Alphabet’s life sciences branch made a sleek smartwatch for robust health tracking

In a case of “if perhaps we could buy this”, Google parent business Alphabet’s life sciences branch has detailed a stylish brand new smartwatch with robust wellness monitoring capabilities.

Called the Verily research Watch, the unit is made to track and gather the data of wearers who are involved in medical and observational studies. Verily is obvious on the watch’s intent in a blog post: “Study Watch is an investigational unit and it is not for sale.” 

What Study Watch provides nonetheless is perhaps just what whoever’s ever used a smartwatch has dreamed about, and it is great to see these features made available to better perceive human wellness.

Key top features of learn Watch include sensors for picking right on up electrocardiogram readings, heartbeat, electrodermal task and inertial movements. Verily notes the analysis Watch has “large internal storage space and information compression,” which allows the wearable host data gathered over a length of weeks, not times.

The view’s battery pack can endure around one week, which sets other smartwatches available on the market to shame. Research Watch can run algorithms in real-time because of its processor, and all sorts of data on the unit is encrypted for privacy. 

Also to help provide it that sleek look without draining battery pack life, the analysis Watch display is for the low power, high res variety. It’s always on, but is only going to show the full time and certain directions, without other information given back to the user.

The watch is already destined for a number of studies, such as the multi-year Personalized Parkinson’s Project, plus the Baseline research, which will monitor 10,000 participants over five years to know transitions between health and disease.

While research Watch is not for consumers, the possibility its features alongside learnings to ultimately make it to mainstream products is definitely there. A few of the tech and tracking systems Verily and its lovers develop for research Watch could feed into Google’s Android os Wear smartwatches one day, providing users more robust wellness readings than they are currently receiving. 

Maybe Google and its own hardware partners could have a web page from Verily’s design book, too? Simply sayin’.

Top Xbox One discounts in April 2017

There are lots of excellent Xbox One deals and packages around this week. It appears like Microsoft is pretty keen to put stress on its competitors while the Xbox One is currently the cheapest of the current generation of gaming consoles. We are very happy to let the discounts roll in too as you can get a fresh Xbox One S with a few games at under £220 nowadays.

Retailers are stocking some super low priced Xbox One deals as standalone acquisitions and value-packed bundles with additional games. Some packages frequently cost less compared to standalone systems too, so be sure to have a look at our hand-picked set of the greatest Xbox One offers underneath the contrast maps. We have also included the most effective Xbox One Elite controller rates and inexpensive Xbox Live Gold membership discounts.

Looking to buy in america? it is additionally vital to at once over to our United States page then.

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Xbox One S deals

The slimmed-down design regarding the Xbox One S looks much better than the original chunky package and the energy stone is now anything associated with the past. The primary draw though is 4K artistic support meaning you’ll be able to view specialised Blu-Ray and Netflix content in 4K on your own new 4K TV.

Original Xbox One discounts

The purchase price contrast chart below is the old, initial model of the Xbox One. As things stay you are able to regularly get cheaper rates because of the more recent Xbox One S, so we’d urge you to definitely have a look above before splashing the cash regarding initial Xbox One.

The best Xbox One deal associated with the week

Xbox One S | Battlefield 1 | £209.85 @ Amazon
Battlefield 1 might have been away since late last year, but it’s still close to full-price by itself, therefore any discounted bundle is well worth a try to find among the best shooters of final couple of years. Oh, therefore comes with an Xbox One S! But yes, this is a super low priced price the console alone, therefore act fast should you want to log off that fence.

Understand This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S with Battlefield 1 £209.85 @ Amazon

The best Xbox One bundle deals this week

Xbox One S | Forza Horizon 3 | Halo 5 | Now TV sub | £219.99 @ Game
Get your brand-new Xbox One console with Forza Horizon 3, Halo 5 plus three-month Now television entertainment pass and you’re all set for months of fun just for £219.99.

Regard This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S, Forza Horizon 3, Halo 5, Now television £219.99 @ Game

Xbox One S | FIFA 17 | Forza 5 | Now television | £219.99 @ Game
If you’ll need a little bit of footy in your bundle, then this is the most useful one around. not only can you get FIFA 17, however you additionally get yourself a copy of Forza 5  and a three-month Now TV entertainment pass. Once again, just £219.99 from Game.

Treat This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S, FIFA 17, Forza 5 Now television £219.99 @ Game

Xbox One S | FIFA 17 | Forza Horizon 3 | Rare Replay | Killer Instinct £219.99 @ Microsoft
Microsoft is weighing into the battle for the money recently too and also this is a superb handle four quality games for your brand new Xbox One S.

Regard This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S with 4 games £219.99 @ Microsoft

Xbox One S Minecraft bundle | £179.99 @ SimplyGames
If you’re not bothered about extras and just desire the absolutely cheapest deal for brand new Xbox One S, this is it. SimplyGames is celebrating the week-end early and saying pish to profit margins with this particular superbly cheap Xbox One deal. You’re additionally getting Minecraft: Favourites Edition tossed set for absolutely nothing.

View this Xbox One deal: Xbox One S Minecraft bundle £179.99 @ SimplyGames

1TB Xbox One S | FIFA 17 | additional FREE game | £269.99 @ Microsoft
The 1TB variations of the Xbox One will always worth a look for easier memory management and this one saves you a tidy sum because of Microsoft tossing in a totally free game from the selection of Gears 4, Halo Wars 2 or Forza Horizon 3 as well as the down load rule for FIFA 17. click on the 1TB choice as soon as you click on through below and choose your free game from the next display screen. 

Treat This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S, FIFA 17 and further game £269.99 @ Microsoft 

1TB Xbox One S | Halo Wars 2 and Season Pass | additional COMPLIMENTARY game | £269.99 @ Microsoft
In addition up to a 1TB Xbox One S you’re also getting Halo Wars 2 and the season pass. Microsoft has greatly enhanced this Xbox One deal by adding Gears 4 at no cost too (option seems after including system to container).

Treat This Xbox One deal: 1TB Xbox One S, Gears 4, Halo Wars 2 and Season Pass – £269.99 @ Microsoft

1TB Xbox One S | Gears of War 4 | Dead Rising 4 | £269.99 @ Zavvi
Like the deal above but swapping down out fast vehicles and sunshine for zombies and and discomfort! And like we keep on saying, 1TB hard disks will be the way forwards as a result of increasingly large install file sizes.

Regard This Xbox One deal: Xbox One S, Gears 4 and Dead Rising 4 £269.99 @ Zavvi

1TB Xbox One S | FIFA 17 | £199.99 @ Smyths
Wow, Smyths has smashed £30 off its already large cost last week! If you are a typical gamer, we would recommend choosing one of many larger 1TB Xbox One deals where possible. Get the 1TB Xbox One S system and FIFA 17 for £199.99.

Regard This Xbox One deal: 1TB Xbox One S with FIFA 17 £199.99 @ Smyths

xbox one s packages

1TB Xbox One S | Gears of War 4 | £219.99 @ SimplyGames
Gears of War 4 ought to be on top of the must-buy set of any new Xbox One S owner. Which means this is definitely an perfect bundle, particularly if youare going to acquire a fair couple of games whilst the 1TB hard disk drive is much more workable compared to 500GB console. This can be a great cost for a 1TB Xbox One, therefore the bundled game simply sweetens the offer.

View this Xbox One deal: 1TB Xbox One S with Gears of War 4 £219.99 @ SimplyGames

Cheap Xbox Live discounts

Xbox Live Gold: need certainly to top your Xbox Live Gold membership? Cannot pay the standard automated £40 renewal price. Check out our selection of Xbox Live Gold deals below to save lots of some cash.

Xbox One Elite controller deals

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Surface Pro 5 release date, news and rumors

Historically, Surface pricing has sparsely fluctuated year after year. For that reason, we expect to see the Surface Pro 5 start at $899 (£749, AU$1,349) and escalate from there depending on specially configured hardware and bundled accessories.

That said, while it wouldn’t be ideal for Microsoft’s loyal following if the company deviated too far from the norm, ambitious upgrades may necessitate that it does. For the price of the next Surface Pro to differ from its predecessors, it would have to offer some serious advantages over its last-gen sibling – not just a run-of-the-mill spec boost. 

Regardless, the ball is in Microsoft's court here, and if pricier new additives are implemented into the baseline model, it's not unprecedented for PC makers to issue a price hike (see: the latest MacBook Pro).

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The would-be fifth Surface Pro tablet
  • When is it out? As early as spring 2017
  • What will it cost? Likely as much as – if not more than – the current model

Surface Pro 5 release date

The Surface Pro 5 was originally speculated to launch alongside the Windows 10 Creators Update. Well, considering the Creators Update commenced rollout on April 11, it’s safe to say that’s no longer Microsoft’s plan.

Instead, it appears as though the next bit of news will erupt from the #MicrosoftEDU event slated for May 2. Though it’s all but confirmed at this point (kudos to Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet) that the New York-based press event will center around a stripped-down Windows 10 Cloud, it’s still possible we could see a range of hardware there.

With the Surface Book 2 ostensibly delayed behind the scenes, however, the fate of the Surface Pro 5 is similarly shrouded. As such, only Microsoft knows when we’ll see a release date. It could be as imminent as May or as far off as to launch in conjunction with the second major Windows 10 update of 2017.

Surface Pro 5

We doubt the Surface Pro 5 will look terribly different from the previous

Surface Pro 5 price

Historically, Surface pricing has sparsely fluctuated year after year. For that reason, we expect to see the Surface Pro 5 start at $899 (£749, AU$1,349) and escalate from there depending on specially configured hardware and bundled accessories.

That said, while it wouldn’t be ideal for Microsoft’s loyal following if the company deviated too far from the norm, ambitious upgrades may necessitate that it does. For the price of the next Surface Pro to differ from its predecessors, it would have to offer some serious advantages over its last-gen sibling – not just a run-of-the-mill spec boost. 

Regardless, the ball is in Microsoft's court here, and if pricier new additives are implemented into the baseline model, it's not unprecedented for PC makers to issue a price hike (see: the latest MacBook Pro).

Surface Pro 5 specs

In terms of specs, what little we know is based on tweets from Microsoft informant Paul Thurrott whose sources have told him that the Surface Pro 5 will indeed use a 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor. This is unsurprising given the year of release, though he also made it a point to liken the upcoming convertible tablet to a “Surface Pro 4.5” of sorts. 

Another interesting tidbit from Thurrott suggests that the Surface Connect proprietary charger is here to stay, meaning the Surface Pro 5 may not use USB-C to restore the battery as most 2-in-1 devices tend to do now. As of this writing, it’s not clear whether Surface Pro 5 will add USB-C ports for data transfers and peripherals much less what type of Kaby Lake processor it uses. 

Surface Pro 5

Image Credit: Patently Mobile

Surface Pro 5 stylus and Dial

One piece of the puzzle regarding every new Surface is how Microsoft will upgrade its Surface Pen stylus accessory that comes bundled with each tablet. Back in January 2016, it was uncovered that Microsoft had filed for a rechargeable stylus.

Another interesting patent filed by Microsoft describes a renewed Surface Pen loop, designed to latch the Surface Pen onto your Surface devices via a USB connection. Not only would it hold the Surface Pen into position when needed, but it would simultaneously charge the accessory for prolonged continuous use. 

Of course, Microsoft also has the Surface Dial in its clasp. The designer-focused puck-like accessory was briefly mentioned in a slideshow presentation in December, with ZDNet having picked up the slides themselves for use in a news story. The company claims that peripherals such as the Dial, wearables, headsets and more are factors essential to what is perceived as the “modern PC.”

Also mentioned was the incorporation of “hero features” such as Cortana and Windows Hello, meaning a fingerprint scanner may not be too far off either. After all, the Dell XPS 13 did it with a $25 add-on configuration. Perhaps we could even see the day when a fingerprint reader is implemented in the Surface Pen itself. 

Surface Pro 5

Microsoft’s Panos Panay revealing the Surface Pro 3 in May 2014

What we want to see

Look, as much as we've been impressed by the Surface Pro 4 – firmware issues aside – there will always be room for improvement. (That would be the case even if it had earned our Editor's Choice award.) From the screen size and resolution to the hardware found inside, we have a few ideas for how Microsoft could craft an even better Windows 10 tablet.

Longer battery life

This is a bit of low-hanging fruit, but countless customers have lamented the Surface Pro 4's battery life, regardless of issues with its "Sleep" mode. We rated the device for 5 hours and 15 minutes of local video playback.

That's well below Microsoft's promise of 9 hours of video playback, but we all know that few, if any, laptops actually meet their promised battery life approximations. Our video playback figure is in line with the average laptop, though it's a far cry from what its nemesis, the MacBook, can hold on for.

Ideally, and realistically, we'd like to see at least 7 hours of battery life reliably from the next Surface Pro tablet. That would put it closer in line with the MacBooks as well as competing tablets, like the iPad Pro. Plus, if the reports via Yahoo News are true, a battery boost would come in handy for the eSIM card said to be inside the Surface Pro 5.

That goes without mentioning the recent implementation of Windows 10 “Game Mode”, which introduces proper GPU allocation, i.e. prioritizing foreground activities, while playing games. Surely, if you plan on knocking out your Steam backlog on the Surface Pro 5, you’ll need as many milliampere hours in that lithium-ion battery as you can get. On the other hand, if that’s too much to ask, USB fast-charging would be a welcome alternative.

Surface Pro 5

Can the screen get much sharper? Why yes, it can

An even sharper (and/or bigger) screen

With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft managed to outrank countless rivals in both the laptop and tablet spaces when it comes to screen resolution. With a razor-sharp 267 ppi (pixels per inch) already at 2,736 x 1,824 pixels within a 12.3-inch screen, it's not as if the Surface Pro 5 needs to be much sharper.

However, if the next Surface Pro were equipped with, say, a 4K (3,840 pixels wide at the very least) screen, that would rip its productivity and entertainment capabilities wide open. Film and photo editors could work at the native resolution that's increasingly becoming the norm, while average Joe's (teehee) could finally watch Netflix in 4K on a tablet.

That said, the realm of super sharp resolutions might be reserved for the Surface Book range at this point. So, why not up its size a bit?

The Surface Pro 4 is big enough for almost all tasks, but it's still not the established default size for most laptops: 13.3 inches. Then again, doing so may cannibalize Microsoft's market by negating the need for its Surface Book.

On the other hand, maybe the iPad Pro is onto something with its 12.9-inch display. After all, we’re not asking for a gargantuan, monster-sized tablet – just a slight size boost. Assuming the resolution doesn't bump up too much alongside a size increase, the extra space could allow for a battery life boost.

Surface Pro 5

Now, imagine if the next Surface rocked USB-C

It might finally be time for USB-C

With the latest MacBook Pro and HP Spectre among the most famous devices to adopt the latest in USB interfaces, USB Type-C (or simply USB-C) is an overdue feature for the Surface Pro. 

A reversible, versatile port (or two?) may be just what the Surface Pro 5 needs to mitigate the product line's lacking input/output problem. A single USB 3.0 port and a proprietary charging port aren't going to cut it for much longer, and with the help of a specialized set of adapters, USB-C is infinitely more utilitarian.

At the same time, Microsoft may want to include a standard USB 3.0 port, too, in order to natively meet the system requirements for its own Windows 10 VR headsets. If the company wants to lead the pack in the business of affordable virtual reality solutions, it's a no-brainer to make the Surface Pro 5 compatible.

Word around the tech world says we're only a few months out from a release – plenty of time for the rumor mill to fire up. Stay tuned to this space in the coming months for the latest on everything Surface Pro 5.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

Surface Book 2 release date, news and rumors

In October 2015, the Surface Book premiered as a hybrid device, one Microsoft called the “ultimate laptop.” Shipping with a detachable screen, stylus support and a dual-core Intel Skylake processor of your choosing, we had a hunch the company was right. 

Despite an appetizing list of hardware specs, the 2-in-1 arrived with a few hiccups. There were some complaints surrounding the “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge,” including a gap that's formed when the laptop is closed. 

The “Clipboard” tablet portion of the device has a low battery life, though that’s been largely mitigated with the introduction of the Performance Base-enhanced i7 variant; but, on the high end, the pricing is rather steep, too.

So, you can tell that we're not the only ones clamoring for improvements to an already promising formula. Enter the highly anticipated Surface Book 2, a would-be hybrid notebook that’s presumably due for arrival later this year.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The sequel to Microsoft's first laptop
  • When is it out? Spring 2017 at the earliest
  • What will it cost? Reportedly starts at $1,000 (£1,299, AU$1,899)

Surface Book 2 release date

Although the original launched well over a year ago, there's been no official confirmation of a Surface Book 2. Instead, the Surface Book i7 debuted back in October, complete with a graphics-enhancing Performance Base and a handful of subtle design changes.

With reports last year that this new Windows software would overlap with Microsoft’s introduction of new hardware, we originally surmised that the Surface Book 2 would touch down alongside the Windows 10 Creators Update, which commenced rollout on April 11.

Sources speaking with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley suggest, however, that the Surface Book 2 won’t be ready for the spring. Our next bet would be that the Surface Book 2 arrives in the latter half of the year alongside the second major Windows 10 update of 2017

We should know for sure come May 2, the date in which Microsoft will hold its #MicrosoftEDU event. On the other hand, all signs point to Microsoft’s spring media event in NYC to be focused on Windows 10 Cloud, a lightweight, Windows RT-esque version of MIcrosoft’s desktop operating system.

Surface Book 2 price

Reports from DigiTimes lead us to believe that Microsoft may be revealing a more traditional clamshell laptop at its spring showing, resulting in a drastic reduction in price.

While the entry-level Surface Book of today would set users back a cool $1,299 (£1,449, AU$2,299), this type of device would reportedly come in at a more modest $1,000 (about £810, AU$1,300).

We can safely expect a proper Surface Book 2 hybrid – if one exists at all – would retain the same starting cost of the original, i.e., $1,499 or AU$2,299 (about £978).  At any rate, expect the Surface Book 2 to at least exceed the cost of the Surface Pro 4.

surface book 2

We’re about to see a clash of the chrome logos in coffee shops everywhere

What we want to see

For as much as we've been smitten by the Surface Book, firmware issues aside, there will always be room for improvement. (That would be the case even if it had earned top marks from us.)

From the screen size and resolution to the hardware inside, we have a few ideas for how Microsoft could craft an even better Windows 10 tablet.

An even better screen

Display-wise, the current model sports a 13.5-inch panel with a 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) resolution that's backed by an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU. The new model may utilize the same size screen but offer a more conventional 4K resolution: 3,840 x 2,160. 

This rumor is aligned with public information we've seen about Intel's Kaby Lake architecture, which will supposedly include a better graphics chip that improves playback of 4K video and 3D graphics.

With a higher resolution should come a better way to actually detach the screen from the keyboard, assuming Microsoft doesn’t do away with that functionality altogether. After all, one of the most vocal complaints of the original Surface Book was its “muscle wire” locking mechanism.

That scheme not only required power to function, but users must press and hold down a key until the hinge lets go of the tablet. It's software-based, too, meaning the process could be hampered by an unforeseen glitch in the system.

Thus, if Microsoft opts to go the 2-in-1 route despite recent evident indicating the contrary, the Surface Book 2 needs a functional hinge that allows the keyboard to be detached whether the device is on or off.

surface book 2

The Surface Pen could use some updates, too

We need more power

Of course, with an increased screen resolution comes the need for more power. It would make sense, given the conjectured release frame, to refresh the Surface Book with Intel's newest Kaby Lake processors. 

The Kaby Lake architecture supports up to quad-core processors as the default configuration with a thermal envelope of up to 95 Watts (W), meaning it shouldn't be a battery hog even with increased performance. What’s more, Kaby Lake offers native support of the faster USB 3.1 Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 specifications in addition to CPU/GPU performance enhancements.

That said, the Surface Book 2 will need better battery support overall, as the original provides only 4 hours of activity in the Clipboard and only 8 hours of juice in the base (based on our tests). Customers eager to use the Clipboard on its own would no doubt be disappointed by the current battery’s inept sustenance while consuming 4K video.

An improved battery would also be needed to support a built-in recharge dock for the Surface Pen. If a patent filing from October is to be believed, Microsoft may have an improved Surface Pen loop in the works that would not only holster the Surface Pen itself, but simultaneously charge it via the USB port on supported Surface devices.

More power might also be needed for an updated, discrete GPU option, too. As previously stated, the current model has an option for a Nvidia GeForce graphics chip based on the Maxwell architecture, which has a thermal envelope of up to 75W.

If Microsoft were to offer, say, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip, the power wattage requirements wouldn’t skyrocket and DirectX 12 support would assuredly be in the cards. This would fare well with gamers looking to take advantage of the latest API on their rotating laptop screen.

What would make the Surface Book 2 really shine is if it were to be VR-ready. It’s not too far-fetched, either, considering Microsoft has partnered with companies like Acer to produce budget-friendly, Windows 10-specific head-mounted displays that aim to work flawlessly on low- to mid-range hardware.

surface book 2

But we have no doubt that SB2 will be just as photogenic

A race to beat its new rivals?

Despite a good deal of talk about when the Surface Book 2 will be released and what it will contain, there were several reports (albeit with dodgy reliability) speculating that the device would be released last summer alongside the Anniversary Update.

Of course, said anniversary came like the wind, and a Surface Book 2 didn't arrive in time to beat Apple's late 2016 MacBook Pro to market. Again, given that the Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 were still in their youth at the time, releasing follow-up models that soon was unlikely.

That's it for now. There are probably a few easter eggs hiding in the Windows 10 Creators Update, but if they exist, no one has found them yet. As such, it may be a while before we see Microsoft’s next convertible laptop in the flesh.

While we may still see an April 2017 release for Surface Book 2, all bets are off on that being remotely certain. Instead, we would be more keen to bank on a late 2017 launch to correlate with whatever Redstone 3 turns out to be.

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

The 8 best 13-inch laptops of 2017

Update: In accordance with our laptop ranking methodology, we’ve added the (now 4K display-equipped) 13.3-inch HP Spectre x360 at number 3 on our list. Read on to find out why this 2-in-1 notebook is one of the all-around best 13-inch laptops money can buy!

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

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

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

Best 13-inch laptop

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

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 

Best 13-inch laptop

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

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305

The HP Spectre x360 is the one you introduce to your parents. It’s strikingly well-crafted, boasting a silvery design that makes it every bit as cutting-edge on the outside as it is within. Given the choice between a 7th-generation i5 or i7 Ultrabook-class processor and a 1080p or 4K screen, HP has gives plenty of room for customization. It’s not underpowered, nor does its battery life suffer from overcompensation. In fact, in our own movie test, the HP Spectre x360 lasted a whole 8 hours and 45 minutes. The only real catch is that, like a lot of its competitors, the Spectre x360 also lacks an SD card slot, opting instead for a pair of USB Type-C ports.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Best 13-inch laptop

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

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9

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

 Read the full review: Acer Aspire S 13 

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

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910

Best 13-inch laptop

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

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

best 13-inch laptop

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

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

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Star Wars: Episode VIII release date, trailers and rumors

Update: The first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been unveiled during Star Wars Celebration 2017. Check it out below!

Original article follows…

If you're new to the page then read on for everything we know so far about Star Wars Episode VIII, but if you're familiar with the latest news then scroll down for some recently released set photos which we've just updated the page with.

We might be a few excruciating months away from the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, but as The Force Awakens taught us, that time can fly past very quickly.

Here's the good news: Production wrapped on the eighth episode back in July, which means the film is definitely on track for its December 15 release date. 

Despite being less than a year away, however, there hasn't been too much said about what the sequel to one of 2015's highest grossing films has in store.

That said, we've done a bit of digging and found some information of our own.

So, what do we expect to see from Episode VIII? If you haven't yet seen The Force Awakens, a) what is wrong with you? and b) spoilers will lie ahead. Big ones. We're talking massive, planet-destroying spoilers. Got it? Good.

Let's continue.

Episode VIII title and release date

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi will hit cinemas on December 15 2017, after being pushed back from its initial release date of May 26 the same year. It means waiting an extra seven months, but we did think that the original timeframe was a bit ambitious for a film of this scale.

The title is obviously a cryptic one. The Last Jedi could mean any number of things but chances are good that it's a reference to Luke's new padawan, Rey. 

Considering that both Luke and Leia are Jedi, there are obviously more than one of the galactic space wizards left in the galaxy but Rey, as we know from Episode VII The Force Awakens, might be the last person to carry the title Jedi. 

Scary as it might seem, it could also be a reference to the possible deaths of Luke and Leia in the franchise, making the title very literal. 

Of course, this is all just conjecture at this point as Rey, Luke and Leia are all seen in the latest trailer alive and well.

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi poster

Episode VIII casting

JJ Abrams will be hopping off the director's chair and handing over the reins to Rian Johnson, best known for writing and directing Brick and Looper (and a few episodes of Breaking Bad). Abrams will stay as executive producer, however.

It's been confirmed that all of the original cast members (barring Harrison Ford) will be making a return. Joining them this time is Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

So who, exactly, are these new cast members going to play in Episode 8? 

Well, again, there's no confirmation here, but Del Toro was recently listed on a site called Wikiwand as Sir Vicrum Fett, a clear homage and perhaps descendent of Jango Fett and perhaps a brother to Boba Fett, the feared and very easily killed bounty hunter from the original trilogy.

As for Laura Dern, according to our sister site GamesRadar+, she's most likely going to play Admiral Holdo, a stylish New Order commander who's as smart as Leia but with a vicious twist.

Finally, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, we actually have some good information on how she'll fit into The Last Jedi. She'll be playing the role of Rose, a member of The Resistance forces a.k.a. what became of the Rebel Alliance after the establishment of the New Republic at the end of Episode VI. 

SW

Episode VIII: what we know of the story so far

Little is known about what VIII's story will hold, but we do know that it will pick up straight after The Force Awakens, with Rey having discovered Luke Skywalker's whereabouts, as confirmed by the teaser trailer.

The Force Awakens left many questions unanswered. Who is Rey really? Is Finn Force sensitive? What's with C-3PO's red arm? Why is R2-D2, the bearer of all knowledge who refuses to tell anyone anything, such a dick?

Colin Trevorrow, who will be directing Episode IX, has already promised us a "profoundly satisfying" answer to the mystery surrounding Rey's parents.

"Rey is a character that is important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy," he said. "She deserves it. We'll make sure that that answer is something that feels like it was something that happened a long time ago, far away, and we're just telling you what happened."

One theory is that Luke is Rey's father, but… surely it's got to be something more interesting than that, right?

The Force Awakens ended with a wounded Kylo Ren being taken to Supreme Leader Snoke to complete his training – but what does that mean? And more importantly, who is Snoke? One theory that has been floating about, courtesy of this tweet, is that Snoke is actually Vader, who didn't really die. We don't buy it for a second, but the scar is admittedly convincing.

We expect some of the film will show Luke training Rey, harking back to his own training from Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back. It will also be interesting to see how Kylo Ren's character develops. He just murdered his own father, but he's still conflicted between the dark side and the light – or was Han's death the final part of his transition to Sith?

Either way, it's a script that's been well received by Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver. Speaking to Collider, he's compared the next entry to the hallowed Empire Strikes Back.

Episode VIII set photos

On April 28 director Rian Johnson celebrated hitting the halfway point in the Episode 8’s filming schedule by releasing a couple of set photos.

Episode 8 Set Photo

The photos don’t shed much new light on the film, but it’s nice to see confirmation that Episode 8 will indeed contain the ships and shiny helmets that the series is known for.

Episode 8 Set Photo

Bonus: A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

One of the cinema world's most tragic losses last year was that of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). Her death came as a bitter shock and one that no one could have predicted. While many in the community mourn her loss, we feel there needs to be a heartfelt thank you given to the woman who helped inspire thousands of women to be leaders, actresses and good-hearted people. 

A fantastic tribute debuted at Star Wars Celebration 2017 which we feel has perfectly summarized the life of the actress and her contributions to the series.

Want more on Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi? Keep checking back here as we approach the film's December 15, 2017 release date. 

Joe Osborne and Nick Pino have also contributed to this report

Here are four paid iOS apps free for a limited time only

How would you like to get a steal at the App Store? Today, we have four paid iOS apps that are now free for a limited time only. And when we say a limited time only, we mean that your best bet is to scoop up the apps that you want now before it is too late. To browse through this short list, all you need to do is click on the slideshow below, and you’ll see a link to the App Store listing, a brief description of the app, and images for you to peruse.

Originally, there were eight paid apps that were free. However, when we double checked them, half of the eight were no longer priced at zero. That shows you how fast you have to move once you see an app that you really like.

Among the freebies that remain available at no cost is a time management app that uses a proven technique for getting things done. And the lone game is like a version of Asteroids but in neon colors. There aren’t that many choices to go through this time, but perhaps you can use one or more of these apps.

source: BGR

The best Samsung Galaxy S8 pre-order deals in Australia

UPDATED: Plans and prices have now been updated and nowadays there are direct links giving every single of the discounts. Keep reading to find out more!

So that the Samsung Galaxy S8 has finally been announced by Samsung, so when anticipated the prices are costly. Incredibly costly. The Samsung Galaxy S8 will have cost of $1,199 if you would like purchase it outright.

Having said that, the cost seems significantly justified for just what might be a stunning phone – with an amazing brand new display and also the Bixby smart assistant, it seems like a real step forward from last year’s Samsung Galaxy S7.

If you’d like to read more concerning the brand new device itself, you should check away our hands-on summary of the phone the following. Within story, we’re planning to check your very best alternatives for buying the Samsung Galaxy S8 in Australia either outright or for a contract.

Pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S8 are formally open – below you’ll see the greatest S8 deals thus far – we have included a table that will automatically upgrade using the cheapest discounts as they feed right through to us from the different sites and networks, but we’ve also included an overview of every provider’s current plan offerings. 

The Samsung Galaxy S8 will officially be released in Australia on Friday, April 28 and comes in three colours: Midnight Black, Maple Gold and Orchid Grey.

Telstra deals

Although Telstra’s plans are more costly versus competition, frequently offering less data per month, the S8 plans from Australia’s biggest telco are in fact quite competitive. Additionally it is difficult to argue with the quality associated with the Telstra’s service plus the substantial protection it gives both in rural and metro areas. 

The entry level plan at Telstra will net that you Samsung Galaxy S8 for $90 monthly (in the $55 Go Cellphone Plus plan with $35 device repayments) with a measly 1GB of monthly data on a 24-month contract. That’s a total cost of $2,160 over two years. 

For just $25 more per month regarding $95 Go mobile phone Plus plan (plus ten dollars month-to-month handset repayments, bringing the full total to $105 each month), you will get a handset with 12GB of monthly data. Total expense is $2,520 over couple of years.

If that still isn’t enough month-to-month information to satiate your download requirements, the $135 Go mobile phone Plus plan (plus $5 month-to-month device repayments, bringing the sum total to $140 per month) are certain to get you 25GB for $135 per month, for a total cost of $3,360 over 24 months.

Optus discounts

Interestingly, Optus has revealed Samsung Galaxy S8 plans being slightly more expensive than Telstra’s plans, usually with comparable and/or less included data. 

Optus’ entry-level plan is $82 monthly (the $40 My Arrange Plus with $42 device payment) with 1GB of data for a 24-month contract. Total cost is $1,968.

For $94 per month over a couple of years (one the $85 My Arrange Plus agreement with $9 device repayments), you can get a device with 7GB of month-to-month information. In contrast, Telstra provides 12GB of information for $1 more per month. 

Within high-end of Optus’ plans, you will get a truly staggering 100GB of month-to-month information regarding the $160 My Arrange Plus plan over two years. Total price is $3,840.

Virgin Mobile deals

Providing a few of the cheapest Samsung Galaxy S8 plans around, Virgin mobile phone’s entry level plan will bag that you handset and 500MB for $70 monthly (with $40 handset repayments on the $30 mobile Plan) for a 24-month agreement. Total cost is $1,680 over two years. 

For $77 monthly (regarding $50 Phone Plan), you may get the hands on Samsung’s latest flagship with 4GB of monthly data for a 24-month contract. Total price is $1,848 over 2 yrs.

In the event that you really want affordability though, you’ll want to glance at Virgin mobile phone’s top tier $100 mobile Plan, that offers a huge 20GB of monthly information for $105 each month over 24-months. Total expense there’s $2,640.  

Vodafone discounts

Vodafone has announced its plans for the Samsung Galaxy S8, and even though they are competitively priced, there are cheaper solutions offering more information. Still, if you’re interested in Qantas Frequent Flyer points and international moments, Vodafone is a great option. 

Its entry level plan provides the phone for $37 a month for a $40 Red Arrange ($77 total per month) with 1GB of information. Total cost is $1,848 over 24 months.

You’ll probably require a extra information than that, therefore we recommend the $60 plan with $28 mobile repayments ($88 total per month) with 6GB of data. Total pricing is $2,112 over 24 months.

Finally, Vodafone’s top tier plan will net you 22GB of information monthly regarding the $120 plan with $5 device repayments ($125 total monthly). Total cost over a couple of years is $3,000.

Woolworths discounts

Supermarket giant Woolworths has jumped foot first into the world of flagship smart phones with some surprisingly good deals being offered. 

Its most useful deal are certain to get that you Samsung Galaxy S8 with 4GB of month-to-month information for only $80 per month (on its moderate $50 cell phone Arrange). That’s a total cost of $1,920 over a couple of years. 

Though it originally offered only 8GB of information each month, Woolworth’s $92 monthly plan (on its big $70 cellular phone Arrange) has gotten an update, now offering 12GB of month-to-month data – that’s $3 cheaper than Telstra’s 12GB plan.  

Samsung Galaxy S8 pre-order discounts: freebies

If you want some additional sweetening on these Samsung Galaxy S8 deals, right here its: all pre-orders made before Thursday, April 27 through either Samsung or among its operator or retail lovers comes because of the new Samsung Gear VR headset at no extra expense. 

Not just that, clients will also be given a $50 voucher to be used within the Oculus Store. 

These are the greatest plans now available for the Samsung Galaxy S8 in Australia. Make sure you check straight back here on the coming days to see if more discounts be available. 

Google updates Daydream app with battery indicator, more

The Daydream application in the Google Play Store has just received a new update that adds a couple of useful features and improvements. If you own the Google’s Daydream VR, then you probably know that there’s no way to know how much battery your phone has while using the headset.

Well, not anymore, as the latest update brings a controller battery indicator, which allows you to see the level of your battery when you’re in Daydream Home, Quick Settings or Play Store in VR.

Furthermore, Google added a new option for those who want to stay up to date with the latest news, offers and more. You can now sign up for the “Daydream Newsletter” from the Settings menu to receive important news.

Also, there’s a new feature that allows users to choose whether to show notifications in VR by toggling the option in Quick Settings, so you’ll benefit from full immersion. Lastly, Google claims the latest update to the Daydream app should improve performance and reliability.

In the same piece of news, the Daydream Keyboard app has been updated as well, and now includes four additional languages: Korean, French, Spanish and Italian. A new Korean language word autosuggest bar is available too.

source: Google Play (1, 2)

Google’s Android platform distribution for April 2017 shows Nougat is nearly at 5%

Android Nougat doesn’t seem to be able to become Google’s dominant mobile platform almost six months after its official launch. But that’s no wonder considering Android Lollipop still has the largest market share on the market.

According to the data collected during a 7-day period ending on April 3, Android Nougat accounts for 4.9% market share. The smaller market share listed by Google, Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich have as low as 0.9% market share each.

Even Jelly Bean, an Android version launched five years ago is used more often than Nougat, as the OS sits at 10.1%. Android KitKat and Marshmallow come next with 20% and 31.2% market share, respectively.

As mentioned earlier, Android Lollipop is still in the lead with 32% of active devices. Although Nougat market share continues to increase each month, it gains seem to be lower than expected. For example, the number of devices running Android Nougat rose 2.1 % from last month.

Hopefully, things will improve significantly in the coming months, especially that Google had already released a preview version of Android O.