vendredi 31 juillet 2015

For some Facebook users 'hide' may no longer mean hide


What do you do if a story appears in your Facebook that you're not interested in? You might just ignore it, or you might try to train Facebook about your preferences by selecting the 'hide' option.

But if you're the sort of person who hides a lot of stories, Facebook might start placing less importance on your dislikes. This might sound counter-intuitive, but Facebook is convinced that it makes sense, saying that for some people opting to hide a story "isn't as strong a negative signal". So who are these people?

Introducing a new update to the way newsfeeds work, Software Engineer Sami Tas,and Engineering Manager Meihong Wang reveal that a small group of people go to the trouble of hiding just about every story that appears in their newsfeed. It is these people for whom Facebook believes that hiding should not necessarily mean that similar stories should be hidden.

To do a better job of serving this small group, we made a small update to News Feed so that, for these people only, we don’t take “hide” into account as strongly as before. As a result, this group of people has started seeing more stories from the Pages and friends they are connected to than in the past. Overall, this tweak helps this group see more of the stuff they are interested in.

Habitual hiders are warned that even if they continue to hide stories, it is likely that they will start to see more appearing in their newsfeeds. As a result of this, page administrators may find that they get more hits than usual.

Photo credit: JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock

Should we all be as pissed as Mozilla about Edge taking over in Windows 10?


Microsoft is no stranger to controversy when it comes to web browsers. Internet Explorer has been the butt of jokes for many years, and the company also found itself in trouble in Europe as part of an antitrust case. With the release of Windows 10, history could be about to repeat itself.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard penned a letter to Microsoft the other day expressing his disappointment that people upgrading to Windows 10 have their default browser choice overridden and changed to Microsoft Edge. While some may feel that Mozilla is whining, it could be argued that the company is right to be pissed -- and Windows 10 users should be just as pissed at the liberties Microsoft is taking.

Of course, there is nothing to stop people from changing the default browser to whatever they prefer but the point is... they shouldn’t have to. Someone upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 with Chrome (for instance) installed has already indicated that they have a particular preference when it comes to their web browser -- they installed Chrome. Microsoft should not assume that in upgrading to Windows 10 browsing preferences will change. If a user wants to use Microsoft Edge, they can do so using the taskbar icon. There's just no need to force it upon people.

Microsoft runs a real danger of making Edge something of an unwanted house guest rather than the Internet Explorer replacement it is meant to be. Riding roughshod over the choices that users have already made is no way to make friends and influence people -- as happened with Mozilla, it just rubs people up the wrong way.

Writing to Satya Nadella, Beard said:

When we first saw the Windows 10 upgrade experience that strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences for the Web browser and other apps, we reached out to your team to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, it didn't result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.

We appreciate that it's still technically possible to preserve people's previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult.

This is something of a theme that runs through Windows 10. Just as it is possible to opt out of the features of the operating system that invade privacy, it is not immediately obvious how to go about it. Does this mean that a lot of people will stick with using Microsoft Edge simply because they don't know how to change the default browser? Only time will tell, but it certainly feels as though we're treading familiar ground here. Microsoft is essential forcing users' hands, and that not something that tends to go down particularly well.

Of course, the obvious comeback is something along the lines of "well, Windows 10 is Microsoft's operating system; it's only right that it is free to do whatever it wants". To a certain extent this is true, but at the same time Microsoft has a moral responsibility to respect the choices that people have already made. Of course Microsoft is free to wipe out any and all program default if it feels inclined, but that doesn’t make it right. There's a big difference between exercising a right, and doing something that is right.

Unlike my colleague Brian Fagioli, I agree wholeheartedly with Chris Beard. He is spot on when he says:

Sometimes we see great progress, where consumer products respect individuals and their choices. However, with the launch of Windows 10 we are deeply disappointed to see Microsoft take such a dramatic step backwards.

It is naïve to suggest, as Brian does, that "the real people this impacts are the ones that don't know how to change their default web browser, and quite frankly, if they don't know how to change back to Firefox, they also probably didn't know how to choose it." Whether done by the user, or through the proxy of a more knowledgeable friend or relative, I assert that it is Microsoft's duty to respect the choices that have been made on a computer.

What is sad is that the people who don’t know how to change the browser may stick with Microsoft Edge simply because they don’t know otherwise. Microsoft's new browser has launched without one of its main selling points -- extensions. We don’t know when this will be added and for those who cannot or do not switch to the likes of Chrome or Firefox (or one of the other alternatives), their experience of the internet is going to be substandard. That's Microsoft's fault, and it's not something that people should be happy to put up with, whether it affects them directly or not.

Windows 10 is out, but when will you get it?


You won’t have missed the fact that Windows 10 is now out in the wild. The wait is over! Or is it? This is something of a soft launch this time around; not everyone will be getting the upgrade at the same time as it is being staggered.

Microsoft is sending out emails to people who reserved their copy of Windows 10 reminding them that they might have something of a wait on their hands. The email starts by posing the question: "When will my free upgrade arrive?" The fact of the matter is that you might want to stick a pot of coffee on to brew and put your feet up.

Microsoft explains that: "This is the largest software upgrade event ever and we're managing it so everyone has a great experience". This is precisely why the launch is being staggered -- the internet would probably collapse under the sheer weight of traffic if the entire globe tried to upgrade at once! The email continues: "You've already reserved, so your free upgrade is on the way." Ok… but when?!

Your notification to upgrade could come as soon as a few days or in a few weeks.

OK... so the email's not particularly helpful. This will do nothing to calm down those who are impatiently clicking the button to check for the update. It hardly pins down an exact date, after all. The point is, you have not been forgotten. If you want Windows 10, you will get it.

Of course, if your impatience gets the better of you, you can just bite the bullet and use Microsoft's Media Creation Tool. You can try manually triggering the update as well, but there's no guarantee that this will work.

Will you wait it out, or roll your own installer?

The LG G4: Will you get a better Android experience? [Review]

LG G4 Beat color options

The smartphone market moves along at a fast pace, with a new device seemingly every day. Unfortunately for customers, upgrades from providers move at a much more sedate pace. You'll get one every two years unless you pay extra. That's generally fine, though most people end up longing for one before that magic date rolls around.

That brings us around to those who are set for that upgrade now. The latest flagship handset comes from LG, no stranger to this market. And, for the most part, it's an excellent piece of hardware. But let's take a closer look.

The Good and the Bad

There's a lot to love here. The screen is beautiful. The 5.5 inch size isn't too big and it fits in the pocket just fine. The resolution is great -- 2560 x 1440 with 538 PPI. There's also a 16 MP rear camera and a generous 8 MP front facing one.

The processor is a Snapdragon 808 and battery is 3,000 mAh, and has no problem lasting all day. Connectivity is also good -- more bars than my old Nexus, though it's usually 3G, which is due to the fact that I live in the middle of nowhere.

Ilg-g4-backThere's also 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. You can add an SD card and up that storage considerably -- 2 TB to be exact. There's the expected Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB support, which all work flawlessly. It has no trouble connecting to my Pebble watch, something the Nexus struggled with.

The biggest plus is that there is no bloatware included. That's a rarity for a Verizon phone. It runs Android 5.1 and is easy to customize. In fact, there's already tutorials out there on rooting, though I haven't yet done that. Of course, the good folks at XDA Developers have the instructions covered, just in case you want to.

So, we've covered the thin, beautiful screen and all of the other benefits. But what isn't quite perfect? Well, not much, but I do have some gripes.

The biggest problem is the On/Off switch. It's on the back and sandwiched between Up/Down volume buttons and it's flush with the phone. It looks nice, but it's hard to find by touch. You generally need to turn the phone around and look. If you don't then you'll likely turn the volume up or down.

Setup is also a bit odd, but I can't really complain about it. After all, it worked just fine. But despite being Android it never asked for a Google sign in. That's manual. I opened Gmail and logged in and then all of my contacts magically appeared. At least they're there. It would have been a real problem without them.

Those are minor issues and shouldn't deter potential buyers. If you've used Android before then you'll figure it out without any worries.

The Verdict

On the whole I like this phone. It certainly isn't for anyone new to Android, but if you understand how things work then you will fare well and have a beautiful large screen in your pocket with plenty of power to do what you wish.

Would I recommend it? Well yes for people who know Android, but I wouldn't be handing it to my 80 year old mom. It's mixed bag, but there is the whole "it's beautiful" part. Definitely a keeper for me and I'm sure most readers would have no problems either. In other words, it gets a thumbs up. LG did well here.

Thermaltake goes green with Core V51 Riing Edition Mid-Tower Chassis for gamers


With the release of Windows 10, many people are looking to not only buy new computers, but build them too. Building a new PC can be a very rewarding experience, as you can pick all of the components and customize it to your liking.

One of the most important parts of any build is the chassis, or case. Not only can the case design impact cooling performance, but it determines the overall aesthetics. Today, Thermaltake announces the all new Core V51 Riing Edition Mid-Tower Chassis. Not only is it beautiful, but its green color scheme makes it unique too.

"The Core V51 Riing is designed in a green color theme with three preinstalled 140mm green Riing fans to aesthetically match other green components while delivering an outstanding cooling performance with the extensive DIY/AIO LCS compatibility. Core V51 Riing Edition is an enthusiast’s grade mid-tower chassis that creates unprecedented space for high-end hardware and liquid cooling expansion, supporting the latest E-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX motherboards, and all high-end GPU cards", says Thermaltake.


The manufacturer further explains, "designed for gamers, the perforated top panel allows easy heat dissipation and rapid air intake for maximum ventilation. The heightened case-stands at the bottom help to enhance airflow and overall stability during operation. The featured green window on the side offers a direct view of the inner system".


The case is absolutely gorgeous to me, but I am sure the green color will be very polarizing. Some of my fellow BetaNews colleagues said it was not appealing. Appearances aside, however, the layout is great, with lots of options for cooling and cable management. The included fans should move a lot of air.


While Thermaltake says it had gamers in mind with the design, it should be a great option for non-gamers too. If you are just looking to build a unique computer for your home, the green will really pop and make a great conversation piece.

Yes, green is often associated with Nvidia, but fans of AMD should have no qualms about embracing the color for their builds too. There is no reason why you can't put a card like the Sapphire Tri-X Radeon R9 FURY 4G HBM in the Core V51 Riing Edition -- it would not be sacrilege.

Price and availability are still not disclosed, so keep an eye on your favorite retailer such as Newegg. In the interim, if you want to learn more, you can check it out here.

The real price of Windows 10 is your privacy


Windows 10 is a free upgrade, right? Well, surely you know by now that there's no such thing as a free lunch. We're only 48 hours on from the launch of Windows 10 and already the complaining and criticism is underway. One thing that has been brought under the spotlight is privacy under the latest version of Microsoft's operating system.

Some people have been surprised to learn that Microsoft is utilizing the internet connections of Windows 10 users to deliver Windows Updates to others. But this is far from being the end of it. Cortana also gives cause for concern, and then there is the issue of Microsoft Edge, and ads in apps. Is this a price you're willing to pay?

Windows 10 is more closely tied to a Microsoft account than any previous version of the OS. This allows Microsoft to assign an ID number to users that can then be used to track them across different devices, services, and apps. This in turn can be used to deliver closely targeted ads to people. Microsoft has been pushing the mobile first, cloud first philosophy for some time now, and it becomes clear with Windows 10 that the love of the cloud is as much to do with the ability it gives Microsoft to gather useful data as it is about convenience for users.

Without wanting to venture into FUD territory, if you want an idea of just how Windows 10 can be used to gather data about you, take a trip to Privacy in Settings. The number of settings listed here is really quite lengthy -- and just about all of them are enabled by default. The data is almost certain to be anonymized, but the setting labelled "Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future" will be of particular concern to anyone using their computer to conduct sensitive work.

Then there is location data, the ability of apps to use your camera and microphone, and Cortana's access to your contacts, calendar, and anything else you might care to mention. If this concerns you, go to the Speech, inking, & typing section of Privacy and hit the Stop getting to know me button.

The couple of instructions given in this article highlight another issue. Windows 10 is a new operating system, and things work very differently. Not only are there new privacy settings to consider, but they are in a different place to where similar settings were found in the past. The Control Panel is still there, but a lot of things are now administered through Settings.

Some users have been annoyed to find that Microsoft Edge has been made the default browser, again giving Microsoft the opportunity to gather data. (This is something you can change.)

If you're a Windows Insider who has been working with the various review builds for some months, this may well not be news, but there are a tremendous number of people -- millions upon millions according to Microsoft -- making the switch for the first time. Many of these people know little or nothing about Windows 10, and have no idea of what to expect. Few people who are offered a free upgrade will turn it down, or question why it is free. It seems that the invasions of users' privacy that Windows 10 affords Microsoft is the real price that people are paying.

There has been a trend recently for companies to release transparency reports. Ironically, these were prompted by the activities of the NSA and the concerns raised by surveillance programs; people wanted to know how the companies they deal with were responding to government requests for data. With Windows 10, Microsoft has failed to be completely transparent with users about just what is going on in the background. Sure, the information is out there, but it is hidden away, difficult to interpret, and -- let's face it -- not something that the vast majority of people are going to spend the time to hunt down and digest.

Are you happy to accept that the price of a free operating system is a little bit of yourself? Or will you be taking steps to ensure that your data remains in your control?

Photo credit: Anton Watman / Shutterstock

The essential collection of Windows 10 guides -- everything you need to get started, fix annoyances, and more

Win10 Thumbs-up

Here on BetaNews we’ve posted a wealth of how-to guides designed to help you master Windows 10. While the new OS isn’t difficult to get to grips with, certain elements are far from intuitive.

With all the news that’s been happening, you may have missed some of these guides -- especially ones from before Windows 10 launched -- so we've put together this one-stop shop for all the helpful information posted so far. Below you'll find out how to download Windows 10, get the ISO, create installation media, install Windows 10 on Mac or in a virtual environment, change the default browser or the default search engine, block automatic updates, and much, much more. As new guides are added, so this article will be expanded to include the latest content.

How to manually trigger your reserved Windows 10 upgrade

If you’ve reserved Windows 10 but it hasn’t yet downloaded, this trick may work for you.

How to download Windows 10 and create your own installation USB flash drive or DVD

Microsoft’s new tool offers the easiest way to upgrade an existing Windows 7/8.x system (especially if the reserved upgrade hasn’t yet arrived on your PC), and also create your own installation media which you’ll need when performing a clean install.

How to create a bootable Windows 10 USB drive

Using Microsoft’s tool is one way to create a bootable Windows 10 USB stick, but there are others.

How to clean install Windows 10

If you want to do a fresh install of the new operating system, this is the guide to follow.

How to install Windows 10 on Oracle VirtualBox -- no Windows key required

If you want to run Windows 10 in a virtualized environment, follow these instructions.

How to install Windows 10 on your Mac

Mac users haven’t been forgotten. Here’s how to install Microsoft’s new OS on Apple hardware.

Automate login and bypass the lock screen in Windows 10

Not a guide for the security conscious among you, but if you want to go from boot up straight to the desktop without having to login, this is the trick you want.

How to change the default search engine in Microsoft Edge

Not a fan of Bing? Want to use a little search engine called Google instead? This is how.

How to make Firefox or Chrome the default browser in Windows 10

Mozilla’s CEO doesn’t like that Edge is the default browser in Windows 10, and if you don’t either, here’s how to change it.

How to disable Bing Search from Windows 10's Start menu

Don’t want to search from the desktop? This is how to disable the feature. Warning: Will also kill Cortana.

How to stop Windows 10 installing automatic updates

Problem updates surfaced just prior to the Windows 10 launch. Here’s how to use a special tool to block them.

How to change Windows 10's title bar color

Want to customize the look of the Windows 10 title bar? It’s easy when you know how.

How to customize the Windows 10 Start menu

Hate the tiles? Wondering how to change the color scheme? Want to make other tweaks to the Start menu’s look and behavior? We’ve got you covered here.

How to manage notifications in Windows 10

The Action Center could well be your new, favorite source of annoyances. Cut down on unwanted notifications.

How to import iTunes playlists into Groove Music in Windows 10

Currently use iTunes? Want to use Groove Music? This is the simple way to import playlists and music.

Remove 'Quick Access' from File Explorer in Windows 10

Whether you want to just hide Quick Access, or remove it entirely (using a registry tweak) this is how to do it.

Windows 10 has a secret screen recording tool -- here's how to use it

Game bar is a new feature which lets you record gaming videos and other PC activity. Find out more here.

Stop Windows 10 using your internet connection to share updates to other people

Windows 10 uses a P2P style system called Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO) to share updates with other people. This guide will show you how to manage or disable it.

All the Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts you'll need (and a few more)

Keyboard shortcuts make using Windows 10 a quicker, much more fun experience. Learn what you can do here.

The best alternative Start menus for Windows 10

If you don’t like the look of the new Windows 10 Start menu, here are some alternatives to try.

So you've upgraded to Windows 10... ready to leave the Insider program?

All set to say goodbye to being a beta tester for Microsoft? This is how you do it.

Photo Credit: paffy/Shutterstock

HP rolls out a range of Enterprise Services for Windows 10


Businesses usually like to wait a while before rolling out a new operating system to allow any initial snags to be ironed out.

Of course systems providers have to be ready to support them when they do make the move and HP has announced the availability of a full suite of Windows 10 services designed to help enterprises control costs and smooth out the move to the new operating system.

The new Windows 10 services include HP Test Drive Services for Windows 10 which lets enterprises test the new operating system with a control group of users to evaluate the new user experience, capabilities and potential incompatibilities in advance of any wholesale migration.

HP Transformation Services for Windows 10 offers a suite of services to assess, design, implement, deploy and support Windows 10 as part of a digital workplace transformation. The service helps build and integrate supporting infrastructure, transform client and web applications for the new environment, build operating system images, and then manage the rollout.

HP Roadmap Service for Windows 10 is a workshop-based advisory service which will deliver a roadmap for an organization's Windows 10 implementation. This will focus on productivity, security and manageability improvements, as well as how Windows 10 can fit into a broader workplace transformation opportunity.

Finally the HP WebApp Accelerator Service for Internet Explorer 11 is an implementation and migration service to ensure that critical web applications built for legacy versions of Internet Explorer will continue to work effectively in the latest browsers and operating systems.

"HP's unique relationship with Microsoft allows us to offer Windows 10 in a controlled manner integrated into the client's world -- giving both IT and the user the chance to experience the new operating system," says Eric Harmon, Senior Vice President, Global Practices and Transformation at HP Enterprise Services. "IT and developers get to validate the application portfolio in advance -- lowering the cost and risk of a large scale migration, and the user sees innovation and a more personal computing experience".

Most of these services are available now, HP Transformation Services for Windows 10 will be out on October 1st. More detail is available on the HP website. HP also has additional products to help small- and medium-sized businesses, deploy Windows 10 across their organization.

Yahoo! launches! LiveText! video! messaging! app!


Yahoo is making a first step in the messaging world, with the launch of LiveText for iOS and Android. The app will be available in North America and Europe, following a brief test in Hong Kong and Taiwan last month.

The messaging app is similar to Snapchat, with an image or video and superimposed text. When video streaming is unavailable, LiveText will offer a text only option. Interestingly, the video will be silent, meaning no audio playback between the two recipients.

Both users need to have LiveText accounts and there is no Tumblr or Yahoo account integration. This is something we didn’t expect, since Yahoo has been working on bringing all of its services under one umbrella account, similar to Google.

LiveText doesn’t have any group chat functionality yet. Yahoo has not said if it plans to add group chat functionality. Reports earlier in the year said Yahoo was working on two communication apps, LiveText appears to be the one-to-one app, while there is another group chat app still in development.

The live video app follows in the footsteps of Periscope as well, where anyone can broadcast video to friends or fans and reply to chat. Yahoo’s LiveText is a private version of that, with one-to-one conversations.

Yahoo seems to be going down the route of Facebook or Google, creating applications that have no current revenue, in the hopes that users will continue to use the platform and invest at a later date.

Things like emojis, themes and other in-app purchases have become commonplace in communication apps. We would suspect Yahoo is planning to use the same in-app purchases on LiveText.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Turning Splunk data into pre-emptive breach detection

Breach detection

In case you haven't heard of it Splunk is one of the most popular machine data analytics tools, used to provide early warning of network and system issues.

IT teams often rely on access to this data for security information and event management (SIEM), but as malware becomes more sophisticated it can be difficult to spot what's important in time to prevent major breaches.

Breach detection specialist TaaSera is launching NetTrust for Splunk which allows users to integrate NetTrust's preemptive breach detection solution into Splunk-based security management applications.

"Splunk is one of the most widely used analytics platforms on the market today and is becoming increasingly popular for cybersecurity purposes as a SIEM. But when malware is increasingly able to avoid leaving traces in logs, critical IOCs and similar pre-breach behaviors can go unrecognized by SIEMs allowing dangerous and malicious activity to go undetected within a network’s perimeter," says Ivan Shefrin, Vice President of Security Solutions at TaaSera. "With many of TaaSera’s customers invested in Splunk, we are ensuring that they have access to the best possible data and analytics necessary to act in time before sensitive information, business continuity and reputations suffer due to data breaches".

NetTrust uses patented 'Threat DNA' mapping technology to identify otherwise hidden network behaviors at run time and continuously analyze behavioral and contextual evidence. At the same time it integrates tightly within Splunk Enterprise 6.1 and 6.2. It gives users access to real-time visualizations of network systems at the greatest risk, along with the ability to identify the precise indicators of compromise (IOCs), in the right context and at the right time. This allows it to provide a more actionable early warning system for breach containment and response.

NetTrust for Splunk is available now, more information and downloads can be found on the TaaSera website.

Image Credit: Balefire / Shutterstock

Apple's iPad still rules the tablet market, despite declining sales


Apple is still first place in the tablet market, despite two years of solid decline in sales. The figures released by IDC earlier this week show Apple as the major vendor, with 24.5 percent of the market share.

This is a far cry from Apple’s performance three years ago, when it held almost 50 percent of the tablet market. The tablet has continuously lost market share since, dropping three percent since 2014 and shipping 2.4 million less units.

Apple is not the only provider dropping sales, Samsung has also seen a 12 percent decrease in year-on-year sales. The South Korean manufacturer holds second place in the tablet market with 7.6 million sales and 17 percent market share.

Below Apple and Samsung, things look brighter. Third place Lenovo managed a 6.8 percent increase this year in sales, but only sold 2.5 million units. Huawei noted a much larger increase, 103 percent, with 1.6 million sales in 2015.

Samsung’s main rival in South Korea, LG, is the biggest winner this year, with 246 percent increase in sales. It managed 1.6 million tablet sales in 2015 and has shown a ferocity in its first year, with a large G Pad lineup ranging from 7 to 10-inches.

Apple might not be down for the count just yet, with plans to launch the iPad Pro later this year. Its iOS 9, the latest software update, also comes with iPad-specific multitasking functionality, a boon for power users that want a tablet.

Tablet Shipments Q2 2015

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Small but (almost) perfectly formed -- Inateck MercuryBox BP2101 [Review]

Inateck BP2101 speaker

A technology writer's world can often seem full of Bluetooth speakers, they have successfully colonized a corner of my office, so it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. In terms of build quality the latest from Inateck makes an immediate impression but does it live up in other areas?

The whole package has a premium feel to it, even the cardboard box is nice. The speaker itself is a neat design with an aluminum chassis that feels solid and weighty. There are rubber end caps, one of which has a fold-down flap covering the USB and Aux ports, and a rubber panel on top with buttons for power, pause, +/- and Bluetooth calls. It comes with braided USB and 3.5 mm jack cables both of which have Velcro ties to keep them tidy when not on use, another quality touch, a wrist strap and a soft pouch to carry the speaker around in. There's a well-produced instruction leaflet too.

Inside are two 5w speakers and a polymer lithium-ion battery. The design is compliant with the IPX5 standard for waterproofing, this means it's protected against dust and 'low pressure' water jetting. So while you won't want to drop it in the bath it should be fine to take to the beach or use in the rain.

When you switch it on the speaker goes into pairing mode automatically, making it easy to link it to your phone. The +/- buttons have a dual function, a short press will skip tracks while a longer press adjusts the volume. The need for a long press does make it tricky to set the volume accurately though. It has a built-in microphone so you can make calls or use it with the likes of Cortana and Siri.

For such a compact unit (165 x 58 x 27mm, small enough to slip into a pocket) the MercuryBox produces a surprisingly good sound. There's decent bass and although it won't fill a big room it's perfectly adequate for everyday listening. There's decent battery life too, you should be able to get about 15 hours of playback on a full charge.

At $54.99 on Amazon or £49.99 in the UK the MercuryBox isn't the cheapest Bluetooth speaker around. It does, however, feel like a quality item -- an impression reinforced by the accessories -- is easy to use, though the volume control lets it down a little, and produces acceptable sound quality.

You can find out more about the MercuryBox on the Inateck site.