The Batman Finds Its New Director in Matt Reeves

Matt Reeves – known for his work on Cloverfield and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – has been chosen to direct The Batman, the standalone DC universe movie starring Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, Warner Bros. announced in a statement on Thursday. He has been brought in to fill the position Affleck vacated last month.

The Batman Finds Its New Director in Matt Reeves

In addition, Reeves will also serve as a producer on the film, the studio revealed. There’s no word on whether he has signed up for a multi-picture deal. The omission of Affleck’s name from the announcement added fuel to the fire that he may not return to the character after this year’s Justice League, but Warner Bros. confirmed later he “is still attached to star”.

“I have loved the Batman story since I was a child,” Reeves said. “He is such an iconic and compelling character, and one that resonates with me deeply. I am incredibly honoured and excited to be working with Warner Bros. to bring an epic and emotional new take on the Caped Crusader to the big screen.”

Reeves recently finished work on War for the Planet of the Apes, the third entry in the franchise, and his second Apes venture personally. The sci-fi war film will release July 14, with a lot riding on it after the critical acclaim garnered by its predecessor.

In that light, Reeves seems to be the right guy to take on another big franchise, though a Batman movie comes with its own set of demands, and expectations. Warner Bros., for its part, seems to have confidence in their new man.

“We are thrilled to have Matt Reeves taking the helm of Batman, the crown jewel of our DC slate,” Toby Emmerich, president and chief content officer, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said. Matt’s deep roots in genre films and his evolution into an emotional world-building director make him the perfect filmmaker to guide the Dark Knight through this next journey.”

The Batman is expected to begin filming later this year, as a finished script was still not in place as of last month, according to Affleck. Geoff Johns, Chris Terrio, and Affleck have all contributed.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Again Leaked in Live Image; Hints at Design Overhaul, Dual Cameras

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone has been again pictured ahead of the launch. The new leaked image purportedly shows the Galaxy S8 in a protective case and corroborates earlier leaks.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Again Leaked in Live Image; Hints at Design Overhaul, Dual Cameras

The new case leak again shows that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will indeed feature the fingerprint scanner at the back while reiterates design overhaul. There have been leaks pointing that Samsung may finally ditch its physical home button at the front and the latest leaked image again reiterates this. The company is also said to be adding a dedicated button for Bixby – Samsung’s new AI assistant which will work with native apps as well. The new leaked image however doesn’t show any such button. The new leaked image was first posted on Slashleaks.

The leaked image shows the alleged Galaxy S8 featuring the wallpaper that was earlier seen on the Galaxy Note 7 while the date on the lock screen says August 2. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the credibility of the newly leaked image.

For specifications, the Galaxy S8 is widely rumoured to be powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC with 4GB or 6GB of RAM. The handset is said to pack 64GB inbuilt storage while come with support for expandable storage via microSD card (up to 128GB). The Samsung Galaxy S8 is likely to sport 3250mAh battery. The smartphone is rumoured to go on sale by April 21.

A recent report claimed China prices for the Galaxy S8 – 6GB of RAM with 64GB storage variant is said to be priced at CNY 6,088 (roughly Rs. 59,000) while the 128GB storage variant is said to be available at CNY 6,488 (roughly Rs. 63,000). Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is rumoured to cost EUR 100 (roughly Rs. 7,300) more than its predecessor.

This brain-computer interface lets paralysed people type faster than ever before

For several decades, medical researchers have been working on a way to turn brainwaves into instructions for an external device. These brain-computer interfaces, first developed in the 1970s, hold enormous promise – they could let paralysed people move again, and augment or even replace the way we interact with the world.

Unfortunately, existing brain-computer interfaces are slow and tricky to learn. But now a group from Stanford University has developed a new model designed for typing which outperforms every previous device to date.

Pill-sized

To use it, three volunteers suffering severe limb weakness disorders agreed to have a small pill-sized electrode array implanted in their brain. The array records signals from the motor cortex, which controls muscle movement, and uses an algorithm to translate them into instructions for the computer to move a cursor around an on-screen keyboard.

After a short training period, the participants were able to outperform all previous brain-computer interface tests on people with similarly impaired movement. One participant managed 39 correct characters per minute. It’s believed that with the addition of automatic word correction software, this could be boosted even further.

“This study reports the highest speed and accuracy, by a factor of three, over what’s been shown before,” said Krishna Shenoy, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who’s been pursuing BCI development for 15 years. “We’re approaching the speed at which you can type text on your cellphone.”

No insurmountable challenges

The researchers believe that future versions of the device will be wireless, fully implanted, self-calibrating, and able to be used around the clock. “I don’t see any insurmountable challenges.” Shenoy said. “We know the steps we have to take to get there.”

Dennis Degray, one of the study participants, added: “This is like one of the coolest video games I’ve ever gotten to play with. And I don’t even have to put a quarter in it.”

Get your hands on Canon’s legendary EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM

If you fancy getting your hands on Canon’s mighty (and we should say, extremely rare) Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM telephoto lens, then head for Park Cameras’ Burgess Hill store in West Sussex on Saturday March 4.

The lens has a mysterious history, and its hard to say how many of them actually exist. What we do know is that this lens can chart its history back to the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where five FD mount lenses were used by the press.

After being returned to Japan they were converted to Canon’s EF mount, with the lens made available to purchase via special order. A $10,000 deposit was required, with the lens only going into production once several optics had been ordered.

There are now thought to be only around 20 in existence, with one used model appearing three years ago with an asking price of £99,000.

As well as the epic EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM, Park Cameras will also have every Canon EF lens currently in production available to get your hands on.

Technical experts from Canon UK will be on hand to answer your questions, while Canon geek and professional photographer David Newton will be holding a series of free seminars.

To learn more and to book a space on a seminar, visit the Park Cameras website.

The very best SIM-only deals and tariffs for February 2017

Whether you want an iPhone 7, S7 Edge or Google Pixel we’ve got the latest SIM deals from all the UK networks

If you want a great contract-free deal, you’ve come to the right place. SIM-only deals are great because they enable you to use the phone you want with the network you want.

What’s more, they often enable you to save on your data, calls and texts with a tariff that best suits you. And they’re available from all networks – Vodafone, O2, Three, EE, Virgin, Giffgaff, iD, Tesco and BT.

Some providers refer to SIM-only deals as ‘Pay Monthly’. In reality, it’s not just Pay Monthly deals that are available – there’s some with 12 month rolling contracts as well as others that are PAYG (Pay As You Go).

Usually for SIM-only deals you can get SIM cards in all sizes, but many networks are increasingly moving over to nano SIMs as these become ever more popular among handset manufacturers.

Anyway, enough from us – check out the best SIM-only deal for you!

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1. The absolute cheapest SIM only deal out there

iD Mobile | 1 month contract | 250MB data | 250 minutes | 5000 texts | £4 per month
This is the cheapest SIM only deal currently available in the UK. If you just need to keep a phone up and running for occasional use, this is a good option. Clearly 250MB is not much data at all so you’d be advised to either keep mobile data switched off or else be careful what apps are updating in the background. BUT WAIT, CHECK OUT THE NEXT DEAL FIRST!

View this deal: at iD Mobile

2: The best 1GB SIM only dealiD | 1 month contract | 1GB data | 250 minutes | 5000 texts | £5 per month
For just £1 extra a month over the above deal, you can get 1GB of data instead of 250MB, which is much better value if we’re honest. This SIM only deal allows for much more freedom to enjoy a bit of data away from Wi-Fi such as checking emails, browsing the net or even a bit of Google Maps when needed. Be careful what apps are updating in the background though (just tell your phone to do this while on Wi-Fi only).

View this deal: at iD/Carphone Warehouse

3: The best 5GB SIM only dealiD | 1-month contract | 4GB data | 500 minutes | 5000 texts | £10 per month
iD doesn’t just do cheap 1GB SIM only deals. You can also get a generous 4GB for just £10 a month. And because it’s a one-month SIM only contract, you can cancel at any time.

View this deal: at iD/Carphone Warehouse

: The best 12GB SIM only dealTalk Mobile | 12-month contract | 12GB data | 5000 minutes | 5000 texts | £12 per month
If you’re happy to sign up for 12 months you can get an excellent deal at just £12 a month for a whopping 12GB of data. That’s quite a leap up in data from Talk Mobile’s 30-day deal above for 4GB of data at £10 a month. Happy with your phone? This is excellent value for a 12 month deal.

View this deal: at Talk Mobile

5: The best best 25GB SIM only dealVodafone | 12-month contract | 25GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | 12 months of Sky Sports mobile, Now TV or Spotify | £25 per month
Vodafone’s deals have been a bit pricey of late but we think the extras are well worth a look here. In addition to the massive 25GB of data, you get to choose between Sky Sports mobile, Now TV or Spotify for 12 months of free access. There’s 4GB of roaming data too!

View this deal: 25GB Vodafone SIM only deal

6: The best unlimited data SIM only deal

Three | 12 month contract | Unlimited data | Unlimited texts | 200 minutes | £24 per month
Sometimes, you’ve just gotta have all the data. Netflix marathons, epic Pokemon Go quests, constant Spotify tunes, this all you can eat data bundle is ideal for the serious mobile user who never needs to worry about poxy thing like data allowances or Wi-Fi. Shame about the comparatively low minutes offered, but how often do you use your phone as a phone nowadays? At least there’s a £30 cashback incentive to claim.

T3 Drives: Volkswagen Tiguan is the most intuitive car we’ve ever driven

This premium compact SUV has buttons in all the right places

The Volkswagen Tiguan recently received a facelift along with improved efficiency, more space, and of course, a technology upgrade.

I’m a big fan of SUVs, and while this isn’t exactly designed for off-road use, just like the schoolgirl in the advert we couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel and see if VW has created the ultimate compact SUV package.

VW claims the new Tiguan is cool, calm, and connected. Does this soft-roader live up to Volkswagen’s claims? Let’s take a look…

Features

Is it cool? We think it is! The updated Tiguan looks great (especially in Habanero Orange). It’s more modern, with sharper edges and a more boxy design. It looks more premium, and is a definite improvement over previous flabbier generations.

Is it calm? We drove a model with optional 4Motion all-wheel drive system which improves traction in challenging conditions, mated with 2.0-litre, 180PS petrol engine. The Tiguan is perfectly happy to calmly cruise down a motorway, but it’s also surprisingly fun to drive on twisty country roads as well. It’s a composed ride, and the automatic DSG gearbox is super smooth.

Is it connected? The Tiguan is surprisingly well equipped for a small SUV. There is driver assistance tech such as adaptive cruise control, park assist, electronic stability control, and lane assist, as well as an 8-inch touchscreen with Car-Net App-Connect and smartphone mirroring.

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 ur model also had an optional HUD, Dynamic Chassis Control and blind spot monitoring. So yes, it’s very connected, but what struck us was how intuitive the Tiguan is – this was the first VW I’d driven since a MKII Golf, but within five minutes of getting in I knew how all the controls worked – it’s a great UI.

Our Tiguan also had the optional 12.3-inch Active Info Display which replaces the traditional analogue speedometer. It’s a really clear, vivid screen, which plenty of options to customise the information on display.

The interior also reflects the car’s cool and calm nature. It’s not the most stylish interior we’ve seen, but it’s a functional, premium, and understated space to sit in.

Specs

Top Speed: 129 mph
0-62: 7.7 seconds
Engine: 2.0-litre TSI 180PS Bluemotion
Gearbox: 7-speed Auto DSG
Power: 180PS
Torque: 320 Nm
Fuel Consumption: 39.8 mpg
Carbon Emissions: 165 g/km
Weight: 2,150 kg

Performance

The Volkswagen Tiguan is comfortable, practical, and great to drive. Although it’s not the most engaging drive, the petrol engine and gearbox are smooth, and the optional Dynamic Chassis Control did a decent job of changing the car’s characteristics. It’s refined in most situations, and remains quite composed through corners.

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ur review model featured 4Motion all-wheel drive, which also comes with underbody protection, as well as larger approach and departure angles. That’s handy to know, although we suspect most of these vehicles will never venture off-road.

If you want something with a bit more umph, VW also offers a Tiguan with a 237bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine. This pumps out 500Nm of torque, and gets the SUV from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. That’s seriously speedy for an small-ish SUV.

Verdict

 We were seriously impressed with the Volkswagen Tiguan, this compact SUV had plenty of tech inside to keep us entertained, and the ease of using said tech is unrivalled. The exterior and interior looks and feels premium, and we found the driving experience composed and capable.

It’s not perfect, however, there are more affordable rivals out there, and it’s not the cheapest to run. The price of the Tiguan also puts it up against rivals such as BMW and JLR, so brand snobs may want to look elsewhere.

Robot insects are now faster than the real thing

Humans and other vertebrates run fastest by minimising their contact with the ground. But the same isn’t true of six-limbed insects, which run fastest when they have three legs on the ground at once, like a tripod.

For this reason, engineers who build six-legged robots tend to use this tripod style – with two legs down on one side of the body and one on the other. But now researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have questioned whether this is really the fastest, most efficient way for robot bugs to move across the ground.

They used a simulated insect and an evolutionary-style algorithm to test many different combinations of walking style, eliminating the slowest. Their results show that a “bipod” style, where just two legs are on the ground at once, is actually the fastest way for insects to travel, even though no insects in nature walk this way.

Real-world testing

They tested their findings in the real world with a six-legged robot that could walk in both a tripod and bipod fashion. Sure enough, the bipod style was faster. Score one for technology.

So has evolution failed real insects? Not quite. The engineers discovered that insects walk in a tripod style because they have sticky pads on the tips of their legs. Climbing vertical surfaces is easier when three of those pads, not two, are in contact with the surface.

So while it’s faster to go on the flat with two legs down at once, it’s much faster to travel along vertical surfaces on three legs. They tested this by putting tiny polymer boots on flies legs, covering their pads. Sure enough, the flies began using a bipod-like movement to travel across flat ground.

New circumstances

“This result shows that, unlike most robots, animals can adapt to find new ways of walking under new circumstances,” said Robin Thandiackal, a co-lead author of the study, which was published in Nature Communications .

“There is a natural dialogue between robotics and biology: Many robot designers are inspired by nature and biologists can use robots to better understand the behavior of animal species. We believe that our work represents an important contribution to the study of animal and robotic locomotion.”

AOC’s curved frameless Agon monitors push gaming immersion to the max

AOC has revealed a pair of new curved gaming monitors which benefit from a ‘three-sides frameless’ design, along with AMD’s FreeSync technology.

The two new Agon models are 31.5-inch (AG322QCX) and 27-inch (AG272FCX) in size, with screens that boast a curvature of 1800mm, the most pronounced curve the Agon range has seen yet for the maximum effect in terms of producing an immersive gaming experience.

And that immersion is boosted further by the frameless design on three sides – meaning all the edges are extremely thin save for the bottom bezel, as you can see from the image above (note that Phillips revealed a monitor which uses this trick last week, as well).

These are 16:9 aspect ratio monitors (not ultra-wide or 21:9, as is often the case with larger curved screens) built with VA panels offering a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution in the case of the smaller model, and 2560 x 1440-pixels for the larger 31.5-inch display.

Both have a refresh rate of 144Hz, along with a response time of 4ms, and FreeSync tech which eliminates stuttering and tearing for a smoother frame-rate all-round.

  • A monitor means nothing without the best gaming keyboard

Losing the lag

You also get the usual features AOC has been incorporating into its monitors for a while now: a ‘low input lag mode’ that enables your keyboard/mouse actions to be translated to the screen with minimal delay, and ‘shadow control’ which lightens dark areas, helping you spot snipers lurking in the shadows (without washing out the rest of the image).

The monitors also benefit from AOC’s QuickSwitch controller, a nifty little separate keypad for quickly tweaking display settings, along with preset modes for different gaming genres (shooter, racing, RTS and so forth).

You also get a carrying handle, headset holder, and LED lights on the lower bezel and rear of the monitor (with three color choices: red, green or blue). Furthermore, an ergonomic stand gives you height, tilt and swivel adjustment.

Connectivity comprises of a pair of HDMI ports, a DisplayPort (there are two of these on the larger monitor) and a legacy VGA connector. You also get a pair of USB 3.0 ports.

Both the Agon AG322QCX and AG272FCX will be out in May priced at £519 (around $650, AU$840) and £389 (around $485, AU$630) respectively.

You can now shop using your Google Home smart speaker

Starting today, Google Home owners can get a leg up on errands without leaving their actual home as Google’s smart speaker can now shop for you with a simple voice command.

Using Google Assistant , placing an order for household goods, groceries and more can now be accomplished with a simple “Okay, Google…” prompt.

From there, Google Home will send those goods on their way via a number ofparticipating Google Express retailers , which includes the likes of Costco, Walgreens, Staples, and even Pier 1 Imports – should you need a decorative reed diffuser to tie the room together, like, right now .

Get your shop on

Google adds that from now until April 30, Google Home shoppers will be exempt from any additional service or membership fees that normally come with on-demand shopping. To begin, users just need to first set up payment and shipping info via the Google Home app.

It almost goes without saying that this new feature helps Google Home square up to Amazon’s own Echo smart speaker , which has used its digital assistant Alexa to help customers make purchases (and even order pizza ) for quite a while now.

From there, it appears the next battleground for the competing home gadgets is phone calls, as a new report posits both Google and Amazon are planning to bring hands-free calling to their respective smart speakers.

Budget breakup: HTC is done with entry-level phones, for now

HTC is getting out of the entry-level phone business this year, focusing instead on mid-range premium and flagship devices that it hopes bring in profits.

The phone maker made the announcement on an earnings call with investors and analysts following another quarter of losses. Chia-Lin Chang, HTC’s president of smartphones and connected devices, called the entry-level sector “ultra competitive” and not a space where the company expects to bring in returns that justify releasing budget phones.

Achieving profitability is HTC’s aim this year, and its plan of attack is to release fewer phones that sit on the top end, rather than flood the market with devices that span the price spectrum.

Chang said HTC will reduce the volume of phones it puts on the market, with plans to launch six or seven at most in 2017. Though he wouldn’t elaborate on what price points HTC wants to hit, Chang said the company will likely focus on the “mid-tier premium and the flagship type of these SKU products.”

2017’s HTC U Ultra

HTC will continue to support the budget phones it’s already released – just don’t expect new Desires and other entry-level HTC handsets to be announced in the coming year.

As for whether HTC will ever return to the entry-level market, an HTC spokesperson told TechRadar the company doesn’t have any more details to share beyond what was said on the investors call.

The company has already announced the HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play this year, with the latter being the mid-range take on the more powerful U Ultra. We may see another round of HTC phones at MWC 2017 , a huge mobile show taking place in a few weeks.

Armed with a streamlined approach to phones and an HTC Vive mobile headset on the horizon, HTC could be poised to claw back into the black. Time, however, will tell.