The SanDisk Ultra Fit is a small USB 3.0 flash drive with a big 128GB capacity. It’s 10 times faster than any standard USB 2.0 drive and you can transfer a full-lengh HD movie in less than a minute. The Sandisk Ultra Fit comes with the SanDisk SecureAccess software to protect your files with a password and 128-bit encryption. Get it for just £27.99 with free delivery in the UK.
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Charge and sync your Apple devices with this Rampow MFI (Made For iPhone) Lightning Cable. It’s compatible with all 8 Pin Apple devices including the iPhone 5, 5C, 6, and later, but also iPod Nano 7, iPad mini 2, mini 3, mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Pro and later. The nylon cable provides additional protection against bent damage and the USB and Lightning casings are protected by an aluminium shell.
Orbitsound is a British company that makes great-sounding speakers. The ONE P70 is the first of its new generation of what it’s calling an intelligent multipurpose audio solution. But to you and me, it’s a soundbar that can be mounted in various positions.
That’s because it has an integrated low-profile subwoofer like the SB60 rather than a separate box like the A70.
But you can position the ONE horizontally like a traditional soundbar, or sit it on its rear edge on a shelf so it’s vertical. It can also be wall mounted above or below a TV, and all the fixtures and fittings for doing this are included in the box.
This is cheaper than the airSOUND A70 which costs £499, and it undercuts other soundbars from Bose and Sonos which are twice the price.
Orbitsound ONE P70 review: Design
The ONE is the first product that has been designed entirely in house, and it looks quite different from the A70. The P70 weights a reassuring 5kg and measures 700x173x77mm.
It’s made from ‘engineered’ wood and covered at the top, front and sides in neat metal grilles. The Orbitsound badge can be popped out and rotated 180 degrees so the logo is the right way up no matter which speaker orientation you choose.
On one end are buttons for controlling volume and input, and a simple (and also reversible) LED display shows volume, bass and treble levels along with green, red and blue indicators so you can tell which input is being used.
The display is mounted at 45 degrees to make it visible regardless of orientation, but the reflective surface can make it tricky to see unless you’re in front of the speaker.
Underneath is a recess into which power, analogue and digital cables can run. The power supply is an external box, and the two wired audio inputs are 3.5mm minijack and TOSLINK optical. There’s no HDMI input or output, as Orbitsound says there’s no benefit for most people – and it keeps costs down. The third input is Bluetooth, so you can pair your phone, tablet or other device and play music wirelessly.
On the bottom are bosses for 200mm VESA mounts for wall mounting.
Inside is a 5.25in subwoofer – the same size as in the SB60 – and four custom-designed 2in woofers. Two of these are placed right next to each other in the centre at the front, and the other two are placed on each end. These are Orbitsound’s signature: airSOUND. The middle speakers provide clear vocals, while the side speakers deliver the ‘left’ and ‘right’ information for stereo sound. This arrangement helps to avoid the traditional deadspots when listening off-centre, and also serves to create a much wider soundstage than you’d expect from a self-contained speaker bar.
The ONE also has a couple of other nifty features. One is that it can learn buttons on a standard infrared remote control. So you can use buttons on your TV or set-top box remote to control the P70’s volume, input and power rather than having to grab two remotes just to watch TV.
The other is an optical volume boost which can be enabled if your TV’s output is too quiet.
You will need to use the setup guide to do anything more than adjust volume or switch inputs, though, because the minimalist display and minimal number of buttons mean you need to use special button combinations.
Orbitsound ONE P70 review: Performance
Thanks to the two front drivers being so close together, clarity of vocals and speech is excellent. Whether you’re watching TV or listening to music, the P70 is crisp and focused.
The smaller cabinet means that bass isn’t quite as powerful as the SB60, but for a compact all-in-one unit it’s very good. If bass is your priority, you may be better off with a bar and a separate subwoofer, but the P70 succeeds in its aim to be a self-contained unit with great sound quality.
As ever, the airSOUND part does its job admirably. It widens the soundstage way beyond what you’d expect and delivers stereo audio that sounds more like a surround-sound system.
Quality doesn’t deteriorate at quiet or very loud volumes, although we did find you have to turn it up louder when in the vertical orientation. This stands to reason, as there are no speakers in the top surface.
Although it’s likely you’ll use the P70 for video most of the time, it’s a great-sounding Bluetooth speaker too. It’s easy to pair with your phone and in our tests, we found it reliable with no cutting out or dropped connections.
We’re testing Kaby Lake’s maximum frequency at various core voltages, the influence of de-lidding, and even applying a bit of liquid nitrogen. Get ready to learn more about overclocking Intel’s latest architecture with a bunch of Core i7-7700K CPUs.
Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based Core i7 processors spoiled enthusiasts with the ease at which they could hit 5 GHz using air cooling. Sadly, these CPUs weren’t well-suited for extreme overclocking, and we were never able to push past 6 GHz under liquid nitrogen.
Ivy Bridge saw Intel selling Core i7s that were less amenable to traditional overclocking efforts, but much more receptive to extreme measures. Record-setting efforts saw them break the 7 GHz threshold.
The sixth generation of Core i7 (Skylake) demonstrated the best efficiency in a CPU yet.
Now imagine a processor that overclocks like Sandy Bridge under air cooling, like Ivy Bridge with the help of liquid nitrogen, and with Skylake’s efficiency. Could that be Kaby Lake? We’re going to find out.
For this little experiment, we’re using one of the latest motherboards to land in our French lab: MSI’s Z270X XPower Gaming Titanium.
Of course, processors are subject to the silicon lottery’s uncertainties, so we obtained multiple samples. You’ll see that the spread in what’s possible is large indeed.
De-Lidding Intel’s Core i7-7700K
Quite simply, de-lidding is the process of removing the integrated heat spreader that typically sits atop your CPU. The primary function of the IHS is to protect the die underneath, but by adding this shield between the fragile silicon and bulky heat sink, thermal transfer is restricted somewhat.
Although de-lidding was once considered an extreme measure reserved for the most hardcore enthusiasts, the process became more popular when it became clear that Intel’s Haswell-based CPUs ran hot, in part due to a different thermal interface material between the die and IHS.
It’s no longer necessary to white-knuckle the procedure with a razor blade or workshop vice, though. To de-lid an Ivy Bridge, Haswell, Devil’s Canyon, Skylake, or Kaby Lake processor, you need a tool like the Delid Die Mate, some good thermal paste, and glue (optional, silicone is preferred).
Simply place the processor on the correct side of the tool, oriented properly, close the tool, and turn the screw until the black glue breaks free when the two parts separate.
With the IHS removed, we can see Intel’s thermal paste, which looks quite dry. For information on how to thoroughly clean a bare chip (CPU or GPU), take a look at How To: Optimizing Your Graphics Card’s Cooling. We apply thermal paste (we’re using Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut) to the die and IHS. All that’s left is add a little glue and reseal the processor.
If heat isn’t removed from the die as quickly as it’s generated, the CPU’s internal temperature rises as a consequence. In order to minimize the IHS’ effect on thermal transfer, we need a good paste, which fills surface imperfections and eliminates the tiny pockets of air that’d otherwise inhibit heat sink performance. In this role, not all thermal pastes are created equal.
In the image above, the thermal paste on the left limits heat transfer, resulting in a hotter processor. The higher-quality compound in the middle performs better, helping our hypothetical CPU top out at 70°C. Finally, on the right, the die is covered with a premium product that keeps the processor’s temperature at a maximum of 60°C.
We’re going to compare three different thermal pastes:
Original thermal paste (Intel)
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
Intel’s thermal paste doesn’t always perform very well, but it is applied to all of the Kaby Lake-based processors. Because it’s unavoidable, it serves as a logical reference for our measurements.
Kryonaut is a solid performer with a conductivity of 12.5 W/mK. But it’s quite expensive (an 11g tube can be found for around $26). Still, in this piece it plays second fiddle to an even higher-end product.
At the top of our hierarchy we have Conductonaut, a metallic paste that is conductive. Its thermal conductivity is listed as 73 W/mK. But you cannot use it below freezing, or on aluminum surfaces. Its price is as high as its performance, at about $11 per gram!
Of course, results can vary from one processor to the next, but the delta between cooling solutions remains fairly similar. To show the disparity, we’re using Prime95 with a CPU core voltage of 1.3V.
As expected, Intel’s thermal interface material trails. The Kryonaut performs only 6°C better. And the Conductonaut gives us a -22°C temperature drop.
Our screen captures show that the temperatures are more homogeneous between cores once the thermal paste is upgraded. For the tests that follow, we are going to keep Intel’s paste as a reference, and the Conductonaut as its replacement.
With Commander Shepard’s story wrapped up in the originalMass Effecttrilogy, Bioware pushed forward on a new installment in the series that takes place long after the events around Shepard and his crew. The result isMass Effect: Andromeda, a game that’s supposed to mark a new chapter not just for the studio, but for players, as well. For many veterans of the series, including myself, the new game featured many similarities to its predecessors, which provided some familiar ground to work with in the new adventure. After 20 hours of play time, there are so many things to do, and yet I feel like I barely scratched the surface.
The journey from the Milky Way to the new Andromeda Galaxy took a long time, even with advanced technology. My character woke up after a 600-year cryo-induced sleep, and in the opening hours of the game, the responsibility of Pathfinder passed on to me. The job required me to find new planets that were ripe for colonization. In addition, I had to deal with new alien species–some of which were welcoming and some that were aggressive and posed a dangerous threat.
These new worlds had diverse environments, and they provided large spaces to explore. For instance, the planet Eos is desert-like. Large bugs walked the surface, and towering pillars of rock dotted the landscape. Other worlds had lush vegetation, dangerous lightning strikes, or featured a desolate tundra. In all of these locations, I encountered nature fighting back in the form of dangerous radiation levels, freezing temperatures, or hostile creatures. To counteract this, I deployed small forward stations at specified locations to provide additional health, ammo, or life support time to further explore the area. In some situations, I had access to a new vehicle called the Nomad. It’s no Mako (the vehicle from the firstMass Effectgame), but the six-wheeled transport traversed most terrain with ease. I even used it to mine for resources as I scoured the planet’s surface.
In order to find a new home for the colonists, I needed to raise a planet’s Viability rating through quests. At 40% Viability, you can establish an outpost base–an important stepping stone for colonization. There’s also the overall Andromeda Viability meter, which increases based on the number of planets scanned, major foes defeated, or completed story-based missions, and the more points it accrued, the more people came out of cryo-sleep and settled in outposts. Based on how I allocated the settlers’ priorities (Science, Military, or Technology) I gained rewards and bonuses throughout the game.
Quests range from finding lost information caches to investigating strange structures to simply eliminating hostile aliens. On my playthrough, it didn’t take long for me to build up a massive number of missions to the point where I could spend a few hours completing them and not advance the story at all.
Between missions, there were plenty of activities to do, such as research and development for new weapons, armor, and mods. Both aspects of item creation require multiple ingredients, which you get from minerals, (which you can find by scanning planets or mining for resources) or components (which are found in containers in the wild or through fallen creatures and enemies). However, I also needed a specific number of research points when I was learning to create a new item. I obtained said points by using the new scanning tool. You can scan strange generators, towering obelisks, and even new flora and fauna for research points, so it’s worth performing a quick scan of your surroundings once every few minutes.
There was also a plethora of characters to talk to throughout my journey. Aside from long conversations with crewmates aboard theTempest(the new ship), many characters provided additional lore and information. There were even more details on theMass Effectuniverse within the Codex section in the main menu for lore-hungry players.
For those who playedMass Effect 3, the combat system in this game should be familiar, although it has some changes. Once again, Bioware focused most of the gameplay on fast-paced, intense combat. You can use up to three abilities in the field, as well as an array of weapons at your disposal. Instead of rolling around to dodge attacks, there are now “jump-jets” on your back, which allows you to evade attacks, quickly dash towards enemies, or briefly hover in mid-air to rain damage from above.
You can still command your two compatriots to move to a location or attack a specific enemy, but the developers removed the ability to tell them to use specific abilities. In previous games, you could open the game’s command wheel and tell your companions to use a specific ability or ammunition against different enemies. Now, you just tell them to attack an enemy, and they’ll automatically use their abilities as needed.
It seems like an “out of sight, out of mind” solution to dealing with teammates, but I actually preferred telling teammates what to do at the right time rather than have the game’s A.I. take over in my stead. However, in the past it felt more tactical, but now you have limited control over your team.
There are also new changes in class-based abilities. With more combinations of abilities (because of the removal of class limitations), the sky (or in this case, galaxy) is the limit for what you can do with your character in combat. My Pathfinder was primarily a Soldier-based fighter who provided bonuses in weapon damage, but he also used biotic powers to throw enemies in the air or toss them across a room. There’s also the ability to set different “Profiles” so you can switch between four ability combinations to suit different scenarios. However, I didn’t really utilize the profile switches that much; I preferred to stick to one set of abilities with my teammates’ own skills to complement my combat style.
This made combat a mixed bag. The ability to combine even more abilities was fantastic, but at times it felt as if I was a one-person army. With the right abilities on hand, it was easy to take down one foe while teammates thinned out the rest of the enemy herd. It made for some intense situations, to be sure, but it was sometimes so chaotic that it was hard to determine who was shooting at what foe. At some point, I was forced to just take out whatever was in my view and move on to another target. There was no real teamwork at play.
Even thoughMass Effect: Andromedahas many favorable elements throughout, there were a few things that needed some work. This is the first game in the series that used DICE’s Frostbite Engine (in the past, Bioware used the Unreal Engine), although Bioware used it previously in another game,Dragon Age: Inquisition. In some ways, this game shows Bioware’s experience with the software, especially with its environments, which were beautiful. However, a quick look at any of the game’s characters showed the developers’ shortcomings. The lack of most facial expressions aside from the occasional smile or scowl was disappointing. In fact, it seems as if Bioware merely imported the facial animation fromMass Effect 2or3, which was disheartening when you consider the technological advancements in development since the last game came out in 2012.
I was also not a fan of the new way theTempestmoved around the larger system and galaxy maps. It’s this prolonged, first-person animation of zooming out from a starting point and then traveling to the destination, before it zooms in again on the destination planet. The entire process seemed slow and boring. I get that it’s supposed to imply this feeling of exploring a new universe, but it felt like a step back in the way I was supposed to interact with each new planet or anomaly.
There were also glitches in animation and quests that made the experience frustrating. Sometimes my character was stuck in a position or stumbled awkwardly as he moved forward. Some quests also didn’t register into the journal, which made it harder to keep track of the things to do in each area. I prefer to leave no stone unturned when it comes to quests, and this bug made that infuriating.
The Trail We Blaze
Nevertheless,Mass Effect: Andromedahas captured my attention for now, at least. My quest log continues to grow, and the story of the Pathfinder’s first steps in the galaxy is just beginning to unravel. Each planet I landed on provided plenty of space to explore, characters to interact with, and quests to complete. Even with my gripes against the combat and graphical shortcomings, I’m willing to see the game through to the end. There are more unexplored worlds and unforeseen dangers waiting somewhere in the Pathfinder’s new home, and I have to meet them head-on to give people a second chance at a new life.
Netflix has finally introduced a feature that lets you download TV shows and films to watch offline. This follows Amazon’s lead after the company introduced of offline viewing for Prime Video last year, but does come as a surprise because an interview in November with Netflix COO suggested that the company wasn’t intending to introduce the much sought-after feature for the UK or US any time soon.
In an interview with CNBC in November, Netflix’s COO Ted Sarandos said that the company is looking into making movies available to download, but that this would only be for countries that have low broadband speeds. Other sources suggested that Netflix would introduce downloads but only for its Originals. However, while the selection is still limited, there’s much more than just Netflix’s Originals available to watch offline. Read on to find out how.
There’s more good news as it appears Netflix is working on optimising content for phones. This would mean TV shows and films would look better on smaller screens but it’s something the firm will “explore over the next few years”, according to The Verge.
I don’t share Skype call links much, but I know many other people do. Today’s tip makes sharing a Skype link much easier thanks to a recent update to the official Skype extension for Chrome.
Prior to this update, the Skype extension would only help you share website links on Skype or launch Skype for the Web. Now, it helps you add Skype calling links to calendar entries on Google and Outlook.com personal calendars, as well as email messages in Gmail and Outlook.com.
Email is a nice feature, but the calendar integration is particularly interesting. Anyone you invite who accepts a calendar event will have quick access to join the Skype call when they get a calendar reminder. That’s much better than fishing around in the inbox at the last minute.
To get started, download and install the Skype extension from the Chrome Web Store (link above). Now, let’s add a Skype video call link to both Outlook.com and Google calendar entries.
Skype for Chrome integration on Outlook.com.
Open your calendar on Outlook.com and click New to open a calendar entry window. Right at the top, you’ll see a button that says Add Skype video call. Click that button and a link with an invitation to join the Skype video call lands in the notes section of the event. Now just create the event as you normally would.
Skype for Chrome integration in Google Calendar.
The Chrome extension works similarly in Google Calendar. Open Google Calendar and click Create in the left-hand panel to start a new event. Under the Event details tab, click the Add Skype video call link, which at this writing was just under the location text-entry box. After a few seconds, your Skype video call link will be ready to go in the Description box.
Skype for Chrome inside Google Calendar relies on third-party cookies from Microsoft’s live.com and Skype.com domains. If you’re using extensions such as Privacy Badger or AdBlock Plus you’ll have to allow the cookies to get through for the feature to work.
In addition, if you’ve set up Chrome to block third-party cookies, you’ll have to add both live.com and Skype.com to your exceptions list. To do this, type chrome://settings/content, hit Enter, and then click Content settings…
Then in the window that opens click Manage exceptions… and enter the following two patterns on separate lines: login.live.com and [*.]skype.com. The former only allows cookies from Microsoft’s live.com login service, while the latter allows any Skype.com cookies that follow the “foo.skype.com” format.
Beyond calendar invites and email, the new Skype extension also lets you share Skype call links via Twitter. Just be careful with that as most Twitter conversations are public, and anyone who has your Skype link can join the call.
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Depending on which model you buy, the PS4 comes with either 500GB or 1TB of built-in storage. That might seem like a lot at first, but once you factor in the operating system, game installs, and downloadable content, it fills up quickly – and that’s not even considering save files, screenshots, and videos.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to manage and expand the storage on your PlayStation 4, whichever model you have, so there’s no reason to ever miss out on a game because you don’t have the hard drive space for it. Here’s how to manage your PS4 hard drive and expand your storage.
Delete files and games
Before you go spending money on hardware upgrades, it’s worth trying to figure out if you can clear enough space on your existing hard drive for your needs. First up, head to head to Settings > System Storage Management to see exactly how your hard drive space is being used up: games and other applications, screenshots and videos (‘Capture Gallery’), save files, or themes.
Games are likely to take up the bulk of the space (those 70GB installs add up pretty quickly!) but that also means they’re the quickest, easiest way to save yourself some space. If you have any games you know you’re not likely to play again soon, you might be better off deleting them from the console to save the space for new titles – you can always install them again, either from the disc or from the PlayStation Store if it was a digital title.
To see which games are using up the most space and potentially delete some, head into the Applications section of System Storage Management. From there you’ll see a list of every game and application installed on the system, along with how much space it’s taking up.
To delete something, press the Options button on your controller. You’ll then see a checkbox next to every entry on the list, and you can select the games you want to uninstall, and then hit Delete.
It’s worth noting that deleting a game won’t affect its save files, so you’ll still be able to pick up where you left off whenever you reinstall the game.
Oh, and we’d recommend first deleting the games you have on disc – it’ll be quicker and easier to reinstall them, and you won’t have to wait for the whole game to download again (though there may be some patches to download).
Delete screenshots, videos and themes
If you’ve cleared out some old games but still need to make more space, you might want to try deleting some screenshots, videos, or themes too.
The process is pretty similar. Head to Settings > System Storage Management, as above, but head into either Capture Gallery or Themes, depending on what you want to clear out.
Screenshots and videos are categorised by game, and you can either delete individual screenshots or videos, or delete all the files linked to a given game at once. There’s also a ‘Copy to USB Storage Device’ option in case you want to save a copy of your files elsewhere before deleting them from the console.
Themes are unlikely to take up too much space, but they can add up if you have a few. Just head into Themes, and pick the ones you don’t want any more – you’ll always be able to redownload them later on.
Delete (and backup) save data
They’re not likely to make the biggest difference to your storage space, but some save files can be bigger than you might think, so it’s sometimes worth deleting a few to make extra room – and luckily Sony will let you back them up first.
Some games are pretty badly optimised, so their save files take up a bit more space than is really ideal. To identify the worst offenders, go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Delete.
You’ll see how much space each app or game is taking up, so look for any games that you won’t play again soon and are taking up plenty of space. Select Delete, and you can pick specific save files for each game to get rid of. Before you delete them though, it’s worth creating a backup just in case you ever want to play them again.
For that, go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Copy to USB Storage Device. This will give you the chance to back up all your saves to a USB stick or external hard drive in case you ever want to use them again.
If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, there’s even better news. Sony will automatically back your saves up in the cloud, so you can delete and re-download them at will. It’s worth double-checking the backups are working before you clear anything though – go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Upload to Online Storage and confirm everything’s been uploaded before you start clearing it out.
If you don’t want to delete any of your files or games, or have cleared some but still just don’t have enough space, then the next step is to expand your storage. There are two basic methods: connecting an external USB hard drive, or upgrading the internal one.
First up, there are a few things to bear in mind. The PS4 supports USB 3.0 hard drives up to 8TB, but they have to be formatted specifically for the console. That means that you probably don’t want to use a drive that you’re also using to store other files on – it’s best to have a whole drive (or at least a partition of it) specifically for PS4 games.
To set it up, simply plug your hard drive into one of the USB ports on your console. If it’s the first time you’ve used the drive on the PS4, a message will pop up telling you that it isn’t supported because it hasn’t been formatted correctly. Don’t worry, we’ll do that next!
Head to Settings > Devices > USB Storage Devices. Once there, select your drive and you should see an option to ‘Format as Extended Storage’. Press that, and give the console a minute or two to format the drive – then it’ll be ready to use.
From now, as long as you have the external drive connected, the PS4 will default to installing new games and downloads onto that drive, though save files, screenshots, and videos will still default to the internal drive.
If you want to move any of your current games over to the external drive, you want to go back to Settings > Storage > System Storage. Go into Applications and press the Options button, then select ‘Move to Extended Storage’. Then simply select the games you want to move, then tap ‘Move’.
The transfer process might take a while though, so don’t start it up right before you’re hoping to play something.
Replace the internal hard drive
If you don’t want the mess of an external drive cluttering up your console, or just happen to already have a spare internal drive lying around, you might prefer to swap out the drive inside your PS4 instead.
The obvious thing would be to upgrade your existing 500GB or 1TB drive to something with a higher storage capacity, though bear in mind that the PS4 only supports internal drives up to 2TB, and they also have to be in 2.5in laptop form factor, not the larger 3.5in desktop drives. The Seagate BarraCuda is a good choice for a 2TB drive, or you might consider paying a little more for the solid state hybrid FireCuda.
If you don’t mind paying more, you might also choose to swap the drive for an SSD, which could boost performance by improving loading times across both the operating system and your games – though storage costs go up very quickly. We recommend the Samsung 850 Evo, but you can also take a look at our guide to the best SSDs here.
That guide is written for the original model PS4, but the steps are almost identical for the PS4 Slim and Pro. The only difference is where you’ll find the hard drive caddy: on the PS4 Slim, it’s underneath a small plastic cover at the rear left corner of the console; on the PS4 Pro it’s under a plastic panel on the bottom of the console, next to the ethernet port.
Once you’ve replaced the drive, you can enjoy your new expanded storage – at least until you manage to fill it up with giant game installs all over again.