Tag Archives: ELECTRONIC

Download of the day – Grow

Grow is a lovely indie platform game with a gameplay mechanic reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

The game’s protagonist is a crow wearing a rather natty knitted sweater, who must venture across a wintry landscape to safety. He faces various challenges along the way, which can be overcome by eating either mushrooms to apples.

Mushrooms make him grow, making high ledges and hills accessible, while apples make him shrink small enough to pass through tiny hidden doorways. Scoffing multiple apples or mushrooms magnifies the effect.

It’s worth downloading for the charming artwork alone, so give it a try.

Download here: Grow

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Download of the day – Ryse: Son of Rome

GameSessions is a service that lets you try PC games free before deciding whether to buy them. Today, it launched GameSessions Giveaways – a new service that gives away games to download, play and keep for free.

The first freebie is third-person action adventure title Ryse: Son of Rome. The game is available to download for 30 days, and will be activated once you’ve played for about five minutes.

Are you not entertained?

Ryse follows the story of young Roman legionary Marius Titus, seeking refuge in the haunted, misty isles of Britannia after witnessing the slaughter of his family by barbarian marauders.

Once you’ve battled through the single-player campaign, Gladiator mode lets you team up with a friend to fights off waves of enemies and traps in the Colosseum. Are you ready to do your duty for Rome?

Download here: Ryse: Son of Rome

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Chromebooks are testing a touchscreen-friendly redesign

With more Chromebooks sporting touchscreens and even stylus support, like Samsung’s latest Chromebook Pro, it’s not surprising to see a touch-friendly launcher arrive for Chrome OS.

Note that this refreshed launcher is still in the experimental playing-around-with-it stage at this point and only present in the Canary channel (which is the test bed for new Chrome OS features).

As the YouTube video below shows, the launcher nestles at the bottom of the screen, showing just a small collection of suggested apps and a search bar. Users can swipe up to reveal the full bank of app icons. You also get the ability to trigger a voice search with a simple tap of the finger.

A touch early

Some of the commenting developers aren’t too impressed with the aesthetics of the launcher as it stands, but it’s still very early days – plus bear in mind that it will doubtless be pretty rough around the edges and glitch-filled, given that the feature is just making its debut in Canary.

Still, even if you’ve no intention of using it yet, it’s very definitely an interesting insight into the direction Google is heading here, and owners of touchscreen Chromebooks can only hope that progress down this particular avenue turns out to be swift.

Of course, Google is also busy implementing support for Android apps across Chromebooks, and all of the Chrome OS-toting laptops that launch this year will have this facility built in right out of the box.

Google has to keep its Chromebooks more competitive now that Microsoft has unleashed Windows 10 S, which aims to be a big hit in the education market – the cheap-and-cheerful territory where Google dominates.

Via: Engadget

      

Head back to school with $150 off the Microsoft Surface Book

Microsoft has made some major strides in education between Windows 10 S and its latest Surface Laptop, and now the company is kicking off its back to school sale.

A few notable items include a specially priced $899 Surface Pro 4 with a black type cover – one of the very few ways of getting Microsoft’s flagship tablet bundled with its essential keyboard. And in case you’re not a student, you can get the same package for $999.

Alternatively, the Surface Book sees an $150 discount that drops the price of the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD to $1,349.

Sadly, the latest Surface Pro or Surface Laptop isn’t included in this back to school sale, but the latter can be picked up with an $100 discount if you’re a student. Purchasing any Surface device during this sale comes with a free three-month trial of Groove’s streaming music service.

Users can pick up Intel’s $429 Software Starter Pack, which includes seven creativity-center programs, when purchasing an Dell XPS 15, Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, and Lenovo Yoga 910. Although, there isn’t a free Xbox One like last year, Microsoft is selling Xbox One S bundles with a $20 discount.

      

10 best Android tablets of 2017: which should you buy?

Google Pixel C

Find the best Android tablet in the US has increasingly become a difficult buying decision, as they come in all shapes, sizes and prices. But there’s hope.

We’ve tested and sorted through the latest Android tablets in order to come up with a top 10 list, all ranked below. Our recommendations are a combination of performance for your dollar, design, features, build quality and value.

This comprehensive Android tablet list will be updated frequently throughout 2017, as Samsung, Google and many other companies continue to release new tablets and upgrade the Android software with Android Nougat and Android O.

Here are the best tablets you can buy this year.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is easily the best Android tablet to date, headlined by an HDR-ready display, four powerful speakers and an upgraded S Pen that’s included inside the box. The keyboard folio is a worthwhile extra.

It’s actually a bit too future-proofed in some ways. Its HDR screen looks great, but content from Netflix and Amazon isn’t here yet – at least not on tablets. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering Samsung’s latest and greatest if you want a top-tier Android tablet.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

Google Pixel C

The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 might look like an iPad in design, but given its roots in Android, it’s obviously a much different beast.

For your money, it’s a hard ask to find another Android tablet that puts classy design at the forefront like the ZenPad 3S 10. Paired with its gorgeous 2K display and strong audio chips, it makes quite the impression.

Our review points out that there are a few low points in the presentation, but issues aside, the amount of features and performance level you get here is well worth the rather low asking price.

Read the full review: Asus ZenPad 3S 10

Google Pixel C

Google’s first foray into crafting its very own tablets started couldn’t have gone much better. The Pixel C is the best Android tablet out there, and for a few reasons.

Its design borrows from the gorgeous Chromebook Pixel and builds upon it, with versatility to allow easy switching between a standalone tablet or a laptop. Android power users will also appreciate that it runs stock OS and thus, like Nexus and Pixel products, the Pixel C is now running the latest software, Android Nougat.

The Pixel C certainly isn’t cheap, but you won’t find another Android tablet packed with as much power, style, and the latest software updates for years to come.

Read the full review: Google Pixel C

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Most tablets are very similar to one another, but not the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro. It sits in its own sub-category of Android tablets that try and succeed at being weird, yet awesome.

This tablet has all of the usual amenities that one desires in a 2017 tablet, such as 2,560 x 1600 display and a huge 10,200mAh battery. But this tablet also houses a hidden projector that can splash the screen onto a wall for night-time viewing. Cool, right? It’s novel, but actually useful.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Nvidia Shield Tablet K1

One of the best things about the Huawei MediaPad M3 is its build quality. The slim, light aluminum frame looks and feels good in the hand.

The screen and speakers are great, too. These attributes make the MediaPad M3 a competent entertainment tablet. And despite a few instances of lousy gaming performance, the Kirin 950 does an admirable job of keeping things smooth.

You can find a cheaper tablet further down on the list, but you might be giving up a compact, premium design of the MediaPad M3.

Read the full review: Huawei MediaPad M3 8.0

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017) is among the best of the retail giant’s tablets, as while it’s in many ways lower end than the similar HD 10, the smaller screen is sharper as a result, and the price is lower.

It also delivers surprisingly strong gaming performance, with a decent amount of power for the money. The speakers aren’t great and the cameras are awful, but tablets aren’t for taking photos and you can always use headphones.

What you do get is solid if not spectacular performance, and tight integration with Amazon’s other services through Fire OS, all at a price that’s well below most of the non-Amazon branded competition. You should also note that if you already own the 2016 version of this tablet, it won’t be worth upgrading to the 2017 version as the differences are very minimal.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 8 (2017)

The Amazon Fire HD 10 is the company’s flagship tablet, but to call it a flagship is misleading, as while it’s top of the range it still sports middling specs at best, but that’s okay, because it’s also very affordable.

Its 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 screen doesn’t provide a very sharp picture, but audio fares much better thanks to loud and clear stereo speakers, and with up to 64GB of built in storage plus a microSD card slot there’s plenty of room for apps, games and other media.

Which is good, because this being an Amazon product you’re faced with things to buy, download, rent and stream at every turn.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire HD 10

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung is firing straight at the iPad’s greatest weakness with the Galaxy Tab S2: storage capacity. The latest from the popular smartphone and tablet maker offers 32GB of internal storage as the standard out of the box, with support for up to 128GB via the microSD slot.

It also stands out amongst the larger tablet competition with a stellar 2,048 x 1,536 Super AMOLED display and Samsung’s own zippy Exynos 7 5433 octa-core chipset, which consists of a 1.9GHz quad-core processor working in tandem with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor.

Given that the Tab S3 sits at the top of our list, the S2 is now an even better deal.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Tablets don’t get any cheaper than this – well, functional ones don’t anyway. The incredibly low price and sturdy design make the Amazon Fire a great choice to give to a kid – in fact, Amazon’s even built a (pricier) version specifically for children.

But even for a grown audience the Amazon Fire far exceeds expectations, with a fairly bright 7.0-inch screen, acceptable speakers, solid battery life and even reasonable performance, with a snappy interface and the ability to run most games.

Fire OS won’t suit everyone and this isn’t a tablet that impresses once you take the price out of the equation, but for what the Amazon Fire costs it would almost be rude not to buy it.

Read the full review: Amazon Fire 7 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

There’s no shame in buying last-gen tech products. The best-case scenario sees you saving a bunch of cash, while still having access to fairly modern specifications. And with the Galaxy Tab S, that’s exactly what you’ll get, plus some.

The Galaxy Tab S3 is the latest and greatest in Samsung’s line of tablets. But the Tab S is still a respectable purchase, packing in impressive specs like a Super AMOLED display pushing 2560 x 1600.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S

      

Sky and TalkTalk broadband hit by massive ongoing outage

Sky broadband (and phone) users have been hit by a major outage in the Sussex area, and the problem may not be fixed for some folks until this evening, with TalkTalk subscribers also affected.

The cause? Apparently extensive damage was caused to fibre optic cables by digging works carried out by a third party, who apparently speared some key cables with a fence post.

Sky says there are seven separate breaks in fibre cables which need to be repaired.

At the time of writing, the most recent tweet from the firm notes that several exchanges are back online now, although ‘stability may be [an] issue’ with connections.

A previous tweet stated that service should be restored for everyone by this evening.

So that means some Sky subscribers could still have a fair bit of downtime on their hands, for both broadband and phone service.

According to Sky, the affected areas include the following:

Baldslow, Battle, Beckley, Bexhill, Brede, Brightling, Brookland, Castleham, Cooden, Crowhurst, Guestling, Hastings, Iden, Lydd, Ninfield, Northiam, New Romney, Peasmarsh, Rye, Sedlescombe, Staplecross, Wittersham, Eastbourne, Hampden Park, Alfriston, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Polegate, Pevensey Marina, Pevensey, Seaford, East Dean.

TalkTalk downdown

As mentioned, this issue has also affected TalkTalk broadband, phone and TV services, with the ISP stating that customers connected to the Seaford, Newhaven, Herstmonceux, Ninfield and Polegate exchanges have been hit by downtime.

On its service status dashboard, TalkTalk says that Openreach currently has a team of engineers repairing the cables, and the situation is the same as with Sky when it comes to an estimated timeframe for resolution.

TalkTalk noted: “We have been advised that repairs are due to be completed early evening, and continue to keep in contact with Openreach for further updates.”

Via: Trusted Reviews

      

Download of the day: Splashy

Splashy, created by Tomislav Čukelj, is a brilliant little tool for Windows, Mac and Linux that automatically using beautiful pictures from Unsplash – our favorite public domain stock photography site.

Unsplash is a cut above most public domain stock image sites, and all the pictures in its archive have been released into the public domain by skilled photographers with a real passion for their craft.

Splashy lets you take your pick from the site’s various carefully curated categories, and change how often the photo changes.

It’s a simple idea neatly executed, and brings a touch of the unexpected to your day. The download is tiny too, so there’s no reason not to try it.

Download here: Splashy

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Banish the glue blues with iFixit’s new MacBook Pro repair kit

iFixit has long complained about the MacBook Pro being difficult to repair, and in an interesting move the teardown experts have decided to take action, producing a purpose-built kit to replace the laptop’s battery.

The battery is one of the trickiest components to switch out when it gives up the ghost, thanks to Apple’s excessive use of glue to secure the power pack in modern MacBook Pros.

So the new kit, which comes in different flavors targeted at Retina MacBook Pro models from 2012 through to 2015, uses a specially concocted solution – a safe blend of household chemicals, apparently – to dissolve the adhesive and free the battery from the gluey grasp of the notebook’s chassis.

Of course, it’s not just a simple matter of applying some solution and you’re done. The kit comes with a number of other tools you’ll need such as tweezers and the appropriate screwdrivers (Torx, Pentalobe etc), along with a full guide to making the repair (plus you get a replacement battery, naturally).

Also note that easing the existing battery out requires “a lot of caution and patience” to quote iFixit.

DIY ETA

The exact difficulty level and time it’ll take varies depending on the precise model of MacBook Pro – and doubtless the tech DIY skills of the person making the repair, too – but iFixit’s estimated times for the process range from 20 minutes up to two hours.

But still, it’ll be time well spent considering the kits cost from $90 to $110 (£70 to £85, or AU$120 to AU$145), and Apple charges $199 (£155, AU$260) to replace the MacBook Pro’s battery.

Apple isn’t the only company to come under fire for manufacturing non-upgradable and difficult to repair laptops, with Microsoft also copping flak for its Surface hybrids. Indeed, at the end of last month, Greenpeace blasted both MacBooks and Surface devices for being an environmental nightmare.

Maybe we’ll see more of these sort of kits from iFixit in the future, perhaps also aimed at the likes of the Surface Book or Surface Laptop. Because not only is it cheaper to make your own repairs like so, but it’s also satisfying to be self-sufficient enough in tech terms to do some DIY repairs at home.

Via: Apple Insider

      

Broadband deal of the week: Plusnet 76Mb superfast broadband for less than £30pm

It’s been a big week for fibre broadband. First came Virgin Media’s announcement that it was introducing a new, cheaper superfast broadband tariff called VIVID 50. And now Plusnet has just removed the activation fee from its rapid 76Mb Unlimited Fibre Extra broadband.

That may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider that the monthly tariff is a shade less than £30 you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic deal. And you’ve only got until midnight next Tuesday to grab it…

When you compare it to the competition, you can really see what a cracking internet deal this is from the BT-owned Plusnet. Take BT’s own Infinity 1 fibre broadband for example. The monthly tariff is exactly the same at £29.95, but you have to pay a £59.99 upfront fee for delivery of the router and set-up. it is currently throwing in a £125 pre-paid Mastercard to soften the blow, but the 52Mb speeds are almost a third less than Plusnet Extra.

Virgin Media on the other hand can top Plusnet’s speeds, but will set you back more every month. Go for Virgin VIVID 100 broadband for a lightning-fast 100Mb cable connection, but be prepared to pay £32 a month on top of a £20 activation fee. Plus, you may struggle to get Virgin broadband – its UK coverage is currently at around 60%.

Deal of the week: Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra broadband

Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra | 12 months | Up to 76Mb | Line rental inc. | No TV | FREE activation | £29.99pm
If you’re hunting around for the best broadband deals on the market, you may scoff at paying almost £30 a month – there are certainly cheaper plans out there. But this one’s all about the speed. 76Mb is equivalent to around 9.5MB per second. Rapid! Total cost of 12 months £359.88

View this Plusnet broadband deal of the week

Do I need 76Mb superfast fibre broadband?

Not everybody will – if you’re not a heavy home internet user and just need it to keep on top of your emails and browse the web, then go for one of our cheap broadband deal picks instead.

But if you’re on anything less than 76Mb now and you’re constantly dogged by interrupted video streaming or slow downloads, then this Plusnet offer is the perfect opportunity to upgrade. We think it’s well worth considering 76Mb broadband or faster if you fall in to one or more of these categories:

  • More than 5 people in your household who all use the internet at once
  • You stream 4K Ultra HD content to your TV
  • You’re an avid online gamer who needs to avoid lagging
  • You download a lot of music and films and want them as fast as possible

Existing Plusnet customers

It’s worth noting that this deal is only open to new Plusnet customers. So if you’re already with the provider or have been before, you won’t be eligible for our deal of the week.

Luckily if you’re broadband contract is up for renewal, we’ve made it dead simple to find another great deal. Head to our best broadband deals page and use our price comparison chart to fish out the cheapest internet packages available right now.

      

The best free photo collage maker 2017

Modern phone cameras can take stunning print-quality photos, and you probably have some real gems stored on your handset right now – so why leave them there?

A printed collage is a great way to show off several snaps at once, and a collage based around a particular theme or event makes a striking piece of wall art – particularly if printed on canvas.

You could make a collage by piecing images together using a photo editor like Photoshop or GIMP, but it requires a lot of careful resizing and measuring, and really isn’t much fun. It’s much better to use a dedicated collage maker, and there are some fantastic tools that make the job as simple as dragging and dropping, and make the process of creating an original design a real joy.

These are the tools – both browser-based and standalone – that will help you make gorgeous collages in moments.

1. Fotojet

Feature-packed and fun; the best tool for making amazing print-ready collages

Online collage maker Fotojet looks very much like Fotor and Canva (below), but is more flexible and fun to use than either, making it our number one choice.

To get started, click “Collage” and choose either a grid or an illustrated design (in our opinion a simple grid-based layout shows off your photos better). Those marked with a crown are available to premium account holders only, but you can resize the image frames in any grid, so this isn’t much of a drawback. You can also adjust the spacing and roundness of the boxes, and pick an aspect ratio for your canvas.

Click “Add photos,” then drag and drop them into the template. Once you’ve inserted an image you’ll be presented with a list of customizable Instagram-style filters to give your collage a bespoke look, plus advanced options for tweaking exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue. There’s a good selection of backgrounds to choose from too (either plain colors, or tasteful geometric patterns), plus clip art and text.

Once you’ve finished, you can save your creation as a JPG or PNG file (there’s no PDF option) at a compression setting and size to suit you. You can also share it via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Tumblr, or even print it directly from the browser. It’s great fun to use, and easy to master.

Try it online: Fotojet

2. Canva

If you want to print to canvas, this online collage maker is a great choice

Like all the other browser-based collage makers here, most of Canva‘s photo collage templates are free to use, but there are also premium designs available for a fee. These are clearly marked, so there’s no need to worry about creating a design, then being unable to export it without parting with a handful of cash.

To begin, set a new username and password, or sign in with your Facebook or Google account. Select “Personal use” and you’ll be presented with a menu of project types, including social media graphics, banners, book covers, and presentations. Select “Photo collage,” then “See all collage templates” to see the full set of free options available. Alternatively, click “Elements” and choose a grid, then start adding the images, borders, icons, and other items that will make up your collage.

To add your own pictures, click “Uploads” and drag them from your desktop. You can then drag them straight onto your collage canvas. You can also add images from Facebook, or from Canva’s own library of free pictures. If you’ve chosen a grid layout, they will be resized and cropped to fit automatically.

Once you’re done, you can save your collage as a printable PDF, PNG, or JPG file, or make it public for others to use. You can even add crop marks and bleed space – an option that’s very useful for professional printing, and absent from most free collage makers.

The only drawback of Canva is that you can’t set the resolution of the output file (although you do have a choice of standard or print-quality PDFs). Beyond that, it’s a truly superb free collage maker.

Try it online: Canva

3. Fotor

Not just a great photo editor, browser-based app Fotor also has a module dedicated to making stylish collages from your best pictures

There are currently two versions of Fotor‘s collage maker – one that uses Flash, and another built with HTML5. The former will soon be phased out in favour of the latter, but they work the same way.

Fotor’s design isn’t quite as intuitive as Canva’s, but it’s still much quicker and easier than creating a collage from first principles. All of Fotor’s essential features are free, with extras available for a subscription fee. Premium membership also removes ads from the collage creator.

To get started, click “Sign in” and either create a new account using your email address, or log in with Facebook (you’ll need an account in order to save your work as you move between tools). Once that’s done, click “Collage”, pick a template (those marked with a diamond icon are only available to premium account holders) and upload your pictures using the “Import” button on the right. Click “Fill in” on the left, and the spaces in your chosen template will be populated with the uploaded pictures – cropped and resized to fit automatically. It’s incredibly simple, and the quickest way to create a collage if you don’t mind letting the web app make creative decisions for you. Stickers and text let you give your design a personal touch before it’s exported. Unlike Canva, Fotor lets you choose the aspect ratio and resolution of your finished collage before saving it in JPG, PNG or PDF format.

Fotor is an excellent free collage maker, though its design is a little less intuitive than Canva, pushing it into a respectable third place.

Try it online: Fotor

4. PhotoPad

A desktop-based free collage maker that’s fast, if a little utilitarian

PhotoPad is a desktop program, making it faster and more flexible than its browser-based counterparts. You don’t have to relinquish your email address or Facebook username to use it, either. Unfortunately, it looks a little dated, and lacks some of the features that make online collage makers so much fun, including stickers and filters.

Click “Collage” to begin, and set up your canvas by choosing a size for the finished print. Next, pick the background that will show behind your images. Most of the patterns provided here are quite cheesy, but you can also use your own picture or a solid color.

Once that’s done, it’s time to choose a layout. There’s a great choice of grids (none are locked away behind a paywall), and you can customize the spacing between photos and roundness of the corners using a pair of sliders.

Click a space in your grid to add a photo from your PC. They will be resized to fit, and you can adjust the area to be cropped by clicking and dragging. Unfortunately there’s no way to add text or shapes within the collage editor, and neither are there any filters to give your pictures a fresh look before finalizing your design. If you really want to add extra elements, you’ll have to re-open the saved collage using PhotoPad’s main photo editor and make the alterations manually.

Download here: PhotoPad

5. piZap

A fun way to create collages for Facebook, but not the best for wall art

Unlike other browser-based free photo collage makers, piZap doesn’t ask you to part with your email address before you start creating your first design; just get stuck straight in. This is a handy time-saver, but has the disadvantage that you can’t save your progress and edit your creation at a later date.

First, pick a free design; there are options based around rectangles (our preferred choice), hearts, circles, and other shapes like stars. The latter options are better suited to greeting cards than wall art, and risk detracting from the impact of your photos. We’d also avoid the themed options, which are all rather cheesy.

Once you’ve picked a template, simply click each frame in turn to insert a photo. Not only can you upload images from your PC, you can also grab pictures from Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, and Flickr. The now-defunct Google Picasa is also listed.

Once your photos are in place, you can set a background color, adjust spacing, and add a drop shadow. There’s a good range of filters available, though they can only be applied to the entire canvas, not individual photos, and the clip art options lack subtlety. The remaining tools (paintbrushes and meme text) are fun for creating something silly to share online, but not for stylish wall art.

Once you’ve finished, the free collage maker only gives you one export option – a standard resolution JPG that’s fine for a small print, but not for a large canvas. Overall, piZap is best for making fun compositions to share on social media. If you want something to hang on your wall, the other tools here are much better choices.

Try it online: piZap