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4
Nov

Amazon Echo review: It’s all about Alexa


Amazon launched the Echo – its cylindrical, internet-connected Bluetooth-capable speaker – in the US back in 2015. Just over a year later and the Echo has finally made its way to the UK. Hurrah.

But we’re not most excited about the actual speaker part. The biggest take-away from Echo is Alexa, your personal, voice-controlled, cloud-based assistant. Because you’ve always wanted to talk to a home speaker, right?

Impressed by the idea? After spending many weeks playing with Echo – or, should we say, talking to Alexa – we’ve found ourselves liking the assistant feature heaps. The speaker’s not too bad either – or you can buy a smaller, cheaper Echo Dot and sync your own speaker instead for better quality.

  • Amazon Echo vs Amazon Tap vs Amazon Echo Dot: What’s the difference?

Here’s why Amazon is at the helm of the smart home with Echo. Sure, it’s cleverly locking you into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value to that prospect.

Amazon Echo review: Setup

Amazon Echo is as easy to setup as it gets. The product took us less than a minute to fire up.

  • Amazon Echo: The first seven things you should do to get Alexa started

We plugged it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, then waited for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange. Once that was done, Alexa greeted us.

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The Echo app exists for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire devices and you’ll need to download that before you can use Echo. Like setting up the speaker itself, this process is a breeze too – you just need to sync with a Wi-Fi network.

When using the Echo app for the first time, sign into your Amazon Prime account and other available services, such as Spotify, so that Echo can work with these various accounts. Plenty of other Amazon services are available, as are those form third parties (we go into more detail via the link below).

  • Amazon Echo: What can Alexa do and what services are compatible?

Amazon Echo review: Design

Simply put: Amazon Echo is a Pringles-can-sized speaker. It’s just 235mm tall and just over 76mm around. We were fairly surprised by the compact size of Echo given how the press images somehow made it appear like a large tower of sorts.

Pocket-lint

Which is great, as this is a speaker you can fit anywhere in your home. And because it weighs around 700g, you don’t have to worry about it being easily knocked over by small children or animals. It’s a solid, weighty thing that squeezes into a range of spaces – whether that be a table top, kitchen counter or nestled by your living room’s entertainment centre.

You only need to make sure Echo has access to a mains power outlet. Unlike most Bluetooth speakers at this price point, Echo isn’t portable because there’s no battery on board. It must be plugged in at all times, but that’s kind of a good thing because then you know for sure that it’s always on, always listening, and always ready to provide quick answers and information. Echo isn’t a conventional speaker like the portable Bluetooth competition.

Control wise, Echo has three buttons. Well, two, plus a control ring around the top to control volume. Above this ring is a separate light circle that glows a dull white when you dial the volume ring, or it’ll shine a brilliant blue when you say “Alexa”, which is the personal assistant’s name and wake-up word. Kind of like Siri, Cortana or Google Now. You can ditch the Alexa name and use a variety of others if you prefer, but you can’t programme your own specific (we can see it now: all the swear word choices).

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As cylindrical speakers go, Alexa is simple and elegant looking.

Amazon Echo review: Alexa voice control

As with all Amazon products, there’s a tie-in with the company’s shopping and pay-for services – aka £79/year Amazon Prime. And with Echo you’ll want a subscription to get the most out of the product. Although you don’t have to sign up. Alexa can still control your heating (if you have Hive) and play music from your phone or laptop without the added subscription.

You can use the Echo app to manage your settings, to-do list, shopping list, connected services, music, and provide an overview of all your requests. That’s right: every query is stored on the History screen with a brief audio clip of what you said. It’s almost creepy.

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You can ask Alexa to play Audible audiobooks, check your schedule in Google calendar, re-order Prime products in your Amazon history, fetch traffic reports, news, sports scores, weather, get information from Wikipedia, set alarms and timers, and organise shopping lists and to-do lists. Indeed there are heaps of apps beyond that, from Uber to Skyscanner and more.

  • Amazon Echo’s Alexa: What services are compatible?

One limitation is that, apart from the weather and dictionary, Alexa strictly pulls informational data from Wikipedia and a few other data repositories. You cannot use Alexa to Google things, though she will send a Bing link to your phone or device if unsuccessful at finding what you want.

What we especially like is that you can ask Alexa almost any question in conversation. And it’s oh so easy to get side-tracked

“Alexa, who is the mayor of London?”

“The mayor of London is Sadiq Khan.”

Cool. What next? Oh, “Alexa, add bin bags to my shopping list.”

“I’ve added bin bags to your shopping list.”

Job done.

One more thing: “Alexa, play some Bob Marley.”

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The Echo has seven microphones and a “beam-forming” technology, meaning it’s designed to hear you from across the room even while music is playing. That’s not just words straight from an Amazon rep – it’s the truth. Even with Bob blaring out loudly, Alexa could pick up whatever we had to say.

We’ve also used Alexa for shopping a lot – influenced by all that reggae – which is probably the key reason why Amazon developed Echo in the first instance. Ask Alexa to add anything to your shopping list and she’ll do it. If you want to re-order something you’ve already purchased via Prime, you can do so with just your voice. It’s all so futuristic, albeit in the here and now.

Amazon Echo review: Music and speaker quality

Other than that, Alexa is your personal DJ. We love asking her to play any random song, album, genre, station, or artist on demand. If she can’t automatically pull it from a connected service, then she will either play a sample, and then allow us buy said music (via Amazon, of course), or she apologises for not having it.

Echo is a typical Bluetooth speaker, in the sense you can connect your phone or smart device and play tunes wirelessly. So if you have a specific song, mix, or something that you can’t source from streaming services then it can function that way.

By default the Alexa voice-controlled feature only works for Amazon Music/Prime. You can also set, say, Spotify or Tunein within the app if this is your preference. In the US Pandora and iHeartRadio are also available.

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If you want the music to stop, pause, or the volume to change you simply have to ask Alexa – although the physical buttons can be used instead.

Thing is, the quality of the Echo speaker itself isn’t class-leading. Alexa sounds great, but music doesn’t have as much pop as you might have heard elsewhere. It’s good enough, but it’s just not going to give you the warbling bass that you might find from some other Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Verdict

We think hands-free voice control is a godsend and that Alexa, Amazon Echo’s personal assistant, truly distinguishes this Bluetooth speaker from the competition. It’s blown our minds – whether for listening to music, adding to our shopping list, adjusting the heating or asking other apps to do their thing.

It’s just a shame that, as a Bluetooth speaker, Echo doesn’t quite blow our minds. It’s not a class-leading Bluetooth speaker, despite its so-called “immersive, 360-degree sound”. There’s no on-board battery either, so it always needs to be wired to a wall socket. However, if you want to use your own speakers then you’ll want to buy the Echo Dot, which is smaller and cheaper at £49 – effectively acting an Alexa module, if you will.

Overall we can see where Amazon is going with Echo. It’s all about motivating Amazon Prime and working as the hub of the home. It’ll get more advanced over time as more services become available too. But there will also be more competition: Google Home is incoming (but sounds a lot less human), while surely Apple is only around the corner with a similar such setup.

As it stands, though, Amazon rules the roost. We love Alexa. And we think she loves us back.

4
Nov

Windows Store ‘CoD’ buyers can’t play with Steam friends


Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered have come to the Windows 10 Store, but you may want to think twice about buying the games there. According to Activision, those versions don’t support console cross-play, and won’t even work with versions on other PC platforms like Steam. In other words, you’ll only be able to play with other Windows 10 Store buyers and not the millions of players who bought the game elsewhere. They aren’t part of the Xbox Play Anywhere program either, meaning you’ll be stuck with the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version on Windows 10.

Developers like Epic have complained about the closed nature of the Windows 10 Store, but the Call of Duty restrictions apparently aren’t Microsoft’s fault. Windows Central reports that the decision to separate the UWP game from other Windows platform players was made entirely by Activision. Microsoft affirmed that it supports device and platform cross-play “for partners who want to enable it.”

Though the lack of cross-play is Activision’s decision, users have complained about other aspects of UWP games, like the lack of multi GPU support for SLI or Crossfire, and no support for unlocked frame rates. However, Microsoft recently unlocked frame rates for UWP games and launched MultiGPU support for DirectX 12 games like Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’ll have to do more to open up the platform, though — if buyers see nothing but downsides, they’ll simply buy elsewhere.

Via: Windows Central

Source: Activision

4
Nov

LEGO Dimensions makes me like things I hate


2016 has been a rough year for Ghostbusters fans. After more than a decade of rumors and false starts, the franchise finally got a new film — but the reboot’s cast of leading ladies turned a spotlight on a misogynistic minority within the fandom’s community of cosplayers and prop-builders. When the dust settled, we were left with a movie too mediocre to extinguish the hate surrounding it, yet not nearly bad enough to warrant the outrage. For me, this became a personal problem: How was I to reconcile a lackluster film that I just didn’t like with my weirdly fervent love of Ghostbusters? The answer, it turns out, was LEGO Dimensions.


This isn’t the first time LEGO bricks have served as a bridge between my fandom and a franchise I love. In 2005, Star Wars was in the midst of an awkward phase better known as “the prequels” — a second trilogy that took the space opera into a universe of stiff acting, bad writing and failed expectations. I was slowly growing to hate Star Wars. Then, just a month before Revenge of the Sith hit theaters, I played the LEGO Star Wars video game — a retelling of George Lucas’ second saga in simulated plastic. Somehow, the simplified medium of a toy-themed video game salvaged the prequel trilogy. As I came to terms with my feelings about the new Ghostbusters film, I remembered LEGO Star Wars. The movie may not have been for me, I thought, but maybe the game would be.

As with the Star Wars prequels, the new Ghostbusters film looked like the franchise I knew and loved, but its change in tone didn’t quite tickle my nostalgia. I loved seeing a new take on the Ghostbusters’ classic car and watching the team take down spirits with unlicensed nuclear accelerators, but I was turned off by the movie’s humor: fart jokes, slapstick antics and forced awkwardness just don’t make me laugh.

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The LEGO Dimensions Ghostbusters Story Pack softens the tone, excising the cringeworthy comedy and bodily function jokes while still holding on to the essence of the story and its characters. It almost took itself more seriously too — spending more time on the narrative and less time as an extended Saturday Night Live sketch. Maybe it’s just the familiarity of the LEGO trappings, but Dimensions seems to capture the spirit of the original franchise better than the new film without compromising integrity of the rebooted story or characters.

As great as LEGO’s adaptation of Ghostbusters is, the gameplay itself is a little bland. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s still a LEGO game, and those don’t change much. It’s a double-edged sword, really: The series’ history of casual platforming, simple puzzles and straightforward combat mechanics has always offered a fun and consistent, but ultimately unchallenging experience. On the other hand, those follies are exactly why these games work so well with licensed properties. Like the toys they’re based on, LEGO games are designed to fit any mold imaginable. It works too: LEGO has adapted Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, Adventure Time, Doctor Who and even the original 1984 Ghostbusters — and all of them are fun, nostalgic experiences. Maybe that’s why it’s the last licensed toys-to-life platform still standing.

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Fandom can be a weird thing. It inspires some to build screen-accurate props. For others, it justifies hostile, misogynistic trolling, apparently. It turned me into a man looking back on a childhood toy as a possible conduit for enjoying something that I didn’t like, but wanted to. Against all odds, it actually worked. LEGO Dimensions helped me salvage my fandom for a Ghostbusters reboot I initially hated. It let me make connections to characters I found grating and bland on-screen. It’s neither the best Ghostbusters game ever made (that title goes to the 2009 game written and voiced by the 1984 film’s stars) nor is it the best depiction of the original characters (hello there, IDW comic book series). But for me, Dimensions is the best way to experience the 2016 reboot.

4
Nov

Apple is close to launching single sign-on for Apple TV


Apple wants to take the pain out of turning your Apple TV into a cable box, and is doing so with Single Sign On. It’s a system that promises to let you enter the username you use with your TV provider just once, and it’ll collate whatever apps and services you can access automatically. It was announced all the way back in June, but only now is the company ready to begin testing the feature publicly.

Both AppleInsider and 9to5Mac are reporting that Single Sign-on has been activated for beta testers using iOS 10.2 and tvOS 10.1. If you’re using those operating systems on the Apple TV, iPhone or iPad, you can head over to the settings pane and enter your provider details to get going. For now, the number of companies listed is limited to four: Dish, GTVC Communications, Hotwire and Sling TV. But now that Apple is letting folks in the real world kick the tires, hopefully it won’t be long before we all get to play.

Source: AppleInsider, 9to5Mac

4
Nov

The best 4K monitors


By David Murphy

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. When readers choose to buy The Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, they may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After spending 37 hours researching 22 4K monitors and testing eight finalists, we’ve found that the Dell P2715Q is the best 4K monitor for most people right now. Recent improvements in technology and drops in pricing make a 4K monitor a good buy if you’re willing to live with some quirks, but it still isn’t something most people need. If you work with (or watch) a lot of high-definition content, have an amazing gaming computer, or just want more desktop space, you’ll be happy with the Dell, or any of our other picks.

Who this is for

Illustration: Elizabeth Brown

The most obvious reason to choose a 4K monitor is because it has a lot of pixels. With 3840×2160 pixels, a 4K monitor has four times as many as a 1920×1080 monitor (8.29 million versus 2.07 million), 3.6 times the pixels of a 1920×1200 monitor (such as our 24-inch monitor pick), and 2.25 times the pixels of a 2560×1440 monitor (likeour 27-inch monitor pick).

A high-resolution display such as a 4K monitor can make text and images look much sharper than a standard monitor. Photo: David Murphy

That increased pixel density produces sharper, more detailed images, as you’ll see in our illustration above. A 4K monitor can give you a better-looking picture for games, the ability to edit high-res photos and videos at their native resolutions, and a lot more desktop space—useful if you’re a coder or you otherwise need a large amount of information on one screen.

Higher picture quality and more screen space can make 4K monitors look like an obvious upgrade, but they come with potential drawbacks that some people will find annoying and others will hate. To learn more, check out our full guide.

How we picked and tested

Photo: David Murphy

We narrowed our list of the best-reviewed and highly ranked IPS monitors down to eight by eliminating those that weren’t manufacturer-calibrated, were way too expensive for their specifications, or were using DisplayPort’s multi-stream transport mode (MST) instead of single-stream transport (SST). MST was an older stopgap measure that treated a monitor as two separate displays in order to get a 4K picture working over older versions of DisplayPort. You should avoid any monitor that isn’t SST, though you might have to do some Internet detective work to confirm whether a monitor uses it.

The Wirecutter’s Chris Heinonen helped us design our monitor-testing process, which relies on two measuring devices: a $1,200 i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer from X-Rite and a $170 Spyder4Pro. (The Spyder4Pro is better at reading black levels than the i1Pro.) We built customized tests in the CalMAN 2016 software-calibration suite to measure each monitor’s maximum and minimum brightness levels, gamma, color temperature, and color accuracy.

Our pick

The P2715Q has an old-school fat plastic bezel and traditional plastic buttons rather than the ultraslim bezel and capacitive buttons of Dell’s UltraSharp line. Photo: David Murphy

The Dell P2715Q is the best 4K monitor for most people because its display quality is exceptional, its price is reasonable, it has all the connections you’ll need for your PC (and USB devices); it comes with a highly adjustable ergonomic stand and VESA mounting holes; and it uses single-stream transport for its DisplayPort connection—much better than cheaper (or older) multi-stream transport monitors.

The P2715Q doesn’t carry Dell’s UltraSharp branding, but the company calibrates the monitor at the factory. Because the calibration applies to the monitor’s default mode, you’ll get great results when you first set up the monitor. (You should still optimize the monitor’s brightness and contrast for your room’s lighting.)

The monitor’s DeltaE values—representing how far away a displayed color is from what it should actually be—ranged from 1.114 on our saturations test to 1.224 on our ColorChecker test to 1.493 on our grayscale test. In real-world terms, the P2715Q’s colors are almost perfect. Though the calibration software found that some displayed reds appeared oversaturated and the monitor had some hue/tint inaccuracies, they’re not perceptible. For more on grayscales and color temperature, see our full guide.

There’s little we don’t like about Dell’s P2715Q. Previous purchasers have reported that the monitor doesn’t always work, or work well, with various MacBooks. Given how many different kinds of MacBooks exist, how many different ways people have tried to connect the monitor to their laptops, and how many different versions of MacOS people are using, we haven’t found a one-size-fits-all solution for some of the reported issues, so we recommend checking to confirm that your MacBook can even run 4K at 60 Hz.

Runner-up (with extra features for gamers)

The XG2700-4K is an excellent alternative to the Dell P2715Q. Photo: David Murphy

The ViewSonic XG2700-4K isn’t just a runner-up; it’s an excellent alternative to the Dell P2715Q if you’re a gamer or a power user and you like digging into your monitor’s features. It offers accurate colors, excellent stand adjustability, an even better array of connections, and FreeSync (for AMD gamers). It also has far more configuration options than the Dell, though they’re not explained very well, which is our biggest complaint with this monitor. But the Dell P2715Q is a lot more user-friendly (and currently cheaper), which is why that model gets our recommendation.

In our CalMAN 2016 testing, the XG2700-4K had a slightly better grayscale DeltaE than the Dell P2715Q (0.9428 versus 1.493). The same held true for our saturations test (0.5073 versus 1.078) and our ColorChecker test (0.7491 versus 1.224). In reality, all of those values indicate excellent display quality for most people—you can’t tell whether one monitor is more accurate than the other without a calibration device.

We especially love the XG2700-4K’s robust multipicture mode, which lets you use one monitor to view multiple connected sources at once (either in a split screen, a quad-window display, or picture-in-picture).

Upgrade pick

The BenQ BL3201PH is gigantic, but it lets you avoid dealing with unpredictable scaling issues if you rely on third-party apps. Photo: David Murphy

The BenQ BL3201PH is a beast. It’s the best 4K monitor you can buy if you have room on your desk for its 32-inch screen. The biggest benefit of a giant 4K monitor is that you might not need to scale your display when running the monitor at its native resolution. That way, you’ll avoid one of the main issues plaguing 4K—third-party apps that look ugly, blurry, or too tiny to use when Windows embiggens your on-screen items.

Of all the large 4K monitors we looked at, the BL3201PH offers the best combination of price and performance, plenty of connectivity, all the right ergonomic adjustments, and a good assortment of features in an easy-to-navigate configuration screen.

Care and maintenance

Dell’s factory calibration for the P2715Q’s Standard mode is very accurate, so you don’t need to buy a hardware colorimeter to calibrate your display unless you need absolute perfection (as professional photographers, graphic designers, or video editors do). You can (and should) adjust the monitor’s contrast: Go to Lagom.nl’s white-saturation test and set your contrast at the highest it will go before you can’t see the difference between the higher-numbered values and the all-white background.

If your monitor’s screen gets dirty or smudgy, don’t use an ammonia- or alcohol-based cleaner on it (no Windex). Don’t use a paper towel, either. A microfiber cloth and some distilled water (not tap) will work just fine. And don’t spray the screen when cleaning it—spray the cloth, then wipe the screen.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

4
Nov

Neil Young’s Catalog Returns to Apple Music After He Said Streaming Has ‘Worst Quality in History’


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer Neil Young’s full back catalog has returned to Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and elsewhere, less than two years after he pulled his collection from all streaming services due to his belief that streaming delivers the “worst quality in history,” according to Music Ally.

Young stopped streaming his songs in July 2015, and at the time said “it’s not because of the money” but rather “about sound quality” in a Facebook post.

Streaming has ended for me. I hope this is ok for my fans.

It’s not because of the money, although my share (like all the other artists) was dramatically reduced by bad deals made without my consent.

It’s about sound quality. I don’t need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution. I don’t feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It’s bad for my music.

For me, it’s about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that.

When the quality is back, I’ll give it another look. Never say never.

Young’s catalog first returned to streaming service Tidal’s high-fidelity CD quality tier in April, although his songs were also made available through its standard tier with a max quality of 320 kbps. Apple Music has a max quality of 256kbps. Both services use the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) encoding format.

Young himself launched Pono, a music download service with high-resolution audio, in early 2015. The digital music service delivers high-resolution 24-bit 192 kHz audio. However, the store has been temporarily offline since July after its primary cloud-based infrastructure partner Omnifone was acquired.

Young has yet to provide a reason behind his decision to bring his catalog back to additional streaming services.

Tag: Apple Music
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4
Nov

Indian Government Purchasing Cellebrite Technology Used to Bypass Locked iPhones


India’s Forensic Science Laboratory is in negotiations to purchase the security bypassing technology used by Israeli mobile software developer Cellebrite, the company that the FBI enlisted to help unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter earlier in the year (via The Economic Times).

The FBI needed Cellebrite’s “mobile forensics solutions” to bypass the lock on the iPhone 5c in question, a method which Apple vehemently opposed throughout the lengthy public spat between it and the U.S. Justice Department.

Cellebrite has worked with government and law enforcement agencies “around the world,” and the FBI’s interaction with the company was reported earlier in the year to cost somewhere around $1 million. The terms of India’s purchasing agreement with Cellebrite were not laid out, but an anonymous official from the Forensic Science Laboratory said that the Indian government is expected to get the unlocking technology fairly soon.

“We are likely to have the technology within a month or so. India will become a global hub for cases where law enforcement is unable to break into phones,” said a senior FSL official. All officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.

As the FSL official mentioned, after its purchase of Cellebrite India intends to become the “global hub” for cases similar to the one between Apple and the FBI that occurred this year, since it will now own the “entire tool” to open encrypted smartphones. It’s mentioned, although not in much detail, that requests the FSL receives by other institutes to unlock a smartphone “will be entertained at a fee.”

It’s not clear how India’s purchase will be different from anyone else’s, or what would lead the country to become a “global hub” when others can also seek out help from Cellebrite.

Despite the FBI eventually finding nothing of importance in the San Bernardino iPhone, the political and technological climate surrounding the case will continue because encryption is “essential tradecraft” of terrorists, according to FBI director James Comey. His prediction came true last month when the agency began looking into the “legal and technical options” for entering the iPhone of the culprit behind the Minnesota mall stabbings in mid-September.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: India, Apple-FBI
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4
Nov

EE announces refreshed range of SIM-only tariffs


EE has unveiled a new range of 12 month SIM-only tariffs for anyone who buys a SIM-free phone and wants to take advantage of its fast 4G speeds and extensive network coverage.

The plans are split into three tiers: 4GEE Essential, 4GEE and 4GEE Max. 4GEE Essential plans are for those who perhaps don’t use their phone too much and start at £9.99/month for 250 minutes, 250MB data and unlimited texts. The Essential plan SIMs are locked to a 20Mbps 4G data transfer limit. There are three Essential plans in total:

  • 250 mins, 250MB data, unltd texts – £9.99/month
  • 500 mins, 500MB data, unltd texts – £12.99/month
  • 1000 mins, 1GB data, unltd texts – £14.99/month

If you use your phone a lot though, you’ll be more interested in the 4GEE and 4GEE Max plans. 4GEE plans start at £17.99/month and go up to £34.99/month. 4GEE plans get a speed increase to 60Mbps and all come with unlimited minutes, texts and 500MB of data to use when roaming in the EU. The 4GEE plans are as follows:

  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 2GB data, 500MB EU data – £17.99/month
  • Untld mins, unltd texts, 5GB data, 500MB EU data – £21.99/month
  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 8GB data, 500MB EU data – £25.99/month
  • Untld mins, unltd texts, 20GB data, 500MB EU data – £34.99/month

4GEE max plans meanwhile come with extra features such as EE’s fastest 4G speeds in compatible areas, and EU Roam Like Home, which lets you use your tariff as normal when travelling in the EU. All plans also get inclusive access to the BT Sport app.

4GEE Max plans are as follows:

  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 2GB data – £19.99/month
  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 4GB data – £22.99/month
  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 7GB data – £26.99/month
  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 12GB data – £30.99/month
  • Unltd mins, unltd texts, 30GB data – £39.99/month

EE has also revealed a new range of 4GEE and 4GEE Max SIM plans for tablets, with difference monthly prices depending on the tablet you have. 10GB of data for the iPad Pro 9.7-inch for example costs between £50.50 and £53 depending on the 4G speed you want. For more information on the new 4GEE tablet SIM-only plans, you can visit EE’s website.

4
Nov

LG G6: What’s the story so far?


LG’s next flagship smartphone will probably be called the G6, and it will probably appear in the first few months of 2017.

Rumours have already started to appear speculating about what features the successor of last year’s modular smartphone will offer, as well as what features it might miss off.

This is everything we know about the LG G6 so far.

LG G6: Release date and price

  • Launch at MWC 2017 expected
  • Probably on shelves from April 2017

LG typically announces a new flagship smartphone in the first half of the year. The G5 was announced at Mobile World Congress at the beginning of March, while the G2, G3 and G4 all launched at separate events a couple of months after MWC.

Nothing has been confirmed as yet, but we would place our bets on a 26 February launch for the G6, which is the Sunday before MWC kicks off and the same day as Samsung is expected to announce its new flagship smartphone.

The LG G5 arrived on shelves in April, as did its predecessor so we’d expect a similar timeframe for the G6. We’d also expect it to remain a little cheaper than its competitors, sitting around the £500 mark, like the G5.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 edge: What’s the story so far?

LG G6: Design

  • Modular design of G5 rumoured to be ditched for G6
  • Glass rear reported for G6
  • Iris scanner suggested

The LG G5 launched with a modular design and a range of modules, or Friends as LG called them. A report from Korea’s Electronic Times has claimed LG is scrapping the modular idea for the G6 smartphone though.

It’s also been claimed the company will opt for a tempered glass rear for the LG G6, over the painted aluminium finish of the G5. This would hopefully make the G6 feel more premium to the company’s preceding flagships, but it would also allow for wireless charging.

The G5 had a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor but whether the G6 will offer the same positioning remains to be seen for now. It has been claimed the new device might come with an iris scanner on the front, something the Samsung Note 7 featured, but nothing has been confirmed of course.

  • LG G5 review

LG G6: Display

  • Curved OLED display not expected to be available in time
  • G6 could have same display as G5

Rumour originally claimed LG would be equipping the G6 with a curved OLED display, which would have put the new flagship in the same play pit as Samsung and its S6 edge and S7 edge devices.

Despite already producing OLED displays for the Apple Watch Series 2 and its own TVs and smartwatches, it’s now been claimed LG Display won’t be in a position to mass produce OLED screens in time for the G6.

With that in mind, it is expected that the LG G6 will arrive with the same or similar display as the G5, meaning a 5.3-inch Quad HD LCD display. We’d also expect the G6 to feature the Always-On functionality found on the G5, allowing users to see notifications without turning the full display on.

LG G6: Camera

  • Dual-camera setup will probably remain
  • Rumours of all-in-one iris and front-camera sensor

The LG G5’s biggest attribute is its fantastic dual rear camera that delivers excellent results. We’d expect the G6 to follow in the same path offering a standard camera sensor, coupled with a wide-angle sensor like its predecessor.

There aren’t any specific rumours relating to the resolution of the G6’s cameras as yet but it has been suggested the front-facing camera will be an all-in-one camera and iris scanner. The iris scanner element will be used to authenticate the user and unlock the phone, like it was on the Galaxy Note 7, but it will be featured within a compact sensor that also combines the front-facing camera.

The Galaxy Note 7 on the other hand, uses two separate sensors: one for the iris scanner and one for the camera. The idea is that the single, smaller sensor will help save space and potentially make the G6 slimmer. Nothing has been confirmed as yet though so take this with a pinch of salt for now.

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7 iris scanner: What is it and how does it work?

LG G6: Hardware

  • New wireless system originally reported, but now said to be ditched
  • Likely to be Qualcomm SD830 chip with at least 4GB of RAM

Rumours suggested the LG G6 was supposed to feature a new wireless charging system, but like the curved OLED display, it has since been claimed this feature won’t make the cut either. The new system was said to offer fast charging from a distance of up to 70mm, but apparently we will have to wait to the G7 instead.

Other hardware rumours have been thin on the ground but we wouldn’t we surprised to see Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 830 chip, at least 4GB of RAM and at least 32GB of internal memory. MicroSD support was included on the G5, as was a removable battery, but if LG does decide to step away from the modular design and move to a more premium build, it will most likely have to do away with the removable battery element.

The LG G5 offers a 2800mAh battery so we’d expect the same for the G6, if not a 3000mAh.

LG G6: Software

  • Likely to launch on Android Nougat

LG launched the first device from the box featuring Android Nougat in the LG V20 so the LG G6 will no doubt come with the latest build of the software. It will probably have LG’s software over the top, but there have been no specific features or functions rumoured as yet.

A closer look at the LG V20’s software would probably give us an indication of some of the user experience details we can expect from the G6, though there will be new features too.

  • LG V20: Specs, release date and everything you need to know

LG G6: Conclusion

At the moment, rumours are a little thin on the ground regarding the LG G6, but from what has been reported so far, it looks like LG’s next flagship could be a little underwhelming.

The G5 might not have been to everyone’s taste, but it was at least innovative and exciting, so we’d hope LG doesn’t drop the ball and go too safe with the G6. Currently, it looks like we can expect a new, more premium design, coupled with an iris scanner and front-facing camera combo.

Everything is hearsay for now though, so perhaps LG will find a way to bring that curved OLED display and new wireless charging system to the G6 after all. We will update this feature as more reports and rumours appear so watch this space.

4
Nov

The ‘Call of Duty’ VR mission is free for PSVR owners


Activision has announced that the Jackal Assault VR Experience will be available, for free, for all PS4 owners. Jackal Assault is the standalone virtual reality component of its latest game, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The short level sees you piloting a Jackal fighter jet as it gets shot into space for a spot of, uhm, infinite warfare.

Previously, it was assumed that only those who bought Infinite Warfare would be able to access the level. But now it’s been opened up to everyone who owns a PlayStation 4, although you’ll need PlayStation VR to actually use it. Still, it’ll be fun just to relive the halcyon days of space combat, Wing Commander-style, even if it is just for a few minutes at a time.

If you’re looking to trying out the title, head over to the PlayStation VR area in the PlayStation Store and select Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Jackal Assault VR Experience. Happy flying.

Via: Upload VR

Source: Activision

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