Having already placed Australian ISPs on notice back in July, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will officially begin monitoring Aussie broadband speeds from the beginning of next year.
The consumer watchdog has appointed SamKnows to the task, having already used the broadband metrics company in a two-month trial back in 2015. The contract is said to be worth $6.5 million, according to ARN.
Starting in January 2018, The ACCC and SamKnows will be monitoring 4,000 Australian homes over the course of four years. The first year will see 2,000 households take part in the program with the use of test devices to record their broadband speeds.
Expect better information
“Our Measuring Broadband Australia program is going to be a real game changer for internet users and for the broadband market, especially as consumers shop around for NBN services,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.
The ACCC also took the opportunity to reveal the findings of its review on NBN advertising and whether it has improved since August 2017. “We are pleased to report that Telstra and Optus have recently changed their marketing information to provide their customers with comparable information about the typical busy period broadband speeds that they can expect on various plans,” said Mr Sims.
The chairman went on to state that “the remainder of the industry continues to advertise internet plans using unhelpful speed ranges, referencing off-peak speeds or failing to provide consumers with any information about the speed of their services during busy hours.”
It's December, which means CES 2018 is just over a month away. Yes, we first need to get through Christmas and New Year's Day, but after that, we turn our attention to host city Las Vegas and CES, otherwise known as the biggest tech show on Earth.
CES 2018 registration remains open for those who want to try for a last-minute pass to the conference. The countdown is on, however, so if you have an industry or media affiliation and wish to attend, we suggest you sign up to register now.
[Update: Will we see the LG G7 at CES 2018, too? A report out of Korea that's light on details says LG could have aims to launch the successor to the LG G6 earlier than usual in order to stay ahead of, or at least up to speed with, rival Samsung and the Galaxy S9. Both phones could make some kind of appearance at CES in January.]
If you do attend or are simply keeping tabs from the quiet of home, one of the first press conferences to look forward to is the one hosted by LG. The venerable gadget maker will offer a sneak peek at innovations across its product lines during the press conference, taking place at 8am PT on Monday, January 8.
After that, it's all about what every other company attending CES has to offer. Companies from around the world, large and small, will descend upon the giant halls of the CES 2018 venue of the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as other locations on the Strip to show off their wares and innovations.
CES, which stands for the Consumer Electronics Show, has lost a bit of its luster in recent years as hardware manufacturers have opted to hold individual press events scattered throughout the year to unveil their new products. This is in contrast to the trade-show atmosphere, where companies elbow for exposure in a setting that's bursting with booths, demos and press conferences. Not to mention over 180,000 people.
But that's part of the excitement, and CES 2018 won't be without must-see gadgets, futuristic cars and sneak peeks at innovations that could change the tech world as we know it.
The official CES 2018 dates are January 9 through January 12, though, as was the case last year, two days of media-only news conferences take place on January 7 and January 8. TechRadar will be at CES from beginning to end, delivering must-see news and hands-on reviews direct from the show floor.
Read on for the latest news and rumors surrounding CES 2018, as well as our predictions for what some of the top manufacturers will bring to Las Vegas early in the New Year.
Cut to the chase
What is it? The biggest consumer technology show on the planet
When is it? CES 2018 dates are January 9 through January 12, but there are media-only press conferences taking place on January 7 and January 8
What's on show? Everything from ultra high-res televisions to connected fridges to laptops to electric cars
Google at CES 2018
Yes, dear reader, you read that correctly. Google is apparently planning quite the presence at CES 2018 with a large booth and eight hospitality suites to showcase … well, that's the question, isn't it?
As spotted by Chrome Unboxed, Google Inc. will have a big, standalone booth prominently positioned in the outdoor Central Plaza of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This is in addition to the eight suites Google Hardware has reserved at the Aria hotel.
While Google is typically present at CES via third-party hardware partners that house its various operating systems and the Google Assistant in their goods, Google is coming out from behind the curtain during next year's show, and it's doing so in a big way.
This could mean a couple of things. One, it seems highly likely that Google wants to give conference-goers an up-close look at its newest products, including the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL phones, Google Home Mini smart speaker and the new Daydream View VR headset. The whole Made by Google product family is poised to take a Vegas vacay, if you ask us.
But what's also possible is that Google will showoff something new considering it's going all out when it comes to exhibiting. As Chrome Unboxed speculates, we could be in for new Chromebooks to follow up the widely well-received Google PixelBook. We could even see Chromebooks that take on a whole new form factor, such as ones that transform into tablets with detachable screens.
Whatever Google has planned, this is an exciting addition to the CES 2018 lineup. When the major players come to Las Vegas, there's usually good reason to pay attention.
Samsung at CES 2018
Samsung is always a big focus at CES, generally with good reason. The tech giant typically unveils a number of devices (not counting its updated line of smart washing machines and dishwashers), and sometimes shows off hardware that's a little bit out there.
Two years ago, it was a bendable TV. Next year, it could be a bendable phone.
Some whispers are circulating that the Galaxy X, Samsung's rumored foldable smartphone, could debut at CES 2018.
As Forbes notes, the timing would be a bit odd since, unlike MWC, CES isn't a major phone show. However, it would also be a prime opportunity to show off a completely new device to an international audience. Samsung did unveil the Galaxy A3 at CES 2017, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to go for a repeat.
What's more, Samsung originally debuted its bendable display tech at CES 2013, so it'd be fitting to unveil the culmination of five years' of development in a consumer-ready phone at this coming CES.
Samsung's mobile boss has said the company is targeting a bendable phone launch in 2018. Unveiling the Galaxy X in early January could be the first step towards a full-blown release later in the year.
Samsung's potential CES mobile plans don't end there. We could also be in for an early look at the Samsung Galaxy S9 during the show. Notable leaker Evan Blass has the intel that the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus could make a cameo at CES 2018. That would be big news … even if the design of the new phones isn't.
In addition to the potential new Galaxy phone unveilings, Samsung could also show off a gigantic 150-inch TV. This would be no ordinary TV, as TweakTown reports, because it would feature MicroLED tech.
This TV screen tech essentially has the LED elements engraved into the silicon substrate. The substrate is so small that it acts as individual pixels. MicroLED is said to allow for greater pixel density, less power draw and the elimination of image burn-in.
We also expect Samsung to announce new wearables, either on its own or in partnership with others, new Galaxy Tab tablets, new laptops, and, of course, new TVs. There's a good chance Samsung will update its QLED TV tech to the next generation (and maybe go for a new name, like QLED+).
Sony at CES 2018
In recent years Sony has used CES to focus on its audio and office lines, unveiling devices like new headphones and cheaper 4K projectors along with its newest Bravia TVs.
The Bravia range always impresses and Sony's other goods are top notch, and so far there's nothing to indicate Sony will deviate from this script very much. We expect the next line of Bravias to feature OLED screens, which the Japanese firm only this year started producing again.
And, listen up, audiophiles: there's a good chance we'll see a new high-res turntable from Sony at CES 2018. We'll find out all during Sony's CES press conference, which takes place at 5pm PT on Monday, January 8 at the Sony booth.
LG unveiled what might possibly have been the thinnest OLED TV ever at CES 2017. If you don't remember the OLED W7 Signature Series TV, take a minute to watch the video above.
At CES 2018, look for LG to go for broke once again with its TV tech, which we'll almost certainly see unveiled during its January 8 press conference at 8am PT. Though these screens are flat out expensive, you can't deny how visually stunning they are. To put some numbers on it, CES 2018 should play host to LG's next-gen 8-series OLED screens (B8, C8, G8 and W8).
LG also used CES 2017 to unveil some low- to mid-range phones, including the LG K10 2017 and LG Stylus 3, so we could be in for a few LG mobile surprises.
What would be even more surprising (but even better for flagship phone fans), is if a recent rumor that the LG G7 could launch in January comes true. The most obvious place for this to take place is CES 2018, and it could set up an interesting dynamic if Samsung shows off the Galaxy S9 as well.
Rounding out LG's offerings are likely updates to its home appliances (no brainer), 4K Blu-ray player, gram laptops and even its smart helper robots.
Dell at CES 2018
Dell gave TechRadar an early preview of its next XPS 13 laptop ahead of CES 2018, showing off the 13-inch Ultrabook's incredibly thin design and pleasing aesthetics.
The laptop now features three USB-C ports, a Micro SD card slot, an Infinity Edge display and two colors – Alpine White and Rose Gold.
Since a new laptop is typically Dell's big reveal at the the show, the big news about the 2017 Dell XPS 13 we can expect at CES 2018 is its full spec sheet, release date and price.
Observers are keenly aware that CES has transformed into something of a car show in recent years, and CES 2018 will only continue the trend.
Fisker, for one, confirmed to The Street that it will reveal its newest electric car at next year's show. Called EMotion, the new car will cost $129,000 (about £98,000 / AU$165,000) and ships in 2019. Despite its high price, it's expected to at least put Tesla on notice, especially since the EMotion has a reported range of over 400 miles.
Though its fortunes have turned for the worse, Faraday Future could look to recapture some of its early buzz with a big announcement at CES 2018. Toyota also impressed with its Concept-i self-driving car at this year's show, and the likes of Ford and Hyundai are sure to show up.
But it won't necessarily be full-fledged cars we see unveiled. Rather, deeper integration with smart speakers, like the Google Home and Amazon Echo, as well as the digital assistants in our mobile phones, could be what car makers have planned.
Of course, this is just a small taste of the hundreds of companies that will be present at CES 2018.
Other firms we expect to make a splash include Asus, Dolby, HP, HTC, Huawei, Intel, Lenovo, Nikon, Nvidia, Panasonic, Razer, and so much more.
Who knows? We could see the next generation of HTC Vive, a gorgeous snapper from Nikon and new phones from Huawei.
Speaking of, Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu is scheduled to deliver a keynote address on Tuesday, January 9 at 2pm PT at The Venetian. Huawei is a company on the rise, and Yu will discuss Huawei's strategies around connectivity, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and smart devices. Chances are, we're in for a product reveal or two.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich will deliver a keynote address on Monday, January 8 from 6:30pm PT to 7:30pm PT at Monte Carlo's Park Theater. From the sounds of it, Krzanich's keynote will focus on next-gen tech, including AI, 5G connectivity, self-driving cars and VR.
Nvidia has sent out save the dates for its CES 2018 press conference, scheduled to take place on Sunday, January 7 from 8-9:30pm PT at the MGM Grand. Nvidia always kicks off CES with an action-packed keynote, and we expect next year's edition will be no exception as it dives into AI, self-driving cars and high-powered GPUs.
And a new addition to the upcoming show is the CES Sports Zone. Here, game-day tech will take center stage, from gadgets that boost athletes' performance to the latest in fan-experience innovations, including AR and VR. If you're into sports and tech, or just fitness in general, the Sports Zone will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.
The possibilities are endless, and we'll keep this page updated as more news and rumors about CES 2018 roll in.
Apple apparently isn't too happy with the power management chips it uses for the iPhone, and so as early as next year, it could take matters into its own hands.
Apple is reportedly considering plans to ditch its relationship with designer Dialog Semiconductor, according to Nikkei, and instead design the chips on its own, much as it already does with its A-series central processors. If Apple takes this course of action, Taiwan Semiconductor will continue to actually make the chips, much as it already does for Dialog. In that regard, at least, this is a clear case of cutting out the middleman.
In the most hopeful case (for Apple), around half of the power management chips in the 2018 iPhones could be designed by Apple itself, says one source.
There's a chance the chips might not actually be available until 2019, according to one of the sources, but even so, the market hasn't been too kind to Dialog in the wake of the news. Shares of Dialog stock were down almost 18% as of the time of writing, no doubt in large part because Apple's chips were responsible for around 74% of Dialog's revenue last year.
The sources claim that Apple's power management chips will be the most advanced in the industry, but of course we won't know that for sure until we actually see them in action in future phones (and iPads and Apple Watches). At the very least we'll almost certainly get better battery life, but how much is anyone's guess at the moment.
Apple has slowly been bringing most of its component design in-house over the course of the last decade, which naturally has been disastrous for old suppliers like Imagination Technologies (who used to make Apple's graphics chips), but if the gradual improvement of Apple's own devices serves as any indication, it's been a smart move for Apple itself.
La comunidad maker está de fiesta, Google está anunciando el segundo proyecto de su iniciativa AIY (Artificial Intelligence Yourself), la cual cuenta con la colaboración de los responsables de Raspberry Pi, con el que tenemos la posibilidad de crear interesantes dispositivos potenciados por la plataforma de inteligencia artificial TensorFlow de Google.
TunnelBear might have something of a cutesy design, but it's a serious free VPN. There are free and paid-for subscriptions to choose from. The only restriction with the free one is that you are limited to 500MB of traffic each month.
This isn't a huge amount, so you won’t be able to use TunnelBear all of the time without paying, but it's great for those times when you feel like you need a little extra protection.
TunnelBear offers a range of paid-for plans that remove the restrictions associated with the free plan, like the download limit, the numbers of countries available and the amount of connected devices.
Techradar has secured an exclusive deal from TunnelBear that gives you all this for as little as $4.99 per month, that's a whopping 58% saving.
Windscribe is a relative newcomer to the free VPN scene, but its generous data allowance and commitment to protecting your privacy make it the best around. The free service gives you 10GB bandwidth per month as standard, and lets you choose from eight remote server locations.
You only need to create a username and password to sign up (an email address is optional, but might prove handy if you forget your password). Windscribe doesn’t store connection logs, IP stamps, or visited sites; when you’re actively connected to a server it stores your username, the VPN server you’re connected to and the amount of data transferred, but this is erased within three minutes of the session ending.
Tweeting about the service will earn you an extra 5GB, and you’ll get 1GB each time you invite a friend to join. As an added perk, if anyone you’ve referred decides to upgrade to a Pro subscription (starting at US$7.50 per month billed annually), you’ll get the unlimited plan as well and far more servers (47 in total).
If that isn’t enough to tempt you, there’s even a built-in adblocker and firewall. Give it a try today – we think you’ll be impressed. Note that there is an Android App available, albeit in an unreleased state at the time of writing.
Exclusively for TechRadar readers, Windscribe is offering an annual subscription to its Pro service for only $29. Click here or use Promo Code WSRADAR1at checkout.
Hotspot Shield Free is one of the better known names in this roundup, and another of the best free VPNs around today.
You can choose to anchor yourself to one of 20 countries if you pay for the Elite version of the app, and this should enable you to access just about anything you want; in the free version, you're limited to locations that Hotspot Shield chooses for you.
Note: Hotspot Shield’s free VPN offering has recently come under fire from the Center for Democracy & Technology, a pro-privacy non-profit organisation. The CDT has claimed that this provider intercepts and redirects traffic to partner websites which include online advertising firms. Hotspot Shield has denied these allegations and said that it was “dismayed that the CDT did not contact us to discuss their concerns”. Check here for the full lowdown on this controversy.
The latest we’ve heard is a clarification which comes via Ars Technica, in which a spokesman for Hotspot Shield noted: “The free version of our Hotspot Shield solution openly and clearly states that it is funded by ads, however, we intercept no traffic with neither the free nor the premium version of our solutions. Our users’ online privacy has always been our absolute priority.”
Speedify, as the name suggests, has one main aim as a VPN provider: to ensure that while you benefit from encryption, your internet connection remains as speedy as possible.
To that end, the service will make use of all available internet connections to get the best possible performance, potentially combining, say, an Ethernet connection (fixed broadband) with a tethered mobile 3G/4G connection. Even if you only have one type of internet connection, the firm claims its turbocharging technology will still help speed things up.
The free plan boasts full access to those servers (just as with the subscription options), the only restriction of the free offering being that you’re limited in the amount of data you can download.
Free users get 4GB of data for the first month, but that drops to 1GB during subsequent months. That’s not a massive amount, and certainly not as much as some other rivals you’ll see elsewhere on this page, but it’s still enough for some basic surfing and email duties.
And this VPN provider is definitely worth a look on the performance front, as during our testing, the aforementioned speed-granting technologies did actually prove themselves to have a positive effect.
Like some of the other tools featured in this roundup, PrivateTunnel is available for a number of platforms – specifically Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. Another characteristic shared with many of its contemporaries is the existence of a limited, free package in addition to paid-for subscriptions. Well, sort of. Rather than offering a traditional monthly subscription package, you are instead provided with 200MB of non-expiring data to use as you want.
When this runs out, you can purchase more data in bundles of 20GB or 100GB. If you feel that you'd like to use PrivateTunnel all the time, you can opt for a $30 per year package which give you unlimited data – see the 200MB as something of a taster session to see if you like everything.
As a VPN, PrivateTunnel works fairly well, although connections can be a little temperamental at times. It's all very easy to use, so there's little reason not to take it for a test drive.
The installation of Freelan is a little disconcerting for the uninitiated. Rather than just installing a regular program, the software installs new network drivers that take control of your web traffic. That's not a problem, but it's something that's worth pointing out right from the start.
Freelan is an open source tool and is free in absolutely every regard, but getting it set up can be tricky, particularly for novices. For more advanced users Freelan has a great deal to offer, but you should not expect your hand to be held every step of the way as well the likes of TunnelBear.
For most people this is going to be a program to avoid, but for the curious, the more technically-minded (there's no graphical user interface, so you'll be controlling it via the command line) and those who want to be in absolute control, it's ideal.
The last 12 months have witnessed the rise of global threats to individual privacy with long maintained rights to anonymity and net neutrality being undermined with a cloak of legitimacy.
While VPN – virtual private networks – are not the panacea to being safe, secure and private on the internet, it is an essential component of the arsenal for individuals inclined to seek these liberties.
If you don’t have a VPN service yet, you can grab one for free, without having to pay a single penny for one. Just be careful though as not all free VPN services are created equal and some might even compromise your security.
Here are five questions you need to ask yourself before you download and install one.
1. What is its business model? VPN providers are in for the money and running such a service does cost a lot especially if it is a popular one. Some, like Tunnelbear, will use free, just like Dropbox, as a marketing tool to entice potential customers to move to a paid version once they are happy with the free one. Most however will sell user data or provide a service to third party that will, again, compromise your privacy.
2. How does it protect my PC? Most VPN services usually use a desktop application that runs in the background encrypting your data while you surf the web. However, that’s only solves part of the problem. Your laptop can still be fingerprinted because of the permissiveness of tracking solutions that can be found on almost all websites online. A few, including WIndscribe, have a more holistic approach by integrating the equivalent of a super ad-blocker
3. What do I lose by going free? Usually one can expect a free product to have some corners cut and that is indeed the case for all VPN providers. Some offer more free bandwidth than others, major locations and even ad blocking, P2P and firewall with an easy paid for upgrade path that unlocks unlimited bandwidth with more locations and OpenVPN Configs.
4. Does your provider log anything? Make sure that your provider doesn’t store users’ internet activity. You can usually check that in the terms and conditions page or the end user license agreement, commonly known as EULA. Sadly, a lot of VPN providers prefer to frustrate end users with long T&Cs or privacy statements that often hide significant details about how they operate. On the other end of the spectrum are VPN services that will erase everything after your session closes and don’t keep logs.
5. Can I sign up completely anonymously? Having a VPN provider that you can subscribe to without an email address and one that accepts Bitcoin payments, for maximum privacy, is pretty much the best you can expect online. Some services also offer double hopping where you can obfuscate your traffic further by essentially doubling down on privacy.
Today the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it has cleared AliveCor's KardiaBand, making this the first true medical accessory for the Apple Watch. Basically, it's a watch strap that serves as a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) reader.
So far, the Apple Watch hasn't been able to report much more than your heart rate, but the KardiaBand allows you to keep your doctor informed of abnormal heart beats and atrial fibrillation by comparing your current data with data observed in the past. As humble as it looks, it's a potentially massive development as you often only find EKG readers in doctors' offices.
It's not even all that hard to use. To get an EKG reading, you simply need to touch the strap's sensor for 30 seconds.
In a sense, that's a bit of an issue. Having to stop and hold a button means you're technically not getting a fully accurate reading as you might if the Apple Watch itself were continually monitoring the same data. In addition, it may be difficult to detect abnormal heart beats when you're simply standing at rest. K
Keep in mind then that it's not really a full replacement, but its portability and compatibility for the Apple Watch makes it a more appealing option than what was available before. For that matter, also keep in mind that it cleared the FDA's usually tough approval process.
Back in September, the FDA introduced a fast-track approval program that would get medical software on devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit straps more easily, so it's possible that we'll once day see this kind of feature in the Apple Watch anyway.
Early Apple Watch rumors suggested that it might be capable of it now, but Apple didn't include the feature as it didn't want to deal with the FDA's typically long approval process. In fact, recent patents suggest that Apple is even tinkering with the idea of including EKG sensors in the AirPod earbuds.
A strap like the Kardia Band, though, currently provides the best of both worlds. The Apple Watch remains the center of attention, but the fact that a third-party produced the actual EKG reader allowed for a separate timeline for FDA approval.
For such an impressive piece of technology, the KardiaBand seems reasonably priced at $199 (around £147 / AU$263), but to unlock features like cloud storage, reports shared with your doctor, and your EKG history, you'll have to pay a $99 (around £73/AU $131) subscription annually.
The strap works with every version of the Apple Watch save the original one.