Sorry Samsung, Apple’s iPhone is the most popular phone in the UK

The iPhone 7 was the bestselling smartphone in the UK during the third quarter of 2017

The iPhone 7 was the bestselling smartphone in the UK during the third quarter of 2017, with the company taking 34.4% of the total smartphone market share in the period.
Samsung also performed well, taking 34% of the smartphone share, while Huawei snatched 13% and Alcatel 4% of sales according to Counterpoint’s research into the bestselling smartphones in Q3.
However, Counterpoint’s research also revealed the phone market as a whole remained pretty flat, mostly down to feature phone sales reducing by 8% year on year.
 “The Apple iPhone 7 was the bestselling smartphone and contributed to 15% of the total smartphones sold in Q3 2017,” research director Peter Richardson, said. “Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus were second and third. Samsung also has a strong range across all price bands and it, together with Huawei, provided a strong volume platform that was resilient to attack from most other brands.”
He added that although Apple launched a new generation of devices at the end of the quarter, which would usually see a slow-down of a manufacturer’s growth, premium device sales continued to grow. This meant Apple was able to dominate the market, contributing the highest market share of all manufacturers.
“The UK is one of the strongest markets for Apple globally and this is reflected in the premium segment’s share of the market overall,” Richardson said.
Samsung also performed better than some of the more lower-end manufacturers, taking almost a third of the premium smartphone market, confirming it’s pretty much a two-horse race at the more expensive end of the mobile pricing scale

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Honor 7X hands-on: The new mid-range smartphone king

The Honor 6X was the big early surprise of 2017. It had a dual 12-megapixel camera, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, a snappy Kirin 655 processor and a Full HD 5.5in display – and all that for the ludicrously cheap price of £225. With such a tough act to follow, the Honor 7X was always going to have its work cut out but on first appearances, it looks to be even better, squeezing in a flagship-style FHD+ 18:9 display at a price that’s likely to come in considerably lower than even the OnePlus 5T.
We’ll be looking to do a full review soon when we’ve had a chance to test out the phone fully, but here are our early impressions.
READ NEXT: Best budget phones to buy in 2017
Honor 7X review: What you need to know
While the Honor 6X was incredibly impressive, the Honor 7X pushes the boat out even further. It has a big 6in FHD+ 18:9 display, which could make it the cheapest phone with a stretched aspect-ratio display on the market, and it looks like an updated Honor 8 Pro.
It likely won’t match flagships at the top of the market for pure performance, camera quality and battery life, but first impressions are that this is a solid mid-range unit that could challenge
READ NEXT: Honor 6X review: A dual-camera Moto G4 Plus adversary
Honor 7X hands-on: Price and release date
UK pricing for the Honor 7X has yet to be confirmed, but Honor has disclosed the phone’s release date: 5 December 2017. Based on the Honor 6X’s price of £225, I expect the Honor 7X to come in at around or even slightly below the £300 mark, a price that would make it an undeniable bargain; there’s no other stretched aspect-ration phone on the market that will come remotely close to that.
READ NEXT: Vodafone Smart V8 review: The £159 Moto G5 rival
Honor 7X hands-on: Key specs

Display: 5.93in (1,080 x 2,160) IPS
Processor: 2.36GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659
Storage: 64GB expandable by 256GB via microSD
Camera: Dual 16MP/2MP rear; 8MP front
Connectivity: 2.4GHz Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.1, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB port
Operating system: Android 7.0 (EMUI 5.1)

READ NEXT: Motorola Moto G5S review: Is this the best budget smartphone yet?
Honor 7X hands-on: Design and build quality
The first thing I noticed when picking up the Honor 7X is its stunning 5.93in (1,080 x 2,160) 18:9 display. The elongated display makes a massive difference. At first glance, I found the screen to be rich in colour, extremely bright and, despite the low-ish resolution (other 18:9 phones have higher resolution), perfectly sharp.
Honor has, oddly, opted to stick with a dated micro USB port for the Honor 7X, which means the 7X cannot be fast charged, nor does it have NFC for wireless charging or mobile payments. On the plus side, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a downward-firing speaker and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which given Honor’s previous record, ought to unlock the phone pretty quickly.
The phone is beautifully built. Its design inspiration comes from the most underrated large-screened phone I’ve reviewed, the Honor 8 Pro, and the design looks great on the 7X. It’s available in its blue and black and although it doesn’t have the glitzy glass construction of the Honor 9, its anodised aluminium rear does look suitably smart.
Plus, Honor has strengthened the phone’s chassis by reinforcing its four corners. It probably won’t do too well in a face-down belly flop onto concrete but during our press briefing, an Honor representative dropped it onto carpeted floor from waist level without the screen cracking – impressive.
READ NEXT: Honor 8 Pro review: Honor’s big smartphone is still a fantastic bargain
Honor 7X hands-on: Camera
The camera, too, looks to be a notch up from the Honor 6X. The Honor 7X has a dual rear-facing 16-megapixel camera, with a second 2-megapixel sensor used solely to add image depth for portrait images. Its camera uses Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) for a quick point and shoot, and the front-facing 8-megapixel camera also has the Bokeh effect setting.
Low-light photography isn’t its forte, as I found the sensor picked up a lot of image noise and, with flash enabled, colours take on an unwanted yellow-tint.
Honor 7X hands-on: Performance
Inside the Honor 7X is a 2.36GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor and 4GB of RAM. This gives it a slightly snappier experience over the Honor 6X but the difference is negligible, both in terms of raw speed and GPU capabilities, so don’t expect to play the most intensive games on the 7X, or do lots of multi-tasking.
It packs a 3,340mAh battery, which is the same that’s in the Honor 6X so I don’t expect it to do all that well, especially with that larger screen. And the Honor 6X wasn’t exactly the last word in stamina; it lasted a mere 11hrs 19mins, which is distinctly average in that test.
READ NEXT: Honor 9 review: A reasonably priced alternative to the OnePlus 5
Honor 7X hands-on: Early verdict
The Honor 7X is a nice-looking smartphone and it looks as if it’s going to be a real tempter, but everything hangs on the price. If it comes in close to the level of the Honor 6X, it’ll be in a league of its own. If it’s closer in price to Honor’s flagship, the Honor 9, it’ll be far tougher to recommend.

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Manfrotto TwistGrip System for Smartphone Photographers and Videographers

Mac users, Macphun’s 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 on Luminar.
Black Friday: The Luminar 2018 bundle includes free presets, an ebook & a photography training video!

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Windows users, Macphun’s 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 on Luminar.
Black Friday: The Luminar 2018 bundle includes free presets, an ebook & a photography training video!

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The Manfrotto TwistGrip System is a new solution that enables smartphone photographers and videographers to perfectly convey their on-the-moment creative storytelling. The new TwistGrip System consists of a HandGrip and BaseGrip. The HandGrip and BaseGrip Kit enables the attachment of multiple accessories and can work as a convenient filming rig for smartphones.
 The new TwistGrip System is available from £34.95.
State-of-the-art solution for inspirational storytelling

A choice of components and kits that meet the needs of social photographers and mobile journalists

Specially designed to seamlessly enable flawless photo and video storytelling 
100% Made in Italy of high-quality, lightweight robust aluminium, with careful attention to detail

Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, imaging equipment and accessories industry, presents the new TwistGrip System, the revolutionary solution that enables smartphone photographers and videographers to perfectly convey their on-the-moment creative storytelling.

TwistGrip connects all smartphones to any support and is also the base for a complete modular photographic system. It works in multiple configurations with different photography accessories, helping achieve the best photo and video results. The new offering is a complete creative system that is quite different to standard smartphone photography accessories. It is designed for smartphone photographers and videographers and the growing community of mobile journalists who leverage affordable digital technology and connectivity to produce high-quality multimedia coverage they can broadcast instantly on the Web from anywhere around the globe.
Manfrotto’s new TwistGrip System is the perfect solution for creating instant, high-quality individualized storytelling, enabling social photographers to take outstanding smartphone stills and video shots. 
The new TwistGrip System consists of a HandGrip and BaseGrip. Constructed in Italy to a high standard, the elements in the new TwistGrip System work together to unleash the full image-making potential of any smartphone.

The ergonomic HandGrip easily connects to the TwistGrip via the quick wheel attachment. It ensures a steady, comfortable grip as you shoot perfectly stable smartphone videos. It features a ¼” connection for attaching to a bigger support when required.

The HandGrip and BaseGrip Kit enables the attachment of multiple accessories and can work as a convenient filming rig for smartphones. The BaseGrip accessory bar multiplies the possibility to add photographic and video accessories to your smartphone. You will also have maximum versatility and modularity for your smartphone shots. 

Manfrotto’s TwistGrip System easily secures your smartphone so it stays safe, regardless of the shooting perspectives you choose. The elements in the new system all have the distinctive stylish TwistGrip appearance, tactile finish, countless applications, and are ready to take your smartphone photography to unexpected levels.
The new TwistGrip System is available from £34.95. For more information, please visit
Manfrotto (Vitec Group)

Manfrotto is the world leader in the design, production and distribution of professional products for photography, video and entertainment. The company was founded in 1972 based on Lino Manfrotto’s experience, and its mission has always been to support and simplify the work of reporters, photographers and producers. The Imagine More project adds to this historical mission the idea of fuelling the enthusiasm of weekend photographers and supporting the surge of new amateurs.  Part of the UK-based Vitec Group since 1989, Manfrotto has now become a worldwide presence. In its eight key markets – Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States – it is represented by its own direct distribution system, Manfrotto Distribution, whereas in 80 other countries sales are handled by independent distributors. 

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Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) review: a change of face and price – Hardware reviews

Samsung’s Galaxy J line is quite popular among users who are looking for a brand device that’s not too expensive. The J5 (2017) exhibits new materials and design compared to the previous generation. But how does it go about it in terms of performance? Let’s find out.


✓Quality of materials and assembly
✓Battery life time
✓Dual SIM


✕Lack of notification LED
✕Keys are not backlit
✕Price too high
✕MicroUSB instead of Type C

Lowest price: Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017)

Best price

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) release date and price
The 2017 generation of the J5 is sold in the US as the Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro (2017). It’s available from Amazon for $204 in black, gold, blue and pink. It’s also available from Samsung UK’s website for £249 in black and gold, under the name Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017). There is only one model with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory, expandable via microSD up to 256 GB.
Samsung Galaxy J5 Pro (2017)

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) design and build quality
Don’t expect the same design, use of materials and build quality as the previous generation because Samsung has decided to improve the Galaxy J5 (2017). The smartphone abandons the plastic in favor of a body of 146.2 x 71.3 x 8 mm and 160 grams made entirely of metal.

The J5 2017 is made of metal. / © AndroidPIT

The design is not original, but you should appreciate the upgrade of the materials used and the good assembly. The J5 thus adopts a classic Samsung look, rounded corners, logo on the opaque case and above the display, power button on the right and volume control on the left.

Back and multitasking keys are not backlit

To insert SIM and microSD you will need to use the trays on the left edge, which can be pulled out with the pin included in the purchase box. The model I tested is the dual SIM version: the smallest slot is dedicated to the main SIM card, while the largest slot is dedicated to the second SIM card and microSD card.

Support for microSD and Dual SIM. / © AndroidPIT

On the body you can see the thin black stripes of the antennas and the non-protuding camera section highlighted by the silvery frame. On the front you’ll find the clickable home button that also acts as a fingerprint reader, also present in the J7 but omitted in the J3. Alongside the reader are the back and multitasking keys, but they are not backlit, a shame. The notification LED is also absent. 

MicroUSB port and mini jack for the cuffie. / © AndroidPIT

The Galaxy J5 (2017) houses the speaker laterally on the right (as on the A series), while along the lower edge it leaves room for the headphone mini jack and miniUSB port (no Type C). The keys are all easily reachable, are solid and respond to commands. The smartphone guarantees good ergonomics and does not slip even when resting on flat surfaces. The general look is similar to that of the Galaxy A5 (2017) but forget the certification against water and dust.

The navigation keys are not backlit. / © AndroidPIT

Included in the purchase package is the 1.55 A charger, the microUSB charging cable and a pair of headphones with microphone.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) display
The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) mounts a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED screen and thus sits between the 5.5-inch J7 and the 5-inch J3. The resolution is 720 x 1280 pixels in 282 ppi. The screen is pleasantly bright and can be read even in sunlight. From the settings you can set the brightness automatically and the brightness sensor does its job.
The colors are bright, those typical of Samsung. From the dedicated menu you can balance colors to change the appearance of white tones, choose one of the four screen modes (Adctive, AMOLED Cinema, AMOLED Photos, Basic) and activate the blue light filter so you don’t strain your eyes too hard during your nocturnal readings.

5.2 inch HD display in pleasantly bright HD. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) software
The Galaxy J5 (2017), like its siblings, runs Android 7.0 Nougat. Samsung could not opt for the latest version of the software, but at least we find Samsung Experience in version 8.1. Security patches are stationary until June.

Double Messenger (Settings>Advanced Functions) lets you create a second account for apps like Facebook and Skype.

The interface is fluid and pleasant to use but don’t expect a chip. The app drawer is accessible with a swipe upwards, but you need a side swipe to scroll between apps. Bloatware is limited to brand apps, Google, Upday for news management and the Microsoft app package. Pre-installed apps cannot be uninstalled but disabled by pressing and holding for a few seconds.
Like the Galaxy A, you can enjoy Game Launcher and secure your content in Personal Area. The possibility to customize the color of the folders with a simple tap. With a side swipe on the unlock screen you can manage the songs you are listening to. I was surprised to find the Dual Messenger (Settings>Advanced Functions) that allows you to create a second account for apps like Facebook and Skype just like with the Twin App on Huawei devices.

Android 7.0 Nougat and Samsung Experience 8.1 on the Galaxy J5 2017. / © AndroidPIT

16GB of internal memory isn’t much but with the use of microSD you won’t have any space problems. Apps open a little bit slowly. It’s a smartphone that isn’t designed for intensive multitasking or gamers. It’s got NFC. 

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) performance
The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) incorporates an Exynos 7870 octa-core 1.6GHz processor flanked by the Mali T830MP2 GPU T830MP2 graphics drive, 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM. Performance is good for a processor and device of this range. This means that in everyday use, such as managing emails, calling, swiping, scrolling through Facebook, web searches and videos, you won’t have any problems.
The fingerprint reader is not one of the fastest but during my test it did not make a mistake. I found it convenient, as on the A5, the speaker placed on the right during the playback of videos or games less demanding. The NFC is present but, compared to the A series, there is no Always On that you can still have by downloading a dedicated app from the Play Store.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) benchmark

3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.1
3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0
3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0
Geekbench CPU – Single-Core
Geekbench CPU – Multi-Core
PC Mark Work Performance
PC Mark Storage
Google Octane 2.0

Galaxy J5 (2017)


Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) audio
The Galaxy J5 has a single speaker placed on the right that doesn’t disappoint in terms of audio experience but doesn’t work miracles. I found the maximum volume a bit low but, moreover, it’s not a smartphone designed for multimedia and during calls you won’t have any problems with volume or reception.
Accessing the Audio Quality and Effects submenu you can put your hand on the equalizer to handle bass and treble, allowing you to customize the audio to your preferences. There’s also integrated FM radio.

The speaker is located on the right, at the top. / © AndroidPIT

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) camera
The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) improves in the photographic sector compared to the previous generation: there are two 13MP cameras (S Sony IMX258 sensor) with f/1.7 on the back and f/1.9 on the front. Alongside the LED flash this provides good shots when the light is good. When light conditions deteriorate, the results are affected. Considering the range of the J line, the results are good.

A basic Pro mode and real-time effects. / © AndroidPIT

With a swipe from right to left you can access real-time effects, a nice feature for those who like to share their shots on social platforms, including basic Pro mode that allows you to customize some parameters such as ISO and white balance. The selfie quality is good and the colors are close to the real ones. With the Galaxy J5 (2017) you can shoot 1080p videos.

The Galaxy J5 features a 13MP camera in front and rear. / © AndroidPIT


Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) battery
The 3000 mAh battery is one of the strengths of this smartphone. Coupled with an undemanding HD screen, it can guarantee an average of one and a half days with standard use of the device that reaches up to two if limited to calls, whatsapp and a few Facebook checks.

In our PC test Mark the Galaxy J5 (2017) reached 9 hours and 9 minutes.

In our PC Mark test, the Galaxy J5 (2017) reached 9 hours and 9 minutes. If you’re looking for a better performing device, you can stay with your family and focus on the cheaper J3 that has achieved a 12 hour 33 minute result. Unfortunately, the J5 relies on the almost outdated microUSB port for charging. Charging your smartphone completely takes about 2 hours.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) technical specifications

146.2 x 71.3 x 8 mm

160 g

Battery size:
3000 mAh

Screen size:
5.2 in

Display technology:

1280 x 720 pixels (282 ppi)

Front camera:
13 megapixels

Rear camera:
13 megapixels


Android version:
7.0 – Nougat

User interface:

2 GB

Internal storage:
16 GB

Removable storage:

Samsung Exynos 7870

Number of cores:

Max. clock speed:
1.6 GHz

HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 4.1

Final verdict

The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) offers a more elegant design than the previous generation and houses the fingerprint reader. Overall it is an improved version, able to satisfy less demanding users (gamers stay away from this device). Good battery life guaranteed and nice shots in good lighting conditions; even more surprisingly, the selfie is surprising.
I don’t understand why Samsung has decided to discard the notification LED and I understand the list price even less, as it’s difficult to digest for a low end smartphone. On the hardware and software side, there’s nothing mind-blowing and if you find it online for less than $250 (it’s only $204 on Amazon right now), it’s worth thinking about it, hoping that with prolonged use it doesn’t slow down too much. If you find it for over $250 online, it doesn’t quite have enough to justify its cost over alternatives such as the Moto G5 Plus or Huawei P10 Lite.

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Pokémon Go creator raises $200 million ahead of Harry Potter game launch

Pokémon Go creator Niantic has raised a new $200 million in funding, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Series B raise was led by Spark Capital, and includes participation from Founders Fund, Meritech, Javelin Venture Capital, You & Mr. Jones and NetEase, Inc. Spark partner Megan Quinn is also joining Niantic’s board as part of the new financing deal.
Niantic is known for its augmented reality games, which began with the multiplayer sci-fi spy game Ingress, created during the company’s time as an internal startup founded within Google. In 2015, Niantic spun out as its own entity, and it launched Pokémon Go in July, 2016. The Pokémon AR game managed to attract massive interest at launch, resulting in huge real-world gatherings of players thanks to its mechanic of incentivizing players to move around in the real world to achieve in-game success.
In its Series A round, Niantic raised $30 million in funding from an investor group including Alsop Loui Partners, Google, Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, Cyan and Scott Banister and others. Earlier this year, Niantic announced its first acquisition, of mobile social network developer Evertoon, and it also recently made official its intent to build a mobile AR game based on Harry Potter.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is due out sometime next year, and will be developed in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive.

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The 23 best bets on college football’s Rivalry Weekend

Place your wagers on one of the biggest weeks of the college football season.
All wagers are at -110 odds unless otherwise noted. My picks are in bold with that team’s spread attached. Visit Odds Shark for updated lines throughout each game week.
Season record: 130-92 (59 percent) following a 12-11 Week 12; 38 games over .500 is a much better year than I expected. A breakdown of my Week 12 wins and losses is here. This is one of my favorite columns to write for SB Nation, as I enjoy doing it and it helps me follow college football. Thanks for reading, and I hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving.
Notes on games I didn’t bet
I think Auburn has a real chance to beat Alabama outright, but just four points against Nick Saban is not enough for me to pull the trigger. And I can’t bet Ohio State vs. Michigan without knowing if quarterback Brandon Peters is playing.
1 and 2. Ole Miss +15 at Mississippi State and Over 65: There is not much time to prepare for this game, and both teams can really score. Update: Welp, Nick Fitzgerald had a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter (get well, Nick!), and the game was still one score away from hitting the over. As it was, I open with a split.
3. Baylor +25 at TCU: This is just too many points, by my numbers. TCU’s offense has not been great of late, and the Bears missed covering last week by a half point.
4. Cal +7.5 at UCLA: I think Cal goes on the road and beats the Bruins in a major letdown spot.
5. Idaho at New Mexico State -9: New Mexico State well could have covered last week if not for a QB injury. Idaho’s offense is terrible, and I’m laying the points without knowing if Tyler Rogers will play for the Aggies.
6. Iowa -3 at Nebraska: Iowa was the victim of some poor turnover luck last week. Since the calendar turned to November, Nebraska is allowing 7.1 yards/play. Even the lesser offenses Big Red has faced, like Purdue and Northwestern, have put up north of 5.5 yards/play.
7. Miami at Pitt +14: Pitt has been playing much improved of late, despite two close and late losses. I’ll take these points all day.
8. New Mexico +20.5 at San Diego State: SDSU has actually been playing quite well since a mid-season slump, but this is just too many points against a New Mexico that showed up last week, though it did lose.
9. Texas State +25 at Troy: Texas State is a bad football team, while Troy is pretty solid. Still, this is about a touchdown more than I thought the line would be. Perhaps I am missing something.
10. Virginia Tech at UVA +7.5: Virginia Tech’s offense has struggled a lot down the stretch, and I’ll take a spunky home underdog.
11. Wisconsin at Minnesota +17.5: It would be very easy for the Badgers to overlook the Gophers here.
12. BYU -3 at Hawaii: BYU just lost at home to UMass, true, but Hawaii’s defense is horrible, and the Cougars were unlucky in the turnover department a week ago.
13. Florida State at Florida Under 44.5: UF is 126th nationally in Bill Connelly’s adjusted pace metric. FSU is 127th. Low possessions, inept offenses, and the only worry is turnovers.
14. Indiana +3 at Purdue: I think Indiana will go into Purdue and win outright.
15. Louisville -10 at Kentucky: Lamar Jackson wants revenge for last year, and Kentucky’s defense probably won’t be able to stop him.
16. North Texas at Rice +11.5: I’ve backed North Texas and won. Rice probably should have beaten ODU last weekend, so I’ll take them at home on senior day.
17. Northwestern at Illinois +17: Fading NU has not been a great idea of late, but this is just a lot of points for the Purple to lay. (I said the same thing last week and lost, FWIW).
18. UNLV +3 at Nevada: I am a big believer in UNLV QB Armani Rogers.
19. Washington State at Washington -9.5: Washington State on the road has been really bad. Seattle is not an easy place to play.
20 and 21. Arkansas State -8 at Louisiana Monroe and Over 69: Arkansas State and Louisiana Monroe can really score, but I trust the Red Wolves’ efense to get enough stops to win by two scores.
22 and 23. Southern Miss +3 at Marshall and Under 48: Southern Miss’ defense has been playing lights out. Marshall has played good defense all year. I think the Golden Eagles have a chance to win outright in a low-scoring game.
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Joe Root’s meticulous approach pays early Ashes dividends for England | Ali Martin | Sport

Joe Root may never be able to sport a beard as thick as the one that led to Mike Brearley being dubbed the Ayatollah during the 1978-79 Ashes but when it comes to assessing his first experience of captaining England in Australia, some encouraging growth can be reported.
It was a hard-fought second day here, with the absorbing wrestle for control continuing to unfold and belie predictions of the cricket being one-way traffic on Vulture Street. Root’s fingerprints could be found on much of what was good about England’s performance.

His ascendancy to the captaincy at the start of the year had brought with it an element of the unknown. Though much of the talk was of him being proactive and aggressive, it felt based on the assumption that his personality and batting style would simply translate across.
After all, and in keeping with the modern way, Root was light on prior domestic experience at Yorkshire. It was always going to be a case of learning on the job, with seven home Tests in just over eight weeks a short, sharp cramming session before the examination of an away Ashes tour.
But, like his returns with willow in hand, the end result appears to be as much about his meticulous approach to preparation as a good eye, with plenty of time before this series spent bunkered down with Shane Bond, England’s short-term bowling consultant, the pair poring over the statistics and wagon wheels in the search for frailties.
Developing strategies for each member of an opposition is hardly revolutionary in itself, but when such work bears fruit – as could be seen in the Australian wickets claimed on the second day – it is worth tipping the hat to the brains trust behind it.

Moeen Ali and England celebrates after Usman Khawaja is trapped lbw. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Take the dismissal of Usman Khawaja, a batsman so home and away in terms of his Test returns he could easily be nicknamed Alf Stewart. When Cameron Bancroft, the debutant opener, nicked off to Stuart Broad in the fourth over, Root wasted little time – and cared not for the fleeting shine of the Kookaburra ball – before introducing Moeen Ali into the attack.
Khawaja is a dominant force on Australian soil when taking on the quicks. But an achilles heel against the spinners, one that means he is not trusted in the subcontinent, was identified by England and when Moeen ripped his first ball to the left‑hander past the outside edge, before trapping him plumb lbw next up, it was as much a win for the captain as the bowler.
David Warner, meanwhile, was being starved of the strike, with his favoured brawny cut reduced to a shot for one by a sweeper in the deep. Though it may have appeared a negative move by Root, it preyed on ego and in attempting to force a short-arm pull off Jake Ball, the aggressive opener could only pick out Dawid Malan stationed at midwicket.

Ashes: Steve Smith leads Australia fightback against England on day two – video report

The challenge of Peter Handscomb comes in trying to work out the right‑hander’s homespun technique of sitting deep in his crease – one that has previously confused bowlers in a promising start to his Test career. Though Ball became the latest to be baffled during the exchanges before tea as the right-hander carved 11 off an over, Jimmy Anderson found a way after the break.
In all the hoopla that came in the weeks and days leading into this series, a curious omission from much of the analysis was that Root has the world’s No1 bowler at his disposal. On a day when Anderson bowled with impeccable control, a full straight delivery with the ball undercut in release crashed into the right-hander’s pads to make it 76 for four.

As Australia’s resurgence to 165 for four by stumps suggests, Root did not have it all his own way. At times Moeen seemed a touch overbowled – Nathan Lyon, whose control allows Australia a four‑man attack, is clearly the superior spinner at present – while Chris Woakes, after a strong showing in the warm-ups, was not at his best during his first away Ashes outing.
Smith, to whom additional leg-side cover was smartly placed in order to target the pads, was happy to play the long game and looked every bit the world’s best player, while Shaun Marsh, a veteran facing what is his final attempt at cracking Test cricket, was solid in support of his captain.
Root could not complain about the efforts of his players, however, with the feeling mutual after stumps. “He’s been excellent,” said Ball. “He has done a lot of research, he has his plans in his head and when things are quite going our way, he always has plan B and plan C. I can’t fault him.”

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EPL 2017 odds: Matchweek 13 betting preview and analysis for top games

In the top game on this week’s English Premier League betting card, Chelsea visits Liverpool on Saturday.
Chelsea has won each of its last four league games and has outscored its opponents 6-0 over its last three. The Blues will try to stay hot in a tough road test this Saturday against Liverpool.
Liverpool is going off as a +110 betting favorite at home in this match at sportsbooks monitored by Chelsea would pay +240 on an outright upset and +250 if this game plays to a draw.
Despite having three losses so far this season, Chelsea currently sits in third place on the English Premier League Table with 25 points and an 8-3-1 record. Liverpool has 22 points at 6-2-4 and could move into a tie with Chelsea with a win in this one. Each of the last two games between these two teams played in Liverpool ended in a draw.

Two other Top 5 teams are in action on Sunday as Manchester United (-550) hosts Brighton (+1900 to win, +600 to draw) and Tottenham (-380) hosts West Brom (+1200 to win, +500 to draw). West Brom has played to a draw in five of its last eight matches against Tottenham.
Manchester United picked up another blowout win at home last week, improving to 6-0 at Old Trafford while outscoring its opponents 19-1 over those six games. This will be the first time that Brighton has faced Manchester United since 1993, with Man U holding a 10-1-5 all-time edge over the club.
On Sunday, Manchester City, the clear EPL championship favorite, will look to remain undefeated as -525 road favorites facing Huddersfield Town (+1400 to win, +600 to draw). Manchester City has been printing money for its backers as a big chalk favorite all season long, running away with the top spot on the table thus far with an 11-0-1 record.
Heading into this weekend, Burnley (6-2-4) and Arsenal (7-4-1) both have 22 points. Burnley is a +500 underdog hosting Arsenal (-180 to win, +330 to draw) on Sunday. Despite being tied for 11th in the league in scoring with only 12 goals this season, Burnley has managed to hang with Liverpool and Arsenal thanks to a defense that is tied with Tottenham for the third fewest goals allowed at only nine on the season.

English Premier League Betting Lines
Liverpool (+110) vs. Chelsea (+240), Draw (+250)
Manchester United (-550) vs. Brighton (+1900), Draw (+600)
Tottenham (-380) vs. West Brom (+1200), Draw (+500)
Huddersfield Town (+1400) vs. Manchester City (-525), Draw (+600)
Burnley (+500) vs. Arsenal (-180), Draw (+330)

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BLACK FRIDAY: Up To 40% Off High-End Gaming PCs & Laptops

Richard Goodwin

24/11/2017 – 11:53am

If you’re in the market for a new gaming PC and/or laptop, you NEED to check out Amazon’s Black Friday deals, like… right now!

Black Friday is here, did you hear? The inescapable sales bonanza that happens but once a year is now in FULL SWING, so if you’re after a new gaming PC or laptop, you should definitely be looking at Amazon right now.
Why? Simple: you could save up to 40% on a huge range of high-end gaming PCs and laptops. And when you’re talking about machines that usually retail in the thousands, 40% is A LOT of money to be saving.
Just a quick look at the high-end gaming section shows that you can save, on average, about $300 when picking up a high-end gaming PC or laptop right now.
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Granted, this is still A LOT of money but a high-end gaming rig isn’t something you buy every day; it’s an investment you make that will yield tons of fun over the space of a few years.
And if you’re looking at an upgrade or simply want to dip your toes into the world of high-end PC gaming, well, there’s never been a better time, as some of the potential savings at play here are enormous.
And it’s not just PCs and laptops, there is also a wealth of gaming accessories up for grabs too – from headphones to monitors and headphones.
The one that really caught my eye, however, was the LG UltraWide screen display which is retailing for just $314 – a MASSIVE saving of $385 off its usual RRP.

Just have a lot for yourself, as there’s TONS of awesome stuff up for grabs. I just spent about an hour looking at it!

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We’ve managed to undercut EE’s best Black Friday phone deal by £400

The problem with Black Friday is it can be difficult to know whether you’re really getting a deal and the truth is, quite often you’re probably not. Especially when it comes to phone contracts.
READ NEXT: Top 10 tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Take, for example, a couple of EE’s best Black Friday contract deals. The network is giving away a free Google Home or Beats X headphones with some of its contracts and, while they might look great at first glance, when you work out the cost over the full 24-month term, they’re not quite so tantalising.
By picking the best of Black Friday deals elsewhere, we’ve managed to beat EE’s deals by more than £400. You need to buy the hardware outright, but the savings are much bigger in the long run.
Free Google Home
EE deals
Google Pixel 2 (64GB), Max Plan (60GB data, unlimited calls and texts) + Free Google Home.£62.99/month = £1511.76 over 24 months. 
Google Pixel 2 (64GB), Max Plan (40GB data, unlimited calls and texts) + Free Google Home.£52.99/month = 1271.76 over 24 months. 
View EE’s deals here.
Our deal
Google Pixel 2 (£579 at Currys), Three 100GB data 12-month SIM-only plan (£20/month) + Google Home (£77.50 at Currys) = £1136.50 over 24 months
= up to a £375.26 saving

Free Beats X
EE Deal
iPhone 7 (32GB), Max Plan (60GB data and unlimited calls and texts) + Free Beats X
£0 upfront + £62.99/month = £1511.76 over 24 months over 24 months
iPhone 7 (32GB), Max Plan (40GB data and unlimited calls and texts) + Free Beats X
£0 upfront + £52.99/month = £1271.76 over 24 months
View EE’s deals here.
Our Deal
iPhone 7 (£500 at John Lewis), Three 100GB data 12-month SIM-only plan (£20/month) + Beats X (£109 at Currys) = £1089 over 24 months= £422.76 saving
So, the next time you are lured in by what looks like a great Black Friday deal, just make sure you do your research and check if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

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