Sonos speakers are getting big discounts this month – here’s how much you’ll save

For awhile, one of the only names in multi-room audio was Sonos. Easy to setup and even easier to control Sonos systems are still one of the top-tier brands in the audio world – despite more and more contenders popping up all the time. 

While Sonos has universal acclaim from critics, one thing that hasn’t resonated well with a lot of us is its pricing: these systems are nice, but they’re also pricey. So that’s why, when they go on sale, it’s worth stopping to take a look. 

Sonos is running three separate deals in the month of June: one in the US, one in Canada and one in Australia. 

Starting today in the US, Sonos is offering a hefty 25% off a second Play:1 speaker with a purchase of a Play:1, or a savings of about $50. Besides the buy one get one 25% off sale, Sonos is also offering a $100 discount on the Sonos SUB. The deals run June 4 through June 18, however, so you’ll have to move fast.

Sonos deals for Canada and Australia

But the States aren’t the only place to catch a good deal on the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos SUB, Canada and Australia also have deals going on this month. 

In Canada, you can save $69 CAD when you buy two Sonos Play:1 speakers, and $100 CAD off the Sonos SUB from June 9 through June 22. While in Australia it’s AU$70 off two Play:1s and AU$150 off the Sonos SUB from June 15 to July 2. 

Not a bad way to kick off the summer. 

  • Don’t miss these other cheap Sonos deals

World in motion: in conversation with the mo-cap artist behind Destiny’s Lord Saladin

We may be entering the age where robots can do most jobs a human can do, but one thing they still struggle with is realistic movement. This means that in video games and films where digital characters appear, there is often a motion-capture performer behind the scenes to thank for the naturalistic movement. 

Mo-cap has come to prominence recently with Andy Serkis’ now infamous work as Gollum on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Andy Serkis’ work on the Planet of the Apes franchise, and Andy Ser… No, no, it’s more than just Andy Serkis. 

Most of the motion capture work you’ll see, you probably won’t even realise you’re looking at it. For this edition of TalkRadar we are talking to James Alexander-Taylor, a motion-capture performer who has worked on films like Christopher Nolan’s upcoming epic Dunkirk, and such video-games as Destiny, Call of Duty, and Just Cause.

James, how do you get the job of motion capture performer?

There’s no easy way to get the job. It’s a lot like any other acting role. But what they mainly look for is someone that’s got physical capability. And on top of that, has a skill-set that lends itself to video game worlds. I’ve got military and combat experience, which helps as a lot of video game stuff is very combatant oriented.

How do you make the transition from a military background to mo-cap?

I spent quite a long time within the royal marines, learning all sorts of combat experiences, from arctic, to jungle, to urban warfare, to weapons handling, to tactics, and resistance to interrogation training. All this kind of stuff that lends itself to what video game worlds are. So making the transition isn’t all that difficult.

All you’ve got to do is put the performance on top. And luckily having experience as an actor, you can add the performance into it. You already have the authenticity of the technical side there.

Are they trying to get a true-to-life version of that movement or is it a performative version of it? 

It depends on the context of the piece. If you’re playing a character in a zombie apocalypse you’ve got to use a certain degree of imagination. But you can still have the performative side. You know, the terror, being frightened, even though you’re just in an empty space in a mo-cap suit. Putting on the performance really helps the animators to know what they need to take away. 

What’s the thing that has forced you to stretch your imagination the most?

Situations that I’ve never been in. Fantasy. Playing seven foot, eight foot people. Carrying huge flaming axes. Fighting off aliens. Things like that. Playing Lord Saladin in Destiny, who’s about eight foot. Massive muscular guy, carrying huge heavy armour, wielding a big flaming axe.… You can’t really do that.

You have to make it really small, and really commit to it. Then the animators put that on top. As long as the foundation’s there, they can put everything else on top.

You can’t wear something that is heavy to approximate what that would feel like because you have to be wearing a mo-cap suit? 

Exactly. So there are different kinds of suits, usually the mo-cap suits we use have to have line of sight for the cameras. When we’re shooting on location, we can use suits that use a signal just like Wi-Fi, so you can wear a costume on top but the data that you capture isn’t as accurate. So having line of sight, you’re going to get fantastic data.

‘Line of sight’ the stereotypical mo-cap suit with the little balls all over it?

Absolutely. They’re reflective markers that reflect the data back into the cameras.

What does it feel like putting on a ball covered suit for the first time?

It’s liberating really. You know, you’re there in all your glory. The weirdest thing is that it’s all velcro, so if you sit on anything, you get up and everything’s stuck to you. Trying to go to the toilet in one is quite a, you know. We discovered there’s something called the mo-cap onesie, where you’re able to slip it off like a onesie. Most of the time you avoid going to the toilet for a whole shoot which can be difficult.

When you go in to the studio, do you always know what you’re working on?

No. And that, I find, is the most exciting part of it. For example, when I turned up to the studio to shoot Call of Duty I had no idea what it was. And then they said ‘You’re doing Call of Duty with Guy Richie,’ and they thrust an NDA (non disclosure agreement, basically a contract saying you won’t talk about the project) in your face, and that’s how it is. You get very limited details about what you’re actually going to be doing.

Sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll get a script the night before, but that’s very rare. And if you do get a script, they give it to you for a couple of minutes on the day and then take it back off you. 

It also depends on what kind of mo-cap you’re doing. You could be doing full performance capture, which is your voice, your face, your body, everything. Whereas a lot of the stuff I do is just the physical side.

Then someone else does the voice?

Yeah, so we have pre-recorded audio played to us on a shoot and then we physicalize those lines that have been done by an actor in a studio. That can be tricky. Because you hear the audio clip, and you maybe get to hear it once more and then you go straight into shooting the scene an you’ve got to get those gestures, those intonations, that timing right as soon as they say action. 

It’s a huge challenge, and that’s what I love about it. It’s not ‘turn up and rehearse this character for six weeks’, you jump from character to character to character in a day. Then that’s it. Job done. You see the game and you go ‘Oh right, that’s what I was doing. Brilliant.”

If you turn up to a locomotion shoot, you could be playing maybe twelve characters, and they could all have generic moves, so you’ve just got to record one set of character moves and they can blend them all into the other characters. 

Or you could have a much longer shoot where you’re doing three characters that all have individual moves. You’ll have a list of moves starting as basic as an ‘idle’ which is if the player is in control of you but you’re not moving. You’re just standing as a character.

Ollie Hollis-Leick who I work with a lot, he’s worked in motion capture for 14, going on 15 years. He played Agent 47 in Hitman, and he spent a long long time just working on his idle, just the way Agent 47 stands. Because it’s very unique. 

To make a game a real real experience, the player wants to be able to do anything and everything with that character, so you want to try and record moves that the player can be in control of. There’s all sorts of detail that can go into it, and obviously the bigger the franchise, the bigger the movement vocabulary the character can have. 

What makes a good motion capture performer?

A good mo-cap actor will be able to go in and give consistent data, and be totally detailed and on the mark technically. Because it’s not cinematic, it’s a completely different way of approaching the work, which is why there’s only a number of mo-cap performers that get asked to do locomotion stuff. The bread and butter of motion capture is locomotion shoots on video games. It’s where it all started. Obviously it’s now gone on to bigger things but that’s the core of what makes a good mo-cap actor.

Have you ever been able to look at characters in a game and identify yourself?

Yeah, you can. It’s quite difficult, because sometimes you don’t know where the character you’ve done is going to be placed. You’ll understand the scene and the context of what’s going on but sometimes you won’t know where your character is going to be put. 

For example, doing Dunkirk, we were filming lots of soldiers on a ship. We had to do variations of different soldiers and what they’re experiencing on that deck of the ship as it’s being attacked. And because there’s thousands of them on the ship it’s difficult to pick out which ones were you, there’s so many variations. You do maybe 25/30 variations in 20 minutes and often you can’t remember what you’ve done. 

That said, I showed a promo video of Destiny to my mum and she could tell that it was me moving as Lord Saladin. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

What’s the weirdest or best direction you’ve ever been given?

I think they kind of go hand in hand. I remember there was an imaginary person lying on the floor and Guy Ritchie said to me “Just shoot him in the head or something. Gimme something.” That was it. And I just thought. ‘Yeah, that’s Guy Ritchie’. 

What has been your best day at work? 

I think my first ever shoot was my best day. Unbeknownst to me I was working with a big game developer on a big game franchise, playing a huge character, and I didn’t know the scale of what I was working on. I had a chance to go to (gaming convention) BGX and saw this 25 foot picture of Lord Saladin, and it blew my mind that I’d been a small part of creating that game. 

Final question, what are you working on at the moment?

I’m not actually at liberty to say. It’s a big game franchise, filming in early June, not sure when it’s released but it’s pretty cool. Pretty cool.

If you want to contact Alexander-Taylor with any employment opportunities, he can be reached at: jataylorarts@hotmail.co.uk

  • Andrew London has always been fascinated by the amazing things that people do that shape the way we live our lives. In his regular TalkRadar column, he will be interviewing people from across the world of tech to discover what they do, and why they do it.
  • While James is giving nothing away, it could be Destiny 2 that he’s working on. Check out our Destiny 2 Release date, News and Rumors here.

New leaks reveal Apple’s plans for AR specs, iPhone 8, Siri speaker and more

Apple CEO Tim Cook is likely to be less than impressed but an anonymous Foxconn employee has taken to Reddit to reveal some of Apple’s hardware plans ahead of the company’s big WWDC developer event which starts on Monday. The poster’s identity has apparently been verified by Reddit mods.

Among the tips shared online is news of Apple’s long-rumored jump into the realm of augmented reality: the source says AR spectacles codenamed “Project Mirrorshades” are in the early stages of testing and are planned for a 2019 launch, although we don’t know much more beyond that.

As far as the iPhone 8 is concerned, the anonymous leaker says the Touch ID sensor will indeed be on the front of the device, adding to the debate that’s been rumbling for months. The dummy units we’ve seen so far have been pretty close to the final design, if the Reddit poster is to be believed.

2017 and beyond

When it comes to the Siri speaker that we’re expecting to see unveiled at WWDC next week, the Foxconn source says the device looks like a smaller Mac Pro. Although prototypes with a camera and screen were tested, these features apparently won’t make it to the final version.

Finally the tipster also said that Apple’s iMac and MacBook Pro lines would be getting some spec bumps during the course of 2017, but planned improvements to the design of both ranges won’t happen until 2018, so adjust your buying plans accordingly. E-ink keyboards are apparently on the table for future laptops.

Of course we can’t take any of this as official yet, but given that the source has been verified by Reddit and has apparently been spot on with an Apple prediction before means we’re taking these tips seriously. They also line up closely with rumors we’ve already heard about all these upcoming products.

  • Here’s everything we’re expecting from Apple at WWDC 2017

Via 9to5Mac

Download of the day: HYFY Screen Recorder

There are some impressive screen recorders around, but most are pretty cumbersome if you only want to capture a snippet of action from your web browser. That’s why you need HYFY Screen Recorder – a neat little extension that can record up to three minutes of footage with a couple of clicks. Your videos are kept on HYFY’s cloud servers for 30 days, with handy copy/pastable links so you can share them immediately. You can record your voice too if the clip will benefit from a little narration.

It’s great for businesses (if you need to explain to the IT helpdesk that something is catastrophically broken, for example), but HYFY is also great to have on hand for those occasions when you see something amazing and a link just won’t do.

Grab and go

HYFY is incredibly easy to use – just download the extension, then either log in with a social media account (HYFY supports all the main ones), or make a new account using an email address.

When you want to make a recording, click the HYFY icon, pick a source (you can only record a browser tab in the free version) and hit ‘Start recording’. Once you’re done, click the stop button and you’ll immediately be given a shareable link, a huge array of sharing options, a download button, and a privacy. It really is that straightforward.

As a new user, you’ll be treated to a 30-day trial of HYFY’s business edition. This lets you record for up to 30 minutes, capture your whole screen, and keep your recordings indefinitely. Once the demo expires your account will revert to the free version, but this is still very generous and the plugin is well worth keeping on hand. You never know when your screen might need grabbing.

Download here: HYFY Screen Recorder

PlayStation at E3 2017: six things we want to see

If there’s a gaming battleground for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, there’s no bigger arena than the E3 stage. The annual face-off sees the big three names in game development puff their chests out (even if Nintendo does so from the comfort of its ‘Direct’ YouTube studio), showing off the wares it’s hoping to win you over with in time for populating those Christmas wishlists.

Sony has had a stonking few years singing the praises of its leading PlayStation 4 console, and has managed to bag a number of great exclusive third-party reveals (Shenmue 3, Final Fantasy VII Remake) as well as showing off its own internal big hitters (PlayStation VR and God of War among many others) in recent times.

This year could be different though – with its PS4 Pro already out on shelves, and reported to be less powerful than the Project Scorpio console hardware that Microsoft is slated to reveal, it’ll have to work very hard to keep its enviable lead over the competition.

But, if it delivers even just a few of our six most-wanted things at this year’s show, it’ll be in with chance. Here’s what we want to see from Sony and PlayStation at E3 2017.

What the hell even is Death Stranding? We’ve had Hideo Kojima waxing lyrical over his new title for some time now, but a handful of trailers later we still don’t know what it’s going to be like. It’ll have an open world, it’ll have Norman Reedus in it, and Mads Mikkelsen. Director Guillermo Del Toro’s likeness will also be used. Apart from that (and a nudey Reedus crying over a baby and some…dead whales?) 

So E3 2017 is definitely the time to finally reveal some actual Death Stranding gameplay. Safe money’s on it being a quest to find Reedus some new underpants, with his previous mucky pair having caused an ecological beach disaster. At least that’s what we’ve pulled from that crazy first trailer…

It launched to great fanfare, was priced sensibly and delivered a virtual reality experience that felt leagues ahead of what its price tag would suggest it should have been capable of (while not feeling too far behind the more expensive competition), but it’s starting to feel a little bit like Sony has fell out of love with its PlayStation VR headset.

Though releasing alongside a solid launch line-up that included big names like Eve: Valkyrie and a short but oh-so-sweet Batman Arkham experience, there’s not been much to write home about since. Farpoint VR was great, and Resident Evil 7 was a brave whole-hearted attempt at re-imagining the series for virtual reality. But, for key mid-cycle hardware, there’s not been a flood of AAA titles to accompany the headset.

We love the PS VR headset, but if it’s going to have a long term life, Sony needs to put a big push behind it at this year’s E3. We’re craving a full-length Star Wars X-Wing VR game after the Battlefront tease – Sony would have us screaming with joy if this one made an appearance. A look at the VR mode of Gran Turismo Sport, or something from Sony’s Manchester Studio (which was specifically built for VR) would be reassuring, too.

This year marks 20 years since the launch of Final Fantasy VII, the most-highly revered classic JRPG of all time. It stole the show at 2015’s Sony E3 event once again, when developers Square Enix announced that the long-awaited remake was indeed in development.

Never committing to a firm release date (made even more wooly by its episodic nature) we’ve had a drip feed of info ever since. But there’s been recent warning signs to suggest that all may not be well surrounding the development of the game, with Square putting out an unusually-widely broadcast request for new staff to work on the game. It’s a massively ambitious project, and while we don’t expect to see much more on it for a long time to come, some words of reassurance that all is well would soothe our fears. 

Whether you thought the first Last of Us game was the single greatest moment in all gaming history – the promise of ‘games as art’ come good – or a self-important slog through a dreary stealth apocalypse, there’s no denying the impact it made.

And, likewise, the announcement of a follow up from super-developers Naughty Dog sent the gaming world into meltdown. It showed off an (apparently-in-engine) cinematic trailer for the game, revealing you’d now play as an older Ellie, child star of the first game. But as for actual gameplay footage? None has emerged. So here’s hoping someone at Sony can click their fingers (or their fungus-infected mandibles) and get some on show at E3.

Sony’s first-party dev team at Media Molecule have made some of PlayStation’s most distinctive games, including Little Big Planet and Tearaway. The titles have often focussed around user-generated content, and their next game, Dreams, looks to do the same, on an epic scale. 

Giving the player the freedom to create ‘dreams’ for other gamers to play, it takes the level-building ideas of LBP, and expands them to a grand canvas. 

But will its ambition be its downfall? We’ve heard little from the super-promising game in the last 12 months, so some concrete release details would make our dreams come true, as would a glimpse at its touted PS VR mode.

The studio behind the Infamous and Sly Cooper series, Sucker Punch is another first-party PlayStation dev team that have been suspiciously quiet recently. We’ve not heard of any new project details, with the company keeping their heads down since launching the PS4 Pro remasters of InFamous Second Son and First Light back in November 2016.

So, with no new title since the First Light spin-off in two and a half years ago, they’re well overdue a comeback. Having made a spectacular entrance on the PS4 Pro, they’re obviously masters of Sony’s latest hardware, so we’d expect something special when they do show their hand.

Instant tethering is coming to Chrome OS to make it easier to get online

For those times when you’re not near a Wi-Fi network, being able to tether to your phone’s data connection can be very useful indeed – provided your phone’s OS, your data plan, and your network provider are all set up to provide tethering of course.

The latest Canary (developer) build of Chrome OS has added an “instant tethering” option that makes it easier to get online this way: once you’ve enabled the feature on the flags page (look for “enable-tether”), it appears as an option on the main settings page.

It’s the same feature we saw come to selected Android devices earlier this year, and it works the same way – if you have a Chromebook and a phone signed into the same Google account, the Chromebook automatically picks up on the phone’s data connection when Wi-Fi isn’t available. You don’t even need to take the phone out of your pocket.

Under the tether

Another added bonus of instant tethering is that the Wi-Fi hotspot being run from your phone automatically starts up and shuts down as needed, so it’s not running all the time and wasting battery life while your Chromebook is switched off.

While it might not change your tethering life, it should make for a more seamless browsing experience when you’re using your Chromebook away from home. Note though that the feature can only be used with a Pixel or Nexus device running Android Nougat, which will also need to have instant tethering enabled (under Google in Settings).

If you don’t want to play around with the Canary build of Chrome OS then you’ll have to wait for it to trickle down to the regular version of the operating system, which shouldn’t take too long.

  • In the market for a Chromebook? Here are our picks of the year

Via ChromeStory

The best Samsung Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 deals in June 2017

The new Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) and Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) give you the premium looks of the flagship Samsung Galaxy S7, but with a much lower price tag.

If you fancy getting hold of a smartphone with flagship looks without having to empty your wallet then you’ll want to check out the best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and top Samsung Galaxy A3 deals below.

Our Galaxy A3 deals are perfect for those wanting to stick to a tight budget, with a selection of great low-cost tariffs for you to explore. If you’re working with a bit more cash you’ll want our great Galaxy A5 deals, which give you a more feature-packed phone at a still affordable price.

More deals: Samsung Galaxy S8 deals | Samsung Galaxy S7 deals | Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge deals | Samsung Galaxy S6 deals | Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge deals

The UK’s best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals across all UK networks:

Further down this page you will find the best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals as chosen by our experts, on a network-by-network and model-by-model basis. But at the top here you’ll find what we assess to be the overall best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals available today.

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A5 | Three | £22.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 8GB data | £25pm This is quite simply an incredible Samsung Galaxy A5 deal. It’s one of the best ways to own a Galaxy S5 with as much as 8GB of data too. You’ll have to be on Three’s network, but at only £25 a month this is a great price. The total cost over 24 months is £622.99

Get this Samsung Galaxy A5 deal: direct from Affordable Mobiles

iphone 6 deals

vodafone

Galaxy A3 | Vodafone | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £23pm
This is our favourite Galaxy A3 deal in June 2017 as it comes with  £72 of cashback. That discount drops the price of the two-year contract right down  and it gives you unlimited calls and texts as well as 1GB of data to use every month. Total cost over 24 months is £480

Get this deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

Now let’s break down the best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals by network… 

iphone 6 deals

iPhone 6 deals on EE

Best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals on EE

The place to go if you want high-speed 4G

Galaxy A5 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
This is one of the cheapest Samsung Galaxy A5 deals on EE this month and comes with a free phone as well. You get a free Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) as part of the deal, with 2GB of data and unlimited everything else, for the great price of £22.99 per month. Look at the deal below if you want more data on EE for not much extra money. The total cost over 24 months is £551.76

Get this Samsung Galaxy A5 deal: direct from e2Save

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A5 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 5GB data | £27.99pm
Here’s a real barnstormer of a Samsung Galaxy A5 deal. A whopping 5GB of data and a free handset already sounds great, but add to that the £27.99 monthly fee and a simply massive £96 of cashback you’ll be in line for and you’ll be one very happy camper. The total cost over 24 months is £575.76

Get this Samsung Galaxy A5 deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £17.99pm
If you are more interested in the cheaper Galaxy A3, you can double your data over our cheapest A5 EE deal here and also nab yourself £5 cashback as an extra bonus too. A free Samsung Galaxy A3 is always nice, and the unlimited calls and texts will come in more than handy. Total cost over 24 months is £431.76

Get this Samsung Galaxy A3 deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 2GB data | £22.99pm
Want yourself 2GB of data on your Galaxy A3? You should go for this deal from EE that’s still super cheap even though you’re getting double the internet compared to the deal above. At only £22.99 a month, this may be the perfect deal for you from EE. Total cost over 24 months is £551.76

Get this Samsung Galaxy A3 deal: direct from Affordable Mobiles

iphone 6 deals

iphone 6 deals on o2

Best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals on O2

The network with extras like O2 Priority

Galaxy A5 | £50 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £19pm
O2 has a top notch cheap Samsung Galaxy A5 deal this month, with a monthly outlay of just £24 getting you 1GB of data and unlimited everything else in return. There is an upfront fee, but £50 isn’t much to ask when there’s such a low monthly price. Total cost over 24 months is £506

Get this deal: direct from e2save

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A5 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £27pm
If you can stretch to pay a bit extra per month we’d highly recommend doing so for this great Samsung Galaxy A5 deal. There’s a healthy 3GB of data and no up front cost – it’s a top offer and one of the best deals on O2 in June 2017. Total cost over 24 months is £648

Get this deal: direct from Mobiles.co.uk

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | £19.99 upfront | 500 minutes and 500 texts | 1GB data | £17pm
Want to keep your monthly expenditure as low as possible? Look no further as this Samsung Galaxy A3 deal is for you. Just £17 per month is all it asks in return for 1GB of data – the 500 minutes and texts are a little low – but who calls anyone these days? There is an upfront cost, but it’s only just around £20. Total cost over 24 months is £427.99

Get this deal: direct from Carphone Warehouse

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 3GB data | £27pm
Fancy a bit more data each month to go with your Samsung Galaxy A3 deal? No worries, as you can bag yourself 3GB of data and a free handset. You’ll be spending a little more than the deal above each month, but £27 is still a great price for the Galaxy A3. Total cost over 24 months is £648

Get this deal: direct from e2save

iphone 6 deals

vodafone

Best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals on Vodafone

Offers extras like Spotify and Sky Sports

Galaxy A5 | £38.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £23pm
This Samsung Galaxy A5 deal gives you an excellent way of picking up the new handset for next to nothing. There’s only a small upfront charge and the £23 per month cost is more than reasonable for the unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 1GB of data you get in return. Sadly the cashback from May has disappeared, but this is still a top deal nonetheless. Total cost over 24 months is £590.99

Get this deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A5 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £29pm
Another really great Samsung Galaxy A5 deal right here for you. You get a huge 4GB of data and your hands on a free handset while paying just £29 per month for the privilege. If you’re after lots of data on Vodafone, this is the deal to go for. Total cost over 24 months is £696

Get this deal: direct from Smart Phone Company

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 1GB data | £23pm
You may think this Galaxy A3 deal looks expensive as it’s the same price as the Galaxy A5 option above, but there’s a surprise waiting here. It comes with  £72 of cashback, which will send your total cost over the course of the contract tumbling. This is a great deal if you want to be on Vodafone. Total cost over 24 months is £480

Get this deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | FREE upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £29pm
Here you get more data, and a higher monthly outlay, but with this Samsung Galaxy A3 deal you also get a tasty 4GB of data every month. Plus there’s £50 of cashback to make this deal that little bit sweeter. Total cost over 24 months is £646

Get this deal: direct from Mobile Phones Direct

iphone 6 deals

iphone 6 deals on Three

Best Samsung Galaxy A5 deals and Samsung Galaxy A3 deals on Three

Three is one of few providers that offers unlimited data, and Feel at Home is decent for regular travellers.

Galaxy A5 | £69.99 upfront | 600 minutes and unlimited texts | 1GB data | £20pm
There’s a rather hefty upfront fee on this Samsung Galaxy A5 deal – no getting around that one, sorry. However, if you pull together the cash you’ll be rewarded with a low £20 per month cost in return for 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data. Total cost over 24 months is £549.99

Get this deal: direct from buymobiles.net

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A5 | FREE upfront | 600 minutes and unlimited texts | 1GB data | £24pm
If you don’t fancy parting with any cash up front, this Samsung Galaxy A5 deal from Three could well be for you. You get a free handset, 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data every month in return for just £24. Total cost over 24 months is £576

Get this deal: direct from buymobiles.net

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | £39.99 upfront | 300 minutes and unlimited texts | 1GB data | £17pm
An oddly low number of minutes on this Samsung Galaxy A3 deal, but who talks on the phone anymore? That aside, this is another good looking offer with a low monthly outlay of just £17 along with 1GB of data and unlimited texts. Plus June has seen the upfront cost of this deal fall down to just below £40 as well. Total cost over 24 months is £447.99

Get this deal: direct from buymobiles.net

iphone 6 deals

Galaxy A3 | £9.99 upfront | Unlimited calls and texts | 4GB data | £24pm
With this great Samsung Galaxy A3 deal you get a hearty 4GB of data plus unlimited calls and texts for just £24 per month – that’s great value. Just make sure you realise you’ll be spending the best part of £10 on day one as well and you’ll also be limited to Three. Total cost over 24 months is £585.99

Get this deal: direct from Buy Mobiles

Siri is about to get friendlier with your other apps

With the launch of iOS 10 last year, Apple gave third-party app developers the option to add Siri integration for the first time, though the opportunity was limited to apps in certain categories. With iOS 11, that restriction looks likely to be lifted.

As reported by Reuters, Apple will open up Siri to more categories of apps, though you shouldn’t expect to see thousands of extra commands suddenly become available, in the style of the Amazon Echo – Apple still wants to keep some control over the process, the report says.

Currently, apps focused on ride sharing, messaging, photos, payments, fitness and in-car entertainment can be set up with Siri, though it’s not clear which additional categories will get added. We should hear the news officially at Apple’s annual WWDC developer conference which starts on Monday.

Siri vs Google vs Alexa

Apple usually reveals its plans for the next version of iOS at WWDC so we should be hearing a lot more about the future of its mobile operating systems besides improvements to Siri. Recent rumors suggest Apple will have a standalone Siri speaker to unveil too.

Of course Apple will be paying attention to – and feeling the pressure from – the work that its rivals are doing with their own digital assistant apps. At Google I/O last month the emphasis was very much on ways Google would be improving the AI that works behind the scenes in products like Google Assistant and Google Home.

Meanwhile the Amazon Echo has been a runaway success, thanks in part to the thousands of different apps and integrations users can access through the Alexa assistant. By the time Apple updates iOS later this year, Siri will probably have a few more integrations of its own to show off.

  • Siri can now read aloud your WhatsApp messages

Via MacRumors

A closer look at Windows 10 S, Windows 10 on ARM and Windows 10 IoT

Windows RT, Microsoft’s ill-fated attempt to rival the iPad with a version of Windows that ran on ARM chips, made a lot of changes to the familiar OS to move it to a new processor and make the apps that run on it more efficient and secure.

Now Microsoft is coming out with two new versions of Windows and dividing those changes between them: Windows 10 S and Windows 10 on ARM. This isn’t about the limitations of using ARM processors – it’s about crafting versions of Windows that solve very specific problems.

So let’s look in depth at these fresh operating systems, also comparing them to that other spin on Microsoft’s OS, Windows 10 IoT, which is aimed at the likes of smart home gadgets and much more. How do all these different flavours stack up and compare to each other – and to Windows 10 itself – in the overall picture?

It’s Windows 10 on ARM but Microsoft and Qualcomm often just call it Windows 10

Windows 10 on ARM

Windows 10 running on ARM processors will be very much like Windows 10 itself, with only one main restriction. You’ll be able to run apps from the Windows Store on Windows on ARM, but you’ll also be able to run Win32 apps – whether they come from the Windows Store because they’ve been packaged with the Desktop Bridge tool, or whether you download them from the web at large and install them as normal desktop apps.

Windows on ARM has a built-in emulator for 32-bit apps that’s based on the Windows on Windows (WOW) technology that Windows 10 uses to run 32-bit (x86) software on 64-bit (x64) PCs. The real-time ‘Just-In-Time’ transcoding emulation that converts x86 instructions to ARM is done the first time you run the software, and then it’s cached by Windows – so the next time you run the software, you’re running the ARM64 version of the code that was created on-the-fly the first time, making it run without significant lag or delay.

Windows on ARM looks like Windows 10, has the Windows 10 desktop and runs Windows software like 7-Zip

The aim with Windows 10 on ARM isn’t to get a super-secure system – that’s what Windows 10 S is for. Rather, it’s to let OEMs build PCs with the long battery life and built-in connectivity of ARM solutions like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835. Many of these ARM devices will be ‘Always Connected’ PCs with embedded SIMs (eSIMs) that let you switch carriers without plugging in a physical SIM, but there will be Always Connected PCs with eSIMs that have Intel rather than ARM processors as well. (Always Connected is really the latest version of Connected Standby, a feature introduced in Windows 8.) 

Confusingly, Microsoft and Qualcomm are simply calling this ‘Windows 10’. What you get is Windows 10, with the Windows 10 desktop, but it’s Windows 10 running on ARM rather than on an Intel or AMD CPU. In practice, the only difference will be that 64-bit desktop software won’t run on these devices.

How Windows 10 on ARM runs desktop software

That’s not a technical limitation – ARM64 chips could run emulated x64 instructions as easily as x86 instructions, although x64 has more registers which the emulation would have to cope with.

Microsoft hasn’t been able to give us a reason why x64 isn’t supported, and it may simply be that it’s reusing the WOW 32-bit emulation it already had for running x86 code on x64 systems, and that rewriting that to run x64 code as well would be a lot of work. (Many app installers are 64-bit even when the apps they install are 32-bit, so it will be interesting to see how this 32-bit restriction works in practice).

Similarly, when Microsoft talks about ‘Windows 10 on cellular PCs’ that’s more likely to mean PCs with LTE and eSIMs than phones that run desktop apps, even though the latter is technically possible.

Windows 10 S

Designed for schools – and to compete with Chromebooks – Windows 10 S is far more restricted than Windows on ARM, even though the first systems will have x86 processors inside (and schools can put Windows 10 S onto their existing Windows Pro PCs). It’s these restrictions that give Windows 10 S faster boot times and better battery life than Windows 10 on the same hardware; there are no startup applications or background tasks slowing down boot or using up battery.

Windows 10 S only runs apps that come from the Windows Store, and you can’t sideload UWP apps from other sources. Those apps can be desktop apps like Evernote and Slack, Spotify and iTunes, which have been converted for the Store using the Desktop Bridge – that’s how Microsoft will get Office 2016 onto Windows 10 S.

This is the one place where Windows 10 S is potentially less locked down than Windows 10 on ARM – it’s possible to convert 64-bit desktop apps to Store apps and those converted apps should run on Windows 10 S.

That’s not going to include Firefox or Chrome though, because the Windows Store policies only allow browsers that use the Edge and Chakra HTML and JavaScript engines included in Windows. If Chromium was wrapped as a Store app, it would get the virtualised registry and redirected file system of a UWP app, but converted apps have the ‘runFullTrust’ capability that lets them perform operations outside the app sandbox. And that would make a Store version of Chrome no more secure than a desktop version.

“Just because an ‘app’ comes from the Windows Store does not automatically mean it’s safe and suitable for running on Windows 10 S,” explained senior program manager Rich Turner. Similarly, converted apps that generate code and write it to disk “won’t run properly on systems running Windows 10 S”. So Minecraft will work, but a developer tool like Visual Studio won’t.

Remote tools like Citrix Receiver will be the only way to get apps that don’t come from the Windows Store ‘running’ on Windows 10 S

You will be able to run desktop apps – including Chrome – remotely, using Citrix Receiver (but you must have a XenDesktop environment to remote those apps from). That works because any security or power impact from the desktop apps happens on the remote server, not on the Windows 10 S device.

Windows 10 S has no command line or console, so it doesn’t include the Windows Subsystem for Linux (even though that’s now distributed through the Windows Store), or even PowerShell. That means that malware which uses scripts, PowerShell or macros to attack Windows just won’t work on Windows 10 S. (And having no command line stops users sideloading apps that don’t come from the Store).

It also means that while Windows 10 S PCs can be set up using a USB stick produced with a special setup tool, they have to be managed using the built-in MDM client, via Microsoft’s Intune service. That has controls for networking and browser settings, and can even turn off the camera on the device during school hours, but it doesn’t slow the system down the way group policies do. 

Windows 10 S works with Windows Update for Business, which lets admins choose when the twice-a-year feature updates and monthly quality updates get installed, including setting the time of day and deferring them by up to 30 days – but not blocking them altogether.

Windows 10

If the restrictions in Windows 10 S stop you running software that you need, or you want more control over updates, you can upgrade those systems to Windows 10 Pro – not Windows 10 Home (and for a short time, that upgrade will be free). It’s tempting to think that this might make Windows 10 S a replacement for Windows Home in the future: users who want simplicity, security, superior performance, a streamlined experience or whatever else the ‘S’ stands for could pick Windows 10 S, and power users could pay extra for Windows 10 Pro. 

That probably depends on just how many of the apps mainstream users want arrive in the Windows Store. If there are enough, businesses might also pick Windows 10 S for users who don’t need the extra power, and the security risks that come with it. But Windows 10 will still be there for developers, gamers and power users who want all the options.

The three versions of Windows 10 IoT

Windows 10 IoT

There’s another version of Windows that runs on both ARM and Intel processors – Windows 10 IoT – which comes in three flavours. Windows 10 IoT Core is a cut-down version for specialised ARM or x86 devices that may or may not have a screen but can still run a single UWP app or Windows features like Cortana (as long as the device has a screen in the latter case), but not the Windows Shell. 

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise is a full version of Windows 10 Enterprise for building embedded devices like ATMs and thin clients on x86 systems, and Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise is for building embedded systems on ARM, for handheld devices like scanners and industrial PDAs.

  • We’ve highlighted all the best deals on Windows 10 this month

The best cheap Dell laptop deals in June 2017

Update: We’ve verified these deals for the month of June, so save away!

We’re all aware that Dell makes some of the best laptops around, but did you know they could be cheap, too? Well, as long as you know where to search, there are plenty of Dell laptop deals floating around the web.

However, there are several types of laptops to choose from when browsing around for a new Dell. This Inspiron line ranges from entry- to mid-range computers, while the XPS is all about delivering high-end power in the most portable form factor.

Then, there’s Alienware, a Dell company that focuses on gaming laptops – those with discrete graphics chips and usually backlit keyboards to boot. For that reason, it can be tough to figure out all the best Dell laptop deals in each of these categories and product lines.

That’s why we’ve decided to take care of the dirty work for you, cataloging all of the best Dell laptop deals onto a single page. Just remember that these deals are available as of last writing, so note the article’s time stamp.

The best Dell XPS 13 deals

As does any other laptop maker with its leading product, Dell actually runs deals on its XPS 13 rather frequently … just not as big of ones or as often as, say, its mid-range Inspiron lineup. Being Dell’s most wanted laptop, it makes sense. 

With up to a 13.3-inch, 3K IPS touchscreen inside an 11-inch aluminum frame, Intel’s latest Core i processors as well as Thunderbolt 3 and an SD card slot, the XPS 13 is ready for all sorts of users for work and play.

Below you’ll find the best deals we could find on the XPS 13 in the UK, US and Australia. Just note that most XPS 13 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 

The best Dell XPS 15 deals

The XPS 15 is, frankly, a bigger XPS 13. However, that extra space inside the 14-inch frame (fitting a 15.6-inch version of that beautiful screen) allows for Nvidia’s GTX 960M mobile graphics chip.

All else equal, this makes the XPS 15 even more suitable for professionals and players alike, though considerably less mobile. And, of course, a bigger screen asks for a bigger price tag.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the XPS 15 in the UK, US and Australia. We’ll say it again: note that most XPS 15 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 

The best Dell Inspiron 11 deals

Dell’s best Windows-based answer to the Chromebook army is the Inspiron 11. A tiny bit of power to accommodate such a tiny price, this laptop is ideal for students of basically all ages, but not for those in computing intense fields (i.e. animation, media editing, etc), and anyone seeking a cheap way to get online.

Since this is nearly the least expensive laptop money can buy, deals on these are sparse. 

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Inspiron 11 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Inspiron 11 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

The best Dell Inspiron 14 deals

This is one of Dell’s most entry-level laptops, but has recently managed to make it feel anything but. With expandable storage and an HD webcam, you’re looking at a solid college companion for the liberal arts student or a fine laptop for mom and dad now that you’ve left the nest. 

It won’t do much of any gaming, but its processor should stream Netflix at 720p just fine. As a family photo repository and keeping in touch with the kids – or heck, write that thesis – device, the Inspiron 14 is a fine Chromebook challenger.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Inspiron 14 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Inspiron 14 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

The best Dell Inspiron 15 deals

For whatever reason, we’ve been told by Dell and other computer makers that you folks really dig gigantic laptops with legacy features. Hence, the Inspiron 15 5000 is among Dell’s most popular, so much so that two great deals are currently available for the device that clings onto what Apple has long abandoned: SD cards and DVDs.

Of course, don’t go expecting MacBook-like levels of performance here – not even close. But, if you still have a dear DVD collection, this may be the 15-inch laptop for you.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Inspiron 15 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Inspiron 15 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too. 

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000

The best Dell Inspiron 13 2-in-1 deals

Perhaps you want a smaller, lighter and more versatile experience – like we would. In that case, this version of the Inspiron might be your bag.

It’s slick, lightweight and offers several ways to use it – just like the XPS 13 2-in-1. Well, save for the insanely powerful hardware and beautiful screen. Though, for most folks, what’s inside this hybrid laptop is just fine.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Inspiron 13 2-in-1 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Inspiron 13 2-in-1 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 

The best Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming deals

For those seeking a gaming laptop without dipping into their life savings, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming might be your bag. It’s essentially a souped-up version of the standard 15-incher with far stronger graphics.

Of course, don’t go expecting Alienware 15-level performance here. But, what this Inspiron offers should be enough for smooth 1080p gaming at moderate settings. So, no wonder why folks are interested in saving even more on it.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Inspiron 15 Gaming in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Inspiron 15 Gaming deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

Read the hands-on review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

The best Alienware 13 deals

Dell’s Alienware brand of gaming laptops looks better than ever these days, though sadly it seems to be pricier than ever as well. For instance, the starting Alienware 13 model comes with an HD screen at 1,366 x 768 resolution.

Luckily the component options quickly ramp up from there, but of course so does the pricing. With an absolutely beautiful OLED display on the table, we’ll take whatever deal we can get.

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Alienware 13 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Alienware 13 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too.

The best Alienware 15 deals

Those seeking the newest Nvidia graphics behind screens fine-tuned for gaming are well-served by Dell’s Alienware brand. Notoriously expensive, any deal you can get on Alienware hardware is worth consideration if you want a gaming laptop not just with powerful components but strong style and support.

The Alienware 15 simply expands upon Dell’s fresh new design, bringing with it access to Nvidia’s mid-tier GTX 1070 mobile graphics for even better power. This model also comes starting with an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) screen – phew!

Below are the best deals we could muster on the Alienware 15 in the UK, US and Australia. Note that most Alienware 15 deals listed are with entry-level specs, so check to make sure whether the version you want has the hardware you want inside, too. 

  • Now, these are the best laptops – bar none