Microsoft Surface Centaurus could be a revolutionary dual-screen tablet

It seems that Microsoft is working on a dual-screen tablet which will carry the Surface brand, and we could see the 2-in-1 device announced next year.

According to Windows Central, the Surface ‘Centaurus’, as the hardware is currently codenamed, is being developed in conjunction with Intel, and is distinct from the Andromeda dual-screen device that has been previously rumored.

Essentially, the latter concept is of a dual-screen phone or ‘pocketable’ computer, whereas Centaurus will be a much bigger full-sized tablet with two screens (something Microsoft has mulled launching in the distant past in the form of the Courier – almost a decade ago, in fact).

Windows Central claims to have learned about the device from its inside sources, and apparently Microsoft has been working on it (along with Intel) for around a year now, and is hoping to officially reveal Centaurus towards the end of 2019. At this point, though, this is all obviously speculation.

Unsurprisingly, given Intel’s involvement, the chip giant will be providing the processor, and on the software front, the device is expected to run Windows Core OS, a modular operating system which will be adapted and fully tailored to fit a dual-screen device.

Flexible friend

Clearly, flexibility will be the trump card of Centaurus, with the two screens allowing it to be used as a tablet, or indeed two tablets, or a large tablet – with content displayed across both screens – or a laptop with one display being used to play host to a virtual keyboard and trackpad.

The other concept, much as the case with the previous Courier, is to use the device as a kind of digital journal, jotting down notes with a stylus (or performing other inking duties like sketching, for example).

Windows Central also observes that Windows Core OS will be capable of running legacy Win32 programs, providing they are drawn from the Microsoft Store (or they’re containerized), and that’s why Microsoft has been pushing to get more Win32 apps onto the store in recent times, ahead of the possible launch of Centaurus.

So if Microsoft now appears to be focusing on this dual-screen tablet, what of Andromeda? Well, the more compact and pocketable dual-screen computer/phone concept hasn’t been canned, but it has been put on the back-burner while work progresses on Centaurus.

Software side

Microsoft’s current worry with Andromeda, Windows Central reckons, is that the software side of the equation for the device isn’t ready yet. Its screens will be too small to fully take advantage of the same Win32 apps as Centaurus, so Microsoft needs to ensure there are enough Progressive Web Apps (web-based apps that work just like native applications) and universal apps around to ensure users aren’t disappointed by the lack of software.

This makes sense and it’s something we’ve heard before when the delay of the Andromeda device was rumored earlier this year, with Microsoft driving hard to ensure a good supply of Progressive Web Apps is available, and indeed exploring other potential options as we discussed at the time.

Clearly, Microsoft doesn’t believe the world is yet ready to receive a device like Andromeda, but Centaurus seems to be another matter, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some interesting developments on this front in 2019.

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Tesco Mobile is offering ‘affordable Christmas presents’ with new iPhone and mobile deals

Tis the season for phone deals, or at least so it would seem at Tesco. Tesco Mobile has released a range of affordable iPhone and SIM only deals to help you wrap up your Christmas shopping. 

Until Boxing Day, Tesco Mobile is offering up SIM only contracts and iPhones with reduced price tags to get you into the Christmas spirit. If you’re looking for a new iPhone for somebody before the big day maybe this cheap iPhone SE deal with 500MB of data and 5000 minutes and texts for £12.50 per month could be a candiate. Or you could always spend a little more and go for the bigger iPhone 6 with the same data and texts for £15.99 per month – a bargain for that price.

Head to Tesco Mobile to take advantage of these deals 

One important note with these iPhone deals is that they are 36 month. So that means a three year term, but with added flexibility so you can upgrade to new phones or change your data allowances during this time. 

If instead you’re looking for a SIM only deal, Tesco has a couple of new offers. There’s the low cost 4GB data, 500 minutes and 5000 texts for £9 a month. Or if you’re happy to up your monthly spending, you could get a 8GB of data, 5000 minutes and texts contract for £12.50 a month.

Why go for Tesco Mobile deals?

Tesco Mobile prides itself on its flexible contracts, you can change your data, phone and length at any time (although this will alter your monthly cost).  Tesco is also partnered with O2 meaning you get O2’s great network coverage and Tesco Mobile offers rewards for family’s who pay together with one monthly bill. 

  • See all of today’s best mobile phone deals

Take ultimate control of your home with Bosch Smart Home

 A smart home system is a smart investment. It can make your home energy efficient, safer, and a more fun place to be. But you need to make sure you make the right choice when you jump on-board. Don’t miss Bosch Smart Home.

Bosch is a brand you can rely on. As well as being over 100 years old, established in 1886, it ranked no. 2 in YouGov’s 2018 index of UK home appliance brands.

Bosch has now taken its famed expertise as a world leader in heating, power tools and almost every imaginable kind of home appliance, and applied it to the exciting new world of the smart home.

Meet the Bosch smart home

Bosch Smart Home offers a full array products, focused on making your home safer and more convenient, and saving energy. Made a start on your own smart home setup? Bosch’s family can already communicate with Amazon Alexa and Philips Hue. This is not an insular smart home system.

But what products are in this family? The Bosch Smart Home Controller is heart of the system. It communicates with all your other Bosch Smart Home products, and lets you control them with the easy-to-use Bosch Smart Home mobile app for phones and tablets. Even if you’re stuck on the motorway 300 miles from your home Wi-Fi.

For example, the Bosch Smart Home Radiator Thermostat lets you control your heating away from home. Or from the sofa. And unlike some smart heating systems, you can set the temperature per room, helping you save even more energy and money. 

Add several in different rooms and you can create a full zoned system, with a different schedule for each room. 

The Smart Home Smart Plug offers similar advanced control, but for any plug-in appliance you like, from TVs and game consoles to the lava lamp in the kids’ room. You just plug its adapter into the Smart Plug: no more worrying about whether you left something on after leaving home. You can just check on your phone or tablet, and switch things off from the Bosch app.

Smart tech made for real homes

Bosch also knows it’s sometimes good to get away from constantly looking at screens, so it made the Smart Home Universal Switch. This lets you create endless custom “scenarios” switched between with a quick button press. 

Each applies different settings for your Bosch Smart Home devices. Perhaps you’ll want one scenario for normal evenings, one for movie night, one for weekends and another for when you leave the house for work.

One of the more refreshing parts of the Bosch Smart Home system is that it doesn’t try to take over or change your home. All of the products are simple and unobtrusive, not the smart home equivalent of a prop from a sci-fi movie, even if what happens behind the scenes is just as clever.

If you want to save energy, and make your home more convenient to control, you might want to buy Bosch’s Smart Home Climate Control Starter Kit. This includes two radiator thermostats, the Smart Home Controller and Door/Window Contact. These use a sensor that lets you know if you’ve left a window open or if someone tries to break in. You save on energy, and get peace of mind too. 

That brings us to the other side of the beach Smart Home: security and safety.

Priceless peace of mind

The Smart Home Motion Detector sends you a notification when it detects motion while armed.  It’s clever enough to be able to tell between an intruder and your cat too, and uses both infrared, so it can work in all lighting, and a temperature sensor. 

If your house is broken into, it can set off the companion Smart Home Smoke Detector. This is another great buy, and lets you call the emergency services direct from the app as soon as you receive a smoke alert.

The other two core Bosch home security products, its cameras, can be used either on their own or with the wider system. You don’t necessarily need a Smart Home Controller.

Bosch’s Indoor Camera is one of the most interesting smart home security cameras around. Its camera is motorised, letting it pan to cover a full 360 degrees. You get an even better view than an ultra-wide angle camera. The privacy mode also makes the camera lens retract into the base. You can assure any guests they aren’t being watched.

For outdoors use you’ll want the Eyes Outdoor camera. It can record clear 1080p HD video at day or night, doubles as a motion-activated security light and even an intercom thanks to its integrated microphone and speaker.

Unusually for a smart home camera, there are no monthly payments to worry about here. There are no hidden fees or nasty surprises with the Bosch Smart Home system. And as the system has been tested and certified secure by independent IT security test provider AV-TEST, you can be sure you’re as protected from digital security threats as physical ones.

To get your home primed with smart security, check out the Bosch Smart Home Security Starter Pack. This includes the Smart Home Controller, Smoke Detector, Motion Detector and a Smart Home Door/Window Contact.

For more information on Bosch’s Smart Home range, head to its website and e-Shop here.

Apple Music for Android to finally get tablet support

It was back in 2015 when Apple finally played nice and launched Apple Music for Android, with the app getting a makeover last year. Now, three years after launch, the Android version of Apple Music is finally getting support for tablets.

As discovered by Android Police, version 2.7 of the app, which is currently only available to beta testers, includes “performance improvements for images and audio playback”, the usual host of bug fixes, and “tablet support” in the changelog.

For most of the public, the current stable release available on the Google Play Store is version 2.6.1, which still features the classic collapsible hamburger menu. The new beta update eliminates this part of the interface for a bottom navigation bar.

Version 2.7 of the Apple Music app for Android adds a bottom navigation bar for easier control on larger screens | Image: PixelSpot

With Android tablets not quite enjoying the popularity of the iPad, and the number of Android users subscribing to Apple Music likely quite low, this change may not benefit many people. However, anyone on a family plan with multiple devices across platforms might make good use of the changes.

This isn’t the first time Apple has played nice with third-party hardware. In September, Apple rolled out support for Android Auto, and only last week decide to played nice with Amazon to announce that Apple Music can be streamed on Echo speakers from December 17, 2018.

  • Want to listen to Apple Music in your browser? Try this trick.

Seagate reveals world’s largest HDD

By using its proprietary execution of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, Seagate has developed the first 16TB enterprise hard drive to allow businesses to store more data than ever before on 3.5-inch drive.

The company’s new drive has the highest capacity ever produced and it is on track to grow beyond 20TB by 2020.

Seagate used the 16TB pre-release version of its HAMR-based Exos hard drive to run tests to see how well it would perform in enterprise environments. 

The tests were successful and confirmed that HAMR drives are plug-and-play which will allow companies to increase their storage without having to make changes to the architecture of their data centers or systems.

HAMR technology

HAMR utilizes a new kind of media magnetic technology on each disk that allows data bits to become smaller and more densely packed than ever before while still remaining magnetically stable. A small laser diode attached to each recording head heats a tiny spot on the disk and this allows the recording head to flip the magnetic polarity of each very stable bit to write data.

Seagate’s Senior Director of enterprise product line management, Jason Feist provided further insight on the testing process the company used in a blog post, saying:

“Seagate has begun running early Exos HAMR units through the full set of standard benchmark tests used to prepare and optimize each new hard drive product for deployment. Our testing has demonstrated the drives’ compatibility for enterprise systems that are being used today. No system level changes are needed to run the HAMR drives in these evaluations, or to deploy them in customer environments.” 

The company first tested its HAMR technology last year in a demo in which the drives read/write heads exceeded industry standards for reliability and lifetime data transfer capability.

Now that Seagate has completed its product-level HAMR tests, we will likely see the technology in new commercial drives for the enterprise very soon.

  • We’ve also highlighted the best hard drives

Best noise-cancelling headphones 2018: the best headphones for travel and commuting

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy in 2018.

Everyone knows that commuting generally sucks, not least because of how noisy in can be – whether you’re on a plane, train, bus, or even walking down a busy street, white noise, crying babies, and noisy conversations can leave you feeling drained by the time you arrive at your destination.

Sometimes all you want to do is tune the world out and listen to your own music, movies and audiobooks without any distractions. We don’t blame you! It’s a noisy world out there, and sometimes you’ve got to be able to zone out.

Thankfully, that’s why there’s noise-cancelling headphones. These wonders of the modern era totally tune out unwanted audio – allowing you to reach aural nirvana … even if it’s only for the duration of a flight or a train journey. 

They’re vital for any adventure you’re about to embark upon – whether it’s a multi-hour flight or a train ride that’s part of your every day commute – so to help you pick out a pair of headphones that deliver all of the above in spades, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 noise-cancelling headphones, listed below and ranked by their price-to-performance ratio.

Can’t decide which headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below:

What are the best noise-cancelling headphones?

Despite being brand-new for 2018, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world two years in a row. How? For the most part, the WH-1000XM3 is a small refinement of last year’s excellent WH-1000XM2 – the WH-1000XM3 uses USB-C instead of microUSB and features additional padding along the bridge, but by and large Sony didn’t do too much to its award-winning cans.

At first, that lack of substantial improvement gave us some reservations about recommending them – especially when the 1000XM2 could be found for less online. But those days are over. If you want a critically-acclaimed noise-cancelling headset that’s brand-new for 2018 and has two-plus years of experience being the best, the WH-1000XM3 are the way to go.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3

If you can find a pair, the Sony WH-1000XM2 are still some of the best noise-cancelling headphones around: They sound great, deftly wield noise cancellation technology and cost just as much as a pair of Bose QC35s. They might have a slightly shorter battery life than Bose’s flagship over-ear headphones, but Sony’s WH-1000XM2 outclass the QC35 in terms of performance and feature-set.  

You’d want to pick these Sony headphones over the Bose because not only do they provide the same level of awesome noise-cancellation, but they have three neat tricks that Bose just doesn’t have on its headphones: One is an ambient noise mode that only lets in mid-to-high frequency tones (announcements over a loudspeaker, for instance) and another being Quick Attention mode that allows you to let in all outside noise without taking off the headphones. (The latter is perfect when giving a drink order on a plane or speaking to a coworker for a brief moment before diving back into your work.) The last trick Sony has up its sleeve is the LDAC codec. Alongside the widely adopted aptX HD standard, LDAC enables Hi-Res Audio playback using the 1000XM2.

Great-sounding, feature-packed and just as affordable as the competition? The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a solid all-around pick for noise-cancelling cans.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2

Coming in at the number two spot is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II – a nearly identical product to the already-excellent Bose QuietComfort 35 but updated for 2018 with Google Assistant. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality and incredible comfort, plus a convenient assistant to answer any inquiries you might have while traveling.  

Taken as a whole, the Bose QC35 II NC is an excellent headphone for travelers and commuters. Bose has found a good balance of features that will satisfy most mainstream listeners. While we don’t love them as much as the better-sounding Sony WH-1000XM2, they’re still top of the class for noise cancellation.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The PXC 550’s greatest strength is their sound. Other wireless noise-cancelling headphones might offer a better user interface or better noise-cancellation technology, but ultimately none of the above match up to the sound quality of these Sennheisers. 

However, that said, there are a couple of irritations that prevent us from being able to fully and unreservedly recommend them, such as unresponsive touch controls. These annoyances aren’t quite deal-breakers, but there are definitely other noise-cancelling headphones out there that don’t suffer from the same issues.

Read the full review: Sennheiser PXC 550

Philips Fidelio NC1

Philips presents a more elegant noise-cancelling solution with its NC1. These on-ear headphones aren’t wireless like our top pick, but that’s hardly a reason to knock them. Coming in at $299/£195, the NC1 are a compact set that’s high on comfort and battery life.

You get a lot for the money here. In the box comes the headphones, a hard case for storage and the headphones rock a rechargeable battery that provides noise cancellation for close to 30 hours. But best of all, the sound performance is extremely well balanced and warm.

(A quite note for our Australian readers: Philips sadly no longer sells the NC1’s down under, so you’ll need to import a pair if you’re keen.)

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio NC1

Bose QuietComfort 25

A few years ago, the Bose QuietComfort 25 are the best noise-cancelling headphones we’ve ever used. The lows, mids and highs came through clear as day, never stepping over each other. Music of all sorts sounded predictably incredible. With the noise-cancellation turned on, we never felt further immersed and concentrated than when we let the QC25 engulf our ears.

But that was a few years ago and time has moved on since. Bose has released not just one sequel to these headphones, but two: the QC35 and QC35 II with Google Assistant built in, both of which we’d recommend above the QC25.

But, it’s not all bad. If you don’t mind using the older, wired headphones, the QC25s are a finely-tuned set of cans that provide over 35 hours of very good noise-cancelling performance with one AAA battery. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 25

[Update: These headphones also come in a wireless version – check out our review of of the Bose QuietComfort 35.

Bowers and Wilkins are a little late to the noise-cancellation game, but their first foray impresses. 

The PX Wireless aren’t just a great sounding pair of headphones, they’ve also got a number of other interesting tricks up their sleeve. They’ll turn on and off automatically depending on whether you’re wearing them or not, and they also feature the future-proof USB-C charging standard. 

In our opinion their only downside is the sound quality, which we felt lacks the depth of the flagship headphones from Bose and Sony. 

That said, if you’ve been a fan of the look of B&W’s headphones in the past then the PX Wireless are certainly worth a listen. 

Read the full review: Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless

If you prefer on-ear noise-cancellation, then the AKG N60NC Wireless are a great pair of headphones. 

At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that’s on a level with the much more premium entries on this list. 

These are a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and offer a very complete package for the price. 

Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless

With noise-cancelling tech just as effective as that in headphones from rival Bose, and with a more musical sonic ability, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC are a definite contender for the noise-cancelling crown. More affordable and easy to travel with, these lightweight headphones are a great value all-rounder, whether for flights, commuter trains or busy offices. 

Design-wise, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNCs seem a more slimmed-down, lighter and more focused effort than the bulky and expensive alternatives from Bose and Sony; and crucially, the HD 4.50 BTNCs are just as good with audio, and almost as good on noise-canceling. Whether you’re after noise canceling for long-haul ravel, for the commute, or just to stay more productive in a noisy office, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNCs are worth considering. 

Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

With the second generation Plantronics BackBeat Pro, Plantronics went back to the drawing board to fix many of the issues owners complained about the original. The BackBeat Pro 2, therefore, manage to keep all the great things about the original and improved upon its shortcomings, like its bulk and weight. 

In terms of value, the BackBeat Pro 2 are basically a steal. With the BackBeat Pro 2, you’re getting a travel headphone with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, the ability to pair two device as once and, most importantly, good sound quality for the cost. If you don’t want to drop $350 (£290, AU$500) on the Bose QuietComfort 35 or $400 (£330 or AU$700) on Sony’s flagship MDR-1000X, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 should be on the top of your shopping list. 

Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

If you haven’t found something quite to your liking so far, we have one last option for you to look at – the all-new Nura Nuraphone over-ear/in-ear hybrid. Their form factor means you’ve not only got an earbud sitting at the entrance of your ear canal, but also an over-ear cushion sitting over your entire ear. This effectively means you’ve got two physical barriers meaning that the noise from the outside world can’t get to your ears. While more traditional over-ear headphones do a better job offering useful features at a reasonable price, the Nuraphone will appeal to the more experimental audio crowd looking to be on the bleeding-edge of the next big thing.

Read our full review: Nuraphone Headphones

  • We have exhaustive guides to the best headphones on the market buy today including the best on-ear headphones, the best in-ear headphones and the best over-ear headphones.
  • Want to go wire-free? Check out our guide to the best wireless headphones.
  • Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool or on a run? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and best running headphones.