Microsoft Translator Can Now Translate Text From Images

Isn’t it just annoying when you go away on Holiday or spot something and sit there for five minutes wondering what the text even says? Microsoft is looking to make it a little easier on us with a Translator that won’t just do text but can also translate text from images.

While it was available on the Windows Phone since 2010 and managed to provide quick and accurate translations from just looking at a menu. Now the feature is coming to Android (with iOS getting the feature back in February), giving you the ability to quickly load and understand any of the 21 languages the app supports.

The Android app is getting a few other boosters alongside the new feature, with inline translations giving you the ability to hover over text and translate to any of the 50+ online libraries while an additional 30 libraries bring the offline language count to 43 in total.

While Google’s translate app has had the feature since 2012, the fact that even more apps are getting translators built it, for both text and Skype getting to translate calls via its universal translator, it could be only a matter of time before languages online mean nothing but a setting on your PC.

Microsoft Populates Skype With Helper-Bots

Your Skype chats could just get a little bit smarter thanks to Microsoft’s new array of assistive helper-bots. These bots were on show at Build 2016, where Microsoft demonstrated how Cortana, as well as a number of third-party ‘bots’ were able to inject information and optional actions into Skype messaging conversations. At the basest level, Cortana was able to highlight the major parts of a conversation, from which a user can select to get more details on the subject.

The bots don’t just add extra context to your existing conversations either, as at any time users will be able to switch over to a private AI chat, where they will be able to converse with Cortana and the other bots.

An example of this system in action would be part of a conversation about an upcoming event. On request, Cortana would be able to add the event to your calendar and obtain relevant locational and other vital information regarding it from the rest of the conversation. From there, the options branch out, a hotel bot may suggest a reservation in a nearby hotel or a social networking bot may remind you to catch up with friends who are in the area.

This may seem crazy and some will have reservations about the privacy of their data in the face of these AI bots, but they are real and Microsoft has already released the first wave of them on Skype for Windows, Android and iOS. The suite of bots currently available is sparse, but Microsoft plans to allow third-party developers to create their own bots for the service and will be releasing a specially designed software development kit to this end.

Hungry? Don’t Worry! The Delivery Robot Starship Is Here!

It gets late, you could go to the kitchen and cook a nice warm meal but every bone is your body is crying out to sit down and play one game, watch one more movie or even to just keep reading. You select one of your favourite fast food places and place your order, waiting the half hour before you get a message saying your food is waiting for you outside. Upon opening the door, you don’t see a driver or even a car but instead a small robot, the smell of your food making you hungrier by the second. Say hello to the Delivery Robot Starship!

The small drone is designed and created by some of the founders of that popular video software Skype. With a top speed of 4mph, the Starship isn’t build to travel the galaxy or even the country but within a few miles, it can safely navigate thanks to the cameras that will not only stop it before it collides with anyone else walking on the paths but in some cases it even steps out the way, letting people walk past in a polite fashion rarely seen by automated vehicles.

While it is in early develop, the ability to delivery up to 20 pounds worth of equipment could help people deliver everything from your takeaways to your morning shopping. With plans to expand its testing in the UK followed only by testing in the US by April, you could soon see a Starship near you.

Google Hangout is Going Peer-to-Peer

Google hangout is used for work and personal use, often fighting against Skype for dominant market use. With tweaks and improvements over the horizon, the next change is going to be fundamental to how Hangouts will communicate with each other.

Hangouts suffers from the fundamental flaw that most video and audio communications technology suffer from, the connections. A bad connection often means that video services have to lower the quality of your video and even the audio. Remember when you’re watching Netflix and suddenly realise you are staring at coloured blocks and crackly audio? That’s because the connection you’ve got to the Netflix library is a little bumpy. This is even worse with services like Skype and Hangout when the connection goes from yourself to your contact/s via the service’s own servers, this means you are running through a busy junction in order to reach your destination. Hangouts looks to change this though by going Peer to Peer (this means you will only ever create a connection to your intended contact/s when possible.

If you often use Hangouts you will notice a small change, possibly a large one if you frequently get a bad connection. Could this be the first step to Hangouts becoming the go to communications service for people over the likes of its competition?

Skype Hides Your IP in Effort to Protect You

We’ve all heard or seen about Swatting, but for those who haven’t let me explain its principle. Normally it happens when you find someone online, usually in the process of streaming a video or even them record themselves playing a game. As they are online you use software to track down their IP, this information tells them where you are in the world. Using another piece of software, you ring the police and state that you are in danger at that address, wait a few minutes and you see police appear all over your screen and begin to laugh at your accomplishment.

Swatting is not a joke though and while it is also a waste of police time, it is also extremely dangerous. In an effort to help protect against online trolls (people who cause grief to others online), online services are acting to do just that, such as the latest update which allows Skype to hide your IP.

In the latest update to the global service, IP addresses will be hidden by default. This means that once you’ve updated, you can be sure that you protected that little bit more from those who would seek to cause you pain or have a laugh at the expense of your happiness.

I think this is a great update, protecting users from all kinds of problems. Online services have a duty to protect their users and Skype is doing just that with this update.

French Prime Minister Denies Tor and Public Wi-Fi Ban Demand

Earlier this week, leaked documents revealed that French police were pressuring President Francois Hollande (pictured above) to ban the Tor browser and to block public Wi-Fi in a state of emergency. Hollande’s Prime Minister, however, has denied that any such demand was made, and added that the French government would not entertain such a notion in the name of “freedom”.

“A ban of Wi-Fi is not a course of action envisaged,” Prime Minister Manuel Valis said, as reported by English language French Newspaper The Connexion, which adds that France has plans to outlaw Tor, either.

“Internet is a freedom,”Valis added. “[It] is an extraordinary means of communication between people, [and] it is a benefit to the economy.”

Police liaison DLPAJ revealed that law enforcement bodies were also seeking the powers to “require [service] providers to give security forces access codes” for communications applications, such as Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp.

France has been in a state of emergency since the Paris terror attacks that took the lives of 130 people on 13th November, and will run until 26th February, 2016. Valis warned, though, that the period could well be extended on that date, saying, We can’t rule out that possibility, depending on the level of danger, and we have to act with a great deal of responsibility.”

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

 

Microsoft Apologies For Skype Outage and Offers Compensation

The Skype service is an essential component for many internet-based companies to communicate with industry contacts and share ideas via conferencing. Additionally, the software is a tool to help family members stay in contact across vast distances. As a result, any downtime on Skype can majorly impact on your business and personal life. Sadly, on September 21st, the service encountered a whole host of connection problems and prolonged downtime. This made many users quite angry and disappointed with the speed of troubleshooting.

Microsoft has started to send e-mails out to Skype customers apologizing for the downtime and offered compensation:

“We’re sorry for the technical issue we suffered that day. We know how important our service is to you and how frustrating outages like this can be. We also know that sometimes saying sorry just isn’t enough. To make it up to you, over the next few days we will add 20 minutes of free calls to over 60 landline and 8 mobile destinations around the world. Make sure you look out for your free calls as they will be available to use for 7 days.”

It’s still unclear if the 20 minutes of free call time will be offered to every Skype user or only a select few. Although, at least Microsoft has apologized and offered a token gesture to help those affected. To be perfectly honest, I doubt many people will be overly bothered by now, and just accept that downtime can happen as part of any internet service.

Thank you UberGizmo for providing us with this information. 

Skype Receives a Universal Translator

Skype has just made it easier for people from all over the world to understand each other by introducing an advanced Universal Translator. Similar to the translator seen in the renowned Star Trek series, the system is now a part of the Skype app for Windows, and it will be supported by other operating systems soon enough. During a conversation between an English-speaking person and an Italian-speaking person, for example, the translator will provide closed captions and will even read the translated text out loud in order to mimic an actual conversation. A slight delay is to be expected, of course, but the translations are provided at a remarkable speed, all things considered.

With this new feature, Skype can definitely bring people closer even if they share different cultures and live in different corners of the world, as it is able to support lengthy conversations in which both talkers know exactly what they’re communicating to each other. Moreover, Microsoft’s representatives stated that the Universal Translator will adapt and learn as time goes by, which means that it will get better and better as millions of people from all over the world will start to use it regularly.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information.

Skype Plagued by Network Connectivity Issues

The Skype client is currently experiencing a whole range of connection issues and sporadically showing contacts as offline. Skype has released a statement surrounding the network hiccups and clarified:

“We have detected an issue that is affecting Skype in a number of ways.

If you’re signed in to Skype, you will not be able to change your status and your contacts will all show as offline even if they are online. As a result, you won’t be able to start Skype calls to them..

A small number of messages to group chats are not being delivered, but in most cases you can still instant message your contacts..

If you aren’t signed in to Skype, you may be experiencing difficulty when attempting to sign in. Any changes to your Skype account such as your Credit balance or your profile details might take a little while to be displayed..

You may also have difficulty loading web pages on the Skype Community. For that reason, please check back here for future updates..

We’re doing everything we can to fix this issue and hope to have another update for you soon. Thank you for your patience as we work to get this incident resolved.”

I’ve personally tried to access the Skype service for around 3 hours to no avail but still able to send messages despite appearing as offline. Therefore, it’s possible to communicate with others through text but this could greatly depend on a number of factors, including your location. I would also recommend using the web interface which doesn’t seem to exhibit any network flaws at this time. Whatever the case, the Skype client is suffering quite badly and angered a great deal of its users.

Microsoft Announces Skype Business Preview for iOS and Android

We’ve heard that Microsoft plans on killing the old Lync app for business chat and meetings and integrate everything in Skype, namely Skype for Business. In a blog post, Microsoft today announced that it just released Skype for Business preview apps on iOS and Android, just months after it announced the Skype for Business project.

They state that the new apps come with a new and improved dashboard for easy navigation of contacts, calls, and meetings, while also updating the In-Call and In-Meeting experience. The dashboard now seems to show upcoming meetings and recent conversations in one place, while its new handy tools are built to make your life easier. For example, the contact search bar now find contacts by first and last name, email address, and even phone numbers. In addition to the latter, all contacts in your phone are now automatically included in the search.

The In-Call and In-Meeting experience is now more fluid and easier to navigate on smartphones and tables by making the buttons larger. Also, videos now fill the entire screen, but the best part is that you can now browse content while in a call or meeting, view it in full size and view the speaker’s video at the same time.

Skype for Business apps are said to work with anyone on Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business Online. IT Administrators who wish to take part in the preview can get more details by visiting the Skype for Business Preview app web page here.

Images courtesy of Microsoft

Say Goodbye to Metro Skype App

Microsoft says that the Metro version of Skype is not that popular and it won’t continue with it. All users will be moved over to the Desktop version next month, having the Metro service close on the 7th of July. That’s in less than a month now, so wouldn’t an earlier heads up be nice?

Even so, Microsoft says that it wouldn’t make sense to have two apps delivering the same service on its latest operating system, namely Windows 10, since both Desktop and Metro apps will now open and interact in the same way. They say that while Skype for desktop is made for keyboard and mouse use, it does very well with touch input too.

While Metro Skype will redirect everyone to download the Desktop version of Skype after the 7th of July, Windows RT users will still be able to use the Metro version until upgrading to Windows 10.

We heard that Microsoft is planning on integrating the Skype feature in the latest Windows build, but we don’t know what it will include exactly. ZDNet states that Microsoft is also planning on releasing a dedicated Skype bundle. This means a new and improved Skype Messaging, Phone and Video service will be rolling out in the near future.

The exact release date of the new Skype bundle is not yet clear, but rumour has it that Microsoft plans to make it available to existing Windows 10 users sometime this fall. So what do you want to see in the new version of Skype? Let us know!

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Microsoft’s Surface Hub Aimed at Enhancing Your Workplace Productivity

Microsoft has always been dedicated towards business solutions and it now shows us that once again with its big brand new Surface Hub touch screen. The company aims to make your workplace more productive and interactive in a world where more and more business meetings take place on overseas conference calls.

Microsoft’s Brian Eskridge said that they are focusing on making content and video sharing faster and easily accessible to people to “get things done”. Of course, you already have similar options already available out there, but none could compare with a big touch surface.

If you ask why you need an oversized touch screen display in your conference room instead of just having a normal Skype meeting on a laptop, here’s the answer. Microsoft’s Surface Hub comes equipped with a high-definition display, touch controls, built-in cameras and microphones, Microsoft’s own business productivity software and even Kinect features built into the cameras.

Aside from the above, the Hub provides support for other business software tools such as Google Hangouts, but more business solution software is bound to be made available for it once it gets released. So you have a big screen full of potential in your office and it isn’t restricted to Microsoft’s deals. Isn’t that pleasing?

The Surface Hub will hit the market this July, but Microsoft already placed it in some companies to get beta testing feedback. The standard Microsoft Surface Hub is said to boast a 55-inch touch display and be priced at $7,000, while the bigger 85-inch model comes with a $20,000 price tag.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of notebook online

Skype for Web Rolls out in New Beta Version for US and UK Users

Have you ever been to an internet café or wanted to Skype a friend or family member from a shared computer? It is really frustrating when you try to use it and you see they don’t have Skype installed, isn’t it? Well, Skype just made things simple for you.

Whether you have a Mac or Windows PC, or even a (compatible) mobile phone with internet access, you can now head on over to Skype for Web. I did mention compatible previously because I tried to sign into the web platform on my Windows Phone handset, to which I was redirected to a page telling me that my device is still not compatible with the web service.

Even so, you can grab any laptop or PC and sign in to view your conversations and get access to IM. On some platforms, the service even provides calls and video calls, though the feature may still be a bit buggy. But hey, that’s why you have “beta” in the service’s name, isn’t it?

Still, Skype really did a good job on providing a way to sign onto its service with just a web browser and even get the full Skype experience on some compatible hardware. You can head on over to Skype’s website to try it out. Also, let us know what you think about Skype’s new initiative!

These Eight Characters Crash Skype

Users have found a rather interesting bug in the popular voice and video calling application, Skype. The problem (now fixed in an update) caused skype to crash when you sent “http://:” via an instant message.

Once the message has been sent, if you re-open Skype – it will instantly crash again because it is in the chat log.

The bug has so far been discovered on Windows, Android and Ios. However, it doesn’t have an effect on Skype for Mac or Skype on Windows 8 (the metro interface application). Several users commented on the Skype forums and stated:

“clearing chat history not helps, because when skype download chat history from server, it will crash again.”

On some platforms, Skype now filters out the offending characters, yet it doesn’t work on all platforms and the characters still crash the application.

Microsoft have now fixed the bug and issued the following statement on their forums:

“Hello everyone

We are aware of a problem that was causing Skype clients to crash.  Our engineering teams worked hard to resolve this issue, and have released updates for all impacted Skype platforms. “

To resolve the issue, they suggest that you download the latest version of skype from www.skype.com/download and install it on your device. You don’t need to uninstall the old version first though.

Thank you to VentureBeat for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Skype

Video Chat App Renders in ASCII Text

 

Video chatting online has become pretty good over the years. Two people can have quite a normal conversation with each other, from the other side of the planet. However, there’s some people who think this is just too good and that it needs to be worse. Much worse.

I say worse, but that’s not to say video chat in ASCII text is not pretty damn interesting. The app in question, p2pvc, basically allows you to do Skype Linux-style, completely from within a terminal window. And as you can see, as well as being interesting, it looks pretty damn cool as well.

Now some of you technical types might think Skype is a little too easy to set up and you’d prefer something more technically challenging. Well p2pvc is your answer – for starters you need a Linux OS to run it, but if you’re running anything other than Arch Linux, you will be required to compile p2pvc all by yourself.

While it won’t appeal to everyone, it does make a fun way to chat while using very little data. You can download it here.

Source: Geek

Leaked NSA Documents Suggest Skype Traffic Surveillance

Leaked documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA), provided by Edward Snowden and published on Sunday by German newspaper Der Spiegel, show that the NSA has full access to traffic over Skype. That includes voice calls, video calls, instant messaging, and file sharing from specific persons of interest, and was granted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant as part of the PRISM program.

A document from 2012, unambiguously titled “User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection”, details how to use the NSA’s NUCLEON system to task the capture of voice communications, and how PINWHALE is used to collect data from text chat and shared files.

Voice traffic capture began in February 2011 – the same year Microsoft bought Skype – for both “Skype in” and “Skype out” calls pertaining to specific users. In July of the same year the NSA gained access to peer-to-peer Skype communications, with Microsoft, under warrant, providing the keys it needed to decrypt the data.

Source: Ars Technica

Kim Dotcom to Launch Secure Video Chat Service

Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has announced plans to release an encrypted, in-browser video chat service through his Twitter account. The service, called MegaChat, will also integrate high-speed transfer of large files, through Dotcom’s Mega sharing software.

Dotcom promises that his secure chat app will be available “soon”, but there are no firm details about how far along the project is or how long we have to wait for it. However, Dotcom has promised beta invites over the next few weeks, so we may see it sooner rather than later.

Source: Engadget

Skype Releases Preview of Translator App

Microsoft has today released a preview version of its Skype Translator app. The app uses a technology the company demoed some months ago now, where Sype has the ability to translate speech in realtime.

The app is essentially that – while someone speaks, you receive realtime text-to-speech translations of the speech from the person at the other end. At the moment only English and Spanish is support for audio translation, while text chat provides support for over 40 languages. The app is the result of years of R&D from Microsoft Research, where efforts have been focused on making the app reliable enough for anyone to use with pretty much any microphone. Efforts have also been centred on making the translations accurate – unlike the often humorous results you can receive from a service like Google Translate.

Currently the preview is open on an invite only basis, with Microsoft asking those who’d like to test the app out to visit this site. 

Source: The Verge

Wire: The New Skype Rival Backed by Skype Co-Founder

A new upstart has entered the instant messaging arena, positioning itself as more than just a chat service. Wire, pitched as a thoroughly modern messaging app, is supported by Skype co-founder Janus Friis and developed by former Skype employees.

With their experience – helped by former Apple, Nokia, and Microsoft employees – the team know as well as anyone what needed fixing: “Skype was launched more than a decade ago. A lot has changed since then – we are all used to free calls and texting, and we have taken to carrying our computers in our pockets,” Friis said. “It is time to create the best possible communication tools, as beautiful as they are useful. Wire is just that.”

The app features text and voice messaging, live calls, one-on-one or group messaging, and even SoundCloud integration. It utilises Opus, and open source audio codec, to make playback and voice calls crisp and clean. Video is being muted as a future feature.

Vine is available on OS X, iOS, and Android.

Source: The Independent

Barclays Announces Video Banking

Barclays has announced that from 8th December, a select number of its customers will be able to talk directly to banking staff at any time of day.

The service will allow customers to speak face-to-face with a Barclays staff member, possibly one they’ve spoken to before, about their account and other banking matters. Barclays is posting the service as a way to bring the in-store experience completely online.

“While many of our customers are increasingly using digital channels to complete routine transactions, for the important moments, you just can’t beat face-to-face conversations, yet traditional branch opening hours don’t always give customers that choice.” – Steven Cooper, Barclays CEO of Personal Banking.

Primer account customers will be able to take advantage of the new service first, while all customers will eventually receive access throughout next year.

Let’s hope they don’t get the same abuse Amazon’s Mayday service has encountered.

Source: BBC News

Microsoft Sends First Invites for Skype for Web Beta

A beta version of Skype for Web, a clientless iteration of Microsoft’s messaging service for use as a web application within your internet browser, has been released. Since all video call, voice call, and instant messaging functionality is available in-browser, there is no need to download and install the Skype client, though a plugin is required. A limited number of beta invites have been sent out to existing users, with Microsoft hoping to expand user access over the next few months.

Skype for Web beta is compatible with Internet Explorer 10, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox on PC, and Safari 6 and above on Mac, though Microsoft warns of excessive battery consumption on Apple systems and longer ring times for calls.

Source: electronista

Microsoft Announces $199 Work & Play Bundle

In a bundle surely to top all bundles, Microsoft is throwing together four of its subscription-based products and services into one $199 package. The “Work and Play” bundle includes Office 365 Home, Skype Unlimited World and WiFi, Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Music Pass.

The sale of this bundle is rather odd, as it seems that Microsoft is only making it available from November 10th 2014 to January 4th 2015 “or while supplies last.” It will also only be available through “select Microsoft full line retail stores in the United States only.” The bundle is only another sign of Microsoft’s big push towards subscription services, something that a lot of software developers are doing, including Adobe with its ‘Creative Cloud’ package.

Some consumers like the idea of spreading the cost with a subscription, while others prefer to buy and then own a copy of that software for life. What do you think? Do you prefer spreading the cost or do you want to own that copy of Microsoft Office?

Source: ZDNet

MSN Brand Relaunched

While the MSN messenger has taken it’s last breath, MSN as a brand is still alive and kicking. Microsoft has just announced the relaunch of the MSN brand into a more mobile and cloud orientated service. While many, actually probably most of our readers, have used MSN messenger over the years, not everyone knew that it had an attached news side. It has to be said though that it was highly US centric on the news side and rarely relevant for people outside. It probably got the most hits from being Internet Explorers start page.

Microsoft acknowledge that the way we use media has changed and is trying to follow the users with their new layout, a Mobile-first, Cloud-first world as they call it. The new MSN is said to bring together media sources from all around the world along with data and services to enable users to do more in News, Sports, Money, Travel, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, and more. It focuses on the primary digital daily habits in people’s lives and helps them complete tasks across all of their devices. Information and personalized settings are roamed through the cloud to keep users in the know wherever they are.

I don’t know whether it’s cause the Bing name never really got accepted, and kinda sounds silly, or it’s cause MSN always was kind of loved, but it looks like the Bing apps for the above mentioned categories will be renamed into MSN instead, MSN Sports for example. This also goes for the iOS and Android versions of the apps. Microsoft wants to deliver the same experience on any device. It will also integrate direct access to your Office 365, if you use that, and of course also Skype.

The new design is a big improvement over the old, that’s for sure. But whether it will be accepted by the end-users outside of the Microsoft mobile user-base, that’s something only time can tell. The new platform can already be tested at preview.msn.com.

Thank you Microsoft for proving us with this information

Images courtesy of Microsoft.

MSN Messenger Finally Takes Its Last Breath

For most of the world the MSN messenger, or Windows Live Messenger, has been history for a while now after being shut down in April 2013 in favour of Skype, or even longer if you’re like me. It however lived on strong on the Chinese mainland, that is up until now.

Chinese MSN users are starting to get email notifications that the service will shut down at the end of October. The current users will be moved over to Skype instead and each user will get a $2 coupon as compensation for the move to the new service.

This isn’t the exact same Skype version we use though, as it’s modified to fit with Chinese laws and censorship requirements. MSN lived longer in China, but got it’s final nail into the coffin from the success of the QQ messaging service that now has over 200 million users. Skype in comparison has less then 100 million in the Chinese market.

Thank you gigaom for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Live Voice Translation in Skype Might Come to Windows 8 Devices This Year

The language barrier is one of the most common problems encountered even today. Most modern and free translation programs, whether text-to-text, speech-to-speech or even speech-to-text give users a basic tool to understand and slide through the language barrier a bit, from text translation to webpage translations.

Microsoft apparently has been working on a feature for Skype to break through this issue with the help of the Skype Translator application. The company has just released the first beta version of the application, which was also demoed at the Code Conference. A preview of its potential can be viewed in the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu9kMIeS0wQ[/youtube]

Another interesting aspect of this application at hand is its ability to not only translate the language, but also relay it grammatically and syntactically correct, something not quite easy to achieve. The demo displays only its translation powers between English and German, but Microsoft stated it will add more language support later on.

The application might also not be free, given the amount of work and complexity required to achieve such results. What is known about the application is that Microsoft plans to release it by the end of the year and that it will first arrive to Windows 8 devices. Android and Macintosh devices including iOS should receive the application as well, but at a later date.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of Android Police

Coolermaster, Speedlink & TteSports Budget Headset Head-to-Head Review

Introduction


If you’re on the market for a new headset, chances are you’ve got more than one option on your shopping list, you’ll be looking for the best return on investment and you’ll want to find the headset that is best suited to your needs. Today I’ll be departing from our usual headset review format and showing you three headsets, putting them head-to-head and finding the strengths and weaknesses of each. At my disposal I have the TteSports Cronos, the Speedlink Medua NX and the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300. They’re all quite varied in terms of features, price and style, but they all have one thing in common, they’re all available for under £60.

The TteSports by Thermaltake Cronos headset is priced around £55 from most major online retailers, making it the most expensive of the collection that I have here today. The Speedlink Medusa can be picked up at most major retailers for around £50, but a little Google-fu will net you a brand new one for around £40 from some of the top eBay sellers making it the second most expensive option and finally we have the CM Storm by Coolermaster Ceres 300, which can be picked up for a very affordable £28. I’m hoping that by covering these three products we can work out if you need to spend more money to get the kind of performance you desire, or perhaps you’ll be able to save yourself some money by downgrading. There is only one way to find out, so let’s put these headsets to the test, but first let’s take a closer look at what you get in the box.

First up we have the TteSports Cronos; in the box you’ll find the headset, a rubber sleeved 4-pole cable (for mobile use), a braided dual 3.5mm + USB power connector cable, a simple user guide and a nice quality protective bag.

The speed link Medusa comes hard-wired with a fairly standard cable and comes bundled with a quick install guide and a zip up protective bag.

Finally, we have the Ceres 300, which comes bundled with a user guide, a hard wired cable and a detachable boom microphone.

SWAT Team Called in to Tackle Call of Duty Player

There have been a number of times when we have heard about Call of Duty players taking things a bit too personal and getting too frustrated when they get shot or Pwned in-game by another happy camper. There are though some people who take this grudge one step too far and this results in me hearing things that simply make me laugh.

So picture this, you’re happily playing away online against some of your mates (and maybe one or two others that you don’t know) and you end up with the lowest kill-to-death ratio and the lowest kill streak. What do you do? Well I personally would shrug it off and say meh, others who play a little more competitively may shout at the screen in rage and scream down the microphone informing everyone else how pissed they are.

Rafael Castillo from Long Beach however did neither of the above, in fact he was the glorious winner in his game, but his nemesis was boiling in rage over their loss that they proceeded to call in a SWAT team via Skype to take care of the matter. “I just killed my mother and I might shoot more people”; these are the words that Castillo’s raging enemy used and what followed lead to a two-hour stand-off between the authorities and 17-year old Castillo.

Jose, Rafael’s brother told the media, “Some guy threatened to SWAT him, He was pissed that he had lost”. Soon after the call, the Castillo home was surrounded by over 60 law enforcement officers and air support, including members of the Nassau County Special Ops unit.

Thing is though, Castillo’s mum was perfectly safe and well, she was in the kitchen the whole time, which he was playing his game and wearing his headphones.

Jose added: “I thought there was a fire at my house. I ran up and saw my mom running out, I didn’t know what was going on” he continued, “Then one of the police officers said somebody called and said that the mother and brother of somebody in this house was killed. I said ‘how is that possible if she’s right there and I’m right here?”

All the while this was going on, Rafael was totally unaware of the situation, not realising that the shouting and screaming was not just coming from his headset.

Not knowing who made the call, the authorities are looking into who Castillo was playing against in order to track down the vengeful player who made the call in a commonly occurring event called ‘swatting’.

Whilst this safely ended in no-body getting hurt, Rafael’s mother has stated that he will not be allowed to play the game again… ever and this has all come to be a total waste of police and law enforcement resources. It may seem like a funny prank to pull on your enemies, but seriously, some people really do take things one step too far and get too engrossed in their games. It’s a game at the end of the day – you lost – you’ll get over it and you’ll have another chance to win.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Mcv5Z8iuQ[/youtube]

Source and image courtesy of Guru3D