Broadband deals of the week: £25pm TalkTalk fibre and £100 cash card with Sky

Oh, you lucky blighter! This week we’re bringing you a dynamic duo of deals to snap up if your current internet contract is coming to an end. We couldn’t decide which one we liked best – so we decided to tell you about them both.

You can read about them in detail below, but the first is the return of TalkTalk’s cheapest fibre broadband price. It’s free to activate and a mere £25 a month guaranteed for the 12 or 18 months of the contract. And second is Sky’s attempt to wrestle your business its way – a £100 pre-paid MasterCard with any standard or fibre internet plan, which you can spend in-store or online.

TalkTalk Broadband deal of the week

TalkTalk Faster Fibre broadband | 12 or 18 months | Up to 38Mb | Line rental inc. | No TV | FREE upfront | £25pm
TalkTalk broadband seems to be growing more and more popular, and it’s easy to see why when prices are this good. And the monthly bill is guaranteed for the entire length of the contract, so you don’t have to worry about a hike halfway through. Do remember though – you can get a Vodafone broadband deal for the same price with a gift thrown in valued up to £199 RRP. Total cost of 12 months £300/18 months £450

View this TalkTalk broadband deal of the week

Sky Broadband deal of the week

Sky Broadband Unlimited | 12 months | Up to 17Mb | Line rental inc. | No TV | £19.95 upfront | £20pm
Sky’s standard internet doesn’t necessarily have the cheapest monthly cost (that honour goes to EE broadband at the moment), but the £100 MasterCard it’s offering makes it extremely tempting anyway. Line rental and unlimited data are included. You may feel put off by the twenty quid set-up, but that’s less than what the likes of BT broadband charges. Whichever way you spin it, this is a fantastic deal. Total cost of 12 months £259.95

View this Sky broadband deal of the week

£100 pre-paid Mastercard with Sky

If the £100 Mastercard is whetting your appetite for Sky broadband, it’s worth noting a few of the conditions. For example, it’s only available to new customers joining Sky Broadband for the first time. And you need to make sure that you claim it within 90 days of signing up. So if you’ve got a forgetful nature then it’s well worth popping in your diary! You have to use it within 12 months, too.

You can use the card anywhere that accepts Mastercard, with just a few exceptions – gambling, cash withdrawals, currency, cashback or at petrol stations.

Existing TalkTalk and Sky broadband customers

Sky states that its deal is for new Sky customers only. So if you already have Sky Broadband – or even if you have had it before – you won’t be able to snap up this offer. Head to our other best cheap broadband only deals instead.

The TalkTalk deal on the other hand, can be claimed by existing and previous punters. Existing customers need to sign a new contract to be eligible.

Today’s best broadband deals

If the above two deals aren’t quite doing it for you, then fear not – TechRadar will help you track down the ideal internet plan for you. If, for example, you were hoping to get one, big broadband and TV deal, then click the link for the best on the market. And for anything else, simply head to our main best broadband deals page and use the price comparison chart to bag a bargain.

      

Top 5 best OCR software (optical character recognition)

In all areas of business and administration, digitisation is a hard fact. If you fail to implement the latest digital strategies and technological solutions, you almost certainly risk falling behind the crowd. To survive, you have to put tech first. That’s why optical character recognition – or OCR software – has come to prominence.

Simply put, it is the process of turning images and electronic versions of handwritten, typed or printed documents into machine-encoded text. The idea is that when you’re dealing with physical documents, you have a way to digitise them.

There are a number of software packages out there that are capable of doing this, and they mainly aim to make typing up text easier. Normally, if you’re at a meeting and have to take down notes, you’d be expected to type it all into a Word document. Well, OCR makes these sort of tasks far easier and quicker. In this article, we’re going to highlight the best OCR solutions out there.

  • American software company Nuance has a number of useful applications for dealing with optical character recognition. OmniPage, the firm’s flagship program in this area, has been designed to make scanning documents to a local computer or network server quick and painless.

    The system is capable of handling high volumes of documents from multiple devices, document archiving and document conversion in cloud storage. As well as this, you can turn paper, forms, digital camera images and PDF files into fully editable, searchable and shareable electronic files.

    Nuance also offers a package called PaperPort Professional, which is aimed mainly at small businesses and sole traders. It offers you a productive and cost-effective way to scan, organise, find and share a mixture of documents, including paper, PDFs, legal documents and photographs.

    All in all, it’s a solution well worth considering for those with less expansive needs when it comes to OCR duties.

    Abbyy’s FineReader package has been designed to raise productivity levels within companies. The software wants to enhance the way you deal with documents, whether it’s extracting, editing, archiving or sharing items.

    FineReader is capable of turning scanned documents, PDFs and photos into editable text forms, including Microsoft Word, Excel and eBooks. As well as this, it aims to preserve all aspects of original documents, avoiding reformatting.

    The system can perfectly protect items such as headers, footers, footnotes, tables, graphs and charts. Documents open quickly too, and you don’t have to worry about images looking low-quality. FineReader automatically selects the best possible optimum image pre-processing tools.

    If you want to create PDF documents specifically, then it’s worth checking out Soda PDF. This software gives you the ability to turn pretty much any file into a PDF. In all, more than 300 file types are supported by the solution.

    Once you’ve created a PDF, you can do some other neat things. For instance, you can edit the contents of your documents, and you’re even able to create custom files and add annotations to existing PDFs. There’s a handy feature for sending and tracking contracts as well.

    You can download the software onto Mac and Windows computers, or if you’d prefer, there’s the option to use it within a browser. Soda PDF requires you to sign up for an annual subscription, but before making a purchase, you can test the software on free 30-day trial to see if it fits your needs.

    Adobe Acrobat is one of the most recognisable OCR software packages, although it’s placed at the higher-end of the market in terms of its cost. Of course, Acrobat is targeted at enterprises in particular, so it’s not likely to be cheap.

    It offers an easy-to-use interface and lets you export items to Microsoft Office documents quickly and accurately. Even though you can’t create your own eBooks using the software, you can generate PDFs, and you can also use it to sign and send important forms.

          

The best translation software of 2017

Technology has taken some major strides to break down language barriers in recent times, with translation software from giants such as Google and Microsoft employing some clever tricks.

Thanks to the likes of ‘neural machine translation‘ tech – the system Google has been trumpeting lately – the Babel Fish skills of these sort of apps have never been stronger. This had led to features like a camera mode – that’s where you simply point your phone camera at a sign to see an instant translation of the words on-screen.

But which are the very best apps in this category? That’s the question we’re answering here, and the good news is that the top performing apps are free (although some have in-app purchases, and one of the apps in this article has a paid-for pro version as well as a freebie offering).

Anyhow, without further ado, cast your eyes over this platter of top-notch apps, any of which could be a massive boon on your next holiday or business trip.

Google is a heavyweight when it comes to the translation game, with some serious technology powering its free Android and iOS apps. Recent advances in machine learning have meant that Google Translate is coming somewhere near the powers of a human translator, the company claims, with ‘neural machine translation’ tech now offering powerful translation chops from English to 30 other languages (initially only Chinese was supported).

The end result speaks for itself (ahem). Google Translate offers the ability to translate text to different languages (that you’ve typed in, or copied from an app using the handy ‘tap to translate’ feature), or you can use the split-screen ‘conversation mode’ to directly translate speech in order to converse with someone in a foreign language (32 languages are supported with this mode).

Even when you’re offline, the app is still capable of translating 52 languages. Perhaps one of the coolest features, though, is being able to use your camera to look at a sign or menu written in one of 30 languages, then have the app magically transform this into English with impressive accuracy.

Featuring high quality speech recognition and translation routines, this is a powerful, neat, free piece of software that you shouldn’t be without when it comes to translation duties and travel in general.

  • You can download Google Translate for Android or iOS

Microsoft’s rival translation app is free and supports over 60 different languages, with most of them (45) coming complete with spoken translations, so you can have the translation read out loud (and not just presented in text).

The app also boasts a split-screen mode which allows two individuals to hold a conversation in different languages, with their responses being translated to each other. And much like Google Translate, there’s a camera mode so you can decipher signs and menus (although this didn’t work quite as well for us as Google’s effort).

Microsoft Translator also facilitates translating conversations across multiple devices for group chats, a very nifty extra. The app further allows for downloading language packs so you can get translations when offline, and it offers a very impressive overall level of both speech recognition and translation accuracy.

The basic (free) iTranslate app offers a library of 92 languages and some impressive translation chops, along with wide platform support (with the mobile apps complemented by Windows and Mac software).

You can translate text or spoken words in any of those languages, and get the resulting translation spoken out loud (text-to-speech) in 42 of them. The software also keeps a full history of translations you’ve made, so you can refer back to them, and you can mark often-used phrases as favorites.

It can occasionally be a little glitchy when processing spoken words, taking a little time to do so, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Also note that the app is ad supported, and will pop up an advert every now and then.

You’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version of iTranslate in order to benefit from the convenience of real-time voice conversations, and with this you also get an offline mode, along with verb conjugations (and of course the adverts are banished).

The paid app will set you back £4.99 ($6.50) per month, although there is a free trial to give it a spin first. Also note that iTranslate usually has deals running, and at the time of writing we were offered a year’s subscription for the cheaper rate of £3.33 ($4.30) per month.

This free app is a little different because alongside its core translation capabilities it provides a broad umbrella of useful features for those travelling abroad. TripLingo supports voice translation across 23 languages, with a simple instant translation system that allows for two participants to have a conversation with their responses spoken out loud. It’s fairly accurate, and further languages are supported with text output only.

You also get an Image Translator in the same vein as Google and Microsoft’s camera efforts whereby you snap a picture of a sign or menu, then get a translation. In this case, you don’t get an on-screen translation, rather it’s supplied in the form of simple text. It isn’t quite as good as the aforementioned big two, but it does the job.

However, the real major bonus here is the huge amount of stuff you get on top of this, including a full phrasebook, a breakdown of essential phrases (including slang), flashcards and other basic language learning material, along with cultural information like etiquette and travel tips. There’s even safety information provided such as emergency service numbers and contact details of embassies. Note that all these extras are only supported for 13 languages.

All this goes to form a really well-rounded translation and travel app which is worth considering simply because of all the additional elements on board. If you get really stuck language barrier-wise, this app also has a novel live translation capability powered by a human staff member – although it costs to use this functionality (this is one of several in-app purchase options for those who don’t mind forking out a bit of cash).

If you want a very simple yet powerful translation app, look no further than SayHi. The software is free and supports 46 languages, and it couldn’t be easier to use.

You select two languages, press the mic button, dictate a sentence and then it’s automatically translated (and in the majority of cases read out loud – most languages have text-to-speech support). The person you’re conversing with can then do the same thing in their language, with the conversation tracked in a simple chat view.

Translations are nicely accurate and there are several nifty features here, including the ability to select different dialects of, say, Spanish or Arabic (if you include these different dialects, 90 languages are supported in total). You can also choose to have a female or male voice when it comes to the app’s speech, and slow down the talking speed of that voice for better clarity if needed.

But there are no other options beyond these. The idea is to keep things simple, and this certainly works for those who want a streamlined app to facilitate conversations across a good number of languages. The app is available for iOS and also Android, but note for the latter you’ll need to install via Amazon Underground (because the app isn’t on the Play Store, but rather it’s part of Amazon’s Android app offerings).

      

Really bad movies you shouldn’t be streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

Welcome to Not On My Watch, the only place to get your weekly fix of truly terrible movies that are streaming on Amazon and Netflix right now.

As we are now onto our ninth edition, it felt right to do something to celebrate – and what better way than doing a whole article on freakin’ ninjas?

Ninjas, they’re cool right? I mean, throw a ninja into a movie and it’s a recipe to print money. The thing is, ninjas were kind of dicks. They were the scrawny underclass of feudal japan, not perceived as being of a good enough ilk to be samurai, and turned to covert warfare to do their damage. Sure they looked awesome but their modern day equivalent is a teenage hoodie giving you a slap from behind and riding off on their stolen moped.

That hasn’t stopped Hollywood and, more importantly, b-movie makers from liberally usimg ninjas in their oeuvre. And one actor who keeps cropping up in these movies is none other than Richard Harrison.

Between 1986 and 1988 Harrison made 20 movies with ninja in the title. Yes, 20. They include such gems as: Ninja Operation: Licensed to Terminate, Ninja Powerforce, The Ninja Showdown, Cobra Vs Ninja… he truly is the granddaddy of Ninja-based shenanigans which is why three of the following movies are dedicated to him.

If Harrison is the master, then Michael Dudikoff is his apprentice. He is the star of the American Ninja franchise. Our pick for the one you shouldn’t ever watch but kind of really should is the second one, which has one of the most underwhelming taglines in movie history…

Enjoy/Endure – delete as appropriate.

1. American Ninja 2 The Confrontation

The Premise: Private Joe T Armstrong is a ninja, an American one, who has to confront a load of other ninjas on an army base in the Philippines.

After the blinding success of American Ninja (seriously, it made over $10 million which in b-movie land is big bucks) its makers had something of a quandary. What do we call the second movie? I mean, they couldn’t just call it American Ninja 2, that would be too easy. They needed something bigger, a tagline that didn’t just encapsulate the epic-ness of a movie about elite ninja assassins, but one that at the same time summed up exactly what was going on in the film.

And with that, American Ninja 2: The Confrontation was born. Nailed it.

Many of the ‘confrontations’ in American Ninja 2 take place on a beach, with the ninjas in question oiled up with sunscreen and wearing bermuda shorts. When they aren’t sunning themselves the rest of the movie plays out like a buddy cop drama – but more like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s take on Lethal Weapon than Lethal Weapon.

Also, for a movie set predominantly on an American airbase there’s a lot of ninjas about. They’re bloody everywhere, confronting people left, right and center.

2. Ninja Terminator

The Premise: Ninja master Harry is in search of a mystical statue that will give him superpowers so he can fight some ninjas and cut up watermelons.

Well, I like terminators and I like ninjas – despite me ripping into them in the intro – so a film called Terminator Ninja seems ideal, I’ll just pop it on the old TV and ‘oh, my god what the hell am I watching?!’

That was pretty much my reaction to watching Terminator Ninja, a movie that is hands-down one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen. It’s a bad movie, really bad. But it’s also so compelling. I don’t really know how to describe the movie, so forgive the stream of conscience writing but here we go:

Richard Harrison is Ninja master Harry (obviously) who trains for his fights by slicing up melons with samurai swords. He is the only person who can get back the golden ninja warrior statue that gives whoever owns it special powers. Ninja master Harry spends most of the movie cutting up watermelons, wearing guyliner, and speaking to someone over increasingly over the top phones. Seriously, there’s one bit where Ninja master Harry has a serious conversation with someone on a Garfield shaped phone. Ninja master Harry then puts down the Garfield shaped phone just so he can slice up a watermelon. Ninja master Harry is the original fruit ninja and it’s an amazing watch. Ninja master Harry is no ordinary ninja, either – instead of wearing all black, he wears a camouflage ninja robe, even though he never actual goes anywhere near any foliage to camouflage himself against which means his camouflage ninja robe makes him stand out more. And when he – spoiler – does eventually get the golden ninja warrior statue he gains special powers (essentially disappearing in smoke) that set him up for the big end fight.

I rarely say this in Not On My Watch but please watch this film. It’s utterly, majestically bonkers.

3. The Ninja Squad

The Premise: Ninja Master Harry is no more! Long live Ninja Master Gordon! He stars in this ludicrous move about two rival gangs, the Furious Fox and the Black Eagle, looking to take over the world.

Oh, dear. Where Ninja Terminator was actually good bad, this is bad bad. The Ninja Squad seems to have the only ninjas in the world where they feel the need to wear day-glow shell suits instead of black robes. And if that’s not conspicuous enough they have headbands saying NINJA on them. Let that just sink in for a second.

And that’s not the most ludicrous part of this movie. For a start, there’s not much fighting but a lot of prancing around and the fact this is almost certainly an old movie spliced together with some new footage shot in ’80s America doesn’t do it any favors either.

4. Ninja Dragon

The Premise: Something about ninjas and gangsters, all wrapped in the worst dubbing ever committed to film.

Ninja Dragon is yet again another cut-and-shut job of a movie. I’m getting the feeling that even though Richard Harrison made over 20 ninja films over two years, the filmmakers actually only had him in a room for one day, gave him a load of costumes together and then said: ‘don’t worry Richard, we’ll fix the rest in post’. Ninja Master Gordon is back and this time he’s been spliced into a 1930s Chinese gangster movie. While everyone else wears nifty pinstripe suits he parades around either half naked or in his camouflage ninja robe last seen in Ninja Terminator. Hang on, isn’t that end fight the same one that’s in Ninja Terminator? I think it is. I don’t know what’s real anymore.

Not even Ninja Master Gordon can save me now.

More bad movies you shouldn’t be watching

Marc Chacksfield is a former film journalist (and TechRadar’s global managing editor) who is already regretting agreeing to watch terrible movies for the sake of his column Not On My Watch.

      

Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop now available in India

Acer today launched its latest gaming laptop in India, the Predator Helios 300. Expanding its Predator series of gaming laptops in India, the Predator Helios 300 starts at a price of Rs. 1,29,999. It is already available for purchase exclusively on Flipkart, the company revealed.

Unveiled earlier this year in an event in New York, the Predator Helios 300 series of gaming laptops come in a matte black chassis. While the Helios 300 was launched in two display variants – 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch, it is available in the 15.6-inch size in India. The display comes with a Full HD resolution.

Powering the Predator Helios 300 is a seventh generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor. The graphics duties are handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or 1050Ti. The gaming laptop comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM which can be expanded up to 32GB. It also comes with a 256GB SSD and 1TB hard disk drive.

For an enhanced experience, Acer has included its PredatorSense software that lets you overclock and provides real-time system information. Additionally, the Predator Helios 300 also features AeroBlade 3D fan to help the laptop run at optimal temperatures.

Acer has also included Dolby Audio Premium and Acer TrueHarmony for an immersive audio experience. The laptop also comes with an iron red backlit keyboard to help gamers hit the right keys.

Connectivity options on the Predator Helios 300 include a USB 3.1 Type-C port, a USB 3.0 port with power-off USB charging, two USB 2.0 ports and a HDMI 2.0 port. It also includes 2×2 Wi-Fi ac and a Gigabit ethernet port for fast connectivity.

The Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop starts at a price of Rs. 1,29,999 for the Core i5 version and Rs. 1,49,999 for the Core i7 version. It is now available for purchase exclusively from Flipkart.

      

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