Wayne Williams

Life after Microsoft -- Nokia's new N1 is an Android tablet that looks like an iPad


After Nokia sold its Devices and Services division to Microsoft, you might not have expected to see any great new mobile products coming from the Finnish firm, but you’d be wrong.

Today at the Slush conference in Helsinki, Nokia took the wraps off a new Android tablet -- the N1.

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Energous: Wirelessly charging electrical devices over-the-air is safe and not wasteful [Q&A]


Three weeks ago, Energous announced a partnership with appliance manufacturer Haier Wireless, to add its WattUp wire-free charging transmitters to a wide range of home appliances. This will allow phones, tablets and other devices to charge over-the-air, just by being in range of an equipped appliance, such as a washer, microwave or fridge.

I spoke to Gordon Bell, Director of Marketing for Energous, to find out more about WattUp and the company's future plans.

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Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879 arrives -- here's what's new


If you’re using/testing the preview version of Microsoft’s operating system as one of the million+ "Windows Insiders", get ready for a big update. Build 9879 is arriving today and will be with you shortly, if it isn’t already.

Microsoft's Gabe Aul has provided a handy run through detailing all of the major changes, but one of the big additions is the ability to hide the Search and Task View buttons on the taskbar. That will please my colleague Mark Wilson who hates them. You’ll be able to toggle those off just by right-clicking the taskbar and disabling them in the context menu.

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Woojer: A wearable subwoofer that lets you feel sound [Review]


Music at a concert is different to music played at home, or in the car, because the high acoustic energy that surrounds you means you don't just hear the sounds, you feel them. There have been attempts in the past to marry sound with vibrations -- subwoofer chairs and vibrating vests, for example -- so that games or movies feel more realistic, but Woojer, which successfully raised $143,000 on Kickstarter, takes a subtler approach.

The matchbox sized subwoofer is worn on the body and connects between any audio source (your phone or a tablet, say) and headphones. The audio input -- be it a music track, a game or film -- is transformed into a tactile vibration, which you can feel throughout your body.

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How to use Microsoft's new tool to create a Windows 8.1 installation disc or flash drive


For some strange reason, when Microsoft released Windows 8.1 it forced Windows 8 users to update through the Windows Store. If you wanted to download an ISO file for installing how and when you liked, you either had to be an MSDN subscriber or use a couple of clever workarounds (as detailed here and here).

Thankfully, better late than never, Microsoft has finally come up with an official tool which will let you create your own Windows 8.1 installation DVD or USB flash drive. If you need to install Windows 8.1 from scratch, no longer do you need to install Windows 8 first, and then update through the store.

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Raspberry Pi introduces the better, and cheaper Model A+


Raspberry Pi, the hugely popular credit card-sized ARM GNU/Linux computer, is available in two versions -- the Model A and the Model B. Four months ago the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched an updated version of the latter called the Model B+, which added more USB ports, more GPIO and microSD support (among other features). Impressively, the price remained the same -- $35.

Today the foundation announces an upgrade to the cut-down Model A called -- can you guess? -- the Model A+, and while it’s better than the A in several ways, it’s also smaller and cheaper.

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CNN finds the perfect use for a free Surface Pro 3 -- as an iPad stand

iPad stand

In an effort to drum up awareness about its Surface Pro 3 slate, Microsoft has been dishing out devices free to every TV show and broadcaster going, often sponsoring shows (aka filling them with incongruous product placement) and handing over cash to get the message out.

Unfortunately the message that seems to be coming across a fair bit lately is that the recipients prefer iPads. The CNN news team has certainly found a good use for the promotional Surfaces that Microsoft paid them to use -- the devices apparently make a good wall, behind which it’s possible to use Apple’s tablet surreptitiously on air. And as one newsreader discovered, Microsoft Surface also makes a wonderful stand to rest an iPad against.

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AOC Q2770PQU: A fantastic, and surprisingly affordable 27-inch WQHD monitor [Review]


If you’re considering buying a 27-inch monitor, you really need to be looking at one which offers WQHD resolution (2560 x 1440), rather than the standard Full HD (1920 x 1080) found in a lot of models. The pixels per inch difference (108.79 PPI vs 81.59 PPI) will result in a much greater level of detail and clarity which, if you’re working with images, you’ll definitely notice and appreciate.

The problem with buying a 27-inch WQHD screen is cost, but AOC’s offering is a lot more affordable than most -- just £360 from Ebuyer including VAT and delivery -- and it offers an awful lot for the money, including a fully adjustable stand, so you can use the screen in both landscape and portrait modes.

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Oculus Rift VR headset to go on sale in time for Christmas 2015


If you’re desperate to get your hands on a consumer version of Oculus VR’s flagship virtual reality headset, there’s good news and bad.

Speaking at the Web Summit technology conference in Dublin on Tuesday, Brendan Iribe, founder and CEO of Oculus VR, said that it would be "months, not years" before the highly anticipated product is made available to buy. But before you get too excited, Iribe clarified his statement by adding he meant "many months" -- so not any time soon.

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Now you can listen to BetaNews stories as well as read them


TuneIn is the world's largest mobile radio app with over 50 million monthly users. The company works with the likes of ESPN, BBC and Wall Street Journal, and now it will also be providing audio versions of BetaNews stories.

If you’re a regular visitor to our site, you may have noticed some stories have had an audio player at the top of the page (like the one above here). We’ve been trialling the service for a while, and now it’s ready to go fully live.

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Adobe announces Brackets 1.0 and Extract for Brackets (Preview)


Brackets is an open source text editor built with web technologies for web designers and developers. Adobe created the tool three years ago, and has been contributing to it ever since. Now, after 45 minor releases, Brackets finally hits the long awaited 1.0 milestone.

The program blends visual tools into the editor, making it easier to design in code. Recent additions include multiple cursors, split view, theme support, and more. The latest release also comes with a preview version of Extract for Brackets, which is a new Creative Cloud service that speeds up the process of pulling design information like colors, fonts and gradients out of a Photoshop file, and turning it into CSS.

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Malware on the rise, with Trojans by far the biggest threat

Malware virus detected

Not worried about malware? Provided you take sensible precautions when on the web, and have decent anti-malware installed, your chances of getting infected are relatively low, but the threat still persists and isn’t to be underestimated.

According to PandaLabs, a total of 20 million new strains were created worldwide in the third quarter of 2014, which works out to 227,747 new samples being identified every day.

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PlayStation 4 sales double that of Xbox One in first year

winner victory

If you’ve been following the sales of Microsoft and Sony’s next gen consoles, you’ll know that the PS4 has been outselling its rival each month. However, a year after they went on sale we finally get to see the scale of the sales difference between the two.

In the last quarter, Sony shipped 4.1 million PlayStations globally, of which 3.3 million were PlayStation 4s. Microsoft on the other hand shipped 2.4 million Xbox units. Now we don’t know how many of those were Xbox Ones, and how many were Xbox 360s (Microsoft doesn’t provide a breakdown), but given the older console still sells very well, it’s safe to assume the PS4 sales were double that of the Xbox One in that quarter. Now, let’s look at the bigger picture.

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Windows 8.1 finally takes off -- shows staggering market share growth

Windows 8 rocket

Hands up if you saw that coming? We’ve been so used to Windows 8 and 8.1 losing usage share month on month, that any kind of move in the right direction -- i.e. growth -- seems almost an anomaly. And when Windows 8.x does gain usage share, it’s usually pretty minimal.

Not in October. According to the latest usage share figures from web analytics firm NetMarketShare, Windows 8 use grew in that month, and Windows 8.1 (finally) took off like a rocket. In fact, Windows 8.1’s growth in that month is so impressive you’ve got to imagine the number crunchers at NetMarketShare spent a long time checking and re-checking their findings to make sure there wasn’t a mistake at their end.

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Frightening facts about email

Skull email

There are days when I get absolutely swamped with email -- my work and personal inboxes are frequently filled to bursting -- and I’m not alone in struggling with the never ending deluge of demanding messages.

Unroll.me, a service which helps users keep their inboxes under control, has put together a Halloween-themed infographic detailing some of the most frightening facts about email. Did you know, for example, that the average person in the US, spends four hours a day reading, composing and replying to messages?

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