LG G6 vs LG G5 vs LG G4: the design, specs, camera, and battery changes we’re expecting

Back in 2015, I picked up the LG G4 to test for a few days – to see if LG’s best phone at the time had anything to impress me with. And impress me it did, hence I ended up holding onto it for a couple of months. Really, the G4 was a great phone back then – with stylish design, a great camera, and it didn’t even cost as much as its high-end competitors. 
Then came the LG G5. A bad phone it wasn’t, but it failed to wow the crowds and generate revenue. Perhaps it was too radical of a departure from what the G4 before it had established; maybe the world wasn’t ready to embrace the modular concept of its design; or maybe it was just not too inviting to draw the attention of the general consumer. 

In any case, all eyes are on LG now. There’s an LG G6 to be announced at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and there’s no doubt that it will be the hottest phone at the show. But how is it going to be any different from its predecessors? Let us dive into the matter.

Design and display

Most tech companies put great effort in keeping their products under wraps until announcement day comes, but LG begs to differ. It has been officially confirmed that the G6 will use a screen with a 2:1 aspect ratio, as opposed to the 16:9 ratio employed by most contemporary smartphones. We recently dedicated a whole article to explaining how the LG G6’s unusual display proportions will affect the user, but if you want the TL;DR version, it goes pretty much like this: the LG G6 promises more convenient side-by-side multitasking on a larger screen, all while being easier to grasp. And as the graphic below visualizes, the LG G6 could end up being narrower, but taller than its predecessors. By how much depends on the size of the bezels surrounding the panel.

In terms of resolution, however, the LG G6 won’t be leading by much. Not that it has to, as the screens on its predecessors were already sufficiently sharp. The G6 will pack 564 pixels per inch vs the 553 ppi and 528 ppi on the G5 an G4 respectively – not a difference the naked eye can detect. A difference we hope to detect is in power consumption – the screen is said to be 30% more power efficient compared to “conventional QHD LCD displays”

As far as design goes, the LG G6 will be different than the G5 and the G4 in many ways. For starters, it looks like it will skip on the modular design concept and stick to a more traditional form factor. Secondly, the phone will most likely have a sealed, non-removable battery, unlike the two flagships before it. Now, I know that quite a few power users would be disappointed to hear the latter, but sacrificing the option to swap batteries has its upsides. For the first time, LG will deliver a water-resistant flagship in the G6, as it was recently revealed. Furthermore, teasers are leading us to believe that the phone will be built with reliability in mind. We’ll elaborate on what this translates to in the battery section.

Processor and hardware

Needless to say, the LG G6 will be more powerful than the Gs before it, but by how much? Rumors are pointing out at the Snapdragon 821 as the chip of choice, which is the very same piece of silicon powering the Google Pixel from last year. It is both considerably faster and more power efficient compared to the 808 used in the G4. The G5, however, used a Snapdragon 820, and the G6’s 821 is only an incremental upgrade over it. Still, an upgrade is an upgrade, and having handled the Pixel for a while, we know that the 821 has plenty of muscle. 

Now, if you’re wondering why LG may pass on the Snapdragon 835 for its flagship, the rumor mill may have the answer. According to trustworthy sources, Samsung has reserved the whole initial batch of 835s for use in the Galaxy S8. This next-gen chip is both more powerful and energy efficient than the Snapdragon 821, all while being physically smaller.

LG G4 vs LG G5 vs LG G6: hardware specs
LG G4 LG G5 LG G6*
System
chip
Snapdragon 808
1.8GHz, 6 cores
Adreno 418 graphics
Snapdragon 820
2.2GHz, 4 cores
Adreno 530 graphics
Snapdragon 821
2.15GHz, 4 cores
Adreno 530 graphics
RAM 3GB 4GB at least 4GB
Storage 32GB
microSD card slot
32GB
microSD card slot
At least 32GB
microSD card slot in
SIM card tray

*LG G6 specs based on leaks and rumors

Camera

As I said in the beginning, the LG G4 had a great camera, catering to both casual users and experienced photographers with its manual camera controls. The LG G5 picked up by adding a second camera module with ultra-wide lens for more creative freedom and flexibility in tricky situations. 

The LG G6? Alas, not much is known about its camera setup, but a fresh leak exposing its back side suggests that not much is going to change in this department. It looks like the G6 will stick to a dual-cam setup similar to that on the LG G5 and the LG V20. Perhaps an upgraded sensor or an improved optical system is in play? Or maybe the G6 will be able to pull off amazing HDR tricks like the Google Pixel? We’ll have to wait to find out. 

Audio and multimedia

You don’t have to be a tech nerd to know that a certain smartphone dropped the 3.5mm audio jack from use. It wasn’t the first to do so, but it was the first from a tech brand with such influence in the smartphone arena. That phone was the iPhone 7, of course.

Now, the question is whether the LG G6 will follow suit. On one hand, not including the audio jack frees up precious room for components and makes it easier to design a water-resistant phone. And since LG is no stranger to partnering with well-known audio brands, bundling the G6 with high-quality USB-C earphones could be an attractive selling point. On the other, there still seems to be a substantial crowd of users who aren’t ready to let go of the ubiquitous audio standard. 

For the record, both the LG G4 and G5 offered audio jacks for wired earphones. However, not a single image that has leaked so far shows the G6 having one.

Headphones aside, the LG G6 will have a single loudspeaker placed at the bottom, much like the LG G5 before it. Stereo sound has yet to be mentioned by a credible leak. 

Battery and charging

As I mentioned in the beginning, leaks and rumors point towards an LG G6 with an internal, non-removable battery. This will be a stark departure from what LG is known for: more specifically, to be among the few brands that offers a swappable battery on its flagship phone. The feature was a differentiating factor for both the G4 and the G5, which had that advantage over competing smartphones. 

While the G6’s non-removable battery could disappoint some, we don’t mind the added water resistance, and the sealed design of the phone will make that happen more easily. Furthermore, having a fixed battery could actually make it safer, as counter-intuitive as this may sound. LG is said to be implementing heat pipes inside the G6 with the purpose of drawing excessive temperatures away from the battery. This will both prevent the lithium-ion cell from overheating and ensure its reliability in the long run. 

As far as charging goes, the LG G6 will use a USB Type-C charging port situated at the bottom. Both the LG G4 and G5 supported quick-charge technologies, and we doubt that the case with the G6 will be any different.

To summarize

Looking at leaks, rumors, and official teasers, the LG G6 will be quite different from its predecessors. It will be tougher in terms of physical durability, and it will be the first in the G series to be water-resistant, which is great news. But in all likeliness, it will drop the removable battery and the audio jack along the way. The unusual display aspect ratio could make it manageable to handle despite the increased display diagonal size. The processor could end up being only slightly faster than that on last year’s G5. And the camera – well, we’ve seen great results out of the G4 and G5, so our expectations for the G6 are set high in this respect.

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Next Xbox: what will Xbox Two be like and when will we see it?

If there’s one thing Microsoft’s a fan of, its hardware. From the Xbox 360’s numerous iterations, to the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and soon Project Scorpio the company has never been afraid to update its hardware as technology improves. 

But for all the hardware that’s being talked about, none of it adds up to an all new Xbox. 

What we’re seeing instead is iteration. All your old games will work on the new hardware, and all new games will continue to work on existing machines. 

The original Xbox used Halo, one of the best launch games of all time, to grow to become a serious threat to Sony, and the Xbox 360 established a solid early lead against Sony’s PS3.

What does that mean for the current Xbox One? It’s certainly not had the same success in its early life as the PS4, suggesting that it might not have the 360’s sticking power, but then Microsoft has never been one to abandon a console. 

It’s tough to tell (heck, even guessing the next console’s name is a crapshoot given the three we’ve had so far), but there are a few factors to consider when looking towards the future.

And when we say the future, we mean the future

Project Scorpio is a big step forward with its ability to showcase games in 4K and work well with VR but, based on the way technology has continued to evolve and grow in the last five years, it’s not unreasonable to expect what Microsoft has planned for its platform five years from now will be able to play games the Xbox One and Project Scorpio can only dream of.

But what will the new Xbox be like? Will they call it Xbox 2? When can we expect it? 

Here’s our best prognostication.   

Here’s when we’ll see the next Xbox

If we have to put the Xbox One closer to either of its predecessors, the sad fact facing Microsoft is that it’s closer to the original incarnation than the far-more-successful Xbox 360. 

That’s because the Xbox One didn’t have the time advantage that the Xbox 360 did, where the year of sole ownership of the HD console marketshare gave the console a commanding lead. 

Moreover, the Xbox One’s launch was marred by the Kinect bundle that pushed the console’s price higher than the competition. The user interface and much of the console’s power were dedicated to making the system a multimedia machine, so the lower-priced game-focused PlayStation 4 started with (and has largely continued) a commanding lead. 

All things considered, the Xbox One got off to a rough start.

As for Project Scorpio, it’s facing the time crunch of the original Xbox and Microsoft has to figure out a way to attractively price hardware that’s late to the party. Even though the original Xbox had many hardware advantages, it doesn’t mean a commanding market share when developers and consumers have made up their mind already.

So for Microsoft to be successful with its successor, the Xbox One might have to face the same lame duck status as the system that started its lineage.

The two most important factors for the next system will be releasing early and at an attractive price point

Barring unforeseen success for Project Scorpio (and time has not yet confirmed if the likes of PS4 Pro and Scorpio will be good ideas in the marketplace), the two most important factors for the next system will be releasing early and at an attractive price point. 

It took four short years for the original Xbox to get a successor, while the more successful 360 didn’t become Microsoft’s “other” console for eight years. Given the fact that both consoles are facing a stopgap and even a tech giant Microsoft can’t afford to pull a 32X and give up on an upgrade so early in its lifespan, early 2019 seems timely enough to beat out Sony’s next system while giving the Xbox One a fighting chance this time around.

Here’s what the new Xbox will be capable of

As for what will be in the box, what happens around the industry in the next year will be vital in determining the direction of the Xbox One’s successor.

 We’ve learned that certain things are unimportant for consoles this generation, like motion-sensing and touch-screen, but the new technology on the horizon is equally untested – cough, virtual reality, cough.

We see three potential paths for Microsoft’s next system: virtual reality, native 4K Ultra HD and/or a portable handheld device.

If PlayStation VR has a hit holiday season, expect Microsoft to go full bore on VR with the Xbox One’s successor instead of Scorpio’s still-vague stance. Moreover, if PlayStation 4 Pro sinks, then perhaps constant 4K visuals aren’t necessary for the console-consuming populace. Finally, if the Nintendo Switch changes the marketplace like the DS and Wii did, then expect Microsoft to really make their tablet and console divisions play nice together.

But what about Microsoft’s own internal hardware? 

Despite being an important part of both the 360 and Xbox One’s ecosystem at times, the future hardly seems bright for the Kinect. Even though it brought some interesting technological innovations, the price point never really ingrained the add-on to most gamers. While voice-recognition may still have a place with consoles (and that Siri and set-top boxes are making the tech friendlier for new consumers), the feedback-free motion control movement seems to be all but over.

The changes that are surer bets are the ones that make the new Xbox a safer bet for gaming; particularly the always-strong PC gaming market. At the very least, the new Xbox will likely have more of a Steam-esque interface that puts games first and doesn’t confuse the customer. A system with a more indie- and mod-friendly focus is also important, and if the console consumer base doesn’t jibe with mid-lifecycle console upgrades, perhaps a more PC piecemeal approach with more swappable parts will be in order. 

What does this mean for the Next Xbox?

So what can we learn from all this about the new Xbox?

Yes, the new one, because there will, inexorably, be another console. It’s certainly some ways off yet, but will it be another eight year wait? There are differing opinions on that.

“I would think so,” says Jon Hicks, former editor of Official Xbox Magazine, “but the timing may change. Microsoft was very clear at the announcement of Xbox One that it would have a ten-year lifespan, and that is likely to remain the case, but the shift from Xbox 360 and PS3 to next-gen hasn’t mirrored the shift from the previous generation.

“The initial sales of new-gen consoles, and the drop-off in software sales for the previous generation, has surprised everybody – the expectation was of a slower transition, and the consensus explanation is that there was significant pent-up demand for new consoles. So it might be that Xbox One’s replacement arrives a bit sooner than the eight years that Xbox 360 lasted, though the overall lifespan sticks at ten years. That said, even the sales data doesn’t really compare any more because Xbox 360 has an extremely robust digital sales platform, the data for which isn’t shared publicly. So it could be the drop in physical software sales is a red herring. Ask me in a couple of years, basically.”

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Next Xbox: a game focus?

Ah yes, the games. Microsoft may have neglected to mention those during the Xbox One’s original reveal, but it’s changed its tune since in response to vocal feedback from gaming communities.

It’s a lesson MS isn’t likely to forget in a hurry.

“Both Xbox One and PS4 are extremely online-focused consoles and the games produced for them reflect that – Destiny being the most recent high-profile example of an online-only game,” says Hicks. “Somebody, and it might not be Microsoft, is definitely going to have an online-only console relatively soon. It’s just the way the world is going now. The only thing that I would bet on is that next time Microsoft will announce it with its still-impressive games lineup first.”

The “TV, TV, TV” approach is not one the company is likely to repeat, certainly.

Next Xbox: hardware

Yet while its rival PlayStation continues to explore new horizons for the PS4 and beyond with PlayStation VR, Playstation Now and Vita Cross-Play, Microsoft has a few other aces up its sleeve.

“Microsoft has always had an incredible R&D budget and will continue to invest in all sorts of new technology, whether for use itself or for license elsewhere,” Hicks says.

Whether we’ll see this new technology take shape during this console generation or next remains to be seen, but we do know that Illumiroom, a proof-of-concept projector system from Microsoft Research that augments the area around your TV to reflect what’s being show on your console – a visual version of surround sound, effectively – may well make a return along with the new Xbox, after Microsoft deemed it ‘too expensive’ to mass produce for the Xbox One. 

Then there’s the Microsoft HoloLens to consider and Cortana, the virtual assistant that now spans the entire Microsoft product catalogue. 

All that said, a new console is a case of when rather than if, and with the lessons learned from the Xbox One’s launch, its subsequent evolution and rising sales, Microsoft couldn’t be in a better position to make the next console its most considered launch yet. We just might have to wait another seven years for it.

The best cheap 4K TV deals in February 2017

Even with the Christmas shopping season behind us now, there are still plenty of opportunities to grab a cheap TV deal. Check out the latest discounts in our extensive guide below for cheap HD and 4K TV deals. 

The days of paying over a grand for a 40-inch TV are long gone as you can see – you can now pick up 40-inch models for under £200, or even 4K 50-inch TVs for under £400.

Curved TVs have come down in price considerably too, and we've discovered some stunning deals on 4K Ultra HD TVs. Now is a great time to upgrade, especially with Netflix, Amazon, the BBC and Sky all planning on bringing more 4K content over the coming months. Check out our guide on Where to watch 4K TV shows and movies.

Our 4K TV deals and HD TV offers feature a wide range of the best TV retailers out there. If you'd prefer to browse their full collections instead of our highlights, here are the direct links to their best TV deals:

Cheap TV deals

Januray Sales: TV deals

The offers below are selling fast as retailers scramble to shift lots of cheap 4K TV deals and other items in the latest TV sales. Below these highlights you'll find a more extensive rundown on lots of other TV deals.

John Lewis Price Match: remember John Lewis price matches its highstreet+online competitors and you can read more about Price Match here 

43-inch 4K TV: You can save £200 on this 43-inch 4K LG TV today. Smart functions and HDR compatibility make this one to watch at £399 from Amazon

55-inch 4K TV: Save £500 on this 55-inch LG OLED55B6V OLED TV. Use voucher code TENNEROFF to save an additional £10 – £1739 at ao.com

55-inch 4K TV: You can also save £500 on a 55-inch curved-screen LG OLED55C6V – £1799 at Currys

60-inch 4K TV: 4K Smart TVs with HDR are rarely spotted under £1000 for a 60-inch model. You better act fast then if you want one for £824 from Amazon

We have a selection of the best cheap TV deals across multiple size ranges. Directly below, you'll find our favourite deal of the week.

TechRadar's 4K TV Deal of the Week

Hisense HE65K5510UWTS 65-inch 4K Smart TV | Now £760 | Tesco
Wow, that's a lot of TV. You're all set for 4K viewing with Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube apps being 4K ready. Freeview HD and USB functions are also included. This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs we've seen at such an epic size.

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Cheap 40-inch and 43-inch TV deals:

cheap tv deals at john lewis

LG 43UH661V 43-inch LED HDR 4K Smart TV | Now £469 | PRC Direct
You can really roll out the premium features on this 43-inch TV. This 4K Smart TV features HDR (High Dynamic Range) tech for a bit of extra future-proofing, or to enjoy now if you have a new Xbox One S or PS4.

Cheap TV deals at Curries

SEIKI SE40FO02UK 40-inch 1080p TV | Now £199 | Currys
Take a moment to think back to how much you paid for your first 40-inch HD TV all those years ago. Then gaze in awe at this 'basic' 40-inch 1080p set with 60Hz visuals, costing a mere £199 – probably a fair bit less than that one back in the day. Oh, and it comes with Freeview HD too, just to rub it in.

Samsung UE40K6300 40-inch Smart Curved TV | £399 | Amazon
This is super cheap for a curved screen smart TV. You're getting a 1080p picture and the usual range of Smart apps and catch up TV services.

cheap TV deals at argos

Philips 43PUS6401 43-inch 4K Ultra HD Ambilight Smart TV | Now £449 | Argos
Something a little different for you now. In addition to rocking a 4K screen and Smart functions, this TV emits coloured light from the side of the screen onto nearby walls to provide a little extra ambiance in your room. It's entirely optional, but it certainly sounds interesting going by the reviews we've read.

Alternatively, you can get a larger 49-inch version for just £499.

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Cheap 48-inch and 49-inch TV deals:

cheap TV deals at argos

Philips 49PUS6401 49-inch 4K Ultra HD Ambilight Smart TV | Now £499 | Argos
Argos is now £37 cheaper than the competition with with Ambilight TV deal. This really is something a little different. In addition to rocking a 4K screen and Smart functions, this TV emits coloured light from the side of the screen onto nearby walls to provide a little extra ambiance in your room. It's entirely optional, but it certainly sounds interesting going off the reviews I've read.

Hisense H49M3000 49-inch Smart 4K TV| Now £389 | AO.com
Our featured Hisense models have been selling out super fast recently, so it's great to see a deal like this in stock. But seriously, a 49-inch 4K, Smart TV for £389 thanks to the voucher code: TENNEROFF? With prices like this, you may as well join the 4K revolution. This could be a great bargain for gamers looking to buy updated consoles like the Xbox One S and PS4 Pro.

Cheap TV deals

Samsung UE49KS7000 Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR TV | £799 | Crampton & Moore
Looking to dive into the world of 4K and HDR in style? Then check out this discounted TV from Samsung's range, which is now even cheaper than the Christmas sales.

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Cheap 50-inch, 55-inch and 58-inch TV deals:

Hisense H55M6600 55-inch Smart 4K HDR Curved TV | £689 | AO.com
Use voucher code TENNEROFF to save £10. A very similar spec TV to the deal above, but with a curved screen. If you're treating yourself to these delightful curves you'll get to enjoy Smart apps in 4K and HDR too.

Hisense 50M5500 50-inch HDR 4K Smart TV | Now  £599 | John Lewis
This is one of Hisense's premium 4K TV and comes not just with a 4K picture, Smart apps and Freeview HD but also 2016's essential feature, High Dynamic Range technology. John Lewis will cover it for five years too.

Cheap TV deals

Hisense 55M5500 55-inch HDR 4K Ultra HD Smart TV| Now £699 | John Lewis
This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs we've seen of this size with High Dynamic Range and should be on the radar of any gamer looking to take advantage of HDR 4K gaming. The John Lewis five year guarantee gives it extra appeal for any TV buyer.

If you'd prefer the 55-inch Hisense H55M7000 instead then you can get it for £678 at BT.

Cheap 60-inch, 65-inch and 75-inch TV deals:

Hisense HE65K5510UWTS 65-inch 4K Smart TV | Now £760 | Tesco
Wow, that's a lot of TV. You're all set for 4K viewing with Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube apps being 4K ready. Freeview HD and USB functions are also included. This is one of the cheapest 4K TVs we've seen at such an epic size.

LG 65UH615V 65-inch Smart 4K HDR TV | Now £999.99 | Amazon
This 65-inch TV from LG has everything the future-facing viewer wants. A 4K HDR picture, Smart TV apps, Freeview HD and Freesat HD. Alternatively, John Lewis is offering the same TV with a five year warranty for an additional £49.

Samsung UE70KU6000 70-inch Smart 4K HDR TV | Now £1559 | Currys
So, you're absolutely sure you can fit this in through the door? Will it get around the corner on the stairs? Serious questions that should be ignored in favour of owning this monstrosity. Buy it now and bask in its glory (you won't need any heating if you sit close enough). Consequences are for lesser beings.

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Pricehawk is a Chrome extension that will automatically find you the cheapest deals for the tech and games items you’re shopping for online. It’ll also let you know if there are voucher codes you can use to save even more money!

Visit Pricehawk: in the Google Chrome Store

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The best TVs 2017: which TV should you buy?

With the amount of great televisions shows and movies being produced these days, you don't want your physical TV set to let you down. 

But with a dizzying array of new technologies emerging such as 4K and HDR, it can be difficult to know what tech matters, and what's just marketing. 

There's a lot of money to be saved by knowing the difference between the two.  

That's where we can help. Our guide to the best televisions of this year is here to tell what is and is not important when it comes to image quality, so you can get yourself a great viewing experience, without paying for features you simply don't need. 

Welcome to our guide to the best televisions available today. We've tested swathes of the best televisions around in order to pick out our 10 favourites, taking in as wide a range of features and prices as we can.

Samsung KS9500

Samsung was the first brand to introduce a TV capable of showing high dynamic range pictures in 2015, and it builds on that achievement this year by delivering in the KS9500 series the brightnest TV the world has seen to date. This means it's uniquely qualified to unlock the full potential of HDR, delivering incredibly life-like, dynamic and dramatic pictures that also contain more detail and colour information in bright areas than we've ever seen before. The set even carries the best attempt yet at turning standard dynamic range pictures into HDR. The use of direct LED lighting with local dimming (meaning clusters of the lights behind the screen can have their brightness adjusted independently of each other) also means the KS9500 is able to deliver some gorgeously deep black colours alongside that ground-breaking brightness. You occasionally see clouds of extra light around very bright objects and some settings cause striping in HDR colours. There's no 3D support either. But with some seriously powerful sound joining the mostly barnstorming pictures these are simply the most cutting-edge TV of 2017.

Best TV

LG OLED E6

The OLEDE6’s incredibly slim ‘picture on glass’ design technique creates simply the most gorgeous TVs ever made. They’re certainly not just a pretty face, though. Especially since the way each OLED pixel produces its own light and colour independent of its neighbours means the OLEDE6 series delivers levels of contrast and light control just not possible with LCD. Unprecedentedly deep black colours sit right alongside even the brightest HDR whites without a hint of light ‘bleed’ – something just not possible with current LCD technologies. This works wonders for high-contrast HDR sources, as well as making today’s standard dynamic range sources look better than on any other TV. A sound bar attached to the bottom of the screen, meanwhile, produces sound quality that wouldn’t be out of place on an external audio system. The OLEDE6’s lose some detail in very bright HDR areas, and occasionally suffer fleeting colour noise. They’re not cheap, either. But none of that stops them being utterly brilliant.

Best TV

Panasonic DX802

Considering the Panasonic DX802 TVs sit just one rung below Panasonic's flagship TVs for 2017 (the DX902 sets that feature later in this guide), they're strikingly aggressively priced. Especially when you consider that their feature list includes an awesome-sounding 12-speaker external sound bar audio system, native UHD screens, support for high dynamic range playback, and a brilliantly simple smart TV system.

The DX802s also enjoy a unique design that finds their screens hanging within two easel-style silver legs, between which you also rest the external sound bar speaker (though you can remove the screen from the legs and wall mount it if you prefer). The DX802s' edge LED lighting sometimes means you can see bands and blocks of unwanted light around bright objects. Otherwise, though, provided you use the TVs' adaptive backlight feature on its highest setting, the DX802s produce lovely, refined pictures with HDR and especially SDR content that exude Panasonic's self-proclaimed obsession with making pictures look like their creators intended them to look. 

Best TV

samsung ks7000 deals

Samsung's desire to bring quality HDR to a wider audience is epitomised by the KS7000s. Their combination of an ultra bright panel and Quantum Dot colour reproduction enables it to deliver levels of dynamism, colour vibrancy and punch with HDR sources that have to be seen to believed considering the range starts at just £1200. The sets are attractive too, featuring slim, metallic frames and minimalist desktop 'feet'. It's also nice to find the airy design kept relatively free of cable spaghetti by an external box that passes on picture and sound via a single cable.

The KS7000s make it easy to find favourite content via a new, improved version of Samsung's Tizen smart interface, too. Bright HDR objects can cause some backlight striping and blocking when they appear against dark backgrounds, and 3D fans will have to look elsewhere as Samsung has abandoned the feature for 2017. The bottom line, though, is that no other TV in its price range delivers HDR as successfully.

Best TV

Sony W809 series deals

It’s getting increasingly difficult to find a big-screen TV that doesn’t carry a UHD resolution. Yet there are still plenty of people who have no interest in forking out for UHD sources, and so would rather get a high quality HD TV for the same money as a relatively low-quality 4K TV. Cue the Sony W805/809C series, which deliver probably the finest picture quality the HD world has ever seen while costing precious little by today’s TV standards.

So good are these TVs, in fact, that they have actually been continued over from 2015 due to a combination of popular demand and critical acclaim. Ideally the Android interface would be sleeker and more customisable (though it does carry a huge amount of apps), and you might want to add an external sound system at some point to replace the rather flimsy built-in speakers. The W805C/W809C TVs’ fabulous pictures, though, really are gorgeous enough to overwhelm any flaws elsewhere.

Best TV

Panasonic DX902 deals

In a bid to deliver levels of light control beyond the typical capabilities of LCD TVs, the Panasonic DX902 series employs a new honeycomb panel designed to limit how far unwanted light around bright objects can spread.

Coupled with an exceptionally bright panel, brilliant black levels for an LCD screen and ultra-rich but also beautifully controlled colours (thanks to Panasonic’s pro-grade 3D Look Up Table colour system), the new honeycomb approach really does work wonders for the most part on the latest high dynamic range pictures, giving them an intensity second only to that of Samsung’s KS9500 models. And Panasonic’s models are around £800 cheaper. The only catch with the honeycomb design is that in limiting the extent of light bleed in the picture it does sometimes make what light bleed there is look more pronounced. Fast motion occasionally looks slightly soft too. None of which alters the fact, however, that for their money the DX902s are really in a class of their own.

Best TV

LG OLED B6 deals

LG's taken an unusual approach with its 2017 OLED TV range, choosing to base the differences across the series in the range more on design than picture quality concerns. So it is that while the entry level OLEDB6 series isn't quite as ultra-slim and unfeasibly gorgeous as the premium 'picture on glass' OLEDE6 models, they do deliver broadly similar picture quality. Which is handy when you're talking about the sort of beautifully high contrast, colour-rich, HDR-capable, 4K pictures LG's OLED TVs are providing this year.

The OLEDB6 pictures lack some of the refinement of the more expensive OLEDE6 screens, and there's slightly more potential for noise in dark areas. There's also no support for 3D unlike LG's other 2016 OLED ranges, and audio is noticeably thinner than that of the sound bar-equipped OLEDE6s. All that will likely matter about the OLEDB6 series for many AV fans, though, is that they represent the cheapest way to get your hands on LG's latest and greatest OLED generation.

Best TV

sONY kd-75xd9405 DEALS

If you're into movies and you've got plenty of space in your living room, Sony's 75XD9405 is our favourite 'giant TV' of 2017 to date. Its mammoth 75-inch screen gives you deliciously detailed, colourful, high contrast, clear and natural pictures with high and standard dynamic sources alike, and its enormity also does a great job of underlining the benefits of having a native 4K pixel count to work with. Its pictures aren't the brightest around, and some high-contrast HDR content causes light 'blooming' around bright objects.

Android TV's interface isn't the most helpful around either, and the low-profile buttons on the remote control are tortuous to use. For the vast majority of the time, though, the size and overall quality of the 75XD9405's pictures creates a stunningly immersive experience that could well make the idea going out to watch films a thing of the past.

Best TV

Samsung KS5600 deals

While all four models in the K5600 range are worthy HD contenders, we’re particularly fond of the 32-inch and 40-inch models, since they bring a level of quality to the small-screen/second room TV markets that’s rarely found these days. Their pictures, for instance, enjoy much more contrast, brightness and colour vibrancy than the vast majority of other small-screen TVs these days, and they also offer more smart features – including Netflix, Amazon and all the ‘big four’ UK catch up TV services – than you’d usually expect to find.

You can view content on your smartphones and tablets via integrated sreen mirroring, and there’s even an optional extra SmartThings hub available that introduces features like the TV turning on as soon as you enter the room, and being able to adjust connected lights and speakers. Even the K5600 design is a cut above the flimsy plasticky finishes associated with most non-4K TVs now.

Best TV

Panasonic DX600 tv deals

Please note that we’re only recommending the 40-inch DX600. The two larger DX600s use different kinds of panel which struggle to deliver useful amounts of contrast. The 40DX600, though, is a really appealing model for its sub-£500 price. Its native 4K screen produces sharp, clean pictures that benefit from an unusually assured contrast performance for such an affordable 4K model. Colours look bold, punchy but also surprisingly subtle.

Panasonic’s Firefox smart system is also exceptionally well presented and easy to use too, and comes backed up by Freeview Play to let you access on-demand content from the main UK broadcasters via a TV listings screen that scrolls back through time as well as forwards. All in all, while the relatively small 40-inch screen doesn’t sell the TV’s native 4K resolution all that well and you can’t watch it from much of an angle before colour and contrast start to lose their intensity, the 40DX600 gives you an awful lot of bang for precious little buck.

What TV technology is best? Which is the best LCD TV? Which screen size is best for your living room? What’s the difference between LCD and LED TVs?

The answers aren’t always obvious. In fact, buying a new TV can be stressful even for the tech-savvy – there are so many brands, so many features, so many screen sizes, colors, technologies and flavors to choose from.

So which one is right for you, your family and your living space? In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new TV.

What types of TV are there out there?

There are a lot of different screen types out there, all working in different ways to produce the same results. Each technology has its own unique strengths and weaknesses so here are some basics to consider:

LCD TV: CCFL
Until recently, all LCD TVs were backlit by always-on, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent) lamps. This ageing technology has been superseded by the superior LED method on more expensive sets, but is still standard on some cheaper models.

LED TV: Direct LED
These displays are backlit by an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes) directly behind the screen. This enables localised dimming – meaning immediately adjacent areas of brightness and darkness can be displayed more effectively – and greatly improves contrast. LED TVs are also more power efficient and capable of a wider colour gamut than CCFL sets. Because of the extreme cost of mounting these arrays of LEDs, Direct LED TVs have largely been out muscled by Edge LED…

LED TV: Edge LED
With these TVs, LEDs of the backlight are mounted along the edges of the panel. This arrangement enables radically slender displays and offers superior contrast levels to CCFL, but can’t achieve the same picture quality as directly lit LED sets. However, they do come in far cheaper which is why most LED TVs out there now use this technology.

OLED TV
The backlighting on OLED (organic light emitting diode) sets is achieved by passing an electric current through an emissive, electroluminescent film. This technique produces far better colours and higher contrast and also enables screens to be extremely thin and flexible. This is the holy grail display technology and only in 2014 did a bigscreen OLED TV go on sale. So it’s new, it’s expensive and the top brands are still struggling to get their heads around it. To date, only LG has been able to release full sized OLED TVs.

Quantum Dot

Quantum Dot
As yet we’re not quite at the stage where we’re going to get self-emitting quantum dot LEDs, but they’re a-coming. What we do have though is Samsung producing its Nanocrystal filter based on quantum dot technology to produce a seriously improved colour palette and contrast levels that get mighty close to the pinnacle of OLED.

Plasma TV
PDP (plasma display panel) TVs use glass panels containing millions of tiny cells filled with a mixture of inert gases. Electricity excites the gases, causing them to illuminate the pixels across the screen. Plasma, while arguably superior to LCD in terms of contrast and colour accuracy, is only viable on large (42in+) screens and has been dropped by all but a handful of manufacturers. You’ll be lucky to find one on the shelves these days.

Curved TV
Some manufacturers are now making TVs that have slightly curved screens. But unlike old CRT TVs, the curve is inwards rather than outwards. The idea is that this makes every pixel equidistant from your eyes, delivering a more satisfying picture. However, there are drawbacks for this type of screen – the main one being that if you sit far enough to one side – more than 40 degrees or so – the curve clearly starts to affect the image’s geometry, foreshortening content near to you and compressing the image’s centre.

What resolution tech should I go for?

HD
HD TVs come in two resolutions. Sets with the HD ready are required to be able to display a minimum 720p picture, and generally has a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Meanwhile, Full HD TVs have a higher resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. It’s highly advisable that you don’t go for anything less than full HD in this day and age.

Ultra HD and 4K
The resolution of Ultra HD is exactly four times higher than full HD – 3840 x 2160. It means a far more detailed picture, with content requiring a lot more bandwidth and storage space. 4K TVs tend to be good at upscaling HD video to Ultra HD but there are currently very few options for watching native 4K content. Read more about 4K.

HDR
Potentially the next big thing in TVs, HDR produces astounding levels of visual fidelity and can be found in some of the latest Ultra HD TVs. Arguably the shift to HDR video could make a more dramatic difference to your viewing experience than moving from HD to 4K. Like still HDR images, the moving version expands the range of both the light and dark ends of spectrum, providing more detail for both. HDR needs new filming methods though – at the moment there is no way to backfill HDR into existing video. It also needs new TV tech too, with Samsung the only ones to create specific screens, though LG and Sony are going be able to update some of their existing stock to be compatible.

What else should I consider?

Buying a flatscreen television is a major investment and one that you can’t afford to take lightly. Just popping into the closest store and grabbing the first plasma or LCD you see won’t get you the best deal, the screen that suits your needs, or the gear you require to make the most of your new purchase.

Size matters

People tend to pick the size of their flat TV based on the amount of space they have for it, this isn’t necessarily wise. Flat TVs take up much less space than you might think, so your new TV may end up a foot or two further away from your viewing position, making the picture appear smaller.

Also, with hi-def, you can have a bigger screen and the same viewing distance without worrying about seeing blemishes inherent to the source. HDTV’s lack of noise means that the ideal distance to sit from the screen is three to four times the height of the TV.

how to calculate the best tv size for you

How to calculate the right size HD TV:

The trick here is to ensure that your TV is big enough to fill your line of vision, but small enough to be sharp and clear. Remember, if you intend to only watch standard-definition sources, the bigger the screen gets, the worse the image will look.

The ideal screen size can be calculated by multiplying the distance that you intend to sit away from it by 0.535 and then rounding this up to the nearest size.

So, if you sit 80in away from your TV, the ideal size is 42-inch (80 x 0.535= 42.8).

What features should I look out for?

Features are too numerous to go into here, but here are some things you should consider.

Photo viewing: If you have a digital camera, a TV that has a slot for memory cards or a USB socket for a card reader will let you view your photos onscreen.

Here are some of the things we look for when we review a screen, so you should, too…

Contrast: Bright whites shouldn’t have any signs of green, pink or blue in them, while blacks should look solid and not washed out, grey, green or blue.

Colours: Look at how bright and solid they are; how noiseless their edges are; how ‘dotty’ richly saturated areas are and how natural skin looks, especially in dim scenes.

Fine detail: How much texture does the screen give? Does a tree look like a green lump, or can you see the individual leaves

Edges: Check for ghosting, bright halos and jaggedness, especially around curves.

Motion: Check moving objects and quick camera pans for smearing or blurring, trailing, jerkiness and fizzing dotty noise.

Image artefacts: Look for blockiness, colour bands, grain, smearing, dot crawl: anything that looks like it’s added by the TV picture processing or a weak TV tuner. Tinker with a TV’s picture settings before making a final decision. Factory settings are rarely good for everyday viewing.

Sony Ultra HD

What about sound?

To provide the best audio to complement the pictures, your TV should be hooked up to a surround sound system, but this isn’t always an option. So, here’s what we listen for when testing a TV’s speakers:

Bass: Deep, rounded rumbles that don’t cause the set to rattle or speakers to distort, cramp or overwhelm the rest of the sound; but that expand when needed.

Vocals: Voices should sound open, rich and clear, not boxed in, nasal or thin.

Trebles: Treble effects should sound clean, rounded and smooth in loud scenes and shouldn’t dominate the soundstage.

Soundstage width/depth: A good TV should throw the sound away from the TV, to the sides, forward and back, to give an extra dimension to what’s on screen, without losing any coherence.

Questions to ask before you buy

Taking the time to consider these questions will make choosing the best TV easier…

HD or 4K?

4K TVs are stunning and even though there is currently little native 4K content to enjoy, the good ones are able to upscale HD to 4K very well. That being said, unless you’re buying a very large TV – we’re talking 65-inches plus – full HD should be adequate.

What size do I need?

This is dictated by the dimensions of the room where the TV is going and the amount of cash you’re prepared to spend. As a general rule of thumb, work out how far from the set you’ll be sitting (in inches), multiply that distance by 0.535 and then round up the result to the nearest screen size. Bear in mind that a decent smaller telly is often a more sensible investment than a larger, less accomplished one. And if you’re going to buy a 4K TV, you can sit much closer because of the higher resolution.

How many HDMI sockets do I need?

For a living room TV you should be looking for a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs. If you want to attach a set-top box as well as games consoles etc, those HDMI ports will fill up fast.

Can I connect my older, analogue kit?

Most new sets carry no more than two composite connections, while S-video is fast approaching obsolescence. Check that your new TV can hook up to older digiboxes, VCRs or DVD decks that you might want to plug into it.

Do I want to hang my TV on the wall?

First off, you’ll need to consult a construction expert to check that the wall in question is strong enough to support a flatscreen. Then find out if the set you want is designed to be wall-mounted and, if so, ask if the relevant bracket is included in the basic package or as an optional extra.

Will I be connecting it to a home cinema?

If the answer is no, you might want to think more carefully about your set’s audio performance. Look for a screen that can go as loud as you’ll need without distortion or cabinet rattle. Consider how dialogue sounds and how much low-end rumble the bass is capable of.

Conversely, it’s pointless paying out more cash for exceptional built-in speakers if you already have a decent home cinema system.

Happy shopping!

The Steam UI could be getting a new and improved look

Occasionally beta testers who take the time to dig through the updates they’re testing manage to uncover gold, and that seems to have happened for some PC gaming Steam users.

Posting to Github, SteamDB has revealed that it has uncovered assets in a recent beta update that point towards a fairly dramatic UI overhaul sometime in the future.

The filenames for the images in the update refer to something called ‘SteamU’ which many users are speculating means Steam Universal. 

A bold new look

The images show a new look for Steam, with new navigation and search bars as well as a row of tabs across the top of the screen which clearly separate users’ collections of games, comics, apps, TV shows, movies, and music. 

The image above shows what appears to be the games tab where the user’s installed games appear as clickable tiles. There’s another row of games along the top of the page which are separate from the rest, the most likely explanation for which is that they’re the user’s most recently played titles. 

There’s also another image which seems to depict some kind of hub. We imagine that once you select a title you’d be directed to its hub page where it appears you’ll be able to access information about the game as well as details of your own progress and achievements within it.

These images are, of course, mock-ups so we’d say don’t get too excited – these images could very well be extremely early and changeable concepts and any kind of UI change could be months or even years away. That said, considering its age and the amount of non-game content that’s now on Steam an interface redesign feels overdue. 

Perhaps tellingly, shortly after these assets were uncovered, Valve issued another beta update which removed the images. They are, however, still archived on GitHub for anyone looking to access them.

Best soundbars 2017: 10 soundbars that kick bass

Forget your TV's crappy built-in speakers, soundbars (particularly the best soundbars listed on this page) are an affordable and easy way of giving your home theatre's sound a boost. 

The long, thin speaker can be placed or mounted underneath a television and provides a satisfying increase in sound fidelity without dramatically increasing your TV's footprint. 

Higher-end soundbars will also include the latest and greatest audio technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. 

So whether you're looking to buy a budget or high-end model, soundbars right across the price spectrum will have something to offer. 

But not all soundbars are made equal. In their quest to improve upon the bass-free output of a TV's inbuilt speakers, some soundbars go too far in the opposite direction, and give you a bass overload. 

So without further ado, welcome to our guide to the best soundbars available in 2017. We've got something to match every budget, and our price tracker will make sure that if you do decide to buy one from our list then you'll be getting the absolutely best price possible.

What’s the best soundbar?

Soundbars come in many shapes and sizes, and range in price from under £100/$100 to over £1,000/$1,500. Cheaper models have basic connections, more expensive ones add superior HDMI inputs (including 4K/HDR passthrough), wireless audio streaming (e.g. Bluetooth and AirPlay), better power, more refined speaker drivers, and decoding of Blu-ray sound formats.

Design is also important, with some models able to sit in front of your TV on a stand while others may need a separate shelf, or to be wall mounted. However, whatever your budget, there are some cracking good acoustic upgrades to be had that can give your TV the sound it deserves.

Philips Fidelio B5

The Philips Fidelio B5 is an impressive bit of kit, and it’s the perfect soundbar for someone who appreciates good cinema sound but has no interest in tearing up their living room to install a 5.1 surround sound system to use only every now and then. The B5 enables you to pick and choose your movie moments, and do it on a whim. And it creates a pretty decent surround sound experience too, using both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Digital Surround decoding.

The combination of convenience and good audio – the raison d’etre of the soundbar – with its transformative surround sound capabilities makes the Fidelio B5 a great option for the movie fan who can’t face all the aggravation of a proper 5.1 installation.

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio B5

The Q Acoustics M4 soundbar doesn’t immediately set pulses racing with its slightly prosaic looks, ‘mere’ 2.1-channel sound and lack of any HDMI support. However, you only have to hear what the M4 can do with both music and movies for your doubts about it to evaporate almost instantly. In fact, it sounds so good that it starts to make the idea of trying to deliver more channels from an affordable sound bar look a bit silly.

In fact, though, it sounds so much better than pretty much any rival soundbar in the same price bracket that it’s actually ridiculously good value – especially if you care about music as much as you care about movies. 

Read the full review: Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar

Best Soundbars

Focal, most known for its excellent sounding speakers (and the recently released Focal Listen headphones), is late to the soundbar space, but its Focal Dimension was worth the wait. The Dimension soundbar is simply gorgeous, with its piano black accents and aluminum unibody construction.

At $1,399 (£799, AU$1,699) it's not exactly cheap, but you're paying for excellent build quality, sound and design.

Read the full review: Focal Dimension

Best Soundbars

The LG SH7B is a soundbar system that can do it all. Its feature set and solid sound quality make it a good choice for those with limited space. While music playback and surround sound aren’t mind-blowing, they’re more than respectable at this price. 

It’s a breeze to set up since its subwoofer is wireless, though Android users may be frustrated by LG’s buggy app. Sound quality is decent for the price, but in the end loses out to traditional bookshelf speakers in terms of clarity on the high-end. However, if you want a soundbar that can take on every type of media you can throw at it, the LG SH7B is a great option.

Read the full review: LG SH7B

Best Soundbars

The Sonos Playbar is a non-HDMI device that uses optical to hook up to a TV. Used simply on its own it delivers a massive sonic boost to your TV listening, but operating it does require using a smartphone or tablet app. The benefit is that it can seamlessly segue in to a Sonos wireless system, and can even act as the front three speakers in a 5.1 setup with two Play:1s acting as rears.

Read the full review: Sonos Playbar

Best Soundbar

Proudly atop Sony’s 2016 soundbar line-up, this $700 / £599 / AU$999 2.1 sound system includes 4K HDMI-ready inputs, a wireless, slimline subwoofer and even a Hi-Res Audio badge. The latter means compatibility with 24-bit sound sources as well as Spotify Connect, Google Cast, Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth, which even covers both AAC and the higher-resolution LDAC codec.

The sub’s three-way speaker design really shines, but it’s the presence of Sony S Master digital amp module for every driver that wins the day. Audiophile-grade sound is assured across the board, with stereo width best appreciated when it’s wall-mounted. This is an accomplished 2.1 package, though at 108cm long it’s going to be physically hard to house for some.

Read the full review: Sony HT-NT5

Best Soundbar

Do you need Dolby Atmos? This more immersive '3D bubble of surround sound' tech is here, created not only by a standard soundbar design, but with a couple of satellite speakers and a subwoofer added. Is that verging on a messy home cinema cinema of old? Perhaps in theory, but this is one of the sleekest implementations of Dolby Atmos yet. Using rear speakers with upward-firing speakers, it actually creates a virtual 5.1.4 system.

OK, so the £1,299 / $1,499 / AU$1,499 HW-K950 is not perfect. It only plays DTS in stereo (unless you have a Blu-ray player that can convert it to Dolby Digital), but this simple-to-set-up package is an amazing performer that should be near the top of any audiophile's soundbar audition list.

Read the full review: Samsung HW-K950

Boasting high-end design, Bose's slim soundbar looks superb, and sounds above average. At 97.9cm wide, it’s best partnered with larger screen sizes (50-inch+) and priced at £599/$700/AU$999, it offers great sound. There are caveats regarding usability and price, but overall it warrants a cautious two thumbs up.

It's also worth mentioning that, as this isn’t a 2.1 package, there’s no subwoofer supplied – although Bose will sell you a wireless Acoustimas sub and the ST300 can be partnered with the brand’s Virtually Invisible (i.e. small at 10cm) 300 surround speakers. The system is also compatible with the Bose SoundTouch wireless multiroom system which includes smaller Bluetooth speakers.  

Read the full review: Bose SoundTouch 300

Best Soundbar

Challenging Samsung in the Dolby Atmos stakes is Yamaha, the creator of the soundbar genre over a decade ago. It doesn’t quite match the HW-K950 on pure surround specs, creating a 5.1.2 sound stage in place of Samsung’s 5.1.4 array, but there’s plenty more to love about this £1,429 / $1,599 / AU$2,499 hunk of tech.

The chief attraction is its unique support for both Dolby Atmos and rival codec DTS:X, but it’s the YSP-5600SW’s 44 individual speakers and dual subwoofers – all within a single unit – that make this all-in-one so attractive. Measuring 1,100 x 212 x 93mm and with Hi-Res Audio playback (including 24-bit ALAC, FLAC and AIFF), the YSP-5600SW even adds WiFi, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay for day-to-day convenience.

Best soundbar

For $199 (£159, AU$279), the Razer Leviathan is a great sound bar, and is easily recommended for gamers who just aren’t ready to dive into a full 5.1 system yet. It’s a bit bass-heavy, thanks to the standalone subwoofer – but even so, movies and games come through clear.

The bar is relatively versatile, too. It’s plenty powerful for a PC, but it works out of the box with any console or TV through optical audio out. Not to mention that built-in Bluetooth lets you connect your mobile device when you aren’t directly in front of your entertainment setup. A few tweaks, like a more stable subwoofer connector and a remote would’ve been nice. But, in spite of its diminutive size, the Leviathan far outgrew my expectations.

Read the full review: Razer Leviathan

Honor 6X goes through a series of durability tests, gets bent out of shape

The Honor 6X is the latest mid-range offering from Huawei’s Honor sub-brand and offers quite a few of the bells and whistles typical from premium devices at an affordable $249. However, as can be expected, there’s a trade-off. There’s always one with budget devices, and it’s usually build quality.

Shortly after the Honor 6X launched in the US, famous YouTuber and notorious torturer of smartphones JerryRigEverything has decided to test the handset’s durability by subjecting it to a series of merciless tests.

Kicking things off with the usual screen scratch test, the 6X doesn’t fare very well. The phone comes with a pre-applied screen protector out of the box, and for a good reason. With the shield removed, the glass underneath is exposed as rather soft and easily scratched up by even everyday objects, such as keys.

Moving on to the cameras, 6X’s selfie shooter is protected by the same glass covering the screen, meaning it can be damaged just as easily. The rear-facing dual-cam setup, however, benefits from what seems to be a much sturdier type of glass cover, as it exhibits no scratches when put under the blade.

The back panel and SIM card tray of the Honor 6X are both made of metal, which is good news, but they seem rather prone to scratching. The top and base of the phone are an all-plastic and painted to match the aluminum back. Same goes for the power button and volume rocker – painted plastic, as is to be expected from a budget-oriented phone.

The fingerprint scanner is absolutely obliterated in this video and stops functioning after a while. Although it ends up scratched way beyond what regular day-to-day use would ever cause, it is interesting to note that other fingerprint sensors, such as the ones found on the LG V20 and the Honor 8, can survive this kind of torture.

Surviving the flame-to-screen trial, the Honor 6X is then put to the bending test. Unfortunately, the phone easily gives in to the pressure and is rendered unusable after mere seconds.

Diving deeper: Samsung continues to invest in voice recognition, pours money in SoundHound’s jug

For a while now, we’ve been hearing that the Galaxy S8 will come with a very special voice assistant, allegedly named Bixby. It is speculated that it would be based on software made by Viv Labs — the same developers that worked on Apple’s Siri — as Samsung bought that company back in October of 2016. Early reports tout Viv as the faster and smarter new kid on the block, capable of following conversational threads and responding to complex questions, such as “Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?”.

Now, news has come in that Samsung continues to invest in voice recognition — Sammy and a number of other investors have given $75 million to SoundHound to help towards further developing its own Hound assistant. In case you haven’t been following voice assistants — Hound made a huge splash in the tech industry when it was presented in a few teaser videos, which showcased its ability to answer complex questions, remember them, and follow the direction of a conversation flawlessly. When its beta hit the Play Store, it wasn’t as impressive as expected, but it was still a pretty good voice assistant. However, Google’s own efforts with Google Now (and now, Google Assistant) have managed to push Hound to the back of people’s minds.

But SoundHound hasn’t stopped developing its AI. In fact, it’s a pretty robust little assistant and we would encourage you to download it from the Play Store and give it a spin if you have some time to burn. The developers tout its features as Speech-to-Meaning and Deep Meaning Understanding, as the software doesn’t just try to decipher the words of your sentence, but actually looks for the meaning in what you are saying.

SoundHound wants to cash in on the Hound assistant via a new Houndify program, which it has launched. Basically, it offers the Hound platform to hardware developers to install on anything — from cars to smart speakers, to smart TVs… maybe even smart fridges! It is this program that Samsung and other investors have paid $75 million to support. Does it mean that Hound and Bixby could become best friends? Brothers? A chimera?

Time will tell… (props to anyone who gets the image reference)

Verizon subs at the Super Bowl to bask in 4x greater network capacity

As you might have heard from here and there already, there is a Super Bowl event in Houston this Sunday, and hundreds of Verizon technicians have been prepping the local network for two years now. As a result, Big Red subscribers may find carrying capacity solace at the stadium and throughout Houston gathering areas. Verizon told us they have increased the power of its network there with 450% over the course of those two years, and peak LTE speeds with 50% by using carrier-aggregation techniques. How did they do it? Well, here’s what Verizon laid out in particular:

  • Built 23 new permanent cell sites
  • Installed 220+ permanent small cells installed
  • Doubled capacity through major routes in and out of downtown
  • Deployed 24 Nodes on Wheels (NOWs) to increase capacity and coverage
  • Deployed three channel carrier aggregation leading to greater network peak speeds
  • Positioned Mobile cell sites throughout the city
  • Installed an antenna system to reach the lower stadium seats
After numerous incidents of dropped calls and inability to stream, share or watch video from packed stadiums during big gatherings like the Super Bowl in years prior, carriers are now taking the hint, and boosting up their advanced network features at such events. We wonder if T-Mobile will again have a direct face-off with Verizon’s network speeds at the Super Bowl, like it did last year, for everyone’s grand entertainment.

Netflix and Galaxies! Grab a Galaxy S7/S7 edge from T-Mobile and you’ll get a free year of Netflix

Product Location Item Condition Current Price Offer Expires
Samsung Galaxy S7 + 1 year of standard Netflix subscription T-Mobile $673.99 OR $49.99 upfront
+ $26/mo. x 24 mos.
2/7/17
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge + 1 year of standard Netflix subscription T-Mobile $779.99 OR $59.99 upfront
+ $30/mo. x 24 mos
2/7/17

Grab it here

Loved Narcos and Stranger Things? Of course you did. These are just two of Netflix’s popular recent original series, and they probably lots of great content to come!

With one of T-Mobile’s latest offers, you will be able to enjoy the upcoming seasons of your favorite shows for a whole for free, provided that you purchase or lease a Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 edge from T-Mobile. That’s right, just get a Galaxy S7 and a whole year of free Netflixing and chill will be thrown your way, courtesy of Samsung and the Un-carrier. 

Have in mind that the included Netflix subscription is the standard, $120-worth 2-stream one, which means that you can watch shows and movies on up to two devices simultaneously. Alas, there is no Ultra HD streaming available with that plan, but we shouldn’t look the gift horse in the mouth, should we?

The promotion is valid through Feb 7, 2017, and requires you to pay all sales tax and any applicable down payment. Then you have to register on Samsung’s website until February 21 and they will send you a promo code to activate on Netflix.