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16
Jun

OnePlus 3 preview: Affordable flagship beater


In previous years, OnePlus hasn’t been shy about pitching its devices as “flagship killers”. To call the company self-assured would be something of an understatement, but this year’s launch seemed a little more subdued. Perhaps uncharacteristically so.  

In fact, if you didn’t download the Loop VR app, there’s a chance you would have missed the entire launch. Which is strange, because the OnePlus 3 is shaping up to be one of the best phones on the market this year. The company should have hyped this up far more than it did, because the new device seems rather brilliant. 

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OnePlus 3 design

Like the HTC One series, and many other modern smartphones, the OnePlus 3 is built from a single piece of aluminium. There’s an attractive anodised finish, and the back is slightly curved to make sure it feels comfortable in your hand. The metal edges are ever-so-slightly rounded too, and have very slim diamond cut chamfers which catch the light just right to give off a glimmer every now and then.

At just 7.35mm it’s very sleek and is a pleasure to hold. In hand, it feels like a much slimmer Moto X Style from last year; it’s a similar width and height, but is far thinner. Therefore, despite being a phone with a large display, it’s still pretty easy to grip in one hand. It feels solid, and the graphite finish looks virtually identical to the iPhone 6S’ Space Grey colouring. There will be a gold finish model with a white front panel available at a later date.

The material isn’t the only change from last year’s OnePlus phones. The volume rocker switch has now moved to the left edge, where it sits below the notification priority switch. Arguably, this makes sense, since their functions are related. That leaves the dual-SIM tray and the power button together on the right edge. The bottom edge features a USB Type-C connector flanked by a 3.5mm jack and six individually machined holes for the loudspeaker. Sadly, no stereo speakers here.

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OnePlus 3 display

If there was any criticism for earlier OnePlus flagships, it was perhaps that the 5.5-inch LCD-based displays were lacking in colour and contrast. They were crisp and clean, but lacked life when compared to the likes of the high-end Nexus and Galaxy phones. The OnePlus 3 changes that.

The 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED panel on the front is full of colour and features a dual-polarising layer which OnePlus claims makes the screen more visible when outdoors in bright daylight. Even with the brightness set at just 50 per cent the screen looks very bright. 

What’s more, its bezel is nice and slim, so the content onscreen really dominates the front panel. Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 covers the screen to protect it from scratches, and is laminated so tightly to the actual display panel that content seems to almost float across the surface of the glass. Adding a final flourish, there’s a subtle curve in the glass all the way around the surfaces towards the edges.

Its one negative, perhaps, is that it’s not Quad HD resolution. Looking at the spec sheet, it’s probably the only thing it doesn’t have that the “true flagships” do. Still, unless you’re using VR headsets like the Loop VR, you’re unlikely to noticed the lower resolution, unless you happen to use your phone pressed against your face.

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OnePlus 3 camera

OnePlus promises a lot with its camera, and on paper it certainly seems more than capable of challenging the best of them. Spec-wise, we’re looking at a 16-megapixel Sony sensor with f/2.0 aperture and 4K video recording. But it’s the added software controls that could make the real difference here.

It has something called Dynamic De-noise which helps smooth out any grainy-ness you find in typical low-light shots. It also has HD mode for boosting sharpness and clarity, as well as HDR mode for producing balanced images even in harsh lighting conditions. But, more importantly, there are manual controls in the camera app.

You can manually change the shutter speed and focus to get the ideal shot, as well as customising the brightness and exposure. And, to ensure that you get a great shot as often as possible, it features both optical image stabilisation to deal with shakiness while taking photos and electronic image stabilisation for video. Both combined with PDAF (phase detection autofocus) help images come out sharp and reduce the blur you’d often see if you or your subject happens to be moving.

Photographers will be pleased to know they can save images in RAW format, losing no detail or image quality, while selfie fans should be more than happy with the 8-megapixel front-facing camera, again with a Sony sensor.

Perhaps the only downside is that the rear camera sits inside a rather large square protrusion on the back. That means that whenever you lie the phone down, it can’t sit completely flat, it’s always leaning on the camera. Let’s hope that glass covering the lens holds up, otherwise it could get considerably scratched.

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OnePlus 3 hardware

Inside the OnePlus 3, there’s a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820 processor. It’s quad-core and is paired with a massive 6GB of RAM to ensure that you never, ever feel as though the phone is sluggish. There’s also 64GB of built-in storage, but sadly no option to expand via MicroSD.

To make sure it keeps all that power going all day, there’s a 3000mAh battery. With Android Marshmallow’s built-in standby power management and OnePlus’ own optimisations, the OnePlus 3 should easily get through a full day on a single charge. What’s more, even if it does run out of juice, it has Dash Charge technology which works the same way as Chinese manufacturer, Oppo’s VOOC flash charging. It uses the thick cable to dissipate heat so that it can deliver more power to the phone without it overheating. You can get up to 60 per cent charge with just 30 minutes plugged in, even if you’re using the phone at the time.

Like the OnePlus 2, the latest model has a dual-SIM tray, so if you have both a personal and work mobile numbers, you can use both without needing to have two phones. It’s handy if you have a SIM from two different operators with varying levels of reception strength in your area. It also comes equipped with the fingerprint sensor on the front which also acts as a touch-sensitive home button, and has a capacitive back and recent apps button on either side. 

Pocket-lint

OnePlus 3 software

One of the notable things about OnePlus’ OxygenOS software is that it looks and feels very much like regular, stock Android, but with a few tiny tweaks. Perhaps the most important difference is the level of customisation you get.

Using the built-in software tools you can set the entire system to Dark Mode, customise LED notifications; choosing different colours for specific app notifications, swap around icons in your status bar at the top of the screen or swap between hardware or software buttons. You can even choose which of the buttons is the back button, and which is the recent apps button. It’s extremely handy.

There’s also a number of different gestures you can use from the lock screen. If you choose to, you can launch the camera by drawing an ‘O’ on the screen in standby, or draw a ‘V’ to switch on the torch/flashlight.

It comes with a bespoke version of SwiftKey’s keyboard pre-installed too, which has great autocorrect and predictive text skills. Then there’s Shelf, the screen that sits to the left of the first home screen. Here you can type memos, and quickly get in touch with your favourite contacts or launch your most-used apps as well as see the weather, date and reminders. It’s potentially useful, but can be switched off. 

First Impressions

Although not entirely original, the all-metal finish is sleek and sturdy and makes the phone seem like a real premium device. It’s a far cry from the plastic-backed phones of previous years. The screen appears to be rather fantastic, with popping colours, deep blacks and sharp detail.

As an overall package – and as is often the case with OnePlus phones – the third generation flagship killer seems incredible value for money. At £309 it offers many of the same features and specifications of phones twice the price.

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16
Jun

The Rolls-Royce of the future is an autonomous land yacht with an AI concierge


It’s a rare day that Rolls-Royce unveils a new car, it’s an even rarer day that Rolls-Royce unveils its future vision for luxury motoring.

Unveiled in London, as part of BMW Group’s Vision Next 100, the Rolls-Royce concept outlines the future vision for the prestige car company. Embracing the Rolls-Royce legacy, the bespoke vision paints a picture of how super-wealthy patrons will travel in the future. 

At first glance, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 cuts an unusual line. Losing the front bumper (because future autonomous cars will never hit anything, of course) the encased front wheels give the bladed look of a hydrofoil.

The pillared grill of Rolls-Royce, combined with those aggressively narrowed eyes puts a serious face on this Roller, one that we can’t help thinking looks a bit like General Grievous, the cyborg from Star Wars. 

But stirring design (good or bad) is what concept cars are all about, and when you turn to the profile, and take in that long bonnet that stretches over the horizon, all is forgiven. Yes, the seeming isolation of those front wheels is a little odd, but the strength and length of this Rolls-Royce will take your breath away. It’s a reflection of deco styling of the 30s and 50s, keeping alive that coachbuilding heritage that Rolls-Royce still pushes.

Rolls-Royce say this this concept is built on a modular platform, designed to be bespoke. If you want an open-topped sports car you drive yourself, you can have it. If you want a cabin for four people you can have it.

This Vision Next 100 concept is about the same length as the long wheel base Phantom, and about the same height. But switching away from a V12 engine, the future will be green, with electric motors front and rear. When pushed on performance, Rolls-Royce responded to questions stating that there was no reason the future of Rolls-Royce wouldn’t offer the sort of power and speed its current models offer. Whether you’ll be able to tickle the autonomous driver into really gunning the engine, we can’t be sure.

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Autonomously delivered

When Rolls-Royce unveiled the Dawn in 2015, there was a lot of talk about the “grand arrival”, how you can stand and step from the car with grace, perfectly fitting of billionaire magnates and heads of state. The Vision Next 100 Rolls-Royce is designed around that patron, the vessel for delivering its important passengers with anticipation. 

Fulfilling this idea of the grand arrival, we’re presented with a characteristic suicide door, but also a roof that opens up, so the passenger can step from the Rolls-Royce, into the warm/critical embrace of their public, stepping gracefully down the step onto the laser red carpet.

That reveals the interior of this majestic car, based around two passengers and no one else. The Rolls-Royce of the future is designed to be entirely autonomous, driven by a digital chauffeur. For the passengers, that means a cabin space that’s for them, without having to look at the back of the front seats, or the back of Alfred’s head. 

That not only affords a full and unobscured view out of the front, across that long bonnet and through the sapphire glass Spirit of Ecstasy, but also gives a full OLED display beneath it – to inform, to entertain, to keep you connected. Rolls-Royce describes it as a “sanctuary”, a safe cocoon from which you emerge back into the real world.

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Eleanor: The spirit of Rolls-Royce AI

For those who follow RR lore, you’ll know that the Spirit of Ecstasy was originally crafted after the image of Eleanor Thornton. Rolls-Royce’s vision of the future presents Eleanor, rather like Space Odysseys’ HAL. Eleanor is your digital assistant: she brings the car to life, she knows everything about you, where you’re going, what you want, and how to make it happen. 

Eleanor is designed to cater to your every whim: she’ll be making arrangements for you, talking to you, the AI overlord in Rolls-Royce’s utopian vision of the future. And Eleanor doesn’t have to live in your car – she’ll cross your digital devices, absorbing your world and making sure you have everything you need.

Rolls-Royce today said that it had conducted research among its owners, and that some of them never touch a piece of luggage. We’ve mentioned that long bonnet, and we’ve mentioned that there’s no engine in the front as it’s an electrical powertrain, so that bonnet becomes a luggage space. 

On arrival at your location, the luggage compartment will open, the cases presented for the hotel porter to easily transport them to the presidential suite. You’ll probably still have to tip the porter yourself, but who knows, perhaps Eleanor will take care of that too.

Pocket-lint

Iconic Impulses: The BMW Group Future Experience

BMW Group unveiled its first Vision Next 100 car in March in celebration of the centenary of the company. The UK is the home of two key BMW brands – Rolls-Royce and Mini – so presents the perfect place for the future vision of these two brands. 

BMW’s future experience is presented at the Roundhouse in Camden, London, between 16-26 June 2016 and is open to the public. The exhibition, called Iconic Impulses, is a roadshow that’s showing the future of motoring for the company, across the BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brands. 

The next stop on the tour is Los Angeles, 11-16 October 2016, where BMW will unveil a fourth and final car – BMW Motorrad.

16
Jun

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: What’s the difference?


Lenovo-owned Motorola has announced four devices this year comprising the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and the more recent Moto Z and Moto Z Force.

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus target the budget end of the smartphone market, while the Moto Z and Moto Z Force aim for the flagship end, but how do they differ from each other?

Here is how the Moto Z and Moto Z Force compare to the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, based on the numbers.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Design

The smallest and slimmest of the devices being compared here is the Moto Z, measuring 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.2mm. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus are almost identical in footprint but they feature a curved rear rather than flat, making them 9.8mm at their thickest point.

The Moto Z Force is the largest in terms of footprint at 155 x 75.8 x 7mm, as well as the heaviest at 163g, compared to the Moto G4 and G4 Plus’s 155g and the Moto Z’s 136g.

The Moto Z devices have metal builds and feature attachable accessories called Moto Mods that include a projector, speaker and shells. The Moto G4 models have a metal frame with removable plastic shells. All four devices are customisable with Moto Maker.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Display

The Moto Z, Moto Z Force, Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus all have 5.5-inch displays but that is as far as their similarities go.

The Moto Z and Moto Z Force both use AMOLED technology and feature Quad HD resolutions for a pixel density of 534ppi. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus both opt for LCD and Full HD resolutions, resulting in a pixel density of 401ppi. This means the Z devices should offer sharper and crisper images, as well as more vibrant and punchier colours.

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, while the Moto Z opts for the latest Gorilla Glass 4. The Moto Z Force should offer the strongest screen however, featuring the ShatterShield protection found on the previous Moto X Force device.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Camera

The Moto Z Force has the highest resolution rear camera with a 21-megapixel sensor offering an aperture of f/1.8. It comes with optical image stabilisation, laser autofocus and phase-detection AF.

The Moto G4 Plus follows closely behind with its 16-megapixel snapper, offering a slightly narrower aperture of f/2.0. Laser autofocus and PDAF are on board once again but video recording tops out at 1080p, while the Z and Z Force can record in 4K at 30fps.

The Moto Z and Moto G4 both have 13-megapixel resolutions on their rear snappers. The Z has an aperture of f/1.8 like the Z Force, while the G4 has a f/2.0 aperture like the G4 Plus.

All four of the devices being compared here have a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with a f/2.2 aperture. The Z and Z Force feature an LED flash, while the G4 and G4 Plus have a display flash.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Hardware

The Moto Z and Moto Z Force feature the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip under their hoods, supported by 4GB of RAM and 32GB or 64GB of internal memory. They also both offer microSD support for storage expansion.

The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB of RAM as standard, although the G4 Plus is also available in a 4GB RAM model. The G4 offers 16GB or 32GB storage options, while the G4 Plus has 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. Again, both devices have microSD support.

The smallest battery capacity sits within the Moto Z at 2600mAh, while the largest is within the Moto Z Force at 3500mAh. Both the G4 and the G4 Plus offer a 3000mAh battery. Micro-USB is found on the G4 and G4 Plus, while the Z and Z Force both opt for USB Type-C and they ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack.

In terms of other hardware differences, the Z, Z Force and G4 Plus all have a fingerprint sensor on board, housed on the front of the each device, while the standard G4 misses out on this feature.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Software

Moto devices are renowned for their close to vanilla Android experience. There is very little bloatware on them in comparison to other Android devices, with just a few additional apps here and there.

The Moto Z, Z Force, G4 and G4 Plus will all therefore offer a very similar user experience. All four devices will run on Android Marshmallow and they are also likely to be some of the first updated to Android N when it arrives later this year.

Moto Z vs Moto Z Force vs Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus: Conclusion

The Moto Z and Z Force both offer slimmer and more premium-looking designs than their G4 and G4 Plus siblings. They also have more power, sharper displays and more capable cameras, at least when it comes to the Z Force.

The G4 and G4 Plus will probably knock a couple of hundred off the Z and Z Force’s price tags though, and they still offer some pretty decent specs including a bigger battery capacity than the Moto Z.

If you want the highest specced Moto device then the Moto Z Force is the one for you, but if you’re happy to make a couple of compromises, the Moto G4 Plus might be a better option if you want to save some cash.

16
Jun

Stunning Magic Leap Star Wars team-up brings C3P0 and R2-D2 into augmented reality


Magic Leap might be one of the most exciting technologies in development right now when it comes to augmented reality – or any reality for that matter. While we’ve only been teased so far, the latest tidbit has pushed excitement levels even higher, thanks to Star Wars involvement.

A short video has been released showing the results of a team-up between augmented reality specialist Magic Leap and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab, the team behind Star Wars. It puts C3P0 and R2-D2 virtually in a real room, almost like they’re really there.

xLab co-founder John Gaeta talking to Wired about Magic Leap said: “Even with the first few things they showed me, I experienced something I’d never in my life experienced: I was able to look at a computer-generated construct, focus along the length of it at any point, and it would abide by my natural eye focus.”

Magic Leap is still under wraps but the company has revealed it uses special lenses which direct light right into the eye to trick the brain. The results, as shown in the video below, are objects fitting in with real world constructs as if they were really there. Check out the feature below to head more about Magic Leap.

So far Magic Leap has been shown as a cool alternative operating system view for computing or as a gaming device but an actual movie style adaptation hasn’t been clear. What we’re seeing here could be the start of a new medium of entertainment that may one day merge reality and the virtual world completely.

 

READ: What is Magic Leap and why might it kill all screens?

16
Jun

Bluetooth 5 announced: Double speed, quad range, eight times capacity and more


It doesn’t happen often but Bluetooth is getting an upgrade all the way to a new version, Bluetooth 5. This exciting as it means faster, better connected devices that don’t use much power to stay connected.

The new Bluetooth 5, announced today by Bluetooth SIG, will have double the speed, quadruple the range and increases data capacity by 800 per cent. It should also work far better outdoors than current offerings. In an age of smart connected homes and smartwatch devices this is very good news indeed.

Bluetooth is lower power consuming than Wi-Fi, but has been limited by range and bandwidth, until now. We say now, Bluetooth 5 is expected to start arriving later this year and early in 2017 inside new devices.

Expect new smartphones, smartwatches, speakers, headphones, smart bulbs, connected cameras and more to sport the new Bluetooth 5 connection. There are currently over 30,000 companies working with Bluetooth SIG so expect this to appear on a huge scale when it starts to arrive later this year.

This could also mean indoor location tracking, like that used by Apple in its Stores, could become wider spanning and more accurate than ever.

Expect to hear manufacturers announcing their devices which will pack Bluetooth 5 towards the end of 2016. Here’s hoping that the expected September iPhone 7 announcement has a Bluetooth bonus lined up.

With Wi-Fi HaLow moving into the low power, long-range connectivity sector it’ll be interesting to see how these two square up.

READ: What is Wi-Fi HaLow and why does it matter? – Pocket-lint

16
Jun

HTC Vive at E3 2016: From the ocean floor to the tops of mountains and beyond


Anyone with a Steam account and the HTC Vive can explore the world – no, the universe.

We know this because while at E3 2016 in Los Angeles, we tried new virtual reality experience available on Steam using the consumer version of HTC’s headset that launched earlier this year. We’ve actually been working our way through everything that works or is native to the HTC Vive, having downloaded them on Steam, and you can read this to see some of the best stuff we’ve experienced so far.

We’ll also update that round-up with the titles we just demoed at E3 2016. They’re available now, and if you try them yourself, you’ll get to do everything from swim in the ocean with a large whale to play fetch with a mechanical dog on top of a mountain. You’ll even get to see a little space-like arcade action in which you navigate a ship, destroy enemies, and avoid obstacles.

We also talked with HTC about what’s next for the Vive, and it seems like the company has a lot more experiences in store for us, and it has set plans to get more people both interested in and trying VR.

New HTC Vive experiences on Steam

theBlue ($9.99 on Steam)

Wevr has developed a deeply immersive VR experience that lets you explore the ocean and come face to face with what looks like an 80-foot Sperm whale. It’s actually a part of a series directed by Jake Rowell (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, and Superman Returns), and it was deemed amazing enough to become a Sundance film selection in 2016.

We were able to use this game with the HTC Vive controllers, too, which allowed us to interact with the edge of a coral reef. The graphics in this experience are a mix between life-like and something you’d see in a Pixar film, but in the end, we came away amazed (and with the realisation that virtual reality can truly transport you anywhere, including the ocean).

The Lab (Free on Steam)

The next two experiences we tried on Steam are actually part of something called The Lab. It’s a compilation of Valve’s room-scale VR experiments. You can fix a robot, defend a castle, play fetch with a mechanical dog, and more. Still not sold? It’s free!

Starting off with the mechanical dog… wow. So cute. Its face lights up, and its tail wags. You can walk around the top of a mountain, looking at clouds float by and birds soar over your head – all while this adorable pup runs around your ankles, waiting for you to pick up a stick and throw it. Again, you can use the Vive’s controllers to play fetch.

We haphazardly threw the stick off the side of the mountain and were honestly worried for a moment that the dog would run off the cliff, but instead he found a path, disappeared for a moment, and eventually reappeared with the stick with enough energy to go again. This little demo is called Postcards, and it made us think that in the future some kids might even own virtual pets over real ones.

We could even see parents allowing their kids to take care of a virtual pet in order to get used to the idea of owning a real one. There are so many possibilities with virtual reality. Heck, you can even relive the golden era of gaming – only this time, it’s all around you. For instance, we played Xortex, and it’s just like playing something inside of an arcade machine.

It’s addictive, too. You basically steer a ship around with the controller, moving it around like a child would pretend with a paper airplane, then you aim the ship at invading enemies and pull the trigger to fire on them. You have to dodge these and avoid lasers that emit from the ships, so you’re not only shooting but ducking and weaving and viewing your score on a giant wrap-around screen.

We recommend The Lab to anyone who wants to dip their toes into VR as soon as they get their headset, because it gives you a fully array of demos that work your brain and body and occasionally pull at your heartstrings.

What’s next for HTC Vive? 

HTC Vive just got a full consumer release in April, so HTC isn’t yet thinking about – or at least not talking about – HTC Vive 2.0. Instead, it’s thinking about getting developers onboard to create more experiences. It also wants to get people trying HTC Vive, because once you demo virtual reality, you’ll be clamoring to buy a full-fledge headset to play more.

HTC said the HTC Vive launched with 50 experiences available, and now it is sitting at 240. Joel Breton, HTC’s Vice President of VR Content, told us that, with the support of Valve’s content team, HTC is going at full speed: “By this holiday, we’re gonna have a super rich garden of content.” He also said that people will be able to try HTC Vive in many more places by Christmas.

The headset can be demoed in 64 stores in the US at the moment, but by the end of June, that number will increase to 100. Breton also said that HTC is hitting up all the major industry conferences, such as E3, with the purpose of getting its headset into the hands of gamers. He speculated that over 1,000 people will try HTV Vive at E3 2016.

HTC is also doing college tours, because gaming on campuses is huge, and capturing the interest of 18 to 22 years olds is essential. All we know is that if they get a chance to play some of the stuff we experienced at E3, they’ll be hooked. But that’s the goal for any VR headset maker – right?

16
Jun

Why you need a water leak detector


For many of us, our homes are our pride and joy. It doesn’t matter what size home you have, whether you own it or rent it, or if it’s super clean or super messy. It’s home and that means many of us will want to do everything we can to protect it to ensure no harm comes to it.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of factors that can hurt our homes from burglars, to fires, to water leaks and when they do, the after effects can be devastating, both physically and emotionally.

There are things we can do to try and prevent these factors though, whether that’s install a smoke detector, a smart security camera to alert us of irregular movements, or a water leak detector to notify us before a drip becomes serious, for example.

This feature focuses on the latter, because like a fire, a flood or burst pipe can cause tremendous damage that is difficult to come back from.

What are the benefits of a water leak detector?

A water leak detector like Honeywell’s Water Leak and Freeze detector will ensure you are aware of a leak or a frozen pipe before the leak becomes a flood, or the pipe bursts. As it is connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, it is able to notify you via your smartphone and the accompanying app wherever you are, meaning you have the power to do something about it before it gets out of hand. 

The Honeywell detector is battery-operated, with the battery lasting around two years and there is no need for a hub or base station for it to connect to your network either so everything is nice and simple.

Installing a water leak detector means the chances of you coming home to a water-filled apartment are significantly reduced. It may sound like an extravagant device to buy, but $80 is a lot less than the price of replacing your entire home’s contents, some of which won’t be replaceable at all if they carry sentimental value.

It’s also a lot less hassle to buy a water leak detector than to deal with the problem of not only the flood itself, but the drama of claiming through your insurance and figuring out who is to blame in the first place.

Floods are one of the biggest insurance claims and many start with a tiny leak so while you think it may never happen to you, could you cope if it did and your home was destroyed? We know we couldn’t.

How does a water leak detector work?

A water leak detector’s job is to detect a leak before that leak turns into a problem and in Honeywell’s case, notify you of the leak in the most convenient way possible by using the device many of us don’t let out of our sight – the smartphone.

The Honeywell Water Leak and Freeze detector also has a 100dB alarm though so if you’re home and your smartphone is elsewhere, you’ll still hear you’ve got a problem before it escalates. There is also the option to alert a neighbour or trusted service person if you’re not around.

You can place a water leak detector and cable sensor anywhere that a leak or freeze could occur, such as near water heaters, washing machines, basins, toilets and drains, for example. The bottom level of your home would be a good place to start, but there is nothing stopping you from installing one near the kitchen basin or in each bathroom too.

In the case of Honeywell, users can connect multiple detectors to the Lyric app in order to ensure the entire home is covered. If a leak is found, the device will buzz and LED lights will flash red, along with you receiving a notification on your smartphone. The same will happen if the temperature drops below the threshold you’ve set, helping to prevent pipes bursting.

Once you’ve been alerted of the problem, you can then do what you can to prevent it getting worse. There is the classic saying of what you don’t know won’t hurt you, but in the case of a water leak, it could very easily hurt you, and your home. Knowing is definitely best when it comes to leaks and frozen pipes and for this, your best option is a water leak detector.

Honeywell’s Water Leak and Freeze Detector is available now for $79.99 RRP from Honeywell. You can read all about how it works in detail in our separate feature. 

The Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is an early warning system that notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. By catching it early, you may be able to avoid expensive repairs and loss of treasured items. To find out more visit Honeywell.com

This article was created in association with Honeywell.

16
Jun

Forza Horizon 3 preview: Putting you in the driving seat


These are exciting times for Microsoft and Xbox. Not only does it have new consoles coming this and next year, but it has announced a couple of key new elements to its gaming strategy; Play Anywhere and 4K HDR gaming.

The latter part comes in the form of Windows 10 versions of its home-grown games, but the beauty of Play Anywhere is that you get those for free when you buy the Xbox One equivalents from the Xbox Store, and vice versa.

So while we have to wait until Christmas 2017 for true 4K gaming on a Microsoft console, a couple of games will offer the option this year, if you have a supporting PC and monitor or TV.

Forza Horizon 3 is one of those games. It will be available for PC and Xbox One simultaneously, from 27 September, with the former 4K HDR ready. It will also support HDR tech to make the game look a little better if you are the owner of a brand, new Xbox One S.

That’s how we experienced the first playable demo at this year’s E3; on an Xbox One S and with the new, slightly redesigned controller.

We also caught up with developer Playground, which told us more about the game world and changes to the series behind closed doors. Both sessions left us impressed and full of hope for the arcade racer.

READ: Xbox E3 2016 highlights: What was launched, Project Scorpio, Xbox One S and much more

In play, it handles much like former Forza Horizons. Turn10 and Playground have together refined the driving engine to perfection over the years, so controlling whatever vehicle you are in feels as intuitive and comfortable as ever.

The addition of new vehicle types, such as buggies and extreme off-roaders, changes that up somewhat, and adds different styles to the mix. In fact, there are more than 350 cars in Forza Horizon 2, more than double the previous game, so the potential for variety is huge.

The map too is much larger, more than twice the size of the last instalment. The game is set in Australia this time around, which gives more options for different environments to race in. Indeed, during the hands-on demo we raced on the beach, off-road and through a forest, in three different cars – including the Lamborghini Centenario that was announced earlier this year.

Microsoft

The buggies are great fun to drive, even capable of stunts and flips. What’s great though is that you and your online friends can race each other in different car types, with each offering alternative benefits. And it doesn’t matter whether they are on PC, Xbox One or Xbox One S, the game is cross-platform and everyone can compete in the same sessions, regardless of the format.

Co-operative play has been added this time too, with up to four friends able to take on challenges. And if your friends aren’t around, Drivatars come into play in a far greater way than ever before.

One of the main enhancements this year centres on the Horizon Festival itself. Instead of you taken on the mantle of a newbie driver, aiming to win a tournament, you are the owner and organiser of the festival. That means you get to call the shots. Playground is literally and figuratively putting you in the driving seat.

One mode, Blueprint, even lets you create events for you and your friends to complete, with a vast array of customisable conditions, from the car class to the weather. You can also create and customise Bucket List challenges. You choose the car and type of challenge, then race it yourself. Your performance is then used as the benchmark for others to beat. They can pass it onto their friends afterwards, and we can see better challenges going viral across the whole Forza community.

Microsoft

Back to Drivatars though, as you can set up to four of your friends’ Drivatars as elite racers in your star line-up. Then, when they race for real, you all earn bonuses and achievements. Ultimately, it could make your festival the best on the planet.

Another addition Playground has made is the ability to stream your own tracks as part of the in-game radio system. There is a wider selection of radio channels to choose from, with a wider range of genres, but setting your own music to play in-game is something we, and many other gamers, have wanted for a while.

The last major aspect we’ll talk about is the in-game sky. Remarkably, the developer had photographers camped out in Australia for an entire summer, taking HDR snapshots of the real sky using a custom 12K camera rig. They were digitised and so the sky in the game reflects the exact weather conditions and lighting of the real thing. It looks simply stunning, we have to say.

First Impressions

We’ll find out plenty more about Forza Horizon 3 on the build up to release day at the end of September, but for now you can colour us impressed.

It plays as well as ever before, but all the new social and graphical enhancements not only make sense, they expand the game to something that could be magical.

We’ll find out for sure when we play it in a couple of months time for the full review. For now though, we thoroughly enjoyed the demo and find Playground’s dedication to improve and adapt the game for a new, more social generation encouraging.

16
Jun

Whirlpool is putting Innit’s smart recipes on its WiFi ovens (updated)


Getting recipes and other cooking tips directly on a connected appliance is increasingly becoming the norm, and Whirlpool is one of the next in line. The company announced that it’s Jenn-Air line of WiFi-equipped ovens will soon feature Innit recipes. While Innit aims to tackle the entire kitchen, including food storage and more, personalized recipes work with the connected oven and your tablet or phone. The appliance adjusts cooking to the weight and type of food to help ensure the results are what they should be.

Innit’s recipes are personalized by dietary and taste preferences, so you won’t have to worry about making adjustments to suit your needs every time. Step-by-step directions will be available right on the oven, allow you to follow along during the process. If you’re worried that it might get a bit awkward having to glance back at the oven from your cutting board, don’t fret: Innit’s guidance is available on a mobile device so you can keep the recipe near your workspace. Whirlpool is planning consumer trials later this year with the goal of bringing Innit’s food science to all Jenn-Air connected wall ovens next year.

Update: This post has been updated to clarify that the Innit recipes can viewed on a tablet or phone as well as the oven’s built-in display.

16
Jun

FreedomPop’s apps put free minutes and texts on any device


FreedomPop’s basic SIM-only service offers 200 minutes, 200 texts and 200MB of data each month absolutely free. While that’s technically true, FreedomPop effectively relies on data alone, with calling and messaging handled through a standalone app, not your smartphone’s native dialer. And now, where you get that data from is by the by, as FreedomPop has opened up its iOS and Android apps to everyone, regardless of what’s scrawled on their SIM. A couple hundred minutes and texts might seem redundant in the FaceTime/Hangouts/WhatsApp era, but having a virtual number means you’ll have no trouble calling your nan’s landline, because she doesn’t have Viber, does she?

WiFi-only devices can support the service too, of course, and anyone that signs up to FreedomPop also gets 300 free minutes of international calls in the first month — handy if your Skype credit is running low. Make sure to stay within those free allowances, though. Overage charges are how FreedomPop makes money, after all, as well as selling added-value packages like unlimited calls and texts for £4 per month, or a second, foreign virtual number for cheap international calls.

Source: FreedomPop

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