Best of TechRadar: this week's best features and hottest reviews
16th Mar 2014 | 07:00
All the hottest hits and techiest toys from the past 7 days
Best of TechRadar: all our best words
The secret technology that makes the F1 world go round
Hundreds of gigabytes of car data needs somewhere to go
"The first races are going to be test events … no team is taking it lightly," says Alan Peasland, Head of Technical Partnerships at F1 world champions Infinity Red Bull Racing. He squirms in his seat as he considers what promises to be some tentative opening races as the new Formula 1 season kicks-off in uncertain circumstances. "Reliability is crucial."
So is global data exchange and communication, both of which have been overhauled for the new season by Red Bull's new innovation partner, AT&T.The new networks are in place in Australia to help the team battle new technical challenges created by a set of radical new regulations being introduced this season by the FIA, the sport's governing body. So what's going on?
How Thatcher killed the UK's superfast broadband before it even existed
Margaret Thatcher, broadband snatcher
As you sit on the phone to your ISP's customer service line, listening to half-baked excuses for why you've only got 0.5Mbps upload speed and why you "need" to upgrade to "superfast" fibre optic, it may be little comfort to know that in an alternate reality you'd already have it as standard. In 1990, a single decision by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a devastating effect on the UK's broadband infrastructure for the next 20 years and for the foreseeable future. Continue reading...
25 years of the World Wide Web
The key tech milestonees that grew the web
At 2:56pm on 6 August, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee launched the very first website, setting in motion a chain of events that would change the connected world. But it was a couple of years earlier, in March 1989 that he filed the proposal for what was to become the World Wide Web. As Berners Lee himself says on the webat25.org site: "My boss dubbed it 'vague but exciting'. Luckily, he thought enough of the idea to allow me to quietly work on it on the side." Continue reading...
Oppo N1 review
The Oppo N1 is a solid, thin and powerful phone with a great camera. And most importantly, the Oppo N1 beats the opposition in terms of price. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 costs around £450 to buy unlocked outside of a contract, whereas the Oppo N1 is relatively cheap - at around £370 ($615, AU$680) - to buy direct from Oppo. Plus Oppo throws in a really nice flip case and a remote to control the camera. In terms of bang for buck, the N1 is a winner. The capacitive buttons are a bit temperamental and there are some small bugs in the OS, but the camera and its original rotating mount are both awesome features. It feels like Oppo is trying very hard to make friends with the N1. It's certainly made a few here. Oppo N1 review
Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
Where do we place the value in videogames?
Here in the land of share buttons, beanie-donning antiheroes and actual 1080p gaming, the talk of the town is Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. Specifically: it's short. So short the developers can speedrun it in five minutes, which is less time than you'll spend typing out a caps lock-laden response to that smug 1080p bit a few lines back. Most people who've played it are reporting it took them about an hour and a half to complete.
They're also reporting that it's an incredible hour and a half, representing a successful marriage of Metal Gear legacy, modern day sandbox gaming and scintillating next-gen visuals (alright, so it's ménage à trois). So should we hike Big Boss up on a stick and throw rotten fruit at him for ripping us all off, or just enjoy the magnificent, movie-sized portion of entertainment on offer? It's a genuine dilemma. Read PlayStation Gamer
This year's BAFTAs show games winning all round
The games industry gives itself a hearty high-five
Perhaps it's the hour's sleep I'm running on, but I've come over all emotional. It's been a great year for gaming. Last night, the BAFTA Games Awards celebrated some of the biggest and best titles of the last 12 months, and loaded honours on the teams that crunched hours and sacrificed blood, sweat, tears and divorce papers to bring each of them to life. Read Xbox Gamer
Will Sony's 4K War Horse experiment change live events forever?
Sony brings 4K to live theatres
4K isn't just for movies and TV, it's for live theatre too. That's the surprising message from Sony's digital cinema group and National Theatre Live, after the two staged the world's first 4K live to cinema event. Even as patrons were filling the New London Theatre for another sold out showing of Michael Morpurgo's award-winning stage play War Horse, wannabe theatre goers were filing into the Curzon Chelsea cinema to watch a live transmission of the same show. Cinema screenings of such live events are not new, but they've never been done in 4K before. This was a complete equine-to-end experiment.
iOS 7.1 vs iOS 7: what's new?
Improved Sire and new CarPlay features
If iOS 7 was a fresh coat of paint for Apple's operating system, then today's iOS 7.1 release is a much-needed touch up six months into the redesign. This essential software update fixes a number of unresolved bugs that complicated owning an iPhone 5S, iPad Air and iPad mini 2. iOS 7.1 also features a handful of user interface tweaks that alter the non-skeuomorphic design. They're still flat, but a little rounder than before. Continue reading...
Best SMS text messaging apps for Android
Sidestep the switch to Hangouts with these alternatives
It's all very exciting having the latest version of Android install itself on your mobile, but what happens when it makes changes you don't actually like? That's the situation owners of phones like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 found themselves in recently, as Google's exciting new Android 4.4 KitKat release arrived – and forced upgraders to use Google's own Hangouts app as the default SMS app. See the best alternatives
Samsung Galaxy S6: what we want to see
Make it metal, make it awesome!
It's never too early to speculate wildly about the next smartphone in Samsung's Galaxy S series. The Galaxy S5 was definitely a step up from the S4, but we can't shake the feeling that everyone's favourite South Korean manufacturer (sorry LG) is resting on its laurels. Come on Samsung, market domination should be about more than outspending your rivals on advertising, get back in the game and kick it up a gear!
Amazon Prime Instant Video review
Prime represents good value for money unless you want to use a mobile device: video on iPads is awful, it isn't available for Android and you can't stream over 3G/4G. If those aren't deal-breakers, though, the service itself is very good. The film selection is stronger than Netflix's, there's a good kids' section and the parental controls are effective; and while the browsing experience is pretty dull, it's no worse than any other online shop. Amazon Prime Instant Video review
Netflix is totally worth the money. If it had Breaking Bad and Johnny Bravo and nothing else, it'd still be worth the asking price, but when you consider the massive amount of TV series, the Disney films and the ability to watch programmes on pretty much any conceivable device, then six quid is an absolute steal. It isn't perfect - if recent movies are your thing then your money might be better spent on Amazon Prime or on pay-per-view rentals - but when it comes to streaming video Netflix remains the service to beat. Netflix review
Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video
A feature-by-feature comparison of both streaming services
The battle of the big American movie streaming services is getting serious: the Amazon-owned LoveFilm is no more, replaced by the new and heavily-promoted Amazon Prime Instant Video. Is Amazon UK finally taking streaming seriously? Can Netflix hold on to its crown as our favourite streaming service? Let's find out. Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video
Toshiba Chromebook review
Chromebooks are a bundle of contradictions, budget laptops that are both weird and brilliant, underpowered yet potent. They pack basic computing functionality into the Chrome OS, a web browser masquerading as an operating system. The search giant's OS and mobile computer spec are just a few years old, but companies like HP, Samsung and Acer already have several models on the market. The other firms may have a headstart but the Toshiba Chromebook has come out swinging, the first with a larger 13.3-inch screen, plus two USB 3.0 ports. Size and speedy ports aside, the Toshiba Chromebook is nearly identical to its competitors on paper. Looks, however, are a different story. Toshiba Chromebook review
Sony KDL-50W829 review
Offering imperious HD picture quality, the Sony W8 sets a high benchmark indeed. Nominally a mid-ranger, it outperforms expectations to such a huge extent that many buyers will be hard pressed to justify spending more. Connectivity is excellent, with four HDMIs and two USBs, while its internet connected feature set delivers most of what you'll deem important, including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and On Demand movies. Android smartphone integration is also seamless. Decent build quality and tasteful minimalist design merely cement its appeal. What few caveats we do have are outweighed by that head-turning price tag. This is a cracking 1080p Smart telly. Sony KDL-50W829 review