Thursday, December 17, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 18/12/2015


Self-driving cars could hit a major road block in California
Self-driving cars could hit a major road block in California
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has released draft regulations for autonomous cars in the US state, and it could hold back progress on the development of driverless cars.
Amongst other proposed regulations, the draft regulations calls for all autonomous cars to still include a steering wheel and pedals when operating in the state, as well as a licensed driver with an "autonomous vehicle operator certificate" who could take over the controls if needed.
This would mean that driverless cars, like the one Google is developing (which has simple off and on buttons) or ones that could essentially work as driverless taxis, would be banned on Californian roads.
The draft regulations will also require autonomous cars to undergo testing and certification by a third party in order to get a three-year operating permit for cars that can be leased to the public, not bought.


Google has already criticized the draft regulations, saying in a statement to the New York Times of its autonomous car development, "Safety is our highest priority and primary motivator as we do this."
"We're gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here."
The concern is that requiring a human on board who would also need a special operating certificate would mean autonomous cars won't ever be fully autonomous, and development of driverless cars won't move too much farther beyond what Tesla has already made available with its autonomous control update - at least not in California.
But the DMV said, "manufacturers need to obtain more experience in testing driverless vehicles on public roads prior to making this technology available to the general public."
Even so, the proposed regulations are still just a draft, and will be holding public workshops regarding the drafts in Sacramento on January 28 and in Los Angeles on February 2 next year.
"The department will address the unique safety, performance and equipment requirements associated with fully autonomous vehicles without the presence of a driver in subsequent regulatory packages," the DMV draft reads as well.

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Review: HP EliteBook 745 G3
Review: HP EliteBook 745 G3

Introduction and design

If you've ever been envious of the tech that executives carry, HP is hoping to cure some of your envy with the EliteBook G3 (starting at $749, £497, AU$1,040). The 14-inch EliteBook 745 G3 joins the 12-inch EliteBook 725 G3 and 15-inch EliteBook 755 G3 in HP's mid-range 700 series. This range is inspired by the flagship EliteBook 1020 G1, retaining the metal build quality but without a premium price tag.
The EliteBook 745 G3 is part of HP's strategy for offices to help recruit and retain talent. Millennial workers demand sleeker designs that are inspired by consumer products, while IT managers seek security and manageability. The EliteBook 745 G3 is designed to balance those competing needs in a compact, lightweight package.
The EliteBook 700 Series meets these workers' needs by being the thinnest and lightest mainstream commercial notebook. As a 14-inch commercial laptop, the EliteBook 745 G3 competes against Lenovo's ThinkPad T450s ($979, £650, AU$1,359) and Dell's Latitude e7450 ($1,364, £906, AU$1,894).


With a silver, aluminum clad body, HP shows that enterprise laptops don't need to be black box. The silver metal construction gives the EliteBook 745 G3 a solid feel, and the design looks similar to HP's premium consumer-class notebooks, like the HP Envy.
HP's goal in designing the EliteBook 745 G3 is to bring some of the premium features found on the flagship EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 to the mid-range model. For example, even though HP trades the premium unibody construction on the Folio 1020 G1 for a lower price point on the EliteBook 745 G3, you'll still be treated with silver aluminum for the lid, side panels and keyboard deck, along with a durable magnesium alloy bottom plate.
The laptop measures 13.3 x 9.3 x 0.74 inches (33.8 x 23.6 x 1.88cm). The uniform thickness means that the EliteBook 745 G3 is a boxy laptop. However, HP employed clever contouring with the silver paint on the side panels to give the illusion of a tapered wedge-shaped design, making the 745 G3 appear slimmer than it actually is.
Even though the ThinkPad T450s and Dell Latitude e7450 share the same 14-inch screen size, the compact dimensions of the HP EliteBook 745 G3 makes it a whisper slimmer than its rivals.
However, despite its slim figure, the EliteBook occupies a larger surface area on your desk. The EliteBook is 0.27 inches (0.69cm) wider and 0.4 inches (1.02cm) deeper than the ThinkPad, and it's 0.27 inches wider (0.69cm) and 0.18 inches (0.46cm) deeper than the Latitude.
Of the three notebooks, the EliteBook is still the lightest, weighing 3.41 pounds (1.55kg). This makes it 0.09 pounds (0.04kg) lighter than the ThinkPad and 0.02 pounds (0.01kg) lighter than the Latitude. Compared to the more compact 12-inch, Core M-powered EliteBook Folio 1020 G1, the 745 G3 is 1.21 pounds (0.55kg) heavier. You'll sacrifice portability for extra power and screen real estate on the 745 G3.
Borrowing from the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1, the only thing that interrupts the brushed aluminum lid design is HP's glossy silver logo. If you replaced HP's logo with a glowing Apple logo, it would be easy to mistake the EliteBook 745 G3 for a 13- or 15-inch MacBook Pro from this angle.
Opening the lid, you'll find a spacious 14-inch matte display on the EliteBook 745 G3. The base model comes with an HD+ (1,366 x 768) display, but our review unit shipped with a 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) full HD non-touch panel. A webcam is integrated into the top bezel. Users with a need for higher pixel density could upgrade to a version with a WQHD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution screen.
Compared to the glossy screens found on the premium 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina and HP's EliteBook Folio 1020 G1, the matte screen on the 745 G3 helps reduce glare and reflection when viewed under bright indoor lighting or outdoors under sunlight. The downside is that the screen isn't flush with the bezel. This makes the screen harder to clean or wipe down, as dirt and dust could get trapped in the area where the bezel meets the screen.
The sizable top and bottom bezels are the biggest gripes I have with the screen. If the EliteBook 745 G3 was a convertible laptop, then large bezels could be forgiven for improved ergonomics when used as a tablet, but since the 745 G3 is a standard laptop, it's unclear why HP didn't reduce the bezel size. Reducing the size of the bezels would have the added effect of reducing the overall footprint of the notebook, making it even more compact.
On the front edge of the laptop are tiny LED lights that indicate network connectivity, power, charge status and hard drive write status. The lights are labeled, but the downward-facing position of the label makes it hard to decipher what each light does.


On the keyboard deck, you'll find a spill-resistant, full-sized backlit keyboard with HP's premium keyboard design from the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1. To the top of the keyboard is a speaker bar, and below the keyboard is a trackpad with right and left mouse buttons. NFC is integrated into the trackpad, which also works with NFC-based Smart Cards for security. The keyboard deck design is similar to the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1.
Even though the key caps aren't contoured and feel flat, the keyboard is highly responsive, with deep key travel. The keys are springy, but sound more dampen for a quieter typing experience than the enterprise-class keyboard on Dell's Latitude E7250 7000 Series.
In some ways, the EliteBook 745 G3 feels like a more premium product than the more expensive EliteBook Folio 1020 G1. Whereas HP chose form over function when it comes to the trackpad on the 1020 G1, the dual-cursor inputs on the 745 G3 makes it feel like an enterprise-class system.
If you're not a fan of the trackpoint, the downside with its placement is that the nub eats into the G, H and B keys, making these keys smaller. Even though the trackpoint design is shared with the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s, the G, H and B keys on the ThinkPad are larger, making typing easier on the Lenovo. I found that I made less typos with the ThinkPad's keyboard design around these keys than on the EliteBook, but I preferred the EliteBook's springier keys.
Another improvement that HP made on the 745 G3 compared to the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is that there are physical mouse buttons just below the trackpad. I found the force-sensitive trackpad design on the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 to be difficult to use. Even though the use is similar to the Force Touch touchpad design that Apple uses on the new MacBook Pro laptops, HP doesn't offer tactile feedback response for when a key is clicked. Having buttons buttons eliminate that problem.

Specifications and benchmarks

Don't let its svelte figure fool you. As a business-class notebook, the EliteBook 745 G3 is highly configurable and powerful, with various options for screen resolutions and up to two storage drives (users can add a single solid state drive and a single hard drive to maximize storage capacity).
The EliteBook 745 G3 is the first laptop to ship with AMD's mobile sixth generation A12 APU, which comes with 12 total computing cores, which is divided into four processing cores and eight graphics core. The A12 APU comes with integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics, which delivers comparable performance to AMD's FirePro 2000 series graphics, according to AMD.
Because the AMD A12 Pro APU is positioned to compete against Intel's mainstream Core i processor, it feels as if the EliteBook 745 G3 should be the flagship Elite notebook, not the EliteBook Folio 1020 G1. The EliteBook 745 G3's faster processor delivers better performance compared to the power conservative Intel Core M chip on the 1020 G1.
Unlike the fanless Core M processor, the AMD A12 Pro processor requires active cooling, and you'll find vents on the left side and bottom of the EliteBook 745 G3. In a way, this makes the 745 G3 more powerful than its premium counterpart, and you'll also have access to full-sized ports without requiring any adapters. On the left side, you'll find a lock, single USB and VGA ports along with a Smart Card reader.
A second USB port joins a USB Type C port, DisplayPort, Ethernet port, and headphone and microphone combo jack on the right side. You'll also find a SIM card slot, HP's slim dock connector and the power port on this side.
It's unfortunate that HP did not include an HDMI port given that the company managed to cram in dual legacy video output standards on the 745 G3. Because a number of businesses are upgrading to projectors, HDTVs and monitors that support the consumer-centric HDMI technology, the omission of this port means that you'll likely need to carry a dongle or adapter when traveling.
A slab of black magnesium covers the bottom of the laptop, and a removable plate conceals upgradeable components. You'll be able to upgrade the RAM and storage drives once the bottom plate is removed. Additionally, you'll also be able to add a mobile broadband card into the unit to get 4G LTE connectivity, as all 745 G3 models come wired with antennas and an accessible SIM card slot.
Here is how the EliteBook 745 G3 that was sent to techradar for review was configured:


Processor: 2.10GHz quad-core AMD A12-8800B R7 (up to 3.2GHz with Turbo, 2MB cache)
Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon R7 (8-core)
Memory: 8GB 1600 DDR3 SDRAM
Storage: 256 GB 2280 M2 SATA III TLC Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Screen: 14 inch LED FHD SVA Anti-Glare (1920x1080)
Camera: 720p HD webcam
Wireless: Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, mobile broadband optional
Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 1 x USB Type A, DisplayPort, VGA, Ethernet, SD card reader, headphone/microphone combo port, HP slim dock, SIM, TPM, Smart Card reader, fingerprint scanner
Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.3 x 0.74 inches
Weight: 3.41 pounds
Even though the EliteBook 745 G3 has a low $749 (£497, AU$1,040) starting price, our review unit is priced at $1,800 (£1,196, AU$2,500). Upgrading the 745 G3 with a QHD display, 16GB of RAM, 4G LTE connectivity, and a 512GB SSD and 500GB hard drive brings the price up to $2,229 (£1,481, AU$3,096). At this price, you'll get more storage, but the advantage of AMD's powerful yet affordable A12 Pro APU compared to Intel's mainstream Core i5 becomes less obvious.
In fact, fully configured, the EliteBook 745 G3 is $100 (£66, AU$138) more expensive than a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display configured with a 3.1GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and a 512GB solid state drive. You will, however, lose the extra 500GB hard drive, fingerprint scanner and the 4G LTE modem with Apple's laptop, but you'll gain a more solid unibody construction.


PCMark8: Work: 2,227; Home: 2,644
Battery life: 3 hours and 31 minutes
3DMark: Fire Strike: 1,031; Cloud Gate: 4,745; Sky Diver: 3,614
Cinebench: CPU: 211 points; GPU: 33 fps
Geekbench: Single-core: 2,119; Multi-core: 5,251
The PCMark8, 3DMark and Cinebench benchmarks reveal that the performance of EliteBook 745 G3 is in line with Intel's Core i series processors. The ThinkPad T450s's PCMark Home score of 2,200 and 2,896 Work score delivered by Intel's fifth generation dual-core Core i5 CPU were within range of the AMD A12 Pro APU on the 745 G3, and both processors share similar battery life with three-cell batteries.
Where the A12 Pro shines is with graphics, beating the ThinkPad's graphic performance on two of three 3DMark benchmarks. The ThinkPad scored 731 on the Fire Strike, 5,305 on Cloud Gate and 2,648 on Sky Diver tests. Additionally, the ThinkPad delivered 10 fewer frames per second using Cinebench's GPU benchmark.
As expected, both AMD A12 Pro APU and the Broadwell-based Intel Core i5 processors delivered much better performance than the energy efficient Intel Core M chipset found on the flagship EliteBook Folio 1020 G1. Compared to the 1020, the 745 G3 readily wins in all tests.
The 745 G3's processor performance is 376 points better using PCMark 8's work test, and 72 points higher using Cinebench's CPU test. Graphics performance of the integrated Radeon R7 on the 745 G3 is about three times better than the integrated Intel HD graphics on the 1020 G1, earning scores of 407, 1,551 and 1,526 on Fire Strike, Cloud Gate and Sky Diver tests, respectively.
For a system that requires active cooling, EliteBook 745 G3 is surprisingly quiet. Although the fan turned on during the benchmark testing and in my general use, but the noise was quiet and never bothersome. For the most part, the fan remained idle for basic tasks, like word processing.
Compared to Intel's newest mainstream processor, the sixth generation Skylake Core i5 CPU, on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the AMD A12 Pro APU on the EliteBook 745 G3 is still able to hold its ground.
Graphics benchmark was mixed between the two systems using 3DMark. Both the EliteBook 745 G3 and the Surface Pro 4 scored similar marks using the Sky Diver test, but the 745 G3 scored 175 points better on Fire Strike and 2,261 points worse on the Cloud Gate. Processing performance is about equal, with the Surface Pro 4 score 2,406 using PCMark 8's Home test. The Surface Pro 4 pulled ahead with a CPU score of 305 points and GPU score of 37 fps.

Performance and value

HP claims that the notebook sheds 10% of its thickness and 13% of its weight from the previous generation G2 model. However, don't let its lighter weight and slimmer figure fool you, the EliteBook is still a durable notebook having passed MIL-SPEC 810G testing against dirt, dust and drops.
For office workers who eat and drink at their desks, the spill-resistant keyboard means that an accidentally spilled glass of water won't damage the laptop. Liquid that is spilled on the keyboard will flow through a drainage system that empties out through a hole on the bottom of the EliteBook 745 G3.
When used with Windows 10, the integrated fingerprint sensor makes it easy to unlock your laptop with Windows Hello. This makes securing your data easier than having to type in a password. The swipe-based fingerprint reader isn't quite as easy as newer touch-based readers, but I found the system to be accurate and fast. Out of ten swipes, the 745 G3 was able to positively identify me eight tens.
For added security, the EliteBook 745 G3 also comes with HP's Sure Start technology. The self-healing BIOS ensures that the BIOS will restore itself in the event of a corruption, either as a result of malicious software or an interrupted BIOS update.
Overall, the EliteBook 745 G3 feels fast, and I didn't notice any performance difference when compared to systems with Intel's Core i5 processor. The notebook had no problems handling Windows 10's natives apps while running instant messaging clients, handling multiple tabs in multiple browser windows, and running Skype conference calls and messaging apps. The only slight slow down I've noticed is that larger programs, like Adobe Premiere Pro, would start up slower on the EliteBook 745 G3 compared to the Intel-powered Lenovo ThinkPad T450s, but performance within the app was similar with both systems.


A rarity even on business notebooks today, the matte display was very comfortable to use. Because of the matte finish, the screen doesn't appear as crisp as a glossy display. However, I found the EliteBook 745 G3's matte screen more comfortable than the glossy screen on the EliteBook Folio 1020 for extended use. The matte coating minimizes reflection and glare, which also means less eye strain.
The display provides wide viewing angles, and the 300 nits of brightness means that it is comfortable for use indoors and outdoors under shaded areas. You'll want to avoid using the 745 G3 under direct sunlight, as the screen gets washed out.
As I'm now accustomed to using a touchscreen on Windows-based systems, not having a touchscreen on my EliteBook 745 G3 review unit was a big hindrance. A touchscreen is an optional upgrade, as is a higher resolution QHD panel.


Unlike the Envy and Spectre consumer PC lines, HP opted not to include any visible branding from its audio partnership with Bang & Olufsen. Even though you won't find any B&O branding on this laptop, HP assured me that B&O tuning helps the 745 G3 deliver a superior experience for voice and video conferencing.
As a result of the collaboration with Bang & Olufsen, the EliteBook 745 G3 comes with noise reduction software to minimize background and keyboard noise when you're on a video conference call, and the laptop comes with HP Clear Sound Amp so you can hear clearer audio from the call.
For a laptop, I found audio quality to be loud, rich and clean, even at high volume settings. Audio output is loud enough to fill a small room. There was no distortion at the highest volume, but audiophiles who want even richer audio output should invest in quality headphones or speakers.
For comparison, the standard edition of the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 does not come with any Bang & Olufsen tuning.

Battery life

HP didn't provide battery life estimates, but AMD claims that the A12 Pro APU is capable of all-day battery life when playing back 1080p videos.
Looping a 1080p-encoded video with volume and brightness set to 50%, the EliteBook 745 G3 delivered just shy of six hours of battery life, which is good for a transcontinental flight, but you'll want to find a charger as soon as you land to continue working.
PCMark8's rigorous battery life test shows that the EliteBook 745 G3 is capable of three hours and 31 minutes of battery life when performing work tasks. In my anecdotal battery life test working in the browser, running messaging clients and working in Microsoft Office 2013, I found the battery depleted in five hours and 45 minutes.


AMD's value proposition with the A12 Pro APU is that you'll get similar performance to Intel's mainstream Core i5 processor at a lower price.
With the savings you'll get when choosing the A12 Pro APU over a comparable build with an Intel Core i5 processor, AMD says you can invest that price difference into other components. This means you can upgrade to a faster solid state drive, increase the hard drive capacity, add more RAM or use your savings to invest in a 4G LTE upgrade for your laptop.


HP designed the EliteBook 745 G3 for mid-level executives to have a business-class laptop with a similar fit and finish to the premium C-level class EliteBook Folio 1020 G1. And HP succeeded on this endeavor, delivering a metal-clad laptop that sacrifices a unibody construction for a lower price point. Best of all, the 745 G3 earns its keep with a faster processor than the power-sipping processor of the more expensive 1020 G1.

We liked

The EliteBook 745 G3 is a versatile laptop with numerous options for configurability. Keep in mind that adding a touchscreen, increasing the screen resolution and adding more storage and memory will quickly increase the price tag of the EliteBook 745 G3. However, at its base configuration, the EliteBook 745 G3 is an affordable mid-range business-class laptop.
The performance of the included AMD A12 APU with integrated Radeon R7 graphics rivals more expensive systems configured with Intel's mainstream Core i5 processor. In this regard, the improved performance of the 745 G3 compared to the Core M chipset on the flagship HP EliteBook 1020 G1 makes this mid-ranger feel like a more premium product.
A comfortable keyboard, easy to use trackpad, loud speakers and bright, matte display round out the top features of this commercial notebook.

We disliked

Like the flagship EliteBook 1020 G1, battery life remains an issue with the 745 G3. The powerful performance of the AMD A12 Pro processor, combined with the three-cell battery, means you'll fall short of AMD's all-day battery life claims.
As a mid-range notebook, features like a touchscreen, solid state drive and high resolution display are added extras.

Final verdict

Compared to Apple's MacBook strategy, HP is taking a different approach with its EliteBook by offering performance at a lower cost. This makes the entry-level EliteBook 745 G3 an exceptional value for those who want Intel Core i5-level performance but don't want to pay the price for the mainstream CPU. AMD's A12 APU delivers exceptional computing. As long as you're willing to sacrifice screen resolution and storage at lower price points, you'll be rewarded with an affordable system that's highly upgradeable as your needs evolve.

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Mac Tips: How to use Windows 10 on a Mac
Mac Tips: How to use Windows 10 on a Mac
As much as Mac owners might like to think that they have the superior desktop operating system with OS X, there might actually be times when you'd want to be running Windows as well. There's the matter of games and PC-only software, of course, and if you're a programmer it's convenient to be able to switch back and forth between other operating systems. Plus, there are feature differences: Windows 10 has Cortana built in, whereas Siri has yet to make the jump to OS X. Whatever your reason, putting Windows 10 onto a Mac running OS X El Capitan is completely doable. Here are two easy ways to make it so (and unlike using Bootcamp, neither of them require you to restart your computer to switch between operating systems).

Using Parallels Desktop

The most convenient way to use Windows 10 on a Mac is probably by acquiring the Parallels Desktop software for Mac. It's a paid application (though there is a free trial), but when it comes to features and ease of use, it's arguably the best option available.
Windows 10 on Mac
Before you do that, however, you'll need to get a copy of Windows 10. You can get an ISO file directly from Microsoft by clicking here. Most users will probably want to opt for the standard version of Windows 10 in English, 32-bit download, but your situation may vary. Download it to your Mac desktop.
Next, get a copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac from here. Click Buy Now or Try Now, then download the DMG file, unzip it, and go through the installation process, which will likely require your administrative password. If you bought Parallels Desktop you can enter the key here to get full access to the software; if not, you can click the button for the aforementioned free 14-day trial.
Once Parallels is installed, open up the program and begin the process of installing Windows 10. You'll be presented with three choices: get windows 10 from Microsoft, install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file, or migrate Windows from a PC. In this case, you'll want to choose the second option. Double-click Windows 10 and the ISO file you grabbed earlier should be located automatically. (If it isn't, select it from the desktop.)
As you click through the setup pages, you'll want to uncheck "this version requires a product key" when the option appears, and you'll also need to choose how you'll be using the virtual machine, which alters the way features are configured and memory is allocated. Don't worry about this too much - you can always change this later. (You can do so by selecting Action > Configure after shutting down Windows 10 under the Power section of the Windows menu in the lower right corner.) You'll also need to select a name and location for your Windows 10 setup.
After making these selections, Parallels will load up a Windows environment. Select the Home version, then begin the installation. It'll take a few minutes to install, but you're almost done - Windows 10 will shortly be installed on your Mac. Once installation is complete, Parallels should automatically open Coherence mode, which lets you use Windows 10 features while still running OS X. To switch to full Windows mode, go to the Parallels drop-down in the Finder menu bar of OS X and choose View > Exit Coherence.
Now that you're running Windows 10 through Parallels you'll be able to take advantage of a plethora of new options. In addition to being able to run Windows applications, you'll also be able to utilize features across both operating systems, such as full use of Cortana, Quick Look for Windows documents (by pressing the space bar, just like when in OS X), simplified file sharing and printing, and Mac location services support for Windows apps, among other features.

Using VirtualBox

Alternatively, if you don't need all those bells and whistles, you could opt for a free method of running Windows 10 on Mac called VirtualBox. (You'll also need to download Windows 10 from Microsoft as described in the previous section.)
You can download Virtualbox by going here and clicking on the link for VirtualBox 5.0.10 for OS X hosts. Download the DMG file, open it, then double-click the package file to install it. When it's done installing, open the app from your Applications folder. Next, select a name, memory size, and virtual hard drive size to create your virtual Windows environment. With that set up, click the green Start arrow to install Windows 10. Choose to perform a custom install and that's that - you'll now have a fully functioning version of Windows 10 on your Mac.

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Stan plans 2016 activity, doubling local original production
Stan plans 2016 activity, doubling local original production
Considering local streaming service Stan only launched at the start of the year, the venture has already had a fairly big impact on the local market.
And 2016 is set to be even bigger, with the company announcing that it plans to more than double local production over the coming year.
While the previously announced production of Wolf Creek will make its debut in 2016, the company has also confirmed a second season of its successful comedy, No Activity.

Lots of Activity

No Activity has been well received by both critics and subscribers, so it's not a huge surprise that the show is getting picked up for a second season.
While Stan has named both No Activity and Wolf Creek in its 2016 lineup, it's also promised new programs for the new year.
In any case, it's good news for Australians wanting to get their fix of quality original content, and will help Stan compete with Netflix's plans for even more TV next year as well.

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Kia at CES 2016: it's all about autonomous driving
Kia at CES 2016: it's all about autonomous driving
Kia has revealed its plans for CES 2016, and they revolve around two words: autonomous driving.
While still light on specifics, Kia said its January 5 press conference will serve as the "global debut of its dedicated autonomous driving program." The Optima maker will dive into its future vision, strategy and new technologies for autonomous driving during the presser.
Kia also plans to discuss the moves its made in the connected car space, though, truthfully, we're most excited for the self-driving goods.
The auto company announced earlier this week that it's been approved to test self-driving technologies on public roads in Nevada. It also set a goal of introducing partially autonomous driving tech to its line-up by 2020 and, fingers crossed, will put fully autonomous vehicles in car dealer lots by 2030.
Kia and its sister firm Hyundai are investing $2 billion over the next two years to help develop a new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) and hire more engineers to drive (pardon the pun) innovation.

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Review: Hyundai Tucson
Review: Hyundai Tucson

Design, interior and infotainment

Station wagons, or estates and touring's for those on the eastern side of the Atlantic, were once a staple for the American car buyer. It was the ultimate family vehicle that was comfortable with tons of space. Americans ditched the station wagon for the minivan and later the sport utility vehicle (SUV). The last decade paved way for a new type of vehicle: the crossover utility vehicle (CUV).
While it has a fancy new name, the CUV is the result of car buyers circling back to the station wagon, regardless of whether they'd admit it. Theoretically, the CUV combines the tall seating position of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) with the comfort, drivability and fuel economy of a car. In reality, it's a hatchback or station wagon with extra ground clearance.
Regardless of what you call it, Hyundai has an all-new Tucson compact CUV that looks simple but quite upscale. Hyundai sent me a gorgeous Caribbean blue 2016 Tucson Limited AWD, loaded with the Ultimate Package that retails for $34,945 (£30,930 for the similarly-equipped Tucson Premium SE 1.6 T-GDI Petrol 4WD DCT automatic or AU$43,490 for the Tucson Highlander 1.6 T-GDI petrol AWD) to test for a week.
Hyundai Tucson
I dig the Tucson's new look: the front-end has a mean grin to it, though it's not too aggressive. The car has an understated look that is more typical of luxury cars than the mainstream ones it competes with. Hyundai also reserved the use of chrome to some parts of the grille and door handles, which I appreciate deeply – I despise chrome accents on cars.


Step inside the new Tuscon, and you're treated to soft-touch materials all over that give the car a feel of luxury. The heavily-insulated doors open and close with a heavy "thunk" that's typically associated with premium cars. Grab the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and your hands feel at home with the integrated thumb grips.
Hyundai Tucson
Look forward, and you're treated to a pair of analog gauges for the tachometer, engine coolant temperature, speedometer and fuel. Sandwiched between the gauges is a 4.2-inch, multi-function LCD that displays your trip, fuel economy, driver assist, turn-by-turn navigation and music information. Hyundai provides access to settings for driver assists and vehicle conveniences, like how long the lights stay on after you get out of the car, sensitivity of the automatic headlamps, enable or disable the smart trunk and more, via the small LCD.
Everything looks and feels good initially, but then you reach down for the shifter and notice the lower center console is made of hard, cheap plastics with fake stitching that doesn't look premium at all.
You move your knee around a little and notice there's a padded vinyl cover for your right knee. Most of the interior of the Tucson looks luxe – until you reach for the center console. It's understandable to use cheaper plastics on the lower parts of the dash, but the transition from a nicely-appointed, padded knee rest to the cheapest plastic of the interior doesn't match well in my eyes.
I'd rather Hyundai forgo the padded knee rests for a higher-quality center console that matches the rest of the interior, but I could be nitpicking. The Tucson as tested is not a cheap car, and the padded knee rest feels like slapping a Band-Aid to cover up bigger problems.
Nevertheless, the Tucson has a well-laid out, driver-focused interior. The center stack, where the infotainment display and climate controls reside, has a slight tilt towards the driver. There's a large, powered panoramic sunroof that occupies most of the roof and brightens up the all-black interior. If you find the sunlight annoying, there's a powered sunshade that covers the entire glass panel.

Infotainment system

Hyundai announced their Display Audio infotainment system nearly a year ago for its first public demo at CES 2015. The 2016 Tucson is the first Hyundai to integrate the new system.
Gone from Display Audio is the CD player, finally. I haven't purchased a CD since the early days of in-car iPod connectivity, with the Alpine KCA-420i, so I won't lose any sleep over it.
Hyundai Tucson Display Audio
Mounted at the top of the center stack is an 8-inch LCD with a resolution of 800 x 480. It's not high-DPI, like your smartphone, but you're not spending a long amount of time staring at the screen from a few inches away, either. Mounted directly below the display are clearly-labeled buttons that provide direct access to frequently used functions and knobs, like volume and radio tuning or music file navigation.
As someone that prefers tactile feedback while driving, I appreciate the buttons. It might not look as sleek as a completely black panel of capacitive touch buttons, or as simple as touchscreen-only designs, but function is always more important than form to me.
Steering wheel controls are available for your basic volume, next/previous track or preset, voice command, audio source and phone functions as well. I found myself using the steering wheel controls most of the time in the car.
The entire user interface is familiar and identical to other Hyundai and Kia vehicles, including the Optima. There's a split home screen that shows navigation and audio functions side-by-side. I found myself using the SiriusXM interface most of the time.
Display Audio features HD Radio, SiriusXM, USB audio, Pandora connectivity and iPhone or iPod support. The SiriusXM tuner supports time-shifting for stations set to the first preset, so you can start over or replay Taylor Swift tracks over and over again to your heart's content.
There's one USB port in the center console with a large cubby that fits phablets, like my Nexus 6, with room to spare. The USB port can be used for standard flash drives with MP3s on it or your phone. I measured power output on the USB port using a Drok USB power meter at 0.8-amps with my Nexus 6 plugged in and 0.5-amps with my iPhone 6S, so there's plenty of power to charge your devices, but it won't charge nearly as fast as a dedicated 2.1-amp or QuickCharge-compatible chargers.
Navigating flash drives is straightforward. You can navigate by track information, like artist, album, song or song title, but I prefer to select my music by folder. Display Audio maintains the folder structure of your flash drive, so if you're particular about how you organize your music folders, there won't be any annoying surprises here.
Hyundai Tucson Pandora
Pandora connectivity is available for Android and iPhones. Android relies on Bluetooth audio streaming, while iOS requires a wired USB connection. Shockingly, Pandora via Bluetooth with my Nexus 6 sounded just as rich as the iPhone 6S's wired connection, and a significant quality upgrade compared to the AVN 4.0-based system in the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata, which had audible compression artifacts and muddy bass.
Hyundai has not confirmed what changed with Display Audio to drastically improve the audio quality. I predict Hyundai upgraded the Bluetooth stack used in Display Audio to support the AAC audio codec. Your typical advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP) audio implementation only requires support for low complexity subband coding (SBC), which focuses on bandwidth efficiency and not sound quality.
A2DP supports additional codecs, like MP3 and AAC, but infotainment systems don't typically support receiving the optional codecs. Theoretically, if the receiver supports MP3 or AAC decoding, then there's virtually no audio quality difference between wired and wireless connections. Pandora streams are encoded in AAC at bitrates up to 192kbps (Pandora One), so if it can pass the raw AAC signal to the car and let the infotainment system decode it, audio quality is limited to the digital-analog-converters (DAC) in the car.
The typical Bluetooth audio streaming that relies on SBC requires the audio source to be decoded, re-encoded to SBC, sent to the receiver, then decoded again, which results in awful sound quality that rivals SiriusXM for poor compression and low bit rates.
Navigation in the Tucson works without any surprises. You can input addresses or search POIs. The maps aren't as fancy and 3D as luxury vehicles, but it all does the job. I will commend Hyundai for not employing safety lockouts that prevent using the navigation functions when the car is moving. There's a disclaimer that pops up every time the car starts that asks you to agree, but it goes away after a short amount of time.
SiriusXM NavTraffic is supported in the US and requires a $3.99 per month fee, while International versions of the car use radio data via the traffic message channel (TNC). I'm not fond of SiriusXM NavTraffic at all. The subscription is too much to pay for something that's offered for free on my smartphone that's always with me. There's also the issue in which I can spot road traffic and SiriusXM will not report anything.
Bluetooth is available for smartphone pairing. I didn't encounter any issues with my Nexus 6 or iPhone 6S when trying to pair. Both devices paired, downloaded contacts and call history without any issues. There isn't support for in-car text messaging, but you're better off using Siri or Google voice recognition for hands-free text replies.
Voice commands are available, but the system is slow to comprehend, inaccurate and doesn't work very well, like most offline, automotive voice recognition systems. I've yet to experience in-car voice recognition that can rival Siri or Google Now, but the Tucson doesn't support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto yet.
Siri Eyes-Free is available when paired with a compatible iPhone. With Eyes-Free, Siri can be triggered by holding down the voice recognition button on the steering wheel. I found myself defaulting to using my iPhone in the Tucson, because of Siri's inherent in-car speech recognition abilities.

Android Auto & Apple CarPlay

When Hyundai announced Display Audio and demonstrated development boxes at CES, there was a focus on Android Auto and CarPlay connectivity. Neither connectivity options are available yet. This is completely inexcusable, considering Hyundai's own Sonata and the Kia Optima have at least Android Auto support, albeit CarPlay won't be ready until next year.
The 2015 Sonata debuted without Android Auto support, but took a year before the update was rolled out to vehicles, so expect to wait for a while with the Tucson. It's a shame Android Auto and CarPlay connectivity aren't ready yet, especially when GM, Honda and Volkswagen, including the updated Passat, support it with 2016 model year vehicles.
I'll revisit the Tucson and update this review when Hyundai releases the software update to enable the two in-car phone tools.

Audio, driver assists and BlueLink

Hyundai doesn't offer a branded audio system upgrade in the Tucson. Exclusive to the Limited trim levels is an eight-speaker sound system with external amplifier, while the lower trim levels sport a six-speaker system. While there are a total of eight speakers, there are only six discrete audio channels, because Hyundai counts each individual driver as a speaker.
The Tucson has six discrete audio channels: front, rear, center and subwoofer channels. The front doors each have a woofer, tweeter and count as two speakers. Hyundai installs the subwoofer on the side of the cargo area.
The subwoofer and mid-bass is a little muddy, while the tweeters could offer more clarity. I'd say sound quality is adequate for your daily commute, but not as impressive as the premium-branded Infinity or Lexicon systems in the Sonata and Genesis sedans. It's definitely not an audiophile-level system, but I expect more from the range-topping Limited trim.

Driver assists

Hyundai's suite of driver assists includes a blind-spot monitor (BSM) system, backup camera that's standard on Sport and Limited trims, and downhill brake control (DBC) that's standard on all trims. Check the box for the Ultimate Package, and you get lane departure warning (LDW) and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection (AEB).
The radar-based BSM aids in lane changes by detecting other cars in the blind spot and provides audible and visual alerts accordingly. Hyundai integrates a flashing indicator into the side mirrors that flashes once if it detects a car in the blind spot.
Hyundai Tucson blind spot
When you use the turn signal and it detects a car in the blind spot or a car that's approaching at a faster rate of speed in the adjacent lane, the indicator flashes rapidly and the car beeps to notify you. If the car is in reverse, the same sensors are used for rear cross-traffic detection, which is extremely helpful in parking lots with limited visibility while you're backing out.
A backup camera is standard on all Tucson trim levels, which provides a good enough view of what's behind the car. Hyundai provides an overlay with active guidelines that gives you an approximate idea of where the car will end up depending on your steering wheel input.
Hyundai Tucson backup camera
DBC is a neat little feature that helps getting the Tucson down steep hills, ideally where there's ice, snow or other slippery surfaces. Simply press the button located below the shifter and the car automatically controls the brake and throttle to get the car down the incline at 5 mph. I tested this feature going down a steep hill in the rain, where the technology isn't necessarily needed, but it was the only place I could test it.
I found DBC to be a lot easier to use than attempting to work the brakes to maintain a slower speed going down a steep incline. This feature can be a lifesaver for those who live atop a steep hill where it snows or freezes over a lot, and makes life easier for more experienced drivers.
LDW is a purely passive affair. It's only active when the LDW indicator in the gauge cluster is green, which is at speeds above 40 mph, like most other cars. The system alerts you if you're about to depart the lane with a visual display in the gauge cluster, plus a series of annoying beeps if you leave the lane.
Hyundai Tucson LDW
I find passive LDW systems more of an annoyance, but I don't have trouble staying within the lane markers or need a reminder otherwise. Fortunately, Hyundai makes it easy to disable the system with a button on the dashboard, to the left of the steering wheel.
AEB is a feature that should work in theory, but not something I can safely test outside of a controlled environment. Nevertheless, AEB can detect imminent collision and apply full braking capabilities, the equivalent of slamming on the brakes, at speeds of 5 to 50 mph. It can also detect pedestrians and brake immediately when traveling from 5 to 43 mph, in case someone decides to jaywalk when you're not paying attention.
Hyundai lets you set the sensitivity of the AEB system via the gauge cluster LCD, so you can adjust it to suit your level of driving attentiveness. While AEB, when it's working, can help deter accidents, it's not a substitute for being alert and attentive while driving, but should only serve as an aid for worse-case scenarios.
Missing from the suite of driver assists is adaptive cruise control (ACC), unfortunately. The car is designed to accommodate the feature, but Hyundai chose not to offer it yet – for an undisclosed reason. Hyundai plans on offering ACC on the recently unveiled Elantra, which shares a platform with the Tucson.
Hyundai Tucson
Nevertheless, my chats with Hyundai representatives reveal the Tucson can accommodate ACC if the company chooses to include it. There's a spot in the center console for the electronic parking brake that would replace the '80s truck-like foot-operated parking brake, if Hyundai were to offer its excellent full-speed range smart cruise control system.

Blue Link

Exclusive to the range-topping Limited trim is Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system that provides a smartphone app to remotely control vehicle features and roadside assistance. The Blue Link mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices, including a companion app for Android Wear and the Apple Watch.
I tested the Blue Link app on my Motorola Nexus 6 and Asus ZenWatch and found the app to be simple and functional. You can lock, unlock, remote start, trigger the horn and lights, send navigation locations directly to the car, and check vehicle status using the Blue Link app. The smartwatch companion app has most of the same functions as the smartphone app.
Hyundai Tucson Bluelink
I find the novelty of remote starting my car from my smartwatch entertaining, but it's not something I can see myself using regularly. If you live in the snow belt, remote start is a huge nicety to have for cold mornings, but there's one caveat to Blue Link: subscription costs.
A one-year trial period comes with every new Blue Link-equipped Hyundai vehicle for the peace of mind services in the Connected Care Package, but the Remote Package that enables the smartphone apps has a reduced, three-month trial period. However, the subscription cost is $99 (Blue Link is not available in the UK or AUS) a year, which works out to $8.25 a month, for the Remote Package.
The price for Hyundai's remote features sounds reasonable – no more than a Google Music or Netflix subscription – but you also need the $99-a-year Connected Care Assurance Package to even consider the Remote Package. For a grand total of $200 a year, or about $17 a month, you can remotely control your car from a smartphone app.
I personally wouldn't pay for any of the Blue Link services. I'm carrying on just fine with an "old fashioned" remote start button on the key fob, since that doesn't require a subscription to use.

Performance and living with it

Hyundai equips the Tucson Eco, Sport and Limited with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor matched to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), with your choice of front or all-wheel drive (AWD). The model I drove has AWD. The turbocharged powertrain and DCT is rated for 175 horsepower (hp) with 195 pound-per-foot (lb-ft) of torque.
Hyundai Tucson
To verify the rated power numbers, I took the car down to Drift-Office, a local tuning shop owned by a good friend of mine in Auburn, Wash., to put it on a vehicle dynamometer (dyno) and measure how much horsepower the car generates. It was a chilly and wet Washington day, with an average temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit and an average humidity of 92% at 69 feet above sea level on the day of my visit. The car was strapped down and ran four times.
Hyundai Tucson dyno
The numbers the Tucson puts down at the wheels is truly impressive, with 172 hp and 196 lb-ft. There's virtually no power loss through the drivetrain, so either Hyundai's DCT is very efficient or the engine is highly underrated. To put things into perspective, typical AWD cars lose 25% to 30% of its engine power through the transmission. I was expecting the Tucson to make around 130hp at the wheels, but it surpassed my expectations.
You might be curious about the run with a max power of 156 hp depicted above, which did happen. However, it was the third run where the car suffered some heat soak from being stressed with nothing but a giant blower fan as its source of cool air. This is not something you typically experience on the road.
Driving the Tucson around town reveals that the car is quite refined, with smooth power delivery and quick shifts from the DCT. The car never feels starved for power and performs well getting up to highway merging speeds.
Hyundai Tucson engine
Due to the design of DCTs, which more closely resembles a manual than a traditional automatic transmission, early units would shudder at low speeds where you're inching forward in-traffic, like a manual transmission. Fortunately, the DCT in the Tucson doesn't exhibit this behavior very often, and the typical driver won't notice it.
Since the Tucson isn't a high-performance vehicle of any sort, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are absent. Hyundai provides a manual mode that lets you select the gear, but the selections are more of a suggestion than anything. If you reach the engine redline or drop below a certain amount of revolutions per minute, or rpm, the transmission will automatically upshift or downshift for you, so you don't have full control over the transmission gearing. I find this annoying but it's not something I'll mark the car down for, since it's not a performance vehicle.
Hyundai did a remarkable job on the suspension tuning. The car handles twisty roads well, with minimal body roll while the struts smoothly absorb bumps in the road, resulting in a smooth and comfortable ride. Steering, on the other hand, could be better. Hyundai employs its drive select mode, which lets you choose between Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes. Your selection alters the throttle response, transmission shift points and steering feel.
Since the Tucson features an electric-power steering motor mounted on the steering column, it suffers the same fate as other systems. There's very little road feel, and it doesn't have a "just right" drive mode (i.e. one that feels natural), unlike the larger Sonata 2.0t Sport and Kia Optima SX, which have the power steering motors mounted on the steering rack.
The normal drive mode has the right amount of precision but feels too light, while the sport mode doesn't feel as precise: it applies too much force and feels artificial, but has the right amount of weight that I like for steering. Ultimately, I left the car in normal most of the time and got used to the lighter feel of this mode. Steering feel might not be something that you're shopping for, but if it doesn't bug you, the Tucson is a fine car to drive.
The US Environmental Protection Agency rates the Tucson with the 1.6-liter turbo motor at 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, 28 on the highway and 26 combined mpg, which is comparable to gasoline competitors. It falls short on the highway fuel economy when compared to the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, but the torquey turbo motor is worth the lower fuel economy for me.
During my time with the Hyundai Tucson, my fuel economy hovered around 22 to 23 mpg, according to the vehicle's trip computer. Drivers that are much easier on the gas pedal than me – I have a lead foot – should experience slightly better fuel economy.

Living with the car

Crossovers are the default car most families look at when kids get introduced into the mix. We partnered up with Diono, a car seat manufacturer, to test-fit three car seats in the back of the Tucson. Diono's USA headquarters is in Puyallup, Wash., where I conduct vehicle testing and a convenient place to stop by and test-fit car seats. With the help of Diono, we attempted to install three Radian RXT convertible car seats in the back of the Tucson.
The Tucson has two pairs of lower LATCH anchors for the outboard seats while the middle seat requires the use of the three-point seat belt. All three seats have top LATCH anchors available. The car seats were installed using the vehicle seat belts and not LATCH anchors.
Hyundai Tucson Diono car seats
Unfortunately, the Tucson failed this test. Three car seats could not be installed safely in the back, regardless of whether they were front or rear-facing. The placement of the belt buckles makes it impossible to do so in the middle and driver side rear-seat. It's a shame, because there appears to be enough physical space to fit three car seats. If Hyundai updates the buckle design, I'll gladly revisit this and update the review accordingly.

Junk in the trunk

Hyundai employs the same hands-free smart trunk feature as the Kia Optima in the Tucson. It works the same way: walk up to the locked car with the key fob in your pocket and it automatically opens for you. The Tucson implementation works a lot better, with the inclusion of a powered trunk that opens without your intervention.
So, in the ideal scenario, you walk up to the Tucson with your hands full of Star Wars toys, wait a few seconds and the trunk opens for you. You load up all the toys, press a button to close the trunk and hop in the car and drive off. I did not experience this ideal scenario exactly, but the hands-free smart trunk worked every time.
The Tucson has a cargo area of 31 cubic feet, which is plenty of space to accommodate luggage for a family road trip. I keep a Sumo Gigantor and Omni from Sumo Lounge around for trunk space testing. The Gigantor is a little too big to carry in and out of my house, so I stick to using the Omni for most cars. It's a fun way I devised to show exactly how big a trunk is.
Hyundai Tucson sumo sack
I dragged the Sumo Omni outside to put in the Tucson and got it half-way in – fortunately, none of my neighbors were around to question what I was doing. The 60 x 60 x 38-inch bean bag got halfway into the trunk with the back seats up, but can easily fit with the seats down.
If you need to haul tall or oddly shaped items, the Tucson should be able to accommodate them without any problems.


Hyundai leaves me very conflicted with its 2016 Tucson. I'm a big fan of the styling: it has an elegant but understated look that's humble. I'm absolutely in love with the Caribbean Blue color of the car I tested too.
However, for the $34,945 (£30,930 for the similarly equipped Tucson Premium SE 1.6 T-GDI Petrol 4WD DCT automatic or AU$43,490 for the Tucson Highlander 1.6 T-GDI petrol AWD) that Hyundai asks for the top-of-the-line Tucson Limited AWD with Ultimate Package, I expect more.
Hyundai Tucson

We liked

I like Hyundai's Display Audio infotainment system, even without Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. It's very intuitive to use, with a combination of touchscreen and physical buttons. Removing the CD player is a nice touch, as it promotes a clean dashboard without a random slot that most drivers never use.
The Pandora connectivity works well on Android and iOS, and I was surprised by the sound quality of Pandora via Bluetooth with my Nexus 6. For once, the sound quality matched the wired connection of iOS.
The Tucson's 1.6-liter, turbocharged four cylinder and dual-clutch transmission delivers impressive performance numbers that translate well into everyday driving. It has the right amount of power and low-end torque to keep you happy – and even lead-foot drivers like myself – and never feels under powered. If anything, the turbo motor leaves me wondering how much more power I could get out of it with some aftermarket goodies, but Hyundai probably frowns upon modifying its review samples.
Blue Link is well-executed on all Hyundai models, including the Tucson. Having the ability to control your car remotely with a smartphone app or smartwatch is a nice convenience, especially for those that are forgetful or OCD about making sure their car is locked. I, for one, know I am sometimes paranoid and wonder whether I forgot to lock my car, but sometimes too lazy to walk back outside to make sure.
The hands-free smart trunk is a useful convenience for those that hand-carry groceries, or have two kids to carry. I've yet to experience it failing, unlike the systems from competing makers, such as Volkswagen, that require silly karate leg-sweeping motions to trigger the trunk release. It doesn't get much easier than walking up to the trunk of your car and waiting for it to open.

We disliked

While Hyundai promises Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are coming soon, it's unacceptable to not at least have one ready at this time. The last time Hyundai promised Android Auto was coming to the Sonata, it took a year before the update was rolled out, and it still doesn't have CarPlay either – that's still promised for a later date. With Volkswagen, General Motors and Honda supporting both smartphone connectivity standards, Hyundai has no excuse for the delays.
The absence of adaptive cruise control is a puzzling choice, especially since it's found within the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, all of which are older models that predate the Tucson. Lacking a pivotal tech feature from a company that's always delivered more tech features than its competitors is odd to me, especially since the car was designed to accommodate the feature already.
While I like the features Blue Link offers, I don't like the subscription costs. Alone, the $99-a-year Blue Link Remote Package wouldn't be too bad of a deal, since it provides control and access to the Tucson. But requiring the $99-a-year Connected Care Assurance Package before you can even think of the Remote Package tarnishes the offer. I'd love to have just the remote control features of Blue Link, but I couldn't care less for peace-of-mind services that are only useful in case of a collision.

Final verdict

Hyundai's latest Tucson is a stylish compact crossover with elegance inside and out. If it didn't sport the Hyundai badge, it would be easy to mistake the Tuscon for a luxury crossover that would fit in with Audi and Lexus's models. Beyond the tech inside, the powertrain delivers enough oomph to keep lead-foot drivers happy without sacrificing too much fuel economy.
Ultimately, if you don't care about adaptive cruise control, steering feel doesn't concern you and you are patient enough to wait for Android Auto and CarPlay, the Tucson is a solid compact crossover – just don't go running to the dealership over it.

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There was more TV in 2015 than ever before
There was more TV in 2015 than ever before
Are your TV show 'to watch' lists growing out of hand? Don't worry, it's not all your fault, as a new study has found that there were more scripted television shows available in 2015 than ever before.
To put it into a number, there were 409 scripted TV shows available across broadcast, cable and online services, according to a new study from FX Networks research department.
It adds up to be nearly twice as many scripted shows as there were in 2009, which only had about 211.
"The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years," said Julie Piepenkotter, executive VP of FX Network's research arm.
"This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago."

A golden age

While streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, have definitely contributed to the increase (2014 had 27 shows from these services, while this year saw 44), the other biggest increase has come from basic cable networks, which includes DirectTV.
There were 169 scripted shows from basic cable networks in 2014, while 2015 had 181. However, back in 2009, there were only 66.
Meanwhile, both broadcast and pay cable have only seen small jumps over the year, but have still increased the amount of content they put out.
All this basically amounts to there being more choices in scripted TV shows there have ever been, accessible from more services than there have ever been, too.
And while we may be at the peak of TV content - a golden age, in many ways - there's still a lot more growth to be had it seems. Netflix, for instance, has announced it will introduce at least another 31 news shows next year.
  • TVs and streaming will factor in a big way at CES 2016

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Netflix socks will keep your feet warm and your show paused
Netflix socks will keep your feet warm and your show paused
With a little engineering and some yarn, days of dozing off during a streaming binge could be a thing of the past thanks to a none other than "Netflix socks."
Netflix has put up the design for a pair of socks you can make at home that can tell when you nod off and will promptly pause your show or movie. The socks use an accelerometer to tell when the wearer is inactive and flashes a little LED to remind them to move.
If the user remains idle, the socks send a signal to pause the program on Netflix, ensuring sleeping viewers don't miss a thing. Accelerometers detecting sleep patterns are nothing new, with a similar method used in Fitbit fitness trackers to tell if a user is having a restless night.
Intrigued? Netflix has the necessary parts detailed online, as well as step-by-step knitting instructions for socks themed after some of its original programs, like Marvel's Jessica Jones, House of Cards, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
YouTube :
(That last design makes us want to knit some socks to gift to techradar's very own Home Entertainment Editor, Nick Pino.)
Ah, yes, Nick Pino-themed socks. TechRadar wins Christmas.
If constructing a pair of electronic socks isn't enough of a challenge for you, Netflix has also prepared another do-it-yourself project called The Switch, a device you can build and program to dim the lights, put your phone on silent, order food, and start up some Twin Peaks with a single push of a button.

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Microsoft apologizes for confusing OneDrive strategy
Microsoft apologizes for confusing OneDrive strategy
Microsoft issued an apology to OneDrive customers for its recent missteps. The company acknowledged that it did not provide enough transparency in its storage strategy, especially for business customers.
"Overall, we have taken too long to provide an update on our storage plans around OneDrive for Business," said Jeff Taper, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive and SharePoint, in a statement. "We also recognize we are disappointing customers who expected unlimited storage across every Office 365 plan, and I want to apologize for not meeting your expectations."
As part of its apology, Microsoft announced that unlimited storage will come to OneDrive for Business users on select Office 365 Enterprise, Government and Education plans.

Unlimited for business

Compatible Office 365 plans that will receive the unlimited storage upgrade are for enterprise, government or education with five or more users.
Unfortunately, the rollout is staggered, and unlimited storage is not automatic. Starting this month, Microsoft will begin increasing OneDrive storage capacity from 1TB to 5TB for all users, and the process will complete in March 2016. Users who need more than 5TB of storage will have to submit a request to Microsoft support, Taper advised.
In order to be upgraded to the 5TB OneDrive storage capacity with the option to go unlimited, users must be subscribed to an Office 365 Education or Office 365 Enterprise or Government E3, E4 or E5 plans. Additionally, OneDrive for Business Plan 2 and SharePoint Plan 2 customers will also get the boosted storage.
"Customers on all other Office 365 Enterprise, Business and standalone plans that include OneDrive for Business will continue to receive 1 TB of storage per user," said Taper.
Taper also apologized for not giving a clearer storage roadmap to OneDrive for Business customers sooner.

New sync client

Microsoft is also rolling out a new sync client for OneDrive for Business. The OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client is now out of beta and is available for download. The Windows client, available for Windows 7, 8 and 10, is available immediately, and Mac support will be coming at the end of December. Support for Windows 8.1 won't arrive until the first quarter of next year.
The Next Generation Sync Client delivers a more reliable sync experience, as well as some notable new features. The client supports large files, up to 10GB in size, and removes the 20,000 file sync limit. Additionally, it also supports selective sync.
At release, the Next Generation Sync Client will only support OneDrive for Business, but Microsoft promises that the client will also support SharePoint document libraries in future releases.
Additionally, Microsoft also updated the mobile clients for Windows 10 Mobile, Android and iOS. Windows 10 Mobile owners can now view, edit, create, share and upload files using the OneDrive client to their personal or OneDrive for Business accounts.
And similar to OneDrive for Android, OneDrive for iOS will be updated this month to include offline capabilities. Users can make select files available for offline viewing, and this capability will also come to Windows 10 Mobile in the second quarter of next year.
Finally, Office Lens for iOS now integrates with OneDrive for Business. Office Lens is a mobile scanner that automatically crops and trims digitized scans before uploading the files to your OneDrive account. OneDrive for Business support will come to the Office Lens app for Android and Windows 10 Mobile in 2016.

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Apple Music's new station will get you in the mood for Star Wars
Apple Music's new station will get you in the mood for Star Wars
Need something to listen to while waiting in line for The Force Awakens tickets? Apple Music's got you covered with newly launched Star Wars Radio.
The custom streaming station not only contains the essential tracks from John William's iconic score, but also tosses in additional sound effects to set the mood, from the blips and bloops of droids to the familiar (though typically inaccurate) 'pew pew' bolts of Stormtrooper blasters.
Star Wars Radio is available on both the desktop and mobile clients for Apple Music, though Apple has noted that the station is not available in all regions outside the US.
For the ears that can't get enough Star Wars, iTunes is also taking pre-orders on the soundtrack from The Force Awakens, (complete with a track list potentially rife with spoilers - you've been warned!)
Apple Music isn't the only service tying in with the release of The Force Awakens. Facebook Messenger stickers, Twitter emojis, Chrome's spoiler-dodging browser extension, character-themed Google Cardboard headsets, a brand-new Battlefront game, and Spotify are just a few of the features and services building up hype for the seventh chapter of the Star Wars saga.

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Review: UE Boom 2
Review: UE Boom 2

UE Boom 2

If you've shopped for a Bluetooth speaker within the past year or so, you've probably heard of the UE Boom, or at least you should have. It won me over with its unmatched style, powerful audio and battery performance – plus a ton of features, thanks to its companion app.
It only makes sense that the UE's follow-up wouldn't mess with what didn't need fixing.
The UE Boom 2 is here in similar – OK, nearly identical – fashion, yet there are some cool changes that have taken place under the hood. It takes on the same $199 (£169, AU$249) price point of its predecessor and, for those of you who already own the original, the Boom 2 can link up to the Boom through the app's Double Up feature.
If you missed out on the first UE Boom, I wholeheartedly recommend the Boom 2. It's the same size, but comes in new colors, packs in slightly better sound and introduces tap controls and waterproofing to UE's Bluetooth speaker lineup.
On the other hand, while these additions are neat, they might not be enough to justify the cost if you already own the original model and are hoping for bigger changes.
UE Boom 2


The UE Boom didn't need a design overhaul, and thankfully, UE recognized that. There are slight changes, which I'll dig into along the way, but check out my review of the original UE Boom to get a good sense of its design ID and what makes it so special.
Running across the unit that UE sent to techradar for review, I noticed a few, welcome changes that deserve a mention. First off, the mesh fabric here looks less porous and feels more durable than what is wrapped around the original Boom.
The controls of the UE Boom 2 are unchanged, and at that, still remarkably simple to use – even if you're using the speaker for the first time. But, if you've got a sharp eye for detail, like yours truly, you'll notice a few cosmetic adjustments around the unit.
UE Boom 2
For a cleaner look, UE decided to omit the Bluetooth logo from the pairing button, and the power button looks a little different. Even with these changes, new users shouldn't have too much trouble at all figuring things out.
On the bottom of the Boom 2, UE has touched up the port flaps, making them sit flush with the base. More importantly, they are easier to flip open and access because of this change. Just like the last model, the flap door can be removed entirely if you'd rather not mess with it each time you need to charge.

Performance and features

The UE Boom 2 builds upon a strong foundation put forward by the last model, making noticeable strides in its 360-degree sound delivery, one of my biggest gripes about the first. Its room-filling capability frequently leaves me struck by how powerful this small, cylindrical speaker sounds.
UE Boom 2
Just like the last Boom, there's an impressive set of features inside the speaker, but you'll need the companion app to unlock them. The UE Boom app allows you to adjust the equalizer effect and Double Up, UE's way of linking two of its speakers together over Bluetooth to, you guessed it, double the sound. The app can also set alarms to wake you from sleep, but the older Boom can do that, too.
As mentioned earlier, the UE Boom 2 has some new tricks up its sleeve. First off, the app for the new speaker supports Block Party, a feature that allows up to two people nearby to connect to it via Bluetooth and play a track.
The best part? The Boom 2 owner has the power to boot either of the DJ wannabes if their suggestions stink.
UE Boom 2
Next up are the tap controls. Through the app, you can activate them, which allows you to change the song by simply picking up the speaker and tapping it. Just like the remote you find embedded in most headphone cables these days, the UE Boom 2 mimics this familiarized input.
You can also tap twice to skip songs or three times to go backwards. This might seem like a superfluous addition, but this extra level of control was sorely missing from the original model.
In addition to kicking out the jams, the UE Boom 2 also makes for a competent speakerphone. You can pick up and hang up calls by giving the Bluetooth pairing button a press. I found that this speaker can pick up multiple voices speaking at low to medium volumes without any trouble.
The icing on the cake, and the feature that could tempt owners of the original the most, is the waterproofing. Improving over the IPX4 rating of the UE Boom, which couldn't safely handle more than a splash or two, the IPX7-equipped UE Boom 2 can be submerged in water up to a meter deep for 30 minutes before you run the risk of leakage. This also means that you can leave it out in the rain without the worry that you've just flushed 200 bucks down the drain.
UE Boom 2

Final verdict

Owners of the previous UE Boom may find themselves tossed about whether they should upgrade. It might help to think of this as a supplement, rather than a replacement, as you can pair up UE's latest with the original model. Just make sure you remember which one is waterproof if you take them outside.
The UE Boom 2 offers the same ease of use that I loved about the original, and improves both the audio profile and 360-degree soundstage effect. Battery life remains unchanged from the 15 hours that the original put forward, but it still meets, if not exceeds, the industry standard.
And to think that the UE Boom 2 accomplishes all this while packing in more features, like tap control and waterproofing. If you're deep in the search for your next –, or first – Bluetooth speaker, you can stop looking now.

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Updated: You'll never have to leave Facebook Messenger to request an Uber again
Updated: You'll never have to leave Facebook Messenger to request an Uber again
Hailing an Uber is already incredibly convenient, but today Facebook Messenger is taking it one step further.
The chat service is testing a new feature called Transportation on Messenger, letting users request, receive updates and pay for a ride without needing to download a ride sharing app or leave a conversation.
Uber is its first partner. If someone sends you an address in a chat, you can tap on the address and request an Uber from within Messenger.
Or, you can click on the little car icon or select Transportation from the "more menu" button, and before you know it, your Uber is on its way.
Uber will send you ride updates within Messenger, and a note pops up in chats so your friends know a ride is on its way. You can also pay without having to leave your conversation, and Uber will send you a receipt in a private chat.
The feature is rolling out to a select number of users in the US, and only in places where Uber operates. Facebook promised more regions and additional ride-sharing services will come to Transportation soon.
YouTube :
If you're in on the test, you'll need the latest version of Messenger to access Transportation. If you're a seasoned Uberite, you can sync up your account with Messenger starting today. Anyone who uses the feature for the first time gets a $20 ride credit, though the offer is only available for a limited time. New Uber users can sign up for the service from within Messenger, too.
Facebook has attempted to get/force people onto Messenger for quite some time, and this seems like another attempt, albeit a savvy one, to hook users into the chat ecosystem. We can't imagine it catching fire with people who don't use Messenger on the regular, but loyal followers may find it a nifty new add-on.

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Updated: Philips Hue will work with any ol' bulb after all
Updated: Philips Hue will work with any ol' bulb after all
Update 12/26: Only a day after the original announcement, Phillips has reversed its decision to block third-party light bulbs on Phillips Hue.
Following negative backlash, Phillips said it underestimated the number of consumers using third-party bulbs, and is currently working on an update to undo yesterday's decision.
Original story below...
Digital rights management has come to home appliances as Phillips announced it won't support third-party bulbs for Phillips Hue. The smart home lighting system will eventually have more options for bulbs, but anyone looking to go off the proprietary path may encounter obstacles.
Phillips announced its latest update as fixing an "interoperability issue," citing that certain third-party light bulbs wouldn't operate properly with its Hue system, either not turning off successfully or properly working with the Hue's "scene" functionality.
Up until now, owners of Phillips' light framework could use typically cheaper bulbs from other brands such as Cree or GE that were compatible with the system. However, as Hue updates its platform, several of these bulbs were unable to keep up and showed performance bugs.
Rather than working out issues with each individual product, Phillips is putting Friends Of Hue in effect, a program in which brands can undergo testing to meet Hue's standards. Products that make it into the Friends Of Hue circle will work after the update is applied, making them the only current alternative to Phillips' proprietary light bulbs.

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Microsoft reinstates Windows 10 Mobile update for Lumia 950
Microsoft reinstates Windows 10 Mobile update for Lumia 950
The suspended Windows 10 Mobile update is back online and ready for Lumia owners to download on their 950 and 950XL smartphones. Microsoft had pulled the update after it recognized several glitches, but now the company has reinstated the same build 10586.29 for its newest smartphones.
"After momentarily pausing the Windows 10 Mobile update due to an issue with the update server that impacted the installation of the update on a limited number of phones, we have addressed the issue and will begin rolling out the 10586.29 update again," Microsoft told ZDNet.
It appears that this build is the same build as before, and that Microsoft only made changes to its servers to resolve installation issues. This means that this reinstated release doesn't come with any new fixes, features or patches, as it's not a new build number.

What went wrong

Microsoft pulled the original update earlier this week after users complained that they weren't able to install the update on their Lumia 950 and 950XL phones.
"We are aware of issues related to the recently published Windows 10 Mobile update, including: update not being offered, update appearing to get stuck at 0% and pesky low storage notifications," Microsoft acknowledged at the time.
It's unclear what actions Microsoft took, if any, to resolve the low storage notifications after the update is installed. When the update was pulled, Microsoft advised its users to ignore the bothersome low storage notifications.
Users who were successfully able to update their phones before the initial update was pulled will continue to receive future updates. This is good news, as it means that users won't have to downgrade their phones only to re-upgrade to the latest build in order to receive updates in the future, as was the case with some earlier Windows 10 Mobile Preview builds.
Microsoft's support site indicates that Windows 10 Mobile will be supported through January 9, 2018. On that date, Microsoft will end mainstream support for the operating system, and it's unclear what will succeed Windows 10 Mobile.

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Acura just got a self-driving car thanks to this hacker
Acura just got a self-driving car thanks to this hacker
Famed iPhone and PS3 jailbreaker George Hotz, or geohot, is back again with a new hack, and this time it's a self-driving car. The 26-year-old hacker started with a 2016 Acura ILX with AcuraWatch Plus package and added laser-based radar (LIDAR) and additional cameras to serve as the car's eyes.
The ILX features the AcuraWatch Plus suite of driver assist technologies, which includes Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) that helps keep the car in the lane. Most importantly, when the car is traveling at speeds above 40 mph on mildly curvy or straight roads, the LKAS can help steer the car so it stays in the center of the lane.
Normally, LKAS warns the driver if it doesn't detect steering input, and automatically disables itself until the car is restarted, after three warnings. Hotz installs a computer with a mess of cables and GPS sensors to tap into the vehicle's internal bus to take control. The computer, which runs Linux and is connected to a 21.5-inch LCD, replaces the car's glovebox and functions as an artificial intelligence system.
A gaming joystick is installed in the center console of the ILX, and with a single pull, the self-driving system engages. While the install looks like a cluttered mess, Hotz wants to eventually produce a camera package with accompany software for $1000 to automakers and custom vehicle shops.
It's a crazy, but cool endeavor from the former electronics hacker. Check out the full story on Bloomberg.

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Reddit's plan to rid the internet of Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers
Reddit's plan to rid the internet of Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers
Reddit, the front page of the internet, isn't going to risk becoming the front page for Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers. After experimenting with a fairly lenient plan of action on how to handle accounts that enjoy partaking in the posting of spoilers, Reddit has decided to just whip out the ban hammer instead.
The new policy isn't too confusing. If you post spoilers for the new Star Wars film on the Star Wars subreddit, which will debut at a midnight screening tonight in the UK and other, luckier parts of the world, you will be permanently banned, full stop.
It's a rather unprecedented move for an online community to off its members for posting spoilers, but most should know: it's never a good idea to get between Star Wars fans and their films, especially when it's one that is so hotly anticipated and has, somehow, remained shrouded in secrecy.
Star Wars
Reddit moderator TheGreatZiegfield and his team of mod are tasked with putting a stop on any and all Star Wars 7 leaks and have banned "dozens of users so far for this." And as a result, he stated that "I think all the mods have had it spoiled for them by now. We'll do our best to make sure you guys don't suffer the same fate."
If you manage to make it to your local theater to check out Star Wars' return to the silver screen unscathed by spoilers, offer up a silent salute for the people who worked hard (and thanklessly, for that matter) to preserve the experience for you.
In the meantime, you should probably install Force Block, the Chrome extension that does its best to hide your eyes from anything Star Wars-related. But, you can keep it locked on techvadar, which we've lovingly retitled our site in celebration of the new film. We promise not to spoil a gosh darn thing.
Via The Next Web
Join the Dark Side Explore all of our Star Wars Week content. Come over to the Dark Side...

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What is Pebble Health? And why should Apple and Google be worried?
What is Pebble Health? And why should Apple and Google be worried?
Although they're not dedicated fitness tracking platforms, both the Apple Watch and Android Wear allow users to track their general activity (how far they walk, the number of steps taken and hours slept).
So far, this feature has been missing in Pebble's range of smartwatches. That's not to say they're not capable of fitness tracking - the devices do include accelerometers (the hardware used for sensing movement) - but it was up to software developers to utilise the hardware.
Some developers, such as Jawbone and Misfit, did so, but the apps drained battery and didn't come preinstalled. Enter Pebble Health, a native activity and sleep tracking experience, which is integrated throughout the OS.
Pebble Health was developed in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University. It tracks your daily activity and automatically detects when you're asleep.
The tracking is integrated with the UI, making daily stats and insights instantly available in the Timeline.
For example, you can wake up to your day with a report on how well you slept, and end the day by viewing how many steps you've taken. Instead of striving for the magic (and slightly pointless) 10,000 steps a day, Pebble Health will measure your performance against your own average.
Pebble Health
As well as simply tracking, Pebble will also provide suggestions on how you can improve fitness and sleep.

It's all about access and accuracy

As well as native tracking, Pebble will also grant its eager developer community access the APIs. This will give developers the ability to build their own apps and watch faces capable of harnessing the data.
As we previously mentioned, Pebble Health was developed in collaboration with Stanford University, or more specifically, its Wearable Health Lab.
This was in an effort to create a truly accessible health platform available. "Transparency at the algorithmic level is an essential missing piece in the progress toward making wearables valid for use in health applications," said Dr. Christy Lane.
"By making the right data available, Pebble Health allows us to perform proper validation studies on activity tracking for the first time."
Pebble Health
"Now, methods for collection of wearable health data will be transparent, allowing health professionals to apply previous insights to new data. We're excited to collaborate with Pebble on this approach and further our mission to lead the way for wearable health and medicine applications."
A welcome addition to Pebble Health is the ability to also sync data with Apple Health and Google Fit, giving users a more granular view of their health.
Naturally, questions will arise over whether the Pebble Time is an accurate enough tool for collecting reliable health data. The basic smartwatch doesn't include a heart rate sensor or GPS, so it's less accurate than, say, the Apple Watch, most Android Wear devices, and even the Fitbit Charge HR.
Despite that, the concept of an open source health data platform is incredibly powerful, regardless of privacy fears, so perhaps Apple and Google should be worried.
Pebble Health will make an appearance on the Pebble Time, Pebble Time Steel, and Pebble Time Round, so original Pebble wearers will be left lazy and tracker-less. You can update your smartphone app to receive the firmware upgrade.
We'll be updating our Pebble Time review as soon as we test Health's accuracy.

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Apple and IBM are creating iPad Pro-specific apps
Apple and IBM are creating iPad Pro-specific apps
Apple really wants your organization to make the switch from Windows. IBM and Apple are co-producing business-based apps for the iPad Pro to help simplify tasks and eliminate unnecessary paperwork.
Since announcing a partnership last year that brought IBM business apps to Apple's iOS environment, the two tech giants have now co-produced more than 100 apps for the iPhone and iPad.
The IBM-built iOS apps span 14 different verticals, including healthcare, financial services and retail. The tools combine IBM's data and analytics capabilities with Apple's mobile operating system. The partnership is designed to lure business users away from Microsoft's Windows operating system and onto Apple's Mac OS for desktop and iOS for the iPhone and iPad.

How the Pro apps will work

It is immediately unclear how the iPad Pro-specific apps will differ from the 100 apps IBM has already created for Apple. However, Apple has been given a bit of grief for launching the productivity-focused iPad Pro on the mobile iOS operating system, rather than taking advantage of the desktop-based Mac OS.
IBM-produced iPad Pro applications wouldn't necessarily enable a desktop-rich environment, such as Windows-based 2-in-1s like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book. But IBM's enhanced analytics and computer learning tools (think: Watson) would enable iPad Pro users to pull rich insights from back-end tools and then make on-the-fly changes to business strategy.
No, iPad Pro users wouldn't be able to multitask or run the same processor-heavy tasks as they would on high-end Surface device, but the large format iPad Pro, backed by IBM's analytics, give business users who prefer iPhones and Macs a capable productivity device that can easily be transported from the factory floor back to the office without having to switch computing environments.

What have IBM and Apple done so far?

The two companies have created a host of applications designed to provide healthcare providers with easy access to patient records, simplified hospital ward management and patient monitoring tools, among other apps.
Other MobileFirst apps are built to help employees and managers keep track of shift changes, manage travel, service mortgage loans, connect with clients, diagnose issues in the field, inspect assets and document unsafe working conditions in factories.
Apple and IBM offer its clients 24/7 IT support, AppleCare for Enterprise, for all Apple hardware and operating systems. As part of the package, Apple will replace up to 10% of a client's iPad and iPhone devices at no additional cost if the hardware is lost or damaged.
Additionally, IBM has made some of the MobileFirst iOS apps available on the Apple Watch, thereby extending the benefits of the applications to the wearable environment.

A love story

This isn't the only monumental partnership between the two tech giants this year.
IBM has adopted as many as 50,000 MacBooks for employee use. It is estimated that up to 75% of IBM employees would make the switch from Lenovo-branded ThinkPad notebooks to MacBook laptops by the end of 2015.
Additionally, IBM's "Commit Health" initiative gives IBM employees a subsidy that covers the cost of the Apple Watch in order to help IBM offer a healthier workforce.

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Best Fuji lenses you can buy in 2015
Best Fuji lenses you can buy in 2015

Best Fuji lenses

Fuji's latest X-series compact system cameras are full of retro charm yet bang up to date. Up-market models like the X-T1, X-T10 and X-E2 are smart, stylish and sophisticated in their own right. But just like any other system camera, you need top-quality lenses to get the best out of them. That's where Fuji's 'XF' line of premium optics comes into play.
The current line-up includes both prime and zoom lenses, all with a really pro-grade feel to their build and handling. Construction typically includes metal rather than plastic lens barrels and mounting plates, while 'R' type lenses add intuitive aperture rings. Some are WR (Weather-Resistant), have OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and fast LM (Linear Motor) autofocus. Let's start with the ideal general-purpose lens and work our way down the XF shopping list.
Fuji XF16-55mm f/2/8 R LM WR

1. Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR

The perfect starting point, this standard zoom is supremely versatile
Effective focal length: 24-84mm | Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22 | Autofocus motor: Twin linear motor | Minimum focus distance: 0.6m (0.3m at 16mm) | Maximum magnification factor: 0.16x | Image stabilizer: No | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 77mm | Dimensions: 83x106mm | Weight: 655g
Fuji XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR
Excellent image quality
Fast, near-silent autofocus
No image stabilization
Quite bulky
Covering everything from generously wide-angle viewing to short telephoto reach, the constant-aperture design of this lens gives you good creative control over depth of field and enables fast shutter speeds under dull lighting. A consequence of the fairly fast f/2.8 aperture is that the front elements need to be quite large and the lens itself is fairly bulky. However, handling is excellent and, as with our other featured lenses, there's an aperture ring with one-third click stops and a smooth, precise fly-by-wire manual focus ring. Highlights include top-quality glass and coatings, a fast twin linear motor autofocus system and weather-seals. Sharpness and contrast are excellent, colour fringing is minimal and distortions are amazingly well controlled for a standard zoom.
Fuji XF50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR

2. Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR

Extend your reach and get closer to the action
Effective focal length: 76-214mm | Aperture range: f/2.8 to f/22 | Autofocus motor: Triple linear motor | Minimum focus distance: 1m | Maximum magnification factor: 0.12x | Image stabilizer: Yes | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 72mm | Dimensions: 83x176mm | Weight: 995g
Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR
Effective optical stabilizer
Internal zoom and focus
Heavy for an X-mount lens
Great value but expensive
The most logical follow-on to the 16-55mm zoom is this 50-140mm lens. It gives a classic telephoto zoom range equivalent to about 70-200mm on a full-frame camera, complete with a fast and constant f/2.8 aperture. Typical for this type of lens, zoom and focus are completely internal, so the overall physical length is fixed. Bonuses include a four-stop optical image stabilizer and a tripod mounting foot that keeps the lens well balanced during both landscape and portrait orientation shooting. Autofocus practically snaps into position, thanks to a triple linear motor system and, continuing the main attraction of the 16-55mm lens, image quality is superb in terms of sharpness and contrast, along with negligible levels of colour fringing and distortions throughout the zoom range.
Fuji XF35mm f/2 R WR

3. Fuji XF 35mm f/2 R WR

A standard prime with an ultra-compact and lightweight build
Effective focal length: 53mm | Aperture range: f/2 to f/16 | Autofocus motor: Stepping motor | Minimum focus distance: 0.35m | Maximum magnification factor: 0.14x | Image stabilizer: No | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 43mm | Dimensions: 60x46mm | Weight: 170g
Fuji XF 35mm f/2 R WR
Amazingly small and lightweight
Solid, weather-resistant build
Lacks corner-sharpness wide open
Choosing silver or black is tough!
So-called 'nifty fifty' lenses for D-SLR cameras are typically bulky and plasticky. This lens gives practically the same effective focal length of about 50mm, for a standard viewing angle and natural perspective. It's comparatively tiny but is nevertheless beautifully crafted with all exterior parts being made from metal. Superior handling benefits from the usual XF-series aperture ring and fly-by-wire focus ring. Despite being such a dinky little lens, there's very little vignetting (darkened image corners) even at the widest aperture of f/2. Contrast and centre-sharpness are also impressive at this aperture, although you need to stop down to f/5.6 for similarly superb sharpness in image corners. Autofocus is virtually soundless but very quick.
Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R

4. Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R

The focal length and wide aperture make it perfect for portraiture
Effective focal length: 85mm | Aperture range: f/1.2 to f/16 | Autofocus motor: Stepping motor | Minimum focus distance: 0.7m | Maximum magnification factor: 0.09x | Image stabilizer: No | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions: 73x70mm | Weight: 405g
Fuji XF 56mm f/1.2 R
Shallow depth of field effects
Beautifully smooth bokeh
Not weather-sealed
Expensive to buy
So-called 'nifty fifty' lenses for D-SLR cameras are typically bulky and plasticky. This lens gives practically the same effective focal length of about 50mm, for a standard viewing angle and natural perspective. It's comparatively tiny but is nevertheless beautifully crafted with all exterior parts being made from metal. Superior handling benefits from the usual XF-series aperture ring and fly-by-wire focus ring. Despite being such a dinky little lens, there's very little vignetting (darkened image corners) even at the widest aperture of f/2. Contrast and centre-sharpness are also impressive at this aperture, although you need to stop down to f/5.6 for similarly superb sharpness in image corners. Autofocus is virtually soundless but very quick.
Fuji XF60mm f/2.4 R Macro

5. Fuji XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro

A really neat lens for the little things in life
Effective focal length: 91mm | Aperture range: f/2.4 to f/22 | Autofocus motor: Stepping motor | Minimum focus distance: 0.27m | Maximum magnification factor: 0.5x | Image stabilizer: No | Weather seals: No | Filter thread: 39mm | Dimensions: 64x71mm | Weight: 215g
Fuji XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro
Incredible levels of fine detail
Small and light for a macro lens
Inner barrel extends slightly
No focus range limiter switch
Shooting extreme close-ups can become a strange fascination. A good macro lens can reveal almost microscopic levels of detail that are invisible to the naked eye, or turn garden bugs into giant alien invaders. Despite its remarkably compact build, Fuji's 60mm lens gives a somewhat classic effective focal length of 90mm, favoured by many macro photographers. The lens only has a 0.5x maximum magnification ratio instead of the more usual full 1.0x but, taking the APS-C format image sensor of X-series cameras into account, the scope for enlargement when reviewing images on screen or in print is epic. It can also double up as a decent portrait lens, if the 56mm f/1.2 is beyond your budget.
Fuji XF90mm f/2 R LM WR

6. Fuji XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR

Fast and fabulous, it's a sporty little number
Effective focal length: 137mm | Aperture range: f/2 to f/16 | Autofocus motor: Quad linear motor | Minimum focus distance: 0.6m | Maximum magnification factor: 0.2x | Image stabilizer: No | Weather seals: Yes | Filter thread: 62mm | Dimensions: 75x105mm | Weight: 540g
Fuji XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR
Good telephoto reach with a wide aperture
Super-fast quad linear motor autofocus
No optical image stabilizer
Lacks the versatility of a telephoto zoom
There's a lot to be said for having a fast, short telephoto prime lens in your kit bag. It gives useful reach for wide-ranging subjects from sports and wildlife to tightly cropped portraits, while enabling fast shutter speeds for freezing the action. With an effective focal length of 137mm and a wide f/2 aperture, this lens really fits the bill. And continuing the 'fast' theme, it also has a quad linear motor autofocus system with lightning-quick reflexes. Handling is typically excellent and, while it doesn't feature the optical image stabilizer of the 50-140mm zoom lens, it's much smaller and lighter. Image quality is stunning in every respect.

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EE is now recalling all of its Power Bar chargers due to a fire risk
EE is now recalling all of its Power Bar chargers due to a fire risk
EE is recalling all of its free Power Bar chargers due to a fire safety risk, and offering customers a £20 voucher in return.
In a statement EE said, "We are taking this action because we are aware of a very small number of further incidents where Power Bars have overheated in circumstances that could cause a fire safety risk."
The advice from EE is to stop using your Power Bars immediately and return them to an EE store as soon as possible. You'll then get a £20 EE voucher, the same value as a charger.
This news comes after EE recalled a few Power Bar chargers in August this year. At the time, EE assured customers it was only those with the model number E1-06, but as it turns out, the risk is far more widespread.
If you're unable to get to an EE store, it's recommended you call 0800 079 0305 for further information on what to do.

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