County cricket: Surrey v Somerset, Essex v Notts and more – live! | Sport

Hello and welcome to this midsummer round of Championship cricket, with the days at their longest and most perfect for cricket watching. We have a full round of matches including festival games at Arundel, Swansea, Guildford, and Tunbridge Wells – get along if you can. We also have the first two pink-ball clashes of the season, with matches at the Ageas Bowl, starting at 2 o’clock, and at the County Ground, starting at 1.30pm.
Division One
Here at Guildford, we have the mouth-watering prospect of a top-of-the-table clash between Surrey and Somerset. Jack Leach returns alongside Dom Bess at a new-look Guildford with a revamped pavilion jointly funded by Guildford Borough Council and Surrey CCC. Both sides are missing players to the England Lions: Ben Foakes, the Curran brothers and Craig Overton. Ollie Pope, a product of Guildford colt’s system, will keep wicket for Surrey and blink and you’ll miss him overseas signing Theunis de Bruyn joins the team. Mark Stoneman is missing with personal issues, replaced by Arun Harinath.
At New Road Worcestershire take on Lancashire, who batted dreadfully in the previous game against Essex at Old Trafford. Liam Livingstone and Matt Parkinson are away with the Lions, Keaton Jennings is expected to captain. Brett D’Oliveira will lead Worcestershire in place of Joe Leach, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture of the back. Martin Guptill and Steve Magoffin are added to the squad.
In the day-night game at the Ageas Bowl, seventh-placed Hampshire entertain a depleted Yorkshire missing five players to the England one-day squad and Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Matt Fisher to England Lions. Ollie Rayner joins Hampshire on a month’s loan from Middlesex because of injuries to Mason Crane and Brad Taylor and Liam Dawson’s absence, also with the Lions. This game is the first to feature the pink Kookaburra, being trialled this season in Division One floodlit games. Hampshire slipped to seventh after a home defeat by Surrey in their last match, despite having Dale Steyn to share the new ball with Kyle Abbott. Yorkshire are looking for revenge after defeat in the James Vince-fest in the Royal London One-Day Cup on Monday.
At Chelmsford, third-placed Essex take on fourth-placed Nottinghamshire who have suffered consecutive defeats. Nottinghamshire are missing Steven Mullaney, who will lead the Lions in their tri-series games; Alastair Cook plays for Essex who will be lead by Tom Westley with Ryan ten Doeschate still suspended.
Division Two
At St Helens, centurion Usman Khawaja makes his home debut for Glamorgan against Derbyshire who are still missing Luis Reece with injury.
At beautiful Tunbridge Wells, Kent take on top-of-the-table Warwickshire, who have only won one once here in 10 Championship games. Warwickshire come into the game full of confidence, after Ian Bell’s double century inspiration against Glamorgan in the last round and four wins from their first five matches. Kent are missing Sam Billings, so Joe Denly continues as captain, Warwickshire are without the injured Oli Stone and Sam Hain with the Lions.
At Grace Road Leicestershire play a Middlesex missing Eoin Morgan with England, and Nick Gubbins and Tom Helm with the Lions. Rejuvinated Leicestershire under the leadership of Paul Horton aim for a third consecutive Championship win.
Bottom of the table Northants remain winless and well adrift at the bottom of the table after suffering their fourth defeat in five matches, but will hope that the pink-ball fixture can inspire a return to form against Gloucestershire, who batted out a draw against Kent last week.
At Arundel, Durham hope to continue the form that has seen them pluck victory from the jaws of defeat in their last two home games. Sussex include Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer and Laurie Evans in their Championship squad for the first time this season.

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‘Clear Error’: How a complex legal concept explains FIFA’s video review system

VAR, explained by an attorney.
It was a hot day, even for July. On that afternoon in 2006, Berlin’s Olympiastadium was baking in the midsummer heat as the French and Italian players finished their warm-ups. As night fell the two teams battled for ninety aching minutes. As the clock ticked past the 105th minute, Gianluigi Buffon collected a ball and punted it upfield towards a waiting Luca Toni. The referee blew the play dead—an Italian defender was injured, it seemed. Unsure what exactly had occurred, head referee Horacio Elizondo of Argentina jogged over to confer with his linesman.
On replay of this conversation you could see their eyes dart up to glance at the Jumbotron — they were watching video of what occurred. After another few moments, Elizondo jogged back onto the pitch towards French legend Zinedine Zidane, red card in hand. The moment has been dissected from every possible angle; it even became immortalized by one of the greatest poets of the 21st century, Claudia Rankine.
Twelve years after that sweaty night in Berlin, FIFA officially introduced Video Assisted Referee, or VAR, to the World Cup. We’ve seen thinkpieces on what this new development means, and we’ve heard countless talking heads commemorate 2018 as the first use of VAR at the World Cup. But, of course, this isn’t true—the first use of video to overturn a referee’s mistake in the World Cup was on that July night in 2006.
And, Zidane’s headbutt—regardless of the merit of the action (I encourage you to listen to Rankine’s poem)—was a clear ejection. Elizondo missed it, and the Jumbotron video fixed it. A red card was the right call (even if Materazzi deserved three punches in the chest.) Elizondo got it right, eventually.

Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images

A significant amount of worry associated with the transition to VAR has focused on the standard by which the virtual referee will override the head referee. Soccer, after all, is a game of inches, and referees make hundreds of judgment calls throughout the course of a game—did Pique drag Cristiano Ronaldo to the ground, or was the Portuguese forward looking for the contact? Did Harry Kane push off Raphaël Varane or was it just regular jostling?
Obviously, there are some situations where VAR use is an easy decision: for example, a player is either offside or she’s not. If a referee misses an offside call, then we can fix it.
It’s where the referee makes those split-second judgment calls that VAR becomes problematic. To deal with this issue FIFA adopted a standard of review for all judgment calls: whether there was a “clear and obvious error”. This may seem like a meaningless legalism, but it’s not—and to understand why we need to understand the basics of legal error.
The notion of a standard of review comes from the law, where judicial decisions are occasionally reconsidered by higher appellate courts (“appellate” comes from the verb “to appeal,” which means, essentially, to ask). When a lawyer refers to a case being “on appeal” what they mean is one of the parties has asked a higher legal authority to review the lower court’s decision for errors. That, in essence, is what occurs when a referee’s decision is reviewed by VAR.

However, judicial decisions are not all reviewed at face value—or de novo. In any appellate proceeding, different aspects of the lower court’s decision are reviewed under different standards. The court reviews questions of fact, for example, only for “clear error”; matters of discretion, however, are reviewed under a “abuse of discretion” standard. These two standards are materially different: a “clear error” is a significantly deferential standard, requiring a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed”; and “abuse of discretion” is “a plain error, discretion exercised to an end not justified by the evidence, a judgment that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts as are found.”
Basically, this means that higher courts are extremely deferential to lower courts on issues relating to the facts of a case. So, for example, a reviewing court would not overturn a lower court’s determination that the plaintiff slipped on ice outside the defendant’s store, even if the defendant produces a witness saying that the sidewalk wasn’t slippery that day. Instead, the reviewing court would need a “clear error”: in this case, a clear error would be that the lower court didn’t consider that it was 80 degrees out and the defendant had covered the sidewalk in sand hours before the supposed accident.
If the “clear error” standard sounds familiar that’s because it is: the standard for overturning a head referee’s decision by VAR is “clear error” (though we like to expand it to “clear and obvious error”). As in American law, the “clear error” standard for FIFA is highly deferential: the video assistant must, essentially, have a definite and firm conviction that the head referee made a mistake. Because this is a deferential standard, judgment calls—like whether a player was jostling normally or tugged to the ground—will rarely be overturned. Other calls that involve certain objective realities, like whether a player was offside, or whether Mohammed Salah was inside or outside the box when he was fouled, are more likely to be changed by VAR.

This is not to say that VAR–even using the clear error standard—will have no unintended consequences. In fact, we know that it has: referees have already subtly altered the way they call a match to account for the possibility of a review. For example, we’ve seen referees call more fouls outside the box because they know VAR will review the play to determine if the foul occurred within the area. Assistant referees were also explicitly told to avoid calling offside in situations where the play is on the borderline—an offside call stops play, which is a final act, preventing any further attack. On a very close play keeping the flag down makes sense—if the team scores, VAR will review the goal for offsides anyways, but if the assistant makes the call in open play it ends the scoring chance instantly.
Ultimately, the clear error standard works well precisely because it is highly deferential: while a video assistant referee will always be watching the match, he or she will very rarely get involved. And when he or she does get involved it will almost always be to correct an objective error—like giving a red card to Zinedine Zidane on that muggy night in Berlin twelve years ago.
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Best iMac Wallpapers: 5 Awesome Places To Get Them

Richard Goodwin

20/06/2018 – 2:43pm

Are you after a fancy, new iMac wallpaper (or wallpaper for your PC)? Well, look no further…

If you’re anything like me, you probably spend HOURS every day looking at your iMac.
If so, you’ll want something pretty to look at. It’s not a big deal, but it helps.
The internet is FULL of places to pick up wallpapers for your iMac and PC.
But not ALL of these sources were created equally. No, some are a bit, well… crappy.
For this reason, we decided to put together a list of some of our favorite places to get high-definition wallpapers for iMac and PCs.
Best iMac Wallpapers
And the best are included below:

Social Wallpapering 
Desktop Nexus 
Wall Haven 
Simple Desktops

My Favourite Option For iMac Wallpapers?
Tough call. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d probably have to say Wall Haven or Simple Desktops.
I just love all the minimalist stuff you can get on these two outlets.
The others are still great, but the last two are my own, personal favorites.
Have a look for yourself and see what you think!
If you liked this article, you might want to check out our guide to the Best iPhone Wallpapers too!

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Destiny 2 Iron Banner Ornament is Bugged – Game Rant

Bungie and Activision have been having it pretty good recently when it comes to Destiny 2. Since the former Halo developer unveiled Forsaken, the first Taken King sized expansion for the sequel, the studio has been met with fairly strong support from fans who seem excited for the changes coming to the Sci-fi shooter. Of course, as has become the way with Destiny 2, there is always another issue.

The latest issue comes in the form of an iron banner ornament for the Destiny 2 exotic grenade launcher Fighting Lion. The ornament is part of this weeks Iron Banner Bundle, called Iron Ornament Bundle, and can be purchased from Eververse for $10 USD. According to those who have been faced with the issue, if the Lupus Visage Ornament is equipped and then unequipped later on then it will likely disappear from the possible ornaments available for the Fighting Lion in its menu.
For their part, Bungie soon took to Twitter to reassure players that they are aware of the issue and that something is being done to address it, saying they’re “investigating an issue” regarding the ornament and ask fans to “please stand by for updates”. The developer soon followed up these statements, saying that the Iron Banner Bundle that features the ornament will be removed for the Eververse store until further notice and that anyone already affected by the issue will have the item restored as soon as a solution can be found.

To mitigate further impact, we have removed the Iron Ornament Bundle from the Eververse storefront until further notice.

Currently impacted players will have this item restored to them once we are able to implement a fix at a future date.

— Bungie Help (@BungieHelp)

When the Warmind expansion first launched many thought Bungie was finally taking criticisms to heart and making a course correction with regards to its microtransaction store Eververse. As such many fans were surprised when Bungie announced the first of these Iron Banner themed bundles which was called the Iron Emote Bundle and included an exclusive exotic emote. Of course, many fans were unimpressed by the idea of an emote that couldn’t be earned in game but had to be purchased through microtransactions.
With Forsaken coming in September, Bungie and Activision can’t afford more issues like this arising in the game. The new expansion is going to be a make or break point for Destiny 2 and unpopular decisions like the Iron Banner Bundles coming back to bite them isn’t going to help. Lets all just hope all the progress the developer seems to be making isn’t in vain.

Destiny 2 is available now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon, Befree Live Carbon and Befree GT Traveller Tripods

Manfrotto is launching three brand new models in its traveller tripod range to satisfy the most demanding outdoor photographers. The flagship Befree GT travel tripod meets the highest expectations of professional photographers who want maximum performance even when they are travelling. The new Befree Advanced range is available from £119.95.
MANFROTTO PRESENTS Three premium models in its winning traveller tripod range:  Befree Advanced Carbon, Befree Live Carbon and the high-end Befree GT

Befree Advanced carbon, Befree Live carbon equipped with new set of carbon fibre legs for a dramatically increase in stability and lightness;

Befree GT (available in aluminium and carbon fibre), the new version dedicated to professionals who always demand for the highest performances on the go;

Together with the introduction of extended tripod range, a new Ball Head 496 will be introduced: portable yet powerful and intuitive, it allows smooth and precise camera movement with heavier equipment;

The entire Befree Advanced range is fully engineered, designed and manufactured in Italy;

A specifically designed Befree backpack will complete the range, matching the needs of joined carry solution;

Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, imaging equipment and accessories industry, adds new exciting solutions for travel photography and videography, launching three brand new models to satisfy the most demanding outdoor photographers.

Perfectly balancing maximum portability and steadiness thanks to its lightweight yet sturdy construction, the carbon version of the Befree Advanced is perfect for photography on the go. The Befree Advanced Carbon (RRP £319.95) features the Advanced 494 aluminium Centre Ball Head and carbon fibre legs that ensure best-in-class performance, stability and tripod rigidity. It only weighs 1.25kg meaning that walking for miles to catch the sharpest, unique shots is now pure pleasure rather than a way to test your passion.
In addition, the Befree Live Carbon (RRP £349.95) and Befree GT Carbon complete the carbon fibre Befree tripod line up.
The brand new Befree GT travel tripod meets the highest expectations of professional photographers who want maximum performance even when they are travelling. Available in both aluminium (RRP £239.95) and carbon (RRP £399.95), the new ergonomic design inherited from the Befree Advanced provides outstandingly smooth usability, but in a bigger size. It is the perfect combination of portability and impressive stability, folding down to 43cm yet ensures flawless operation with up to 10kg of equipment.
The Befree GT mounts the new Manfrotto Advanced 496 aluminium Centre ball head that combines the same practicality with higher performance in terms of capacity and precision. Framing on the GT carbon gives professional photographers the freedom to express their individuality and achieve the most exceptional shots, knowing they are supported by a professional solution that will never let them down.
Both the Befree Advanced Carbon and the Befree GT models feature the M-lock, the new twist lock developed by Manfrotto that enhances compactness and speed of use, making them the perfect solution to slip into a backpack and quickly set up when you see an amazing landscape. Moreover, both tripods feature the ergonomic leg-angle selectors with three independent leg angles that are designed to operate smoothly with either left or right hand. The lightweight, solid spider features the Easy Link like Manfrotto’s professional 190 & 055 tripods, allowing photographers to boost their creativity by adding accessories to help make their images remarkable. They can easily add lights or reflectors to capture amazing outdoor shots that were previously only achievable with heavily accessorised tripods.
These new models mount a unique plate, the 200PL-PRO, which makes them fully compatible with the world’s most widespread standard head attachments: Manfrotto RC2 and Arca-swiss style.

The Befree Live Carbon completes the range with a solution that independent content creators have been eagerly waiting for: a lightweight, ergonomic video travel tripod, built to record amazing video footage using DSLRs, compact system cameras or small camcorders.
This model’s small size and minimal weight (just 1.38kg) does anything but compromise sturdiness or image quality. The Befree Live Carbon has the same brand new tripod legs as the photographic Befree advanced carbon and adds the fundamental feature of the levelling column, which allows a quick horizon set up: a few moves and you are ready to shoot. This model features the Befree Live Fluid Head, which has a fluid drag system on pan and tilt and keeps the camera perfectly balanced thanks to its sliding video plate.  Easy to use and set up, the Befree Live Fluid Head has two intuitive on/off knobs that lock and unlock the head’s pan and tilt movements separately.
Together with the new tripods, Manfrotto is introducing a new backpack dedicated to Travellers, reinforcing and completing the Advanced camera bag collection.
The Advanced Befree Backpack is the perfect solution for the photographer who always wants to have everything they need: photography gear, tripod and personal belongings. Everything fits perfectly in this compact bag that is easy and comfortable to take everywhere. When extra room is required, the expandable padded side pocket gives additional space for a travel size tripod like the latest Befree Advanced & Befree GT models. The Advanced Befree backpack will be available to preorder from 21st June. RRP £119.95.
The whole Befree Advanced tripod range is designed, engineered and manufactured in Italy, ensuring premium quality, impeccable design and careful attention to detail combined with technological innovation and reliability. Just choose your ideal travel companion from Manfrotto’s comprehensive range and hit the road to fulfil your travel photography dreams!

The new Befree Advanced range is available from £119.95. For more information, please visit

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Samsung Bixby Speaker: not what we were waiting for

It’s an open secret that Samsung is working on a Bixby speaker. Even Samsung itself has already confirmed this. But as soon as you take a look at the current state of Bixby, you’ll find that you’re better off waiting till next year!

I know what ransomware is.
You too?

Smart speakers have conquered our living rooms. There’s the Amazon Echo. Google offers Google Home and even Apple locked up its Siri in a small cube.
Of course, not everyone has a device listening to them in their apartment, especially since the technology isn’t impeccable. Google and Amazon have clear plans with smart speakers and Samsung doesn’t want to step aside, especially since Bixby has its own artificial intelligence than can benefit users.
So what could a Bixby speaker bring with it? There’s a few functions that we know of from the rumor mill, and the Bixby speaker might have a display on board. The device code-named Lux will also provide 360-degree sound with directional control and multi-room functionality.
Bixby on a smartphone. / © AndroidPIT

Bixby without Bixby? No!
Of course, Bixby is on board with a Bixby speaker. And that’s where the problems begin: for the time being the Bixby assistant isn’t stunning. The assistant is capable of a few neat features, but that’s all there is to it. It’s no wonder that people had to laugh at Samsung’s decision to put a Bixby button on the S8 and S9.
The Bixby Speaker can be connected via Bluetooth and can then be used as a hands-free module for Galaxy phones. Well, maybe that isn’t such an impressive highlight…
A voice assistant platform naturally benefits from accessories like smart speakers. But first Bixby has to create the basis for someone to enjoy using the system. Siri is an example of a failure: it started loudly, and was then neglected for years. Now Apple is moving hurriedly, but can’t get out of the mud: the HomePod isn’t a revelation. Whoever wants something eavesdropping in the room has likely already fallen for Alexa or Google Assistant. Nobody has a plan B(ixby).
Would you want Bixby in your living room? Let us know in the comments!

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Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact vs the Xperia XZ1 Compact review

WHEN WE REVIEWED the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact last year, our first impressions weren’t great: chunky and angular, it also seemed fatter than many of its rivals and looked like a blast from the past.
However, what was inside, combined with the fact that there aren’t too many premium smartphones that haven’t put on an inch or two over the years (as we all do) helped endear us to the XZ1 Compact the longer we used it.
Since, Sony has released the Xperia XZ2 Compact and, this time, it seems as if a bit more thought has gone into the style. But is the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact a smartphone that should go on the shortlist of anyone in the market for a £530 smartphone? 

The front of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (right) alongside the XZ1

The rear of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (right) alongside the XZ1
Design, display and batteryIt’s clear that Sony has listened to complaints over the angular chunkiness of the XZ1 Compact. Chisels have been taken to edges and the back of the phone is now curved, rather than flat. On the surface, it looks smarter – and the silver colour certainly creates a better impression than the wishy-washy green XZ1 Compact that Sony sent us last year.
However, the problem is that it’s both significantly fatter and heavier. We’re not talking back to 2008 fatter and heavier, but it’s certainly a surprise to review a device in 2018 that is less svelte – by two whole millimetres – and noticeably heavier in the hand than the 2017 model.
On our scales, the XZ2 Compact proved 27 grams heavier than the XZ1 Compact. Officially, the XZ1 is 140g (our scales said 142g) to the XZ2’s 168g (our scales said 169g). That may not sound like much, but the difference, with the devices in hand, was clear. 

The Xperia XZ2 Compact is a couple of millimetres thicker than the XZ1
As such, in one-handed use, the weight not only makes it feel onerous in extended use, but also unbalanced; so much so as to make it feel liable to fall forward out of your hand. And that’s not a good start.
However, while 8mm longer, it packs an 11mm longer screen thanks to smaller bezels, top and bottom. The width of the screen remains the same.
Another significant change is the relocation of the fingerprint reader. On the XZ1 Compact this is built-in to the on-off switch sunk discretely into the right-hand side of the device. Hence, you can turn the device on an off with a light depress of the button and a small swipe of your right thumb, both at the same time.
We felt this was both smart and elegant, but not everyone agreed. The XZ2 Compact now has a bog-standard fingerprint reader on the back, where everyone else puts them, that in our opinion isn’t quite as fast and accurate as the fingerprint reader on the XZ1 Compact.
Furthermore, combined with its weight, it makes it somewhat awkward to switch on in one-handed (right handed, that is) operation – thumb on button, fingerprint on sensor, then re-orientate grip to ensure it doesn’t fall out of the hand.
Also in terms of design, Sony has ditched the on-off button embedded discretely in the side of the device and stuck a bog-standard on-off button on its place. This protrudes significantly, causing the XZ2 Compact to be frequently switched on by accident. Again, the XZ1 Compact was better in this regard.

Both, though, make it mercifully easy to insert or remove SIM cards and Micro SD cards by simply pulling out the tray on the left-hand side, which is vastly preferable to the ‘stick a pin into the tiny hole’ method fruitier manufacturers seem to like.
Meanwhile, the larger display on the XZ2 Compact enables an extra row of icons to be displayed on the home page, which should please power users who feel the need to switch between lots of apps.
But we felt a little disappointed with the screen. While the XZ1 Compact’s screen is bright and colourful, the XZ2 Compact’s screen seems a touch duller, when the two devices are put side-to-side – despite the fact that on paper it’s a better screen, offering FullHD+ (1080×2160 pixels) and 483 pixels per inch against the XZ1’s 720×1280 and a ‘mere’ 319ppi density.
Another problem we found with the XZ2 Compact was that, on a number of occasions, its automatic brightness control didn’t respond correctly, leaving the screen dark when it needed to be bright.
The viewing angles, though, are excellent on both devices. Overall, a XZ2 Compact owner will have few quibbles with screen quality.
Nor should they have any quibbles with the battery life on the XZ2 Compact: a smaller screen combined with a reasonably beefy battery make for a device that, like the XZ1 Compact, can go for up to three days on moderate (non-video) usage, and easily last all day if you cane it.
With the XZ2, Sony’s squeezed in a slightly bigger battery – 2,870mAh to 2,700mAh – which is presumably where some of the extra size and weight is going. 
Software and performanceSony certainly wasted no time in bunging the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip into its XZ2 Compact, an upgrade on the Snapdragon 835 of the XZ1, and with the Snapdragon 845 comes an upgrade in GPU, too, from the Qualcomm Adreno 540 to the Qualcomm Adreno 630.
This isn’t a trivial upgrade. Qualcomm claims the Snapdragon 845 is 30 per cent more powerful than the Snapdragon 835 – 737 gigaflops to 540 gigaflops.
In terms of performance, the Xperia XZ1 Compact was no slouch. Indeed, it was a notably nippy device, scoring a respectable 155,426 on the Antutu 3DBench, performing competently across the board.
This time, we ran Antutu Benchmark, rather than 3DBench, on both of them so we could pit them head-to-head.
The XZ2 Compact was a touch smoother running the 3D graphics benchmarks, but there really wasn’t a lot between them – at least as far as the naked eye is concerned. However, the speed with which some of the tests were loaded on the XZ2 Compact compared to the XZ1 was very noticeable indeed.
The result? The XZ2 Compact scored 264,105 against the XZ1 Compact’s 206,885. While this shouldn’t be a surprise in view of the improved Qualcomm processor and GPU running in the XZ2, it does represent a 27 per cent leap in performance achieved in just six or so months – the XZ2 is, hence, a considerably more powerful device.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact (left) versus the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (right)
Both also comfortably passed my personal PUBG test. That is to say, they both played the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds perfectly smoothly, although the sound from the speakers of both devices is disappointingly tinny, quiet and, frankly, not very pleasant.

The PUBG test took many, many afternoons of hard work to complete (Screenshot from XZ2 Compact)
In terms of software, both are pre-loaded with Android 8.0 and Sony is excellent when it comes to support and pumping out the latest updates. Sony, in common with other manufacturers, seems to have got over its obsession with ‘customising’ Android too severely, and the user experience on both devices is therefore almost identical.
Obviously, you get Sony’s Xperia Lounge, the purpose of which eludes me, as well as Sony’s 3D Creator app for those times when you literally have nothing to do. Both come with trial versions of AVG anti-virus and there’s also a Facebook app pre-loaded for you to disable.
Other Sony software bundled with both devices includes Xperia Assist, Xperia Transfer Mobile, Xperia Actions, Xperia Home, Xperia Assist, and Sony Auto Installs configuration. And, of course, if you have a Sony Playstation 4 it comes with the Android PlayStation app, which enables you to do everything with your PS4 account on your phone – except play games on the move.
Camera, connectivity and storageSony knows how to make cameras, so its smartphones ought to be well-provided for in terms of photos and videos.
Indeed, we were impressed with the camera aboard the XZ1 Compact and are similarly impressed with the camera work of the XZ2 Compact, largely because they are exactly the same – the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera notwithstanding which, for some reason, has been downgraded, not upgraded.
That means your selfies won’t be quite as good and it’s not, in this instance, because you’ve got uglier (although that can’t be completely ruled out), but because Sony has opted to swap out the 8MP f/2.4 1080p front-facing camera of the XZ1 for a 5MP f/2.2 1080p camera in the XZ2.

An evening of beers in ‘spoons with the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (the hot sauce is revolting, by the way)
Nevertheless, for snapping anything other than yourself, the Xperia XZ2 camera is fast and sharp, and competent at the more challenging snaps, too: for example, scenes with a strong contrast of light and dark, such as bright sunlight and shade; and, taking pictures in low light and evening.
Sony claims that it put its very latest and best f/2.0 sensor into the XZ1 and it certainly excels, too, in the XZ2, although I did notice that one or two pics on a big day out to Wembley (for the FA Trophy final, since you ask) were a little granulated. Most pictures, though, were excellent, notwithstanding the ability of the photographer.

On the surface, the camera on the XZ2 Compact makes for sharp and bright images

But on closer examination, it’s not always as good as it should be, perhaps
Perhaps more impressive than the camera, though, is the 4K HDR video recording, which Sony claims as a world first. Like the camera, colours are well captured and contrasts in colours well handled. It can also offer ‘super slow motion’ at 960 frames per second, but they’re also super short. 
However, taking videos at 960fps is somewhat convoluted and will require budding Dickie Attenboroughs to prepare their shots carefully. Or just not bother. 
Storage is another area where the XZ2 has had a generous upgrade, with Sony doubling storage from 32GB to 64GB. If that’s not enough, you can also slot-in a microSD card to add up to 400GB more in the dual-SIM XZ2.
Connectivity both in terms of voice connections, as well as mobile data and WiFi, proved reliable.
OverallFirst impressions of the XZ1 Compact weren’t great, but grew over time. It’s a nippy, compact device in a world of ever-larger smartphones. The XZ2 Compact, meanwhile, also offers an alternative in a market crowded with what used to be called ‘phablets’, but is disappointingly let down by its weight.
The curved underside, too, also means it has a habit of slipping off of crowded surfaces. 
The XZ2 Compact is an undeniably solid handset, with a sharp screen, long battery life, smoother lines and a great specification for the money. Its styling has also been tidied up. And yet, it still feels as if Sony could’ve made it sleeker as well as lighter.
It simply doesn’t feel special and, alongside the Xperia XZ1 Compact it actually feels like a retrograde step – noticeably heavier, unbalanced when used in one hand, but the upgraded CPU doesn’t make a noticeable difference in everyday use. 
And it’s the same with the screen, which doesn’t appear better to the naked eye, even though it is considerably more highly specified. You’ll also need a dongle to plug-in your Bose headphones as Sony’s fallen for the USB-C only craze.
Sure, there’s a number of solid improvements over the XZ1 Compact – a faster CPU/GPU, higher resolution screen, twice the storage – but most of these don’t feel like they make much of a difference in everyday usage, while its overall design feels like a small step back, not forward.
Pricing, though, is competitive. The XZ1 Compact has been discounted from £500 and can now be had for £350-£400, which is a bargain, while the XZ2 Compact offers a lot of smartphone for a very reasonable price – especially when compared to other vendors’ increasingly expensive flagship devices.
Buyers of the XZ1 Compact also seem to be very happy with their purchases, if Vodafone website reviews are any guide, so there’s no reason to suppose that buyers of the Xperia XZ2 Compact will, likewise, be anything less than happy.
If only Sony could nail the aesthetics. µ

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Keepsafe launches a privacy-focused mobile browser – TechCrunch

Keepsafe, the company behind the private photo app of the same name, is expanding its product lineup today with the release of a mobile web browser.
Co-founder and CEO Zouhair Belkoura argued that all of Keepsafe’s products (which also include a VPN app and a private phone number generator) are united not just by a focus on privacy, but by a determination to make those features simple and easy-to-understand — in contrast to what Belkoura described as “how security is designed in techland,” with lots of jargon and complicated settings.
Plus, when it comes to your online activity, Belkoura said there are different levels of privacy. There’s the question of the government and large tech companies accessing our personal data, which he argued people care about intellectually, but “they don’t really care about it emotionally.”
Then there’s “the nosy neighbor problem,” which Belkoura suggested is something people feel more strongly about: “A billion people are using Gmail and it’s scanning all their email [for advertising], but if I were to walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, can I read your email?’ you’d be like, ‘No, that’s kind of weird, go away.’ ”
It looks like Keepsafe is trying to tackle both kinds of privacy with its browser. For one thing, you can lock the browser with a PIN (it also supports Touch ID, Face ID and Android Fingerprint).

Then once you’re actually browsing, you can either do it in normal tabs, where social, advertising and analytics trackers are blocked (you can toggle which kinds of trackers are affected), but cookies and caching are still allowed — so you stay logged in to websites, and other session data is retained. But if you want an additional layer of privacy, you can open a private tab, where everything gets forgotten as soon as you close it.
While you can get some of these protections just by turning on private/incognito mode in a regular browser, Belkoura said there’s a clarity for consumers when an app is designed specifically for privacy, and the app is part of a broader suite of privacy-focused products. In addition, he said he’s hoping to build meaningful integrations between the different Keepsafe products.
Keepsafe Browser is available for free on iOS and Android.
When asked about monetization, Belkoura said, “I don’t think that the private browser per se is a good place to directly monetize … I’m more interested in saying this is part of the Keepsafe suite and there are other parts of the Keepsafe Suite that we’ll charge you money for.”

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Moto G6 Play Review | Digital Trends

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Moto G6 Play

For years, the Moto G-series has been our go-to pick for budget phones. They deliver solid performance and a close to stock version of Android for under $300.The budget market has become fiercely competitive, though, and phones like the Honor 7X and Nokia 6.1 have upped the ante with beautiful designs and capable cameras.
With this year’s crop of Moto G6 series phones — the Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, and the Moto G6 Plus — Motorola has focused on making its budget phones look like pricier, flagship phones. We’ve already looked at the G6 and the G6 Plus, so it’s time to look at the most affordable in the series, the G6 Play. It features a similar design as its more expensive siblings, but some components and features have been pared down to keep the price point low.
Gorgeous design, average screen
The Moto G6 Play takes design cues from its more expensive cohorts, but there are a few subtle cost-saving differences. Some of these tweaks can even save you money in the future.
For example, on the back of the G6 Play is a gorgeous, glossy body that looks strikingly similar to the other G6 series phones with one exception: It’s not glass. The back of the G6 Play is plastic, a choice we prefer as there’s a much smaller chance for cracks over the Gorilla Glass 3 on G6 and G6 Plus. Repairs for the glass backs on the latter two could end up costing as much as the phones, something you don’t need to worry about on the G6 Play.

The back of the G6 Play is plastic, a choice we prefer as there’s a much smaller chance for cracks.

There’s the same round camera module on the back of the G6 Play as the other two G6 phones, but it only packs a single-lens camera. Best of all, it’s nearly flush with the body, so it’s easier to use the phone when it’s laying flat on a desk. The fingerprint sensor is also on the rear in an easy-to-access position.
Flip the Moto G6 Play around and you’ll find a 5.7-inch display, with bezels on the top and bottom. The top is home to an 8-megapixel selfie camera and flash, while the bottom features the Motorola logo. We’re not sure why Motorola needs to add its brand name to the front of the phone, as it looks a bit tacky. The Motorola logo on the back is more than enough.
The IPS LCD screen has a resolution of 1,440 x 720 pixels with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It’s satisfactory, though text and images aren’t as sharp as you’ll find on the other G6-series phones or even the similarly priced Honor 7X. Colors, on the other hand, were vivid and the phone got bright enough to see outdoors.

Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends
The edges surrounding the screen have slimmed down (especially on the top), though they are chunky when compared to other smartphones. We don’t mind, and the phone looks quite modern considering its price.
The volume rocker and power button sit on the right edge, and up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack.  A MicroUSB charging port is on the bottom, which is a little disappointing. Motorola added the USB Type-C charging port to the Moto G6 and G6 Plus — it’s the same port you’ll find on almost all other Android phones — but the company said it will likely bring USB Type-C to all its budget options starting next year. It would have been nice to see it on the G6 Play, but it’s not a dealbreaker. The similarly-priced Honor 7X uses MicroUSB as well, so it certainly must help keep the cost down. Sadly there’s only one speaker output — the top earpiece.
Our review model is the Deep Indigo version of the Moto G6 Play, and it’s the only color available in the U.S. While we love the high gloss design, it definitely picks up plenty of smudges and scratches. There’s thankfully a transparent case included in the box that offers some protection.
Like the other G6 series phones, the Moto G6 Play doesn’t have an IP rating for water resistance, but it also lacks the water resistant coating that comes standard on the G6 and G6 Plus. You definitely don’t want to get it wet.
Slightly sluggish performance
The Moto G6 Play is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 processor, 3GB of RAM, and it comes with 32GB of storage. There’s a MicroSD card slot in case you want to add more storage. Motorola does also offer a model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage at a lower price, but we did not review this version.
In our day-to-day use of the phone, performance was acceptable, though a bit sluggish. There’s a noticeable delay when opening new applications or when multitasking with split screen view. It’s still capable of handling most tasks like browsing social media, the web, and messaging, but performance will just get worse over time, so it’s a little worrying.

We did try running a few graphics-intensive games on the G6 Play, and we were pleasantly surprised.

We did try running a few graphics-intensive games on the G6 Play, and we were pleasantly surprised. Super Mario Run took a moment to load, but we had no problems playing the game without lag. We also gave PUBG: Mobile a run on its lowest settings, and we still had no issues other than long load times.
Here are a few benchmark results:

GeekBench 4 CPU: Single-core: 748; multi-core 3,859
AnTuTu 3DBench: 41,158

When compared to the Nokia 6.1 and Honor 7X, there’s really no contest. The Honor 7X scored an AnTuTu score of 63,311, and the Nokia 6.1 scored 88,595. Both phones outperform the Moto G6 Play by a long shot. It’s worth remembering though that benchmarks are good for a baseline comparison but may not reflect a phone’s ability overall.
Close to stock Android
The Moto G6 Play ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, and the phone should get at least one Android version upgrade — so it should receive Android P. Motorola takes its time with updates, though, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the update arrive more than six months after it’s released by Google.
The Moto G6 Play has a near stock version of Oreo, which means there’s almost no bloatware. The only additional software features you’ll find are Motorola services. Moto Display, for example, lets you enable a custom, always-on display. Moto Actions let you use gestures to trigger actions, like flipping the phone upside down will trigger Do Not Disturb mode, and a double twist will open the camera. There’s no Moto Voice, which lets you use your voice to launch apps or check the weather (it’s available on the G6 and G6 Plus).
Moto Key is one of the only other software additions from Motorola, but it feels like a redundant feature since Google’s Autofill software works better and is built into Android. Moto Key lets you access certain websites, apps, and devices via your fingerprint sensor. We’re already logged into most of our services though, so we never found a real reason to use it. You can also use it to log into your Windows computer, though it requires additional software to work.
Average budget camera
Motorola introduced dual cameras on the Moto G6 and G6 Plus this year, but the Play didn’t get the same love. There’s only a single 13-megapixel lens with an f/2.0 aperture.
In good lighting, the camera performs well. Colors are vivid and relatively accurate, and detail is solid.
Like most budget phones, however, things go south in less than good lighting conditions. Color in our low-light photos appear muted, and there’s a ton of detail lost in significant noise. Unsurprising and unfortunate, but it’s a problem virtually all budget phones have.

The front-facing 8-megapixel shooter is a tad underwhelming.

The front-facing 8-megapixel shooter is a tad underwhelming as well. We took several test selfies in different lighting conditions and they all turned out to generally be fuzzy, without a lot of sharpness. Turn on the optional beauty filter, and you’ll look like an anime character with big eyes.
There’s also a panorama mode, which works surprisingly well.
Battery life worth bragging about
The Moto G6 Play is packed with a gigantic 4,000mAh battery, which Motorola claims should last for 36 hours with regular use. We found that claim accurate in our tests.
On an average day filled with web surfing, messaging, watching YouTube videos, and podcast streaming, the Moto G6 Play’s battery only depleted around 35 percent by 7 p.m. That means we were left with around 65 percent for the remainder of the evening, which can easily take you well into the second day.
Steven Winkelman/Digital Trends
The MicroUSB charging port doesn’t offer the same TurboCharge feature that you’ll find on the G6 and G6 Plus, but Motorola said the G6 Play has its own fast charging feature that will add hours of use to your battery over a period of minutes. When we charged our nearly dead G6 Play with the included adapter, it gained about 12 percent battery life over 25 minutes, which isn’t very impressive.
Warranty and availability information
The Moto G6 Play costs $200 and is available from Verizon Wireless, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless Virgin Mobile, Republic Wireless, and Ting Wireless. AT&T will offer the phone on its postpaid plans. You can purchase an unlocked variant through third-party retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. Some carriers may only be carrying the 2GB RAM and 16GB model of the Moto G6 Play, which only costs $130.
Motorola offers a standard one-year warranty on the G6 Play that offers protection from manufacturer defects.
Our Take
The Moto G6 Play doesn’t look like a budget phone and can last two days, but everything else about it is average.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes. The Honor 7X costs $200, and it has a speedier processor with more RAM, a higher resolution screen, good dual cameras, but the battery will only last you a day.
If you can stretch your budget a little more, you can pick up the Moto G6 for $250 or the excellent Nokia 6.1 for $270. Both phones offer a gorgeous design and much improved specs over the Moto G6 Play, but the Moto G6 Play still beats them all with battery life.
How long will it last?
We believe the Moto G6 Play should last a year or two. Its processor is a little dated and it’s already a little sluggish, which is why it will likely run even slower the longer you use it. There’s no glass back, so you only need to worry about shattering the front screen. There’s also no IP-rated water resistance, so you want to keep this phone away from water.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but mostly if two-day battery life is important to you. If you can get by with a day of battery, we strongly think you should look at the Honor 7X or the Nokia 6.1.

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Starz joins YouTube TV as a $9 per month premium add-on

Starz is coming to YouTube TV as a paid add-on option that will see the premium cable company’s channels come to the over-the-top streaming service for an extra $9 per month, via TechCrunch.
That price includes access to all 14 Starz and Starz Encore channels, making it the latest option to join YouTube TV’s premium extras (along with Showtime, Shudder, Sundance Now, and Fox Soccer Plus.) Those are all separate subscriptions on top of the $40 per month price tag for the base YouTube TV service.
Notably missing on that list is HBO, which according to a Bloomberg report is due to issues with Time Warner negotiations over Turner TV channels for YouTube TV, which lead to Time Warner instructing HBO to stop negotiating with YouTube.
Starz also offers its channels separately as an $8.99 over-the-top subscription, as well as through DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime, making this more of a convenience for YouTube TV subscribers who want all their channels in one place.
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