. Here are our final thoughts on the device.

We Liked

There's a lot to like about the Tag Heuer Connected, and most of that centres around the physical design. The Connected is the most watch-like smartwatch I've ever seen. As soon as you put it on your wrist it feels natural and looks great. It's also clearly a well-made watch, the titanium feels solid and the details, such as the tachymeter and crown, are nice touches.
The pre-installed watch faces are also the best I've seen included with a smartwatch. They're stylish, and reminiscent of a mechanical watch. The interactive elements are useful additions.
If you like to argue over specs then the Connected should be your go-to smartwatch. With a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB RAM, it's currently the most powerful smartwatch on the market, at least on paper. It certainly all runs very smoothly.
It's also important to take into account the 'special' feeling the Tag Heuer Connected evokes. If you put a Moto 360 on your wrist, it's very clearly a piece of disposable technology, which, once becomes obsolete will likely get flogged on eBay. The Tag Heuer feels much more like a piece of jewelry, making you feel more important when you wear it - like you're ready to walk into a boardroom and fire someone for losing your company millions.

We Disliked

The Connected is such a premium watch, it highlights everything wrong with Android Wear which is less apparent in cheaper watches. Google's OS is far from perfect, but it's generally perfectly serviceable. However, it simply doesn't feel premium enough in this context, and jars with the cost of this watch.
There are two hardware problems with the watch - the relatively low-res screen is quite major, and the lack of a heart rate sensor will bother some prospective purchasers.
The screen is low resolution, which takes the polish of the watch slightly. Pixellation is detectable, which is a shame, because if you're spending so much on the device - you'd expect the screen to be the best available.
Although they're not the last word in reliability, most other smartwatches include heart rate sensors. The fact that it's missing from this, rather more expensive, one seems odd, then. Even if you wouldn't wear it to workout, things like tracking your resting heart rate over months can be interesting and even useful. Oh well.

Verdict

Ultimately, I like the Tag Heuer Connected, not because it's a great piece of technology, but because it's a desirable item to wear. A lot of tech companies seem to forget that's an important thing when designing wearables.
As much as I like the Tag Heuer Connected, there's still a lot to dislike, the low-resolution screen, Android Wear and missing heart rate sensor in particular.
If you're looking for a desirable smartwatch and can spend £1,100 (US$1,500, around AU$2,000) without blinking an eye, then you should consider this watch. However, if the thought of spending that much money fills you with dread, then this watch is not for you, especially as there are better smartwatches that can be bought for a lot less money.











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TechRadar Deals: The best iPhone 6 Plus deals in December 2015
TechRadar Deals: The best iPhone 6 Plus deals in December 2015

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals

iphone 6 plus deals
The enormous iPhone 6 Plus is magnificent, and it's the device that many people wanted Apple to create. Sure it may have been replaced by the equally impressive iPhone 6S Plus, but this is where Apple's supersized adventure began and it can now be yours for even less. The higher resolution display, larger screen and enhanced camera do come at an additional cost though, so if you're looking for something slightly more economical check out the iPhone 6.
If you're still with us, then welcome. You're in for a pre-Christmas treat. We've searched through every major network to bring you the best deals around.
More options: iPhone 6S Plus deals | iPhone 6S deals | iPhone 6 deals | iPhone deals
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iphone 6 plus deals

The UK's best iPhone 6 Plus deal:

FREE 16GB phone on EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB of data | £37.49pm
This is the cheapest way to own a brand new iPhone 6 Plus, while also getting a decent slug of data. There's a free handset up for grabs along with unlimited minutes and texts plus 5GB of data. And just look at that monthly outlay. Nice! Total cost over 24 months: £899.76.
Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk
FREE 64GB phone on EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £44.99pm
EE's the network to stick with if you're looking for the middle size iPhone 6 Plus. Here you get a free 64GB handset and a healthy 4GB of data for a monthly outlay which won't leave you bankrupt. Total cost over 24 months: £1,079.76.
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
£95.99 128GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 6GB of data | £49pmOkay so there may be a small upfront charge, but you are getting a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus here, and the monthly cost is more than reasonable. Add 6GB of data with unlimited minutes and texts and you're laughing all the way to the app store. Total cost over 24 months: £1,271.99.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
Now let's break down the best iPhone 6 Plus deals by network...
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iPhone 6 deals on EE

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals on EE

EE is the network to go to if you want high-speed 4G
FREE 16GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB of data | £37.49pm
Here's a good deal to kick us off. You get a decent chunk of data and sensible monthly fee along with more calls and texts than you'll ever use. Then you have the fact you're getting a 16GB iPhone 6 Plus for free. Total cost over 24 months: £899.76.
Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk
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FREE 64GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £44.99pm
This deal may not be as good as last month's, but it's still a strong contender. A free 64GB iPhone 6 Plus, 4GB of data and a lower monthly cost makes the handset affordable. Plus there's unlimited calls and texts - lovely! Total cost over 24 months: £1,079.76.
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
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FREE 128GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB of data | £57.49pm
There's more good news here. That's because you get is a free 128GB iPhone 6 Plus with unlimited calls and texts and a sizable 10GB of data - every, single, month. Total cost over 24 months: £1,379.76.
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
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iphone 6 deals on o2

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals on O2

O2 is the network with extras, including the popular O2 Priority
FREE 16GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB of data | £49pm
This same set of allowances last month would of cost you £54 per month, but now those unlimited calls and texts and massive 10GB of data can be had for just £49 per month. Plus there's a free 16GB iPhone 6 Plus too. Total cost over 24 months: £1,176.
Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse
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FREE 64GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £54pmThis is a pretty decent deal for a 64GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus. It's not quite as good as the best 64GB deal on EE this month for this phone, but you do get 5GB here with unlimited calls and texts - BUT READ ON. Total cost over 24 months: £1,296.
Get this deal: direct from O2
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FREE 128GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB of data | £54pmBefore you hit buy on the above deal for the 64GB model, STOP. For exactly the same money you can double your internal storage to the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus. You'd be crazy not to opt for the larger size - just think of all the apps you'll be able to download! Total cost over 24 months: £1,296.
Get this deal: direct from O2
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vodafone

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals on Vodafone

Vodafone prides itself in coverage and quality, it's often a bit mean with data, but there are extras like Spotify and Sky Sports Mobile thrown in.
FREE 16GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB of data | £44pmVodafone is giving you a free 16GB iPhone 6 Plus with a massive 10GB of data every month. In fact, for the first two months of the deal you get unlimited data, which is handy when you're downloading your initial volley of applications. Over the two years of the deal you're looking at a total of £1,056.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
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FREE 64GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB of data | £50pmFor those looking for more storage, this is a good deal on the 64GB version of the iPhone 6 Plus. You still get the phone free, and you get a massive 10GB data and unlimited everything else. Plus there's the two months of unlimited data at the start too. Total cost over 24 months: £1,200.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
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£95.99 128GB phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 6GB of data | £49pmThis deal may not be quite as good as last month's offering, but Vodafone still makes a compelling argument here. Sure there's an upfront cost, but that means the monthly payments aren't as high and you're still getting 6GB of data. Total cost over 24 months: £1,271.99.
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
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iphone 6 deals on Three

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals on Three

Three is one of few providers that offers unlimited data, and Feel at Home is amazing for regular travellers.
FREE 16GB phone | 600 mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £43pm
The lowest data tariff we'll suggest as a good deal is 1GB, and this Three deal doubles that. It's Three's cheapest to get the iPhone 6 Plus without paying anything upfront. It's a good deal and it's £1 cheaper each month than our November deal. Total cost over 24 months: £1,032.
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
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£9.99 64GB phone | 600 minutes | Unlimited texts | 12GB data | £54pmWeird lack of included minutes here, but no matter who makes phone calls these days anyway? Here you get a massive 12GB of data and an overall cost that's not significantly above any of the other tariffs on this page. Plus the upfront cost has dropped by £25 since last month. Total cost over 24 months: £1,305.99.
Get this deal: from buymobiles.net
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£49 128GB phone | 600 minutes | Unlimited texts | 8GB of data | £56pm
This is the most attractive iPhone 6 Plus deal we can find on Three at the moment. If you want the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus on this network, this is the deal. But you're far better off opting for a different network really. Total cost over 24 months: £1,393.
Get this deal: direct from Three UK
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iD

Best iPhone 6 Plus deals on iD

The in-house network from Carphone Warehouse
£79.99 16GB phone | 2000 mins | 5000 texts | 2GB data | £45.50pm
Why would you pay £79.99 upfront and £45.50 per month for the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus and only get 2GB of data in return? Because you can use that data, as well as your minutes and texts, in 29 countries around the world at no extra cost. If you travel a lot, this tariff will save you a packet. Total cost over 24 months: £1,171.99.
Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse
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£159.99 64GB phone | 2000 mins | 5000 texts | 2GB data | £45.50pmAgain the monthly allowances aren't exactly stellar, nor is the £159.99 upfront charge for the 64GB iPhone 6 Plus. That said, if you're someone who frequently finds themselves jetting off around the world, iD is the only network which can keep your costs down while abroad. Total cost over 24 months: £1,251.99.
Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse
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£219.99 128GB phone | 2000 minutes | 5000 texts | 2GB of data | £45.50pm
If you want double the storage space you'll have to pay out even more upfront. You do get the same monthly cost and the same allowances with a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus, but unless you HAVE to be on ID we advise looking elsewhere. Total cost over 24 months: £1,311.99.
Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse











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Final Fantasy 7's first gameplay trailer teases new battle system
Final Fantasy 7's first gameplay trailer teases new battle system
When Final Fantasy VII made its re-debut at E3 2015, people in the audience cried.
Today Sony and Square Enix revealed a new trailer for the game, and while it wasn't met with the same catharsis, the audience at PlayStation Experience clearly liked what they saw. As did we.
Yes, it all looks suitably beautiful - the two-minute trailer shows off an insanely well-rendered Midgar - but it's the new battle system that we're most interested in.
The trailer points to something a little more free than the original's turn-based system, but it's still a bit of a mystery.
FF7
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMWEjWCwjzM
Gamers have been waiting over 20 years for a remake of what many consider the best entry in the long-running series, and the fact that it will remain exclusive to PS4 is icing on the cake.
Square Enix also announced that the PC port of the original game would be available starting today on its online store.
Final Fantasy 7
There's still no word on a release window for Final Fantasy VII but, after 20 years of waiting, what's a few more months?











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Running Man of Tech: I missed out on the London Marathon... but I'm still running it
Running Man of Tech: I missed out on the London Marathon... but I'm still running it

Running London from anywhere

I really don't like using treadmills at all - they're a prison compared to the freedom of running outdoors.
I also really dislike the thought of doing a marathon too - I did one earlier this year, but it was by myself, starting at 5AM for charity. It's just running a long way for a really long time… boring.
So why does the thought of combining the two together entice me into doing my next marathon?
Well, this is different. I'm going to be racing an astronaut, and I'll be running the London Marathon at the same time as the thousand others in the capital - despite missing out on the ballot process.
OK - I'll be running it on a treadmill, and just because I'll be starting at the same time as the rest of the runners, doesn't mean this is anything new. People have been doing this for countless years and it's a long way removed from being involved in the actual thing.
But this year it's all different - THANK YOU TECHNOLOGY - because I'll be running a digital version of the course that'll progress as I run the distance. RunSocial spent the 2013 and 2014 London Marathon digitally mapping the course, taking 3D pictures of the crowd cheering along the way.
Come the morning I'll step onto the treadmill, plug in the Bluetooth TreadTracker that slips under the treadmill belt, pop an iPad in front of me and start running. But here's the best bit: everyone else doing the same race will show up as digital avatars around me, showing how fast they're running just like in the real thing.
Running Man of tech
You don't need the TreadTracker (which costs around £100 / $120 / AU$150) as you can use the pedometer in the iPad to register your steps onto the treadmill, or go all out and get a treadmill that can connect to RunSocial directly, meaning it can register the incline too.
I know that running it there would be better, with the atmosphere, the cheering, the tired breathing of everyone around you, the beating of the feet of the person that you've been chasing down for the last 15 miles all making it an amazing day.
But most of us didn't get in, with over 1 in 4 not getting a place despite trying, and the RunSocial method means we'll all be able to do it. You have to buy the London Marathon course on the RunSocial app (£4.99 in the UK, varying around the world), but everyone that balloted and failed to get into the London Marathon will get a code to run it for free.
I'm going to need to work hard on the set up though - I tried the system out with an iPad mini, a treadmill and the TreadTracker, and my neck was hurting with looking down at the screen after a few minutes.
However, you can use Apple TV to connect up to a larger screen (or get the HDMI connector) so it's a more natural angle for your head to hang at.
It was still using a treadmill though, despite how engaging the screen was with the running - I really missed being outside, but it's nice to have that control. I'll even miss the anger at going up and down the slight inclines around the course, so I'll be doing my best to working out how to add that in.
And there's the danger that someone could be running the race on the treadmill while just sitting on a chair eating chocolate while they leave the belt running at an astronomical speed - but let's just hope that if I'm in a footrace to the finish line then I'm against someone honest.
Running Man of tech
And given Tim Peake, the British astronaut, will be running the same race from space, that'll be a big scalp to aim for… although he's only going to have 80% of his bodyweight, so that's an advantage.
On the other hand, he's going to have to have a hugely uncomfortable harness, and he is running it on behalf of the Prince's Trust, so I'll allow it.
Now, to the internet: 'how to train for a marathon'…

MyZone, YourZone

I've been trialling another system at the moment, the MZ3 from MyZone. It's a heart rate monitor that sits like most others around the chest, but has a 'handicap' system to show you how hard you're working compared to any other athlete around.
The system is simple: you enter body metrics, including height, weight and age, and the system will calibrate to you over time. This generates your four effort zones depending on how hard you're working, and when the belt is connected to your phone you can see in real time your relative effort.
These generate MEPs (MyZone Effort Points) where the more effort you put in, the more MEPs each minute you spend exercising you'll be awarded. This means your effort level is being rewarded, rather than pace or weight lifted, so if you're trying to show how hard you're pushing compared to your ultra fit friend, this is the way to do it.
Running Man of tech
I've found a few issues with the system so far, but on the whole it's an interesting system that works best when you're connected with friends and you're all trying to achieve the most MEPs each day.
For runners though, you'll need either the proprietary smartwatch or an Android Wear / Apple Watch to see it on the screen to get real time feedback on your effort levels.
One to watch - I'll be playing with this a fair bit over the next few weeks before bringing a full review. But if I have to wear more than two heart rate monitors at the same time in the future, I think I won't be able to breathe…











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BBC testing films that are personalised to each viewer
BBC testing films that are personalised to each viewer
The BBC's Research & Development department is currently testing the idea of content that changes depending on who's watching it: the length of scenes, the pace of the action and even the colour cast can all be adapted depending on the tastes and preferences of the viewer.
For the experiment, data is gathered through a simple mobile app that checks up on your listening habits and asks a few personality questions; in the future, information about you could be gathered from all kinds of sources, the BBC says.
As they're delivered over the web, television shows and movies could even be adapted on the fly based on your mood or the time of day. Your current location, gender and age can all potentially play a part in the order and structure of the scenes shown on screen.

Repeat viewings

And the technology could make repeat viewings much more palatable - individual elements might change the second time around to suit your current situation (if you're viewing a film with the family rather than on your own, for example).
"Broadcasting over IP enables us to create all kinds of new content experiences that would not be possible or scalable on 'traditional' TV or radio," says the Beeb. "We're investigating how to create personalised media which feels natural to the audience and exciting for the storyteller as it scales for millions of individual audience members."
So far only a small scale trial has been run with a limited number of testers, but the broadcasting corporation says it wants to create a public prototype that anyone can test out in the near future.











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How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

Install OpenELEC on Raspberry Pi

You can use the Raspberry Pi to do all kinds of geeky things but one of the most interesting uses for the little device is that of a home theatre PC (or HTPC). The small size of the hardware and the fact that it runs silently make it a really good choice for building your own entertainment centre.
One of the best open source apps for turning any computer into a fully functional media centre PC is the recently rechristened Kodi media player, formerly known as XBMC. Kodi uses a 10-foot user interface, which is ideal for connecting to large-screen displays and projectors.
The interface has ergonomic display elements and can be easily navigated using a remote control. You can also control playback using your Android smartphone. Using Kodi you can view multimedia in virtually any format. Besides playing files from local and network storage devices, Kodi can also fetch files from online services, such as YouTube, Spotify, Pandora Radio and more.
While you can install Kodi on top of Raspbian (the operating system for Raspberry Pi), there are several projects that produce a dedicated media centre distro for the ARM-based device, including OpenELEC.
The OpenELEC project produces streamlined builds based on Kodi for various platforms, including the Raspberry Pi.
The advantage for with OpenELEC for many people is that you can use the distro without any knowledge of its base Linux OS.

Download OpenELEC

To start setting up your HTPC, grab the OpenELEC build for the Raspberry Pi. As with other projects, OpenELEC hosts different images for the older single-core Raspberry Pis and the newer quad-core ones.
Once you've downloaded the image, extract it and transfer it on to an SD card, either from Linux using the dd command, as follows:
sudo dd if=OpenELEC-RPi2.arm-5.0.8.img of=/dev/sdd
or from Windows using Win32 Disk Imager. Then you need to insert the card into the Raspberry Pi, hook it up to your TV via the HDMI port and power it on.
OpenELEC boots up pretty quickly and will take you straight into Kodi. If you've used the media player (or its predecessor XMBC) before on the desktop, you shouldn't have any issues navigating it on the Pi. However, you will need to spend some time configuring the media centre to take advantage of this specialised environment.
Use your keyboard to scroll through the Kodi menu and head to System > OpenELEC. This section lists settings and configuration options related to the distro under five different categories.
From the System category, you can change the hostname of this OpenELEC installation. This is handy for distinguishing multiple instances, in case you have more than one system on your network – one in the living room, say, and another in the bedroom or kitchen.
Also, by default, OpenELEC is set up to inform you when a new update is available. However, you can toggle the Automatic Updates option and ask the distro to fetch the update without asking for your approval.
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre
For a better HTPC experience, you can use OpenELEC with a Raspberry Pi-compatible Wi-Fi adaptor. Once you've connected the adaptor, head to System > OpenELEC > Network, and toggle the Active option under the Wireless Networks section.
Then switch to the Connections section and select your Wi-Fi network from the list that appears there. Now you'll need to click 'Connect' and enter the relevant authentication details to connect to your home Wi-Fi network.
There are also a whole host of settings available in Kodi, which are listed under Settings > System. Using these settings you can configure such things as audio output, calibrate the monitor, set up remote controls and set up Kodi's built-in PVR etc.
To watch TV on your Raspberry Pi HTPC, head to Settings > System > Live TV, and toggle the Enabled option. You will then be asked to enable one of the supported PVR add-ons. Select your PVR from the list and click the 'Configure' button to enter the relevant configuration details, such as the IP address of the PVR host.
When you're done, click the Enable button to activate it. Then head back to the System > Live TV section to set up other options, such as altering the behaviour of the onscreen display, the length of the recording and parental controls etc.

Add and stream content

Once you've set it up, it's time to add content to your HTPC. You can configure a bunch of media sources in Kodi, from where it can pull content. These media sources can be local media on the card, removable USB drives plugged into the Pi and even various file shares on the local network.
To define a media source, enter any of the Videos, Music or Pictures entries on the screen, and click Add Sources. Use the dialog box that pops up to browse to a source that contains some media. Adding media on the card or plugged-in USB drives is pretty simple and straightforward.
But if you wish to pull in content from another computer on the local network, you have to define the network shares first. Kodi supports several file-sharing protocols, including all the popular ones such as Samba, NFS, AFP, FTP and more.
To view media on a shared Samba drive, head to System > OpenELEC > Services, and toggle the Enable Samba option.
If the source requires authentication, toggle the Use Samba Password Authentication option and enter the username and password. When you've added a source, you can tell Kodi about the type of content it houses. In return, Kodi allows you to choose a scraper – a special plugin that fetches metadata about a media file from the internet.
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre
If you've set up multiple OpenELEC HTPCs on the same network, they can also share libraries between them, using the UPnP protocol. On the HTPC that houses the content you wish to share with the other HTPC, head to Settings > Services > UPnP and toggle the 'Share Video and Music Libraries Through UPnP' option.
Now jump over to the other HTPC where you wish to view the content, and add a source (as described earlier). When you browse for a media source, select the 'UPnP Devices' option from the list of sources, which then displays the other HTPC that houses the content.

Remote playback control

Your HTPC will now enable you to watch content either on locally connected drives or on any other computer or HTPC on the network, and even from your DVR. To further enhance the experience, you can enable the web interface to remotely control playback.
Kodi includes a web server which allows you to control the player via a web browser. To enable it, head to Settings > Services > Webserver and toggle the 'Allow Control of Kodi Via HTTP' option. You can optionally lock access behind a password.
Once enabled, fire up a web browser on any computer on the network and navigate to the IP address of the HTPC to control playback. Kodi also produces official remote control apps for Android and iOS devices, and, shockingly enough, you can find several third-party ones for the Windows Phone as well.
Before you can use them, head to Settings > Services > Remote Control, and toggle the 'Allow Program on Other Systems to Control Kodi' option. Now head to your device's app store and grab a remote control app. The official app is called Kore on the Google Play Store.

Optimise playback

Although the Raspberry Pi 2 packs quite a punch, there are some tweaks you can do in OpenELEC that result in smoother playback.
For starters, you can turn down the video playback resolution to 720p, especially if your HTPC isn't connected to a Full HDTV. Head to Settings > System > Video Output, and change the Resolution option to 720p.
Another trick is to replace the default skin, which was designed for desktop computers, to a lightweight skin, such as Aeon Nox, which makes navigating the menus snappier. To change the skin, head to Settings > Skins. Also make sure that hardware acceleration is turned on.
Go to System > Video > Acceleration and check that the Decoding Method is set to 'Hardware' and not 'Software'. While you're here, also reduce the GUI updates when playing video to 5fps.
Another playback-related tweak involves matching the refresh rate of the screen to the video being watched, which results in smoother playback. You can enable it by going to Settings > System > Video > Playback, then toggle the 'Adjust Display Refresh Rate' to 'Match Video'.
Another way to smooth out playback is to use audio passthrough for encoded audio, such as Dolby. To enable the option, navigate to Settings > System > Audio Output and toggle the 'Enable Passthrough' option. Finally, if you are on a slow internet connection, you can cut down on the bandwidth usage by heading to Settings > Video > Library and disabling the 'Download Actor Thumbnails' option.

Back up your video library

Seeing as you've spent a considerable amount of time setting up your HTPC, it would be a shame to lose it all because of a corrupted card. To prevent this happening, you can back up all your customisations and information about your library.
Kodi includes a backup utility, but we'll use an add-on that enables us to back up files to a custom location, including Dropbox. Head to Programs > Get More and install the Backup add-on. Once installed, launch it from under Program > Backup.
The program asks you to select one of two modes – 'Backup' or 'Restore'. When you select 'Backup', it throws an error because we haven't configured it yet.
Click 'OK' to bring up the Settings window. If you wish to back up to Dropbox, use the Remote Path Type pull-down menu to select the 'Dropbox' option, and enter the authentication details for your Dropbox account.
Otherwise, click 'Browse Remote Path' and select the location where you wish to store the backup files. Optionally, select the 'Compress Archive' option to reduce the size of the backed-up files.
Then switch over to the File Selection tab and customise the list of files you want to back up. Finally, switch over to the Scheduling tab and enable the scheduler to back up automatically, as per your defined schedule.
Once you've set it up, create an initial backup copy by launching the Backup program. This time when you hit the 'Backup' button, the program saves the marked files to the specified destination.
To restore the files, simply launch the program and click the 'Restore' button. The program shows you a list of all the backups inside the configured backup location.

Extend your media centre with add-ons

How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

1. Select a repository

You can extend virtually every aspect of your HTPC by adding a number of plugins and extensions. To do this, head to System > Settings > Add-ons > Get Add-ons. This displays a list of repositories (repos), including the official OpenELEC and Kodi repo.
Select the repo you wish to install from. There's also the All Add-ons option, which displays plugins from both these repos.
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

2. Select category

Once you've selected a repo, you're shown a list of add-on categories. The Kodi repo includes a lot more categories than the OpenELEC one.
The OpenELEC repo mostly includes drivers for various devices, while the Kodi repo includes well over a dozen categories. The Programs Add-ons category is particularly interesting and houses plugins that turn your HTPC into a seed box.
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

3. Select the add-on

When you select a category, you're shown a list of related add-ons. For example, if you select the Music Add-ons category, you're shown plugins for various online radio stations. Similarly, the Video Add-ons category houses plugins for popular video streaming websites, including YouTube, Vimeo and TED Talks.
When you find a plugin you wish to use, select it and click the 'Install' button.
How to use Raspberry Pi to make a media centre

4. Configure the add-on

You're returned to the list of plugins while Kodi downloads the one you selected. Kodi also installs and enables the plugin with the default options. Some plugins have optional configurable elements.
To view these, click the 'Configure' button associated with the plugin. The installed plugin is accessible from under its category, eg video plugins install under Video on the main page.











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TechRadar Deals: The best iPhone 6S deal for Christmas: save £200 with code XMAS200
TechRadar Deals: The best iPhone 6S deal for Christmas: save £200 with code XMAS200
Millions of people visited techradar across the Black Friday weekend, and the most clicked on items were iPhone 6S deals - many of the online retailers were offering iPhone savings with voucher codes.
Most of those deals expired as soon as the Black Friday weekend was over, but Mobiles.co.uk (owned by Carphone Warehouse) has just launched two great deals on the top-end iPhone 6S 128GB - essentially you're getting it for the same price as the bottom-end 16GB version, on a contract from either EE or Vodafone - your choice.
We've done the maths and these are not only the best deals out there on this phone, they're the best deals by a comfortable margin.
Both the following deals offer an iPhone 6S 128GB (with 8x more storage capacity than the 16GB model, ideal if you listen to a lot of music or watch a lot of videos) for £100 upfront, on your choice of Vodafone or EE, with 2GB data and either £34 (Vodafone) or £34.99 (EE) per month. If you wanted a bit more data, you can bump ourself up by contacting the network when you've started the contract.

Christmas iPhone 6S deal #1

iPhone 6S 128GB |
£170
£100 upfront | 1000 mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB | EE 4G | £34.99pm
Using the code XMAS70 at Mobiles.co.uk you can pay just £100 (saving £70) for the iPhone 6S 128GB, on a contract with EE. For £34.99 per month, you'll get 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB data. This deal should please anyone who wants to be on EE which, let's face it, is the UK's most popular (and best?) network.

Christmas iPhone 6S deal #2

iPhone 6S 128GB |
£300
£100 upfront | Vodafone 4G | 1000 min | Unlimited txt | 2GB data | 2GB | £34pmUsing the code XMAS200 you can save £200 on the upfront cost of the iPhone 6S 128GB and pay £100 upfront instead of £300, this time with a slightly cheaper contract from Vodafone. You're talking £34 per month for 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB data from Vodafone. So this deal will save you 99p per month - a further saving of £23.76 over the two years,

We are trying to contract Mobiles.co.uk to find out how long these voucher codes will be active for, chances are they won't last long.











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Available Tags:iPad , Download , Galaxy , Android , Amazon , TV , TechRadar , UK , Sony , Microsoft , Windows , iPhone 6 , iPhone , BBC , iPhone 6

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