Best VPN for iPhone/iOS: Our 5 top choices

Apple’s iPhone is widely regarded as a stable and secure smartphone, but that isn’t to say that iOS doesn’t have its own issues regarding security and privacy – particularly in today’s climate of hacking and security breaches. Using a VPN service ensures you retain your digital privacy, while also allowing for other neat features like accessing geo-restricted content and circumventing censorship.

How to choose the best VPN service for iPhone/iOS

There’s no shortage of VPNs with decent iOS support, with many providers offering dedicated iOS apps, which is obviously a main consideration here – and preferably the software will be easy-to-use, and yet provide enough options for more advanced users to be able to tweak things.

Other important considerations include tight security (obviously) and a favourable privacy policy, along with terms of service which make it quite clear what logs and details are stored by the provider. The number of simultaneous connections allowed and the ensuing speeds you get from the VPN provider are also well worth considering, as ever.

Below are the five best VPN services for iPhone/iOS that we’ve picked out for you.

  • IPVanish delivers consistently great performance, and indeed actually improved our download speeds by around 15% over long distances, with even faster results when it came to some short hops. The native client supports iOS 8 or better, works equally well on iPads and connects automatically anytime internet traffic is detected. It also suggests the fastest server based on your location and ping time.

    When it comes to security, the service offers a broad range of protocols, and on the privacy front, IPVanish doesn’t record any online activity or connection data while using the iOS app.

    In short, the only niggle with IPVanish is its pricing. There is no free trial available and the service is slightly more expensive than others. That said, the three plans include a 7-day money-back guarantee. The 1-year subscription is the most affordable option. The packages available are:

    This Switzerland-based provider owns and operates all of its servers, and boasts exceptional performance levels as a result. Our tests revealed an outstanding boost in download speeds, with performance being over twice as fast as our regular rates.

    The native app supports iOS 8 and higher, plus it comes with useful features like automatic fastest server selection, iPad compatibility and automatic encryption of untrusted Wi-Fi connections. It’s also worth noting that VyprVPN doesn’t restrict your connections by IP address (i.e. you can access the network via your router, mobile phone network via 3G/4G and so forth).

    Security-wise, the service boasts the proprietary Chameleon protocol, which is designed to help get around VPN blocking. The privacy policy is clear and straightforward, and this VPN doesn’t log or inspect your traffic.

    There are only two pricing plans to choose from, and you can be billed either monthly or annually. Going the yearly route offers a big saving. Make sure you use the three-day free trial to properly test the service as VyprVPN doesn’t allow refunds. The packages available are:

    SaferVPN offers lots of quality software clients, and the iOS app is no exception. You can connect with a simple tap without any prior configuration as the app automatically determines the best server locations for optimal performance. The client also automatically protects data over any unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot.

    SaferVPN manages its own network. In our performance tests, we found speeds were pretty good compared to rivals, and we obtained solid download rates even over longer distances.

    On the downside, this VPN records a great deal of session data, although none of this is related to your actual activities online – but it’s still far more information than competitors collect, generally speaking.

    The service boasts a free access-all-areas 24-hour trial to check it out. Among the three price plans, the 2-year plan offers the best value. The packages available are:

    PureVPN has a simple and straightforward iOS app, but it also offers a number of additional settings that can be tweaked if you’re so inclined. The handy one-click connection feature automatically detects your location to help you get on the fastest server. There are optimised servers for various purposes, and with a huge choice of server locations, PureVPN is great for streaming content.

    Indeed, the provider did well in our performance tests – our download speeds were close to twice as fast in comparison to our normal (non-VPN) rates. There is a weakness on the security front, however, namely that the Secure DNS feature didn’t work for us (this is supposed to prevent DNS leaks); but your mileage may vary.

    As for the privacy policy, PureVPN scores well here, with everything clearly stated, and there’s no logging of your surfing activity or indeed anything else.

    PureVPN has three available subscription plans which aren’t the cheapest around, with the 1-year plan being the clear winner in the value for money stakes. The packages available are:

    KeepSolid is a well-known VPN that provides good overall performance levels. In our testing, download speeds were only 12% down compared to our regular rates, which is more than good enough for a stable and fast connection.

    The native app supports iOS 8 or better, although certain features may require a newer version: for example, to use the built-in ad blocking for Safari, you must be running iOS 9. You can opt for the optimal/fastest connection or choose a server for a specific purpose.

    KeepSolid’s terms and conditions state that the company logs only basic details about service activity, and there’s no logging of anything a user might do online. However, one weak point is that you may be able to connect five devices simultaneously, but you can only change one of them once per week.

    There’s a 7-day free trial to get you started, along with a 7-day money-back guarantee. KeepSolid offers two main plans, although there’s also a lifetime subscription available. Chances are you might not want to make that much of a commitment, particularly seeing as the annual subscription is temptingly cheap. The packages available are:

          

The best free registry cleaner 2017

Why clean the Windows registry?

The Windows registry is a database containing almost all your PC’s hardware and software settings. (There are some exceptions, like portable apps, which keep their settings in a separate text file.) When you uninstall a program, its registry keys should be removed too, but this doesn’t always happen.

There are lots of cleanup tools that promise to improve your PC’s performance by erasing unused keys from the registry. They’re unlikely to cause any damage, but such tools are unlikely to have a noticeable effect on general speed. Deleting old registry keys won’t free up hard disk space (the amount of space used by each database entry is minuscule), or have much impact on memory usage when the registry is loaded at startup.

For improving general performance, it’s the other tools bundled with registry cleaners (such as software uninstallers, and tools for finding and deleting temporary or duplicate files) that will have a real impact.

Registry cleaners do have their uses, though – sometimes software uninstallers leave behind old registry keys, which can cause errors if you try to install a different version of the same program later.

With that in mind, these are our picks of the best free registry cleaners for Windows.

1. Auslogics Registry Cleaner

If you’re receiving error messages related to a specific registry key, this is the tool for you

Auslogics markets its free registry cleaner as “the best tool to safely and effectively clear invalid entries from your Windows registry” – and we’re inclined to agree.

During installation, we recommend selecting Custom rather than Express install and unchecking any extras you don’t want. You’ll also be asked if you want to set Yahoo as your homepage; if you’d rather not, uncheck the box and click ‘Decline’ – this won’t stop Auslogics Registry Cleaner installing. Finally, you’ll be asked if you want to install Auslogics Driver Update – again, uncheck the box if you’d rather not.

The registry cleaner itself is refreshingly simple; you can use a series of checkboxes to choose which types of registry entry to scan for, which is excellent if you’re just having issues with a previously installed program. The registry is backed up by default before you make any changes, and can be restored using the ‘Rescue Center option at the top right. Again, we’re not sure why it’s not called something more logical like Restore Registry Backup. You can drill down and see exactly which registry keys will be deleted before committing to anything, and if you’ve received an error message about a specific key, you can use the search option (the middle button at the bottom left) to find it.

We really appreciate this level of detail, which makes Auslogics our pick for the best free Windows registry cleaner. It won’t sweep up any cruft that’s accumulated on your PC, but Auslogics Registry Cleaner is ideal if you’re having trouble with a particular registry key that’s preventing a program installing or running as it should.

Download here: Auslogics Registry Cleaner

2. CCleaner

CCleaner’s registry cleaner isn’t as well developed as its main system neatening toolkit

Like most tools of its kind, CCleaner‘s registry cleaner checks for different types of unused registry entries, including unused file extensions, help files, and obsolete software. You’re offered the opportunity to make a backup before deleting the entries, then you can either delete each identified ‘issue’ individually (CCleaner tells you what each one is), skip any, or just delete them all.

The registry cleaner is only a supplement to Ccleaner’s main PC maintenance tool, which deletes temporary files, caches, and cookies to improve system performance. None of the file types selected by default are likely to cause any issues if deleted, but take care if you choose to remove anything from the Advanced list.

CCleaner also features a software uninstaller, which doesn’t let you select multiple programs for uninstalling at once, but does include Windows apps that can’t be removed via the Add/Remove Programs dialog. There’s a startup manager, much like Autoruns, a browser plugin manager, a disk usage analyzer, a duplicate file finder, quick access to System Restore, and a drive wiper for erasing data with multiple rewrites.

CCleaner is unlikely to cause any problems with your Windows registry, but if something does go amiss, restoring it from a backup is a slightly awkward process that requires you to right-click the file with the extension REG, then click Merge. Many other cleaners offer one-click restoration from a backup, and it’s a shame that CCleaner doesn’t.

Download here: CCleaner

3. JetClean

JetClean doesn’t nag you to install extra software, but we’d prefer more information

JetClean focuses on tidying up your registry, and claims that doing so will improve system performance, though this is unlikely unless you’re having a particular problem related to a specific registry key. You can limit your search to certain types of registry keys, including application paths and software locations, then check the name of each potentially troublesome key the scanner discovers. Unfortunately there’s not much additional information provided about the function of each registry entry, so a little Googling might be necessary if you’re trying to solve a particular problem. All changes to the registry are backed up, and can be revered via the Rescue option in the Settings menu.

JetClean offers the standard temporary file and cache cleaning tools, as well as a function called RAM Clean, which promises to ‘optimize’ key Windows startup processes, but doesn’t provide any information about how that will be done. This is a shame, because it’s otherwise much like a more compact version of CCleaner, and we appreciate the fact that there’s no pressure to add extra components or upgrade to a premium version.

Download here: JetClean

4. SlimCleaner Free

SlimCleaner gives you plenty of control, but its maintenance tools are the star attraction

SlimCleaner Free is similar in appearance to CCleaner, with tools dedicated to mopping up temporary Windows files, uninstalling applications, managing browser extensions, and tidying the registry. There’s also a strange group of miscellanea gathered under the heading Advanced, including the configuration files for things like the Start menu order and Notification Tray.

SlimCleaner doesn’t provide as much information about each registry key as Auslogics Registry Cleaner, and you can’t search for specific strings, but there’s enough detail to help you make an informed decision about what to keep and what to purge.

SlimCleaner makes a backup of your registry before deleting anything, and you can roll back to a previous version through the Settings menu.

These cleanup tools are useful enough, but SlimCleaner’s process, program and startup managers are where it really shines. Each program and service has been given a rating by SlimCleaner’s community of users, so you can see whether you should keep it. Clicking ‘More info’ provides you with incredibly detailed reviews and ratings from your peers; even drivers for a laptop trackpad have several dozen reviews, including reasons to keep and to remove (the wisdom of which is rather questionable in this case). It would be interesting to see this system integrated into the registry cleaner too, to highlight any entries that are particularly likely to be the root of problems, but the sheer number of possible registry keys might well be prohibitive.

Download here: SlimCleaner Free

5. Iolo System Mechanic

Quick scans, but it’s a shame you have to part with your email address to act on them

The free edition of Iolo System Mechanic immediately conducts a scan that checks for a real range of potential issues, including temporary files that can be safely deleted, broken registry keys, and hard drive fragmentation. Once it’s finished, you’ll be prompted to click the Register button and supply Iolo with an email address to activate the cleanup tools (Iolo promises that this is just to deliver an activation key – your data won’t be sold to third parties).

Once that’s done, use the drop-down menus beside each of the categories to drill down for more information. Iolo recommends its registry cleaner ‘to clean and streamline’ the database, but doesn’t claim any benefits to system performance.

You’ll also see some optimization options, but these are only accessible if you upgrade to the premium version of the program.

Although it doesn’t prompt you, Iolo System Mechanic creates a backup before making any changes to your registry, so if you experience any problems later on, you can use its SafetyNet function to restore the database to its previous state.

We appreciate this feature, though it would be nice to be notified about it earlier – it’s not clear where to find it, and the name SafetyNet isn’t very descriptive. We’re also not particularly keen on having to supply an email address, although we understand the reasoning behind it.

Download here: Iolo System Mechanic

      

Download of the day: Scribus

There are stacks of open source programs for word processing and other office tasks, but what about the big daddy of computer publishing, the desktop publishing app?

Say hello to Scribus, which has high-end features without the high-end price tag. Or any price tag, come to think of it. It works with XML and OpenDocument formats, Word, PDF and others, and it’s suitable for most languages other than Arabic and other, similar writing systems. That’s supported via third-party apps.

Why you need it

DTP is much more demanding than word processing or throwing together a quick flyer, and professional publishing needs much more powerful tools than a typical home-focused editing program offers. Scribus has been in constant development for 13 years and its powers include professional typesetting and colour management (but not Pantone colours due to licensing, although you can add Pantone yourself) as well as online publications such as interactive forms and PDFs.

It’s an astonishingly powerful piece of software, with an interface that looks and feels like a program with an astonishingly high price tag.

The only real niggle is that Scribus can’t open or save the files of other desktop publishing apps, so if you have a huge library of InDesign or Quark projects updating them could take some time.

Download here: Scribus

      

Porsche Design Book One leaves a lot for Surface Book 2 to live up to

Not satisfied with neither being one of the most sought-after auto brands nor its stylish handset pursuits, Porsche has decided to get into the computing business with the Porsche Design Book One.

Announced during MWC 2017, Porsche and Microsoft have joined forces to build one of the slickest 2-in-1 laptops yet.

Microsoft must be mighty proud of whatever it’s got lined up with the Surface Book 2 to help this design behemoth craft such a gorgeous device – because boy, is it a sight.

The Book One is a 13.3-inch, 15.8mm-thin device inside a milled aluminum housing with a matte anodized surface finish and a hinge designed in the same vein as Porsche’s approach to designing a transmission for a sports car. Not only does the hinge allow the device to rotate 360 degrees, but detach from its keyboard base completely.

Going for an unsurprising $2,495 (about £2,004, AU$3,250) when it launches in the US this April, the Book One comes packing Intel’s latest Core i7-7500U (Kaby Lake) processor at 3.5GHz, backed by 16GB of RAM and 512GB of Intel-brand, PCIe solid-state storage. All of this rests behind a 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) touch display with inter-plane switching (IPS) for wider viewing angles.

[Editor’s Note: We’ve asked Microsoft regarding the product’s availability in the UK and Australia, and will update this piece with any information we receive.]

Here’s the device in one of its many (standard) hybrid positions

Backing up that awfully stark asking price are two USB-C ports, two more standard USB 3.0 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port and a 5MP infrared webcam for Windows Hello login through Windows 10 Pro. At the very least, Porsche is offering a completely current system in terms of substance and style.

The Book One appears to be aimed at a similar crowd to that of the Surface Book: creative professionals or just creative types with cash to spare for their work or hobby of choice. The sharp, well-backlit keyboard and Porsche-designed, magnetized stylus help give that much away.

Porsche really wants you to appreciate its laptop hinge, too

Not only does this mark a first computer from Porsche, but an all-new product category for the design firm. So, perhaps there will be more where this came from. But – one thing at a time – we’ll get to reviewing this one first.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

      

The 6 best 13-inch laptops of 2017

Best 13-inch laptop

Update: With a 4K screen and the exterior design of a modern work of art, the Lenovo Yoga 910 is now one of the best 13-inch laptops of 2017. Read on to number 5 on our list to find out why!

Thirteen inches. Arguably, it’s the perfect size for a laptop screen. Not too big nor too small, the best 13-inch laptop will sidestep the flimsiness and squint-inducing terror of a smaller notebook, absent the need to intimidate with a gargantuan form factor.

They’re not all Windows laptops either; Apple fans will rejoice at the fact that the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air continue to stun in 13-inch flavors. Whatever the case, you ought to find a notebook that – at the very least – incites interest. Whether it’s a 2-in-1 or a traditional clamshell you’re after, we’ve encapsulated the spice of life in our list of the very best 13-inch laptops.

For a broader view, take a gander at the best laptops in the world today, and if it’s thin and light you’re after, you can also find the best Ultrabook from TechRadar. But, whatever you do, be sure to read on to find our favorite 13-inch picks of the past few months in no particular order.

Now graced with 7th-generation Intel Core i processors, Dell has struck (rose) gold with the XPS 13. The lush design, lengthy battery life and even the SD card slot are still intact, only now it’s souped up with improved internal specs and sleeker appearances reminiscent of the MacBook and HP Spectre lineups. What’s more, the full-size processor and 13.3-inch display are crammed into an 11-inch frame made possible by Dell’s own nearly bezel-less InfinityEdge display technology.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Best 13-inch laptop

The ZenBook UX305 is a well-built, fully metal machine that’s thin, light and attractive. Now available with Intel’s full-fat Core i-series processors in addition to the usual Core M chips, the UX305’s astonishing value makes it hard to ignore. Updated with a gorgeous QHD+ display, it stands out as a shining example of a computer that offers power and portability in a small package that doesn’t break the bank.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305

Best 13-inch laptop

Though it’s failed to make a dent in the laptop space with much more than its Tab Pro S convertible, Samsung’s follow-up to the 2012 Series 9 notebook boasts not only capable specs, but a competitive price as well. Marketed as an Ultrabook, it’s certainly disheartening to know the battery life lasts only five hours, but given its sleek and sexy design, it almost doesn’t matter. What’s more, with the Samsung Notebook 9, you won’t have to deal with bloatware made infamous by many of the other Microsoft OEMs.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9

That’s not a typo you just read on the specs sheet – the Acer Aspire S 13 truly is a beast. Replete with a Skylake Core series processors shoved inside a tiny, 13.3-inch body, the Aspire S 13 can handle practically anything you throw at it productivity-wise. Unfortunately, the catch is that with all this power comes a distinct shortage on battery life. It may be an Ultrabook, but the Aspire S 13 only managed 3 hours and 12 minutes in our PCMark 8 battery test. Luckily, the Acer Aspire S 13 also comes with the benefit of USB 3.1, all but a boon in this awkward early age of USB-C.

Read the full review: Acer Aspire S 13

The Lenovo Yoga 910 is all about second chances. It throws away many of the signature design traits of the previous model, the Yoga 900, in favor of a more pristine outward appearance and a heavy duty Intel Core i7 processor as well as the option of a 4K display. Lenovo also managed to squeeze a larger, nearly 14-inch screen into the same 13-inch chassis of the Yoga 900 without compromise. Not to mention, even with the implementation of USB-C ports, the Lenovo Yoga 910 doesn’t completely neglect USB Type-A, dragging the precious connection standard of the past along with it.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910

best 13-inch laptop

Though it may not have the 12-inch MacBook’s slick design, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina features Apple’s Force Touch track pad that uses different levels of sensitivity instead of mechanical buttons to make clicks. Even without the fancy Touch Bar, the MacBook Pro exceeds expectations with two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, quieter fans, louder speakers and even a battery life exceeding 7 hours in our anecdotal testing. Despite a controversial keyboard mechanism, the MacBook Pro is thinner, lighter and ready to travel.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

Best 13-inch laptop

In a market densely populated with slim-line laptops from a massive range of manufacturers, Apple’s MacBook Air fights on admirably – though it started showing its age on the outside a long time ago. It has Intel’s fifth-generation Core-series processors rather than the newest Skylake variants, but it’s still a capable machine; even more so since Apple made 8GB of RAM standard across the line. If you don’t like the look of its lowly 1,440 x 900 pixel-resolution display, there’s always the 12-inch MacBook – and new MacBook Air models are expected to launch this summer.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

      

The best Macs to buy in 2017: Apple’s top iMacs, MacBooks and more

27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display - Best Mac 2016

Update: As we’ve recently refreshed our computing buying guide ranking methodology, we’ve rearranged our list in a new order that reflect not only the star rating of each of the best Macs, but their TechRadar award status as well.

Buying a new Mac isn’t as straightforward a decision as picking up the latest iPhone. Unlike with Apple’s mobile devices, Mac users tend to keep their systems up and running for years on end. With a wide variety of form factors and configurations to choose from, there’s a lot more to consider. Portability, power and design preferences are just a few on the shortlist.

While the Mac lineup is easily digestible, the options still feel endless. If you want a desktop, there’s the petite Mac mini, the all-in-one iMac and Mac Pro workstation to choose from. On the laptop front, you have the choice between the entry level MacBook Air, the 12-inch featherweight MacBook and the productivity-focused MacBook Pro.

Even if you gloss over the build-to-order options, there are dozens of possibilities ranging from $499 (about £325/AU$646) all the way up to $3,999 (about £2,610/AU$5,181). That said, every Mac – regardless of custom specs – ships with the latest Apple operating system, macOS Sierra, complete the now Touch Bar-supported GarageBand.

By no means should you buy a Mac on impulse. As you don’t want to be stuck with the wrong choice for the next five years, we’ve combed through every Apple logo-inscribed computer in order to help you find your perfect match. With two fingers on the trackpad, scroll with us as we dive in and find the best Mac for your needs.

If you want the big screen of an iMac with the precision of a Retina display then there’s only one iMac for you: the iMac with 5K Retina display. It comes with a choice of two quad-core Intel Core i5s at 3.3GHz and 3.5GHz respectively, a 1TB hard drive or Fusion Drive and it’s so pretty we want to marry it.

If you’re dropping more than a grand and a half on an iMac you might as well go the whole hog and get the faster, Fusion Drive-packing model, replete with a 5K Retina Display, 3.5GHz processor and Fusion Drive for £1,849 ($2,299).

For designers and video creators looking to make the move to ultra pixel-heavy content, the 5K iMac pairs an illustrious display with a heaping deal of screen real estate to boot. It may not have the expandability of a Mac Pro, but hey, at least you don’t have to worry about buying a separate monitor.

What’s next for the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display?

Apple is unlikely to change anything big on the 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display in 2017, making way for other models—like the MacBook Pro—to get the limelight. Nevertheless, with Microsoft’s Surface Studio catering to artists and designers with a full-on touchscreen, the iMac is starting to feel like yesterday’s news.

Read the full review: 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display - Best Mac 2016

If 27 inches is too much for you, Apple’s 21.5-inch 4K iMac is much smaller but bears an equally sharp display. It goes toe-to-toe with the 27-inch 5K iMac’s when it comes to pixel density, and it similarly supports the DCI P3 colour gamut allowing for accurate, vibrant colour.

The 4K iMac starts at £1,199 ($1,499) and can be upgraded with features such as a faster processor, more RAM and faster, more capacious storage.

It isn’t much more affordable than the entry-level 27-inch iMac once you’ve ramped up the configuration, so it’s worth bearing in mind whether spending the extra money would be worth getting hold of a larger display and much more powerful graphics capabilities.

If those aspects aren’t important, Apple’s smaller iMac is still a capable machine and features one of the best 4K screens around. And, if you don’t need an Ultra HD display, there’s a 1080p model as well.

What’s next for the 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina Display?

As with the 5K iMac, it’s highly unlikely that Apple will launch a new 4K model in 2017. Nevertheless, it will surely benefit from an upgrade to macOS Sierra 10.12 thanks to new features like Siri and Universal Clipboard.

Read the full review: 21.5-inch iMac with 4K Retina display

best mac

Apple’s 2015 MacBook refresh wasn’t for everyone and, despite being rosier and “goldier” than ever, that contention hasn’t changed with this year’s upgrade. While both models supplanted the MacBook Air as the lightest and smallest laptop, the extra portability came with compromises.

Most notably, Apple replaced the standard USB 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports with the brand-new USB-C protocol. While it’s cool that a single cable can now handle both power and all sorts of data transfer, Mac users who are used to plugging in a variety of devices may find themselves frustrated picking through the various hubs and adapters required to complete even the most basic tasks.

There’s also the keyboard. When the PowerBook debuted in 1991, Apple caused a stir by pushing the keys closer to the screen to create a natural palm rest and room for a trackball. Apple has attempted to change the game once again with the new MacBook, this time by re-engineering every key to be thinner and far less springy to the touch.

It feels quite a bit different than any other laptop we’ve ever used, so we recommend trying one at an Apple Store before making a decision. If those two concerns (and the loss of the glowing Apple logo) aren’t an issue for you, the MacBook is pretty great.

Even though its 1.1GHz, 1.2GHz dual-core or 1.3GHz Intel Core M processor has nowhere near the power of the Pro or even the Air, the laptop is more than capable of running iMovie, Photos, and even Photoshop with ease, much thanks to the smooth-as-butter macOS Sierra.

It’s also easy on the eyes with a stunning design that’s available in silver, space gray, gold in addition to a new rose gold finish, and it comes jam-packed with the latest in portable technology, from the 2304×1440 retina display to the Force Touch trackpad. An affordable $1,299 (£1,049/AU$1,799) gets you 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an improved 10-hour battery.

What’s next for the 12-inch MacBook?

This year’s MacBook model was the tock to last year’s tick, meaning it didn’t get quite the performance boost it deserved. Even with the welcome touch of an elegant new color option, the MacBook could undoubtedly benefit from a set of full-on Core i processors. Check out our 12-inch MacBook release date, news and rumors article for all of the latest updates on potential upcoming models.

For now, though, Apple has the iPad Pro, which weighs 1.57 pounds and measures 6.9mm thick, for those who don’t want the power of a Mac, meaning that the MacBook needs to be more powerful to remain attractive.

Because it runs iOS, though, the iPad Pro isn’t compatible with certain apps, namely legacy programs designed for macOS, meaning that there is still a market for a laptop that can also be transported easily.

Apple also has to consider the MacBook Air, which has a 13-inch screen and is aimed at professionals who are on-the-go but need a powerful laptop.

Read the full review: 12-inch MacBook

15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina

After an extensive wait period, we finally have the MacBook Pro overhaul we deserve. Complete with a thinner, sleeker design, a Space Gray color option and an OLED-backlit Touch Bar in place of the function keys, the late 2016 MacBook Pro isn’t quite the same notebook we’ve come to know and love. In due time, it may even be better.

While it’s pricier than what we’ve seen in the past, starting at $2,399 (about £1,970, AU$3,170), the revitalized MacBook Pro is still more affordable than the desktop tower that shares its surname. If you’re looking for more of a desktop replacement than a road companion, it’s definitely the way to go.

For almost $1,000 less, sure, you could treat yourself to the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, but then you’ll miss out on the Touch Bar as well as the added screen real estate. Plus, by default, the 15-inch MacBook Pro ships with an i7 processor and an AMD Radeon Pro 450 graphics processor – with four USB-C ports to boot.

There’s a lot to love about the 15-inch MacBook Pro, including 16GB of RAM, the option of up to 2TB of SSD storage space and a massive trackpad. Sure, you’ll be shelling out an extra wad of cash for this model, and the butterfly mechanism used in the keyboard isn’t exactly flawless, but it’s the best MacBook Pro money can buy, made better by cutting-edge tech.

The USB-C ports, for instance, are Thunderbolt 3 compatible, meaning you can transfer up to 40Gbps with a compatible device. Plus, at long last, you can use the MacBook Pro in conjunction with up to two 5K monitors, making it a suitable iMac stand-in too. You can even use any one of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports for charging since support for MagSafe adapters has finally been dropped.

Stacked with either a 2.6GHz or 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and a Retina 2880 x 1800 display, the MacBook Pro is a screamer whether you’re editing videos in Final Cut Pro or making music with Garageband.

Of course if you want the tricked out, built-to-order 2.9GHz MacBook Pro with all the specs maxed out, you can expect to pay – wait for it – $4,299 (about £3,540, AU$5,670). Ouch.

What’s next for the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

This year was all about playing catch-up to Microsoft’s Surface devices. While the MacBook Pro was the first laptop to get the Retina display in 2012, it’s continuing to cater to users who want a lot of power on-the-go.

The Skylake processors featured in the latest MacBook Pros make it possible to power two 5K screens at once, and while that’s everything we could have ever wanted from the MacBook Pro, the added Touch Bar needs some work.

Right now, it’s less of a superior alternative to touchscreens and more of a workaround to avoid adding touch support to macOS. Of course, this could all change given the proper support from app developers, but we’ll find out for certain over the next year.

Read our full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)

About a year and a half out from its 2015 variant, the late 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro was well worth the wait, though it comes with a handful of prominent changes. While a high-end configuration introduces an OLED Touch Bar to the mix, a standard MacBook Pro still remains for the manageable cost of $1,499 (£1,449, AU$2,199).

Even without the Touch Bar, though, the late 2016 MacBook Pro is a sight for sore eyes. It resembles the featherlight 12-inch MacBook, thanks to its sleeker exterior design and the notable absence of that glowing bright Apple logo we’ve all come to know and love. The non-Touch Bar models are equipped with just two USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 ports.

For those who value the look and feel of traditional function keys to the (currently unproven) gimmicks of the Touch Bar, this is the model for you. Of course, all of your older accessories will most likely require adapters to be used with the MacBook Pro’s quirky new inputs. Not to mention the “butterfly” mechanism featured in the MacBook Pro keyboard isn’t for everyone.

Nevertheless, on the inside, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a full set of 6th-gen Intel Core i5 processors, which can be swapped out for an i7 chip if you order from Apple’s website. All of this is complemented by up to a whopping 1TB of PCIe-based SSD storage, up to 16GB of RAM and a vivid Retina display that only Apple can deliver.

The MacBook Pro may be ill-equipped with a smaller range of ports this time around, but ultimately it’s the future-proof notebook we’ve been desperately craving to get Thunderbolt 3 on a roll.

What’s next for the 13-inch MacBook Pro?

Although the current MacBook Pro just came out not long ago, we’ve already begun to hear rumors develop about its successor. Next year, for instance, it’s been suggested that another hardware refresh is in the works and will sport up to 32GB of RAM in addition to a full-size OLED display.

At the same time, Apple was a bit late to the game when it came to Skylake. The 6th-generation processors featured in the latest MacBook Pro lineup will assuredly be outpaced by Kaby Lake in the coming months. The new CPU chips from Intel are not only more powerful, but also more energy efficient than those which came before them.

Lastly, while we’d like to see a proper touch panel on the next round of MacBooks, Apple doesn’t exactly sound fond of the idea. Competing head-on with Microsoft’s Surface lineup, according to Phil Schiller, would fragment the macOS ecosystem even further. So while we shouldn’t expect a touchscreen MacBook Pro, Apple can’t hold back forever, right?

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

13-inch MacBook Air - Best Mac 2016

The MacBook Air is in an interesting spot. While it’s still one of the most popular and well-known notebooks around, the launch of the slimmer, lighter 12-inch Retina MacBook has stolen some of its thunder, and we have to assume one of two things: either a major update is in the works, or it will soon be made obsolete by an expanding MacBook line.

We wouldn’t recommend going for the 11-inch MacBook Air, which is well past its sell-by date, but the MacBook Air will still give you all-day battery life, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt ports and an SDXC card slot. Not that you should need all those ports once USB-C gains traction.

Even without a Retina display or Force Touch trackpad, the 13-inch MacBook Air is a very capable machine, complete with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB flash drive.

Either model can be found for less than a grand, and with identical specs, choosing between the two sizes comes down to preference, with just $100 separating the $899 (£749/AU$1,249) 11-inch version and the $999 (£849/AU$1,399) 13-inch one.

What’s next for the MacBook Air?

The MacBook Air, which launched in 2008 and was then updated in 2010, is in need of a refresh—and while rumours have long suggested Apple was going to give it one, it seems as though it’s being phased out completely.

The Retina display, a branding term Apple gives to its highest-resolution displays, has not yet made it onto any of the Air models and the internals—which are currently made up of Intel’s Broadwell CPUs from 2014—undoubtedly need the Kaby Lake treatment.

The Air currently occupies an awkward, but necessary, spot in Apple’s lineup between the Pro—which is aimed at people who don’t need to use intensive applications like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro but do want to write or edit photos—and the MacBook, the less powerful option made for portability and longevity.

The Air is Apple’s best selling model, according to supply chain estimates, and continues to be the cheapest (and now only) way of getting a laptop with a glowing Apple logo on the back.

The company is evidently not obsessed with keeping it bang up-to-date. Notwithstanding, the 13-inch model is still available in its current state – albeit with double the RAM at 8GB – at the same entry-level cost.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

Mac mini - Best Mac 2016

The Mac Mini is Apple’s cheapest computer and has, for a long time, been its least powerful. Fortunately, Intel’s processor technology allows the desktop to be used for heavier tasks and Apple has brought the low-end model up to a decent specification.

The desktop is popular both because of its price—which undercuts the cheapest MacBook Air by $400—and its design, which is small, sleek, and simple.

The Mini comes in three variants: a $499 option with a dual-core i5 CPU, a spinning hard drive, and 4GB of RAM; a $699 option with a more powerful processor, an SSD, and 8GB of RAM; or a $999 model which is comparable to the iMac at the same price.

The top-of-the-line Mac mini bumps the processor up to 2.8GHz and adds a Fusion Drive in place of the 5400-rpm spinner, but at $999, we wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’re willing to spend over a thousand dollars on a desktop computer, you’ll be better served by moving up to an iMac. In the UK, the Mac mini runs from £399 to £799, while in Australia it starts at AU$699 and tops out at AU$1,399.

What’s next for the Mac mini?

The youngest Mac mini will celebrate its third birthday later this year, but Apple could be looking to update it so that its low-end users get a decent experience when running macOS, which became more graphically intense with macOS Sierra, the latest version.

A 2017 model would, while unlikely, include Intel’s Kaby Lake chips, yielding major performance improvements alongside other, newer internals, like faster and larger RAM and an SSD options for the low-end model.

Read the full review: Mac mini

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

      

10.5-inch iPad Pro rumored to be in the works for indecisive tablet scribblers

Can’t handle the 12.9-inch iPad Pro screen, but find the 9.7-inch model‘s dinky canvas too cramped for your creative vision? Then hold out just a little longer – rumor has it that Apple has a 10.5-inch version waiting in the wings.

That’s according to insider knowledge from Rhoda Alexander, Director Tablets and PCs, at IHS Markit, speaking to Forbes.

Sitting between the two current models on the market, the attraction to the 10.5-inch version will be the fact that, despite the extra screen real estate, it’ll actually be no bigger overall than the 9.7-inch edition.

Super-slim bezels

It’ll achieve this by shrinking down the device’s bezels even further than what Apple currently offers. However, this will change the device’s screen ration, according to DisplayMate Technologies’ Raymond Soneira. The iPad currently sits at a 1.33 ratio – the new design could shift that to as high 1.50.

This may necessitate different app builds to fill out the new screen shape, fragmenting Apple’s tablet app ecosystem. That’s something that Apple would be keen to avoid, which may rule out this rumor.

Still, it’s claimed that the mid-sized iPad Pro would still retain the range’s super-sharp pixel density by upping the resolution to 2,224 x 1,668.

A value-orientated iPad is also rumored, expected to come in at a lower price than the iPad Air 2. Which internals would be powering it are not currently clear, but it’s assumed they’d be an older generation in order to drive the price down.

The latest rumors point to a March reveal for the new iPad range, so we may not have long to wait to find out whether these whispers ring true.

      

Could the Windows 10 Creators Update make you dump Netflix and YouTube?

Microsoft continues to bolster Windows 10’s media-playing credentials with the news that it will be including the ability to play 360-degree videos through the Movies & TV app when the Creators Update launches later this year.

This new feature, which was spotted in a document that lists all the recent changes added to the Windows Insider program, states that users will be able to “get into the action with 360° videos – tilt or drag in any direction to look around. (Windows 10 Creators Update required)”.

So, you’ll be able to use your mouse to click and drag 360-degree videos to look around in an immersive entertainment experience. It also mentions tilting, which could refer to moving a Windows 10 tablet around to view the 360-degree footage. It could also hint at virtual reality support.

Media frenzy

Earlier this week we reported that Windows 10 is getting some neat new tricks for film and music lovers with the Windows 10 Creators Update, and that trend of boosting the media-playing credentials of Windows 10 looks set to continue with this latest news.

A ‘Trailer gallery’ is being added to the Movies & TV app that comes pre-installed on Windows 10, letting you view trailers of TV shows and movies available from the Windows Store (and keep up to date with upcoming releases which you can pre-order).

The whole process of renting and buying movies and TV shows through the Windows Store has also been made more user-friendly, with all the videos you’ve rented or bought now grouped together on one page, while exploring movies and TV shows is made easier with video suggestions based on what you’ve previously watched.

Microsoft appears to be keen to take on Amazon and Netflix with its streaming options, and YouTube and Facebook with its 360-degree video support.

Additional support for video files, such as MPEG-2, is also coming, so it looks like Microsoft wants to make its Movies & TV app the only place you’ll need to go when you fancy watching something. Will these additions be enough? We’ll find out when the Windows 10 Creators Update launches later this year.

Via MSPowerUser

      

Samsung Galaxy Books fire strong salvo at Surface Pro

At MWC 2017, Samsung confirmed the rumors of it building a super-premium, Windows 10 2-in-1 laptop in the vein of Surface Pro with the announcement of the Galaxy Book. A 12-inch 2-in-laptop with a Super AMOLED screen and Intel’s latest (Kaby Lake) Core i5 U series processor, the Galaxy Book is Samsung’s answer to Microsoft’s latest tablet hardware.

The Galaxy Book is essentially Samsung’s update to its Galaxy Tab Pro S of last year, which we enjoyed quite a bit. This version’s marquee feature, however, is a Samsung S-Pen – a Samsung first on Windows – that doesn’t need to charge.
Like Microsoft’s tablet, the Galaxy Book embodies a 3:2 screen aspect ratio at an FHD+ (2,160 x 1,440) resolution; matching the Surface Pro 3’s pixel count – not the latest version

Rounding out the spec sheet are up to 8GB of RAM and as much as 256GB of flash storage, all lasting for as long as 10 hours on a fast-charging battery. Oh, and this model does the Surface Pro 4 one better with two USB-C ports.

All of this comes in a 754g, 7.4mm-thin slate that can last up to 10.5 hours and sports fast charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Book will be available with up to 8GB of RAM (4GB starting) and as much as 256GB of storage (128GB starting).

Don’t forget the little guy

But wait, there’s more. Samsung also announced a 10.6-inch option, equipped with an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) with TFT technology, an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage (64GB starting) and a battery with fast charging that can last up to 10 hours.

You’ll enjoy USB-C as well as 802.11ac and optional LTE connectivity on both models, though the 12-incher holds a 13MP rear camera as well as the 10.6-incher’s sole 5MP webcam.

Better yet? Both models come with Samsung’s improved S-Pen and POGO keyboard cover with full-sized, backlit keys in the box (!!!)
Sadly, Samsung is still keeping mum on when these two Windows tablets will land or for how much. For that, you’ll have to stay tuned to TechRadar.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

      

Samsung and Staedtler are making an S-Pen that looks like a pencil

During its MWC 2017 keynote address, Samsung made a surprise announcement with famed pencil maker Staedtler. Can you guess what it is?

Naturally, the two companies are working together on an S-Pen designed specifically to work with Samsung’s latest Galaxy Book and Galaxy Tab S3 that looks and feels just like one of Staedtler’s number two Noris pencils.

For all intents and purposes, the stylus will operate like an S-Pen, with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Better yet, the gadget will work even when the tablets’ screens are off, enabling memo storage. Further still, the pencil-looking S-Pen will allow for digital annotation of PDFs as well as outlining screenshots.

Sadly, the two companies had nothing to say of neither when this adorably retro device would hit shelves nor how much it will cost.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

      

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