Monday, January 11, 2016

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 12/01/2016

Techradar



Opinion: CES 2016 was all about refinements and realizations – not revelations
Opinion: CES 2016 was all about refinements and realizations – not revelations

CES 2016 in review

We look to CES at the start of every year to depict a bright future of new technologies that we've never seen before. You know, that World's Fair vibe that's all but a distant memory?
Coming hot off of CES 2016, we didn't see much of that.
However, what we saw was perhaps even more exciting: the promises of the last few years' shows finally realized. This year's CES proved that ideas like 4K TV (with content to match), autonomous (or just cooler, approachable) robots and drones, (decent) virtual reality and electric vehicles (with realistic range and price) aren't the tech of years to come, but this year.
ces 2016

The next phase of television approaches

Gigantic televisions pumping out pixels in the several millions have been a hallmark of CES for years now, but it's only now in 2016 that they've been realized as an approachable reality. The latest Samsung SUHD TV with Quantum Dot is one (seriously impressive) thing, but TCL's likely affordable 4K TVs is another entirely.
But even more important is that the content to support these televisions is ramping up faster than ever. While not a CES announcement, we can expect DirecTV to start broadcasting in 4K later this year, for instance.
Meanwhile, Ultra HD Blu-ray saw even more support at the show in the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and Sony's commitment to support Dolby Atmos in its 4K Blu-rays in the coming year. Not to mention Dolby Laboratories' DolbyVision HDR tech is found in just about every major TV makers' sets shown off last week.
Black Friday 2015 may have seen 4K TV prices drop to levels approachable by plebeians like you and me, but 2016 will be the year to dive in if there ever was one.
ces 2016

Drones start truly taking off

Those remote-controlled aircraft that have captured the imaginations of would-be aviation enthusiasts have been around for a few years now, but CES 2016 catapulted them forward in new and interesting ways.
The Parrot Disco drone, for example, marks one of the first to adopt a single-propeller, one-directional flight pattern and design. (Think of a drone in the style of a stealth bomber that you can throw like a paper airplane.)
What's even more exciting is that the thing can fly as fast as 50 miles per hour for 45 minutes. Considering that most quadcopter drones can hover for barely 30 minutes, this is a marked improvement.
Thanks to technologies like Intel's RealSense camera, drones have grown capable of flying themselves in various environments. Using the chip maker's 3D depth-sensing optics, Yuneec's Typhoon H drone showed off its ability to accurately evaluate and avoid obstacles during the Intel keynote (not to mention Intel helped spur mass adoption of wearables in athletics with its Curie platform and a deal with the X-Games).
Sure, these improvements are huge for fans of drones, but their applications in fields like emergency response and filmmaking are simply enormous. Now, just imagine when firms start strapping 360-degree cameras to these things. (Ahem, GoPro.)
ces 2016

Virtual reality hits prime time

VR headsets have been a focal point of CES for the past few years, but only as a vision of the near future that was awfully rough around the edges. But, at this year's CES, both Oculus and HTC showed off their nigh consumer-ready headsets, and they've come a long, long way.
The sense of presence, or the impression put forth that the user is within another space while using the device, has improved drastically in both the HTC Vive Pre and Oculus Rift. But almost more important is that the devices' external sensors have seen vast upgrades, especially HTC and Valve's solution.
To ensure a safer, more comfortable experience under the headset, the Vive Pre uses a forward-facing camera, a series of sensors and some clever software to create an artificial bounding box in your home environment. This way, you won't run away from that virtual dragon into a real wall.
Sure, VR has a long way to go in areas like spatial audio, shared experiences and straight up resolution, but from what I've seen this week, what these companies have developed so far is definitely ready for the public. That said, price remains the tallest hurdle, and likely will for at least another year.
ces 2016

CES 2016: a year of making good on promises

This year's CES didn't unveil any particularly revolutionary technologies, but rather helped display the longtime-coming (albeit inevitable) realizations of tech at shows from the past few years. Just look at the Chevrolet Bolt.
Sure, electric vehicles have been on the road for a few years already, but unless you paid a veritable fortune for one, you aren't getting very far on a charge. Chevy's latest electric vehicle will bring a 200-mile electric range to the sub $30,000 price segment when it lands this year.
While still not exactly a price for mass adoption, it's a huge leap forward in putting electric drive train technology into the hands of more people. The Chevy Bolt is the snowball that will lead the avalanche, so to speak.
No, we didn't see that one piece of surprising new technology that will create an industry or transform our lives or entertainment. What we saw was the refinement of several technologies that will change industries this very year, making good on the promises of CES's of yesteryear, and that alone is worth plenty of hype.
Plus, I sure laughed a lot at this year's CES, so there's that:
YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioCr3lgiJ4s











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Apple Music now has half as many paid subscribers as Spotify
Apple Music now has half as many paid subscribers as Spotify
According to a report by the Financial Times, Apple Music has a reached 10 million paid subscribers since the service’s launch six months ago.
Though the Cupertino company has declined to comment on the report, the report seems more than reasonable – Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the service had reached 6.5 million paid subscribers back in October, and Apple Music has since become available on Android devices.
This milestone is particularly encouraging for the service, as it took streaming rival Spotify almost six years to reach that number.
Spotify currently has 20 million paid subscribers and a further 75 million users that listen to the free version of the service.
Music industry analyst Mark Mulligan told Financial Times that Apple Music has “the potential to be the leading music subscription service sometime in 2017.”











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Elon Musk predicts Teslas will self-drive across the USA by 2018
Elon Musk predicts Teslas will self-drive across the USA by 2018
Sure, Tesla's new Summon feature is cool, but according to Elon Musk it's just the start of the company's grand self-driving plans, describing it as "a baby step."
In its current incarnation, the feature enables Tesla owners to call their car to them from a distance of around 12 metres, or similarly send the car to go park itself.
But Musk claims that by 2018 Tesla will take that functionality and build upon it so its cars can be summoned, not just from across the street, but from the other side of a continent.

Road trip + metal snake = Tesla

"Ultimately you'll be able to summon your car anywhere your car can get to you," Musk said. "I think that within two years, you'll be able to summon your car from across the country."
"It will meet you wherever your phone is and it will just automatically charge itself along the entire journey," he explained.
A car that drives itself is an impressive feat, but one that charges itself without driver assistance, too? That's witchcraft. Or something equally frightening, as Tesla will fulfil its self-charging promise via a metal snake-like mechanism that's straight out of our nightmares.
To see it in action check out the video below.
YouTube : v=uMM0lRfX6YI











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Techradar deals: The best Microsoft Lumia 950 deals for January 2016
Techradar deals: The best Microsoft Lumia 950 deals for January 2016

Best Lumia 950 deals

Lumia 950 deals
The Microsoft Lumia 950 is the smaller version of the all-powerful Lumia 950 XL, but despite a slightly slower processor it still packs in loads of the same great specs.
That means the Lumia 950 is a phone with a more palm-friendly 5.2-inch QHD screen, a powerful Snapdragon 808 chipset inside (combined with a decent 3GB of RAM) and if you're someone that likes to tinker with their phone, the back comes off (and can be changed for other designs) and you can remove the battery and expand storage through microSD.
When it comes to the camera, it's an equally good affair, thanks to a 20MP effort that uses the Pureview technology Microsoft gained when it bought Nokia, and that really brings a shine to all kinds of snaps.
It's not the top of the range phone from Microsoft, but it's cheaper as a result and the difference between the two is very, very small indeed.
More options: iPhone 6S Plus deals | iPhone 6 deals | iPhone 6 Plus deals | iPhone deals
See the best Lumia 950 deals

The UK's best Lumia 950 deals:

Best lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £30pmThis is a quality deal for those looking to get their hands on this new phone, but with a normal amount of data - the amount of time most of us spend in Wi-Fi means you won't have to worry too much about exceeding your limits. It's nice to see that there's no barrier on calls and texting too - this is a deal that's perfect for the average user. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £720
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £31pmA cheeky little bit of extra data to play with here, with 3GB more than enough for most to do some lovely streaming, music listening and general browsing. This deal also comes with unlimited calls and texts, and for those looking to get a little fitter there's a Milestone activity fitness tracker thrown in the mix too!. The total cost over 24 months is £744.
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £34pmThis a decent amount of data for a good, solid price - if you're going to be downloading reams of data for your office working (which is what Microsoft's phone are great for) then you'll want a bit more data to keep on top of things - plus you've also got all the texts and calls you could need too. Total cost over 24 months is £816
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Now let's break down the best Lumia 950 deals by network...
Lumia 950 deals
vodafone

Best Lumia 950 deals on Vodafone

Offers extras like Spotify and Sky Sports
Free phone | Vodafone | 1000 minutes and unlimited texts | 1GB data | £29pm
We should start by dialling things down a little bit for those that want this cutting-edge phone from Microsoft but don't need loads of data or calls. You might be someone that prefers to email and lives in loads of Wi-Fi, so why pay extra? And with this 1GB deal you're even getting £48 cashback - result! Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £648
Get this deal: From Mobile Phones Direct
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £30pm
One of the top deals of the month, this is a great choice for those looking to get this new phone from Microsoft but with a normal amount of data - the amount of time most of us spend in Wi-Fi means you won't have to worry too much about exceeding your limits. It's nice to see that there's no barrier on calls and texting too - this is a deal that's perfect for the average user. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £720
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Vodafone | Unlimited calls and texts | 6GB data | £35pmLet's turn this up to... 6, which is the amount of data in gigabytes you'll get with this deal. It's a little more pricey, but not terribly so - and there's £10 cashback to play with as well. That's three meal deals without even breaking a sweat - and you can call and text to your heart's delight when you're hanging around the supermarket. Total cost over 24 months is £830
Get this deal: From Mobile Phones Direct
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £46pmThis is it. The big Kahuna. The whopper. The deal that, in the absence of unlimited data, most of us will want to be checking out if they're worried about going over their data limits, as most of us will struggle to hit 20GB, even if we connect the Lumia 950 up to a monitor and use it like a PC (as Microsoft wants you to do). Plus there's even £192 cashback to play with - a cracking deal. Total cost over 24 months is £912
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
Lumia 950 deals
Lumia 950 deals

Best Lumia 950 deals on O2

The network with extras like O2 Priority
Free upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £27.50pmYou're locked into a relationship with O2. We get it. You know you can quit, but you like the bubbly images the network offers. Well, if you want this new phone from Microsoft, this is the cheapest way to achieve both, with a stunningly low-cost monthly deal. It's not a lot of data, but you do get £60 cashback - which should never be sniffed at! Total cost over 24 months is £600
Get this deal: from mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £31pmWant a spot more data? Check this out then: it's 3GB, which is more than enough for most to do some lovely streaming, music listening and general browsing. This deal also comes with unlimited calls and texts, and if you want to get a little more tech on their wrist there's a Milestone activity fitness tracker thrown in the mix too! The total cost over 24 months is £744.
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | O2 | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £34pmThis a decent amount of data for a good, solid price - if you're going to be downloading reams of data for your office working (which is what Microsoft's phone are great for) then you'll want a bit more data to keep on top of things - plus you've also got all the texts and calls you could need too. Total cost over 24 months is £816
Get this deal: From mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 10GB data | £39pmThis is the most data you're going to get from O2 if you're looking to become part of the Microsoft crew and get this smaller phone - and it's a decent price for it too. 10GB means you'll only need to keep an eye on your limits if you're doing LOADS of streaming - and even then you'll probably struggle to hit it. Total cost over 24 months is £936
Get this deal: from mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Lumia 950 deals

Best Lumia 950 deals on EE

The place to go if you want high-speed 4G
Free phone | EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £32.49pm
You want high speed internet on the go. You're looking for a minimum of 2GB of data. You've got £35 per month to spend but are feeling like you'd like to have 24p left at the end of two years. YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT DEAL WE'VE GOT FOR YOU, YOU SPECIFIC MONSTER. It's all the above and with unlimited calls and texts. You are welcome. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £899.76
Get this deal: From Mobile Phones Direct
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | EE | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £37.49pmYou're wanting a little more data per month - after all, Great British Bake Off reruns aren't going to watch themselves, are they? You might not get through the whole back catalogue here, but you'll be able to watch, stream and browse a lot of internets before hitting your limit with this deal. Total cost over 24 months is £899.76
Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Unlimited mins and unlimited texts | 10GB data | £44.99pmWe're stepping things up here, and for this much data you're getting a cracking deal here. The Microsoft Lumia 950 is a phone that wants you to do loads of watching of various multimedia, thanks to that QHD screen, and with 10GB of data per month, Netflix is your oyster - and with £145 cashback this is an insanely good deal compared to the others around. Total cost over 24 months is £934.76
Get this deal: from Mobile Phones Direct
Lumia 950 deals
Free phone | Unlimited calls and texts | 20GB data | £54.99pm
This deal isn't bad at all, especially if you're worried about downloading reams of files per month if you're using your Lumia 950 as a PC-like tool. It's a little more on the pricey side though, so you're paying for all that data and sticking with EE - although you're getting some nifty download speeds on the 4g carrier as a result. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £1319.76
Get this deal: from mobiles.co.uk
Lumia 950 deals
Lumia 950 deals

Best Lumia 950 deals on Three

The network with unlimited data
Because the Lumia 950 is so fresh, Three doesn't currently have any deals running. Hopefully next month will see an influx of new deals for this lovely phone so make sure you check here before you buy.











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Updated: 10 best gaming keyboards: top keyboards for gamers
Updated: 10 best gaming keyboards: top keyboards for gamers

Introduction

The keyboard may be the most unglamorous of peripherals, with its uncomfortable tendency to conjure up images of sitting in office cubicles. But if you're a mad-keen online PC gamer then finding the best keyboard is vital.
Whether you use it to control strafing in all directions in a first-person shooter, or to select from an arsenal of spells in an MMO, it's the primary tool that allows you to showcase your skills and establish an all-important reputation. So it pays to invest in the best one available.
With that in mind, we've selected the 10 best gaming keyboards available for all the different flavours of PC gamers. Whether you're a World of Warcraft ninja or an up-and-coming Counter-Strike: GO expert, and whatever your financial situation or space requirements, you should be able to find the best keyboard among this selection. Starting with the most expensive at the top, we've ordered the below models by price, which is subject to change.
Strafe RGB

1. Corsair Strafe RGB Silent

Silent and deadly
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: Cherry MX key switches (Silent/Red/Brown/Blue), Multi-color dynamic backlighting, Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software, USB pass-through, Textured/contoured keys, 100% anti-ghosting with 104 key rollover, Multimedia keys, Detachable wrist rest
Quiet switch choice
Pretty
Detachable wrist rest
No side-positioned macro keys
Mechanical keyboards offer a superior tactile feel to traditional membrane models, but they're damn noisy. That's why Corsair made the Strafe RGB Silent, the first mechanical keyboard to use Cherry's MX Silent keyswitch. Featuring a dampening noise system integrated into each key, it lets you get your game on without the constant clacking of keys driving you - and people around you - insane. While the keys still make a noise, the snapping sound they make upon actuation is noticably muffled in comparison to Cherry MX Red or Brown switches. They Cherry Strafe RGB Silent is also beautiful, capable of flashing all the colours of the rainbow thanks to per-key RGB backlighting.
Read the full review: Corsair Strafe RGB Silent
Ten Best Gaming keyboards

2. Razer DeathStalker Ultimate

An expensive option, but with unique touch sensitive screen
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features:
Touch-sensitive LED screen
Custom apps
Pricey
No key "click" sound
Razer's apocalyptically named DeathStalker Ultimate is another gaming keyboard that tends to polarise opinion. It's fearsomely expensive, yet has a membrane keyboard, so if you demand mechanical keys, you can safely ignore it. But it has one totally unique feature: a touch-sensitive LED screen (with 10 programmable touch-keys above it) that has all manner of gaming applications. With custom-designed apps for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Battlefield 3, Counter-Strike: GO and Team Fortress 2, you can assign all sorts of useful functions to the touch-screen, and you can design your own apps for it if you're that way inclined. A curiosity indeed, but it might just give you the edge if set up properly.

3. Razer BlackWidow Chroma

Beautifully made and handsome to behold
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: 10 key rollover, Gaming mode option, Braided fibre cable, 5 Additional Macro keys, audio-in and microphone out, USB passthrough
See all prices
Comfortable, programmable keys
Customisable colours
Less key travel
Something of a status symbol among high-end PC gamers, Razer's BlackWidow Chroma takes a thoroughly bespoke approach to fulfilling gamers' needs. Instead of using Cherry's mechanical keys, it boasts its own specially designed ones, with less travel, but still bags of feel. This could prove to be to your taste, but you still might want to try before buying. It also has five programmable macro keys, keeping the MMO and MOBA-lovers happy, and you can customise the colours of its rainbow backlighting.
Best gaming keyboard

4. Logitech G910 Orion Spark

Not cheap, but a very impressive piece of kit
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: Romer-G mechanical switches, RGB key illumination, ARX Control Integration, 9 programmable buttons, dedicated media controls, 113 key anti-ghosting
Fast, anti-ghost keys
Looks great
Pricey
No key "click" sound
The G910 Orion Spark uses another type of mechanical keys – the Romer-Gs – which, Logitech claims, are the fastest ones on the market. It's a handsome beast thanks to full colour-control over key illumination, and has a clever mobile phone dock, which is handy for those games that have accompanying apps. Nine programmable macro keys should excite the MMO/MOBA brigades, too.
Read the full review: Logitech G910 Orion Spark
Best gaming keyboards

5. Roccat RYOS MK Pro

Not the prettiest, but robustly built
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: Per-key illumination, Two 32-bit ARM CPUs, Integated media hub, Advanced ant-ghosting, Five rubber feet, Roccat Talk, Roccat achivements display, 500 programmable macros
Easy shift key is innovative
Wide Cherry MX mechanical keys section
Blue only choice of backlight
Bulky wrist rest can't be removed
The RYOS MK Pro might just be the most high-tech gaming keyboard in existence, with not one but two 32-bit ARM processors built in. So you can record and unleash up to 500 macros on the fly, which could give you the edge in an MMO or MOBA. A clever 'Easy-Shift' key lets you remap the entire keyboard, and you can light up individual keys or groups of them. Plus it has a palm-rest, a USB hub, and built-in audio jacks, and is available with all the different flavours of Cherry MX mechanical keys – black, red, brown and blue – which have subtly different amounts of travel.
Ten Best Gaming keyboards

6. Roccat RYOS TKL Pro

A compact and attractive gaming keyboard
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: Per-key illumination, Compact tenkeyless format, Easy-shift key configurations
Good macro capabilities
Wrist rest
Lacks USB and audio ports
No numberpad
Essentially a RYOS MK Pro with the numeric keypad removed, Roccat's RYOS TKL Pro is one of the best-value gaming keyboards around. Like its bigger sibling, it's a great all-rounder, suitable for first-person shooters, MMOs and MOBAs, and sports Cherry MX keys and a wrist-rest (slightly oddly, given that it would otherwise be impressively compact). Three thumb-keys below the space bar give it decent macro-launching capabilities, in conjunction with Roccat's Easy-Shift system. While it lacks USB and audio ports, it still has everything you need for top-end gaming.
Cougar Attack X3

7. Cougar Attack X 3

A true metalhead
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: 10 | Features: Cherry MX Switches, N-Key rollover in USB mode, 1000Hz polling rate, On-board memory, Aluminium brushed structure, Dedicated media keys, Cougar UIX system, Anti-slip rubber feet, Full key backlight, Multimedia keys
Great build quality
Anti-slip rubber feet
Fast response time
No RGB backlighting
If you prefer your mechanical keyboards to be built like tanks, the aluminium-fashioned Cougar Attack X3 is for you. Sacrificing RGB lighting for a moodier black, silver and red appearance, the keyboard comes with a choice of Cherry MX Red, Blue, Brown or Black keyswitches to suit your tastes. The anti-slip rubber feet on the Attack X3's base provide extra elevation while keeping the keyboard sturdy, and a Windows lock function key means you'll never accidentally switch back to your desktop in the heat of battle. The Attack X3's basic design, fast response time and excellent build quality make it an uncomplicated addition to any gamer's arsenal - and one that should last a while too.
Read the full review: Cougar Attack X 3
Logitech G105

8. Logitech G105

Cheap, cheerful and probably enough for your needs
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: Yes | Features: Long-life LED backlighting, Six programmable G-Keys, Multi-key input, Game mode switch, Instant media access, Easy to setup
Game mode switch key
Affordable
Basic design
Best gaming keyboard

9. Turtle Beach Impact 700

Premium gaming keyboard with a minimal footprint
Interface: Wired | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: No | Features: Steel reinforced chassis, Six-key rollover with anti-ghosting, 3.5mm mic and audio jacks, 2 x USB 2.0 ports with audio pass through
Compact
Numberic key pad
No programmable keys
If you favour gaming keyboards at the more compact end of the spectrum, Turtle Beach's Impact 700 does away with a wrist-rest, and has as small a footprint as is possible for a keyboard that includes a numeric keypad and uses Cherry MX Brown keys. It does lack programmable macros, though, so lends itself more to devotees of first-person shooters – especially since it comes with spare W, A, S and D keys (along with others), and a tool that enables you to remove worn-out ones. Plus it lets you illuminate key-clusters. Not the cheapest, but worth considering by those who have a tendency to hammer their keyboards into oblivion.
Ten Best Gaming keyboards

10. Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. M

Funny-looking but great value
Interface: Wireless | Keyboard backlighting: Yes | Programmable keys: No | Features: Switch between four devices, Small and stylish, Case and tablet stand included
Small footprint
Unique design
Cramped keys for typing
Poor for desktop use
We'll admit that if you rock up at a LAN party and pull out a Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. M, derisive hoots of laughter will probably ensue. Nevertheless, it's a unique and versatile keyboard that could end up coming in handy – particularly if you don't class yourself as a thoroughly hardcore gamer. It's tiny and wireless (via Bluetooth), and has a built-in optical sensor with buttons that acts like a mouse. And although the keyboard is a membrane one, it feels surprisingly tactile. Perfect for gaming on Android devices or when you're on the move.











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Is Facebook building a desktop Messenger app for Mac?
Is Facebook building a desktop Messenger app for Mac?
Insider sources and a leaked photo obtained by TechCrunch hint that Facebook is preparing a desktop version of its Messenger app for OS X, enabling users to chat away from their browser of choice.
Facebook Mac
On the one hand it would be a rather surprising move considering Mark Zuckerberg and his team have previously launched and then abandoned a standalone Messenger client for Windows.
On the other hand a new bit of software would make perfect sense - Facebook has made no secret of the fact that it wants to turn Messenger into a fully formed platform in its own right, and that could well involve revamped apps as well as new features on the web.

The rise of Messenger

For end users the experience of using Messenger on the web and Messenger on the desktop wouldn't be much different. A Mac OS X app would, however, give Facebook complete control over the appearance and functionality of the program and differentiate it from mobile-only rivals.
From artificial intelligence to video calling, 2015 was a big year for Messenger in terms of new features rolling out and just a few days ago an official Facebook blog post promised some big things to come this year as well.
"There will be more innovative developments to come from Messenger this year," promised Facebook's David Marcus in that post. Starting with a new streamlined Messenger app for Mac, perhaps?











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Week in Gaming: If you think the Oculus Rift is too expensive, you're missing the point
Week in Gaming: If you think the Oculus Rift is too expensive, you're missing the point
This week, the Oculus Rift pricing was finally revealed, after years of speculation and hopeful estimates. A million op-eds have been written. The word "ballpark" has been said repeatedly. Basically, the issue is this: it's really bloody expensive.
Eye-wateringly so, in fact, although there is a chance this is just a side effect of having all that virtual reality in your face.
Oculus Rift will cost $599/£499/AU$649. That's a lot. Samsung Gear VR, by comparison, is $100/£80. A lot of people have been handing out Google Cardboard for free. Cardboard is just a cheaply made cardboard box, given, but for access to VR it's still quite a gulf in price.
Hot take incoming.
Now, it's not like I'm the first to pipe up and say this - the internet is full of opinions, then opposing opinions, and then the backlash to the opposing opinions, so this is all pretty much covered - but maybe $599 is… perfectly reasonable?
It's a big number. A lot of money. Many people will not be able to afford it (like me). But it's a new type of technology, and rather than thinking about it in terms of new games consoles, think about it as if it's something entirely new.
And you know what? The HTC Vive will probably cost even more.
When televisions were first made commercially available, they were prohibitively expensive. Same with cars, refrigerators and even smartphones. In fact, the first iPhone was $599 at launch, and that was only eight years ago.
That's not to say that Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and creator of the Oculus Rift, has communicated all of this brilliantly. After giving a ballpark figure (there's that word again, hello) of $350 in 2013, everyone's understandably upset about him going back on his word.
Palmer Luckey was 21 in 2013. He was also no doubt wrestling with the problem of people's expectations against growing internal estimates.
I mean, clearly the guy's a genius, but still - 21. This guy was not the media-trained corporate mouthpiece we're accustomed to dealing with. He was (and still is) just a young person pursuing a passion.
So yes, $600 is expensive, but it's a pioneering, first-generation piece of tech. For a minority, it's a way to buy in early, help virtual reality to develop, and seem cool while doing it. For the rest of us, it just means a longer wait until virtual reality is an everyday thing in our lives, too.
And let's be brutally honest here: if VR goes the way of the 3D TV and the Kinect, in 10 years' time it'll be sitting dustily on top of the bookcases belonging to all those early adopters, who will have saved you the trouble.











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Updated: Buying guide: 10 best gaming mice: best gaming mouse to buy
Updated: Buying guide: 10 best gaming mice: best gaming mouse to buy

Best gaming mouse rundown

PC gamers have never had it so good. The e-sports scene is enjoying unprecedented popularity, with plenty of (not entirely frivolous) talk about how gaming should be added to the Olympics roster.
Whether you fancy becoming the next League of Legends or Call of Duty superstar, or something more sedate, like leading a vicarious virtual life in an MMO or RPG, one thing is for sure: you will be at an instant disadvantage if you skimp on your choice of mouse.
And there's no excuse for that if you've lashed out eye-watering sums on an overclocked, water-cooled rig festooned with neon lights, or a top-of-the-range gaming laptop.

How to choose the best gaming mouse

Your choice of mouse depends very much on your gaming preferences: if you're into first-person shooters, say, finding the right balance of sensitivity and responsiveness is vital, so you'll need to pay attention to DPI ratings and decide between optical or laser sensors (fear not – leave the technical stuff to us). Whereas if you're into real-time strategy, MMOs or MOBAs, it's vital to pick a mouse that lets you map macros triggering the actions you use most to specially configured buttons.
So, we've picked the 9 best gaming mice: whatever your gaming preferences or needs, one of these will complete your ultimate PC or Mac gaming setup.
Best mouse

1. Roccat Nyth

The most customizable mouse, bar none
DPI: 1200 | Features: Custom button layout, Mid-finger fin switch, AlienFX Illumination, 3D printing support, 2x hotswappable sidegrips
Highly customisable
Contoured body
Can't change length
Roccat's Nyth is one of the more innovative mice in recent times. Clicking a button pops out its 12 side buttons, which you can then re-configure in any order you like - giving you a potential 36 side button combinations. Mapping is done using Roccat's Swarm driver, which lets you create custom button configurations and map buttons to programs. That makes it suitable for not just MMOs, but a whole range of genres - from FPS to MOBA titles. If you've got a 3D printer, you can even 3D print your own buttons for it.
Read the full review: Roccat Nyth
Best mouse

2. Razer DeathAdder Chroma

Sports a classic design and has an insane DPI
DPI: 10,000 | Interface: USB Wired | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: Yes | Features: Textured rubber side grips, Chroma lighting, 1000Hz Ultrapolling, On-the-fly sensitivity adjustment, Always-on mode
High DPI
Grips well
Pedestrian design
No macro buttons
Many pro gamers swear by Razer's PC peripherals, and the Death Adder Chroma mouse is one of the most popular gaming mice around. There's nothing too flash about it (except for the ability to make various bits of it glow in different colours), but it feels right in the hand, is light, the rubber side-grips come in handy at frenzied moments, its optical sensor is tried-and-tested and it goes up to an insane 10,000DPI (probably too sensitive for mere mortals, but it's there if you need it). MMO fans may be slightly disappointed by a less-than-generous allocation of macro buttons, though. But in the world of gaming mice, it's considered something of a design classic.
Read the full review: Razer DeathAdder Chroma
Best mouse

3. Roccat Kone XTD

A true button-basher
DPI: 8200 | Interface: Wired | Buttons: 8 | Feature: Ergonmic design, 1000Hz polling rate, 1ms response time, 12000fps, 10.8megapixel, 30G acceleration, 16-bit data channel, 1-5mm Lift off distance, 72MHz Turbo Core V2 32-bit Arm based MCU, 576kB onboard memory, Zero angle snapping/prediction
Plenty of buttons
Fast response time
Software bit gimmicky
With a clever easy-shift system that effectively doubles the number of its buttons, Roccat's Kone XTD scores particularly highly with those who crave macros at their fingertips. But it's a great all-rounder which is built to last, with easily adjustable sensitivity and a rugged wheel. With a 32-bit processor and ability to analyse your mouse-pad and automatically set lift-distance, it might just be the most high-tech mouse on the market. Plus it looks and feels spot-on. Some of the software may be a tad gimmicky, but it provides all the customisability any serious MMO, MOBA or RTS gamer could desire, and can hold its own on the first-person shooter scene.
Razer Naga

4. Razer Naga Chroma

The most colourful MMO mouse around
DPI: 8200 | Interface: Wired/Wireless | Buttons: 19 programmable | Features: Tilt-click mechanical thumb grid, Wireless gaming-grade tech, Charging dock, Chroma lighting with 16.8 million customizable color options, Razer Synapse software, 1000Hz Ultrapolling, up to 200 inches per second/50g acceleration
Customizable lighting
Plenty of buttons
Hard to replace battery
Razer updated its Naga MMO mousse with Chroma lighting, and once again there's more than enough buttons for fans of the genre to customize their moves. The Chroma Naga is connected using the supplied charging cable, which can be disconnected to provide up to around eight hours of charge. Sporting a sleek black matte design that contrasts well with the shifting colours, the Naga Chroma is a slick addition to Razer's line-up of gaming mice.
Read the full review: Razer Naga Chroma
Best mouse

5. Mad Catz R.A.T.M

Small rodent
DPI: 6400 | Interface: Wireless | Buttons: 12 (10 programmable) | Feature: GameSmart Multi-platform, USB Nano Dongle, Bluetooth, 1 year from 2 AAA batteries, Adjust grip in 0-15mm in 5mm increments, dang
Built-in Bluetooth
Adjustable grip
Fits better in smaller hands
Finding the right mouse is a perennial problem for gamers who prefer laptops to PCs, but Mad Catz's R.A.T.M has been specifically designed to solve that conundrum. As is typical for laptop-specific mice, it's tiny (which could prove problematic for the giant-handed), but at least it's size-adjustable, and packs surprisingly decent specifications for such a tiny package, with 6,400DPI sensitivity and a clever four-way button that can run five macros. And it's wireless – with a built-in Bluetooth dongle so it works even if your laptop doesn't have native Bluetooth. Worth considering for those who place portability at a premium, but like to play MMOs and MOBAs.
Best mouse

6. SteelSeries Sensei

A shot in the (32-bit) ARM
DPI: 6400 | Interface: Wireless | Buttons: 12 (10 programmable) | Features: Customisable lift distance, Button functionality and CPI, Ilumination, Macros, SteelSeries Engine, 32-bit ARM CPU, 1 - 5,700 CPI, 10.8-MP HD image correlation at up to 12,000 FPS, Tracking movements of up to 150 inches per second
Handy 8 macro buttons
Customisable "lift distance"
Bland design
SteelSeries peripherals have a huge following among the professional gaming community, and many pros swear by the Sensei. With 11,400DPI sensitivity and a handy eight macro buttons, it comfortably straddles the first-person shooter/MMO/MOBA divide. Meanwhile, underneath its deceptively conventional looks, it's precision-engineered for all the precision and sensitivity you could desire. And it even lets you customise its "lift distance" – so whatever surface you use it on, you can get it performing perfectly. We can't vouch for your general level of talent, but the SteelSeries Sensei will at least put you on a par with the pros in terms of equipment.
Best mouse

7. Logitech G602

Battery warrior
DPI: 2500 | Interface: Wireless | Buttons: 2 | Features: 250 - 2,500 DPI, 20G max acceleration, Max speed 6.6ft/second, 250-hour battery life, 9.8ft wireless range, In-game sensitivity switching, Performance mode, Logitech Gaming Software
Long battery life
Low DPI
SteelSeries peripherals have a huge following among the professional gaming community, and many pros swear by the Sensei. With 11,400DPI sensitivity and a handy eight macro buttons, it comfortably straddles the first-person shooter/MMO/MOBA divide. Meanwhile, underneath its deceptively conventional looks, it's precision-engineered for all the precision and sensitivity you could desire. And it even lets you customise its "lift distance" – so whatever surface you use it on, you can get it performing perfectly. We can't vouch for your general level of talent, but the SteelSeries Sensei will at least put you on a par with the pros in terms of equipment.
Best mouse

8. SteelSeries Sensei [RAW]

White hot metal
DPI: 62155 | Interface: Wired | Buttons: 8 | Features: Advanced macros, Scalable pointer speed from 90 to 5670 in increments of 90, 10.8-Megapixel HD image correlation at up to 12,000 FPS, Tracking movements of up to 150 inches per second, White illumination, UPE material
Long battery life
Scalable pointer speed
Low DPI
The Sensei [RAW] is a cut-down, and considerably cheaper, version of the classic Sensei, which keeps all the Sensei's most important attributes, but does away with some more exotic features – notably the 32-bit ARM processor and the LCD display. In terms of all its mechanical bits, though, it's the same as the Sensei. So you get that tournament-honed feel and precision (and it's available in a nice rubberised finish, too). Worth considering if you're pretty sure that you don't possess the raw talent to make it to the very top of the online gaming world, and happen to be a tad impecunious – yet still want a mouse that handles impeccably.
Best mouse

9. Logitech G502 Proteus Core

Tunable gaming mouse
DPI: 200 - 12,000 | Interface: Wired | Buttons: 11 | Features: Control weight and balance, Comes with five 3.6g weights, 11 programmable buttons, In-game DPI shifting, Dual mode mouse wheel, 32-bit microcontroller, 3 on-board profiles, 1 millisecond report rate, Mechanical microswitches, Rubber grips
In-game DPI shifting
Adjustable weight and grip
No right-hand buttons
If you like a bit of weight in the hand, as it were, Logitech's bombastically named G502 Proteus Core is undoubtedly the mouse for you. That's because its weight is customisable: it comes with five weights that you can add and reposition (making it nose-heavy, say) to your heart's content. Beyond that, its specification is sufficiently tasty for it to have made inroads into the pro-gaming community, with 12,000DPI sensitivity (adjustable on the fly) and 11 programmable macro buttons. And even its wheel can be adjusted between clicking and scrolling. A top-notch all-rounder.
Cougar 550M

10. Cougar 550M

Responsive and well-built, it's ready to pounce
DPI: 50-6400 | Interface: Wired | Buttons: 6 | Features: Braided cable, Omron micro switches, Gaming-grade scroll wheel, Programmable trigger buttons, Anti-slip flanks, Premium gaming surface, 1000Hz Polling Rate/1ms Response time, 3-stage DPI LED display, Multi-colour backlight system (2 zone RGB)
Fast response time
Tough cable
Won't fit small hands
The Cougar 550M is a durable gaming mouse with a fast 1ms response time. Its side panels feature a mesh design that lend it some Crysis-esque cool and feel great to grip, and its two roomy side buttons on the left-hand edge are easy to press. We wish more manufacturers would make gaming mice with braided cables like the one on the 550M - they do a better job of staying untangled and add to your confidence levels in-game. Located under the scrool wheel, the 550M's DPI switch feels curiously satisfying to press - like changing the gear stick in a sports car. The mouse feels solid in the hand, but its size doesn't make it a great fit for small hands.











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How to install and customise Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi
How to install and customise Raspbian on the Raspberry Pi

Installing Raspbian

Raspbian has been the default distribution (distro) for the Raspberry Pi since its launch in 2012. In this time we've seen the distro grow from a simple fork of Debian into a fully featured product that covers many different use cases. In this tutorial we peek under the hood and get to know the latest version.
The easiest way to install Raspbian is via NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software). For this you will need at least an 8GB micro SD card that's formatted to use a FAT32 filesystem. Download the NOOBS ZIP archive to another computer and extract the contents of the ZIP archive to your micro SD card.
Eject the card from the computer and insert it into your Raspberry Pi. Connect your keyboard and other peripherals but leave the power until last. Boot your Raspberry Pi and you will be presented with a menu offering many different operating systems for installation.
Tick the box next to Raspbian and then click Install and wait. The installation will take around 10 minutes to complete. With the installation complete your Raspberry Pi will reboot into the Raspbian desktop environment, but first you will need to complete a few configuration changes via raspiconfig which automatically loads on first boot.
How to install and customise Raspbian
At this time the only configuration change to make is expanding Raspbian so that it uses the full capacity of your SD card. Once complete you can navigate to Finish using the cursor keys and press Enter to confirm your choice.
Every Raspberry Pi has the same default login details:
Username: pi
Password: raspberry
Once logged in we are presented with the Raspbian LXTerminal and from here we have a significant amount of power available through a few common Linux commands.

Finding your way about

When logged in we are dropped into our home directory and this is where all of our documents, music and pictures are held. To understand where we are in the filesystem we can use a command to print our location, which is known as print working directory by typing in $ pwd
This will return our location as /home/pi/ but what if we wish to navigate to another directory? If we wish to go into a directory that's in our home directory then we first need to list the directories in our home. To do this we type ls into LXTerminal, after the command prompt.
This will output all of the directories and files in our home directory. We can see one called Downloads and if we want to navigate there we need to change directory, so we use the cd command and pass it the location of the directory that we wish to move to like this: $ cd Downloads (note: the ' isn't to be typed. It's a symbol representing the command prompt and that you should be typing in LXTerminal/Bash).
If we now repeat the pwd command, it will report that we are in /home/pi/Downloads and if we wished to return to /home/pi we can type:
cd /home/pi
A quick way to return to home is to type:
cd
Let's now load the Raspbian desktop, to do this we use this command followed by Enter: $ startx. After a few seconds the Raspbian desktop will load and you will see a clean desktop with a rather large Raspberry Pi logo.
The Raspbian desktop has been refined to be a much more user-friendly interface by Simon Long, who joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation in late 2014, and has spent a great deal of time in creating a simple interface that does away with the repetition of applications seen in previous versions.
How to install and customise Raspbian
The main menu is at the top left of the screen and inside there we can see a number of sub menus. The first of the submenus is Programming and in there we have two versions of Python: versions 2.7 and 3. We also have Sonic Pi, the popular music creation application powered by the Ruby programming language.
In the next submenu, which is Internet, we'll find a web browser and quick links to the Raspberry Pi Store for apps and the official Raspberry Pi resources. In the 'Games' submenu we'll find the popular Minecraft game which can be hacked using a pre-installed Python API, which has recently been updated to work with Python 3.
Finally, in the 'Accessories' submenu we'll find a collection of handy applications, such as a PDF reader, archive managers, text editor and a file manager to graphically navigate the files and directories of our Raspberry Pi.
Moving along the top of the screen we can also see a line of icons. These are shortcuts to the web browser, file manager, terminal and other applications. Moving further along to the top right we can see a group of four icons.
The first of the four is the new Wi-Fi configuration tool which replaces the previous tool that was found in the main menu.
The new configuration tool is easy to use with most types of Wi-Fi dongles. You simply left-click on the Wi-Fi icon, wait for it to detect the routers in the area, select your router from the list and enter your password into the Pre Shared Key dialog box.
After a few moments your Raspberry Pi will be connected to the network. Moving along the screen we next see the volume control, a left-click here will bring up a volume slider, whereas a right-click is used to change the output from HDMI to 3.5mm headphone jack.
The remaining two icons are a CPU process graph showing how busy the CPU is and the final entry is a date/time application.
If we wish to update the software that's installed by default with Raspbian we can use APT (Advanced Packaging Tool) to download the applications and any dependencies. To do this we open an LXTerminal via the shortcuts at the top of the desktop.
Our first command will update the list of installed software on our Raspberry Pi with a list from the Raspbian servers, this ensures that our software is up to date: $ sudo apt-get update. We can now upgrade the software installed on our Raspberry Pi by typing $ sudo apt-get upgrade. This may generate a lot of output in LXTerminal.
Make sure that you read what's being installed if you're asked to accept changes before continuing with the upgrade.

Installing software

Software installation is also handled in a similar manner. For the last part of this tutorial we go and install a screen capture tool called scrot and we do this by typing $ sudo aptget install scrot . After a few moments the application will install and be ready for use (read on for how to access scrot's help files).
Good work! We've installed Raspbian, configured it for use and learned where software can be found and updated to latest software – you're now ready to work a project.

Raspi-config

The Raspberry Pi has its own configuration tool, raspi-config. In the tutorial, it opened automatically when we first booted the Raspberry Pi. But should you need to make any further changes you can also re-open it from the LXTerminal by typing $ sudo raspi-config.
How to install and customise Raspbian
Using raspi-config we can enable the official Raspberry Pi camera, configure audio and SSH server to run at boot. We can also overclock our Raspberry Pi to force it to run faster, but this can damage your Raspberry Pi if you push it too hard.
Overclocking the CPU generates a lot of heat and the Raspberry Pi doesn't come with a heatsink to dissipate CPU heat.
Raspi-config can also be used to change the memory split between the system and the GPU (Graphical Processing Unit), eg a web server doesn't need a lot of memory when running headless, but a desktop computer will need more memory to run software such as the window manager software, which is how the Raspberry Pi is typically used.

Linux commands

Raspbian is based on the massively popular Debian distro, which means it has a plethora of commands. But what if you want to learn more about a command? Enter man, which is short for manual, a command used to access the help files for a command, eg to read the scrot manual, the screen capture tool, we would type:
$ man scrot
This automatically opens the manual, which we can scroll through using the cursor keys, and exit by pressing q.
Linux has another handy little trick: auto-completion. Commands entered into the LXTerminal/Bash can be auto-completed by pressing the Tab key, eg if we were to type scr followed by the Tab key, the word will auto-complete to scrot, if that's not the command you're looking for you can press Tab again and Raspbian will show you all the commands that match the entry.
Adding a few more characters will home in on the right command and pressing Tab again will auto-complete it.











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Tesla's latest update lets you summon your car from the kerb
Tesla's latest update lets you summon your car from the kerb
Electric car outfit Tesla is one of the companies at the forefront of the self-driving vehicle revolution, and it just pushed out a software update for its Model S motor that adds an interesting new feature called Summon.
As the name suggests, the new code enables you to summon your car from a distance of up to 39 feet (about 12 metres). If you're in a car park or you don't want to get wet crossing the road it could prove very handy indeed.
It also works in reverse - so your Model S can go off and park itself once you've stepped out of it. Tesla stresses that the feature is still in beta and should be used with caution for the time being.

Private roads only

There are some limitations: Summon must only be used on private property and flat roads, and for now you can only get the car to move forwards or backwards. "This feature is especially useful for parking in tight spaces and narrow garages," says Tesla.
Other improvements added by the new software include perpendicular parking capabilities and some tweaks to the Autosteer function that keeps you in the right line on motorways.
It might not change the lives of Tesla Model S owners but it's another step forward for autonomous car technology. Car makers say some self-driving capabilities should be built into most new cars by 2020.











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Updated: Best free PC backup software
Updated: Best free PC backup software

Introduction

Intro backup software
Note: Our best free PC backup software round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in March 2013.
From viruses and bugs, to hardware failure or simple human error, there are many potential dangers waiting to trash your files.
And if the worst happens – you lose personal photos, your music library, vital business documents – then that could be a real disaster. Which is why it's a very good idea to back up your PC on a regular basis.
This is never going to be fun, of course, but with the right software it'll be easier than you think. And you may not have to spend anything, either, because there are some great free (for personal use) backup and disk cloning tools around for Windows.

AOMEI Backupper Standard 3.2

AOMEI Backupper Standard 3.2
AOMEI Backupper Standard is a good-looking and easy-to-use backup tool with a pile of features: file sync, partition, disk or system image backups, disk cloning, easy browsing of backup images and a bootable rescue disc for emergencies.
A super-flexible scheduler can run your backups automatically at regular intervals, daily, on certain days of the week, and more – just set it up and you're done.
There are a few limitations when compared to the $49 (around £33, AU$69) Backupper Professional edition – namely that you can't merge backup images, there's no backup disk space management, no system cloning or migration. But overall AOMEI Backupper Standard performs very well, and there's more than enough power here for most people.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free 9.0

EaseUS Todo Backup Free 9.0
At first glance, EaseUS Todo Backup Free seems much like the competition – you get file, disk and system image backups, a scheduler, disk cloning, and a bootable recovery disc for easy image restoration.
But then you notice some major extras, such as the Smart Backup system which checks the folders you specify and backs up whatever has changed. Or the support for saving your archives to Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.
There's real depth here, too, with many options you won't always see in the free competition. Backup encryption; full, incremental and differential support; network throttling to reduce performance impact; "pre-OS boot" to recover backups without a disc; not to mention both a Windows PE and a Linux rescue environment.
All this power does make EaseUS Todo Backup Free a touch more intimidating than the best of the rest, but it's still not difficult to use. If your backup needs are demanding, try this one first.

Macrium Reflect Free 6.1.1000

Macrium Reflect Free 6.1.1000
Macrium Reflect Free won't be for everyone. There's no file-based backups in the free build, it's strictly image-only, and the interface isn't what we'd call novice-friendly (one tooltip reads "Validate the XML syntax of the selected file").
Still, experienced users will find a lot to like here: differential imaging, compression, a powerful scheduler, image > VHD conversion, a feature-packed Windows PE rescue disc, and in-depth control over how long backups are kept.
Backup Templates help you put together a professional backup plan in seconds, too. Choose the "Differential Backup Set" template, say, and the program sets itself up to run a full backup monthly, and a differential backup every day (these can be tweaked as required).
Factor in Macrium Reflect's good performance and overall reliability, and it makes a good imaging backup choice.

FBackup 5.5

FBackup 5.5
FBackup is an interesting file backup tool, a little short on features but with a strong focus on keeping operations as simple as possible.
A plug-in system, for example, allows you to back up key data – Chrome and Firefox profiles, Outlook mail, IE favourites, pictures, documents – with a couple of clicks.
A "mirror backup" option simply copies your files from one location to another, with no compression or imaging to get in your way. And the wizard-based interface means you'll be creating your first backup job in no time at all.
There are also restrictions, in particular no support for incremental or differential backups. But if you just need a quick and easy file-based system, FBackup is worth a look.

BackUp Maker 7.102

BackUp Maker 7.102
BackUp Maker is clearly aiming to be the file-based backup tool for everyone. A simple wizard means novices can get started in seconds, but experts will find plenty of extras including encryption, password protection, excluding files by size, backup to CD/DVD/Blu-ray/FTP/FTPS, the ability to run backups when a USB device is plugged in, send backup reports by email, and more.
Unfortunately, there's a catch, and it's a big one. The program can't back up locked files unless you buy a €15 (around £11, $16, AU$23) extra.
BackUp Maker wouldn't be our choice for a general backup tool, then. But if you just need to back up some files which aren't being used – pictures, music, documents – then the lengthy feature set makes it worth giving this program a go.

Areca Backup 7.5

Areca Backup 7.5
Targeted squarely at the expert user, Areca Backup offers a host of expert-level options and tweaks, including filtering by extension, folder, size, date, status and regular expression, Zip and Zip64 support, AES and AES256 encryption, backup to local or network drives, FTP, FTPS or SFTP servers, and more.
The interface does little to help you out, unfortunately, and most tasks are trickier than you'd expect. Scheduling, for instance? Set it up yourself via the command line tool.
There's no backup of locked files, either, unless you spend €4 (around £3, $4, AU$6) on an add-on.
Still, there are major pluses here. Like the delta backup technology which saves only the modified parts of files, potentially giving you a huge speed boost. Or the ability to recover files by a specific date.
On balance, if you're an experienced user who needs the fine control Areca Backup offers, it deserves a closer look.

Paragon Backup and Recovery 14 Free

Paragon Backup and Recovery 14 Free
Paragon's free backup offering hasn't been updated for a while, and it's not difficult to tell. It suffers from a clunky interface, image backups only (not files), some useful exclude filters – and saving to VHD/ VMDK images – but otherwise there's nothing surprising about the core engine.
Still, Paragon's option to save your image to a "capsule" – a secure area where it's less likely to be lost if your partition is damaged – is worth having.
You also get an excellent bootable rescue disc, and there's a basic set of partition management tools thrown in.
Put it all together and Paragon is still a contender, but the company will need to deliver more, and soon.

QILING Disk Master Professional 3.6

QILING Disk Master Professional 3.6
QILING Disk Master Professional grabbed our attention immediately with a simple but effective strategy – throwing in more features than just about any other backup program ever.
So of course you get file and imaging backups, with full/incremental/differential support, compression, password protection, scheduling, and full or partial restoration from a Windows PE rescue disc or a pre-boot environment on your hard drive.
But there are also tools to clone a drive. Migrate your system. Create, format, delete and recover disk partitions. Check your hard drive's health. There's a RAM disk, a defrag tool, a virtual disk for easy software testing, and more.
Some of these options are basic, and high-end competitors do better in a few areas (EaseUS Todo Backup Free has a smarter scheduler, for example), but QILING Disk Master Professional's all-round versatility still earns it a thumbs-up from us.











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Hands-on review: CES 2016: LG Gram 15
Hands-on review: CES 2016: LG Gram 15
LG hasn't always been known for its laptops but it's made some major headway in the states bringing forth two lightweight 13- and 14-inch models. Now with the Gram 15, LG says it has introduced the world's lightest 15.6-inch laptop and with the Gram 15 Weighing in at 0.98kg (2.16 pounds) – the same as its 14-inch notebook – LG is pretty much on the money.
The new notebook is freakishly light and when viewed from the side it's also bafflingly thin. Just to put the Gram 15 in perspective, the 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 1.09kg (2.38 pounds). The weight savings come largely thanks to the LG Gram 15 being made of a magnesium shell, which is considerably lighter than the aluminum alloy used by most laptop manufacturers.
LG Gram 15 review
LG's minimalistic styling of the Gram comes at a refreshing and stark contrast to other laptop manufacturers. You won't find any specially cut edges, soft touch paint or overbearing logos. The only bit of flair you'll find on the Gram 15 is LG's logo pushed over to the far top-right corner of the screen lid.
LG Gram 15 review
Though this lightweight alloy comes at the cost of some rigidity. While the laptop's base feels nice and solid, the display is unsettlingly flexible, almost to the point of feeling flimsy.
LG Gram 15 review
That said, there are some things to like about the Gram 15's design. Firstly, the bezels are slim all around the edges of the display and LG even moved the webcam to the hinge just to shave off a few millimeters of black border around the screen. All of these tweaks in turn makes the Gram 15's footprint just a tad smaller than your typical 15-inch laptop.
LG as also bumped up the resolution of the display to 1,920 x 1,080 given the larger screen. The display largely comes off as average with decent viewing angles and accurate colors, but nothing about it makes me smile with glee.
LG Gram 15 review
Despite all the nip-tucking this machine has seen, you'll still find a set of full-size ports along the sides including two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, USB-C and a SD card slot. What's more, there's Intel Core I power bubbling under the hood with the choice of either an i5 or i7 processor. 8GB of RAM comes standard, leaving users with picking between 256GB or 512GB for their storage options.
However, there are still a few details being left in the dark as LG has been mum on expected battery life. The South Korean electronics firm has also yet to release the all too crucial pricing details and announced a wide availability window of sometime in mid-2016.
LG Gram 15 review

Early verdict

The LG Gram 15 is without a doubt the lightest 15-inch laptop in the world, but I'm concerned it may have sacrificed too much in the process of fulfilling this bullet point. The flimsy screen is inadmissible by today's build quality standards and missing battery life claim isn't comforting either.
In contrast to all my concerns, LG is on the right track with certain elements of the Gram 15. The minimalistic styling is a nice change of pace compared to other overly designed laptops and the screen bezels are a treat too.











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Hands-on review: CES 2016: Acer Aspire Switch 12 S
Hands-on review: CES 2016: Acer Aspire Switch 12 S
Acer has been at the 2-in-1 laptop game for a long time and while its Switch series hasn't always impressed with some clunky and bulky systems, the Acer Switch 12 S is simply its best convertible notebook ever. The 12.5-inch laptop is Acer's thinnest hybrid yet packing a Core M processor and a 4K screen.
Acer is positioning the Switch 12 S as a premium home and work machine and its fully metal body certainly backs the claims. The machine is elegant, thin and the build quality is solid though out.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S
The screen measures an impressive 0.31-inches (7.85mm) thin considering the processor, battery and all the other components tucked behind the display. As just a tablet it also doesn't weigh too much either at 1.76 pounds (0.8kg). With an equally thin, magnetic keyboard dock attached the Switch 12 weighs 3.09 pounds (1.4kg).
Overall, you're looking at a pretty light device that weighs less than the 3.14 pound (1.43kg) Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi but not less than a 2.62-pound (1.18kg) Surface 3 with its keyboard cover. However, the 12.5-inch tablet-hybrid is still thicker than both Asus and Microsoft's competing devices.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S
Still the Switch 12 S is considerably thinner than Acer's other convertibles and this is largely thanks to a much a latch-less, magnetic connector that keeps the keyboard firmly adhered to the tablet section. Not only is the system less complicated, Acer has also done away with any bothersome contact pins and built gold power and data connectors directly into the two prongs that hold onto the screen.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review
Acer calls this new element its snap hinge and it makes it possible for the device to send 6Gbps data streams between the keyboard and tablet. While the screen portion is limited to smaller USB-C and other micro-sized ports, the keyboard features fold-down, full-sized USB 3.0 ports. It's a smart usage of space and a design element I haven't seen in any other device.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review
Unfortunately, the keyboard dock does not feature a full-sized SD card reader on top of its two USB ports and it needs to draw power from the tablet. However, the keyboard itself is excellent with deep key travel and a decently sized trackpad.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review
The IPS display Acer has implemented is impressive in its own right. For my hands on I got to set my eyes on the 4K (3,840 x 2,160) model and it is gorgeous. Colors pop off the screen and Acer has also made the display in such a way that there is no air gap between the pixels on the display and the cover glass on the touchscreen.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review
Of course, if you're looking for better battery life, there will also be models sporting a 1,920 x 1,080 display, which will still be sharp enough for a 12.5-inch device.
As with other Windows 10 hybrid devices, the Switch 12 seamlessly swaps between tablet and laptop modes. Additionally, you'll have a few extra orientations to put the device into including tent and presentation modes. It's light enough to hold as a tablet around the house and in laptop mode, the snap hinge helps lift the keyboard slightly for a better typing angle.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review
Available starting this February, the Acer Switch 12 S will launch with prices starting at $999 (about £688, AU$1,436). Configuration options also include either 4GB or 8GB of memory and either 128GB or 256GB of SSD storage.
Acer Aspire Switch 12 S review

Early verdict

The Switch 12 S is one of the finest hybrids Acer has ever produced and yet it won't cost you an arm to buy it. There are plenty of new features to admire along with the premium feel of the device and vibrant 4K display.
While Acer's latest convertible is ambitious and impresses based on my short time with it, I'll have to take an extended look at the device before I can confidently recommend it.











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10 brilliant accessories for the gadget lover in your life
10 brilliant accessories for the gadget lover in your life

10 great gadget accessories

If you're someone fortunate enough to have a gadget-lover in your life, you'll dread having to buy them a gift. You want to get them something meaningful that they'll actually use, but you have no idea what to get – and you don't want to waste money on something they'll hate.
Here's the good news: if they got that 'big' piece of tech they really wanted for Christmas then we've hand-picked some great ideas for accessories that will make the gift that much more awesome.
Whether you want to supercharge their Apple Watch, improve the audio in their life or trick out their car with tech, we've got the top things you should be looking for when the birthday (or, whisper it quietly, next Christmas) rolls around.

1. Henge Dock for Macbook

Accessories
When you need to edit a video or edit your photos, sometimes a diminutive laptop screen just doesn't cut it - which is why it is sometimes necessary to plug into a larger screen. To make this process as painless as possible, a Henge Dock is an elegant solution.
Effectively a vertical stand, you slide your Macbook in on its side, and connectors line the bottom of the Henge to plug into the monitor, USB devices and so on.
And when you're done, all you need to do is slide your Mac out. No faffing about with tangled cables, no fuss.
Vertical docks are available for Macbook Pro, Macbook Pro Retina, Macbook Air and the new Macbook, and the company also makes a range of accessories - such as a combined Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad to use with it. Docks can be picked up for around $69 (£45, $AU95).

2. Sonos Playbar

Accessories
We're used to our TVs being massive now, but sometimes we overlook the sound - which is where soundbars come in.
They sit beneath your telly and turn everything from the latest blockbusters to mundane soaps into something that feels like a more cinematic experience.
One such soundbar from Sonos does just that – and connects to existing compatible home speaker systems. This means that not only can you also use the soundbar to play your music when not watching telly (including Spotify and TuneIn radio), but you can also use it to feed the audio from your TV to other rooms in the house.
Want to be able to follow the sport commentary as you wander into the kitchen to pick up another drink? Now you can.
Because it connects through the optical output, it just needs one cable and will play whatever is plugged into the telly. The Sonos Playbar will set you back around £589 (around $900 or $AU1200).

3. Pioneer SPH-DA120 with Apple Carplay

Accessories
So the car is tricked out with a big subwoofer, fancy lights and some furry dice - but isn't something missing? Apple's CarPlay is the company's attempt at helping your iPhone better interact with your car's dashboard, and is something we'll be seeing more of over the next few years as cars roll off the production line with support built in.
If you want to upgrade your current car though, pick up this aftermarket stereo from Pioneer. Simply plug in your iPhone to the SPH-DA120 using a Lightning cable and the dashboard screen will transform into something very iFamiliar.
From here you can then use the same apps as the ones on your phone that have been specially configured for use in the car, meaning you can get turn by turn navigation from Apple Maps or hit up Spotify for your tunes.
Better still, you can even control the unit with voice commands via Siri - and use it to select your tracks or even send and respond to text messages while driving. There's no better way of making your phone work with your car. You can pick one up for just over £300 (around $435 / $AU625).

4. Parrot AR Flight Recorder

Accessories
If someone has a Parrot AR drone, this accessory can make it much smarter. Styled like an aircraft's black box recorder (so bright orange), this USB box plugs on to your drone and will record detailed flight data including GPS positioning on its 4GB of flash memory. You can also use a mobile app to map your flight in 3D while the drone is still in the air.
You can even use it to create pre-planned journeys - using software to tell the drone where to go. Or you can simply plug in some GPS coordinates and the accessory will send the drone zipping off to the waypoint. You can pick one up for $70 (about £50 or $100AUS) on Amazon – but make sure you read the regulations on how to use drones in your country before you start zipping about.

5. Apple Watch Link Bracelet

Accessories
Let's face it, if your gadget-fiend LOVES their iPhone, there's probably a good chance they now have an Apple Watch – and if you didn't buy it you might feel that you missed out on the opportunity to gift them something they'd really like.
But here's an idea: go big on the watchstrap to make their Watch a cut above the others being flashed around on the train on the way to work.
The Silver Link Bracelet will make it almost look like they've got an "Edition" version of the Apple Watch, but will set you back a cool £379 ($575USD, $795AUS). Alternatively you can go lower cost and get something that offers the same link experience (like this one from Amazon) for a lot cheaper.

6. Enerplex Surfr Amp iPhone case

Accessories
They've probably already got a top-end iPhone kicking about, so if your gadget-lover is packing an iPhone 6S, give them the gift of power.
This case is way more than just a battery pack (a must for any hardcore iPhone user anyway) as while it can charge the iPhone more than one and a half times over, there's a solar panel stuck on the back to nick some of the sun's rays when the power is running low.
Not so good if they live in the rainy north, but if you're anywhere that there's a smattering of sunshine they'll love being able to charge up without having to frantically search for a wall outlet.
Pick one up for £30 / $89 / around AU$130

7. Oral B SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush

Accessories
What do you get the gadget lover who has everything from a smartwatch to a drone already? A bluetooth electric toothbrush with an app, of course – because the bathroom needs some tech loving too.
Oral B's SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush hooks up with your phone to offer you Fitbit-style analytics and feedback on how well you're brushing your teeth. Surely this is the future if we're gamifying dental care nowadays.
This nifty enamel-scrubber can be yours for around £90 / around $136 / $AU190.

8. Beam Projector Light

Accessories
Beam is a tiny projector built into a slightly-bigger-than-normal lightbulb. Simply screw it into the light socket and it can both illuminate your room, or display photos, videos… if it's on your phone, you can spew it from your lamp.
It's actually an Android device on the inside, one that's controlled using an app on either an iPhone or an Android device. So if you want a subtle projector - this could be the way to go.
The creators are also keen to trumpet how smart it can be; because it ambiently sits watch over your house you can set up "if" and "then" controls. For example, having it automatically load Netflix and resume playback if it detects you switching your Bluetooth speakers on.
It's super clever - and it can be yours for just $399USD (around £260/$550AUS).

9. BrydgeAir

Accessories
Someone just been bought an iPad and you know they'd love to be able to do some writing with it when the laptop is locked away at home?
Then check out one of the best around: BrydeAir's Bluetooth keyboard for iPad Air and iPad Air 2 that looks both super slick and like something that turns your iPad into a mini-Macbook.
BrydgeAir provides a very Macbook-alike typing experience and will hinge to a full 180 degrees. It even has built in stereo Bluetooth speakers to make your music sound great too.
It starts at $150USD (around £100/$207AUS)

10. Gold HDMI Cables

Accessories
And finally the ultimate in luxury accessories. The one thing which signals above all else "look how wealthy and classy I am" in the home cinema space. We're talking of course, about gold HDMI cables - around £90 / $130 / $AU190).
The debate about how much improvement you get from such technology rumbles on as people point out that HDMI signal is carried digitally, so theoretically there's only so much improvement tech can make here.
But you've got a gadget fan in your midst, and they're always going to harbour some small belief somewhere that paying more for gold-plated cables is going to infer some sort of tech boost when they're watching an SD stream of Netflix.
So even if you're stuck there wondering what on earth you paid all that extra money for, if your gadget nut has just upgraded their home cinema set up they'll sit there quietly beaming with pride that they've got the 'best' out of their set up.











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Hands-on review: ces 2016: Chevrolet Bolt
Hands-on review: ces 2016: Chevrolet Bolt
It's been over a decade since General Motors sent most of its first production electric vehicle (EV), the GM EV1, to the crushers and cancelling their EV program. A lot has changed since the GM EV1 was around, especially with battery technology. While the GM EV1 launched with lead-acid batteries and later updated with nickel-metal hydride, lithium-ion battery technology has improved drastically to become a clean energy source for cars.
After producing the Volt plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) and the limited availability Spark EV, Chevrolet finally has an all-electric car for the masses. The company debuted the production Chevy Bolt to great fanfare, during a keynote from CEO Mary Barra at CES 2016.
Chvey Bolt pre-production
Chevy let techradar take out a preproduction Bolt for a couple laps around its autocross course at CES 2016 for an early hands-on review of the car. They're remaining tight-lipped about the power train details until the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but the preproduction mule was drivable.
The Bolt shares the familiar face as the rest of Chevy's lineup, which is a good thing. It's recognizable as a Chevy but doesn't look goofy like the Nissan Leaf. Bolt EV badges are the only distinguishable marks that identifies the car as all-electric, otherwise you could easily mistake it for a Chevy Spark.
I like how the car looks a lot, because it looks like a practical compact hatchback. It doesn't push any design boundaries, but it's what I expect a practical car to look like. There's no written rule that says electric cars need to have radical designs and features like the falcon doors on the Tesla Model X or the Batmobile styling of the Faraday Future FFZERO1.
Chevrolet Bolt
The preproduction Bolt I drove didn't have the headlights or taillights that will be on the production car, but it makes the car look like a hot-hatch. It didn't have a production interior and had everything covered up, so I can't judge the material quality or overall comfort.

Infotainment system

Despite the preproduction interior, the 8-inch LCD gauge cluster had sharp text and clean graphics. I'm glad Chevy used the LCD display to create a user interface that's modern and not just replicating analog gauges, digitally. It displays useful vehicle information such as estimated range, energy consumption and regenerative braking, but also ties into the infotainment system to display music data and turn-by-turn navigation directions. The speedometer is a large digital read out that's hard to miss while driving.
Chevy Bolt gauge cluster
Chevy's MyLink 10.2-inch infotainment display occupies a large part of the center stack and looks like a tablet. Navigating the user interface was a breeze thanks to a responsive capacitive touch display with simple menus. It's completely customizable and reminds me of Windows 10 live tiles. There's a 2 x 8 grid that lets you select what you want displayed, including energy-consumption, music data and connected smartphone.
Chevy Bolt infotainment
The cherry on top of the MyLink 10.2-inch infotainment system is support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which I didn't get to play with, unfortunately. I don't foresee any compatibility issues as the Bolt isn't the first GM car to tout support for the two smartphone connectivity features.

Driver assists

The Bolt will have offer forward pedestrian alert, forward collision alert, blind spot monitor and rear cross path detection, but the car I drove did not have those options. It did have the 360-degree camera and rear camera mirror though.
Chevy Bolt 360-degree camera
Chevy's 360-degree camera combines the feed of four cameras to create a bird's eye view of the car. I've yet to use a 360-degree camera in a car that I didn't love, and the Bolt is no different. However, the 10.2-inch infotainment display does make the low quality cameras look worse than smaller screens, since it's trying to scale the image to fit.
Nevertheless, I was able to see the lane markers and surroundings, which is still very useful information when backing up or parking the car. It would have been nice if Chevy used higher-resolution cameras, but I won't hold it against them because higher quality cameras are typically only available in luxury vehicles.
Chevy Bolt rear camera monitor
Chevy's rear camera mirror technology provides a live video feed to the rear view mirror. The camera quality is lower than what you'd see with a regular mirror. Fortunately, you can toggle between the video feed and a regular mirror.
Despite the camera quality, it's a weird to see a rear view of the car without headrests or the pillars. I can see the safety potential for this, but it will take time to get used to, which did not happen during my brief drive.

Driving the Bolt

Chevy let me drive around the autocross course for three laps to get an early impression of the car and I walked away extremely impressed. The instant torque from the electric motor gives the car a lot of low end grunt to throw you back into the seat.
Steering response was precise, but a little on the heavy side. The Bolt suspension felt very athletic and the car isn't nose-heavy like the Nissan Leaf. The whole time I drove the Bolt, I kept thinking how much fun the car would be to use as a weekend autocross car, especially with the instant torque.

Living with it

I couldn't really perform my usual car seat installation with Diono or trunk space tests since I'm in Las Vegas, Nev., but the car felt very spacious. A quick visual inspection leads me to believe the Bolt should fit three car seats because it's very wide. The seat belt buckles were also placed quite low and should safely secure a Diono Radian RXT in front and rear-facing positions.
Chevy Bolt trunk
The cargo area is what you'd expect from a sub-compact car, its small. However, the trunk is deep and you should be able to bring enough luggage for four for a weekend getaway, if you pack lightly.

Early verdict

Chevy's Bolt is an impressive little car that brings affordable EV's up to date with spacious passenger space, a modern interior, Android Auto and Apple Car Play ready infotainment system and driver assist technologies, which addresses our complaints with the 2016 Nissan Leaf. If Chevy can keep its promise of 200-miles of range on a single charge and deliver the car by the end of the year, I may have to trade in my Mazda 5 and my wife's Nissan Leaf to go down to a single electrified car.
Chevy Bolt
The 200-miles of range is enough for me to drive down to Portland, Ore. from Graham, Wash. (120 miles each way) without stopping to charge along the way, and still have enough range to drive around town. A 30-minute stop at a quick charger would get me enough range to make it home too. I would also never have to charge in public either, as the range is plenty enough for my furthest trips.
However, my biggest fear for the Bolt is the cheap gas prices that may deter buyers going electric. The car still carries a premium price for the electric powertrain and gas for under $3 per gallon doesn't help its case. But for those that want to take a leap of faith and break free of gas, the Bolt should be a winner.











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Google's self-driving cars are learning to cope with the rain
Google's self-driving cars are learning to cope with the rain
Google's self-driving car fleet is mainly based in California, a part of the world where there's not much rain. Now the company is thinking about equipping its vehicles for more inclement weather: and that means wipers for the sensing equipment as well as the windshield.
In its latest monthly report on the autonomous automobiles, Google lays out some of the challenges that bad weather presents, as well as some ideas about how it's going to develop a car "that will be able to drive come rain, hail, snow or shine".
"Driving in rain makes many human drivers nervous due to reduced visibility, and some of our sensors - particularly the cameras and lasers - have to deal with similar issues," reads the report. "For example, we've had to come up with our own equivalent of a windscreen wiper on the dome to ensure our sensors have the best view possible."

Whatever the weather

Fortunately radar isn't affected by rain or clouds of exhaust gas but some of the other sensors are, and that's a problem for Google's engineers to get around. At the moment the self-driving cars pull over to the side of the road if they encounter particularly stormy conditions.
There's still a lot of work to do, but Google's software has been trained to take more care in the rain, just like human drivers. As ever, test drivers are on hand to take manual control if necessary.
"As we're developing the technology, we've made sure our cars are aware of how rain may affect their ability to drive," says Google. "Our cars can determine the severity of the rain, and just like human drivers they drive more cautiously in wet conditions when roads are slippery and visibility is poor."











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Samsung has another 360-degree VR camera in the works
Samsung has another 360-degree VR camera in the works
Virtual reality was a running theme of these years CES - from Oculus to Nikon - which isn't surprising considering how much VR kit is expected to go on sale during 2016 (albeit at a rather expensive price point).
A trademark application for the name "Gear 360" registered in Samsung's home country of South Korea gives a tantalising glimpse of what the company has in store - it sounds very much like a camera for capturing 360-degree clips.
Samsung itself hasn't confirmed the news but we already know it's been working on a bigger, multi-cam rig called Project Beyond. It would make sense that the firm wants to have something smaller and cheaper for consumers too.

Demo videos

Until there's official word from Samsung we don't know anything about the price or the availability of the Gear 360 but it's something to watch out for in the coming months - no doubt it'll be the perfect companion to your Gear VR.
Meanwhile if you're interested in Nikon's own 360-degree camera, the KeyMission 360, the company has put some demo videos up on YouTube - if you're not using a VR headset you'll have to click and drag to have a look around, but it gives you a taster.
GoPro is also tipped to be working on a compact camera that can record footage in every direction at once. If you're a casual 360-degree filmmaker you're going to be spoilt for choice in the coming months.











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How to use Firefox Hello
How to use Firefox Hello

Chat happy with Firefox Hello

How to use Firefox Hello
Video chat programs are popular, but often come with drawbacks that make it tricky to contact your nearest and dearest. Skype is perhaps the best program around, and is built into Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, but users with older browsers will have to download it separately – not ideal if you need to speak to someone urgently.
Firefox Hello is an innovative tool that lets you speak to anyone with a WebRTC -supported browser, such as Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera – no additional software or add-ons needed. It's versatile, and works with any web-connected device, including PCs, tablets and smartphones.
Firefox Hello is still new, and doesn't have as many features as more established video chat tools, but it's being refined and improved every day.

1. Get the latest Firefox

How to use Firefox Hello
You can use any browser to join an existing Firefox Hello conversation, but you'll need to use Firefox to set one up. If you don't have Firefox, download it from Mozilla's website (the creators of Firefox), run the installation process, and decide whether you want to make it your default browser.
If you have Firefox, click the Menu icon, then 'Advanced > Update' and enable automatic updates.

2. Sign up or sign in

How to use Firefox Hello
Click the speech bubble icon at the top right of your browser and select 'Get started'. Click 'Sign up or sign in'. You can use Hello as a guest, but we use it regularly, so we're going to sign in using our Google account. Firefox will tell you which aspects of your account it will need access to; if you're happy, accept the terms and you're ready to begin.

3. Start your first call

How to use Firefox Hello
You'll now see a welcome message. Click 'Start a conversation' and a box will appear in the bottom right of the screen. It's small so you can continue using your browser while chatting, but you can make it larger by clicking the arrow icon in its top-right corner.
This call will have an address that you can share with anyone you'd like to invite to the conversation.

4. Send an invitation

How to use Firefox Hello
You don't want to send your friend an invitation out of the blue, so click the pencil icon beside 'Let's talk about', then write a title and a little context.
Now click 'Email link' to open Outlook. Firefox will create a new draft email inviting your friend to join the conversation – all you have to do is enter their email address. You can also copy the link and paste it on Facebook or Twitter.

5. Start chatting

How to use Firefox Hello
Once your friend clicks the link, you'll hear a notification letting you know that they've joined the call. You should be able to hear them, and if they've given Firefox Hello permission to access their webcam or phone camera, you'll be able to see them too.
If you need to mute your voice at any time, just click the microphone button at the top right of the chat window.

6. Share screens

How to use Firefox Hello
You can also share your screen with your friend – either your Firefox tabs or everything. This is great if you need to help your friend with a technical problem on their PC; they can simply show you exactly what their screen looks like, and you can guide them through the steps to correct it.
A green bar will appear at the top of your screen; click 'Stop sharing' here once you've finished.

7. Feedback and support

How to use Firefox Hello
Once you've finished, click the red button to hang up and you'll be prompted to rate the quality of your call. There are known issues with the current version of Firefox Hello, which the developers are working to fix.
If you have trouble getting your audio or video to work correctly, follow the suggestions at Mozilla's help page for Firefox Hello, which provide a couple of different solutions.

8. Set up contacts

How to use Firefox Hello
To make it easier to stay in touch, it's a good idea to set up a list of contacts. You can call these people directly, without sending an invitation email or link. You can add people manually, or give Firefox permission to use your Google account.
Click the Firefox Hello button in your browser, then click the person icon at the top of the box that appears and choose your preferred option.

9. Make it yours

How to use Firefox Hello
To change your account settings at any time, click the Firefox Hello icon in your browser, then click the gear icon next to your username and select 'Account'.
Here you can choose a profile photo and enter your name – both are very useful to let others know who you are when you're contacting them through Firefox.

10. Keep in touch

How to use Firefox Hello
You can now make calls directly from your browser while you're surfing the web, without downloading any add-ons or extra programs!
Firefox Hello is still very new, and its developers are adding new features and fixing bugs all the time. Make sure you have automatic updates enabled (see step 1) to make sure you never miss out.











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Review: XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr.
Review: XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr.

Introduction and design

XYZprinting has been producing budget printers since 2013 and unlike many other companies, such as Ultimaker, which has developed printers with fast print speeds, material compatibility and resolution, XYZ has strived to make the technology simply accessible and cheap.
The Da Vinci range of printers aims to give the less tech-savvy user an inexpensive way to get into 3D printing. XYZprinting printers have always been exceptionally well-designed featuring fully enclosed cases and a professional finish that is in stark contrast to more expensive 3D printers, such as the Lulzbot Mini which still looks like it's been built in a garage.
XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr inside
The reason that the XYZprinting machines are so cheap is because the company has a clear mission to build the best machine possible for the cheapest price that will reach the greatest amount of people. This means that components such as bearings will be brass or nylon rather than ball or polymer. The hot-end where the filament is melted will be a basic model, and rather than using high precision lead screws, threaded bolts will be used.
There is a careful balance to be met between cost and quality and this is certainly true with the Da Vinci Jr. From the outset, this 3D printer proves to be something exceptional for the price.

Build quality

The Jr. is the smallest and lightest of the XYZ printers, but as XYZ don't build anything small it can really only be called 'junior' when compared with the rest of the XYZ range. Up against an Ultimaker 2 it looks big, and against the Ultimaker 2 Go it looks huge! Weight-wise however it's relatively light at 15kg, and transporting the printer around is easy enough, although unlike its larger sibling the Da Vinci 1.0 there are no hand holds cut in the side.
XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr feed
Although not small it has a footprint of 42 x 43 x 38cm which is much more manageable than the original XYZprinting Da Vinci which had a colossal footprint of 46.8 x 51 x 55.8cm.
Build quality is a major factor for XYZ, despite the printer being in the budget price range – it's priced at around £270 at the time of writing ($339 over in the US, which is AU$480). The plastic formed shell and T-Slot tubed interior creates an ultra-solid platform for the moving parts. Wobble and vibration can be a major issue for 3D printers so the more solid the frame the better the print you can expect, and this is definitely something that the company realises and takes into account with the design of its printers.
The entire printer is covered with a solid top, sides and base so during the print process as long as the top-hinged door is closed there's no way that stray fingers can get burnt.
On the side of the printer is the USB port for firmware updates and tethered printing as well as the power socket. On top of the machine the filament feed pipe can be seen and this moves within the slot during the print process.
XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr control panel
Moving round to the front of the machine you have the control panel where you can navigate settings and print menus. The front of the machine is covered by a top-hinged door that once open reveals the build platform.
The Junior is only designed to print PLA and this is supplied by XYZprinting at a competitive price, although at present the range of colours and finish for the filament is limited. Due to it only needing to print PLA the print bed is unheated and measures an impressive 15 x 15 x 15cm.
On the inside left is the filament reel which needs to be clicked into place when first commissioning the printer. On the front mounted control panel is a small LCD to show menu options and a handy navigation pad, along with an SD card slot for card printing.

Setup and printing

Getting started

Once the machine is taken out of the box, all that's required prior to the first print is the removal of the packaging – of which there is quite a bit – and the installation of the filament reel. You also need to feed the filament through the system. This process is well illustrated and described in the printed instructions.
Once the machine is plugged in and powered up it takes about five minutes to complete the commissioning process, which involves clicking the filament reel into the holder on the side and then sticking the filament into the feed hole, attaching the filament tube into the correct slots and selecting the load filament option in the menu. It's very much a step-by-step process and far easier than many other similar systems.
XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr reel
The Junior features a cold print bed which limits the material that the printer can use to PLA as we've already mentioned. However, there's a good selection and PLA is fast becoming the choice material for many.
The print base requires preparation in order to make sure that the base layers of the model stick during the print process. In the box are several sheets of textured bed tape – this is stuck to the glass plate and then for extra stickiness an application of stick glue further helps the PLA to adhere to the platform during the build process.

Printing

After commissioning the machine is ready to go and it's worth printing out a test model just to check that everything is as it should be. Sample models can be downloaded from the XYZprinting website and loaded onto the SD card by means of the XYZprinting software.
The XYZ Printing software is required in order to enable printing and this can be freely downloaded from the XYZ website at the same time as the models. Once everything is installed all you need to do is select the correct printer during the software setup and then load the model into the software and onto the build area.
XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr power
The controls for the software are incredibly easy to use with simple sliders enabling you to move the model around the build area, before you save the model to the SD card, or print direct if you've connected the USB cable between the printer and computer.
If using the SD card this can then be ejected from the computer and inserted into the printer in the slot just above the control panel, then the control pad can be used to navigate the printer menu to SD card printing. Once that's done a list of 3D models will appear on the small LCD screen ready for you to select the one you want.
After a five minute warm-up needed in order for the hot-end to get up to the right temperature, the selected test print begins. It took just under an hour to print and the resulting model showed that this is a very capable printer.
The printer's low resolution does mean that ridges from the layers are pronounced, but overlook this and the actual extrusion is precise resulting in good clean models with little signs of common issues (such as under-extrusion, stringing or warping). The factory calibration for the Junior was spot on with no adjustment or fiddling required.

Verdict

We liked

The XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 Jr. is an ideal entry-level printer. It has been designed to be as accessible as possible, from the initial setup through to actual usage and support. The supplied software does the job perfectly enabling the easy opening and export of models ready for printing.
It also has good support for models either downloaded from the XYZprinting website or from other sites such as Thingiverse.com, and your old model files exported from popular programs such as Sketchup.com can also easily be imported and printed.
Print quality at this price is good, but don't expect the high resolution detailed models of the Ultimaker series. Models are well rendered and although layering is clearly visible, detail, edges and corners are all clearly defined.
XYZprinting aims its printers at education and for this market the Junior model is ideal – it enables educators to clearly demonstrate 3D printing technology easily and safely at a great price.

We disliked

Despite the Junior label this printer is still sizable so while it will fit on a desktop it will require a little more space than other printers with the Mini/Jr. tag.
Layers are pronounced and visible which means that if you want a refined model with smooth surfaces you're going to have to spend more time on the finish. The Junior is also limited with the materials that it is capable of printing and although this isn't a huge issue the present range of PLA filament supplied by XYZ is limited.

Final verdict

As a budget 3D Printer there really is nothing at present that comes close to the quality build and well thought out print process of the Da Vinci 1.0 Jr.
Initial setup takes minutes and you can be up and running printing your first model within 10 minutes without issue. The pre-calibrated print bed, choice of direct SD card or tethered printing and easy to use software make it an ideal first printer.
Reservations only crop up when the print resolution is taken into account as although the prints are good especially when it comes to accuracy, when you compare the models to those from other printers, less refined in design and not a great deal more in price, you do feel that the print resolution could have been slightly higher.
But then although there are printers at this price point none come close to the quality of design and build of this machine – plus this is a printer that you'd be happy to let kids use without fear of electrocution or burning.
If you're looking for a budget no-fuss printer that produces good accurate prints, albeit at a low resolution, then you really can't do better at present than the Da Vinci 1.0 Jr. The ease of use and enclosed case design make it an ideal and cheap choice for education, but if you want refined prints, then keep saving your pennies.











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ces 2016: Oculus Rift in the box: here's what it looks like
ces 2016: Oculus Rift in the box: here's what it looks like
If you're eagerly waiting for your Oculus Rift after preordering it this week, it should come packed looking like the picture above, but the headset itself might be a little different.
Oculus said there are still changes being made to the headset but didn't reveal any specifics. It's likely small tweaks here and there to improve comfort and shouldn't be anything major though the company said it would reveal more in late February.
Oculus Rift
For now, you can expect to see Rift shipped in a classy looking box that's simple and sleek filled with most of the goodies you need to have a grand 'ol time in virtual reality.
There won't be any Touch controllers just yet but the box will hold the Rift, sensor, Xbox One controller and Oculus Remote, which lets you navigate the Oculus Store and control volume.
Oculus Rift
Of course, you also get two VR games bundled with the Rift headset: the space shooter EVE: Valkyrie and the 3D platformer Lucky's Tale.
Virtual reality doesn't come cheap and will cost $599/£499/AU$649 - that's before tax and shipping. If you haven't pulled the trigger yet, Palmer Luckey announced the Rift will come priced at $399 (about £273, AU$566) when bundled with an Oculus Rift-ready Alienware X51 R3 gaming desktop or Dell XPS 8900 tower. You can still get a $200 (about £136, AU$283) coupon in February to buy an X51 or Dell XPS 8900 if you've already ordered the headset.











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