US vote on ISP privacy rules is one more reason to get a VPN

The US Senate has voted to cast aside privacy regulations that stop ISPs from sharing users’ browser data (and other personal information) with third-parties.

The Senate voted 50-48 (following party lines) to overturn the regulations which were approved by the FCC last autumn, with today’s decision meaning that the rules “shall have no force or effect”, as Ars Technica reports.

Specifically, the FCC’s rules want to force ISPs to have to get consent from the user before they can sell or share data pertaining to that user – including browsing history, app usage, and personal information that could include financial or health details.

With the regulations, users would have to opt-in to allow this sort of information to be shared. Without them, there is no need for ISPs to get consent before they can make use of their subscribers’ data.

That said, the FCC’s rules aren’t binned just yet, because this reversal of course still has to be approved by the House (and dodge any potential Presidential veto).

Violation of privacy

As Senator for Massachusetts, Ed Markey, commented: “President Trump may be outraged by fake violations of his own privacy, but every American should be alarmed by the very real violation of privacy that will result [from] the Republican roll-back of broadband privacy protections.”

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) observed: “ISPs act as gatekeepers to the internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent.

“We can still kill this in the House: call your lawmakers today and tell them to protect your privacy from your ISP.”

While you might not be able to do much about what ISPs get up to with supplied personal details, at least when it comes to your web browsing, it’s possible to avoid being tracked by signing up to a VPN service.

If all this goes through as it’s now shaping up to, there may well be a big uptick in the numbers of folks using a Virtual Private Network.

      

New iPad is out today and you can buy it now

Apple’s new iPad is out and you can buy one right now – plus the new iPad is cheaper than the iPad Air 2, which it is replacing.

You can buy the cheapest version of the new iPad for $329 (£339, AU$469) with 32GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The most expensive version is the 128GB version with both Wi-Fi and cellular connections for $559 (£559, AU$799).

This new iPad is thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2 but has an Apple A9 processor under the hood, a 9.7-inch Retina display with resolution 2048 x 1536 and iOS 10 software too.

      

New iPad 9.7 deals: where to pre-order Apple’s new tablet

We’ve been waiting for some time for a new iPad, and Apple surprised us all a few days ago by announcing just that. So, if you’re looking for somewhere to pre-order your new iPad 9.7, you’re in the right place.

It’s good news all around, as you won’t have to wait long for the new iPad 9.7, and you won’t even have to spend as much as you think (which makes a change for Apple, right?).

Apple is taking pre-orders for the new iPad 9.7 today, with stock expected to ship out next week. The price is incredibly cheap for a new Apple product and considerably cheaper than the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7-inch. In the US, pre-orders for the 32GB model start at $329, compared to £339 in the UK.

That’s seriously cheap for a new iPad. It’s $70/£40 cheaper than the best iPad Air 2 deal today and the new iPad 9.7 is essentially an iPad Air 3 in all but name. Come to think of it, it’s cheaper than most iPad Mini 4 deals too! The short version? If you’re after a good value new iPad, this is seriously worth considering.

Where to pre-order the new iPad 9.7

If you want to lock down your new iPad 9.7 pre-order straight away, then your only option for now is direct from Apple. Expect other retailers to get their own stock a week or so after Apple’s first batch of orders ship out.

Ready to order a new iPad now? Then you better get on over to the Apple US or Apple UK store while stocks last.

How big is the new iPad?

The new iPad has a 9.7-inch retina display. In terms of dimensions, the height and width is the same as the iPad Air 2 (240 x 169.5mm). It’s slightly thicker though at 7.5mm, compared to 6.1mm, which is a bit of a modest increase. It’s also about 30 grams heavier than the Air 2 (about the weight of a bag of crisps).

Where’s the iPad Air 3?

It would seem that Apple is simplifying its lineup, just like we saw recently with the new MacBook range (which seems to have absorbed the Air brand). Seeing as the dimensions and internal spec of the new iPad are very close to the iPad Air 2, you could consider this the spiritual successor.

Is the new iPad more powerful than the iPad Air 2?

Yes, but just a little. The new iPad uses an A9 chip with an M9 coprocessor compared to the older A8x and M8. So more of a fine tune than a radical overall, but an improvement nonetheless. However, don’t assume that means the old iPad Air 2 will be cheaper now…

How much is the new iPad 9.7?

Apple is coming in way cheaper than we expected. Prices in the US will start at $329 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, while UK customers are looking at £339. As things stand today, that’s $70/£40 cheaper than the best 32GB iPad Air 2 deal. The 16GB model of the iPad Air 2 seems to have been phased out at most retailers and isn’t any cheaper. So if you’re a new iPad buyer and don’t need the pricey internal spec of the iPad Pro, the new iPad 9.7 is looking like your best option.

Can I put a SIM card in the new iPad?

Yes, but you’ll need to opt for the more expensive cellular/4G model. This is only needed if you’ll be wanting to use data when away from Wi-Fi. If you go for celluar 32GB model it will cost $469/£469, with the 128GB model costing $559/£559.

What colors does the new iPad 9.7 come in?

At launch you’ll be able to buy the new 9.7-inch iPad in Silver, Space Gray and Gold. There’s no mention of a Rose Gold model yet, but we wouldn’t rule one out in the future.

  • Check out the prices on the other models on our iPad deals page

      

The best free alternative to Windows Movie Maker

After a long reign as one of the best free video editors around, Windows Movie Maker has been discontinued. Microsoft pulled the software installer from its website on 10 January, and has removed references to a new version for Windows 10.

Don’t worry, though – Windows Movie Maker may have gone to the great hard drive in the sky, but there are some excellent alternatives available that are more powerful, just as easy to use, and – crucially – completely free.

Read on for our roundup of software that combines powerful editing tools with Movie Maker’s ease of use.

1. Shotcut

All the features you know and love from Windows Movie Maker, with a very familiar look

At first glance, Shotcut bears little resemblance to Windows Movie Maker, but hit the Playlist and Timeline buttons at the top and it starts to look very familiar.

Open files to add them to your playlist, then drag and drop them onto the timeline to piece them together, just like you could in Movie Maker. Once you’ve got everything in order, hit the Filters button, then click the plus sign to apply transitions and effects. You can apply as many effects as you like, including coloured filters like those available in Windows Movie Maker, plus advanced options such as chroma key compositing for greenscreen effects.

There’s even a text option that lets you create titles and watermarks – and they look less cheesy than Windows Movie Maker’s equivalents.

Best of all, Shotcut is open source, so none of its features are hidden behind a paywall. If you miss Windows Movie Maker, Shotcut is the best alternative.

Download here: Shotcut

2. VSDC Free Video Editor

A great Windows Movie Maker alternative for anyone with a creative streak

VSDC Free Video Editor looks less like Windows Movie Maker than Shotcut, but it’s superb if you’re willing to try something new. Video projects are built from video clips, audio files and pictures. Once you’ve selected your source files and put them in order, you can add annotations, effects, cursors, notes, and charts.

There’s a lot to experiment with, but thankfully VSDC Free Video Editor includes wizards that walk you through the trickier parts. We particularly like the retro-style filters and animations, which really bring a video project to life.

Note that you won’t be able to export your project if you’ve used premium features like hardware acceleration, which is enabled by default. You can turn it off by clicking Options (in the top right), selecting Acceleration Options and unchecking ‘Use hardware acceleration for encoding video’.

VSDC receives frequent updates to add new features, and is an excellent alternative to Windows Movie Maker if you’re interested in getting creative.

Download here: VSDC Free Video Editor

3. Avidemux

A simple Windows Movie Maker alternative with hidden depths, including lots of export options

If you only used Windows Movie Maker for basic video editing tasks, Avidemux is well worth a look. It doesn’t offer a fancy interface or direct sharing to social media, but if you take a little time to peruse its menus, you’ll find it’s surprisingly capable.

There are preset profiles for different output devices, video and audio filters, fades, subtitles, and lots of customizable encoding options.

The main downside of Avidemux is that you can’t combine videos that are different heights or widths. This won’t matter if you’re putting footage all shot using the same smartphone or screen capture tool, but can be inconvenient if your media come from different sources. To get around it, you have to resize each clip separately, export it, then make a new project. It’s not a serious issue, but the developers are aware and it should be resolved in a future update.

Download here: Avidemux

4. VideoPad Video Editor

A Windows Movie Maker lookalike that layers new features on top of the old

Of all the tools here, VideoPad Video Editor is the one that most closely resembles Windows Movie Maker. You’ll be up and running in seconds – just import your video clips, audio files and still images, then drag and drop them into the timeline at the bottom of the window.

In fact, VideoPad Video Editor resembles good old Windows Movie Maker so closely that some of its effects now look a bit cheesy, and its interface (a busy combination of icons, menus and ribbons) looks rather dated. It’s kept up to date with stereoscopic 3D conversion, direct sharing to social media, and chroma keying. VideoPad Video Editor also lets you export videos in 4K – a feature you’d normally only find in premium tools.

There’s also a premium version of VideoPad Video Editor, which adds support for extensions and an unlimited number of audio tracks, but the free edition offers everything else you could wish for.

Download here: VideoPad Video Editor

5. Lightworks

A big step up from Windows Movie Maker – professional editing, free for personal use

If you liked Windows Movie Maker but found its simplicity restrictive, take a look at Lightworks. It’s free for personal use, and the professional version (which includes more export options) is used by real Hollywood movie producers.

Lightworks’ interface is very different from the other video editors here; it’s made up of floating windows and uses many terms that derive from the days of tape-based video recording and production. If you’re used to Windows Movie Maker, you’ll need to refer to a beginner’s guide to get started.

Lightworks is a superb video editing suite, and we highly recommend it, but its complexity means it’s a significant step up from Windows Movie Maker rather than a replacement.

Download here: Lightworks

See all the Windows Movie Maker alternatives available to download on TechRadar

      

Download of the day: Hotspot Shield Free

Hotspot Shield Free

If you’ve ever idly looked at a shed online only to spend the next decade being followed around the internet by adverts for sheds, you’ll know that when you’re online you leave a footprint.

But you probably don’t realise just how many different organisations are tracking you online – and if you’re on a public Wi-Fi connection, how vulnerable your data may be. Hotspot Shield Free aims to protect your privacy and your data on Windows, Mac and on mobile devices too.

Why you need it

Hotspot Shield Free creates a virtual private network, or VPN for short. It keeps your online surfing anonymous, and has the happy side-effect of bypassing geographic blocks – so you can bypass those annoying “this video is not available in your country” messages on your favourite video sites, or blocked sites if you’re connecting at work or school. And if you’re connecting to public Wi-Fi, Hotspot Shield Free encrypts your communications so that the bad guys can’t intercept what you’re doing.

If you’re sharing secret stuff or just don’t want advertisers to track your every move, Hotspot Shield Free is a powerful ally.

Download here: Hotspot Shield Free

      

YouTube TV: Everything you need to know about the new TV streaming service

It seems like everyone’s got a live TV streaming service these days. You’ve got the ‘established players’ that include Sling TV and PlayStation Vue (both of which are under three years old, by the way) and relative newcomers like DirecTV Now.

On top of those you’ve got Comcast scooping up streaming rights to cable channels, Apple and Hulu’s rumored TV streaming services and, on top of everything else and potentially the biggest player of them all, YouTube TV.

Why is YouTube TV going to be big? Well, while PlayStation Vue and Sling TV had to carve out a new audience for their products, YouTube TV already has one – one billion users that live in 88 countries and speak 76 different languages.

Sure, both Sony and DISH are large corporations, but do they have one billion people using their products to stream videos every year? Not likely.

OK, so YouTube TV is going to be big, you get that. But what exactly is YouTube TV and why should you care? Let’s talk about it.

What is YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service – think Netflix but instead of on-demand TV shows and movies you’ll see cable channels like ABC, NBC, FOX, ESPN and Disney among many, many more. It’s like cable in the sense that everything is divided by channel and, yes, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee for it, but the difference here is that you’ll be able to take shows whenever and wherever you go.

Well, sort of. Because YouTube TV has all the local stations, it will initially launch in a few cities and then expand out into other regions – similar to how PlayStation Vue started. YouTube hasn’t given us the exact number of channels we’re going to get when the service goes live in the coming months, but we did learn about a cool new feature: Cloud DVR.

Cloud DVR will allow you to record your favorite shows as they air and save them, well, to the cloud so that you can watch them later. It’s TiVo, but everything’s online. YouTube TV promises unlimited storage for shows for up to nine months – a serious advantage over the competition which usually only offer 28 days of storage.

YouTube TV on every device? We hope so.

Also, unlike Sling TV which wants you to buy a more expensive package to allow more than one user to watch TV at a time, YouTube says that its service will allow up to six people in the family to access the service and will allow up to three of them tune into the service simultaneously on the same account – a big advantage when you’re looking to replace cable and you have a big family.

The other thing we know about YouTube TV is its price: $35 a month. For comparison, that’s slightly more expensive than Sling TV’s basic $20-per-month package and a few dollars less than PlayStation Vue’s basic $39 package that includes local stations like CBS, NBC, etc…

What we don’t know, however, is how good a value YouTube TV is going to be. Because YouTube hasn’t told us just how many channels we can expect on the service (probably due to the fact that it’s still negotiating with the channels as we speak) and which cities will actually end up getting the service, we just don’t know how it’ll stack up.

Cut to the chase

  • What is YouTube TV? A livestreaming TV service like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue
  • When is it coming out? It will be out in the next few months
  • How much will it cost? $35 per month, unless you get an add-on package
  • Where can you watch it? Anywhere in one of the selected cities

What channels are included?

Again, we don’t have a complete picture of who exactly YouTube roped into the deal, but we do know a few of the big players. First off, all the local channels are on-board: NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. That means every NFL game up to and including the Super Bowl, are yours to watch every Sunday.

Beyond the local stuff, you’ve got all the channels that fall under the umbrella of those companies – i.e. ESPN, CSN, FOX Sports, USA, FX, Disney, E!, Bravo, SyFy, FXX, National Geographic, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC and more.

On top of all those channels we’ve already mentioned, you’ll also get access to YouTube’s own network of shows, YouTube Red Originals. Shows on this ‘network’ (a term we use very lightly here) include Scare PewDiePie and exclusive films that you’ve probably never heard of. This really isn’t a huge draw for most people, but hey, maybe the money that comes in from YouTube TV can be used to crank up the quality of this content to near-Netflix levels.

Now, like Amazon Video, you can actually tack on additional premium stations for an extra fee. Right now the list of premium offerings include FOX Soccer Plus and Showtime, which will likely cost around $10 extra per month.

OK, so who’s missing so far? Well, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, MTV and TNT aren’t there, which is a bit of a bummer, and there aren’t as many channels for kids on YouTube TV as there are on Sling TV – a potential problem for parents.

HBO hasn’t signed up for the service yet either, which is strange considering that it peddles its wares on Amazon Video, but then again you can always subscribe to HBO Now if you really need your Game of Thrones on the go.

How is it different than YouTube Red?

This can be sort of confusing, so listen up. YouTube Red is an ad-free version of YouTube that has a few fun features like allowing you to keep a video playing even when your phone is turned off. A subscription to YouTube Red also gives you access to the YouTube Red Originals channel that we talked about earlier.

What YouTube Red won’t allow you to do is watch live TV or cable TV content. For that you’ll need YouTube TV.

Is there some crossover potential here between these two services? Absolutely. Maybe a subscription to YouTube TV also nets you a free subscription to Red. But we’ll just have to wait to find out more from YouTube if that’s the case.

Is YouTube TV a better deal than cable?

That’s a good question and a very pertinent one. The answer here is ‘maybe’. Depending on how many channels YouTube TV ends up with and how easy it is to stream (hopefully YouTube won’t have the same performance issues Sling TV and Vue have), then yes, it has the potential to be a much better deal than cable.

Look at it this way: if you’re already paying for internet service, you can tack on an extra $30 for YouTube TV and maybe a $10-per-month subscription to Netflix and have just as much content as you’d have from a cable TV service that usually run $60-70 per month.

That being said, if you’re paying for one of those bundles that allows you to package cable, internet and phone service together, YouTube TV might not come out to be any less.

You’re still going to need cable (or HBO Now) for your Game of Thrones fix

The benefits of going for a streaming service over a cable service are the ability to watch shows wherever you go, the potential to use Cloud DVR to save shows for later and the no-obligations contract that allows you to cancel your account without a termination fee. On top of everything else, you don’t need to rent a cable box from companies like Comcast, Spectrum or AT&T, because the streaming service comes in through whatever device you’re using.

If YouTube TV can offer as many channels as basic cable does, without the need for a cable box and 12-month contract, we’ll consider it a win. If it can do all that, offer Cloud DVR, a plethora of apps for devices like Roku, Apple TV and the various game consoles and video-on-demand, it will be one of the best streaming services on the planet.

So, when can you watch it?

YouTube TV is reportedly launching “sometime in the next few months”. YouTube hasn’t given us an exact release date for the service, but chances are good it will arrive sometime before June of this year – likely just before Apple’s WWDC event to get a leg-up on any announcement they might have in this area.

      

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