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Nvidia's VR-ready GTX 1060 promises 980 performance for less

What's silver and black, matches a GTX 980 for performance but costs less? Nvidia's new GTX 1060 graphics card, according to its maker, which has been officially unveiled to the world.The GTX 1060 is officially the third graphics card built on Nvidia's new 16nm Pascal architecture. Although it replaces the GTX 960, Nvidia claims the GTX 1060 delivers GTX 980-level performance.The 1060 also exists as a more affordable alternative to the enthusiast-grade GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards. Nvidia is targeting every gamer and their cat with it, while looking to strike a rival blow to AMD's Radeon RX 480.Available starting July 19, pricing for the Nvidia GTX 1060 starts at $249 (about £192, AU$331) while the Founders Edition comes at a higher $299 (about £230, AU$398) premium. Core experienceThe new GPU boasts 1,280 CUDA cores, a base clock speed of 1,506MHz (boosting to 1.7GHz), a 192-bit bus interface, 2000MHz memory speed, 129GB/s of memory bandwidth, a TDP of 120W (below the 980's TDP of 165W) and 6GB of GDDR5 memory (clocked at 8GBPS). There's also a 6-pin power connector, and connectivity options include three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, HDMI 2.0B and Dual-Link DVI.Nvidia GTX 1070 versus GTX 1080Nvidia has confirmed that the GTX 1060 will not support SLI. The company expects that the GTX 1070 will be the favored option by gamers who run multiple GPUs, so it's concentrating its SLI efforts on the more powerful card.Realistic VRNvidia has highlighted number of VR-specific technologies supported by the GTX 1060 that fall under the company's VRworks suite of development tools. They include simultaneous multi-projection (or SMP), which is designed to make sound, physics and light appear more realistic in games.The Unity and Unreal Engine game engines support SMP, and more than 30 games that use it are currently being developed. They include Everest VR, the upcoming Unreal Tournament reboot, Obduction, Adr1ft, Poolnation JR and Raw Data. Nvidia is releasing a VR Fun House demo in July that's set to show off the results of its latest developer tools.Finally, Nvidia is readying a new piece of software called Ansel, which it describes as "Instagram for games". Using a free camera, Ansel lets you apply various filters to snap those all-important artsy shots in games such as The Witcher 3 and Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. You'll be able to try it for yourself from July.

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Review: Video: Alienware Aurora R5

Alienware Aurora R5 reviewUpdate: We've added a video showing off the Alienware Aurora R5's folding interior in action.Alienware has a long list of memorable gaming PCs in its 20-year history, and perhaps one of the most notable has been its mid-size tower, the Aurora. We've been waiting patiently for a follow up to the Aurora R4 and its maneuverable fins since it was released in 2011.Now, it's finally here with the Alienware Aurora R5: a leaner, meaner and even more head-turning gaming desktop than the new Alienware Area 51.Check out our Alienware Aurora R5 review video belowYouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH6Tts92bJsDesignThe Aurora R5 is looks the part of a tower of power, but it's surprisingly tiny despite its dominating silhouette. Measuring about 1.5 feet tall and just over a foot in depth, it's a far smaller system than your traditional mid-tower case and almost veers into Mini ITX territory.The second thing you'll notice about the Aurora R5 is how sleek it is. There are no flat edges on any side of the case. Instead, they all slide off at odd angles, and even the desktop's two feet are pitched at different inclines. That all might seem random, but it adds up to a gorgeously modern design. Alienware's designs have classically exuded an exotically extraterrestrial quality to them. However, the Aurora is more industrial and seems more like something from our own future rather than an alien pod, like the Area 51. Ultimately, though, there haven't been many gaming PCs with a uniquely asymmetrical design like this before.Some elements of Alienware's older designs also bleed through here, including the side panels that bend at the corners, like the company's gaming laptops. You'll also find that signature glowing alien head and tri-beam accent lights on the sides, all of which are customizable through the Alienware FX software. Curiously, one element that's missing here is the center spine, which has been a part of almost every Alienware design since the Area 51 Predator 1. Instead of a wedge shape at the front end, the R5's façade is flat and almost completely plain, save for the glowing logo, an extremely thin disc tray and ventilated front intake. One welcome new design element is a rear handle that makes lugging around the system a lot easier. Clever girlOf course, the Aurora R5 has way more going for it than just a new look. Alienware has re-engineered its entire internal layout, having found a way to fold components into each other to save space without sacrificing accessibility or easy upgradability.Most gaming PCs come with a top- or bottom-mounted power supply. However, the R5 comes with one that's turned on its side and attached to an articulating arm that swings out of the case and closes over the motherboard. It's a literally head-turning design that helps reduce the height of the PC while using up the empty space over the processor and CPU cooler, which is otherwise unoccupied on almost all other desktops.The power supply assembly doesn't interfere with other components, like crushing the memory modules. The folding arm is also designed to just glide over the graphics cards, and it has a small nook for cables to run through and a space cut into it to prevent the side panel from clamping down on them.You might think that this would have a negative effect on cooling, but it actually works pretty well. A fan pulls in cool air through the front while the GPU(s) breathes through fins cut into the side panel, and heat radiates through the top. Our Intel Core i7 chip and Nvidia GTX 1080 kept cool as a cucumber while gaming and powering the HTC Vive. That said, our unit came with the optional liquid cooling system. It's a big upgrade from the usual CPU fan cooler, though it partially blows hot air directly into the rear handle. This means a portion of the heat travels a few inches before smacking into a solid plastic panel.Spec SheetHere is the Alienware Aurora R5 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost)Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X RAM)RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM (2,133MHz)Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD (7,200RPM)Optical drive: Tray-loading dual layer Blu-ray readerPorts: 7 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB-3.1 Type-C, 6 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, 4 x DisplayPort, HDMI, optical out, headphone jack, microphone jack, 7.1 surround sound outConnectivity: Intel 3165 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2Weight: 32.67 pounds (14.82kg)Size: 8.35 x 14.19 x 18.6 inches (212 x 360.5 x 472.52mm; W x D x H) Don't let the Aurora's small size fool you – it's a full-fledged gaming desktop and can even be VR-ready, depending on your configuration. The R5 starts at $799 (about £599, AU$1071) with an Intel Core i3 processor, Nvidia GTX 950 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive.In reality, though, you can't really play many demanding games with this starting spec. So, you'll likely have to step up to the $1,099 (about £825, AU$1,473) Intel Core i5 and Nvidia GTX 970 configuration, if you want a smooth, say, Overwatch experience. Even at this price point, the Aurora R5 is more affordable than the Lenovo Ideacenter Y900 and Acer Predator G6 – with cheaper upgrades to boot.Meanwhile, the $2,529 (about £1,899, AU$3,390) configuration you see above is a nearly maxed out unit with a few extras, including the upgraded 850W power supply plus the liquid-cooling system. With the higher-spec PSU, I plugged in a second Nvidia GTX 1080 for my enjoyment … err, I mean, testing. The system ran like a dream with the extra card, but I couldn't close the system up due to Nvidia's stylish SLI bridges being too tall and clipping against the power supply assembly. So, you'll either have to run the system with the door open or look into a different SLI bridge with less flair.Of course, there's the option of upgrading your system even more ways, and Alienware has made the entire process tool-less. You won't even have to contend with thumbscrews to remove the expansion slots, and there's room for two SSDs to slide in on tool-less trays as well.BenchmarksHere's how the Alienware Aurora R5 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:3DMark: Cloud Gate: 30,764; Sky Diver: 32,393; Fire Strike: 15,315Cinebench CPU: 865 points; Graphics: 132.5 fpsGeekBench: GeekBench: 4023 (single-core); 16,067 (multi-core)PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,563 pointsThe Division: (1080p, Ultra): 91 fps; (1080p, Low): 201 fpsGTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 78 fps; (1080p, Low): 176 fps With Nvidia's latest and hottest Pascal GTX 1080 graphics card and an Intel Core i7-6700 CPU on board, the Aurora R5 tore up all the benchmark tests I put it through. It easily put up some of the best scores I've seen from a gaming machine, and it even put the overpowered Maingear Shift to shame in certain respects.With a single GPU, the R5 was able to play GTA V at 78fps on Ultra, whereas the Shift achieved a 73fps performance with two Nvidia GTX 980 Ti cards. Pascal offers so much more performance than Maxwell, it easily outpaces every Nvidia-powered gaming desktop we've reviewed in the past. Final verdictThe Alienware Aurora R5 is a revolution in gaming desktop design. Putting the power supply on an articulating arm and having it float over the motherboard is a completely unorthodox approach, but it makes a lot of sense when you put it to practice. This helps reduce the overall height of the case while minimizing the amount of unused space in the case. As a result, the Aurora is dramatically smaller than most pre-built PCs.While Alienware's systems have a reputation of being exorbitantly expensive, the Aurora R5 is approachable at $1,099 (about £825, AU$1,473) for a decent configuration – more affordable than some of its competitors. From there, you could upgrade the components yourself through a painless and tool-less DIY process.The Alienware Aurora R5 is a gorgeous and well-planned system light on in space and price, but heavy on power and potential.

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Updated: How to search for, find and register your perfect domain name

What's in a domain name?Building the perfect website to promote yourself, or your business, is all very well and good – but if people can't go to your website directly then you're going to be missing out on a lot of potential visitors.This is why picking and registering a suitable domain name is so essential, as it allows people to find your website with an easy-to-remember web address.How to search for and buy a domain name with Namecheap As the name suggests, Namecheap is one of the most affordable domain name registration services on the internet, and it's the best place to to search for and register domain names for low prices.Search for the domain you want – you can even search for a number of different domains at once by clicking 'Bulk Options' and entering the domains you're after – and you'll see a list of available extensions for your domain. Any available domains will have a price next to them – and they're usually a lot cheaper than when buying from a rival domain registration website.Click the Trolley icon to buy the domain if you see one you want. Otherwise click 'Suggestions' to see a list of similar domains.Register a domain name at Namecheap from $0.88/£0.68 a yearHow to search for and buy a domain name with Go Daddy Go Daddy is another popular domain registration website which often runs sales and discounts – such as multi-buy deals – for domain names. We recommend Go Daddy if NameCheap does not have the domain you're looking for, and at the moment it is running promotions on .com domains if you purchase the domain for two years.Search for the domain you require and you'll see a selection of domains and extensions to choose from, as well as suggested alternatives if the domain you're after is no longer available. Click 'Add to Cart' to buy a domain.Go Daddy also offers web hosting, email domains and an easy to use website builder, so it's an excellent choice if you're building a website from scratch.Register a domain name at Go Daddy from $0.99/£1.00 a yearChoosing a domain nameYou've probably noticed there are quite a lot of websites on the internet these days, which means that many domain names are already in use. So the first thing you should do is come up with a shortlist of suitable domain names, which gives you some wriggle room if your preferred choice is already taken.When coming up with a domain name there are five important things to consider:1. Keep it shortThe shorter your domain name, the easier it will be for people to remember. It also makes it easier to type out, so it's unlikely potential visitors will misspell your address.2. Keep it simpleAnother important thing is to keep your domain name simple. While it may seem creative to spell 'excellence' as 'xcellence', it can make it confusing for people to remember and type. Avoiding hyphens where possible will also help people remember your domain.3. Reflect the websiteAvoid going for a domain name that has nothing to do with your website – it could annoy your visitors. Make the domain name reflect the contents of your website: if the website is for your business, then your business name should suffice; if it's a personal website that showcases your photography, then a domain name with your name and the word 'photography' is a good starting point.It's best to avoid including other company's trademarks in your domain name, as you might get a letter from their lawyers in the future!4. Remember it will be one wordYou can't have spaces in URLs, so you'll want to make sure your domain name looks good as one word – and doesn't have any unfortunate double meanings, as the owners of Experts Exchange found out with their expertsexchange.com domain.5. Choose the right domain extensionThere are over 300 domain extensions available, with the most popular being '.com'. While having a domain end in '.com' is desirable, it might not always be the best choice for you. For a start, there's a good chance that the domain name you want that ends with '.com' is taken, but the domain name you want that ends with your country's extension, such as '.co.uk' is still available.As well as various country extensions there are specialist ones as well, such as '.net', '.gov' and '.org', which reflect the type of business or organisation using the domain. So a government-run domain will have a '.gov' extension, while a '.org' domain is usually used by organisations such as schools and charities. Having the right extension for your domain name can do wonders for perceptions of your website before anyone has even visited it.

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techradar deals: The best Nexus 6P deals in July 2016

Best Nexus 6P deals The Nexus 6P is the latest large-screen entry into Google's Nexus line of flagship smartphones. Built by Chinese manufacturer Huawei, the Nexus 6P comes with a beautiful and huge 5.7-inch QHD screen, 12.3MP camera as well as the latest version of Android. It's certainly a killer phablet, and on this page you'll find a comparison tool right at the top so that you can compare and filter all the UK's best Nexus 6P deals to find your perfect contract. Underneath that we've rounded up what we think are the best Nexus 6P deals from all of the major networks to point you in the right direction.More options: iPhone 6S Plus deals | iPhone 6 Plus deals | Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ deals | SIM-only dealsSee the best Nexus 6P deals The UK's best Nexus 6P deals: Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £28pm Some retailers are offering this deal where you have to pay for the phone, but if you use the link below you'll get a 32GB Nexus 6P for free as well as 1GB of data, unlimited texts and unlimited minutes. Although the low amount of 4G data might be a turn off, this deal is one of the cheapest ways to get the Nexus 6P. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £672Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | £31.50pm O2 has gently upped its deals this month, meaning this one costs an extra 50p compared to how much it was last month. This one offers 3GB of 4G data, which makes it perfect if you love streaming Spotify and Netflix. Unlimited calls and texts are included as well, and you also get £30 cashback as well, lowering the cost over the two year period. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £726Get this deal: from e2save Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 20GB data | £55.99pm This is another great deal from EE, this time with a free 32GB version of the Nexus 6P thrown in. You get unlimited minutes, all-you-can-eat texts and a very nice 20GB of data. It's going to cost you quite a bit though as it'll be quite a bit over £50 month to month, so unless you need to be on EE we'd recommend looking at the other networks above. Total cost over 24 months is £899.76Get this deal: from EENow let's break down the best Nexus 6P deals by network... Best Nexus 6P deals on VodafoneOffers extras like Spotify and Sky SportsNexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £37pm This deal doesn't seem all that great at first glance, as it offers only 1GB of data for the same price as the deal below (which comes with 3GB), but if you're not too bothered about data then the £111 cashback you get with this deal may sway you, lowering the monthly price to £32.38. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £777Get this deal: from e2save Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | £37pm The Nexus 6P is only about half a year old so finding deals that offer the device for no upfront cost is a little tricky, but this first deal from Vodafone is our favourite. Here you get a 32GB Nexus 6P as well as unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of data. That only costs £37 a month. Total cost over 24 months is £888Get this deal: from e2save Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 12GB data | £42pm Go for this option to get 12GB of data and it'll be worth that little bit extra you'll spend. Here you'll also get unlimited minutes and texts while the phone will continue to be free. This is a very good deal for those of you who love streaming movies and musics to your smartphone. The total 24 month cost on this deal is £1008Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk Best Nexus 6P deals on O2The network with extras like O2 PriorityNexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 1GB data | £28pm Some retailers are offering this deal where you have to pay for the phone, but if you use the link below you'll get a 32GB Nexus 6P for free as well as 1GB of data, unlimited texts and unlimited minutes. Although the low amount of 4G data might be a turn off, this deal is one of the cheapest ways to get the Nexus 6P. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £672Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 3GB data | £31.50pm O2 has gently upped its deals this month, meaning this one costs an extra 50p compared to how much it was last month. This one offers 3GB of 4G data, which makes it perfect if you love streaming Spotify and Netflix. Unlimited calls and texts are included as well, and you also get £30 cashback as well, lowering the cost over the two year period. Total cost of this deal over 24 months is £726Get this deal: from e2save Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 10GB data | £40pm If you need to be on O2 and need more internet than the other deals we've chosen, go for this. It includes 10GB of data as well as a free phone, unlimited calls and all the texts you can send. That's all for £40 a month making for an affordable two year fee. Total cost over 24 months is £960Get this deal: from Mobiles.co.uk Best Nexus 6P deals on EEThe place to go if you want high-speed 4GNexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | 1000 mins | Unlimited texts | 2GB data | £33.49pm This month we've chosen this deal with 2GB of data as on our favourites. It's a little more expensive than the deal we had in this slot a few months back, but that's because there's double the internet. We'd only recommend choosing EE if you particularly want to stay on the UK's largest network though as the deals for the Nexus 6P aren't great. Total cost over 24 months £803.76Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited calls | Unlimited texts | 5GB data | £38.49pm Deals for the Nexus 6P on EE had been rising month on month, but thankfully it appears prices are now dropping. This deal, with 5GB of data as well as unlimited calls and texts, has seen a price drop, making it a lot more tempting than last month. Total cost over 24 months £923.76Get this deal: from e2save Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | Unlimited mins | Unlimited texts | 20GB data | £55.99pm This is another great deal from EE, this time with a free 32GB version of the Nexus 6P thrown in. You get unlimited minutes, all-you-can-eat texts and a very nice 20GB of data. It's going to cost you quite a bit though as it'll be quite a bit over £50 month to month, so unless you need to be on EE we'd recommend looking at the other networks above. Total cost over 24 months is £899.76Get this deal: from EE Best Nexus 6P deals from iDThe in-house network from Carphone WarehouseNexus 6P 32GB | Free phone | 600 mins | 5000 texts | 2GB data | £37.50 This isn't the most attractive deal, but does offer a fairly low monthly cost for the 32GB version of the Nexus 6P smartphone, with no upfront cost. The 600 minutes of call time isn't great but the 2GB of data make this a bit of a better deal than last month's offering from iD. We'd really advise going for one of the deals on the other networks which offer more for less. Total cost over 24 months is £900Get this deal: from ID Mobile Nexus 6P 32GB | Free phone |1200 mins | 5000 texts | 2GB data | £37.50 Here's another deal from iD, and it's much better than the one above, but still not the best offer we've seen this month. You get a boost to 1200 minutes, for the same monthly cost of £37.50. You do get the Nexus 6P for free, and you also get a decent 2GB of 4G data. Total lifetime cost over 24 months is £900Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse Nexus 6P 32GB | £29.99 upfront | 1200 mins | 5000 texts | 1GB data | £35.50 This is another OK deal from ID offering you a 32GB phone with an upfront cost rather than a free handset. This makes it cheaper over the two year period though so it may be the best choice for you. You're still limited to 2000 minutes and 5000 texts, but that should still be fine for many people. The 2GB of 4G data is welcome, but again there's nothing too exciting here. Total cost over 24 months is £881.99Get this deal: from Carphone Warehouse

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may not be more powerful than the Galaxy S7

Other than the iPhone 7, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the most highly anticipated handset still to come this year and most rumors suggest it will be enormously powerful, but two new benchmarks paint a slightly different picture.MySmartPrice spotted the handset on AnTuTu with a Snapdragon 820 processor, an Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM, which are high-end specs, but they're the exact same specs as the Samsung Galaxy S7, while earlier rumors had suggested it would get a processor upgrade to the Snapdragon 823 and may have up to 6GB of RAM.Even without those rumors we'd have expected at least a slight power boost given the gap between them and the fact that Samsung's Note handsets are generally a little more powerful than its S handsets of the same year. Other than the screen size, which isn't listed here, the benchmark makes it sound a whole lot like the Galaxy S7 in other ways too, with a 1440 x 2560 display, Android Marshmallow and a 5MP front-facing camera. The only differences listed are a 13MP rear snapper, up from 12MP on the S7 and 64GB of storage, which is double what the S7 offers.A tasty treat to soften the blowBut another recent benchmark, this time from Geekbench and spotted by telefoonabonnement.nl, suggests it may even be a step down in some ways.It shows the Note 7 as having an Exynos 7420 processor (down from the Exynos 8890 in some versions of the Galaxy S7) and just 3GB of RAM, though on the bright side it's running Android Nougat, which could mean the Galaxy Note 7 will be one of the first phones to ship with Google's new operating system version. Of course it's an extremely suspect listing. The AnTuTu one is just about believable, if disappointing, but this one is hard to believe, though it has a slightly different model number of SM-N930F, where the AnTuTu phone is the SM-N930V.It could be a lower spec variant or even an early prototype model that has just gone through the testing.Whatever the case its scores are unsurprisingly low, with a single core reading of 909 and a multi-core result of 3768. To put that into perspective in our own tests the Snapdragon 820 variant of the Galaxy S7 got a multi-core score of 5398, while the Exynos model managed a massive 6542.So take all of these results with a huge helping of salt. With any luck the only true bit will be Android Nougat.If the Note 7 disappoints there's always the iPhone 7 Plus

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Your fitness tracker could be revealing your bank PIN

Your smartwatch or fitness tracker may betray you by giving away your passwords and PIN numbers to hackers.New research from scientists at Binghamton University and Stevens Institute of Technology in the US took data from sensors in wearable tech and used an algorithm to work out the passwords victims were entering.Data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometers could be used to monitor the way your wrist moves, whether you're tapping in your pin at a cash point, or entering your Facebook password on your phone. There are a wide range of scenarios where your wearable could be compromising your security.Researchers were able to get it right first time with 80 percent accuracy. Over three attempts the researchers managed to succeed 90 percent of the time.Accurate attempts"The threat is real, although the approach is sophisticated" said Yan Wang, assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University."There are two attacking scenarios that are achievable: internal and sniffing attacks."The internal attack would use malware installed on the wearable device and send it back to the attacker to determine a PIN or password.On the other hand, a sniffing attack could work with a wireless sensor placed in a location to intrude on the data sent between your wrist wear and a smartphone via Bluetooth.Researchers on the project could only recommend better encryption for wearable devices to tackle this issue. In the meantime, it may be worth using your other hand or taking off your smartwatch before entering your bank PIN.All the best smartwatches you can buy right now

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LG's crazy Rolling Bot is being let loose in the UK, but it'll cost you

The LG Rolling Bot, a rolling surveillance camera and fun remote controlled toy, has now been confirmed for the UK.The futuristic looking Rolling Bot is a white plastic sphere with two domed wheels, complete with an 8MP camera, speaker and even a laser pointer. It's controlled from your smartphone and works with Android and iOS.This gives you the ability to check on your house remotely via your phone, as well as entertain your beloved cat with "play mode". This activates the laser pointer and sees the Rolling Bot spin around your room, allowing your moggy to chase it to its heart's content.Paws for thoughtPreviously, it wasn't clear whether the Rolling Bot would be available in the UK, especially considering LG never planned to release it to the public.The LG Rolling Bot can now be pre-ordered at MobileFun for £229, with deliveries expected to roll in from August 1. While it may be a fun piece of kit, its limited practicality means many will be put off by the high asking price.Let us know what you think of the Rolling Bot in the comments below, and whether you'll be splashing the cash on LG's latest quirky tech offering.Read our hands on: LG Rolling Bot review

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How to combine macro images for amazingly sharp photographs

Step by step: how to get pin-sharp macro images Focus stacking is a handy technique used to extend the depth of field in your images. This technique is commonly used in extreme close-up photography as depth of field is so limited.Depth of field is determined by three factors: focal length, distance to subject and aperture. Macro lenses tend to have long telephoto focal lengths – like the Sigma 105mm lens we're using – and you have to get in close to your subject to achieve full-size magnification, both of which leave you with a very shallow plane of focus. This is why narrower apertures are typically used in macro photography to ensure the subject is sharp, while blowing out the background into soft focus. But often this isn't enough to render the entire subject in sharp focus. The solution is to shoot several images, each with tiny adjustments to focus, then merge the sharpest parts together into one seamless, pin-sharp image. All you need is a macro lens, a sturdy tripod to keep your camera in a fixed position for the sequence of exposures, and a subject that will remain perfectly still, too.It's actually quite a simple, automated process to combine your stacked shots in Photoshop CC or CS. While this is adequate for getting started, you may want to consider using specialist stacking software such as, Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus when you move on to more complex subjects that require a lot more images to be stacked together.1. Secure camera The most vital part of the focus stacking technique is to ensure that your camera is locked solidly in place so that it doesn't move between exposures. Set your camera up on a tripod. Even the smallest nudge can cause movement, so use a shutter release cable too.2. Enable live view mode Move your subject into position and enable Live View; this is invaluable when working in such a controlled environment. Squinting through the viewfinder to set focus is a painful process, whereas Live View will allow you to zoom in to specific areas for more accuracy.5 essential photography filters (and why you can't live without them!)3. Switch to manual To ensure the exposure remains the same for each shot, set Manual mode and the optimum aperture of your lens, usually f/8-f/11. Don't be tempted to select a really narrow aperture to reduce the amount of shots required as diffraction will soften your images.How to take manual control of your camera4. Focus... and repeat Switch your lens to manual focus (MF). Zoom in to 5x magnification and twist the focus ring until the closest part of your subject is pin sharp.Fire a shot, twist the focus ring a fraction, take another shot. Repeat until you've focused/shot the furthest point of your flower.5. Subject Your subject needs to remain static. Some work better than others due to the complexity of their structure. Smooth, simple objects won't require as many shots. Subjects with overlapping layers will prove much trickier. 77 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything6. Light source A north facing window, offering plenty of diffused light, is ideal. Pop a reflector on the opposite side to bounce light back into the shadows. If the light is flat, a constant light source, such as an anglepoise lamp, will also work.7. Composition It's important to compose slightly wider than what you want the final composition to be as, when you blend your images in Photoshop, you will need to crop out the overlaid areas towards the edges of the frame.8. Focus overlap To ensure you get a sharp end result you'll need to overlap the plane of focus for each shot. Make use of the 5x and 10x magnification function in Live View to ensure you don't miss a section when shifting the focus.How to take food photos9. Cropping We mentioned that you should compose slightly wider than you want the final image to be. This is because the Auto-Align Layers command may rotate some frames marginally during the alignment process and you will need to crop in to remove the uneven edges. We suggest cropping your image after running this command, before using the AutoBlend Layers command.10. Open your images in Raw Transfer your stack of images (we took 30 shots) onto your computer and save them in a new folder. Open them into Photoshop; if they are Raw files, as ours are, they will automatically open into Adobe Camera Raw so you can make some Raw adjustments.11. RAW adjustments With the topmost image highlighted, scroll down to the bottom image and shift-click it to select all the images. Now any exposure tweaks you make will be applied to all images simultaneously – saving time, as they're slight variations of the exact same shot.12. Save as JPEGS Merging a large number of files will take a long time, so, to speed up the process, click the Save Images button to batch-convert them as JPEGs. Set Destination to Save In Same Location, Format to JPEG, Quality to High and hit Save.13. Load as layers Click Done to exit Camera Raw. Moving to the main Photoshop editor, go to File>Open and select all the newly created JPEG files. Go to File > Scripts > Load Files Into Stack, and click OK. This will open all the images as individual layers into one file.14. Align layer Once loaded in Photoshop, select the topmost layer in the Layers palette, hold shift and click on bottom-most layer to select them all.Go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers and ensure Auto is selected and hit OK. This will counter any slight movement between shots.15. Blend layers With all the layers still highlighted, go to Edit>AutoBlend Layers and ensure Stack Images and Seamless Tone and Colors are selected.Photoshop will create a series of layer masks that reveal the sharpest bits of each layer, for a pin-sharp shot, from front to back.How to use Photoshop to turn images into drawings16. Check the focus Photoshop isn't perfect and you may notice some areas it's missed due to misalignment. Locate the layer that has the area of sharpness you want to recover. The quickest way to view them is by flicking through your sequence in Bridge or Lightroom.17. Edit the masks Locate that layer in the Layers panel, drag it to the top of the stack, and click its mask to edit it. Paint with white to bring the area of focus back. Repeat to other layer masks, if required. Reveal all layers and Hit Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to create a merged layer.18. Boost contrast Zoom in and scroll around the image, using the Spot Healing Brush tool to paint over and remove any imperfections. Next, add a Levels adjustment layer to boost contrast by dragging the Shadows and Highlights sliders in to the edge of histogram and adjust the Midtones to balance the exposure.19. Saturate and sharpen Next, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and increase the Saturation slider to boost the color. Create another merged layer and go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. For our image, we set Amount to 66%, Radius to 2 pixels and Threshold to 2 levels to sharpen the finished image. 20. Just add water If you choose to photograph a flower that doesn't have an overly complex structure and a flat-looking bud, jazz it up by spraying water on it for a different effect. We did this with a bright pink Gerbera to add more interest and detail to the final image. You can pick up spray bottles from DIY, gardening shops or even your local supermarket for a few quid, if you don't have one.52 photography projects: a photo idea to try every week of the year

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Opinion: Here's why Bing is a vital cog in the Microsoft machine

Introduction and importance of dataMicrosoft is a company best known for its most successful products – in the consumer world that's Windows and Office, and in the enterprise world it's both of those along with Azure, SharePoint, and so on. But there is one Microsoft product that has been quietly accelerating over the previous years and is now a real asset within the computing giant. That product is Bing, the search engine that launched in 2009. The launch date – just seven years ago – is one of the reasons that Bing's market share is so impressive. The search engine market is, by and large, dominated by Google in the West. The company regularly captures around 65% to 70% of all searches, especially in the UK and US. Bing, meanwhile, snagged around 20% of all searches in the US in 2015, according to Comscore. The figure may be a third of what Google achieves – and has declined a little over the past few years – but for an offering that's just another product in a big company's line-up, it's impressive. It's all about the dataBut it's not the numbers that really concern Microsoft, a company that is willing to support a smartphone operating system used by less than 1% of the total market. No, it's the data that can be gleaned from the service that is of real interest. Bing powers Cortana, for example, which means that millions and millions of Windows 10 users are interacting with the assistant every day. All of these interactions are then anonymised, pooled, and processed to hone the responses. Just as Google does with search, Microsoft can learn what people are asking, how they are asking it, and the best response to the question. This idea of big data – a buzzword in the technology industry that essentially means figuring out answers from a large, usually anonymous dataset – is a core part of what Microsoft does and that is what makes Bing so valuable. There have been calls over the years for Microsoft to sell Bing or shut it down, but the company has held fast beyond selling off some strategic mapping assets to Uber."I see [Bing] as a pretty fundamental technology for the company, even for its Office business, it's a very, very core business," Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, said in an interview outlining why the company would be foolish to part ways with the service. "We're thinking about 'are there pieces that are separable,' but for our basic research, including the stuff that goes into Bing, I can't see that making sense to break it off," he concluded. Office angle The Office angle is one of the most interesting and highlights why Microsoft has kept the service around even when it looked like Google was going to own the search engine market. The 2016 version of Office has several features that use Bing, including Cortana – which has been built directly into the software – and other in-app utilities, like Smart Lookup. But it's the future versions of Office that Bing will really augment and this has already started with features like Delve. Essentially, Delve surfaces relevant information to you – emails, calendar appointments, contacts – just when you need them by learning what you do, how you do it, and so on. Bing, and the technology Microsoft has built from and around it, are key parts of this data crunching and show how the company is utilising the service beyond just simple text-based searches. Xiaoice and the futureThat's not to say that text-based searches aren't something that Bing does well. According to a regulatory filing last year, Bing is now bringing in $1 billion (around £750 million, AU$1.3 billion) every quarter, although it's unclear how much of that is profit. The figure is growing, too, with 2015 seeing double digit increases as the year progressed. This increased revenue is driven by Microsoft taking into consideration the needs of advertisers, the main client of any search engine. 'All in' on searchAccording to Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president for advertiser and publisher solutions at Microsoft, the company is 'all in' on Bing and search generally. "We're all in on search," he said at a meeting of advertisers last year. "Some doubted our commitment, [but] we've built a business that's on the path to success. We're all in." Van der Kooi outlined a plan for Bing's expansions, according to media reports, which focused on three core components: building on Windows phones (especially in European markets); integration with existing products (like Office); and partnerships (like Siri, the virtual assistant from Apple). The Windows phone prong now seems doubtful – although Europe is a rare area of joy for the platform – but the other strategies seem to be taking shape, especially those related to pre-existing Microsoft products. Xiaoice magicInternationally, Bing is much stronger than in the West. Xiaoice, a Microsoft research project in China, translates as 'Little Bing' and has been a big hit. According to Yongdong Wang, a senior researcher on the project, the company is seeing massive adoption of Xiaoice, which uses social media, and other informal communications platforms, to generate responses. "Xiaoice can exchange views on any topic," Wang wrote in a science journal in January. "If it's something she doesn't know much about, she will try to cover it up. If that doesn't work, she might become embarrassed or even angry, just like a human would." While the company has no plans to bring Xiaoice to Europe or the Americas, the technology that it is built on could make its way over here and that could mean vast improvements for Bing. Future of BingThe future of Bing will most probably be something like today. Microsoft will push forward with integration into key products, expansion of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, and general improvements for end-users of the search engine as well as raking in additional revenue from advertisers. Don't think though, that because the song remains generally the same, this means Bing isn't important – it's definitely one of Microsoft's key assets going forward. As the tech world changes, having a pre-built insight into what people are searching, the language they are using and so forth will be incredibly useful for Redmond.Check out how Microsoft's Bing is experimenting on you

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Amazon Prime Video just bagged a bunch of (good) exclusive movies

Amazon Prime Video is about to become the exclusive place to stream 33 Warner Bros. movies, thanks to a new deal between the two companies.According to Variety a selection of movies including Space Jam, Twister and Oceans Eleven have already landed on the service for US customers, with others such as The Matrix trilogy and the four Lethal Weapon movies set to come later in the year.Other movies joining throughout 2016 include Caddyshack, Full Metal Jacket and You've Got Mail. We've asked Amazon whether UK subscribers will enjoy the same lineup of films in 2016, and we'll update when we know more.Advantage AmazonInking this deal with Warner Bros. means Amazon is seriously taking the fight to streaming rival Netflix. To date Amazon's Video library has been fair but certainly not as strong as Netflix's, which continues to not only land big titles but build momentum with its own "Original" exclusive shows and movies.Amazon currently has the advantage of offline viewing, letting you download movies and shows and watch them without a connection. Netflix has told us on more than one occasion that it has no plans to introduce a similar feature, but there's reason to believe that might soon change...The best shows you can stream on Amazon Prime Video right now

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