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15/12/2019 19:39:41  

Slashdot reader alaskana98 writes: In the February 2001 issue of Maximum PC, technical editor Will Smith described in his column what he would like to see in the "perfect set-top box". At a time when arguably the best 'PVR' experience was being provided by the first iterations of the Tivo (with no HDTV or LAN connectivity), Will's description of what a set-top box could and should be comes eerily close to what we now know as the Apple TV and other 'set-top' boxes such as Roku and Amazon Firestick... To be fair, not every feature on his list would come to pass. For example, he envisioned this device as essentially serving as the main "broadband router of a household, sharing your Internet connection with any networkable device in your house". Also, he envisions the media box as providing a "robust web experience" for the whole family, something that today's set-top boxes aren't especially good at (anyone remember WebTV?). Still, in wanting an "elusive magical box" that "will set on top of our HDTV's and do everything our computers, game consoles, and VCRs do, only better", he was prescient in his descriptions of what would eventually materialize as the Apple TV and other like-minded set-top boxes, impressive for a denizen of the year 2001. Are you impressed with Smith's predictive ability? Here's what he wrote... On networking: "My set-top box will have to have a high-speed broadband connection...sharing your Internet connection with any networkable device in your house via standard Ethernet, Wi-Fi compatible wireless Ethernet, Bluetooth". On gaming: "[W]ill include state-of-the-art 3D acceleration and gaming support" and "will include Bluetooth-style wireless connections for all your controllers". On media playback: "[W]ill also serve as a media store, handing the duties of both my high-def personal video recorder (HD-PVR) and digital audio jukebox". On device collaboration: "integrating the ability to automatically synchronize with Bluetooth-enabled" devices. [Though the original article says "PDAs"]

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

10/12/2019 07:30:38  

Faster processor, updated software and good screen make Amazon’s 10in hard to beat for £150

Amazon’s cheap-but-good-enough media tablet gets a much-needed speed boost and updated software for 2019, doing just enough to make the Fire HD 10 still the budget tablet to buy for bigger-screen video watching.

Now in their ninth-generation, Amazon’s Fire tablets follow a tried and trusted formula: undercut the competition on price with a good enough screen, good enough performance and Amazon’s version of Android, Fire OS, wrapped in a robust plastic body.

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19/11/2019 18:27:17  

Scott Stein, reviews Google Stadia cloud gaming service for CNET: Stadia's launch day was earlier this week... sort of. Really, consider this the start of Stadia's early-access beta period. Because Google's big promises haven't arrived, and at the price of the Stadia's Founder's Edition, I can't recommend anyone jump onboard at the moment. Google's experimental game streaming service, Stadia, launches without many of its promised features, and just a handful of games. It works, but there's not much incentive to buy in. We've heard about the promises of streaming games over the internet for a decade. Stadia really does work as a way to stream games. I've only played a couple of the 12 games Google promised by Tuesday's launch, though. That short list pales compared to what Microsoft already has on tap for its in-beta game-streaming service, xCloud. It's no match for what Nvidia's game streaming GeForce Now already has or what PlayStation Now offers. Prices of Stadia games at launch in the US are below. They're basically full retail game prices. This could get crazy expensive fast. [...] Stadia has so few games right now, and I'm trying them with no one else online. It isn't clear how things will work now that the service is going live, and what other features will kick in before year's end. I'm curious, but I might lose interest. Others might, too. I have plenty of other great games to play right now: on Apple Arcade, VR and consoles such as the Switch. Stadia isn't delivering new games yet, it's just trying to deliver a new way to play through streaming. One that you can already get from other providers. Until Google finds a way to loop in YouTube and develop truly unique competitive large-scale games, Stadia isn't worth your time yet. Yes, the future is possibly wild, and you can see hints of the streaming-only cloud-based playground Stadia wants to become. But we'll see what it shapes into over the next handful of months and check back in. Raymond Wong, writing for Input Mag looks at the amount of data playing a game on Stadia consumes and how the current state of things require a very fast internet connection to work: Like streaming video, streaming games is entirely dependent on your internet speed. Faster internet delivers smooth, lag-free visuals, and slower internet means seeing some glitches and dropped framerates. Google recommends a minimum of connection of 10Mbps for 1080p Full HD streaming at 30 fps with stereo sound and 35Mbps for 4K resolution streaming (in HDR if display is supported) at 60 fps with 5.1 surround sound. Reality didn't reflect Google's advertising, though. Despite having a Wi-Fi connection with 16-20Mbps downloads in a hotel room in LA, streaming Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Destiny 2 to my 13-inch MacBook Pro wasn't 100% stable. The visuals would glitch out for a second or two about every 10 minutes of playtime. [...] A fast internet connection isn't the only thing you need for Stadia to work right. You need a lot of bandwidth, too. One hour of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1080p resolution on my 46-inch HDTV via a Chromecast Ultra ate up 5.3GB of data. This seemed insane until I saw an hour of Destiny 2 on a Pixel 3a XL with 6-inch, 1080p-resolution display gobbled up 9.3GB of data!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17/11/2019 15:27:17  

Only 1 in a dozen homes can get ‘the gold standard of broadband’ but those that do see it as a necessity

Labour’s plan to offer free full fibre broadband to every home and business is an eye-catching offer to potential voters. But while the scheme has been labelled “fantasy economics” by critics, people who already enjoy ultra-fast broadband view it as invaluable.

Like the roll-out of 5G for mobile phones, full-fibre broadband is the much-hyped next big thing for internet connectivity to homes and businesses. Full-fibre will mean speeds of more than one gigabit per second, letting users download an HD movie in under 50 seconds.

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10/11/2019 19:25:13  

"If you've gone shopping for a new laptop lately, you may notice something missing in all newer models regardless of make," writes Slashdot reader ikhider. There's no removable battery. Whether mainstream or obscure manufacturer, the fact that pretty much all of them are made in the same area denote a similar approach to soldering batteries in. While battery technology may have improved, it is not to the extent that they no longer need to be replaced. Premium retention of charges generally tend to deplete in about a year or so. This impacts the device mobility and necessitates replacement. Also, the practical use of having a backup battery if you need one cannot even be applied. While some high-end models may have better quality batteries, it does not replace popping in a fresh, new one. This leads to one conclusion, planned obsolescence.If you want your laptop to still be mobile when the battery fizzles out, forget about it. Buy new instead. Pick your manufacturer, even those famed for building 'tank' laptops that last forever, all you need is a fresh battery, upgrade the RAM, and a new HD or SSD and away you go. While the second hand market still has good models with replaceable batteries, it is only a matter of time before that too fizzles away. If you had a limited budget, you could still get a good, second-hand machine [in the past], but now you are stuck with the low end. Consumers need to make their case to manufacturers, for their own best interest to leverage the life of a machine on their own terms, not the manufacturers. Bring back the removable laptop battery.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

04/11/2019 08:24:40  

I won’t be charging him rent but I’m not sure if I’ll have to pay tax on his share of costs

Q I currently own a flat in London and my boyfriend of two years is due to move in with me soon. I won’t be charging him rent but we will split the utility bills and all utility costs.
It makes sense for me to keep the bills in my name and have him pay me 50% of the bills in total. Is any of this taxable and does this sound like the best method? I’m not sure if it’s better to somehow divide the bills at the provider sources.

A Splitting the bills down the middle sounds perfectly sensible and having your boyfriend pay you rather than the supplier doesn’t mean that you’d have to pay tax on his contribution. Keeping the bills in your name is also reasonable but you will need to let your local authority know that your boyfriend has moved in to ensure that you pay the right amount of council tax (the bill will go up).

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