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  1. Hi everyone, Jon Higgins here from New World Interactive. After the successful launch of Insurgency: Sandstorm last month and a busy period over the holiday season, our team would like to give you a brief update on where we are with the game's development and what fans can expect over the coming months. After the last update on December 21st we gave our team a week off over Christmas and New Year’s to recover and spend some much needed time with family and friends. During this period, however, our community and design teams were spending a huge amount of time reading through hundreds of reviews and comments across Steam, Reddit, YouTube, news sites and more, gathering feedback and prioritising our year ahead. After reviewing launch and reading your feedback it was clear that our first update needed to focus heavily on quality of life and community features, but also deliver additional content. We hinted at some future plans in our The Insurgency Legacy Continues[newworldinteractive.com] blog post back in December, and while we are not yet ready to discuss the full line up of changes for the February update, you can view some confirmed content and features below. Five new weapons including the MP5A5 and MP5A2, which will be available for Security and Insurgent Breacher classes respectively. A new Community Testing Environment right in your Steam Library for easier and more open testing of upcoming updates. Competitive improvements including tiebreaker rounds, leaver penalties, and more. Vote Kick for community servers and additional anti-harassment / griefing measures. Clearer indications around restricted areas, game rules and spawn waves. New cosmetics including Tropentarn camouflage, new gloves, and new eyewear. Some other surprises you might not expect. In addition to the above, performance and optimisation will continue to be a top priority for us. Players systems and setups vary greatly and it's important we gather as much information as possible. We encourage anybody who is having issues to submit information to our team via the performance discussion and support section of the forums to help us identify and resolve any issues. We also received a lot of feedback about the in-game community and player behaviour. Our team will be working on various design changes, bug fixes, and other game-based solutions to address or mitigate these issues. However, some of these will require time for us to concept, implement and iterate upon. In the meantime, it is vital that the community aid us and our partners in finding and addressing issues. As such we have published a new guide detailing the steps you should take if you encounter someone cheating, using game exploits, harassing/abusing players or otherwise griefing, as well as additional documentation regarding Easy Anti-Cheat. Read more: Community Guidelines - Cheating, Exploits and Harassment. Read more: Community Guidelines - Easy Anit-Cheat. Two recurring topics regarding in-game player behaviour were vote-kick and in-game reporting options. Our team take player behaviour very seriously and are committed to improving player experience. Some of the changes in the February update should take steps towards this, however, we would like to take this time to clarify our current stance on the above. In our previous titles, votekicking itself was abused by some players as a means to harass, grief, and troll, so we’ve had some hesitation about adding it to Sandstorm. However, we’ve heard your feedback and we understand that when used responsibly this can be an effective tool in dealing with disruptive players. As such we’ve decided to add it as an option for community servers. We’ll continue to monitor community feedback on this and other systems and make changes accordingly. We’ve also seen some requests to include an in-game reporting system to deal with these kinds of players. This is something we have discussed, however, creating and managing such a system with investigations and reviews of every reported player would put a great strain on our development and community management resources. Frankly, we’re unable to effectively monitor every single player’s behavior and support such a system. We would rather focus on creating good community tools and automated systems to deal with these kinds of issues and put our resources toward creating content and improving gameplay. That being said, an in-game reporting system is something we might explore in the future, targeted at the most disruptive players. For now, we ask that players follow Community Guidelines - Cheating, Exploits and Harassment. As we’ve said before, launch is just the beginning for us. We have a huge amount of post-release content planned for Insurgency: Sandstorm, and are excited to bring the game to consoles this year and to explore additional platforms in the future. We will be sharing a lot more news over the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to the NWI newsletter[newworldinteractive.com], bookmark our blog[newworldinteractive.com] and follow @InsurgencyGame across social media to stay up to date with all our announcements. New World Interactive View the full article
  2. Hello again! Welcome to our guidelines on cheating, exploits, and harassment. In this post, we discuss different levels of abuse and how our community members can help us in dealing with these issues. Cheating We have partnered with Easy Anti-Cheat to help us find and ban players who use cheat software, hacks, or custom scripts to disrupt our players’ experiences in Insurgency: Sandstorm. We take cheating very seriously, so we appreciate all of our fans who help us in combating this issue. If you come across a player that you suspect is cheating or if you find a cheat available for Sandstorm online, please fill out a Cheat Report for Easy Anti-Cheat to investigate. If you’re reporting a cheat for sale/download, please include a link to the relevant site. If you encounter a player who you think is using hacks or cheats, grab the replay ID of the match from the History section of the main menu and it include it in your report. Be sure to watch the replay first and include the approximate time that the player can be seen using a cheat in the report as well. How to find a replay ID and Steam ID: Go to the Main Menu Select “History” Mouse over the replay, then click “Copy ID” and paste it in your report. Start the replay and go to the scoreboard Click on the suspected player’s name and “Copy Steam ID”. Then paste it in your report. Click here for the EAC Cheat report: EAC Cheat Report[www.easy.ac] For more information about EAC, including bans and appeals, check out our EAC post here: Community Guidelines: EAC & Cheating Exploiting Design Issues Our team has been working very hard to get Insurgency: Sandstorm to where it is today, and we are still developing improvements and new content for the future. That being said, we have seen some players exploiting bugs in design. Examples of this include: Hiding in rocks/walls Exploiting Out of Bounds areas Glitching into unplayable areas Spawn camping If a player is exploiting these mechanics or does something that feels unfair (but they’re not necessarily using hacks), please take a screenshot or video along with an explanation of what is happening, and send it to support@newworldinteractive.com so that our team can recreate and address the issue. Harassment/Trolling/Griefing We have received some community feedback on issues with toxic players, offensive language, and trolling in Insurgency: Sandstorm. New World Interactive does not condone this type of behavior and we’re taking steps to ensure players are able to effectively deal with this whenever it is encountered. Some of these fixes and additions include: Fixing the mute function so it carries over between rounds. Adding toggleable profanity filters to text chat. Adding spam protection to text chat. The ability to vote to kick players on community servers. It may take us some time to implement these features, but we are working on various plans to discourage toxic player interactions. We recognize that players intentionally harassing others can be pretty annoying. Whether they’re yelling something racist on the microphone, repeatedly (and purposefully) standing in the line of fire, purposefully teamkilling, or taking other actions that can be considered trolling or griefing, we get that it can be very frustrating or offensive. No matter how irritating this can be, don’t try to confront these players. Shooting them in retaliation or shouting back at them will not solve the issue. Hold Tab, hit that mute button, put those blinders on, and don’t feed the troll. To see the full list of what’s coming next, check out our Community Update post. We have a ton of content planned for Insurgency: Sandstorm so keep the feedback coming! To report bugs in Sandstorm, check out our Technical FAQ. Having performance issues? Check out our Performance Tips.View the full article
  3. Hello everyone! We figured it was time to provide a bit of an overview about the third-party system we use to detect hacks & cheats, Easy Anti-Cheat. Our previous titles Insurgency (2014) and Day of Infamy used BattlEye for this purpose, however we switched to EAC for Insurgency: Sandstorm. EAC is one of the industry leaders in game security and Anti-Cheat and is used by many popular games including Fortnite, FarCry 5, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and fellow indie shooters Squad and World War 3. What is Easy Anti-Cheat? EAC, provided by Epic Games, is designed to prevent, detect, and ban cheaters in multiplayer online games. It recognizes cheating software on players’ systems while Sandstorm is running and removes accounts abusing the game with those. EAC is used by a ton of other games and you can see the full list here: EAC Partners[www.easy.ac] Do I Have to Install EAC? To play Insurgency: Sandstorm, EAC must be installed together with the game on your computer. When you play our games, you are agreeing to New World Interactive’s Terms & Conditions to allow EAC to to monitor and identify hacks and cheating software in your system while playing the game. We are committed to finding and banning players who use cheats in our game and to do this, EAC must be allowed to run. I’m Getting EAC Error Codes when I Start Sandstorm. Help! View EAC’s troubleshooting guide here: EAC: Troubleshooting Guide[www.easy.ac] If you have followed all of those steps and are still encountering EAC error codes, contact them directly here: EAC: Contact Technical Support[www.easy.ac] I’ve Been Banned! What Do I Do? EAC has found cheat software, untrusted and/or unknown system files, debuggers, or otherwise suspicious software on your system or you may have used custom scripts that have caused you to be flagged. If you have received your ban from EAC, you can find a ton of information on how EAC handles bans here: EAC: Account Bans[www.easy.ac] Please bear in mind EAC has a zero-tolerance policy against cheating. Make sure to scan your systems regularly for viruses and suspicious files. Don’t download files from untrustworthy sites. Put that anti-virus to work! If you feel you received a ban in error, submit a ban appeal to EAC here: EAC: Insurgency: Sandstorm Ban Appeal[www.easy.ac] General response time, according to EAC, is 3 to 14 days. While this may seem a bit long, we recommend players submitting appeals refrain from sending multiple tickets as this may increase your response time. I Found a Cheat for Sandstorm or a Player that is Cheating. Please fill out a Cheat Report for EAC to investigate. If you’re reporting a cheat for sale/download for Insurgency: Sandstorm, please include a link to the relevant site. If you encounter a player who you suspect is using hacks or cheats, grab the replay ID of the match and the Steam ID of the player and it include it in your report. Be sure to watch the replay first and include the approximate time that the player can be seen using a cheat in the report as well. How to find a replay ID and Steam ID: Select “History” from the main menu Mouse over the replay, then click “Copy ID” and paste it in your report. Start the replay and go to the scoreboard Click on the suspected player’s name and “Copy Steam ID” then paste it in your report. Click here for the EAC Cheat report: EAC: Insurgency: Sandstorm Cheat Report[www.easy.ac] If a player is exploiting game mechanics and does something that feels unfair but they’re not necessarily using hacks, (ie spawn camping, exploiting out of bounds areas, etc.) please take a screenshot or video. Send it along with a timestamp and an explanation of what is happening to our support email below so that our team can recreate and address the issue. support@newworldinteractive.com We have worked hard on Insurgency: Sandstorm to provide balanced gameplay for our fans and our team takes cheating very seriously. We appreciate our players out there who have been helping us crack down on cheaters in our game, and we hope that as we continue working with EAC we can keep the amount of players using hacks to a minimum. View the full article
  4. While most of the tech world has its eyes focused on CES 2019, a new report released today says Amazon could be working on a new game streaming service that will deliver games digitally while running them on cloud servers. That tidbit of news is according to a report on The Information, and while the details are thin, the publication says Amazon could be joining Sony, Google and Nvidia as a game streaming provider as early as next year. So why the skepticism? The sources that spoke to The Information say that while negotiations are underway, no games or even a firm release date could be confirmed making it hard to corroborate the information with the developers themselves. Should the service pan out, however, Amazon would almost certainly include it on Amazon Fire TV Edition screens and Amazon Fire TV devices, plus tablets and smartphones. No mention was made about a PC version of the service, unfortunately, but it sounds like it's still heavily under development. Game on? It’s hard to know outright what Amazon is doing in the games space. On one hand it just cancelled its first project Breakaway back in April of last year, but on the other a move into the streaming side makes sense – the company certainly has the server capabilities and Amazon might want to stay neck-and-neck with the other big tech companies working on streaming. While Amazon has yet to say anything official on the matter, The Verge has noticed a number of postings that corroborate the rumor – including a position for a Cross Platform Game Engineer and two listings that specifically mention cloud games – but we’ll have to wait to hear from Amazon before anything’s official. Need something to play right now? Don't miss our list of the best PS4 games View the full article
  5. Analysts, patent filings and our general gut intuition all point to one thing: Apple AirPods 2 are coming sometime in 2019. How can we be so sure? The AirPods 2 haven't yet been officially announced by Cook and Co, but thanks to some trademark and Bluetooth SIG filings, we know they're close - and they might be radically different than the AirPods you know and love. The trademark filings say that the second-gen AirPods will be a health and fitness device, in addition to being a pair of true wireless earbuds. That designation is usually reserved for fitness trackers, so it's interesting that Apple is pursuing it for its earbuds and could integrate nicely with what Apple's doing with the Apple Watch. Curious what else the second generation of Apple's true wireless earbuds might have in store for us? Read on below. Are there AirPod alternatives? Yep, here are the best true wireless earbuds Apple AirPods 2 release date and price When are they out? The latest predictions indicate a 2019 release How much will they cost? That's TBD, but if analysts are right, expect them to be similar to the existing AirPods at $159 / £159 / AU$229 We have every reason to believe that AirPods 2 are coming in 2019 but, without any official confirmation from the powers that be, that's just an educated guess. That said, there are analysts who have been overseas to Apple's fabrication facilities and have said that Apple is just about ready to produce units but couldn't provide an exact date for that to happen. The best guess we have right now, based on a report from a Barclays analyst, is a late 2019 launch – either at Apple's WWDC event in June, Apple's September 2018 iPhone event or, possibly, at the October 2018 iPad launch. Apple AirPods 2: rumors, design and potential features Despite their divisive design, the Apple AirPods sold very well – you just have to jump on public transport and see just how many of them are poking out of music fans' ears on the way to work to note they've overcome any early online ridicule. But improvements will need to be made in order to justify the release of a follow up. So far we've heard a number of crazy rumors (including the AirPods 2 being a pair of over-ear headphones akin to the Beats Studio line-up) so it's important to take all the rumors with a grain of salt and a pinch of anticipation. That said, here's what we've heard so far. Better wireless connectivity The anonymous sources that spoke to Bloomberg claimed that both the 2018 and 2019 updates are going to have better Bluetooth connectivity thanks to the inclusion of the W2 chip used in the Apple Watch 3. This is an upgrade on the W1 chip that currently handles the AirPod wireless connectivity. Siri By the sounds of things, the Apple AirPods arriving in 2018 (AirPods 1.5?) are going to feature baked-in voice activation, meaning you'll be able to access Apple's voice assistant by just uttering "Hey Siri". We haven't caught wind of when, exactly, that feature will go live, but chances are good it will be available alongside the new wireless charging case in September or October of 2018. Waterproofing Still working from the Bloomberg report, it looks like the 2019 update is going to have waterproofing, although it looks like it's going to be splash and rain resistant rather than true waterproofing like the Apple Watch, so no taking them in the pool with you. Still, that would make the second-gen AirPods a better workout-based headphone, and would mean that they'd be safe to wear around the pool without worrying about them getting splashed. Fitness tracking Back in July Apple filed a patent for biometric sensors which would allow the AirPods 2 to take on fitness tracking capabilities like those seen in the Jabra Elite Wireless. This followed another patent filed in March. Perhaps more interestingly than heart rate sensing, the sensors would also allow the AirPods 2 to measure stroke volume, which combined with heart rate would allow it to calculate your cardiac output. Essentially this means the AirPods 2 would theoretically be much better at establishing how fit you are overall rather than just measuring your heart rate. A recent patent suggests the AirPods 2 might make use of some fancy valves to dissipate pressureBetter ambient sound handling Another patent from July suggested that Apple is working on some pretty nifty tech for how the earbuds handle outside noise as well as dissipating pressure from inside the ear canal. The patent outlines a valve system that would allow sound to escape your ear canal to avoid that weird reverberating effect that occurs when you speak with earbuds in your ears. The patent then goes on to describe how the earbuds would handle ambient noise, using a microphone to filter in noise from the outside world so that you can remain aware of your surroundings while still hearing your music. Wireless charging Apple now supports wireless charging in some of its devices. Called AirPower, the new standard will support the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch 3 and the existing AirPods (via a new charging case). Given that the standard supports the existing AirPods, we'd be surprised if the technology wasn't included as standard with the AirPods 2, allowing you to easily charge all your Apple products from a single charging pad. AirPods 2 as an over-ear pair of headphones? This one's a longshot, but there has been a number of rumors going around that the AirPods 2 might be a pair of over-ear, noise-cancelling headphones. It seems unlikely based off all the patents floating around out the integrated fitness tracker, but it's always possible that Apple will better leverage its Beats brand in 2019. Need something now? Here are the best truly wireless AirPod alternatives aroundSo – you've seen what we've seen so far in terms of AirPods 2 rumors and news. But what about the items we'd put on an AirPods 2 wishlist, if we could cherry pick the feature list for ourselves? Here's what we felt was lacking in the original AirPods, and why we'd like to see them in the AirPods 2. Noise-cancellation Only a couple of years ago, companies were struggling just to get true wireless earbuds working, but now the goalposts have already shifted to packing more and more functionality into their shells. The Sony WF-1000X manage to include noise-cancellation technology inside their diminutive shells, and we’d love to see similar functionality make it to the second generation of AirPods. Apple’s fancy ambient noise technology outlined above suggests the company is thinking along these lines, but we’ve still got our fingers crossed. The Sony WF-1000X feature noise-cancellation technologyPhysical controls Apple isn’t much of a fan of buttons, but there are some cases where they save you a lot of time and effort, and headphones are one of these instances. On-board controls have become an almost essential feature in headphones in recent years, allowing us to control music playback and volume without having to struggle to get our phones out of our pockets. Now the AirPods did allow you to control music in a sense, but they relied entirely on Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. The B&O Beoplay E8 feature touch-sensitive controls to allow you to control your musicOn the one hand Siri is much more powerful than the usual button controls by allowing you to request specific songs, for example. But on the other hand, Siri comes with some pretty big limitations. It doesn’t work without a Wi-Fi connection, it can only play music from Apple Music (so not Spotify), and probably most problematic of all is the fact that it forces you to speak out loud to control anything - hardly ideal if you want to listen to music on the bus. The original AirPods already had a touch-sensitive control for activating Siri, so we’d like to see this extended to controlling music directly. The BeoPlay E8’s have shown how this can be done with simple tap controls, and it’s time for Apple to follow suit. Changeable ear tips Apple likes to rely wholly on sleek white plastic, but we weren’t a fan of the lack of rubber tips on the original AirPods, especially when there’s no cable to catch them if they fall. We want any true wireless earbuds to feel nice and secure in the ears, and including a number of changeable ear tips so we can select those that perfectly fit our ears would be the ideal way of achieving this. One individual in the TechRadar office even went to the length of fixing some rubber tips from an alternative pair of headphones onto their AirPods to make them feel more secure. Changeable rubber ear-tips are common on lots of in-ear headphonesBetter Android pairing Given that Apple likes to ensure all its products are designed to work as a family this has little chance of happening, but we’d love to see the AirPods play slightly nicer with Android phones. On iPhones, pairing is a dream. You simply hold the AirPods near your phone and they connect more or less automatically. However with Android the process is a lot more complicated and involving jumping into settings menus to select the AirPods manually. We’d love to see Apple simplify this process for the AirPods 2, though we're not holding our breath. Different designs and colors We get it, Apple likes white things. But in an era where iPhones and iPads are available in a range of different colors we’d love to see this same courtesy extended to the AirPods. We just want our headphones to match our phone and our Apple Watch; is that so much to ask? Although Apple has experimented with different colors for its various devices, its earbuds have always stayed the same iconic white, making it pretty unlikely that we’ll get to see the AirPods 2 show up in another color. Better battery life This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but given the AirPods’ small size it’s not entirely unexpected that the battery life was just five hours. This is pretty good compared to a lot of the other true wireless headphones out there, but we’d like to see Apple push themselves to go better and try and rival the battery life of over-ear wireless headphones. It’s a lofty goal, but if anyone can do it, it would be Apple. We might see the AirPods 2 announced alongside the 4K Apple TV View the full article
  6. I go to plenty of tech press conferences where I hear a lot about how 5G is going to change my life or how I need a smart fridge to be happy, but this week was the first time I heard the word 'beer' said on stage. LG’s press conference was my first of CES 2019 and the company spent a lot of time talking through its upcoming smart home plans – like its new smart closet – but my ears pricked up when I heard the phrase 'home brew.' The LG HomeBrew is best described as a Nespresso-like brewery kit. Instead of putting capsules in and expecting a cup of coffee in a few minutes time, you put in a capsule that makes you a refreshing beer. Eventually. A beginner's guide Five types of beer, in fact, which are American IPA, American Pale Ale, English Stout, Belgian-style Witbier and Czech Pilsner. That's it – put the capsule in, and the machine will do the rest of the work for you. Unlike your Nespresso at home, this is going to take a while. Two weeks, to be exact, before you can have a refreshing glass of your first HomeBrew creation. Turns out, this isn’t a fresh announcement for 2019, but I had missed it when it was first announced late last year. This is the kind of thing that made me look up from what I was writing and pay attention for two reasons. Firstly, I love beer. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this is outright weird. There's nothing else like it on the market – there's even an app so you can keep track of the brewing process on your phone and make sure everything is going well. LG HomeBrew app in progress While it is unique, that initial excitement I felt when I first heard of the product gently started to wear off as my first full day at CES went on. By the time I got to go see the product in the flesh for the first time (over 24 hours later) I’d had that excitement beaten out of me. Full disclosure: I've never homebrewed beer, but I want to. I want to so I can mess with the ingredients to create something no company can offer me on a shop shelf. I want to mess around with the hops going into my unique concoction. I want to wait two weeks to discover it was all a mess and I've made something that's barely drinkable but then persevere because it's something I've made. Capsules that you can insert into a machine, wait two weeks and then come back to that exact same beer you set out to create a fortnight ago don't offer that same experience. At launch, it’s set to be even more boring as the company is only making those five flavors from a company called Muntons. That’s five different types of beer, so you don’t even get the selection that you’d expect from your average shop either. All of that said – I still want an LG HomeBrew. You do lose that fun element of playing with what you're making, but as an introduction to homebrewing I think this will be an interesting first step. The fact you can track its progress within the app rather than panicking about whether it's done and given this machine even cleans itself after you're done make the HomeBrew a unique product no other company offers. We don't currently know how much the HomeBrew is set to cost or when you'll be able to buy it, but rest assured that when you can I'll be scrabbling to find one and I'll let you know how my first batch goes. Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets. View the full article
  7. Ahead of NRF 2019, HP has announced that it is expanding its SMB offerings with the launch of a new all-in-one POS system and that it is partnering with PayPal to utilise its payment processing services. The company has shied away from targeting the SMB market in the past but now it is looking to leverage its success in retail and hospitality to deliver solutions that address the needs of SMB retailers and hospitality operators. HP is releasing a new Android-based POS system called the Engage One Prime which has been optimised for SMBs in retail and hospitality. The device comes equipped with an integrated magnetic strip reader, NFC and a camera-based barcode scanner. Customers will be able to choose the speed of their CPU, memory and storage with a number of peripherals available to add to their systems. PayPal partnership When it comes to EMV processing, HP is relying on companies such as PayPal to provide the necessary hardware. By partnering with PayPal, the two companies will offer joint customers a suite of hardware, POS software and payment processing along with out-of-the-box setup and maintenance. HP will also work with additional payment provider partners and selected independent software vendors to include POS software with the HP Engage One Prime. VP and GM of Retail Solutions for HP, Aaron Weiss explained the company's decision to partner with PayPal, saying: "We saw an opportunity with this product to create a partnership with a key player in this space in payments, and that's with PayPal. It's an opportunity for us to leverage their leadership with payment services, and their experience and reach with the SMB market. They are also a trusted and recognized brand and they have fantastic customer support as well." The HP Engage One Prime will be available next month for interested SMBs. Via ZDNet We've also highlighted the best e-commerce platforms View the full article
  8. Despite being around for decades, virtual reality (VR) has had some difficulty hitting a mainstream gaming audience. Whether that's down to expensive headsets, a limited library, or just a general lack of appeal, gamers (and developers) just weren't invested in virtual reality as a viable platform for 'true' gaming experiences. However, in recent years, the jaded perception of VR has slowly started to lift. As the technological possibilities increase for the platform, game developers have began to take the medium more seriously, creating more games specifically for VR. It's a move which has seen the likes of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Oculus Go going from strength to strength and titles such as Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Tetris Effect garnering critical praise. But what's in store for the future of VR gaming? Well, there's nowhere better to find out than CES 2019. Luckily, we scoured the halls for the best upcoming virtual reality tech you can expect to see in the future. The best VR headset 2019: which headset offers the most immersion for your buck?HTC Vive Cosmos HTC have become one of the most well-known names in virtual reality gaming, with the HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro proving to be two of the most popular headsets on the market. But the company isn't ready to stop there, alongside the myriad of announcements HTC made at CES, there was also news of what the brand is getting up to in terms of VR - which is quite a lot it seems. Arguably the most interesting is its new HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset, which can be powered by more than a PC and offers the VivePort Infinity service, which was described by HTC head Drew Bamford as 'Netflix for VR titles'. The problem is, HTC didn't actually reveal when we can expect to see the headset and this service - or how much they'll cost - so we don't actually know all that much. We don't even know what the resolution will be or how the headset will work, but the prospect of a new gaming-focused headset is definitely interesting. In addition, we can only hope that more big-name VR titles start to emerge as the likelihood of users signing up to a subscription service such as VivePort Infinity without being offered a decent-sized library is slim. Want to hear more of our thoughts on the HTC Vive Cosmos? Check out TechRadar's Gareth Beavis' opinion below: HTC's Vive Cosmos VR headset is amazing - and frustrating - in equal measurePimax’s ‘8K’ ultra-wide high-resolution VR headset HTC is not the only company offering innovative new virtual reality technology. Pimax has revealed its ‘8K’ ultra-wide high-resolution VR headset is set to ship in February, a prospect which almost seems too good to be true following some delays post-successful Kickstarter. The headset will finally allow for peripheral vision in VR, however the ‘8K’ name is slightly deceptive considering the headset actually has two 4K lenses (one for each eye), and each is technically 3,840 x 2,160 upscaled from 2,560 x 1,440, according to VentureBeat and LinusTechTips. It's still pretty impressive, providing a 200-degree field-of-view (while the likes of the HTC Vive only provides 145-degrees), but it's definitely pricey - costing $899. Despite all this, there's no denying the Pimax '8K' is paving the way for VR headsets with more immersive gaming experiences - with larger FOVs, better frame rates and better resolution. TechRadar's David Lumb got hands-on with the headset at CES 2019, you can check out his thoughts below: Pimax’s ‘8K’ ultra-wide high-resolution VR headset is slated to ship in FebruaryOculus Rift Facebook livestreaming We are a slave to social media, and VR is no exception. Oculus Rift is choosing to ride the wave rather than swim against it, announcing an update which will allow users to live stream their virtual reality shenanigans to Facebook - something which is likely to benefit streamers. The update is currently available on the public test channel and is expected to roll out to all users at the end of January. However, the feature only works with certain apps and games - with developers having to opt-in and support the live streaming feature. How many choose to is yet to be seen. In addition, the update adds Public Homes. This means that others can visit your virtual home, if you so choose. But don't worry, you can decide who is (and isn't) allowed in. The idea is to allow people to make new virtual reality friends with shared interests. To be honest, this is more of a novelty idea but could definitely pave the way for more virtual reality social spaces. The best VR games: the top VR games on mobile, consoles and PC The best cheap PlayStation VR bundles, prices and deals Multiplayer gaming in VR: what’s it like? The best multiplayer VR games View the full article
  9. Google's efforts to make the web a safer place continue with the announcement that Chrome's ad blocker will soon be available across the globe beginning on July 9th. As was the case with the initial rollout of its ad blocker, the date does not coincide with a new version of its browser as Chrome 76 will arrive on May 30th and Chrome 77 is set to launch on July 25th. This means that Google is expanding the reach of Chrome's ad blocker on its own servers and not through the program itself. Last year, the company joined the Coalition for Better Ads which offers specific standards on how the industry should improve the way ads are delivered to consumers. The Coalition for Better Ads recently announced that it would expand its Better Ads Standards beyond North America and Europe to cover all countries and Google is following suit with its own ad blocking efforts. Banned ad types The coalition has banned pop-up ads, auto playing video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdowns and large sticky ads on desktop. On the mobile side, eight types of ads have been banned including pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ad density higher than 30 per cent, flashing animated ads, auto-playing videos with sound, postital ads with countdowns, full-screen scrollover ads and large sticky ads. Google's goal is to make the internet easier to navigate for users by cutting off ad revenue from websites that serve non-compliant ads. The company also shared some of the early successes of its ad blocker program in the US, Canada and Europe. According to Google, two thirds of publishers whose sites were labelled as non-compliant in the past are now in good standing and less than one per cent of all of the sites it has reviewed have had their ads filtered. Via VentureBeat We've also highlighted the best VPNs to help keep you safe onlineView the full article
  10. BT’s existing communications contracts with the EU, and the company’s ability to bid for new tenders, could be jeopardised by Brexit. The Guardian reports that EU officials and MEPs are reviewing the role of its British-based contractors after the UK ceases to be a member state. It is thought that the EU wishes to honour existing contracts, but it could terminate ones deemed to be “sensitive”, such as telecommunications., for security reasons. BT EU relationship Such a course of action could be less likely should the UK and EU ratify the agreed withdrawal bill, which would effectively make the UK a member state until as late as 2022. It’s unclear what impact a favourable future trading relationship would have on the situation after that date. However, a no-deal Brexit increases the possibility of an early termination. Such a move would be a blow for BT which has won more than £150 million-worth of contracts with the EU over the past decade. In March 2015, it secured a €55.7 million (£39.2m), five-year contract to supply connectivity to major European Institutions across all then-28 member states, while in August of the same year it won a €15 million deal to provide voice services to the European Commission. These deals offered a boost BT Global Services (BTGS) which has been the subject of declining revenues and an accounting scandal in Italy. “BT is proud to have served a number of EU institutions for over 30 years and looks forward to continuing to do so, based on the quality of the services provided, the strength of our commercial relationships and most importantly the satisfaction of our customers throughout the EU,” a BT spokesperson told TechRadar Pro. Here are the best BT broadband deals for January 2019View the full article
  11. CES 2019 certainly hasn't disappointed for new TVs, laptops or generally strange tech, and it has been a particularly strong year for wearables too. Smartwatches, fitness trackers and all the other gadgets we're now sticking to our bodies were scattered around the show, and we got to try out lots of them. Here we're going to pick out seven of the best wearables that impressed us in Las Vegas – these are the devices you should think about picking up over the next 12 months before we come back and do CES all over again in early 2020. The best CES tech: check out TechRadar's 2019 CES Awards1. Kate Spade Scallop 2 Kate Spade Scallop 2 We love a good sequel as much as the next person, and the Kate Spade Scallop 2 doesn't disappoint – if you needed more proof that smartwatches don't have to be chunky and masculine, here it is. The wearable is designed specifically for women, but it would suit anyone with smaller wrists and good taste. Parent company Fossil has added just about all the key features that the original Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch lacked: GPS, heart rate monitoring, and an NFC chip for Google Pay duties. You'll now be able to track the route of your morning run without a phone, see how it affected your heart, and buy a coffee at the end of it. With a 3ATM water resistance rating, this'll work for swimming too. We like the subtle and stylish design choices here, though more variations would be welcome – not much has changed in terms of the looks of the watch, though that's not much of a problem as the aesthetics were pretty much spot on the first time around. The Kate Spade Scallop 2 launches in the US this month for $295-$335 (about £230-£260 / AU$410-$470, with worldwide availability to be confirmed). The latest version of Wear OS is on board too, with easy Google Assistant access and more. Read our hands on review of the Kate Spade Scallop 22. Withings Move ECG Withings Move ECG You thought a portable ECG monitor would be exclusive to the Apple Watch 4 for good? Introducing the Withings Move ECG. The latest smartwatch from the company (freshly reacquired from Nokia) brings with it an integrated electrocardiogram monitor for spotting an irregular heartbeat. That means you can use the wearable to flag up potential problems like atrial fibrillation without having to trail down to the doctor's (though you will of course need an official diagnosis too). Unlike the Apple Watch, this will pair with Android as well as iOS phones, and at $129.95 / £129.95 (about AU$230 with an Australian launch yet to be confirmed) it's a lot cheaper than Apple's wearable too. Other than that flagship ECG feature this is very much business as usual for Withings. We've always liked the suave and understated hybrid smartwatch designs bearing the Withings name, and this one is no different. The non-ECG Withings Move has a lot more in the way of color options, which might suit you better. It's perfect for those who want the look of a traditional watch with some extra fitness tracking – and heart monitoring – features thrown in for a decent price. The wearable is expected to launch between March and the end of July 2019. Read our hands on review of the Withings Move ECG3. TicWatch E2 and TicWatch S2 TicWatch E2 and TicWatch S2 Chinese company Mobvoi is quietly making a name for its TicWatch brand in the world of Wear OS smartwatches, and the two TicWatch devices announced at CES 2019 get a joint 'best of' award in the wearables category. Both second-gen models add waterproofing up to 50 meters for some swimming tracking. There's actually not too much difference between the TicWatch E2 and the TicWatch S2 – they both have the same specs inside (featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset), and they're both available in a black polycarbonate finish. A white version of the S2 model is also on the way apparently. The biggest difference is in the design, with the E (express) model a little more understated than the S (sport) model. Take your pick based on whichever you prefer. Also in the improvements column is 30% better battery life over the original TicWatch E and TicWatch S, and the latest version of Wear OS is on board. Part of the TicWatch appeal is in the price: Amazon Australia will be listing the E2 for AU$238.99 and the S2 for AU$282.99 in the near future. We don't have confirmed prices elsewhere, but the original watches sold for $159.99 or around £120 (the TicWatch E) and $199.99 or around £150 (the TicWatch S) and these new models should be similarly priced. Read our hands on review of the TicWatch E2 Read our hands on review of the TicWatch S2 4. Mercedes-Benz Garmin Vívoactive 3 GPS Mercedes-Benz Garmin Vivoactive 3 A smartwatch that interfaces with your car to tell it how stressed you are? This is the sort of technology that CES is all about, which is why the new Mercedes-Benz-branded Vívoactive 3 from Garmin earns a place on our list. Even if you don't drive a Mercedes, you have to be impressed with this. As the name suggests, this is a Garmin Vivoactive 3 at heart, with smart notifications, on-board GPS and a wealth of sports tracking features. Garmin is one of the best in the business at putting out fully featured smartwatches, and the Vivoactive 3 remains one of the most impressive models in its line-up. Enter Mercedes-Benz: with this new version, as well as some aesthetic tweaks the watch also interfaces directly with the Mercedes Me mobile app on a connected mobile phone. That lets your motor know what kind of physical and mental state you're in and make adjustments accordingly. What that means is you'll be able to choose "less stressful" routes in the navigation panel or switch on soothing music over the speakers. You might even be offered a seat massage or different heat settings inside the vehicle. It feels like the future, and that's what we're looking for at CES. Read our review of the original Garmin Vivoactive 35. Matrix PowerWatch 2 PowerWatch 2 If you've ever set out for the day only to realize your smartwatch is out of battery then the idea of a wearable that charges itself from your body heat is always going to appeal – and with the PowerWatch 2, Matrix has added solar charging as well, to make sure your watch never runs out of juice. The PowerWatch 2 looks to be a huge improvement over the original – there's the solar panel around the edge that we've already mentioned, plus GPS and a heart rate monitor. More power sources obviously means more power, because the screen is now color rather than monochrome too. The PowerWatch 2, like its predecessor, runs a custom OS, so you don't get the broad range of apps you might find with something running Wear OS or watchOS. That said, all the basics are well covered, including fitness tracking and phone notifications. The device also integrates with Strava, Google Fit and Apple HealthKit. Convinced? The PowerWatch 2 is apparently going to retail for $499 (which is around £390 or AU$695) when it launches fully later in the year, but if you're quick you can get one for $199 (around £155 or AU$275) by signing up and supporting the Indiegogo campaign. Read our hands on review of the Matrix PowerWatch 26. Sphero Specdrums Sphero Specdrums And now for something completely different... well, a little bit different. Sphero – the company of rolling robot fame – has taken the opportunity of CES 2019 to launch the Specdrums educational gadgets. These little smart rings let kids make music with a few taps of their fingers. It's part of Sphero's recent push into STEAM education – science, technology, engineering, art and maths – and the dinky devices first appeared as a Kickstarter project a couple of years ago before Sphero got involved. Now they're here, and very impressive they are too. You simply tap a Specdrum on a colored surface to make a sound: the ring detects the color you're tapping on and changes the note accordingly. Via a connected app, it's possible to switch between different instruments, and you can even create your own colored surfaces (a mat comes supplied to get you started). One ring will set you back £64.99 (about $80 or AU$120), with a pair going for £99.99 (about $130 or AU$180). Any kids in your household are likely to get a kick out of playing around with them, but we think there are going to be a few adults having a go with these too. Sphero's silicone smart rings let kids make music with a tap of their fingers7. Michael Kors Access Sofie 2.0 Michael Kors Access Sofie 2.0 Last but absolutely not least in our best wearables of CES 2019 list is the Michael Kors Access Sofie 2.0 smartwatch – quite a mouthful to say but very appealing in terms of its design and the features on offer here. If you're interested in the premium end of the Wear OS market, take a look. We've got no complaints about the amount of technology that's packed in here: GPS, NFC (for mobile payments) and heart rate monitoring are all built in, and with the latest version of Wear OS (complete with Google Assistant) you should be able to do everything you would expect from a smartwatch with the Michael Kors Access Sofie 2.0. The design and finish are fantastic too – the smartwatch is launching in silver, gold, rose gold, and silver-with-gold-accents. A choice of metal and silicone straps are going to be available so you can switch between gym and evening dinner modes as needed. With a rather vague release date of "summer 2019" you might have to wait a while to get your hands (or wrists) on this, but we might hear more about it at the Baselworld 2019 expo in March. We're still waiting on a price too, though we reckon this'll be pricier than your average Wear OS smartwatch. Read our hands on review of the Michael Kors Access Sofie 2.0 Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets. View the full article
  12. Word on the first few Sony TV models of 2019 is finally trickling in. Sony made their usual round of announcements at CES 2019, the massive international tech expo that heralds the start to the tech industry's calendar year, and it's more of what we wanted to see. Sony will be bringing out a massive new 8K model, the Master Series Z9G / ZG9, in 85 and 98 inches. If that sounds a bit intense for most of you, there's also a handful of 4K smart TVs – the high-end A9G / AG9 Master Series and A8G / AG8 Bravia OLED, as well as the more mid-range X9500G / XG95 and X8500 / XG85 HDR TVs. While it didn't get much fanfare at the expo itself, we'll also be seeing an upgrade to last year's entry-level Full HD HDR TV, the WF66, with a similar spec model called the WG66 for more modest budgets. 2018 was a bumper year for Sony, with its new premium Master Series range, a glut of capable Sony Bravia televisions, a continued assault on OLED panels with the Sony Bravia X900F/XF90, and a dedicated Netflix Calibrated Mode for an all-round optimized living room experience. There's certainly be more surprises and upgrades in the coming months, but for now here are all the Sony TVs we expect to see in 2019 – all kept in one place so you can know your Bravia from your elbow. And don't worry, we'll update this list going forward, so do check back in every few weeks to see what the latest announcements have been. Sony Master Series Z9G is pushing to the 8K limit Sony 2018 TV technology To make better TVs, it takes a better processing. Sony's next-generation X1 Ultimate processor was first unveiled at CES 2018, and will be powering both high-end Master Series sets and top-range 4K sets we're seeing come out this year. The 8K set certainly needs, for upscaling regular HD or 4K content to make use of all those 33 million pixels. The A8G / AG8 OLED, is still carrying its predecessor's X1 Extreme – though the organic OLED display should mean rich visuals regardless. And the X1 Extreme is now firmly entrenched among Sony's mid-range sets, bringing sharper 4K to the X9500G / XG95 and hopefully more besides. On the audio front, Sony is learning from the Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology it showed off in last year's OLED, with strategically placed drivers across the chassis of the set – amid growing demand for in-built audio that can stand on its own two feet. The more high-end models here can then use Sony's 'Sound-from-Picture' technology to accurately emit audio from where its source is located onscreen – meaning you when someone speaks, it actually comes from their mouth. Last year's Sony A9F OLED (2018) made much of its Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology, which uses various drivers to emit sound across the surface of the screen. Sony don't particularly like to release specs on the brightness of their TVs, but as usual we expect the OLED offering to lag behind on this front: the organic LED film used in the panel is self-emitting, so doesn't have the benefit of a big backlight. The Z9G, however, is bringing back the popular Backlight Master Drive technology that defined Sony's Z Series sets back in 2016 – allowing for hugely precise use of white LEDs, to use brightness where it's needed, with sharpened contrast and minimal bleeding into surrounding dimming zones. It makes for a thicker / heavier set, but if you're buying an 85 or 98-inch set, space probably isn't a problem. All of Sony's 4K sets share the Android TV platform and YouView. While Dolby Vision was limited to the X900F and Master Series sets last year, this is thankfully trickling down, and will come to all four 4K sets listed below so far – and it seems Sony will be pursuing Dolby's video format over the rival HDR10+ format. Google Assistant meanwhile has been rolling out to all of Sony's 4K HDR TVs in the UK and Europe (albeit a year after the US) allowing hands-free voice control. Here's why Sony isn't following its rivals to HDR10+Sony Master Series 2019 Models Sony Master Series Z9G 8K (2019) Sony Z9G 8K (available in 85, 98 inches): An 8K wonder powered by Sony's X1 Ultimate processor, with a resurrected Backlight Master Drive from Sony's 2016 Z Series TVs promising enhanced contrast and precision controlled brightness. Available in the second half of 2019, with a monstrously large 98-inch option for those who can house it, and a dedicated viewing mode for watching Netflix. Intrigued? Read more in our hands on Sony Bravia Master Series Z9G 8K HDR TV review. Sony A9G 4K (available in 55, 65, 77 inches): Arriving in September 2019, this second-tier Master Series set uses the X1 Ultimate to power some serious 4K visuals – as well as the same Netflix Calibrated Mode as the Z9G. With an OLED panel, you'll also be getting some vivid color contrast and deep blacks, even if high-end LED tech is starting to give it a run for its money. Sony Bravia 2019 Models Sony A8G OLED (available in 55, 65 inches): Featuring the same X1 Extreme processor and Acoustic Surface Audio as last year's A1 OLED, the A8G / AG8 sticks to 55 and 65-inch models, leaving the 77-inch size to its Master Series OLED counterpart. In a snazzy design choice, you can also adjust the height of the TV stand to make room for a soundbar. Sony X9500G (available in 55, 65, 75, 85 inches): Now onto the 4K LCDs... This model still packs in the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support of its more expensive siblings, and the more advanced X1 Ultimate processor for enhanced upscaling and image processing. You get the welcome choice of four distinct size options, including a massive 85-inch display. Sony X9000G 4K HDR TV (available in 49 inches): A mid-priced, X1 Extreme powered version of the above – and coming in at a more size-friendly 49 inches. Sony X8500G 4K HDR TV (available in 55, 65, 75, 85 inches): A step down again, the X8500G / XG85 goes back to a simpler X1 processor (no Extreme or Ultimate upgrade) and more basic backlighting and dimming zones. Last year's model came with edge LED lighting, which simply couldn't meet the demands of today's HDR pictures – but we'll reserve our judgement on this one until it's come in to review. Sony Full HD 2019 Models Sony W66G (2019) Sony WG6/W66G (available in 43- and 50-inch sizes): If you've got a hankering for an HDR-capable TV but aren't too keen on 4K, Sony's entry-level W66G (WG6 in the UK) is exactly what you've been looking for. Perfect for Full HD HDR gaming, or just squeezing some extra-rich colors and depth out of 1080p resolution TV, this 2019 model is a smart compromise between cost and performance. Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.View the full article
  13. Laptops had yet another brilliant showing at CES 2019, with manufacturers eager to show that there’s still plenty of life left in these portable PCs. Nvidia’s announcement on Sunday of its latest RTX mobile graphics prompted a deluge of laptop makers to announce that their latest gaming laptops will feature these powerful graphics cards, and CES this year was awash with some seriously impressive gaming laptops that struck a good balance between power and portability. Non-gaming laptops also had a good showing in Las Vegas, with big brands showing off their latest flagship laptops that packed a lot of attractive features. Perhaps best of all, we also saw a number of new laptops that try something radically different with the form factor, including a number of gaming devices that prompted us to declare that CES 2019 has made gaming laptops exciting again. So, with a huge selection of new laptops, we’ve picked the very best laptops we saw at CES 2019. Huawei MateBook 13 Huawei is a relative newcomer to the laptop market, but its been seriously impressing us with the laptops it has already released. The Huawei MateBook X Pro, for example, currently sits atop our best laptops list. So, when we got a chance to have a play with the Huawei MateBook 13 at CES 2019, we had high hopes that Huawei would continue its hot streak. The good news is that it seems like it has, as we were left impressed from the time we spent with it, and it looks like Huawei could have a hit on its hands that could rival the MacBook Air. Samsung Notebook Flash While premium laptops were out in force at CES 2019, all vying to take a (large) chunk out of your wallet, Samsung impressed us with its budget Samsung Notebook Flash. For an impressively low price of $349 (about £270, AU$500), Samsung is offering a laptop that comes with features and spec that put other budget laptops to shame. It comes with an Intel Celeron N4000 processor – found in many Chromebooks and budget Windows laptops – backed by 4GB of memory and a 64GB eMMC flash drive. If you want a little more power, you can cough up $399 (about £300, AU$550) for a punchier Intel Pentium Silver N5000 CPU, which is in a similar class to the Pentium Gold within the Microsoft Surface Go. It’s not as flashy as other laptops at CES 2019, but its design, spec and low price will impress a lot of people this year, which makes it one of our picks for the best laptop at CES. Lenovo Yoga S940 Lenovo showed off a swathe of great new Yoga laptops at CES 2019, and our favorite is the well-built Yoga S940. It’s a wonderfully slim and light laptop with a Contour Glass display that comes in up to 4K resolution with HDR and Dolby Vision support. Built out of aluminum, it weighs 2.64 pounds and is just 0.48 inches (12.2mm) thick, and comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. The Lenovo Yoga S940 goes on sale May 2019, starting at $1,499 (around £1,200, AU$2,100). Acer Swift 7 Acer impressed us at CES 2019 by somehow making its teeny Swift 7 laptop somehow even smaller and lighter. In its aim to make the 'world's thinnest laptop', Acer's flagship Ultrabook for 2019 is just 9.95mm (0.39 inches) thin and weighs in at just 890 grams (1.96 pounds). Meanwhile, a smaller chassis allows the Acer Swift 7 to shrink the bezels even more this year around, achieving a screen-to-body ratio of 92%. It’s still a sturdy laptop, though, with a chassis made of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys. Acer claims that these materials are two to four times tougher than regular aluminum, while also being up to 35% lighter. Thin, light and powerful – there’s a lot to be impressed with on the new Acer Swift 7, and it’s one of the best laptops we’ve seen at this year’s CES. LG gram 17 Speaking of thin and light laptops, LG wowed us with the LG gram 17, an incredibly light 17-inch laptop that weighs just 1.3kg – which is lighter than many other smaller laptops. You’re not going to see another 17-inch laptop that’s this light in 2019. Its 16:10 display has a “2K” resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, and packs a Whisky Lake Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, Thunderbolt 3, SSD storage and even ports such as a microSD reader that thicker laptops don’t include. It will go on sale for $1,700 (around £1,300, AU$2,400) later this year. Asus Mothership GZ700 The Asus Mothership GZ700 has to make it onto this list thanks to its complete reinvention of what a gaming laptop should look – and behave – like. Unlike traditional laptops (gaming or otherwise), the components are placed behind the screen, not underneath the keyboard. Speaking of the keyboard, it can be completely detached, turning the Mothership into a kind of crazy-powerful giant Surface laptop for gaming. The design has let Asus pack the Mothership with some impressive tech, including an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and an overclocked Intel Core i9-8950HK processor. It also has a series of super-fast NVMe SSDs set up in RAID 0 array, for even better performance, and gigabit networking as well. Its innovative design means it’s easily one of the best laptops on show at CES 2019. Alienware Area-51m The Alienware Area-51m is another innovative gaming laptop at CES 2019 which does something new. Unlike other gaming laptops, the Area-51m allows its processor and graphics card to be upgraded, making it a future-proof laptop that will be playing games for years. It answers one of our biggest complaints with gaming laptops – the lack of upgradability – and it does so with Dell’s customary high built quality and attractive design. Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.View the full article
  14. CES 2019 has been a fantastic display of new, innovative smart home gadgets, with everything from robot vacuum cleaners to smart security systems impressing the crowds at the consumer tech show. With over 26 billion connected devices predicted to be installed globally in 2019, the IoT (Internet of Things) market is a booming industry, and it’s little wonder when you consider just how useful many of these gadgets are – they can turn your dumb home into a smart hub, one that can turn your thermostat up, lock your doors, and play your music with a simple voice command. CES is, of course, one of the best places to discover emerging smart home devices. Here’s our pick of the best smart home gadgets to come out of the consumer tech show this year. Lenovo Smart Clock Following on the success of its Smart Display, Lenovo announced a trio of smart devices to add to its Smart Home Essentials range at this year’s CES, including a Google Assistant-enabled smart alarm clock called the Lenovo Smart Clock. It features a 4-inch touch-enabled IPS display that's capable of waking you up with light, just like how the Philips Hue smart bulbs do when you set up a “wake up” routine. This should make for a gentler wake up call than you traditional alarm or the one on your smartphone. You can also set sleep routines and control your smart-home setup with a “Hey Google” or “OK Google” voice command, listen to music while you lie in bed, and charge your handheld devices thanks to a rear USB port. Thanks to its 6W speaker, you can also play tunes through the smart clock, as well as streaming shows and movies onto your television by linking it to a Google Chromecast. It’s expected to hit shelves around March or April with a price tag of $79.99 (about £65/AU$110), with global prices still to be confirmed. Lenovo Smart Clock hands on reviewMui Smart Display One of the weirdest gadgets we saw at CES 2019 was a plank of wood. No, we're not joking. Shaped like a simple wooden plank, the Mui smart display houses a touch-sensitive interface in the surface of the wood, allowing it to display visual data outputs and touch-control functions like a thermostat, clock, weather information, dimmer controls for your lights, text-based messages or slogans, and even a way to access your voicemail. It even has Google Assistant built in, with the option of having the voice assistant's responses displayed in text on the display or read aloud. The Mui smart display is slated to start shipping in September to backers of its (now closed) Kickstarter campaign. Prices and availability are still to be confirmed, but some outlets are reporting that it will cost around $1000 (£785 / AU$1400 based on current conversion rates.) Mui's new smart display is a touch-sensitive plank of woodCapstone Connected Home Smart Mirror here Capstone Connected Home announced the launch of its Google-enabled Smart Mirror, with both voice and touch screen capabilities at this year’s CES. The Smart Mirror allows you to access Google Assistant, check weather and traffic before you head out for the day, and stream YouTube – handy if you find your daily skincare routine to be a bit of a drag. You’ll also be able to access social media feeds, and “run downloadable applications”, according to Capstone Connected Home, although further details on which Google Play applications will work with the Smart Mirror are scant right now. Having Google Assistant built in to the mirror means you can even access Google Drive and type out emails using the touchscreen, getting a head start on your work before you’ve even brushed your teeth. The Smart Mirror should blend in seamlessly to any home, appearing like a normal mirror when not in use. Capstone Connected Home says that it will be available to buy in the next few months, but hasn’t yet disclosed any pricing information. Your mirror may soon be able to decide which clothes you wearKlipsch Bar 48W soundbar Klipsch unveiled five new soundbars at CES 2019, ranging from 40 inches to 54 inches in width. The smallest, Klipsch Bar 40G, comes with Google Assistant built in, while the Bar 48W has even more options, with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple's AirPlay 2. Prices are said to range from $299 right up to $1,599 (around £235 / AU$425 to £1,260 / AU$2,270), and they'll be available to buy in the next few months – however, some models may not be available until the tail end of 2019. Klipsch to unveil new speakers, wireless headphones, and soundbars at CES 2019House of Marley Get Together Mini with Google Assistant House of Marley (which specializes in high-end audio kit made from sustainable materials, and was founded by the son of Bob Marley), announced its first smart speaker at CES 2019. The Get Together Mini with Google Assistant is the latest addition to House of Marley's line of Bluetooth speakers, and is crafted from bamboo, aluminum (easily recycled), and the company's signature Rewind fabric (a combination of organic cotton, hemp and recycled plastics). The speaker is equipped with Chromecast for multi-room playback, and even serves as a USB power bank for charging your phone. It'll go on sale in August 2019, priced at $199.99 (about £150, AU$280). House of Marley makes smart speakers sustainableEvovacs Deebot Ozmo 960 robot vacuum cleaner Evovacs has unleashed its smartest robot vacuum model yet: an AI-powered bot that uses machine learning to keep your floors spotless, without accidentally sucking up articles like socks that will prove bad for its digestion. While the concept was first displayed at IFA 2018 in Berlin, the Deebot Ozmo 960 is now ready for release into the wilderness of your home. It uses AIVI (Artificial Intelligence and Visual Interpretation) technology to create a bespoke cleaning plan, and detects objects like clothing and cables so it won't get stuck trying to devour a pair of discarded pajamas. The Deebot Ozmo 960 can currently identify around 500 objects, and the company plans to add more obstacles to the Deebot Ozmo 960's database over the coming months, so it'll become even better at avoiding everyday household hazards as time goes on. Evovacs says that the super smart cleaning bot will be released later this year, but haven’t provided a firm release data or prices as of yet. Evovacs’ latest robot vacuum cleaner uses AI to avoid swallowing your socksEve Light Strip It’s usually Philips Hue that dominates the world of smart lighting, but at this year’s CES it was Eve Light Strip that shone brightest of all...literally. The Apple HomeKit-compatible LED light strip is 2m long bendable strip of LED lights, and with 1800 lumens (compared to Philips Hue’s 1600), Eve claims the title of brightest HomeKit light strip to date. Priced at $79 in the US (other region pricing coming soon), the light strip comes with adhesive on the back so you can attach to your various parts of home for extra flair, whether that’s under your couch, shelves, kitchen countertop, or behind your computer or television. The Eve Light Strip works with the Apple Home app and Siri thanks to its HomeKit compatibility. You can easily change the colors with your iPhone, as there are pre-sets within the Home app, but like many smart lighting gadgets, the entire spectrum is available in the native app. Eve Light Strip outshines its Philips Hue rival at CES 2019Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor Not to be outdone, Philips Hue launched a number of new products as part of its outdoor smart lighting range at CES 2019, with the new devices designed to welcome you home and lend some ambience to your outside space. The new range includes the new Philips Hue Outdoor sensor, a battery powered motion sensor that detects you as you approach your home, and switches on your lighting system. You can fully personalize your lighting system via the Hue app, choosing which lights (indoor and outdoor) switch on when someone approaches your home and triggers the Outdoor sensor. As well as giving you a warm welcome home, you can use this system to make it look like someone is always home and deter potential intruders. It will be available from February 2019 for £49.99 – based on current conversion rates, this is around $65 / AU$90, however official pricing is yet to be released by Philips Hue. Philips Hue is leading the way in outdoor smart lighting at CES 2019Ring Doorview Cam Smart home security company Ring revealed a total of 13 new products at CES 2019, but one of our favorites was the new Door View Cam. It works like Ring’s previous doorbell cameras, but instead of replacing your doorbell, it replaces your front door’s peephole. It's completely wire-free thanks to a battery that sits on the inside of your door, the Door View Cam requires no permanent alterations, making it a great option for renters. Like the Ring Doorbell 2, the new peephole camera offers motion detection and streams 1080p video straight to your phone via the Ring app, as well as allowing you to talk to whoever is standing on your doorstep. What sets it apart from previous models is a built-in impact sensor that can automatically detect when someone knocks on your door. If you think you’d miss your old fashioned peephole, fear not: the Door View Cam can be used just like an analogue glass peephole should you wish. Ring says that the Door View Cam will be available in the US and UK, as well as a few other European countries later this year for $199 / £179 – this works out at around AU$280 based on current conversion rates, but so far the company hasn’t released any official pricing or release schedule for Australia. Ring Door View Cam, Smart Lighting, and more unveiled at CES 2019Arlo Security System If you’re looking for a smart home gadget that will keep your residence safe from... well, pretty much any threat... then look no further than the Arlo Security System. It features an all-in-one Multi-Sensor that detects windows and doors opening and closing, motion, smoke, carbon monoxide, water leaks, the sound of gas leaks, temperature changes and more. If anything at all changes in your home, you’ll be notified immediately though the Arlo app on your phone. You can also set the Multi-Sensor to trigger other Arlo devices connected to the Arlo Smarthub. For example, you could have a camera start recording if it detects motion in your living room. It even communicates with certified third-party smart home devices (like Samsung SmartThings) so your lights could switch on automatically when you stumble into the kitchen in the morning, bleary-eyed and incapable of finding a wall switch. The new Security System also includes the Arlo Siren, which is battery-operated and suitable for use outdoors. You can position it anywhere within range of the Smarthub, and it should frighten would-be intruders with a red strobe light and blaring alarm. If you’re feeling a little more subtle, you can replace the siren with other audio (such as a dog barking or TV noise) to give the impression that you’re at home when someone approaches your front door. The home security company has yet to announce any pricing, but it says that the Arlo Security System will be available to buy in the second half of 2019. Arlo’s new DIY security system detects motion, carbon monoxide, water leaks, and more Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2019 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.View the full article
  15. Mobile payments company Square has announced the launch of its new in-app payments SDK which gives developers the ability to add its payment services directly to their mobile apps. The company is still best known for its offline payments solutions that have become increasingly popular with small business owners and developers have been able to use its APIs for online transactions for some time now. Square's decision to expand into mobile apps means that the company now offers a complete online and offline payments solution that will help it fend off competition from companies such as Stripe, Adyen and others in the space. While its original payment device relied on a smartphone's 3.5mm headphone jack, today's announcement shows just how well the company has been able to adapt to changes in the way consumers use their smartphones. Complete payments solution Developer Lead at Square, Carl Perry explained in the announcement how the launch of the new SDK provides developers with a complete payments solution, saying: “With the introduction of in-app mobile payments to the Square platform, developers now have a complete, omnichannel payments solution for all their payment needs. From software to hardware to services, Square offers a complete payments experience all in one cohesive open platform. Even better, developers and sellers can manage all their payments across in-store, mobile and online all in one place.” Square's SDK is available for Android, iOS and on Google's cross-platform application building toolkit Flutter. Currently only developers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Japan will be able to add the company's payment services to their mobile apps. Square will allow them to accept payments from debit and credit cards as well as from Apple Pay and Google Pay. Via TechCrunch We've also highlighted the best merchant services View the full article

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