Why have five mid-table Premier League clubs sacked their managers so soon? | Paul Wilson | Football

Five Premier League managers have lost their jobs so far this season before we are a third of the way in, and looking at the bottom three in particular the figure could still rise again before Christmas.
To put that into context, this time last season only one manager had been sacked, Francesco Guidolin almost inevitably failing to live up to expectations at Swansea, and it would take until late February and the tear-jerking removal of Claudio Ranieri at Leicester to take the tally to five.
Another odd thing about the five departures this season is that the same men were responsible for guiding their clubs to mid-table security the season before. If you look at the final table for 2016-17 the clubs who have parted with their managers finished 7th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th. That bandwidth should represent solidity and a job reasonably well done. It is not where you would expect managerial dissatisfaction to set in a matter of months later.
So what has changed this season, why does panic seem to be setting in among seemingly respectable clubs with sound Premier League pedigrees?
Obviously some of the five have been doing really badly – Crystal Palace most notably, with West Ham, West Brom and Everton not far behind – and owners are more or less bound to act if there does not appear to be any immediate prospect of climbing out of trouble.
But West Brom have just sacked a firefighter, albeit an unpopular one, who has never been relegated. They could now turn to Sam Allardyce, who has a similar record and a good relationship with the Albion chairman John Williams, but while Premier League status might be preserved would the fans be any happier with the football?
Five weeks ago most Everton fans were in agreement that Ronald Koeman had to go, the same Everton fans who were congratulating the club a year earlier on appointing a top-drawer manager. But if Koeman was as forceful and determined a character as he first appeared, could he not have been trusted with a little more time to turn the club around? It might not have been his fault that a striking replacement for Romelu Lukaku was not found, after all.
One could understand why the club pressed the panic button so early, results were woeful and the Goodison atmosphere was growing mutinous, but a month down the line it can not yet be said Everton have put themselves in a better position. The owners seem to have been delusional to a certain extent over the difficulty of finding a better-qualified manager than Koeman in mid-season, while some of the fans who celebrated the Dutchman’s removal might have been a bit quieter had they realised the most viable alternative was David Unsworth.
The point is that Everton, like West Ham and Palace, are still in trouble despite changing managers. This season climbing the table cannot be taken for granted once you are down at the bottom, and part of the reason for that is the fact that the promoted clubs are all doing so well.
Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle are all together in a tight little knot in mid table, exactly where the teams who have entered the sack race used to be. All five of this season’s managerial changes have taken place below them, while above them Burnley and Watford sail serenely on, their only apparent concerns being the likelihood of eventually losing their bright young managers to bigger clubs with relegation worries.
There is plenty of the season left, and over the winter months some of those small but flourishing clubs – don’t write in, Newcastle are not small but they are newly-promoted – may well find themselves stretched beyond their resources and drifting downwards in the table. Or they may not.
Until fairly recently it was normal to assume at least one of the promoted teams would go down, sometimes two, though the top of the Championship is so competitive these days that that pattern can no longer be relied upon to provide a buffer for existing Premier League clubs.
Thanks to Wigan coming up and staying for eight years, Bournemouth and Watford confounding all the doubters who said they would go straight back down again and Burnley showing the strength of judgment to stick with the same manager through the cycle of relegation and re-promotion, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Premier League is nowhere near as daunting to newcomers as it once was.
Certainly the bottom half of the Premier League is not of a conspicuously better standard than the top half of the Championship any more. In fact teams coming up from the Championship will, generally speaking, have a better team spirit and a more expansive outlook because their promotion push will have required them to adopt a winning mentality instead of the survival one so prevalent in the lower reaches of the top flight.
This appears to be something new in the Premier League story. If Tony Pulis can no longer cut it, Mark Hughes is finding life difficult at Stoke and West Ham fans have yet to be impressed by David Moyes, perhaps the days of ugly football and a grim struggle towards 40 points for lower-placed teams are coming to an end.
Perhaps also, now that every Premier League team has money to spend and no one can seriously plead poverty, fans are right to complain about the standard of fare being served up and boards are intervening more quickly to prevent managers making any more dud signings. Both Everton and West Ham splashed the cash in summer, to little avail.
None of the five clubs who have dismissed managers have made any significant strides upwards, though of course the positions at Everton and West Brom are still vacant, and the new managers at West Ham and Leicester have had little time to make an impression.
Judging by the twitchiness owners have shown this season, everyone at the more established clubs still lives in mortal fear of relegation. The usual reason given is the sudden loss of revenue, which is significant, yet parachute payments are there to ensure that well-run clubs do not fall off a precipice.
The greater, unspoken fear, one feels, is that clubs accustomed to mere survival in the Premier League will drop through the Championship like a stone, a bit like Wigan did in their day and Sunderland are doing at the moment, and rapidly end up needing a telescope to locate the top flight.
So the question to be asked of all Premier League sides outside the top six is this: could your club hack it in the Championship? If not, why not? Because, at the very least, should the bubble ever burst at Burnley or Brighton, Huddersfield or Bournemouth, those clubs would require very little adjustment to get right back on the promotion track.
Which is surely how it should be, and probably explains why upwardly mobile “smaller” clubs are currently showing the way to bigger names whose main concern is hanging on for dear life to Premier League status.
The current bottom six in have all been in the Premier League for at least five years, and this season, managerial changes or not, it looks as though they are going to have to play their way out of trouble and not rely on the inadequacies of anyone else. Good luck with that, but for the Premier League in general, it cannot be a bad thing.

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Paul Pogba is the most important player in the Premier League

Manchester United look like winning trophies with Pogba in the team, but they need to figure out how to play without him too.
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then at some point over the last month and six days Paul Pogba became one of the most beloved human beings in the world.
Without him, Manchester United’s alleged 659 million followers have watched their team lose all their early momentum. They’ve shuddered through losses to Chelsea and Huddersfield Town, and sighed through a cowardly draw with Liverpool. They’ve winced as Manchester City stretched away at the top of the Premier League. They’ve fretted as Romelu Lukaku stopped scoring and Henrikh Mkhitaryan stopped assisting. And they’ve watched Jose Mourinho blow kisses at Paris Saint-Germain and spit tacks at everybody else. In the strange, time-compressed world of the Premier League, where whatever has just happened is the only thing that matters, it was pretty much a crisis.
Of course, if it was a crisis — and if it is now over, now that Pogba is back — then United have come out of it second in the league, top of their Champions League group, and still in every competition going. Less of an apocalypse, more of a blip. But beyond the results, and perhaps even more importantly, it didn’t look good. United didn’t look good.
In the absence of Pogba, and following that hideous nil-nil at Anfield, the side visibly congealed. The goals dried up, and so did the chances. With Pogba: six games, 19 goals. Without: 11 games, 21 goals, of which 12 came against Championship side Burton Albion and aspirational Championship sides Everton and Crystal Palace. And just to bring it all into sharp and unflattering relief, City have been racking up goals and wins in extremely eye-pleasing fashion.
So Pogba has returned, and so did the fun in a 4-1 win over the weekend. Of course it was just one game, and of course it was against a decent Newcastle rather than a brilliant anybody, but his impact was almost cartoonishly obvious. With him in midfield, United had the wit to unlock a packed, well-organised defence, and then the verve to slice apart a stretched one. Without him, they have laboured against the former, and so rarely earned a shot at the latter.
Which poses all sorts of interesting questions for Jose Mourinho and the rest of his squad. First, there’s the thought that United shouldn’t be this Pogba-dependent. Asked after the Newcastle game if Pogba was “irreplaceable,” Mourinho agreed, and added: “He affects our football. We all know, myself and the fellow players, that certain players influence the levels of the team. With him we have much more creation. I am so happy.” He probably didn’t mean to imply “Without him, we’re dull, and neither I nor my players have any solution to that.” But, well, he kind of did.
Every other team in the Premier League’s top six has some players that are more important than others. Their loss would be keenly felt. But it’s hard to imagine that their absence would have quite such a marked impact on the team’s style. Common sense insists that a manager as experienced and talented as Mourinho it should be possible to get something both effective and entertaining out of Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. If not, then United have wasted an awful lot of money.
Which brings us to the other, more immediate question: how to manage his return. Pogba came off after about an hour against Newcastle, as Mourinho didn’t want to “go over the limits.” On Wednesday night, United travel to Basel in the Champions League. In terms of the group, United lead with 12 points from 12 and so probably don’t need anything more than a safe, stodgy draw. A perfect opportunity, then, to give Pogba and his just-healed hamstring the evening off.
But in terms of the general shape of the season, a good, entertaining, convincing win would be most welcome. United began the season with momentum, positivity, and just a bit of a swagger, and they lost it. November’s remaining games — Basel away, Brighton at home, Watford away — represent an opportunity to get some of that swagger back, before December brings Arsenal away and then Manchester City at home. United will need Pogba fit for those big games. But they need to be firing in the others first.
Ultimately, until United work out how to play like they have Pogba even when they don’t, then they absolutely cannot afford to be without him. And that earns him a rather double-edged status, as perhaps the most important player in the Premier League. Nobody else makes bridging the gap between “a bit rubbish?” and “possibly excellent?” look like a one-man job. Nobody else has to.
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HTC U11+ Now Up For Pre-Order In UK

Paul Briden

22/11/2017 – 12:41pm

HTC's massive HTC U11+ is now available for pre-order from the firm's UK webstore

HTC announced the HTC U11+ a little while back and now the pre-order sales are live in the UK via HTC’s official webstore. The price is £699 for an unlocked, SIM-free handset  with 128GB of onboard storage. Orders will begin shipping inside December. Currently it’s only available in black.
If you sign up to the HTC Club, which is free to join by the way, you can get 10% off the price of the HTC U11+ pre-order, making it cost £629.10.
The HTC U11+ is allegedly the phone that was going to become the Google Pixel XL 2, before LG got involved and usurped it. It’s similar to the existing HTC U11 in terms of design and specs, but sports an enlarged 6in Super LCD6 display with an 18:9 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1440 x 2880 pixel resolution. The fingerprint scanner is mounted on the back panel, and like the regular edition it packs a pair of front-facing BoomSound stereo speakers with a dedicated amplifier.
It also has a massive 4,000mAh battery, is IP68 water and dust resistant, and it has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor as the HTC U11, as well as the same incredible 12MP wide-aperture camera; which is one of the best camera setups we’ve tested this year, up there with the Pixel 2, iPhone X, and Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+/Note 8 series.

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What is Face ID and how does Face ID work?

Apple no longer wants you to unlock your iPhone with touch. With the iPhone X, it’s all about your face.
Face ID was the standout feature of the iPhone X, and one that differentiates it from the iPhone 8 range and anything that’s come before. It’s Apple’s latest biometric authentication system and works using a new camera array on the front of the screen.
Apple claims the error rating on the iPhone X’s Face ID is one in a million. TouchID had a 1 in 50,000 chance of unlocking for the wrong fingerprint. The tech giant also said Face ID can tell the difference between twert_main_wide_image/public/2017/09/face-id-dystopia.jpg?itok=6Jdkms60″ alt=””/>

The latter has now been called into question. After WIRED tried, and failed, to use a mask to trick the system, Vietnamese security firm Bkav claims to have mastered it using a (frankly terrifying) 3D-printed mask and a prosthetic nose. It said that creating the mask was simple, using simple 3D scanning software like that found on the Sony XZ1, and a silicone nose.
In a blog post, and accompanying video, the researchers explain: “We were able to trick Apple’s AI because we understood how their AI worked and how to bypass it. As in 2008, we were the first to show that face recognition was not an effective security measure for laptops…Apple has done this not so well.” In the video, the team is shown removing a cover from the mask positioned in front of the iPhone X. The handset then automatically unlocks.
Bkav was the first company to “break” facial recognition for laptops following its introduction on a range of Toshiba, Lenovo and Asus laptops. That particular exploit was publicly demonstrated and confirmed in 2008. The Face ID proof-of-concept hack has not yet been confirmed in this way so it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Video of How Bkav tricked iPhone X's Face ID with a mask

When asked why Bkav has been successful where other websites and firms have failed, it vaguely said: “It is because…we are the leading cyber security firm 😉 It is because we understand how AI of Face ID works and how to bypass it.” It is not clear, therefore, how the initial face was registered on the phone and how the mask specifically differs from others.
Mark James, security specialist at ESET told Alphr: “Although the video itself does leave a few questions to be answered, we need to understand that any of the ‘extra’ ID features of this, and indeed any previous, iPhone have always been aimed at the average user. TouchID and Facial recognition are there for ease, not added security; both of these features can and have been duped by technology- the question you need to ask yourself is ‘does this feature make my life easier?’. If the answer is yes and your phone just contaert_main_wide_image/public/2017/09/snip20170912_4.png?itok=WXcZ8Yks” alt=””/>

On the iPhone X, Apple has removed the home button, and with it, Touch ID. In its place is Face ID powered by a so-called TrueDepth camera system built into the front of the phone where the earpiece currently sits on the iPhone 7 range.

READ NEXT: Apple drops the price of iPhone 7 following launch of iPhone 8

This camera system features a number of sensors designed to recognise a person’s face including a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator (which is a fancy name for what is effectively a flash). Glancing at this system will allow you to automatically unlock your iPhone X, but can also be used for Apple Pay and to unlock compatible apps, including banking apps.
Apple Face ID: How does Face ID work?

Apple claims the error rating on the iPhone X’s Face ID is one in a million. TouchID had a 1 in 50,000 chance of unlocking for the wrong fingerprint.
The tech giant also said Face ID can tell the difference between twins (although the error rating drops when it comes to relatives) and doesn’t get ‘spooked’ by a photograph or even a mask of someone’s face.
Apple didn’t elaborate on how it does this, and may never do to protect its IP, but this is a direct nod towards the early failings of Samsung’s iris scanner technology and, more recently, the facial recognition on the Note 8 which were both “fooled” by hackers and photos, according to reports.
Furthermore, Face ID only unlocks when you look at it. In particular, it is what Apple calls ”attention aware”; it looks for a sign that shows you’re looking directly at the camera system and want it to unlock rather than just glancing at the phone for the time, for example. Notifications will also only expand when its owner looks at the phone. 
During its first full demo at the iPhone 8 event, however, Face ID failed…
Images: Apple/Bkav

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Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Review

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Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

Powerful Quad-Core Intel Core i5 Processor
Almost Glare-Free 1080p display
Quick Charge
All the Ports You Need
Windows Hello
Aluminum Body

Short Battery Life
No Included Active Pen
Fan Noise

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 has a fast processor, a luxurious body and support for all Windows 10’s best features. Its quick charge technology even makes up for its short battery life.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Review is a post by Travis Pope from Gotta Be Mobile.
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Amazon has cut the price of two of its best tablets – save £40 now

As we get closer to Black Friday, Amazon’s deals seem to be getting better and better. The latest of its own products to be discounted are the Fire 8 and Fire 10.
Unlike the Fire 7, which is very much a budget tablet, the Fire HD 8 and HD 10 both have a lot more going for them. Amazon is now selling the Fire 8 for at £30 off for £49.99 and the Fire 10 for £109.99. Considering the Fire 10 would normally set you back £149.99, that’s a decent saving.
BUY NOW: Amazon HD 10 for £109.99, saving £40
The Fire HD 10 is the flagship Amazon tablet, and it’s aimed at those who mostly use a tablet for watching movies and playing games. It’s got a 10.1-inch 1080p display, 2GB RAM and a speedy quad-core processor. In our review, we were impressed by the battery life of this thing – which often manages to reach the claimed 10 hours.
Related: Best Black Friday deals
There’s 32GB storage, fast dual-band Wi-Fi and audio tuned by Dolby. Even though this is an Android tablet, you don’t have access to Google Play because Amazon has its own app store. There’s still a load of apps like Netflix, Spotify and plenty of games.
BUY NOW: Amazon HD 8 for £49.99, was £79.99

The best bit though is Alexa integration, just like on an Amazon Echo. Alexa is on both of these tablets, but only the 10-incher has access to Alexa ‘hands-free’. This means you can bark commands at your tablet and Alexa will respond, without you having to press anything.
Fire HD 8 is a little more basic, but still a great tablet at this price. You’ve got an HD display measuring 8-inches, 12 hours of battery life and 16GB storage. There’s also a quad-core CPU and 1.5GB RAM, which should be enough for most basic games. If you really love your mobile gaming, we’d recommend the 10.
Seen any awesome Black Friday deals we’ve missed? Tweet us @TrustedReviews

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Leica CL Review | PhotographyBLOG


The Leica CL is a new compact system camera, which fits in the same line-up as the Leica TL2, which was announced in the summer of 2017. It uses the same lens mount as the TL2, which also accepts lenses from the SL range.
The components of the CL are very similar to those found in the TL2. For example, it has the same 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, along with a Maestro II image processor.
Where the CL differs mostly from the TL2 is in its body design. While the older camera uses an entirely touchscreen interface, with all image composition taking place via the screen, the CL has a smaller screen but an integrated viewfinder, plus the addition of some buttons which you can use to set key parameters.
With the introduction of the new 18mm f/2.8 pancake lens, there are 7 compatible TL lenses, plus 7 SL lenses, and a further 49 M lenses and 64 4 Lenses, which can be used with the CL with an adapter.
At the time of writing, the Leica CL price is set to be £2250 body only, or £3150 with the 18mm lens (prime kit), or £3275 with an 18-55mm Vario Kit lens.

Ease of Use
The Leica CL has a classic rangefinder style shape, with the added bonus of not being as complicated to use as something like the Leica M10. The main reason for this is that it has autofocus, coupled with an easy-to-use viewfinder. The advantage of the viewfinder being on the left in the same style as a rangefinder however means that you can keep your other eye on the scene unfolding in front of you, making it ideal for street photography, or indeed anything where the scene may change while you’re taking the photo (this only applies if you’re a right eye shooter, though).
Similar in size to the Leica X2 compact when used in partnership with the 18mm pancake lens, the Leica CL makes for a great walk around camera, being light and compact. Despite this, it feels well built and has the high-quality construction that you associate with Leica branded cameras – the CL is made in the German factory.

Front of the Leica CL

Looking at the CL from above, you’ll see the dials and buttons you’ll need to control the most fundamental aspects of the of the camera’s operation. There’s the shutter release button, but also two dials which feature buttons in their centre. Press these buttons to jog between different settings, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. The buttons will have default options, depending on the shooting mode you’re in – but you can also customise the dials and buttons to control different settings if you prefer. If you hold down the right hand button for a couple of seconds, other options which you can change will also appear.
Also on the top of the camera is a small LCD screen which shows you the key settings you have selected. It shows aperture and shutter speed, which is a great feature for discreet shooting situations – you can make sure the camera is set to however you want to shoot before moving it anywhere near your eye ready to shoot. A clever function of this screen is that automatically illuminates if the camera senses that it is dark – you can switch off this function if you want to though, if you need to remain discreet in darker conditions.

Front of the Leica CL

A hotshoe is found on the top of the Leica CL, via which you could add optional accessories, such as a flash – there isn’t one inbuilt into the CL. As already mentioned, the viewfinder of the CL is found on the left hand side of the camera body. This means there’s a bump on the top plate to accommodate it. There’s an eye sensor on the viewfinder, meaning it will automatically turn on when you lift the camera to your eye, and off again when you take it away. There’s a dioptre adjuster next to the viewfinder – a nice touch is that you need to pull it out away from the camera body before you can adjust it, then push it in to lock it into place. This prevents accidental unwanted changes, for example when the camera is in your bag.
Moving to the back of the CL – there are three buttons along the left hand side of the screen, with a navigation pad found to the right. This is a change from the all-screen back of the TL2, but is still few enough not to overwhelm.

Rear of the Leica CL

The three buttons are a Play button, for seeing your images in playback, a customisable Function button (Fn) which can be set to change whichever setting you feel is most necessary, and the Menu button. When you press the menu button, you’ll see that you’re presented with a “Favourites” menu – this is a bit like a quick menu, only featuring the most common settings. You can add or remove settings to these favourites, again ensuring that you use the CL however you feel is best.  At the bottom of the favourites menu, you’ll see that you can access the main menu – it’s here you’ll find more extensive settings, including the ability to customise your settings.
You can use the navigation pad for a number of different things, including scrolling through your images in playback, and setting the autofocus point. In playback, you can use the scrolling dials on the top of the camera to zoom in to check critical focus.

Top of the Leica CL

The Leica CL has both a mechanical and electronic shutter. By activating the electronic shutter, you can shoot completely silently which is useful for discreet situations. It also facilitates a fast shutter speed of 1/25000, as compared to the 1/8000 available with the mechanical shutter – this is very useful if you want to shoot at wide apertures in bright sunlight. It’s worth remembering that you’ll need to reactivate the mechanical shutter if you want to use long shutter speeds.
Although not primarily controlled by touch, the CL never-the-less has a touch-sensitive screen. You can use it to set the autofocus point, but there’s a slightly annoying problem here. In order to use it for this purpose, you need to set the AF mode in the menu to “Touch AF”, or “Touch AF + Release” – the latter means that the shutter will be fired once focus is achieved. Once you’ve done that, you won’t be able to use the buttons to set the autofocus point, meaning if you lift the camera to your eye, you won’t be able to change the AF point unless you take it away from your eye again. So, basically, you can either use the touchscreen, but sacrifice being able to change AF point with the viewfinder, or, you use the buttons and not be able to use the touchscreen to set AF at all. It would be nice if you could use either the screen or the buttons at all times – perhaps this small niggle could be fixed with a firmware upgrade though.

The Leica CL In-hand

There’s just one door on the bottom of the CL, which hides the battery and memory card slots. The CL accepts SD cards, and is compatible with the faster UHS-II cards.
The Leica CL has inbuilt Wi-Fi for remotely controlling the camera, and transferring shots across to a smartphone. At the time of writing however, the app was not available so we weren’t able to put this to the test. We’ve had success with using Leica’s apps before, with cameras such as the Q, so we have every confidence that it will work well.

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Honor 7X officially lands with FullView display

Honor has just pulled a new device from its hat and announced the Honor 7X. It’s the successor to the attractively priced Honor 6X, and it’s being released shortly. Here’s what distinguishes it from the previous generation. The latest news is that a US release has been confirmed.

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In terms of design, the Honor 7X isn’t packing any huge surprises, and the lines draw inspiration from the other devices of Honor itself and Honor’s sister brand, Huawei. It has a metallic unibody with measurements of 156.5 x 75.3 x 7.6 mm, and it weighs 165 grams. The Honor 7X will be available in two colors: black and the same matte blue we’ve already seen on the Huawei Mate 10 Lite. The smartphone has a 5.93-inch FullView display with a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution and 407 ppi. Looking at it from the front, you’ll be reminded of the Huawei Mate 10 Lite, with the only differences being the logo below and the presence of a single selfie camera.

FullView display and fingerprint reader on the back / © AndroidPIT

On the rear, there’s a dual camera with 16 and 2 MP, which is an upgrade compared to the Honor 6X’s 12 and 2 MP. The two lenses are located on the top left of the back of the device, while the fingerprint scanner sits in the middle. The front selfie shooter has 8 MP.

Opinion by Jessica Murgia

Having a dual camera is important to me
What do you think?

Dual rear camera / © AndroidPIT

The Honor 7X is dual SIM compatible, or you can pack a single SIM and microSD card together to augment the 64 GB of internal storage, up to 256 GB. The Honor 7X comes with 4 GB of RAM, like many of the high-end devices on the market. Powering the performance of the smartphone is the Kirin 659 octacore processor, with four cores clocked at 2.36 GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7 GHz. The device ships with Android 7.0 Nougat wrapped up in EMUI 5.1. Keeping the lights on is the 3,340 mAh battery. Even on this point, the configuration is the same as the Mate 10 Lite.

An ergonomic phablet / © AndroidPIT

The new Honor 7X sells for CNY 1,300-2000 in China, which is around $200-300. It is confirmed that the device will make its way to other markets, including the US. Pricing information for the US is still unknown, but more will be revealed on December 5.
The similarities with the Mate 10 Lite are impossible to ignore, whether you’re judging based on the looks or the specs sheet. Can the Honor 7X compete with the Mate 10 Lite, even though it doesn’t have a dual front camera and its price is still unknown? We’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think of the announcement? Are you excited about the Honor 7X or yawning?

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Nvidia Titan Xp Star Wars Collectors Edition hands-on review

GRAPHICS OUTFIT Nvidia could probably have stuck a price premium on the Star Wars edition Titan Xp cards, but both of the two special edition GPUs are available for the same price as the normal Titan Xp models. Don’t get excited though, these aren’t cheap products and they almost certainly aren’t for everyone.
For the sake of this hands-on, let’s consider two things: what are they for, and how do they look in the context of system builders who want something amazing for their rig-with-a-window gaming PC?
In terms of aesthetics, people seem very divided on which of the two special editions is the nicest. But the choice, when presented, was between a reasonably stylish but quite safe “Empire” edition, or the distressed look of the “Jedi” card. We took the Jedi card, and apparently that was a unique decision with most other outlets taking the darker, red-coloured Empire card.

The first minor issue you might have is with that colour choice. Most people in the market for a card like this are going to be building RGB systems, and these cards tie you to a specific colour. You might or might not think this is an issue, but it will put some people off. You could, perhaps, mask some parts but light pours from this thing so it’s likely to be impractical.
The other issue you might worry about is the simple fact that this is a blower card. Air is taken from inside your case, blown across the memory and GPU and forced out the back. That’s fine, but it’s louder than an open card – in fact, the Palit 1070 that we ran previously didn’t even need to run its fans unless it was under load, while the Titan does.

The other slight issue is that if the fan fails you might struggle to replace it easily. I suspect you could, but you don’t really want to change the design of the limited edition card all that much. Better hope then that the Nvidia fan is a solid performer for the years service you’ll want out of this GPU.
Also bear in mind there are only three DisplayPort 1.4 connectors and a single HDMI 2.0b. DVI is gone, but Nvidia does include a DP to DVI dongle in the box. And a Jedi Order sticker for your PC case. There’s not a lot else included here, apart from the meaty GPU.
On the plus side, the build quality is nothing short of epic. The custom backplane has the Star Wars logo pressed into it and Nvidia has printed the card name back there too. The distressed metal look is genuinely cool in person and while the photos do sell it, they also don’t tell you the whole story.

The packaging this card ships in is also a real highlight. It’s an event, it’s well designed and if you were absolutely bonkers you could leave the card in it as a display piece. There are, of course, Star Wars collectors who do hoover up all the merch that comes out of the franchise so it’s worth pondering if any of these cards will end up unused – you’d be crazy to do this though. Once the Titan becomes outdated, you can always return it to the case then after giving it a little clean. It will always look good on a shelf in its case.
So what of the GPU itself? Well it’s as epic as you’d think. We’ve not benchmarked it under formal conditions – so no graphs – but the specs speak for themselves. This is a top-flight gaming card, but in some ways you’d be wasting your money if that was all you were going to do with it.
If you have other pastimes, like video editing or bitcoin mining, then you would be better off picking this card. For pure gaming, you can save some money getting the GTX 1080ti or even a vanilla 1080. If, however, you want to do some deep learning, then this card will really sing. But you’re probably not going to be buying a Star Wars themed GPU for such applications, are you?

Anyway, the Titan Xp remains in the ultimate GPU. It’s not cheap but there’s been no attempt to get more money out of Star Wars fans for these. They are absolutely stunningly designed and a treat for any Star Wars geek. It’s very likely that, while the cost is high, that these cards will deliver amazing performance for many years to come.
If you can talk yourself into dropping over a grand, then go for it. µ

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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp just hit iOS and Android a day early

No doubt hoping to get a jump on that holiday traffic, Nintendo’s latest mobile opus, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has hit iOS and Android a day ahead of schedule. The latest installment of one of the game company’s most adorable franchises was first announced this time last month.
In spite of some skepticism, early looks at the title were complimentary, noting that the title does appear to be more loyal to the console versions of the series than other recent mobile titles like Super Mario Run.
And, unlike Mario, the new game is free to play — it seems that, in spite of what appeared to be healthy download numbers, the company ultimately wasn’t happy with its return on investment with the side scroller. This time out, Nintendo will be making money on in-app purchases, via “leaf tickets” that let users unlock items.

That sort of incentive may push Nintendo to invest more in continued support of the game, offering up more experiences well after today’s launch. From a cursory look, however, it’s already one of the richest experiences Nintendo’s offered up on mobile so far, with camping-themed gameplay that closely mirrors its predecessor. There’s plenty of room for world building, too, if you pony up the aforementioned leaf tickets.
A number of eager users have reported server errors attempting to download the title, but for what it’s worth, I was able to get the game right away, as evidenced by the above screenshot. So, I’ll be enjoying the great outdoors from the comfort of my iPhone. 

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