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20
Jun

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: What’s the difference?


With Sony revealing before E3 that an upgrade to PS4 would not appear at the show, the stage was set for Xbox to upstage its main rival with a hardware unveiling of its own.

It even revealed that two new consoles will be coming in the next 18 months: Project Scorpio in 2017 and the Xbox One S this year, in time for a Christmas push.

That complicates matters somewhat, because you might want to wait an extra year for a higher spec’ed machine. But should you be in the market for an Xbox in the interim, you’ll be wondering whether to get an Xbox One S when it is available or opt for an existing model, especially as it will undoubtedly be heavily discounted soon.

That’s why we’ve put them head-to-head in spec terms to help you make your mind up.

READ: Xbox One S preview: Thinner, better PS4 beater

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Design

Design is undoubtedly the biggest and most noticeable change between the original Xbox One and the newer, slimmer Xbox One S. In fact, Microsoft has removed 40 per cent of the body mass, making a console that’s just over half the size of its predecessor.

Pocket-lint

It’s an important change, considering the huge size difference that exists between the PS4 and the Xbox One. As is the fact that you’ll be able place it vertically, and that the power brick is internal.

That means instead of having it lie flat, taking up tonnes of room on a shelf and having a chunky power brick lying next to it (or on the floor somewhere), it can neatly stand next to your TV with nothing but a couple of cables attached. It’s clearly a much neater all-round package.

Like the Xbox One, the One S’s has a two-face design. One half of the device has a single solid texture and matte finish, the other half is patterned.

Unlike the Xbox One, however, it has hundreds of machined holes and dots on one half, and not the diagonal line and slits. This is partly for aesthetic purposes, and partly for cooling. A large circle section underneath the machined holes acts as the air vent to cool all the internal components. Arguably, having it stand vertically with more of its surfaces exposed to the air will help cooling too.

Although it’s undoubtedly a much more aesthetically pleasing design in general, at the moment, it is limited to just the white finish initially. In contrast, the current Xbox one has a number of custom designs thanks to tie-ins with some of the most popular game titles. We expect the One S will soon join in with those, especially with the holiday season coming up in a few months.

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Controller

While the console remains instantly recognisable, the updated Xbox Wireless Controller has seen some welcome changes.

Pocket-lint

It looks similar to the original but, like the console, is a touch sleeker and now has a grippy finish underneath the handles to ensure it stays in your hands and doesn’t slip out.

It also has twice the range of its predecessor, just so you won’t have to huddle around your TV so closely. And it works with Windows 10 PCs, tablets and phones via Bluetooth too.

READ: Xbox One S: Release date, specs and everything you need to know

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Features

Apart from its design, the biggest change we see in the Xbox One S is that it’s 4K capable.

Not only can it stream 4K Ultra HD content from services like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, but the console also supports 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback. This is a big deal for more than one reason, but predominantly because – for those you currently in the market for a decent Ultra HD Blu-ray player – you’ll struggle to find one as competitively priced.

Noot only are you getting a great gaming console, you’re also getting a 4K Blu-ray player for less than those from the likes of Samsung or Panasonic.

Xbox One S also supports HDR 4K content, meaning videos will be both sharper and feature a much higher dynamic range. In simple terms: If you have a 4K HDR TV, your movies are going to look awesome.

HDR capabilities also mean that your games will look better too. Darks will be much darker thanks to the higher contrast ratio. Although it doesn’t support 4K native gaming yet, it is capable of 4K upscaling, so even games should look better on a 4K TV.

In terms of other features, it’s a case of one lost, one gained. The Xbox One S doesn’t have a dedicated Kinect port, confirming that Microsoft isn’t as concerned about its motion-tracking technology as it once was. However, you will still be able to connect a Kinect using a USB adapter, plugged into the USB port on the console.

As for the one gained, the One S has an IR blaster built-in, so that you can switch on your TV, audio receiver or satellite receiver without needing to go hunting for all of your remotes.

The USB port is now on the front of the console too, rather than the side. As is the pairing button to connect to wireless controllers. And the on/off switch is physical on the Xbox One S rather than the touch panel found on the original Xbox One.

Xbox One S vs Xbox One: Pricing and availability

The 2TB launch edition of the Xbox One S is available to pre-order now for £349, but there will be both 500GB and 1TB versions of the console in the future, priced at £249 and £299 respectively. In comparison, you can pick up the current Xbox One in various bundles and deals starting from around £230.

If you are in a mad dash for an Xbox One because a game has just been released and you can’t wait a few months, you can probably find a bargain out there for the original model. But it could be worth holding off, especially if you have a 4K TV.

The 2TB model will be available from August, with the others following soon after.

Conclusion

If you’re already in the market for a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, then it’s hard to see a reason not to buy an Xbox One S. Even if you already have an Xbox, it could be the sole reason to encourage you to upgrade.

HDR gaming might also be something you’d like to have for your brand, spanking new 4K TV. And the entry level price of the S is reasonable to say the least.

However, if you’re happy to wait and want true 4K gaming, you may be best to hold off until next year. Project Scorpio is coming at the end of 2017 with 4K gaming and high quality VR. But it will no doubt be very pricey on launch, so that could be a factor too. At least Microsoft has promised that all games released for Xbox will be compatible across all of its machines, just with slight benefits for the consoles with more oomph.

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20
Jun

Lego Dimensions (2016) preview: Harry Potter, Gremlins and more


Warner had already announced the upcoming wave of franchises for year two of Lego Dimensions ahead of E3, but going hands-on with the minifigures was where the real excitement started.

Having pulled out all the franchise-stops in its first year, with the likes of Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future and Doctor Who, the challenge for this year’s Lego Dimensions freresh was to find as rich a range of stories to bring in brick form in 2016.

In a nutshell, Warner has done it again. And in style.

Lego Dimensions: Wave 6 assembles and characters

At E3, we got to play with Wave 6 of the expansion packs, both on the screen and with physical Lego. The new Ghostbusters movie, Adventure Time, Harry Potter and Mission Impossible all looked the part and expanded last year’s gameplay considerably.

The biggest change here is the new Story pack for Ghostbusters. The box includes a set of bricks to enable players to remake the Toy Pad in Ghostbuster form. It also includes minifigures of characters from the new film that unlock an adventure world, 6 new levels and the new battle arena mode.

Lego Dimensions: Battle arenas

This battle arena feature is an addition for any of the new minifigures (each denoted by an orange rather than blue base this year). It’s a four-player split-screen challenge that can be strung together to create multi-player tournaments.

Lego Dimensions: Game director speaks

It’s a nice touch. Not only because it offers a new mode of play but because it’s another way to continue using your existing collection of minifigs. And all this is available without the need for a new Starter Pack this year – unlike competitors in the toys-to-life genre.

We had a tour of the new levels with game director Arthur Parsons. He was keen to underline this fresh approach to compatibility. “It’s the second year of Dimensions, nothing is incompatible, everything works with everything.” This is a very nice touch as it offers good value and does away with questions over what works with what.

Talking about Wave 6 Parsons highlighted what will be coming in September: “Mission Impossible and Ethan’s minifigure is great with voice work from the movies. We’ve also got Adventure Time which is such a popular show. We’ve got Harry Potter, Ghostbusters and the A-Team,” he continued.

“Then on into November we have Fantastic Beasts. Then onto Sonic and Goonies.”

It’s an impressive line-up but it is important that pricing is appropriate. The new big Story expansions have yet to get an official price but will likely be quite a bit more than even the £25 Level packs from last year.

Lego Dimensions: Hire a hero returns

Helping negate some costs is the return of the hire a hero feature which Parsons confirmed would be in Year 2 of Lego Dimensions. This enables players to try out characters before actually buying them. That way, they can decide which offers best value for what they want to do in the game.

Parsons confirmed that there are still no plans to offer upgrade trees for the Lego minifigure characters like players are used to in Skylanders, although again you can do this with the vehicles and gadgets that can be rebuilt in different ways.

Lego Dimensions: Updated packaging

Also on display at E3 was the retail packaging for Lego Dimensions. This is similar to last year’s although offered some expanded information about which Battle Arenas each pack would unlock when placed on the Toy Pad.

Lego Dimensions: Retail packaging

With the demise of Disney Infinity and the rise of various start-up competitors, like Anki Overdrive and Infinite Arms, the toys-to-life space is on the move. Lego Dimensions and Skylanders are still the two big incumbent games and neither are resting on their laurels. At least, that’s our take after E3 2016 closed its doors.

Lego Dimensions will be hard to beat. It has such a wide ranging and well known line-up of TV and film stars at its behest. Who could resist Knight Rider, Gremlins and the A-Team?

Not us, that’s for sure.

20
Jun

Spotify racks up 100 million active users


If there was any doubt that streaming music is here to stay, Spotify just removed it. The service has confirmed that it now has over 100 million users who listen at least once a month. That’s not bad considering that it had 75 million a bit over a year ago. As the Telegraph notes, that amounts to adding 1.8 million new users every month. However, the question is whether or not these figures are as good as they sound — they may be bittersweet.

We’ve asked Spotify about the number of paying subscribers, and it tells us that it doesn’t have an update at the moment. It had 30 million subscribers back in March. If that count hasn’t gone up as well, it’ll suggest that the company is having trouble convincing people to move beyond the free tier. And that’s a problem when Spotify’s losses have only widened in recent years despite its runaway growth. While it’s no mean feat to have that many people shelling out every month, the company needs more paying users if it’s going to remain healthy in the long run.

This still makes Spotify the largest streaming service by far. Apple Music, for comparison, has ‘just’ 15 million subscribers as of June. The difference? Most of Spotify’s rivals (including Apple) don’t have free offerings outside of trial periods — they’re not hurting their bottom line to add more users. Spotify may be the most popular streaming service, but it’s not necessarily the most sustainable.

Source: The Telegraph, Jeremy White (Twitter)

20
Jun

Twitter buys a machine learning company to improve your videos


Facebook isn’t the only social network to see some value in artificial intelligence. Twitter has bought Magic Pony, a small London outfit that specializes in using machine learning to process visuals, at an unofficial worth of around $150 million. It’s hoping to use the newly acquired talent to “enhance [its] strength” in both live and pre-recorded videos. What exactly it will do isn’t clear, but Twitter chief Jack Dorsey points to Magic Pony’s work on sharpening blurry video elements as an example — it’s easy to see machine learning improving the quality of clips (especially on Periscope) without consuming more of your all-important bandwidth.

This isn’t Twitter’s first AI-related acquisition. It bought Madbits back in 2014, and Whetlab last year. However, you’re more likely to notice this one. Twitter’s first machine learning buyouts were about organizing pictures and analyzing tweets, both of which tend to happen behind the scenes. You’ll probably notice Magic Pony’s efforts every time you see a Periscope stream, a movie trailer or a sports replay.

Source: Twitter, Magic Pony, TechCrunch

20
Jun

Huawei’s MateBook heads to the US on July 11th for $699


Huawei’s Surface competitor, the Matebook, is headed to the US on July 11th starting at $699. Announced back at Mobile World Congress, it’s a 12-inch laptop/tablet hybrid that weighs in at a mere 1.4 pounds and 6.9 millimeters thin. Huawei claims it’s the lightest 12-inch tablet on the market. Even though it’s a hybrid, the Matebook still counts as the company’s first laptop. And as is usually the case with convertibles, there’s a stylus pen accessory with Windows Ink support and 2,048 levels of pressure.

The Matebook’s screen comes in at 2,160 by 1,440 pixels, which is sharp but not nearly as much as the iPad Pro (2,732 x 2,048) or the Surface Pro 4 (2,736 x 1,824). You’ll be able to configure it with core M3, M5 and M7 processors, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and storage options from 128GB to 512GB SSDs. There’s also a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint sensor on the side.

While Huawei isn’t exactly known for premium devices, the MateBook’s aluminum unibody design shows that it’s learned a lot from other high-end devices. It’s also shipping with Windows 10 Signature Edition in the US, which means it’ll offer a clean Windows experience without any junkware.

Unfortunately, Huawei learned the wrong lesson from Microsoft and is charging an additional $129 for the MateBook’s keyboard. The Stylus will cost $59 and the MateDock, which includes two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA, will run you $89.

You can preorder a Matebook starting today from the Microsoft store, and it’ll be available at other retailers on July 11. The base $699 MateBook comes with a Core M3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and you can go all the way up to a Core M5 chip, 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD for $1,199.

20
Jun

Microsoft trashes Chrome’s battery life


Your choice of web browser can have a tremendous effect on your laptop’s battery life, and Microsoft is determined to prove that its Edge browser the most efficient of them all… at Google’s expense, of course. The crew in Redmond has posted battery tests showing that Edge lasted longer in web video playback and standardized surfing tests than any other browser (including Opera in low-power mode), and over 3 hours longer than Chrome in the video test. And this is with the current version of Windows 10, Microsoft notes. Edge in Windows’ Anniversary Update should be downright miserly thanks to lower resource usage and tighter restrictions on Flash.

Of course, it’s a wise idea to take this (and any other company-run benchmark) with a grain of salt. Most people don’t spend all day watching Netflix on the web, and Microsoft doesn’t mention exactly how long the browsers lasted in the generic browsing test. Also, it conducted the tests on Surface Books. Your mileage is likely to vary with third-party hardware. The company does point to lower overall power consumption based on data from “millions” of Windows 10 PCs, but that will only tell you so much about your own experience.

Still, it’s no secret that Chrome is relatively power-hungry. Google’s attempts to improve Chrome’s battery efficiency have only gone so far, and it’s practically common wisdom that you use another browser if you need an extra hour or two of runtime. It’s just important to remember that Microsoft has a strong incentive to trash talk Chrome, and that battery life isn’t always the most important factor.

Via: The Verge

Source: Windows Experience Blog

20
Jun

Experimental Zika vaccine approved for human trials


The Food and Drug Administration approved an experimental Zika vaccine called GLS-5700 for a clinical trial in humans earlier today, the first such treatment to get an official nod from the agency. Initial trials will start with 40 healthy subjects getting dosed in the coming weeks, and if all goes without a hitch, preliminary results should be available later this year.

As Stat News points out, the thing to remember here is that this trial is meant to determine the vaccine’s safety and proper dosage levels in humans. Assuming this first round yields valuable results, further trials will see the vaccine given to people actually infected with Zika. As such, there’s really no telling how effective the vaccine currently is. So far though, creators Inovio and GeneOne say the experimental treatment has produced “robust antibody a T cell responses” in small and large animals — a promising sign for its chances to combat Zika in humans.

The news comes just days after a CDC disclosure defined the scope of Zika-related birth defects in the US — so far, three mothers have delivered babies with brain damage, while three others have terminated their pregnancies because of brain damage caused by the disease. The FDA also recently granted emergency approval to a Zika test produced by a Hologix, a Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company. No Zika test has received full FDA approval, but this emergency approval gives laboratories the latitude to run the test if (or when) an official Zika outbreak occurs. This now means there are two tests — the other comes from Quest Diagnostics — available for use in critical situations where faster diagnoses could mean all the difference.

Via: The Verge

Source: Inovio

20
Jun

Apple might open stores in India thanks to relaxed rules


Apple might not have to bend over backwards to open stores in India: the country has loosened its rules on locally-sourced products in a way that gives foreign companies a shot. First-party retailers (that is, those that mostly sell their own products) will have a 3-year grace period where they don’t have to sell at least 30 percent products that are locally made. They can extend that window for another 5 years if they show that they’re making advanced tech that benefits from the relaxed rules — in other words, Apple. In theory, this gives outsiders a chance to get their local manufacturing in gear at the same time as they build up their brand.

The tech giant will have to apply for retail access again, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll pass muster. However, the terms appear to be tailor-made for Apple, whose CEO went on an extensive tour of India in May. The Indian government may have decided that allowing an official retail footprint for Apple and its kind would help the economy more than insisting on local manufacturing from the get-go.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: Bloomberg

20
Jun

FCC lays out its big 5G push


Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler made an impassioned plea for the US to take the lead in developing a wireless 5G standard. “To seize the opportunities before us, we need the next generation of wireless connectivity – a fifth generation, or 5G,” he said. What’s more he laid forth a plan to do it. On Thursday, Wheeler will seek to “open up” a swath of high-band spectrum for 5G applications; he’s calling it the Spectrum Frontiers proceeding.

The FCC plans to use 200 MHz-wide chunks of high-band spectrum because, unlike lower frequencies, it can offer the gigabit per second throughput and sub-millisecond latency that 5G applications demand. 5G will usher in an Internet of Everything, Wheeler told the Press Club. “If something can be connected, it will be connected in a 5G world.” Wheeler cited various remote operation scenarios, such as surgeons using VR to operate on patients hundreds of miles away, to illustrate the need for ultrafast wireless connectivity. He expects the commission’s research to be completed and the proposal ready for a vote by July 14th. Should it be adopted, America would become the first nation on Earth to actively reserve frequency for 5G development.

5G networks will require a number of infrastructure updates, specifically a large number of small cell sites. To account for this, the FCC will streamline its environmental and historic preservation rules, which will allow local governments more flexibility in where they situate these devices. The commission will also reportedly take a collaborative approach to addressing the networks cybersecurity and will reach out to “all stakeholders”.

Wheeler stated that he expects the private sector to lead this development and produce the necessary technical standards on its own. Verizon and AT&T have both already announced that they’ll begin testing 5G next year. And if what we saw at Mobile World Congress is any indication, they won’t be the last. “Turning innovators loose is far preferable to expecting committees and regulators to define the future.” Wheeler said. “We won’t wait for the standards to be first developed in the sometimes arduous standards-setting process or in a government-led activity.”

That said, the end result of the coming 5G revolution is still very much up in the air. “I’ve listed some examples of what 5G makes possible,” Wheeler told the crowd. “But if anyone tells you they know the details of what 5G will deliver, walk the other way.”

20
Jun

Google now tells you why you’re feeling sick


Google made improvements to how you search for symptoms and illnesses in the past, and now it’s looking to be even more helpful. The company will now show you a list of medical conditions when you search for symptoms. In the above example, entering “headache on one side” will bring up a group of related conditions that include headache, migraine, common cold, sinusitis and common cold. When you search for something less specific — like just “headache” — Google will serve up information on the issue alongside some self-treatment options that might keep you from having to go to the doctor.

Google says it’s offering all of these details strictly for informational purposes and that you should always consult a real doctor for proper medical advice. In other words, don’t try to diagnose your severe cold just through search results. However, the company did consult with a team of doctors to review symptom info and experts at Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic evaluated the conditions to help improve the lists. That’s in addition to collected data from medical searches and doctors in Google’s own Knowledge Graph.

The company also wants to know if the information it gives you in response to those queries is helpful, and will ask for you to offer feedback on the feature. The new symptoms search is rolling out on mobile over the next few days in the US, but only in English. Google says that eventually it plans to expand the tool to other countries and languages while also including answers about more symptoms.

Source: Google

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