Skip to content

Archive for


Android N preview available to phones other than Nexus at last

Google has decided to begin sharing the Android N Developer Preview to more handsets than just its Nexus devices, in a world first. Now owners of the Sony Xperia Z3 will be able to install and try out the Android N Developer Preview.

The idea behind the Android N Developer Preview is to offer developers a chance to download the OS early to test out their apps on it ahead of release. But since it’s free and open to anyone, if you own a Nexus 6 phone or newer you can try it out too. Now that has extended to the Sony Xperia Z3.

This is exciting not just because Z3 owners can get involved but it opens up the possibility of Google working closer with Sony in the future. Since Sony is showing off 4K and HDR displays, as it pushes the boundaries of hardware, that could mean Google is looking to do the same with its next phones.

It also suggests Sony could be the manufacturer of the next Nexus, presuming rumours of Google making its own smartphone hardware aren’t true.

Sony Xperia Z3 owners will likely already have the Xperia Companion PC software which makes the installation process pretty straight forward. If you’ve not got it then download the Xperia Companion from here and get started.

READ: Android N: How to get Android 7.0 on your phone right now


New TV shows on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon and Now TV you must not miss

Even if you don’t watch it, you can’t hide from the fact that Game of Thrones is about to return to UK screens. Season six promises to be a doozy and it starts on Monday 25 April in the UK (24 April in the States).

However, it’s not the only big show coming to our screens in the next weeks or months. There are plenty of other new seasons of our favourites or even all-new shows soon to start on TV.

What’s more, they will all be available to watch online, through catch-up, on demand or livestream services.

You won’t even need a paid subscription to watch some of them as they will be on the free TV platforms, such as BBC iPlayer.

READ: Which is the best movie streaming service in the UK? Netflix vs Amazon Prime vs Now TV and more

That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide to the shows that have either very recently started or will in the near future, so that you can ensure you get your fill of the top action.

All you have to do is flick through the gallery above to see each of our top recommendations of the best new TV shows around. And we suggest you start with Peaky Blinders – it’s a British programme that we have rapidly fallen in love with here at Pocket-lint.



Acer announces fanless Intel Core i7 device, the Switch Alpha 12

With Microsoft Surface ruling the roost in its market, Acer wants a piece of the pie. So it’s come out punching, with the announcement of the Switch Alpha 12 – the world’s first 2-in-1 device with 6th generation Intel Core i sensor without a fan.

Yep, no fan needed. How come? It’s what Acer is calling LiquidLoop, a closed-loop liquid cooling system. Without processor throttling there’s inevitably going to be heat produced, but in the Switch Alpha 12 the heat generated by the system triggers the liquid in the cooling system. Perhaps best of all that means this 2-in-1 is silent, yet powerful.

Elsewhere the Switch Alpha 12 is just as you’d expect from a 2-in-1: it’s slim and premium for a 12-inch device, clearly targeting Surface territory. Plus, the Switch Alpha 12 comes with a clip-on keyboard included in the box, which is a one-up on the Surface.

Acer is well known for aiming to undercut when it comes to price point, which, starting at €699 (for the Intel Core i3U model) undercuts its main Surface competitor.

We’re at the Next@Acer global press conference in New York, where the Switch Alpha 12 has been unveiled. For a deeper dive look at the product, check out our first impressions:

READ: Acer Switch Alpha 12: Giving Microsoft Surface a run for its money?


Acer Switch Alpha 12 preview: Giving Microsoft Surface a run for its money?

The Microsoft Surface is synonymous with the idea of a premium 2-in-1 device, but its ongoing success has seen other makers want a slice of that pie. Enter the Acer Switch Alpha 12, a powerful yet affordable 2-in-1, which we’ve got to sample at the Acer global press conference following its announcement.

Key to the Switch Alpha 12 is what’s happening on its inside: its a 6th-gen Intel Core i-based machine, but there is no fan for cooling purposes. That’s the first time we’ve seen such an idea, meaning silent operation and plenty of power on tap.

So how does it keep cool without a fan? It’s what Acer is calling LiquidLoop, a closed-loop liquid cooling system. Without processor throttling there’s inevitably going to be heat produced, but in the Switch Alpha 12 the heat generated by the system triggers the liquid in the cooling system. Very clever.


However, despite brain power on the inside, we just don’t think the Alpha 12 just is as visually appealing as the Microsoft Surface. The Acer is a nice enough design, but is “nice” enough? To the rear there’s a pull-out hinge, which is stowed flat against the body for a neat finish. However, the hinge, with its black rubber centre, is a little off-colour compared to the main brushed exterior. A small point, but such things matter.

Included in the Alpha 12’s box is a backlit keyboard, which magnetically clips into place with ample force. Now that’s something you won’t get as a freebie with the Microsoft Surface, so good job there Acer. It’s comfortable to use, material in finish, and can lay either totally flat or “pop-up” into an angled position; the screen can be angled through from steep to upright angles thanks to that hinge on the rear.

READ: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

However, despite showing off a stylus, the Switch Alpha 12 doesn’t include that in the box – which is opposite to Microsoft’s approach with the Surface. The Acer stylus feels ok, certainly very pen-like, but we found its double-click-to-launch pop-up menu fiddly to activate due to the positioning of the buttons. There’s no price for this accessory just yet.

The 12-inch panel used has plenty to shout about too. Its IPS, so viewing angles are solid, while the 2160 x 1440 resolution is plenty crisp for this size. Naturally, it’s a touchscreen, so when in tablet-like use with the hinge folded away you can swipe, tap and type to your heart’s content.


Elsewhere the Switch Alpha 12 has full-size ports, including one full-size USB 3.0 to the side. Again, very Surface-like, but the Acer is actually the slightly thicker device at 9.5mm (compared to 8.45mm).

Speaking of price, that’s one area the Acer ought to appeal. It starts from €699 too (with the Intel Core i3U chip), increasing to as-yet-unknown price tags with the latest Intel Core i7 chip, 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD inside. Still, with the Surface Pro 4 starting at £749 without the keyboard we can see the appeal – especially is the Acer offering is totally silent.


This machine makes cold brew coffee in less than 10 minutes

Cold-brewed coffee is delicious. It’s about two-thirds less acidic than coffee brewed with hot water, which results in a cleaner, smoother and less bitter taste. Unfortunately, making cold brew coffee is a pain. You typically have to let the grounds steep 12 to 24 hours, which requires a lot of planning ahead. This is not something you want to do when it’s a hot summer’s day and you want that cold brew coffee ASAP. Fortunately, however, there is now a solution. Say hello to the Pique, a coffee machine that can make cold brew coffee in less than 10 minutes. And, based on the sample I had, it tastes amazing.

Now, I should say here that the Pique isn’t a real product just yet. Right now it’s still strictly in prototype stage. It’s yet to be launched on Indiegogo, which is where it’ll get most of its funding. In fact, the device that Pique’s creators showed me this past Monday (seen above) was made out of plywood, sheet metal and ABS plastic — materials that they hammered together in a workshop based in Louisville, Kentucky. That workshop is owned by FirstBuild, a subsidiary of GE Appliances that attempts to bridge the gap between the maker movement and real marketable products. It’s essentially an open innovation space that lets makers test out small batch production without all the hassle of mass manufacturing. FirstBuild’s first products include an indoor pizza oven that can heat up to 800 degrees and a dedicated ice maker.

“My wife loves cold brew,” said Justin Brown, a senior design engineer at FirstBuild who’s also the inventor behind the Pique. “But we found it very difficult to plan the night before in order to make it.” So when the team at FirstBuild were deciding on their next big project, Brown figured that a way to make a quick cold brew would be a great choice. They were also given advice by Sunergos Coffee, a local Louisville coffee roaster, on tips and tricks of making great cold brew coffee. After a lot of trial and error, they finally created a real functional model.

But, it was still kind of ugly. So FirstBuild ran a design competition, inviting members of its community to come up with ideas. Today, it announced its winners, with first prize going to Nick Allen from San Francisco, who designed the hourglass design you see above. This is what the Pique will eventually look like. Second and third place winners are the LPK Design Team of Cincinnati and Robert Matzke from Germany. Aside from their prize winnings (First place received $5,000, second $3,000 and third $2,000), one percent of the Pique’s campaign funding on Indiegogo will be shared amongst the winners.

Brown and FirstBuild product evangelist Taylor Dawson visited the Engadget office in San Francisco with the Pique prototype to show us how it all worked. First, he opened up the brewing chamber and added a standard 8-12 cup basket-shaped paper filter. Then he put in a cylindrical filter guard, which lets you manually stir the coffee grounds without messing up the filter. “Manually stirring is key to making cold brew,” says Brown. It’s a step that you would have to make in the traditional way of making cold-brewed coffee anyway, he says.

Next, he placed 100 grams of espresso ground coffee in the basket. “The grind needs to be fine,” says Brown. “You need a lot of surface area of coffee to water, to increase the extraction.” They also developed their discs and filter system to allow for a very fine grind coffee to drain through. Then he poured in a liter of water for a 10:1 ratio of water to coffee. This ratio can be adjusted to whatever strength you want. A 4:1 ratio, for example, would make a more concentrated cup of coffee, to which you can add extra water or milk. He then stirred the grounds really well, making sure that the coffee was saturated and really mixed in with the water. This took him about a couple of minutes.

Then he closed the brewing chamber and pressed a button. Instantly, the Pique roared to life. It was the sound of a gasket pressing onto the coffee and a vacuum pump built right into the machine. According to Brown, this vacuum pulls air out of the slurry and helps to “open up” the coffee. “It allows water to come in contact with it on a microscopic level. It really increases the extraction,” he says.

“It’s basically an infusion process,” says Dawson. “Vacuum infusion is actually pretty commonly used in other industries; we’re not reinventing the wheel here.” Indeed, it’s not even the first time vacuum infusion has been used to make cold brew; a quick search on the internet revealed that some people have done this before with a chamber vacuum machine. But the Pique offers an accessible one-stop-shop solution for quick cold brew, one that I haven’t seen before.

As the seconds ticked by, I heard the vacuum pump kick in every so often. “We have a closed loop feedback to keep reduced pressure in the chamber,” explains Brown. “If there are any leaks in the air, the pump will kick back on.”

“One of the things we want to give you is a capability to set your own brew time,” says Brown. “Either via an interface on the machine or an app via Bluetooth.” Coffee enthusiasts, he says, will likely want to mess around with the right extraction time and so forth to get the best brew possible.

In our demo though, we stuck to the default brew time. In exactly seven and a half minutes, the machine made a loud swoosh sound as the gasket released and the coffee began to drain into the container below. We ended up with around 750 milliliters of coffee, which is a very healthy amount of extraction considering we started with a liter of water.

Brown then poured in the freshly brewed coffee into a cup of ice and handed it to me. I sipped at it tentatively. It tasted fantastic. The coffee was so smooth that it was almost like drinking flavored water. There were hardly any bitter notes. Instead it was clean, bright and really delicious. It didn’t need any cream or sweetener; it was just fine on its own. I gave a cup to my colleague, Roberto Baldwin, and he really liked it too.

So what’s the price? “We’re thinking of a range between $250 and $500,” said Dawson. He said that the Pique is really meant for the enthusiast crowd — people who care about pourovers and single-origin beans — and not the mainstream. As such, he thinks the price is competitive. In comparison, a Bonavita 8-cup brewer retails for around $190 while the premium Ratio Coffee machine retails for $570. You can also get a Hario cold water dripper for about $265 or a Toddy for about $40. None of these options make cold brew coffee in less than an hour.

What’s next from here? Well, Brown and Dawson still have to meet up with the winners of the design challenge and figure out how to finesse their designs to meet the Pique’s standards. Eventually, they hope to launch the campaign on Indiegogo on June 28th 2016, with a ship date slated for late 2017. That’s a long time from now, but if you really want cold-brewed coffee at a moment’s notice, you might be prepared to wait.

Source: Pique


QWERTY keyboards change how you feel about words

The keyboard is mightier than the pen for written communications nowadays, and that apparently has a large impact on how we feel about words. A good example is the QWERTY effect, where words from the right side of the keyboard supposedly have more positive associations. For instance “hunky pinup” typed with the right hand supposedly makes you feel better than the left-side only phrase “sweet dress.” Swiss and German researchers have concluded that the effect works all over the web, and applies to product names, film and book titles, and video clips.

The team studied millions of of names and titles from 11 sites including Yelp, Amazon and YouTube. On all but two of the sites, reviewers rated names and titles more favorably if they had a higher ratio of letters rightward from “y,” “h” and “n.” Weirdly, positive reviews on Yelp, Amazon and other sites also had more words with a high ratio of right-side letters.

The researchers feel that the study confirms a high level of QWERTY effect on the web, but didn’t specify why it happens. They noted that even if people feel better about right-side dominant words, it doesn’t necessarily affect our decisions, since the top products on Amazon don’t have names that exhibit the effect. It could just be that it’s a bit easier to type from the right, since it’s the dominant hand for most folks and has fewer letters. However, linguistics professor Naomi Baron tells New Scientist that it also has more vowels, which are associated with positive emotions. “We don’t put emotions into most of our consonants, we put them into our vowels.”

Via: New Scientist

Source: Cornell University


Acer’s Switch Alpha 12 is a silent, liquid-cooled hybrid laptop

When you think of a liquid-cooled laptop, a giant gaming monstrosity like the ASUS GX700 probably comes to mind. But with its latest convertible, the Switch Alpha 12, Acer is taking that technology in the other direction to create a slim and silent notebook. It’s the first hybrid laptop to run Intel’s sixth generation Core processor without a fan, a notable accomplishment since fan noise is still a problem with today’s thin laptops. The Switch Alpha 12 also packs in a kickstand and a detachable keyboard, both of which gives it the vague profile of Microsoft’s Surface devices.

As you can probably guess, the Switch Alpha 12 packs in a 12-inch screen. It’s running at a 2160 by 1440 resolution, which is almost as sharp as Apple’s Macbook Retina. As for that cooling setup, Acer says it uses the heat of the coolant as it expands into gas to keep the entire system moving. That’s why it doesn’t need an external radiator or pump, like the ASUS GX700’s clunky accessory.

The Switch Alpha 12 weighs in 2.76 pounds with a keyboard, and 1.98 pounds as a standalone tablet. That’s a surprising amount of additional weight just for the keyboard, and it puts the laptop right between Apple’s 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs in terms of heft. The full-sized keyboard is also available in standard and backlit variations (no word yet on how much the latter will cost). And if you want to get your stylus on, there’s also an optional Active Pen with 256 different levels of pressure.

You can get your hands on the Switch Alpha 12 in June starting at $599. Aside from its cooling aspect, there doesn’t seem much to differentiate it from the sea of convertibles out there, but we’ll be taking a closer look at it soon.


Acer unveils new Chromebook, convertible and ultrathin notebooks

Acer’s newest notebooks come in two styles: the Chromebook 14 for Work, S 13 ultrathin notebook (pictured above) and the R 15 convertible. Plus, Acer has updated three of its consumer models and one commercial brand. The Chromebook 14 for Work features an Intel Core processor, Gorilla Glass case, spill-resistant keyboard and 12 hours of battery life.

The S 13 ultrathin weighs 3.13 pounds, features 6th Generation Core processors and a full HD IPS display with the option for touch functionality. It starts at $700. The R 15 is an ultrathin convertible and its most tricked-out model includes 6th Generation Core processors, 12GB DDR4 memory, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics and a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display.

Acer’s updated consumer notebooks include the F 15, which now features metal covers in five colors. The E 14, 15 and 17 has been updated with seven new colors, while the ES 15 received an update with the latest 6th Generation Intel Core processors and three fresh colors.

Acer also announced the Switch Alpha 12, a silent, liquid-cooled laptop, during its live event in New York today.

Update: We added hands-on images of the Chromebook 14 for Work, Aspire S 13 and the F Series.

Edgar Alvarez and Chris Velazco contributed to this report.


Acer reveals new Predator gaming desktop, notebook and display

Acer is made a truckload of PC announcements at its NYC event today, and new gaming gear was part of the news. The company pulled the wraps off of a trio of Predator series devices, including the Predator 17X gaming notebook, Predator G1 gaming desktop and Predator Z1 monitors. The trio joins Acer’s gaming line that already includes a pair of gaming laptops, desktops, displays and even an 8-inch tablet. Let’s take a closer look at each of the new machines, shall we?

For those who prefer to do their gaming on a desktop, Predator G1 remains compact enough to take with you, should the need arise. The G1 supports NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X graphics alongside 6th-gen Intel Core processors and can employ up to 64GB of RAM. Acer says its taken the internals from its previous Predator G6 desktops and crammed them into a much smaller enclosure. Best of all? The G1 is ready to handle VR, and it does so without taking up a ton of space.

The Predator 17X gaming notebook follows the Predator 17 that Acer trotted out at IFA last year. As the number suggests, this laptop keeps its 17-inch display and a similar design to last year’s model. That 17-inch panel comes in HD IPS (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K UHD IPS (3,840 x 2,160) options, depending on how high-res you want the visuals to be. Inside, there’s an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU, bringing desktop-level graphics to Acer’s new gaming notebook.

To keep things cool, the company developed a three-fan setup. In addition to the usual two fans, there’s a third in the front of the laptop that pulls in air from the that side of the machine and blasts it directly over those components that get hot in the midst of battle. Acer’s Predator 17X is also VR-ready, and the company says the new notebook and the Predator G1 desktop are the only machines that support four VR standards, including both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in addition to OSVR and StarVR. Both gaming machines also include Killer DoubleShot Pro which allows you to use Ethernet for gaming and a Wi-Fi connection for streaming music and the like — at the same time.

Last but not least, Predator Z1 series of monitors includes curved gaming displays at 31.5-, 30- and 27-inches. Most notably, it supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology that improves graphics performance to remedy screen tearing and skipping problems. What’s more, that 30-inch Z1 display also sports a 21:9 aspect ration for ultra-wide views. Acer’s new monitors aren’t the first to include the NVIDIA tech, but the feature will certainly be a welcome addition.

In terms of pricing and availability, all three of the new devices will be available in the US and Europe in June. The Predator 17X notebook and Z1 displays will arrive in China in May, while the G1 will go on sale there in July. Acer’s new gaming laptop starts at $2,799/€2,499/¥39,999 and gets pricier depending on the configuration. That compact G1 desktop pricing starts at $2,300/€1,199/¥10,999, again increasing in cost as you upgrade the internals. Lastly, the Z1 curved displays begin at $600/€599/¥4,999 and vary depending on size. Unfortunately, Acer didn’t specify pricing for each model.


Supernatural podcast ‘Lore’ is getting its own TV show

If you like your podcasts dark and to fill you with a sense of dread, then you may have come across Aaron Mahnke’s Lore series. Launched in March 2015, the audio show focuses on horror stories of old, touching on the origins of legendary beasts, ghosts, witches and murderers based on real-life accounts and historical events. The award-winning podcast already claims more than two million monthly listens, and now it’s going to get the TV treatment. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd is on board to turn Lore into an hourlong horror TV series.

Staying true to its roots, the adaptation will combine narration, “historical mixed media” and scripted scenes shot with actors. Lore is the latest podcast to get its own TV series and follows in the footsteps of real-crime series Serial, which was picked up by Fox 21 Television Studios late last year. It doesn’t yet have a network attached, but production company Propagate Content will court broadcast and cable partners. If you’re new to the series, or fancy a little refresher, there are currently 32 episodes waiting to be added to your favorite podcast app — I can assure you they’re definitely worth a listen.

If you’ve been itching for more Lore in your life, you’re in for a treat: Lore is in development for television:

— Lore Podcast (@lorepodcast) April 20, 2016

But don’t worry, the podcast isn’t going anywhere. You’ll still get new episodes from me every two weeks.

— Lore Podcast (@lorepodcast) April 20, 2016

Via: The Hollywood Reporter

Source: Lore

%d bloggers like this: