Bluetooth headphones for business

Sennheiser MB 660 UC vs. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Sennheiser MB 660 UC

Excellent audio quality
Turn on and off by twisting ear cups
Touch pad on ear cup controls music & calls
Noise cancellation auto-corrects for environment
Mobile app lets you fine-tune audio
Price: $445

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Good audio and call quality
Controls easy to find and use
Pass-through audio to hear outside sounds
Audio pauses when you take headphones off
Mobile app helps you find lost earphones
Price: $200

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Iiutec R-Cruiser review: Smart Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Iiutec’s R-Cruiser is quite different to other smart vacuum cleaners we’ve seen in a number of ways. Also see: Best robot vacuum cleaners 2017

Its key selling points are an ultra-slim design that means it should be able to get under most furniture, plus the ability to charge over USB rather than a base charging station – and that means you can charge it from a power bank too. Of course there are some compromises, too.

Where to buy the Iiutec R-Cruiser in the UK

Our review model was sent to us by Geekbuying, which offers free shipping to the UK but you’ll want to check out our advice on buying Chinese tech before going ahead with your purchase.

Prices can fluctuate, but at the time of writing the vacuum cleaner was available for £107.33 ($129.99 or 121.89 Euros).

Iiutec R-Cruiser – what it is, what it does

Countless robotic hoovers are popping up on online retail sites at attractive prices, all offering to take the hassle out of your household chores by doing the hoovering on your behalf.

No robotic vacuum cleaner will entirely replace your standard vacuum cleaner, but they can take out much of the hard work by automating the process for you. Set them off and they’ll get to work scurrying around the house and picking up much of the surface dust and dirt lining your floors.

As with all robotic cleaners some preparation is required before you start vacuuming. You’ll need to move off the floor any cables or other items that could get sucked into the cleaner, and ensure there is no wet or squidgy mess lying around that may be spread round the house.

Unlike some robotic cleaners, the Iiutec deals only with dry mess – there’s no mop function here. So don’t try to vacuum any recently mopped floors or anywhere you might find a puddle.

The R-Cruiser has a very low profile, which on the one hand makes it excellent for getting under low furniture, while its square corners allow it to reach right into the edges. However, this also means it has very small wheels, and will struggle to get over obstacles such as door thresholds. Also see: Best smart lights

Iiutec R-Cruiser

Iiutec R-Cruiser

This vacuum cleaner is suited only to hard floors – wooden or tiled – rather than carpets. As such there is no rolling brush, but two front-facing brushes and a suction inlet that can work at up to 460Pa. It does a good job in such areas, though if you do have carpets in your home you will find alternatives that can better accommodate this.

In fact, when compared to other smart vacuum cleaners, Iiutec’s R-Cruiser is really rather basic. But that is all part of its charm.

Whereas other vacuum cleaners might work with an app on your phone or come bundled with a remote control, the R-Cruiser has just the one button on its top. You press it to begin cleaning, or to turn it off, and press it a second time shortly after power-on to enter a 15-minute spot-cleaning mode. It’s all very simple.

This does mean you have absolutely no control over where the R-Cruiser cleans – you can’t change the direction or block off rooms with a virtual wall, so make sure the area is free of anything you don’t want to be sucked up first.

The LED on this button can flash in various colours and patterns to alert you to various notifications, such as battery low or a malfunction, but all you really need to know is it’s red when charging, green when fully charged, blue in operation, and it beeps when the battery is running low.

We really like the fact this vacuum cleaner charges over a standard USB charger – or a power bank, if you like – because it makes it so much easier to take anywhere and recharge from whichever room it ends up. Charging bases can be ugly docks that are always on show in your home, so this neatly gets around this problem.

A down side of this, though, is that when the battery does run out the Iiutec won’t automatically return home and recharge itself for the next time you want to use it – you’ll need to remember to do that. Also see: Best smart heating systems

The battery lasts a good while, though, and we found around 1 hour 45 mins use from a full charge. You could potentially clean up several times before needing to refill the battery. Not bad for what sounds like a meagre 2,000mAh lithium-polymer cell – my phone doubles that capacity.

 In use the Iiutec is reasonably quiet (lower than 60dB) and gets about its work without bothering you too much. It has various sensors – ground, wall and height – to ensure it doesn’t collide with and damage anything fragile, and to enable it to get itself back on track when it does get stuck. We found the R-Cruiser often stranded itself on top of the matt by our front door.

The one major drawback with the R-Cruiser’s compact design is the capacity of its dust box. At 35ml it is significantly smaller than that of rival smart vacuum cleaners, and you’ll need to empty it every time – potentially also during a cleaning cycle, depending on how much mess it has to clean up.

The R-Cruiser is available in white, black, gold or red. We’d advise a darker colour, since our white review model had a tendency to pick up a lot of dust on its top surface.

Read next: How to make your home a smart home

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter

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What is the Dark Web and Deep Web?

We explain the Dark Web, how it differs from the Deep Web, and how to access the Dark Web using Tor.

We explain the Dark Web and Deep Web, plus how to access them


What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web is a term that refers specifically to a collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network and cannot be found by using traditional search engines or visited by using traditional browsers.

Almost all sites on the so-called Dark Web hide their identity using the Tor encryption tool. You may know Tor for its ability to hide your identity and activity. You can use Tor to spoof your location so it appears you’re in a different country to where you’re really located, making it much like using a VPN service.

When a website is run through Tor it has much the same effect.

Indeed, it multiplies the effect. To visit a site on the Dark Web that is using Tor encryption, the web user needs to be using Tor. Just as the end user’s IP address is bounced through several layers of encryption to appear to be at another IP address on the Tor network, so is that of the website.

There are several layers of magnitude more secrecy than the already secret act of using Tor to visit a website on the open internet – for both parties 

Thus, sites on the Dark Web can be visited by anyone, but it is very difficult to work out who is behind the sites. And it can be dangerous if you slip up and your identity is discovered. Talking of identity, you can find out what Google knows about you and also delete your Google location history.

You can also read our in-depth guide to using Tor if you want to know more about using the web anonymously and sending messages securely. 

The Silk Road

Not all Dark Web sites use Tor. Some use similar services such as I2P, such as the Silk Road Reloaded. But the principle remains the same. The visitor has to use the same encryption tool as the site and – crucially – know where to find the site, in order to type in the URL and visit.

Infamous examples of Dark Web sites include the Silk Road and its offspring. The Silk Road was (and maybe still is) a website for the buying and selling of recreational drugs. But there are legitimate uses for the Dark Web.

People operating within closed, totalitarian societies can use the Dark Web to communicate with the outside world. And given recent revelations about US- and UK government snooping on web use, you may feel it is sensible to take your communication on to the Dark Web. (I’ll stick to Facebook, but I like the attention.)

The Dark Web hit the headlines in August 2015 after it was been reported that 10GB of data stolen from Ashley Madison, a site designed to enable bored spouses to cheat on their partners, was dumped on to the Dark Web.

Hackers stole the data and threatened to upload it to the web if the site did not close down, and it has now acted on that threat. Now the spouses of Ashley Madison users have begun to receive blackmail letters demanding they pay $2500 in Bitcoin or have the infidelity exposed.

In March 2015 the UK government launched a dedicated cybercrime unit to tackle the Dark Web, with a particular focus on cracking down on serious crime rings and child pornography. The National Crime Agency (NCA) and UK intelligence outfit GCHQ are together creating the Joint Operations Cell (JOC).

What is the Deep Web?

Although all of these terms tend to be used interchangeably, they don’t refer to exactly the same thing. An element of nuance is required. The ‘Deep Web’ refers to all web pages that search engines cannot find.

Thus the ‘Deep Web’ includes the ‘Dark Web’, but also includes all user databases, webmail pages, registration-required web forums, and pages behind paywalls. There are huge numbers of such pages, and most exist for mundane reasons.

We have a ‘staging’ version of all of our websites that is blocked from being indexed by search engines, so we can check stories before we set them live. Thus for every page publicly available on this website (and there are literally millions), there is another on the Deep Web.

The content management system into which I am typing this article is on the Deep Web. So that is another page for every page that is on the live site. Meanwhile our work intranet is hidden from search engines, and requires a password. It has been live for nearly 20 years, so there are plenty of pages there.

Use an online bank account? The password-protected bits are on the Deep Web. And when you consider how many pages just one Gmail account will create, you understand the sheer size of the Deep Web.

This scale is why newspapers and mainstream news outlets regularly trot out scare stories about ’90 percent of the internet’ consisting of the Dark Web. They are confusing the generally dodgy Dark Web with the much bigger and generally more benign Deep Web.

Mixing up the act of deliberately hiding things, with that of necessarily keeping pages away from search engines for  reasons of security or user experience.

What is the Dark Internet?

Confusingly, ‘Dark Internet’ is also a term sometimes used to describe further examples of networks, databases or even websites that cannot be reached over the internet. In this case either for technical reasons, or because the properties contain niche information that few people will want, or in some cases because the data is private.

A basic rule of thumb is that the phrases ‘Dark Web’ or ‘Deep Web’ are typically used by tabloid newspapers to refer to dangerous secret online worlds, the ‘Dark Internet’ is a boring place where scientists store raw data for research.

The Deep Web is a catch-all term for all web pages that are not indexed for search, the others refer to specific things. (See also: Take precautions when using public Wi-Fi networks.)

How to access the Dark Web

Technically, this is not a difficult process. You simply need to install and use Tor. Go to and download the Tor Browser Bundle, which contains all the required tools. Run the downloaded file, choose an extraction location, then open the folder and click Start Tor Browser. That’s it.

The Vidalia Control Panel will automatically handle the randomised network setup and, when Tor is ready, the browser will open; just close it again to disconnect from the network.

Depending on what you intend to do on the Dark Web, some users recommend placing tape over your laptop’s webcam to prevent prying eyes watching you. A tinfoil hat is also an option. If you’re reading this to find out about torrent files, check out our separate guide on how to use torrent sites in UK.

The difficult thing is knowing where to look on the Dark Web. There, reader, we leave you to your own devices and wish you good luck and safe surfing. And a warning before you go any further. Once you get into the Dark Web, you *will* be able to access those sites to which the tabloids refer. This means that you could be a click away from sites selling drugs and guns, and – frankly – even worse things.

Aggregation sites such as Reddit offer lists of links, as do several Wikis, including  – a list that offers access to some very bad places. Have a quick look by all means, but please don’t take our linking to it as an endorsement. It really isn’t.

Also, Dark Web sites do go down from time to time, due to their dark nature. But if you want good customer service, stay out of the dark!

And do heed our warning: this article is intended as a guide to what is the Dark Web – not an endorsement or encouragement for you to start behaving in illegal or immoral behaviour.

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Huawei defeats Samsung in patent battle in China

The Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei has won a patent victory over its South Korean rival Samsung.

A Chinese court in Quanzhou has ordered the Galaxy S8-maker to pay 80m yuan ($11.6m; £9.3m) to Huawei for infringing the firm’s smartphone cellular technologies.

The two are also suing each other over patents in other courts.

Huawei’s victory was tempered, however, by news that it could face a sales ban in the UK.

Huawei launched the legal action against Samsung last May and has subsequently followed with other claims filed in its home city of Shenzhen and California, covering more than 10 patents.

It has alleged that more than 20 models of Samsung’s phones and tablets make use of its technologies without permission.

Samsung countersued in July over six alleged infringed patents, saying it had attempted to resolve the dispute “amicably”.

Huawei was the world’s third-bestselling smartphone-maker in 2016 and Samsung the first, according to market research firm IDC.

Although intellectual property disputes that pitted one tech giant against another were common a few years ago, they have been fought out of the public eye in more recent times. Even so, many of the details of the latest case were redacted by the court because of commercial privacy concerns.

“Huawei notes the court’s decision in this case,” a spokesman told the BBC after the verdict.

“Huawei believes that respecting and protecting the intellectual property of others enables all companies to make a return on our R&D investments. We maintain that respect for intellectual property promotes innovation and healthy, sustained growth in the industry.”

A spokesman for Samsung said it intended to review the court’s decision and would decide its response later.

“Over many years, Samsung Electronics has pioneered the development of innovative mobile technologies through continuous investment in R&D to provide consumers with a wide selection of innovative products,” he added.

‘Patent troll’

The Chinese ruling coincides with a judgement from the High Court of England and Wales that Huawei must pay a US firm a global fee for its 4G patents or face a local sales ban.

The owner – Unwired Planet – had acquired the inventions from Ericsson. It does not make products itself and has been referred to in the past as being a “major patent troll” because of its efforts to extract payments from those who do.

The Nevada-based company is also suing Samsung, Google and Apple.

Huawei had argued that the amount being sought by Unwired was too high, which the court agreed with, so it still views the ruling as being a partial victory.

“Huawei is still evaluating the decision as well as its possible next steps,” said a spokesman for the firm.

“Huawei does not believe that this decision will adversely affect its global business operations.”

However, a lawyer for Unwired Planet also viewed the case a win for his client because Huawei faces having to compensate the firm for sales worldwide.

“Until now there has been a view that even if the infringing party is successfully sued, at the end of the day they would have to pay no more than the royalty rate they would have had to pay anyway, and only for the countries in which they were sued,” explained Gary Moss from EIP.

“That gave an incentive for implementers to hold out in the hope of achieving a more favourable royalty rate. Today’s judgement confirms that this need not be the case.”

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How to improve Wi-Fi in the home

Weak Wi-Fi signals slowing you down? While it’s a pain, it’s not impossible to fix. Here’s our top tips (and gadgets) to help improve Wi-Fi connectivity at home.

Tips and gadgets to improve your home Wi-Fi


Improve wifi tips home network boost

All of us know a house’s weak or dead Wi-Fi spots, and it’s frustrating when these are where you need a strong Wi-Fi signal most. Wi-Fi black spots are most often caused by distance from the wireless router (wireless signals weaken with range), thick stone walls, and interference.

If the Wi-Fi in your house is pretty flaky you might want to consider a Wi-Fi range extender to push your signal that extra bit further. Alternatively, you can add Powerline adapters that use your home’s electrical wiring to create a speedy home network with added new Wi-Fi hotspots.

Here’s some tips and tricks and inexpensive gadgets that will help improve your wireless signal.

Update your wireless router

If your house suffers from weak Wi-Fi, the first step to consider is upgrading your wireless router.

The oldest to newest Wi-Fi standard are: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. If you have an older wireless “b” or “g” router you should consider replacing it with a newer wireless “n” or “ac” device that offers longer ranges and faster connection speeds.

Why not be cheeky and ask your ISP to send you an updated wireless router? If you’ve been a customer for a while it should help you out, but watch out if it asks you to sign up for a longer term, unless you’re happy with its service.

Though these newer routers may not significantly increase the range of your wireless network, you should at least get better speeds at longer distances. Check out the best wireless routers in our round up.

Netgear wireless router 802.11ac

Netgear wireless router 802.11ac

You wont get the maximum range and performance from the newer wireless router unless your computers, smartphone or tablets also use the same Wi-Fi standard. An old laptop is unlikely to boast “ac” or “n” Wi-Fi. Check the specs to see which wireless standard it is using.

Rather than buy a new laptop or desktop PC or Mac you can buy a wireless adapter – from as little as £25 – that plugs into a USB port. You can also add a new wireless adapter inside a desktop PC’s case or via a PC Card slot, but good luck trying that with a Mac! Check out our round up of the Best 802.11ac USB Wi-Fi adaptors.

What about your smartphone’s wireless? Apple’s iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S4 and later, for example, are equipped up to 802.11 ac (and backwards compatible with all the older standards), while older variants like the iPhone 4 and 5, Galaxy S, S2 and S3 are only compatible up to 802.11 n.

Create a new Powerline home network

We also recommend considering Powerline adapters that create a fast home network using the electrical wiring in your house. This means you can take your internet around your house without losing much performance. Creating a Powerline home network is as easy as plugging in to a power socket.

Simply plug one adapter into a power socket near your router and connect it to the router using an Ethernet cable (usually supplied with the adapter).

Then plug the second adapter into a power socket in a far-away room. You can then attach this to your smart TV, Sky+ box, games console, laptop, etc, via another Ethernet cable.

Powerline home network set up

Powerline home network set up

This means that you can do without Wi-Fi for more demanding tasks such as streaming HD TV shows or moves from catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Sky.

Powerline adapters act as if they’re directly plugged into your router – even if they’re on the other side of the house. You need at least two adapters, and the best way to buy these are as part of a starter kit.

The best Powerline adapters can also create a new Wi-Fi hotspot right there in the second (or third or fourth) room. These create not merely boosted signals – like you get with a Wi-Fi extender – but close-to-fully performing new Wi-Fi hotspots. They cost more but are much more versatile and provide faster speeds than mere extenders.

Read our Powerline Explained feature and Best Powerline Adapters round up.

Wi-Fi Extenders

A new wireless router or Powerline Adapter with built-in wireless are the two best options, but can cost more than a simple Wi-Fi Extender. The best Powerlines, with wireless functionality, we tested cost from around £50 to £150. Wi-Fi extenders such as TP-Link’s TL-WA860RE or AC750 are priced around £20. Read: TP-Link Wireless Extender review.

Wi-Fi extenders catch a wireless signal and then rebroadcast it, helping to strengthen the signal from a router on a different floor of a house or on the opposite side of a building. It should be noted that they can also drag down your network’s performance.

WiFi extender home booster repeaters

WiFi extender home booster repeaters

A repeater uses half its internal antennae to receive a wireless signal and the other half to transmit a new signal – effectively halving the potential speed of the device’s network connection.

This shouldn’t be that noticeable for light web browsing, email, etc, but can be felt when streaming video or moving files around the network. That’s why we prefer Powerline for the more demanding tasks.

Wi-Fi extenders share the bandwidth with the router. Wi-Fi speeds are slower because it’s sharing the data between the router and the extender, whereas the Powerline simply acts as a single device (not sharing the bandwidth) and so you get stronger signals.

The Wi-Fi extender needs to be placed in a central location, not too far away from the main router. If you put the repeater at the far edge of your main network hoping to strengthen the signal you will reduce the speed of your connection to the rest of the network and to the internet.

Remember that the extender is just boosting the signal. If it’s placed in a weak-Wi-Fi spot then it will merely push around that weak signal. Place it in an area with better Wi-Fi and the signal it pushes out will be stronger, too.

The ideal location for a range extender is half way between your main router and the intended wireless devices – in an open corridor or spacious room rather than a crowded space. It should be away from interfering devices such as cordless phones, Bluetooth gadgets and microwave ovens.

Bands on the run: 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless

We need to explain the difference between Wi-Fi bands. We’ll try to keep this as technically simple as possible, but skip if if this stuff is just going to get your head spinning.

Wi-Fi can work over one of two spectrum bands: 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

The trade offs between 2.4GHz and 5GHz have to do with interference, range, and speed.

Manufacturers claim that 2.4GHz routers or extenders can reach up to 300Mbps speeds, while 5GHz devices have a theoretical maximum of 450Mbps. Dual-band devices are therefore sometimes rated as 750Mbps. Remember that these claimed speeds are theoretical maximums, and you won’t be getting anywhere near these speeds, but you can achieve perfectly acceptable wireless performance using such devices.

2.4GHz vs 5GHz wifi radio bands

2.4GHz vs 5GHz wifi radio bands

Each band has its limitations, however.

2.4GHz devices face a battle for the available space, and so cause interference between each other. The 2.4GHz band is also divided into overlapping channels. The more overlap, the greater the interference among networks located closely together.

Switching to 5GHz alleviates the channel problem because so many more channels are available – and without any overlap – in the 5GHz band.

But 2.4GHz does have one big advantage over 5GHz: range. The shorter wavelengths used in the 5GHz band cannot penetrate as well through seemingly solid objects like walls, ceilings, desks, and, yes, people.

The more interference, the less speed and range; the greater range you want, the less speed you can have; the greater speed you want, the more you have to mitigate interference and work closer to an access point.

A dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi extender, like the TP-Link AC750, should offer the best of both worlds. The same goes for Powerline adapters. The latest Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi Starter Kit, for example, uses “ac” and 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands.

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Best gaming keyboard

gaming keyboard hub primary imageCredit: Rob Schultz
Table of Contents

Choosing a gaming keyboard is a matter of personal taste. The best for one person could be Cherry Browns and white backlighting. For another, it could be Razer Greens and a rippling RGB glow. Gigantic wrist pads, compact shapes, numeric keypads, macro keys, volume controls—a ton of keyboards exist because everyone wants a different mix of features.

To help you sort through the piles of options, we’ve sifted through the latest and greatest to come up with our top recommendations. All of these focus on mechanical keyboards, and for good reason—they’re simply more comfortable to use over the long haul. But we’re open-minded, so if we encounter an alternative that works well, you may see it appear on this list. We’ll keep updating it periodically as we test new keyboards.

In this round of evaluations, we had a few surprises. For instance, the G.Skill KM780 is one of the best RGB-enabled mechanical keyboards we’ve seen to date. Turns out you can still improve on a device that’s (at its core, at least) older than PCs themselves.

Best budget keyboard

Not too long ago, the CM Storm QuickFire TK was the go-to recommendation for a sub-$100 mechanical keyboard. For good reason, too: Classic black-rectangle design, no number pad for those who hate them, and fully backlit (with the color varying based on the switch you choose). Plus, it uses genuine Cherry MX switches.

The budget-friendly mechanical keyboard market has expanded quite a bit in recent years, though. These days, I’d go with Razer’s new BlackWidow X Tournament Edition—so long as backlighting isn’t a must-have.

It lists for only $70, has the same trendy exposed-metal-backplate design of the larger BlackWidow X, and sports a discreet typeface on its keys. Oh, and unlike Razer’s other keyboards, you can get this one with Cherry MX Blues.


If you’re willing to go right up to $100, the HyperX Alloy FPS offers some nice perks. It comes with backlighting, features Cherry MX keys, and is the slimmest keyboard on the market. I also like that the Mini USB cable is detachable—you won’t have to RMA the board if only the cable busts.

That said, the low end of the market is a free-for-all. The Cougar Attack X3, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate, G.Skill’s Ripjaws KM570, the Corsair Strafe—these are all fine sub-$100 keyboards that feature (or at least can feature) genuine Cherry MX switches and per-key backlighting. The biggest difference is design, which is a personal preference. I happen to like the HyperX Alloy’s minimalist look, but someone else could prefer a bulkier look like that of the Strafe.

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The best iPhone 6 & iPhone 6s cases

  • RRP: £39.99, €39.95