Amazon Fire TV Cube review: Alexa turns on your TV, and it feels like magic – CNET

If you have a TV entertainment system with a bunch of devices, a universal remote like the venerable Harmony is the still best way to make it easy to use.

If you have a TV entertainment system with a bunch of devices, a universal remote like the venerable Harmony is the still best way to make it easy to use. But the new girl in town, Alexa, is now a close second, thanks to the Fire TV Cube ($119 at Amazon.com).

With the Cube installed, saying “Alexa, turn on the TV” from across the room will power up your television, and AV receiver or sound bar if you have one. Whatever you were watching last — say, TV from your cable box — appears on the screen, and audio comes through the speakers.

“Alexa, switch to Xbox” switches inputs so you’re ready to pick up the controller and mow down some enemies. “Alexa, watch Stranger Things on Netflix” switches inputs again and starts streaming the Upside Down immediately via Fire TV (in 4K and HDR, if your gear supports it). “Alexa, tune to CBS” switches again to your cable box, changes the channel and boom — hello, Judge Judy.

“Alexa, play Talking Heads” fires up the Spotify app and Psycho Killer plays through the speakers on your TV, receiver or sound bar — bypassing that cruddy Alexa speaker — and the Talking Heads playlist appears on-screen. “Alexa, next” plays the next song, This Must Be the Place. “Alexa, volume up” cranks those speakers even higher. Finished? “Alexa, turn off the TV” powers everything down.

If you’re used to pressing buttons on a remote, or God forbid, more than one remote, using Alexa on the Cube can make you feel like Gandalf himself.


58
Amazon’s tiny Cube lets Alexa control your big TV (and more)

You can do all of that stuff by pressing buttons on a Harmony remote too, and in many cases, like browsing for shows, fast-forward and pause, buttons are easier than using voice. And for Harmony owners (like me) who use Harmony’s existing Alexa voice skill with their Echo speakers, adding a Fire TV Cube to the arrangement probably isn’t worth it.

The Cube isn’t a full-on Harmony replacement. Its included Fire TV remote doesn’t control volume or mute, a big misstep on Amazon’s part that I hope it fixes in the next generation. You’ll still need to keep your cable box remote if you want to do more than just switch channels — the Cube can’t control the box’s DVR (yet). It also can’t command Blu-ray players, Apple TV ($170 at B&H Photo-Video), Roku or other non-Fire streamers, so plan on keeping those remotes handy, too. And like any Alexa veteran knows, you can’t expect it to recognize and execute your commands correctly the first time, every time.

None of those issues can spoil the feeling of wonder that comes with getting your dumb, frustrating entertainment system to obey spoken commands. I got a dose of it when Amazon launched Fire TV control via Echo speakers last year, but that system couldn’t tame your audio equipment or switch inputs. The Fire TV Cube is one of those special devices that breathes new life into your existing tech gear, making it more fun and easy to use than ever.

Get to know the CubeThe $120 Fire TV Cube is designed to sit near your entertainment center because it plugs into your TV, receiver or sound bar via HDMI.
It has all the capabilities of the $70 Fire TV streamer, including 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos sound. It lacks HDR10+.
It also has all the capabilities of the $50 Echo Dot speaker, including a built-in speaker and a mic array to pick up your voice commands. It’s always listening for the “Alexa” wake word.
Audio from music, TV shows and movies are piped through your TV, sound bar or AV receiver speakers by default, significantly improving audio quality. Often Alexa’s voice is, too, but sometimes she comes through Cube’s built-in speaker.
Includes a Fire TV remote, which also accepts voice commands when you press the mic button and speak into it (you don’t have to say “Alexa”).
Built-in infrared emitters inside the Cube blast the room with infrared signals to control your gear.
Includes a separate corded IR emitter with an 8-foot cord to reach gear behind cabinet doors, and an Ethernet adapter in case you don’t want to use Wi-Fi.
The sides are glossy black plastic and a bright Alexa LED response strip is along the top front face. Top keys control volume, mute, and activate, just like a late-model Echo speaker.
It’s small — somewhere between a Dot and a full-size Echo — but not a perfect cube, measuring 3.9 inches wide and deep by 3 inches tall.
It’s only available in the US for now, but the $120 price converts to about £90 or AU$160.

Alexa heard me over the music

One of the first things I wanted to test on Fire TV Cube was its ability to “hear” me from across the room with the music blasting. Since it’s designed to sit near your TV, the Cube is probably closer to your (potentially very loud) speakers than it is to your mouth. In my test setup sitting around 10 feet away, it worked beautifully.

With a speaker less than 2 feet away from the Cube and blasting music, I kept saying “Alexa, volume up” and it kept working. I had to raise my voice slightly when it got really loud, but I found myself doing so naturally, just to compensate for the music. I only had to shout “Alexa” when it got ridiculously loud.

Once the Cube recognized “Alexa” it lit up and paused the music (or TV show or whatever) so it could better hear the rest of my command, just like an Echo. If it wasn’t able to pause, for example when I was watching a show on my cable box, it instead sent a mute command to my sound bar or receiver’s speakers. In both cases it was worth waiting a second or two for silence before issuing the command, something that took me awhile to get used to.

Either way, the Cube was a superb listener in my test setups. Your mileage may vary depending on how you position it relative to your speakers. If you have issues, try to put as much distance as possible between the Cube and your speakers, and avoid aiming them at the little box if you can help it.

I didn’t test the Cube with other Alexa speakers in the house, but when I asked Amazon’s representatives what multi-Alexa households could do to avoid confusion, they recommended placing non-Cube speakers in other rooms, as far as possible from the Cube. You could also change the wake word, for example calling one of the other speakers (or the Cube) “Echo” or “Computer.”

Device control via voice, Cubed

Sure the Cube can do all that Fire TV and Echo speaker stuff — stream Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, give a weather report and control your lights and thermostats, all via voice or using the Fire TV remote — but its real differentiator compared to existing Alexa products is device control. Amazon reps told me it can command “tens of thousands” of devices, roughly 90 percent of devices in the US, but didn’t cite a specific number.

For the record, it worked successfully with every device I tried, including:

TVs:Samsung UN55H6350, Vizio P65-E1, LG OLED65C8P
Receivers: Denon 3808CI, Marantz NR1508, Sony STR-DN1080
Sound bars: Sonos PlayBar, Yamaha YAS-107, Vizio SB3621
Cable box: Motorola QIP 7232 (Verizon Fios)

The Cube’s setup menus list myriad other devices and brands — the TV brand list alone went from Accele to Zyowaiyu (nope, I’ve never heard of them, either) and took me 21 seconds to scroll through at breakneck speed. I have no reason to doubt Amazon’s 90 percent claim. If your brand somehow isn’t listed, however, the Cube won’t be of much use to you until Amazon adds support — there’s no “learning” function as seen on many universal remotes.

Using infrared commands, or occasionally HDMI CEC, the Cube successfully turned my devices on and off, changed inputs, adjusted volume and, in the case of the Fios box, switched channels. More advanced commands, for example changing surround modes on a receiver, picture modes on a TV, aren’t supported (yet). I was also unable to perform any DVR functions on the Fios box, including pausing live TV, browsing the program guide, or scheduling or playing back a recording.

Network professionals should think SD-Branch, not just SD-WAN

Earlier this year, fellow industry analyst Lee Doyle wrote a blog post on the software-defined branch (SD-Branch) market hitting $3 billion by 2022. Doyle defines the SD-Branch as having SD-WAN, routing, network security, and LAN/Wi-Fi functions all in one platform with integrated, centralized management.

Earlier this year, fellow industry analyst Lee Doyle wrote a blog post on the software-defined branch (SD-Branch) market hitting $3 billion by 2022. Doyle defines the SD-Branch as having SD-WAN, routing, network security, and LAN/Wi-Fi functions all in one platform with integrated, centralized management. An SD-Branch can be thought of as the next step after SD-WAN, as the latter transforms the transport and the former focuses on things in the branch, such as optimizing user experience and improving security.

I don’t often critique other analysts work, as their opinion is theirs and not everyone agrees. However, in this case, I don’t think “all in one platform” should be a requirement. The integrated and centralized management hits the nail on the head, but the software should act as a management overlay, so even though the infrastructure isn’t a “single box,” it’s managed like it.

Modernizing the WAN and branch

This week, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, announced its SD-Branch solution that’s aimed at modernizing the WAN and the branch for an optimized experience. The components of the solution include a newly introduced Aruba Branch Gateway, an Ethernet switch, and a Wi-Fi access point. The Aruba Central cloud management portal provides a single pane of glass to manage the wired and wireless network, enforce policies, and manages branch connectivity. The policies are still created in Aruba’s ClearPass, but the Branch Gateway acts as the translator between ClearPass and Central.

[ Get more information about SD-WAN and why you’ll use it one day, and learn about WANs and where they’re headed. | Get regularly scheduled insights by signing up for Network World newsletters. ]

This proves my case that even though the product isn’t physically unified into a single platform, Aruba Central can push configurations down to the Branch Gateway, switch, and AP at the same time. This lets the customer upgrade APs or the switch at a later date without having to swap out the gateway.

ArubaAruba SD-Branch integrates with best-of-breed security partners

Aruba did do a nice job consolidating functionality into its new gateway. Instead of retrofitting another product, the gateway was built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of an SD-Branch. It is a full-featured branch appliance with a complete set of SD-WAN capabilities, such as path control, QoS, and several security functions, including an application- and user-aware firewall and web content filtering.

Customers that require additional security functions can choose from one of Aruba’s 140-plus tech partners — many of which are security partners — including Check Point, Palo Alto Networks, and newly added Z-Scaler, who is red hot coming off its successful IPO. Many of Aruba’s security partners can exchange information with ClearPass, so policies can be made once and enforced by multiple vendors.

In addition to SD-WAN support, Central includes granular visibility, troubleshooting tools and an installer app that can be run from a mobile device. Through a combination of Aruba’s Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) and mobile app, non-technical branch staff can turn up the infrastructure. This is much faster and more cost-effective than having to send a technical person on site and incur the cost of a truck roll. The mobile app is very slick and works by scanning the device.

Consider the whole network not just specific places in the network

Most SD-WAN solutions focus on WAN transport, but apps continue on inside the branch. Aruba’s SD-Branch provides fine-grained contextual awareness and QoS across the WAN, but also inside the branch, and can be extended to mobile users. This is an important step in breaking down the management silos of remote networks, in office, and WAN. Network engineers should think of the end-to-end network instead of discrete places. Apps don’t care about network boundaries, and it’s time for network operations to think that way, as well.

Apps don’t care about network boundaries, and it’s time for network operations to think that way, as well.

From an operations perspective, Aruba’s SD-Branch would enable IT organizations to manage more branches with fewer people. The automated capabilities and ZTP takes care of many of the tasks that were historically done manually. Aruba claims as much as a 75 percent reduction in operational expenses, which I believe could be attained given my research shows that over 80 percent of a network operation’s time is used to simply keep the lights on.

The list pricing for Aruba’s SD-Branch starts at $1,495 per gateway, with an additional software subscription of $450 per gateway per year. The gateways can be deployed without having to upgrade your switches or APs, making the solution almost plug and play. The product is currently in beta, with customer shipments starting in July of 2018.

Note: Aruba is a client of ZK Research.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Best free Linux firewalls of 2018

A firewall is an important aspect of computer security these days, and most modern routers have one built in, which while helpful, can be difficult to configure. Fortunately there are also distributions (distros) of the free operating system Linux which have been specifically designed to function as firewalls.

A firewall is an important aspect of computer security these days, and most modern routers have one built in, which while helpful, can be difficult to configure. Fortunately there are also distributions (distros) of the free operating system Linux which have been specifically designed to function as firewalls.

These will generally have much more advanced features than those found on a router, and allow you to have far greater control over keeping your personal or business network safe.

These are the best Linux training providers and online courses

In this article, we’re going to evaluate six of the most popular free firewall distros. We have tried to emphasise both power and ease of use when considering these offerings and their relative merits. If you want to see all the firewall distros available out there, feel free to visit the DistroWatch website for a comprehensive list.

These distros can either be installed to a physical computer, or if you only have one device, run from a virtual machine. See our guide on setting up a virtual machine in Windows.

Most distros can be downloaded as an ISO file. You can use programs like UNetbootin to copy them to a USB stick and boot. Follow the steps in our guide here to do this.

5 of the most popular Linux gaming distrosWhat’s the best Linux distro for beginners?10 of the best lightweight Linux distros

ClearOS

ClearOS is by far the sleekest looking firewall distro in this roundup. It’s obvious that a lot of time and care has gone into developing the interface.

As most firewall distros are written for the stereotypical geek, it’s nice to see a refreshing change in what seems to have become the de facto standard of ‘cobble it together and think about the interface afterwards’. This said, ClearOS will run quite happily from the command line for more advanced users.

The installation is painless and takes around 10 minutes to complete. You’re given the choice to start in Public Server or Gateway mode, depending on how you want to use ClearOS.

Once done, reboot and you’ll be given all the info you need to access and administer your new firewall remotely. Everything is straightforward – it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into making ClearOS as easy-to-use as possible.

Once you’ve completed setup and accessed the web-based admin system, it doesn’t take long to familiarise yourself with the various settings and features of ClearOS as the distro provides ‘Getting Started’ help once you log in to the web interface. Setting up firewall rules is quick and painless, as is much of the other configuration.

The most pertinent feature of ClearOS is its usability, but this distro is about a lot more than just sleek looks. It packs in plenty of features as well – not only does it give you a simple, clean way to manage a firewall, but it enables the addition of extra services to your network.

Overall, ClearOS is a powerful distro. As it’s available in both free ‘Community’ and paid ‘Professional’ versions, it’s perfect for both homes and small businesses.

ClearOS Community 7.2.0Website: www.clearos.com/clearfoundation/software/clearos-7-communityRating: 9/10

IPCop

This distro, while entirely separate from IPFire, uses a helpful colour-coding scheme similar to the latter, in order to represent different connections. Green is for LAN, red for the internet, orange for DMZ, and blue for wireless clients.

IPCop was originally a fork of Smoothwall (which we’ll also cover later) and was in turn forked by the IPFire team as updates to IPCop are few and far between. The most recent version (2.1.9) was released in February 2015.

Installation is relatively straightforward, but there are some wildcard questions thrown into the mix. While these may puzzle the novice user, accepting the default options won’t cause any issues unless you have a very specific network configuration. One of the main advantages of IPCop is that the installation image is very small (around 60MB) and can be copied onto a DVD or flash drive.

IPCop’s web interface feels clunky, although our tests proved that this was merely psychological, because it was actually incredibly responsive. However, other than the ‘real-time’ graphs that Smoothwall provides, IPCop gives a lot more information about your LAN setup, and about the running of the firewall itself, including a list of the connections that are currently open.

The Firewall also provides a ‘caching proxy’, so that you can cache frequently accessed pages locally.

IPCop does a good job as a firewall, giving plenty of information about traffic on your network, and while it might not be the prettiest distro in the world, it does what it’s designed to do.

IPCop 2.1.9Website: www.ipcop.orgRating: 8/10

OPNsense

OPNsense is an easy-to-use open source firewall based on FreeBSD 10.1 to ensure long-term support. Obviously enough, the project’s name is derived from the words ‘open’ and ‘sense’, standing for: ‘Open source makes sense.’

The OPNsense project started out as a fork of the more established firewall pfSense in January 2015. The team claimed their reasons for forking the project were partly due to the type of licence pfSense used at the time, and partly because they believed they could create a more secure firewall.

The firewall now shares only around 10% of its code with the original pfSense project. Also note that the fork generated quite a lot of controversy between pfSense diehards and OPNsense supporters on Reddit.

OPNsense offers weekly security updates so can respond quickly to threats. It contains many advanced features you’d usually find only in commercial firewalls such as forward caching proxy and intrusion detection. It also supports using OpenVPN.

OPNsense incorporates a very rich GUI written in Phalcon PHP which is a real pleasure to use. Aside from being more appealing than pfSense’s interface, OPNsense was created partly due to the fact that the team felt the graphical interface shouldn’t have root access, as this can cause security issues.

The GUI has a simple search bar as well as a new System Health module. This module is interactive and provides visual feedback when analysing your network. You can also now export your data in CSV format for further analysis.

The firewall uses an Inline Intrusion Prevention System. This is a powerful form of Deep Packet Inspection whereby instead of merely blocking an IP address or port, OPNsense can inspect individual data packets or connections and stop them before they reach the sender if necessary. OPNsense also offers LibreSSL over OpenSSL.

OPNsense 18.1 (Groovy Gecko)Website: https://opnsense.orgRating: 8/10

IPFire

IPFire is a Linux firewall distro focusing on user-friendliness and easy setup without compromising your security, supporting some useful features such as intrusion detection. IPFire takes a serious approach to security by using an SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) Firewall built on top of netfilter.

IPFire is specifically designed for people who are new to firewalls and networking, and can be set up in minutes. The installation process allows you to configure your network into different security segments, with each segment being colour-coded. The green segment is a safe area representing all normal clients connected to the local wired network. The red segment represents the internet.

No traffic can pass from red to any other segment unless you have specifically configured it that way in the firewall. The default setup is for a device with two network cards with a red and green segment only. However, during the setup process you can also implement a blue segment for wireless connections and an orange one known as the DMZ for any public servers.

Once setup is complete, you can configure additional options and add-ons through an intuitive web interface.

The ISO image for IPFire is only 171MB in size, so once burned to DVD it’ll happily load into your computer’s system memory and work from there. Alternatively you can download a flash image to install it to a router or even an image for ARM devices such as the Raspberry Pi.

The IPFire project is in the process of crowdfunding a ‘captive portal’. This is perfect if you wish to show people who connect to your Wi-Fi network a landing or login page before connecting directly to the internet. It also prevents rogue devices connecting automatically.

IPFire 2.19Website: http://www.ipfire.orgRating: 9/10

pfSense

Like OPNsense, pfSense is based on FreeBSD and designed specifically to work as a firewall and router. As we’ve mentioned already, the fork between these two projects was controversial and pfSense still has many loyal users. Updates are released quarterly.

This distro runs on a range of hardware but currently only supports x86 architecture. The website has a handy hardware guide to allow you to choose a compatible device.

The installation is done from a command line but it’s very simple. You can choose to boot from either a CD or USB drive.

The setup assistant will ask you to assign interfaces during the installation, rather than once you’ve booted to the web interface. You can use the auto-detect feature to work out which network card is which.

The firewall has a small number of built-in features, such as multi-WAN, Dynamic DNS, hardware failover, and different methods of authentication. Unlike IPFire, pfSense already has a feature for a captive portal, whereby all DNS queries can be resolved to a single IP address such as a landing page for a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

This distro has a clean interface and is very smooth to use. Once again, as it’s based on BSD, some of the terminology used is confusing, but doesn’t take long to get to grips with.

pfSense is possibly the most feature-rich firewall distro out there, but falls down due to a lack of non-firewall-related extra features. If you’re just after a simple firewall, you can’t go wrong by choosing pfSense, but if you need anything above and beyond that basic functionality, you may want to consider one of the other distros.

pfSense 2.4.3Website: www.pfsense.orgRating: 7/10

Smoothwall Express

Smoothwall Express is probably the most well-known firewall distro. To test this, we did a quick poll of 20 Linux geeks, asking them to name a firewall distro. 19 of them came up with Smoothwall first.

The installation of Smoothwall Express is text-based, but you don’t need to be familiar with the Linux console and it’s all fairly straightforward. You may prefer to download or indeed print out the installation guide to walk you through the setup process. In order to do this you’ll need to create a my.smoothwall profile.

There are three installation options: Standard, Developer and Express. Developer is reserved for those people who actually want to work on coding the Smoothwall project. Express is a stripped-down version of Smoothwall which ensures maximum compatibility with older hardware.

Unless you have a very specific network configuration, you can usually accept the default options.

The web-based control panel is simple and easy to understand. Smoothwall Express doesn’t provide much in the way of extra features, but does allow you to have a separate account to control the main connection, which is especially useful if you’re using dial-up, alongside its caching web proxy service.

One of the benefits of Smoothwall Express is the simplicity it offers when running internal DNS – adding a new hostname takes only a few seconds. Assigning static IPs and enabling remote access can also be accomplished with a few mouse clicks.

The only issue we noticed during testing was that assigning static DHCP lease assignments requires you to click Add followed by Save, and it isn’t particularly obvious that you have to perform the second step. This led to a fair bit of confusion with our network attached printers jumping from one IP address to another.

Smoothwall Express 3.1 (Standard)Website: www.smoothwall.orgRating: 8/10Final verdict

Choosing the right firewall distro is largely dependent on your specific requirements, but whatever they may be, having protection from a firewall is simply a matter of common sense given the multitude of dangers on the internet these days. That said, aside from basic protection, once your firewall is installed it can also be helpful to have a few extra features for good measure.

Just a firewall

If you’re after a basic firewall, then all of the distros here will do a good job, with some performing better than others. If this sounds like you, you can’t go wrong with IPFire, which probably has the easiest setup process.

Failing that, IPCop and Smoothwall Express are excellent options if you’re not after anything too complex. If you need a commercial-grade solution and have money to burn, check out Smoothwall’s paid-for arm.

If you want something with a small footprint, or to run on an embedded device, pfSense’s website contains helpful guides to do this, although it will only run on x86 architectures. For other types of hardware, consider IPFire.

The winner

For us, however, a box in the corner that isn’t being used to its full extent is a wasted box. This is why we prefer to use virtualisation, whereby the firewall can run as a virtual server on the same hardware you use for web browsing.

While ClearOS remains the most powerful firewall, virtualisation is not as easy as it is with other firewall distros such as IPFire. And this, combined with the fact that IPFire allows easy customisation through its own add-on service Pakfire, means it’s the narrow winner over ClearOS, receiving our gold medal.

Nevertheless, Smoothwall Express deserves an honourable mention. It’s the only firewall that once installed will keep on running with minimal prompting and interference from you. If you ever need to locate specific settings, these are simple to find as well.

Also check out: 10 of the best Linux distros for privacy fiends and security buffs

Nokia X6 support goes live in India, expected to launch soon

Finnish smartphone maker Nokia is all set to introduce its mid-range smartphone, the Nokia X6 in India. While there has been no announcement from the company, the support page of the device has gone live in India, hinting that the device may soon make its way to the country.

Finnish smartphone maker Nokia is all set to introduce its mid-range smartphone, the Nokia X6 in India. While there has been no announcement from the company, the support page of the device has gone live in India, hinting that the device may soon make its way to the country.

The Nokia X6 and the Nokia 5.1 Plus recently received Bluetooth certification and the X6 was also spotted receiving Taiwan’s NCC certification. The device may soon be launched in other countries apart from India. In India, the device will compete with the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Zenfone Max Pro M1, which are powered by the same SoC.

Nokia X6 Specifications

The Nokia X6 runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and will be upgradable to Android P. It features a 5.8-inch full HD+ display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19:9. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and is the first device from Nokia to feature a notch.

In terms of performance, the Nokia X6 is powered by an octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC coupled with Adreno 509 GPU. In terms of memory, the device will be available in three variants – 4GB + 32GB internal storage, 4GB RAM + 64GB internal storage and 4GB RAM + 64GB internal storage.

Coming to the camera department, the Nokia X6 features a dual camera setup at the back consisting of a 16MP RGB sensor with f/2.0 aperture, 1.0um pixel size and a 5MP monochrome sensor with 1.2um pixel size and f/2.2 aperture. On the front, the device sports a 16MP selfie camera with 1.0um pixel size and f/2.0 aperture.

The Nokia X6 is powered by a 3,060mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 support. Connectivity options on the device include 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio, GPS and a USB Type – C port.

The best iPad deals in June 2018: get the cheapest prices on every model

Looking for cheap iPad deals? Then you’ve certainly landed in the right place as we’ve compared the best prices from all over the net for every iPad model still available. And yes, that includes everything from the brand new iPad 2018 – the latest iteration of the most popular 9.7-inch range – all the way back to the original iPad mini.

Looking for cheap iPad deals? Then you’ve certainly landed in the right place as we’ve compared the best prices from all over the net for every iPad model still available. And yes, that includes everything from the brand new iPad 2018 – the latest iteration of the most popular 9.7-inch range – all the way back to the original iPad mini.

The iPad has been king of the tablets for years and is one of the few premium lines still going strong. With new versions appearing each year at the moment, it means cheap iPads aren’t as rare as they used to be as prices on the older models tumble down.

So, whether you’re after a deal on a brand new iPad, iPad Pro the iPad Air 2 or even one of the older iPad minis from many years ago, we’ve found the best cheap iPad deals so you don’t have to.

If you’re a big fan of the Apple brand and operating system. You might want to take a look at an Apple laptop, we are of course talking about the MacBook. You’ll find we’ve got you covered for the latest cheap Macbook deals too.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest prices on a selection of popular iPad models. After that, keep scrolling for an extensive list of prices for every iPad model on the market today. If nothing takes your fancy today, maybe you’ll have better luck on Amazon Prime Day.

Here are the best cheap iPad deals on all available models…

Cheap iPad (2018) deals

Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad is very similar to the model released in 2017 and possibly not really worth the upgrade if you have that one to be honest. The main new feature here is the Apple Pencil support, a feature usually reserved for the far more expensive iPad Pro models. That pencil doesn’t come cheap though and has to be bought separately at £89/$99 – or you could get a third-party one for far less.

The new iPad is still a fantastic tablet though and is a bit faster and more powerful than the 2017 model thanks to the new A10 chipset. The iPad 2018 model is actually cheaper than last year’s launch prices, although they’ve dropped since. The iPad 2018 costs start at just $329 in the US, £319 in the UK and $469 in Australia.

Cheap iPad 9.7 2017 deals

Last year’s model is seeing some great reductions now on the original prices thanks to a new and improved 2018 version landing recently. The 9.7-inch 2017 iPad was the successor to the iPad Air 2. It’s a fraction thicker but contains an improved A9 chip with an M9 coprocessor for enhanced performance.

Surprisingly, this model is actually cheaper than the iPad Air 2, making it the choice for anyone wanting a larger pad without the high costs of the Pro model.

In the US, prices for the 32GB model launched at $329, compared to £339 in the UK and $469 in Australia. The 128GB model’s price at launch was US$429 / £429 / AU$599. Opt for the cellular/SIM card 32GB model prices are around US$469 / £469 / AU$669, with the 128GB model priced at US$559 / £559 / AU$799. Like we said though, prices are dropping nicely now.

Cheap iPad Pro (2017) deals

Hey, wasn’t there supposed to be an iPad Pro 2 soon? Well, yes, but Apple instead decided to name it the iPad Pro 10.5. Thanks, Apple…

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is actually a brand new size in the iPad Pro range, as the previous smallest model was 9.7-inches (as well as the 12.9-inch option). The new iPad Pro models use an A10X processor, and the older ones have the A9X chip if you need to tell the difference. Some retailers also have ‘2017’ in the listing title too, but many, including Apple, don’t.

Why buy the new iPad Pro models? Well, the A10X is a faster processor to give it the edge over the older iPad Pro although the performance boost isn’t huge to be honest. The rear camera gets a modest megapixel boost. The front camera gets a bigger upgrade though, for a much clearer FaceTime experience.

The new iPad Pro screens now benefit from smaller bezels and an improved display, for the best iPad display yet.

Both of the new models are available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB hard drive sizes. You’ll also need to decide if you want a standard iPad Pro with only Wi-Fi or mobile tethering options available for online activities, or to opt for the considerably more expensive cellular models and a data-only SIM only deal too.

If the improvements don’t float your boat, you should take a look further down this page as we’ve listed the best deals available for the older iPad Pro models.

Cheap iPad Pro 9.7 deals

The older 9.7 model is much cheaper than the new 10.5-incher

The iPad Pro 9.7 used to be the gold standard in iPad design, but it’s been dethroned by its slightly larger, yet younger sibling. This model originally arrived in March 2016 instead of an iPad Air 3 and still offers more than enough power and quality for someone thinking of stepping up to the Pro level of iPad, with the Pencil and Smart Keyboard on offer.

That’s great news for anyone who wanted pro features at a cheaper price, as it’s the least costly of all the iPad Pro models around right now.

Cheap iPad Pro 12.9 (2015) deals

The iPad Pro isn’t a laptop replacement in the way power users will hope but it is, by some distance, one of the most brilliant tablets ever released.

Using its enormous 12.9-inch screen is an impressive experience and the power inside – despite the age – has rarely been bettered in the tablet world. So to anyone that wants an iPad with more power, a better audio and reading experience and more abilities than ever before, there’s no question here.

Go for the iPad Pro and once you’ve got over the cost, you’ll find it offers a lot of benefits. And with the new 2017 version on shelves now, we’re seeing the price drop on this still-excellent iPad with many of the features you’ll actually want.

Cheap iPad Air 2 deals

The iPad Air 2 is older, but still a good buy, with us saying that Apple ‘improved on perfection’.

There’s a newer iPad 9.7 that acts as a spiritual successor to the iPad Air 2, but you can often find the former model for less, especially if you’re happy with refurbished models (and they’re very much worth checking out).

The combination of power, better screen, improved design and upgraded OS make this a very, very compelling device – and that’s before getting into the fact the app ecosystem is so much stronger than on Android.

It’s even better now iOS 10 is capable of scaling apps so seamlessly – the days of low-res iPhone apps are gone. Here are the best cheap iPad Air 2 deals currently available…

Cheap iPad Air deals

It’s still impressive to hold the iPad Air – even though it’s now the thicker option compare to the iPad above. From the clever construction to the fast processor to the improved user interface, this iPad may be a bit older but it’s still a strong choice for the right price. Choose a cheap iPad Air deal from these options we’ve found:

Cheap iPad mini 4 deals

Is the iPad mini 4 the best 7-inch tablet ever made? Quite possibly. One of the major changes with the iPad mini 4 over the previous year’s so-so mini 3 is its design.

It may look the same, but it’s been slimmed down from 7.5mm to a wafer thin 6.1mm. It’s also more powerful, has a stunning screen and the battery is still a 10-hour beast.

The A8 processor was a good step up from the A7 inside the mini 3 so if you’re going to play 3D games or throw around some of the more hefty iPad apps from the App Store, this is certainly your best option – all while being neat and compact.

Cheap iPad mini 3 deals

The iPad mini 3 wasn’t the most exciting upgrade when it launched, basically adding in a new color and Touch ID to the iPad mini 2. It’s now off-sale with the major retailers, but you can still pick it up for a half-decent price refurbished (even from Apple) or from resellers.

For most tablet tasks it’ll perform admirably and is updated to iOS 11 – so you’re still getting all the performance you’d want, with a more compact option over the Air range with the 7.9-inch screen this packs.

Here’s every cheap iPad mini 3 deal you could ever want, and then some…

Cheap iPad mini 2 deals

The first iPad mini with Retina display is a deal-tastic marvel

This was the first iPad with a Retina display, and it still stacks up thanks to some lower prices. The deals can fluctuate – if you see the iPad mini 3 above for cheaper, then go for that as it’s an enhanced model – but if you’re smart you can pick up the iPad mini 2 for a good price, and it’s perfect for the loved one who doesn’t need the best screen and highest-performing processor.

Only word of warning: it might not get upgraded to iOS 12, so won’t have all the newest features. But then again, if you’re not bothered about the screen, you’re probably not going to care about that either.

Here are the best cheap iPad mini 2 deals currently available…

Cheap iPad mini deals

The cheapest iPad out there but it’s still a winner

So the original iPad mini may not have a Retina display but for the right price, it’s still worth looking at. That said, there aren’t a lot of places putting it for under $200 / £200 / AU$300, which is the level we’d suggest if you wanted this ageing iPad. Here are the best cheap iPad mini deals we can find at the moment, but we’d suggest going for at least a mini 2 right now.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro official renders, unboxing images revealed ahead of launch

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has posted the official renders of its upcoming budget device, dubbed as the Redmi 6 Pro on Weibo, a Chinese social media portal. Additionally, a Chinese website has also posted unboxing images of the device ahead of its launch.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has posted the official renders of its upcoming budget device, dubbed as the Redmi 6 Pro on Weibo, a Chinese social media portal. Additionally, a Chinese website has also posted unboxing images of the device ahead of its launch.

Xiaomi is scheduled to launch the Redmi 6 Pro and the Mi Pad 4 in China on June 25. The specifications and an image of the device were revealed earlier when it was spotted on TENAA and now, the official renders and unboxing images have revealed the complete design of the device.

Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro Specifications

The Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro looks similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro at the back but at the front, it has a 19:9 notch display, making it the first Redmi device to feature a notch and the second device from Xiaomi with a notch after the Mi 8 series.

It runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with MIUI 9 skinned on top and features a 5.84-inch full HD+ 2.5D curved glass display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19:9.

In terms of performance, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro will be powered by an octa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC coupled with Adreno 506 GPU. In terms of memory, the device will be available in two variants – 3GB RAM with 32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB internal storage. The unboxing image from the Chinese website has revealed that the device will have a dedicated microSD card slot.

Coming to the camera department, the Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro will feature a dual camera setup similar to the Redmi 6, featuring a 12MP Sony IMX486 sensor with 1.25um pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus, LED flash and a secondary 5MP Samsung S5K5E8 sensor with f/2.2 aperture and 1.12um pixel size. On the front, the device will sport a 5MP selfie camera.

The Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro will be powered by a 4,000mAh battery and connectivity options on the device will include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio, Infrared port, Bluetooth 5.0 and GPS.

CUJO AI Awarded as Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum

CUJO AI is a forward-thinking artificial intelligence company, providing network operators AI-driven solutions. That includes AI security, advanced device identification, digital parenting, network analytics and more. CUJO AI Platform creates intuitive end-user facing applications for LAN and wireless (mobile and public wifi), powered by machine learning and real-time data.

CUJO AI is a forward-thinking artificial intelligence company, providing network operators AI-driven solutions. That includes AI security, advanced device identification, digital parenting, network analytics and more. CUJO AI Platform creates intuitive end-user facing applications for LAN and wireless (mobile and public wifi), powered by machine learning and real-time data.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers community are early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

This year’s cohort is the most diverse ever, both geographically and in terms of gender. 25% are female-led, and a majority (54%) come from regions outside the United States and Silicon Valley, with each continent represented, barring Antarctica. There is also a wide variety in the technologies the pioneers focus on: the focus technologies include artificial intelligence, big data and internet of things (IoT), biotechnology, blockchain, autonomous vehicles, cyber security, vertical farming and other agricultural advances, decentralised microgrids and robotics. The full list of technology pioneers can be found here.

Following its selection as Technology Pioneer, CEO Einaras von Gravrock of CUJO AI will be participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions. This meeting, also dubbed “Summer Davos” will be held in Tianjin, China, September 18-20. Many Pioneers will also attend the Annual Meeting in Davos, in January 2019, and continue to contribute to Forum initiatives in the course of the next two years.

“We welcome CUJO AI in this diverse group of technology pioneers,” says Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the World Economic Forum. CUJO AI and its fellow pioneers are front and centre in shaping the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution and we believe they will be transforming society and industry in a positive way in the years to come.”

“CUJO AI team is pleased to join the innovative community of Technology Pioneers, and get acknowledged by the World Economic Forum. Our mission is to offer a secure connection and seamless protection everywhere in the world. Back in 2015, we spotted a real problem for real people. Right away we started leveraging artificial intelligence in our solutions,” – said CEO of CUJO AI, Einaras von Gravrock. “We are excited to leave a mark with our technology and reshape tomorrow’s connected experience.”

The Technology Pioneers were selected by a selection committee of more than 60 academics, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate executives. The committee based its decisions on criteria including innovation, potential impact and leadership. Past recipients include Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Spotify, TransferWise, Twitter and Wikimedia.

All info on this year’s Technology Pioneers can be found here: http://wef.ch/techpioneers18
More information on past winners can be found here.

About CUJO AI: CUJO AI is the leading artificial intelligence company providing network operators AI-driven solutions, including AI security, advanced device identification, advanced parental controls, and network analytics. CUJO AI Platform creates intuitive end-user facing applications for LAN and wireless (mobile and public wifi). Each solution can be implemented as a white-label offering. CUJO AI was recently listed as a “Vendor to Watch” and a “Cool Vendor in IoT security” by research company Gartner. In May 2018, the company has closed a strategic Series B round, led by Charter Communications, valuing the company in access of $100M. For more information about CUJO AI, please visit www.cujo.com.

About World Economic Forum: The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).

CUJO AI Media Relations:
Eve Masiulyte
Email: eve@cujo.com
Tel.: 323-284-7216
S: www.cujo.com

Cision View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cujo-ai-awarded-as-technology-pioneer-by-world-economic-forum-300669950.html

SOURCE CUJO AI

Related Links

https://www.cujo.com/

Spark Design Awards Spring Winners

This year saw a wide variety of entries from firms like Philips Lighting, Rockwell Collins, Nest and Milwaukee Tools. Students came from many countries including Germany, UK, ROK China and US.

This year saw a wide variety of entries from firms like Philips Lighting, Rockwell Collins, Nest and Milwaukee Tools. Students came from many countries including Germany, UK, ROK China and US.

Spark will continue throughout the year,” said Kuchnicki. “We judge many design categories ranging from Graphics to Textiles. We have every discipline of design covered and invite all designers to participate.”

SPRING PRODUCT DESIGN WINNERS

Design Name

Award

Organization

Nest Thermostat E

Platinum

Nest

Nest Secure

Platinum

Nest

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor

Gold

Nest

Nest Cam IQ Indoor

Gold

Nest

Norton Core Wi-Fi

Gold

Symantec Corp

Royyo

Silver

Koncept, Inc.

Gardco PureForm Luminaires

Silver

Philips Lighting

Nest Hello

Silver

Nest

FLEXI Sofa

Bronze

Normand Couture Design

Versa

Bronze

Fitbit Inc.

Milwaukee M18/M12 Speaker

Bronze

Anvil Studios, Inc

SPRING CONCEPT DESIGN WINNERS

Design Name

Award

Organization

HI-AI Speaker

Platinum

Jeju National University

Needles

Platinum

Beijing Institute of Technology

Nipple Dust Mask

Platinum

Korea Polytechnic University

SEED

Platinum

Konkuk University

Stand

Platinum

California College of the Arts

Amper

Gold

Art Center College

Andong Soju

Gold

Hanseo University.

Eclipse

Gold

Kongju National University

Fight4Her

Gold

University of Nevada

Grit Resistance Trainers

Gold

Art Center College

SECANT Luminous Panel

Gold

Rockwell Collins

VAVI

Gold

Hanseo University

AMPEROBO

Silver

Kyungnam University

Awheel

Silver

Chungnam National University

One Meal Cooker

Silver

KDM, Gwang Ju

Safe IV

Silver

KDM, Gwang Ju

TEA & TOAST

Silver

University of Wuppertal

Tern Air Purifier

Silver

Wuhan University of Technology

Triage Tag

Silver

Korea Design Membership

Air Stick

Bronze

KDM / Keimyung University

AQUA Weather Station

Bronze

University of Wuppertal

Church of Ascent

Bronze

Ron Architects

Dr. Cool

Bronze

UNIST

Hanger Iron

Bronze

Korea Design Membership

Lemore Remote Control

Bronze

Hong Ik University

New Laser Clamp

Bronze

Jeju National University

ORDINARY Leg Prothesis

Bronze

LaSalle College of the Arts

Poing

Bronze

KDM / Dongseo University

Seoul City Identity

Bronze

Hoseo University

Sky Light

Bronze

Hong Ik University

Smart IV Stand

Bronze

Jeju National University

STROT

Bronze

Konkuk University

TWIG

Bronze

Konkuk University

Valkyrie Bed

Bronze

Rockwell Collins

Photos:
https://www.prlog.org/12714836

Press release distributed by PRLog

Cision View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/spark-design-awards-spring-winners-300669817.html

SOURCE Spark Design Awards

First look: Polaroid Mint – the 2-in-1 camera-printer for selfie nuts

Polaroid, the penultimate icon of ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia, is hard at work reestablishing its niche in a photography world dominated by smartphones with its latest attempt: the Polaroid Mint.

Polaroid Mint, first shown at CE Week 2018 in New York, is the company’s next photo-printing camera with a decidedly focused orientation and design.

Polaroid, the penultimate icon of ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia, is hard at work reestablishing its niche in a photography world dominated by smartphones with its latest attempt: the Polaroid Mint.

Polaroid Mint, first shown at CE Week 2018 in New York, is the company’s next photo-printing camera with a decidedly focused orientation and design. The camera is traditionally oriented in a portrait position, which is aimed at leveling with the Instagram generation of amateur photographers. The thing even has a tiny mirror to frame your selfies with.

Secondly, the design of the product, with its optical viewfinder and very simple settings toggles, seems specifically pointed toward older millennials and those of Generation X. Perhaps these people have joined the rank and file of Instagrammers, but they miss the old days of needlessly waving around instant photo prints – ‘to make them develop faster.’

The so-called Polaroid Mint Instant Print Camera is simply a rectangular block that houses a 16-megapixel (MP) digital sensor that can be set with a self-timer. The sensor supports six picture modes: vibrant color, black and white, vintage, vibrant color with Polaroid border, black and white with Polaroid border and vintage with Polaroid border.

Yes, the Mint produces 2 x 3-inch full-color prints – with the classic Polaroid border – by simply loading Polaroid’s ZINK, or zero-ink, paper into the top of the device just as you would in today’s latest standard printers. The camera then artificially imposes the border effect, but it looks all the same.

Of course, you can choose to just print a full photo, but you won’t be missing much of your shot with such a small print.

The Mint produces prints in less than a minute, about 45 seconds, and can move photos straight to a microSD card or a computer via microUSB (this port is also used for charging the built-in lithium-ion battery). Speaking of which, the battery lasts for up to 40 prints.

Having taken a photo of ourselves and seen its printing in action, we were immediately taken back to our childhood, watching mom furiously wag freshly printed photos of the birthday party before the cake is obliterated. It’s an interesting, if novelty, product that’s sure to find its place among the more curmudgeonly millenials and Gen-Xers out there.

The Polaroid Mint Instant Print Camera is expected to launch in Q3 2018, so between July and the end of September, for $99 (about £79, AU$139). The required film will come in 20, 30 and 50-sheet packages for unknown prices at the time of writing.

Shoot or just print with Polaroid Mint

Now, Polaroid is also releasing a straight printer version of the product that features local Wi-Fi connectivity. This version of the Mint features no camera, but rather connects to your smartphone to print photos.

This has the unique advantage of printing photos based on your smartphone camera’s sensor rather than Polaroid’s own, which caps out at 16MP and likely doesn’t have the advanced image sensing that smartphones have, like HDR.

Polaroid even developed its own camera app for use with this product, which allows for several filter and custom frame options. Of course, you can just send photos to the Mint (get it?) taken with any camera app.

Otherwise, the product looks identical to the camera-bound option. Oddly enough, this option costs more at $129 (about £99, AU$179), and is expected to launch alongside the camera-equipped model. (It must be the Wi-Fi hardware inside.)

Will either of these products spark a revolution in printed photos? That’s tough to predict from our short time with the device, but we’re just glad Polaroid is still here – and seemingly for the long haul.

These are the best cameras the world over

LG G7 ThinQ and V35 ThinQ available for preorder on Google’s Project Fi – CNET

You can now preorder the LG G7 ThinQ and LG V35 ThinQ on Google’s Project Fi wireless network.

Through Project Fi, the LG G7 ThinQ costs $749 (or $31.21 per month for 24 months) and the LG V35 ThinQ costs $899 (or $37.46 per month for 24 months).

You can now preorder the LG G7 ThinQ and LG V35 ThinQ on Google’s Project Fi wireless network.

Through Project Fi, the LG G7 ThinQ costs $749 (or $31.21 per month for 24 months) and the LG V35 ThinQ costs $899 (or $37.46 per month for 24 months). If you preorder either LG phone between now and July 7, Google will give you $100 in Project Fi credit, making the two premium phones a bit more affordable.

Project Fi is different than traditional wireless carriers because it uses Wi-Fi for calls, texts and data whenever available. If it can’t connect to Wi-Fi, it uses cellular support from Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular.

One issue with Project Fi is that it has mostly been limited to Google Pixel and Nexus phones, though Google has been expanding those options. In September 2017, Google said it was adding the Moto X4 as the first non-Google Project Fi phone. Later it added the Moto G6, LG G7 ThinQ and LG V35 ThinQ to the Project Fi lineup. The G7 and V35 are the first LG phones supported by Google’s network.

Share your voice

Post a comment

Tags
PhonesGoogleLG