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Oct
12

Vauxhall’s new Corsa-e will likely make a lot of friends with impatient types who are open to the idea of an all-electric car, but lack the time or inclination to get its battery charged.

Why? It’s going to arrive in April next year with the capacity for fast DC 100kW charging to replenish the 50kW battery. The feature isn’t an extra either, and it could pull in a lot of people who would otherwise pass on the chore of having to charge a battery over popping into a filling station for fuel.

A five-minute pit stop or, potentially, many, many minutes as you wait for those battery bars to replenish is perhaps why so many of us have decided to hang fire on moving over to an electric vehicle. This is still the most frustrating aspect of electric car ownership and it’s mainly about the infrastructure.

Having a car that can be recharged promptly is therefore a definite bonus. And, with its perky recharging potential that could mean the Corsa-e could really hit the right note, assuming you can find a vacant 100kW charging station that is.

In real terms that means you’ll be able to get another 160 miles or so in around half an hour, which is admittedly very handy. Vauxhall also underlines that the Corsa-e boasts a 205 mile range, which has been ticked off via WLTP certification. The car will also come with a rather more sedate 11kW charger, which will get you charged at home in around 7.5 hours using a domestic wallbox.

Plug and play

Aside from that, there’s certainly nothing too revolutionary about the Corsa-e in the looks department, but Vauxhall isn’t really the go-to brand for controversial design lines. What you get is a pretty straightforward car with not too much in the way of surprises.

Interestingly, the Corsa-e will also be available as a petrol and diesel option too and, as a result, the charging port is where the normal fuel filler cap would be. Reversing into those annoyingly short-cabled charging bays when you’re out and about might prove to be the only option in that respect.

While that’s not a big deal it’ll be interesting to see if it provokes a reaction from people who prefer just to pull forwards in to a bay for a battery top up down at the shops. Another reason why, for example, the new Renault Zoe works so well, as it’s got the charging point in the nose of the car.

Elsewhere, while you do get some references to the fact that it’s an ‘e’ model, the Corsa looks conventional from all angles. The front and rear ends get the job done while the bit in the middle offers no nonsense access to the interior via four doors on the example shown here. The funky 17-inch alloy wheels on the press day example, however, delivered a much-needed sliver of excitement mind.

Premium touches

The overall impression is similar when you take a look at the interior styling. It’s a fairly meat and potatoes layout that will prove popular with the many people who like, and have bought the current best-selling Corsa.

That said, Vauxhall has clearly had a decent stab at adding in some more premium touches to spice up the interior, at least with its Elite Nav-trim model. The seating provides enough space for four adults and, as another bonus the car is surprisingly low down in that respect. Headroom isn't compromised.

Indeed, the battery seems to have been tucked into the bottom of the Corsa-e quite cleverly, meaning that the room on offer makes you soon forget you’re riding on a trio of cells in the floorplan. Out back, the boot space is thankfully big enough for your weekly grocery shop, which is probably the sort of journey the Corsa-e is going to be used for in many cases. We’d like to see how it fares with larger objects though, like a folding pushchair for example.

Vauxhall’s Corsa-e will sport a fairly robust tech specification too. As is the expectation from buyers now, the levels of features and functionality found on the inside are reasonably beefy. Apple Car Play and Android Auto, for example, are part of the package as is Bluetooth audio and wireless smartphone charging. There’s a 10-inch touchscreen display on the dash, which is pretty good on the eyes and allows access to options like your preferred in-car apps. The cheaper entry-level SE Nav model comes with a smaller seven-inch touchscreen. Active Lane Assist, meanwhile, is one of the key safety highlights.

Down below that the centre console has a neat shifter, which lets you select drive modes, with Normal, Eco and Sport options to choose from. While Eco unsurprisingly provides the leanest consumption of battery power Sport mode will let you tap into 134bhp from the motor. Battery power reserves will doubtless suffer as a result though there is regenerative braking to put some juice back in to those cells along the way. Eco mode, on the other hand, offers access to 81bhp, which is enough for pootling around town.

What the Corsa-e is like to drive, however, is yet to be determined as Vauxhall has so far limited most journalists to a passenger ride, most recently at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire. We first saw the Corsa-e at the Frankfurt motor show, where it sported Opel badging and it looked good there. The same can be said for its Vauxhall-tagged edition here in the UK, particularly the blue example in these photos. It’s not a head-turner, but we like the low-key lines.

The next step is to get behind the wheel and put it, and that speedy charging potential through its paces. Patchy charging infrastructure permitting that is. As for pricing then the base-level model will start at £26,490 (about $34,000, AU$49,000) after the UK government grant, so it’s competitive.


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Oct
12
Disney Plus and Hulu – why you don't have to choose
Posted by Henry St Leger on 12 October 2019 03:00 PM

Hulu and Disney Plus are two names you’re going to hear together more and more. Ever since Disney took over full control of the Hulu streaming platform back in May, it’s been clear that Disney plans to make Hulu a crucial part of its entertainment offering, and a strong relationship between Hulu and Disney Plus is a big part of that.

If you’re based in the US and looking to sign up to a TV streaming service, you may well be thinking of choosing either Hulu or Disney Plus. For sure, both platforms have quite distinct content libraries, interfaces, and different pricing models – even if a certain bundle option will lead to some overlap.

It’s worth pointing out that Disney Plus won’t be launching until mid-November, so right now your choices are more likely Hulu vs Netflix, or Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video. But for an in-depth guide to Disney Plus and Hulu, read on below.

Disney Plus and Hulu: basic overview

Disney Plus is the incoming Disney streaming platform, set to launch in the US on November 12. It will be a one-stop home for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic programming, and is likely to make a big dent in the share of online streaming enjoyed by the current big dogs.

Hulu, on the other hand, has been around in some form since 2008, with various iterations of its online TV catch-up service existing over the years, including a separate online portal called Hulu Plus. The offering is a bit more streamlined these days, with a central Hulu platform for streaming TV episodes, movies, and more – and a close relationship with major US broadcasters ensuring high-profile content regularly hits the service.

Disney, though already a shareholder, increased its 30% stake in Hulu to 60% through its purchase of 21st Century Fox – begun in 2017, completed in early 2019 – which had also had a 30% stake in Hulu. Disney then bought a 9.5% stake from AT&T, while Comcast agreed to relinquish its control in Hulu to Disney with a formal acquisition to be organized in the coming years.

Disney Plus and Hulu: cost and bundles

When it launches, Disney Plus will cost just $5.99 per month or $69.99 per year. There's only one pricing tier, meaning every subscriber gets the same content library and up to 4K resolution (and HDR) streaming for compatible films and shows – without any ads, either.

Hulu's cheapest pricing plan comes in at $5.99 per month too, though that is an ad-supported plan. To get rid of commercial breaks during shows, you'll have to subscribe to the $11.99 per month plan, though a handful of programmes (New Girl, Agents of SHIELD, Grey's Anatomy) will still have the occasional ad. There are also options to add live TV channels for a total $44.99 per month, or to add services like HBO, Showtime or Cinemax for a $10-15 increase.

The key thing to consider here, though, is the option of bundling Disney Plus and Hulu together.

Disney has announced a joint bundle that includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+ for a highly affordable $12.99 – the same price as Netflix's Premium Plan. For three separate content libraries, and a broad range of US television, that's a pretty good deal.

  • What's included in ESPN+?

Disney Plus and Hulu: features and user interface

We finally got to test out the Disney Plus interface in our hands on Disney Plus review, after the service launched early in the Netherlands. We found it was well-organized, with a clean UI and a clear breakdown of its different content verticals (Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, etc). It's not hugely different from Netflix in its use of a topside banner ad and scrolling lists of titles beneath it – albeit organized more by brand than genre.

Hulu has a much more streamlined interface now than it has in years past, and has finally added offline viewing after around two years of talking about it. Better late than never?

Disney does, however, allow for up to seven user profiles and four screens streaming simultaneously – unlike Hulu, which will only allow one stream at once per account.

Hulu is also one of only two streaming apps on the Nintendo Switch console – along with YouTube – though there's been chatter about Disney Plus joining its sister service on the Switch down the line too. Both Hulu and Disney Plus can be found on a wide range of smartphones, browsers, streaming sticks and smart TVs – though Disney Plus won't be on the Amazon Fire TV Stick at launch.

Disney Plus and Hulu: content

handmaid's tale season 4

Disney Plus will have some big-name properties on the service, and there's plenty of hype its fleet of incoming exclusive shows, including Marvel shows like Loki or Hawkeye, and a DIsney Plus Star Wars TV series called The Mandalorian – not to mention the entire Pixar catalogue.

We've been promised every Disney film ever made on the service, meaning everything from classic Disney animation to modern live-action films will be there to enjoy – we've got the impression from Disney that titles will be coming and going each month though to shake up the offering, so not everything is likely to be available at once. New Disney films will then be added to the service within the following year after a theatrical release.

There won't be the same volume of titles as on Hulu, though.

Hulu has close relationships with ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, streaming big-name shows from each network the day after they premiere. There’s also plenty of content from the likes of Bravo, Comedy Central, and FX and a large back catalog. Notable shows include Saturday Night Live, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Marvel’s Runaways – while Hulu's relationship with anime streaming service Funimation means you're getting a lot of good anime shows (Bleach, One Piece, Naruto, My Hero Academia) thrown in too.

There's clearly plenty of scope for Disney to leverage its existing IP beyond the big screen, while its recent purchase of 21st Century Fox will also bring the entire Simpsons catalogue and more to the service.

Take away

Do you want ESPN+ in your bundle?

So, what does all that mean for you?

Disney Plus and Hulu offer something quite different to their respective subscribers. The Disney platform will be more of a repository of Disney movies and content geared around its five specific verticals, while Hulu acts more as a general on-demand portal for TV shows from US broadcasters.

Disney Plus will be the least irritating option at the $5.99 price tier, given Hulu still includes ads at that price. For versatile pricing options, though, there's more choice and personalization with Hulu's various plans.

At the end of the say, the $12.99 bundle for Hulu (with ads), ESPN+ and Disney Plus offers the most value, though you can save an extra dollar by not signing up to ESPN+ and subscribing to the other services separately.


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Oct
12

Few phones have ever leaked in advance quite so completely as the Pixel 4 has, and of course Google itself got the ball rolling early on. We've got some more specs and images to share with you, plus details of a deal we haven't heard about before.

First some high-quality renders of the phones courtesy of tech tipsters Ishan Agarwal and Brandon Lee: these match up with previous pictures we've seen but show off the phone in a high-resolution and in all three colors.

According to Lee, that coral or orange color we've been seeing for a few months is actually a limited preorder exclusive – so if you want it you're going to have to act fast. As yet though, that's unconfirmed.

Agarwal has also leaked a chart suggesting the Pixel 3a and the Pixel 3a XL will remain on sale, as you would expect, with the 2018 Pixel 3 phones retired.  You can see the specs for all four phones in the chart.

Pixel 4 leak

More leaks come courtesy of Best Buy in the US, via 9to5Google, with promo images attached. As we've heard before, the Pixel 4 gets a 5.7-inch screen, the Pixel 4 XL gets a 6.3-inch screen, and both cameras get 16MP+12MP dual-lens rear cameras.

9to5Google has also been able to uncover code in the Google One app that suggests anyone who buys a Pixel 4 will be able to get some free cloud storage from Google for three months – that might be another reason to make a purchase.

Meanwhile, if you order a Pixel 4 from the Three network in the UK, you'll apparently get an HP Chromebook 14 for your troubles as well – that's as per an image of a billboard posted to Reddit and reported by Android Central.

All will become clear on Tuesday October 15 when we finally get the grand unveiling of the Pixel 4, the Pixel 4 XL and quite possibly some other devices too – and we will of course be bringing you all the announcements as they happen.


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Oct
12

The 2019 Super League season curtain closer is finally upon us! You can watch all the action live, not matter where you are in the world, by following our St Helens vs Salford 2019 Super League Grand Final live stream guide below.

St Helens go into today's game at Old Trafford having lost just three times during the season. A win today would see them claim what would be only their second Super League title since 2006. Salford, meanwhile, will be out to pull off a fairytale turnaround, with the club  marked out as 150/1 outsiders to reach the final at the start of the campaign, having narrowly missed relegation last season.

Can the Red Devils pull off a huge shock in their Grand Final debut? Recent head-to-heads between the two sides suggest not, with the Saints winning the last six contests between the two teams.

In fact, St Helens have averaged an incredible 31.9 points across their 30 games in the league this season and look imperious.

Nevertheless, Ian Watkins' well-drilled side can point to the fact that their defence has been strong throughout the campaign, conceding just one try in their last two games, plus they also have the benefit of their underdog status with no pressure upon their shoulders.

Both teams look set to name unchanged squads for the final from their last matches, with Saints' Super League’s Young Player of the Year Matty Lees the only notable absentee for today's game.

Below we've laid out exactly what you need to do to get a live stream of the St Helens vs Salford Super League Grand Final from almost anywhere in the world.

How to live stream St Helens vs Salford in the UK

Live stream 2019 Super League Grand Final from absolutely anywhere with a VPN

Not in the UK? No sweat. Follow the VPN guidelines below and sign into your preferred service that way to watch the Grand Final wherever you are in the world. The software basically makes your computer or phone think it's back in our home country, so you can then watch the rugby league online as if you were there.


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Oct
12
What’s the real deal with in-browser VPNs?
Posted by Cat Ellis on 12 October 2019 01:00 PM

VPNs are big business, and getting bigger, but the prospect of buying a subscription and setting one up can be daunting for a first-timer. However, that’s not your only option. Increasingly, web browsers are offering their own in-browser VPNs (or services described as such). But are they really the same, and how much protection do they offer?

Opera is establishing a niche for itself as a pioneer in online security, willing to experiment, take risks, and introduce new privacy features long before the bigger players. It was the first mainstream browser to launch a built-in VPN, offering it for both desktop and mobile devices.

“Opera introduced our free, built-in no log browser VPN more than three years ago,” an Opera spokesperson told TechRadar. “We saw the rising demand for VPN services: people wanted to protect their online lives better. We decided to help them with this.”

“We are a non-default browser that people have to make a choice to download and use, that’s why we try harder to innovate and offer the best features, as soon as we can”

Opera

Opera doesn’t charge for its VPN, instead providing it free as an incentive for people to make the switch from rival browsers. “Our browser’s revenue comes from other, unrelated sources such as agreements with the world's most popular search engines,” the spokesperson explained.

“The reception has been great. People value the fact that our VPN, is no log, free and unlimited. Unlike, for example, Firefox, the Opera browser continues to grow its user base and is now the preferred choice of more than 300 million people worldwide on PC and smartphones.”

Opera is clearly confident, and its service is certainly easy to use (our colleagues at Tom’s Guide have found that it works particularly well with Netflix), but is it really a VPN? Some would argue no.

When is a VPN not a VPN?

In September 2019, Mozilla debuted an experimental tool called Firefox Private Network (FPN). It's currently available free for testing to US desktop users, but may well be a paid-for product when it’s released in the near future. Although it works just like Opera’s tool, Mozilla stopped short of actually calling it a VPN, so we asked why it made the distinction.

“Firefox Private Network was built to ensure the best possible performance and privacy,” a Mozilla spokesperson told TechRadar. “As opposed to a true VPN, which is a piece of software that works on the OS level of a device, the Firefox Private Network is a secure, encrypted path to the web for the Firefox browser using Cloudflare as a proxy”

Because FPN only protects web traffic going through the browser, Mozilla believes ‘proxy’ a more appropriate term. By this measure, Opera’s offering is also a secure proxy, only anonymizing browser traffic.

Firefox Private Network

Proxies are useful tools for keeping your everyday browsing private – particularly when you’re using a public Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s important to be aware of their limitations compared to a ‘true’ VPN.

A proxy won’t secure any data sent and received by other applications, including (but not limited to) email clients, media apps, and messaging apps. With online services increasingly urging users to use their own apps rather than a web browser, this is important to bear in mind.

It’s also important to know who is providing your browser’s proxy, where the organization is based (different countries have different data privacy laws), and what logs it keeps.

Reassuringly, Mozilla is particularly transparent about this. “FPN was carefully built by Mozilla’s team of designers and engineers, making sure you get the best possible performance and privacy, tightly integrated with the Firefox browser,” its spokesperson told us. “And true to our commitment to privacy, the data Cloudflare processes for the Firefox Private Network is subject to Mozilla’s privacy policy. All proxy data will be deleted within 24 hours.”

Still, if you want to make sure all your internet traffic is encrypted and anonymized, you'll need to investigate a premium standalone VPN service.

Proxies vs VPNs

ExpressVPN is one of the world's biggest VPN providers, and currently ranks top in our guide to the best VPNs. “We are glad to see that a growing number of companies share our view that VPNs are an essential online privacy and security tool,” Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN, told us.

“We have also been working with Mozilla since 2018 to offer Firefox Lite users a free seven-day trial of ExpressVPN – helping to educate users about the risks of public Wi-Fi while equipping them with tools to protect themselves”

However, while he agreed that while browser-based proxies can be useful, he also noted that they don’t protect all internet traffic.

He also observed that dedicated VPN services can also invest more in their products, offering services like 24/7 live customer support, premium bandwidth, reliable content unblocking, and state of the art hardware for speed,  stability and securityy. For example, ExpressVPN’s servers run on RAM only, not hard drives, which guarantees that all software and data on the server is erased on every reboot.

That's not something most browser developers will be able to provide - and certainly not for free. However, there is one company with the resources...

What about Chrome?

There are certainly plenty of third-party proxy extensions for Chrome (both free and paid), but there’s no sign of Google implementing a proxy or VPN of its own. With over 60% of the global browser market in September 2019 according to StatCounter, Google certainly doesn’t need to dangle a carrot to tempt new users – but it could if it wished.

It already provides a VPN for customers of its Google Fi mobile phone service, though that’s out of necessity. Google doesn’t control its own mobile network, so it piggybacks on infrastructure belonging to Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular.

Each of these companies has its own security and privacy policies, making it a nightmare for Google to create a standard set of privacy policies, so it chose to get around the issue by installing a VPN on each phone. Data is encrypted and sent to a remote server before it goes to any of those three ISPs, meaning they are unable to see what it is, or where it’s come from.

Google Fi

That’s not a cheap service, but it proves that Google is prepared to bolster its services with privacy tools when it must. And if proxies become standard with all other browsers, it might feel compelled to follow suit.

Earlier this year, Google followed the example set by Mozilla and Opera by giving Chrome users the ability to block third-party cookies (despite its insistence that doing so will only cause advertisers to use shadier methods like fingerprinting to track web users).

A true in-browser VPN would be a major asset for Google, particularly if Chrome's popularity starts to wane as users become frustrated by its infamous RAM-guzzling) and would let it leapfrog other browsers that only offer a proxy. Whether users would trust a VPN provided by Google is another matter, but we certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of one appearing in Chrome in the next couple of years.


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