The best motherboard 2017: the top Intel and AMD motherboards we’ve seen

The best motherboard 2017: the top Intel and AMD motherboards we’ve seen

It can be argued that there is no more important PC component than the motherboard. Motherboards serve as the backbone of your entire computer, being the hub that connects all of the disparate parts of your PC together. The best motherboards will not only just serve as a house for your CPU, GPU and other components, but will also have enticing features that let you overclock more easily, or just take full advantage of the hardware you plug into it. Every single component in your PC relies on your motherboard to function.

Aside from how critical a motherboard is to the day-to-day function of your PC, they are one of the most difficult components to be swapped out if it stops working or you just want to upgrade. It’s not like a graphics card, where you can just swap it out on a whim, in order to upgrade or replace your motherboard, you need to tear your PC down completely.

That’s why we’ve decided to put together a list of the best motherboards on the market. Each one of the motherboards on this list have been rigorously tested and reviewed by us to make sure they truly deserve a spot. You can rest assured that not only will these motherboards perform when you need them to, but that they’re well made enough to last. And with all the different varieties of motherboards and all the features that go into them, it’s important to know exactly what to look for.

Coming to terms

Before we get into the recommendations, here’s a little bit of a primer for the uninitiated. Motherboards come in several different form factors, the most common of which are ATX and micro ATX. There are a whole bunch of other form factors, including the newer mini ITX, but generally speaking, most PC cases will support one or both of these sizes.

Moreover, in our rundown of the best motherboards, we detail the socket type that each mobo adheres to. For those not in the know, the socket is the part on the motherboard that the CPU locks into. Typically, newer Intel processors use either LGA 1151 or 2066 while the latest AMD Ryzen architecture is designed for the AM4 chipset. 

Best Intel motherboard: Z370 Aorus Gaming 7

Find the top of your game

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z370 | Memory support: 4 x DIMM sockets (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 2- and 4-way GPU SLI, AMD 2-, 3- and 4-way CrossFire | Features: 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

Flashy design
A-1 overclcocker
No Thunderbolt 3

Where money is no object, the Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 from Gigabyte quite literally shines. Decked out in RGB lighting galore, it’s the best way to celebrate Intel’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors in an ATX tower case. Limited not by power, but instead by the restraints of your other components, it’s also a champ when it comes to overclocking. That’s right, you can expect upwards of 5GHz consistently on this Z370 mobo.

Best budget Intel motherboard: MSI B250M Gaming Pro

Light things up with this low-cost motherboard from MSI.

Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (7th-gen and earlier) | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (32-110mm), Intel Optane Memory Ready

Micro ATX form factor
Not much room for expansion
Only 2 RAM slots

You don’t need to break the bank to get your computer off on the right footing. This board from MSI is a great, inexpensive solution. It’s limited in options for future expansions, so it’s ideal for a one-and-done build. Since it’s a gaming motherboard it has support for things like “Mystic Light Sync,” which lets you synchronize all your RGB lighting with a single click.  

Best Intel Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock B250M Pro4

A smaller form-factor with some room for you to improve

Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA-1151 (7th-gen and earlier) | Chipset: Intel B250 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 2400MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFire X | Features: 1 x U.2, 1 x M.2 (Key M), Intel Optane Memory Ready

On-board video support
Supports 7.1 channel surround
 Limited PCIe expansion

This Micro ATX motherboard from ASRock packs a lot of features onto a smaller form factor. You lose out on the possibility of extra PCIe slots, but there are 4 memory slots to upgrade to a maximum 64GB DDR4 RAM. It also has support for on-board graphics, so if you’re building a computer piecemeal, you can still use it before buying a dedicated graphics card.

Best Intel Mini-ITX motherboard: Asus ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming

This small form factor motherboard is lit

Form factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: LGA-1151 (8th-gen only) | Chipset: Intel Z370 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 4,333MHz | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: Aura Sync RGB lighting, onboard M.2 heatsink, 5-way optimization, USB 3.1 Gen 2, Gigabit Ethernet with LANGuard, GameFirst, 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and MU-MIMO support

Flashy looks
Wi-Fi antennas included
Lacks SLI/Crossfire support

The best Intel Mini-ITX motherboard on our list kicks off our hunt for only the best Z370 mobos on the market. That’s the chipset used by the chip maker’s 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors, which includes everything from the Core i7-8700K all the way down to the Core i3-8100. This ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming, while lacking support for Nvidia SLI and AMD Crossfire multi-GPU, does ship Wi-Fi ready with an included Asus 2 x 2 Wi-Fi adaptor. 

Best AMD motherboard: MSI X370 Gaming Pro Carbon

Expandable and expansive

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD X370 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-way SLI, CrossFire | Features: 2 x M.2 (Key M)

Amazing looking motherboard
Built-in waterpump fan connector
 No on-board video

When it comes to AMD motherboards, the Gaming Pro Carbon from MSI does not mess around in the slightest. Not only is it packed with lots of features to make it extra appealing for AMD gaming PC builds, it has awesome Mystic Light RGB settings that can be adjusted via smartphone app. Besides looking great, it has plenty of room for expansion and support for dual graphics cards.

Best Budget AMD motherboard: Asus Prime A320M-K

A low-cost AMD motherboard to maximize cost to power.

Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD A320 | Memory Support: Single-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

 Great price
 Limited expansion

Budget builds are almost always based around AMD hardware. Not because AMD is “budget,” but because it’s just cheaper than Intel and Nvidia. Start the build off on the right, low-cost foot with this motherboard from ASUS. It has everything you need to pull off a solid computer build, without having to break the bank. It lacks visual bells and whistles, but hey, it’s a budget solution.

Best AMD Micro ATX motherboard: ASRock AB350M Pro4

Nothing flashy, but plenty of performance to love

Form Factor: Micro ITX | Socket: AMD AM4 | Chipset: AMD Promontory B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 64GB) | Multi-GPU support: 2-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

Excellent price
Supports RAM overclocked to 3200MHz
 Not flashy or exciting

If you want to get where you need to go, and you don’t care about things like fancy RGB lighting or eye-catching, futuristic-looking heat dissipators, the AB350M Pro4 is the motherboard for you. In spite of its plain-Jane looks and no-frills aesthetic, this is a solid motherboard with plenty of room to expand and grow with your computer needs.

Best AMD Mini-ITX motherboard: ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX

An overclocker’s dream in a small form factor

Form Factor: Mini-ITX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD B350 | Memory Support: Dual-Channel 2 x DDR4 3,466MHz (up to 32GB) | Multi-GPU support: No | Features: 1 x M.2 (Key M)

Blazing-fast RAM speeds
On-board graphics support
 RAM tops out at 32GB 

Small and powerful, this ASRock motherboard is a beast, supporting overclocked memory speeds up to 3,466MHz for CPUs that support it. If that wasn’t enough to get your motor running, it also supports 4K resolutions and full Blu-ray support through its HDMI ports. Yes, ports: it has two, as well as on-board video support.

Best Intel Core X-Series motherboard: ASRock X299 Taichi

This one goes up to 11, but more accurately, 4400MHz memory

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: LGA-2066 | Chipset: Intel X299 | Memory Support: Quad-Channel 8 x DDR4 4,400MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: Nvidia 3-Way SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX | Features: 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

Gigantic memory support
Slots for 8 RAM modules
High price

The X-series processors are here and they’re spectacular, so if you want to take advantage of all they have to offer, you need an X-series motherboard. This ASRock X299 is an excellent choice, with support for overclocked memory speeds up to 4400MHz(!!!) and 8 different slots for memory modules. It also supports up to 128GB of RAM, so with an X-series processor and a good graphics card (or 3…) this thing will absolutely tear apart anything you throw at it.

Best AMD Ryzen Threadripper motherboard: ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sTR4

This is the motherboard AMD dreams are made of

Form Factor: ATX | Socket: sTR4 | Chipset: AMD X399 | Memory Support: Dual -Channel 4 x DDR4 3,200MHz (up to 128GB) | Multi-GPU support: 4-Way SLI, AMD Quad CrossFireX | Features: 1 x U.2, 3 x PCIe M.2 (Key M)

4-way SLI or Crossfire support
Awesome RGB lighting
 Really expensive

If you’re the type of builder with deep pockets and an “everything and the kitchen sink” build mentality, this Ryzen Threadripper board is definitely for you. It supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire configurations, so you can just empty your bank account in the name of PC glory. All that graphical power is supported by as much as 128GB DDR4 memory, and there’s even a flashy RBG lighting scheme to really drive home the point.


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The best universal remotes 2017: the ultimate beginners guide

The best universal remotes 2017: the ultimate beginners guide

In the last few years, we have seen technology do things that previously we have thought impossible. However, in spite of all of this advancement, there is one all-too-common inconvenience that plagues us every day – losing your TV remote. Don’t despair, though, as the best universal remotes go a long way towards remedying this common hassle.

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Spent an entire day tearing your living room apart looking for a remote that, defying all logic, somehow ended up in a couch cushion that no one has sat on for weeks. And, if you have a decent home AV setup, you know the pain of having to deal with dozens of the things sprawled throughout your home.

The best solution available for both of these annoying issues are universal remotes. The best universal remotes are not only an ideal replacement for a lost remote, but they can cut down on the clutter in your living room by functioning as multiple remotes. So, without further ado, let’s dive in, and figure out how exactly the best universal remotes work, and what they are capable of.

What is a universal remote?

Before we get into all the different types of universal remotes on the market today, it would be prudent to explain exactly what a universal remote is. Simply, they’re remote controls that can replicate the signals sent by the remote that was packaged with your home audio receiver, television or whichever other devices you own that use an infrared signal.

But, why should you buy one? Well, either you’ve misplaced an original remote, and don’t want to pay the often exorbitant price of a manufacturer replacement. Or, perhaps you are looking to have fewer remote controls because you want a less cluttered, and more organized living room. 

Pretty much every universal remote uses infrared, or, IR. Which is the same signal used by manufacturer remotes.

Cheap vs expensive

If you’re considering shopping for a cheap universal remote, such as the One For All Essence (only available in the UK), you’ll use a pattern of button presses to program the remote, selecting the right set of instructions for your hardware. Manufacturers like Panasonic and Sony have only used a couple different patterns of instructions over the last decade or so for most of their TVs. You can just cycle through them until you find the set of instructions that lets you operate the TV in question.  

The low-cost One for All Essence can replace two remotes

Many mid-tier universal remotes boast companion apps and large databases that let you just select the TV or receiver you have on your mobile device. It’s quicker, easier and less of a hassle to add new devices, in case your AV setup ever changes.

Generally speaking, the more devices you’re looking for your universal remote to support, the more money you’ll be spending. Logitech’s Harmony Elite is compatible with up to 15 devices with just the one remote, while low-end models, like the One for All Simple, only support one. Just like most things in the tech world, it just comes down to that classic use-case question: are you replacing a lost remote or do you just want to use just one remote instead of a half dozen unique ones? 

The Logitech Harmony Elite is one of the top-end universal remotes

When you start getting to the High end of the spectrum, you’ll start seeing remotes that allow you to set up custom macros, or ‘activities’. These ‘activities’ will let you make a single button or touch screen press send off several commands. 

One remote, called ‘Watch TV,’ for example, may turn on your cable box, audio receiver and TV, change the receiver to the right channel and switch your TV to the right HDMI input. Another classic is to turn all of your equipment off with a single press of a button.

Who makes universal remotes?

There are two main players in the universal remote control game, and they’re the ones we’ve listed out thus far. Logitech makes all the best high-end remotes, in the shape of its Harmony models, while One for All is the best brand for more inexpensive remotes. 

The Doro HandleEasy is as basic as universal remotes get

In the US, you’ll also see a plethora of low-price remote controls from RCA. And if you’re buying for an elderly relative, or want a super-simple remote that only covers the TV basics, the Doro HandleEasy only allows you to change volume and channels; it’s been around for years, but it’s a great lo-fi gadget.   

 Phones that are universal remotes

Some phones will also function as universal remotes, although perhaps not the models you may think. They need to have a feature called an IR blaster, which enables them to transmit the same signals as a normal remote control.

These used to be somewhat common, but have become quite rare, with the feature regarded as unloved and generally useless in the phones that had it. Current phones with an IR blaster include the Honor 9 and Huawei P10 Plus. Some Xiaomi phones have one too. The common thread? These are Chinese companies. 

The Honor 9 is one of the few new phones to have an IR blaster

The last high-profile phone to have an IR blaster was the LG G5, while the last flagship Samsungs with IR were the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge back in 2015. These phones have apps that enable you to configure your own setup, with on-screen buttons for (almost) all your remotes’ functions. 

We actually know people who owned phones with IR blasters a few years ago, but who ended up spending a significant amount of cash on a universal remote, oblivious to their phone’s abilities.

Have a phone with an IR blaster? You might want to check out a third-party remote control app like Peel or Sure, as these have a smarter interface than most built-in apps.

Controlling consoles and smart homes

A weakness that the vast majority of universal remotes share is that they can’t control most smart home devices, or Sony’s PS3 and PS4. This is because they use either Bluetooth, RF or Wi-Fi instead of IR. The answer is a hub that supports these other standards, and right now you have two major options. 

Logitech offers the best, and the most popular one. The Logitech Home Hub is compatible with Microsoft and Sony game consoles, and a wide range of smart home gadgets including Philips Hue lights. It connects to your home Wi-Fi network, and can be controlled either by a mobile app or one of Logitech’s higher-end remotes.  

Logitech’s Harmony Hub levels-up the abilities of universal remotes

Using one of the Harmony series’ tasty macro activities, you could therefore set the lighting level for movie night, as well as turning on your AV setup, with a single press. 

Elsewhere, the Broadlink RM and RM Pro are hubs that can control IR and RF (Pro model) devices through a mobile phone app. They’re significantly cheaper than the Logitech Home Hub, although as they don’t use Bluetooth you can’t use them to control a Sony PS4. 

It is a low-cost way to make up for the lack of an IR blaster, though. 

Voice control

One additional benefit of the Logitech Home Hub system is that you can already control it through Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa.

If you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot you can add a Harmony ‘skill’ to it, and using this you can say “Alexa, tell Harmony to turn on the TV”, and it’ll do so. We’ve tried it out as part of our research for this guide, and it works rather well. 

You can now use your voice as a universal remote, with the right hardware

One day we’ll be able to control everything over Wi-Fi, but until that day it’s reassuring to see that universal remotes aren’t content to become ‘retro’ gadgets; they’re keeping up with the times.

Logitech Harmony at a glance

As the Logitech Harmony series is easily the most important range of universal remotes for people looking for an experience to suit a high-end setup, let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer. 

The Harmony family has two main lines – there are newer remotes that work with the Harmony Hub, and older pure IR remotes that don’t.

The Harmony Ultimate is one of Logitech’s full-fat universal remotes

The newer kind includes the Elite, Ultimate, Touch, Ultimate One and 950 models, all of which have screens. Logitech’s Companion remote supports the hub but doesn’t have a display, making it a little more affordable. 

Those after something even less pocket-draining should check out the Harmony 650, which has a display but no Hub support, and the Harmony 350, a basic £35/$38 remote that’s a classic universal remote but can still combine the functions of eight remotes. 


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PS4 vs Xbox One: which is better?

PS4 vs Xbox One: which is better?

In the world of technology, nothing ever stays simple, even video games. As seemingly innocuous as they are, games have blossomed into an arms race between a plethora of different pieces of hardware by just Sony and Microsoft.

Gone are the days where you could just weigh Microsoft’s single console against Sony’s and call it a day. 

Sony’s lineup currently consists of two pieces of hardware that are currently available right now. You’ve got the slim PS4 that replaced the original PS4 back in 2016 and the PS4 Pro, which plays all the same titles, but features some graphics perks, like 4K HDR and higher framerates at 1080p. 

Microsoft similarly has two consoles on the market right now. They’ve got the Xbox One S that stands as the entry-level 1080p machine, which also allows for 4K upscaling and even features a 4K Blu-Ray player – something that even the PS4 Pro doesn’t have, and the more powerful Xbox One X that launched on November 7.  

If we sat here measuring each product in Sony and Microsoft’s respective lineups side by side, you’d be here all day. So, instead we’re going to focus on comparing the entire ecosystems to each other. Don’t worry, if you want to really dig into the details, there are separate hardware guides included below where we weigh specs, controllers, graphics, games, prices and media features. 

If you just go by sales alone, Sony is in a pretty comfortable position. According to VGChartz, Sony has moved a whopping 63 million units – more than double Microsoft’s 30 million sales. 

A very large part of their sales success is the fact that Sony has put all of its effort behind building an extensive library of great exclusive games, not to mention the new slimline model as well as the PS4 Pro, an upgraded 4K machine. 

Oh, and it’s also the only console to feature a fully-fledged virtual reality headset, the PlayStation VR.    

Microsoft isn’t down for the count quite yet, though. Recently, it has made great strides to try and win back some of its market share from Sony, and it has been successful. Microsoft has been able to do this by releasing some great exclusive titles of its own, as well as launching the Xbox One S, a competitor to the PS4 Slim, and the Xbox One X – a 4K gaming console that absolutely blows the PS4 Pro out of the water in terms of sheer specs. 

The Xbox One S is an especially interesting product, however. Even though Sony played things pretty safe when it released the PS4 Slim (basically keeping the exact same specs and shrinking the form-factor), Microsoft threw in a bunch of exciting features, like 4K upscaling and an Ultra-HD Blu-ray drive. Microsoft then went even further when it released the Xbox One X – a 4K gaming machine that is more powerful than any other console ever released (even though its internal storage can fill up pretty quick). 

Microsoft is also potentially heralding the end of console generations altogether by initiating its Xbox Play Anywhere program, which allows players to buy a game on the Xbox Store on either PC or the Xbox One and play it on either platform, even allowing the syncing of save files. 

Even beyond PC/Xbox cross-play, Microsoft has also been very open with allowing cross-platform multiplayer with the flagship gaming being Minecraft, which will soon support cross-play with a number of other pieces of hardware. 

We’ve put together a short video to explain the major differences between the two consoles.

Xbox One vs PS4 hardware versions and design

  • The PS4 is available in two different versions, the PS4 Slim and the PS4 Pro. 
  • Meanwhile the Xbox One is available in just one, the Xbox One S, which will be joined by the Xbox One X later this year. 

Whereas previously there were just two pieces of hardware to choose between, there are now close to a half dozen, as Sony and Microsoft have updated and upgraded their console offerings over the past four years. 

The Xbox One platform has so far seen three hardware versions, the original Xbox One, the slim Xbox One S and the 4K-capable Xbox One X. 

The original Xbox One’s dimensions make it a menacing gaming beast that measures 13.5 in x 10.4 in x 3.2 inches, not including a hefty external power brick. It was packed to the brim with vents, a design decision to avoid another Red Ring of Death overheating scenario.

Meanwhile the Xbox One S is a much more diminutive machine. It’s smaller, measuring just 11.6 x 8.9 x 2.5 inches and doesn’t include an external power brick. It’s got the same vented design as its older brother, but is generally much sleeker in appearance.

The Xbox One X’s dimensions resemble its beefy specs, measuring at 11.81 in x 9.44 in x 2.36 inches, and weighs in at a hefty 8.4 pounds. Thankfully, much like the Xbox One S, the power supply is internal, so you don’t have to drag around a power brick whenever you have to move it. The design is a lot sleeker and smoother, with an attractive matte finish.

The Xbox One S is, for all intents and purposes, the default Xbox One these days, while the Xbox One X is Microsoft’s answer to the PS4 Pro.

The PS4, on the other hand, has seen three different hardware versions in total, of which two are currently on sale.

The original PS4 has a more distinctive angular shape with an overall stylish design. This half-matte half-gloss console measures a slimmer 10.8 in x 12 in x 2 inches at its widest regions.

This was replaced by a PS4 that was entirely matte, while retaining the same dimensions. 

In late 2016, Sony released a slim version of the PS4, which shrunk its dimensions down to 10.4 x 11.3 x 1.5 inches, which is smaller than the Xbox One S. 

In addition to the PS4 Slim, 2016 also saw the release of the PS4 Pro, which added 4K output to the PS4 ecosystem. A small amount of this 4K is achieved through running games natively at that resolution, while the majority is achieved through upscaling, which doesn’t look quite as good. 

As well as a boost in power, the PS4 Pro is also a bigger machine at 12.8 x 11.6 x 2.1 inches. 

  • Our guide to the PS4 Slim vs PS4 Pro outlines the differences between the consoles in more detail. 

Xbox One dimensions

Xbox One is a monster console with lots of vents, but at least it won’t overheat

All these different models of hardware makes drawing comparisons between the Xbox and Playstation ecosystems surprisingly difficult, especially when you start looking at graphical comparisons. 

However, from a physical perspective after launching with massive differences in size, the most recent versions are much more equal. If you’re more short on space, then the PS4 Slim has the slight edge, but it’s not night and day.

Xbox One vs PS4 connectivity

  • You can’t upgrade Xbox One’s internal hard drive, but you can on the PS4.
  • Both consoles support the use of external hard drives.
  • The Xbox One has more ports on its rear.

Depending on how your gaming setup is organised, the connectivity of your console could be one of the most important aspects for you.

Let’s look at the rear of the Xbox One S first. It’s got two HDMI ports, one for receiving an input from a cable or satellite box and one to output to your TV. In addition, it’s got two USB 3 ports, an IR out, an optical audio output, Ethernet port and, finally, a two-pronged power port. The Xbox One X has identical connectivity.

Between these ports, you should have everything you need, unless you’re interested in using a Kinect camera. The original Xbox One came with a dedicated port for the camera, which you’ll have to buy an adapter for if you want to use with your new console. 

The port situation is similar on the PS4 Pro, albeit slightly slimmed down. You’ll find a single HDMI port for outputting to a TV, a digital optical out, a single USB port, an Ethernet port and a power port. 

The PS4 Pro does, however, include a port for connecting the PS4’s camera. It’s not got quite the same functionality as the Xbox’s Kinect, but it’s nice to have the option. 

Meanwhile, the PS4 Slim is identical, minus the removal of the optical audio port. This won’t matter for many people, but if your audio system relies on the digital audio connector, then it could matter to you. 

In terms of internet connectivity, all three consoles support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and gigabit Ethernet. 

Both systems launched with 500GB hard drives and now have 1TB variants, but only PS4 allows user-replaceable internal drives. 

However, both support the use of external hard drives, meaning you can place your bulky game installations externally, if you don’t want to fill up your console’s internal hard drive – or if you just run out of space. 

PS4 vs Xbox One rear ports

PS4 vs Xbox One rear ports

PS4 and Xbox One are void of remarkable characteristics on the front. There’s a Blu-ray/DVD combo drive to the left (which can play Ultra HD Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X) and their respective, muted-color logos to the right. PS4 has a pair of USB ports tucked between its sandwich-like halves next to where the disc drive is located. 

  • Check out our guide to the best soundbars if you want to give your console’s audio a boost.


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Twenty Years after His Death, Carl Sagan Is Still Right

Twenty Years after His Death, Carl Sagan Is Still Right

Twenty years ago I called Carl Sagan to ask him why people believed crazy stuff.

Sagan—astronomer, creator of the “golden record” messages to any aliens who might find the Voyager space probes, creator and host of Cosmos, novelist, arguably one of the best-known scientists of the 20th century—would’ve been 83 years old today.

Me, I was a fact-checker on the science desk at Newsweek, which meant I mostly did reporting for other people’s stories. In mid-1996 the magazine spun up a cover on the paranormal, and I was on the team.

Sagan had written a book called The Demon-Haunted World, about science as a way of understanding the universe and freeing people from fears of the supernatural. And he had famously once said of the paranormal that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” So I blasted through Demon-Haunted World—and, nervous as any other Cosmos fan would’ve been, I called Sagan at Cornell.

I don’t remember if he was gracious or merely tolerant of my dopey questions. But I have the notes. “When UFOs became a popular subject and I was in early high school or something, it seemed to me great. We were just reaching out into space, and why not a much more advanced civilization reaching out to us?” Sagan said. “It seemed so heady and promising, such an interesting future. But as I learned a little bit more about the properly skeptical attitudes of science and how often we deceive ourselves, I began to look at this with much more skepticism.”

Eventually Sagan would come to think of UFOism as more of a religion than anything else. It was the Cold War, Sagan said, “and people were in their heart of hearts worried that the human species would not pull through. What more comforting belief that aliens would come down and intervene?”

But just because an idea is comforting doesn’t mean anyone should believe it. “Merely because on an issue of this importance we must demand very high standards of evidence, and the proffered evidence is fantastically thin,” Sagan said. “Why would we commit belief when the evidence is so meager?”

Commit belief. That struck me as profound then and it still does—the idea that belief is an action you have to commit, an action so powerful that it requires an infrastructure of truth before you turn the key.

The point, though—the big point—is that humans had the ability to do this. We could figure things out. Nothing was unknowable. “Who is in a position to set limits on what we will know? ‘Unknowable’ is a deep failure of the imagination,” he said. “‘Unknown?’ Who would doubt that there are an enormous number of things that are unknown?”

There was Sagan’s faith, I think, to the extent he had any. Much remains unknown; nothing stands unknowable.

Right now is a tough moment for science. Internal corrective measures—like the push for greater reproducibility and statistical power in fields from psychology to bioscience—have to expose weaknesses before they can rebuild strength. The underrepresentation of women and people of color in research diminishes outcomes and builds power dynamics that allow harassment and abuse. Externally, political nominees to science-heavy policymaking positions have no problem dismissing the scientific consensus that human beings are changing Earth’s climate. Otherwise sensible people refuse to vaccinate their children, exposing entire populations to the spectre of epidemic. Political interest groups use religious goals to influence policy decisions about everything from healthcare to bathroom signage.

“Science is an enterprise of human beings, so there are all sorts of jealousies and rivalries and unwillingness to admit mistakes,” Sagan said. “But the great advantage is that the culture of science is opposed to these frailties, and the collective enterprise of science undoes them. We give our highest rewards to those who disprove the contentions of our most revered figures.”

That means, he said, that science as a practice was worth defending. “We must convince the most dedicated skeptics, even if there are those who are craven before authority, secular or scientific,” Sagan said. “Even if there are those who believe in the absence of evidence.”

Sagan was no Vulcan; he didn’t hope to replace whatever demons he exorcised from the world with spreadsheets. “The other half of science is a well-honed sense of wonder, and that is uplifting and is spiritual,” he said. “But it can’t be that what feels good is what we should believe, because all sorts of deception lies down that road. It has to be what’s true is what we believe, and the only way humans have figured out to find out what’s true is science.”

I talked to Sagan one more time that year, when it seemed that scientists had found evidence of ancient life on Mars. He was, as you’d expect, skeptical “It’s important to be cautious, because we could be fooled,” he said. Four months later, in December of 1996, he died.

He’d been right to be cautious; the life-on-Mars thing turned out to be wrong.

These truths aren’t self-evident. That’s what makes them difficult. They can be hard to understand, or contravene intuition or closely-held, ancestral beliefs. But Sagan knew that didn’t make them less true, and it makes them even more important.


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Best 4K Monitors 2017: top Ultra-HD monitors and displays

Best 4K Monitors 2017: top Ultra-HD monitors and displays

4K or Ultra-HD was once the long sought-after pinnacle of computing, and now it’s an everyday staple for users. From operating systems and PC applications to games, everything is practically now designed for ultra high-definition resolution display, giving users a bigger, crisper work and gaming surface. And these 4K monitors are exactly what users need to provide them with a beautifully immersive experience.

With the new wave of affordable 4K monitors recently hitting the market, considerably cheaper than 4K TVs, they’re naturally all the rage right now. If you’re one of the many currently in the market for a 4K monitor to meet your PC gaming needs while still keeping within budget, we’re here to help  find the right one for you.

1. Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor P2715Q

The best 4K monitor for most users

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m² | Response time: 9ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Great bargain
Amazing color reproduction
Heavy panel

Dell’s P2715Q has often been name-dropped as one of the best 4K monitors in the market. With its sharpness, vivid colors, and ultra high resolution, it delivers excellent image quality for an affordable price no less. It also affords a range of features that rival its more expensive competitors. One such feature is its ergonomic stand for adjustable height and a screen you can pivot to your heart’s content. There’s also its 60Hz refresh rate as well as its gamut of ports. P2715Q is a strong contender for professionals and gamers alike.

2. LG UltraFine 4K Display

An excellent 4K upgrade for MacBook users

Screen size: 21.5-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 4,096 x 2,304 | Brightness: 500 cd/m2 | Response time: 12 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,200:1 | Color support: 16.7 million

Wide P3 color space
Designed for MacBooks

LG UltraFine 4K might feel like David in a sea of Goliaths. Yet this monitor still screams Apple when it comes to functionality. The setup process is incredibly easy there’s not even a power button—you just plug the power adapter and then connect to your MacBook with the a single USB-C cable, which is for power, data, and display. It’s not without limitations, namely the absence of a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, it’s configured P3 color space renders  a wider gamut of colors than other displays. Its small screen size coupled with Ultra-HD gives you extreme sharpness without sacrificing your deskspace.

3. Monoprice 27″ 4K UHD

One of the most affordable 4K monitors

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 5 ms | Contrast ratio: 10,000,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Affordable large panel
Great connectivity
Requires some color calibration

Monoprice isn’t the most revered on the market, the brand makes some of the most affordable panels in the market. Its Ultra Slim Aluminum monitor, for one, is praised for is sleek, ultra thin bezel design and ultra wide viewing angles at 178°. Though limited in features – there are no built-in speakers, for example – its IPS panel allows for super sharp image display, the FreeSync technology reduces screen tearing, and the brand’s Pixel Perfect Guarantee gives it a vibrant color performance. Additionally, it supports more connectivity than its better-known competitors with the two DisplayPorts and two HDMI ports.

4. Asus ROG PG27AQ

The ultimate 4K monitor for gaming

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Crisp image quality
Overzealous styling

Those looking for a 4K monitor with crisp image quality and G-Sync’s smoothing, anti-tearing technology will certainly benefit from the Asus ROG PG27AQ. That is, if you’re willing to spend $900. It does have more than enough makings of a gaming panel: Asus’ Flicker-Free technology, a five-way joystick for on-screen display settings, a button for its built-in GamePlus technology, an ergonomic (LED-lit) stand, and six display modes. Still, for that price, you’re certainly allowed to expect more bounce for your once including a higher refresh rate and access to more image quality adjustments.

5. Acer S277HK

Bezel-free beast for budget-minded gamers

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4ms | Contrast ratio: 100,000,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Bezel-free display
Beautiful IPS screen
Excellently priced to value
Non-adjustable stand

This 27-inch monitor might leave something to be desired, what with the absence of USB ports, non-adjustable height, lack of a wall mount, and rear port placement. Still, Acer’s S277HK gives you a whole lot of bang for your buck. It’s clean and sleek with a glossy white back panel and bezel-free display. It also packs a punch with a beautiful IPS screen, fast refresh rates, and extremely accurate colors. All of that and excellent speakers to boot for an amazingly reasonable cost; this is the 4K monitor for budget-minded gamers.

Read the full review: Acer S277HK

6. ViewSonic XG2700-4K

A true 4K gaming tool

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 5 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Accurate color performance
Quick response time
Amazing picture quality
Limited screen brightness

If you’re looking for a 4K monitor for gaming, ViewSonic’s XG2700-4K is the perfect fit. It is not without quirks: the screen brightness could be higher, the red on black trim is an acquired taste, and it has no built-in speakers. On the other hand, you get amazing picture quality, quick response time, accurate color performance, multiple ports, and a versatile stand for multiple viewing angle options. Its most notable feature is AMD FreeSync to prevent tearing and ensure that your games are running smoothly. Of course, the picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture modes are also helpful because who doesn’t multitask nowadays.

7. AOC U2879VF

The most affordable 4K monitor for gaming

Screen size: 28-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 1 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

4K gaming at 144fps
Fastest 1ms response time 
Narrow viewing angles

Though IPS monitors offer better viewing angles and color reproduction, a TN monitor is  better for competitive gaming with much faster response time, higher refresh rates, and affordability. This is how AOC’s U2879VF has a 1ms response time and a refresh rate of 144Hz all for a low, low price. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows however. If you can forgive the restricted viewing angles, the occasional flickering at 144Hz, the absence of a USB port, and the ho-hum color performance, this AMD FreeSync-enabled monitor is for you.

8. Acer Predator XB271HK

Smooth, zero-tearing gaming comes at a steep price

Screen size: 27-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 300 cd/m2 | Response time: 4 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Excellent color and grayscale performance 
Nvidia G-Sync integration
Underwhelming speakers
Only two video ports

If you can afford it, this tricked out 27-inch, bezel-free, IPS panel is the dreamboat of 4K gaming monitors. Excellent color and grayscale performance, an adjustable stand, and a 4ms response time are among its commendations. Best of all, it’s armed with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which means ultra HD image quality with zero tearing. This is smooth gaming at its best, and superb for Nvidia GTX 1080 users. We just wished the Predator XB271HK didn’t have underwhelming speakers and only two video ports.

9. LG 43UD79-B

A hefty display with even heftier features

Screen size: 42.51-inch | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 5 ms | Contrast ratio: 1,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Massive 42-inch panel
Multiple screen splitting options
Tough to fit on small desks
Very expensive

You’ll need a bigger desk with 43UD79-B’s hefty, 42-inch screen. Unfortunately this bigger than life screen might also be darker around the edges and a sluggish refresh rage. However, this 4K monitor’s other features will more than make up for its flaws. The screen split software, for one, allows for a range of screen configurations. This, coupled with its four HDMI inputs, a DisplayPort 1.2a port, and a USC-C port, will let you effortlessly run multiple devices at once. Along with its true IPS screen, color-rich display, and FreeSync compatibility, you might just be getting a bargain.

10. BenQ PD3200U

Great for graphics professionals

Screen size: 32-inches | Aspect ratio: 16:9 | Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 | Brightness: 350 cd/m2 | Response time: 4 ms | Contrast ratio: 20,000,000:1 | Color support: 1.07 billion

Extensive contrast range
Large screen size

Don’t let BenQ’s PD3200U’s 32-inch screen intimidate you. Although this might be the most expensive monitor here, it might just be the ticket if you’re looking for something very functional and you’ve got the dough to match. Due to its ultra-high resolution, the large screen size actually works to your advantage. It’s also fully adjustable so that you can swivel, tilt, and rotate the screen with very little effort. This one’s intended more for professionals with its CAD/CAM mode, 4ms response time, and KVM switch features. However, gamers will certainly appreciate its other features, if not its ho-hum, boxy design.

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

  • Looking for a more great gaming monitor? Check out our list for the best 


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Logitech Will Upgrade All Harmony Link Owners For Free

Logitech Will Upgrade All Harmony Link Owners For Free

When Logitech decided to intentionally brick its Harmony Link hub next March, it somehow didn’t anticipate the backlash, which spread from Reddit comment threads to major tech publications and beyond. Thursday, the company changed tack. The Harmony Link will still die next spring. But if you own one, no matter when you bought it, you’ll receive a free upgrade to the more recent—and decidedly better—Harmony Hub, no questions asked.

“I made a mistake. It was an honest mistake,” says Rory Dooley, head of Logitech Harmony. “Mea culpa. We’re going to do right by our customers, and do the right thing.”

Previously, Logitech had only offered the Home Hub upgrade to customers who had their Link still under warranty—a tough ask for a six-year-old product. Link owners who were out of warranty had to settle for a 35 percent discount on the $100 Home Hub. (Amazon already knocks off 11 percent, making the actual savings pretty meagre.) If you’re one of the 600 or so people who already took that offer, Logitech will now refund you.

The initial decision to pull the plug on Link—Logitech cited an expiring security certificate as the reason—set off a firestorm.

“It just feels vindictive,” says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and a consumer hardware rights advocate, of Logitech’s initial offer.

The rancor came in no small part because the move follows the steady erosion of the concept of ownership in tech. The Sony Dash became a fancy paperweight in July. Last spring, Nest kneecapped the $300 Revolv smart home hub two years after acquiring the company. In 2009, Amazon vanished purchased ebooks from Kindles. And on and on.

The free upgrade approach, which Logitech details in this blog post, goes at least some way toward keeping the Link off of that list. “The thought process was driven by the fact that we have something better, we’re making it better all the time, it supports home control, voice assistants, and it does all the things that Harmony Link already did,” says Dooley. “If we didn’t have anything to offer, then we would have done the work to keep the product working.”

As for why Logitech wouldn’t simply keep Link alive in the first place, Dooley notes not just the security certificate but the small install base—Home Hub has around 40 times as many users—and the work required to maintain it.

“In the context of managing everything we have to manage, to manage the whole product line, it was seen as a better use of resources to put them toward the future-facing products,” says Dooley.

Which again raises the question of who really owned that Link in the first place. “When I buy a house, I don’t expect that the seller of the house gets to randomly decide to shut the power off while I own it,“ says Charles Duan, director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge, a non-profit focused on open internet and IP property laws.

Still, offering a free replacement that serves the exact same purpose but adds features mitigates the impact. Dooley says the company will be “proactive” in reaching out to Link owners, and they they don’t even have to have registered the device to receive the trade-in. “If you send back in the Harmony Link, and say look I bought this at some point, we’ll replace it even if you haven’t connected it to our database,” Dooley says.

Logitech has also addressed a second-order outcry that arose when angry Link customers stormed the company’s forums, only to find that the company was censoring out the phrase “class action lawsuit.” Logitech says the automated removal was due to a list of blocked keywords—its Community Terms of Service doesn’t allow solicitation, including of the legal variety. As part of its apology tour, the company has unblocked “class action lawsuit,” and is reviewing the rest of its verboten forum words and phrases.

Even if Link owners aren’t mollified by Logitech’s make-good for some reason, they likely don’t have much legal recourse to the bricking of their device anyway. “They are allowed to do that, absent some sort of contractual agreement that they had in their Terms of Service,” says Duan.

It’s heartening, though, that vocal customers were actually able to effect change, hopefully in a way that reverberates well beyond Logitech. As for Home Hub owners, Dooley says they shouldn’t expect to go through the same rigamarole a few years from now.

“You’re always learning. The best way of learning is when you stumble, as we did here,” says Dooley. “Having an easy path for the customer that’s using a product and using a service is the right way of looking at this. We didn’t look at it that way, unfortunately. And we’ve learned from it.”


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Can 280 Characters Jump-Start Twitter’s Creativity? #maybe!

Can 280 Characters Jump-Start Twitter’s Creativity? #maybe!

Not since the advent of non-chronological timelines has a change to Twitter caused such distress. Back in September, Twitter announced that it would be increasing the number of characters people could tweet from 140 to 280. Reactions were … mixed. Some favored the ability to say more, but most just thought changing the well-worn tweet size, and the forced brevity it caused, ruined the very thing that made Twitter charming in the first place. It was fixing something that wasn’t broken. And now, this week, as the Grand Embiggenment has expanded outward from its initial beta users, more and more people have been celebrating—or rueing—their newfound #280characters status.

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Some took it as an opportunity to string together long lines of vowels and consonants, a form of screaming into the abyss now made louder and (slightly) more noticeable. Still others took the opportunity to remind Twitter that all anyone has ever wanted was the ablitiy to edit tweets. Others pointed out that additional characters would enable even longer tweets with which to harass people. In perhaps my favorite 280-character tweet so far, Isiah Whitlock Jr., the actor who played Clayton Davis on The Wire, used his extra letters to do justice to his character’s catch phrase:

Then, a few users—mostly Twitter power-users with verified accounts—started getting creative. And corny.

In a very self-aware bit of honesty, the official account of NBA referees went with:

(Here’s a well-reasoned, complete sentence: If we have any sort of repeat of Game 4 of last year’s NBA finals officiating I will be all-caps screaming at you like I’m Draymond Green.)

And, in a perfect piece of whimsy, the unofficial account of the Oxford comma waded into the fray.

So far, a lot of the most celebratory 280-character messages have come from #brands, either eager to show off their hipness, their newly-acquired status, or something else entirely. That’s mildly icky to think about, but it’s also a reminder: The reason companies even have Twitter accounts, and social media mavens entrusted with running them, is because early users’ creativity turned a ridiculous-seeming platform into an artform all its own. Figuring out how to be funny, or smart, or engaging in 140-characters or less became a talent all its own. Before it became, as designer Mike Monteiro put so elegantly in a recent essay on Medium, a “pretty hate machine,” Twitter was where people developed a whole new way to communicate. The 140 character limit was a big part of that. The service could add photo-sharing, GIFs, even threaded conversations, but the length was always the constant—and the thing that took the most mastery.

Now, it’s gone. Or leaving. Or whatever. It’s changing. Twitter always has been evolving, but this move feels like one that is letting go of the last vestiges of Original Twitter. Then again, when a service’s stewards are being called before Congress to answer for any part they might’ve played in altering the outcome of a US presidential election, maybe it’s past the point of singing “The Way We Were.” Besides, the platform has some other, more pressing issues that just might need those extra characters:

Whatever happens with the new Twitter, users are going to have to find new ways to be creative with it. Maybe really short fiction will take off. Or poetry. Or maybe people will still keep it simple and that extra space will just be an untapped resource. Or maybe the long, threaded screeds will just be even longer. (I didn’t say all of these options were good.) Once upon a time, Twitter constrained the internet into creativity; now it may be doing so again. It may turn out that the rewards are no longer worth the rewiring and the service loses its cool, if it hasn’t already. Or, more likely, users will find a new way to play; draft, adapt, retweet.


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iPhone X set to boost smartphone sales

iPhone X set to boost smartphone sales

 Smartphone sales are holding steady across the world and are set to continue their growth – with particularly good news for Apple.

According to research from TrendForce, the year-on-year increase in sales was 6% in the last quarter. The uptake is set to continue, said the research firm, predicting a boost in sales of 6.3% in the final quarter of the year.

Chinese brands did particularly well, posting a year-on-year increase of 20%. The top spots were held by Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, while fast-rising Xiaomi held the sixth-spot – TrendForce expects the Chinese vendor to grow by an impressive 10% in the next quarter.

iPhone X sales

When it comes to the top manufacturers’ performances, there’s a bit of a mixed bag. Next quarter, Samsung’s year-on-year results are set to fall thanks to competition from the just-released iPhone X. Samsung suffered some setbacks in the third quarter, particularly in China, but nevertheless it did manage to ship 75 million to 80 million units on average every quarter.

Apple sales were helped by the launch of the iPhone 8 and iPhone Plus. The delays to the launch of the iPhone X would have hindered Apple sales in the last quarter but the new smartphone should definitely provide a boost for sales in the final quarter. And it’s quite a boost, TrendForce estimates that the iPhone production volume for this fourth quarter will reach 81 million units with iPhone X accounting for 33% of that.

And those iPhone sales are going to keep the smartphone market buoyant. In terms of total global production, TrendForce estimates a growth of 10.5% from the third quarter’s total – all thanks to the iPhone.


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Harry Potter Wizards Unite

Harry Potter Wizards Unite

More than one year after the nostalgia-driven AR frenzy that was Pokemon Go, Niantic has announced it’s going to cast an incendio charm on the world with an AR Harry Potter game. 

Not too much is known about the game at the moment, but Niantic has confirmed that it’s working in partnership with Warner Bros Interactive and WB Games to bring the Harry Potter world to life. 

Understandably, there’s a lot of excitement around Wizards Unite. Like Ron at the Hogwarts feasts, we’re gorging ourselves on every bit of information we can get our hands on. To keep you abreast of the latest announcements, we’ve put together this article which will be updated with any breaking news.

We’ve also added our own wishes for what features will appear in the game because we couldn’t really help ourselves. Got some ideas of your own? Don’t hesitate to contact us on Twitter to tell us about them! 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A mobile AR Harry Potter game in the vein of Pokemon Go 
  • When can I play it? There’s no launch date just yet 
  • What can I play it on? It’s definitely a mobile game and likely to be Android and iOS compatible just like Pokemon Go 

What we know so far

Niantic is involved

In an announcement on its official site, Niantic Labs confirmed that it’s behind Wizards Unite. As a result, the game will make full use of Niantic’s AR platform which we’ve seen in action before in Pokemon Go and Ingress. 

Naturally, the game is likely to be heavily inspired by Niantic’s previous releases but in its announcement for the game, the developer promised that it would “pioneer all new technology and gameplay mechanics” too. 

It’ll be part of a bigger release pool from the newly established Portkey games

This isn’t, however, a solo project for Niantic. Warner Bros will also be involved and the company has announced that it’s creating an entirely new publishing label called Portkey Games which will also work on the game. 

Wizards Unite will be but one of many Harry Potter-related games Portkey Games will be releasing in the coming years. According to a blog post on Pottermore, there will be a collection of console and mobile games set in the wizarding world released and Wizards Unite will be the first of these. 

It’s not clear whether all of these games will be standalone titles or whether they’ll all come together to make some kind of mobile and console crossover ecosystem where players are able to live a wizarding life over multiple platforms and games 

There will be Ingress and Pokemon Go-inspired gameplay

Well, this is an obvious one since Niantic is involved, but like Pokemon Go this game will encourage you to explore the real world and uncover secrets through the camera of your phone. To keep track of where you are in the world there’s like to be location tracking and a similar map layout. 

Cast spells, battle creatures and discover artifacts

We’ve only had some basic hints about what will be possible in the game from Pottermore and Niantic and we don’t actually have any idea about how it’ll be implemented.

Both sides of the development team have, however, confirmed that the game will involve discovering and fighting magical creatures and meeting characters from the Harry Potter universe. We imagine these characters and creatures will be intractable in the similar manner to Pokemon in Pokemon Go. 

Players will also be able to be able to learn and cast spells, team up with others to take down powerful enemies, discover mysterious artifacts, and build up a wizarding career. 

So that’s what we know, and it seems likely that’s all we’re going to know until 2018 when Pottermore has promised that more information will be announced.

What we want to see

In light of this lack of information, we’ve naturally allowed our minds to wander. There’s a lot we want to see from Wizards Unite. It’s actually worth noting that a game was crowdfunded back in 2015 called Maguss that actually came fairly close to what we would have expected a Harry Potter AR game. As a result, a lot of what we want from Niantic’s venture is inspired by this.

Collect potion ingredients in the real world to make potions in the app

Wandering along woodland trails, around parks and near ponds would make for a great opportunity to collect potion ingredients. Whether you’d have to hold your phone up to see and pick them or you’d simply be able to tap them to collect via an on-screen map 

Pottermore-inspired quizzes 

Pokemon Go had the yellow, red and blue teams so it makes sense that Harry Potter AR would make use of the Hogwarts houses. There’s an opportunity for a Pottermore-style quiz here. Taking that one step further, this would be a great way to establish a players’ wand and Patronus form. 

It may actually be an interesting approach to allow players to link their Wizards Unite accounts to their Pottermore accounts. 

Use a phone like a wand

It’s a Wiimote-style accident waiting to happen but we’d love the option to wave our phones in certain patterns to cast spells. 

Purchasable external wand like the Pokemon Go Plus

Okay, this one is perhaps something of a stretch. But if we could have some kind of Bluetooth-connected wand that allowed us to duel with our friends and learn spells without having to have our phones in front of our faces and a battery-draining app open we’d be very happy indeed. We’re also willing to bet people would be much more prepared to carry a Harry Potter wand replica on their person than they would be to strap the Pokemon Go Plus to their wrist. 


We’re fully expecting a duel system to be involved in Wizards Unite. It’s a great way to get some competitive spirit into the game and dueling clubs would be a great way to emulate the gym system that’s currently in Pokemon Go. 

How exactly it would work we’re not entirely sure but it would make to create designated areas where players can meet locally and take part in duels where they’re able to use spells they’ve either learned through grinding or purchased through inevitable microtransactions. 

Hidden locations

One of the best things about the Harry Potter universe is that it’s embedded in our own and this is something that works incredibly well with AR technology. The ability to hold your phone up to see hidden entrances, or to transform completely ordinary locations into something more magical is an exciting prospect and it’d certainly encourage us to explore our local area. 


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The best Huawei Mate 9 deals in November 2017

The best Huawei Mate 9 deals in November 2017

If you’re in the market for a large screen phone right now, you’d really struggle to go wrong with the Huawei Mate 9. The Chinese manufacturer generally makes cheaper handsets and this was the best yet from the company on its release.

We particularly like the long battery life, top notch processing power and full metal body design that you get with the phablet. The price tag on the Mate 9 was a little higher than we expected at launch, but now it has dropped right down to make it a perfectly priced handset, especially considering what’s on offer here.

But it probably won’t be around for much longer. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is now here and we would expect that the Mate 9 will soon say its quiet goodbyes to the other phones on retailers’ shelves. It might mean that the Mate 9 price drops even further for a while though, so get in there before they all go.

You can use our price comparison chart below to find the best Mate 9 deal for you while they’re still present. And if you’re not happy with what you’re seeing, then take a look at all the phones you can buy right now on our best mobile phone deals page.

SIM free Huawei Mate 9 prices

Since its launch, the Huawei Mate 9 has dropped dramatically in price and you’ll find it for a lot less now than a lot of other phablets on the market. We find deals are just under £500 at the moment, but below you’ll find the best price today and quite often it’s a lot less money than that too. 

Be sure to take a look at our best SIM only deals that you can buy to pair with your new handset too.

Huawei Mate 9 review

One of the best phablets around

Screen size: 5.9-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Rear camera: 20MP + 12MP | Weight: 190g | OS: Android 7 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | External storage: microSD up to 256GB | Battery: 4000mAh

Incredible battery life
Powerful processor
Solid build quality
Emotion UI is strange

With a super sharp dual rear camera, a gorgeous metal body design and a huge 5.9-inch Full HD display we’d be surprised if you’re not happy with the Huawei Mate 9. It features Android 7 software and there’s a fingerprint scanner on the back for added security.

The Huawei Mate 9 doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking like some of the more expensive alternative phones available right now, but it’s a solid and dependable handset that will treat you well if you’re looking for a larger device.

Read TechRadar’s full Huawei Mate 9 review


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