Moto G6 Play review: Hands on with the cheapest new Moto

While inflation at the very top end of the smartphone tree is pretty obvious (the Samsung Galaxy S7 cost £569 in 2016, while the S9 costs £739 just two years later), it’s still a factor at the budget end. The original, brilliant Moto G handset turned heads in 2013 when it launched for £135, but the Moto G6, five years later, will set you back £219.
If that makes you look despondently at your wallet, then there is an alternative: the Moto G6 Play. Coming in at £50 less than the Moto G6 and £100 less than the Moto G6 Plus, it (just about) keeps the spirit of the original Moto G alive. There are, of course, concessions to get it in well under £200, though…
Motorola Moto G6 Play review: Specifications, price and release date

Screen: 5.7in IPS, 720 x 1,440
CPU: 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 (Adreno 505 graphics)
Storage: 32GB
Rear camera: dual 13MP, f/2, dual pixel phase detect autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front camera: 8MP, front flash
Price: £169
Release date: First week of May 2018

Motorola Moto G6 Play review: First impressions and key features
First the good news: not much of the Moto G6’s charm has been lost in the move to a cheaper model. Yes, it’s made of plastic, unlike its pricier siblings, but it looks pretty good for it – especially the chrome finish version we got our mitts on at the launch event. It has curves along the long edges and a large, circular camera housing that juts out just a millimetre or so. And yes, like the other members of the Moto family, it has a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Another positive: the Moto G6 Play runs a pretty clean version of Android Oreo. Yes, more phones are starting to see the appeal of doing this, but crucially few at this price point. Honor may be doing excellent things at the lower end of the smartphone market, but its Emotion UI still puts a cramp on its style.
To be clear, this isn’t an entirely clean version of Android, but the changes made seem to be broadly positive. The changes made are subtle, yet practical – our favourite being gesture control, which is a convenient way of activating functions. A quick double twist launches the phone, while a double chop activates the torch.
So far, so good, but where it loses ground is in its raw specifications. You may remember our big complaint about the Moto G5 last year was that it had pretty much identical performance the Moto G4. Well, prepare for disappointment, because unlike the more expensive G6 models, the G6 Play gets another helping of Snapdragon 430. True, last year’s model came with a 2GB as well as a 3GB version, while the G6 Play is 3GB only, but you wouldn’t expect this to be a particularly snappy performer.
The camera, too, looks like another weak spot – and again, it may well be entirely the same unit that we saw a year ago in the Moto G5. It’s a single snapper, rather than a dual setup, and it captures still at 13-megapixels with an f/2 aperture, phase detect autofocus. The front camera has had an update though – it’s an 8-megapixel snapper with an accompanying front flash.
So does the Motorola G6 Play have anything over it’s more expensive siblings? Actually, yes: it’s powered by an enormous 4,000mAh battery: that’s 43% larger than the Moto G5’s and 33% bigger than the G6’s. That should lead to more stamina, but how much more is an open question – the G5 was a poor performer, lasting under 12 hours in our video test, but the larger screen in the G6 Play could still trip that up.
Motorola Moto G6 Play review: Early verdict
There’s no denying that the Motorola Moto G6 Play is a good-looking phone, and a 4,000mAh battery is certainly a promising selling point.
Is it enough, though? If the G6 Play is stuck at the performance levels of the G5, then it’s also only going to perform as well as the G4. Now the G4 was a great phone in its day – but that day was two years ago. And time is especially cruel to budget phones.
With the Honor 7A coming in at £140, and the Honor 7C landing at £170, Motorola will likely be relying on brand recognition to make the Moto G6 Play fly off shelves.

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Canon, Nikon, Sony, Leica and Others Confirmed for Photokina 2018

Mac users, the all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

Windows users, the all-in-one photo editor Luminar 2018 is out now and available for just $69£64 for new users, with big discounts for upgrading users. We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended“. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10£9 on Luminar.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

In response to Elinchrom’s recent decision to pull out of Photokina 2018 and rumours that Canon were about to follow suit, Photokina have confirmed that the 35th edition of the show will be full and will include Canon, Nikon, Sony, Leica and others.
Photokina Press Release
photokina 2018: high exhibitor demand
Five months prior to the start of the 35th edition of photokina on 26 September 2018, the organisers are expecting every single exhibitor space in the halls in Cologne to be filled. Leading companies of the industry like Arri, Canon, Cewe, DJI, Epson, Fujifilm, Kodak Alaris, Leica, Manfrotto, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Profoto, Sigma, Sony, Tamron and Zeiss have already secured their stands at the coming event. The application phase is also moving full speed ahead for photokina 2019.
“Last year we reached a series of important decisions affecting the future of photokina, and can now see that these decisions are already having a positive impact in 2018”, according to Christoph Werner, Vice President Koelnmesse. “We are pleased that many technology leaders have decided in favour of participation in photokina – in some cases extending beyond 2018.”
photokina is also of great interest to young companies. With the Imaging Lab, a format was created that brings together start-ups, research institutions and the innovation departments of the technology leaders to jointly enable a look into the future of imaging.
You can find more information on application under…
Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Digital Media, Entertainment and Mobility:Koelnmesse is an international leader in organising trade fairs in the Digital Media, Entertainment and Mobility segments. Trade fairs like photokina, dmexco, gamescom, INTERMOT and THE TIRE COLOGNE are established as leading international trade fairs and are being expanded by future-oriented formats like DIGILITY. Koelnmesse not only organises trade fairs in these areas in Cologne, but also in other growth markets like, for example, China, Singapore and Thailand, which have different areas of focus and content. These global activities offer customers of Koelnmesse tailor-made events in different markets, which guarantee sustainable and international business.
The next events:Role Play Convention – Europe’s biggest role play convention, Cologne 12.05. – 13.05.2018THE TIRE COLOGNE – Empowering the entire business, Cologne 29.05. – 01.06.2018INDICOM – , Cologne 03.07. – 04.07.2018

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New Concept Art From Cancelled TimeSplitters Game Appears – Game Rant

Fans of the ill-fated TimeSplitters series are getting a glimpse of what could have been if the fourth TimeSplitters title wasn’t cancelled. A massive trove of unreleased concept art from developer Free Radical Design was made available to the public via Reddit, and it showcases a wide range of characters from various time periods and fantasy worlds.

The three existing TimeSplitters games, TimeSplitters 1, TimeSplitters 2, and TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, received widespread acclaim. The developer, now defunct, was mostly comprised of employees who had previously worked for Rare on GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark.
In 2007, a fourth game in the series was said to be in production. However, the studio was acquired by Crytek and relabeled Crytek UK in 2009, and since then fans of TimeSplitters have all but given up on the possibility. Now, those fans get an inside look at what the game could’ve looked like had it been made.

Devoted fans of the franchise have taken it upon themselves to create a new TimeSplitters game, which after five years in development, received a trailer last year. The project is an effort to replicate the single-player and multiplayer experiences from the first three TimeSplitters games. The team behind TimeSplitters Rewind were aiming for a partial release in late 2017, which obviously didn’t happen, and there hasn’t been any indication of a revised release window.

For now, the small team behind TimeSplitters Rewind represents the only hope for the future of the franchise. As such, they released a short video diary last year chronicling the project’s development, opening the curtain to reveal various art design, gameplay, and technical details.

One of TimeSplitters‘ distinguishing traits that helped it attract such a devoted following was its large and diverse selection of characters. Essentially, characters that appeared in the single-player arcade mode were also playable characters in the multiplayer mode. Everything from the hero and villain to ghosts and zombies were playable in the TimeSplitters universe. The game incentivized long-term player engagement by making players unlock characters through challenges.

Two levels from TimeSplitters 2 are hidden in the 2016 first-person shooter, Homefront: The Revolution, a testament to the TimeSplitters series’ staying power.
TimeSplitters Rewind does not have an official release date as of this reporting.

Source: Reddit

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Honor 7C review (hands on): A dual-lens smartphone with an 18:9 display at a rock-bottom price

Huawei’s Honor brand is becoming synonymous with value for money. Recently it’s impressed us with the Honor 7X, an 18:9 dual-lens smartphone with a powerful Kirin 655 processor, which can currently be had for a very reasonable £240. The Honor 9 Lite has made a big impression too, again offering an 18:9 screen and twin cameras, this time for just £170.
Now the company has unveiled a second handset at that same temptingly low price: the Honor 7C once more comes with an 18:9 display and a dual-lens camera, plus an eight-core processor, for just £170. Is it Honor’s best bargain yet, or a redundant addition to the roster?
READ NEXT: Motorola Moto G5S review: Is this the best budget smartphone yet?
Honor 7C UK release date and price
The Honor 7C will be available exclusively from the HiHonor store in early May 2018 for £170 – the same price as the Honor 9 Lite, and £70 less than the 7X.
It comes in two colours – black and blue – and unlike the all-new budget Honor 7A, it will only be sold SIM-free, so you won’t see any contract deals.
READ NEXT: Honor 9 Lite review: A great budget phone with an 18:9 display and a dual front-facing camera
Honor 7C review: Technical specifications

Display: 5.99in 18:9 (720 x 1,440) IPS
Processor: 1.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 450
Storage: 32GB (expandable by up to 256GB via microSD)
Camera: 13+2-megapixel rear f/1-f/7 (PDAF, no OIS); 8-megapixel front with “Soft Light”
Connectivity: 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; 3.5mm headphone jack; microUSB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Dimensions: 158.3 x 76.7 x 7.8mm
Operating system: Android 8 (EMUI 8)
Colours: Black and Blue
Price: £170
Availability: Early May 2018

Honor 7C review: Build quality and design
The 7C has a lot in common with the much-loved Honor 8 Pro. It boasts a similarly beautiful all-aluminium unibody design, though here it’s stretched out to an 18:9 aspect ratio, which is great for browsing the web or scrolling through your Facebook feed. It’s slightly chunkier, measuring 7.8mm thick versus the ultra-thin 6.97mm of the Honor 8 Pro, but it still feels agreeably slim in the hand.
Indeed, the same design and build quality philosophy are evident all around the phone. Curved edges on all sides make the 7C easy to grip, and at the back there’s a fingerprint sensor and a dual-lens camera with dual-tone LED flash.
At the right-hand side sit the volume rocker and power button, while at the left there’s a three-in-one card slot – an unusual convenience, allowing you to simultaneously use two SIM cards and a microSD card.
As with the Honor 9 Lite, there’s a microUSB port at the bottom, alongside a downward-firing speaker and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Inside, a 3,000mAh battery provides the juice.
READ NEXT: Best budget smartphone 2018: The cheap phones you need to buy in 2018
Honor 7C camera, performance and Face Unlock
Just like the Honor 9 Lite, the 7C features a rear-facing dual-lens 13+2-megapixel camera (f/1-f/7 aperture) with Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), and it’s backed up with a dual-tone LED flash, as previously seen on the Honor 8 Pro. All the usual shooting modes and functions are here, including panorama and bokeh, so image quality should be a match for any other budget handset, though, it doesn’t feature Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS).
What’s new is what’s on the other side: the Honor 7C’s single 8-megapixel front-facing camera now has its own “Soft Light” illuminator. This can help you get much better selfies in low light, with the illumination level adjustable through the camera app. It’s worth noting, though, that the Honor 9 Lite’s dual 13+2-megapixel front-facing camera is still likely to capture sharper, more detailed selfies.
Inside the Honor 7C, there’s an eight-core Snapdragon 450 processor, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded by up to 256GB through the microSD card slot. That’s enough power to keep Android 8 feeling perfectly snappy – although if performance is important to you then the Honor 9 Lite again wins out with its faster Kirin 659 processor.
One area where the Honor 7C excels is security. In addition to your regular Android unlock methods, it offers both fingerprint unlocking and facial recognition. For a sub-£200 phone, that’s impressive, and if Honor is using the same technology as found in its flagship Honor View 10 then it should be a supremely quick and accurate way to unlock the phone. The Face Unlock feature won’t be available at launch, but it’s slated for an update a few weeks later.
READ NEXT: Vodafone Smart V8 review: The £159 Moto G5 rival
Honor 7C early verdict
On paper, the Honor 7C might look like an inferior sibling to the identically priced Honor 9 Lite, with a slower processor and less capable front camera. It has a bigger screen in its favour, though, measuring 5.99in across the diagonal versus the 5.65in of the 9 Lite; throw in Honor’s Face Unlock technology and the stage is set for an interesting showdown. Stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks.

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Sony Xperia XZ2: A phenomenal camera that’s poorly implemented

A new ISP allows for new functions
Sony finally did an upgrade in the camera department in its new flagship. The Motion Eye camera (as the company calls it) has not changed its physical characteristics since the previous generation, and Sony is once again using the 19 megapixel IMX400 sensor and f/2.0 aperture lenses that we’ve already seen on the Xperia XZ1, XZ Premium and XZs.
The Sony Xperia XZ2 camera again has a buffer memory close to the sensor, allowing the device to boast exclusive features that aren’t yet available on competitive smartphones. Specifically, the photographic compartment of the new Sony integrates an Exmor RS sensor with a 1/2.3” stacked memory (positioned very close to the sensor) with 1.22μm pixels and a 25mm wide-angle G Lens.
The smartphone is able to capture photos with ISO up to 12800 due to the combined work of the sensor and the brand’s updated mobile BIONZ image processor. The maximum ISO is 4000 when shooting videos.

In terms of design, the XZ2 isn’t bad at all, but you’ll end up always putting your finger on the camera trying to unlock the device. / © AndroidPIT

Thanks to this ISP, the smartphone is capable of some amazing tricks, including Predictive Capture. When motion is detected, this feature continuously captures what you’re framing and stores the photos of the fractions of time immediately before and after you press the dedicated button, and then lets you choose the best shot from the 4 that have been stored.
Another function that was already present on the Sony Xperia XZ1 is the Autofocus burst that allows you to keep the subject in focus during a series of exposures. This is possible thanks to the Predictive Hybrid Autofocus used by Sony in the Motion Eye camera.

The camera also features an autofocus laser, a color temperature sensor, and an LED flash. / © AndroidPIT

Obviously there’s a slow motion mode at 960 fps, as Sony was the first to use this mode for video recording. This feature has now progressed from 720p to 1080p, once again demonstrating Sony’s superiority once when it comes to photographic hardware in the smartphone industry. Sony Xperia XZ2 is also capable of recording 4K HDR 10bit video for video editing enthusiasts.
The front camera is disappointing and remains at just 5 megapixels at 1/5” size with 23mm lenses at a f/2.2 aperture with a maximum ISO of 1600 for photos and 1000 for videos. Both cameras support Sony’s 5-axis EIS SteadyShot electronic stabilization.
Ok, that’s great on paper, but what about in practice?
In practice, as always, Sony fails to surprise us. It’s incredible how the manufacturer of the sensors used by the best smartphone cameras in the world (including the Pixel 2 XL and Huawei P20 Pro, to name just two) isn’t able to achieve better results than the competition, even when they use exclusive hardware not yet sold to third parties (remember that most smartphones still use sensors from the IMX3xx series).
Yes, I was able to take some wonderful photos in very difficult and particular lighting conditions, but in most cases the results didn’t satisfy me at all. Many of the shots taken ‘on the fly’ inevitably ended up in the trash because they were completely unusable, and as someone accustomed to smartphones like the Pixel 2 XL, iPhone X and Galaxy S9+, I must admit that I was very disappointed.
Here’s a small example. This shot was taken while I was crossing the street, so in motion, on one of the streets in Berlin near where I live:

A very successful shot despite difficult lighting conditions. / © AndroidPIT / Luca Zaninello

This shot, which to be honest I’m very proud of, is definitely good despite the difficult lighting conditions and the fact that I was walking and not keep my smartphone motionless certainly didn’t help. The Superior Auto mode (Sony’s automatic mode) worked well by keeping the details of the building and people crossing the street without processing the photo too much and blurring the details of well-lit objects.
If you zoom in on people, you’ll notice a bit of grain, but all in all it’s not bad. But then if you look at the next shot, taken at a pasta restaurant on a bright day with the smartphone in a stable position: it’s a complete disaster. The photo even seems out of focus since so little detail was captured by the Sony Xperia XZ2.

It’s not a shot I’d post on Instagram…  / © AndroidPIT / Luca Zaninello

The same applies to videos that aren’t at the level of the competition, either in terms of color representation or stabilization. One example is this pair of videos taken at speed in Brussels (it was raining a lot, so I’m sorry for this barfy shot) that I recorded to compare a video in 4K@60fps on the iPhone X with a 4K@30fps HDR video from Sony.

Not only does the video recorded with the iPhone X look smoother with its 60 frames per second, it also seems to have a greater dynamic range than the Xperia XZ2 in HDR mode. Also note that the video recorded with the Xperia XZ2 has a frame rate that isn’t very constant and starts to look like different ‘shots’. The results in 1080p@30fps HDR are much more encouraging, as demonstrated by the video recorded by my colleague Eric with the XZ2 Compact, which uses the same camera and the same software.
The Super slow motion mode has significantly improved in comparison to the previous generation due to increased resolution, and is certainly much more effective than the 720p variants used by competitors. The problems remain the same, however, as it requires a large amount of light and superhuman hand-eye coordination to click the slow motion button at the right time. Recording at 960fps still has the usual limit of 0.182 seconds, which is slowed down to 6 seconds in playback.
Sony’s biggest problem is (again) the software
Sony doesn’t have problems with being undersized or having poorly implemented photographic hardware. The photo processing hardware is fast enough and the sensor is sufficiently capable of good shots, but the software is clearly inferior to that of Sony’s competition. The improvement from the XZ1 are there and are obvious, but the overall result won’t justify purchasing this device over some other competitor.
Just consider panorama or bokeh shooting modes. Both are still treated as separate applications from the main app. The bokeh mode is a disaster and can’t correctly recognize the edges of a subject in the picture, resulting in pretty forgettable shots.

No Sony, we’re not buying it.  / © AndroidPIT

Even the manual mode doesn’t have the useful controls photography enthusiasts and experts have come to love. These functions offer only partial control over the results. To name one example, the maximum exposure time is only 1 second. So don’t expect to take pictures of a starry sky, like you can with a high-end Honor or Huawei device.

Redesigning the camera app wouldn’t hurt. / © AndroidPIT

In the era of photography dominated by artificial intelligence and strong software components, you can’t be content with mediocre photo processing and some nice features like high-resolution Super Slow Motion.
The 3D Creator feature, which is now also available using the front camera, also shows how Sony can lead the photography industry with its smartphones. It’s also clear that the company uses its smartphones as technical demos of its new technologies that the company then sells to other manufacturers under license and that the company isn’t interested in dominating the market with its own smartphones.
Users have become increasingly demanding and ‘spoiled’ when it comes to smartphone photography. In my opinion they’re justified in demanding the best possible camera functions if they spend 700 dollars on a device.

Opinion by Luca Zaninello

A smartphone that costs 700 dollars has to guarantee the best possible photographic experience.
What do you think?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many other reasons to purchase the Xperia XZ2, such as its excellent display, top performance and excellent battery life. But if you’re interested in buying a top-range smartphone mainly for photographic use, my advice would be to invest your money in something more reliable.

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Fitbit Versa review

FITBIT unveiled its latest smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa, in March, boasting of a new lightweight design, more personalisations and a battery life that’ll last for more than four days. 
The new device builds on the success of the Fitbit Ionic which was released in November last year and is positioned not as a replacement but as an alternative with slightly fewer tricks, such as lack of inbuilt GPS, but with a lower price point of £199.
Since its launch, we’ve been putting the watch through its paces on a daily basis to see how it compares not only to its predecessor but also other smartwatches in the market. Here’s what we think of it.
DesignWith the Versa, Fitbit hasn’t just updated the design of one of its previous or existing wearables like a lot of brands do in this space; it’s given it a completely new look.
One thing you’ll notice, though, is that it’s perhaps more Apple Watch-y than any of its previous releases, boasting what the health tech giant is calling a “Squircle” watchface design. Don’t worry, we’re cringing too. 

Despite its offensive design name, the Fitbit Versa is a much more handsome and friendly-looking watch than many of the firm’s previous devices, especially the Ionic, which we have to admit we weren’t the biggest fans of. In comparison, the Versa is pretty nondescript and thus harmless looking, ensuring your eyes are left to concentrate more on what’s happening on the display than around it.
The Versa isn’t only nice to look at, as it’s also one of the most comfortable smartwatches Fitbit has made thanks to its lighter weight. Fitbit claims its one of its lightest smartwatches on the market due to its ultra-thin, anodised aluminium case and slightly-tapered and angled design that has been built to fit small or large wrists. However, this lightweight design does make the Versa feel a little cheap.

As for the Versa’s display, it’s a vibrant, colourful touchscreen with a brightness up to 1,000 nits. This means that even in direct sunlight or underwater it’s easily visible, even when not turned up to the maximum brightness capacity. Touch commands also seem to be much improved over the Ionic, are now more fluid and uninterrupted.
Performance and battery lifeThe most important thing about a smartwatch isn’t just how it looks, but how it performs; and how long it lasts before you need to go out of your way to charge it again. Fitbit claims the Versa’s battery life is not quite as impressive as its bigger, more expensive sibling, and claims it’ll last four days rather than five. After using the watch for a good two weeks on and off, we were rather impressed that its stamina matched up pretty well with Fitbit’s claims.
As with any smartwatch, the total number of days you’ll get out of it is completely dependent on how many workouts you track throughout the week, if you keep it on at night time for sleep tracking, and if you have the brightness setting set to low or high.

Once it’s been fully charged and used for a full 24 hours, including two intense workouts and sleep tracking, the Versa was at a rather impressive 70 per cent capacity. After three full days, it was at just over 10 percent before finally dwindling to zero halfway through the third day.
As for actual device charging, Fitbit doesn’t opt for juicing its wearables via traditional microUSB, so if you’re travelling then the special Fitbit charger will need to make its way into your suitcase. It’s also worth noting the Versa’s proprietary charger comes with a clip-in dock (included), which makes it much easier to charge compared to the magnetic pin on the Ionic.
FeaturesTracking a workout with the Fitbit Versa is really easy and works in the exact same way as on the Ionic. Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming or HIIT that you want to track, there’s a dedicated option for this on the device’s Exercise app, accessible as the first option in the main menu carousel. This consists of Run, Bike, Swim, Treadmill, Weights, Interval Timer and Workout modes.
To track your run, for example, you’d simply select the Running tab from the Exercise option by swiping left from the home screen, then tap go and off you go.
During the exercise, the watch will display a selection of your vitals, which will differ depending on what exercise you’re tracking. For example, the running option will display distance and time, whereas the swimming option will display the lengths and meters swam alongside the time, and then the general workout option will show heart rate the calories burned. Many other tracking variables can also be seen, such as the current time, time taken, heart rate, etc by swiping left or right on the main display during the exercise tracking.

Once you’ve ended your exercise by telling the Versa you’re done, you’ll get a workout summary. These little summaries are a great touch, giving you the lowdown on your performance as soon as you’ve finished. In our running session, for instance, the Versa workout summary told us what our maximum heart rate had been in beats per minute (BPM), alongside our average BPM during the whole exercise, the time it took to complete the workout as well as the distance travelled.
As with the display during exercise, this summary changes depending on the exercise you do. After a HIIT class, in which I’d chosen the standard “workout” option, we were told how many calories we’d burned as opposed to distance travelled and time taken. This is all viewable in the app, too, after you’ve synced your watch to your smartphone, alongside all the other variables, pictured side by side with any previous workouts you’ve done.

Another impressive capability for a wearable at this price point is the swim tracking. It works very well, and accurately tracks your laps in a pool, for instance, recognising when you’ve reached the other side and kicked off to start your next lap.
What really surprised us was that the Versa is able to offer clear on-screen recordings with its brightly-lit display as we swam. It isn’t easy to swipe between the different tracking variables during this mode though, as you can imagine, as the display doesn’t recognise finger taps so well underwater.
There’s also a nifty feature called Run Detect, which was also seen on the Ionic. It means the Versa is clever enough to know when you’re taking a break, and automatically stops and starts tracking a run, swim or cycle by sensing the status of your movement.  The other good news here is that this feature doesn’t come into play if you don’t want it. Choose a standard “workout” exercise from the list before beginning circuit training, for example, and it tracks your heart rate continuously until you tell it to stop. It works really well, meaning you can get on with the workout without checking the watch all the time and making sure it’s recording your movements accurately.

Then there’s sleep tracking, too, which while not exactly a fitness feature, still works in a similar manner. If you wear the Versa to bed, it will automatically track your sleep by recognising your inactivity, stillness and decreased heart rate. A summary of your sleep pattern will then be offered within the app after waking up; displaying how long you were asleep for in total, with this time split into either REM (rapid eye movement), light and deep sleep. This analysis is provided in an easy to understand manner and spits your results against an ideal target “benchmark” of someone the same sex and age as you. 
SoftwareThe Versa comes with Fitbit’s latest OS 2.0, which includes a new dashboard that provides a more simplified and intuitive view of your health and fitness data. This includes “Stats at a glance”, which allows you to see your daily and weekly health and fitness stats, historical activity, heart rate, and exercise summaries from your wrist by simply swiping up on the main display. 
The on-screen icons are displayed very well on the Versa and in a clean way so not to confuse users. One of our favourite features in the Versa software is that Fitbit has given the watch more customisation options than ever before. This, Fitbit said, is something it has realised its customers really want, so made it a bigger focus in the development of the Versa. 
You can customise your own watch faces to make the Versa look how you want it to, something we saw a bit of in the Ionic, but this time around there’s hundreds more different designs to choose from. You can also purchase third party clock faces, some of which are customisable right down to the text colour and arrangement of data.

First seen on the Ionic, the Fitbit Pay platform is available to use on the Versa, enabling you to use to the watch to buy stuff without your phone or wallet. We tried the feature in different stores and while it didn’t work in one, it did in the other four. The feature worked relatively well but it is a little fiddly, as it requires you to input a 4 digit pin before bringing up the contactless payment screen.

At the moment, the contactless payment feature doesn’t work with many banks in the UK yet, either, so we wouldn’t advise this being one of the main reasons why you buy the Versa. So far that list includes just Danske Bank and Starling Bank, so pretty limited. Fitbit has said it’s working to rectify this, though so it could change soon.
In shortWhile its feature set isn’t quite that of its bigger sibling the Ionic, the Fitbit Versa feels very much like the same watch but with a much more welcoming design. And let’s not forget that lower price of £100.
This is what made the Ionic somewhat difficult to recommend. Despite there being so many features, it was just a little too expensive compared to all the other wearable options out there.
Saying that, the Versa has completely changed the game for Fitbit at least, as you can now get your hands on some great fitness tracking features that all sync with the really well designed Fitbit app for much less than before. It’s essentially a really good option for those that really wanted the Ionic but thought it was just that bit too pricey to justify it the splurge.  
In the UK, the Fitbit Versa is available to buy for £199, with colour options of silver, black or rose gold as well as several watch strap colour combinations. 

The goodNice lightweight design, customisable, relatively low price for the feature set.
The badBattery life not as good as Ionic.
The uglyA little cheap feeling.
Bartender’s Score 8/10

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Watch SpaceX launch NASA’s new planet-hunting satellite here – TechCrunch

It’s almost time for SpaceX to launch NASA’s TESS, a space telescope that will search for exoplants across nearly the entire night sky. The launch has been delayed more than once already: originally scheduled for March 20, it slipped to April 16 (Monday), then some minor issues pushed it to today — at 3:51 PM Pacific time, to be precise. You can watch the launch live below.
TESS, which stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is basically a giant wide-angle camera (four of them, actually) that will snap pictures of the night sky from a wide, eccentric and never before tried orbit.
The technique it will use is fundamentally the same as that employed by NASA’s long-running and highly successful Kepler mission. When distant plants pass between us and their star, it causes a momentary decrease in that star’s brightness. TESS will monitor thousands of stars simultaneously for such “transits,” watching a single section of sky for a month straight before moving on to another.
By two years, it will have imaged 85 percent of the sky — hundreds of times the area Kepler observed, and on completely different stars: brighter ones that should yield more data.
TESS, which is about the size of a small car, will launch on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of the rocket by having it land on a drone ship, and the nose cone will, hopefully, get a gentle parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic, where it too can be retrieved.
The feed below should go live 15 minutes before launch, or at about 3:35.

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Facebook is testing a way to let people watch video premieres in Facebook Live

Although the ability to publish pre-recorded video to Facebook Live has been an option for some time, it’s required the use of third-party programs like OBS and Wirecast. Now, Facebook is testing a feature called Premieres, which will let creators publish already-made videos to Facebook Live, as reported today by Engadget.
While there isn’t much information on Premieres yet, it appears to be angled toward content like movie trailers, Facebook Watch shows, and music videos, and it would come with Facebook Live functions like chat. Essentially, it’s a way for publishers to bring the experience of a television premiere or film trailer drop to Facebook, allowing people to experience a new video together in real time. “We’re testing this now with a group of diverse video creators, publishers, and shows,” Facebook’s Fidji Simo tells Deadline. “And we’ll be rolling this out more broadly soon.”
The ability to natively publish pre-recorded content would certainly make sense for Facebook, which has been expanding its stable of original series. Facebook recently ordered a dramedy series starring Avengers: Infinity War star Elizabeth Olsen, as well as a 10-episode fairy tale horror series called Sacred Lies. It’s reported that the company plans on spending up to $1 billion on original TV in 2018. The Verge has reached out to Facebook for comment on how exactly Premieres differs from the existing tools that let creators publish pre-recorded video to its Live platform.
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Fernando Tatis had the greatest half-inning in MLB history

Let’s take some time to remember the night Fernando Tatis set a record that will never be broken
Fernando Tatis was an excellent, exciting, young player in 1999. This is, perhaps, the most important piece of context to the story of his two grand slams in the same inning. Back then, he was the future of the Cardinals, and considering that Mark McGwire was going to be around forever, the future was bright indeed. When tasked to choose any third baseman in baseball for the upcoming decade, Rob Neyer chose Tatis.
It turns out that Tatis wouldn’t be the best third baseman on the Cardinals within two years. He floated away, left the game, and drifted back to the Mets for a surprising renaissance toward the end of the decade, but the once-likely stardom wasn’t to be.
He’ll have to be satisfied with one of the most amazing and unlikely baseball feats of all-time. Which is a pretty nifty consolation prize.
Consider that only 13 players in baseball history have hit two grand slams in one game. Anthony Rizzo, a slugger who was healthy all year and hit in the middle of a potent lineup, had only 27 plate appearances with the bases loaded for the entire 2017 season. The opportunities to hit two grand slams in the same inning just aren’t going to be there for most people. It’s not only possible for players to have a 20-year career without getting two at-bats with the bases loaded in the same inning, it’s overwhelmingly likely.
Tatis got those at-bats, and he slugged two grand slams. He hit a home run in 5.3 percent of his plate appearances that season, which meant the odds of him hitting two home runs in that inning were already close to .3 percent. Now factor in the odds of his teammates loading the bases ahead of him twice … then, uh, divide by the odds of any pitcher stinking that hard, and … uh, add the reciprocal of an entire lineup not making three outs in the time it takes to load the bases twice and get the same guy up with a chance to hit a grand slam … you have to account for the lousy defense, too … wait, let me take off my socks and start over.
The point is that this is an unbreakable record. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t require an eon of baseball to be played, like Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak. It can happen tonight in any of the games played. It could happen tomorrow, the next day … anyone can tie the record, really.
But they won’t. Which is why we have come here today to celebrate Fernando Danged Tatis, who definitely did that baseball thing we still talk about today. It will never stop being hard to comprehend.
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Gennady Golovkin to fight Vanes Martirosyan on 5 May in Los Angeles | Sport

Gennady Golovkin’s plans for Cinco de Mayo weekend are finally set, even if it’s not the against the opponent or in the city he wanted.
The unbeaten WBA, WBC and IBF middleweight champion will defend his titles against Vanes Martirosyan on 5 May at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), the crowd-pleasing Kazakh knockout artist, had originally been slated to fight Canelo Álvarez at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a rematch of their September blockbuster, which ended in a controversial split draw.
But the Mexican star pulled out of the highly anticipated bout after failing two drug tests in February, forcing Golovkin’s team to scramble to find a replacement opponent.

“Vanes Martirosyan is now the most important fight of my career. He has my respect and I am training hard to defend my titles against him,” Golovkin said in a release. “I am happy to be back on HBO and fighting at StubHub Center because they have great boxing fans. I will give my fans another big drama show.”
By taking a relatively low-risk fight with Martirosyan, who has not fought in two years and who lost his last outing, Golovkin risks being stripped his IBF title by failing to take a bout with the organization’s mandatory challenger: Russia’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs).
Golovkin has said he hopes to fight Álvarez in September, provided the Mexican’s temporary suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission has been lifted by then. Their first fight sold 1.3m pay-per-views in the United States and generated a live gave of more than $27m, the third-highest in boxing history.
More to follow.

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