HTC Vive Pro review: Still the best VR headset, but it should be better

HTC’s Vive Pro is the next-gen upgrade of its superb Vive, now known as the Vive ‘VR’. This represents the premium line in virtual-reality gaming headsets, with competitors Oculus, once the market leaders, now lagging behind HTC when it comes to room-scale VR. Like the Vive VR, you’re going to need a powerful PC to run the Vive Pro, so if you’re into computer gaming already then going with the Vive VR Pro may prove prohibitively expensive. It is the world’s best VR headset, yes, but at £800 it pretty much costs the world too.
READ NEXT: Best VR headsets
In this review, we go over all of the Vive Pro’s improvements over the Vive VR, both cosmetic and internal, and assess whether or not it’s worth the extra cash. We also explain why, after being promised a device which revolutionises VR, we’re less than ecstatic with the final product. The Vive has been upgraded, with an improved display resolution and dual camera motion tracking, but the VR experience hasn’t evolved quite as much.
Should you wish to learn more about the competition, and find out how to buy a VR gaming headset suited to your personal requirements (and budget) we suggest you check our article on the best VR headsets. Now on with the HTC Vive Pro review.
HTC Vive Pro: Specs and system requirements

There have been a number of hardware improvements to the Vive Pro, both external and internal. The most noticeable relate to the image resolution and the display lenses. Where the Vive VR had just 1,200 x 1080 pixels for each eye display, the Vive Pro boasts 1,440 x 1,600 pixels per display. In practical terms, this takes the resolution beyond Full HD to something closer to a 3K resolution.
As for the lenses, they have been re-designed to provide a clearer, sharper image that eliminates the occasional blurred camera-shutter effect of the Vive VR. What’s more, the Vive Pro now has a dual camera setup to enable its ‘Chaperone’ technology – the feature that tracks where you are in your physical space and attempts to forestall you from walking into walls and furniture.
Impressively, the HTC Vive Pro does not have greater system requirements than the HTC Vive VR, despite packing a higher-resolution display. Assuming that you’ve used the Vive VR, you ought to be able to use the exact same PC setup to run the Vive Pro. Even better, HTC has eliminated the cross-cable mess of the Vive VR; all you need to do now is plug in a single cable from the headset to the breakout box connected to your computer.
Here’s the minimum you will need to run the HTC Vive Pro on your PC at home:

Minimum requirements

Intel Core i5-4590 / AMD FX-8350

Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290


HDMI 1.4 / DisplayPort 1.2
2 x USB 2
1 x USB 3

Operating system
Windows 10 / 8.1 / 7 SP3

HTC Vive Pro review: ‘Pro VR Experience’ 

Those of us who have tried the Vive Pro headset all agree that it is better than the Vive VR. It’s undeniably an upgrade, even if it’s not enough of an upgrade to warrant the price tag or a five-star rating. That said, the HTC Vive Pro still performs better than any other VR headset on the market.
The pixel-per-eye improvements are instantly obvious. With its 1,440 x 1,600 resolution, everything is cleaner and crisper than before. Objects in the far distance look as sharp as they would in real life, rather than a pixelated blur, while images and text in the foreground remain clear and well defined even when shifting focus. The also translates to the menus, where you can actually read everything as though you’re looking at the words on a browser, as opposed to faded inscriptions on a stone tablet, the meanings of which you had to guess at. This was all too often the case with the Vive VR, not to mention all other consumer VR products.
The room-scale tracking on the Vive Pro is, likewise, very impressive. The dual cameras and Chaperone technology automatically detect boundaries, warn of objects as you approach them, and can even perform hand-motion tracking – not that you’ll be able to play without controllers, anyway.
HTC Vive Pro review: Design and comfort
As you’ll have seen from the pictures so far, HTC has gone for a stylish dark blue/navy colour, a marked improvement over the boring matt black on the Vive VR. Other than that it does look much the same, and you’re still going to look a bit goofy wearing one. Of all the VR headsets out there, the new Oculus Go is probably the least embarrassing to be seen in, but even there users still look far less cool than they’ll feel.  
Another change is the headset strap. The old webbing-based fitting has been replaced with an easily adjustable low-sling band which is much better at distributing the weight of this hefty wearable across the whole of your head, rather than trying to pull your forehead into your chest, as the old one did. This has the effect of making the Vive Pro much more comfortable to wear, which means you can play games for much longer. The single cable setup also simplifies things beautifully.
HTC Vive Pro review: Games and applications

HTC isn’t offering any Vive Pro exclusives for those shelling out the extra cash, which will probably dissuade many people from making the upgrade. While it’s true that games look and feel better on the Vive Pro than the Vive, improving the overall experience significantly, there are no Vive Pro games that you can’t play on a Vive.
Which begs the question: Why buy a Vive Pro for £500 more than a Vive if you have access to the same HTC Vive library and Viveport experiences on both?  Beyond the ‘Pro VR Experience’ detailed above, we haven’t got an answer for that one. For advice on what to play first, should you buy a Vive headset, head to our list of the best VR games.
HTC Vive Pro review: Price and competition

There’s no escaping it: £900 is a lot to pay for a video game entertainment system that can’t be used without an accompanying £800-£1,000 high-spec gaming PC to run the games. But this is the price of premium. When the HTC Vive first arrived on the VR scene it didn’t cost a whole lot less (£799), and that price has since been permanently dropped to £400 in a bid to compete with the Oculus Rift, which started at £550 but is now under £400.
The latest Oculus model, Oculus GO, is even cheaper, having debuted at just £200. You don’t even need a PC or mobile to run it, as it’s self-contained. Perhaps in the near future we will see HTC slash the price of the Vive Pro, as they did with the Vive, to remain in the competition. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets (such as the Acer Windows) run at £400, and the incredibly popular console-exclusive PlayStation VR now sits at around £350.
It’s also worth noting that the Vive Pro is sold as a headset only package, which is a real issue for newcomers. Any controllers or baystations – both things you absolutely need to get started – will have to be added on separately at checkout. The cost? An extra £250. Which means that, for those who do not own a Vive VR, the full playable Vive Pro set actually costs a staggering £1,050. This is poor form from HTC and, in our opinion, has not been made clear enough to customers.
The upside to this is that Vive VR owners don’t need to buy anything extra, because their existing controllers and accessories will be compatible with the Vive Pro.
HTC Vive Pro review: Verdict
Before dwelling on the negatives (price, primarily) let’s recap what the HTC Vive Pro does right. It’s a nicer, better-looking, better-feeling device which no longer hurts your neck and thus can be used for longer periods. The technical upgrades have markedly improved the image resolution, and the dual cameras have enhanced it’s room-scale and motion tracking abilities considerably.
Again, £900 is a lot. That’s £300 more than the Vive VR headset, which can be purchased for £500 as a full package, and £550 more for new users, who will have to fork out an extra £250 for the ‘Vive Pro Accessory Starter Pack’.
What’s more, it’s an incremental improvement rather than a game-changer, meaning our excitement is somewhat tempered by disappointment. Yet, as HTC might say, if you want to experience professional standard Virtual Reality (whatever ‘professional’ means in this context) then the Vive Pro is the way to go. It’s by far the least accessible VR headset, but also – unquestionably – the best.   

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Auburn walk-on’s seizure treatment makes him NCAA-ineligible, per family

The player has epilepsy.
C.J. Harris was slated to play this season as a preferred walk-on defensive back for Auburn. Harris has a history of seizures due to epilepsy, he says, and treats them with prescribed cannabis oil. Now he’s not slated to play for Auburn anymore.
WGXA reports that Harris started taking the cannabis oil in January 2017, after he had a fourth seizure. Harris received his epilepsy diagnosis when he was a high school sophomore and apparently struggled with them until he started using the oil. Then, they stopped.
Harris’ family says he can’t play at Auburn because of NCAA rules. Another report says it’s because of his epilepsy, not because of how he treats it.
247Sports reports that Auburn rescinded the offer of a roster spot to Harris because its medical staff “was concerned about the epilepsy and wanted to protect his well being in a full-contact sport that could lead to head trauma.”
But as long as Harris uses the cannabis oil, the logistics of how he lost his spot on Auburn’s roster might be immaterial.
Marijuana is a banned substance under NCAA rules, and players are subject to NCAA drug tests. If a player tests positive for the cannabinoid THC, he loses half his remaining eligibility, according to an NCAA presentation to players. Some snippets from that presentation offer insight into how the NCAA frames discussions about weed:

The NCAA has exceptions to its drug policy for players who use specific drugs for medical reasons. But it classifies marijuana as an illicit drug and doesn’t have a medical exception for its use.
All of the major leagues continue to have policies against marijuana, though they’re enforced with varying rigor. Some of the world’s best athletes use weed to keep themselves feeling healthy as they compete.
Auburn, not the NCAA, informed Harris’ family that he couldn’t play while using the oil, according to the initial report by WGXA:

A few weeks ago, after Auburn coaches and staff took a second look at his medical records, they told Harris’ father Curtis that his son could not compete in NCAA athletics while he was taking cannabis oil.
Curtis said telling his son he couldn’t play college football was “the hardest thing I’ve done.” He compared it to the conversation his father had with him at the age of 6, when his father told him and his sister that their mother had passed away.
”You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” Curtis said. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

Athletic departments often have their own rules against marijuana use. Auburn does. Schools can administer their own tests on top of the NCAA’s, too.
The NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has “discussed medical marijuana and CBD products at recent meetings,” an NCAA spokesman wrote to SB Nation. He said he expected the issue would be on the agenda when the group meets again in June.
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Aston Villa v Fulham: Championship play-off final – live! | Football

1.22pm EDT13:22

61 mins: Confusion in the Fulham area as Villa pile on more pressure. They have been excellent. A goal is surely coming. Grealish getting time and space.

1.20pm EDT13:20

59 mins: Villa getting closer! Jack Grealish with a weaving, winding run, with shades of Ricky rather than Aston Villa. Bettenelli makes a clawing save from a shot that took a deflection.

1.19pm EDT13:19

58 mins: Slavisa Jokanovic looking pensive on the sidelines, and so is Fulham owner Shahid Khan in the stands.

1.17pm EDT13:17

57 mins: Grealish plays Grabban into space and Grabban looks a bit tentative as he approaches goal. Dennis Odoi’s covering seemed to put him off.

1.16pm EDT13:16

55 mins: Mitrovic flashes a header wide. Terry nowhere. Hard not to agree with Sean Lally’s tweet: “Bruce needs to be brave and take Terry off. He’s adding nothing to Villa and is more a liability than an asset right now ….”

1.14pm EDT13:14

53 mins: Fulham’s resolve being sorely tested and they are playing on the counter. Sessegnon tried to put Kamara through but the pass was overhit.

1.13pm EDT13:13

52 mins: Odomah is the danger man, he puts Hourihane into space in an inside-left position, but the pass, presumably aimed at Grabban, skews wide. Or was it a shot? Doubtful he even knows.

1.12pm EDT13:12

51 mins: Villa a different proposition here. Powerful, forceful and dangerous.

1.11pm EDT13:11

50 mins: Odamah again down the left. Bettenelli flapped and got very lucky that the ball came off Grealish’s head and didn’t go into the goal.

1.10pm EDT13:10

49 mins: Terry gets closed down, as Johansen charges in. No rest for the wicked, and not those who face Fulham.

1.08pm EDT13:08

48 mins: Adomah down the left, and gets a cross in. Snodgrass fails to keep his header down.

1.07pm EDT13:07

47 mins: James Chester, again, had to clear the ball for Villa, as Fredericks got around the back. Terry has been something of a bystander.

1.06pm EDT13:06

46 mins: A change in Villa’s approach? Lewis Grabban charges down Bettenelli. Looks like the high press is the way forward. Jack Grealish is also marauding forward.

1.05pm EDT13:05

Second-half kicks off

45 minutes to agony, ecstasy and £170m. Or extra-time.

1.03pm EDT13:03

Bourgy tweets in: “Fulham are being praised for the type of performance that’s described as boring when it’s United. 60% possession, 2 shots on target, one goal.”
Seems Bourgy is happy with the way Manchester United play. Ok, mate. Takes all sorts but Fulham have tried to attack, played down the flanks and taken risks. Which is nothing like Manchester United under Mourinho.

1.00pm EDT13:00

Seems little doubt that the likes of Steve Bruce and John Terry will have had a word with referee Anthony Taylor at half-time. Jack Grealish has been targeted, and they were asking for protection all that half. If Taylor requires evidence, then the stud marks on Grealish’s legs should provide that.

12.53pm EDT12:53

There’s another game on tonight, you know. Somewhere in Europe. Rob Smyth has the details and is your guide through the build-up.

12.50pm EDT12:50

Half-time – Aston Villa 0-1 Fulham

Fulham fully deserving of their lead, which came via that crafted goal from Cairney. They should, though, have been a man down. Fredericks stood all over Grealish. Naughty, lucky boy.

at 12.51pm EDT

12.49pm EDT12:49

45 mins: Fulham seeking another before the break? Terry comes across and goes on an adventure, and has to since none of his colleagues are open for a pass. That gives Fulham fans a chance to boo him on extended play.

12.47pm EDT12:47

45 mins: There will be two minutes of added time and they are being used up by Stefan Johansen receiving some attention to what looks like a muscle injury.

12.45pm EDT12:45

42 mins: Chester and Johnstone almost put Mitrovic clear on goal when seeming to forget that a striker might fancy being given the ball with an open net beckoning. They only just about pull themselves together.

12.43pm EDT12:43

40 mins: Mitrovic gets a chance, but his shot is blocked by a fine intervention from Chester. It has to be said that Terry is looking his age at the moment. He’s been sold a couple of times when Fulham have worked their chances, and especially for the goal.

12.41pm EDT12:41

38 mins: Snodgrass is inventive with the free-kick and Grealish is in place to have Villa’s best chance. He fires wide, agonisingly so for the Villa fans.

12.40pm EDT12:40

37 mins: First Fulham booking goes to Odoi, for a foul on Grealish, of course. Villa’s main man has taken a real buffeting. Jokanovic knew how to mix it as a player…

12.39pm EDT12:39

36 mins: How long Fulham can keep this up in 96F is the main question at the moment but the ball is doing their work for them, while Villa are chasing shadows.

12.37pm EDT12:37

35 mins: That Villa possession didn’t last long. Fulham playing some lovely stuff before Targett fails to live up to his name and wafts a shot wide.

12.35pm EDT12:35

33 mins: Harvey Maine tweets in. “If you going to play the overexaggerated temperature game, at least have the decency to put the F after the number. 90F is 32C, which is about what it is here in Frankfurt today.”
Fair enough, Harv. It was, though, 96 degrees F.

at 12.36pm EDT

12.34pm EDT12:34

32 mins: At last, some semblance of possession play from Villa. They need far more of that and Fulham’s defence is by no means impregnable. This time Ream clears the danger out.

12.33pm EDT12:33

31 mins: Almost another Fulham goal. Terry fails to get clean contact and Sessegnon stole in. Thankfully for JT, Sam Johnstone was alert to the danger.

12.32pm EDT12:32

30 mins: So, a bad goal to concede and a sense of injustice for Villa. The free-kick from Snodgrass is cleared by Odoi.

12.31pm EDT12:31

28 mins: That should have been a red card for Fredericks! Grealish fell to the floor, and Fredericks ran all over him, and there is little doubt that was deliberate.

at 12.32pm EDT

12.30pm EDT12:30

27 mins: Is it in Fulham’s nature to sit on a lead? No, but it would be only natural to start retreating at some point. At the moment, though.

12.28pm EDT12:28

26 mins: Villa looking a little shellshocked here, as do their fans. The club can barely afford a third season out of the Premier League.

12.27pm EDT12:27

24 mins: That was coming. Fulham have been excellent, and Villa hanging on a bit. Sessegnon had been quiet, but then showed that limitless talent. Cairney, not a bad player himself, was so cool when finishing that off. Terry, to be fair, was not beaten by Sessegnon, but was ball-watching when Cairney was in open space.

12.24pm EDT12:24

Goal! Aston Villa 0-1 Fulham (Cairney, 23)

Sessegnon drifts inside, skipping past Terry and Chester, and weighs a ball perfectly for Cairney, through on goal, to slot it.

Tom Cairney slots the ball home nicely to give Fulham the lead. Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic is pretty pleased. Photograph: Marc Atkins/Offside/Getty Images

As are the Fulham fans. Photograph: Michael Zemanek/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

at 1.03pm EDT

12.22pm EDT12:22

20 mins: First shot of the game? Kamara has a hopeful swing and it has Johnstone scrambling, yet just about looped on to the roof of the net.

Fulham’s Aboubakar Kamara has a go. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

at 12.28pm EDT

12.21pm EDT12:21

19 mins: Sessegnon gets his first real run, but Mile Jedinak comes across to clear the danger.

12.19pm EDT12:19

17 mins: Fulham’s determination to keep passing is a credit to them and keeping Villa’s midfield, full of power, running. That heat may sap them soon.

at 12.20pm EDT

12.18pm EDT12:18

16 mins: Grealish, at last, has a chance to run, but is chopped down by Tom Cairney. No booking, much to the annoyance of the victim and his manager.

12.17pm EDT12:17

15 mins: The on-pitch temperature has been measured at 90 degrees. Hot hot hot.

12.16pm EDT12:16

14 mins: Fulham keeper Bettinelli nearly got himself in a tangle in trying to play the ball out. The ball went to Snodgrass, who was leading Villa’s press.

It’s a grand day out in the sunshine at Wembley. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt /AMA/Getty Images

at 1.00pm EDT

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Bama’s loading up on QBs again. There are only so many spots.

While Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts duke it out to start in 2018, the Tide have recruited the position extra heavily for next year.
Alabama doesn’t mind signing a bunch of four- and five-star players at the same position every class. Nick Saban figures competition breeds improvement and that he can never have too much depth. Five national titles at Bama say he’s correct.
Quarterback’s a little bit different than other positions, though. Only one can play at a time, and with the FBS cap of 85 scholarships, the most common thing is for teams to keep four scholarship QBs. The Tide either don’t care about being normal, or they’re likely expecting someone to transfer between now and 2019.
If everything stays status quo, Bama’s QB situation in 2019 will be something.
The Tide already had all of these guys in the fold:

Former four-star Jalen Hurts will be a senior. Alabama is 26-2 when he starts.
Former five-star Tua Tagovailoa will be a junior. He won Bama the national title in January.
Former high-three-star Mac Jones will be a redshirt sophomore. He hasn’t played a live down yet and has no clear path to starting at Alabama, but he’s been a spring 2018 darling.

And now, in an unusual move, they’ve added a 2018 quarterback commitment in late May. Layne Hatcher, a three-star former Arkansas State commit, pledged to the Tide on Friday.
Alabama’s also added two four-star 2019 verbal commitments over the last few. Verbals this early in the recruiting cycle only mean so much, but you tell me if these don’t sound solid:

Four-star Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s little brother who plays with a bit more of a pro-style flavor.
Four-star Paul Tyson, the great-grandson of a guy named Bear Bryant.

If Alabama didn’t lose anyone to transfer or other attrition, and if the two blue-chip commits with deep Alabama ties (not even counting the point that they both live in Alabama) didn’t go elsewhere, the Tide would hit 2019 with six scholarship QBs. Four would be blue-chips, which almost never happens. Spoiler: Bama is not going into a year with six scholarship QBs.
Of course, it’s looking more and more like a transfer or two is coming, with Hurts as the first prime candidate.
His dad in a story published just before the end of spring practice:

“Coach Saban’s job is to do what’s best for his team. I have no problem with that,” Averion Hurts said. “My job is to do what’s best for Jalen—and make no mistake, Jalen is a quarterback, and he wants to play quarterback. He loves Alabama, loves Coach Saban and everything about that place. But he wants to play, and he will play…”
Averion stops mid-sentence because the idea of his son not playing for Alabama isn’t one he takes lightly. What if Jalen doesn’t win the job, he is asked?
He shakes his head slowly, answers begrudgingly. “Well, he’d be the biggest free agent in college football history.”

Saban sounded unconcerned, but as the Tide’s elder statesman at the position, Hurts moving somewhere else would make sense if Tagovailoa won Bama’s starting job this year.
Still, Bama looks set to remain Bama.

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How To Download All The Data Apple Knows About You

Michael Grothaus

01/05/2018 – 4:52pm

Find out what the iPhone maker knows about YOU!

Ever since the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, people have (rightly so) been more concerned about all the data the major tech companies hold about us. People also want an easy way to access all the data and download a copy for themselves.
To this end, major tech companies including Google, Facebook, and Twitter have created download tools that allow you to see and download every bit of data the company has about you. But what about Apple?

Still, if you’d like to see all the limited information the company does have on you, Apple has a pretty easy way of getting it. Here’s how:

Go to
Enter your username and password of your Apple ID.
On the next screen, click Continue.
Under the “Get a copy of your data”, click the Get Started button.
On the next page, you’ll see a list of all the data Apple has on you. Select the data you want to download by checking the checkbox next to it.
Now click Continue.
On the next screen use the drop-down menu to choose a maximum file size that you want to download your data in. Choices are 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, or 25GB. Apple will divide your data into files of this size or smaller.
Click Complete Request to confirm your download choices.

Apple will then email you letting you know your data is being gathered and it will email you a download link within seven days. Apple uses this time period to make sure your data was actually requested by you and not someone else.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: Plus-sized excellence

In 2016 we were singing the praises of the fantastic, larger-than-life Galaxy Note 7. We awarded it top honours and, were it not for the small matter of a worldwide recall – following the emergence of a potentially dangerous battery flaw – we’d probably still be recommending it now. The good news for phablet fans is that its successor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, is on sale. You can bet that Samsung has fixed the battery problem, but that’s not the only thing that’s been upgraded.
READ NEXT: Order the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 from Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: Design
The first change is obvious as soon as you look at it: the Note 8 introduces a bezel-less design cribbed from the Galaxy S8. The screen is slightly larger at 6.3in across and it dominates the entire front of the handset with only the slimmest of strips at the top and the bottom of the screen to get in the way of your viewing pleasure.
It’s available in four colours, which Samsung has given rather silly names to as usual – there’s “Midnight Black, Orchid Grey, Deep Sea Blue, and Maple Gold – and, as usual, it employs Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology for incredibly deep black level response and incredibly vibrant colours. At this scale, it looks amazing, with a 1,440 x 2,960 WQHD+ resolution that equates to an impeccably sharp 522ppi.

It’s a decent addition to the camera on the Galaxy S8 and the telephoto camera is a corker, producing shots that are both detailed and free from artefacts or noise. It isn’t quite as good in low light as the main f/1.7 snapper, producing slightly grainier pictures, but it’s a lot better than the OnePlus 5’s telephoto shooter which produces more mottled, noisier snaps in marginal light.
The quality of the wide-angle camera is the same as with the regular S8 and S8 Plus, which is to say it’s still absolutely superb in all lighting conditions and only a smidge behind the Google Pixel.
I’m a huge fan of the Note 8’s video camera, too. It can, of course, capture in up to 4K resolution, but it’s the smoothness of the electronic stabilisation (EIS) that wert_main_wide_image/public/2017/09/cpu1.png?itok=XR0SLuHu” alt=””/>

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review: Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a simply excellent smartphone, but then we expected no less. Samsung has taken the best plus-sized smartphone ever and made it even better with a slightly bigger display, a superb dual camera that sets a new standard for smartphones and an even better stylus implementation.
The battery life is slightly disappointing, though, but fattest fly in the ointment is the price. At £869 inc VAT SIM free you’ll not get much change from £50 per month if you’re looking at purchasing on contract. That, to my mind, is far too much for a phone, even one as good as this and, even you wait a month or two for the price to fall, it’s probably still going to be ludicrously expensive. [Update: Samsung is now selling the Note 8 SIM-free for £799, and at the time of writing it is only £569.90 on Amazon).
Good as it is, then, the Note 8 is a phone only for those who don’t care about the price and want the very best. For everyone else, there’s the 5.7in Samsung Galaxy S8 which is very, very nearly as good and substantially cheaper.

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Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Lens Will Cost £1500 / $1600

The new Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens will have a suggested retail price of £1499.99 in the UK and $1,599.00 USD in the US.
Sigma UK Press Release 
Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd is pleased to announce that the new Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens will have a suggested retail price of £1499.99 including VAT.  Sigma, Canon and Nikon mounts will be available in June 2018 and the Sony FE mount is TBA.
1.  Optical system delivering unsurpassed F1.4 performance

2.  Exceptional peripheral brightness

3.  Professional specifications

4.  Ease-of-use specifications

5.  Compatible with full-frame Sony E-mount cameras

6.  Compatible with Canon Lens Aberration Correction
Launch: Sigma, Canon and Nikon June 2018.  Sony FE mount is TBA

Accessory: Case, Cover Hood (LH1113-01), tripod socket (TS-111), protective cover (PT-21)

Note: Appearance and specifications are subject to change without notice.
Leading the way in F1.4 brightness

Since introducing its first SIGMA Global Vision F1.4 lens in 2012, the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, SIGMA has been adding wide-aperture F1.4 options to the lineup. Now, with the introduction of the new 105mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art, SIGMA offers a total of nine lenses with F1.4 brightness, including six for full-frame cameras and three for APS-C cameras. SIGMA has designed all of these lenses to offer minimal optical aberration and deliver incredible resolution and stunning contrast. Boasting the longest focal length of the F1.4 Art line lenses, the new lens combines outstanding resolution with a beautiful bokeh effect. Designed with great care to ensure that both the in-focus and out-of-focus areas of the photograph are equally satisfying to the eye, this lens is truly a “bokeh master.” The SIGMA 105mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art has earned its place as the flagship of the F1.4 Art line lenses, prioritizing image quality above all to fulfill the promise of the line, delivering truly amazing optical performance.
Key features

Optical system delivering unsurpassed F1.4 performance

Exceptional peripheral brightness

Professional specifications

Ease-of-use specifications

Compatible with full-frame Sony E-mount cameras

Compatible with Canon Lens Aberration Correction

In order to combine outstanding wide-aperture, mid-telephoto performance with F1.4 brightness at maximum aperture, this lens incorporates 17 optical elements in 12 groups—an uncommonly large number of elements for a prime lens. By including three FLD glass elements, two SLD glass elements, and one aspherical lens element, the optical system minimizes axial chromatic aberration to deliver extremely high resolution along with ample peripheral light volume. The area in focus is extremely sharp, while the area out of focus features a beautiful bokeh effect with highly natural colors, making this lens a powerful choice for portrait photography. The optical system also minimizes sagittal coma flare, making this lens excellent for capturing starry skies.
The most effective method of ensuring ample light is to maximize the diameter of the first element of the optical system. With its large filter diameter of 105mm, the SIGMA 105mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art delivers a significantly greater volume of peripheral light than other lenses in its class. Minimizing vignetting while offering a beautiful bokeh effect, this lens is ideal for portrait photography. 

Like SIGMA’s Sports line lenses, the 105mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art features a highly effective dust- and splash-proof structure with special sealing at the mount connection*, manual focus ring, cover connection, and other areas, allowing photographers to work in all types of weather. In addition, the front of the lens is protected by a water- and oil-repellent coating that makes cleaning easy. The high-speed, high-accuracy autofocus helps photographers react in an instant to get those special shots.

*SIGMA mount lens does not include sealing, since sealing is present on compatible SIGMA cameras.
Instead of conventional ABS plastic, the exclusive lens hood features CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic), a light but strong material used in the interior and exterior fittings of aircraft, among many other applications. The removable Arca-Swiss style tripod socket is compatible with Arca-Swiss platforms and clamps, and its exclusive protective cover makes the lens easier to carry and use when shooting hand-held.
The Sony E-mount version of this lens is compatible with Sony mirrorless cameras and contains the same optical system as the versions for other mounts. SIGMA MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11 is not required, as the lens performs the same functions as the converter, including in-camera image stabilization and in-camera lens aberration correction. In addition, the lens is compatible with Sony’s Continuous AF, which is not available via MOUNT CONVERTER MC-11. SIGMA plans eventually to offer Sony E-mount versions of every full-frame prime lens currently available in the Art line, from 14mm to 135mm.

Note: This product is developed, manufactured and sold based on the specifications of E-mount which was disclosed by Sony Corporation under the license agreement with Sony Corporation.
The Canon mount version of this lens is compatible with the Canon Lens Aberration Correction function.* Matching the optical characteristics of the lens, this function performs in-camera corrections of peripheral illumination, chromatic aberrations, distortion, and more, to further enhance image quality.

*Function not available on all Canon cameras. Available corrections may vary depending on the Canon camera model.
Other features

Rounded diaphragm

Fast AF with full-time manual override*

Brass bayonet mount

Evaluation with SIGMA’s own MTF measuring system: A1

“Made in Japan” with outstanding craftsmanship

*The operation of full-time MF may vary based on mount type.

Compatible with SIGMA Mount Converter MC-11

Available SIGMA USB DOCK makes customization and flexible adjustment possible*

Available Mount Conversion Service

Note: SIGMA and Canon mount lens

*Not available for Sony E-mount lens
For more information about the SIGMA GLOBAL VISION lineup of fine products, please visit the official SIGMA global website:

All figures calculated for SIGMA

Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups | Angle of view (35mm): 23.3° | Number of diaphragm blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm) | Minimum aperture: F16 | Minimum focusing distance: 100cm/39.4in. | Maximum magnification ratio: 1:8.3 | Filter size: ø105mm | Dimensions (diameter x length): ø115.9mm x 131.5mm/4.6in. x 5.2in. | Weight: 1645g/58.0oz.
For further information, please contact your local authorized SIGMA Service Station listed in the link below:…

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The Wolf Among Us 2 Delayed Into 2019 – Game Rant

The second season of the popular Telltale adventure game The Wolf Among Us will no longer be released in 2018, according to an announcement from the studio. The delay stems from a “few fundamental changes” made within Telltale recently, likely a reference to the restructuring and layoffs that occurred in November 2017. The Wolf Among Us: Season 2 is now planned for release in 2019.

Telltale plans to use this extra time not only to prepare and polish the second season of The Wolf Among Us but also to commit to something more than expected. Here’s part of Telltale’s discussion regarding the game’s postponement:

“Ultimately our goal is to deliver an experience deserving of the passion you’ve consistently shown for The Wolf Among Us, and these extra months will give us the time we need to do our best work. We’re extremely enthusiastic about how the game is progressing so far, and we can’t wait to dig even deeper.”

Telltale would go on to say that it appreciated everyone’s patience since the studio had “just made a long way even longer.” More The Wolf Among Us 2 news was then promised to be revealed later this year. It’s not clear if this means The Wolf Among Us 2 will be absent from E3 this year or not, but it’s probably healthy to manage any expectations.

The Wolf Among Us 2, based on Bill Willingham’s award-winning Fables comic book series from DC’s Vertigo imprint, will now launch in 2019. Read more in our blog post:

— Telltale Games (@telltalegames)

The Wolf Among Us‘ five episodes originally released in 2013 through 2014 and received a better than average critical reception, along with several award nominations for its story and writing. Despite its success, Telltale was at the time burdened with a significant number of bigger opportunities. While a second season was considered, it ultimately was put aside to make room for other Telltale projects.

It came as a surprise to many when The Wolf Among Us 2 was eventually announced in 2017. The Fables comic book series, which The Wolf Among Us is based on, had ended in 2015 and many expected Telltale to never return to the series. The excitement lasted until November when layoffs at Telltale drew speculation that The Wolf Among Us sequel season could e canceled.
It’s almost a relief that Telltale Games, while delaying the project, is now able to confirm that it’s still in development and that there are big plans for it. Fans of Bigby and Snow White will just have to wait a little bit longer for the final product.

The Wolf Among Us 2 will release in 2019. No platforms have yet been officially confirmed.

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Android 9.0 P: the latest news and features from the beta

Android P comes this year as the successor of the outstanding Android Oreo. So far it doesn’t look like the update will blow us away. Apparently Hiroshi Lockheimer’s team is cleaning up the code and fulfilling new demands from providers. Of course, we don’t know anything about the name yet, but the Android P release timeline, including beta and developer preview, can be predicted. Now Google has started the public beta phase.

Choose “No, I’m relaxed.” or “Yes, I’m worried.”.

Oops! Seems like something went wrong. Reloading might help.

No, I’m relaxed.

Oops! Seems like something went wrong. Reloading might help.

Yes, I’m worried.

Under Lockheimer, Google has established a reasonable release plan of new Android versions. This takes place in several stages and is repeated annually. It traditionally starts with a developer preview, which was released for Android P on March 8.
Then the Google I/O follows at the beginning of May and here Google shows a detailed view of the next Android version. Usually a second edition of the Developer Preview is also included, which is then in beta stage and largely contains all new features for the release.
Only in summer is the final release of the new Android version due. Google last published the versions Nougat and Oreo in August. 
The manufacturers receive access to the source code in advance in order to start the development of updates. This has not accelerated the update speed of Android, but there is still hope that Android P will land on users’ smartphones faster than Nougat or Oreo.
Public beta available
Google launched the public beta phase of Android P at Google I/O 2018. Owners of Google Pixel (XL) or Pixel 2 (XL) and some other smartphones – complete list here – can register at Google, download and install the beta now – at their own risk, of course. 
We had a chance to test the features of the new beta, including app actions, new multitasking and navigation systems, and various neat features to manage what Google calls our ‘digital wellbeing’. For all the details about the new features, take a look at our dedicated article:
Find out our first impressions of Android P in this video:


Jump to:

What will the P stand for?
Google usually announces the official name of the Android version via social media in the summer before the release of the final version. Until then, there’s a lot of guessing going on. Tech blogger Marques Brownlee and Android boss Hiroshi Lockheimer joked about Peppermint.

Intriguing idea . BTW, I’m just wondering out loud here, and obviously this is such a crazy thought, super hypothetically…what if…what if there were Peppermint flavored ?
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer)

Pineapple is a current favorite among speculators, due to the fact that, when Google teased this year’s I/O location with a Google Street View based online puzzle, a pineapple cake featured as one of the objects in a puzzle scenario…a possible clue as to the next Android name? Or a red herring?

Pie? Pineapple? Peppermint, popsicle…pancake? / © AndroidPIT (screenshot)

What new features will come with Android P?
Android P features unveiled by the first developer preview
We expected to see the first Developer Preview on March 14th (Pi day) but Google avoided the obvious pun and instead released it on the evening of March 7th. This is an early version of Android 9.0, but it allows us to take a look at the functions that could be part of the final version:

Notch support: Developers can take advantage of dedicated libraries to optimize their apps for the increasingly widespread display indent.
Multi-Camera API: Developers can stream from two or more cameras simultaneously.
Improved notifications for messaging apps: Show images, stickers, whole conversations with contact names, suggest quick answers.
Indoor positioning: With WIFI IEEE 802.11mc support, apps can detect the distance of access points by triangulating the user’s position in indoor environments.
Open Mobile API for payments with NFC: Developers can securely enable smart card payments.
Data cost and JobScheduler: The JobScheduler can use operator signals to control and manage pending tasks in case of network congestion.
ImageDecor: replaces BitmapFactory and improves support for animated images by providing better decoding, resizing and post-processing.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) VP9 Profile 2: Support allows you to take advantage of HDR content from apps such as YouTube and Play Movies.
App Updates: From November 2018, the Play Store will request Android Oreo API 26 or later for apps.
Background apps: Background apps will not be able to access the microphone, camera and other sensors automatically to ensure greater security for users and prevent malicious apps from taking covert shots.
Restricted Non-Public API Access: Developers will need to migrate their apps or request new Android API developers from their team if they are not yet available.
Automatic compilation optimization.

Apart from what we’ve seen so far with the developer preview, software detectors have uncovered a few other clues that point to possible new in the next Android version, including call recording and improved IoT support.
Will we be able to record calls?
The next version of Android could officially unlock a previously hidden function and change it to be compatible with applicable law across the various markets Google operates in. According to Neowin’s analysis, recording of current telephone calls with Android P is to be officially possible. Up to now, there have only been implementations from individual vendors such as Samsung, OnePlus or Xiaomi using Android’s hidden APIs.
However, the new interface is implemented in such a way that both callers can hear a 1.4 kHz high beep every 15 minutes when the recording is running. This would be compatible with existing legislation in some countries.
Android could hide some features when inserting some SIM cards
Network carriers can already install Android apps when a SIM card is inserted. Android identifies the provider of the SIM card and it can recommend you to download a list of apps via wizard. Google also cooperates with providers in the development of Android. The next version might take this relationship one step further.
A new, particularly contentious feature is the concealment of the signal strength. Mishaal Rahman of XDA developers claims that Android P will allow providers to hide the bar chart for signal strength in the status bar at the top of the screen when inserting the SIM card. Rahman can’t think of a good reason why anyone would want to do that, and neither can we.
Just because the conventional diagram is hidden, the state of the signal quality is not completely hidden. You can still access the measurement data via apps. Still, an unnecessary detour through the Play Store has never been a good idea.

Android P should clamp down on camera abuse. / © AndroidPIT

Better integration of Android Things with Chromecast
Android Things, previously known as Brillo, is Google’s upcoming Android-based solution for embedded systems. Intended as an OS for the Internet of Things, it’s designed to be compatible with relatively lightweight systems (as low as 32MB of RAM). The OS is still in its early stages so don’t expect to see many Android Things devices commercially available this year, but Google is clearly working on tuning up the OS in the upcoming months. One such tweak is Chromecast integration, set to be rolled out with the release of Android Things based on Android P (9.0).
Our colleagues at XDA discovered a new volume control API on the Chromium Gerrit that enables the user to synchronize the volume level between Android Things and Chromecast devices. Although a small change, it’s a clear indication that Google is working to better integrate Android Things with Chromecast.
Since Android Things ultimately aims to integrate Android with every device in your household, we can expect to see more tweaks and changes aimed to integrate Android Things into the wider Google ecosystem as time goes on.
Preliminary conclusion
Judging from the current state of affairs, Android P will be a smooth update that tidies up old features and refines existing ones. Android P doesn’t seem to make a quantum leap like Android Oreo with Project Treble or Android Nougat with faster updates.
The increased security from background apps is reassuring, but it is also not exactly a milestone in Android history. But maybe the biggest feature still lurks undetected in a repository and is waiting to be revealed.
What do you hope to see from Android P? Have you tried the preview?

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Collections is a better way to organize those photos you snap as mental notes – TechCrunch

Wi-Fi password sticker on your router? Snap. Cute sweater in a store’s window display? Snap. Party invitation? Snap. Cool gift idea for mom? Snap. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you probably also use your iPhone’s camera to take photos of the things you want to remember – maybe even more often than you use Notes to write things down. If your mental notes are more visual in nature, then you may want give the new app Collections a go instead of relying only on your Camera Roll.
I know, I know…isn’t visual bookmarking already handled by Pinterest?
Well, okay, sure. You can go that route.
But using Pinterest feels heavy. There’s a vast collection of images to explore and search. A Home feed of new stuff to look at. (Why, Pinterest, are you showing me spider tattoos? Why?). People to follow. A feed of notifications to check in on. (Where I get to write back to people things like, “hi, you’re messaging the wrong Sarah Perez. I don’t know you.” Ugh, too often. Stupid common name.)
Collections is just a little app for you to use.

It’s not overwrought. Its simple interface just helps you to better organize those photos you’ve snapped for inspiration, ideas, mental notes, or whatever else you may need to refer back to – like clothes you like, restaurants you passed by and want to try later, art or design ideas, the best photos of your dog, events you want to go to, screenshots, gift ideas, travel inspiration, or really anything else you could think of.
But unlike saving these things to the Camera Roll, where they quickly get lost into a feed of photos, Collections lets you write down little details – like the vendor or price, or your notes. For example, “Great gift for mom. Shop owner says it also comes in blue. Having a summer sale in 2 weeks.” 

While your collections are largely meant just for you, if you ever want to share them, you can use iCloud to do so – friends and family won’t have to sign up for a new service to view your shares, just download the app. You can also share them to social media, iMessage, email, messaging apps, and elsewhere, if you choose.
If you prefer to keep your collections private, you can turn off iCloud syncing during setup to keep them saved to local storage only.
On iPad, the app is even better because it supports drag-and-drop – meaning you drag images from other apps to your collections.

The app was designed by a team of two indie developers, Emile Bennett and Dave Roberts, based in Chamonix, France and Liverpool, U.K., respectively. Bennett had previously launched a budgeting app called Pennies, but built Collections because it’s something he wanted for himself.
“I often find myself in clothes shops just ‘window shopping’. I’ll find a shirt, or a pair of shoes, or yet another over-priced GoreTex outdoor jacket  – I’ve got a bit of a thing about them…I have too many! – and I think “yeah I like this, but I’m not going to buy it now, I’ll pick it up another time,’” he tells TechCrunch.
“So I’d take a few photos, the item, the tag, maybe me wearing it and also maybe the shop front so I remember where it is. I’d always think ‘it’s in my photo stream, I’ll remember it later.’ But, of course, that doesn’t happen as the photos just get lost down in your stream, and even if I did find and remember the photos, there’s no context around them,” he says.
He tried Evernote and Notes to keep tracking of these things, but found Evernote was too bloated and Notes was too text-centric. He also feels Pinterest is too focused on discovery and public sharing to be used for collecting your own private inspirations.
One of the best things about Collections, in my opinion, is that there’s no sign-up. Radical idea, right? Bennett is sick of it, too.
“I’m really passionate about not forcing people to sign up to my apps – I want your data to be yours, I don’t want you to have to sign up to a new service just to use this app,” he says. “I think we’re all getting a bit of ’sign-up fatigue’ these days. Most apps do it because it’s the way they make their money – they give you the app for free, make you sign up to use it, collect your data, and then use that data to make their money. That’s really against my ethos,” says Bennett.
Instead, Collections is a $2.99 download.
Hey people, this is the kind of app development we should be encouraging.
Bennett gave me a few promo codes to try out the app with friends, but I forgot about that, and purchased it.
So here you go, first come, first served:
Promo codes are just free downloads. It’s not a scheme to make money, cynics. Nobody’s getting paid here. I just like this app and figured I’d share. Have a good weekend. 

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