Two robots playing soccer at the inauguration of the V Future Congress, in Santiago, Chile.
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Two robots playing soccer at the inauguration of the V Future Congress, in Santiago, Chile.
US President Barack Obama leaves the home of Lisa and Jeff Martin following a visit in Omaha, Nebraska. The President met with the Martin's after Lisa, a new mother, had written a letter to Obama expressing her concerns for her son and the country he would grow up in.
I can almost lick it!
Carlos Sainz of Spain drives past Hans Smit of the Netherlands on his motorcycle during the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally near Cafayate, Argentina.
A woman takes a walk at river Spree on a cold winter day in Berlin.
A member of the Langland Board Surfers group takes part in a Surfing Santa competition at Langland Bay in Gower, Wales.
News Network's cover photo
Jeep's Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon isn't a car — it's a state of mind
A crowd of crusty dirt bike riders gathered at the bottom of the slick, nearly vertical sandstone face to watch with bated breath (I assume) my descent of the seemingly impassable sandstone face.
I had brought the boxy, hydro-blue 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon to the Hungry Valley off-road area about an hour outside Los Angeles to eagerly test the off-road capabilities of the iconic trail rig.
Feeling exceedingly confident in both my and the truck's four-wheeling capabilities, my co-driver and I — along with our two other buddies wedged in the backseat — found the only double black diamond trail on the map and made a beeline straight for it.
Up until the moment, having rolled over many stones and through a few dusty gullies, we'd felt unstoppable. Our confidence peaked, however, just as we rounded the sharp right-hander to discover a 100-foot near-45-degree sandstone rock face.
surveyed the golden rock, weathered into a steep, smooth surface, our confidence — and stomachs — sank.
Standing atop the stone barrier that stood between us and the valley below, we debated turning a single miscalculation could send the Jeep tumbling ass over teakettle down the incline and to our demise.
As we stood there, hands on hips, hemming and hawing over the angle of approach, the sounds of a dozen slowly idling single-cylinder dirt bikes at the base of the hill and beat out an ominous rhythm. The sounds of the exhausts bounced off the rock walls like a distant drumroll, daring me to tackle the descent.
Finally having built up enough courage — or at the very least pushed away enough fear — I climbed into the rig, put the transfer case into four-wheel drive, locked the front and rear differentials, popped the transmission into drive, let off the handbrake and began the journey downward.
Like nothing else
The Wrangler is truly like nothing else on the road today. It's not just blessed with classic body lines reminiscent of its World War II heritage — it's underpinned by some stone-age stuff, including the chassis and suspension. I don't need to get into the details here, but suffice it to say it's about as modern as the Greek Parthenon.
Despite it's ancient underpinnings, Jeep designers have made the Wrangler a competent inner-city commuter. The car's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is quite peppy, thanks to its 285-horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The five-speed automatic transmission is smooth shifting. And the brakes, though a bit squishy, will bring the boxy 4x4 to a quick stop.
The Wrangler is especially comfortable over potholes and speed humps, as the off-road-y suspension was designed to soak up much more than any on-road commute could ever toss as it. And, if you're into loud, thump-y tunes, you'll absolutely love the optional and, importantly, weather-resistant Alpine stereo system.
That said, the Wrangler still a bit strange. Due to its old-school steering and big, knobby tires, the Wrangler doesn't track straight down the road. This requires a steering technique that make you feel like you're in an old-timey movie, continually forced to make the seesaw motion with your arms to keep the vehicle straight in the lane.
Rear-seat passengers of four-door Unlimited models fitted with the standard cloth-top will find road noise to be excruciating at speed. They'll also be either quite hot or quite cold, depending on the outside temperature, since there are no climate control vents in the back seating area.
There are other niggling issues. The door catches, for example, are made of cloth. That means they don't stay open. So when you're trying to load something in the car, the door will swing closed on your back.
Those are there not because Jeep is cheap but rather because the doors are designed to be easily removed. So it makes sense. When loading, say, a child into the backseat while the wind is blowing, however, you'll feel a bit like you're in a scene from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Nova Launcher Prime, Eve Online, Evoland II, and More App Deals
Every week this column brings you the best deals on apps and games. This week we have plenty of cool apps such as Nova Launcher Prime, and a whole bunch of apps from synthesiser maker Korg. If you are into games, there are discounts on Evoland II and Eve Online too. Read on.
Nova Launcher Prime
If you are interested in customising your Android phone, one of the first things you should get is a good launcher app. This will allow you to tweak effects such as when you move from one home screen to another, and give you extra features such as using gestures to open apps. If this appeals to you, then Nova Launcher Prime is one of the best launcher apps for Android. The premium version has a bunch of extra features missing from its free counterpart and is now on sale at a really low price.
Nova Launcher Prime for Android (Rs. 10, usually Rs. 300)
Other great deals
Eve Online via Steam (Rs. 141, usually Rs. 555; monthly subscription required after first month; this purchase will create a new Eve account)
Evoland II via Humble Store (Rs. 620, usually Rs. 1,200; offer valid till 10pm IST on December 9)
Her Story for iOS (Rs. 120, usually Rs. 300)
LiveGIF for iOS (Rs. 60, usually Rs. 120)
Weight Diary for iOS (Free, usually Rs. 190)
Banner Saga for iOS (Rs. 300, usually Rs. 620)
MailDroid Pro for Android (Rs. 666, usually Rs. 1,000)
Ai Search for iOS (Free, usually Rs. 60)
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary for iOS (Free, usually Rs. 2,000)
Korg app sale for iOS (50 percent off on all Korg iOS apps and plugins)
Google Pixel C Review
Introduction and design
The Pixel C was launched a little half-heartedly by Google during its Nexus 5X and 6P event, giving us glimpses of the slate while at the same time giving very little away. Which is surprising really, as Google has made a rather compelling high-end tablet.
It's actually a new venture for Google, as the Pixel C is the first tablet designed and built by the search giant. Previous 'Google' slates sporting the Nexus brand have been made by Asus and HTC; this time round, though, Google's had total control over every aspect, moulding the device especially for Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The 10.2-inch display and premium build means the Pixel C sits comfortably at the top end of the tablet market, above the Nexus 9. It bridges the gap between the Nexus slates and Google's Chromebook Pixel laptop.
That means it has the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet for company, not to mention the king of tablets in the iPad Air 2.
There's an added twist though, as Google also offers (at extra expense) a rather clever keyboard dock which transforms the Pixel C from a standard Android tablet into a hybrid laptop. Suddenly, Google's also eyeing up the market currently being contested by the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro.
You can pick up the Pixel C in two models, 32GB and 64GB. The 32GB version will set you back £399, (US$499, around AU$680), while the larger storage size is available for £479 (US$599, around AU$820).
The Pixel C is comfortably cheaper than the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 then, while Google's matched the price of the 16GB and 64GB iPad Air 2s - although if you opt for the cheaper version of the Pixel C you'll get double the storage of Apple's entry-level slate.
Competition is fierce then - so has Google done enough to make the Pixel C stand out in a world which is still dominated by Apple? It's certainly given it a damn good go.
There's no mistaking that the Pixel C is a premium tablet. Finished in Anodized Aluminum, the Pixel C looks and feels like an expensive piece of tech as soon as you lay eyes and hands on it.
That style isn't light though, and at 517g it's considerably heavier than the similarly proportioned iPad Air 2, which tips the scales at 437g - although the Air 2 is narrower and thinner than the 242 x 179 x 7mm Pixel C.
There's a healthy amount of bezel surrounding the 10.2-inch display, and considering there's no physical home key it feels like wasted space. I'd have liked a larger screen, or tighter dimensions - but the tech has to fit somewhere, which probably explains the extra bulk.
You don't even get a fingerprint scanner, a feature that Google's included in its latest duo of smartphones after providing dedicated support for the digit-reading tech with Android Marshmallow. It feels a little bit like a missed opportunity.
With the Pixel C held in landscape orientation, the power/lock key is located on the left of the top edge, while the volume rocker sits high up on the left, with a USB-C port at the bottom of the same side.
The USB-C port enables you to charge the Pixel C and transfer data to and from it, but it also has another use. Connect a phone or Pixel laptop to the Pixel C and the tablet can charge your other devices - handy if your phone is running low and there's no power outlet in sight.
There are also dual stereo speakers on either side of the tablet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack completes the array of features on the right side of the Pixel C.
On the rear, the 8MP camera is joined by the iconic Chromebook light bar shining in Google's four trademark colours. It's Google's answer to the illuminated Apple logo on the MacBook range, ensuring that even in dark environments people know the brand of your machine. Thank God.
It is rather attractive, and it actually serves a purpose other than blowing Google's trumpet. Double-tap the light bar and it can display the Pixel C's battery level, even when the device is turned off - that's really useful if you want to see if it needs a quick charge.
The flat edges mean the Pixel C doesn't sit particularly comfortably in the hand, and this isn't a tablet you'll want to be clinging to for extended periods of time.
The location of the various buttons, and the orientation of the light bar, signals that Google intends for you to use the Pixel C in landscape mode most of the time. But portrait mode is readily available, and is arguably better for activities such as web browsing.
The design then, is pleasing to the eye, but the Pixel C still can't hold a candle to the iPad Air 2. Apple's flagship tablet just feels nicer, looks slicker and weighs less. I really like the Pixel C's design, but put it next to the iPad and Apple still wins the beauty contest.
Dazzling display, clever keyboard, tasty Marshmallow
The Google Pixel C packs a 10.2-inch display, which is larger than the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and 8.9-inch Nexus 9 displays, but smaller than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 screens.
Meanwhile, with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 the Pixel C has a pixel density of 308ppi, comfortably outperforming the Air 2 (264ppi) and Nexus 9 (281ppi) and making for a crystal-clear display - it's called the Pixel for a reason.
So far, so good then, but Google's not finished there. The screen on the Pixel C is 25% brighter than leading tablets (according to tests by DisplayMate). It can go up to 500 nits, which makes outside viewing more viable - although it's still not perfect.
The screen has also been enhanced with Low Temperature PolySilicon technology. "What the hell does that mean?" I hear you cry. Well, it's good news for the battery, as it helps to keep the display's power consumption down.
Holding the Pixel C alongside the Air 2 it's clear that Google's tablet has the brighter screen. It's fantastic.
It all means you get an excellent on-screen experience with the Pixel C, with pin-sharp clarity and bright colours. The iPad Air 2's display seriously impressed, but the Pixel C's is even better.
For an additional £119 (US$149, around AU$200) you can supplement your Pixel C with a full-size keyboard, which has also been designed and built by Google, alongside the tablet.
The best feature of the keyboard is automatic pairing. There's no need to mess around with Bluetooth settings, or switching off the keyboard when it's not in use - the Pixel C just knows when the keyboard is attached. Just make sure Bluetooth is on, and the slate will do the rest.
Then there's the docking system. There are no annoying latches or pins to line up here; instead the keyboard sports a heavy-duty magnet which clings to the bottom third of the Pixel C. The connection is surprisingly strong, and you can pick up the assemblage by either the keyboard or tablet without any fear that the two will become disconnected.
The magnet also doubles as a multi-angle hinge, enabling you to tilt the Pixel C to your preferred degree for optimum viewing, whether you're tapping out text or sitting back to enjoy a Netflix binge.
When you're not using the Pixel C the keyboard acts as a protective cover for the screen, sticking to the front of the tablet. If you want to use the Pixel C as a slate, rather than a laptop, you can stick the keyboard to the rear for safe keeping.
This does, however, increase the bulk of the tablet, and makes it more uncomfortable to hold, with an additional 399g added to the total weight. I'd advise slipping the keyboard into a bag, or sitting in on a table when you're in tablet mode.
Whenever the keyboard is attached to the tablet it wirelessly charges, which means your keyboard will never run out of juice while you're using the Pixel C.
The chiclet keyboard has traditional clicky keys which feel natural under the fingers, although the 1.4mm travel is a little shallow. It's a setup your fingers will become accustomed to quickly, although a few of the keys can be tricky to hit - the apostrophe/@ key is only half-width, while the enter key has also been slimmed down.
The keyboard is great for typing, but there's still a strong reliance on the touchscreen, which does interrupt the experience somewhat. Hitting the three dots key to the right of the space bar brings up an on-screen menu of symbols, and you tap the one you want rather than using the keyboard.
It's this disconnect which reminds you that you're using a tablet and not a laptop, and it slows down the typing experience. It would also be handy to have a home button on the keyboard, to enable you to quickly exit applications.
I wrote around half of this review using the Pixel C's keyboard, and over extended periods of typing I did notice my speed was lacking compared to working on a traditional computer keyboard. I was able to type relatively comfortably with the Pixel C on my lap, though - something you can't always easily do with tablet keyboard docks.
Another potential annoyance is that the keyboard dock doesn't enable you to seat the Pixel C in portrait mode. For many this won't be an issue, but it's something the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet does allow with its (included in the box) keyboard dock.
The Pixel C's keyboard is cheaper than Apple's £139 (US$169, AU$269) Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro, but it's fair to say the Cupertino firm's implementation is cleaner, and quicker to deploy. It does have its limitations compared to the C though, with just one display angle and keys which take a lot of getting used to.
As Google says, the Pixel C has been made for Android 6.0 Marshmallow. What does that mean? Well the tablet is optimised for Google's operating system, without the interference of an outside manufacturer - and that means there's nothing to get in the way of the pure Android experience.
In fact, the Pixel C rocks up with version 6.0.1 of Google's very latest software, ensuring it keeps pace with the firm's Nexus phones and tablets.
It also means the Pixel C will be first in line for future Android updates, along with the Nexus lineup, ensuring you're always up to date.
One of the big features which arrived in the Marshmallow update is Doze, which keeps activity to a minimum when your device is on standby, and which helps to extend battery life up to a claimed 10 hours on the Pixel C - but more on that in the battery section.
With this being a tablet the Android Pay integration in Marshmallow is unlikely to provide any use, and as I mentioned in the design section the Pixel C doesn't sport a fingerprint scanner to take advantage of the new support in Android.
You do benefit from improved voice support however, enabling you to be a little more casual when conversing with Google Now, plus there's Now on Tap - this displays mini cards in-app to provide additional information relevant to what's on screen.
For example, if you're viewing a web page about Star Wars, Now on Tap can detect that and offer up other relevant information about the franchise.
Now on Tap is triggered by sliding up from the home button on the Pixel C; it doesn't always have something to add, however, and it can be a little hit and miss when it does return results.
Specs and performance
Google has ensured that it's put specs in all the right places on the Pixel C, with a focus on the screen, power and battery.
That does mean, though, that there are a few areas where the specs don't quite match the flagship price tag - chiefly in the camera department, where an 8MP rear camera is joined by a 2MP front snapper.
It's certainly not the end of the world, and while the lack of a microSD slot will irk some, at least there's no poxy 16GB model - I'm looking at you Apple - with 32GB the entry-level storage size. I would have liked to have seen a 128GB model above the 64GB offering, although for most users 64GB will be enough.
Stereo speakers help to improve the audio output of the Pixel C, while the four microphones enable the tablet to hear you more clearly when you're barking orders at Google Now, and improve your voice clarity during video calls.
As I've mentioned, the Pixel C comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest iteration of Google's mobile software platform.
This means you have access to the Play Store, well stocked as it is with apps, games, movies and music. The thing is, though, Android lacks the quantity and quality of tablet-optimised applications that you get in the rival App Store for Apple's iOS.
Load up certain applications - Spotify is a good example - and you'll notice it's just the smartphone application. It hasn't been optimised for the Pixel C's expansive 10.2-inch display, nor any other tablet screen for that matter.
While such apps are still perfectly usable, this lack of optimisation does hamper the user experience, and can make things look a little bit ugly on screen.
A handy touch, however, is found in the navigation bar, where Google has split the trio of buttons so they no longer reside in the middle of the screen.
Instead, the multitasking button sits against the right side of the screen, while back and home are on the left. This makes them a lot easier to hit when holding the tablet with both hands.
There's plenty of Wi-Fi potential inside the Pixel C with the slate supporting 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO - if you've got a super-duper router this tablet can take full advantage of it.
Those looking for 4G connectivity will be disappointed, though, as Google offers the Pixel C as Wi-Fi only. Apple, Samsung and even the Nexus 9 offer up pricier Wi-Fi + LTE models for those who never want to be without an internet connection, but no dice here.
It's not a big problem, though, as for many their core usage will occur at home or somewhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
The Pixel C sports Nvidia's Tegra X1 processor, a 64-bit, quad-core chip which delivers a healthy blast of power into Google's aluminium-clad slate.
That's joined by 3GB of RAM, which means the Pixel C has more power under the hood than the iPad Air 2 and Nexus 9, although the octa-core Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet technically have greater capacity for higher loads.
Running the Pixel C through Geekbench 3 shows just how powerful it is. With an average multi-core score of 4449, it performs better than the Nexus 9, Sony and Samsung tablets, while pretty much matching the Air 2's result.
On screen I found the Android interface to be fast and fluid. Apps generally loaded in good time, and the Pixel C was able to run the graphically-intensive Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 Airborne without any hint of slowdown.
It's not the slickest experience I've ever had on a tablet though, and while everything runs well, the Pixel C just lacks that top level of polish for sublime performance and instant responses every time.
Music, Movies and Gaming
The Pixel C is a Google tablet out-and-out, so it's no surprise that the only music player that's pre-installed is Play Music.
As music apps go it's pretty standard, enabling you to view your tunes by artist, album, track or genre. You have the facility to create playlists on the fly too, but Play Music does have a trick up its sleeve.
That trick is Unlimited, Google's own music streaming service, which requires a monthly subscription payment of £9.99 (US$9.99), in return for which it puts millions of songs at your fingertips.
Of course, if you already subscribe to a rival service (such as Spotify) you can just head to the Play Store and download the relevant app.
Sound quality from the built-in stereo speakers is acceptable at a moderate level, but don't expect resonating bass or crystal-clear lyrics.
At high volumes the Pixel C's speakers are tinny, almost uncomfortably so - there's more depth in the iPad Air 2, but that's only got a single driver. If you're looking for room-filling sound you'll need to plug in an external speaker.
Things are improved when you plug in a set of headphones, however, with the Pixel C able to kick out decent audio.
With its 10.2-inch, 2560 x 1800 display, the Pixel C is a movie machine. Your HD movies and TV shows will look great on the tablet's screen, and if you can afford to crank the brightness up to max your eyes will be in for a real treat.
For those willing to splash out on the keyboard, you'll be glad you did if you watch a lot of videos on your mobile devices. The Pixel C is pretty heavy, so you won't fancy holding it for the duration of a film; the keyboard proves a solid stand, and its multi-positional hinge means you'll be able to find the perfect viewing angle.
There's sadly no option to minimise your video into a small floating window, which would enable you to use the tablet while still keeping an eye on the action. This is something the iPad Pro has, although its larger display means it makes more sense there than on the Pixel C.
Video playback is smooth, bright and highly detailed, enabling you to fully enjoy the on-screen action. The internal speakers do let the side down again though, so if you're settling down to watch a blockbuster you're best off connecting a speaker or headphones.
With its crystal-clear display, Tegra X1 processor, Maxwell GPU and 3GB of RAM the Pixel C is well equipped for a solid gaming session.
Load times are quick and playback is smooth, even on demanding titles such as Real Racing 3. I did find my arms got a little tired if I played for an extended period of time, though, so you might want to divide your play time up into chunks - or just choose a game where you don't need to hold and twist the tablet to steer a car!
I also found the Pixel C could get quite warm during an intensive gaming session - not hot enough to burn your hands, but it can get a little uncomfortable.
If you opt for the keyboard as well, some games are already taking advantage of the keys on offer. I played Asphalt 8 Airborne on the Pixel C, which has already been updated to allow for keyboard input.
This gives you more of a PC-like experience, and given the power of the Pixel C and the graphical improvements in games, our mobile devices are getting closer and closer to console and PC gaming.
One thing to note though is that not all games are optimised for the resolution of the Pixel C's display, which can mean they appear a little pixelated.
That's a shortcoming on the developer side, rather than on the part of the tablet - and the hope is that devs will update their apps and games to support higher resolutions in the future.
Battery life and camera
Google claims the Pixel C can go for over 10 hours on a single charge, although obviously that depends very much on your usage.
During my time with the Pixel C I found battery life to be generally strong, with the tablet coping well with a variety of tasks. Activities such as video playback and gaming, of course, drain the battery quicker than web browsing or social media activity.
I ran the 90-minute HD video test with the screen on full brightness and various accounts syncing in the background over Wi-Fi, after which the Pixel C had lost 27% of its battery, dropping down from 100% to 73%.
That's a disappointing result, putting the Pixel C behind the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (16%), Nexus 9 (18%), iPad Air 2 (21%) and Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet (21%).
It's not all bad news though. The Pixel C's display is much brighter than its rivals, so reducing the brightness by half means you still get a decent experience while saving yourself a whole heap of battery life.
If you want to get 10 hours-plus from the Pixel C's battery you'll need to make sure you keep the display brightness reduced, and limit your amount of video playback.
If you primarily use your tablet for web browsing, emails and social media, then you'll easily be able to get a good eight hours from the Pixel C, if not longer.
The Pixel C comes with a fast-charger plug in the box, so if you are running low you can quickly top the tablet up - you'll know when it's fast-charging, as 'charging rapidly' will be displayed on the lock screen.
The Google Pixel C does have cameras, one on the front and one on the back, but like many tablet snappers they're not a patch on the offerings in your smartphone.
Round the back the 8MP sensor provides a relatively solid camera for basic, occasional shots, while the 2MP front camera should be reserved for video calls only - it's not great for selfies.
The size and weight of the Pixel C also means it's not exactly easy to wield, and you'll want to find something to rest the tablet on so you can get a steady shot.
There's no flash either, so you'll want to avoid snapping in low lighting, which does limit the Pixel C's camera credentials further.
As the Pixel C comes with stock Android, you get Google's standard camera app, which finds a happy place between the simplicity of Apple's iOS app and the feature-packed offerings from other Android handset manufacturers.
Slide your finger in from the left side of the display and you'll get five modes to choose from: Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur, Camera and Video. It's all pretty stock Google, but it's easy to use.
There's a settings icon too, which enables you to adjust the resolution of your images and switch on manual exposure if you wish.
The shutter is pretty quick, and the larger 10.2-inch display makes for a great viewfinder - but the results aren't so good. Images tend to be grainy and lacking in detail, with moving subjects often blurring as the Pixel C struggles to keep up.
It's certainly not the worst tablet camera I've used, but you'll probably be better off using your phone, and reserving the Pixel C for snapping the odd photo.
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