Bets are being positioned on soccer since extremely long time. Nevertheless, all this has been revolutionized with the idea of online betting. The online betting sites has changed the way individuals utilized to gamble with video games. Now football betting has become great deal easier with the concept of on-line soccer betting. There are numerous advantages of online soccer betting, no matter whether you are a hardcore betting fan or a simple informal gambler.
People created these things simply because they think that they’ve cracked the code when it comes to sports forecasting, including football betting predictions. People want to have a much better life, so they would risk a few bucks with the hopes of winning back again much more than what they lost. That is such an outrageous distinction in football betting lines that the probability of it happening is essentially impossible. This is my upset choose for week twelve of the 2009 NFL season. They could comprehend evaluations as nicely as suggestions in wagering.
Soccer followers are having double enjoyment with the matches and also through soccer betting. Many ended up being a professional soccer bettor and they make tons of money from the sport. Of course, there are also punters who lose their fortunes because of to various factors. Yet, if you are serious in soccer betting, the quantity of profit waiting around for you is endless. However, to improve your probabilities of successful, it is great to know some essential tips on betting soccer.
For beginners, there are particular judi casino online that they require to follow. A newbie ought to start with merely observing the sport. This consists of keeping a track of the leading teams and also the leading gamers. Bets can be positioned on teams and even individual players. They should know if a particular group is on a successful spree or if a star player is hurt. This should be tracked down and a record should be maintained.
Learning the lineups of teams can come handy: By learning the lineups of different groups, you will be familiar with the various details as for who the very best gamers are, what is their position in the field and how they match up with their rivals.
. Substantial players. For these who have a favorite workforce, you definitely have a favorite participant. Admit it or not, you would like to get out the most valuable information on your participant. You occasionally concentration and monitor their enhancements, scores, mishaps and successes.
Once you have mixed the Statistical and Basic evaluation, you would discover a dramatic improve of your “being correct” proportion. Make sure you know that high “being correct” ratio does not imply high revenue. A tipster usually plays the higher odds (at minimum 3) and has been right around 40%25 of the time, will make much more money that a tipster that always plays the low odds (1.3 – 1.five) and has been right 70%twenty five of the time.
Associations that contradict betting will frequently assert that betting has no advantages. This isn’t valid. Past the delight we encounter, numerous types of betting can instruct helpful aptitudes. Blackjack, for instance, shows us about chances, difference, and cash administration. Putting down wagers on stallion hustling can likewise show individuals a tremendous sum on chances and probabilities, as wagering on diverse steeds offers distinctive payouts for winning. Indeed, even those with constrained numerical foundations rapidly discover that wagering $5 on a stallion with 14-1 chances will pay them back $70 for a win. Comparable aptitudes can be learned with games wagering.
While these and some different types of betting can give some ability improvement, none offers the chance to grow true aptitudes like poker. It appears to be fitting that the most marvellous of all betting diversions can show us to such an extent. All things considered, Mark Twain talked smoothly about poker and it’s been played consistently in the Oval Office by numerous presidents. It is evaluated that 70-80 million Americans play poker. While some play for low stakes and some play for high stakes, Americans cherish this amusement that consolidates intuition, scientific capacity, brain research, and good fortune.
Researchers concentrating on poker have utilized a wide range of methodologies; however reliably find that poker is a diversion that requires huge ability. College of Chicago specialists concentrated on results from the greatest yearly poker rivalry, the World Series of Poker. They found that profoundly talented players had an arrival on venture (ROI) of more than 30 percent, while different players had a negative ROI of 15 percent. In a study I distributed in Gaming Law Review and Economics, myself and partner Michael Smith found that poker players who invested more energy concentrating on poker earned more cash. Given that no measure of contemplating would win a round of fortunes like the lottery, this gives confirm that poker is an amusement prevalently taking into account ability. Research from the University of Pennsylvania found that the measure of ability required wasn’t dissimilar to the expertise required in golf.
That poker is an amusement that compensates ability isn’t addressed among genuine researchers. Be that as it may, poker can likewise show people some unbelievably significant abilities.
Initial, a man who plays a lot of poker can take in a lot of insights, arithmetic, and probabilities. Poker players rapidly take in the significance of ascertaining what are called “pot chances” – the measure of cash a player could win versus the sum he or she would need to hazard – and generally rapidly. Fundamental information of pot chances, joined with how frequently a player supposes he or she will win, can help in settling on ideal choices. For instance, in case you’re in a hand where you gauge you’ll win the hand 1/3 of the time, the choice on whether to call a rival’s wagered will come down to the chances. In the event that you need to call a $10 wager (i.e., hazard $10 to stay in the hand), you’ll see it unbeneficial to call if the aggregate you can win is not exactly $20, however productive if the sum you can win is more than $20. The choice to call can’t be made in separation – you would need to assess both the chances of winning and the sum you can win to settle on the right.
The math in Poker online can get very progressed. You can look at the likelihood that a player holds a specific hand given the assortment of conceivable hands you’d expect him/her to hold. A genuine poker player will take in what might as well be called no less than one school level measurements course through playing. There are significantly a greater number of advantages from poker than simply learning insights, notwithstanding.
Poker online players additionally find out about vital communications. Poker compensates the individuals who can outmanoeuvre their adversary and can take diverse bits of data and blend them to settle on right choices. This may appear to be natural, yet some moderately profound ideas are found out by the individuals who play poker, incorporating propelled ideas in amusement hypothesis like blended procedures and exploitative techniques. In amusement hypothesis, a blended technique happens when a player won’t have any desire to make the same move inevitably.
This article contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Halo 5: Guardians is not the Halo you remember. It’s a different kind of game altogether, something that more closely resembles a modern first-person shooter that focuses on multiplayer rather than a strong solo experience. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, but it is the first time in 11 years that a new Halo campaign feels like a massive step backward compared to its predecessor. Microsoft-owned studio 343 Industries is capable of better than this and proved as much with its killer freshman effort, Halo 4. But instead of addressing what it got wrong with that installment (e.g., an unexplained main villain) and doubling down on what it did right (e.g., an emotional storyline and constantly varying gameplay), the team fundamentally altered how a Halo campaign works to horrendous results.
A few worthless Spartans
The developers at 343 say that Halo 5‘s story is part of “the greatest evolution in Halo history,” but that transformation comes at a price. The change here is that regardless of which protagonist you play as (either manhunter Jameson Locke or his target, returning super soldier Master Chief), you’ll be babysitting squads of mindless AI teammates 100 percent of the time. Basically, they exist so your online-only co-op buddies can play as real characters instead of clones of Master Chief that disappear in story scenes. Halo has had co-op play since its 2001 debut, but playing solo was never a subpar experience as a result; playing through the campaign in co-op existed as its own separate thing. In Guardians, co-op’s been shoehorned into the narrative at the detriment of enjoying the game’s story during solo play.
Previous entries in the series had players fighting alongside hilarious Marines who acted like disposable lemmings; I never had to rely on them for much more than comic relief. Those games also featured long stretches where I could be alone with my thoughts and explore at my own pace. What’s more, having the occasional break from the troops made me actively look forward to the next time we fought together. That isn’t the case here.
Imagine the adorably dim-witted allies having their personalities removed and being charged with keeping you alive, and you’ve got Halo 5‘s squad-mates. In theory, they’d be an awesome asset because they’re the same type of super soldiers, dubbed Spartans, you play as. Except I’d never have known they were the best warriors in the galaxy by how they acted here. Most of the time, my squad just stood out in the open soaking up enemy gunfire and adding nothing to the gameplay at all, as opposed to working as a team and absolutely destroying every enemy the way they do in non-interactive story scenes. For a solo player such as myself, there’s no real payoff for this massive change.
The secret history
I was a gigantic nerd for Halo lore with the first few games, but it quickly became much less manageable to read every book because there was simply too much canonized fiction and it wildly varied in quality. Consider Halo 4‘s lead-in: the live-action direct-to-internet Forward Unto Dawn. Microsoft had finally given fans the Halo movie they’d been clamoring for and it was an absolute bore. After being burned by that, I wasn’t too excited about potentially wasting my time watching Locke’s origin story in the Ridley Scott-produced Halo: Nightfall.
But if I wanted to actually learn about his character, it’d be required viewing because by the time Halo 5‘s credits rolled, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about him or his Fireteam Osiris except that Nathan Fillion (who reprises his role as now-Spartan Edward Buck) is his typical smart-ass self. Master Chief’s Blue Team actually fares worse because there isn’t a Buck-like “star.” The elite squad plays key roles in tie-in novels, but 343 doesn’t do anything to establish who they are in-game.
Early on you overhear Blue Team talking about Master Chief’s service record, saying that his years of continuous battle must be having an effect on him. That promising theme is never explored beyond a single hallucination in the first of three missions he stars in. The problem with Guardians’ storyline isn’t that you only play as Master Chief for a third of the game; it’s that his scant inclusion here feels like an afterthought; a bone tossed half-heartedly to returning players. It wouldn’t be as much of an issue if his replacement, Locke, was actually interesting and given cool stuff to do, but he isn’t. So it is.
Death becomes Halo
Death in Halo has always meant I’d die; my corpse would comically ragdoll around; enemies would quip about their kill; and the game would reload instantaneously. Guardians switches the formula with the inclusion of a rescue system. Now when you fall in combat, a computer- (or human-) controlled squad-mate has a finite amount of time to not die themselves before performing a revive, lest you bleed out and return to the previous checkpoint. All told, that results in anywhere from 15 to 45 seconds of being completely infantilized as the battle rages on. This revive mechanic brings the game to a grinding halt and the mandatory pause hinders any sense of low-risk experimentation in changing up tactics. By my estimates, Guardians wasted at least an hour of my playtime thanks to the new revive system.
Master Chief (left) and Jameson Locke (right) in happier times.
When my squad inevitably got knocked out and I was left standing in single-player mode, I never really cared to rescue them and I’m pretty sure that feeling was mutual. It was never a guarantee they’d get to me safely and I didn’t feel like their top priority. On the flipside, I always looked forward to my squad dying so I could have some alone time. But the moments of solitude when they were all gone were a tease: They’d inexplicably resurrect themselves to finish the fight and yell at me to keep moving forward.
I always looked forward to my squad dying so I could have some alone time.
In Guardians, you’ll die a lot — especially if you’re playing alone on the higher difficulty settings. It’s always been that way. The thing is, none of my 237 deaths in the game (there’s a counter) felt like the result of an enemy outsmarting me. Rather, it was because I was outgunned. And if I wanted that type of experience, I’d hop into adversarial multiplayer online. Almost every death I endured felt cheap, a frustration that mounted when coupled with the scattershot teammate AI. So much so that in the interest of reducing my blood pressure, I resorted to skipping past enemy encounters in the last levels and bumping the difficulty down because I couldn’t take it anymore. And were it not for the need to finish the game for this critique, I wouldn’t have even done that — I’d have stopped playing outright. When the primary gameplay — combat, in this case — isn’t fun, that’s a massive problem.
In the Bungie-led games and 343’s own Halo 4 there was always a sense of variety and surprise while fighting — that’s all but missing here. Previously, the robotic Prometheans fought intelligently. A low-flying drone offered a shield capability to ground forces and it’d even vacuum up grenades before they’d hit my target. Panther-like metallic creatures would skitter this way and that, avoiding incoming fire and taking potshots every now and again. In Halo, it always felt like the AI was thinking.
Not here. A vast majority of the battles are monotonous large-scale affairs that, while technically impressive, are just noisy and a chore to complete. The combat’s just a hoop to jump through to get to the next weak story sequence. In the last few missions, that became increasingly apparent when I was just fighting wave after wave of enemies in what felt like a poorly executed version of the franchise’s arcadey, wave-based “Firefight” mode.
My squad’s tactical usefulness during battle was questionable as well. For instance, I couldn’t direct the Halo fiction’s best sniper, Linda, toward a vantage point to kill out-of-reach enemies and have other members of the legendary Blue Team flank two hulking Hunters while I attacked their weak spots from behind. All you’re able to do is direct them to a specific location or to attack one enemy. The trio moves and fights as a singular unit and the only useful squad order was to send them ahead to act like a bullet-sponge before I entered a new area. And even then, their effectiveness was hit or miss.
A vast majority of the battles are monotonous large-scale affairs that, while technically impressive, are just a chore to complete.
Counter that with something like the Mass Effect series, which had incredibly useful teammates that each served unique and important roles during combat, and you’ll see just how poorly implemented the system here is. Squad commands are just too shallow to be useful, which makes me question why they were even added in the first place. Sure, the team members in Guardians have context for the now online-only co-op, but when Bungie did something similar for Halo 3, you didn’t have the chore of directing limp AI because you were playing solo. Babysitting these AI squad mates also served as a painful reminder that even if I wanted to bring friends in to fight alongside me locally, I couldn’t.
The whole way through the game, it felt like I wasn’t welcome because I was playing by myself. The only thing that pulled me through one tiresome firefight to the next was the promise of meeting returning characters. And even then there was no real payoff. The sole bright spot occurred when the game offered up what made past Halo entries fun: massive outdoor environments, exploration and encounters with clever enemies. But that didn’t happen until missions seven, eight and nine, and after that, Guardians went back to feeding me garbage.
In the months leading up to the Halo 5: Guardians release, 343 repeatedly said that hitting a silky smooth 60 frames per second was the top priority and that it wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that — not even the couch co-op that’d appeared in every release prior. Apparently, making sure Guardians was fun to play solo wasn’t high on the list, either.
Is it a TV? Is it a tablet? As far as Samsung is concerned, its enormous new Galaxy View is a little bit of both. We took one home for some hands-on time on our own turf, and after a day the View seems to have struck a decent balance between the two. Don’t get us wrong: it’s still a little silly and will continue to inspire endless Twitter jokes, but the View has the chance to carve out a curious (and possibly lucrative) new niche.
Unlike other super-sized tablets we’ve seen lately, the Galaxy View isn’t a device meant to help you get things done. In fact, it’s quite the opposite — it’s a smart screen that’s basically been designed to make goofing off and watching videos as simple as possible. In fact, being productive on the Galaxy View is pretty damned impractical unless you’ve got it standing upright and paired with the keyboard. Otherwise, the simple process of shooting off an email will probably require you to (comfortably) cradle the View on your lap and cope with an enormous on-screen keyboard. Once you fire breeze through the usual Google account sign in, you’re dropped into a grid of content services whose apps you can download from the Play Store for quick access. Shortcuts to all the usual suspects — Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Twitch, Crackle and AOL On — are here, and joined by yet more lifestyle content providers like Lifetime, PBS Kids, ESPN and the History Channel. It’s an eclectic mix, sure, but it does bring a little something for everyone.
Actually watching stuff on the View’s 18.5-inch screen is pretty good too. The display buffs reading might moan about the display only running at 1080p, but really — there isn’t a ton of Ultra HD content available yet, and sticking a crazy pixel-dense screen would’ve meant saying goodbye to the View’s $599 staring price tag. It’s a big screen and you’re not going to be pressing your face right up against the glass, so most of your content is going to come across crisply and brightly. Speaking of your content, the View comes with either 32 or 64GB of storage, and there’s a microSD card slot on the back of the curvaceous screen. You can also use the microUSB port on the side (the only bit of wired I/O to be found) to link up additional storage devices or use the View as a secondary display with the right kind of adapter. Samsung designers sort of bristled when the possibility was brought up; as far as they’re concerned, the View is first and foremost a streaming machine.
Samsung’s also looking at the view as a sort of television that moves with you, thanks to a handle carved into the swiveling stand. The last gadget I owned with a handle was an ancient blueberry iBook so picking up the view and walking around the office with it was a neat little blast from the past — you’ll definitely feel the View’s 5 pounds digging into your fingers after a while, though. The version of the Galaxy View I’ve been playing with doesn’t have a 3G or LTE radio inside (we’re told that’s coming soon) so its chops as a travel companion are pretty limited.
That said, no one seemed to bat at eyelash at me while I carried this thing through Penn Station in the middle of the night, though I can’t say the same for when I used it to read an Oliver Sacks book on a commuter train into New Jersey. On the upside, reading a book with a two-column layout on the View is like reading two sheets of A4 paper side by side — it’s actually sort of lovely. The View is best suited for short trips around the house, and a little overnight experience bears that out — it feels a little silly bringing a gigantic from my bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen, but it feels surprisingly at home in each of those spots. There’s no denying that the Galaxy View is an odd little duck, but the idea of a streaming media-centric screen isn’t all that outlandish.
You really can’t accuse Microsoft of phoning it in when it built the original Band. Between jamming 10 different sensors into a glorified wristband and creating a new health platform to interpret your data, the company shot for the stars… and wound up with one cumbersome wearable. Thankfully, the $250 sequel fixes nearly every gripe we had with the original design, and adds a new sensor too. The Band 2 might not be the perfect fitness partner, but it comes much, much closer to realizing Microsoft’s goal than the original did.
Microsoft Health is useful, thoughtful
Guided workouts are still great
Third-party app selection is getting better
Battery life is still short
Interface can be a little obtuse
GPS can take ages to find you
Microsoft’s first fitness tracker was a clunker, but the Band 2 is more refined, with a comfortable design and a thoughtful software platform that has gotten better over time. Even so, there are still some kinks Microsoft needs to work out, and the short battery life in particular might be a dealbreaker for some.
I’m probably in the minority for not hating the original Microsoft Band, but my fondness never extended to its design. Aesthetically and ergonomically, the thing was a mess. Microsoft, realizing that a wearable should be, well, wearable, went back to the drawing board and finally came up with a design that’s not nearly as cumbersome. The new Band owes its relative comfort in large part to its curved AMOLED screen — the screen follows the natural curve of your wrist more elegantly than the original’s flat display ever could. The downside? It makes the Band look a bit like an ill-fated Samsung wearable. Whatever — it was the right decision to make. That screen is covered with a tiny sheet of Gorilla Glass 3, too, a flourish I wish they remembered last year. When I tried that first Band, Microsoft included a screen protector I quickly lost and it was maybe four hours before the first nicks started marring the screen. It didn’t help that Microsoft suggested you wear the Band with the screen on the inside of your wrist, which gave me pangs of concern every time I plopped my hands on my laptop and started typing.
More importantly, the hefty battery bulges that punctuated the first Band are mostly gone. See, Microsoft used to brag about all the sensors it managed to cram into such a small package, and the designers mounted two separate power cells on opposite ends of the wristband. Neat technical achievement? Perhaps, but it also made for a clunky cuff that tended to squeeze people’s wrists. Microsoft’s solution is more thoughtful this time — the battery lives in a single bulge at the end of the strap so it pushes into the top (or bottom, depending on your preference) of your wrist instead of all around it. There hasn’t been an appreciable dip in battery life, either, so you’ll generally squeeze a good two days out of the thing before connecting it to its charging clasp (the older one won’t work, alas). If you’re itching to use the Band as a smartwatch, expect to get closer to a day and a half of continued use with Watch mode enabled — at least you’ll be able to glance at the date and time whenever you need to.
The rest of the band is made of a comfortable dark gray elastomer — your wrists might get a little sweaty, but at least they won’t feel the pinch of bad design. Make no mistake: This year’s Microsoft Band is a huge improvement over the original, even if it’s still tricky to put on with one hand. Now, about those sensors. All 10 of those original data collectors — the heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light detector, skin temperature monitor, UV and capacitive sensors, microphone and one that measures galvanic skin response — are back and they’re joined by a barometer for measuring elevation changes. It was and remains one of the most comprehensive approaches I’ve seen to mobile health tracking, and it represents a very valuable sort of thinking. Just counting steps is fine and all, but traipsing around gets so many bodily systems working in unison that it would be a shame not to gather all that extra context.
One might imagine Microsoft’s step forward with hardware would be accompanied by some sweet new software functionality. Well, yes and no. The company has been dutifully updating the original Band with new features since launch, so there’s a surprisingly small gap between what these two wearables are actually capable of. Quick Read, for instance, helpfully flashes incoming messages on the screen one word at a time (like Spritz) — that arrived on the original Band back in February. And that impressive, shot-tracking golfing feature? Part of the first Band’s repertoire as of June 2015. I have to give Microsoft props for making sure last-generation Band owners aren’t getting the shaft, but it does make the Band 2 just a little less exciting… for now, anyway.
The coming of Windows 10 also signaled a new era of third-party app support for the Band, with partners like Uber and Subway working on more software for our wrists. Alas, they’re not quite done, so it’ll be a while yet before you can order a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich from your watch. (Pro health tip: Do not order a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich.) Beyond those new apps, the Band hooks into a host of popular fitness services, including go-to options like MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, Strava for bike rides and more. By offering your health data up to the services you already use, Microsoft is worming its way into your existing fitness routine (and doing a pretty good job of it). Of course, Microsoft has a health platform of its own — imaginatively called Microsoft Health — which keeps tabs on your daily steps taken, calories burned, hours slept and more. Chances are you’ll mostly interact with this data on your phone, but I’d recommend poking around in Microsoft Health’s web dashboard — the lack of size limitations means you’ll find more observations, comparisons and pretty graphs.
But what is all of this like to use? It sort of depends — you could just use the Band 2 as a smartwatch and be happy with the way texts, emails, calls, tweets and Facebook messages roll in. I’ve spent the majority of my time testing the Band with an iPhone, and it mostly does a fine job of syncing my (lousy) health data over to Microsoft’s Health app. There are a few extra benefits to be had if your Band is lashed to a Windows Phone — issuing voice commands to Cortana still works very well, and you can respond to incoming messages by pecking words out on a tiny on-screen keyboard instead of just firing off a canned response. I’d have loved to see how the Band plays with Microsoft’s new Windows 10 phones, but they’ve sort of dropped off the radar since the company first unveiled them earlier this month. Soon, maybe!
Here’s the thing, though: Don’t buy a Band 2 just for this. The Band 2 is a fitness gadget first and foremost, and trying to convince yourself otherwise is really silly. Unfortunately for me, this review happened to coincide with an in-office fitness challenge and keeping the Band on 24/7 has left me with a very clear understanding of how out of shape I am. I take about 20 percent fewer steps than other men of my age, height and weight. I work out less than them, too. I hardly sleep (often because I’m a weirdo workaholic). The life of a tech blogger, it seems, is one filled with sedentary peril.
In an effort to prolong my own life, I’ve started to go for late-night runs like I did in college. While the Band 2 seems to keep pretty accurate counts of my steps and heart rate, I’ve been running into some frequent GPS issues. When you click into the Run mode — a dead-simple process — the Band looks for a GPS lock and asks if you’d like to get started while it keeps searching. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but it occasionally took up to five minutes for the built-in GPS to find me, leading to a handful of runs with screwy split times and total distances. The barometer is a neat addition to the sensor mix, and it does seem to notice when I’m clambering up soft hills, but I haven’t yet taken it for a spin on New Jersey’s many hiking trails. Guided workouts have been the biggest boon to my exercise routine so far, especially since my gym is tiny and rarely has helpful people around. At present you can load up routines (my current choice: “Get Ripped Abs”) and go for it while the Band 2 measures reps and heart rate. Even better, you can pull up instructional videos within the Microsoft Health app just to make sure your form is on point. I now hurt everywhere, but in a good way.
The Band interface’s broad strokes are surprisingly elegant, although it’s not always very straightforward. It’s the little things, really. Let’s say you want to fiddle with the screen’s brightness — just pop into the Settings tile, right? Almost! Brightness controls (along with vibration level, reading speed and more) live in a Settings window inside of that first Settings window, presumably because Microsoft didn’t want us scrolling through a too-long list of options. I also spent a good 15 minutes wondering why I couldn’t change my color preferences from the Band before realizing — oops — you can only do it from the app. I appreciate the sentiment at play here, but some of the layout logic seems a little suspect. At least you can rearrange most of those action tiles and axe the ones you don’t use (farewell, Bike and Golf).
The market for fitness-friendly gadgets has blown up, and there’s really something for everyone now. Even once rare features like heart rate monitoring have become awfully accessible — just about every health wearable maker offers at least one product that keeps tabs on your ticker. That the Band 2 aspires to so much puts it in a class of its own, but you might consider something like the Fitbit Surge ($250) if you’re on the lookout for a wearable workout partner. It’s a GPS watch/activity tracker with a more traditional design and a heart rate monitor, but it costs just as much as the Band 2 and does quite a bit less. Garmin’s $250 Vivoactive is the most normal-looking wearable in the high-end fitness bunch and it’s waterproof too, unlike the merely water-resistant Band 2. It’s definitely one of the more versatile options out there, although it doesn’t allow you to dump that exercise data into other health services. Then there’s the Basis Peak ($200), which does play nice with services like Apple Health and Google Fit as of May, and comes with a battery that should last for about four days. The Peak is less ambitious than the Band 2, but hey — it’s comfortable and good at counting your heartbeats.
A truly good fitness gadget is one that makes you realize your shortcomings and gives you the insight to fix them. While the original Microsoft Band was an ambitious but flawed product, this sequel comes closer to fulfilling that vision. The issues in execution are seemingly fixable ones — the Band still isn’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever put on my wrist; the GPS can take ages to work properly; and the interface can be obtuse. Still, the Band 2 aspires to so much (and does well enough at most of it) that people serious about health and tech should take a look before immediately writing it off.
Bad Password is a hacking and security column by Violet Blue. Every week she’ll be exploring the trendy new cyberhysteria, the state of the infosec community and the ever-eroding thing that used to be called “privacy.” Bad Password cuts through the greed, fearmongering and jargon with expertise, a friendly voice and a little levelheaded perspective.
Like some people I know familiar with the ins and outs of digital surveillance (and startle like housecats when an app makes a geolocation request) I don’t own any “smart” home items. My 1913 flat is well-connected to the internet, and my living room is a hacker’s honeycomb hideout of entertainment playthings, but I’m far too pleased with my paranoia to own something from the class of spyware and advertising honeypottery known as the Internet of Things.
I’m also fairly certain that if I did own, say, a “smart” refrigerator, I’d accidentally trip over a setting in Transmission and download tentacle porn to the fridge. Which would mutate with malware being served to the interstitial ad I had to sit through to when I wanted eggs or milk, and I’d be assimilated in short order. This is how the rise of the machines begins; mark my words.
But if headlines are a reliable barometer for Skynet hysteria (spoiler: They are) it’s easy to believe it’s time to stockpile supplies, homemade paper-making kits and possibly a sundial and an abacus. Just in case hackers and/or your gadgets rise up and extract vengeance. In this spirit, last July, news outlets shouted that you should patch your Chrysler vehicle before hackers kill you. Which ones are the hackers who will take over our coffeemakers and our Jeeps and kill us, exactly? Well, in this instance, that would be the hackers who co-orchestrated the Jeep-hacking publicity stunt. So, you know, look out for those guys.
It’s still important that we hear the note of the truth buried in clickbait’s siren song. Many of the Internet of Things hacks pulled from headlines and editorialized on highbrow shows like CSI: Cyber are based on real, reproducible exploits. Yes, a baby monitor can be hacked, but it’s for very specific models and no one is going to hack it so they can sell your baby on the darknet (CSI: Cyber S01E01, “Kidnapping 2.0″).
Seriously, it’s not “the hackers” I worry about. (Yes, I have tape over every camera and microphone in the house, but who doesn’t these days?) No, what I worry about with things like WiFi thermostats and smart versions of boilers, locks, lamps, microwaves, dishwashers, dryers, outlets and smoke detectors is their software. And, like all things with software in them, a dev somewhere probably meant to send it for a code audit, or eliminate the hard-coded password, or file a patch, or tell comms that customers urgently need to update the firmware on their smart toilet. But ultimately they were distracted by the chance to eat a dozen tacos for $2.
Web app security company Veracode wrote in The Myth of the Smart Home Power User, “The problems [these] researchers identified were the kinds of things we in the security industry were writing about 10 or 15 years ago: a lack of basic authentication requirements to access administrative interfaces, open ports that leave the devices discoverable to internet scans, no privilege separation for user accounts and hard-coded passwords.”
I’m not joking about the toilet as an attack vector, either. Veracode added, “In one example: A brand of ‘smart’ toilet by a prominent Japanese firm has the same, hard-coded Bluetooth passcode, ‘0000,’ which is (coincidentally) a common default sync passcode for many Bluetooth-enabled devices, creating the possibility of a whole new category of ‘overflow’ attacks.”
Or, you could just end up without hot water for six weeks, like this guy.
Still, how realistic is it for malicious hackers to take over my toilet? What are the chances of the next Lizard Squad deciding to weaponize my lavatory for the lulz?
Pretty low on all fronts, I’d say. In reality, hackers have shit to do, and it usually involves money.
The most we have to worry about with smart devices is their stupidity. And, absent acts of malice (like Volkswagen’s shady emissions practices), that living in a state of irrational, omnipresent fear of household appliances is the cost of a connected world.
The all-new Sonos Play:5 is the company’s first major hardware revision; a fresh flagship for its fleet of WiFi-enabled speakers. Sonos’ products have always been praised for their design and functionality, but not necessarily their sound quality or value. The new Play:5 definitely isn’t cheap: At $499, it’s actually $100 more than the original. But the old Play:5 was the company’s first attempt at building a speaker, and although it sounds okay, Sonos has come a long way in the six years since its release. This time around, Sonos finally created a product that looks and sounds as good as its price tag. But it’s still not for everyone.
Easy to turn into multi-room system with other, cheaper Sonos speakers
Audio quality is excellent
Long list of supported services
Line-in adds limitless music options
Searching for music in app is cumbersome
No dedicated remote
Priced even higher than previous generation
The Play:5 is the best speaker Sonos has ever made. Its reliance on a single app for controlling all your audio services means the software experience isn’t quite as slick as it could be, but it’s easy to set up and sounds as good as its $499 price tag suggests.
The Sonos proposition
From left to right: the Play:1, Play:5 and Play:3.
If you’re new to Sonos, it’s a multi-room speaker system that lets you stream audio from a number of web sources or from local storage. The list of services is comprehensive, but not exhaustive. Subscription-based streaming companies like Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, and Tidal are all there, as are music lockers and one-off purchase shops like Amazon Music or 7Digital. In-between options like Google Play Music and Groove are present, and alternative or radio services like Bandcamp, 22tracks, SoundCloud, TuneIn and Radionomy are also supported. For the Play:5 specifically, you can also hook up pretty much anything with a headphone port to the system.
All this support comes through one place: the Sonos controller app for PC, Mac, iOS and Android, which does its best to put whatever services you want into a single, coherent interface. From the app, you can search all your services, browse and create playlists and choose where your music will play. For hardware management the app is great — it’s simple to navigate, and you’ll find it easy to add new speakers, and create speaker zones and groups, as well as tweak volume and EQ settings. For actually playing music, though, it’s a mixed bag.
Generally things work well enough, but the experience of managing music through Sonos’ application is always second-best to just going directly through your streaming service’s app. While playlists and other organizational tools port over nicely, searching for new tracks is a hassle. There’s just no intelligence to it. Say I’m looking for the song “Undercover” from the Solos-Duos album by Pierre Van Dormael and Hervé Samb. Spotify’s app is smart enough to read me typing “samb undercover” and suggest the correct song before I’m done writing the second word. Sonos, on the other hand, only lets you search by artist, track or album, and will fail to recognize any combination of these. If you’re looking for a song with an indistinct name, you’re going to have a hard time finding it without digging through album after album. The song I just referenced is the 41st search result for the word “undercover,” in case you were wondering.
Sonos has its issues, but does a great job of pulling multiple services into a single app.
In spite of its imperfections, the Sonos controller does a commendable job of pulling multiple services into a single place. The search issues are a real shame, as the app is great for mixing and matching multiple services. Being able to build a playlist that effortlessly pulls from, for example, Spotify, SoundCloud, Deezer and my PC is a fairly unique selling point, especially as SoundCloud is home to a lot of exclusives and eclectic stuff that doesn’t typically make its way to other streaming services.
The other benefit of Sonos’ system is that there’s no limit on the number of users that can control it. Anyone connected to the same WiFi network can get involved by downloading the app, making it a great system for parties and get-togethers. You can also connect multiple accounts from the same service, so if you have a large family you can each, for example, have your own Spotify playlists and favorites syncing.
The Sonos logo is surrounded by precision-drilled holes that stop it blocking sound from the tweeter behind it.
I’ve already touched on the Play:5’s lofty position in Sonos’ broader lineup, but it’s worth looking at the entire selection in a bit more detail. At the bottom of the range is the Play:1 at $199. The mid-range option is the Play:3 at $299, while the Play:5 is considerably more at $499. The Play:1 is a tiny thing, offering a single tweeter and mid-woofer, each with its own amplifier. The Play:3 keeps the single tweeter, but replaces the mid-woofer with a pair of mid-range drivers (all independently amplified) and a passive bass radiator. For the Play:5, Sonos goes all out, with three tweeters (one central and two side-firing), three dedicated mid-woofers and, in case you didn’t notice the pattern, an amplifier for each.
The Play:5’s six speakers are all neatly enclosed in a subdued, but nonetheless beautiful enclosure. It’s a far sleeker object than the Play:3 and the previous-generation Play:5, with a gentle curve to its front and a mixture of rounded and sharp edges forming pleasing, clean lines when viewed from any angle. There’s barely anything to catch the eye, nothing to distract from its overall form. Even the physical buttons have been replaced in favor of capacitive keys that also accept swipes for things like skipping tracks. What might not be perceivable in the photos accompanying this review is the precision of the engineering here. Seemingly no detail is overlooked. Case in point: Sonos is one of very few companies that designs entirely custom power plugs at both ends for no reason other than it wants them to look and feel good.
If you like colorful speakers, then look elsewhere. Sonos has but two options: gray-on-black or black-on-white, both finished in a matte polycarbonate. I’m a huge fan of the latter, but sadly I didn’t get to choose my review units. Although it’s still a beautiful object, the gray-on-black version just fades away into the background. Most people would probably appreciate that, but I wanted the speakers to be a statement, a conversation piece, and the black-on-white version is really striking.
When you first plug in a Sonos, you can use a phone, tablet, PC or Mac to get started. Setup is simple no matter the device, but it works best with iOS. When using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, after pairing — which involves pressing a sync button on the speaker and not much else — you’ll be invited to use a new Sonos feature called Trueplay to tune the Play:5. We’ve written about this iOS-only feature in detail, but to catch you up, it essentially plays a seemingly random selection of sounds and uses your phone’s or tablet’s microphone to test your room’s acoustics and your speaker positioning. It’ll then modify the speaker output to best suit its surroundings. The idea is not to create a single sweet spot, but to tune your speaker for the entire room.
So here’s the thing about Trueplay. It’s a simple process to go through, but it requires some thought. The app shows a little video guiding you on how to wave your device in the correct manner and displays a lady wandering all around a room. In practice, this may not be the best way to go about things. I’ve tested the speaker in multiple rooms of my house, and in most locations the general wandering-and-waving technique worked well, but there were a couple of situations where it did not.
In my bedroom/office where I do most of my music listening, I have the speaker on a bedside table, angled to fire over my bed directly at my desk on the other side of my room. With this setup, following Sonos’ instructions and wandering the entire room left the Play:5 tuned completely wrong, with very weak bass notes and overly loud trebles. The second time I ran the tuning, I stayed around my desk and bed, ignoring the rest of the room, and was rewarded with a near-perfectly tuned speaker.
Trueplay does add a real clarity to music by removing or reducing frequencies — especially low notes — that reverberate oddly due to obstructions or room acoustics. But it’s not perfect. Tuning issues aside, it’s a bit overzealous with bass reduction, which can ruin the balance of tracks with a strong focus on the low end. Overall it’s worth the trade-off, but I’d like an easier way to turn it on or off within the app. Right now you have to dig through the settings menu to find the correct checkbox, but I’d like to see a button on the playback screen instead. Sonos already has audio-setting shortcuts like this for its Playbar, so there’s no reason it couldn’t do the same here.
The bass issue introduced by Trueplay has actually been a long-term complaint about Sonos. The Play:5, like the Play:1 and Play:3, has a sealed speaker system with no port to draw or release air. This typically results in bass that’s crisper, but less boomy than ported systems. The effect isn’t noticeable when you’re blasting music out at, say, 70 percent of max volume, but listen at lower levels and things are a little bass-shy. To combat this, there’s a “loudness” setting in the EQ that helps music sound more bass-heavy at lower volumes. I routinely have this switched on, as I don’t tend to blast music ridiculously loud.
These are fairly small issues, and although I’m no audiophile I do accept I’m more uppity about sound quality than most. The Play:5, even with its niggles, sounds fantastic across a broad range of music. An hour-long selection of tracks I used to test the speakers is embedded on the right — I actually used Deezer Elite for the audio testing, but Spotify is there for your convenience. Anyway, this is easily the best speaker that Sonos has ever made. It blows every smart speaker I’ve ever used out of the water, and it truly competes with non-smart options in the same price range.
Audio quality is always a difficult thing to judge. There’s a character to each pair of headphones and speakers that can’t be seen on a spec sheet or a frequency-response graph. Beyond the quantifiable, you just have taste, which is why there are $1,000 headphones that I dislike, and $35 pairs that I love. I don’t actually love the Sonos gear I currently own (two Play:1s, two Play:3s and a Playbar). I invested in Sonos for the multi-room experience, and the two Play:3s that I use daily deliver an adequate sound, but always feel a little limp and lifeless. Using even a single Play:5 in their stead has been a surprisingly pleasant experience. It’s better balanced, clearer and far punchier toward the low end. Stereo separation isn’t perfect, but you can’t expect a single-box setup to totally isolate the left and right channel without it sounding unnatural. Overall, it’s a stellar speaker, and one I suspect will win over many naysayers.
The Play:5 truly competes with non-smart options in the same price range.
I can listen to the same song on different headphones, and it’ll sound distinct on each. I notice a particular mid-range note in one pair of cans — a very “balanced” pair of AKGs — that’ll be entirely missing in my daily “out-and-about” headphones, which in turn will highlight some digital noise added to a bass note. Neither is necessarily better or worse; they’re just… different. I have these little revelations daily with my admittedly expensive headphones, but never with my Play:3s, which, all told, set me back $600. The Play:5, however, joins the conversation. I am noticing new things about tracks on a daily basis, and it feels great. To be clear, this is something I’d expect from a $499 speaker. But it’s not something I necessarily expected from a $499 Sonos.
Those are the broad strokes; now the details. I’ve mainly focused on the experience provided by a single Play:5, but a pair of the speakers can, like the Play:3 and Play:1, be set up to work as a left- or right-channel speaker. Pairing is simple: Add the second speaker through the app; let Sonos know if it’s the right or left channel; and then go through the Trueplay process. Once you have two paired, the experience is truly impressive.
Even after a short hour-long demo last month, I was already sold on just how good the Play:5s sound when stereo paired. In the week or so I’ve spent with them in my home, I’ve been able to listen to a broad range of tracks I know well, and I’m even more convinced of their merits. There are actually two setup configurations for you to try out that will result in a distinct sound. There’s an orientation sensor inside each, and the software will power different drivers depending on which positioning you choose. If you place the speakers vertically, you’ll get quite intense separation, but more targeted at a “sweet spot” in your room. Turn them horizontal, and the side-firing tweeters provide nicely separated stereo sound to a surprisingly broad area. And I mean “surprising” — I can be sitting directly in front of the left-channel speaker and still hear the individual channels.
Because I generally listen to music alone, the vertical arrangement makes the most sense for me. But it’s really useful to have the option to just flip the Play:5s on their sides, have the speakers detect that and let them modify their output to play music to a larger group of people.
Line-in and future-proofing
The Play:5 also has an option unique within the Sonos lineup: a line-in port. With a 3.5mm cable, you can play music from anything with a line-out or headphone port. Sonos seems almost begrudged to hold this port over from the last generation, but it adds a lot of functionality to the overall experience, as you can stream the line-in audio to any speaker in your network with very little latency.
During part of my testing, I had the Play:5 on my desk and used it as a PC speaker. Being able to play my PC’s audio wholesale throughout the house is useful, especially if I’m listening to a video podcast or watching a football game in my browser and need to head to the kitchen to grab some food. There’s a tiny bit of lag, which it seems is a necessity to sync the audio across the entire house. It’s not enough to make lip syncing a huge problem for movies, and games worked well enough also. So, although Sonos probably doesn’t want you to use its flagship speaker to blast out YouTube clips, the Play:5 is more than capable.
Software updates are frequent and often very useful.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is something that’s not really possible to review, but is definitely worth knowing. Sonos regularly updates its speakers and software with new features and functionality. This covers not only basic stuff like adding new streaming services — for the record, Apple Music support is coming soon — but also things like Trueplay tuning, which was announced alongside the Play:5, but also works with the Play:3, Play:1 and the previous-gen Play:5. Perhaps the most notable update in recent memory meant that Sonos no longer needed to be plugged into your network to function properly. Prior to the update, at least one piece of equipment required an Ethernet connection to your router.
The Play:5 actually has some additional hardware that’s not active at launch: a microphone. It could be used for automatically tuning the speaker in the future, or perhaps for voice controls. It’s impossible to know what’s around the corner for this particular speaker — Sonos says it’s actively exploring the possibilities — but you can at least know that the company will support the Play:5 for a long time to come.
Back to the present, and Sonos’ vision for its products is that they are solely controlled through its apps. While I don’t think the controller app is bad, I do find it a little limiting at times. If all I want to do is skip a track, and the speaker is on the other side of the room, I have no options but to either walk over to the speaker or pull out my phone. Neither of those is the most arduous task, I know, but this is a $499 product. There’s a $10 invention that Sonos could very easily pack in with it: a remote control.
I’m primed and ready for Sonos enthusiasts to tell me that I’m missing the point, but the fact remains that a remote would be super useful. The company used to sell a complex controller replete with a touchscreen, which was superseded by its own app. When I talk about remotes, though, I mean something similar to an Apple Remote that would offer a simple way to control volume and track selection without the need to pull out your phone and open an app.
It should be clear by now that I’m a firm believer in Sonos as a platform, and even more so in the Play:5 as a standalone product. As someone who’s already invested almost $2,000 in Sonos gear, I obviously don’t represent the typical consumer. Should you get a Play:5? I can’t really give you a one-word answer. If you’ve got a non-smart home audio setup that you’re looking to replace, one or two Play:5s could be perfect for you, assuming the asking price works with your budget.
If you’re new to Sonos and to the idea of spending lots of money on home audio gear, the $499/$998 price tag is probably enough to scare you away. I have friends and colleagues who are happy with a couple of Play:1s dotted around their apartments, and you might be the same. You could even buy both a Play:1 and a Play:3 and still save a dollar over the asking price of the new Play:5, so you really need to care about the differences among Sonos’ offerings.
Replacing old hardware with Sonos speakers might be overkill, though, especially if you’re happy with the sound quality. You can add some basic casting functionality to regular speakers for $35 with Chromecast Audio, or if you want the full range of Sonos functionality, you can stump up $349 for the company’s Connect add-on. Connect plugs into your amplifier or hi-fi via RCA cables, and you always have the option to add some Sonos speakers elsewhere in your home to start building out a multi-room system at a later date.
The Chromecast Audio makes regular speakers smart for $35.
There are a growing number of competing multi-room systems to consider from the likes of LG, Samsung, Bose and others. Many of these support Google Cast, which works similarly to Chromecast for your TV and lets you send music from your phone to the speakers. I’ve tried all of the above companies’ gear, and regret to report that none of them get close to Sonos’ previous-generation speakers, let alone the new Play:5, for sound quality.
Rival WiFi speakers can’t come close to Sonos, but Chromecast offers a lot for a fraction of the cost.
With Chromecast able to add smart functionality to any pair of speakers — and multi-room support coming soon — buying into a company-specific system that isn’t Sonos doesn’t make a lot of sense right now. Those on a super-tight budget are better off finding a non-smart speaker they’re happy with and adding the $35 Chromecast Audio dongle.
If you’ve got your heart set on a Sonos, but are undecided about which to get, I’d recommend finding a stop along the Play:5 demo tour, a brick-and-mortar store, or an online shop with a bulletproof returns policy; really just any way you can find to spend some time with the different options. Just bear in mind that the Play:3 is probably due for an overhaul sometime soon — it’s now ancient compared to the rest of the lineup.
As for me? I’ll definitely (after an unspecified period of counting coins) be picking up a pair of Play:5s to round off my home audio setup. I was very pleased to see Sonos create a (comparably) budget speaker in the form of the Play:1, but it’s great to see the company trying to push the envelope on sound quality instead of just lowering the price of entry. The Play:5 is a big leap forward for Sonos, finally setting up the company not just as a disruptive tech startup, but also as a bona fide creator of quality speakers. Let’s hope the improvements it’s made here trickle down to the second-generation Play:3.
A Nier sequel was one of the last things we expected to see at E3 this year — which is why it was such a surprise when Square Enix showed off a proof-of-concept trailer for an upcoming PS4 sequel. Today, the company gives us something more substantial: the game’s full name (Nier: Automata), a new gameplay trailer focusing on Platinum Games’ combat engine and a bit of backstory.
Nier: Automata’s first gameplay trailer is everything you expect from Platinum Games. It’s a visual barrage of fast paced, combo-heavy, beautifully animated action. It’s a clean mix of the developer’s well-known style with a few nods to gameplay from the original Nier. According to the PlayStation blog, Automata is written to be accessible to new players — but fans of the original will notice that some of the games ruins look awfully familiar. The main character, however, is compltely new: a cold, level headed android simply named “2B.”
Sadly, there’s still no word on when you’ll be able to play the new Nier — the trailer ends with a single, vague line. “Work in progress,” it says. I guess we’ll just have to wait. Check out the full post on the PlayStation blog for more details.
We’re live from France for Paris Games Week 2015. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.
It’s been five years since NieR last arrived on consoles, but at today’s Square Enix E3 press conference, the publisher announced that a new title is in-development for the PlayStation 4. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to know that Platinum Gamesis handling the development of this new title and, as producer Atsushi Inaba mentioned onstage, there’ll be a heavy focus on action. Though we were treated to a short “sneak peek,” the company stressed that this footage was merely a proof of concept, and that we could expect to hear more this fall.
What’s the difference between a good and bad selfie? A neural network artificial intelligence, trained on a diet of over two million selfies, apparently knows. First, the important findings: good selfies involve being a woman — and one that’s tilting their head. A small forehead and longer hair are good points too. Filters help, as do borders. For men, while they didn’t rank in the AI’s top 100 (ugh, bias!), the bot advises that you show your full head and shoulders. Longer hairstyles (and ones combed upwards) don’t hurt mens’ chances either. Its creator, Andrej Karpathy, who has worked with Google Research and DeepMind, explains that it’s a convoluted neural network which does the image recognizing and, er, judging. You can judge yourself (for yourself) using the network’s Twitter bot (61.7 percent here), or read on for how it learned to do all that.
Karpathy feed in five million photos tagged “#selfie”, clearing down till it was left with around two million workable self-portraits. The neural network was trained to evaluate whether a selfie was a good one or not by looking at likes received on social networks. The system gauging around 140 million parameters, analyzing images by deconstructing them into shapes and colors. Once the neural network was in place, it then tackled 50,000 new selfies — which helped to cement the rules mentioned earlier. Broader guidelines include avoiding low light, large groups, or taking photos that are a little too close. It had nothing to say about selfie sticks.