Best entry-level DSLRs 2017: What to look for and which to buy

If you’ve outgrown your point-and-shoot camera or are no longer satisfied with the snaps you get from your smartphone, and feel like you’re ready to take your photography to the next level, then an entry-level DSLR is the most obvious choice.

You may also want to consider a mirrorless camera as an alternative, although you won’t find one with a viewfinder at the same price as a DSLR.

If you are thinking about a mirrorless camera, then you might want to read this:Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences . Or, if you’re not sure what kind of camera you need at all, then read our easy-to-follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy?

Entry-level DSLRs deliver a big step up in image quality from a compact camera or smartphone, offering far more manual control and the ability to change lenses to tackle a huge variety of projects. Don’t worry though – there are also a host of auto modes to help you out until you’re comfortable with the more creative controls.

Obviously, the more features you want, the more you’ll pay, but do you actually need them? Our top camera is one of the cheapest on the market, but still offers impressive performance and image quality, plus enough features to handle most assignments, especially if you’re still learning.

DSLR bundles

If you’re buying your first DSLR, it makes sense to go for a ‘kit’, which generally includes the camera body along with an 18-55mm lens. This covers a broad zoom range, perfect for everything from landscapes to portraits, but that’s just the start.

The key advantage of DSLRs over compact cameras is that you can add to your kit with, for example, wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses, a flashgun, and other accessories, to make the most of whatever types of photography you’re into.

Canon and Nikon offer the largest collections of DSLR lenses, but Pentax and Sony also offer decent ranges. You’re not limited to own-brand lenses either, with the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Tokina selling quality lenses at prices that are often lower than the camera manufacturers’ equivalent lenses.

Nikon D3300

Nikon D3300

Nikon’s D3400 might have replaced it, but the D3300 is still our top pick. Why? Unless you want improved connectivity, then the D3300 is pretty much identical to the D3400 and quite a bit cheaper. The 24.2MP sensor resolves bags of detail and like much like pricier Nikon DSLRs, it does away with an anti-aliasing filter to maximise image sharpness. This is also a very easy camera to live with. Its clever Guide Mode is a useful learning tool that gives real-time explanations of important features, whilst the collapsible 18-55mm kit lens is great when you’re on the go. It’s a shame you don’t get an articulated touchscreen display or Wi-Fi connectivity, but Nikon does make a cheap plug-in Wi-Fi adaptor if that’s a deal-breaker for you.

Canon EOs 750D

Canon EOs 750D

Nikon doesn’t have the top spots in our line-up all to itself because by paying more cash will get you a lot more camera. The EOS Rebel T6i (Called the EOS 750Doutside the US) may have just been superseded by the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D , but that won’t be available until April, so there’s a chance to track down a good deal on this great entry-level DSLR. Featuring a 24.2MP sensor that delivers stunning image quality, there’s a solid AF system, built-in Wi-Fi with NFC pairing and a articulating, touch-sensitive screen that’s a enjoy to use. It pips the Nikon D5500 to second place thanks to more comprehensive controls and marginally superior image quality.

Nikon D5500

Nikon D5500

The D5500 competes directly with Canon’s EOS Rebel T6i / EOS 750D at the upper end of the entry-level DSLR market. Where Nikon’s D3000-series cameras are designed as cost-conscious introductory DSLRs, the D5000-series is preferable if you want to get more creative. The D5600 has just been announced, but both feature a virtually identical feature set, so the D5500 is the better buy at the moment because its that much cheaper. The D5500 sports a touchscreen control and there’s also built-in Wi-Fi – but it’s a pity GPS hasn’t been carried over from the D5300 , and live view autofocusing speed is no faster. There isn’t much wrong with the D5500’s 24.2MP, non-anti-aliased sensor, though, and while it may be pinched from the older D5300, it still delivers excellent results.

EOS 760D

EOS 760D

Just to confuse matters, Canon launched two updates to the EOS Rebel T5i / 700D – the EOS Rebel T6i / 750D (above) and the T6s / 760D. Internally at least, the EOS Rebel T6i / 750D and T6s / 760D are very pretty much identical, but it’s the exterior controls are where differences start to appear, notably the addition of a rear thumbwheel and top plate LCD display. Features which only normally appear on Canon’s higher end enthusiast models. For newer users, the T6i is the better bet, but if you’re looking for lightweight DSLR with a comprehensive set of features, then you won’t go wrong with the T6s. It’s just been replaced by the new EOS 77D , available from April, and won’t continue in the range like the T6i / 750D, so if you want one, snap one up now.

Nikon’s latest DSLR is almost identical in specification to the D3300 – our top pick here, but adds Nikon’s SnapBridge bluetooth connectivity to transfer images directly to your smart device to make it that much easier to share image. The D3400 is a very good entry-level DSLR, with a range of features to appeal to new users. The newest camera here means the D3300 is a bit better value for money at the moment, but the price of the D3400 has dropped quite a bit since its launch late last year.

D5300

D5300

The D5300 was around for little more than a year before the D5500 technically replaced it. It shares the same 24.2MP sensor with an identical maximum ISO25,600 sensitivity as the D5500, whilst the D5300’s EXPEED 4 image processor and 39-point autofocus system have also been carried over to its replacement. Whilst the D5300 doesn’t sport fancy touchscreen control, you do get GPS instead. The D5300’s 600-shot battery life has since been beaten by the D5500, but it’ll still outlast a Canon T6i / 750D. All in all, it may not be the latest entry-level DSLR, but the D5300 is still a smart buy.

EOS 700D

EOS 700D

Stick the EOS Rebel T5i / 700D next to the T6i / 750D and you’ll struggle to tell them apart, as the new camera inherits the T5i’s excellent ergonomics and class-leading touch-sensitive screen. Even the good old button controls are more comprehensive than on rival Nikons, making the T5i intuitive to use, regardless of your ability. However, the T5i’s sensor can trace its roots back to the T2i released in 2010 and it’s now outclassed in terms of noise suppression and dynamic range. The 9-point autofocus system is also dated and you don’t get Wi-Fi connectivity. The T5i’s slashed price does make it a tempter, but the T6i is a more future-proof choice. Now we’ve got the new EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, expect to see this start to disappear from shop shelves soon.

EOs 100D

EOs 100D

Canon introduced the EOS Rebel SL1 (EOS 100D outside the US) to compete with the influx of compact system cameras and it was the smallest DSLR available when it was introduced in March 2013. It’s getting on a bit now, but while the image quality hasn’t diminished, its price has, making it a good choice for anyone buying their first DSLR. Inside is Canon’s stalwart 18MP APS-C format sensor, a hybrid CMOS AF II variant which means that the focusing is faster than the T5 / 1200D when you’re composing images on the main screen – though it’s not especially quick. The three-inch screen is also touch-sensitive, which makes the SL1 easier to use thanks to Canon’s excellent interface, although there are fewer buttons and dials than on models like the T6i / 750D. Despite the SL1’s small size there’s a good chunky grip to make it feel comfortable and secure in your hand. Image quality is good, but the 24MP Nikon D3300 captures more detail.

EOS 1300d

EOS 1300d

The EOS Rebel T6 (known as the EOS 1300D outside the US) uses the same sensor as the camera it replaces, the T5 / 1200D, but it has a newer processing engine and this enables it to produce slightly better quality images. In reality you’re unlikely to be able to spot much difference at normal image viewing sizes though, so it’s not a real biggie. Where the EOS Rebel T6 does score over the T5 though is the connectivity department; its got Wi-Fi and NFC technology built-in. This means you can transfer images to your smartphone for super-quick sharing. You can also use your phone to control the camera remotely, which is ideal for taking group shots with you in the frame. The screen has also been upgraded from a 3-inch 460K dot unit to one with 920K dots, which makes images look much sharper.

Pentax K-50

Pentax K-50

Pentax is renowned for producing DSLRs with maximum bang per buck, and the K-50 is no exception. Weatherproof DSLRs that are rain and dust resistant usually cost a packet, but the K-50 offers this protection at a bargain price so you can shoot in all conditions. Just remember that you’ll have to partner it with more expensive WR (weather resistant) lenses to get the full benefit. Regardless of the lens you use, Pentax’s in-camera Shake Reduction system cuts camera shake and can even correct slightly skewed horizons. The only reason the K-50 isn’t higher on our list is Pentax’s relatively restricted lens range.

The best free security software 2017

The best free security software

Reliable antivirus is essential for any internet-connected PC, but it isn’t always enough. Your security software should also protect you from malware – programs that don’t behave like viruses, but are nevertheless a nuisance and a threat to your security. All it takes is forgetting to uncheck a box when you download an otherwise legitimate program, and your PC is compromised.

Your main security software must provide real-time scans to help you avoid an infection in the first place, but on-demand scanners also have their place, identifying  and removing any malicious software if your PC has started to behave strangely.

Your online accounts are a particularly juicy target for criminals too, so it’s also wise to use a password manager to create strong logins and store them in a secure vault.

We’ve ranked the best free security software in order of priority, starting with strong general purpose packages, through to preventative tools for specific threats. Combining several of these will enable you to create your own free security software suite, but bear in mind that you should only install one antivirus tool at a time.

1. Avast Free Antivirus

The best free security software, Avast safeguards your PC from threats the moment they appear

Avast Free Antivirus has millions of users, which helps it identify threats as soon as they appear. It scans your PC in real time, and if it comes across a piece of code that looks suspicious, it’s sent to Avast’s labs for testing. If it’s found to be malicious, Avast creates a ‘vaccine’ to eliminate it, which is then sent to every user worldwide.

Avast Free Antivirus can remove unwanted browser extensions and toolbars, which are easy to accidentally install if you often download free software, and there’s also a program updater to patch any recently discovered vulnerabilities in your installed software. It even includes a password manager to keep your logins secure.

Avast Free Antivirus the most powerful and comprehensive free security software suite around, and the perfect foundation for your online safety toolkit.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware was one of the first tools to successfully remove the infamous Locky ransomware that appeared last year

2. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Supplement your core security software with on-demand malware scans

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware runs in tandem with your main security software, providing specific protection from threats other than viruses.

The free edition of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware gives you reliable protection for malware and spyware, as well as rootkits, which give software access to crucial parts of your system without your permission.

The free edition of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware gives you a two-week taster of its premium features, including real-time scans, and protection from malicious sites, exploit attacks and ransomware (which it differentiates from other malware).

Once that trial period is up, you’re left with a no-frills on-demand scanner that’s ideal for removing unwanted software and identifying the cause of strange browser behaviour or taking back control of your browser if it’s been hijacked by adware.

Keepass shows the strength of your account passwords, and can generate stronger ones. They’re all stored in a securely encrypted central vault

3. Keepass

Free security software that keeps your logins under lock and key to protect your online accounts

With so much of our data now stored online – including work, photos, emails, bank account details – strong passwords have never been more important. Unfortuantely, the sheer number of online accounts necessary for everyday life means it’s hard to think up and memorize a different strong password for every service.

Keepass does the hard work for you, and stores the resulting strong passwords in an encrypted vault protected by a master login or key file.

Keepass encrypts usernames, passwords and notes using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Twofish algorithms, and they remain encrypted while the program is running so they won’t be cached to disk. Unlike Avast Free Antivirus’s built-in password manager, Keepass is portable, so you can carry it on a USB stick and it won’t save anything to your Windows registry.

Best of all, because it’s open source, it’s in constant active development and any security vulnerabilities can be patched the moment they’re discovered.

If you have to deal with an infected PC, Emsisoft Emergency Kit can identify the virus and isolate it to prevent it doing further damage

4. Emsisoft Emergency Kit

Emergency security software to save your bacon if your PC is already infected

If your antivirus software has failed and your PC’s security has been compromised, you need Emsisoft Emergency Kit .

Like Keepass, Emsisoft Emergency Kit can be saved to a USB stick and run on any PC without being installed (somewhat confusingly, it does have an ‘installer’, but this just extracts the necessary files and saves them to a location of your choice).

Not only does Emsisoft Emergency Kit check for viruses, trojans and worms, it also looks for malware on your PC, including adware, spyware and keyloggers. Bear in mind that these threats are constantly changing, so you’ll have to wait a minute for the security software to update its database of definitions before you can begin scanning.

Emsisoft Emergency Kit won’t conflict with any existing antivirus software on your PC, making it a great little tool to keep on hand. Even if you never need to use it yourself, it might be a lifesaver for a friend or family member who’s a little less cautious about their online security.

It’s all too easy to accidentally install toolbars and browser plugins when you download free software that’s supported by ads. As its name implies, Unchecky automatically unchecks boxes in software installers so you don’t get any surprises

5. Unchecky

Uncheck tick boxes to catch sneaky malware and toolbars before they install themselves

Unchecky won’t detect or remove malicious programs, but it can help you avoid installing them in the first place by automatically unchecking the boxes in software installers and alerting you if the app you’re installing is bundled with something else.

As security software, Unchecky isn’t perfect – it doesn’t pick up all unwanted programs, and some installers try to catch you out by taking an unchecked box as consent – but it’s nevertheless a useful tool in your PC security arsenal.

Combined with a common sense approach (only download software from a source you trust, select a ‘custom install’ option if it’s offered, and read each step of software installers carefully), it will help protect you from unwanted extras that pose a threat to you online.

XCOM 2’s eagerly anticipated Long War 2 total conversion mod released in Steam Workshop

The Long War mod for the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown is legendary, and for damned good reason. The vanilla XCOM reboot was a long, complex, and outstanding tactical game, and Long War made it longer, more complex, and even more outstanding with new classes, equipment, items, and features. It was so delectably great that Firaxis worked closely with the team behind Long War to prep official mods for the launch of the even-better XCOM 2—which wound up being one of the 10 best PC games of 2016.xcom 2 tactical

But those day-one mods didn’t include a new Long War. Today, nearly a year after XCOM 2’s launch, Pavonis Interactive released Long War 2. Hallelujah.

It’s easy to see that the time it took was well spent. Long War 2 expands the already widened scope of XCOM 2 dramatically. Expect to deploy on more than 100 missions during the campaign now, including eight new mission types ranging from jailbreaks to defending your resistance Havens. You’ll need to oversee those Havens more directly now, too, sending resources to sniff out supplies, intel, or recruits, and even directing your precious engineers and scientists to augment local efforts.

Pavonis Interactive
A Haven management screen in Long War 2.

 

The entire Geoscape map layer has been overworked for this deeper complexity, with an Advent AI trying to counter you every step of the way.

You’ll have extra firepower on your side for this grueling slog. Long War 2 starts you off with a much larger pool of recruits and the ability to field up to 10 soldiers in some battles. You’ll have the ability to “infiltrate” locations with squads before formally deploying, potentially lightening the load you’ll face once your boots hit the ground. Your team also receives a level-up at the tactical level with new laser and coilgun weapon types and a total of nine—nine!—specialized solider classes. The original game only had five.

But the Advent forces have been bolstered as well. You’ll face new unit variants that pack enhanced firepower and capabilities, and the Advent forces will have the ability to call in endless reinforcements in some missions. Making things even more tense, if you have to call in the Skyranger for a hot extraction when things go pear-shaped, you’ll now need to wait for your aerial rescue to actually fly into the battleground.

While the first Long War required XCOM’s premium Enemy Within expansion, you don’t need any of XCOM 2’s DLC to run this—just the base game. Pavonis says all of its previous XCOM 2 mods are already integrated directly into Long War 2, though it can’t guarantee that other mods work with this total conversion.

All in all, Long War 2 looks to bring a healthy dose of 4X-like strategy and even more battlefield complexity to XCOM 2’s tactical brilliance. Modding is a major factor in PC gaming’s greatness and this mod goes much, much deeper than most. Long War 2 looks like just the excuse I’ve been waiting for to fire up XCOM 2 yet again. I guess I know what I’m doing tonight. And tomorrow night. And the night after….

Assange seeks to discuss his US extradition with the feds

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he stands by an earlier pledge to face trial in the U.S., but he is first urging federal investigators to name the exact charges against him.assange on balcony

“I stand by what I said,” Assange stated during a webcast on Thursday. “We look forward to having a conversation with the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) about what the correct way forward is.”

Assange previously made his pledge on the condition that President Barack Obama grant clemency to Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. soldier who was jailed for disclosing sensitive documents to WikiLeaks back in 2010.

On Tuesday, Obama commuted Manning’s sentence. She’ll now be released in May, after service nearly seven years behind bars. However, Obama said his decision had nothing to do with Assange’s offer, even as the U.S. may be building a case against the WikiLeaks founder for publishing government secrets.

Assange is currently hiding out in the Ecuadorian embassy in the U.K., where he’s been granted asylum. Swedish officials have attempted to extradite him over alleged sexual offenses, and the FBI has suggested in court documents that it’s pursuing a case against Assange for his involvement with WikiLeaks.

However, the DOJ on Wednesday declined to comment on the matter and wouldn’t say whether the U.S. government is even seeking Assange’s extradition from the U.K.

On Thursday, Assange said the U.S. is deliberately hiding details of the charges against him to prevent his lawyers from effectively fighting back.

“I am confident about winning any U.S. case that is respecting the law in the United States,” he said. “WikiLeaks is a publisher, and as a publisher our activities are protected by the First Amendment.”

Despite his earlier pledge to travel to the U.S., Assange noted that Manning won’t be released until May. Before that time, he hopes to have “many discussions” with the Justice Department.

“I’ve always been willing to go to the United States, provided that my rights are respected,” he said. “Because this is a case that should never have occurred. It’s fundamentally unjust.”

However, Assange called Manning’s release a “strategic victory” when the Obama administration has cracked down on journalists and whistleblowers circulating sensitive information.

“If it takes me going to the United States to somehow flush out this case … then we are interested in looking at that as well,” Assange said.

Inside Intel’s bold plan to personalize live 3D sports broadcasts

Viewers may soon see a big change coming in the way they experience the chills and thrills of live sports broadcasts. It’ll be customizable, interactive, and it will put them at the center of the experience.voke camera

If it goes as envisioned, Intel’s multi-year plan will allow viewers to tailor their own live sports broadcasts, and watch events as if they were on the field.

The live sports broadcasts will be available for VR headsets, PCs, and even TVs. The experience will be unlike live sports today, in which the views and angles are selected by the broadcasters.

Instead, viewers in real-time will be able to create their own 3D broadcast of a sports event. Viewers will be able to select any type of view or camera angle they want for the live broadcast.

For example, users will be able to get a bird’s eye view of a touchdown in a football game or a goal in soccer. Alternately, users will be able to view the same experience from a player’s perspective. It depends on what a viewer selects, and many angles will be covered.

Intel’s goal is to roll out this 360-degree live broadcast technology starting in 2019, and the company is working with broadcasters to deliver the real-time interactive experience.

Watching live content is now a linear experience, but live broadcasts tailor-made to viewers will revolutionize the way people watch sports, said James Carwana, general manager at Intel’s sports group.

Intel is already working with a number of broadcasters to deliver these unique 3D experiences in real time to viewers, said Jeff Hopper, general manager of immersive experiences at Intel.

Broadcasters are eager to bring more interactive experience to live sports, Hopper said.

Some sports, such as football and soccer, are ideal for this interactive 3D live sports experience. It may be difficult to bring the same experience to sports like skiing, with the action happening over long distances. But Carwana said Intel is eager to bring this experience to a variety of sports and broadcasts worldwide.

Watching live sports from any angle will especially be fun on VR headsets, which allows users to view 3D content. In the future, viewers will be able to switch angles in real time and roam through a field as a play is taking place.

Interactive live sports is a killer application for VR, a market that is still emerging. Games are being received with a lot of enthusiasm on VR headsets, and live sports will bring a similar experience, except a viewer isn’t playing.

But broadcasting live interactive content is easier said than done. It involves implementing an army of cameras in stadiums, creating a full 3D video experience so any particular scene can be viewed from any angle, and a new media format to support the interactive experience. It also requires a powerful back-end of servers to process all the data required to create an experience customized to each viewer.

Intel’s starting off modestly with interactive replays instead of live broadcasts, allowing it to test the technology before it goes big time. At Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5, Fox Sports will show interactive replays based on Intel’s 360-degree replay technology. Intel has already used similar replay technology in sports like baseball and basketball.

Further down the road, as technology is closely integrated into sports, users will be able to view live statistics as part of the experience. Intel has already done that, with live statistics on display during a live broadcast of the Winter X Games last year. In real-time, users were able to view key athlete performance data like how high a snowboarder jumped and how far they rotated. The data was captured from sensors on the snowboards.

Intel is working on technology that will make all of this happen. It is using a media format called FreeD, which will be central to live interactive sports broadcasts. Instead of pixels, which are used in regular images and video file formats, FreeD will have voxels, which composes image content in a three-dimensional format.

In each stadium offering live interactive video, 38 cameras will be installed, which is enough to generate a full view of all angles needed to generate a custom broadcast for each viewer. The cameras will generate terabytes of image data every few seconds.

During a live broadcast, a viewer will be able to select the angle they want to see a sport from, and that request will be delivered to a server. The server will compile the custom broadcast by processing and cutting images from all 38 cameras to generate the desired angle.

Servers will need a lot of horsepower to do that. Intel will use FreeD rendering technologies from its acquisition of Replay Technologies, which specializes in video formatting. It will also rely on algorithms to help generate those interactive for live sports broadcasts.

Intel has targeted the TV market several times previously, including a plan to launch its own TV service, but failed. This is the most ambitious experience so far, and it’ll require many years of commitment. Intel has also acquired companies like Voke — which provides technology to deliver live 3D broadcasts to VR headsets — that are playing a central role in the chipmaker’s efforts.

The amount of data generated for an interactive live sports broadcast leads to bandwidth challenges, the Intel executives acknowledged. But with technologies like 5G — which could transmit mobile data at speeds of up to 20Gbps — coming, some of those issues could be resolved, Hopper said. The live sports technology touches upon the key markets Intel is pursuing, including 5G, servers, and the internet of things.

The technology is still not here, and Intel’s plan to make it possible by 2019 seems ambitious considering the numerous challenges. But Intel has a clear vision of how live sports broadcasts will look, and it’s exciting.

Windows 10 Build 15019 may be about games, but its many bugs could spoil the fun

The gaming-focused Windows 10 Insider build that Microsoft promised earlier this week, with Game Mode, Beam livestreaming and other features, is rolling out—but with some game-breaking bugs, unfortunately.Windows 10 game bar beam broadcasting windows 10

What’s officially known as Build 15019 for the Insider Fast Ring also includes a number of more general improvements, including a version of Edge that will read your ebooks aloud and a better out-of-box experience, complete with voice actors to guide you through the process.

If you’re hoping to try out the new PC-centric Game Mode for yourself, though, be wary: Microsoft warned that unspecified “popular games” may experience crashes or black screens when loading, and clicking on certain elements in a Win32 game may cause it to be minimized (and therefore unplayable) unless killed. Even the new Game Mode will show up as OFF when in fact it’s enabled by default. Also, be aware of one download glitch: The issue Microsoft had with its progress bar is still there, so the download will still show “0% completed” even when it’s actually downloading.

“We recognize that this is painful for those wanting to try out the new gaming features announced this week,” Microsoft’s Insider chief, Dona Sarkar, wrote in a blog post. “We deliberated a lot on whether to release this build to Insiders with these issues; however we decided to go ahead and release it as we need feedback from Insiders on other areas of the OS.”

Windows 10 game mode

Microsoft

Windows 10’s new Game Mode settings, which are designed to optimize your PC for gaming.

Build 15019 is specifically optimized for gaming, with new additions to both the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms. (A separate build for Xbox Insiders should roll out today, with support for Screentime, a parental control that is already on Windows 10.) Our previous story outlined the new additions, but we’ll briefly recap them here:

a specific mode for the PC that minimizes the resources other background tasks have at their disposal, giving the game all of the resources your PC can spare. My colleague Brad Chacos has outlined what Game Mode does for your PC. The Windows Game Bar now supports 17 more games in fullscreen mode, including Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Black Ops 2, FIFA 14 and FIFA 17, Rocket League, and more.

Microsoft has consolidated gaming controls for Game Bar, GameDVR, and more into a Gaming section in Windows 10’s Settings.

Microsoft bought Beam and its livestreaming technology last year to take the games you’re playing on Windows 10 and the Xbox and broadcast them to others on the Internet. You’ll be able to trigger the Game Bar (Win + G) and show others how fast you can drive in Forza Horizon 3.

Windows 10 download bar

Microsoft

Action Center now keeps tabs on your games.

Microsoft also revealed a small additional convenience: If you buy a game from the Microsoft Store app, you’ll be able to track its download progress in the Action Center notifications. The company also fixed a bug that would crash the display controller if an Xbox controller was attached, and another that could cause the screen to flicker if a player used Alt + Tab to change focus to another window.

Having just reset a balky Surface Pro 4 that couldn’t get past Build 15002, I can confirm that the out-of-box experience that build introduced is excellent—and Build 15019 promises to improve on it even more. Setting up a new PC is now voice-driven: Cortana asks you the questions you’d normally have to be at your keyboard to answer. (For those who are unable to hear Cortana, there are now subtitles.)

Windows 10 out of the box experience

Microsoft

Cortana will guide you through the new “Out of the box” setup experience,

With build 15002 and the latest build 15019, you can be working away at another PC while Cortana’s voice asks you if you’d like to accept the default options and other questions. It’s fun to holler “Yes!” and keep typing.

At one point during build 15002’s reset process, Cortana’s voice was replaced by a more robotic text-to-speech voice. That’s been fixed, with additional voice acting in place to maintain a consistent, pleasant tone. A bit of spit and polish has updated the UI, including the way in which you sign in with a Microsoft account. Windows Hello enrollment, which simply asks you to smile at the camera for a second or two, has also been updated.

I have sporadic issues at my home office where my Wi-Fi connection needs to be reset, requiring me to right-click my Wi-Fi icon on the Taskbar and launch the troubleshooter. For Build 15019, Microsoft’s grouped all of the Troubleshooter options inside Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot so you can see the complete list, including tools for resolving printer issues, Windows updates, Bluetooth, and more.

Windows 10 troubleshooters

Microsoft

The collected Troubleshooters.

Build 15019 adds a number of other useful features, most of which don’t require that much additional explanation:

  • A new “read aloud” button in Microsoft Edge will read ebooks stored in Edge in 24 languages.
  • Full-color emoji, on those sites that use them.
  • Blue light support, which removes the blue colors your display produces late at night so as to help prevent insomnia. If you use the Hyper-V feature to create virtual machines, you can now resize the window and the guest OS will rescale the resolution appropriately.

The world’s largest solar farm contains 2.5 million solar modules

With the construction of the world’s biggest solar farm, India is taking a step toward its goal of generating 40 percent of its power using non-fossil fuels by 2030.solar farm

The farm, located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, spans 2,500 acres. That’s the size of 60 Taj Mahals. The project was funded by the Adani Group and cost $679 million. It can produce 648 megawatts of electricity. The world’s second-largest solar farm, in California, produces 550 megawatts.

“We have a deep commitment to nation-building. We plan to produce 11,000 MW of solar energy in the next five years, putting India on the global map of renewable energy,” said Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group.

By 2022, the country hopes to power 60 million homes with the sun’s rays.

US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations

The U.S. tech industry has warned that a temporary entry suspension on certain foreign nationals introduced on Friday by the administration of President Donald Trump will impact these companies’ operations that are dependent on foreign workers.Trump inauguration

The Internet Association, which has a number of tech companies including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft as its members, said that Trump’s executive order limiting immigration and movement into the U.S. has troubling implications as its member companies and firms in many other industries include legal immigrant employees who are covered by the orders and will not be able to return back to their jobs and families in the U.S.

“Their work benefits our economy and creates jobs here in the United States,” said Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman in a statement over the weekend.

Executives of a number of tech companies like Twitter, Microsoft and Netflix have expressed concern about the executive order signed by Trump, which suspended for 90 days entry into the U.S. of persons from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – as immigrants and non-immigrants. The Trump administration has described the order as a move to prevent foreign terrorist entry into the U.S.

Tech companies like Uber, Apple, Microsoft and Google are in touch with employees affected by the order, according to reports. Uber is working on a scheme to compensate some of its drivers who come from the listed countries and had taken long breaks to see their extended families and are now unable to come back to the U.S., wrote CEO Travis Kalanick, who is a member of Trump’s business advisory group.

“As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world,” wrote Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, in an online post over the weekend. “We will continue to advocate on this important topic.” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a Facebook post that “Trump’s actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all.”

The tech industry is also concerned about further moves by the government on immigration policy that could place restrictions on visas for the entry of people who help these companies run their operations and develop products and services. The H-1B visa program have been criticized for replacing U.S. workers.

Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a note to employees on Saturday that the company believes in “a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system.”

About 150 Delta flights in the US canceled after systems outage

About 150 flights of Delta Air Lines in the U.S. were canceled and some others were delayed on Sunday on account of an IT systems outage, the airline reported.delta air lines aircraft

Delta said more flight cancellations were expected.

The IT systems outage at Delta is the latest of a number that have affected airline operations recently.

Delta reported earlier that its teams were working to fix quickly a systems outage that has resulted in departure delays and cancellations. It did not provide information on the systems issue that had caused the outage.

“Not all delays and cancellations are being reflected on Delta systems, including delta.com, the Fly Delta App, airport information screens or through our Reservations agents,” the airline said. It reported at 11:45 p.m. EST that a ground stop had been lifted.

The Federal Aviation Administration had earlier reported a ground stop for all Delta mainline and sub-carrier flights to domestic destinations. The agency cited “automation issues” at Delta and said international flights were not affected.

After the lifting of the ground stop, Delta CEO Ed Bastian apologized to customers affected by “this frustrating situation.” On Twitter and other social media, a number of flyers complained about the delays. Airports reported varying duration of delays of flights. At one point, Denver International Airport reported that Delta flights at the airport were “delayed an average of 90 minutes but still moving.”

Delta had reassured users that flights in the air remain unaffected, but added that some customers are experiencing delays upon landing, particularly at Delta’s hub airports. The airline is providing updates on its web site.

The airline faced an outage in August, when it said that a power outage in its operations center in Atlanta had affected its computer systems and operations worldwide, leading to flight delays.

Delta has 830 aircraft of which 644 are owned by the airline, while the rest are leased. It operates more than 15,000 daily flights including those by worldwide alliance partners, and serves 180 million customers each year. Rival United Airlines also reported an outage earlier this month, citing an IT issue.

Samsung scraps a Raspberry Pi 3 competitor, shrinks Artik line

Samsung has scrapped its Raspberry Pi 3 competitor called Artik 10 as it moves to smaller and more powerful boards to create gadgets, robots, drones, and IoT devices.Artik 1020 developer kit

A last remaining stock of the US$149 boards is still available through online retailers Digi-Key and Arrow.

Samsung has stopped making Artik 10 and is asking users to buy its Artik 7 boards instead.

“New development for high-performance IoT products should be based on the Samsung Artik 710, as the Artik 1020 is no longer in production. Limited stocks of Artik 1020 modules and developer kits are still available for experimentation and small-scale projects,” the company said on its Artik website.

The Artik boards have been used to develop robots, drone, smart lighting systems, and other smart home products. Samsung has a grand plan to make all its appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines, smart in the coming years, and Artik is a big part of that strategy.

Samsung hopes that tinkerers will make devices that work with its smart appliances. Artik can also be programmed to work with Amazon Echo.

Artik 10 started shipping in May last year, and out-performed Raspberry Pi 3 in many ways, but also lagged on some features.

The board had a plethora of wireless connectivity features including 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth, and it had a better graphics processor than Raspberry Pi. The Artik 10 had 16GB flash storage and 2GB of RAM, both more than Raspberry Pi 3.

The board’s biggest flaw was a 32-bit eight-core ARM processor; Raspberry Pi had a 64-bit ARM processor.

The Artik 7 is smaller and a worthy replacement. It has an eight-core 64-bit ARM processor, and it also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee. It supports 1080p graphics, and it has 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage, less than in Artik 10. Cameras and sensors can be easily attached to the board.

The Artik boards work on Linux and Tizen. The company also sells Artik 5 and Artik 0, which are smaller boards with lower power processors.