Sunday, 29 March 2015

Bloodborne Guide



Bloodborne is a game that’s been almost impossible to ignore since it was first announced. Developed by the same team that brought us the brutally challenging Dark Souls series (preceded by Demon’s Souls), we were pretty much sold from the start on this hack-and-slash romp through a beautifully bleak gothic landscape.

However, Bloodborne is designed to be that little more welcoming to the not-so-hardcore crowd and while it’s certainly not going to be easy – you will still die an awful lot – there is more of an emphasis on enjoying the adventure, and not just surviving it. What exactly is that adventure about? Well, as with previous From Software titles, the developer isn’t giving too much away in terms of the storyline – that’s for you to unravel and figure out for yourself as you play through the campaign.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Barely anything has been compromised in Xenoblade Chronicles’ journey to handheld. Xenoblade Chronicles didn’t quite enjoy the enormous success many believed it deserved on Wii. Despite improving the RPG genre in numerous ways and offering arguably the finest role-playing adventure of its generation, lukewarm sales meant Monolith Soft’s gem instead had to settle for cult status. Nintendo is no doubt hopeful, then, that this 3DS port of the game will attract a new audience of gamers who missed it the first time around. Thankfully, they’ll get the full experience too.

Everything you need to know about Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain

We infiltrate Kojima Productions’ top-secret project and break down all the key details on the biggest Metal Gear Solid game yet


After months, nay years, of impatient waiting and reading way too much into everything Kojima has said and done in search of answers, we finally have what we wanted all along – a launch date for The Phantom Pain. Tuesday 1 September is the magical day that we’ll get to enjoy the beginning of the end for Big Boss, so book the week off now in preparation. Given that pretty much every other major game of the generation so far has suffered a delay of some kind, we really hope Kojima manages to buck that trend.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Remembering... Kempston Interface And Joysticks

kempston joystick

David Hayward get to grips with his Spectrum gaming this week

Gaming on the old rubber keyboard, 'dead flesh', 48K Spectrum was a part of our childhood and adolescence that we won't forget in a hurry. But often, the keyboard just wasn't up to the task of controlling the game the way we wanted it to.

Take Taito's Flying Shark, Operation Wolf and the hardware-destroying Daley Thompson's Decathlon, for example; these were games where the keyboard needed to take a back seat while the gamer got to grips with the latest joystick.

How YouTube is changing gaming forever

YouTube gaming

After all the fights over copyright infringement fell away, one of the greatest forces in gaming today emerged, and YouTube became dominated by gamers more popular than the biggest music acts. What does it mean for the future of gaming and how is the industry adapting?

Who’s more famous? PewDiePie or Cliff Bleszinski? Who is more likely to be recognised walking down the street by a group of 14-year olds, Stampy or Hideo Kojima? Only a couple of years ago such questions would have been completely ridiculous and even now they carry a faint aura of absurdity to them. The answer feels like it should obviously be the developer, but a shift has taken place in the way we consume our games and there’s a generation of players who know their gaming commentators better than the creators. YouTube is changing gaming forever.

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Amongst the spate of remasters, remakes and rehashes of the last few years, Homeworld is more worthwhile than others. While the worst examples have been cynical attempts to cash-in with a casual re-skin or improved texture pack, the best have added genuine value to the original proposition. Happily, the Homeworld Remastered Collection falls into the latter camp, with new franchise custodian, Gearbox Software, even taking the opportunity to make small adjustments to improve the underlying game based on wisdom drawn from careful retrospection and a vocal fan base.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

The difficult second album problem applies not only to music. In the realm of videogames, plenty of revered games and creators have been undermined by an inability to provide a sequel that is anywhere near the quality of the original. But from the challenging content to the arresting visuals, from the achingly cool music to the ferocious difficulty, everything that made Hotline Miami great is served up once again here.

Don’t think the similarities undermine the experience, though. A range of initially subtle changes to the formula eventually reveal themselves as impactful and welcome alterations and additions. Most immediate is the greater diversity. Where the first game saw you ransack a number of buildings that featured uniformly similar shades of pink floors,whitewalls and brown doors, here you’re quickly moved between interior and exterior locations, gang hideouts and film sets, forests and night clubs. It’s a glorious diversification of a focused visual style and one that elegantly destroys the naysayers claiming ‘pixel art’ has killed itself through cliché and saturation.

What you need to know about the new MacBook

new MacBook


You might have missed it at a recent Apple keynote where much of the limelight was on (once again) the Apple Watch and such other announcements as HBO NOW, but the Cupertino firm also showed off a refresh of its venerable notebook range that is well worth a second look. A thinner, lighter and all-new MacBook was given an airing, along with such features as a revamped design, revised keyboard and introduction of a USB-C port.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Lollipop-Powered PCs

Android 5.0.2 on PC

Android 5.0.2 live image for your PC?

I was reading the other day about a project that's currently receiving a fair amount of press on Sourceforge.

The AndEX Android x86 Lollipop live CD image is an .iso that enables the user to experience the newer Android OS on their PC as either a fully installed operating system or as a live system that's booted from a CD or a USB device.

There are already a few projects that allow Android to run on a PC, but most of them fall rather short of the mark when it comes to performance, practicality or anything even remotely resembling usability. This new project, from developer Arne Exton, promises to be the most stable and usable Android on a PC yet.

System Mechanic 14.5

System Mechanic 14.5

Kevin Pocock greets an old pal, still fighting the good fight

Anyone who's worked with a variety of Windows versions will likely have come to know of tweaks and tips to keep their systems in fine condition for longer. For those with less drive to get into the nuts and bolts of their OS, for the last 16 or so years lolo's answer to lifting this particular burden (and doing more besides) has been System Mechanic.

Savage Lands

Savage Lands

It's all about survival of the fittest or at least the one wielding the iron club

The recent success of a number of games whereby the character is left in an open world to fend for themselves has quite an effect on the gaming community. The likes of Rust, DayZ, H1Z1 and so on are games that place the player in a first person environment and see just how they last in such a world. It's an interesting concept and one we quite like.

Savage Lands, from developer DigitalDNA Games, is one of the newer entries into the survival fantasy world. You, as the main character have found yourself marooned on the shores of a strange land, where there is a menagerie of beasts and a collection of Harryhausen-esque animated skeletons.

Western Digital My Cloud EX2100

Western Digital My Cloud EX2100

Mark looks at Western Digital new Expert Series NAS box and likes what he sees

No longer wholly satisfied with just making NAS-optimised hard drives, Western Digital has also been developing its own NAS boxes. Last year it produced a range of eguipment that included the single sealed unit devices like the My Cloud Personal Cloud Storage, and the more flexible EX2 and EX4 multi-drive boxes. Now it's come back to expand the 'Expert Series' range further with four new boxes, covering home and small business users who want a fire-and-forget small server technology.

Brother MFC1910W

Brother MFC1910W

Michael Fereday foregoes colour to check out a mono laser device

The MFC1910W is a multifunction mono laser product from Brother, bringing together print, scan, copy and fax functionality with a built-in ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) module. The "W" part of the product's model number gives the clue that this device possesses wi-fi capabilities as well as USB connectivity.

The base contains monochrome laser printer, while an A4 flatbed scanner - with built-in ADF module - sits on the top of this device. Positioned between these two elements is a control panel arranged along a protruding lip.

MSI Adora20 AIO PC

MSI Adora20 AIO PC

Light and stylish, that's how we like our all-in-one PCs

Most all-in-one PCs tend to be high priced, over large and unwieldy setups. Yes, they perform reasonably well, and they do offer the appeal of taking up less overall space than a traditional desktop PC and monitor, but they often sacrifice that appeal in favour of looks or functionality. However, towards the end of last year MSI released the Adora20, which lays the foundations for its newer generation of stylish, functional and lightweight all-in-one PCs.

Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin

Dark Souls II: Scholar Of The First Sin

Or: re-learning to sin when you’re winning

It was about an hour in, once we reached Heide’s Tower of Flame, when we realised that Scholar Of The First Sin is exactly what we wanted it to be. Essentially a rejig of the GM Game Of The Year 2014 winner we know and love, this current-gen re-release does much more than simply serve up the PC version’s visuals with the stellar DLC collection.

Alongside such admirable feats, Scholar also manages to force those who have passed through the corridors, caves and climes of Drangleic hundreds of times to rethink their approaches. It forces us, basically, to sheath our cocksure trail blazing and raise our shields in sweet trepidation once more.

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Resident Evil Revelations 2

Episodic series proves itself to be infectiously good viewing

Too many zombies. It’s a finger you could poke into the decomposing ribs of games in general – do wash your hands after – but a specific problem for recent Resident Evils. It’s hard to be frightened of the familiar, but ten years of upping the action ante means putting so many undead on the screen that they each become about as terrifying as a mouldy teapot. Sure, you don’t want one to touch you, but nor would you hide behind the sofa every time you clapped eyes on the thing. That fear factor has completely worn away due to their sheer volume.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Powerful and intuitive

PhotoDirector 6 Ultra has all the advanced tools you need to edit your shots to perfection. Matty Graham takes a closer look at CyberLink’s latest software...

Cyberlink’s PhotoDirector 6 Ultra is a powerful post-processing and photo management software package, designed to rival better-known packages such as Lightroom and DxO OpticsPro. The software costs £116, which is roughly the same price as Lightroom at £110. The two are very similar in terms of interface, features and handling, so if you’ve used Lightroom in the past, you can expect a very shallow learning curve when you get started editing your shots.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Let's Playing Together

let's play

There is decent money to be made on YouTube these days, but the Let’s Play phenomenon had to start somewhere. HEIDI KEMPS investigates the birth of an Internet sensation.

Moreso than almost any other technological advancement, the internet has dramatically transformed the way we interface with games. Some of these ways are obvious: we now have easily available, speedy online play and the ability to download full games to our systems with a few button strokes. But the internet has also granted us a worldwide platform to showcase ourselves interacting with games. No longer are play sessions solo, fleeting experiences: in the case of the newer consoles, sharing our game time is a part of the system’s functionality. And part of what has defined this paradigm shift that’s turned watching people play games into its own form of amusement is the video phenomenon known as Let’s Play.



The gods should learn to leave it in their pants

In the before time, the long, long ago, Jordan Mechner created a game that formed the template for side scrolling platformers. Prince of Persia was a landmark game, featuring clever level design, hard melee combat and beautiful animation thanks to Mechner using his brother for rotoscoping. Apotheon takes a very different visual approach to the original Prince of Persia, but the legacy of the legendary platformer is still evident in the way it plays and feels. This is definitely a good thing.

Minitar Wireless AC Repeater

Minitar Wireless AC Repeater

Stretching your WiFi network to the limit

As somebody who has just moved into a house that doesn’t have Gigabit Ethernet conveniently piped through the wall cavities, I’ve had to endure the delights of trying to establish a Wi-Fi network over three floors. With my main router on the middle floor, I’ve been dealing with a signal strength of about 60% up on the top floor, where my HTPC and office PC are located, and frequent drop outs have become part of my daily routine. Enter this Wi-Fi repeater, which aims to boost the existing Wi-Fi signal, allowing the wireless network to reach further, faster.

Philips BDM3470UP Display

Philips BDM3470UP Display

As wide as it gets

Over the last year I’ve started to see more Ultra-Wide displays making their way into stores, and the latest of these boundary-benders is this behemoth from Philips. Measuring 34 inches across, it’s a desk-spanning beast that should offer gamers an immersive retina-filling experience. Let’s take a look to see if this display can overcome some of the limitations I found with earlier Ultra-Wide displays.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Are Multiple Cores Better Than One?

Multiple Cores CPU

Aaron Birch examines whether multiple slower cores are faster than a single speedy one

Advancement and innovation is one of the best things about PC technology and it's one of the reasons so many people choose the PC as their platform of choice, be they workers, social butterflies or gamers. The simple fact that the PC you buy today probably won't be the same as the one you run tomorrow makes the whole thing far more attractive. Unlike many other devices, you're not stuck with the exact same thing you buy months or even years down the line. You can upgrade them, refitting parts and boosting your PC's power and capabilities. Better graphics, more memory, a more capable audio card - it's all possible, with even the CPU, the brain of the computer, being upgradeable.

Cutting Edge: Web Browsers


Where can you get the latest web browsers with bleeding-edge features? Roland Waddilove shows how to get them and what to expect

Web browsers are one of the most frequently updated applications, with new versions released every couple of months. Minor updates are even more frequent, with updates often silently installed in the background. This means that browsers slowly evolve over time through the many updates they receive.

In addition to the stable release software that is pushed out to the public, there are beta versions of all the web browsers. These contain new features that are currently being tested before they're made available to everyone. Beta software is under development and a work in progress, so it might not be as stable the finished product, although web browsers are more stable than you might think. It's not as if they crash constantly, and a beta can be reliable enough for everyday use.

Mobile Operating Systems

Mobile Operating Systems

Ian McGurren passes a judging eye over the mobile world's current operating systems

Yes, another year, another roundup of the latest iterations of the biggest mobile operating systems. We've given them a few months to bed in, release the odd point update and even for their desktop counterparts to catch up (hello, iOS), so have any of them made substantial gains or stupid mistakes, and is there a new best-in-show? Let's take a look at what they all have to offer, as well as considering what features they might be missing that we'd like to see.

Sunday, 22 March 2015



Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta… spend hours building it

Screamride is like Drayton Manor, Gulliver’s Kingdom, or any of those lesser theme parks. It looks like it should be fun – there are lively colours and sounds, and lots of different things to try – but ultimately, it’s not quite there. This is a well-intentioned game, and you certainly can’t criticise it for lack of effort, but, well, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it’s because Screamride seems so desperate to entertain you that it ends up falling flat. The creationmechanics are a good example of that. Screamride has a campaign, whichwe’ll get to later, but its biggest draw is the Roller coaster Tycoon-esque sandbox mode, which lets you create and customise an amusement park to your heart’s content. There are hundreds of different toys to play with, ranging from loop-the-loops to turbo chargers, and you can even design the colour and shape of your park’s surroundings, tweaking everything from the pavements to the foliage.

Mortal Kombat: Get Over Here!

Mortal Kombat X

We’re playing as Raiden, and we’ve just grabbed a man by the crotch and electrocuted him. But that’s not enough – this is Mortal Kombat – sowe broke his jaw by swinging our heel into it. The X-Ray cam zoomed upon this, too, andwe sawasingle tooth fly out of his mouth. Still not content, Raiden dug his hand into the man’s back flesh, grabbed his spine and electrocuted the doomed kombatant through and through. Oh, and just before we pulled off the fatality, we punch his liver to death, too. Raiden’s back, ladies and gentlemen, and he is pulling no punches.

Raiden’s been with Mortal Kombat since the beginning, a crazy 22 years ago. But the Guardian of Earth realm has seen perhaps the biggest change now – in the game’s tenth release, instead of just wailing on your opponents with that crazy across-the-screen lightning dash, or a grapple that electrocutes their brains, Raiden has been given three ‘Variations’ – King Of Storms, Displacer and Thunder God.

The Indie Revolution

xbox one indie

How indies and the ID@Xbox program are changing the games industry for the better.

Revolution is in the air. After a shoddy showing from last year’s triple-A titles, the indies are fighting back. We’ve had enough of crappy, bug-filled games, of brown backgrounds and endless shooters. We want something new. Something fresh. And thanks to Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program, we’re getting it. However you look at it, independent developers are a huge part of Microsoft’s plan for the Xbox One. After ID@Xbox took a front seat at last year’s E3 conference, games have been making their way to the system in a steady stream, with plenty more already planned for release in the next 12 months.

Hololens: The Future of Gaming?

Hololens Gaming

Can Microsoft’s holographic system really be the next step for immersive videogames?

Holographic technology is here at last, and it’s going to bring games out of the TV screen and into your actual real-life living room. Yep, you read that right – Microsoft recently demoed its vision of next-generation computing, and it all revolves around holograms. HoloLens is the name given to the headset, which projects 3D images onto the world around you, and lets you interact with them with simple gestures and voice commands.

If this sounds like something out of science fiction, you’d be right. Similar ideas have been portrayed in Star Trek, Star Wars, and more recently in the 2013 film Her. In that movie, a projector created a 3D world in the player’s apartment and let them walk with an avatar through a rich game world that came alive around them. But this is much more real than a film. And if Microsoft manages to pull holographic computing off successfully, it could be a huge leap forward for gaming.

Back to basics

Leica M-A (Type 127)

Capturing the spirit of 1954, Leica’s M-A (Type 127) film rangefinder is fully mechanical and doesn’t even have a lightmeter. Damien Demolder goes back in time

I suspect that in the head office of every camera company there is a department dedicated to finding out what the competition is about to do. There will be charts of previous performance, patterns established to forecast next moves and a team of thinkers working on spoilers, outmanoeuvring and staying ahead of the game.

Leica, it seems, moved everyone in that department to other duties when it ran out of competitors – probably when Contax stopped making manual-focus rangefinders in 1962. In the main, Leica takes great pleasure in ignoring what the rest of the camera industry is doing, although the Leica M (Type 240) and the T (Type 701) are indicators that this is all beginning to change. The ‘Do the Opposite’ department is, however, alive and well.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Big Virus Guide

Virus Guide

Knowing your enemy is half of the fight

As the internet changes, both in terms of the technology that underpins it and the way in which we use it, so too does the type of viral threat we can expect to encounter. The 'mischief' viruses of the past gave way to commercially motivated adware and spyware, and so too have these been succeeded by ransomware and scareware - programs that rely on social engineering to survive instead of semi-legitimate business.

The sheer number of threats out there means that making sense of them all can be confusing. What's the difference between a virus and worm? What does adware do that scareware doesn't? And how do you even end up infected with these different types of malware?

Friday, 20 March 2015

What is the Dark Web?

dark web

It isn't all just about illegal activity, but is it for you?

Last September a joint operation between 16 European countries and the US shut down an estimated 400 domains on the 'dark web'. These sites were primarily involved in selling drugs and weapons, and the list of targets included the latest incarnation of the notorious contraband sales website Silk Road. It was described as a major blow to the dark web and online crime in general.

But what is the dark web? And what does it contain? Is it just a tool for crime, or is there anything else on it?

How to get paid more

web career

Cole Henley looks at what we can do to turn our passion for the web into a sustainable, profitable career

Many of us get into the business of making websites through a hobby or personal interest. Lots of us love what we do and are in the rare situation of being able to make a living doing something we enjoy. Which makes it all the more harder to be objective about making money.

We often find it hard to talk about the financial side of our work. That is why I started the Freelance Rates survey in 2011 ( When I started working freelance I had no idea what was an acceptable rate to charge. I knew what I used to earn as an employee and how much I needed to survive, but not what I wanted – or even could – charge. It is a conversation few of us are happy to have in public, but one that is absolutely essential to our success in, and our enjoyment of, what we do.

The reality behind magic design

magic design

With computers, anything is possible – right? Wrong. If you’re not considering practical constraints and creating technical prototypes, you’re living in a fantasy land, says Vasilis van Gemert

A while ago I spoke to a designer who used to design television sets for Philips in the 1980s. He and his team would decide what new televisions would look like. In turn, I told him about how we would work together at the design agency I used to work for. I told him about the waterfall process, where an interaction designer would first create a fully functional wireframe. After the client had signed it off, a visual designer would add colour (and rounded corners) in a photo editing program. And when those pictures were signed off, a developer would turn them into something that worked in a browser.

My stories amazed him. To him, this sounded like the assembly line in a factory, where the different parts are turned into working televisions – after all the designing had been done. Waterfall, he explained, is not meant to be a design process. It’s how production works.

10 Security Tips For Everyday Computing

Security Tips

Simple steps for safer surfing

Maintaining security while you're using your computer isn't a full time job, but it does require full-time vigilance. If you're acting in a way that isn't secure, changing that behaviour can be difficult - especially if you're not aware of it in the first place! To help you improve your computer security, we've compiled this list of things - some you might be aware of, some of which you probably won't be - to help keep your time on the PC and internet as secure as possible.

Understanding Online Security

Online Security

How are you protected when you're on the web?

Although security is an issue many of us are very concerned about, there are a lot of ways you can make your online life more secure that you may not be aware of. From device-secured password authentication to always-encrypted traffic to file integrity verification, the protocols and software exist to help make everything you do that much less vulnerable to interception and attack. If you're not using at least some of these, then you should be!

Attacks & Vulnerabilities: Understanding Computer Security


James Hunt imparts some essential information about malware

There are many ways that your computer can be attacked, and part of stopping yourself from becoming a victim of malicious or fraudulent activity is knowing how your computer might be targeted, what might be targeting you and why they might be doing it. Although it's common to hear terms like malware, spoofing, phishing and more, it's not always clear what they mean or why they're a problem. Hopefully with this article we can change that for you.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Money, Money, Money

start something new

Craig Grannell on why it's great to see Apple championing apps that cost a pretty penny

Apple recently ran a campaign on the Mac App Store that caught my attention: "Start something new." The premise was that whatever you can imagine, you can bring to life using Macs, primarily through the many third-party apps you can run on them. (After all, I'm pretty sure even the most innovative of creators isn't going to be fashioning the next Hollywood masterpiece in TextEdit or Mail.)

Remembering... AGP

Radeon HD3850 AGP

To think we used have make do with graphics cards that had mere kilobytes of memory on board and fitted into a spare ISA or the-then more advanced PCI slot on a motherboard.

They were, of course, the bees knees back then, and for the sake of running something like Commander Keen, they did the job well enough. However, as always in this field of interest, time marches ever onward and as the games, imaging and even running the operating system became more resource hungry, the performance and power required from the graphics card grew exponentially.

Vodafone Smart Tab 4G

Vodafone Smart Tab 4G

Vodafone banishes tethering for low-cost Android tablet fans

Occasionally, I travel down to London by train, and often I take my Nexus 10 tablet with me. Using it involves tethering it to my phone, reducing dramatically the battery life of that device.

The solution, as well presented by the Vodafone Smart Tab 4G, is to have a tablet with its own mobile communications and by definition its own mobile SIM.

But before we go there, I was curious to see what sort of tablet Vodafone would sell you for £125 and how it might compare with devices at a similar price.

Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition

Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! Edition

Zotac pimps Nvidia's latest GPU for some AMP-level performance

Like Microsoft has with Windows 10, Nvidia decided to leapfrog a series number and jump from the Kepler-based 700 cards to the new Maxwell powered 900 series.

At this time, they don't include any low-end cards, so the minimum specification ones are the GTX 960 cards that start at about £165, rising to more than £200.

The Zotac GeForce GTX 960 AMP! is a pre-tweaked design that costs only marginally more than a stock item, but comes with some highly desirable enhancements.

Phillips 274E5 Monitor

Phillips 274E5

The first two characters of the Philips 274E5's model number give the clue that this is a 27“ monitor. With a thin black bezel, the LCD monitor offers an effective viewing area of 597.89 by 336.31mm with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and an optimum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at 60Hz.

The monitor panel needs to be mounted on the supplied black stand using a screw located as part of the oval base, and this monitor doesn't possess swivel or height adjustment features, so you're limited to landscape orientation with the screen's height fixed at 10cm above the workspace. The only adjustment you can make to positioning is the ability to tilt the screen between -5 and 20 degrees. This isn't a deal-breaker, though, especially for a monitor of this price.

Make Your Old Phone As Good As New

Old Phone

Insufficient memory, long charging times, and stubborn apps - older smartphones can be quite problematic. This is how you can make your mobile phone faster and more stable. By Frederik Niemeyer

Mobile phones age quite quickly. A freshly-installed system will run as smooth as silk. Animations executes elegantly, the charging times are short, applications are stable, the battery service life is in order and storage space is available in spades. However, after several apps have been installed and uninstalled, firmware updates have been run and the device has been subjected to sustained use on a daily basis, your pride and joy will start to stutter. It complains about insufficient storage space, hangs in the middle of operations and ceases to be an enjoyable device. The change from a high-end accessory into an outdated gadget is as steep as it is relentless.

Hidden Windows 10 Hacks

Hidden Windows 10 Hacks

Use Cortana now

If you install the Technical Preview, you’ll probably find that Cortana (Microsoft’s voice-control tool) is not enabled by default. That’s because it still needs to be localised and is only currently available for those using US English as their default language. But if you’re eager to try Cortana now, you can do so by altering Windows 10’s regional settings so it thinks you’re a US user.

Click Start, Settings, ‘Time & Language’, then ‘Region & Language’. Select United States from the ‘Country or region’ dropdown menu. If ‘English (United States)’ isn’t listed under Languages, click ‘Add a language’ to install it. Then click it in the list, click Options and download the language pack. Go back to the previous screen, click ‘English (United States)’ then ‘Set as primary’.

Never run out of printer ink

printer ink

You're paying over the odds for printer ink - but you can beat the system. Jane Hoskyn reveals secret tricks and tools for making your ink go much further

In 2003, printer ink was more expensive per millilitre than fine champagne ( By the end of 2014, you could buy a computer for £30 and 64GB for a tenner, but printer ink was still more expensive per millilitre than fine champagne ( Or, if you believe Twitter, per millimetre (

Stuart Andrews spoke for many when he described feeling “held to ransom” by printer manufacturers. Stuart tried saving money by switching to unbranded ‘compatible’ cartridges, and his printer promptly refused to work.

Printer makers, you see, haven’t quite ignored technological advances. They’ve just hand-picked the advances that suit them and not us, such as encrypted printer chips that detect and block compatible cartridges and refilling. So it’s become harder to cheat the pricey printing system - but, as we discovered, it’s not impossible.



The internet is about to get faster and safer thanks to the number '2', though there's a bit more to it than that

What is it?

An update to the HTTP web protocol, the first since 1999, when HTTP1.1 was introduced. The technical details behind the new protocol are rather complicated, and there are a lot of acronyms involved, but its benefit is easy to understand: it will speed up the internet by making web pages load faster. It is based on Google’s protocol SPDY (pronounced “speedy”) which has been working in the background since 2009 to make the internet faster.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Eizo Foris FS2434

Eizo Foris FS2434

A top-notch 1080p monitor with lots of extras

Eizo is best known for making monitors aimed at graphic designers, publishers and other professional users. The Foris FS2434 monitor is therefore a surprise because it’s aimed squarely at everyday users. It’s more expensive than other 24in 1080p monitors, but it more than justifies this relatively high price.

The base rests on a rotating turntable, letting you easily swivel the screen to the desired angle, while the stand can be adjusted by anything up to 60mm. There’s even a built-in carry handle at the rear, which will come in handy should you ever need to relocate it. The incredibly narrow (6mm) borders edging the screen are ideal for a multiple-monitor setup. Put two or three of these monitors side-by-side and you’ll barely notice where one starts and another finishes.

LG Music Flow H3

LG Music Flow H3

A wireless speaker with minimalist looks and multi-room features

LG, best known for its range of TVs, is now branching out into speakers. The company’s Music Flow H3 is the kind of compact wireless speaker you can tuck neatly out of the way in cluttered or cramped spaces, such as your kitchen or a small bedroom.

It might be small, but the H3’s has an attractive, minimalist appearance that oozes class. Its controls are handily positioned on top and comprise a volume dial and a power button. The speaker’s cabinet has a metallic look, but is in fact plastic, it nonetheless feels tough and well made.

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA

Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA

An inexpensive lightweight laptop with Intel's newest processor

Broadwell is the code name for Intel’s new fifth-generation Core processors. There are several versions from the energy-efficient (but comparatively slow) Core M range to the more powerful (and power-hungry) Core i7 models. The Transformer Book Flip is the first laptop we’ve tested that has a Broadwell Core 15, the 2.2GHz 5200U, which lies somewhere between these two extremes and should provide the perfect balance of battery life and performance.

Brother DCP-1610W

Brother DCP-1610W

A cheap, compact mono laser MFP

Brother’s DCP-1610W is a surprisingly small laser MFP capable of prints, scans and photocopies. It can only print and make copies in monochrome, although scans are, of course, in full colour. While it lacks a fax modem and an SD card slot - so you can’t print directly from a storage card - several people can connect to it over Wi-Fi.

Alienware Alpha

Alienware Alpha

Alienware is Dell’s brand name for gaming PCs and the Alpha is the latest model in the range. It has plenty to recommend it, even if you have no interest in gaming. For starters, it’s approximately the size of two paperback books.

Many gaming PCs go for an ostentatious look, but not the Alpha. The only frills on its plain black plastic casing are a lit-up Alienware logo (which doubles as the power button) and a small triangular LED on one corner (see image). You can change the colour of these lights, or turn them off, using a pre-installed program. It’s sold without a keyboard, mouse and monitor so you’ll have to supply your own.