Best dating apps: straight, gay or bi, find love whatever your orientation

Once upon a time, dating apps were the last resort on the hunt for love and something of a shameful secret. Fast-forward to 2017 and if you’re young, free and single it’s kind of strange if you don’t have the Tinder app snuggled up between Uber and Deliveroo.

But as dating apps have risen in popularity, so has the demand for better experiences, more apps and added diversity. So before you go on another swiping spree, take a look at our pick of the best dating apps – catering to a wide range of preferences and orientations.

It’s worth mentioning that we didn’t just scour through app ratings to come up with this list, we also asked a wide range of dating app guinea pigs, from those who used them once and found a soulmate to those who use them regularly for relationships to flings.

Whatever your preferences, check out our selection of the best dating apps.

  • Free
  • iOS, Android
  • Straight, gay, bisexual, other

It’s hard to stand out in the era of Tinder, which is why OKCupid has turned its attention to matching people up on a ‘deeper level’.

By answering questions and filling out your profile, the app’s algorithm will suggest people who share your interests in the hope you’ll build more genuine connections, which you can easily see from a ‘compatibility’ score next to other users. You can also link up your Instagram account if you think it gives potential dates a better idea of what you’re all about.

Nick said: “The OKCupid dates I went on were often the most interesting, with people I could genuinely chat to.”

The app is free and, unless you use its ‘quickmatch’ Tinder-style feature, it’s all about browsing lots of profiles and breaking the ice with a message. But this focus on messages isn’t always good news.

Sarah said: “The fact you can easily message for free comes with the downside that you might get a fair few unwanted messages.”

  • Free
  • iOS (Android coming soon)
  • Straight, gay, bisexual, other

Now is, as you can maybe guess, all about meeting up right now. For some that might sound romantic. For those that like to plan, it’s panic-inducing.

Once you’ve signed up, you select a time window when you’re free and then choose what you’d like to do, like ‘coffee’ or ‘drink’ or ‘entertainment’. This immediacy is refreshing in the murky world of ‘will we ever meet or just awkwardly flirt for weeks before getting bored?’ online dating woes.

Dating blogger Paul Thomas Bell told us: “I did a lot of research into online dating and Now is the solution to what I found to be the single biggest complaint of women on Tinder – no more pen pals.”

But it turns out that an app designed for instant dating gratification doesn’t always attract those looking for a long-term partner.

Louise said: “It could just be because of the area I live in, but in my experience most of the guys on Now are only after one thing right now, and it isn’t romance or a coffee…”

Ahh Tinder. It’s been blamed for everything, from the rise of STDs and breeding promiscuity to global warming (okay, we’re making that last one up). But no matter who you ask, it seems to have become synonymous with casual dating and hookups rather than those looking for long-term love.

It’s ideal if you’re looking for something not so serious, but that’s not to say you won’t find a more long-term partner. After all, we’ve all got a friend-of-a-friend who married someone they met on Tinder, right? Unless we’re all just referring to the same couple…

The premise is simple. You’re shown someone’s photo. If you like it, swipe right. If you don’t, swipe left. And then repeat a couple of thousand times. If you’ve swiped right on someone and they’re swiped right on you as well, you’ll be notified and can begin messaging one another.

Hayley Minn told us: “I used to love it, it’s so easy to use and fun, but it now feels like a game more than anything and I’ve never had a date lead to anything serious.”

Despite the fact it seems to be losing its edge, we included it because it’s still popular, and the large user numbers mean the more chance of dates.

Louise said: “I’m sick of it, but most people are on it. And I’ve had a few good, well, mediocre, dates.”

In many ways, the Bumble experience is pretty much identical to the Tinder style of swiping, but rather than either party making the first move, it’s up to the girl to say something witty and impressive first within a day.

For many women that we chatted to, this was a breath of fresh air in the often seedy and overwhelming world of online dating and cringe-worthy first messages.

Hayley told us: “I LOVE it! The woman speaks first, and it means guys are way more likely to speak to you if you’re not just one of many.”

It also seems that the higher quality experience and focus on women being in control attracts a slightly better standard of men.

Louise told us: “The men are better, looks and personality.”

Paul agreed: “It’s Tinder, but better.”

Calling itself “the relationship app”, Hinge is aimed at those who are tired of Tinder, or just have really sore thumbs from all the swiping.

You’re prompted to ask a series of questions, but you can choose which you answer. The idea is you can build an authentic picture of yourself, with answers, photos, details about what you’re reading or listening to and even video. So you’re more likely to find someone with genuine shared interests, rather than just a nice face.

The biggest difference is there’s no ‘hot or not?’ style swiping. You can like someone’s activities and photos, which reminds us more of Facebook-style interactions, but packaged up within a dating app.

Does this all sound a bit too good to be true? That’s maybe because it is.

Sarah said: “Hinge definitely sounds good in theory. But I haven’t had a date through it yet. I’m trying to stay patient and positive, but I think the instant buzz of Tinder might have ruined me.”

Plenty of Fish is another app that allows you to create a profile, answer questions or just upload your favorite selfies. It’s got a large user-base and when it comes to success rates, it really divides opinion. The huge choice of, erm, fish, tend to mean there are a few long-term love stories and lots of “okay I guess” dating anecdotes.

Louise said: “It’s a totally mixed bag. Be ready to hunt for people through the droves and droves. I’ve had a few fun dates through it, you just have to put the time in to weed through the rubbish.”

Paul said: “All I ever hear from men is that women never reply, and all I ever hear from women is that they get too many messages.”

That said, we know personally of one real world couple that are now married having met through Plenty of Fish, so love can be found here!

Match.com is another older dating website that’s evolved over the years to become one of the most popular apps. The profiles are detailed (if people fill them in), which means you can find out more about someone before you speak to them, and location-based searching means you’re shown people who live or work nearby.

One of the most interesting developments to Match.com’s proposition is group dating events, which sound weird but could set it apart from the rest.

Paul said: “I love that match are evolving by introducing dating events. They have the potential to be the future of dating and it’s nice to see one of the top online companies acknowledging that, without losing their original identity.”

If you’re serious about finding long-term love as a gay man, Chappy may well be the best app option on the market. Built from an idea by Made In Chelsea’s Ollie Locke (stick with us…) it’s a respectful community with a higher quality user than some of the sleazier apps.

Letting you choose between “Mr Right” and “Mr Right Now” it’s fun and playful if you’re in the mood for some quick company, while offering a bit more depth for those looking for a bit more.

According to Basil it’s greatest feature is “a slider at the top, where you can indicate what you’re after, so only like-minded guys will populate your feed,” but the app experience “from that point onwards, is basically Tinder.”

Another app, another promise to provide more meaningful connections. Meet Coffee Meets Bagel. Ladies, you’ll be served up a Bagel (that’s what the app calls men) each day at noon, which are only the Bagels (or… erm… men?) that have already liked you. The idea is it’ll cut out time wasting and lead to a greater chance of a connection.

The app also has a recently launched premium feature, which serves up more information about your matches, like how likely they are to reply to you.

It’s another idea that sounds good, but does it really work? We’re yet to find anyone who has found what they’re looking for through the app.

Louise told us: “It’s a great idea and I like the fact I don’t have to sit alone in an evening and swipe for hours, but I haven’t had a date through it yet.”

Paul said: “I like it but I’m not yet convinced. It hasn’t captured my imagination quite yet but I do hope they prove me wrong as it has some really good elements to it.”

After a hairy hookup? Scruff takes the basic dating app experience, and tailors it to gay guys looking for burly, furry men, also known as bears, polar bears, cubs and otters.

Scruff quotes over 12 million worldwide users, and has recently expanded into AirBnB style travel accommodation, with a gay-friendly slant, also letting you know if fellow travellers from out of town are looking for some company. Paid tiers unlock additional features for committed users, but the free experience is worthy of inclusion here.

Basil enjoyed the “instant messaging, whether you’ve been highlighted for a positive match or not. It means there’s not instant rejection, but be ready for unsolicited messages too.” He encouraged using the private gallery feature to have more meaningful interactions with would-be dates.

Do you ever daydream that you’ll experience a romantic movie moment when you lock eyes with someone and then you’re together for all of eternity? But then you glance at someone in the street in real life and instantly look away again because you’re shy and awkward and not a fictional character? Well, Happn wants to try and resolve that and turn every walk down the street into a dreamy chance to find love.

You fill in your details like you would with any other app, but then your phone’s location smarts kick in and you’re shown people who are nearby. Whether that means they live near you, work near you, have the same Sunday morning routine, or anything else.

Nick said: “I met a lot of great people through this app. You’re bound to have similar lives if they keep showing up near you. Plus, it takes the pressure off because you’re already in each other’s proximity – you can easily go for a drink.”

But there are drawbacks to the “find people nearby” USP.

Nick continued: “The problem is, if you go on a bad date, you’ll see the same person again and again.”

Hayley said: “I used to love this. But then it keeps bringing up the same people over and over if you’re doing the same commute everyday as other people.”

  • Free
  • iOS
  • Straight

Taste Buds wants to connect you up with people who share your music interests, which is why it calls itself “Tinder for music lovers”, as if everyone on Tinder doesn’t love music?

If someone’s music tastes are a dealbreaker, this app will weed out anyone who isn’t destined to sit and listen to your favourite artists with you.

Paul said: “It’s a really nice idea. But I’m not sure if it has any longevity. I hope I’m proven wrong, as it’s quite innovative.”

Formerly called Dattch, Her claims it’s the “most popular lesbian app” and that’s hardly a surprise considering its fresh approach to connecting people. It’s mostly about dating with its “Meet” tab, with a bit of platonic social networking thrown in for good measure via its Facebook-like “Feed” area.

To set up a profile you answer some simple questions and then sync it up with your Facebook account. A lot of the people on the app say that’s REALLY appealing because it stops men from seeking out lesbian and queer people in an attempt to chat them up and somehow change their orientation… Yeah, it makes no sense to us either, but its an all-too-common problem on some of the more straight-focused dating apps. But Her puts a stop to it before you’ve even signed up. Phew.

It doesn’t just cater for lesbians – the app is for lesbian, bi, pansexual, trans and queer people, too. It just makes a big deal of its “most popular lesbian app” creds in its marketing materials.

Have you ever been texting someone lovely or on a great date with someone to then find out the next time you meet that you’ve got absolutely zilch in common? Sure some people can build relationships from differing interests, but it’s often easier if you have at least one hobby to share.

That’s why Sweatt seems like a kinda silly, kinda great idea. It’s essentially like Tinder, but for those who love fitness and working out. The aim is you’ll find someone who loves exercise just as much as you do so you can become one of those cringe-worthy couples who lifts weights together or does complicated acrobatic yoga poses and then posts them to Instagram.

Like Tinder, Sweatt isn’t interested in getting you to fill out lengthy questionnaires, instead profiles are simple. This is great for those who are pushed for time, but it does mean it’s likely your matches will be based solely on how you both look – a fact some will love and others will hate.

Also like Tinder, you can search through potential matches by swiping and if you both like each other you’re matched and can begin the cat and mouse game. Except in this case the mouse loves running and the cat is so toned it looks like it’s been moulded from clay.

      

The best free anti-ransomware software 2017

If you’re unlucky enough to fall victim to ransomware attack, your first instinct might be to reach for your wallet to save your files, but it’s better to stay calm and look for an alternative solution. Many of the big names in PC security provides tools that will release your PC from ransomware and don’t charge for the privilege. There are also dedicated tools to prevent programs that behaves like known ransomware from running on your PC at all.

Before you get started, it’s useful to recognize that there are two main types of ransomware: the kind that encrypts your files and threatens to delete them unless you pay a fee (like WannaCry), and the kind that locks you out completely by preventing you reaching your desktop. Thankfully, there are free tools to combat both types.

If you haven’t yet fallen victim to a ransomware attack and want to protect your PC proactively, consider a dedicated prevention tool like ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware, which uses behavioral analysis to identify processes that act like ransomware – even if it’s not yet a specific known threat – and automatically backs up your files if it detects anything. It carries a subscription fee, so we haven’t included it in our main roundup, but $1.99 per month for one PC is a modest fee compared to the ransoms charged by criminals.

Not all ransomware encrypts data in the same way, so security software providers have to create specific solutions as new threats emerge. At the time of writing, the security experts at Avast have developed Free Ransomware Decryption Tools to tackle 21 different strains of file-locking ransomware.

To help you work out which one you need, Avast has provided a detailed description of how each form of ransomware works, what extension you’ll see on the encrypted files, and an example of the type of message the virus creators have prepared for their victims.

Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate tool, it will guide you through the process of wiping out the ransomware without paying the criminals. You’ll need to provide two versions of the same file – an encrypted one, and the original.

This will be easiest if you made a backup before the infection, but Avast also suggests locations where you might be able to find unaffected original files. The tool will then compare the two and use the results to determine the password.

Download here: Avast Free Ransomware Decryption Tools

Trend Micro Ransomware File Decryptor is updated regularly with new ransomware definitions, and at the time of writing it can release files locked by 27 different types of ransomware and their variants.

Unlike Avast, Trend Micro bundles all its decryption tools into one bundle, but you still need to tell it what form of ransomware it’s dealing with. Trend Micro’s site provides information to help you identify your particular infection, plus contact details for its technical support department if you’re not sure.

Once that’s done, provide a sample file for the Decryptor to analyze, and it will get to work. Decryption can take anything from a couple of minutes to several hours, depending on the type of encryption used.

The File Decryptor Tool isn’t perfect – some forms of ransomware are particularly tricky, and can only be partially decrypted – but the company is constantly working to improve it, and it’s an excellent tool for use in an emergency.

Download here: Trend Micro Ransomware File Decryptor Tool

There are two Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tools – one for PCs that are locked so you can’t log into Normal Mode, but you can access Safe Mode with Networking via the BIOS menu, and another for situations where both mode are blocked.

The first of these can be downloaded directly on the affected PC in Safe Mode with Networking. Once it’s installed, reboot the PC into Normal Mode (with the locked screen) and tap [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[T]+[I] to scan for ransomware and remove it,

The other version of the tool has to be downloaded using an uninfected computer and saved to a USB stick. You can then use to boot the locked machine. Once initiated, the unlocker will perform a scan, then remove any ransomware it detects, releasing your PC.

Like Trend Micro’s File Decryptor, the two versions of Screen Unlocker benefit from regular updates to combat new forms of ransomware.

Download here: Trend Micro Ransomware Screen Unlocker Tools

There are lots of superb free antivirus programs around, but not all offer dedicated protection against ransomware. If your you’re concerned about the risk, Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware is a handy supplemental security tool that runs alongside your usual security software to protect against some of the most common forms of ransomware and their offshoots.

Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware currently protects against VTB-Locker, Locky, Petya and TeslaCrypt, and starts defending your PC from these threats immediately. However, it’s only a preventative measure; if your computer has already been infected with one of these malicious programs, you’ll need to use one of the tools mentioned above instead.

If you currently use Bitdefender Antivirus, the Anti-Ransomware module is already installed.

Download here: Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware

Ransomware on your home computer is bad enough, but an infection that locks you out of your business PCs could be an absolute disaster. Your accounts, customer data, client information and work could all be encrypted – and it could affect multiple machines on the same network.

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business is designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) protect their data from such a catastrophe. Like Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware, it’s a preventative tool designed to prevent infection in the first place rather than decrypt files or unlock your desktop.

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool runs happily alongside your regular security suite, monitoring network activity for anything that matches known ransomware behavior. Its threat database is stored on Kaspersky’s cloud servers, so updates are pushed out to all users immediately

Download here: Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool for Business

      

Could Microsoft kill off the Surface in 2019?

Microsoft will stop making Surface hardware when 2019 rolls around, at least according to the head of one analyst firm, and a big cheese exec at Lenovo.

This claim emerged at the Canalys Channels Forum, where the chief executive of analyst company Canalys, Steve Brazier, noted that Microsoft had a lot of cost-cutting to do when it came to balancing the books, and that the “Surface will be the first target”.

As the Register reports, Brazier noted that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is a ‘cloud and software guy’, and that Microsoft’s convertible notebooks would go the same way as its smartphones.

Brazier observed: “The Surface performance is choppy; there are good quarters and bad quarters, overall they are not making money. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in this business.”

He further added that bean counters and the denizens of Wall Street will question why Nadella has forged a path into a low-margin business here.

Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and COO at Lenovo, not only agreed with Brazier’s assessment, but felt Microsoft could shutter the Surface business even earlier than the year after next.

Lanci commented on the alleged impending shutdown: “It might be earlier [than 2019]. Microsoft is making a lot of money on cloud, making a lot of money on Windows and Office, but losing a lot of money on devices. And frankly speaking, it is difficult to see why they should keep losing money.”

Looking beneath the Surface

So, what to make of this? Surface hybrids have always had their ups and downs – ever since Microsoft launched the first device back in 2012, which was hampered by its high price and operating system (Windows RT) – and the premium price tag is something which has never gone away.

In recent times, we’ve seen a dip in Surface revenue, which was down 2% in Microsoft’s last reported fiscal quarter, and dropped a far more worrying 26% year-on-year in the previous quarter.

Although that contrasts markedly with last year when sales became stronger, and indeed Microsoft was claiming its ‘best sales to consumers ever‘ at the close of 2016.

It’s a variable sales picture, that much is clear, although part of the reason for the drop certainly throughout the earlier part of this year might simply be the fact that a refresh had been due for so long (and it finally went on sale in June).

But even if Surface isn’t making any money overall as Brazier claims, the line of hybrids isn’t just about filling the coffers. Indeed breaking even could be just fine, because the Surface products can be viewed not as a financial investment, but rather an investment in reputation.

The idea has always been that Surface is there to show hardware partners what can be done with Windows devices, and to blaze a trail for the hybrid concept with Microsoft’s OS. Something it has done very ably – just look at our review of the latest Surface Pro, which is a very slickly designed piece of kit.

Admitting defeat?

Also consider that to do away with the Surface line would be an admission of defeat when it comes to Windows hardware, and that’s certainly not a step Microsoft would want to take – a failure in the laptop arena, following a disaster with smartphone hardware in missing the mobile boat?

Microsoft also appears to be trying to follow the Apple model with its retail stores, and is expanding on this front, with plans just revealed to open the first UK bricks-and-mortar outlet in London (next door to Apple, in fact). And of course, Microsoft needs some hardware to showcase in these shops.

So you can talk about the cost of Surface hardware, but if the hybrids were canned, that’s a lot of reputational fallout to be dealing with – an equally damaging cost which might not hurt the coffers, but will potentially put a big dent in the Microsoft brand.

These are all reasons why it seems a little unlikely to be talking about the demise of Surface devices as soon as the year after next, even if Microsoft’s clear focus is on cloud and software, where the real money is generated.

Maybe we’re missing something in the big fiscal picture at Microsoft, which Brazier has his finger on the pulse of, but only time will tell.

The Surface Book being killed off in the near-ish future, on the other hand, is something that we can envision, given that this is a highly niche part of the hybrid range. And we seem to have waited forever for the Surface Book 2

  • One of Microsoft’s Surface devices is on our best laptops list

      

Lenovo celebrates 25 years of the ThinkPad with retro-themed ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25

At an exclusive event at the Yamato Labs in Yokohama, Japan, which TechRadar attended, Lenovo marked the 25th anniversary of the announcement of the original ThinkPad 700C by revealing the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25, a retro-themed limited edition ThinkPad that takes a number of design cues from the original.

The classic design includes nods to iconic features, such as the ThinkPad Classic keyboard, dedicated volume buttons, multiple status LEDs and multicolor logo.

Not many brands in the computing world could play on its legacy in this way (in a similar fashion to how Nintendo released the NES Mini and SNES Mini retro consoles), and Lenovo is clearly relishing this chance.

The official announcement of the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 in Japan

Modern specifications

While the outside of the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 has a decidedly old school feel about it, on the inside this is a thoroughly modern device, coming with an Intel Core i7-7500U processor and Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card.

It also features a 14-inch full high definition display, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD storage and runs Windows 10 Pro.

These specs are quite a bit different from the ThinkPad 700C, which was announced on October 5 1992, and came with a 25MHz 486 SLC processor, 4MB DRAM, and a 10.4-inch 640×480 screen. It originally shipped with either MS-DOS 5.0 or OS/2 2.0, though later versions came with Windows 3.1.

The original ThinkPad

The ThinkPad 700C was designed by Richard Sapper, based on traditional Japanese bento boxes, and was engineered in the Yamoto Labs in Japan.

Since then, there have been 130 million sales of ThinkPad devices, with Lenovo acquiring the division and brand from IBM in 2005. Most ThinkPad devices retain design elements of previous models, such as the black chassis and red TrackPoint pointer.

“ThinkPad design creates a powerful and synergistic relationship between form and function. It balances sophisticated aesthetics, thoughtfully crafted user experiences and renowned engineering in order to deliver superior products,” said David Hill, former Chief Design Officer, Lenovo.

The ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 will be available to buy from today, for $1899 (around £1400, AU$2400), but numbers are likely to be very limited.

Keep an eye out for further features about our time with Lenovo for the 25th anniversary of the ThinkPad, including exclusive interviews about the past, and future, of ThinkPad with some of the people behind the iconic machine.

      

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is now set in stone ahead of release

Microsoft has pushed out a new preview build for Windows 10, which marks the transition of the Fall Creators Update to being set in stone, ahead of its rollout in two weeks.

The company has released Windows Insider build 16299.15 to the Fast Ring last night, which is, as Winsupersite reports, essentially the same as version 16299. Very minor changes, like removing the watermark on the desktop, and the lack of a build expiration date, are about its only differentiators.

Going forward, Dona Sarkar (head of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft) noted that this build will be serviced via cumulative updates delivered by Windows Update, and there won’t be any more new builds delivered (just tweaks to this one).

Ready then, Microsoft?

As everything is now finished, this is, effectively, what’s known as the RTM (release to manufacturing – the final build vendors can preinstall on hardware) version of the Fall Creators Update, all but for the fact that Microsoft hasn’t officially announced that just yet.

With the Fall Creators Update now finalized, all that’ll be coming down the cumulative update pipeline will be bug fixes – and hopefully not too many of them at this point.

As mentioned, the Fall Creators Update is unleashed on October 17, and testers will be shifted over to Redstone 4, the next major upgrade in the pipeline due to release next year.

      

Yahoo now claims all 3 billion accounts were affected in 2013 data breach

Remember the news about the big Yahoo data breach last year? More importantly, remember wondering if your data was affected? As it turns out, yes, merely having an account back then meant your information ended up in the hands of the perpetrators.

Back then, Yahoo thought “only” 1 billion people were affected (up from initial reports of 500 million). But today the beleaguered company released a disclosure notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting the discovery of new evidence proving that the breach extended to every one of the 3 billion accounts registered at the time.

The SEC is a federal agency that protects investors and helps ensure fair business practices.

Yahoo discovered the new evidence during the ongoing process of merging with AOL to create the new company, Oath, following its full acquisition by Verizon earlier this year.

Revelations, revelations

After relaying the bad news, the notice immediately launches into defensive mode, asserting that Yahoo “took action to protect all accounts.”

This “action” included informing the known affected users about the breach, requiring password changes, and removing any encrypted security questions and answers that might be used to access an account.

Remember, though, that the data breaches actually took place in 2013, so all this notifying took place three years after the fact. The news is also problematic as this means roughly 2 billion users didn’t get direct notifications. Yahoo points out, though, that it also notified all users of the breach on its website.

Verizon is almost certainly less than thrilled with the news as the breach was the primary reason for the $350 million discount it received off the price of Yahoo. As we reported almost exactly a year ago, the breach almost cost Yahoo the entire deal.

      

Surface Laptop banishes storage woes as 1TB SSD model goes on sale

There’s some good news for folks who have been thinking of buying a Surface Laptop but wanted to max out the storage, as you can now specify a 1TB SSD with the notebook.

Previously, this option was unavailable, and the maximum capacity SSD which could be chosen was 512GB.

However, note that the 1TB drive is only available in one certain configuration at the moment.

You’ll need to be purchasing the platinum color Surface Laptop, and you’ll also have to max the rest of the spec out – meaning you must choose the Core i7 processor along with 16GB of system memory.

Shades of gray

Any other configuration means the option for a 1TB SSD will still be grayed out, although presumably this will change in the future, and maximum storage will also become available in different color models. Although Microsoft hasn’t said anything on the matter right now.

So, how much will the platinum Surface Laptop Core i7, 16GB with 1TB SSD set you back? The asking price on Microsoft’s web store is a rather eye-watering £2,699, or $2,699 in the US (AU$3,999 over in Australia).

The same model with a 512GB SSD is priced at £2,149 in the UK ($2,199 in the US), so you’re paying an extra £550 (or $500) to double the size of the drive – ouch indeed.

Still, for those who really need the storage space in their notebook, it’s certainly good to have the option to step things up.

Via: Windows Central

  • At least one of Microsoft’s Surface devices made it onto our list of best laptops

      

The best free word processor 2017

A good word processor is one of the few pieces of software you simply can’t live without. You might be able to manage without a spreadsheet tool or something for making slideshows, but text documents are unavoidable. Thankfully, you don’t need to splash out on a full Microsoft Office subscription; there are some superb word processors available to download and use completely free.

Here we’re looking at the very best word processors that can be used offline (particularly useful for distraction-free writing), but there are also several excellent browser-based tools to consider if you’d rather do your writing online.

Google Docs is the most obvious choice, and has the advantage of saving your work automatically so you don’t have to worry if your connection fails. It’s also a good choice for collaborative working, and means you don’t have to upload work to a separate cloud storage service. However, it has a limited selection of templates, there’s no way to import content from other Google applications, and any online tool is going to be surrounded by distractions like social media.

If you’d prefer an offline word processor, read on – the perfect one is only a click away.

If you’ve used a modern version of Microsoft Word, there’ll be no learning curve at all when you switch to Writer – the word processing component of WPS Office Free.

This free word processor looks and behaves almost exactly like its premium counterpart, and even has its own equivalent of OneDrive, offering 1GB free cloud storage.

Its selection of pre-installed templates gives you everything you need for common document types, and you can easily create your own for bespoke tasks. It’s compatible with every text file format you can think of, including current and legacy versions of Microsoft Word dating back to Office 97.

WPS Office Writer is supported by discrete ads, which can be removed by upgrading to the premium version, but they’re barely noticeable and no features are locked behind a paywall. Overall, WPS Writer is very impressive, and in our opinion it’s the best free word processor available to download today.

WPS recently launched a free PDF to Word converter as well, which is a great companion to its word processor.

Review and where to download: WPS Office Free WPS Office Free

LibreOffice is a fork of Apache OpenOffice, and although there are some differences between the two suites (LibreOffice receives more frequent updates, for example, and has a more lively userbase), their word processing components are so similar, we’re listing them together.

Both versions of Writer are feature-packed analogs of Microsoft Word, packed with all the features you could possibly need for any text-based work.

The two versions of Writer include wizards and templates for common document types, such as invoices and letters, and it’s easy to create your own templates for future use as well. The word processors also work together with the other office software in their respective suites – so you can use Base to create a bibliography, for example.

Both word processors support all the most popular file formats, and can export documents to PDF without the need for additional software. If you’re looking for a word processor that can stand in for Microsoft Word, either of these two will be a perfect candidate.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

Review and where to download: Apache OpenOffice

If you simply want to hammer out some words without worrying about formatting, you could just use Windows’ built-in Notepad app, but FocusWriter is full of clever tools that will help you maximize productivity without ever getting in the way.

As the name implies, FocusWriter blocks out all distractions so you can give that all-important first draft your full attention. In normal use, all you see is a blank page – toolbars are only visible if you move your mouse pointer to the edge of the screen – but there’s a killer feature in Focused Text, which fades everything into the background except the current paragraph or sentence.

FocusWriter also features alerts that are triggered at certain times, or when you’ve reached a predefined word count, so you don’t need to worry about watching a counter (as you would in Microsoft Word). This also makes FocusWriter a good tool to use in tandem with the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working hard for a period of time that’s long enough for you to work productively, but not so long that you become fatigued.

It’s not suitable for editing, but for productivity, FocusWriter is hard to beat.

Review and where to download: FocusWriter

TextMaker – the word processing element of SoftMaker FreeOffice – is good looking, and comes with several handy templates for creating letters and other everyday documents. The selection isn’t as extensive as some of its rivals’, but you can also make new designs for future use and save them in TMV format.

All the features you’d expect from a modern word processor are present and correct, including advanced formatting options, the ability to create databases for managing bibliographies and footnotes, and a function for tracking changes to collaborative projects.

The only real drawback of TextMaker is its inability to save your work in DOCX format (though you can open and edit these files with no difficulty). This feature is limited to the premium version of SoftMaker Office, which retails for £48.20 (about US$60, AU$75).

Download here: SoftMaker FreeOffice

WriteMonkey is another no-frills word processor designed to help you maximize your output without fussing with editing and formatting. It’s not intended for documents like letters or CVs, but is great for committing early ideas to paper (or screen) so you have the raw material to develop later.

Unlike FocusWriter, which is compatible with all the most common text formats (including Microsoft’s DOC and DOCX), WriteMonkey only works with TXT files, so you’ll have to convert any works in progress before opening them. WriteMonkey’s hidden controls are tricker to navigate, too – everything is accessed via a large right-click menu, or a vast collection of keyboard shortcuts.

That said, if you’re happy to commit those shortcuts to memory, you’ll find WriteMonkey faster to use than toolbar-based alternatives.

We also like the ability to look words up in Wikipedia, Google Images, Poetry.com, Answers.com, and many others without opening a browser winder manually and leaving yourself open to the temptations of Twitter and Facebook.

WriteMonkey is a portable app, so there’s no need to install it – just extract all the downloaded files to a removable drive or cloud storage service and fire it up by running the file WriteMonkey.exe.

Review and where to download: WriteMonkey

      

Here’s why having an Amazon Prime subscription is a good idea

As most of you know, Amazon Great Indian Festival sale is live from today on wards. There are tons of deals and offers on wide range of product categories for all the customers, but being an Amazon Prime member has its own perks, which turns out to be really effective in sales like these.

Amazon Prime is a subscription based membership from Amazon that offers numerous benefits to its users. Currently, the service is being offered in eight countries and the benefits include free one-day delivery, access to Prime Videos and Prime Music among other benefits.

Amazon Prime was launched in India in July 2016. The company had launched the service with a annual fee of Rs. 999, however, as an introductory offer, the subscription is being offered at Rs. 499. If you are looking to buy Prime Subscription, you need to hurry as recent reports indicate that Amazon is going to increase the annual fee to Rs. 999 within a few days.

In India, Amazon Prime users enjoy free one-day delivery and two-day delivery on eligible items, access to Prime Videos and early access to deals during various sales and 30-minute early access to Lightning deals. Amazon is also expected to launch Amazon Music in India very soon. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Amazon Prime subscription.

Benefits of Amazon Prime

  • Unlimited free one-day, two-day and standard delivery on over 11 Million items in 100+ Indian cities.
  • Save Rs. 100 on One-day delivery, Rs. 80 on two-day delivery and Rs. 50 on standard delivery.
  • No minimum order value for free delivery on Amazon Prime products.
  • Enjoy unlimited access to Amazon Prime Videos on your smartphone, tablet, computer and smart TVs.
  • Get early access to deals during sales and a 30-minute early access to top deals everyday.
  • Browse upcoming deals and get notifications by clicking on ‘Watch this deal’
  • Get a discount of 15% on diaper subscriptions and members with a Baby Wish List get a one-time discount of 15%.
  • Prime users also get discounted delivery on Amazon Pantry orders and access to Special Prime promotions on Wednesdays.

Current Offers

Here are some of the offers that are currently available for Amazon Prime users:

  • 20% cashback up to Rs. 300 on loading Amazon Pay balance (New users only)
  • Rs. 300 cashback on selected mobiles and laptops (New users only)
  • Watch 5 movies or TV episodes on Prime Video in October and stand a chance to win a Fire TV Stick.

Apart from this, there are certain offers that will be available to Prime users during the Great Indian Festival sale. They are,

  • Buy BPL 55-inches full HD LED TV and get free BPL 32-inches HD Ready LED TV
  • Rs. 499 cashback on Fire TV Stick
  • Rs.300 off on Kindle Paperwhite
  • 30% off on Fitbit Charge 2 Activity Tracker
  • 59% off on Sennheiser HD 598 SR
  • 50% off on Prestige PIC 15.0+ 1900-Watt Induction Cooktop

Click here to become an Amazon Prime member.

      

The 5 best 2-in-1 laptops of 2017: the best hybrid laptops ranked

Best 2-in-1 laptop

Now that Google’s leaked Pixelbook is shaping up to be much more than another premium Chromebook attempt, there’s yet another reason to be excited for the future of 2-in-1 laptops. But what about the present? While it’s true that Fuschia OS could shake up hybrid notebooks as we know them, let’s not undermine what Windows 10 has already accomplished.

That goes without mentioning Chrome OS, which has notably made its own contribution to our round-up of the best 2-in-1 laptops, namely in the form of the Asus Chromebook Flip. The rest of our list, however, is comprised of devices stacked with Microsoft’s latest operating system, thereby optimized for its Windows Ink functionality given their hybrid form factors.

So, whether you plan on purchasing one of the best 2-in-1 laptops now or in the future, we aim to keep this article consistently up to date with all of the latest and greatest devices we’ve reviewed. Below you’ll find full rundowns on a wide range of hybrids, each of which has been thoroughly vetted by our staff prior to its inclusion.

With Kaby Lake now ruling the roost in terms of CPUs, HP decided it’s high time to flip the switch on its Spectre 2-in-1. With an overhauled keyboard and suave new logo, the HP Spectre x360 holds its own against anything Apple can show. At the same time, none of this stifles the battery life, which exceeds 8 hours of straight use. What’s more, the HP Spectre x360 can now be configured with a 4K screen and 1TB of SSD storage, too.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Toting the same design as the original Surface Book, the Surface Book i7 hasn’t done away with the controversial fulcrum hinge, but it does boast 131% better graphics and a 20% improved battery life. For creative professionals with an artistic side, this is tempting. So long as it’s necessary for your workflow, it may be worth the lofty price of admission, too, even if you’re getting the short end of the stick in memory and SSD space.

Read the full review: Surface Book i7

If the 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 is a caterpillar, the 15-inch model is a majestic butterfly, freshly hatched from its snug cocoon. Outfitted with the choice between only the best HQ series Core i5 and i7 processors, this 2-in-1 is competitive spec-wise with the 15-inch MacBook Pro while remaining but a fraction of the cost of Apple’s flagship machine. What’s more, it even has the ports you know and love in addition to the still-blossoming USB Type-C interface.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 720 (15-inch)

Unlike the Asus ZenBook Flip UX305 before it, the ZenBook Flip UX360 ditches the MacBook Air doppelgänger approach in favor of a hybrid design with a vast array of ports. Everything from USB-A to USB-C is present, along with micro HDMI and a microSD card reader. At the same time, it doesn’t neglect the wholly aluminum chassis of yesteryear, ultimately making the ZenBook Flip UX360 an excellent value.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Flip UX360

As homely as a laptop as it is a tablet, the Lenovo Yoga 720’s screen may be tethered by a hinge to its cushy keyboard, but its modest pricing and formidable design choices make it come easily recommended. Although you’ll be in search of the proper adapters if you need a second standard USB port, an SD card slot or HDMI, this laptop’s crystal clear display and hearty build quality make it a winner in our eyes.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 720

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

      

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