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LOW-COST PRINTERS COMPARED

S M A R T S

M A D E

S I M P L E

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10 BRAWNY BLUETOOTH
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OUT N ABOUT!

ISSUE 57 | DECEMBER 2016 |

TECHLIFER

TECHLIFER

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* SUPER-CHEAP $1,500 4K TV:
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[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

EDITORIAL
UNFETTERED SPECULATION

[ PASSWORD1234 ]

How to not get hacked


THE YAHOO! BREACH SHOULD BE A WAKE-UP CALL FOR US ALL.
HERES HOW TO HARDEN YOUR DEVICES AND NOT BE AN EASY TARGET.
[ DAN GARDINER ]

THE RECENT DISCLOSURE that Yahoo! had


sufered one of the biggest hacks in history, resulting
in some 500 million user accounts being
compromised, should probably be a bit more
surprising than it ultimately is. Its a sad fact of the
modern age of cloud computing that companies get
hacked. heres no such thing as a hack-proof
system unintentional vulnerabilities are being
discovered on a constant basis and, in many cases,
they dont get patched until a breach has occurred.
he Yahoo! attack actually took place back in
2014, but it was reportedly only discovered a few
weeks prior to the announcement. hat means that
hackers have had those stolen account credentials
for two years without users even being aware.
While theres not a lot you can do to prevent
yourself being the victim of such a large-scale
corporate attack, there are steps you can take to
minimise the damage. Heres a quick rundown of all
the things I personally do:

* Use antivirus sotware on your PC, Mac and/or


Android devices. his should efectively stop
any known attacks from being able to penetrate
your devices.
* Use a passcode or password to lock your PC and
smartphone. his is especially important on your
phone, but if you use a laptop, you should secure
it with a password as well. hat way, if the device
gets lost or stolen, itll be more diicult for thieves
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

to get in and get to your private information.

* Use two-factor authentication for your online


accounts. his is especially important for your
main email account, which oten contains a
mass of sensitive details information about
purchases, tax records, family members and
so on that can be very useful if someone is
trying to pose as you or just gain access to
your bank accounts.
* Use a password manager. his is perhaps the
best thing you can do to limit the impact of
a Yahoo!-style hack. Re-using the same
password on diferent services is basically like
having one key to unlock every door in your
house, plus your car and oice. A password
manager takes that temptation away and
actually makes passwords easier, because you
only have to remember one password the
one that unlocks your password manager.
Of course, new security threats are always
emerging and theres no way to be 100% covered,
but by using these tools and techniques, youll be
as best protected as possible.
And as a last item, wed also suggest signing
up to the Australian Governments Stay Smart
Online Alert Service at www.staysmartonline.
gov.au, which will send you email updates about
cyber-security trends and how to protect
yourself from current threats.
[ 03 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

WELCOME
IN THIS ISSUE

055

HOLIDAY TECH
ON TEST!
10 BRAWNY BLUETOOTH
SPEAKERS, 7 MINI MUSIC
PROJECTORS & 10
DAZZLING DRONES +
MUCH MORE!

TECH FOR FUN!


GEEK-OUT THIS FESTIVE SEASON WITH THE
GREATEST HOLIDAY GEAR & GADGETS!

[ PAGE 038 ]

Forza Horizon 3,
World of Warcraft: Legion,
PES 2017 and more.

[ 004 ]

046

CONTENTS
IN THIS ISSUE

048

[ THIS MONTH IN TECHLIFE ]

Intro
[ 003 ]
[ 007 ]

008

Hotspot
[ 008 ]

017

Editorial
he Wall

[ 010 ]
[ 012 ]
[ 014 ]
[ 016 ]
[ 017 ]
[ 018 ]
[ 019 ]
[ 020 ]

Apple iPhone 7 + iPhone 7 Plus


Apple OS 10
Essential tech news
Google Pixels, Daydream and
Chromecast 4K
he news in numbers
Fitbit Charge 2
Kickstarted!
Hisense 4K TV
Pop science

Moleskine Smart Tools


Connected
[ 049 ] Razer Mechanical Keyboard
Case for iPad Pro
[ 049 ]

Features
[ 050 ]
[ 074 ]
[ 078 ]

Cover story
[ 055 ]
[ 056 ]

Lifetools
[ 021 ]
[ 024 ]

Assets for the advanced aviator


Find the best-value travel SIMs

[ 062 ]
[ 066 ]
[ 070 ]

Help Station

Best augmented-reality
apps & games
[ 029 ] Best tech podcasts
[ 030 ] Best read it later service
[ 032 ] New apps for every platform
[ 036 ] Best new sites, services, plugins
& more
[ 038 ] PC & console game reviews
[ 042 ] Hearthstone still has some
growing up to do
[ 044 ] Mobile game reviews

[ 090 ]
[ 092 ]
[ 094 ]
[ 096 ]
[ 098 ]
[ 100 ]
[ 102 ]
[ 106 ]

Test Bench

Turn your Windows PC into a


Wi-Fi hotspot
Manage storage in macOS
Sierra
Android 7.0s best hidden
features
Super-size your cloud storage
for free
Taking out the trash app
Create your own NAS
Master focus on your DSLR
Why you dont need a 4K TV

[ 046 ]

Buyers Guide

[ 047 ]

[ 110 ]

HP EliteBook Folio G1
MSI GT73VR Titan Pro
[ 048 ] Alcatel Pop 4
[ 048 ] WiWander
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Contents
Tech for fun!
Choosing the best drone
Take the music with you
Pocket projectors

Discover
[ 026 ]

049

Punchy printers for penny


pinchers
10 scientists who changed the
tech world
iOS 10 tips, tricks and secrets

he best tech products

[ 005 ]

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[ 006 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

THE WALL
GUFF AND STUFF

Trying to view
Australian streamed
content from outside
our borders results in
some familiar error
messages

Geoblocks work
both ways
I was interested to read the article
in the July edition on local and overseas TV
streaming sites, especially the section on
regional content restrictions and the use of
VPNs to bypass these.
I think at times Australians (and our
holier-than-thou politicians) can be a little too
precious about geoblocking, assuming that
everyone else is doing it, but not us freedomloving Aussies!
As an Australian who travels regularly
overseas, I can tell you that Australia is just
as bad (if that is the correct word) at
geoblocking content.
I subscribe to the online version of
Australian newspapers, meaning that I pay for
the content, yet all video content on this
subscription is blocked with the words: Sorry,
this video is not available in your region.
Nor can I access the ABCs iView or SBS
OnDemand services unless I am physically in
Australia, or am using a VPN.
Maybe Australia should practise what they
preach in terms of removing the blocking of
content based on region before they attempt to
accuse other countries of using this nasty and
evil geoblocking.
[ PHILIP ALEXANDER ]

Ed replies: Yep, its deinitely frustrating to see


this happening and I dont think well see an
oicial answer to the problem any time soon,
if ever. Despite internal reports stating that
geoblocking is anticompetitive, the Australian
Government has yet to take an oicial stance on
the legality of geoblocking which is both a
boon and a bane.
Until (or perhaps if is a better choice of word
here) the government does make a ruling, one
way or the other, that means that, while its not
illegal for Aussies to use VPNs to access
geo-restricted content, its also not illegal for

companies that operate in Australia to block


external access.
To be fair, I dont really see Aussie companies as
being at fault here blocking access is the
streaming industrys default position these days,
and as Australian streaming services oten license
a lot of international content, theyre probably
obliged by the contracts theyve signed to limit who
can access those shows and movies to people
residing Down Under.
In other words, youll probably want to hold
onto your VPN subscription... whether youre living
in Australia or not.

[ COME ON, HAVE YOUR SAY! ]

We want to hear what you think. Add to these discussions or email your views (in fewer than 250 words) to techlife@futurenet.com.
All correspondence becomes the property of TechLife and is subject to editing. Letters must include full name, street address, suburb,
state and phone number to be considered for print publication. Address and phone details will not be published.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 007 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

HOTSPOT
YOUR GUIDE TO HOT NEW TECH

WINNER

[ SHINY NEW THINGS ]

Apple gives and takes

EDs CHOICE
AWARD

IS THE IPHONE 7S WATERPROOFING ENOUGH OF


AN UPGRADE TO JUSTIFY THE LOSS OF THE
3.5MM HEADPHONE JACK?
[ GARETH BEAVIS & JOHN MCCANN ]

IF APPLE HAD launched its new iPhone 7s


last year instead of the iPhone 6S, they
would probably have been the best phones
of the year a waterproof handset with
fantastic dual speakers, a brighter and more
colourful screen and a boosted camera that
took better pictures. In last years market,
changing the Home button from a clickable
entity to something that responds to
pressure, and possibly even the loss of the
headphone jack would have been innovative
and alternative in a sea of identikit
handsets. Instead, what were let with are
devices that feel like S models theyre
good enough, but lack the big-ticket
features that were used to in major releases.

JACKING OUT
Apples described the decision to ditch the
3.5mm port as courageous and while
were not sure wed go that far, it could
certainly open the door for more headphone
smarts. In the short term, though, itll
impact users in varying degrees: for some,
itll be no more than a shrug, either because
theyre already using wireless cans or they
only use the EarPods in the iPhone box. For
those with alternative headphones, itll be
inconvenient, as theyll need to attach a
short white dongle (also in the box) to the
3.5mm jack on the end of their non-Apple
headphones in order to plug them into the
Lightning port. You could also try the new
$229 Apple AirPods, developed on a new
wireless standard.
hose users wholl be most put out will be
people who charge their iPhone while also
listening to music via wired headphones. Its
one or the other unless you use a thirdparty adaptor cable or specialised case, both
of which youll have to purchase separately.
he easy way around this is to invest in a set
of wireless phones.

08 ]
[ [008

HOME IMPROVEMENTS
If you can deal with the loss of that 3.5mm
jack, theres still a lot to like. Apple has
integrated last years Force Touch tech into
the Home button, which is no longer a
physical button, but rather a touch-sensitive
pad. Apples Taptic Engine produces
vibrations around the pad that mimic the
feel of pressing a button and, though the
diference does takes a little getting used to,
it ultimately works quite naturally.
Another new feature is the IP67 rating
found on both phones, bringing them in line
with the best Android competitors and
meaning theyre both dust-proof and waterresistant. Its worth noting that theyre not
fully waterproof you cant take them
swimming, and frequent exposure to water
may well spell trouble. But the lack of a
headphone port or physical home button will
certainly help in terms of robustness thats
two less areas that dust or water can get
inside and potentially jam things up.
Both phones have got slight jumps in
battery capacity (around 10% each) and yet,
despite that (alongside the addition of IP67
and the new dual external speaker design
which incidentally sound great, iring out
of the earpiece and the bottom of the phone),
these new models are the same thickness as
their 6S forebears. he Plus has even
slimmed down slightly, dropping from 172
grams to 168 grams.

KILLER SPEED
Performance in general and gaming
speciically are superbly strong on these
phones, with one new feature in particular
that really improves the gaming experience:
Taptic feedback from within the phone. he
new vibrating engine delivers smaller, more
targeted buzzing of the handset, so when
youre iring a machine gun, or crashing a

APPLE IPHONE 7
From $1,079 (32GB)
www.apple.com/au
CRITICAL SPECS
iOS 10; 4.7-inch IPS LCD @
1,334 x 750 (326ppi);
quad-core 2.23GHz Apple
A10 Fusion CPU; six-core
GPU (type not speciied);
2GB RAM; 32/128/256GB;
12/7MP rear/front cameras;
ingerprint reader; IP67
water/dust resistance;
1,960mAh non-removable
battery; 138g

41/2
41/2 PANASONIC DMP-UB900
$848
www.panasonic.com/au
APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS
CRITICAL SPECS:
From $1,079 (32GB)
4K HDR Blu-ray, Blu-ray,
www.apple.com/au
DVD and CD playback;
192kHz/32bit DAC;
CRITICAL SPECS
FLAC/ WAV/ ALAC/ DSD/
iOS 10; 5.5-inch IPS LCD @
WMA/ AAC/ MP3 audio
1080p (401ppi); quad-core
compatibility, SD card slot;
2.23GHz Apple A10 Fusion
2 x HDMI, optical, coaxial and
CPU; six-core GPU (type not
RCA output; Ethernet port;
speciied); 3GB RAM;
43.5 x 6.8 x 19.9cm; 2.4kg
32/128/256GB; dual
12+12MP rear camera;
7MP front camera;
ingerprint reader; IP67
41/2
water/dust resistance;
2,900mAh non-removable
battery; 188g
PANASONIC TH-65DX900U
$3,998
www.panasonic.com/au
CRITICAL SPECS:
4K Ultra-HD LED LCD display
@ 200Hz refresh rate;
1,000nit peak brightness;
Firefox OS; 4x 10W speaker
output; 4x HDMI 2.0 input
(one audio return channel);
1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0;
1 x Digital Audio Out,
145.7 x 33.4 x 88.8cm,
42.5kg

The large bulge at the back of the 7 Plus is


home to two 12MP cameras a wide-angle
lens and a telephoto lens. In short, switching
from wide-angle to telephoto gives you a 2x
optical zoom, which means you dont lose
image quality while getting closer to your
subject. You can still digital-zoom (up to 10x)
on the 7 Plus if the 2x optical option isnt
enough. And theres a whole new camera
system too, with a larger f/1.8 aperture and
six-element lens allowing the cameras to suck
in 50% more light than their predecessors.

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

HOTSPOT
APPLE GIVES AND TAKES

TWO CAMERAS ARE


BETTER THAN ONE

car into the side of a wall, it feels more realistic


option, and thats meant to be better in
and engaging.
lower light, too.
Battery life is a trickier metric to nail down;
Weve discussed the 7 Pluss dual-camera
Apple has said its increased the battery life and
setup in a bit more detail in the boxout above,
but its safe to say that, in the real world, both
eiciency through the improvements to the
phones take great shots the Pluss twin lenses
iPhone and the new A10 Fusion chip. he latter
give you more lexibility
is key, as its up to 40%
in terms
faster than last years
THAT BACKLIGHT STRUCTURE of focus, and on both
and designed to make
IS ONE OF THE MOST
handsets, all of our test
the new iPhones
IMPORTANT ASPECTS FOR
images were well-lit,
separate into two task
HDR, AND HERE, ITS A
with commendable
machines: two cores to
HONEYCOMB ARRAY THAT
contrast and colours.
run the harder stuf,
ALLOWS IT TO PUSH PAST A
hat said, we still think
such as video and
1,000-NIT PEAK BRIGHTNESS
Samsungs Galaxy S7
photo editing, and the
THRESHOLD. IN USE, THIS
and S7 Edge have, well, a
other two lightweight
BACKLIGHT ARRAY MAKES
slight edge when it
cores that make sure
A MASSIVE DIFFERENCE.
comes to overall camera
you can still get your
performance theres a
emails and browse the
little less noise in darker areas and the colours
lighter apps. But despite those claims, running
pop a little more... although not so much that
our usual suite of tests, we didnt see any
evidence of great battery life improvements at all they seem unnatural.
in other words, youll still get a day out
GOOD ENOUGH?
of them with moderate use. As with last gen,
he new iPhones may not be the ones that
the iPhone 7 Plus, with a battery thats almost
many of us were hoping for. he 7 Plus is the
50% bigger, also managed to last up to 20%
slightly better choice in our book, thanks to its
longer than its smaller counterpart in testing,
dual-camera setup and bigger battery, but its
in spite of having a bigger screen.
worth noting that it is still a phone that feels big
he charging speed of the new iPhones is a
moreso than its Android phablet
little quicker, though and if you plug either
competitors, which have taken pains to slim
new model into a more-powerful 2.1A iPad
down their side-to-side width so theyre more
charging block, theyll juice up even faster.
comfortable in the hand.
SNAP IT UP
he addition of water- and dust-prooing,
Apart from screen size, the new iPhones
combined with the loss of the headphone jack,
also difer signiicantly when it comes to the
will likely mean these new phones dont make
main camera. he iPhone 7 has an improved
much of an impact in terms of converting
f/1.8 aperture 12MP sensor for better lower
Android fans or vice versa. Some will
light photos, an enhanced ability to gather
undoubtedly come across for one, or leave for
colour and light into the lens, and a dedicated
the other.
image processing chip to speed things along
In sum, this is another pair of very good, but
when taking multiple snaps. And the frontnot quite great, handsets from Apple and theyve
facing camera has been upgraded to a 7MP
done nothing to change the status quo.

[ 009
09 ] ]

WINNER

EDs CHOICE
HOTSPOT
IOS 10 FEATURES AND UPDATES

AWARD

41/2

IOS 10
Free
www.apple.com/au/ios/
ios-10

Raising your phone to wake it,


rather than pressing a button, is a
signiicant change.

3D Touch provides apps with new


menu options for lockscreen
notiications.

Respond to a message from within


the lockscreen the moment you
pick up your phone.

CRITICAL SPECS
Supports: iPad 4th gen,
iPad Air and later, iPad Pro,
iPad mini 2 and later, iPod
touch 6th gen, iPhone 5
and later

[ WHEN SOFT BEATS HARD ]

iOS 10s best new bits


APPLES LATEST IOS IS PACKED FULL OF NEW FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS.
[ MATT SWIDER ]

APPLES IOS 10 update for the iPhone and iPad


has arrived, with major changes to your daily
phone and tablet routine. he company has
redesigned the iPhone and iPad lockscreen,
giving us the biggest revision since the irst
iPhone some 9 years ago. Slide to unlock is
gone and replaced with Press Home to open.
Whats been added is the ability to raise your
iPhone to wake it, ixing the all-too-common
issue of blowing past lockscreen notiications
when you hit the fast TouchID home button.
his is deinitely the sleeper hit of iOS 10.
Notiications are broken up into bubbles now
and use 3D Touch to show hidden menu actions
just hard press on a calendar invite alert and
youll be able to accept or decline it. You dont
really need to open your phone to do half of
your daily tasks anymore.
What may be the best change is the ability to
clear all of your old notiications with 3D
Touch.Just hard press that little x icon within
the redesigned (and now dedicated)

notiications pulldown menu and tap the


clear all box that pops up.
he new sotware update includes a warning
message to unplug the Lighting cable at the
bottom of a device if the phone and sotware
detect water, which is a great addition.
he swipe-up-from-the-bottom Control
Center overlay menu also has a brand new look
that helps declutter the layout in iOS 10, and its
something Apple users have been asking for.
Slide right on the Control Center and theres a
dedicated pane for the volume, playback and
device output controls.
Its now easier than ever to lip on the camera
with iOS 10 because sliding the lockscreen right
(when Control Center isnt open) automatically
transitions to the camera app. Swiping to the
let on the lockscreen reveals a new spot for
Apples Today menu widgets.
Siri is now open to third-party apps such as
WeChat, WhatsApp, Slack and Uber, which
makes the Apple assistant much more useful.

Slide right in the new-look


Control Center for media
controls.

Photos can create albums


based on faces, objects and
locations.

[ 010 ]

One of the new features in


Messages is the ability to
emojify certain words.

iOS 10 makes use of deep learning, making it


easier to organise photos with what Apple calls
advanced computer vision. he company touts
Photos ability to create albums based on face,
object and scene recognition. It also serves up a
way to see photos overlaid on a map based on
where they were taken a super useful tool.
Apple Maps is way better, too, giving you the
ability to pan and zoom around the map while
a route is planned. Apple Music has been
redesigned, highlighting cover art properly and
suggesting music that youll like in a more
logical fashion.Excitingly, the rumoured
voicemail transcription idea made it into iOS
10, letting you know what a voicemail message
says via a more convenient text.
Messages has introduced rich links within a
conversation and a live camera view as soon as
you press the camera button. he keyboard can
now identify words you can replace with emojis.
heres also bubble efects, invisible ink,
tapbacks and much, much more.

HOTSPOT
INSIDE TECHLIFE
[ ALL THE DEETS ]

Inside TechLife
GET THE LOWDOWN ON TECHLIFES EDITORIAL POLICIES,
TEST PRACTICES, HOW TO READ THE BENCHMARK
RESULTS AND MORE.

TECHLIFE IS AUSTRALIAS youngest


technology mainstream magazine, having
been in print since 2012, when we launched
as a redesigned and modernised version of
Australian PC User. he latter was irst printed
in 1990, and TechLifes current editor has been
working for the mag (in both its incarnations)
for over a decade. We take that 25-year
heritage seriously and strive to be both ethical
and transparent in our coverage of technology
and any other topics we broach.
Like our sister magazine, APC, we have two
main goals here at TechLife: to track down the
best of modern tech and to help our readers get
the most from it. Were also an open church in
terms of platforms. We know most people
arent wed to a single brands products and use
a variety of devices in their lives. And like you,
TechLifes journalists want to know whats
good in tech no matter what platform it
resides on.

UNBIASED REVIEWS
Championing technology doesnt mean were
unrelentingly positive, however, and our other
aim at TechLife is to be as objective as possible
in our coverage. hat means identifying the
best products from multiple perspectives
the best performance, best value and best
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

features and, ideally, the products that ofer


the best mix of these three aspects.
As a matter of policy, reviews published
in TechLife are not shared with productproviders prior to print. We will contact
vendors under certain conditions; if we have
a problem testing a product that seems to
indicate it may be faulty, or to invite a vendor
to clarify how a particular feature works. If a
TechLife reviewer has any potential conlicts
of interest involving a brand, the review will
always be assigned to another writer.

LABS TESTING
In order to make our reviews and other stories
as unbiased as possible, TechLife strives to
conduct rigorous, objective and scientiic tests
and benchmarks where possible. We use a
variety of tools and programs to achieve this,
including many freely available benchmark
suites for assessing things like general system
performance, gaming, media encoding and
battery life.
In most cases, for the benchmark results
published in TechLife, you can assume that
higher is better. here are certain tests that
deviate from this rule and where the opposite
is true; in those cases, weve lagged the results
with a note explaining as such.
[ 011 ]

HOTSPOT
NEED TO KNOW

AUSSIE STREAMING SERVICE


PRESTO TO SHUT DOWN
AND LIKE THAT, HES GONE.
Though it launched long before Netflix and
Stan in Australia, Foxtel and Seven Media
Wests streaming service Presto is expected
to close down for good in January. The pay TV
company has acquired Sevens shares in
Presto and is planning to transition its
customers over to its revamped Foxtel Play
service starting from December.
Foxtel Play subscription fees will also
receive a huge restructuring by the end of the
year, with prices starting at $10 per month for
either the Lifestyle, Documentary or Kids
packages. Drama and Entertainment packs will
cost $15 per month or $25 for both. The Sports
tier will carry a $25 monthly fee, and Movies
will add an additional $20 per month to your
subscription. Assuming customers will get
multiple packages, thats a lot pricier than
Presto.
However, if all youre after is Foxtels
fast-tracked HBO content, such as Westworld
and Game of Thrones, youll be able to ind
them in both the Drama and Entertainment
tiers for $15 per month. [ SL ]

DRM GONE BAD


HP BLOCKS THIRD-PARTY INK IN
THOUSANDS OF ITS PRINTERS.
Weve heard about digital rights management
(DRM) for music, movies and software, but
what about for ink? A recent HP irmware
update is preventing owners of HP OiceJet,
OiceJet Pro and OiceJet Pro X printers from
using ink from third-party vendors.
According to BBC News, the update
reportedly set a timer in its customers
printers counting down to the day that HPs
printers would only communicate with its own
chipped cartridges. HP says it implemented
the update to protect HPs innovations and
intellectual property.
Unsurprisingly, customers are unhappy
Dutch ink vendor 123inkt says it received over
a thousand customer complaints within a
single day, citing error messages such as
cartridge problem and older generation
cartridge. HP chief operating oicer Jon
Flaxman has expressed regret regarding the
update in a blog post, stating We should
have done a better job of communicating
about the authentication procedure to
customers, and we apologise.
A new optional update is in the works that
will remove the so-called dynamic security
feature. [ SL ]

[ 012 ]

[ AT LEAST HARVEYS HAPPY ]

AU Government will
block online stores
that dont collect GST,
report claims
WHY YOU NEED A VPN, REASON #384.

According to the non-proit consumer watchdog organisation Choice, the Federal


Government could be eyeing a legislative loophole that would allow it to block access to
overseas retailers websites if they fail to collect Goods and Services Tax (GST) on purchases
under $1,000. As pointed out by Choice, new regulations introduced last year require
overseas businesses with an Australian annual turnover of $75,000 or more to collect GST
on all goods, including those under the current $1,000 low-value threshold (LVT). Set to be
implemented next July, the rules intend to eliminate any unfair advantages foreign retailers
might have over local retailers. An anonymous Treasury oicial told Choice that the
government would irst politely ask overseas businesses to comply with the new rules. Failing
that, the government would then apply a compliance mechanism that would see it use its
powers to block rogue retailers as a last resort. he Treasury expects the measure to bring
in $300 million in GST revenue over the next three iscal years.
[ STEHPEN LAMBRECHTS ]

[ BUTTER FINGERS]

Aussies suck at holding onto their


phones, new survey shows
MILLENNIALS MORE THAN TWICE AS LIKELY TO DROP
THEIR DEVICE

According to new research by protective case manufacturer tech21, Australians arent


great at holding onto their smart devices, with 21% of us damaging our smartphones
within six months of purchase. Millennials are by far the worst, with 50% of people aged
between 18 and 35 breaking their phones due to the inluence of alcohol or a drop into
the toilet. [ STEHPEN LAMBRECHTS ]

BEWARE OF STRANGERS BEARING


USB THUMB DRIVES
The Victorian Police has published a memo
warning residents of Pakenham to avoid
inserting any USB thumb drives they may
ind in their letter boxes into their
computers. According to the memo, cyber
criminals have been targeting unsuspecting
residents in the area with malware-illed
drives, some of which reportedly serve
fraudulent media streaming service ofers,
as well as other serious issues.

HOTSPOT
NEED TO KNOW

THEY COULD BE INFESTED WITH


MALWARE.

STREET FIGHTER V ANTI-CHEAT


UPDATE INSTALLS ROOTKITS ON PCs
AN ATTACK COMBO THATS NOT SO EASY
TO COUNTER.
[ BOO-HOO ]

Yahoo hacked, at least


500 million accounts
affected
OH, AND THE SEARCH COMPANY PROBABLY LET THE NSA
SPY ON YOUR EMAILS TOO...

If youve downloaded the latest update for


the PC version of Street Fighter V, intended
to prevent online cheating, you may have
also unsuspectingly installed an unsecured
rootkit, leaving your computer open for
backdoor access. Redditor LoGicMoTion
discovered the problem, which places
capcom.sys in your System32 directory
and allows the game to gain kernel-level
access to to your Windows OS.

IBM TO BLAME FOR #CENSUSFAIL


AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS
POINTS THE FINGER AT BIG BLUE.

hough its only come to light recently, its been revealed that an enormous hack that
saw around 500 million Yahoo user accounts stolen by hackers actually took place
two years ago. Yahoo, which only noticed the hack weeks before it was made public,
has disclosed that names, phone numbers, encrypted passwords and emails were
among the private details pinched. hankfully, Yahoo has conirmed that bank
information was not taken by the thieves. hough the incident has been divulged by
the search engine company, questions surrounding the hack remain. Yahoo has
stated that the perpetrator is a state-sponsored actor, though it has not contributed
proof to support the claim. A recent report by Reuters has claimed that Yahoo created
a program to search all its users emails at the behest of US intelligence oicials,
leading some to believe the incidents are connected. However, information security
irm InfoArmor says the hackers are deinitely of the criminal variety, having tracked
who it believes are the culprits for three years.
[ STEPHEN LAMBRECHTS ]

Though it originally blamed an overseas


DDoS attack for the census website debacle
that occurred in August, the Australian
Bureau of Statistics (ABS) now says that
IT supplier IBM is at fault. As part of the
current parliamentary enquiry into the
incident, ABS chief statistician David
Kalisch said, Despite extensive planning
and preparation by the ABS for the 2016
census, this risk was not adequately
addressed by IBM and the ABS will be more
comprehensive in its management of risk
in the future.

OCULUS RIFT FINALLY GETS MOTION


CONTROLLERS
[ NIP SLIP ]

Porn sneaks into iOS 10


GIF search
APPLE FRANTICALLY REMOVES ALL EVIDENCE.
A few kinks are expected to slip through with any major OS release; however, the ones
found in iOS 10 are kinkier than most. Instances of pornography were discovered in the
Messages apps new GIF search section, with relatively innocuous terms such as huge
bringing up... big things. Apple has already removed a number of potentially NSFW words
from its search terms.

DONT EXPECT THEM TO BE CHEAP,


THOUGH.
VR pioneer Oculus has inally lifted the lid
on its long-awaited Touch Controllers,
which will allow the Rift headset to inally
utilise room-scale VR games and apps
an ability the competing HTC Vive headset
has had since launch. At a price of US$250
($325 for Australian VR fans), however,
those new controllers arent exactly cheap.
Once you factor in the US$780 cost of the
headset itself (with shipping to Australia),
the Oculus Rift comes very close to losing
the lead in price it had over the HTC Vive.

[ STEPHEN LAMBRECHTS ]

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 013 ]

HOTSPOT
GOOGLE REVEALS PIXEL PHONES, 4K CHROMECAST & VR HEADSET

[ PIXEL-PERFECT ]

Google reveals
new Pixel phones,
4K Chromecast
and VR headset
BIG-G HAS NEW GOODIES FOR XMAS.

Google Pixel and Pixel XL


THE SEARCH GIANT GETS SERIOUS ABOUT TAKING ON THE IPHONE.

SAY HELLO TO the Google Pixel and


Pixel XL, a pair of handsets ushering
in a new era of the search giants
smartphone range.
he Pixels sport an aluminium and
glass design, giving them a premium
look and feel. heres the choice of
three colours: Quite Black, Very Silver
and Really Blue a blatant pop at
Apples new Black and Jet Black iPhone
7 handsets. Along with a 5-inch full
HD AMOLED display and 5.5-inch for
the XL, the phones come with a
12.3MP rear camera, ingerprint
scanner and an 8MP front snapper.
Youll ind the power/lock switch and
volume controls on the right-hand side,
while round the back, a ingerprint
scanner sits below the camera and
lash. Google has also added a block of
glass around the ingerprint scanner
and rear camera; while it gives the
Pixel a diferent look, the glass inish
does feel a little like plastic. he screen
is bright and clear on both models, and
protected by Gorilla Glass 4.
Unlike Apple, Google has kept the
headphone jack. Its placement at the

top of the handset isnt our favourite


location, however. heres also fast
charging via the USB-C port, and
youll be able to get up to seven hours
of usage from just 15 minutes of
fast-charge time.
Even though the Pixels have been
made by HTC, theres no sign of the
Sense UI weve seen on theHTC
10andOne A9. Youll get a pure
Android experience on-screen. hese
handsets are aimed to showcase the
best of both Google and Android.
Performance is impressively smooth,
with the powerful Snapdragon 821
processor and 4GB of RAM providing
more power than youll need on your
smartphone.
You have the choice of either 32GB
or 128GB of internal storage (with no
expansion options) on both models,
but Google has also pledged free
unlimited cloud storage for all your
photos and videos. Whats even better
is Google Photos will save all of these at
full resolution including 4K video.
One of the big new features for the
Pixel phones is the inclusion of Google

Assistant. Only the Pixel and Pixel XL


currently have the irms new-look
helper on board, which aims to give
you your very own personal Google in
your pocket. Itll continually learn
what you like, where you go and what
you need, to provide you with useful
answers to even more commands
than previous incarnations of the
technology. Its all very impressive, but
we cant see too many people rushing
out to buy the Pixel based on Google
Assistant alone. Youll also be irst in
line for the latest security updates and
sotware upgrades (usually weeks, if
not months ahead of the likes of
Samsung, LG, Sony and co).
hese phones loty prices means
theyre under real pressure to perform
extremely well in all respects, and it
remains to be seen if either of them can
live up to their on-paper potential.
he XL comes out in front in this
two-phone race, and theyre both
phones we really want to love but
weve not fallen head over heels just yet.
[JOHN MCCANN & MATT SWIDER]

GOOGLE PIXEL AND


PIXEL XL
Pixel: 32GB, $1,079;
128GB, $1,229
Pixel XL: 32GB, $1,269;
128GB, $1,419
madeby.google.com/phone
CRITICAL SPECS
Android 7 Nougat;
5-inch/5.5-inch AMOLED
display, full HD resolution
(1,920 x 1,080 440ppi; XL:
2,560 x 1440 434ppi);
Snapdragon 821; 4GB of
RAM; 32/128GB storage;
free unlimited cloud
storage; 12.3MP rear, 8MP
front cameras;
2,770mAh/3,450mAh
battery; USB C; 143.8 x 69.5
x 8.6mm, 143g; XL: 154.7 x
75.7 x 8.6mm, 168g

HOTSPOT
GOOGLE REVEALS PIXEL PHONES, 4K CHROMECAST & VR HEADSET

Chromecast Ultra
GOOGLES 4K CHROMECAST.

AT THE SAME October 4th press event, Google also unveiled an


upgraded Chromecast Ultra. he new streaming stick will
support 4K HDR video, as well as Dolby Vision. he device
will also support 4K Netlix and YouTube at the start, and
then Google Play Movies and TV when 4K content rolls out
to the service later in November.
he new unit will be 1.8 times faster than the second-gen
Chromecast released in 2015, thanks to a faster processor and
improved Wi-Fi antenna.
he big diference from the 2015 Chromecast is the latest model
cycles out the Chrome logo for a simple G perhaps a move to
merge the companys brands together. he unit will still draw power via
a microUSB cable that attaches to the outer edge of the disc, and a small
reset button adorns the edge closest to the HDMI cable.
he other interesting addition is the Ethernet port that will allow you
to hardwire the Chromecast to your router for faster, more consistent
video playback.
Google has always prided itself on the low cost of its Chromecast
devices, and Ultra isnt any diferent at $99. Video streaming boxes
are so expensive because they handle all the processing on-board and
then output the result to your TV. Its a labour-intensive process. Plus
they need an OS just hanging out in the background. Chromecast has
always beaten its competition by limiting the number of components
inside the box. Its never really responsible for rendering graphics, its
just taking a signal from your smart device and passing it on to your
TV. It doesnt use an OS, so theres no need for a massive storage cache.
Given Googles competitors have been moving in the direction of 4K
for around a year now, it makes sense for the search giant to follow suit.
he only problem we see is that enabling 4K functionality would likely
require each Chromecast-enabled app developer to update their
sotware to support the new resolution, which will inevitably take
some time.
hat said, having two of the largest providers already on board
(Netlix and YouTube) is a fantastic start and could be enough for us
to warrant a purchase of the Chromecast Ultra. Well have a full review
next month.
[ JON PORTER ]

CHROMECAST ULTRA
$99
www.google.com/
chromecast/tv/ultra
CRITICAL SPECS
4K HDR; Dolby Vision;
microUSB cable, HDMI
cable; Ethernet port

Daydream
GOOGLE GETS SERIOUS ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY.

GOOGLE TEASED ITS Daydream VR plans earlier this year during


itsI/Oconference, but now we can inally have a good look at its virtual
reality hardware and sotware.
Any phone that can run Googles Daydream app will be able to use the
headset. he new Pixel phones (let) are Daydream VR-ready, but the
display resolution on the 5-inch Pixel isnt optimal for VR. However,
those who pick up the larger, higher-resolution Pixel XL will get a better
Daydream experience.
Google Daydream View will be available in November for $119 in
theGoogle Play Store, at $40 less than the originalSamsung Gear VR.
What makes Daydream View unique is that it comes with a remote
control that cleverly tucks into the headset when youre not using it.
he remote allows you to control your phone wirelessly and precisely
for navigating menus, playing games and even walking around virtually
in Google Street View.
Instead of hard plastic like competitors, Daydream View is covered in
cloth and will be available in three colours: Snow, Slate and Crimson.
Gaming and video are where Daydream View really come into play.
he headset will allow users to access the entire YouTube catalogue in
VR. While non-VR videos will play on a cinema-sized screen, its
360-video that makes Daydream View compelling. For example, Google
showed of a video of what its like to watch dinosaurs come to life inside a
museum wearing the headset.
While a not a premium viewer likeOculus RitorHTC Vive,
Daydream View could carve out a solid following in the mobile VR space,
especially since its price is so afordable.
[LEWIS LEONG]

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 015 ]

HOTSPOT
NEWS IN NUMBERS

The news
in numbers
THE KEY FIGURES BEHIND THE LATEST
ISSUES AND TRENDS IN TECHNOLOGY.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

2024

US$1B
HOW MUCH THE WORLDWIDE RECALL OF THE
NOTE 7 COULD COST SAMSUNG.
The Galaxy Note 7 was released in August to very
positive reviews; however, the exploding
battery issue led Samsung to announce a full
recall of all devices. Bloomberg estimates that
the cost of that recall could be as much as
US$1 billion, a heartbreaking amount
according to Samsung. Incredibly, despite the
battery issue, only 60% of those in the US with
a Note 7 had handed over their devices by the
time replacements became widely available.

HOW SOON ELON MUSK WANTS TO SEND PEOPLE TO MARS.


he founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, recently announced his plans to colonise Mars with a
self-sustaining city that would lead to our species becoming a fully multi-planet species.
he plan to get there involves interplanetary vessels, each one capable of carrying about 100
people, which would leave Earths orbit when Mars is at its closest to Earth in its trajectory
(which occurs every 26 months). So that gives you eight years from now to save up the
necessary US$100,000 (at least) a single ticket may cost you to not die on Earth.

50%
NETFLIX IS AIMING TO HAVE HALF OF ITS
STREAMING CONTENT TO BE ORIGINAL.
Netflix has produced some amazing programs,
such as House of Cards and Daredevil, and the
company has lately announced some great news
for fans. The streaming service now wants to
boost the amount of its Netflix-original content
to at least half its library, a staggering and
exciting amount surely to cater for people of
all interests. We can only hope that us Aussies
get to see it in its entirety.

US$224.80

42%

PERCENTAGE OF VIDEO PIRACY NOW COMING FROM ILLEGAL STREAMING.

Streaming content is arguably easier than buying it digitally, so it makes sense that the online
pirates of our world would also turn to streaming illegally-obtained content rather than relying
solely on torrenting. According to the Millennials at the Gate report from Anatomy Media,
illegal streaming websites came out on top as the main source of online video piracy at 42%,
closely followed by mobile apps at 41%.
[ 016 ]

WHAT IT COSTS APPLE TO MAKE THE IPHONE 7,


US$36.89 MORE THAN THE PREVIOUS MODEL.
IHS Markit estimates that each iPhone 7 costs
Apple US$224.80 to manufacture and piece
together, thats US$36.89 more than its
predecessor, the iPhone 6S. One of the reasons
for this increase is the larger battery found in the
7, but IHS Markit also makes note of the fact that
the price of the raw materials used in the phone
are currently higher than in the past, and that
Apples costs are in line with Samsungs
flagship products.

HOTSPOT
FITBIT GETS RE-CHARGED

[ CHAAAARGE! ]

Fitbit gets
recharged
THE KING OF FITNESS
TRACKERS STEPS UP ITS
GAME WITH ITS LATEST
CROWD-PLEASER.
[ JOEL BURGESS ]

Fitbit Charge 2
MORE SOPHISTICATED AND STYLISH.

FOR MANY PEOPLE, the basic


step-tracking capabilities, small size
and long battery life of entry-level
itness bands will provide more than
enough health info. But for anyone
who actively wants to lose weight, is a
itness nut or just groovily tech savvy,
theres a much-bigger pond of
personal exercise data that can be
discovered. he Fitbit Charge HR
carried the torch in this higher-end
space for the last 18 months. But
thats a long time when it comes to
modern gadgets, so in September,
Fitbit inally released the Charge HRs
long-awaited successor the Charge
2. As the new tracker for more
discerning users, the Charge 2 has
some big shoes, well... wrists, to ill.
Taking all the features of the
Charge HR and combining them with
a screen thats four times the size, the
Charge 2 feels like an intelligent
upgrade thats smartly focused on
further developing the important
areas. hose improvements havent
come at a sacriice to the overall
design, which maintains a relatively
sleek proile and continues to ofer
modular customisable bands in
various colours and theres even
optional $120 leather bands.
Fitbit has included the PurePulse
sotware (previously limited to the
more expensive Blaze and Surge
models only) which draws on the
all-day heart-rate tracking to
drastically improve the quality of
exercise-session information. he
PurePulse system uses your heart rate
information and general dashboard
metrics (like your age, gender and
weight) to determine speciic exercise
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

TAKING ALL THE


FEATURES OF THE CHARGE
HR AND COMBINING THEM
WITH A SCREEN THATS
FOUR TIMES THE SIZE, THE
CHARGE 2 FEELS LIKE AN
INTELLIGENT UPGRADE
THATS SMARTLY FOCUSED
ON FURTHER-DEVELOPING
THE MOST IMPORTANT
AREAS.

exertion brackets to better gauge how


hard youre training through a session.
his not only allows you to train more
efectively but has other overlapping
beneits, like estimating calorie and fat
burning rates during exercise.
he Charge 2 can also use your
smartphones GPS to assist a new
itness benchmark that Fitbits called
Cardio Fitness Level. his gives you
an overall score thats an estimation of
VO2 Max, a measure of your oxygen
intake and distribution during
exercise its basically the most
accurate scientiic measure of
cardiovascular itness we currently
know of. he Fitbit app creates a base
VO2 Max score using a combination
of live heart-rate measurement and
manually-input physical attributes.
hat estimate can be further reined
by using GPS tracking while running
for more than 10 minutes, during
which pace and heart-rate stats are
cross-referenced against numbers
from genuine VO2 Max evaluations.
It still ofers all your average
step-counting, calorie-burning and
distance-traveled measurements, too.
Also new is the addition of idleness

reminders and guided-breathing


exercises.
Despite the signiicant increase in
screen size, the low-power OLED
display doesnt drain the battery too
quickly. In testing, we saw around ive
full days of practical usage before
totally running out of juice.
he sleep-tracking of the Charge 2
is conveniently automatic. On the
downside, the Fitbit apps sleep
tracking information is a little lighter
than what were used to from
competing devices. he Charge 2
simply marks movement during sleep
as restlessness, rather than actively
estimating deep and light sleep cycles.
And sadly, there are no gentle
sleep-cycle based alarm capabilities
one of our favourite tracker
features. he other notable
shortcoming is that the Charge 2
lacks full waterprooing.
When paired with a set of Fitbits
$148 Aria smart-scales which
automatically log weight and body fat
percentage igures in the Fitbit app
youll get a uniquely efective
ecosystem for losing weight and
staying healthy.

WINNER

EDs CHOICE
AWARD

41/2

FITBIT CHARGE 2
$250
www.itbit.com/au
CRITICAL SPECS
1.5-inch OLED display;
Bluetooth 4.0 (6.1m range);
optical heart rate sensor;
GPS tracking (via connected
phone); three-axis
accelerometer, altimeter
and a vibration monitor;
approx. 5 day battery life
(under 2hr charge time);
IP54 water resistance;
memory for 7 days detailed
activity data or 30 days of
daily totals

[ 017 ]

HOTSPOT
KICKSTARTED!

[ CROWDFUNDED ]

Kickstarted!
FROM THE PRACTICAL TO THE QUIRKY TO THE DOWNRIGHT
STRANGE, CROWDFUNDING WEBSITES HAVE ALLOWED THE
CREATION OF AN AMAZING RANGE OF PRODUCTS. HERES A
SELECTION OF LATEST PROJECTS THAT PIQUED OUR INTEREST.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

Fidget Cube: A vinyl desk toy


FIDGET AT WORK, CLASS OR AT HOME IN STYLE.
antsylabs.com | Goal: US$15,000 | Raised: US$5,543,317 from 134,159 backers | RRP: ~US$25

Are you a idgeter? Maybe you bite your nails or perhaps drum your ingers on the desk.
You might absent-mindedly jiggle your leg or click your pen. Fidgeting has been proven
to be beneicial to some who ind focusing a problem, so the creators of this Kickstarter
project thought theyd combine all the best kind of idget-satisfying methods and squish
them into a portable device. he Fidget Cube has several idgety activities including buttons
(some audible, some silent when clicked), a switch, a mini-joystick, mini-gears to roll over,
a clickable ball, a swivel dial and a worry stones-esque concaved surface to place your inger.
About the size of a walnut, this little device is easy to slip into a pocket or pencil case
and comes in many diferent colour schemes.

FATHOM ONE
BETTER DOWN WHERE ITS WETTER.
fathomdrone.com | Goal: US$150,000 | Raised:
US$197,943 from 656 backers | RRP: US$5.99

The Fathom One is a small underwater drone


for the aqua-enthusiast. Its controlled via
an app, meaning you can explore Nemos
playground from the dry safety of the shore
or a boat. The drone has a 100ft-long cable
and weighs just over two kilos, making it
super lightweight and portable, just 20cm
at its longest dimension. Adding to this,
the drones thruster system is modular,
so you can tinker with your own upgrades
to your hearts content. You can also attach
an action camera or extra lights to its modular
underside. It runs for up to an hour per
charge, has an onboard HD camera and can
cruise along at up to 3 knots.

[ SAD TROMBONE ]

Failed Kickstarter
of the Month
SOME CROWDFUNDING
IDEAS WERE NEVER
DESTINED TO SUCCEED.
GLANCE CLOCK
TELLING YOU MORE THAN JUST THE TIME.
tinyurl.com/tla57-glance | Goal: US$50,000
Raised: US$288,123 from 2220 backers
RRP: US$199

WORDEE
DRAW WITH LIGHT AND LEARN.
jellyware.jp/gadget/wordee | Goal: US$30,000 | Raised: US$20,359 by 143 backers | RRP: US$95

Wordee was a clever little idea that most likely failed because it was a bit too gimmicky. his little
pear-shaped device creates glowing letters that can be seen on special paper. Program what you
want the toy to write via the app and then run it along the paper, just like moving a computer
mouse. he word will appear on the paper as though stained by light, then slowly fade. Children
learn through interaction and play and this, to us, seems like a great new way to learn words
when the novelty of crayons disappears. Sadly, Wordee didnt make it over the inishing line.
NOTE: Last issues failed kickstarted project, the Nanofarm, actually had a late surge in support after
the mag went to print and gained its fully-funded status! Hurah!
[ 018 ]

It looks like a regular clock (barring the fact


it has no numbers), but the Glance Clock
is actually quite smart feeding you
information in easy-to-understand blocks
of colour and text, while also telling you
the time. Link your clock to your itness
tracker and, when you wake up in the
morning, the Glance will display your sleep
cycle or show the percentage of steps
completed, encouraging you to get out
and do more. It can also light up when a call
comes through and display the name
of the caller, as well as give you weather
updates. Set a timer to leave the house
or remind you when to put the oven on,
link it to your calendar to remind you of
meetings or show you your daily schedule...
the Glance Clock is very versatile.

[ SHARP BUY ]

4K for less
HOTSPOT
4K FOR LESS

HISENSES NEW 55-INCH ULTRA HD SET BOASTS TOP-SHELF FEATURES


FOR A BARGAIN BASEMENT PRICE, BUT IS THERE A CATCH?
[STEPHEN LAMBRECHTS]

Hisense 55M7000UWG
A FRUGAL 4K SET THATS FIGHTING FIT.

JUMPING ABOARD THE 4K and HDR


bandwagon will be a costly investment for
many, which is why the market is ripe for a
good UHD set that ofers impressive
performance at an afordable price point.
Hisenses new Series 7 Ultra-HD TV range its
squarely in this category, ofering vibrant,
crystal-clear high dynamic-range (HDR)
images without breaking the budget. We
recently tested the 55-inch model the
55M7000UWG. Boasting Hisenses own
patented ULED technology (its like regular
LED, only with a U in front of it), the sets
display reportedly enhances colour, contrast,
resolution and motion by using an advanced
combination of hardware and sotware.
Sounds a lot like what the other manufacturers
are doing, although whatever Hisense is up to
here, it is at least mostly working.
While it doesnt quite reach the UHD
Alliances full Ultra HD Premium spec
the 10-bit panel it uses isnt quite bright enough;
its 500 nits rather than the proscribed 1,000
it still produces a pleasing picture on the whole.
Using an edge-lit backlighting system, its able
to produce nearly 500 local dimming zones
behind the screen, and in testing, we found the
55M7000UWG was able to display both bright
and dark areas quite well simultaneously.

While its not up to the OLED standard of


devices. hough the 55M7000UWG worked
contrast controlled at an individual pixel-level,
ine when connected to Panasonics 4K Blu-ray
you might ind Hisenses ULED tech producing
player, we were unable to display HDR images
brighter images than some of its far more
from the Xbox One S. Hisense is aware of the
expensive competitors.
problem and has said its working on a sotware
Colour reproduction on the Hisense ULED
upgrade.
4K TV is fantastic, supporting HDRs wider
It also took us a while to get the Xbox One S
colour gamut to produce images of exceptional
running in 4K. Eventually, we realised that only
vividness. A few test runs of HDR content,
two of the TVs four HDMI ports support
including Mad Max: Fury Road on 4K
HDCP version 2.2, which is required for 4K. A
Ultra-HD Blu-ray and
few angry minutes of
COLOUR REPRODUCTION
Marco Polo on Netlix,
cable and port switching
ON THE HISENSE ULED
showed a high level of ine
later, and the console was
4K TV IS FANTASTIC,
detail and naturalistic
displaying at 2160p.
SUPPORTING HDRS WIDER
colour gradation. he fact
Running of an
COLOUR GAMUT TO
that Hisenses set can
Opera-based operating
PRODUCE IMAGES OF
produce these kinds of
system, the 55M7000s
EXCEPTIONAL VIVIDNESS. interface controls nicely,
visuals at this price point
is impressive, though its
although it can be slightly
not entirely without laws.
sluggish at times. Access
Instances of artifacting appeared during 4K
to the Opera app store provides a large number
streams of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:
of places to get streaming content.
Sword of Destiny on Netlix, with blocks of
A few niggling issues aside, this set is terriic
pixels surrounding some characters during fast
value for money though wed still suggest
movement. While Netlixs compression could
checking the prices of competitor sets before
be to blame here, we havent noticed this while
you pull the trigger. If you can ind a 4K
streaming the ilm on other 4K HDR TVs.
Samsung or Sony 55-incher on sale, spending
here were also some compatibility issues
only a few hundred dollars more might net you
regarding the sets HDR support for some
a superior telly.

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

HISENSE 55M7000UWG
$1,500
hisense.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
Opera OS; 55-inch ULED
display @ 3,840 x 2,160
pixels; 10-bit colour depth,
2 x HDMI 1.4 inputs, 2 x
HDMI 2.2 inputs, 1 x USB 3.0
input, 2 x USB 2.0 inputs;
built-in Wi-Fi; Ethernet LAN;
headphones jack; audio
return channel (on HDMI
#2); optical digital audio
output

[ 019 ]

HOTSPOT
POP SCIENCE

[ I F&%$#@* LOVE SCIENCE! ]

Pop science
THE LATEST DISCOVERIES, INVENTIONS AND SCIENCE NEWS
THATS HELPING SHAPE THE WORLD OF TOMORROW.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

Scientists discover schadenfreude brain cells


TAKING PLEASURE IN YOUR PAIN.

Neuroscientists think they may have identiied the brain cells responsible for the not-sovery-nice human emotion schadenfreude (a German term meaning taking pleasure from
the misfortune of others). During an observational learning study (in which participants
were tasked with playing a card game), the scientists noticed that certain cells were iring
consistently when players won and also when their opponents lost.

[ 020 ]

Is your itness tracker


making you fat?
NOT EXACTLY, BUT TECH CAN ONLY
DO SO MUCH.

Fitness trackers come in a wide


variety of sizes, shapes and
complexities from simple step
monitors to heart-rate trackers, right
the way through to planning your
daily exercise by the hour. However, a
study on the Journal of the American
Medical Association website suggests
that itness trackers did not give
subjects any advantage in losing
weight, and that trackers combined
with standard behavioural
approaches arent enough to address
the obesity epidemic.

EXCEL AUTO CONVERSION ERRORS CAUSE


MASS MISTAKES IN SCIENTIFIC PAPERS

BINGE WATCHING DRAMA MIGHT


ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOR YOU

E-CIGARETTES FOUND TO HAVE NO


SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS

According to a trio of scientists, Microsoft Excel on


default settings doesnt understand the diference
between the short-form of a gene name and dates.
While this might sound a bit peculiar at irst, after
seeing that the short-form of Septim 2 is SEPT2 and
Membrane-Associated Ring Finger (C3HC4) is MARCH1,
its a bit easier to see why Excel might have a few
problems.

Researchers from Oxford University performed a series


of experiments to discover whether watching dramatic
ilms helped subjects social skills and pain thresholds.
One group watched a drama and another watched
emotionally-neutral documentaries. The subjects were
then tasked with doing a wall-sit to test their pain
threshold. The results showed that those who watched
the drama could stomach the pain for longer, and also
felt as though they had bonded better with their group.

According to an update of the Cochrane review,


e-cigarettes have been found to be a valuable aid to
smokers wishing to quit, as of September this year,
at least. No doubt research will continue in the ield,
but for now, those looking to drop their smoking habit
can use a vaper without worrying about the side
efects, barring throat and mouth irritation, which,
we imagine, is better than cancer in everyones
books. Right?

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

LIFETOOLS
ENHANCE YOUR LIFE WITH TECH

[ TECH DEEP DIVE ]

Assets for the


advanced aviator
WANT TO BECOME A BETTER DRONE PILOT? GET MORE AIR TIME
WITH THIS COLLECTION OF EXPERT RESOURCES.

Backpack

[ JOEL BURGESS ]

his is oten overlooked when initially


purchasing a drone but it is actually an
important factor to consider if you plan on
using it regularly. here are quite a few
components youll need when taking your
drone for a spin and having a speciically
crated backpacks for the job will make it easy
to lug everything around. If you cant get a
backpack for your speciic drone model, then
a generic backpack or carry case will still
seem like heaven compared to carrying the
original packaging around.

DRONES (OR QUADCOPTERS, as some fans insist on calling them) have taken of in the past
few years and theres now a decent community of professional unmanned aerial vehicle
(UAV) pilots and hobbyists. Collective, theyve done a lot of the groundwork for streamlining
your droning experience whether youre interested in drone cinematography, FPV racing,
extreme sports coverage or you want to utilise them in the workplace, then this months Tech
Deep Dive will give you the gadgets, apps, websites and media resources to keep you abreast of
this rapidly-transforming area. As you can see from the broad nature of this feature, theres a
variety of interesting and innovative ways drones are being used in both work and play thatll
motivate you to reach that little bit higher on your next drone expedition.

$52$149 | tinyurl.com/TLA57-DBpak

[ GADGETS ]

Trackimo

Extra batteries

MicroSD card

$139.99 | www.trackimo.com

$69$299 | tinyurl.com/TLA57-DBatt

$8$169 | tinyurl.com/TLA57-MicSD

Any seasoned drone pilot will tell you that


once you start to move beyond lying in
spacious open areas that there are plenty of
opportunities for you to lose track of your
quadcopter if it happens to come out of the
sky. Most of the time, youll be able to ind
it, but if youre really wanting to push the
limits, this GPS tracker will bolster your
conidence by giving you the drones
current or last known location, so you can
easily trace where it is.

Obviously, the batteries you will need will


depend on the type of drone you have, but
the irst step to improving your drone
piloting skills is to increase your light
time. Not only will spare batteries let you
have longer sessions, but if you really want
to capture something on ilm, having
backups means you will have a bit of
leeway up your sleeve in case something
goes wrong or you just run over time.
If you already have extra drone batteries it
might also be worth looking at a portable
charger for your connected smartphone
or tablet display device.

Not all drones ofer expandable memory,


unfortunately, and if you go for a Parrot
model, youll be bound to the 8GB storage
capacity, but if you have a drone that
supports microSD memory expansion,
then theres no harm in adding another
card to your collection. Todays microSD
cards are readily available in capacities up
to 200GB, and though youll need to make
sure you are getting a card that can keep up
with the type of footage you are taking,
generally, it isnt particularly expensive to
add extra storage space this way.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 021 ]

LIFETOOLS
ASSETS FOR THE ADVANCED AVIATOR

[ WEBSITES ]

Bureau of Meteorology
www.bom.gov.au

Drones are pretty resilient little devices


but one thing theyre particularly
susceptible to is rain. If youre planning
on taking some footage, youll likely be
keeping an eye on the weather already,
but if you were thinking of using your
drone to do so, then youll want to keep
an eye on both the wind and the chance
of rain. he Bureau of Meteorology is
going to be your best bet for getting
accurate weather reads and forecasts so
you can plan for the weather ahead.

AU Drone Nationals
www.audronenationals.com.au

his site is the homepage for one of the


largest UAV pilot competitions in
Australia. Held on the Gold Coast between
the 19th and 21st of August, this event is
one of the qualifying rounds for the World
Drone Championship held in Hawaii
through October. You have to be part of a
handful of participating clubs in order to
actually enter this race and, considering it
attracts the best UAV pilots in Australia,
for many, itll be something to spectate
rather than compete in.

[ 022 ]

Civil Aviation Safety


Authority
tinyurl.com/TLA57-UAVre

Drones are a very new phenomenon in


the eyes of the law and the regulations
surrounding them are not only diferent
depending on where you are in the world,
but also continue to change frequently.
If you dont want to get into hot water for
malpractice or youre just curious about
what you are allowed to do with a drone in
Australia, the CASA website has
comprehensive documents that outline the
latest laws on both private and commercial
drone piloting regulations.

RPAS Training
www.rpastraining.com.au

he new drone laws introduced at the end


of September no longer require certiication
to ly drones under 2kg commercially, but if
you want to carry any more weight than
that, youll still need to look into getting a
Remote Operator Certiicate or a Remote
Pilot Licence. he RPAS ofers certiication
for both with the Remote Pilot Licence
costing $2,700 for a ive-day intensive
face-to-face piloting course. If youre already
a highly experienced lyer, you can do the
two-day online course; however, itll cost
you the same as the full schedule.

The location of every air strip, helipad and seaplane


zone is not exactly common knowledge, but if you
want to fly your drone without getting in trouble with
the authorities, youll need a map of all the no-fly
zones in any particular area before flying. You can
get this information online but the Australian drone
outlet Wicked Copters developed a smartphone app
that will give you a map of all these points of interest
and the no-fly perimeter around them.

HOVER
Free | Android, iOS | www.hoverapp.io

Hover is an amalgamation of weather forecasts,


a no-fly-zone map, a flight log and a drone-related
newsfeed. This handy app is a one-stop shop for
all the drone-related info you might want and,
surprisingly, the maps logs and newsfeed are very
useful tools. Unfortunately, you cant select the
region you want weather forecasts for, so if youre
travelling, then youll need to look elsewhere for
weather forecasts. All up, though, this is a great
resource for any drone enthusiast.

Drone Radio Show

Quad Talk Podcast

www.droneradioshow.com

www.quadtalkpodcast.com

he Drone Radio Show is a US-centric


drone podcast that delves into the
various interesting professional avenues
emerging through the use of drones.
With interviews from the CEO of Game
of Drones (a drone obstacle-course race
venue in the Unites States) and the
chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation
(an organisation using drones to prevent
poaching in Africa) to name name a few,
this podcast is an excellent resource for
anyone looking to turn their drone
hobby into employment.

Describing itself as the premier FPV


podcast, the Quad Talk Podcast aims to put
you in the drivers seat of professional FPV
drone racing. he podcast interviews some
of the top racers and covers all the big
quadcopter racing events with insights into
what it takes to compete with the best of the
best. If youre into Lithium-ion-powered,
adrenaline-illed drone racing, then itd be
hard to pass up this comprehensive catalogue
of the leagues top players.

LIFETOOLS
ASSETS FOR THE ADVANCED AVIATOR

WICKED COPTERS AIRPORT MAPPING TOOL


Free | iOS (Android soon) | wickedcopters.com.au/page/apps

AIRNEST
$22.99 | www.airnest.com

For cinematographers, drones are simply the means


but not all drones have automated flight path and
cable camera features. For anyone with a DJI drone,
Airnest is a third-party app that will tap into the
drone and allow you to automate the flight controls
so you can focus on making sure youre ilming
exactly what you want. With complicated multi-point
planning and speed controls, this app will allow you
to take the perfect areal shot on command.

SKRWT
$1.49 | www.skrwt.com

The lense on your drones onboard camera is likely to


be of the wide angle variety but this handy feature
can be a massive hinderance if youre trying to take
moving footage in a flat frame. Editing software
allows you to correct some of this distortion in the
editing process and apps like SKRWT will even allow
you to do some of it on the fly. It has quick distortion
correction presets for footage captured on iPhones,
wide-angle lenses, isheye lenses and GoPros.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Epic Drone Videos

Droned Out

tinyurl.com/TLA57-EDVid

www.youtube.com/user/DronedOutVideos

It doesnt take da Vinci to decypher what


this YouTube channel hosts, but were
happy to conirm that, hyperboles aside,
some of the footage collated on this page
is impressive and there is plenty of it.
Whether its Sicily, the Maldives,
Vietnam, the Swiss Alps or the Americas,
this channel has impressive three-minute
compilations of some amazing drone
footage of the landscape. If youre looking
to get a feel for the versatility of drone
cinematography the Epic Drone Videos
is a great place to start.

We mightve wished this compilation of


Youtube drone videos was instead called
drone out, but it wouldnt capture the
high-octane nature of this fast-paced
drone footage channel. Rather than
beautiful landscape shots of of the
environment, Droned Out is all about the
extremities of drone piloting and aims to
highlight all the wild things you can do
with drones. Whether its shots of parkour,
wakeboarding, videos of boats and
buildings burning, suring or downhill
nighttime longboarding, Droned Out
shows how useful drones can be when
capturing extreme sports and encourages
a totally diferent side of drone
cinematography.
[ 023 ]

LIFETOOLS
FIND THE BEST-VALUE TRAVEL SIMS

Vodafone roaming allows


use of your existing data
and minutes in over 50
countries for $5 a day.

[ BARGAIN HUNTER ]

Find the best-value travel SIMs


TRAVELLING OVERSEAS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?
HERES HOW TO GET THE BEST VALUE ON DATA WHILE YOURE ABROAD.
[ LINDSAY HANDMER ]

In todays world of constant smartphone


connectivity, travelling without can quickly
thrust you into the information dark ages.
With almost everything suporting online
booking, or at least over the phone, doing
without is a needless chore. he problem is
inding the best deal, and weve all heard tales
of massive bill shock from unknowing
travellers using roaming. To help out,
we crunched the numbers for the major
options to get data and calls overseas and
put together a guide to help get you started.

NETWORKS
Just to make life complex, diferent countries
use diferent network standards and, even
then, diferent frequencies. Phones sold
in diferent parts of the world therefore have
diferent radios inside and will give diferent
levels of functionality in diferent countries.
he combinations are almost endless; so check
what frequencies your model supports.
Websites such as www.worldtimezone.com
have a GSM map to help compare. he good
news is most Australian phones will work ine
in most of Asia, Europe and Africa, but may
not work in the Americas.

[ 024 ]

BUYING A LOCAL SIM CARD


In our experience, the simplest and usually
cheapest option is to buy a SIM on arriving at
your country of choice. his approach is not
without its own pitfalls, and the viability and
cost varies. It also may not be ideal for travel to
multiple countries
in a short time.
Local SIM cards are oten sold at arrival
terminals of the local airport and the staf
can help install it (dont lose your old one).
Generally, they are available as data only,
or with both data and voice. Some include
international calls, which can be useful if you
want to call home. Most local SIM cards
ofered to travellers are prepaid upfront,
and are valid for a month or two avoid
anything with a contract or recurring charges.
he next step is picking the best local SIM
to buy. he closest to a central repository
of knowledge is the excellent (but sometimes
out of date) prepaid SIM wiki
(prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com),
but websites such as tripadvisor.com oten
have good traveller feedback. Otherwise,
googling the country name and which sim
card or similar will provide a range of useful,
if sometimes contradictory suggestions.
A more tedious option is to look up

the available networks on the SIM wiki,


then directly check the rates on each company
website. Keep in mind where you plan to travel
in the country, as coverage can be variable.
For example, if a traveller was coming to
Sydney, Telstra ofers the best coverage
(especially in rural areas), whereas Vodafone
and Optus (as well as the resellers for all
three networks) can ofer a lot more bang
for your buck.

GLOBAL SIM CARDS


A better option for frequent travellers can be
global SIM cards, where one lot of
pre-purchased credit can be used in a range
of countries. While convenient, such oferings
are typically more expensive than buying a
local SIM. On the plus side, they can be
purchased and set up beforehand, and
the phone number let with points of contact.
Many of the international SIM cards are not
available in Australia, but can be bought at
the irst destination and set up from there.
globalgig.com.au is a good place to start,
with rates from $0.10 per MB.

ROAMING
Nothing beats the convenience of keeping
your existing number when travelling,

LIFETOOLS
FIND THE BEST-VALUE TRAVEL SIMS

TRAVEL DATA AND CALL TIPS


Check what SIM card size you need with most phones from the last few years, thats usually micro
or nano. Also Android (and third party apps) have built in data saving modes, which can help reduce
costs when looking up critical info.
Many countries (especially parts of Asia) have accessible and free Wi-Fi, and its possible to get
away with no SIM card. Companies such as Telstra ofer unlimited paid global Wi-Fi access across 13
million hot spots, for $15 a day, which can be handy for large data use.
Many new phones now support dual SIM cards, which can make using local SIM cards easier,
especially when travelling across multiple countries or accessing two diferent networks. If travelling
with others and on a budget, considering sharing access from one phone via Wi-Fi. Another handy
option is a 3G-enabled travel router, which can share the connection without a phone needed. An old
phone can do the same job, as long as it supports Wi-Fi sharing.
Dont forget to pack a power bank all the data in the world is useless if your smartphone is always flat.

The prepaid sim wiki is a


great place to learn more
about the local SIM options
in your destination of choice.

International simcards
from Globalgig make it
easy to stay connected
across multiple countries.

especially for business


telstra.com.au) depend
MOST LOCAL SIM CARDS
or for short trips. he
on destination, as well as
OFFERED TO TRAVELLERS
big three (Telstra, Optus
if you are on
ARE PREPAID UPFRONT,
a plan or prepaid. here
and Vodafone) have
AND ARE VALID
is a handy destination
roaming options with
FOR A MONTH TO TWO.
map on the websites,
varying costs and
and costs are around
inclusions. he nuts and
$2$3 per minute for
bolts of each deal can be
calls, and a whopping
quite complex,
$3 per MB of data, charged per KB. Otherwise
so make sure you understand it before use.
there is a complex arrangement of travel
Some plans have roaming turned on by
passes, which can be bought for diferent
default, whereas others need it done manually.
lengths and diferent areas, that work out
We compared the options (current at the time
a lot cheaper ($0.06 per MB and up).
of writing), but its best used as a guide to your
Vodafone makes it simpler, with a lat $5 fee
own investigations. Rates from Telstra (www.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Make sure to check if your device needs a mini-, micro- or


nano-SIM card.

each day (90 days max) you use your existing


data and minutes while overseas. Optus splits
the world into two zones, with Zone 1 costing
$1 a minute for calls and $0.5 a MB charged
per 10kB for data. Or for Zone 1 there is a $10
a day travel pack that gives unlimited talk
and text, and a paltry 50MB of data. Zone 2
doubles the costs, with no travel packs.
Reseller Virgin Mobile has the same roaming
costs as Optus, plus 30-day data packs
that cost from $0.05 a MB to $0.83 a MB.

[ 025 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

DISCOVER
ESSENTIAL APPS, TOOLS AND ENTERTAINMENT

[ BEGIN EXPLORING]

Augmented-reality apps & games


WHEN THE ANALOG WORLD IS JUST TOO BORING, FIRE UP
THESE APPS AND GAMES TO SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
[TIM BOTHWELL]

SOME TECHLIFE READERS may be familiar with the


ever-so-slightly popular game known as Pokmon GO.
In the days following its release, parks, walkways and even
peoples homes were iniltrated with triages of both
children and adults glued to their smartphones, looking
to catch digital monsters that the game had superimposed
onto real-world locations. While this might have seemed
harmless at irst, I personally realised that enough was
enough when a friend cancelled on me in order to go
on a Pokmon walk.
We guess one positive has come out of it: thanks to
Pokmon GO, just about everybody now knows about
the wonders of augmented reality. he games developer
Niantic might be one of the better-known companies
to utilise this new tech, but there are many other apps
that can make use of your smartphones camera and GPS
to provide a digitally-enhanced experience on top of your
ordinary day-to-day drudgery. And whether theyre related
to gaming, food or even the human anatomy, theres
an app for almost every one of your augmented needs.

Geocaching
Free with IAP
www.geocaching.com

My childhood was an endless treasure hunt,


inding and uncovering valuable antiques,
jewellery and money from my parents wallets.
Now, in the real world, Geocaching has taken
the traditional hunt and scaled it to a global
playing ield, branching out over 100
countries. he app features an interactive map
illed with dots, each representing a diferent
geocache. If you ind one whilst out and
about, its likely to consist of a container with
a logbook inside. For each location, the app
provides an overview consisting of a
description, diiculty level and hints. If stuck,
you can even message fellow users to ask for
assistance. While the app is free, premium
features such as member-only caches, search
ilters and support for oline lists can be
unlocked with a membership fee.

[ 026 ]

From the same company that brought you Pokmon GO


comes another location-based game. Upon opening
the app, youre given a brief introduction before being
asked to choose a side, either Team Enlightened
or Resistance. After this, youll be shown a map thats
used to track your movements whilst walking around
the real world. Its at various points of interest that
youll discover energy sources, with the objects
and supplies you earn helping contribute to the
strengthening of your side. The game is highly social,
with your player interacting and communicating
with people all over the world. Deinitely a good game
to get you up and moving.

Google Translate
Free
translate.google.com.au

When planning a trip somewhere overseas,


youre unlikely to think of the potential
limitations imposed by a foreign language.
While I studied six years of Indonesian back
in school, Im only conident in speaking
numbers up to 10. While this might be useful
for ordering large quantities of bintangs, Id
struggle doing anything else. Google Translate
provides translations for more than 100
languages, with 50 of them not requiring
an internet connection. Its augmented power
comes from the ability to recognise foreign
words on things like street signs or food
menus. Point your camera at an unknown
phrase and the app will automatically translate
and present it in English, all in real-time.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

STAR WALK 2

$4.49 iOS, $0.99 Android, $2.99


Windows Phone | vitotechnology.com

Regardless of whether youre a bit of an astronomy


nerd, or simply someone that uses a telescope for
completely innocent purposes, it can often be diicult
to know what youre actually looking at. Is it Mars?
Is it Venus? Or is it a streetlight on the hill? With this
app, you can point your phone into the sky to be
provided with a real-time overlay of the diferent stars,
constellations and satellites visible from your location.
If looking for one star in particular, you can search for it
directly, as well as view interesting facts about the
diferent constellations. Also cool is the ability to
adjust the date and time to see how things like planet
elevation will change.

Makeup Genius
Free
www.makeupgenius.com.au

heres nothing more intimidating than


walking through the make-up section
of any department store, randomly sampling
products as you attempt to avoid eye contact
with those pesky sales staf promising to make
you a Cover Girl. Now you can avoid all that
by trying on cosmetics from the safety of your
smartphone. Using the camera, you can
virtually apply lipstick, mascara and blush
products; as well as choose from a number
of premade looks. Even cooler, when youre
in a physical store, curious about how
something might look, simply scan the
barcode of select LOreal products and youll
be shown in real-time on your own face.
Any items you like can be added to a shopping
cart for easy purchasing.

VIVINO WINE SCANNER

Free with IAP


vivino.com

Rarely do I get more excited than when technology gets


combined with alcohol. Rather than visit a liquor store
and choose a bottle of wine based on the number of
standard drinks it contains, you can now ind
something youll actually enjoy the taste of. Vivino
helps keep track of the glasses/bottles of wine you
consume, along with whether or not you actually like
them. Snap a picture of any wine label and the app will
automatically analyse and present you with information
such as price, ratings and reviews. Even cooler, take
a photo of a wine list at a restaurant and itll be overlaid
with scores next to each beverage, helping you decide
whether that $200 bottle of bubbly should be sipped
or skulled. Your days of buying goon are over!

DISCOVER
APPS FOR GETTING ARTSY

INGRESS

Free
ingress.com

Inkhunter
Free
inkhunter.tattoo

Ater seeing many of my friends go under


the needle for a tattoo, Ive oten thought about
getting one myself. However, Im undecided
of whether to get a tramp stamp or a giant lifesized merman igure down the let side of my
body. Before showing the inished masterpiece
of to my parents, Im now able to see how it
will look before getting one done ater a wild
night out. Inkhunter requires you to draw a
symbol (in pen) on the area youre thinking of
getting stamped. Next, choose a design
either your own or one included with the app.
Point the camera at your skin and the design
will magically appear on top of it. Ater
tapping the shutter button, adjustments can
be made to skintone, brightness and size.

[ 027 ]

DISCOVER
APPS FOR GETTING ARTSY

Anatomy 4D
Free
itunes.apple.com

Back in high school, science classes were a


constant source of unease. Dissections, such
as that of a lambs brain or squid, were messy
and unlattering experiences. Understanding
the human body is an important yet diicult
thing to grasp; but now, thanks to the power
of augmented reality, you can explore and
interact with a 3D body as if it were the real
thing. Begin by printing of the required target
image and pointing your smartphones camera
towards it. All of a sudden, a digital body will
appear. By moving around, you can explore
organs, muscles and bones, along with see how
the diferent parts work together to make up
a functioning human being.

Yelp
Free
yelp.com

he last time I chose somewhere to eat, the


peculiarly-odoured food was presented on paper
plates. he person sitting opposite me was less
than impressed. With over 100 million reviews
to its name, Yelp helps ind somewhere to eat
and drink, no matter where you are in the world.
Its Monocle feature (hidden in the more section
of the app) provides an overlay on top of your
camera listing the various restaurants and
their distance from where youre standing.
Tap on one to be presented with reviews, photos,
pricing, trading hours and contact information.
You can also use the search tool if you have
a particular place in mind.

[ 028 ]

IKEA Catalogue
Free
ikea.com

heres nothing more satisfying than


tightening the inal screw on what was initially
an IKEA lat-pack. Many can speak of the
horriic ordeals faced when attempting to
assemble anything from a shelf to a picture
frame. Yet, the one thing commonly agreed
on is just how beautiful the inished product
should be. Rather than attempt to navigate
an IKEA showroom in search of inspiration,
you can now do it from your couch. he app
allows you to download the latest catalogue
featuring photos, videos and 360-degree
rooms showing of various pieces of Swedish
furniture. Most cool is the ability to virtually
place select IKEA products in your own room
through the power of augmented reality.

Quiver

Free with IAP


quivervision.com

Who doesnt enjoy whipping out their


Faber- Castell pencil set to do some colouring?
he barrage of adult colouring books on the
market proves the fad has come full circle,
helping people relax and destress ater a long
day of work. Now comes an app that utilises
augmented reality to make your artworks
come to life. Simply print out one of the many
black and white pictures ranging from
animals to educational ones designed for kids.
Once your masterpiece is complete, point your
camera at the sheet of paper to see it suddenly
become animated. You can interact and play
with the various characters, as well as take
photos and videos. his app is perfect for both
kids and parents.

DISCOVER
BEST PODCASTS

ACCIDENTAL TECH PODCAST


ATP.FM
The hosts of ATP wanted to do a podcast about cars
but, in doing so, realised they couldnt stop talking
about tech. Their website is a great way to ind a
speciic episode as it lists out everything they
discuss. In terms of content, its very diverse, and if
you want to hear some down-to-earth criticism of
the big brands, this is the podcast for you. The three
hosts are also notorious for ending their episodes
and then continuing to talk for another hour if they
have more to say. So if you take a liking to this one,
be prepared to sink some serious hours into it.

[ SET A COURSE FOR NERD-TOWN ]

Podcasting about tech


THE BEST PODCASTS LOOKING AT TECH WITH A CRITICAL EYE.
[CARMEL SEALEY]

UNDER THE RADAR


WWW.RELAY.FM/RADAR

TECHNOLOGY IS ONE of the most diverse genres of podcasts out there, so inding just ive gold

nuggets to recommend was pretty hard. Also, weve tried to keep to the non-biased productions;
however, if youre looking for a brand-speciic podcast, chances are, theres one out there for you
such as he Talk Show with John Gruber about all things Apple. But irst, a brief disclaimer.
To be honest, if you want to just learn the basics about some new tech, youll ind it elsewhere in
these pages. You wont be interested in most of these podcasts. Why not? Because the hosts of the
following ive are passionate, truly passionate about technology and will oten talk about
extremely in-depth concepts for hours. But if youre up for it, read on.

Download this Show

Reckoner

www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/downloadthisshow

reckoner.com.au/category/podcast

In terms of diversity, this podcast probably


gets the gold. By glancing at the subjects ilter
on the website, its clear that they want to cover
as much as possible under the tech umbrella
including advertising, design, animation,
censorship, ethics, piracy, viruses and
copyright, as well as general discussions about
the big players and current tech news. Being an
ABC production, its well produced and oten
features famous names, including Steve
Wozniak and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, as well as
the devs of apps and games in discussion.

he Reckoner website is focused on the


culture of technology in Australia and hosts
topical features and reviews of products, as
well as the current tech news. he podcast is
basically the audio version of that, hosted by a
rotating number of voices, plus guests. Most of
the episodes tend to run between 45 and 90
minutes in length and cover all the
mainstream subjects, such as Tesla, Apple,
Android, YouTube and games, as well as the
occasional in-depth topics relating to
developers and programmers.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Under the Radar is hosted by two enthusiastic devs


and programmers. These bite-sized instalments go
for no more than half an hour each, and the two
discuss all things indie software development for
iOS devices from idea and design to marketing
and support. The subjects they touch on include
whether or not to switch to ads for income, what you
should expect when releasing an app to the iOS
app-review staf, how to manage app versions,
their opinions on the App Store itself, pricing models
and also a few how-tos.

REPLY ALL
GIMLETMEDIA.COM/SHOW/REPLY-ALL
One of the hardest things about checking out a new
podcast is knowing where to start. Reply All does all
that guesswork for you and gives you a selection of
good starting points. The show is mostly about the
internet but it also discusses apps and the social
issues surrounding the online world. The producers
and hosts of the show have a wealth of experience
from other productions and it shows here. This is a
quality podcast if you want to know more about
whats going on online.
[ 029 ]

DISCOVER
APP SHOWDOWN: READ-IT-LATER SERVICES

[ THE BEST READ-IT-LATER APP ]

App
showdown:
read-it-later
services
WE COMPARE READ-IT-LATER
PLATFORMS THAT LET YOU
SAVE IMPORTANT ONLINE
STORIES IN A COLLECTION,
SO YOU CAN READ THEM
WHEN ITS MOST CONVENIENT.
[ JOEL BURGESS ]

THE IRONY OF the modern online media


landscape is that, while theres an abundance
of interesting stories to read on the web, our
worlds speedy pace conversely means that
most of us are quite time-poor. And while
weve trained our brains to skim and scan for
just the information we need, multiple studies
have found that deeper, slower reading is
actually a terriic way to keep your mind agile
and increase your smarts so its something
we should all clearly aspire to do more of.
So what do you do when you ind a story
you actually want to read, but dont currently
have the time to? hats where read it later
tools come in very handy. hese cloud-based
applications are speciically geared towards
letting you store (and also more-easily ind)
longer form articles, so you can get back to
them at a more appropriate time.
he two applications that bustle for top spot
in this category are Pocket and Instapaper,
and though we generally pick one winner for
our app showdowns, theyre both excellent for
diferent reasons, with strengths in particular
areas. Both are available on iOS and Android
as well as online, so weve instead based our
primarily recommendation on which ebook
readers they sync with. And if youre serious
about reading for smarts, weve found
e-readers are a great way to go about it: they
cut of distractions and let you stay focused on
the article or book thats in front of you.

[ 030 ]

BEST FOR KOBO OWNERS

Pocket

PUT THE INTERNET IN YOUR POCKET.


Free; Premium subscription, US$4.99
per month | www.getpocket.com

In many ways, Pocket is an exemplar read-itlater app that allows you to save web pages,
articles and various forms of multimedia to a
cloud account in order to pick it up at a later
point. Its more than just a gloriied
bookmarking tool, though, taking articles and
stripping them of distracting ads, complicated
formatting and shrinking images to allow you
to focus on what matters most the article.
To access this tailored reading material, Pocket
has a decent array of apps, browser extensions
and web pages to suit your existing habits.
here are additional tools that make it easy to
save articles with browser extension save
buttons and easy share links from over 500
integrated smartphone applications. Most of
these are reasonably pedestrian features for
this type of app but Pocket also has a number
of unique features that make it stand out. First
is a sophisticated tagging system that allows
you to add a multitude of labels to the articles
and pages you save to make it particularly easy
to search for it later. In addition to this, Pocket
will also integrate and sync with many Kobo
e-readers, allowing you to access your saved
articles with the improved reading-comfort
and focus that comes with e-ink devices.

BEST FOR KINDLE OWNERS

Instapaper

THE COMFORT OF PAPER WITH THE


CONTENT OF THE WEB.
Free; Premium, US$2.99 per month
www.instapaper.com

Similarly, Instapaper has all the trappings of a


read-it-later application, allowing you to save
web articles, pages and multimedia using a
browser extension and various bookmarklet
actions. Yet this stylised ofering is a little more
reined than Pocket, opting to reformat
imported copy and images to a consistent
layout that we slightly prefered once wed
tweaked some font and display settings.
Instapaper is a little behind in terms of
integration from third-party apps, but it goes
beyond Pocket with speed-reading, highlight
and annotation features that will be useful to
certain users. If you like tag-based
organisation, you may have issues with
Instapapers more traditional folder-based
iling system but there is a handy article length
notation on the home page thatll let you scan
for articles by length. As we said above, if you
happen to have bought into the Kindle or
Kobo eBook reading system already, then
Instapapers unique compatibility with
Kindles means that this will likely be the most
important factor in which read-it-later
platform you choose. In terms of premium
subscriptions for power users, Instapaper is
notably less expensive than Pockets monthly
price tag.

READABILITY

DISCOVER
APP SHOWDOWN: READ-IT-LATER SERVICES

ALSO CONSIDER...
TURN THE PAGE ON THESE RUNNER-UPS.

DEFINITELY A READABLE OPTION.


Free | www.readability.com

This polished ofering has a Chrome extension for


clipping articles, Android and iOS apps to read
longer pieces, and will even deliver to the
Mac-based RSS application Reader. In addition
to this, Readability allows you to save directly from
popular news apps like Longform, Flipboard and
Twitter or add bookmarklets to the browser of your
choice. Despite nipping at the heels of the top apps,
support for the app ended in September due to lack
of demand.

READKIT

ALL THE KIT YOU NEED FOR READING


THE NEWS.
$14.99 | www.readkitapp.com

TIPS FOR SAVING IT FOR LATER


ADVICE FOR USING YOUR READ-IT-LATER APPS TO SAVE YOU EVEN MORE TIME.

BROWSER EXTENSIONS

ORGANISATION

Read-it-later services will have a number of ways


to import content but most of the legwork will
likely come from the browser extensions, so its
worth checking if your current browser is
compatible.

Anyone versed in note-taking will likely have a


preference for either tag-based or hierarchical
organisation structures for keeping things
in order and you can ind read-it-later apps
that cater to each.

BOOKMARKLETS

MEDIA

For the most part, bookmarklets do the same thing


as browser extensions but they are slightly more
versatile and can perform speciic functions like
sending a page directly to your eReader.
Alternatively, if you want to automate the import
process, you can use IFTTT to regularly pull
articles from your favourite sources.

For some, its all about the words, and inding a


read-it-later app thatll cut or subdue everything
except the article is a bonus, but for others, the
pictures, GIFs and embedded videos make or
break a story. Both the leading apps still utilise
multimedia, its just a matter of preference how
prominent it is.

EBOOK PLATFORM COMPATIBILITY


The reduced eye strain of e-readers makes them
the ideal medium for consuming longer form
articles, but read-it-later apps tend to form
allegiances with particular e-reader platforms so
youll have to make sure theyre compatible.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

This OS X-speciic application is one part


read-it-later app, one part RSS reader and one part
an overarching source amalgamation tool that
attempts to keep all the articles you might save in
one easy-to-reach place. Blurring the lines between
these seemingly distinct categories means there are
sacriices in terms of compatibility (it is solely a Mac
desktop application) but if you just want something
for your computer it is a convenient solution. Youll
have to cough up $14.99 for the app but you can trial
it for 2 weeks irst.

EVERNOTE

Free; Plus, US$49.99 per year | www.


evernote.com

Accompanied by its own web clipper browser


extension, this note-taking app can be used as a
read-it-later service if you prioritise editing content
over reading it. Evernote is slightly too feature-rich
to excel as a read-it-later service as it adds notes
directly to editing pages rather than focusing on
making the article more readable. Since Evernotes
pricing restructure in June this year, its also the
most expensive of the bunch.

[ 031 ]

DISCOVER
BEST NEW APPS

PAWSHAKE
HELPING YOU FIND A TRUSTED
DOGSITTER
Free with IAP | pawshake.com.au

Whether its just for a few days or a longer trip,


if you have a pet, you will be familiar with the
problem of trying to igure out whats best for them
when youre away. For many animals, the stress of
being put into boarding or taken to a friends house
is too much and inding a friend or family member
to house it might not be possible. Pawshake helps
owners ind petsitters for dogs, cats, ferrets and
even farm animals in the local area. Theres a simple
iltering system (dog walking, house-sitting, home
visits, home boarding and day care) and you can
sort results by ratings provided by the community
or by distance from your home. The interface is
clean and simple, though we did ind a bug in
the iOS version, making it impossible to share
photos. Hopefully, that will be ixed. But apart from
that, the experience is a very streamlined one.
The app itself is free, but its up to the individual
sitters and walkers to set prices for everything else.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

[ LATEST APPS ]

Best new apps


THE TECHLIFE TEAM REVIEWS THE MOST INTERESTING
NEW APPS FOR IOS, ANDROID AND WINDOWS MOBILE.

Google Trips
MAKING HOLIDAYS EASY
Free | get.google.com/trips

Heres a fabulous premise. Google Trips


ties together your next holidays itinerary
by scooping your reservations from
Gmail and saved places from maps, while
also looking at the weather to give you as
much advice as possible before you jet of.
It also lets you plan a holiday from
scratch, with useful descriptions of towns
and cities as well as places to eat and
sights to see. Nor do you need to be
online: save and download everything
ahead of time and even when youre away
from Wi-Fi or out of data youll have what
[ 032 ]

you need at hand. Granted, a good majority


of this stuf can be gleaned from Google
Maps opening times, types of
restaurants, places to see and so on
but the interface makes it handy, saving you
from bouncing between diferent apps.
Where it sufers is information for smaller
locales is limited. Its not going to replace
something more curated like Lonely Planet,
but with enough reviews and tips from
previous travellers feeding into it, Trips
could be your next destination for your,
er, next destination. [ PAUL TAYLOR ]

N MUSIC
A NICE, AD-FREE MUSIC PLAYER
WITH SOME STRANGE QUIRKS.
Free | tinyurl.com/tla57-nmusic

As our entertainment migrates to the cloud,


those who like to collect and store actual music
iles on their phone are becoming an eccentric
minority. N Music is a classy music player which
doesnt do a whole lot thats new, but unlike
arguably its biggest competition PowerAmp
the fully functioning version of the app is free.
Everything is intact: you can sort by songs, albums
and artists, create playlists, and theres a flexible
equalizer if youve made a habit of iddling with
sliders on the fly. The app is still listed as beta,
and it has some strange design quirks: playing
a song wont bring up its details page, opting
instead for displaying a small bar at the bottom
without a scrubber. Tap that and youll get there,
but it feels a bit counter-intuitive if youve used
Poweramp or iOSs vanilla player. Small qualms
aside, if youre after a free music player, this is
among the most streamlined youre likely to ind,
aside from Poweramp. [ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

DISCOVER
BEST NEW APPS

Circle Sidebar

Opera VPN

NEW WAY TO SHORTCUTS


Free; pro version $2.39
tinyurl.com/tla57-circle

Is your home screen dedicated to your


most-used apps, or is it (like ours) a dumping
ground for stuf you sort-of use and various
widgets? For anyone who identiies with
the latter group, Circle Sidebar is a smart way
to get to your most-used apps without hitting
the home key. It works in a similar way
to Sesame Edge (see TL55) but is dedicated
purely to apps rather than contacts and
web searches. A jog wheel pops out from your
preferred screen edge (let or right) with your
chosen apps on it, and spins ad ininitum.
Apps are supposedly presented in alphabetical
order though ours werent ponying up for
the pro version lets you customise this, though
the free version does a decent enough job
and without ads, too. While that quirk is
a little annoying, Circle Sidebar gets a thumbs
up as its seriously fast, and will save you going
back to your home screen or ugh
apps drawer to ind what youre ater. he pro
version blacklists apps so that it wont interfere
with them (ideal for some games that need you
to swipe or tap buttons close to the edge
of the screen) and also adds cosmetic
customisation options.

PROTECT YOUR SEARCHES


Free | opera.com/apps/vpn

Regular TechLife readers will know we extoll


the virtues of VPNs regularly for their ability
to secure your internet browsing, and to access
movies and shows online that are blocked
in Australia. heyre also ideal for travellers
who need to access servers located at home.
Opera VPN (from the team behind the
browser of the same name) is speciically made
for your smartphone, rerouting web traic
over both your phones data connection
and Wi-Fi, protecting it from prying eyes
(useful for public hotspots), and blocks ads,
too. Start the app, select a region from one
of ive on ofer (with more to come) and
a symbol in your notiication bar will tell you
that youre connected very simple to use.
It has limitations: you cant access torrents,
and Netlix detects that youre going through
a proxy. We almost gave up downloading
an app from Google Play as the transfer speed
was abysmal, though most other uses showed
little to no interference. Fans of John Olivers
Last Week Tonight will be pleased: an episode
of his unavailable in Aus was available
and streamed lawlessly.

Magisto
A NEAT VIDEO EDITOR
THAT DOES ALL THE WORK.
Free | magisto.com

Equipped with a smartphone and the potential


(though rarely the result) of reaching millions,
its not hard to see why user-friendly video
editing tools are so popular on smartphones.
Magisto takes user friendly one step further,
by basically creating your videos for you.
Simply select a handful of videos, images
or both on either your phone or Google Drive,
and Magisto will, as the name implies,
magically transform them into smartly edited
videos. here are a number of free editing
styles, ranging extreme sports through
to love, while other themes are locked
behind a paywall (examples including happy
birthday and wedding bliss). Each theme
has a selection of music you can use as
a soundtrack, though you can opt to choose
from your own library, or to select from
a library for commercial use. Magisto is
structured like a social media platform
similar to Instagram: your videos are stored
on their servers, rather than on your phone.
Its a nice tool, but youll probably need
to convince your friends to use it too.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

[ PAUL TAYLOR ]

[ PAUL TAYLOR ]

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 033 ]

DISCOVER
BEST NEW APPS
[ 034 ]

STORYO
LIKE INSTAGRAM, BUT LOUDER.
Free | storyoapp.com

Storyo takes your photos from a certain point in time


(say, a holiday in Hawaii, a friends graduation,
or a wedding) and turn them into a cute preprepared slideshow a bit like iOS 10s Memories
feature. This builds on the idea by ofering several
ilters, all of which have nice touches: borders,
music, transitions, and fonts that add to an overall
feeling of sunniness. You can alter most of this
to your taste, too, giving each slideshow a title
and changing the music to one of Storyos presets
or your own music, if you prefer. However, the music
automatically plays every time you create a story,
which makes the app quite ofputting, because
youre not sure if its about to ambush you
with chirpy ukelele tunes.
The slideshows are sweet, though there arent
quite enough customisation options. Interesting
touches such as animated maps make it worth
adding your geotagged pics, but generally,
no matter what photos you use, the video always
feels centred around exciting trips abroad.
There are also automatic stories that Storyo
will push on you: Hey, I made a new story about
everything youve done this week, itll say. Then
youll look at it, and its a bunch of receipt photos
so you can do your expenses.
Overall, Storyo is the kind of app youll love if you
want to spice up your Facebook feed with something
a bit diferent, but dont go expecting full
video-editing tools, or having any of your videos
look much diferent from one another.
Cute but slightly limited, Storyo is a great
accompaniment to Instagram for anyone looking
to show of their vacation pics. [ KATE GRAY ]

Allo

HelloMind

GOOGLES STRIPPED-BACK BUT FULLY


FEATURED MESSAGING SERVICE.
Free | allo.google.com

TAKE BACK CONTROL OF YOUR BRAIN


THROUGH HYPNOSIS
Free with IAP | hellomind.com

At this stage, most of us have settled on


a messenger app, and more importantly,
our friends have too. Convincing your social
circles to decamp to a whole new platform
is not easy, but it feels like Allo might make it
all worthwhile. Its a beautifully stripped back
app, though youre able to riddle your
conversations with large emojis, videos
and images if you see it. Messaging can
be done individually or in groups, and theres
even an incognito mode, which activates
encryption on the messages. hese messages
can also be set to auto-delete ater a userdetermined duration, ranging one minute
through to a whole day. Allo also has a built-in
Assistant, and while its still in beta stage
at present, its quite useful. Writing @Google
followed by a search term inside a conversation
will bring up relevant results. Write @Google
pub and it will show the closest (and best
ranked) pub in the users region. If the search
term doesnt apply to a service, itll provide
search results. At this early stage Allo is a great
service, and its likely to get better with time.

Open the app and ind yourself a nice peaceful


place to sit down and grab your best
headphones. Once youve found your zone,
HelloMind will ask you what it can help you
with, providing a multitude of diferent things
such as weight, sleep, stress, self-esteem,
pregnancy and anxiety. Once youve selected
your topic, HelloMind will ask a few more
questions based on that topic and then provide
what it recommends as a suitable treatment.
Each course is of a diferent duration (some
lasting ten sessions, some only one with some
variations) but all appear to be about $14 each,
which might seem expensive, but not when
compared to the cost of a therapist. he aim
is to get you to delve deep into your
unconscious mind and ind a whole new way
to work with yourself. he sessions have
no music, so theres nothing to distract you,
and just like a proper hypnotherapy session,
you cant pause and come back later because
that would break your concentration. You can
replay sessions, though, so you dont miss out
if you have to bail halfway through.

[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

Google Duo
A STREAMLINED CROSS-PLATFORM
VIDEO CHAT
Free | duo.google.com

Google Duo is super simple to use. Open it up


and the camera immediately switches on
to reveal your ugly mug looking tentatively
interested. Hit video call and a list of all your
available contacts pops up. he irst thing
youll notice here is the lack of your friends
already using Google Duo. (I had only one,
and I didnt really want to talk to him. Sorry,
mate.) You will need to invite your buddies
to also download the app before you can get
Facetiming I mean Duoing which is
really the only downside to the experience.
Duo employs end-to-end encryption and
bunny hops between Wi-Fi and mobile data
to keep the connection smooth as necessary.
But the greatest thing about this app is that,
unlike Facetime, its cross-platform, so in
theory at least, you can video call anyone else
with a smartphone and the app. It also has
a great preview ability called Knock Knock,
allowing you to see the person calling you
(not just an avatar) before accepting the
connection. Since this app is so streamlined
and simple, theres very little to criticise.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]

Vizable

TURN SPREADSHEETS INTO EASY-TOUNDERSTAND CHARTS AND GRAPHS


Free | vizable.tableu.com

If youve got a love-hate relationship with


spreadsheets, meet an app that might improve
your compatibility. Vizable attempts to make
data comprehension accessible for absolutely
everyone, regardless of their comfort with
the subject, by turning the data into easy-tounderstand graphs so that users can grasp the
diferences in points of data.Vizable reads CSV
and XLS spreadsheet iles, so if youve got any
other apps that export data as a spreadsheet,
you can quickly and easily import it (including
from Google Docs). Vizable is a joy to navigate
and includes pinch and pan gestures that allow
users to view only the data they want, and
easily save it, share it, or print it. here is a
downside: if youre tracking your own points
of data, youll either have to be comfortable
creating your own spreadsheets in programs
such as Numbers or Excel, or youll have to
ind another app that can create those sorts
of iles theres nothing that allows you
to actually create spreadsheets in Vizable itself.
Still, even if you have to use Vizable as a
companion app, we think its invaluable. Track
your business proit, log your activity straight
from your FitBit, or just create attractive
sharable graphs for school projects.

What are you supposed to do when youre reviewing


an app that you fervently hate with the ire of
a thousand suns, but which does the job its
supposed to do perfectly? Thats our conundrum
with Kiwake, an app that promises to get you up
every morning, even if youve struggled to do it
with any alarm before.
The core concept is simple, giving you three steps
to wake up your body and brain, and to generally
motivate you to keep going. The body step makes
you take a photo of something far from your bed
great if you always sleep in the same room and you
have one object you always see, but if you travel,
its a bit of a hassle. The brain step makes you
complete a couple of short, simple games that test
your memory and reflexes. Get them right three
times in a row and youll get to the motivation
step, which is a bunch of stuf you input when
you set up the alarm that might make you want
to wake up early: save money, have more time,
look better... that kind of thing. Its sweet, but
maybe not as necessary as the rest for waking up.
The reason this app is so easy to hate is that
there is no way to snooze it. You cant skip a step,
because it beeps angrily. You cant try to cheat,
because itll beep some more. You cant even close
the app because it beeps at you. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
Youll never snooze again, but you might also
develop a lifelong grudge against the (probably)
lovely people who made this app.
Designed by people who genuinely want
to help you wake up, Kiwake is smart, simple
and well-crafted. [ KATE GRAY ]

DISCOVER
BEST NEW APPS

KIWAKE ALARM
REALLY, REALLY MAKING SURE
YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING
US$1.99 | kiwake.com

[ AMBER NEELY ]
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 035 ]

[ COOL STUFF FROM AROUND THE WEB ]

DISCOVER
UNEARTHED

Unearthed
THE TECHLIFE TEAMS FAVOURITE NEW
SITES, SERVICES, BROWSER PLUGINS &
OTHER HANDY TOOLS.

[WEBSITE]

Quartz Map of the Internet


A FASCINATING STUDY OF HOW THE ONLINE WORLD HAS EVOLVED.

qz.com/se/map-of-the-internet

No, its not a visualisation of the internet mocked up by some


graphic design undergrad, but more an interactive, pictorial history.
While Quartz frames it as an exhaustive study of the web, little time
is spent focusing on its origins. Instead and arguably more
usefully Map of the Internet looks at the way the web has changed
since its inception, and the many dramatic ways its likely to change
in the future. Interestingly, its serves as a library of sorts for Quartzs
many separate articles on the topic (for example, the spread of
undersea wiring and the future of satellite internet) but if youd
prefer to only absorb the broad strokes of the matter, theres no need
to click through. If anything, Map of the Internet is a masterclass in
online feature presentation, but theres plenty of food for thought for
those among us inclined to take online for granted.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

[CHROME EXTENSION]

Focus
REMOVE DISTRACTIONS FROM YOUR LIFE AT LEAST DURING WORK.

tinyurl.com/tla57-focus

[ WEBSITE ]

Fun Palaces make your own comic


DRAG-AND-DROP MEME GENERATOR WITH AN OLD SCHOOL FLAVOUR.

funpalaces.co.uk/comic

his is a website that allows you to make your own comics using a dragand-drop interface. When you load the page, youll have ive empty
comic panels into which you can drag a variety of pre-drawn images.
hese are not very lexible: theres a picture of some clouds, a robot, a
girl reading a book and some wild redhead scientist-looking character,
among other things. here are speech and thought bubbles too, so if you
have a story you really need to tell but lack the hand-eye coordination to
do it well, then you might ind some outlet here. Its limited, yes, but its
pretty fun too, and each saved comic goes into an archive which is
visible to anyone who visits the site. Its a tie-in with Fun Palaces, which
is a UK-based campaign supporting local culture at the heart of every
community. Whatever that means, and whomever it may apply to,
doesnt matter: its worth having a iddle with this anyway.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

[ 036 ]

If you ind yourself hard refreshing the Antique Roadshow website


instead of illing out the accounts payable ledger thats almost due,
heres another tool to throttle distractions out of your life. Focus is
a Chrome extension that can block any website for a duration
determined by the user, meaning if you dont have self-discipline,
your web browser will have it for you. Focus has other features, too:
using a simple to-do template, youre able to list a series of tasks that
need doing, and these can be removed one-by-one as theyre
completed. he extension will sit quietly and do nothing unless you
hit the start working button in the Chrome dropdown menu, and
the interface is clean and accessible. For those who struggle to work
while the world beckons them to do something more interesting
online, Focus will no doubt prove a valuable tool.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

OLDSF
GOOGLE STREET VIEW GOES YE OLDE.
www.oldsf.org/#ll:37.787320|-122.406862

[BROWSER GAME]

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy


MOSTLY HARMLESS.

tinyurl.com/tla57-hguide | Free

his in-browser text-based Hitchhikers Guide


game was originally launched in 1984 and has
been re-released by the BBC in basically its
original form. he text is full of nuggets of
Douglas Adams comedic gold as you play
through the story of Arthur Dent waking up
in his humble home by a rather noisy and
inconsiderate bulldozer to then going forwards
and backwards in time. You play by reading
your current situation and then entering

commands such as sit up, go outside, put


on dressing gown or hide whatever your
situation demands. Be warned, though, even if
you know the original BBC production back to
front, you will still die and a lot, and when you
die, you will go right back to the beginning
again. You can save and restore save points if
you sign in with your BBCiD, though, which
will save you a few monitors and some grazed
knuckles. [ CARMEL SEALEY ]

DISCOVER
UNEARTHED

[ WEBSITE ]

As one of the most gentriied cities in the USA,


the San Francisco of today barely resembles
the one made iconic by the 1950s beat
generation, or the one which presumably
existed before then. Now a technocratic
wasteland for disruptors, influencers, tech
magnates and the wealthy, its nice to be
reminded that San Francisco was a place for
everyone at some point, and OldSF serves to
illustrate this. Using the Google Maps UI as a
foundation, OldSF draws from an archive of old
city photos, which are accessed via GPS dot
points on Googles current San Francisco map.
You can search any time between 1800 until
2000, and while the photos dont cover every
nook and cranny of the modern city, its quite
surprising how much ground is accounted for.
Itd be great to see an equivalent for Sydney,
possibly arranged in two neat categories:
pre- and post-Mike Baird.
[SHAUN PRESCOTT]

[ WEBSITE ]

Ventusky
THE PRETTIEST WAY TO LOOK AT UGLY WEATHER.

www.ventusky.com | Free

InMeteo is a Czech-based meteorological


company and the brains behind Ventusky. T
he map is a great way of looking at current
weather patterns and each ilter gives the map
a unique colour code. You can select
temperature, wind, wind gusts, cloud cover,
snow cover, air pressure, rain, lightning strikes
and much more, plus you can also select what
altitude youd like to see so either surface
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

temperature or upwards of 1,500m. Watching


the air currents is quite mesmerising and its
a startling reminder that the weather on our
little blue-green planet is all connected.
Zooming out and selecting wind gusts
worldwide looks a little scary when you spot
the hurricanes growing of the coast of
Antarctica (poor penguins), but also reminds
us of van Goughs Starry Night. Its the most
beautiful weather map weve ever seen.
[ CARMEL SEALEY ]
[ 037 ]

DISCOVER
GAME REVIEWS

You bloody ripper: the range of vehicles


in Forza is varied and abundant.

[ PC AND CONSOLE GAMES ]

Bring me that horizon

WINNER

WE REVIEW THE LATEST BIG-RELEASE AND INDIE GAMES ON PC AND CONSOLES,


STARTING WITH FORZA HORIZON 3 TEARING UP THE OUTBACK.

EDs CHOICE
AWARD

Forza Horizon 3

PRETTY MUCH THE BEST RACING GAME ON THE MARKET,


YOU BLOODY DRONGO.
$99.95 | PC, XO | www.xbox.com/forzahorizon3

SINCE FORZA HORIZON 2 released in 2014,


the open-world, arcade-centric Forza
Motorsport ofshoot has threatened to
dethrone the main series when it comes to fan
adoration. his third instalment will likely
solidify that trend, departing from the
beautiful (if monotonous) Italian countryside
in favour of a condensed and comparatively
varied Australia.
he premise is pretty much identical to its
predecessor: some English chum wants to set
up motorsport festivals around Australia on
your behalf, and its your responsibility to earn
enough fans to populate them. Earning fans is
as simple as doing races, though Forza
Horizon is nothing if not generous. Pretty
much everything you do in this game is
rewarded: if you manage to drive in a straight
line for a couple of seconds, youll see a
congratulatory message alerting you of new
fans. Knocking over fences? More fans. Pulling
of more impressive stunts and manoeuvers
nets you higher rewards, but youll barely
make a let-hand turn in this game without it
telling you youre a deadset f-ing legend.
Which is ine: developer Playground Games
has perfected the racer as ultimate gaming
confectionary recipe, but the studio also pays
close attention to the smaller details. he way
foliage and sand is whipped up in the
[ 038 ]

When attempting to win races, its best


not to get hit by a train.

momentum of your vehicle looks incredible


even on Xbox One. he skyscapes in this
game are among the best youll see in a racer,
particularly during a starry night over the
desert regions. his is most likely the best
looking game on Xbox One, though if youre
looking to run it on PC, youll need an
inordinately well-endowed rig to do it (at least
8GB RAM is required). he Australian-ness
of the game is typically naf, but its nice to be
referred to as bra in a gratingly posh English
accent, and its cathartic to smash through the
picket fences of Byron Bay following a twominute cross-country drive from Coober Pedy.
he outlay of events, challenges and
publicity stunts (so called because they
usually involve jumps, doughnuts or
something else wacky) come thick and fast,

and even ater spending roughly 20 hours


playing this game, its diicult to imagine an
end in sight. Whether youre keen to bunny
hop the desert dunes in a Holden Torana or
cruise the streets of the Sunshine Coast in a
Plymouth Fury, the intimidating car list
probably has you sorted (at a rough count,
there are over 50 at least).
Playground Games hasnt tinkered with
its racing formula very much since the last
Horizon game, but it doesnt really need to:
as far as open-world racers, this is the most
beautiful and generous one youll ind.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

41/2

MADDEN NFL 17

DISCOVER
GAME REVIEWS

Thatll be those damned


non-stick gloves at work
again.

GET IT WHILE ITS HOT.


$89 | PS4, XO, PS3, 360 | www.easports.com

Yes, its possible to shoot robots


while riding motorcycles in Gears 4.

Gears of War 4
MARRYING THE TECH OF 2016 WITH THE GAMEPLAY OF 2006.
$99.95 | PC, XO | www.xbox.com/gearsofwar4

GEARS OF WAR was one of the deining series


of the last console generation: it reined and
popularised third-person shooting, and
boasted a level of Hollywood bombast games
had rarely achieved before. In 2016, Gears of
War seems like a fossil of that period, and in
many ways, with this ith instalment, it is:
Gears of War 4 is a third-person action shooter
featuring burly men (and women) shooting
robots, aliens and, sometimes, other humans.
It took a while for me to overcome this
hurdle: the irst two times I booted up Gears
of War 4, I hated it. It was too simple (run
forward, duck behind cover, shoot), and it
wasnt simple enough (why cant I have a break
from this relentless shooting?!). But once I
accepted what Gears of War 4 was trying to do
namely be a new Gears of War game with
prettier graphics, starring Marcus Fenixs son
JD Fenix I started to warm to it more.
hat said, the early hours of the game arent
its best. Once a long introductory chapter is
completed, and once the crux of its narrative
starts to unfold, the ye olde charm of
meatheads with chainsaw guns starts to

emerge. Its a relentlessly unsubtle video game,


and nothing about it will make you feel clever,
but its a more visually varied and exciting
adventure than weve seen in the series before
(you cant call Gears brown anymore: its
mostly blue nowadays).
In some ways, its quite admirable how
closely Gears of War is sticking to its guns:
theres nary a tacked-on RPG system in sight,
and the banter is as dumb (and as riddled with
Shit! and Get to cover!) as ever before.
And yet, its hard not to feel invested in the
relationship dynamic between Marcus and
JD Fenix, as cliched as they are, and its equally
hard not to glow whenever the end of a
particularly grisly encounter arrives.
Its repetitive, yes. Its not very smart, yes.
But its Gears of War, and it aspires to nothing
else, and for that, its hard not to respect it in
an industry always second guessing itself.
[ SHAUN PRESCOTT ]

These annual franchises depend entirely on their


ability to persuade us that the game we were sold
only last year, the most complete and perfect
sports simulation ever made, is now old hat. This
years Madden is set to expire even faster than
usual, though, thanks to its new live commentary
feature. Every week, the game downloads a set of
freshly recorded lines that reference events in the
current NFL season, which is well underway right
now and inishes with the Super Bowl in early
February. After that date, presumably, the game
will remain trapped in amber.
The best thing about Madden 17 comes in the
form of the improvements made when one of your
heavily padded dudes has the ball in his hands.
After handing of to the running back or making a
catch, a set of special moves becomes available by
holding the left or right trigger. Button prompts
appear to suggest the best moves although
youll have to be quick to catch them and a line
of chevrons shows which way your player is
travelling while you perform all those new spins,
hand-ofs and leaps.
Having this power at your disposal makes it
much easier to prolong the game on the ground
rather than risk everything stopping the moment a
tackle is made. If your running back has decent
stats, you can smash through the defence very
efectively. Various moves allow you to wrong-foot
a defender after making a catch, and once youve
got a clear run into the end zone, you can hold
both triggers to taunt the other team.
On the flip side, games are strewn with
handling errors. Receivers seem to be wearing
non-stick gloves, and a solid hit often dislodges
the ball. There are fumbles and turnovers aplenty.
Franchise mode has updates that make it
feasible to play a full season without devoting an
evening to each match. If you play as one player,
you can quickly sim all the parts where youre not
on the ield, allowing your team to get realisticlooking numbers. All that remains is to hit your
own individual targets, but beware of the
insistence on an online connection.
After pausing for half an hour to attend to the
real world, we dismissed the Disconnected
message and continued playing a thrilling match.
Unfortunately, Madden 17 hadnt saved any of it,
and next time we logged on, we were back at the
start. Very irritating and all, but if a ix for that sort
of thing is on the cards for Madden 18, count us in.
[ MARTIN KITTS ]

JD Fenix reunites with his father Marcus,


and its fun to witness their tifs.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

31/2

[ 039 ]

METROID PRIME: FEDERATION FORCE


WHY THE YEARS MOST WANTED GAME IS

DISCOVER
GAME REVIEWS

BETTER THAN YOU THINK.


$59.95 | 3DS | www.nintendo.com.au

Celebrating 30 years of a beloved single-player


series renowned for its rich atmosphere and
intricate, layered exploration by releasing a
multiplayer shooter with compact, linear missions
and a chibi art style was never likely to go down
well with Metroids passionate, vocal fanbase. But
if you can set aside your preconceptions, this isnt
a bad game.
Taking place just after the events of Metroid
Prime 3: Corruption, the story begins with the
Galactic Federation attempting to keep up with the
nefarious activities of those pesky Space Pirates.
Theyve been meddling with some super-sizing
tech, which handily explains why the Federation
troopers are forced to use giant mechs to make it a
fair ight. In truth, Next Level Games wastes the
chance to explore the potential of this increased
scale: even the buildings are built to accommodate
the larger igure. Only rarely are you forced out of
the suit and the diference becomes clear.
Its not the only idea thats underexplored, but
the upshot of such restlessness means the 22
missions, each of which supports up to four
players online and of, are versatile and varied.
The GameCube games control scheme has
been transposed almost entirely to 3DS,
supplemented by expertly calibrated gyro controls
that give you iner aiming control. For the most
part, youll just squeeze the trigger to lock on and
either tap A for rapid ire or hold it to charge up a
power shot. The reticle prioritises targets in a way
that occasionally goes against your wishes but it
has a solid, weighty feel.
Combat was never really the Prime games main
strength, but when things heat up here, the action
can be surprisingly intense. That you never have
more than a single energy bar each adds to the
pressure. While some missions are smartly
balanced to accommodate diferent team sizes,
elsewhere, the quality of your experience will
depend massively on how many players are
involved. We found that three players seemed
ideal for the majority of missions.
With this small expansion of the Metroid
universe and an ending that suggests Nintendo
hasnt given up on the series more openminded fans may yet ind a place in their hearts for
Federation Force. [ CHRIS SCHILLING ]

1/
2

In Blast Ball mode, youll shoot at a giant Rocket


League-style ball to try to propel it into the goal.

[ 040 ]

WINNER

The expansions story will make you care about


the Warcraft world like no other before.

EDs CHOICE
AWARD

World of Warcraft: Legion


THE NEWEST EXPANSION IS ALL THE (STORM)RAGE.
From $69.95 | PC | us.battle.net/wow/en/legion

WHILE MILLIONS STILL play it, Blizzards


MMO isnt the behemoth it once was. Its
ageing engine is incapable of the beauty of
Final Fantasy XIV; its rigid combat system has
seen the likes of he Elder Scrolls Online chip
away at it; and when it comes to the questing,
Guild Wars 2 makes Blizzards lacklustre
support for Warcrat post-Warlords Of
Draenor look like the last wheezing gasps of a
mortally wounded giant. Legion feels like the
answer to all of these criticisms.
he Burning Legion is back. heir fresh
arrival is set up prior to this expansion with
dynamic waves of enemies and boss
encounters cropping up across the existing
Azeroth landmasses. Boil away the drama,
character deaths, eye-slicingly sharp cutscenes,
too-cool dialogue and fan-pleasing nods to
past lore, and youre let with a core tale of
macguin gathering.
here are ive new areas to adventure, four
of which are open for you to explore in any
order thanks to a new level scaling system.
Each of these locations involves myriad quest
threads, some tied to your class and the new
Order Hall and others more directly tied to the
locations themselves. In the past, quests were
consistently criticised for being too same-y.
While you might still ind yourself on zonebased collect-a-thons or on a mission to take
out an ever-respawning elite mob, this basic
quest toast is plastered with a dizzying amount
of sweet variety jam. One minute, youre
darting about a partly submerged ruin. Next,
youre of to study at a ghostly subterranean
wizarding academy. Ater that, its a quick
bout of Pokmon, where youre the chosen
critter in a game played by giants.
Previously, getting anything out of
Warcrats story has been dependant on how
much time you invest into reading logs and
not simply rocketing from each loating

exclamation point to each quest-ending


question mark. In Legion, this is still true, but
a sprinkling of voice acting helps to draw you
in. One tale in particular details the tragedy of
a fallen prince, whose kingdom has sufered
for millennia due to his past deeds. Helping
him achieve redemption became more than
just about ticking of a box in our quest log. We
found ourselves relishing the story details
here. Legions subtle tweaks to quest design
enforce a fresh appreciation for its stories.
he addition of the new character class, the
Demon Hunter, is a big deal. hese winged
half-demon elves may look like a collection of
rejected 90s metal album cover stars, but get
behind the keyboard to control one and youll
discover that this is Blizzards most
accomplished class yet.
You no longer have to go on farming raids
or praying to the RNG gods for prime-time
weapons to drop now. Instead, near the start of
the main quest lines, you get an Artifact
Weapon. While we appreciate the lack of
grinding required, theres less sense of
achievement.
With Legion, WOW has re-established itself
as the most robust MMO ever.
[ MATT SAKURAOKA-GILMAN ]

41/2

WINNER

APPROVED

There are only a


handful of moments
where it feels like
youre doing
traditional FBI work.

DISCOVER
GAME REVIEWS

AWARD

VIRGINIA
THE FBI: DRIVING, BREAKING AND ENTERING,
AND DROPPING ACID.
$14.95 | PS4, XO, PC | variablestate.com

1/
2

The Barcelona team looks so lifelike that youll ind


yourself trying to punch the in-game Neymars face.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017


KONAMIS BATTLE WITH FIFA IS ABOUT TO GET MESSI.
From $79 on PC; $89 on consoles | PS4, XO, PC, PS3, 360 | www.konami.com

KONAMIS LATEST ATTEMPT to dethrone


FIFA is something of a game solely dedicated
to Barcelona. From the opening cut-scenes
showcasing the stars pulling of a series of
faultless moves through to the impressive
replication of the Nou Camp, PES 2017 most
deinitely makes the most of its licence. he
coverage of this one team, the lack of other
clubs, stadiums and competitions is even more
glaring and distracting than usual.
he notion that PES will ship without the
bulk of the teams across Europe that we know
and love is nothing new, but when the might of
Barcelona and their assorted paraphernalia are
joined in the Champions League by Man
Blue, PM Black White, and ED Yellow, the
whole thing starts to feels faintly ridiculous.
In terms of the matches themselves,
though, PES 2017 feels a touch slicker than last
years efort. Passing feels more luid, and the
movement of the AI-controlled players has
improved, with teammates seeming to spread
themselves more intelligently across the pitch.
Tackles are also a strong suit, with the game
more accurately representing a good bonecrunching encounter both than its predecessor
and than recent FIFA eforts. Its a largely
aesthetic trick, but Konami seems to have got
the physics of these interactions spot on for
this latest entry.
Presentation, too, has been given a lit. Gone
are the rather plasticky, waxy looking players
of 2016. Still, though, when compared to FIFA
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

in recent years, once again Konami cant quite


compete. From a small array of crowd chants
with little diferentiation from team to team, to
replays where (on a couple of occasions) entire
players disappear from one frame to the next,
PES feels a touch under baked.
Its a feeling perhaps best illustrated by Peter
Drury and Jim Beglins commentary that
appear to be running on a severe delay. Add to
that the limited in-game vocabulary, with set
phrases being repeated far too soon and much
too oten, and you begin to have a problem.
he main competitions remain from
manager-led league campaigns to both UEFAs
Champions and Europa League as well as
the standard online options. Become A Legend
also makes an appearance and the Master
League. Its a good spread of options, but all of
these modes were present a full 12 months ago.
Such stagnation comes at a time when EA
seems intent on adding fresh mode ater fresh
mode to FIFAs ofering (womens national
squads last year, and this years story-led
he Journey mode).
PES 2017 is yet another safe, unspectacular,
middle-of-the-road efort, just as its close rival
has spent the summer training hard and
making some major signings.
[ KEITH ANDREW ]

31/2

Variable States love letter to 90s TV dramas is


dreamy, unnerving and downright confusing. But its
also a masterful attempt at weaving cinematography
with adventure game styling that ends up subverting
police procedural tropes in a big way. Devoid of
dialogue, traditional gameplay, or instructions, its
concerned only with ensuring its story unfolds on its
time, not yours, as it leads you through surreal,
sinister and often surprising scenes.
Lacking any true puzzles, Virginia is content to
remain a piece of interactive iction where all you
need to concern yourself with is what item you need
to click on next in order to move the story along. You
cant make any wrong decisions or commit to any
boneheaded conversational choices, because there
arent any. The most diicult time youll have is
inding the only object in a room you can investigate
further so you can reach the next area.
Sometimes, you dont even need to do that.
One moment, youre looking at Agent Halperin while
riding shotgun in her car, and the next youre
pumping gas. These jump cuts go a long way
towards making the game feel like TV, but they also
detract from moments where you might want to
explore a scene further so you can ill in the storys
blanks for yourself especially noticeable with a
tale as diicult to follow as this one.
With that said, its oddly gripping in ways that
usually only dreams (or nightmares) can be. Theres
even a trippy sequence after one character takes a
hit of acid while seemingly incarcerated.
For the most part, not knowing whats going on is
a good thing. It ensures you stay on the edge of your
seat. From your partners erratic behaviour and the
extra assignment handed down to you by the FBI,
to the questionable methods youll use while
investigating, Virginia is full of obtuse moments that
dont always work well. Youll be forced to rely on
context clues to clarify what a disapproving look or
head shake might mean, which can be diicult.
This has the feel of an experiment, like a pilot
written for an audience in the ifth dimension, or a
training module for FBI agents phased in from an
alternate universe where speaking isnt permitted.
Its unique brand of absurd drama isnt perfect, but
its certainly diicult to look away from.
[ BRITTANY VINCENT ]

[ 041 ]

DISCOVER
VIRTUALLY THERE

NICH
RICHARDSON
Bajo is currently on
hiatus, so this
month his Good
Game compatriot
Nich Richardson has
stepped in to ill his
shoes. Nich hosts
Good Game Pocket,
and when hes not
at work playing video
games, hes at home
losing at Dota 2
and buying
Hearthstone packs.

The Inn senses the Whispers


of the Old Gods.

[ STONED AND STUMBLING]

Hearthstone still has


some growing up to do
DESPITE ITS STATUS AS THE PRE-EMINENT CARD-BATTLER,
BLIZZARDS HUGELY-POPULAR WARCRAFT SPIN-OFF
COULD STILL DO WITH SOME BALANCE TWEAKS.
[ NICH RICHARDSON ]

HEARTHSTONE IS GOING through its emo


phase. It matured out of its early years of being
World of Warcrats weird little card game
sibling, started experimenting with a few
expansions and adventures, and now is in
that unique teenage mindset where it feels like
everyone hates it. And the main reason
Hearthstone thinks the world is against it?
Random number generation.
At the core of all card games is randomness
what card you draw, in what order you
draw, what your opponent does. But when
Blizzards Team Five irst released Hearthstone
into closed beta in August 2013, it took
random number generation (RNG) from out
the back where it skulked in the shadows,
shone a giant spotlight on it and unleashed
the random hounds of hell.
By being a purely digital card game,
Hearthstone is able to do things that a physical
one cant. It gives you random cards from
the other players deck when you cast a spell.
It can transform your current cards into better,
more expensive ones. And it can totally
screw up your opponents board on a whim.
Because Hearthstone is, in many ways,
just poker with goblins. When you boil it right
[ 042 ]

down, its all about calculating the odds.


What are the chances my opponent has the
perfect card to totally mess up my master plan,
and how best can I construct a scenario where
that doesnt happen and I dont throw my
computer out the window? Except in poker,
theres not a card that can not only win you
the game, but also make both players discard
all their cards, summon seven Aces and then
blow the whole casino up.
Hi, Yogg-Saron. Its terrible to see you.
10 mana. 7 attack. 5 health. And for every spell
youve cast so far, he casts a random spell,
directed at a random target.
Yogg is an a-hole. Hes the Donald Trump
of Hearthstone. Hes obnoxious, he has no
skills and hell do just about anything to
watch the world burn. And like Trump, when
we irst heard that Yogg was coming in Aprils
Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, we all
thought it would be a bit of fun. How silly,
we said, humiliatingly ignorant. his should
be a laugh, bleated someone who wrote this
article and was certainly wrong. We all
thought Yogg would spend a few weeks
in some weird experimental decks, pop up
in a couple of wacky YouTube videos and then

die the death most truly weird Hearthstone


cards do when you realise that theyre just too
unpredictable to include in your deck. hat was
ive months ago. I died to Yogg four times
this morning.
Does he make for some crazy stories? Yes.
Does it feel great when he works for you? Oh,
yeah. Did I punch my hand through a computer
monitor when he turned against me? Twice.
Is it bad for the health of the game? Almost
undoubtedly. Because, like Trump, while it can
seem silly for a while, when it starts doing real
damage, then you need to get rid of it. When a
20-minute, hard-fought game comes down to
which 11 of potentially dozens of spells gets
randomly cast, theres no sense of
accomplishment. Just frustration, followed by
depression, followed by pity ice-cream.
hankfully, Blizzard seems to have inally
agreed and done something about him.
In the latest update, if Yogg plays a card that kills
or silences him, he stops casting spells, even if he
has 14 still banked up (which he certainly does).
Its arguably how he always should have been, but
better late than never, right? Right? Probably not.
Because I just cant play around him. When he
gets dropped, all you can do is sit there and take
it and pray that it turns out worse for the monster
that played him than it does you. Yogg is fun,
and surprising, and weird all things I have
come to expect from Hearthstone, but he is
an emergency ripcord. If things are going badly,
you throw him out and hope that the 13 spells
he casts end up doing something to help you.
A quick dip into Reddit or the oicial Blizzard
forums will always net you dozens of posts about
how RNG, and for the last six months
particularly Yogg, is out of control right now.
Blizzard say they do listen to our feedback (read:
s**tposting). And this is evident with their recent

Hearthstone lead designer


Ben Brode laughs me of
when I ask about RNG balance.

DISCOVER
VIRTUALLY THERE

One day, all video


games will look as
good a Ethan Carter.
On this day, I shall
weep for those millions
of humans that came
before us, who never
got to see it.

The face of evil.

Ive dreamt of disenchanting him,


but I just dont have the courage.

Where is he even hiding


all those spells.

HEARTHSTONE IS,
IN MANY WAYS, JUST POKER
WITH GOBLINS. WHEN YOU
BOIL IT RIGHT DOWN, ITS ALL
ABOUT CALCULATING
THE ODDS.

announced changes to Arena and the


introduction of Standard and Wild formats.
And while the worst thing they could do is to
be overly reactionary, the Hearthstone team is
notoriously slow at nering what needs to be
nerfed (Tuskarr Totemic came out a year ago
and only just stopped drawing Totem Golems
to ruin my life).
To be clear, I think randomness belongs
in the game. A measure of randomness
combined with skill is what makes it special.
But if Blizzard designs a card that cant be
countered, that cant be balanced, you need
to ask why. What message does that send
to the community, that you make cards that
negate all the depth and subtlety of your game?
heyve taken action against the worst
ofenders, but only ater months of frustration
by the community. Team Five is notoriously
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

When Yogg is played, no one is happy.

secretive about its plans. And thats the teams


prerogative. But if the dialogue around a card
or a mechanic or the roll of the dice of RNG
is always met with vague answers like We are
monitoring the situation and his is my
house, Nich, you cant just show up like this,
then it feels like, as players, were just shouting
into the void. And even if they ultimately do
make card changes that players are happy
with, if it feels like youre part of a community

who isnt being listened to, then you walk the


knifes edge of losing the trust of your players.
Especially in a world becoming more and
more looded with collectible card games.
Im looking at you, Gwent! And you look
beautiful.
I adore Hearthstone. I just wish that, like
the aforementioned emo teenager, Hearthstone
spoke to us a little more.

[ 043 ]

DISCOVER
MOBILE GAMES

WINNER

WINNER

EDs CHOICE

APPROVED

AWARD

AWARD

[ MOBILE GAMES ]

Grabbing the reins


TECHLIFES TEAM REVIEWS THE LATEST GAMES FOR MOBILE
DEVICES, STARTING WITH A KINGDOM MANAGEMENT
SIMULATOR.

Reigns

TINDER FOR MEDIAEVAL MONARCHS.


$4.49 | nerial.co.uk/reigns

If youve ever used the dating app Tinder, youll


understand why people ind it so compelling.
Its like a game swipe right for yes, let for no.
Its simple, fun and memorable.
Reigns plays on that, literally. Rather than
deciding whether or not a human being is
worth your time, Reigns presents you with
various regal options, and its your job as the
ruler of the country to make the right choice.
Your advisors, lovers and pets approach you
one by one to present you with issues the
palace is on ire, your wife is having an afair,
the pope is visiting and just like Tinder, you
swipe let or right to make a decision. Each
decision afects one of four meters (church,
population, army and money) and keeping
them in balance is key to a long, peaceful reign.
Its not as simple as make decisions until
things are perfect, though. here are secrets,
quests, things that take centuries to play out,
and you might even ind yourself playing more
than once to ind them all.
he design is minimal, keeping the focus on
the interactions, although the swipe let/right is
just mindless enough that it starts to become
dull ater an hour or two. here is a pretty good
soundtrack to keep your interest, though, and
the text is generally very well written, with a
good dose of humour.
[ 044 ]

New cards are found by following certain


sequences of events, but its a game of waiting
for those events to be triggered, meaning that
youll be experiencing the same things over and
over before new things happen.
heres still a good deal of mileage to get out
of a game thatboils down to two options.
Certain unlockable efects will put a new spin
on the cards youre seeing again and again, and
late in the game, it becomes more about trying
new combinations of things than getting the
right answers anyway.
Perhaps its an accurate representation of a
real monarchy: a handful are presented with
interesting opportunities, while the rest are
rather forgettable.
In any case, its not the kind of game youll be
playing and replaying for ages; the outcomes are
pretty limited, but luckily, its worth it for the
fantastic story that trickles down through the
ages, the secrets to uncover, and the sense of fun
that the game conveys so well.
In all, Reigns is occasionally repetitive,
especially towards the end, butrewarding
enough to play through at least a few times.

Through the Fog

A GAME THAT BANKS ON ZEN CALM...


BUT ALSO DISRUPTIVE ADS.
Free with IAP | www.boombit.com

hrough the Fog is a quite beautiful take


on the ye olde Snake formula guide a
blocky line through increasingly
crowded gauntlets without hitting
anything except collectibles.
he environments are minimalist yet
efective. he pastel palette and
thatgamecompany-esque aesthetics
mixes with the comforting (if a little
characterless) music nicely, and its a very
more-ish game. Like most smartphone
games, its little more than a pleasant
distraction, but its an interesting case
study for design intent clashing directly
with monetisation.
For example, this ostensibly relaxing
game is intercut with video ads for
bro-ish military shooting games,
complete with grinding distorted guitar
soundtracks, people getting shot at and
explosions. Of course, its possible to
eradicate the ads for the very reasonable
price of $1.39, but given the attention
span of the average mobile gamer, who
knows whether anyone will even bother.
At that price, its deinitely worth picking
up, in any case.
[SHAUN PRESCOTT]

[KATE GRAY]

41/2

DISCOVER
MOBILE GAMES
WINNER

WINNER

APPROVED

EDs CHOICE

AWARD

AWARD

Deux Ex Go

Voi

NOT QUITE THE (HUMAN) REVOLUTION


YOU MIGHT HOPE
$2.99 | square.enix.com

BLACK PLUS BLACK EQUALS WHITE.


$0.99 | gamebra.in

You may recall an imaginative game called


Hocus. that we reviewed way back in our
Christmas issue last year (page 43). Voi
comes from the same developers and,
instead of warping our idea of perspective,
this time around, theyve decided to skew
our perception of layers.
For each puzzle, youre given a few black
polygons to move around in an attempt to
create the image theyve challenged you
with above. By placing one shape over
another, the overlapping areas convert to
white. When a third shape is placed over
the top of those two, it turns back to black!
So black plus black equals white, and white
plus black equals black again. Playing
around with the shapes in this way quickly
teaches you how this game works and the
levels slowly increase the diiculty from
knowing instantly how to solve a puzzle
just by looking at the shapes youve been
given, to trying over and over and over
again by moving things around.
Its design is simple and uncluttered, what
weve come to expect from gamebra.in.
he music sets the mood its a relaxing
puzzler, not one that will have you tearing
your hair out, but one that will gently tease
you. [CARMEL SEALEY]
4

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Deus Ex Gos main character, Adam Jensen, is


very good at punching things. He leaps into
the air like hes applying for his certiication in
badassery, bringing a ist down on the
unfortunate person/weapon/wooden crate in
his path. However, rather than the action
structure of the main Deus Ex games, this
takes the form of a turn-based puzzler, with
each level comprising a set of nodes to
navigate. Adam can move one node at a time,
as can his foes. If they spot you, they set out
towards you, their path marked with a red line
that youll need to veer away from before your
courses collide. Simply put: hopscotch your
way from A to B, dodging and/or sneakily
knocking out enemies as you go, hearing a
vaguely silly story about terrorist plots.
Crossing the path of a turret is a one-hit
death wish, while invisibility cloaks give you a
move or so of stealthy invincibility. he meat
of the brainwork comes inmanipulating the
hacking stations so that the environment does
your bidding. Oddly, its a diiculty curve that
lattens ofonce youve got your head around
how the puzzles work.
As a puzzle game, its enjoyable, solid and
stylish but a Deus Ex game, its more of a
hat-tip than a wholehearted efort.
[EMMA DAVIES]

31/2

Sorcery! 4

SIMPLY A-MAGE-ING
$7.99 | www.inklestudios.com/sorcery

Well admit freely that weve become rather


fond of the Sorcery! series over the years. his
fourth and inal instalment, he Crown Of
Kings, takes us into the oten discussed region
of High Xaman. While it is entirely possible
for a new player to pick up this title, we would
recommend that you play through the irst
three, due to the rich story and beneits of
character history.
Sorcery! 4 has great immersion, complex
paths to choose and an enormously
entertaining Metal Gear Solid-style sneak-athon through the Fortress Of Mampang. You
can sneak into barracks, either via spells,
clambering up sheer clif faces, or any number
of other avenues. Reach it and Sorcery! 4s endgame is all about cat-and-mouse navigation
through the sprawling Fortress, working out
who is friend and who is foe.
Some standout highlights include a tense
(and yet hilarious) torture scene and your
visits with the various denizens of the Fortress.
We could write a review ten times this size
about how brilliant this game is, its satisfying
conclusion, how much of a feast it is... Perhaps
the most honest appraisal we can ofer is this:
it made us want to play all over again from the
start of the irst game and that is the sign of a
classic series. [FRANCIS MURPHY]
41/2

[ 045 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

TEST BENCH
THE HOTTEST GEAR PRESSURE-TESTED

WINNER

THE 12.5-INCH DISPLAY


USES A GORGEOUS 4K
PANEL THATS CAPABLE
OF SHOWING OFF SUBTLE
VARIATIONS IN COLOUR.

APPROVED
AWARD

HP EliteBook Folio G1
APPLES TINY 12-INCH MACBOOK FINALLY HAS SOME WINDOWS COMPETITION.

BACK IN 2015, Apple introduced what was


arguably its most radical refresh of the
MacBook yet a featherweight 12-inch unit
that, despite its size, managed to pack in lots
of high-end features including a near full-size
keyboard, high-res Retina display and lots of
memory and storage space.Up until now, we
havent really seen many Windows alternatives
to that petite MacBook, so we were keen to see
the EliteBook Folio G1, HPs rather direct
answer to the gauntlet that Apple laid down.
As expected, the Folio shares a lot of
commonalities with that Cupertino machine,
and that goes for both the pros and cons
columns. his is a 12.5-inch unit that, even
just from a looks perspective, has a deinite
similarity the silver chassis and black
keycaps are obviously very MacBook-like, and
the Folio is also a bitlight on the ports there
are two USB Type-C sockets on the right edge
and a headphone jack on the other. One of
those USB ports doubles as the power socket.
If you plan on using this mostly plugged in,
youll deinitely want to invest in a USB hub.
Its compact footprint is notably smaller
than 13-inch laptops, the carry weight is
respectably low at1.07kg (sans charger) and
the build-quality is robust. his is a tough little
ultrabook with a mostly-aluminium body that
feels as hard as a rock. heres zero lex in the
keyboard andits quiet thanks to using passive

[ 046 ]

cooling, so theres no fans inside.


(You occasionally get a bit of silicon squeal
during intensive activities, but its subtle.)
hat 12.5-inch display uses a gorgeous 4K
(aka UHD) panel capable of showing of subtle
variations in colour and, at this physical size,
is exceptionally clean and sharp. he keyboard
and trackpad are likewise irst-rate and,
in general, theres a solidity and dependability
to the Folios physical design that few
Windows laptops match. his is a simple
but classy number thats easy to take a shine to.
HP sent us a nearly top-spec version for this
review, which sells for around $2,600 online.
You can ind less-pricey conigurations
starting at around $1,500, but they oten have
1080p displays and 5th-gen Intel Core M
CPUs, rather than the 4K display/6th-gen CPU
combo used here. At this price, you also get
a 256GB SSD for storage alongside a generous
8GB of memory.
However, despite those high-end specs,
there are some very obvious limits to the Folio.
hat ultra low-power Core m7-6Y75 CPU
is only a dual-core model, which means
theresnot a lot of processing grunt. While it
handles the basics just ine (web browsing,
word processing, streaming movies and so
on),multitasking can be a trial; tackle more
than one CPU-intensive task at a time and
things slow down to a crawl, causing the whole

system to lose responsiveness. Even tasks like


installing Windows updates or running some
of our tougher benchmarks take two or three
times longer than a Core i5 laptop.
Battery life could also be better, lasting
around 3.5 hours in most of our tests. We get
the feeling the high-res UHD display and
top-drawer Core m7 in our test model are too
taxing for the 4-cell battery inside youll
likely fare better with a 1080p display
and a lower-end Core m5.
Still, even though it doesnt quite have
the processing capacity to handle more
demanding work, the Folio is very easy to love
from a physical perspective and if you can
handle that business class price, this is one
[ DAN GARDINER ]
very classy little laptop

HP ELITEBOOK FOLIO G1
From $1,450; $2,600 as tested
www.hp.com/au
CRITICAL SPECS
Windows 10 Home; 12.5-inch IPS display @ 4K; Intel Core
m7-6Y75 CPU; 8GB RAM; 256GB SSD; 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C
ports, 1.07kg.

GENERAL
PERFORMANCE

1080P MEDIA ENCODING

DISK SPEED

DISK SPEED

GAMING PERFORMANCE

BATTERY LIFE

BATTERY LIFE

PCMARK 8 - HOME
(TOTAL SCORE)

HWBOT X265
(AVERAGE FPS)

CRYSTALDISKMARK 3
SEQUENTIAL READ (MB/S)

CRYSTALDISKMARK 3
SEQUENTIAL WRITE (MB/S)

3DMARK SKY DIVER


(TOTAL SCORE)

PCMARK 8 - HOME
(HR:MIN)

1080P VIDEO PLAYBACK


(HR:MIN)

2,560

5.42

406.9

382.1

1,909

3:21hr

3:44hr

1080P MEDIA ENCODING

DISK SPEED

DISK SPEED

GAMING PERFORMANCE

GAMING PERFORMANCE

CINEBENCH R15
(TOTAL SCORE)

X246 HD 5.0
(FPS)

CRYSTALDISKMARK 4K
AVERAGE READ (MB/S)

CRYSTALDISKMARK 4K
AVERAGE WRITE (MB/S)

FAR CRY PRIMAL


(FPS)

THE DIVISION
(FPS)

669

16.5

47

153

63

67
TEST BENCH
RADAR

GENERAL
PERFORMANCE

WITH MOST LAPTOPS,


YOU HAVE ZERO CHANCE
OF UPGRADING THE GPU
DOWN THE ROAD;
WITH THIS THING,
YOU AT LEAST HAVE
HALF A CHANCE.

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

MSI GT73VR Titan Pro


NVIDIAS AWESOME GTX 1080 GETS ANOTHER RUN IN A PORTABLE PACKAGE.

THERES MOBILE GRAPHICS, and then


theres proper gaming graphics. For a taste
of the latter in a portable package, look no
further than MSIs new GT73VR Titan Pro.
Its a beefy 17-inch portable with Nvidias
stupid-quick GeForce GTX 1080 graphics.
hat GPU is just the beginning of what is
an epic feature set. heres a quad-core Intel
Core-i7 6820HK CPU, which clocks in at
2.7GHz nominal and 3.6GHz Turbo. Next up,
MSI has stufed in a pair of 256GB Samsung
PCIe SSDs running in RAID 0, plus a 1TB
7,200rpm magnetic drive, and a preposterous
32GB of RAM.
hen theres support for 120Hz refresh on
the 1080p panel (a 4K panel is available
optionally), a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries,
and a veritable plethora of ports. he Titan Pro
also uses the MXM format for that GTX 1080
GPU, which MSI says allows for a change or
repair to your GPU when needed. MSI also
says this feature is not intended for end-users
to change the GPU themselves. With most
laptops, you have zero chance of upgrading the
GPU down the road; with this thing, you at
least have half a chance.
he Titan Pro has some serious cooling,
speakers from Dynaudio and other detail
enhancements, including low-lag Ethernet for
super-fast ping. On paper, then, its absolutely
killer. In the lesh, it looks pretty lethal, too.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Style-wise, its a typical gaming laptop,


which makes it either suitably aggressive
or a little adolescent, depending on your
preference. At about 3.9kg, its just about
transportable.
he SteelSeries keyboard certainly adds a
little colour and a stable input platform, though
its worth noting that the sot tactility of the
keystroke is nothing like a mechanical desktop
keyboard. he 17.3-inch 1080p display,
meanwhile, is something of a mixed bag.
he rendering is gorgeously smooth, thanks
to that 120Hz ability, the colours and contrast
are also reasonable, but the viewing angles are
merely mediocre.
Performance-wise, this thing lies. he
quad-core Intel CPU is a known quantity, of
course, but those Samsung SSDs in RAID 0
absolutely scream, pumping out GB/s of raw
bandwidth, even if the 4K random access is less
spectacular. But what you really want to know
is whether that GTX 1080 GPU delivers.
In a word, yup. he specs, including core
and memory clocks, are almost identical to a
full desktop GTX 1080. You probably wouldnt
be able to tell the diference in gameplay.
Factor in the modest 1080p display
resolution, and the Titan Pro makes absolute
mincemeat of our gaming benchmarks. It tears
through Rise of the Tomb Raider at high detail
at 98fps, and knocks out over 60fps in Tom

Clancys he Division. Even Far Cry Primal,


set to full reheat, hits a heady frame rate of 67.
Heck, you even get around three hours of
real-world web browsing battery life, which
isnt bad for this kind of beast.
Set against all that are three provisos.
First is the aforementioned girth this is a
massive machine. Second is the build quality.
Like pretty much all laptops in this class,
the plastic chassis is underwhelming.
Finally, theres the price. Suice to say, it aint
cheap. But if its maximum gaming
performance in a somewhat portable package
you want, it might just be worth it.
[ JEREMY LAIRD ]

MSI GT73VR TITAN PRO


$4,999
au.msi.com
CRITICAL SPECS
Intel Core-i7 6820HK processor; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
8GB;32GB RAM; 1,920 x 1,080; 17.3-inch TN; 2x 256GB
PCIe SSD, 1TB 7,200rpm HDD; 5x USB 3, ac Wi-Fi, Gb LAN,
Thunderbolt, HDMI DisplayPort; 428mm x 287mm x
2449mm; 4.14kg (incl battery)

[ 047 ]

TEST BENCH
RADAR

WiWander
WI-FI WHILE YOU WANDER THE WORLD.

Alcatel Pop 4
A BUDGET SMARTPHONE for RELIABLE EVERYDAY USE.

FLICK YOUR EYES, if you havent already, to the info box at the bottom
right of the page. No, thats not a typo: this Android 6.0 smartphone
costs $119. No other phone comes close to this pricepoint, and while
that low price immediately indicates this is a budget phone, the Pop 4
is cheap but far from nasty.
Its raw speciications point to a tight brief, and if we were being cruel
itd be make it like its 2014. he CPU, GPU, amount of internal
memory are all very similar to the Motorola Moto G that was released
that year, but with a bigger, removable battery and a slot for a microSD
card. Youll need an SD card, too, as the paltry 8GB internal storage is
taken up with nearly 4GB of system resources: we needed to constantly
shule uninstall apps to prepare our usual rat of benchmarking tools.
Tools installed and the phone strained to get through a numerous
tests, returning a lowly 381/965 in the Geekbench 3 single/multi score.
To give you a rough comparison, the top of the line Samsung Galaxy S7
hits 2,161/6,340, and 2014s Moto G returned 340/1,145. In real-world
usage, for light web-browsing, maps, text messaging etc, you wont
notice or really care. Plus, since youre using this as an entertainment
hub youll just be able to eke out most of a day from the battery. Youll
also be absolutely ine with its workmanlike exterior and chunky edges.
It feels great in the hand, with its low-proile power and volume buttons
within easy reach of your right thumb, making it an afordable and
worthy entry-level device. [ PAUL TAYLOR ]

3
ALCATEL POP 4
$119
www.alcatelonetouch.eu
CRITICAL SPECS
Android 6.0.1; 5-inch LCD display; ARM Qualcomm @1.09 GHz
quadcore CPU; Adreno 304 @ 409 MHz GPU; 901MB RAM;
8GB storage; microSD slot (up to 256GB); 2,500mAh removable
battery; 155 x 77 x 8mm; 156g

[ 048 ]

GLOBAL-ROAMING EXPENSES CAN make internet accessibility


prohibitively costly when travelling. Generally, the most cost-efective
solution is to buy a SIM card in another country (see page 24), but if you
dont have a phone with dual-SIM slots or the time, then the whole
thing can become a bit of a hassle.
Earlier in the year, we tested the WiWander a mobile router that
promises to make getting online overseas easier. Its something you
book in Australia before you go, which then gives you uninterrupted
Wi-Fi the second you get of the plane. We tested the WiWander over
the duration of our week-long trip to the Computex trade show in
Taipei, Taiwan.
However, it wasnt as seamless as wed hoped: it took us about 30
minutes of iddling and tweaking to set the device up at the other end,
but between customs lines and baggage claim, there were adequate
opportunities to get the Wi-Fi up and running. he speed could have
been better and its worth noting that, depending on the region, the
daily data quota could perhaps be a little higher. While youre
technically allowed unlimited downloads, your speed will go down to
256KB/s ater a certain limit in Europe and the US, for example,
thats 500MB. What we couldnt fault was the reliability of the
connection it was so good that we ended up using the WiWander
over our hotels included (but inconsistent) broadband. Depending on
where youre travelling, the price ranges from $5 to $25 per day. Most
Asian destinations are under $10, which is pretty fair, but the US and
Europe are pricier at $15 and $20 per day.
Depending on the length of your trip, hiring a WiWander could
ultimately end up being a bit pricier, but if youre only going on short
jaunts or to cheaper locales, its worth considering. [ JOELBURGESS ]

31/2

WIWANDER
From $5 per day (including mobile router hire)
www.wiwander.com
CRITICAL SPECS
Up to 48 hours battery (around 6 hours during heavy usage);
connect 5 devices simultaneously; travel adapter included;
14.5 x 8.3 x 1.6cm

TEST BENCH
RADAR
WINNER

EDs CHOICE
AWARD

Moleskine Smart Writing Set


A TRENDY NOTEBOOK FOR EFFORTLESS DIGITISING OF HAND-

Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case


for iPad Pro (12.9-inch)

WRITTEN NOTES.

ITS FOR A PRO, BUT NOT A MACBOOK.

THE MOLESKINE SMART Writing Set uses a Neo Smartpen which


houses a tiny infrared camera that tracks movement on the page and
transfers that data to the M+ Notes app on your phone or tablet.
heres also a mic embedded in the shat so you can record audio,
which then syncs with your notes for playback later. heres enough
onboard memory to store 1,000 pages before needing a data dump,
but we loved watching notes sync in real-time its seamless.
here are other oferings out there that do essentially the same thing,
but oten the pen is clunky compared to the triangularly lithe Neo.
he app also lets you control line-weights and colours.
Once youre done taking notes, you can edit them via the app then
share them via email (as an image, PDF, text or SVG) or just spread
them around your favourite cloud services; Evernote, Dropbox, Slack,
Telegram... the list goes on.
Replacement notebooks are readily available online for a little over
$40 which gets you 176 hardbound leaves. It is worth noting that the
notebooks size is 130mm x 210mm, or slightly narrower than A5.
While the Smart Writing Set is considerably more expensive than the
Wacom Bamboo Spark, the improved functionality, editablity and
document mangement easily sets it above the Wacom. It also feels easier
and more natural to use, and its small form factor makes it easy to stash
or lug around.
For artists, we found line reproduction much cleaner and more
reliable than the Wacom especially when it came to iner feathering,
shadowing and detail. [ TROY COLEMAN ]

RAZER IS WELL known for its specialist gaming keyboards and mice,
and now it has brought that expertise to the iPad Pro with this
mechanical keyboard.
Like its gaming-oriented counterparts, the Mechanical Keyboard
Case for iPad Pro is built like atank its very solid, and theupper
panel acts as a protective case for the iPad Pro (12.9-inch); its detachable
for use as a case on its own, if you wish to go without the keyboard
itself for a time.
he keyboard panel is abit chunky, but the mechanical keys feel
irm and responsive, and we prefer them to most of the thin, lat
keyboard covers weve seen. Our only criticism is that the keys can be
a bit noisy when youre typing, but thats to be expected from a
mechanical board.
heres a set of function keys for iPad features such as volume,
screen brightness, Spotlight and audio controls. Sadly, though, Razer
opted for Bluetooth connectivity rather than using Apples Smart
Connector. his is powered bya rechargeable battery that lasts between
10 and 600 hours, depending on your use of the keyboard backlight.
he battery also adds to the weight of the keyboard, which comes to
a full 1kg or 1.7kg with the iPad Pro itself, which is around 400g
more than a 13-inch MacBook Air!
And at $260, the Mechanical Keyboard Case is the most expensive
iPad keyboard weve ever seen, period. Hard to recommend outright,
unless youre a particularly hardcore mechanical keyboard fan.
[ CLIFF JOSEPH ]

41/2

MOLESKINE SMART WRITING SET


$339
notemaker.com.au

RAZER MECHANICAL KEYBOARD CASE


FOR IPAD PRO (12.9-INCH)
$260
www.razerzone.com

CRITICAL SPECS
176 page 13 x 21cm 100g/m2, 68lb acid-free paper, Pen+ - 16cm
capped, 15.5cm uncapped, 1 pen tip ink reill, rechargeable Pen+ USB
recharging cable

CRITICAL SPECS
Bluetooth connectivity; Razer Low-Proile Mechanical Switches; adjustable
key backlighting; metal kickstand; 10 hours battery life (backlit) or 600 hours
(backlight of); 1kg

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 049 ]

PRINTERS UNDER $100

TESTBENCH FEATURE
PUNCHY PRINTERS FOR PENNY PINCHERS

[ BEST BARGAIN TECH ]

Punchy printers
for penny pinchers
YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED BY HOW FEATUREPACKED EVEN THE MOST BUDGET-ORIENTED
PRINTERS CAN BE. WE TEST 10 MODELS
UNDER $200.

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

[ LINDSAY HANDMER ]

DESPITE THE ONGOING shit to a


paperless, digital world, printers are still
super handy.
For others, from uni students to small
businesses, printing loads of pages cheaply
is key. While printers are plentiful and
cheap, picking the right model can be
tricky. It all comes down to what features
you need, as well as whether you plan to be
printing plain monochrome text or
delving into colour. Even afordable
models (mostly) come with Wi-Fi, which
makes connecting them to multiple
computers quite easy. Some also support
various cloud printing options, for use
straight from a smartphone or tablet.
Many are multifunction models, which
can scan, copy and send faxes.
For occasional printing, an inkJet is
usually the cheapest. For larger volumes, a
monochrome Laser printer can be cheaper
per page. Inkjets are more oten bundled
with scanner functionality, while colour
Laser printers tend to cost a whole lot
more.
For photo printing (on a budget), inkjet
is best, but look for photo paper handling,
and higher DPI resolutions. Other useful
metrics are how many pages of paper can
the printer hold and how fast it prints

10

usually in pages per minute. Keep in mind


that most printers are sold with smaller ink
or toner cartridges and will print fewer
pages than a new set will ofer. We have also
compared the cost of some of the most
common (oicial) consumable reills, to
give an idea of the cost to print per page.
Many printers have third-party ink or toner
available for a reduced price, that still works
just ine.
To help make the process a little simpler,
weve rounded up ive very afordable
printers under $100, and another ive that
ofer extra functionality (but are still
relatively afordable) at prices ranging from
$100 to $200.

SOME ALSO SUPPORT VARIOUS


CLOUD PRINTING OPTIONS,
FOR USE STRAIGHT FROM A
SMARTPHONE OR TABLET.
MANY ARE MULTIFUNCTION
MODELS, WHICH CAN SCAN,
COPY AND SEND FAXES.

Canon PIXMA MG2960


WHAT DOES $50 BUY?

PROMISING HIGH PERFORMANCE at an


afordable price, the Canon PIXMA MG2960
inkjet has an impressive feature set, all things
considered. Aside from printing, it can scan
and copy in colour, as well as send B&W faxes.
he Canon has USB, but just to make life
easier, also has Wi-Fi that supports the
PIXMA printing app, Apple AirPrint and
Google Cloud Print.
he printer functionality of the unit boats
a 4,800 x 1,200dpi resolution, and can handle
up to 100 sheets and prints at 8.8ipm B&W,
and 4.4ipm in colour. Impressively considering
the price, the scanner has auto feed
functionality and can makes copies of up to
99 pages in one batch. It has a lower 1,200 x
600dpi resolution, and takes about 15 seconds
to scan a page in colour.
Even considering the higher printing
resolution, the quality is about on par with
other afordable printers in other words,
perfect for documents, and only okay for
photos. he same goes for the scanner, though
the auto feed functionality is very handy.

BUDGET PRINTERS REVIEWED

HOW WE TESTED
Each printer was connected via Wi-Fi (or USB) to a Windows 10 computer. We ran test prints on standard
80gsm A4 paper at the highest available resolution and quality, using text, as well as monochrome and
colour test patterns (where applicable). Scanners where tested with a printed test pattern. Per-page print
costs are based on the price for an entire set of new ink or toner (colour and black, largest capacity),
divided by the total number of pages.

[ 050 ]

CANON PIXMA MG2960


$49
www.canon.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi; Print: 4,800 x 1,200dpi;
Scan: 1,200 x 600dpi

WINNER

TESTBENCH FEATURE
PUNCHY PRINTERS FOR PENNY PINCHERS

APPROVED
AWARD

HP DeskJet 3632

Brother HL-1110

HOW CHEAP IS TOO CHEAP?

LASER PRINTING ON A BUDGET.

AVAILABLE FOR AS little as $35 from

AT JUST $58, Laser printers dont come much

Oiceworks or he Good Guys, the HP


DeskJet 3632 is in an afordability class all of
its own. he compact little printer is actually
a multifunction model, with inbuilt scanner
and copier ability. Even better for those who
hate cables, the 3632 is wireless, though also
connects via USB.
he underlying specs are decent 4,800 x
1,200dpi printing and 1,200 x 1,200 scanning.
he speed is about normal, at 8.5ipm B&W
and 6imp colour. It takes 60 sheets of paper,
and supports both AirPrint and Wi-Fi Direct.
It uses the HP63 series of ink, which costs $49
for XL B&W (480 pages, 10 cents a page) and
$54 for colour (330 pages, 16 cents a page).
In our tests, the HP was simple enough to
get up and running and churned out perfectly
acceptable pages. he scanning isnt ideal for
high-res photos, but is perfect for documents.
While the HP 3632 is basic, its cheap
enough to be the perfect occasional use
printer.

cheaper than the Brother HL-1110. But what


sacriices need to be made compared to an
inkjet? For a start, the HL-1110 is a black and
white printer only, without any multifunction
scanning. Its also USB only, with no Wi-Fi.
he resolution, while perfectly ine for text
documents, is a low 600 x 600dpi.
he good news is that what the Brother is
focused on is churning out hundreds of
no-fuss pages. he toner cartage it ships with
can handle 700 pages and a new one costs $55
for 1,000 pages, or 5.5 cents a page. he
HL-1110 holds 150 sheets and will spit out 20
pages per minute of standard printed text.
he HL-1110 is A4 focused (60105gsm), but
also does letter, legal and folio. he printer
measures in at a fairly compact 340 x 238 x
189mm and weighs 4.5 kg.
In testing, print quality was more than good
enough for normal documents, especially
when needed in large numbers.

Epson Expression Home


XP-420
AFFORDABLE WITHOUT SACRIFICES.

31/2

A MULTIFUNCTION MODEL, the Epson


XP-420 can print, scan and copy. It connects
via USB or Wi-Fi, and supports Wi-Fi Direct,
AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and Epson
Connect. he printer can directly read SD and
Memory Stick Duo cards, and has an inbuilt
6.5cm LCD to help make control a little easier.
he XP-420 has a 5,760 x 1,440dpi printing
resolution, with 180 black nozzles and another
59 for cyan, yellow and magenta. In drat
mode, it can hit print speeds of 33ppm, but for
higher quality or colour, its less than half that.
he printer supports all the normal paper
sizes, and holds up to 100 sheets of 75g/m2
A4 paper.
he latbed scanner can handle up to A4
size pages, at 8.8msec/line for black and white,
and 28.5msec/line for colour. It has a 2,400 x
1,200dpi resolution, and records 48-bit colour,
and 16-bit B&W.
In testing, the Epson did a bang-up job, with
decent quality scans and clear prints in both
colour and B&W.

31/2

HP DESKJET 3632
$35
www.hp.com/au

BROTHER HL-1110
$58
www.brother.com.au

EPSON EXPRESSION HOME XP-420


$90
www.epson.com.au

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi; Print: 4,800 x 1,200dpi;
Scan: 1,200 x 1,200dpi

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB; Print: 600 x 600dpi,
20ppm print speed

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi; Print: 5,760 x 1,440dpi;
Scan: 2,400 x 1,200dpi

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 051 ]

PRINTERS UNDER $200

TESTBENCH FEATURE
PUNCHY PRINTERS FOR PENNY PINCHERS

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

Fuji Xerox DocuPrint


P265 dw

Brother MFC-J680DW

Epson WorkForce WF-3620

IS IT WORTH PAYING A LITTLE MORE?

A FOUR COLOUR MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER

AT $158, THE Brother MFC-J680DW is a step


up from basic multifunction inkjet printers,
but ofers a range of extra features. he boxy
printer (172 x 400 x 341mm) has a scanner
and can, of course, also make direct copies,
as well as send colour faxes. It connects via
USB, but also has inbuilt Wi-Fi for easier
connections. To help make control easier, it
has a pretty serviceable 6.8cm touchscreen
colour LCD on the front.
he printer handles resolutions up to 6,000
x 1,200dpi and speeds of 12ipm and 10ipm, for
B&W and colour, respectively. A standout
feature compared to cheaper models is the
ability to print on both sides of a page, albeit at
a slower 3ipm. he MCF-J680DW holds up to
100 sheets of A4 paper, from 64gsm to 220gsm.
he latbed scanner manages 2,400 x 1,200dpi,
at around 4 seconds per page.
he Brother MCF-J680DW is easy to set up
and use, and supports web printing and Wi-Fi
direct. Print quality is excellent, and more
than good enough for use with photo paper.

A TOTAL WORKHORSE, the Epson WF-3620


prints, copies, scans and faxes, in both colour
and black and white. It has inbuilt Wi-Fi, but
also has a rarer Ethernet connection, which
can provide a more reliable connection
especially in a small oice environment.
he inkjet printer has a maximum 4,800 x
2,400dpi, and is rated at 19ipm for plain black
text, and 10ipm for colour. Unlike more
afordable models, it can print on both sides
of a page, and has an upgraded paper capacity
250 sheets using 80gsm.
he scanner handles up to A4 and capturing
48-bit colour at 2,400 x 1,200dpi. It has an auto
document feeder too, and can scan both sides
of the page. he unit will directly copy and
print pages, as well as send black and white or
colour faxes.
We had a few niggles, but generally the
Epson was quick and easy to get connected,
and wireless printing was no problem, Quality
is excellent, and a noticeable step up from
lower resolution models.

LASER PRINTING ON THE CHEAP.

A STEP UP from the most basic laser printers,

the Fuji Xerox DocuPrint P265 dw is aimed at


home or small oice use. For a start, it has
Wi-Fi connectivity built in and, of course, a
USB connection. It supports Apple AirPrint,
Google Cloud Print, Print Utility and Mopria.
For a more reliable or oice connection,
the printer also has an Ethernet port. he P265
is monochrome only, with a 2,400 x 600dpi
resolution. Its optimised for higher printing
loads, with a 30ppm print speed and a
250-sheet input tray. It can handle the usual
array of paper sizes (up to A4) and the output
tray holds 100 sheets. For those who need to
print a lot of pages, the highest-end
replacement toner cartridge costs $106 for
2,600 (4 cents a page), though the smaller one
ofers 1,200 pages for $60.
Setting up the P265 is quick and easy, for
both wired and wireless. Printing quality is
quite good for the price, even in toner saver
drat mode.

31/2

[ 052 ]

FUJI XEROX DOCUPRINT


P265 DW
$98
www.fujixeroxprinters.com.au

BROTHER MFC-J680DW
$158
www.brother.com.au

EPSON WORKFORCE WF-3620


$189
www.epson.com.au

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet; Print: 2,400x 600dpi;
Speed: 30ppm

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi; Print: 6,000 x 1,200dpi;
Scan: 2,400 x 1,200dpi

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet; Print: 4,800 x 2,400dpi;
Scan: 2,400 x 1,200dpi

BROTHER HL-1110

CANON PIXMA MG2960

EPSON EXPRESSION
HOME XP-420

FUJI XEROX
DOCUPRINT P265 DW

HP DESKJET 3632

PRICE

$58

$49

$90

$98

$35

TYPE

Monochrome Laser

Colour Inkjet

Colour Inkjet

Monochrome Laser

Colour Inkjet

PRINT DPI

600 x 600

4,800 x 1,200

5,760 x 1,440

2,400 x 600

4,800 x 1,200

SCAN DPI

N/A

1,200 x 600

2,400 x 1,200

N/A

1,200 x 1,200

MAX PRINT SPEED

20ppm

8.8ipm

15ppm

30ppm

8.5ipm

WI-FI

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ETHERNET

No

No

No

Yes

No

PAPER CAPACITY

150 sheets

100 Sheets

100 Sheets

250 sheets

60 Sheets

B&W REFILL COST

$55

$35

$31

$102

$49

B&W PRICE PER


PAGE

5.5 cents

10 cents

No page count supplied

4 cents

10 cents

COLOUR REFILL
COST

N/A

$42

$107

N/A

$54

COLOUR COST PER


PAGE

N/A

11 cents

No page count supplied

N/A

16 cents

PHYSICAL
DIMENSIONS

340 x 238 x 189mm

426 x 306 x 145mm

390 x 300 x 145mm

451 x 542 x 391mm

438 x 310 x 158mm

BROTHER HL-L2365DW

BROTHER MFC-J680DW

CANON PIXMA MG7560

EPSON WORKFORCE
WF-3620

HP LASERJET PRO
CP1025NW

PRICE

$149

$158

$135

$149

$159

TYPE

Monochrome Laser

Colour Inkjet

Colour Inkjet

Colour Inkjet

Colour Laser

PRINT DPI

2,400 x 600

6,000 x 1,200

9,600 x 2,400

4,800 x 2,400

600 x 600

SCAN DPI

N/A

2,400 x 1,200

4,800 x 2,400

2,400 x 1,200

N/A

MAX PRINT SPEED

30ppm

12ipm

15ipm

19ipm

17ppm

WI-FI

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

ETHERNET

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

PAPER CAPACITY

250 Sheets

100 Sheets

125 Sheets

250 Sheets

150 Sheets

B&W REFILL COST

$138

$40

$30

$25

$25

B&W PRICE PER


PAGE

5 cents

7 cents

6 cents

No page count supplied

2 cents

COLOUR REFILL
COST

N/A

$65

$75

$92

$75

COLOUR COST PER


PAGE

N/A

12 cents

No page count supplied

No page count supplied

2 cents

PHYSICAL
DIMENSIONS

441 x 504 x 286mm

400 x 341 x 151mm

435 x 370 x 148mm

449 x 417 x 243mm

400 x 402 x 252mm

TESTBENCH FEATURE
PUNCHY PRINTERS FOR PENNY PINCHERS

PRINTERS
UNDER $100

PRINTERS
UNDER $200

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 053 ]

TESTBENCH FEATURE
PUNCHY PRINTERS FOR PENNY PINCHERS

Brother HL-L2365DW

Canon PIXMA MG7560

HP LaserJet Pro CP1025nw

A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL LASER PRINTER.

AN ALL IN ONE INKJET WITH A DIFFERENCE.

A STEP UP FROM A BASIC LASER PRINTER.

FOR THOSE WHO need to crank out a lot of


pages quickly, the Brother HL-L2365DW
steps up with a A4 30ppm print speed. Its a
monochrome printer, with a standard 600 x
600dpi, but it can bump that up to 2,400 x
600dpi if you need a higher-quality document.
Its aimed at users wanting to print 2502,000
pages a month, and can accept 250 pages in the
input tray and 100 in the output. Importantly
for many people, the printer can automatically
print on both sides of the page, at 15 pages per
minute.
he Brother printer connects via USB, but
also has Ethernet and Wi-Fi. It supports
AirPrint, Cortado Cloud Print, Google Cloud
Print and Brothers own iPrint&Scan. Up top
it has a 16-character backlit LCD, which
makes it a whole lot easier to decipher any
errors compared to a printer without a display.
Quality is quite good for normal documents,
and with a large capacity toner cartridge, pages
are around 5 cents each.

PERHAPS THE MOST standout feature of the


Canon PIXMA MG7560 is that its available in
a bright, burnt orange colour, as well as white
and black. Its striking, but we prefer the glossy
black, though the important features are all
hidden under the hood.
For a start, it connects via USB, Ethernet
and Wi-Fi (with cloud printing, plus an SD
card reader) and the process of getting on the
network and printing was quick and easy.
With the Canon PIXMA mobile app, and the
built-in NFC, its even easier to print from or
scan to a smartphone or tablet. he Canon
printer has a high 9,600 x 2,400dpi and, in our
testing, was more than good enough for
printing photos, as well as documents. It takes
125 sheets of paper, has up to a 15ipm print
speed and takes XL ink cartridges.
he MG7560 also has a 4,800 x 2,400
scanner latbed scanner, which does an
excellent job of reproducing documents,
and saving them or beaming them across to
a PC.

THE STILL AFFORDABLE HP goes beyond


monochrome, with colour laser capabilities.
he printer can connect by USB, but also has
Ethernet and Wi-Fi, and supports HPs ePrint,
wireless direct as well as Apple AirPrint, but
not other cloud printing. Setting up the printer
turned out to be a little iddlier than expected,
but aterwards, it all worked just ine.
Getting a colour Laser printer this cheap
is not without some sacriices, and the
CP1025nm has a pretty low 600 x 600dpi
resolution. hat said, it does a perfectly good
job for normal documents that need both
colour, but isnt suitable for printing photos.
Printing in colour, the LaserJet manages
4ppm, or up to 17ppm in monochrome. he
paper tray holds 150 pages, while the output
manages 50. Its rated for 15,000 pages a
month, but HP recommends no more than
850 a month.
Replacement toner cartridges cost around
$25 each (it takes 4), with each colour one good
for 1,000 pages, and monochrome up to 1,200
pages, or around 2 cents a page.

31/2

[ 054 ]

31/2

31/2

BROTHER HL-L2365DW
$149
www.brother.com.au

CANON PIXMA MG7560


$147
www.canon.com.au

HP LASERJET PRO CP1025NW


$159
www.hp.com/au

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet; Print: 2,400 x 600dpi;
Print Speed: 30ppm

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, WI-FI; Print: 9,600 x 2,400dpi;
Scan: 4,800 x 2,400dpi

CRITICAL SPECS
Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi; Print: 600 x 600dpi;
Speed: 4ppm (colour)

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN

TECH FOR FUN!


GEEK-OUT THIS FESTIVE SEASON WITH THE
GREATEST HOLIDAY GEAR & GADGETS!
56

62

66

70

TECH FOR FUN!

FLYING HIGH!

TAKE THE MUSIC WITH YOU

POCKET PROJECTORS

Get your holidays into top gear


with this awesome assortment of
fun tech toys, tools and gadgets!

Whether you call them


quadcopters, drones or whirlyspinny-birdies, these flying toys
are hot property and great for
holiday fun.

Looking for a portable speaker


you can take on holidays?
Weve tested 10 of the latest
starting at just $60.

We shine a light on mini,


battery-powered projectors
that you can take just about
everywhere.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 055 ]

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN!

THE CURRENT G190 IS BUILT


TO FIT THE XBOX ONE (BUT
NOT THE S), THE PLAYSTATION
4 (BUT NOT THE SLIM), THE
XBOX 360 E/S/ELITE, AS WELL
AS THE PLAYSTATION 3 SLIM
WITH FOAM EVA BASE
AND SIDE CUSHIONS TO
PROTECT THE CONSOLE
DURING TRAVEL.

[ SUPERGUIDE ]

Tech for fun!


GET YOUR HOLIDAYS INTO TOP GEAR WITH THIS AWESOME
ASSORTMENT OF FUN TECH TOYS, TOOLS AND GADGETS!
[NATHAN TAYLOR]

SO THE HOLIDAYS are coming up and youre looking for presents to give or perhaps
a little something for yourself. Not every piece of tech has to be dour and functional,
and this month, weve decided to look at some of the coolest gear around right now that
also happen to be good fun. Whether youre into gaming, creation, outdoor activities
or AI pets, weve got you covered.
[ GAMING AND CREATIVITY ]

3DOODLER 2.0
[ GAMING AND CREATIVITY ]

GAEMS G190 Vanguard Personal


Gaming Environment
$600 | gaemspge.com

SO THE THOUGHT of being away from your PlayStation 4 for the entire trip is
unbearable. his is where you might like to invest in the GAEMS vanguard, a carry case
for your Xbox or Playstation that has everything you need to play except power. Just lip
it open, plug it in and play.
he 19-inch screen built into the top of the case is limited to 720p, and will downscale
1080p signals. he internal chambered speakers are also limited, but thats to be expected
and you might get better results from the two 3.5mm headphone jacks. he entire
apparatus screen, speakers and console is protected by a hard case to prevent
easy damage.
he current G190 is built to it the Xbox One (but not the S), the Playstation 4 (but not
the Slim), the Xbox 360 E/S/Elite, as well as the Playstation 3 Slim with foam EVA base
and side cushions to protect the console during travel. Its compact enough to take as
carry on luggage.

[ 056 ]

$150 | the3doodler.com

Billed as the worlds irst and best 3D pen the


3Doodler doesnt write in ink it writes in ABS or PLA
plastics, the kind that are used by 3D printers. You can
create solid 3D words or objects, if you have the time
and patience.
To use the 3Doodler, you load 3mm plastic ilaments
into the back of the pen. Give it a few minutes and it will
heat the plastics, and by pressing the button on the
front of the pen, you can start writing (a foot pedal is
also available for people who ind the holding down the
button to be a problem). You can swap in diferent
colour ilaments at any time.
Be warned: there is some razor/razorblades gouging
with the accessories of the 3Doodler. It comes with 50
plastic threads, but purchasing more can add up and
you should shop around. You can also get a special
nozzle set (for diferent writing styles) and a holder for
the pen and thread.

[ GAMING AND CREATIVITY ]

Piper Computer Kit


A DIY COMPUTER kit speciically for playing Minecrat, Piper was
built to teach kids about computers and electronics while giving
them a cool reward at the end.
Built around a Raspberry Pi, the Piper has to be assembled by
hand before use. When its complete, youll have a beautiful,
wooden self-contained Minecrat box, capable of playing the game
for hours without needing an external power source.
In addition to the Pi, it has a built in 7-inch LCD display (capable
of 800 x 480 resolution), a 6,000mAh battery, an SD card with a
custom build of Minecrat (PiperCrat), a mouse controller and
various buzzers, buttons and LED lights that can be customised to
respond to in-game events. PiperCrat actually uses those elements
in-game, requiring the kids rewire the kit and press buttons to light
certain LEDs to progress. Ater that, they can continue playing
regular Minecrat and if you want more than Minecrat, Piper
also ships with NOOBS, the operating system installer for the
Raspberry Pi that will let it function as a web browser (Wi-Fi is
built in), media player or productivity tool.

[ ROBOT! ]

[ ROBOT! ]

Ozobot Bit 2.0

Meccano Mechanoid G15 Personal Robot

ozobot.com | $99

$205 | meccano.com

WORKING ON A diferent scale but with a similar control model as the


Lego Mindstorms EV3, the Ozobot bit is a robot only a little larger than
your thumb. It has no articulating limbs it simply rolls around in
response to your commands or to pre-programmed behaviours. It can
detect light colours or surface colours, and can respond accordingly.
For example, it can be conigured to follow lines of a certain colour.
his has led to the creation of several tablet games that use it, with the
Ozobot following changing coloured lines on a tablet surface (obviously
the tablet has to be laid lat).
he behaviour of the robot can be programmed using a tool called
OzoBlocky. Although much more visual, it functions not unlike Turtle
graphics in Logo (if youre old enough to remember such a thing),
where you give it a sequence of instructions and potential if-then-else
responses to visual input or inhibited movement. Its perfect for
teaching kids to program, starting with something simple that they
can see.

NOT TO BE outdone by arch-rival LEGO, Meccano has released its own


robot buddy, one thats newer and considerably more advanced than the
EV8, and a good spot cheaper. he one catch is that its not highly
customisable: the 2-foot-tall wheel-motivated humanoid is pretty much
it. here is some customisability, and you have to build it yourself from
600-odd pieces, but it doesnt work in as many forms as the LEGO.
What it does have, however, is more personality than the EV3. It has
voice recognition and can respond to voice commands (and even has a
few comebacks and comments). You can teach it movements simply by
moving its limbs manually and having it record those movements, or
you can use a mobile app with motion capture to actually perform the
movements you want it to mimic. he remote-control app also allows
you to control its limb movements.
Meccano also has a bigger model, the G15KS, which stands at 4t tall
but is otherwise similar in features. We should note that if youre
shopping around for either model, make sure that you actually do shop
around weve noticed some fairly huge variances in prices.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN!

US$299 | playpiper.com

[ 057 ]

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN!

YOU CAN BUILD A CAR


AROUND IT, OR A WALKING
HUMANOID ROBOT (AROUND
40CM TALL), OR A SNAKE,
SCORPION OR ONE OF SEVERAL
OTHER FORMS. THE ROBOT
CAN BE CONTROLLED BY
A MOBILE, AND CAN BE
PROGRAMMED USING A
VISUAL APP THAT DICTATES
BEHAVIOURS AND ROUTINES.

[ ROBOT! ]

[ 058 ]

[ ROBOT! ]

Sphero BB-8

LEGO Mindstorms EV3

$249 | www.sphero.com

$500 | www.lego.com

With a Star Wars movie coming out every year from now until the
end of time, it looks like the Sphero BB-8 will never go out of style.
he original Sphero has actually been around since 2010. Its a fairly
simple remote-controlled toy, controlled from a Bluetooth phone or
tablet, using a gyroscope to roll around the loor at its masters whims.
It can also actually feed back information to the controller, and has been
used as a controller in augmented reality mobile games. Its charged in a
wireless charging cradle.
he Sphero received a major cuteness buf when the BB-8 version
came out late last year. Built to look like the eponymous droid from
Episode VII, it has most of the features of the base Sphero with a few
extras thrown in. hat includes voice controls and a holographic
projector using augmented reality (that is, you can only see it when you
look through your phone). Hell wander around on his own and even
has an array of droid vocal emotes to amp up the adorableness.
A recent peripheral also came out for BB-8 called the Force Band,
which allows you to use hand gestures to control him.

LEGOS DIY ROBOT kit is a few years old now, but it still has enough
power and customisability to keep kids and grown-ups alike occupied
for a ridiculous number of hours.
If youre not familiar with LEGO Mindstorms, its a kit built around
a core programmable brick that controls various attachments and
motors. You can build a car around it, or a walking humanoid robot
(around 40cm tall) or a snake, a scorpion or one of several other forms.
he robot can be controlled by a mobile, and programmed using a
visual app that dictates behaviours and routines (think Microsot
Visio-style lowchats). You might have to watch a few YouTube video to
really understand it, but its not that diicult to master.
he EV3 kit comes with a variety of sensors IR, colour and touch
that feed back to the control system for if-then-else style events. You
can program the EV3 so that if it sees red on the ground it will stop or
change direction.
Overall, its a tremendous introduction to robotics, and although its
limited in it behaviours, youll still get a kick out of making it work.

[ FOOD ]

Choc Creator 2.0 Plus


~US$4,000 | chocedge.com

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN!

ITS REAL, PEOPLE. he 3D printer that weve all wanted


since we irst heard about 3D printers: one that prints in
chocolate. he Choc Creator 2.0 Plus uses a mobile
chocolate injector to build chocolate objects layer by
layer. It actually works a lot like a regular 3D printer, with
the supplied Windows app taking 3D STL iles and
converting them into G-codes (which are drawing
sequences) before starting the printing process. You can
connect to it via USB, and you can also put the G-codes
on a thumb drive and plug it in to print them.
You use your own chocolate to print, which you have
to temper beforehand, then inject into the printer. he
printer will keep it warm to prevent it from solidifying.
According to Choc Edge, Belgian Dark works best, but
others are certainly supported.
And now to squash all your dreams: the price of the
Choc Creator 2.0 Plus is not listed on the oicial site, and
weve yet to ind an Australia store that sells it. Where its
available in the US and UK, its hella expensive, nearly
US$4,000 and 2,380. hats an awful lot of chocolate
you could just buy.

[ OUTDOORS ]

[ FOOD ]

THE HYDRA

PERFECT DRINK

GOTENNA

US$60 | hydra-smartbottle.com

$70 | makeitperfectly.com

US$150 for a pair | www.gotenna.com

The Hydra is an absurd combination of various tech,


designed to be the ultimate camping, hiking and
cycling companion. Its a BPA-free water bottle, FM
radio, Bluetooth speaker, multicoloured camp light,
speaker phone and power bank combo. It holds
600mL of fluid and 4,000mA of power, is about the
size of a large cycling water bottle and should sit in
most bicycle water bottle holders.
The speaker outputs 5W and can be detached
from the body of The Hydra to serve as a small
stand-alone device. The speakerphone functions are
accessible through buttons on the side, and theres
a 3.5mm aux jack behind a dust-proof seal. The
colour of the light is programmable from a mobile
app, and the same app actually includes a
night-time mode, which combines supposedly
soothing soundscapes with muted colours for those
that ind such things helpful for sleep.

A combination of smart scale and mobile phone app,


Perfect Drink is designed to help you mix the perfect
cocktail. You start by setting up the scale with a
drinking glass. Then you ire up the mobile app and
choose your drink from the 400 or so recipes. You
can actually tell the app in advance what you have
available in your liquor cabinet, so that it only
provides options that you can make.
Once youve chosen your drink, the app will
communicate with the scale and you can start
pouring the ingredients in the order shown in the
app. When the scale detects youve poured enough
of each of the ingredients (you have to pour slowly),
it will give a ding and you can move onto the next
ingredient. When youre done, the app will tell you to
shake or stir (it even has timer indicating how long
you should do it).
After that, all thats left is the drinking.

The goTenna is designed for the kind of person who


likes to really go of-grid in your time of, where there
is no mobile reception available, providing a means
of long-range communication. It talks to your phone
via Bluetooth, and gives you the capacity to send
SMS messages to other goTenna users even when
you have no mobile reception. It does this using 2W
VHF radio waves, walkie-talkie style, with an
expected range of about six or seven kilometres in
open environments. Messages can be sent to an
individual or broadcast for all goTenna users in
range, and you can also send GPS co-ordinates that
feed into an ofline map system.
The battery is good for about 24 hours of standby,
and is recharged through a standard USB.
The goTenna is sold in pairs, and if you want
something a little more compact, you can also try
the newer, similar goTenna Mesh.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ OUTDOORS ]

[ 059 ]

SUPERGUIDE
TECH FOR FUN!

[ GAMING AND CREATIVITY ]

MAD CATZ L.Y.N.X. 9 MOBILE HYBRID


CONTROLLER
$500 | madcatz.com

The Mad Catz L.Y.N.X 9 is what you get when mix the
essence of a Transformer with a game controller. In its
base form, it looks like a fairly conventional if
somewhat skeletal game controller, with twin analogue
sticks, a D-pad, four front buttons, two triggers, two
shoulder buttons and a TrackPoint-style mouse pointer
control. It has a built-in microphone and supports
Bluetooth pairing with an Android mobile or Windows
PC. But then you can twist a few things and add a piece
or two and it becomes something diferent. You can
insert a keyboard into the base between the arms for
controlling browsing and media. You can also actually
split the left and right halves apart and attach them to
a frame, and then attached a 7-inch tablet to that
frame so that youre holding both the controller and
screen at the same time kind of like a super-sized
Nintendo Wii-U controller. Theres even an attachment
clip for a mobile phone.

THE ELEMNT CAN TALK TO YOUR PHONE VIA


BLUETOOTH, TO YOUR LAPTOP WITH WI-FI AND
YOUR HEART-RATE MONITOR (IF YOU HAVE ONE)
VIA ANT+. ITS SIMPLE TWO-TONE DISPLAY
WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH TURN-BY-TURN
NAVIGATION INSTRUCTIONS (YOU CAN ALSO
SWITCH TO MAP MODE), AS WELL AS DISTANCED
TRAVELLED, CADENCE, CALORIES LOST,
YOUR CURRENT HEART RATE
AND THE AMOUNT OF TIME YOUVE BEEN RIDING.

[ OUTDOORS ]

[ 060 ]

[ OUTDOORS ]

LUMOS UNPLUG BACKPACK

Wahoo ELEMNT

$130 | lumosaustralia.com.au

$500 | www.wahooitness.com

A lot of hiking and camping gear out now is built


around a singular goal: keeping that mobile phone
charged. Portable solar panels and backpacks with
built-in solar panels are very common and available
from a number of suppliers.
Lumos Unplug Backpack is an example of such a
device, nicely designed so that the solar panelling is
flexible and unobtrusive (unlike some of its
competitors, where the solar panel is a big obvious
slab attached to the back of the pack). It wouldnt look
out of place in an urban environment, but it is designed
to be tough enough and water resistant enough for
hiking duties.
The panel itself is rated for 3W, which is on the
lighter side for such packs (other options can go up to
around 8W) and it will feed electricity into a 2,200mAh
battery. For reference, an iPhone 6ss battery is
2,750mAh, so you should get about one full charge out
of the backpack.

A LOT OF avid cyclists have taken to mounting their mobiles on their


handlebars and running apps like Strava, Cycle Maps, ViewRanger and Map My
Ride to help them navigate and keep track of the their routes, times and calories.
But there are also dedicated cycling computers that do that, usually with better
battery life and more information provided.
he two major players in this space are Garmin and Wahoo, both providing
a range of devices at varying costs. Near the top of Wahoos range is the
ELEMNT, a cycling computer with a host of features unmatched by any single
mobile app.
he ELEMNT can talk to your phone via Bluetooth, to your laptop with
Wi-Fi and your heart-rate monitor (if you have one) via ANT+. Its simple
two-tone display will provide you with turn-by-turn navigation instructions
(you can also switch to map mode), as well as distanced travelled, cadence,
calories lost, your current heart rate and the amount of time youve been riding.
Coloured lights will give you an indication of whether you should pick up the
pace or ease back based on your heart rate. All the historical data can be
dumped onto a mobile or PC, so you can see how youre doing with your
itness regime.

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[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 061 ]

SUPERGUIDE
CHOOSING THE BEST DRONE

[ SUPERGUIDE ]

WINNER

Flying
high!

APPROVED
AWARD

WHETHER YOU CALL THEM


QUADCOPTERS, DRONES OR
WHIRLY-SPINNY-BIRDIES
(OKAY, WE MADE THAT LAST
ONE UP), THESE FLYING TOYS
ARE HOT PROPERTY AND
GREAT FOR HOLIDAY FUN.

WINNER

APPROVED

[LINDSAY HANDMER]

FROM TINY TOYS to professional level models


with 4K cameras, drones are loads of fun.
Most common are the helicopter multi-rotors
(typically with four), but there are some ixed
wing aeroplane-style drones, too.
In Australia, drone use is governed by
CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) and
the rules are simple for recreational use of
drones under 2 kilos. Keep the drone in your
sight (no FPV without a spotter), only ly
during the day and not through fog or clouds,
stay under 400t (120 metres) and keep 30m or
more away from anyone not directly associated
with the lying including subjects being
ilmed. You cant ly over a populous area such
as beaches or parks, around emergency
operations (such as a ire), or within 3 nautical
miles (5.5km) of the movement area of a
controlled aerodrome. he free RPAS Logger
App (www.rpastraining.com.au) can help
show the restricted areas, as well as the Wicked
Copter Aiport Mapping Tool (wickedcopters.
com.au/page/apps, see page 23). Flights with
commercial gain (and even YouTube ad money
can count) have their own rules which the
above RPAS website can walk you through.

10

AWARD

Blade Nano QX 3D

Xiro Xplorer V

POWERFUL FLYING FUN.

1080P ON A BUDGET.

A MORE ACROBATIC upgrade to the already


amazing Blade Nano QX, the 3D is designed
for those who want to ly inverted just as easily
as the right way up. he 3D doesnt have a
camera (though there is a separate FPV
model), and uses Blades SAFE technology to
keep the quad stable and level in light. For
aerobatics, the little drone has an EVO and 3D
Agility mode, to help transition from learning
to proper 3D lying. It also has specially
designed propellers that allow it to perform
equally well, either way up.
he Nano weighs in at 27 grams, and is best
lown indoors, or outside in calm conditions
though it does have enough grunt to punch
through a moderate wind. We spent just as
much time crashing as we did lying, and the
tough polycarbonate body held up just ine.
Another beneit of the Nano QX 3D is the
large range of spare parts and upgrades
available, from batteries to body mods.
he drone is available with a basic controller,
or without, for those with their own.

IN A WORLD of pricey semi-professional


drones, the Xiro Xplorer V is a breath of
afordable air, and available online or from
retailers such as JB Hi-Fi. Sure, its only a
1080p 30fps camera (or can use a GoPro), but
the Xiro records quite nice video. Battery life is
around 20 minutes, and with the Wi-Fi
extender, it ofers a range of 500m. Video is
streamed back to a smartphone or tablet
running the Xiro app.
he Xplorer V is pretty fun to ly, albeit
tending towards stability over acrobatics.
On the plus side, you can unclip the camera
easily, and fold down the legs, for a more
streamlined drone, or easier backpack storage.
he Xplorer V is packed full of automation,
such as auto take-of and landings, GPS
waypoint lying and target circling. Its also
able to track the location of the controller, and
follow along, keeping it centred in frame.
While there are more fully featured drones
out there, its hard to compete with the Xplorer
V for the price.

DRONES ON TEST

HOW WE TESTED
To test each drone, we flew them in a variety of
outdoor locales, taking care to test built-in
features (such as automatic landing/takeof,
tricks and so on). Each drone was either paired to
an Android smartphone (where applicable) or
tested using the included radio controller.

[ 062 ]

BLADE NANO QX 3D
$129
www.bladehelis.com

XIRO XPLORER V
$799
www.xirodrone.com

CRITICAL SPECS
Flight time: 5 minutes; Range: 50m; Weight: 27g

CRITICAL SPECS
1080P camera; Range: 500m; Flight time: 20 minutes

BEGINNERS
DRONE

WINNER

An afordable little
mini-drone is a great
way to learn to fly,
and can be used
indoors, regardless
of the weather.

SPARE PARTS
Before buying a
drone, check the
availability and
price of spare parts,
such as propellers
and motors.

SUPERGUIDE
CHOOSING THE BEST DRONE

DRONE BUYERS GUIDE


WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN
CHOOSING A DRONE

FPV

APPROVED
AWARD

Cheerson CX-10

DJI Phantom 4

THE WORLDS SMALLEST DRONE.

HARD TO BEAT WHEN IT COMES TO FEATURES


FOR THE PRICE.

A HARD-TO-VERIFY CLAIM, but nonetheless,

the Cheerson CX-10 is a tiny little quadcopter


and a great beginners option. he little quad
sits in the palm of your hand, weighing in at
just 12 grams, and featuring 29mm propellers.
It comes with an almost-as-small controller,
but it cannot bind to your existing 2.4GHz
model. he CX-10 has an inbuilt battery that
charges in about 30 minutes from USB, giving
about 6 minutes of light time. It also has the
usual 6-axis gyro stabilisation.
Despite the small stature, the CX-10 is a lot
of fun to ly. Its fast and nimble, and while best
suited to indoors, it has enough grunt to punch
through a mild wind outdoors. It happily lies
out as far as it can be reasonably seen, with a
50m range.
One of the great things about the CX-10 are
the huge number of spare parts available for
dirt cheap prices on eBay. here are also
upgrade packs, such as wheels that allow
diferent tricks and keep the props from
hitting things when learning to ly.

31/2

Check online in your


local area for RC
clubs, as they often
have days where
you can get help
from more advanced
pilots.

THE PHANTOM 4 steps up from the older

RTF VS BNF

models, with a 4K camera, loads of automation


and a slightly sleeker look. he footage from
the camera is excellent, and easily on par with
the action camera competition. It grabs silky
smooth 3-axis gimbal stabilised 4K resolution
video at 30fps or up to 120fps at 1080p, and
beams it back up to 5km to the controller.
Aside from the usual GPS-powered
waypoint lying, you can actually just tap on
an area in the video feed, and the drone lies
towards it, whilst also avoiding obstacles. It
can also track the controller location, as well as
use image recognition to follow a moving
object, such as a person.
he Phantom 4 can take care of itself, but is
also surprisingly fun to ly. Its fast, responsive
and thanks to the inbuilt collision avoidance,
harder, but not impossible, to crash. Flight
time is up to 28 minutes, but we experienced
closer to 23, albeit with some more acrobatic
lying attempts.

Ready-to-fly drones
come with a
controller, whereas
bind-and-fly uses
your existing
compatible
controller.

First-person view
flying can be loads
of fun, but make
sure to comply with
the extra safety
restrictions.

VIDEO DRONES
Recording to an
on-board microSD
card, camera drones
range in price from
afordable to super
expensive, but can
capture some great
footage.

RACING
EXPERT MODE
For those wanting to
take the next step,
many drones have a
manual mode, for
flips, loops and
other tricks.

For those who want


to put their
competitive pilot
skills to the test,
theres an
Australian drone
racing league
(droneracing
australia.com).

CHEERSON CX-10
$35
www.riseabove.com.au

DJI PHANTOM 4
$2099
www.riseabove.com.au

CRITICAL SPECS
Flight time: 6 minutes; Range: 50m; Weight: 12g

CRITICAL SPECS
4K camera; Range: 5km; Flight time: 28 minutes

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

LEARN TO FLY

[ 063 ]

SUPERGUIDE
CHOOSING THE BEST DRONE

DJI Inspire 1 V2
A PRO-LEVEL DRONE ON AN ALMOST

Jaycar Code Black


Quadcopter

CONSUMER BUDGET.

GET STARTED WITH FPV.

NOT MANY PEOPLE have $4,099 or more to

FLYING VIA CAMERA is lots of fun, but

spend on a drone without a commercial


purpose, but nonetheless, the Inspire 1 is a
gorgeous bit of kit. he big quad sits on four
legs, with a unique system that pulls them up
out of the way during light to give
uninterrupted views with the camera.
Speaking of which, the modular, upgradeable
system boasts a 4K resolution at 30fps, or
1080p at up to 60fps. Its got a 1/2.3 inch
CMOS sensor, 94-degree FOV and sits on a
3-axis, 360-degree rotating gimbal.
720p footage is beamed back to the
controller, up to 5km away. Two people can
team up to handle lying and camera work,
but the Inspire 1 also has the usual range of
automatic light features, and can track and
follow the operators location. While outside it
uses GPS, it can be lown inside using its own
positioning sensors.
he Inspire is very agile, and fun to ly, but
despite the great functionality, its biggest
competition is the cheaper DJI Phantom 4.

traditional setups are not particularly


afordable for beginners. he Jaycar GT4165
quad lowers the price with an all-in-one FPV
for $269. he controller has a built-in screen,
and receives footage from the 720p drone
camera via a 5.8GHz link. he video (or still
images) is also recorded on the drone itself,
with an included 4GB microSD card.
he quadcopter itself has an 80m range,
and lies for about 6 minutes, depending on
how acrobatic you get. Both the remote and
controller are rechargeable via USB and some
spare props are included.
he GT4165 is quite fun and nimble to ly,
and can perform 360-degree lips, and has a
return to home mode. he controller itself
feels a bit cheap and plastic, but gets the job
done. Recorded stills and video are ine for a
bit of fun, but obviously cant compare to
expensive camera drones.
he Jaycar quadcopter is also available as a
video only (no FPV) model (GT4125) for $150.

31/2

[ 064 ]

31/2

DJI INSPIRE 1 V2
$4,099
www.riseabove.com.au

JAYCAR CODE BLACK QUADCOPTER


$269
www.jaycar.com.au

CRITICAL SPECS
Video: 4K 30fps; Flight time: 20 minutes; Range: 5km

CRITICAL SPECS
720p camera resolution; Flight time: 6 minutes; Range: 80m

Parrot Bebop 2
NEW AND IMPROVED

AS MUCH AS we wanted to love the original


Parrot Bebop, it was just too expensive and too
hard to ly accurately without the even pricier
upgraded controller system. he Bebop 2 will
set you back around $800 for the drone itself,
using a smartphone as the controller.
he unique looking drone weighs just 500
grams, and has an array of automatic light
options, such as auto take-of and return
home. he inbuilt camera has a 1080p
resolution, but rather than a gimbal, it uses
digital stabilisation and panning to look
around. We tested the FPV pack, which
includes a more traditional style controller,
and a headset to insert your smartphone into.
he combination is actually loads of fun,
and makes it very easy to experience irst
person lying. he drone itself is quite
responsive and fast, but the video quality is
a little lacking unless conditions are clear
and bright.
For those learning to ly, its worth noting
that the Bebop 2 has a fair range of spare parts
available.

31/2

PARROT BEBOP 2
$800
www.parrot.com
CRITICAL SPECS
1080p camera resolution; Flight time: 25 minutes;
Range: 300m; Controller: Smartphone

SUPERGUIDE
CHOOSING THE BEST DRONE

Parrot Rolling Spider

PowerUp 3.0

Swann FlyEye

AN ALMOST UN-CRASHABLE DRONE.

THE SIMPLEST DRONE POSSIBLE.

AN AFFORDABLE VIDEO DRONE.

LITTLE QUADCOPTER MINI-DRONES are


great fun to ly, but almost too easy to run into
things, especially indoors. To make the whole
process easier, and more fun, Parrot has added
wheels. hat sounds odd, but they are large
and very lightweight, and allow the drone to
run into objects without hitting the propellers.
his means you can ly up walls, over furniture
and scoot about on the ground. he wheels can
also be disconnected for normal lying.
Like many of the other Parrot mini-drones,
control is via a smartphone and an app. Its
quite simple, but not as precise as a dedicated
controller, though has a range of inbuilt
sensors to aid automatic light. he Rolling
Spider has 6-axis stabilisation, a 20m range,
weighs 55 grams and lasts about 8 minutes
between USB charges. It also has a low-res (640
x 480) camera that can snap pics directly
downwards. he drone can perform lips and
loops automatically too.
For $150, the Rolling Spider isnt exactly
cheap, but is plenty of fun.

RATHER THAN A multicopter design, the


PowerUp 3.0 turns a paper plane into a
remote-controlled, ixed wing drone. he unit
consists of a small but powerful motor,
coupled up to a battery and control module,
as well as a tail rudder. It connects to and uses
a smartphone as the remote, and has a 55m
range over Bluetooth. he inbuilt battery
charges via USB in about 20 minutes, to give
up to a 10-minute light time.
he PowerUp 3.0 kit includes some plane
templates (including a waterproof one, and
more available for download), but we had great
fun attaching it to our own creations.
Compared to a precision copter drone, the
PowerUp is a little vague to ly thanks to
steering via tilting your phone, and is more
like guiding than formation lying. Still, the
little DIY drone is unlike anything else out
there. We didnt break anything during
testing, but also included are some spare
propellers and a rudder.
he $70 price tag might seem a little steep
at irst, but for simple fun, the PowerUp 3.0
cant be beat.

PERFECT FOR THOSE who want to get a taste


of video recording on a drone without the
expense, the Swann FlyEye includes a 720p
camera. While it doesnt beam the image back
to the controller, it does record video or stills at
the press of a controller button. he camera
itself is not stabilised, but can be replaced with
a GoPro. he FlyEye comes with two batteries
for a total run time of 20 minutes.
he Swann drone is larger than it looks, and
measures in at 510mm x 510mm and 393
grams. he controller is quite nice, all things
considered, and makes it easy to get the best
from the drone with a long 100m range. It also
has some automation, such as hover mode and
auto return to home.
he FlyEye is quite agile, includes prop
guards (plus some spare parts), and is fun to
ly even when not recording video. he video
from the drone is great for YouTube, but of
course is not professional level.

31/2

31/2

31/2

PARROT ROLLING SPIDER


$150
www.

POWERUP 3.0
$70
www. poweruptoys.com

SWANN FLYEYE
$200
www.swann.com

CRITICAL SPECS
640 x 480 still images; Flight time: 8 minutes; Range: 20m;
Controller: Smartphone

CRITICAL SPECS
Flight time: 10 minutes; Range: 20m; Controller: Smartphone

CRITICAL SPECS
Resolution: 720p; Flight time: 2x 10 minutes; Range: 100m

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 065 ]

WINNER

SUPERGUIDE
TAKE THE MUSIC WITH YOU

[ SUPERGUIDE ]

EDs CHOICE

Take the
music
with you

AWARD

LOOKING FOR A PORTABLE


SPEAKER YOU CAN TAKE
ON HOLIDAYS? WEVE
TESTED 10 OF THE LATEST
STARTING AT JUST $60.

WINNER

EDs CHOICE

[PAUL TAYLOR & SHAUN PRESCOTT]

AWARD

WHATS THE MOST important feature you


look for in tech you take on holiday? Does it
have to be small, lightweight and feature
multiple functions? Or do you place
emphasis on how much abuse it can take,
withstanding bumps and spills? Perhaps
youre looking for luxury, a piece of
great-looking kit that, with your holiday-inthe-sun outit, signiies that your out of
oice notiication is well and truly on.
he group of speakers weve featured
here tick those boxes, and a few ofer
excellent results that may compel you to
buy a second speaker for use outside or in
multiple rooms in your home. As for
holiday use, the most convenient method to
play music is via Bluetooth the wireless
system ditches the cord between phone and
speaker, and thats one less thing to lose
when youre packing up. Bluetooth comes
with its beneits and drawbacks. he main
beneit is ease of use, the main drawback is
reduced sound quality, though some units
here feature great hardware to compensate
for that.

10

Marshall Stockwell speaker

WELL ROUNDED IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.

A PREMIUM SPEAKER FOR OLD ROCK DOGS.

BANG AND OLUFSEN says that its BeoPlay A1


speaker is small enough to it into the palm of
your head. A bold claim, or maybe our hands
are smaller than those at the Danish company,
but even at this size, were impressed by the
speakers clarity and volume. Well conidently
say the sound quality is the best on this test,
and the battery life is unbeatable and
unbelievable at close to 24 hours.
A sot rubber-like texture on the underside
gives the A1 a lot of grip, and the design means
its not going to tip over the weight of it is
perfectly distributed. Sound pours out of the
top of the upward-facing speaker grille, but use
the leather strap to hang it up if you want to
give it a bit more height. And well you might,
as this is by far and away the most stylish
speaker in our roundup. All of the buttons are
incorporated into the body so nothing will get
snagged, and it really feels like its built to
sufer a load of knocks and bumps. hose
buttons could be easier to ind and press,
though. Battery life is incredible, and at a
moderate volume, youll get over 20 hours of
play between recharges. A must get.

MARSHALL IS A company better known for


building some of the most respected guitar
ampliiers and speakers in the world. So its
strange to ind the company dabbling in the
comparatively low-stakes world of Bluetooth
speakers, but here they are, and its a good
thing they bothered to show up. he price tag
on this will be a deterrent for most, but youre
not just paying for the prestige of the Marshall
brand: this speaker sounds incredible at both
medium and high volumes. It also comes
bearing a bass and treble knob, which is sorely
missing on Bluetooth speakers since these
options can be very useful in unconventional,
outdoor settings. Resembling a ye olde
Marshall onstage foldback speaker, the item
will appeal to rock aesthetes as much as it will
people looking for a no-compromise portable
speaker, though it does lack some stock
standard features, such as an on-board phone
mic. It will, as is becoming increasingly
common, charge your phone for you, though.
his speaker comes highly recommended,
though once youve got one, you might feel
reluctant to expose it to the great outdoors.

DRONES ON TEST

HOW WE TESTED
Each speaker was paired to a Sony Xperia Z5,
and tracks were played through Poweramp with
no EQ or tone controls activated. We used MP3s
at various bitrates, the lowest at 128kbps and the
highest at 320kbps.

[ 066 ]

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A1

41/2
BANG & OLUFSEN BEOPLAY A1
$379
beoplay.com
CRITICAL SPECS
Power ampliiers: 2 x 140W peak power; Drivers: 0.75-inch
tweeter, 3.5-inch full-range driver; Input: 3.5mm auxillary;
Battery: Up to 24 hours; Dimensions: 48mm x 133mm x
133mm; Weight: 600g

41/2

MARSHALL STOCKWELL SPEAKER


$399
www.marshallheadphones.com
CRITICAL SPECS
Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm AUX; Frequency range:
5020,000Hz; Max output: 27w RMS; Battery: up to 9 hours;
Dimensions: 260mm x 140mm; Weight: 1.2kg

SUPERGUIDE
TAKE THE MUSIC WITH YOU

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
BUYERS GUIDE
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PORTABLE
BLUETOOTH SPEAKER.

WEATHERPROOF

BATTERY LIFE

IPX7 rating indicates


this will withstand
being immersed in
1m of water for 30
minutes. Or
dropped in an icy
esky.

Our test units range


lasted anywhere
from eight hours up
to a massive 20
hours of use at
moderate volume.

MATERIAL

Nearly all of the


speakers ofer a
3.5mm input jack,
and a few ofer a
USB Type-A so you
can recharge your
phone.

PORTS
Expect scratches,
though softer
materials like
plastic, faux leather
and soft-touch
rubber will
potentially fare
better than metal.

WEIGHT
More weight
generally indicates
a bigger battery or
better speakers,
but at the expense
of convenience.

WHERE WILL
YOU USE IT?
Outdoor use needs
more power to
spread the sound,
and you get what
you pay for. Indoors,
the speaker can be
directed at you.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

BUTTON
LAYOUT
Some speakers ofer
full volume control
and the ability to
skip tracks. Others
only have a play/
pause button,
so keep your
smartphone handy
for full control.

Bose SoundLink Mini


Bluetooth Speaker II

UE Boom 2
TOUGH, TALL AND TERRIFIC?

A PINT-SIZED WONDER.

WIZARDRY. THE DARK arts. Its a poor

explanation but the only one we can see that


explains how Bose has engineered a roomilling soundscape from a diminutive chassis.
Crisp highs, conident mids and smooth bass,
were really surprised it has the lot, and rivals
the B&O BeoPlay A1 for best in show here.
While its also the smallest speaker in this
round-up, its bizarrely the one that youre least
likely to want to carry around; instead, youre
more likely to move it from room to room for
easy use. hats mostly due to the aesthetic,
with its sharp corners and business-like
buttons, though itll withstand a bit of
rough-and-tumble. One great feature is the
automated voice that announces which devices
its connected to. he SoundLinks volume
buttons looked a bit tired on our loan unit,
showing obvious signs of wear. he sot rubber
on top of the button mechanism wasnt in
danger of breaking, but showed what it could
look like ater heavy, prolonged use. Battery
life is an acceptable 10 hours.

THERES NO MISTAKING the Boom 2. Its the


only unit designed to stand upright rather
than lat, and like its sister speaker, the Roll
(page 69), features large volume control
buttons. he bright, clashing colour scheme
wont be for everyone but its certainly a fun
piece of kit with the large volume buttons. he
other buttons can be tricky to properly press
in, though.
Whats impressive is how suited the Boom 2
is to travel and being taken outdoors. Rated to
IPX7, itll happily be doused in water (as long
as the ports are sealed) and lasts and admirable
15 hours between charges. Sound quality is
good but not exceptional wed describe it as
a touch thin, but the Boom 2 retains its
composure at maximum volume, so dont be
afraid to turn it up. he UE app also pairs two
or more units together to create stereo sound
(or link many units together for a symphony of
speakers within an area), but for that inancial
outlay, youd be best served with getting a
single, more expensive unit.

STEREO OR
NOT?
A lot of speakers
here push both left
and right channels
of audio through a
single speaker, and
some can pair with
an identical twin
(or more) to support
stereo (or pseudo
surround) sound.

BOSE SOUNDLINK MINI


BLUETOOTH SPEAKER II
$299
www.bose.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
Input: 3.5mm auxillary; Battery: 10 hours; Dimensions:
180mm x 58mm x 51mm; Weight: 670g

31/2

UE BOOM 2
$249
ultimateears.com
CRITICAL SPECS
Two 45mm active drivers; two 45mm X 80mm passive
radiators; Frequency response: 90Hz20kHz; Battery: 15
hours; Dimensions: 180mm x 67mm x 67mm; Weight 548g

[ 067 ]

SUPERGUIDE
TAKE THE MUSIC WITH YOU

Jam Heavy Metal

KEF Muo

JBL Charge 3

SUPERB AND HANDSOME ALL-ROUNDER.

ANYTHING BUT SQUARE.

CHARGER AND STEREO SPEAKER ALL IN ONE.

SIZE BELIES CAPABILITIES with the Jam


Heavy Metal. Out of the box, youll
immediately feel how weighty this stereo
speaker is, and a broad footprint leaves it well
planted. Although its not very loud, volume
goes as high as the brick feels comfortable, and
the sound rolls on smoothly with clear bass
and distinct highs. One nice touch is its
built-in voice that tells you when its connected
to your Bluetooth device, powering on and of,
and so on. A small blue LED in the middle of
the speaker grille gives some indication when
its paired or running out of battery power.
he Jam is certainly durable with an
anodised aluminium body, which the
packaging says will stand scufs and scrapes.
hats a good thing, as itd be a shame to see
this good-looking unit damaged. Wed
recommend you be careful taking it anywhere
with sand or water as its not totally
weatherproof with exposed auxiliary and
microUSB charging ports. Battery life is its
weak point, running out of power ater eight
hours of use had this ben closer to 10 hours
wed be far more thrilled.

THE MUOS UNUSUAL design separates it


from every other speaker here, but were not
sure that the triangular case aids audio
dynamics. At least you couldnt accuse it of
being boring.
An otherwise conventional, well-made piece
of kit, the Muo rivals the UE Boom 2 in terms
of size, and tangles with the Jam Heavy Metal
on the soundstage with conident results,
though both could do with more punch in the
top end. Turn the volume up and the Muo is
strong and unwavering.
KEF favours minimal design in order to
keep its smooth lines, so you wont ind many
buttons on it at all best keep your smart
device close by for complete control.
While theres plenty of oomph, at this price,
youre better served by the BeoPlay A1, but if
youre sold on this orange, tough,
distinguished performer, then its worth
shopping around to try to ind it at a more
digestible price.

JBLS SPEAKER MAKES a good visual


impression. he slightly tapered ends are
lopped of to show a speaker cone at either end,
and this is where the lower frequencies erupt
from. Turn up the volume and these oscillate
back and forth, putting on quite a show. All
other frequencies shoot from the front of the
Charges woven fabric, while at the back youll
ind a type-A USB port so you can plug in your
smartphone to recharge it (at the expense of
the Charges own battery life). On top are
clearly-marked buttons for playback and
volume. As a multi-function stereo speaker
and powerbank, JBLs beefy tube does a good
job, though sound is muddy in the middle and
above. Tweaking your smart devices equaliser
at the top end helps clear things up, but judged
on its own merits against the others here, it
produces better results than the UE Roll
(understandable due to that speakers size and
shape) and the Braven, but below everything
else. As a travel companion its deinitely
worth checking out.

31/2

JAM HEAVY METAL


$199.95
www.jamaudio.com
CRITICAL SPECS
3.5mm auxiliary input; Power: 20W; Drivers: 2x precision
tuned drivers + 2x passive bass radiators; Battery: 8 hours;
Dimensions: 201.4mm x 63mm x 60mm

[ 068 ]

31/2

KEF MUO
$549
advanceaudio.com.au

JBL CHARGE 3
au.jbl.com
$229.95

CRITICAL SPECS
2x 50mm drivers, 1x auxillary bass radiator; Input: 3.5mm
auxillary, 15W ampliier output; Frequency range:
60Hz20kHz; Battery: up to 12 hours; Dimensions: 80mm x
210mm x 60mm; Weight: 800g

CRITICAL SPECS
Bluetooth 4.1; transducers 2x 50mm; Input: 3.5mm aux port;
Power 2x 10w; Frequency response 65Hz20kHz; USB charge
out 5v/2a; Battery: 20 hours; Dimensions: 213mm x 87mm x
88.5mm; Weight: 800g

SUPERGUIDE
TAKE THE MUSIC WITH YOU

Braven BRV-1M
BUILT FOR OUTDOORS AND ACTION.

Laser Outdoor Active


Speaker

UE Roll

CHEAP AND STURDY AT THE COST OF FIDELITY.

ULTIMATELY A BIT TOO COSTLY.

THIS AUSTRALIAN-DESIGNED (AND

A YOUNGER SIBLING of the UE Boom


(page 67), the UE Roll doesnt take up much
more space in your bag than a (large)
smartphone, and considering the dimensions,
its capable of emitting a satisfactory sound.
Resembling a kind of dwarven frisbee, it
comes with heavy duty hanging rope and is
clearly designed to be hung, at whim, on any
spontaneous occasion when music is called for.
Considering the size, the UE Roll does
sound very good: it clips if you play especially
bass-demanding music at high volumes, but
compared to, say, the Laser speaker listed let,
its quite impressive. hat said, it does cost
$150, which seems a little overpriced for a unit
like this, but the size does grant it a level of
versatility that other, more cumbersome
models simply cant claim. If youre into how
the UE Roll looks (and lets face it, the colour
schemes it comes in wont be for everyone),
then this is a decent purchase if portability is
your priority. he updated app allows multiple
units to be paired together.

ULTRA HANDY FOR HOLIDAY FUN, BUT

WITH ITS ANGULAR, knobbly surfaces and

gun metal grille, this chunky speaker looks


like itd survive a picnic in a hurricane.
Modelled on its bigger brother (the BRV-X) in
terms of looks, this rugged unit comes with
both a tie-down cord and a bracket, the latter
attaching it to GoPro-style mounts. Big,
easy-to-press buttons control power, volume
and play/pause on the top, and at the back a
USB port also charges your mobile phone.
hat charging port is a clever point of
diference, making it more than a speaker and
into a device that travels with you. he M1s
portability and willingness to be thrashed,
thanks to its shockproof case and IPX7
waterproof rating, is ofset by its sound quality.
Its not that its bad, just underwhelming,
lacking the punch and distinction youd
expect from a pug-nosed case. Itll hold its own
at maximum volume, and if you want a
speaker to handle whatever you throw at it
while providing a good enough soundtrack,
the 1M is a good choice.

BRAVEN BRV-1M
$159.99
www.macgear.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
IPX 7; 2,200mAh phone charger 1A; 3.5mm auxiliary input;
Battery: 12 hours

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Chinese-made) speaker is among the cheapest


youll ind, and while it feels durable and looks
like something youd ind on the back of a
tradesmans truck, it wont please anyone
looking for premium sound. he built-in FM
radio pretty much sets the standard in terms of
the idelity you should expect: even at
moderate volumes, bass-oriented dance music
tended to clip just enough to be annoying.
his is deinitely something suited to a
camping trip or outdoor work, or any other
situation where music is likely to be
background noise rather than the focus. For
the price, its got some nice, lexible features:
you can slot a microSD card in and play audio
iles straight of it, and it has a USB port on the
front as well as an AUX in. Its hard to turn
your nose up at the Laser Outdoor Active
Speaker when these features are combined
with the cost, but its possible to spend just a bit
more money for something with a better
sound, and more than ive hours battery life.

21/2

21/2

LASER OUTDOOR ACTIVE SPEAKER


$59.95
laserco.com.au

UE ROLL
$149.95
www.ultimateears.com

CRITICAL SPECS
3.5mm auxiliary input, Micro SD Card, USB; Battery: lithium
200mAh, up to 5 hours; Dimensions: 250mm x 130mm x
120mm; Weight: 600g

CRITICAL SPECS
Bluetooth only; Frequency range: 108hz20,000Hz,
Battery: up to 9 hours; Dimensions: 135mm x 150mm;
Weight: 330g

[ 069 ]

SUPERGUIDE
POCKET PROJECTORS

[ SUPERGUIDE ]

Pocket
projectors
WE SHINE A LIGHT ON
PROJECTORS THAT YOU
CAN TAKE WITH YOU
EVERYWHERE YOU GO, BUT
ARE THEY BRIGHT ENOUGH
TO APPEAL TO EVERYONE?
[JOEL BURGESS]

PICO OR MINI LED projectors arent


exactly mainstream items, despite the
fact that many of us have probably
wistfully wished we could project our
phone or computer screen onto a wall
or the side of a tent at some point in
our lives. here are now a number of
projectors that are small enough to it
in your pocket, however, and the slow
uptake is more likely due to the highish
price and just okay picture quality that
these small units have previously
struggled with.
While theres still plenty of headway
to be made in this segment before it will
appeal to everyone, theyve come a long
way in the last year or two and if you
shop around, you can get a quite
respectable unit at a reasonable price.
Some pocket-sized units, like the Sony
MP-CL1, even ofer HD resolution for a
price that wont break the bank (though
it might stretch the wallet a little).

MINI PROJECTOR
BUYERS GUIDE
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN
CHOOSING ONE

MHL

HOW WE TESTED
Projectors were tested in an enclosed room
with lights on and of. Each was observed
under general presentation, slideshow,
movie and gaming circumstances. The
unique features and settings of each device
have been taken into consideration.

[ 070 ]

AWARD

MIRACAST
This WiFi Alliance-certiied
wireless HDMI technology is
the most broadly compatible
tech for passing video and
audio from your smartphone
or tablet to a projector. With
the ability to connect to
Samsung, Sony, HTC, Nexus,
Motorola, LG and Nokia
Phones, it it surprising that
its not available on more
projectors.

HDMI
For devices other than
smartphones, HDMI is going
to be the most useful
connection with adapter
cables for almost any other
visual interface being
compatible with HDMI.
You can also connect a
Chromecast to make your
projector wireless the DIY way.

BATTERY

07

EDs CHOICE

The mobile high-deinition


link connection will be the
standard connection ofered
by the mini LED projectors
here. It is compatible with
Sony, Nokia and some older
Samsung phones. Its worth
checking if you can connect to
it with your phone as it is the
only option for many of the
devices.

Despite this being a portable


range, not all of the oferings
here have inbuilt rechargeable
batteries. If youre planning
on using it places without
permanent power, this will be
worth factoring in.

POCKET PROJECTORS
ON TEST

WINNER

Sony MP-CL1
A GENUINELY POCKETABLE PROJECTOR THATS GREAT FOR
TRAVELLING NIGHT-OWLS.

SONYS MP-CL1 IS no bigger than a large mobile phone and gives


the projector an understated class that is relective of the money
youll fork out for it. he MP-CL1 isnt the brightest projector,
pushing a meagre 32 lumens, but what it lacks in shine, it
partially makes up for with an impressive 80,000:1 dynamic
contrast ratio and a high 1,920 x 720-pixel resolution. While that
lower brightness makes the MP-CL1 too diicult to bother with
in the daytime (a tablet half the price will show a 10-inch picture
signiicantly better), ire the device up in the dark and youll get
an awesome image that looks excellent up to about an 80-inch
projection size. In addition to a micro-USB charging port, theres
also a MHL HDMI input, 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB
output (letting you use it as a powerbank).
If you happen to have a new smartphone, then you can use the
Wi-Fi-based Miracast to connect to the MP-CL1 wirelessly.
Because it uses Wi-Fi, itll allow you to simultaneously connect to
Bluetooth speakers without interference (or alternatively run
speakers from the projector via the AUX out). It still surprises us
that a projector this size can play through an entire ilm with a
40- to 80-inch picture on a single charge. And whats more, that
3,400mAh internal battery actually lasts up to 2 hours if youre
not using the projectors own speakers. At the end of the day,
though, the wireless connection combined with the size and
battery capacity of the MP-CL1 means that this projector is a
uniquely desirable ultra-portable LED projector.

RESOLUTION VS
BRIGHTNESS
At this end of the projector
range, either resolution or
brightness is going to have to
give. Anything under 200
lumens will be diicult to use
in the daytime, but it might be
a rude shock trying to watch
something at 100 inches with
a resolution of 854 x 480.

41/2

SONY MP-CL1
$699
www.sony.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
Up to 120-inch 16:9 display; 1,920 x 720 resolution;
3,400mAh battery; 80,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio;
32 lumens brightness (max 37 lumens), 210g

APPROVED
AWARD

SUPERGUIDE
POCKET PROJECTORS

WINNER

WINNER

APPROVED
AWARD

Acer C205

ASUS P3B

A DECENT OFFERING AT THE RIGHT PRICE.

A POWERFUL PORTABLE UNIT THAT YOULL GENERALLY KEEP TETHERED.

ACER HAS GIVEN the C205 portable LED projector the same

preference for display quality over versatile connectivity as its smaller


sibling, but with the option to connect a source via HDMI, it isnt quite
as extreme.
his 320g, frisbee-shaped projector hits the expected entry level
WVGA 854 x 480 display resolution, using a standard 8-bit RGB
colour gamut, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio for a maximum image size of
100-inches.
What stands out on the C205s rapp sheet, though, is the 200 lumens
ANSI brightness at a surprisingly afordable price point. Interestingly,
this combination of brightness level and display resolution means you
can get away with presenting inside with the lights on as long as
youre happy to use the limited display resolution for powerpoint
presentations but if you want to watch movies or use it for gaming,
youll likely be underwhelmed by the image clarity.
he C205 does make room for a 4,200mAh Lithium-ion battery
thatll power it for around 2 hours using the manufacturers settings.
Having an HDMI/MHL connection means that you will be able to use
the projector in enough settings, but more variety in connection options
would be greatly appreciated.
Essentially, at the price you can get it, this is one of the best entry-level
projectors that delivers decent brightness with run-of-the-mill
resolution and adequate connection options.

ACER C205
www.acer.com
$438
CRITICAL SPECS
WVGA 840 x 480 display resolution; 200 lumens brightness; 1,000:1 contrast
ratio; up to 100-inch display size; HDMI/MHL rechargeable 4,200mAh Lithium-ion
battery (2hr lifespan); 14.4 x 10.8 x 2.7cm, 320g

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

THIS PORTABLE SHORT-THROW LED from ASUS isnt the most


compact unit weve seen in the TechLife labs but it does come packaged
in a slick lunch-box sided carry case that makes it particularly easy to
lug around. hat said, we were reasonably surprised at how much
technology could be packed into the units perfectly portable 790g body.
At a native display resolution of 1,280 x 800 WXGA, unfortunately,
it doesnt ofer full-HD resolution, but the 800 lumens maximum light
output and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio mean that this tiny unit throws
enough light to watch shows in the day with a projection size of around
120-inches even if its only just. Naturally, this means that, with the
lights out, or at night, you wont be disappointed by the 200-inch image
that the P3B can project.
We were particularly disappointed that the unit ofered no wireless
smartphone, tablet or computer-casting abilities out of the box
(something that we believe is essential in a portable projector). hat said,
the unit can display through HDMI, MHL, D-Sub, USB and microSD
card interfaces and has a 3.5mm audio jack to connect a dedicated
speaker or pair of headphones to.
Despite requiring a large audible fan that hits 32dB to keep the device
cool, the 12,000mAh battery manages to power the unit for an hour
when projecting at 500 lumens, meaning it isnt ideal for use without a
powerpoint nearby, but you might get by if you absolutely had to. here
is a lot to ofer here for what comes in at just over a grand just
remember, you will need to bring cables to connect it.

4
ASUSS P3B
$1,027
www.asus.com/au
CRITICAL SPECS
WXGA (1,280 x 800) native resolution; 800 lumens; 100,000:1 contrast ratio;
34dB; SDR R/G/B LED; 0.43.5m projection distance; display size 25200
inches; 12,000mAh battery (1hr lifespan at 50%); 2GB internal memory;
15.3 x 4.3 x 13.1cm; 750g

[ 071 ]

SUPERGUIDE
POCKET PROJECTORS

Acer C120

Pico Genie P200

DID THIS FEATHERWEIGHT COMPETITOR THROW THE BABY OUT

QUITE A BIT BRIGHTER THAN YOUR AVERAGE OIL LAMP.

WITH THE BATHWATER?

WHEN IT COMES to portable projectors, there are quite a few


interpretations on the idea of portability, but the Pico Genie P200
really pushes into the pocket-sized LED projector bracket.
Weighing in at just 290g, this 11cm square could it (albeit a little
uncomfortably) into your pant pocket but projects an 854 x 480
image resolution up to a display size of 120 inches. When you get
to this size, there is going to be some considerable sacriices in
terms of image quality, and though the 200 lumens peak
brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratios are reasonable for a unit of
this size, its a slightly compromised viewing experience against
the larger portable projectors.
Unfortunately, the Pico Genie P200 doesnt have any Wi-Fi
connection tech, so youre made to use the MHL or HDMI cables
for connecting devices, and the microSD card slot and the USB
port for local media iles. he 3.5mm audio jack makes it a
well-connected little unit despite missing out on Wi-Fi. heres a
2,000mAh onboard battery thatll give the projector an
untethered lifespan of a little more than an hour. At 120-inches,
the display quality is decent and you can get away with it in the
daytime if youre willing to reduce the size a fraction, but the
conservative resolution does let down the picture quality.
At close to $700, this isnt the most appropriate speciication
combination weve seen for an ultra-portable, and with only a
MHL connection for smartphones and tablets, you should be
mindful that neither iOS devices or Samsung units later than the
Galaxy S6 will be able to use it out of the box.

ACER HAD A very particular purpose in mind with the C120

LED projector, so although its exceptionally lexible in the


portability department, how you can actually use it is a little
more limited. It isnt the most compact, but the C120 is the
lightest unit in the roundup and stacks up interestingly against
the Pico Genie oferings (right).
he C120 ofers the same WVGA 854 x 480 display
resolution and 1,000:1 contrast ratio as the P55 and P200 Pico
Genie projectors, but manages to split the diference in
brightness between the two with a luminance of 100 lumens.
Stretching up to a maximum display size of 100-inches, youll
want to dim the lights and use it on a white wall or projector
screen if you want to display the image well.
Interestingly, the C120 doesnt come with a battery, so youll
have to have it plugged in to use it, a limitation that seems
totally out of place on a 180g projector. Potentially even more
unusual is that the C120 can only be connected through its
Dual USB 3.0 connection and will only communicate with a
Windows-based OS.
If you want a projector that plugs into your PC for work trips,
then this is an afordable option that undercuts the more
versatile competition and ofers better speciications in a
number of ways. However, if you you plan to use it in any other
way, the lack of alternate interface options is going to be a
noteworthy limitation.

31/2

[ 072 ]

31/2

ACER C120
$357
www.acer.com

PICO GENIE P200


$695
www.miniprojector.com.au

CRITICAL SPECS
WVGA (854 x 480) native resolution; 100 lumens;
1,000:1 contrast ratio; 100-inch display; dual USB 3.0
interface; 12 x 8.2 x 2.6cm; 180g

CRITICAL SPECS
WVGA (854 x 480) native resolution; 200 lumens; 1,000:1 contrast ratio;
2120-inch display size; microSD card slot; HDMI/MHL; USB;
2,000mAh battery (1hr lifespan @200 lumens) 11 x 9.5 x 2.8cm, 290g

SUPERGUIDE
POCKET PROJECTORS

Pico Genie P55

Qumi Q6

THE ONLY THING MAGICAL ABOUT THIS GENIE IS THE PRICE.

A THROWBACK PROJECTOR WITH ALL THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY.

WEIGHING IN AT just over 200 grams, the Pico Genie P55 is

IN MANY WAYS, the Qumi Q6 is the younger, slimmer version of


the Asus P3B (page 71), ofering the same image size for a projector
that is literally half the size. Wrapped in one of seven novel pastel
colours, not only does the Q6 have a native resolution of 1,280 x
800, it also launts the same 800 lumens brightness as its
competitor. We were relieved to ind that it wasnt just the casing
and fans that beneited from a more recent design, the technology
inside and compatible apps give a much broader range of wireless
functionalities that make it notably easier to connect to from
smartphones and tablets.
he free-to-download EZCast pro Android and iOS app was easy
to use when everything talked to each other, allowing you to use
your smartphone as a remote for direct streaming or mirror your
screen through the projector. Miracast technology is one of our
favourite elements in a portable projector as it makes it signiicantly
easier to connect to your smartphone, but interestingly, the Qumi
Q6 has some considerable trade-ofs when compaired to the P3B
that almost negate its beneit for us. In terms of portability, the Q6s
475g weight is preferable to the P3Bs 790g, but we estimate that this
loss is almost all from the removal of a battery. In addition to
needing to be plugged in at all times, it also only had a USB HDMI
and a 3.5mm audiojack so itll be less useful for anyone who has
physical media stored on an SD card. Lastly, it only ofers a 30,000:1
contrast ratio and has a notably smaller max screen size at between
30- and 90-inch meaning that, in many ways, this Qumi isnt as full
featured as wed hoped.

deinitely something you can it in your pocket, even if it doesnt the


take out the title for the smallest projector in the roundup. Much
like its bigger brother (the P200, let), the Pico Genie P55 manages
to house a bunch of connections on its side including: a USB port,
microSD card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, AV-in and HDMI interface.
Similarly, the P55 also uses the WVGA 854 x 480 resolution,
which is a little underwhelming when youre displaying at anything
larger than 40-inches despite being able to push it to a maximum
display size of 100 inches. Add to this the 50 lumens ANSI
brightness and the 1,000:1 contrast ratio and youll really only want
use this one at night.
Despite ofering a multitude of hard-wired connections, this
ultra-portable projector doesnt include any wireless interface
technologies something that we ind particularly baling on a
projector that will regularly be fed by a tablet or smartphone.
he P55 does redeem itself somewhat by having a rechargeable
Lithium-ion battery with a 2.5-hour battery life , so you can feel
conident watching an entire ilm (except perhaps Ben Hur or
he Return of the King...) if you have charged it fully.
As one of the most afordable projectors in the roundup, most of
the criticisms that have been leveled at the P55 are balanced by its
afordable price and, taken as a whole, the P55 is reasonably good
value as long as you plan on consuming media that you save on a
thumb drive or microSD card.

31/2

PICO GENIE P55


$437 | www.miniprojector.com.au
CRITICAL SPECS
WVGA 840 x 480 display resolution; 50 lumens; 1,000:1
contrast ratio; up to 100-inch display; HDMI/MHL, SD, AV and
USB interfaces; rechargeable Lithium battery (2.5hr lifespan);
11 x 9.9 x 2.4cm; 203g

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

31/2

QUMI Q6
www. miniprojector.com.au
$1,495
CRITICAL SPECS
WXGA (1,280 x 800) native resolution; 800 lumens; 30,000:1
contrast ratio; 34dB; 13m projection distance; 3090-inch
display; HDMI (MHL); USB; 16.5 x 10.3 x 3.4cm; 475g

[ 073 ]

You listen to stereo


music today thanks to
Alan Blumlein.

10

SCIENTISTS WHO
CHANGED THE TECH
WORLD
EVERY SCIENTIST AND ENGINEER STANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS, BUT SOMETIMES
GIANTS STAND AMONG US. WE LOOKS BACK AT 10 SCIENTISTS WHO CHANGED THE TECH WORLD.
[DARREN YATES]

TO SEE AND understand the tech frontiers of


tomorrow, its important to look back at the
landmark moments of yesterday. hese 10
luminaries are just a handful of the brilliant
minds that have developed the technologies we
take for granted every day. Chances are youve
heard of some of them or maybe none of them
but each one has made a signiicant
contribution to the technology we not only
enjoy, but depend upon.

1. ALAN BLUMLEIN
he next time you plug in your headphones
and listen to music, thank Alan Blumlein. Its
likely youve never heard of him, but Blumlein,
a brilliant and proliic electrical engineer,
invented binaural sound what you and I
call stereo back in 1931. He was also
heavily involved in the design of all-electronic
[ 074 ]

television in Britain during the 1930s. But his


development of airborne radar during World
War II using a device called a cavity
magnetron would be his last. He and 10 others
were killed when the Handley Page Halifax
aircrat used for testing crashed on the night of
June 7th, 1942. So important was Blumlein to
the Allied war efort that news of his death was
withheld from the public until ater the war for
fear of denting morale. Blumlein was only 38
years old when he perished, but in his relatively
short working life, he amassed an astonishing
128 patents covering designs in audio,
television, gramophone and radar. Blumlein
also invented the Long-Tailed Pair electronic
circuit later used by Alan Turing in his
Automatic Computing Engine (ACE),
Britains irst stored-program computer, in
1950. You can hear Blumleins early stereo

recordings from 1933 at the British Library


(tinyurl.com/bco5t28).

2. AUGUSTA ADA BYRON


Augusta Ada Byron, better known as Ada,
Countess of Lovelace, was an accomplished
mathematician and contemporary of engineer
Charles Babbage, who spent his life developing
a series of mechanical thinking engines
irst, the Diference Engine in 1822, followed
by the Analytical Engine in 1837. It was as
Babbage continued development of the
Analytical Engine that Lovelace was irst
introduced to him and she quickly became
intrigued by the machines. Babbage would go
on to commission Lovelace in 1843 to translate
an article written about the Analytical
Machine by Italian engineer Luigi Menabrea
back into English. his Lovelace did (tinyurl.

The irst computer


algorithm, developed by
Ada Lovelace in 1843.

ADA, COUNTESS OF LOVELACE, WAS AN


ACCOMPLISHED MATHEMATICIAN AND
CONTEMPORARY OF ENGINEER CHARLES
BABBAGE, WHO SPENT HIS LIFE
DEVELOPING A SERIES OF MECHANICAL
THINKING ENGINES FIRST, THE
DIFFERENCE ENGINE IN 1822, FOLLOWED
BY THE ANALYTICAL ENGINE IN 1837.
The integrated circuit
combines electronic
components into one
package.

com/uafpx) and in addition, incorporated her


own notes. hese detailed notes explained
how the machine worked and were much
longer than the original article. But they also
included the description of an algorithm for
calculating Bernoulli numbers using the
Analytical Machine (Note G), making this
the irst computer program ever developed.
Babbage never completed the Analytical
Engine as he had envisaged and Lovelaces
program was never used. Nevertheless,
Lovelace had invented the concept of
computer programming it would take the
world 100 years to catch her up and power-on
the irst all-electronic programmable
computer in 1943.

3. CLIFFORD COCKS

Todays CPUs are


descendants of Intels
4004 processor from 1971.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Cliford Cocks isnt a name youve probably


heard of, but chances are you use his work
every day. Cocks, a graduate in mathematics
from Cambridge University, largely created
public key cryptography, a two-key data
security system that enables data to be
encrypted and transmitted freely with little
fear of the data being hacked. However, Cocks
story is similar in some ways to that of another
British inventor, Tommy Flowers. Like Flowers
some 30 years earlier, Cocks 1973 invention
was considered classiied information by
British GCHQ (Government Communications
Headquarters) and he was sworn to secrecy.
His technique was later independently

invented by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Len


Adleman in 1977, which became known as
RSA, borrowing the initial letter of each of
their surnames. Cocks faced a lack of
computing power in 1973, which meant
applications for his invention were limited.
But today, public key cryptography protects
internet traic, email and secures many
websites. It wasnt until 1997 that Cocks
became free to discuss the invention. He was
recognised for his cryptography work by being
elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015.

4. PHILO FARNSWORTH
Farnsworth was just 14 years of age when he
imagined a method of dissecting images into a
series of scanned lines that became the irst allelectronic television system. Whats even more
impressive is that despite ongoing technology
developments, Farnsworths basic process
continued to televise much of the world for the
better part of 70 years. He drew diagrams of
his design for his high-school science teacher,
who encouraged Farnsworth to continue
developing his concept. his he did and in
1927, Farnsworth demonstrated the image
dissector, the irst all-electronic video camera.
However, his eforts to patent the technology
brought him up against the might of the giant
Recording Corporation of America (RCA) as
it, too, fought for patent protection of TV.
Ater many months of legal battles, those
high-school drawings would prove pivotal in
[ 075 ]

JACK KILBY, AN
ENGINEER WORKING
FOR TECHNOLOGY
COMPANY TEXAS
INSTRUMENTS,
CREATED THE
FIRST INTEGRATED
CIRCUIT IN 1958
THAT COMBINED
MULTIPLE
ELECTRONIC
COMPONENTS INTO
MODULE
ONE SOLID MODULE.

Farnsworth winning his case. He eventually


received a US$1 million settlement from RCA
for use of his patents in 1939. Television, like
many other ields of technological endeavour
at the time, had many brilliant engineers
working on various improvements. But the
contribution of Farnsworth cannot be
overstated.

5. TOMMY FLOWERS
By 1941 and with World War II in the balance,
the Germans had upgraded their secret
message encoding to the new Lorenz SZ40
encipher machine. While the famed Enigma
machine continued handling general
communications, the SZ40 encrypted critical
messages between Hitler and his ield generals.
Amazingly, Lorenz was cracked by a young
mathematician, Bill Tutte, in 1942, but the
Allies needed faster decryption and initial
mechanical eforts were slow and unreliable.
Post oice research electrical engineer Tommy

Flowers ofered a solution an electronic


machine. His superiors said it couldnt be
done, so he did it anyway, spending his own
money to build the worlds irst all-electronic
programmable computer called Colossus,
licking the switch in November 1943. It
worked immediately and his superiors,
cap-in-hand, ordered another ten, the second
operational on June 1st, 1944, ive days before
D-Day. At wars end, British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill ordered the 11 computers
and all documents destroyed and the Oicial
Secrets Act gagged Flowers from ever talking
about it. But rumours began to leak during the
1970s and Flowers was eventually free to tell
his story. A working replica of Colossus now
stands at Bletchley Parks National Museum of
Computing (tinyurl.com/q85dnbg).

6. GRACE HOPPER
he irst computer programs coded into
Tommy Flowers Colossus computer were

Turing used Blumleins


Long-Tail-Pair circuit
invention in the ACE
computer.

Patent diagram of Hedy


Lamarrs Secret
Communication System.
[ 076 ]

written in raw electronic form by licking


appropriate switches and patching in phone
cables. It wasnt until the mid-1950s that the
idea of writing computer code in humanreadable form came to fruition. Computers
required machine-readable code and a
mechanism was needed for automating the
process of converting human code into
machine code. Grace Hopper, a
mathematician with a PhD from Yale
University, joined the US Naval Reserve in
1943 and transferred to the Bureau of
Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard
University. here, she became just the third
person to program the Harvard Mk. I, the USs
irst computer. Ater the war, Hopper moved
to the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation
and developed the irst compiler that took
human code and auto-translated it into
machine code. She then developed a business
programming language called FLOWMATIC, which became the basis of the
compiled Common Business-Oriented
Language or COBOL in 1959. If you use an
app on your computer, phone, tablet or TV,
very likely it was converted from humanlanguage code into machine code, thanks to a
compiler. Without Grace Hoppers invention,
the computer revolution would still be stuck in
irst gear.

7. HEDY LAMARR
Hedy Lamarr was one of Hollywoods
brightest stars during the 1940s, starring in a
string of hit movies. But in her down-time, she
was an avid inventor and problem-solver.
Together with composer George Antheil,
Lamarr developed a system of communication
that, instead of transmitting on just a single
frequency, it continually jumped or hopped
from one pre-determined frequency to
another. It was irst designed in 1941 to protect
radio-controlled torpedos from being hacked
by an enemy and followed a similar principle
to music rolls that stored songs playable on
pianola-style player-pianos. But instead of the
roll having 88 rows to represent each note on
the piano, Lamarrs idea was that each of the
88 rows represented a particular frequency
with the transmitter and receiver in lock-step
as the rolls played the frequency hopping
code. With a continually changing
transmission frequency, it would be nearimpossible for an enemy to hack into the
communications. Lamarrs system included
multiple suggestions for maintaining
synchronisation from calibrated springmotors to transmitting occasional sync pulses
to auto-correct the lock-step. Today,
frequency-hopping spread spectrum
communication is the method behind much of
the wireless technology we use every day,
including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Lamarr was
awarded a patent for the Secret
Communication System in August 1942).

Philo Farnsworth
invented the tech
behind TV at just 14
years old.

technology today. It was Shockley who


invented the Bipolar Junction Transistor in
1948, which is still used and readily available.
While transistors were many times smaller
than the valves of the day, the irst beneit of
transistors was their greatly reduced power
consumption, enabling the irst portable
transistor radios in the 1950s. hey also
inspired the 9-volt transistor battery, invented
in 1956 and still used to power smoke alarms
today. Transistors drive everything from
phones to cars, washing machines to fridges,
microwave ovens to itness bands. A single
Intel Core i5 processor chip in your desktop
or laptop computer can contain as many as
1.4 billion of them. Its impossible to overplay
the importance of the transistor without it,
modern life just wouldnt exist.

10. ALAN TURING

FARNSWORTH WAS JUST 14 YEARS


OF AGE WHEN HE IMAGINED A METHOD
OF DISSECTING IMAGES INTO A SERIES
OF SCANNED LINES THAT BECAME
THE FIRST ALL-ELECTRONIC
TELEVISION SYSTEM.

8. ROBERT NOYCE
he 1947 invention of the transistor made it
possible to create comparatively-tiny electronic
circuits, but as miniaturisation continued, it
also created diiculties for manufacturing.
Jack Kilby, an engineer working for technology
company Texas Instruments, created the irst
integrated circuit in 1958 that combined
multiple electronic components into one solid
module. Meanwhile, Robert Noyce, who
co-founded electronics company Fairchild
Semiconductor, came up with production
improvements to the idea. he silicon chip era
had arrived. Both Texas Instruments and
Fairchild Semiconductor iled patents, starting
a patent battle that wasnt settled until 1966.
However, continued miniaturisation increased
the number of transistors that could be
incorporated into a chip and, in 1968, Noyce
moved again, this time to launch a little chip
company called Intel. hree years later, in
January 1971, Intel released the irst central
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

processing unit or CPU called the 4004,


with 2,300 transistors built into the chip.
Today, computer chips can feature more than
a billion transistors and power everything
from your car to your TV. Without them, the
computing revolution and the internet would
still be iction. Both Kilby and Noyce are now
generally regarded as co-inventors of the
integrated circuit.

9. WILLIAM SHOCKLEY
Until 1947, the ability to amplify sound or
radio waves, or to electrically switch power
required a device called a thermionic valve or
tube. Looking like a complicated light bulb,
these devices were typically mostly glass,
about the size of a D-cell battery and required
considerable power to run. William Shockley,
together with John Bardeen and Walter
Brattain, are credited with inventing the
transistor in 1947, setting in motion a chain
of inventions that continue to power

Alan Turing was already a prominent


mathematician at Cambridge University when
World War II brought him to Bletchley Park
to join the war efort against the Germans
Enigma Cipher Machine. Working from
documents received from the Polish Cipher
Bureau before the war in 1939, Turing cracked
Enigma and further developed the bombes,
motorised electromechanical machines used
to crack the Enigma settings that decrypted
that days messages back into plain text. Turing
was also heavily involved in post-war eforts in
digital computing, designing the Automatic
Computing Engine (ACE), one of the irst
stored-program computers. Built in 1950, it
incorporated electronic circuitry invented by
Alan Blumlein in 1936. However, one of
Turings greatest scientiic contributions was
his forays into artiicial intelligence. In his
1950 paper Computing Machinery and
Intelligence (tinyurl.com/con6gjn, PDF),
Turing creates he Imitation Game, involving
a man and a woman carrying out a text-based
conversation with an interrogator who, not
able to see either of them, tries to igure out
whos who. Turing then asks what happens if a
machine replaces the man. he game was later
characterised as a text-conversation between
human and machine and whether or not the
machine could convince the human the
responses were from another human rather
than a machine. his later became known as
the Turing Test. Turings legacy was brought
to life in the 2014 movie he Imitation Game
with Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing.

BE INSPIRED!
Many inventions are born of necessity, many
from just asking the right questions, others
from asking just one question What if...?
Next time you pull out your phone, watch TV,
listen to music or game on your device, be
inspired by the history behind it and maybe
even be inspired to make your own history.

[ 077 ]

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

iOS 10
104 tips, tricks and secrets!

THE NEWEST VERSION OF IOS INTRODUCES SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES


IN RECENT YEARS BUT FAR FROM BEING JUST A FLASHY REDESIGN,
THERE ARE MANY COOL AND EXCITING NEW HIDDEN FEATURES TO DISCOVER.
OUR IN-DEPTH GUIDE EXPLAINS ALL.
[ ALAN STONEBRIDGE ]

[ 078 ]

he Lock screen has been revised in iOS


10, and you dont even need to press a
button to show it if you leave Settings > Display
& Brightness > Raise to Wake on (this needs an
iPhone 6s or 6s Plus). Unlocking your device
now requires you to press the Home button,
rather than swiping.
01

Raise to Wake is complemented by a


setting that unlocks a device with Touch
ID without even needing to press Home:
Settings > General > Accessibility > Home
Button > Rest Finger to Open. his is helpful on
large iPhones. Note it only works on devices
with Touch ID.
02

Notiication Center and Control Center


are still accessed with swipes inwards
from the top and bottom screen edges,
respectively, but Today view has been moved:
swipe right on the Lock or Home screen.
03

for additional control, such as sliding a inger


up or down to adjust a lights brightness. Tap
the house icon to open the Home app.

3D TOUCH ENHANCEMENTS
A irm press on an iPhones Home
screen folder ofers an option to rename
it. When you tap that, the folder opens with its
current name wholly selected so you can type
over it.
01

When a folder displays a badge


notiication, you dont need to go inside
it to ind the app. Apply 3D Touch to the folder
and its Quick Actions will list apps inside that
have notiications.

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

THE LOCK SCREEN

02

Downloaded a cool app and want to tell


someone about it? You dont need to ind
it on the App Store in order to share a link to it.
Just 3D Touch its Home screen icon, choose the
Share command, then pick a method from the
Share sheet.
03

he camera is accessed more easily at the


Lock screen, too. Rather than swiping
upwards from the bottom right, swipe let from
anywhere.
04

CONTROL CENTER
Swipe up from the screens bottom edge
to see the new-look Control Center. At
irst, it seems to have fewer controls than in iOS
9, but its clearer when features in the top row
are active, thanks to stronger use of colour.
Swipe let to show a second card of controls.
01

On 3D Touch devices, deep press the


lashlight and app shortcuts in the irst
cards bottom row to choose from one of three
lashlight brightnesses; set a 1, 5, 20 or
60-minute timer; copy Calculators last result;
or jump straight into photo, video, slo-mo or
selie camera mode.
02

Using 3D Touch on a folder uncovers a way torename that


item in fewer interactions than with regular taps.

Video and audio streaming controls are


split between cards in Control Center.
To send video to Apple TV, tap AirPlay
Mirroring on the irst card. To choose an audio
output, which might use AirPlay, Bluetooth or
even a cabled connection, tap the bottom row
on the second card (or choose one from the
right column on iPad).
03

If youve set up accessories and scenes in


the Home app, swiping let on Control
Center a second time reveals shortcuts to Home
options youve marked as favorites. Tap things
like lights to toggletheir status, or use 3D Touch
04

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

3D Touch enables you to manage app downloads. This is


especially useful when restoring an iCloud backup.
[ 079 ]

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

You can now 3D Touch an existing entry in the Reminders app


to quickly add a time orlocation for it.

Concerned about your cellular data


usage? Apply 3D Touch to the Settings
apps icon in iOS 10 for a shortcut to the Mobile
Data page, where you can monitor and manage
it, including any Personal Hotspot set up.
04

Some apps show a summary and extra


shortcuts when you 3D Touch their
Home screen icon. For example, Reminders
shows timed items, Calendar shows upcoming
events and alarms. Tapping Add Widget (top
right) adds this to Today view; but consider how
many you want to add, in case Today becomes
too crammed, and so less useful.
05

When an app is downloading, 3D Touch


its icon on the Home screen to pause the
download, cancel it or, if multiple apps are
downloading, prioritise it by moving it to the
top of the queue.
06

Save yourself a couple of taps when


retrospectively adding a time or location
to an item in Reminders by using 3D Touch on
the item.

QUICK TIP
TODAY VIEW

LOOK UP

Many of the widgets you can add to the


Today view ofer interactivity, which
may take you to a particular place in the
app, much like tapping a notiication
does. If you only want to open the app,
though, just tap its tiny icon at the
widgets top-let corner.

he new Look Up option (which replaces


Deine in the contextual menu when
you select a word) displays results from online
sources such as Wikipedia and the App Store.
To restrict it to searching your personal data
only, switch of Settings > General> Spotlight
Search > Suggestions in Look Up.

07

02

MANY OF THE WIDGETS YOU


CAN ADD TO THE TODAY VIEW
OFFER INTERACTIVITY.

NOTIFICATIONS AND WIDGETS


Notiications can ofer greater
interactivity in iOS 10. When one
appears, 3D Touch it (or swipe down from it on
devices without 3D Touch) to see actions you
can take. For example, Messages displays recent
interactions to save you opening the app to refer
back to them, and HomeKit-compatible
doorbells can show whos at the door, with
options to use the intercom or unlock the door.
01

To quickly dismiss all items in


Notiication Center, apply 3D Touch to
one of the crosses to the right of a heading (such
as Yesterday), then tap Clear All Notiications.
his really does clear everything, not just items
under the heading you pressed.
02

heres no longer a sort option in


Settings > Notiications, because iOS 10
always presents your notiications in reverse
chronological order.
03

Notiications are chronological. Apply 3D Touch to across


(to the right) for an option to clear all items.
[ 080 ]

01

Managing dictionaries has moved to


Settings > General > Dictionary.

Even if you disable Look Ups online


search capability, itll still ofer a Search
the Web option to submit your terms to
whichever search engine you use in Safari.
03

SPOTLIGHT
When you tap Spotlights search bar,
below the suggestions of apps you
might want to use are some of your previous
searches. Tap one to perform it again.
01

At the top right of somegroups of


results are the words Search in App.
If a group doesnt include an item you expect
to see, tap these words to open the
corresponding app and automatically
perform the same search inside it.
02

When an app is among the results of


a Spotlight search, apply 3D Touch to
its icon to access its Quick Actions and
widget, where applicable, just like on the
Home screen. This also works for relevant
apps in Spotlights Siri Suggestions box
but, strangely, not in Today views Siri App
Suggestions widget.
03

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

DEVICES WITHOUT 3D TOUCH LACK


THE CONFORMATIONAL BUZZ; LET GO WHEN
THE SEARCH BAR REACHES ITS RESTING POSITION.

Spotlight can show results from


Wikipedia, Apples stores and other
online sources. If you want to limit it to
searching your own content, switch of
Settings > General > Spotlight Search >
Suggestions in Search.
04

Notiication Center and Today view


each have a Spotlight search bar at
the top. This is even available when you
open Notiication Center while in an app,
enabling you to look up things without
returning to the Home screen.
05

GAMING
he Game Center app no longer exists in
iOS 10. Its services remain available for
games to use, though they must provide an
interface for leaderboards and the like. Set your
nickname and whether your proile is public in
Settings > Game Center.
01

Developers can add a screen recording


feature to their games, which saves to the
Camera Roll. If your kids might not understand
the consequences for storage, you can disable
this feature in Settings > General > Restrictions
> Screen Recording.
02

NOTES

While using an app, jump straight to


Spotlight, with the keyboard ready
for input, by slowly dragging downwards
from the screens top edge until you feel a
vibration, then let go. Devices without 3D
Touch lack the conformational buzz; let go
when the search bar reaches its resting
position.
06

Spotlight can now search for your


iles stored in iCloud Drive their
contents as well as ilenames, as on the Mac.
If you dont want this for any reason, turn of
iCloud Drives switch in Settings > General >
Spotlight Search.
07

Notes now lets you collaborate with


others. Edit a note, then tap the
person-like icon with a + on it, choose how to
send an invitation, and then ill out the
recipients details.
01

Only the creator of a note can invite


people. If collaborators dont have iOS
10, theyre directed to iCloud.com to edit the
note there. Changes are shown in real time, with
a temporary, eye-catching highlight.
02

Notes (and Mail) are easier to work with


on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, sporting a
Mac-like, three-pane interface that uses the
larger screen to show more information.
03

QUICK TIP
PLAYBACK
In Settings > Videos, youll ind separate
playback quality settings for Wi-Fi and
cellular networks.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Pull slowly from the top


of the screen to open
Spotlight anywhere.
[ 081 ]

Apple has redesigned Musics navigation, with


more obvious methods of browsing your library.

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

THE MUSIC APP NOW WORKS


WITH SPLIT VIEW ON
SUPPORTED IPADS HANDY
IF YOU WANT TO CHECK OUT
AN ARTISTS OUTPUT WHILE
READING ABOUT THEM,
FOR EXAMPLE.

Music now supports Split View, so you can


investigate whats in Apple Musics library as
you read about an artist youve just discovered.

MUSIC AND MORE


In the new-look Music app, tap Library
tobrowse your collection, including
playlists. At the top of this page are ways to
browse, such as by artist, album or song title.
Tap Edit to add videos, genres, compilations
and composers, or to turn of anything you
dont need. Drag on the grips to the right to
reorder these items, then tap Done.
01

Downloaded Music is now a view in its


own right, rather than a switch you can
toggle. When you select it from your library
options, you can browse your music as normal,
except you only see whats been downloaded.
As in iOS 9, it adds a bar to the top of the screen
as a reminder youre not seeing everything from
the Apple Music library. No matter how deep
youve gone into this view, tap Library to see all
your music not just whats downloaded to
the device.
02

To see tracks coming up ater the current


one, tap the MiniPlayers bar at the
bottom of the screen, then swipe upwards on
the expanded MiniPlayer.
03

You also need to swipe up on the


expanded MiniPlayer to access shule
and repeat controls. If the items in the queue
are the contents of an album or playlist,
enabling shule has an immediate visible efect
on their order.
04

05

[ 082 ]

he queue no longer scrolls back in time;


tap For You, where the top row of items

You can set how much music you


want to keep on your device, so you
always have something to listen to.

shows albums from which youve played tracks,


just not the exact ones. Tap See All for a
longer history.
he Music app now works with Split
View on supported iPads handy if
you want to check out an artists output while
reading about them, for example.

iOS 10 lets you ix its screen readers


mispronunciations, and set languages and apps
use your corrections.

SCREEN READER

06

To prevent iOS removing music from


your devices storage to make room for
other stuf, go to Settings > Music > Downloads
> Optimise Storage and pick the minimum
amount to keep. his only appears if iCloud
Music Library is enabled.
07

iOS 10s screen reader now permits


corrections to mispronunciations. In
Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech >
Pronunciations, tap + to add one. You can
speak or type it out; tap Play (top right) to
test how iOS will say it. You can set a
language to which the pronunciation applies,
which voices use it, whether its casesensitive and which apps it works in.
01

iOS 10 can read out what youve just


typed. In Settings > General >
Accessibility > Typing Feedback, the options
under Character Feedback tell it to read out
individual characters or accented ones.
Below that, you can instruct it to read out
words after you type them. Theres also an
option to speak auto-corrections that are
made to your text, and another to hold on a
predicted row in the top row of the QuickType
keyboard to have it spoken.
02

he adjacent Automatic Downloads


08
switch difers from the one in Settings >
iTunes & App Store; whereas the latter
downloads iTunes Store tracks no matter the
device you bought them on, this one downloads
tracks added to your iCloud Music Library even
if they were imported from a CD or another
store on your Mac. Ensure iCloud Music
Library is enabled on all relevant devices for
this to work.

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

Messages is a whole lot more fun now that you


can send special efects, animated GIFs and
even your own drawings.

IMESSAGE APPS AND NEW OPTIONS


Tap the A next to the appscomposition
box, then swipe horizontally on the
drawer that opens to browse your iMessage
apps and stickers. Tap the four ovals to see them
all or get more from the App Store.

Tap the heart icon to draw Digital Touch


messages. he recipient sees them build
up in exactly the way you drew them. Tap the
up arrow for a larger drawing area, or the cues
on the right for special efect gestures.

he #images app lets you search the web


for animated GIFs so you can quickly
send them to the person youre speaking to.
Tap the upwards-pointing arrow to see more.

Tap Digital Touchs camera icon to take


a photo (white button) or record a video
(red) and draw on it. Sketches on videos also
play back at your original timing.

Tap the camera icon for a live camera


view (tap to take a new photo) and to
show recent pictures to the right. Swipe right t
o use full camera controls or to ind an older
image.

To send a message with a special


animation (on its bubble or fullscreen),
hold on the Send button. Invisible Ink obscures
your text or media until the recipient swipes
over it.

01

02

03

Tap and hold on the Send button in Messages to bring up the


diferent animations.

04

he suggestions bar will now ofer up


information that logically follows on
from what youve typed, such as phone
numbers (You can reach me on...), addresses
(My postcode is...) and birthdays (Joshs
birthday is...).
10

05

To tweak or annotate an image in a


message, tap it, then tap Edit. Changes
made here dont afect the original image. You
can also tap Markup toenable sketching tools.
11

06

You can enable read receipts for


individual conversations. Tap Details (or
the i in a circle) at the top of a message thread,
then switch on Send Read Receipts.

Double-tap a message, then choose a


quick response: a heart, a thumbs up or
down, ha ha, double exclamation points, or a
question mark. Your response is attached that
bubble.
12

07

13

Save data with Settings > Messages >


Low-Quality Image Mode.

Save time inding emoji: write some


words, tap the emoji key to highlight
suitable words which can be replaced, then tap
a word to replace it.
08

he keyboards suggestions bar suggests


emoji you might want to use. In
addition, if you start using another language,
its word suggestions follow suit without you
needing to switch keyboard.
09

Double-tap a message bubble to use Tapback, which ofers


six quick responses; your choice is aixed to the bubble.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 083 ]

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

Contacts has quick buttons for contacting people, which can link to third-party services.

In Accessibility settings, tell iOS 10 which


colour vision problem you have and itll
adjust all of its output to suit.

CONTACTS
Contacts new look makes it clearer
that icons are tappable. With a
contact card selected, you can hold a inger
on, or 3D Touch, the icons in the row under
the persons name. This displays a list of that
persons contact methods of that type.
01

MAGNIFIER HELPS YOU CHECK


OUT TINY THINGS, SUCH AS
SMALL PRINT.

VISUAL AIDS
If you have colour-blindness, you can
view content more easily. In Settings >
General > Accessibility > Display
Accommodations > Colour Filters, identify
the kind that afects you and iOS will adjust
its colour output to compensate. he efects
intensity can be tweaked.
01

Magniier helps you check out tiny


things, such as small print on contracts
or the text on the back of Apple devices, using a
special camera mode. Switch it on in Settings >
General > Accessibility, go back a level, scroll
down, tap Accessibility Shortcut and set it to
Magniier.
02

To use Magniier, triple-click the Home


button. Drag the slider or pinch the view
to zoom, and tap the lightning icon to
illuminate the scene using your iPhones lash.
Tap the shutter release to freeze the view (this
doesnt actually save a photo). You can zoom
and pan it in this state.
03

Do Not Disturb is great for getting a


bit of peace, but perhaps there are
some people you never want to ignore. Edit a
persons card in Contacts, tap the Ringtone
or Text Tone row, then turn on Emergency
Bypass. This can be set diferently for calls
and text messages.
02

NEWS
he News app enables you to choose
which of your subscribed channels are
allowed to send you notiications (if capable).
Tap the bell icon at the top of the Favourites
page to alter these settings.
01

You can sort your favourite channels in


News, too. Tap the Favourites heading at
the top-centre of the eponymous page to sort by
name, most recent or those read most oten.
02

As with Calendar events, iOS 10


enhances the ability to detect
contact details, extending it from just Mail to
other apps too. If you dont want this at all,
though, switch of Settings > Contacts >
Contacts Found in Apps. When this kind
ofcontact shows up in Spotlight search
results, its clearly labeled as having been
found in an app.
03

If you have multiple accounts (such


Google, iCloud, Exchange and so on)
set up on your device, you can choose which
is the destination for new contacts in
Settings > Contacts > Default Account.
04

To compensate for poor contrast, tap the


three circles, then: swipe horizontally on
the view to apply a colour ilter; adjust the
brightness and contrast sliders; or tap the icon
at the bottom let to swap bright and dark
colours. Tap the circles to be able to zoom and
pan again.
04

If, say, you want to enter text you viewed


in Magniier, close Magniier by pressing
Home. When you open it again, it will have
retained its frozen image.
05

Favourite channels in News can be sorted, and some can provide notiications about updates.
[ 084 ]

Apple has split settings for Mail,


Contacts and Calendars into three
discrete pages. Mail has a couple of new items
under hreading to complement Organise By
hread. Most Recent Message on Top toggles
the order in which messages are shown.
01

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

MAIL
When Mail sees an unsubscribe link in a
message, it adds a shortcut to that links
target to the top of the message. Tap the cross
on the right of this to dismiss it so Mail will no
longer prompt you for that particular list.
06

Holding a inger on the trashcan icon


now ofers the Archive Message action
as well as Delete Message.
07

Complete hreads ensures all messages


02
in a conversation are shown, even if
youve moved some to other mailboxes.

Tapping Mails search bar presents four


shortcuts to common searches (which
used to require you to type a few characters
for Mail to suggest them): messages that are
unread, lagged, from your designated VIPs
or with attachments. To apply two or more,
you still must type part of the additional ones
to get Mail to suggest it.
08

When you double-tap the arrows next


03
to a thread in the messages list,
the constituent messages expand downwards
to show short summaries, which might
immediately uncover the one you want.
Tap elsewhere on a threads row to see
the whole conversation in a long,
scrolling view, with each message presented like
a piece of paper. Swipe let or right on these,
just like items in the messages list, to take
quick action.
04

To pull one message forward and read


with a slightly bigger font and longer line
length, tap its header. To return to the whole
conversation, tap Done.
05

Tap the icon of a circle containing three


lines of diminishing length to toggle the
ilter for the current mailbox. A description of
the active ilter appears to the right; tap it to
choose from the same criteria the search bar
suggests, plus use the ability to exclude
messages not directly addressed or copied to
you. Mail remembers ilter settings individually
for each mailbox.
09

Applying a ilter enables you to narrow


whats shown in a mailbox without
having to type in the search bar.

Message threads now look more like they


do in Mail for Mac. Also, its easier to
remove yourself from mailing lists.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

[ 085 ]

EXTRAS
Many of iOS 10s built-in apps can be
removed, including Tips, Stocks and
Weather. Tap and hold to make them jiggle,
then tap the x, just like any other app. You
can get them back from the App Store.
01

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

PHOTOS
he People album in Photos shows faces
that the app has detected from your
pictures. Drag favorites to the space at the
albums top for quick access. Tap a face to see
more photos and Memories featuring that
particular person.
01

It may have recognised more faces but


not be showing them perhaps because
you have few pictures of those people. Tap +
(Add People), tap faces you want in the People
album, then tap Add. Watch out for separate
pictures of the same person; tap them, followed
by Merge.
02

You can also merge faces at the top of


the People album: irst, tap Select, then
some faces, then Merge. If you dont want to see
a person here that the app has picked out,
choose Hide.
03

Photos new image analysis capabilities


extends beyond faces to animals, objects
and scenery. he app scans your photos, and is
able to pick out animals such as dogs (even
down to certain breeds), places such as the
beach or an apartment, or objects. It also detects
facial expression, including smiling and
04

surprise. You dont need to do anything


toattach this information to photos you
can just start searching for items by name!
he Places album groups photos by
where they were taken, and spreads
them into smaller groups as you zoom in.
Tap a photo on the map to see photos from
that location, or tap Grid for a scrolling view
of larger thumbnails of all pics taken in the
area youre looking at.
05

You can use the Markup tools in


Photos. Edit a picture, then tap the
icon of three dots in a circle, then choose
Markup. If you dont see it, scroll to the right,
tap More, then turn on Markups switch and
tap Done.
06

THE PEOPLE ALBUM IN


PHOTOS SHOWS FACES THAT
THE APP HAS DETECTED
FROM PICTURES.

Photos analyses your librarys contents, enabling you to look up


pictures that contain speciic people, objects and scenes.

[ 086 ]

Universal Clipboard enables you


tocopy text, images and video
between Macs and iOS devices signed in to
the same iCloud account provided, provided
theyre Handof compatible.
02

A new action in iOSs Share sheet


now enables you to save things
directly to iCloud Drive. In Photos, for
example, tap the Share button and choose
Add To iCloud Drive. In Mail, tapand hold
on an attachment.
03

CLOCK
Clocks Bedtime feature enables you to
dial in the time you need to wake up and
sets a corresponding bedtime to ensures you get
the necessary amount of sleep. Tap Bedtime and
follow the steps to set up an alert that prompts
you to go to bed. he feature feeds basic sleep
analysis data into Health. his wake-up time
alarm isnt afected by Siris alarm commands.
Tap Options to choose days of the week
that youre prompted to get ready for
bed, how far in advance of your target bedtime
that happens, a sound that gently gets louder to
wake you, whether to vibrate as well, and the
overall volume.
02

Safari on the iPad has speedy options


for showing two sites at once and
managing tabs.

FEATURE
IOS 10: 104 TIPS, TRICKS, AND SECRETS!

01

Once youve set up Bedtime, you can


make adjustments to it when needed.
Drag on the coloured arc between the icons on
the clocks circumference to move both the
bedtime and wake-up time.
03

SAFARI
To view two sites at once in Safari (on
iPads that support Split View), hold a
inger on a link and choose Open in Split View.
Each has its own set of controls.
01

hat quick way to close all tabs is also


available on iPhone handy, since
Safari will happily let you open hundreds!
06

Alternatively, drag a tab down from the


02
tab bar, then to the let or right edge of
the screen. he irst view shrinks as a cue.

Try pinch-to-zoom on a site that doesnt


normally allow it. In Safari in iOS 10,
you can take a closer look even if the designer
doesnt want you to.

Another route into Split View is to hold


on the Show All Tabs button and
choose Open Split View. his is handy if you
want to open one of your favourites.

he Bookmarks and Reading List tabs


in Safaris sidebar now each have a
search bar; swipe downwards on eithers
contents to reveal it.

To revert to showing one fullscreen site:


drag the last tab from one view to the
others tab bar to merge them, or tap that tabs
cross if you no longer need it.

One of the actions when you hold on a


link is Share, which saves a little time
and cellular data if its something you think a
friend will like but dont care to read yourself.

Alternatively, hold on the Show All Tabs


icon, then choose Merge All Tabs, or
even choose Close <number> Tabs to close all
of that views tabs at once.

If you dont want to be given the


opportunity to use Apple Pay to buy
from websites, turn of Settings > Safari >
Check for Apple Pay.

07

03

04

05

Clocks Stopwatch feature on the Phone


now ofers a chronograph view as well as
the existing digital one. Swipe horizontally on
the timer area to switch between them.
04

08

09

10

Clocks Bedtime feature gives you a nudge when its time to


rest, so that you get the sleep you need.

MAPS AND HOMEKIT


You can tell Maps to never include bus, subway and light
rail, suburban rail, tram or ferry journeys when plotting
directions. Find this option in Settings > Maps > Public Transport.
01

Maps can work out where you parked and automatically


drop a pin there for you, provided Settings > Maps >
Show Parked Location is switched on and your car has a
Bluetooth or CarPlay stereo.
02

If you dont have an Apple TV to use as a conduit for


remote control of HomeKit accessories while youre away,
use an iPad thats always online and plugged in. Turn on Settings
> Home > Use this iPad as a Home Hub.
03

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Dont have a fourth-generation


Apple TV? You can use an iPad
thats home and onlineas a
conduit for remotecontrol of your
HomeKit accessories.
[ 087 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

HELP STATION
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR TECH

[ THIS MONTH IN HELP STATION ]

88
90
92
94
96
98

Q&A
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Windows
TURN YOUR WINDOWS PC INTO
A WI-FI HOTSPOT

Mac
MANAGE STORAGE IN MACOS SIERRA

Android
ANDROID 7.0S BEST HIDDEN
FEATURES

Downloads & streaming


SUPER-SIZE YOUR CLOUD STORAGE
FOR FREE

Security & privacy


TAKING OUT THE TRASH APPS

networking
100 Home
CREATE YOUR OWN NAS
102 Photography
MASTER FOCUS ON YOUR DSLR
AV
106 Home
WHY YOU DONT NEED A 4K TV

MailStore canback up
youremail directfrom
the server.

[ WINDOWS ]

Cant install
programs
I have a Microsot Surface Book and have had
nothing but trouble with it. I recently
reinstalled Windows 10 and, since then, any
program that requires msi.exe to install
well, doesnt install. he error message tells me
it cant ind the sotware installer folder. Seeing
as Ive already had to reinstall once to resolve
problems with this tablet, is thereany way I
can avoid another full reinstall?
RICHARD JONES

Graham Barlow replies: By the time we


contacted Richard, hed bitten the bullet and
reinstalled Windows 10 again thankfully,
this time, the problem had inally resolved itself.

Microsoft ofers a speciic tool thats designed to ix


problems with program installations being blocked.

[ 088 ]

The OneDrive app on the Microsoft Store lets you browse


iles stored on the cloud without syncing them locally.

However, before going down such a drastic


route in future, its worth checking out
Microsots Fix problems that block programs
from being installed or removed troubleshooter
app, which can be downloaded from support.
microsot.com/help/17588. It ixes a wide
range of installer problems, so could have
potentially saved Richard another long-winded
reinstall by resolving whatever issue he had
with MSI installer iles.
[ BACKUP ]

KLS Mail Backup and


Windows 10
I recently read about KLS Mail Backup (www.
kls-sot.com/klsmailbackup) and wanted to
use it to backup my email, but it doesnt seem
to work with the Windows 10 Mail app. How

quite slow, based on the speed and type of


your internet connection.
[ NETWORKING ]

Whats the purpose of a Homegroup, and


does it prevent my non-Windows devices
from being able to access shared content on
my Windows 10 PC?
[ PHILLIP RENTON ]

Nick Odantzis replies: You can run a


Homegroup side-by-side withtraditional
shared folders, Phillip. his means you can set
up a Homegroup to simplify printer, media
and ile sharing withother Windows PCson
your network without locking out Macs and
other non-Windows devices.
hink of the Homegroup as a simpliied set
of user permissions, granting Homegroup
members easy access to your Libraries,
USB-connected printers and media libraries.
In addition, you can share other iles and
folders quickly by right-clicking them and
choosing Share With. Other computers,
suchas Macs, can access your Homegroups
shared content by logging on with your
Windows user account credentials, and you
can also continue to share folders and iles
with selected individuals, in addition to your
Homegroup (choose Speciic people... from
the Share With menu).

Windows Homegroups can


work alongside existing shared
resources.

You need 16GB free space to


install the Anniversary Update.

do I back up email from this app in Windows


10? Microsot admits there is no facility built
into Windows 10.

[ WINDOWS ]

Free space for


Anniversary update
ofyour email in two separate locations as well
as enjoying the security ofhaving it backed up
too (KLS Mail Backup).

[ GEOFF LAUGHTON ]

[ CLOUD ]

Nick Peers replies: here is no backup toolwe


know of that will back up the Mail app, but all
is not lost. Geof usedthe Mail app with two
separate mail accounts Gmail and Greenbee.
net that can be conigured to leave copies of
the mail on the server. With this in mind, you
can bypass Mail completely and use a free email
archiving tool called MailStore Home (www.
mailstore.com) to back up mail directly from
the server. Use the Archive Email section to set
up each account, then either double-click the
proile to back up everything fromthe server or
right-click it irstand choose Properties to
decide exactly what to back up. Once backed
up, you can then browse and search your mail
oline, plus export it to diferent applications.
If all of this seems like too much efort, then
your other option is to install a mail client
wed suggest hunderbird (www.mozilla.org)
that is supported by KLS Mail Backup.
You could even run this in parallel with Mail,
so long as both apps are setto leave copies of
mail on the server, youd then have copies
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

HELP STATION
Q AND A

Do I need a
Homegroup?

OneDrive app
confusion
he Microsot Store OneDrive app is one of
the many thingsthat particularly confuses me
about Windows 10. If OneDrive support is
baked into Windows, meaning all your iles
are accessible through File Manager, then
whats the point ofthe app?
[ STEVE COX ]

Cat Ellis replies: he Store version of the


OneDrive app appears to be targeted to those
with Windows PCs, tablets or phones who dont
want to keep their OneDrive contents synced
with that device. If you have a tablet or PC with
limited storage, you may not wish to sync all of
your OneDrive content on that device, yet still
want to be able to access non-synced iles and
folders on occasion. he OneDrive app like
so many apps provides a convenient
front-end to achieving this without having to
open up your web browser. Its worth noting,
however, that browsing your storage can be

I own a Windows 10 tablet with 32GB of


storage. I triedto run the Anniversary
Update installer, but it stated I need at least
16GB of free space. Howcan I recover the
required space?
[ WENDY HAYNES ]

Cat Ellis replies: We encountered asimilar


issue with ourown tablet. We diligently
cleared the required space using a
combination of methods: the Disk Cleanup
tool, moving Windows apps to our internal
microSD card and removing a handful of
non-essential programs. We also pressed
Windows-X, chose Command Prompt
(Admin) and ran powercfg -h of to
temporarily disable Hibernation and remove
the hiberil.sys ile.
hese methods, coupled with areboot,
cleared our free space back to 17GB, but the
tool continued to throw up the insuicient
disk space error. Undeterred, we downloaded
the latest version of the Media Creation Tool
from www.microsot.com/en-gb/sotwaredownload/windows10ISO and this didnt
throw up the error, allowing us to complete
the update successfully.

[ 089 ]

HELP STATION
TURN YOUR WINDOWS PC INTO A WI-FI HOTSPOT

[ WINDOWS ]

Turn your
Windows
PC into a
Wi-Fi
hotspot
SHARE THE WIRED OR
WIRELESS INTERNET
CONNECTION OF YOUR
WINDOWS 10 PC WITH OTHER
USERS AND DEVICES WITH ONE
OF THESE TWO METHODS.
[ TIM HARDWICK ]

HAVE YOU EVER found yourself away from


home with access to only a single wired
internet connection, but with various wireless
devices that you and your family want to
connect up? Perhaps youve stayed in a hotel
room where Wi-Fi access is charged based on
the number of users that log on. Or maybe you
just want to temporarily extend your home
networks wireless range to the garden or
another part of the house using your laptop.

Windows 10s facility to turn your PC into


a wireless hotspot can be the perfect solution
in all of these situations, and here, well show
you two ways you can do it.
he irst and easiest method involves
downloading and installing a third-party app
that largely automates the process. But if youre
conident enough to adjust a few Windows
settings, give the second method a go instead.

TIMS BEST TIP


FOR A SECURE WIFI HOTSPOT:
USE A COMBINATION OF
NUMBERS AND LOWERCASE/
UPPERCASE LETTERS IN YOUR
NETWORK PASSWORD.

[STEP BY STEP]

TURN YOUR PC INTO A WIFI HOTSPOT

01

VIRTUAL ROUTER

This irst method involves installing a third-party utility called Virtual


Router. Its a free open-source app; its also free of ads and
bloatware. Open up a browser window, type virtualrouter.codeplex.com into
the address bar and hit Enter. Youll see the open-source project page and a
download button. Click it to download and conirm you want to install the utility.

[ 090 ]

02

NAME YOUR NETWORK

Virtual Router should appear in your Start menu. Open the app and
you should see the utilitys management window appear. Now, give
your new Wi-Fi hotspot an identiiable name by typing one into the Network
Name (SSID) ield. Next, input a password for your network (eight characters
minimum), then select the connection to share from the menu and click Start
Virtual Router.

Hit a problem? Its likely your sharing preferences arent properly


conigured. To ix them, open the Start menu and type View
network connections in the search bar. Now, right-click the connection to
share and select Properties. Click the Sharing tab and ensure the box is
checked next to Allow other network users to connect through this
computers internet connection.

CONNECT TO HOTSPOT

04

If you tweaked Windows sharing preferences outlined in Step 3,


start the Virtual Router again and your Wi-Fi hotspot should go
live. Now, switch to a device that you want to connect (weve used an iPhone)
and open its Wi-Fi settings. The name you gave your network should show up
in the list of wireless signals. Select it, type in your password and the device
will connect.

ALTERNATIVE METHOD

05

Another method for sharing a wired or wireless connection with


other devices doesnt require additional utilities, but it does
involve a visit to Windows 10s command line. In order to get there, press
Windows-X on your keyboard to bring up the power user settings menu and
select Command Prompt (Admin) from the list. This will open up a black
window with a flashing cursor.

COMMAND LINE

06

Now, input the command at the cursor prompt, replacing the values
for SSID and key with the identifying network name and password
you would like to use: netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=AdHoc
key=password. Press Enter to run the command, and input netsh wlan start
hostednetwork and press Enter to start your Wi-Fi network.

ALLOW CONNECTIONS

07

Next, open the Start menu and type View network connections in
the search bar. Then right-click on the Wi-Fi connection you want to
share in the list and select Properties. Click on the Sharing tab and make sure
the box is checked next to Allow other network users to connect through this
computers internet connection. Now click OK.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

HELP STATION
TURN YOUR WINDOWS PC INTO A WI-FI HOTSPOT

SHARING PREFERENCES

03

CONNECT TO HOTSPOT

08

Move to a device you want to connect to your wireless hotspot and


open its Wi-Fi settings. The name of your network should show up in
the list of wireless signals. Select it, type in the password and the device should
connect automatically. Note that your hotspot will continue to serve other
devices as long as your computer is switched on and your Wi-Fi is active.

[ 091 ]

HELP STATION
MANAGE STORAGE IN MACOS SIERRA

{ MAC ]

Manage storage in macOS Sierra


DISCOVER HOW THE LATEST MACOS HELPS TO ENSURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH SPACE.
[ ALAN STONEBRIDGE ]

ONE OF THE conveniences Apple has added


in macOS Sierra is Optimised Storage, which
helps you to keep plenty of space free for
whatever task you take on next. hefeature is
tucked away in the About his Mac dialogs
Storage tab, where theres a new button labelled
Manage next to the breakdown of how your
startup disk is being used. Clicking this button
opens a new storage management window
(which is actually part of the System
Information app, located in the Utilities
folder; in it, choose Window > Storage
Management).
Many of the things you can accomplish in
this window can be done elsewhere in Sierra
and its bundled apps, as long as you know

where to look and are comfortable making


alterations. However, this window consolidates
prime methods for saving space in one place,
and provides advice on things you might have
overlooked (or be unaware of) and how much
space you might be able to reclaim. Even if you
consider yourself to be fairly in control of your
Mac, we urge you to at least open the app and
check its recommendations, some of which
may relate to older preferences youve already
discounted, and some that are new in Sierra.

SHARED BENEFITS
Changes you make in the window (except for
apps you trash) apply only to the current user
account, but your choices will afect others

who share your Mac. You might save even


more space by asking them to follow suit.
Beyond the 10 minutes this process will take
you, youll need to allow some extra time for
your Mac to do its part to process photos,
say, which depends on other factors such as
library size, whether youve already enabled
iCloud Photo Library, and your upload speed.
If you turn on iCloud Drives ability to keep
only recently used iles on your Mac as space
gets low, iles appear in Finder where you let
them, but with a cloud and arrow icon you can
click to redownload them ahead of time and
guarantee their availability when you are
oline or you can double-click one to get
andopen it immediately.

The Optimised Storage window

01
02
04

03

01

RECOMMENDED CHANGES

The window opens to this


page, suggesting some key ways you
can save on storage space.

[ 092 ]

02

ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES

Several items on the left


detail space used by various apps,
which you might want to reclaim.

03

MESSAGE ATTACHMENTS

This category lets you turn on


auto-download of only recent
attachments ornone at all.

04

MONITOR PROGRESS

The window neednt remain


open, as you can simply reopen it to
check lengthy tasks progress.

[STEP BY STEP]

HELP STATION
MANAGE STORAGE IN MACOS SIERRA

HOW TO FREE UP SPACE ON YOUR MAC

FIND THE FEATURE

01

Choose > About This Mac and then


click the new windows Storage tab. This
shows categorised breakdowns of used space on your
Macs directly attached storage. Theres a Manage
button next toonly the current startup disk. Click it.

REVIEW ITS SUGGESTIONS

02

The Storage Management window opens,


with Recommendations selected in its
left pane. On the right, ideas of how you can save
space are described, with abutton next to each.
Click one for more info, then accept or ignore it.

Photos obtains a full-quality copy from


iCloud when you edit a picture. Asfor
iles in Drive, accepting that idea turns on a new
item in iCloud Drives preferences that keeps only
recently used iles on your Mac if space gets low.

05

The next suggestion is equivalent to


turning on an item in iTunes Advanced
preferences. It instructs iTunes to remove movies and
TV episodes from your Mac after youve watched them,
potentially saving you lots of space due to their size.

As long as you havent excluded the Trash


from Time Machine backups, open a
window on the Trash in Finder and then choose Enter
Time Machine from the services menu bar icon.
Browse back in time and restore the ile.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

AUTO-EMPTY THE TRASH

06

Sierra can be set to automatically remove


items that have been in the Trash for longer
than 30 days. This is the same as enabling an item in
Finders Advanced preferences. Past the grace period,
items can still be recovered from Time Machine.

REDUCE CLUTTER

RECOVER LOST FILES

07

The irst items wording will suggest storing


iles and full-quality photos in iCloud,
depending on whether youve already set iCloud Photo
Library to keep optimised versions on your Mac if
space is low (this was possible before Sierra).

MOVIES AND TV SHOWS

FILES IN ICLOUD DRIVE

04

STORE IN THE CLOUD

03

08

The fourth recommendation is the same as


clicking Documents in the left pane. It can
take a while for your drives contents to be analysed
before big items appear under Large Files, where
theyre listed with when they were last accessed.

TRASH UNWANTED FILES

09

Select an item under Large Files,


Downloads or File Browser and press the
Spacebar to preview it, or trash it. Be careful as File
Browser is less safe than you might think; you can
trash the folder that holds your iTunes library, say.
[ 093 ]

HELP STATION
ANDROID 7.0S BEST HIDDEN FEATURES

[ANDROID]

Android 7.0s best


hidden features
GET TO GRIPS WITH THE BEST BITS
OF GOOGLES NEW MOBILE OS.
[LINDSAY HANDMER]

NOW THAT ANDROID 7.0 (aka Nougat)


is out on Nexus devices, and slowly trickling
across to other brands, its a good time to
explore all the little hidden tricks and tips
that are easy to miss at irst glance. Android 7.0
has some major drawcards, such as split screen
mode and a whole new notiication system,
but the true custom experience comes from
tweaking the lesser known options. To help get
you started, we have put together a list of our
favourites. Keep in mind that Android Nougat
has all sorts of new interactions, so try tapping
and long pressing diferent icons. For example,
touching the battery icon in the pull-down
menu quickly jumps directly to an expanded
usage chart. We tested these on a Huawei
Nexus 6P, but due to modiied manufacturer
UIs, the process may vary slightly on other
brands.

AUTOMATICS RULES
FOR DO NOT DISTURB

settings by doing a long touch and release


on a notiication itself. Options include
Do Not Disturb mode is great for avoiding
making notiications from that app silent,
interruptions while sleeping, but is easy
or allowing them to override Do Not
to forget to turn of in the morning.
Disturb. If you turn on UI Tuner, then tap
Android 7 can help
Other, Power
out by automatically
Notiication
ANDROID 7.0 HAS SOME
turning of Do Not
Controls and set it
MAJOR DRAWCARDS, SUCH
Disturb ater your
to On, notiications
AS SPLIT SCREEN MODE AND
morning alarm. From
can have their
A WHOLE NEW NOTIFICATION
Settings, head to
individual priority
SYSTEM, BUT THE TRUE
Sound, Do Not
adjusted.
CUSTOM EXPERIENCE COMES
Disturb, then
FROM TWEAKING THE LESSER BLOCK NUMBERS
Automatic Rules.
Android 7 now has
KNOWN OPTIONS.
here you can create
the option to block
a custom rule to turn
unwanted calls built right in. Open
of Do Not Disturb,
the dialler app, then tap the menu icon
or something else of your choice.
(three vertical dots), then Settings, Call
APP NOTIFICATION SETTINGS
Blocking. From there you can simply add
Quickly adjust a speciic apps notiication
numbers to be blocked. In the same menu,

EASTER EGG
As is tradition, Nougat includes a hidden
game, which this time is all about wrangling
cats. From Settings, tap About Phone, then
keep tapping the Android version number
until an N logo appears. Touch and hold,
then release a few times over and eventually
a little cat icon will appear under the N
(another long press turns it of). To actually
access the Easter Egg, open up the Quick
Settings menu and tap Edit, then swipe
down until you see the cat icon in the bottom
left. Touch and drag the icon up into the
editable Quick Settings menu, then navigate
back into the Quick Settings menu proper.
The cat icon will have turned into an empty
dish icon, and tapping it allows you to select
from four diferent treats. With the lure set,
go about your life as usual, and at some
point a cat will appear in your notiication
area. You can access more info about
the cats, plus rename or share them, by long
pressing and release on the dish icon,
or attract more with diferent treats.

[ 094 ]

HELP STATION
ANDROID 7.0S BEST HIDDEN FEATURES

it is also possible to enable (if not on


already) Caller ID & Spam, which can
warn about unsavoury numbers.

life easier, Chrome actually has a built-in


option to lick a tab to the second
split-screen window. With Chrome open,
touch and hold the square app switch
VOLUME ADJUSTMENTS
button (bottom right) to enable multiPressing the volume up or down button
tasking mode. Next, tap the Chrome menu
brings up the volume control, then tapping
button (three vertical dots, top right), and
the little down arrow on the right opens up
select Move To Other Window. his swaps
controls for all volumes. his makes for
your open tab to the other section of the
a quick and easy way
screen, and opens
to separately adjust
the Chrome tab
SOME OF THE MORE
the ringtone, media
under it. Opening
INTERESTING (BUT
or alarm volumes at
the menu on the
EXPERIMENTAL) FEATURES
any time. On the let
other tab allows it
OF ANDROID 7 ARE AVAILABLE to be switched back,
side, tapping the icon
ONLY TO DEVELOPERS.
itself instantly adjusts
or for diferent tabs
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT
the volume to zero,
to be opened.
ANYONE CAN TURN ON
and for the ringtone,
EMERGENCY
DEVELOPER MODE.
puts it into vibrate
CONTACT INFO
mode.
While many apps added the functionality,
IMPROVE READABILITY
Android now allows you to enter
Jump into Settings, head to Display and
emergency contact info. Head to Settings >
scroll down to ind the option to adjust
Users > Emergency Information. Options
the size of the OS display. You can scale it
include name, contact numbers, medical
down, but perhaps more useful is making
notes and more.
everything appear larger. Under the same
SYSTEM UI TUNER
menu, its also possible to adjust the phones
While available in Android Marshmallow,
font size for improved readability.
the UI Tuner has new tricks up its digital
DOUBLE CHROME
sleeve. To activate, pull down the
Split-screen mode is fantastic, but its iddly
notiication bar, tap Quick Settings,
to open a second Chrome window. To make
then touch and hold the gear icon for about
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

ive seconds and release. UI Tuner is located


at the bottom of the Phone Settings menu.
he options inside are experimental,
so can change, or have new features added
or removed with each update. One handy
option is to always show the battery
percentage, written in the battery icon itself.

DEVELOPER OPTIONS
he more interesting (but experimental)
features of Android 7 are available only
to developers. he good news is anyone
can turn on Developer Mode. From
Settings, swipe to the bottom and tap
About Phone, then swipe till your see
Build Number. Tap it seven times until it
congratulates you on becoming a developer.
Back in Settings, there is a new menu
called Developer Options. here are loads
of options, many of which arent useful to
the average user. Normally only compatible
apps can be used in split screen, but
Developer Mode includes an option to
force all apps to be used. Swipe right to
the bottom of Developer Mode and turn on
Force Activities to be resizable though
keep in mind it can be buggy.

[ 095 ]

HELP STATION
SUPER-SIZE YOUR CLOUD STORAGE (FOR FREE)

[ DOWNLOADS AND STREAMING ]

Super-size your
cloud storage for free
GOT A LOT OF STUFF TO SYNC IN THE CLOUD BUT DONT WANT TO PAY FOR THE
AMOUNT OF STORAGE YOU PROBABLY NEED? THESE SERVICES MIGHT HELP.
[NATHAN TAYLOR]

IF YOUVE USED Dropbox, OneDrive or


Google Drive, youll know just how convenient
an online sync drive can be. You can use them
both as a backup solution (though dedicated
online backup solutions are usually better) and
as a very convenient way to share large iles
with other people. You can, for example, put a
ile in your Dropbox and right click on it in
File Explorer to create a link. Paste that link in
an email and send it around to whoever you
want to share the ile with.
But many such services have a relatively
small amount of storage available with the free
account. Dropbox gives you 2GB. Google
Drive gives you 15GB. OneDrive used to give
you 15GB but was actually downgraded to
5GB earlier this year. If you need more than
that, but still like the price tag of free, there
are other services you can turn to.

The Weiyun services


ofers 1TB for free.

MEGA
mega.nz

TENCENT WEIYUN

Made by the people behind the now defunct


tencent-weiyun.eu5.org | www.weiyun.com (Chinese)
Chinese company Tencent ofers a staggering
MegaUpload, Mega works mostly like a
1TB of cloud storage for free, which is way,
conventional cloud drive service with a few
way more than anybody else. Whats more,
twists. For a start, it ofers a generous 50GB of
storage on the free account, considerably more the service is fast, easy enough to use and
while it doesnt quite have the sharing features
than most of the competition. It also ofers
or elegance of Dropbox, it can readily be used
complete ile privacy: when you upload a ile,
to transfer large iles, as well a share web links
it is encrypted with a key that only you have.
to iles.
Other than that, it
he catch is that the
operates largely like a
ONEDRIVE USED TO GIVE YOU
service is in Chinese.
conventional syncing
15GB BUT WAS ACTUALLY
heres no English
service. You can create
DOWNGRADED TO 5GB
landing page, and the
links to iles for
EARLIER THIS YEAR. IF YOU
default app is entirely
sharing with nonNEED MORE THAN THAT, BUT
in Chinese. However,
Mega users; you can
STILL LIKE THE PRICE TAG OF
if you follow the irst
specify local folders
FREE, THERE ARE OTHER
that you want to sync
link above (tencentSERVICES YOU CAN TURN TO.
to the drive (by default
weiyun.eu5.org),
it creates a syncing
youll ind a link to an
folder in your
English sign-up page
Documents directory); you can grab iles from
as well as a (somewhat-poorly) translated app.
the web interface; and you can share your
While were not sure wed trust anything
synced folders with other Mega users. Its fast
important to this service, for transferring and
and straightforward, and should be no
storing very large iles, its hard to beat.
problem for Dropbox veterans.

[ 096 ]

Mega works like a


conventional ile
syncing service, but
encrypts iles so that
only you can see them.

FILESERVE
www.ileserve.com

Once largely used as a ile hosting and sharing


service similar to RapidShare or MegaUpload,
FileServe changed quite a bit following the
closure of MegaUpload and the arrest of its
founder. For a start, it no longer allows you to

HELP STATION
SUPER-SIZE YOUR CLOUD STORAGE (FOR FREE)

FileServe has a lot of


limitations, but does
have a generous 500GB
of storage.

Ininit is focused around


peer-to-peer ile
transfers.

share iles with other people: you can only


download them yourself, which severely limits
its utility. It also lacks smooth syncing tools
like many cloud services, instead relying on
web and FTP uploads. Files will expire ater
60 days of inactivity and you can only
download a single ile at a time.
he reason were talking about it here,
however, is that it ofers a very generous 500GB
of storage on the free account. hats a lot of
data that can be parked, and it can be very
useful for migrating data to a new system,
for example.

INFINIT
ininit.io

One of the newest players on the scene, Ininit


works a little bit diferently than most of its
competitors. Its designed irst and foremost
as a peer-to-peer ile transfer mechanism
rather than as a hosting service like Dropbox.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Resilio creates a
network of peer-to-peer
syncing folders.

You can send other Ininit users iles up to


10GB in size, simply by dragging and
dropping the ile or folder onto the Ininit task
bar icon and selecting their name. hose iles
are sent directly over peer-to-peer, and there
are no limits on the number of times you can
do that. Because the transfer is peer to peer,
its fast. Its extremely fast on a LAN or Wi-Fi
network, because it will connect directly
without having to upload to an internet server.
here is a cloud component to Ininit as
well, but its a lot more limited. If you want to
send a ile to a non-Ininit user as a web link,
you can, and in this case, the ile is uploaded
to a cloud drive much like Dropbox. However,
there is only 1GB of storage available for
such links.

RESILIO (BITTORRENT SYNC)


getsync.com

Resilio is an app that weve talked about

several times in this column, and were huge


fans of it for ile transfer and sync. Instead of
uploading to a cloud drive, with Resilio, you
create a network of syncing peers. hose peers
can be symmetrical (that is: they can modify
the contents of the share) or read-only. No data
is transferred or stored on a server, and there
are no limits to how much you can share.
Lets say you wanted to share a folder
permanently with another person. Youd open
Resilio and add that folder. During that
process, a link (a long string of characters) is
created that you can send to another Resilio
user. hey use that link, and it will add that
folder to their Resilio and begin syncing all the
iles in the folder to their computer. When a
folder is changed, the synced folder will be
updated in real time.
Its a very clever system and, like Ininit, is
direct peer to peer, making it extremely fast
for transferring iles on a local network.
[ 097 ]

HELP STATION
TAKING OUT THE TRASH

[PRIVACY AND SECURITY]

Taking out the trash apps


LETS TALK ABOUT PUPS, BABY.
[NATHAN TAYLOR]

NO, BY PUPS we dont mean young dogs, but


potentially unwanted programs, a plague on
Windows systems since time immemorial.
Were talking about browser add-ons, adware
downloaders, useless PC cleaning tools, trial
versions of security suites and other trash
(sorry, ofers) that you generally accidentally
get when installing a free app that you actually
do want. Wed also extend the deinition to the
nonsense that comes pre-installed on so many
name-brand PCs.
Although we hate it, removing PUPs can be
a pain, and many of them actually act rather
like malware, proactively preventing or

hindering our attempts to remove them


conventionally. But because its not technically
malware and theoretically the apps could be
legit, a lot of anti-virus applications dont do
anything about them.
here are some great tools for abolishing
and keeping PUPs of your computer, however,
and this month, were going to take a look at
some of the best.

PUP-REMOVING ANTI-MALWARE APPS


Some anti-malware vendors have, thankfully,
begun to add PUP removal to their tool chest,
treating PUPs like malware and cleaning them

of the system. Its not always switched on by


default, but it is present in more and more
suites and anti-virus apps.
Some of the anti-malware tools that support
PUP removal include Avast (free and paid
versions), Kaspersky, AVG, McAfee,
BitDefender, Malwarebytes and ESET. Its not
always switched on by default, so you may
need to go into the settings to switch it on.
For example, in Avast, you have to go to
the General tab in settings and enable Scan for
potentially unwanted programs.
In Kaspersky Pure, meanwhile, you have to
go to the settings, ind the hreats and

A number of suites and anti-malware


tools will detect PUPs as viruses now.

On Kaspersky, its under


Threats and Exclusions.

In the most recent version of Avast,


PUP scanning is of by default but easily
switched on in the General settings tab.

Malwarebytes has among the most


aggressive PUP removal engines.

[ 098 ]

Exclusions tab, click on the detection settings


and make sure everything under Adware,
auto-dialler and other programs is checked.
Other anti-malware apps and suites will,
of course, do things a little diferently, but you
should deinitely try to ind any PUP settings
your suite may have and, if not switched on
automatically, turn it on.
If you dont currently have anything that
detects and removes PUPs installed, or just
want to run a scan right now, then wed
suggest Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com)
as your best bet. It has the best PUP detection
weve seen, aggressively cleaning your system
memory, hard drive and system registry
of PUPs.
he free version of Malwarebytes supports
PUP removal, and it is switched on by default,
treating PUPs and even third party system and
app modiications as malware.

DECRAP MY COMPUTER
he colourfully-named Decrap My Computer
(www.decrap.org) is one of the irst apps were
inclined to install on a new PC. Decrap My
Computer is less about removing the
semi-malicious adware that comes with free
applications (though it does do that) than it is
about removing all the bloatware that so oten
comes with a new PC.
If youve ever bought a Dell, an HP, a
Toshiba, an ASUS or other name brand PC,
you probably know what were talking about.
hese systems oten come with completely
unnecessary and unwanted pre-installed apps.
Much of their functionality is already available
in Windows, and a lot of the time, the
pre-installed apps are really just there to sell
you onto an ongoing subscription service like
a web storage drive or security suite.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Unchecky automatically rejects PUPs that come


with free (and sometimes even paid) software.

Decrap removes all of that stuf and a huge


number of other potentially unwanted
programs and libraries besides. It runs a
system scan when you start it up for the irst
time, and you can set it to automatic mode or
choose from a list of detected apps and
libraries. Be careful, though it defaults to
removing pretty much all your installed
third-party apps, so make sure you check
what youre uninstalling before just clicking
through.

UNCHECKY
Weve actually talked about how much we love
Unchecky (unchecky.com) several times in
this column. An excellent partner to Decrap
My Computer, Unchecky is a super-simple
resident app that automatically rejects ofers
when youre installing other applications. hat
is to say, when youre installing a new app and
youre given the option to install an associated
ofer, it automatically unchecks the accept
box, lets you just click through the install
pages without having to worry about getting
unwanted sotware.
Unchecky is a particular godsend if youre
the efective administrator but not primary
user of another PC in your house or social
circle. If you have kids, parents or just
uninformed/irresponsible adults who tend
to install a lot of apps without thinking of
the consequences, Unchecky can save you
a lot of pain.

NINITE
Like Decrap, Ninite (ninite.com) is a service
thats fantastic if youre setting up a new PC
or one that youve just reset. Typically, most
of us have a suite of applications that we
immediately install on a fresh Windows

HELP STATION
TAKING OUT THE TRASH

Decrap My Computer detects bloat


on your system and removes it.

system. You might always install TeamViewer,


Chrome, AIMP and Dropbox, along with a
bunch of other common tools.
Ninite lets you do that in the most
convenient way possible. You just head to the
website and check the apps you want to install,
then click on Get your Ninite. It will then
provide a customised app that will download
and install every selected app on your system
without requiring further intervention from
you. And the best part: it automatically rejects
PUPs and other ofers, making sure that your
system stays as free from crapware as possible.

ANDROID
Bloatware has become as much a problem
on Android as on Windows, and theres not a
lot that you can do about, short of rooting
your phone or tablet and installing a
third-party irmware like CyanogenMod
(www.cyanogenmod.org).
When it comes to preinstalled apps and
interfaces, often the best that you can do is
disable them. It doesnt actually remove
them or free up the space on your device,
but at least they wont bother you anymore.
To do this, you need to go to Settings >
Apps, ind the app in question, uninstall
updates, then tap on Disable.
If the app really annoys you, there are
some hardcore rooting tools (not for newbies)
that will let you delete pre-installed apps.
Theres also a recovery mode script that you
can ind at forum.xda-developers.com/
showthread.php?t=2058944 that will let
you uninstall otherwise ixed apps but
again, its not a simple tool, and requires
that you do some text ile editing.

[ 099 ]

HELP STATION
CREATE YOUR OWN NAS

[ HOME NETWORKING ]

Create your own NAS


GOT AN OLD PC OR LAPTOP LYING AROUND?
IT CAN MAKE THE BASIS FOR A GREAT NETWORK-ATTACHED STORAGE BOX.
[NATHAN TAYLOR]

ANYONE WHO HAS ever owned a networkattached storage device will tell you one thing:
once you have one, its hard to go back. A
NAS makes a perfect media server, a place
where you can just dump your downloaded
media to have it accessible to all you devices,
anywhere in your home. It allows you to share
documents easily, provides a secure and
always available backup target and can even
function as a sync server or partner, Dropboxstyle. But NAS boxes can be expensive.
hankfully, its actually relatively easy to
build your own NAS out of an old PC and
thats what were walking through this month:
turning an old PC into a fully functional
NAS device.

The boot loader. Just press to enter.

All pretty easy so far.

WHAT YOULL NEED


If youre looking to turn an old PC into a
NAS, you dont need much. Really, just about
any old PC will do the trick. However, there
are a few requirements that you should be
aware of:
* he PC needs at least 8GB of memory.
Technically, the NAS sotware it will run in
as little as 4GB, but 8GB is highly
recommended.
* here needs to be separate drives for the
operating system and what is to be the
NASs shared storage.
* he good news is that the OS drive doesnt
need to be large: you can even install the
OS on a lash drive with as little as 8GB
of storage.
* Obviously, if you want to install more
drives into your old PC, you can, assuming
it has available SATA ports and drive bays.
he OS supports sotware RAID, so if you
want to set up a RAID array (thats multiple
drives with redundancy for reliability), its
best to install drives of a similar size.
* You dont need a monitor, keyboard or
mouse to run it, though you will need them
during setup so you can see what youre
doing. Once set up, however, the NAS will
run headless and be administered through
a web browser.
* he PC needs a CD-ROM drive for setup,
and you need to a CD burner to create the
install disc.

[ 100 ]

You can actually install FreeNAS into a virtual


machine, like were doing here.

Give it a password. The username will always be root.

INSTALLING FREENAS
To get up and running, just follow these steps:
Head to www.freenas.org and download
the latest stable version of FreeNAS. It comes
down as a 500MB-ish .iso ile, which is a
CD-ROM image.
You need to burn that ISO ile to a blank
CD or DVD. Any CD-ROM burning tool

should do. In Windows 7 and later, you can


actually just right click on the ISO ile in
Windows/File Explorer and select Burn
disc image. Insert the CD into the NAS-to-be
PC. Make sure its conigured in the BIOS to
boot from a CD (most PCs are by default).
Start er up. You should boot into a selection
screen with only a single option. You can

This irst-time load may take a few moments.

HELP STATION
CREATE YOUR OWN NAS

See, the whole thing is extremely painless.

The console menu options. Make a note of the web


interface URL.

Now were cooking. Use your root login.

Theres an initial setup wizard for volumes.

select it (it will auto select if you dont do


anything). hen the FreeNAS setup options
will soon appear.
Select option 1 from the menu. Choose
which drive you want to install the OS on.
Generally, it will be the smallest one
(remember, you only need 8GB for the OS).
Youll see a warning page, letting you know
that a) the data on the selected drive will be
erased, and b) it cant be used for shared
storage in the NAS. Its only for the OS.
Youll be asked to give it a password. You
can leave it without a password, but its not
recommended. In the future, you can log into
the NAS using username root and the
password you enter here.
Youll see more text onscreen as FreeNAS
installs. Just be patient here: it will take a few
moments. When its done, you should see the
completion splash screen.
Remove the CD and reboot. Select Normal
Boot from the boot loader. Finally, youll see
the menu screen. his is actually pretty much
it for the NAS device itself. he one thing you
need to do is make a note of the address it
gives you onscreen. his will tell you the
NASs current IP address and the web address
youll need to go to manage it.
One thing you can do here is conigure the
NASs network adapter to give it a ixed IP
address just enter 1 to start. (Note that you
dont necessarily need to do that here it can
also be conigured from the web console later,
but its easy just to do it now.)
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

To set up a static IP, choose the interface


(theres probably only one choice), then select
no on the reset and no on DHCP. Select yes to
conigure IPv4, then give it a local IP address
with the same irst three numbers as your
router, but a fourth number thats diferent
(so if your routers IP is 192.168.1.1, then you
could give it 192.168.1.50). he Netmask will
be 255.255.255.0. You dont need IPv6.
Now go to another PC, open a web browser
and head to the address listed on the console.
You should see the login for the FreeNAS
service. Use root as the username and the
password you created during installation.
If everything is working, then congrats
youve turned your old PC into a NAS. You
can disconnect the monitor, keyboard and
mouse now, since you shouldnt be needing
them anymore. heres still more to do, like
coniguring the volumes (on irst login, theres
a wizard that will do that for you), adding
users and setting up services (SMB/CIFS
should be your default).
If you didnt do so in step 11, you should
immediately head to Network > Interfaces >
Add interface to give the NAS a ixed IPv4
address. Without doing that, the address of
the NAS can change with every reboot.
Youll also need to go to Network > Global
Coniguration and enter an IPv4 Default
Gateway, which is the local IP address of your
router (the one you use to log into the router
admin such as 192.168.1.1).

heres a lot here, and it can be a bit


overwhelming at irst. hankfully, theres a
guide on the let that you can click on to help
you through. Shared volumes can be managed
under storage and you can add-plugins (such
as miniDLNA) by click on it on the let. Play
around it looks complex at irst, but its the
kind of thing you only need to conigure once!

BREAKOUT: INTRODUCING FREENAS


The top software for DIY NASs is FreeNAS, a
custom Linux build thats very easy to set up,
though a little technical to use. It has all the
features of a top NAS irmware, including
support for a full set of services, highly
conigurable volumes and a host of plugin
apps like BitTorrent Sync and bacula. It even
beats out many commercial NAS devices in
some areas, in particular with its use of the
advanced ZFS ile system, which supports
RAID5-like parity across multiple drives as
well as volume encryption and journaling.

FreeNAS is managed through a web interface.


[ 101 ]

HELP STATION
MASTER YOUR DSLR: FOCUS

[ PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS ]

Master focus
on your DSLR
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FOCUS
OPTIONS AVAILABLE ON YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA.
[ TECHLIFE TEAM ]

02
01

04

06

05

03

01

SHUTTER
RELEASE

Half-press the shutter


release button to
activate the autofocus.
Once the camera has
focused on the subject,
keep the button
half-pressed to lock
thesetting in during
OneShot autofocus.

[ 102 ]

02

BACKBUTTON
FOCUS

In addition to the
shutter release button,
you may also be able to
activate or deactivate
the autofocus system
using an AF-L button
near the thumb grip.

03

FULL-TIME
MANUAL

More expensive lenses


ofer full-time manual
focus, which means you
can twist the focus ring
to ine-tune the
sharpness even when
the camera is
autofocusing.

04

AF/MF SWITCH

This will
override the focus mode
set on the camera. It
may be the only way to
select the manual focus
option.

05

AF SWITCH/
BUTTON

Press the button on


the camera marked AF,
and use the control dial
or direction pad to cycle
between the various
autofocus modes on
the camera.

06

AF POINT
SELECTION

For more precise and


faster focusing, you can
choose a single AF point.
Some cameras have a
thumbstick that lets you
highlight individual AF
points directly; with
others, youll need to
press a button and use
the control wheel.

HELP STATION
MASTER YOUR DSLR: FOCUS

MODERN CAMERAS OFFER such a


comprehensive array of focusing options that
it can be diicult to know where to begin when
you want to take control. But the place to start
is with the fundamental choice between focus
modes. here are three focus mode settings
thatare common to all cameras: One Shot
autofocus, Continuous autofocus and Manual.
he names may difer between cameras, but
the principles remain the same.
In One Shot autofocus, once the camera has
found a point to focus on, it will stop focusing.
As long as you dont lit your inger from the
shutter release button, this focus distance will
stay locked in. his is ideal if youre shooting a
subject that isnt moving, allowing you to ire
of a burst of shots that will be focused in the
same place.
As the name suggests, Continuous
autofocus never stops. Its the mode to use
when youre photographing a moving object,
as the camera will continuously refocus the
lens to keep the subject sharp.
Your camera may include a third hybrid
autofocus option AI Focus AF on Canon
cameras and AF-A on Nikon which
switches automatically from One Shot to
Continuous when the camera detects
movement. his may sound convenient,
but wed recommend presetting the autofocus

ONE-SHOT AF

CONTINUOUS AF

mode manually in order to reduce thecameras


reaction time.
Manual focus is the way to go if you need
the lens to remain focused at a speciic
distance or when the camera is struggling
tofocus automatically, such as in low light,
atclose distances or when theres a lack of
contrast for it to bite onto.

To set the focusing mode, use the cameras


quick control screen or dip into the shooting
menu. Some cameras also have a dedicated AF
switch or button on the camera body. he
majority of autofocus lenses also have a sliding
switch that enables you to alternate between
autofocus (AF) and manual focus (MF).

AUTOFOCUS POINTS
The more advanced a camera is, the greater the number of AF points it ofers.
Take the Nikon SLR range: the beginner-level D3300 has 11 AF points, while
the new professional D5 boasts 153 of them.
The more AF points there are, the smoother the focus tracking where
thecamera hands of from one AF point to another to track a moving subject.
A larger amount of AF points across the image provides greater flexibility when

selecting individual points: with fewer AF points, none may align with a detail
you want to focus on, and youll have to lock the focus before recomposing.
Not all AF points are made equal. Standard AF points measure sharpness
in one plane, while cross-type AF points can detect both horizontally and
vertically. Dual cross-type detects diagonally as well, although youll need
lenses with large maximum apertures toactivate this functionality.

02

04
03

01

01

AF POINT SELECTION

While the focus mode


dictates how a camera focuses,
its the choice of AF point(s) that
determines where it focuses.
By default, the camera will make
the decision automatically.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

02

GOING MANUAL

Youcan manually select a


single AF point or a small group of
them, if your camera ofers this
function. Use the dial or thumbstick
to position your preferred option in
the AF point array.

03

SINGLE

Set a single AF point when


you want the most precision. Here,
the camera may have locked onto
the close branch rather than the
building, but manually setting the
AF point avoids this.

04

GROUP

Use a group of AF points


when youre tracking fast subjects
that are hard to follow with a single
point, although with all the AF
points active, the camera may
focus on the background instead.

[ 103 ]

HELP STATION
4K TVS ARE A WASTE

A real-world illustration
of the diference between
1080p and 4K.

[ HOME AV MASTERCLASS ]

Why you dont need a 4K TV


TO GET THE FULL BENEFIT OF 4K, OPTING FOR A PROJECTOR MIGHT BE THE BETTER OPTION.
[BENNETT RING]

4K HAS BEEN around in TV-land for several


years already, but there havent been many
compelling reasons to buy one. A severe lack of
content was an obvious issue, yet the recent
release of several 4K Blu-ray (more commonly
referred to as Ultra-HD Blu-ray) players means
we should start to see an inlux of content
recorded in 4K, not merely 1080p ilms that
have had their resolutions increased to 4K
artiicially. Bear in mind were talking a few
hundred releases this year, not tens of
thousands, so it will still take the market some
time for 4K to replace 1080p as the viewing
resolution of choice. It also means you wont
need to buy an expensive hard-drive-based
solution to watch what little 4K content is
currently available. he most sizeable source of
incoming 4K content is actually live sporting
events, where providers are rapidly upgrading
their cameras to 4K compatibility, making 4K
especially desirable for sports lovers.
Arguably more importantly than the amount
of content, though, is the issue of screen size and
pixel density. When youre in an electronics
store, staring at a 4K screen from just two feet
away, the increase in detail is impossible to miss.
Yet how many people actually sit that close to
their TV at home? A smart chap by the name of
Carlton Bale (carltonbale.com) came up with
the graph on the next page that shows how large
a screen needs to be versus its pixel density,
combined with viewing distance, before an
[ 106 ]

increase in resolution is noticeable. He did so


based on the vision of a person with 20/20
vision, and how far they can recognise the
letter E on a Snellen Eye Chart (as used by
optometrists) from 20 feet away. He came to
the conclusion that the beneits of 4K only
became noticeable when using a whopping
120-inch screen at a distance of just under 5
feet, with the major beneit viewable at
around 12 feet, which is a fairly standard
viewing distance.

Considering a 120-inch 4K TV is going to


set you back more money than your second
investment property, theres one viewing
technology that seems perfectly suited to 4K at
these distances projectors. Yet 4K projectors
have been a long time coming, especially when
it comes to afordable models. In fact, there still
arent any that are under $20,000, despite
certain companies ofering 4K projectors for
around the $5,000 mark. Were going to take a
look at these 4K projectors and see why theyre

Unless you sit with your nose pressed to the screen, youre going to
need a whopper of a TV to notice the 4K diference.

Microsofts Xbox One S


is one of the most afordable,
not to mention versatile,
4K players on the market.

HELP STATION
4K TVS ARE A WASTE

Want to add a second or third sub to your HTIB kit? Good luck,
as it probably only has one sub output though you may be
able to use a splitter to turn that one wire into two.

As you can see, projector panels are tiny compared to TVs,


which makes squeezing in so many more pixels a real challenge.

really not 4K at all, and the future of true 4K


projectors. Now that the content is becoming
available, we can assume that 4K projector
prices will drop, and well cover some of the
upcoming products that promise to deliver on
truly afordable native 4K projectors.

JVC 4K
I recently received a press release from Epson
about its latest consumer projector, the
EH-TW9300, which it claimed to deliver Ultra
high-deinition Blu-ray support, high dynamic
range compatibility and, most importantly, 4K
Enhancement. his is a very clever use of
words, as it suggests 4K compatibility, but in
reality, it doesnt state that the projector is a
native 4K device. At a price of just under $5,000,
I was too busy noticing the massive drop in
price compared to native 4K devices to notice
the word enhancement. Until then, the
cheapest consumer 4K native projector was
around the $20,000 mark, but Epson wasnt
the irst company to ofer these supposedly 4K
projectors JVC debuted its 4K enhanced
projectors several years ago.
So what does 4K enhancement actually
mean? he truth is that these are still 1,920 x
1,080 projectors, but theyre able to display 4K
content. A true 4K projector will have a native
resolution of around 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, but
this can vary at the very least, it must have
four times the pixels of a 1,920 x 1,080 screen.
On the other hand, 4K-enhanced projectors use
a variety of means to simulate 4K. For example,
JVC uses a technology it calls e-Shit. his shits
the sub-frames of the content by 0.5 pixels both
vertically and horizontally, which it claims
achieves four times the pixel density of a 1080p
screen. It does result in a subtle increase in
detail, but its nowhere near the increase of a
true 4K projector.
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Carlton Bale came up with this clever graph to show the impact between screen size, pixel count and viewing density.

This 120-inch 4K TV will deinitely show the diference in resolution,


if you can aford to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

[ 107 ]

HELP STATION
4K TVS ARE A WASTE

HDR makes todays 4K-enhanced projectors deinitely worthy


of mention, as it makes a huge diference to image quality.

4K CONTENT
When 4K irst debuted, the only way to watch content on them was to buy expensive hard-drive-based
4K players, such as Sonys FMP-X1 4K Ultra-HD Media Player. Youd then need to download the content
and load it onto the device, and the number of movies shot in 4K could be counted on one hand.
However, over the last few years, weve seen most movie makers move to 4K cameras, but weve still
lacked a distribution method for bringing that content to 4K TVs. One of the irst and most popular
methods was Netflixs 4K streaming, yet this demanded 25Mbps connections and would chew up 7GB of
data per hour not exactly helpful considering Australias rather woeful ADSL2+ speeds and data caps.
Amazon has also followed suit with its own Ultra-HD streaming service. Thankfully, were inally getting
a real solution in the form of Ultra-HD Blu-ray players. There are currently several on the market, such as
Samsungs UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-ray Player. With a price of $600, its not exactly cheap, so is still
reserved for the early adopters. Panasonic has also released the DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player,
which costs even more, at around a grand. Microsofts new Xbox One S is probably the most afordable
player at the moment, and also delivers console gaming on tap.
Despite the fact we have Ultra-HD players on shelves, theres still a severe lack of Ultra-HD Blu-ray
disks on sale. At present, there are only a few dozen disks to be found in the likes of JB Hi-Fi, and we can
expect a few hundred at most by Christmas time. 4K content might inally be arriving, but just like
Blu-ray, its going to take time to before it becomes the dominant form of media.

4K ENHANCEMENT TECHNOLOGY
Epsons rival technology is known as 4K
enhancement technology, which means the
new EH-TW9300 can accept a 4K input via
HDCP 2.2, but is still pumping it out over a
1,920 x 1,080 panel. Well, three LCD panels to
be exact, as Epson uses 3LCD screens to deliver
its images, but there is very little publicly
available information on exactly what this
means. A small footnote on the bottom of the
page for the EH-TW9300 seems to indicate it

does basically the same as the JVC e-Shit


technology. Each pixel is shited diagonally by
0.5 pixels to double the resolution and surpass
Full HD image quality. According to Epson,
this works by showing two images per frame,
with the pixels shiting the 0.5mm between
frames. Regardless, its actually a 1080p screen,
that can handle the input of Ultra-HD Blu-ray
players. It comes with the requisite connections
for 4K content, such as HDMI 2.0a and HDCP
2.2, so at least youll have something to watch

Epsons new EH-TW9300 might claim to be a 4K projector for less


than ive grand, but you should read the ine details irst.

[ 108 ]

those new Ultra HD disks. Im assuming the


projector, just like the JVC, has the goods to
handle the 4K input signal, but then downscales
it to 1080p, before using its 4K enhancement
technology to deliver more detail.

TRUE 4K PROJECTORS
Leading the charge when it comes to true 4K
viewing is Sony. his is no surprise considering
they also ofer the complete end-to-end content
creation and viewing technology required for
4K content. From 4K cameras, through to 4K
Ultra-HD players to 4K screens, theyve long
been in the lead when it comes to real 4K.
he keywords to look for when buying a true
4K device are native resolution, which is the
physical resolution of the projected image.
Unlike the more afordable 4K-enhanced
projectors, Sonys 4K projectors truly do ofer
the full 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. In fact, they
ofer even higher. Its VPL-VW365ES is one of
the most afordable native 4K projectors on the
market, with a native resolution of 4,096 x 2,160,
which was the original 4K standard. However,
its not cheap by any stretch of the imagination,
with a US price tag of US$9,999. his translates
to around $15,000 to $20,000. hese projectors
also have the beneit of upscaling 1080p HD
content to 4K, although theres only so much
fake detail they can inject into the image.
hey deinitely look better than standard 1080p

Sonys VPL-VW365ES is one of the most afordable native 4K projectors on the market,
but its still not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

HELP STATIOB
4K TVS ARE A WASTE.

This diagram shows


how JVCs e-Shift
technology works,
by moving pixels
between each
second frame.

projectors when playing standard HD content


though, but if its when you have real 4K content
that youll really notice the biggest jump in
image quality.

ALL IS NOT LOST


Despite these new afordable 4K-enhanced
projectors not truly outputting a 4K native
display, they do ofer a key feature that many
believe is actually more important than a higher
resolution. Its known as high dynamic range
lighting, or HDR for short. Now that 4K has
been on the market for several years, TV and
projector manufacturers have had to come up
with a new technology to make your old display
obsolete, and HDR truly is impressive. In
laymans terms, it allows the display to show a
wider and richer range of colours, as well as
whiter whites and blacker blacks. In technical
terms, it moves the standard 8-bit colour range
up to 10-bits, allowing for a far great number of
colours to be displayed. Its part of the new
Ultra-HD standard, and yet so is 4K, so dont
assume that just because your new projector
supports HDR, its an Ultra-HD projector, as its
probably still just 1080p. When viewed, HDR
screens show much more natural colour, and
the diference can be astonishing.

WHY ARE 4K PROJECTORS SO EXPENSIVE?


Weve seen the price of 4K TVs plummet over
the last couple of years, to the point where its
now possible to pick up a native 4K TV for less
than a grand. So why do 4K projectors cost so
much? Firstly, theres the law of the economics
of scale: more people buy TVs than projectors,
[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

Sonys FMP-X1 4K was one of the irst devices


that supported 4K video playback.

so once 4K screens went into mass production,


their construction costs plummeted. 1080p is
still ine for most projector users, who have
screens that average around 100-inches or so.
Its only when you start hitting 120-inches
and above that 4K really makes a noticeable
diference, and most people simply dont have
the room for such huge screens.
Secondly, 4K LCD TVs have the same pixel
pitch as many of todays LCD screens that
debuted in PC displays. In comparison, 4K
projectors need to squeeze four times as many
pixels into a panel the same size as the older
1080p projector. Its all about miniaturisation,
which costs a lot more to master than simply
reusing old PC technology and delivering it on a
larger panel. For example, a 20.1-inch LCD
screen has an area of 170 square inches. In
comparison, the LCD or DLP chip in a
projector is less than a square inch, so its

obvious just how hard it is to it the same


amount of pixels into a size that is so much
smaller.

DONT ALWAYS BELIEVE THE HYPE


Weve had several 4K-enhanced projectors on
the market for several years now, but in reality,
theyre 1080p projectors that use clever
technology to slightly increase detail. If youre
running a 100-inch screen, the diferences
between the two are hard to note, but if you
want to go for a truly eye-illing 150-inch
screen or more, 4K is the way to go.
Considering the giant screen size ofered by
projectors seems perfectly designed for 4K
resolutions, unfortunately, it seems like we still
have several years to go before native 4K
projectors approach the same price point as
todays 1080p projectors. At least by then, there
will be plenty of content to watch on them.
[ 109 ]

[ TECHLIFE #57 ]

BUYERS GUIDE
YOUR READY RECKONER TO THE BEST TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS

he TechLife team inds the best budget, value and performance products, and the latest releases in the top technology categories. If you believe
there are other products that deserve the title in any of the tech categories, let us know and give us your reasons why in 50 words or less.
Equally, if theres a hot new product thats worthy of attention, we want to know. Send your email to techlife@futurenet.com.

NETWORKING EQUIPMENT

NETWORKING ACCESSORIES

BROADBAND ROUTERS
(NO MODEM)

ADSL ROUTERS
(WITH MODEM)

PRICE
CHANGE

PRICE
CHANGE

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

TP-Link Archer D20

TP-Link Archer D7

ASUS DSL-AC68U

Billion BiPAC 8900AX

$85 | www.tp-link.com.au

$170 | www.tp-link.com.au

$310 | www.asus.com/au

$499 | au.billion.com

Its basic and no-frills, with AC750


Wi-Fi and 100Mbps Ethernet, but at
this price, you wont do better.

The UI is a bit no-frills, but once set up,


this is a very solid AC1900 router
for a price well below the average.

It aint cheap, but if you want it all,


this 802.11ac unit is fast and packed
with handy enthusiast features.

Billions joining the $500 router club


with this new AC2400 model, plus all
the usual high-end features.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Netgear WNR2000

TP-Link Archer C7

ASUS RT-AC87U

ASUS RT-AC58U

$70 | www.netgear.com.au

$150 | www.tp-link.com.au

$300 | www.asus.com/au

$150 | www.asus.com/au

Its only 802.11n, but for around


$70, this four-port router
will cover the basics.

This modemless version of the D7


(above) has all the basics you'll need
to set up a 1,300Mbps AC network.

This full-featured unit is overflowing


with options and settings,
plus it has super-fast wireless.

Its not technically AC1300 (only 867Mbps


on 802.11ac) but this afordable router
still packs ASUSs great OS.

[ BEST WIRELESS BRIDGE ]

[ BEST POWERLINE ADAPTER


(BUDGET) ]

[ BEST POWERLINE ADAPTER


WITH WI-FI EXTENSION ]

ASUS EA-AC87

TP-Link TL-PA8010P

Netcomm NP508

[ BEST WIRELESS EXTENDER ]

Netgear EX6200 Wi-Fi


Range Extender
$140 | www.netgear.com.au

$220 | www.asus.com/au

$125 | www.tp-link.com.au

$138 | www.netcomm.com.au

This AC extender is capable of speeds


up to 867Mbps, has great range and
can host storage via its USB 3.0 port.

This bridge is a great way of linking up


to four wired Gigabit devices to a
1,300Mbps AC network.

A pair of 1,200Mbps adapters that


proved to be both fast and afordable
in our most-recent roundup.

If you want to add wireless extension


onto powerline capabilities, this
topped our 2.4GHz Wi-Fi speed tests.

NETWORK ATTACHED
STORAGE DEVICES

NEW
ENTRY

[ 110 ]

NEW
ENTRY

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Netgear ReadyNAS RN102

Asustor AS-3102T

Synology DS916+

WD My Cloud Pro PR2100

$170 (diskless) | www.netgear.com.au

$360 (diskless) | www.asustor.com

$670 (diskless) | www.synology.com

From $850 (diskless) | www.wd.com

Its not particularly new, but this


two-bay NAS has the basics at an
afordable price.

This two-bay NAS offers excellent features


and can double as a media player, with
Kodi and HDMI-output to your TV.

If you need more space, this four-bay


model lets you install apps and can
even transcode 4K videos.

WDs latest 2-bay consumer NAS


ofers baked-in Plex and video
transcoding up to 4K.

PROUDLY BROUGHT
TO YOU BY
WWW.GETPRICE.COM.AU

[ BEST PORTABLE]

[ BEST MULTIROOM SYSTEM ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Bose SoundLink Mini II

Sonos Play

Panasonic SC-ALL05

$99 | www.jawbone.com

$299 | www.bose.com.au

From $299 | www.sonos.com

$449 | www.panasonic.com.au

At this new low price (available at JB


Hi-Fi) the Mini Jambox is a robust,
good-sounding portable unit.

It's on the expensive side, but this


compact Bluetooth portable sounds
amazing for its size.

Sonos still ofers the best multiroom


speaker range, with the broadest
support for streaming services.

The most flexible member of


Panasonics new wireless speaker
range, with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Shure SRH440

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

[ BEST WIRELESS ]

$118 | www.jands.com.au

$185 | www.audio-technica.com.au

$630 | en-au.sennheiser.com

$420 | www.plantronics.com/au

Bright, clear sound and great bang


for buck.

A well-priced set of over-ear


headphones with fantastic audio
and detachable cables.

Theyre not cheap, but the wireless


Momentums are about the best
over-ear cans money can buy.

This recently refreshed set of BT cans


blew us away with their great acoustics
and noise-cancelling capabilities.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Google Chromecast 2

Western Digital WD TV Live

Apple TV

Xbox One S

Plantronics BackBeat Pro+

$50 | play.google.com

$120 | www.wdc.com

From $269 | www.apple.com/au

From $399 | www.xbox.com

Googles updated wireless HDMI dongle


is now 802.11ac and makes it easy to
stream online media content to your TV.

It beats many TVs for video format


support and its fast processor
supports 1080p network streaming.

The recently updated Apple TV now


has its own dedicated app store and
more processing power.

With support for 4K Blu-ray and Netflix


streaming, the latest Xbox is a
surprisingly capable media device.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST PORTABLE ]

[ BEST HOME THEATRE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Epson EB-W32

Epson EB-1761W

BenQ MH530

ASUS P3B

NEW
ENTRY

$700 | www.epson.com.au

$1,199 | www.epson.com.au

$900 | www.benq.com.au

$1,049 | www.asus.com/au

A super-bright, portable 3LCD,


WXGA unit at a nice price.
Cheap lamps, too.

One of the most compact full-size


projectors, this WXGA unit is only 1.7kg
and new lamps are just $120.

A high-brightness 1080p DLP projector


thats afordable and relatively
compact.

This WXGA mini projector is


surprisingly bright at 800 lumens and
can run of batteries for 3 hours.

NEW
ENTRY

[ BEST COMPACT TV ]

[ BEST BUDGET TV ]

[ BEST MAINSTREAM TV ]

[ BEST PREMIUM TV ]

Samsung UA32K5500AW

Hisense K3110PW

LG 55UH770T

LG OLED55B6T

$630 | www.samsung.com/au

$800 | hisense.com.au

$2,000 | www.lg.com/au

$4,000 | www.lg.com/au

This compact and inexpensive 1080p


32-inch telly has fantastic visuals
and a great interface.

A compelling mix of size (50 inches),


value and visuals: a solid all-rounder
at a very keen price.

With 4K and HDR, this LED-backlit


IPS 55-incher provides fantastic
image quality.

LGs slightly more-afordable


flat 55-inch OLED 4K ofers
outstanding picture quality.

NEW
ENTRY

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST ULTRABOOK ]

[ BEST GAMING ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Acer Aspire ES1-431

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch

Gigabyte P57X v6

Venom Blackbook 15 Zero

$400 | www.acer.com.au

From $1,549 | www.apple.com/au

$2,799 | www.gigabyte.com.au

From $1,799 | www.mln.com.au

This inexpensive 14-inch laptop will


do the basics, with a 500GB HDD
and Pentium CPU.

This thin, lightweight unit has an


aluminium unibody chassis, fast CPU
and is well-priced for an ultrabook.

With a full GTX 1070 GPU, this huge


17-inch is the fastest gaming laptop
weve ever tested.

This slimmer 15-inch laptop aims to let


you go anywhere but still have a
full-sized computing experience.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

LAPTOPS, TABLETS & SMARTPHONES


LAPTOPS
TVS

PRICE
CHANGE

NEW
ENTRY

PERSONAL & HOME AV GEAR


NETWORK MEDIA
PLAYERS

[ BEST VALUE ]

DATA
PROJECTORS

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

Sennheiser Momentum
Wireless

[ BEST BUDGET ]

MUSIC HEADPHONES

PRICE
CHANGE

BUYERS GUIDE
READY RECKONER

[ BEST BUDGET ]

Jawbone Mini Jambox

WIRELESS
SPEAKERS

NEW
ENTRY

[ 111 ]

PROUDLY BROUGHT
TO YOU BY
WWW.GETPRICE.COM.AU

SMARTPHONES:
ENTRY-LEVEL

[ BEST WINDOWS ]

[ BEST BUDGET ANDROID ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Microsoft Lumia 650

Motorola Moto G4 Play

Oppo R7s

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

$299 | www.microsoft.com

$280 | www.motorola.com.au

$399 (16GB) | www.oppo.com

$390 (16GB) | www.motorola.com.au

With 4G, a 5-inch OLED screen and


Windows 10 Mobile, this is a solid
entry-level choice for MS fans.

A basic dual-SIM (2G/4G) phone with


a 5-inch 720p LCD, 16GB storage
and even microSD slot.

This Android-powered unit has a


5.5-inch IPS 1080p display, solid
performance and a stylish design.

Motos big 5.5-inch G4 Plus has a 1080p


display and a respectable Snapdragon
CPU.

NEW
ENTRY

TABLETS:
PREMIUM

TABLETS:
SMARTPHONES:
ENTRY-LEVEL
PREMIUM
LAPTOPS, TABLETS & SMARTPHONES

BUYERS GUIDE
READY RECKONER

NEW
ENTRY

[ BEST BIG SCREEN ]

[ BEST PREMIUM TIED ]

[ BEST PREMIUM TIED ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Samsung Galaxy Note7

Samsung Galaxy S7

Apple iPhone 7

Google Pixel

$1,349 | www.samsung.com/au

From $1,149 | www.samsung.com/au

From $1079 | www.apple.com/au

From $1079 | store.google.com

It costs a bomb, but the 5.7-inch Note7


doesnt disappoint. Fast, great camera
and useful stylus tricks.

The S7 brings back microSD and


waterproofing, and combines them with
a classy chassis and top specs.

The iPhone is inally waterproof, and as


always, this ones also got an improved
camera and quicker guts.

Googles new 5-incher aims to take on


the iPhone directly with an advanced
AI assistant.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST COMPACT ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ BEST VERSATILITY ]

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0

Apple iPad mini 2

Apple iPad Air 2

Microsoft Surface 3

NEW
ENTRY

$295 (16GB) | www.samsung.com/au

$369 (16GB) | www.apple.com/au

$599 (16GB) | www.apple.com/au

$699 (64GB) | www.microsoft.com

If you absolutely cant aford the iPad


mini 2, this Android alternative is an
okay fallback.

With a Retina display, the iPad mini 2


is fantastic value if you want a small
tablet with all the frills.

Now 2 years old, the iPad Air 2 is still


very competitive and there are heaps
of tablet-speciic iOS apps available.

A lower-end, Intel Atom-powered


alternative to the Surface Pro, but still
runs the full version of Windows.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VERSATILITY ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Apple iPad Air (Refurbished)

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Apple iPad Pro (9.7-inch)

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

From $439 (16GB) | www.apple.com/au

From $1,349 | www.microsoftstore.com

From $899 | www.apple.com/au

From $1,349 | www.samsung.com/au

If the budget doesnt extend to an Air 2,


get this 2013 unit instead. Recheck the
store frequently if its ever sold out.

This oicial Windows 10 tablet has


a great stylus and runs traditional
Windows software.

This smaller iPad Pro has the same


top-spec internals as its bigger brother,
but is far more portable.

One of the neatest 2-in-1s weve tested,


this is a Windows tablet-convertible
thats lightweight and flexible.

DIGITAL
CAMERAS

BLUETOOTH TABLET
KEYBOARDS
GADGETS & ACCESSORIES

[ BEST FOR IPAD 2/3/4 ]

[ 112 ]

NEW
ENTRY

Logitech Keyboard Case


for iPad

[ BEST FOR IPAD MINI ]


[ BEST FOR IPAD AIR/AIR 2 ]

ClamCase for iPad Air

Logitech Ultrathin
Keyboard Cover

[ BEST FULL-SIZED KEYBOARD ]

Logitech Tablet Keyboard

$90 | www.logitech.com

$150 | www.clamcase.com

$90 | www.logitech.com

$120 | www.logitech.com

Ofers good protection and comfy,


responsive keys on a budget.

If you want to turn your iPad into a mini


MacBook, this clamshell keyboard
case is a great option.

The Ultrathin combines


a fantastic-quality keyboard
with a metal-backed case.

If you want the full-sized typing


experience, this is your best bet.

[ BEST POINT-AND-SHOOT ]

[ BEST MIRRORLESS ]

[ BEST DIGITAL SLR ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II

FujiFilm X-T10

Canon EOS 750D

Sony RX10 III

$850 | www.canon.com.au

$1,070 (1650mm lens) | www.fujifilm.com.au

This flexible ixed-lens compact


delivers great photos without the
hassle of a DSLR or mirrorless.

Ofers a compact DSLR-style body,


superb image quality and a growing
range of premium lenses.

$980 (1855mm lens) | www.canon.com.au $2,299 (24600mm lens) | www.sony.com.au

This beginners DSLR is a great place


to learn the intricacies of pro shooting
(and for a fair price).

The RX10 III ofers unrivalled image


quality, superb 4K and HD video
and a huge zoom range, at a price.

PROUDLY BROUGHT
TO YOU BY

TP-Link TL-PB10400

WD My Passport Wireless
Pro 3TB

[ BEST STYLUS ]

[ BEST MOBILE GAMEPAD ]

Adonit Jot Pro

iPega PG-9025

$50 | www.tp-link.com.au

$449 | www.wd.com

$45 | www.adonit.net

$25 | www.dx.com

This 10,400mAh power bank will let


you recharge your smartphone or
tablet anywhere and weighs just 241g.

A great way to share and back up


your iles anywhere, plus it has
Plex media streaming.

This one's great for scribbling notes


on Android and iOS tablets
and doesn't cost the Earth.

You'll need to buy it online, but this


gamepad is nice and responsive, and
works with both iOS and Android.

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

[ BEST BUDGET ]

Western Digital
My Passport Ultra 2TB

Seagate Backup Plus Fast


4TB

Western Digital My Passport


Ultra 4TB

Toshiba Canvio Basic 1TB


$90 | www.toshiba.com

$149 | www.wd.com

$390 | www.seagate.com

$269 | www.wd.com

A compact portable hard drive


with USB 2.0, 3.0
and backward compatibility.

Great value, with lots of storage,


good software and USB 3.0 support.

This speedy USB 3.0 drive transfers


data at up to 220MB/s
twice as fast as most others.

A big-capacity drive that isnt


too bulky to take with you.
The price is decent too.

GADGETS & ACCESSORIES


PORTABLE HARD
DRIVES

[ BEST WIRELESS HARD DRIVE ]


[ BEST POWER BANK ]

BUYERS GUIDE
READY RECKONER

TABLET & SMARTPHONE


ACCESSORIES

WWW.GETPRICE.COM.AU

[ BEST SMARTWATCH
FOR ANDROID ]

[ BEST SMARTWATCH FOR IOS ]

[ BEST FITNESS BAND ]

[ BEST EXERCISE HEADPHONES ]

Samsung Gear S2

Pebble Time

Fitbit Charge HR

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

$469 | www.samsung.com/au

US$200 | www.getpebble.com

$165 | www.itbit.com

$250 | www.jabra.com

Samsungs round-faced wearable


looks great, works with lots of phones
and runs Android Wear 2.0.

This new colour e-paper smartwatch


has great battery life and one of the
most mature app ecosystems.

This top-end tracker from Fitbits latest


range ofers heart-rate tracking
and a handy display for a fair price.

These in-ear buds connect to your


phone via Bluetooth and have
integrated heart-rate monitoring.

WEARABLES

PRICE
CHANGE

[ BEST GAMING ]

Acer Predator XB270HU

$180 | www.lg.com/au

$279 | www.dell.com.au

$849 | www.dell.com.au

$899 | www.acer.com.au

Just need the basics? This matte


23-inch 1080p IPS display has good
colour reproduction and a tilt stand.

An afordable glossy 1080p 23-incher


that, despite the low price, still ofers
IPS and great image quality.

This 27-inch IPS display ofers a 1440p


res plus a wide colour gamut, making
it perfect for design work.

With Nvidia G-Sync support, 1440p res


and vibrant colours, this ones a true
gaming great.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Tt eSports Poseidon ZX

Logitech G710+

Corsair Vengeance K95 RGB

Razer BlackWidow Chroma

$99 | www.au.ttesports.com

$130 | www.logitech.com

$230 | www.corsair.com

$210 | www.razerzone.com

This basic compact board still has it


where it counts, with solid
performance and comfortable keys.

This brown switched mechanical


gaming keyboard is comparatively
quiet and has great key feel.

Available in multiple switch colours,


the K95s backlighting can be
customised in almost any shade.

Razer's joined the multicoloured LED


club, upgrading its BlackWidow with
rainbow-coloured backlighting.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000

SteelSeries Siberia V2

Audio-Technica ATH-AG1

Kingston HyperX Cloud II

$35 | www.microsoft.com.au/hardware

$99 | www.steelseries.com

$349 | www.audio-technica.com.au

$160 | www.kingston.com

A cheap basic USB headset with


noise-cancelling tech.

Luxurious with great sound


and a brilliant retractable microphone.

A super-comfy headset with massive


drivers and fantastic sound.

These afordable cans sound great


across games, music and movies.

[ WWW.TECHLIFE.NET ]

PC PERIPHERALS

[ BEST PROFESSIONAL ]

Dell UltraSharp U2717D

GAMING KEYBOARDS

[ BEST VALUE ]

Dell S2316H

GAMING HEADSETS

[ BEST BUDGET ]

LG 23MP48HQ-P

PC
MONITORS

NEW
ENTRY

[ 113 ]

PROUDLY BROUGHT
TO YOU BY

PRINTERS & MULTIFUNCTION


PC GAMING
CENTRES
MICE
PC PERIPHERALS
PC
PROCESSORS

PC
MOTHERBOARDS
PC COMPONENTS

PC GRAPHICS
CARDS

BUYERS GUIDE
READY RECKONER

WWW.GETPRICE.COM.AU

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST AMBIDEXTEROUS ]

[ BEST WIRELESS ]

Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury

Razer DeathAdder Chroma

SteelSeries Sensei RAW

Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum

$49 | www.logitech.com

$65 | www.razerzone.com/au-en

$80 | www.steelseries.com

$200 | www.logitech.com

A hybrid-sensor gaming mouse with


optical, gyro and accelerometer
tracking, this one doesnt skip a beat.

This super-comfy ergonomic mouse


for right-handers has a great,
organic-feeling sensor.

Ditching unneeded features, this is a


lean, mean headshotting machine
thats good for lefties and righties.

It aint cheap, but this is the best


wireless gaming mouse weve used;
surprisingly light and well balanced.

[ BEST PHOTO PRINTER ]

[ BEST SMALL-BUSINESS LASER ]

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

Brother HL-L2340DW

HP Oficejet Pro 8620

Epson Expression Premium


XP-720

HP Colour LaserJet Pro


MFP M277dw

$110 | www.brother.com.au

$190 | www.hp.com/au

$230 | www.epson.com.au

$450 | www.hp.com/au

Its black and white only, but with Wi-Fi


and great text print quality alignment,
very fast print speeds and cheap to run.

A great all-rounder thats up for


printing both photos and text
documents.

Creates fantastic-quality photo prints


at a relatively afordable price.

Built-in wireless, duplex print and


scan, cloud and mobile print,
and great print quality at a fair price.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

Gigabyte
GV-R737WF2OC-2GD

ASUS STRIX-R9380-DC2OC4GD5-GAMING

Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX


480 4GB

$200 | www.gigabyte.com.au

$280 | www.asus.com/au

$380 | sapphiretech.com

$690 | www.asus.com/au

This mid-range card from AMD can run


pretty much anything with all the bells
and whistles at 1080p.

A fast Radeon R9 380 card with 4GB


of memory. A good choice for
1440p gaming.

AMDs made VR a little more afordable


with its new RX 480 this is one of
the cheapest variants.

One step down from the new king,


this card is a little more afordable
and beats the last-gen leaders.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PERFORMANCE ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

ASUS B150M Pro Gaming

Gigabyte GA-Z170M-D3H

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming

ASRock X99 Taichi

$145 | www.asus.com/au

$200 | www.gigabyte.com.au

$265 | www.asus.com/au

$390 | www.asrock.com

A great companion for the Pentium


G4400; this has everything you need
for under $150.

This low-cost Z170 board has all the


basics you need, including Intel LAN
and 6th-Gen Core i support.

A great match for the i5-6500 CPU,


with a good mix of useful features
at a reasonable price.

This (slightly) cheaper X99 board is still


feature-packed and a good match
for the i7-6800K CPU.

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

[ NEW ON SHELF ]

Intel Pentium G4400

Intel Core i5-6500

Intel Core i7-6700K

Intel Core i7-6800K

$85 | www.intel.com

$295 | www.intel.com

$520 | www.intel.com

$580 | www.intel.com

An extremely overclockable dual-core


Skylake CPU for those looking to
build budget rig.

This new Skylake Core i5 chip


ofers great performance
with low power use.

The top chip from Intels new 6th-Gen


Core i desktops is extremely fast
and overclockable.

This new six-core Broadwell-E chip


ofers top-shelf performance
(at a top-shelf price).

SOLID-STATE
DRIVES

NEW
ENTRY

[ 114 ]

[ BEST EXTREME ]

ASUS TURBO-GTX1070-8G

NEW
ENTRY

[ BEST BUDGET ]

[ BEST VALUE ]

[ BEST PREMIUM ]

[ BEST EXTREME ]

SanDisk SSD Plus 120GB

OCZ Trion 150 480GB

Samsung 850 EVO 1TB

Samsung 950 Pro 512GB

$65 | www.sandisk.com

$190 | www.ocz.com

$425 | www.samsung.com/au

$420 | www.samsung.com/au

If you just need a basic SSD,


this 120GB model does the job
for not much cash.

480GB is now the sweet spot


for cost-per-gig and this SATA model
is a solid all-rounder.

This successor to the 840 EVO ofers


the best mix of speed, capacity and
price for those with big needs.

Its pricey, but with 2TB/s read


and write speeds this M.2 drive
is stupid-fast.