Must Read Bits & Bytes

Nexus Player Review – Android TV’s awkward debut

Nexus Player Review – Android TV’s awkward debut

The living room has proved to be a challenge for Google. The company which has been so successful in dominating so many of the screens we interact with on a daily basis - our computers, phones, and tablets - has perversely struggled for that most traditional of displays, the humble TV. Google TV was flabby and confusing; the axe fell on the Nexus Q before it even went on sale. Only the Chromecast has had any measure of success, and yet just when we thought Google might have a strategy, along comes a different platform again, Android TV. Running first on the Nexus Player, but set to spread to smart TVs from numerous manufacturers, it’s Google’s fourth lounge reboot, but is it really necessary?

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Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Virgin Galactic’s Branson vows “the dream lives on”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, has spoken publicly on the crash of SpaceShipTwo, promising to not only figure out what brought down the craft during a test flight last week, but hopefully continue working toward the dream of space tourism. The incident, on Friday, saw SpaceShipTwo explode over the Mojave desert in California during a test of the new engine, killing one pilot in the process and leaving the other with major injuries. Second explosion of a private space endeavor in the space of a week, it has renewed questions around commercial space flight.

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Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

Nexus 6 hands-on – A whole lot of Lollipop

A new Nexus is always a big deal, but the Nexus 6 is big in every sense. Google and Motorola opted to go large for the latest pure-Android smartphone, giving Lollipop a vast 5.96-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad HD touchscreen in which to ply its "Material Design" wares. In fact, the Moto X stylings carried over from Motorola's own-brand flagship are deceptive, and side-by-side there's a considerable difference between the two. Google has kept the real magic for itself, nonetheless, and the Nexus 6 is shaping up to be as capable as it's coveted.

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Xbox One Slim: tipped with tinier AMD chip

Xbox One Slim: tipped with tinier AMD chip

How do you beat the competition in the gaming console business? If you're Microsoft and you've got an Xbox One, the most recent and best answer you might have is cutting costs. They've currently got a holiday sale on their Kinect-less Xbox One, knocking the price down by $50. With an Xbox One Slim on the books, they may very well be able to knock it all down another $50 - so we must hypothesize. The tip here comes from a LinkedIn listing which suggests a 20nm chip is on the way.

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Microsoft Band vs the Wearable Competition

Microsoft Band vs the Wearable Competition

You'd need a very big wrist to wear this year's crop of fitness bands and smartwatches, but Microsoft believes the new Microsoft Band can elbow out the competition. Straddling the line between smartwatch and health tracker - not to mention spanning not only Windows Phone but iPhone and Android, in a play for cross-compatibility that rivals could learn a lesson from - the sensor-packed wearable claims to deliver the best of both worlds. In the process, though, Microsoft has arguably given itself double the challenge, so I pulled up my sleeves to see how the Microsoft Band holds up.

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Tim Cook isn’t gay for you

Tim Cook isn’t gay for you

Let's talk about Tim Cook being gay. Or, actually, let's not talk about it at all. The Apple CEO's unexpected open letter today, discussing his reasons for suddenly talking about his sexuality and the feelings of responsibility to use his platform to further the understanding of LGBTQ issues, confirmed what many had believed for years. It also met with its fair share of "so what?" comments. The strength of reaction to who one man - even one very influential man - loves has varied widely, of course, but what's been eye-opening to me is the number of people who not only don't see why it's a big deal, but can't understand why anybody else might think differently.

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Microsoft Band hands-on – Admirably Flexible Fitness

Microsoft Band hands-on – Admirably Flexible Fitness

Who would've thought it would be Microsoft that would embrace cross-platform wearables so thoroughly, and indeed first. Microsoft Band is, on the face of it, the company's play for the fitness and health market, trailing Android Wear to market but beating Apple Watch by a number of months. However, where Google and Apple's approaches are resolutely wedded to their own individual platforms, Microsoft has spread wide its arms and made Microsoft Band play nicely not only with Windows Phone but with Android and iPhone too, and you don't have to sacrifice 99-percent of the functionality in doing so. I strapped the rubberized, touchscreen-toting health band to my wrist to find out more.

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Tiki-Z mini-Review: The Tiny Gaming King defends his crown

Tiki-Z mini-Review: The Tiny Gaming King defends his crown

The following review is going to be short and to the point. Not because it doesn't deserve more words, not because it's not an important product. We'd never do such a thing. Instead, this review is going to be short because there's not much to say that we didn't already say in our first Falcon Northwest Tiki review and subsequent crowning of the device as the best gaming PC of the year in 2013. Never mind the fact that it was actually unveiled before the year began.

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Gogoro teases big battery plans for smarter city travel

Gogoro teases big battery plans for smarter city travel

Power: it's something none of us can do without, both the enabling and limiting factor of everything from smartphones through to electric vehicles, and it's ripe for a revolution. Hoping to lead just that is Gogoro, startup brainchild of former HTC innovation chief Horace Luke and Matt Taylor, and coming out from the shadows today to share a few early hints about its plans "to transform energy distribution" within smart cities. I caught up with Luke to find out more, curious at indications that some new power system potentially for EVs could be on the cards.

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