Best travel apps in 2018 to download for your phone

Best travel apps of 2018

Travel season has just begun to kick off, but traveling brings with it a number of inherent issues. Luckily, thanks to the magic of technology, many of these problems are easily remedied with apps for your mobile device.

With cheap and easy flights to pretty much any country you can think of, it's never been so easy to travel the globe. Still, traveling brings with it many inevitable headaches that can drive you crazy. To help make the whole experience of traveling less of a hassle we have collected the best travel apps available on the market today.

This list includes a wide range of different kinds of apps to cover every facet of travel, from how to get there, to activities you can enjoy once you arrive, how to communicate with the locals and even apps that take the hassle out of paying for stuff. It couldn’t hurt to get some games downloaded on your device as well.

So, before you pack your bags and wait in line for your passport, make sure you've got one or more of these installed on your iOS or Android device.

Airbnb

Even just a few years ago, if you were going on vacation, you basically had to stay at a hotel. But over the past couple years, that has thankfully been changing. Airbnb has become immensely popular, and it has completely changed the way that people book their accommodations when they travel.

Thanks to Airbnb’s meteoric rise in prevalence, you can now you could stay in a beautiful house in the center of a city or a quaint little cottage out in the beautiful countryside.

Airbnb makes booking your accommodations simple, and also includes guides for local sightseeing and a section for booking activities.

App in the Air

Don’t let App in the Air’s odd choice in name throw you off, there’s a reason this app is an Editor's Choice on the App Store. App in the Air gives you real-time flight updates, gate changes, airport navigation maps and tips – meaning you will never find yourself desperately rushing through an airport terminal again.

But wait, there’s more! You can even still receive updates offline, so you'll get no roaming charges when using the app abroad.

Booking.com

Booking.com is one of the world's most popular hotel booking websites. The Booking.com mobile app builds on its already solid model, permitting you to search for the best booking deals on over 1 million hotels and homes all over the world. If you're still trying to decide where you want to book, there are over 100 million user reviews to help you figure it out.

Plus, once you have finished your booking, you will receive an instant confirmation of your booking, complete with paperless check-in and offline maps of the surrounding area.

Cleartrip

Cleartrip is useful for booking flights, hotels and trains. Cleartrip was initially created in India, and while its success means that it now has well over 10 million users around the world, there are still areas it doesn't support, so make sure to double check to make sure you're in a supported location.

Now, with the ability to safely store card information, you can do 1-click purchases of plane tickets, meaning you can scroll through deals and purchase tickets – all within 60 seconds. 

Cleartrip can shop for the best bargains on hotel rooms in over 15,000 cities worldwide, as well. 

Google Maps

With navigation around pretty much any city in the world, along with up-to-date information on trains and buses, Google Maps is your go-to app for making your way around town. Easily pin or save locations before you even arrive, so you know exactly where you need to be heading to.

Google Trips

Google Trips is the travel planning app from the search titan. Where Google Trips is different from the other travel planners is that you don't actually book through Trips – this is the app you use to parse through all of the information about your trip, and being Google, it provides plenty of suggestions of things to add once you're there.

The app pulls in all of your bookings for your trip from your Gmail account and brings them together, meaning if you find deals from a number of different places, rather than having to have a number of different apps, emails and print-outs all giving you separate information, you always have your entire itinerary in one app. 

What's more, Google has recently announced that they are introducing a feature allowing you share your itinerary. 

Guides by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet made its name making in-depth travel guides. With Guides, you can now get a concentrated version of what they’re best at, on your phone.

In the app, you can download the guide for the city that you are going to be visiting, then select what category you want information on. These include things to see, restaurants, bars, places to sleep, places to shop and places to play. 

Crucial information, including maps and explanations are all stored offline on your device, so you don't have to worry about roaming charges while you're traveling. What's more, there are even phrasebooks included so you can speak with the locals. There are over 100 cities covered with Guides.

Google Translate

Google Translate is fairly phenomenal if you haven't used it before. There are a few different methods of translation that it offers: text translation, where you type a phrase and it is translated into whichever language you choose, Conversation Mode, where you can actually talk to someone in a different language with the app translating as you speak, and camera translation, where you point your camera at text (like signs) and the translation appears on your screen.

This technology has been around for a while now, but still feels magical somehow. 

It is a given that most places you go in the world people speak English, but this is an incredibly useful app for overcoming language barriers.

Happycow

If you’re looking for healthy food places while your travel, then Happycow has you covered. Featuring a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly outlets around  the world, you can easily see what’s good to eat in your area, as well as read community reviews.

Hotel Tonight

Need a last-minute place to stay? Hotel Tonight is a great app for when you need an unexpected hotel room but don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount.

It works by partnering with hotels in your area to fill unsold rooms at a reduced price. This means that you can potentially snatch up a five-star hotel stay for a fraction of the original price, making it a great choice for if you need to extend your stay in a city.

PackPoint

PackPoint simply helps you pack. You tell PackPoint where you're going, when you're going, and what you plan to do there and PackPoint compiles a list of things to pack. You can add or remove items from the list, then check them off once you have them packed.

It works with TripIt too, so you can get suggestions based on your travel schedule automatically imported from that app. 

You won’t ever have to deal with those 'Did I pack my…' feelings ever again.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is a booking app for flights, hotels and car hire. 

The Skyscanner website's calling card has always been easy customisation and the app is no different, allowing you to adjust your trip using flight duration, airline, stop-overs, flight class, and arrival and departure times. It even has a color-coded calendar that shows you when the best time to book your trip is to get the best deal.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is the app of choice if user reviews are important to you. The app has over 500 million user reviews for hotels, restaurants, and events. Consumers can rate, review and even include photos, so if you want the full story before you decide to book something, this is the app for you.

Once you've waded through all those reviews, you can reserve a table, a concert, a plane ticket, all with the app.  

You can also download maps, saved destinations, and reviews so that if you want to wait until you're already there to make final decisions, you can do so without incurring roaming charges.

TripIt

TripIt is a travel itinerary app that makes it easy to see your whole trip in one place. You simply forward all of your booking emails to TripIt and the app collates all of your information. The information is available offline so you don't have to worry about roaming charges.

What's more, TripIt works with App in the Air and PackPoint (also in this list) so you can get flight notifications and packing advice based on your itinerary. 

In order to use all of the functions TripIt has to offer you will have to upgrade to TripIt Pro for $49 per year (about £37, AU$65) but the free version does include all the basics you need like manual changing of plans, syncing with your calendar, compiling travel documents in one place, and sharing of your itinerary. 

Uber

With operations in over 72 countries, Uber is the fastest and easiest way to get around a new city. Just download the app, tap where you want to go, and within minutes a car will pull up to take you to your destination.

The best part is that you don’t have to worry about fumbling for cash – everything is all done digitally, so you just step out of the car and your ride is complete.

Waze

If you prefer driving around  a city by yourself, then Waze is a great community-driven app for navigation and traffic updates. Be notified of sudden road closures, speed traps, accidents, and much more, all within a single app.

Plus, the more you contribute to Waze, the more points you’ll earn within the app to level up and be recognized as a contributor helping to make everyone’s daily commute that much smoother.

Wego

Whether it’s flights or hotels you’re after, Wego puts everything just a few taps away. It searches the best deals across a number of booking sites to make sure you’re getting the best prices every time.

Wiffinity

If you run of your mobile data plan when you’re travelling or you just need to pop onto WiFi for a short time, then Wiffinity is the app to have. It features an interactive map that shows you where the nearest WiFi hotspot is, even if you’re offline.

The app also will allow you to add WiFi networks that you discover, as well as letting you know which WiFi hotspots are secure to connect to.

XE Currency

With more than 55 million downloads, XE Currency is the most renowned currency exchange rate app on the market, and not without reason. 

It gives precise conversion rates for every currency you can think of, updated every minute and stored offline so that even if you lose internet connection or want to avoid roaming charges, you can still use the app.

Yelp

There are over 155 million reviews written on Yelp, but thankfully you won’t have to read all of them to find Yelp useful.

It’s a great app for reviews on places in almost any city in the world, and you can find some great places to eat or visit during your trip.

Whether you’re looking for a nighttime spot for a drink, a great place for a massage, or the best place to get your phone repaired, you can find it quickly and easily without any hassles.

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The best phone of 2018 in UAE: Top smartphones tested and ranked

If you're looking for the best smartphone, then you've come to the right place. A set of pages where you can browse all manner of top mobile phones and find the right one for you.

We know that are so many handsets to choose from, but we still sift through them all to make sure we get to the bottom of each and can provide you with a great reason to buy (or not buy) each.

We're in the middle of June now, and we've seen some interesting price variation in the last week – it's affected the top of our rankings, and there are some phones from 2017 that are far more attractive as a result.

But perhaps you're wondering why you can trust us. Well, we check out every phone thoroughly, looking at number of elements but particularly some key things: how's the battery life? Is the phone well made? Is the screen impressive? Does the camera take real-life, sharable pictures?

The key thing for us is working out how each phone will work in your day to day life, not on a test bed – sure, we run some tests to check the performance, but we live with these devices to ensure they're really up scratch.

We've not had any new phones this week, with the LG G7 ThinQ, OnePlus 6 and Honor 10 coming into the mix – you may be surprised to see the HTC U12 Plus is missing, but with some questionable design choices, it's hard to add it into our hugely congested list for not but that could change with software updates.

For some further (or more targeted) light reading, head to our best iPhone or best Android phone guides. Maybe you're more of a brand loyalist though, in which case go for our list of the best Samsung phones.

Feel like saving a little cash and don't want hyper-powerful phones? Then our best cheap phones page is probably right up your street – if you can't find something for you out of all of that, well, let us know… we want to help!

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a big phone that's designed for big hands – and it takes the very best of what's on the smartphone market and puts it together in a compelling package that we've loved testing. 

Screen: The Super AMOLED 6.2-inch display has been measured as one of the very best around right now, with super colours, great dynamic range and, essentially, the very best viewing experience you can have on a mobile phone.

Battery life: The battery life on the S9 Plus is better than the smaller version, thanks to the 3500mAh battery – although it's probably the weakest part of the phone, not offering as much life as we'd have liked.

Camera: The camera on the Galaxy S9 Plus is among the best on the market, and the dual-aperture capability offers some startlingly good snaps when things get a little darker. Colours can look a tad washed out when the exposure is higher, but the power of the sensor, with memory built into it, offers very low-noise shots.

Mini verdict: If you're after a bigger phone with all the latest and greatest features on it, the Galaxy S9 is that and more.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

The Huawei P20 is easily the best phone that the brand has ever produced, and it's troubling the top of our charts. Huawei has got so much right on this phone, and it now truly its place in the same breath as Samsung and Apple as a top smartphone choice.

Screen: The 6.1-inch display is only Full HD, but that does help with battery life. This is actually probably one of the weakest parts of the phone, as it lacks the colour reproduction of its rivals, but it does come with a screen protector pre-fitted, which is a nice touch.

Battery life: The Huawei P20 Pro will get you a day and half of light to moderate use – it goes down after a full month's effort, filling it with apps, but even still we're getting a good day's hard use, which is great.

Camera: The camera is the standout feature on the Huawei P20 Pro, offering three lenses… and they're actually useful. The resolution is pin sharp thanks to brilliant image stabilisation, the software photo optimisation is excellent and having that 40MP sensor has been boosted well by Leica for good low light performance.

Mini verdict: The main issue you have to overcome with the P20 Pro is the fact you might not be familiar with the brand, but not only is Huawei a worthy competitor to Apple and Samsung, but it's the most likely to get the bigger price drops first (which is worth checking out using our price finder below).

Read more: Huawei P20 Pro review

If you're looking for the best smartphone around right now, it's the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (as you might have seen on the previous page) – but Apple's latest effort comes mighty close.

The iPhone X (although it's pronounced 'ten') is the redesigned Apple phone that iFans have been crying out for. It's got an all new shape, the notch at the top and higher price… but it's the best iPhone that's ever been made too (as long as you don't miss the headphone jack).

Screen: The 5.8-inch OLED screen is the best display Apple has ever crammed into an iPhone. It’s far ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus for so many reasons: the sharpness, the quality, the fact that it fills the whole front of the phone, and the color reproduction.

Battery life: The iPhone X's battery life is pretty good but it's by no means best in class. If you're a very heavy user you might struggle to last more than 12 hours but for most users it'll comfortably last a whole day.

Camera: Cameras on iPhones have always been superb, and the iPhone X is no different. The camera on the X is often stunning, delivering still shots that are rich with detail. Perhaps not quite as brilliant as the Pixel 2, but still right up there with the best.

Mini verdict: This is the phone to buy if you want to treat yourself to a high-end handset – a little extra per month for something you really enjoy taking out of your bag or pocket is worth it (if you can afford it). 

Read more: iPhone X review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is an incredibly impressive phablet that's perfect for anyone who wants a productive, powerful device and that makes it our top phone.

It's got one of the best displays, one of the top cameras, and an excellent mix of speed and performance under the finger, while the S Pen is a real differentiator in a sea of similar phones.

It's an expensive phone too – only just behind the iPhone X in terms of out-and-out cost. But it's a better choice than the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus – its nearest competitor in terms of overall size and quality – if you want to be able to jot things down in an instant and take beautiful bokeh photos, as well as splash the phone in water.

How good is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 camera?

Also consider: The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, with similar dimensions, a lower cost and longer-lasting battery is where we'd point you. It only has one camera sensor and the S Pen is absent, but many people could happily live with that.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn't quite the phone that the S9 Plus is – it's only got a single camera sensor, for one – but it's a more palm-friendly model that still packs the power and top screen quality of its sibling.

Screen: A QHD 5.8-inch screen takes up most of the front of the phone – and it's still a stunning design. Brighter, more colourful and capable of showing the best of movies, the Super AMOLED tech is once again showing itself to be best thing to look at on a smartphone.

Battery life: Battery life is a little disappointing for a top-end smartphone, meaning you'll need to think about a top-up during the day if you're a harder user. Wireless and fast charging capabilities help with this though.

Camera: It's only a single sensor on the rear of the Galaxy S9, unlike the Galaxy S9 Plus – meaning it's not as good at photography. But don't think the S9 takes poor photos, as they're still stunning, and in low light it's a sterling performer, with very little noise.

Mini verdict: The Galaxy S9 is a smartphone with all the top-end features you'd want, and more on top. It's not quite at the level of the S9 Plus, and the iPhone X outranks it in some ways – but for a more palm-friendly Android phone it's utterly tops.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 review

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the phone to go for if you want great battery life. It's also a phone for someone who wants something a little different, and needs a handset that can easily last a day, and then some, on a single charge.

The biggest talking point of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is, as you've guessed, its battery.

It’s big at 4,000mAh, and it translates to impressive performance, with the possibility of stretching usage to two days from a single charge if you switch it off overnight.

On the rear, the dual camera setup is a solid point-and-shoot option, but it really excels if you dive into manual mode; if you're a camera enthusiast who's willing to spend time fine-tuning, you can get some great shots from the Mate 10 Pro.

How good is the Huawei Mate 10 Pro camera?

Also consider: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is probably the closest rival to the Mate 10 Pro, also coming with a great manual camera mode, large and clear screen and phablet-sized, bezel-less proportions. However, it's more expensive and has a shorter battery life.

If you're looking for a powerful phone that packs everything that's good about the Android world, look no further than the LG V30+.

The LG G6 is a fine device, but the V30+ is the sleek, refined and powerful version of that phone. It's got the most powerful processor around, a great camera and delivers one of the best sonic performances from a phone on the market right now, thanks to the dedicated Quad DAC inside.

This means the LG V30 is a great phone to pick up if you value great-sounding tunes, and want a well-made phone into the bargain. Yes, the price is high, but the combination of features justifies that to a compelling degree.

If you're after a phone that's not from the 'Big Two', we'd recommend this one as a close second to the Google Pixel.

How good is the LG V30+ camera?

Also consider: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a similar device in terms of both power and cost, while you get a slightly better camera and the use of the S Pen; however the V30 probably just edges it for audio performance.

You normally associate the highest-end processor bundled with tons of RAM and storage to an expensive device but Nokia has managed to give us exactly that at a much lesser price with the Nokia 8.

The Nokia 8 offers a lot of great features such as a powerful chipset, dual-sensor camera and a perfectly sized QHD display, all wrapped up in a very good looking and sleek design.

We're also fans of Nokia's pure Android experience which uses Google apps for almost everything and has minimal bloatware. Nokia has done good on updates as well brining Oreo 8.0 to the Nokia 8 along with a publicly accessible beta for 8.1.

While the Nokia 8 has great specs on paper for a camera, the performance of it can be a struggle with a slow auto-focus.

How good is the camera on Nokia 8?

Also consider: The alternative here is the Honor 9 which offers a great design, good performance and a good camera at a slightly lower price. It ins't as fast or has as good of a display as the Nokia 8.

You might think HTC is something of a forgotten brand – and, to a degree, you'd be right. But if you discount HTC you'll be missing out on its latest flagship, which offers exceptional performance in a couple of areas.

The HTC U11 features an eye-catching design, programmable, squeezable sides and great audio performance – and if you’re a fan of Iron Man then you have to check it out in Solar Red, which is seriously beautiful.

The U11 was the first smartphone to introduce squeezable sides, and while the feature has since appeared in the two new Pixel handsets (and to better effect), the U11 remains the only phone on which you can set the action to launch something other than Google Assistant.

Plug in the bundled pair of headphones, meanwhile, and prepare yourself for a seriously impressive sonic experience, with the HTC U11 kicking out audio at a fantastic level. 

It’s not quite the all-round package that some of the phones here offer (hence its lower position), but the reduced price makes it a more attractive proposition.

How good is the HTC U11 camera?

Also consider: It's hard to know what to recommend here, as there's nothing that really compares on the market right now. However, for the price you'd probably look at the Galaxy S8 or the LG G6 as something a bit different.

The latest Honor phone is the best on the list here – and that's down the decent spec list, while keeping the price exceptionally low.

Screen: The Honor 10 screen has the… you've guessed it: notch at the top! It's an LCD screen so lacks the punch of the OnePlus 6 or Galaxy S9, for instance. It's 'only Full HD', but for the price it's excellent and more than does the job.

Battery life: You probably won't get a full day's battery life out of this phone every day, but for the most part it's pretty decent. Not the best on the market and we're used to Honor slugging more battery into its handsets, but at 3,400mAh it's a touch too small.

Camera: The Honor 10 struggles here a little, although the 16MP + 24MP sensors work well in tandem. Some of the AI modes worked very well together at times, but it wasn't always processing and improving the picture in the way you'd want before showing it to you.

Mini verdict: Honor phones are often the same – but that's no bad thing. This is a brand that's challenging, and while it's omitted not quite got the prowess of phones a lot more expensive, it's worth checking the phone out now – you'll never expect the lovely split screen colours on the back.

Read more: Honor 10 review

So those are our pick of the best phones you can get right now, but to conclude we're going to highlight some upcoming handsets that may well get added to this list when they launch.

Below you'll find the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro and iPhone 9, among many others, along with the hottest rumors we have for each of them, as well as expected prices and release dates.

To find out more about any of these handsets just click the link at the bottom of each entry to be taken to our main news and rumors page for them.

iPhone XI & iPhone 9

  • Expected release date: September 2018
  • Expected price: Upwards of AED 2,799

We're not sure what Apple's naming convention will be for the next generation of iPhone, or how many models there will be, but it’s possible that we’ll see an iPhone 9, iPhone 9 Plus and iPhone X2 (or iPhone XI).

Early rumors include the possibility that all models of the phone will have an OLED screen, slender bezels and a Face ID scanner, just like the iPhone X.

That likely also means that they'd ditch the fingerprint scanner and bezels found on the iPhone 8 for an all-screen front. What we do know however, is you'll have to wait until September to find out what Apple has in store for 2018.

LG G7

  • Expected release date: Spring 2018 
  • Expected price: Probably at least AED 2,499

We don't know too much about the LG G7 yet, but LG has switched from LCD to OLED for the LG V30 and there's a high chance the LG G7 will also therefore use OLED, which could mean a more vibrant display than the LG G6 has.

Elsewhere, we've heard that the LG G7 will probably use a Snapdragon 845 chipset, which is expected to be the main flagship chipset of 2018.

In that sense its inclusion wouldn't be surprising, but the LG G6 used the Snapdragon 821, while many rivals used the Snapdragon 835, so if LG does use the 845 for the G7 it should be on a more equal power footing with rivals for its main 2018 flagship than it was with its 2017 one.

But the biggest thing we're starting to believe about the LG G7 is that it won't be called the G7 at all – it seems LG is moving away from that naming strategy.

Google Pixel 3

  • Expected release date: October 2018
  • Expected price: Likely upwards of AED 2,599

There might be three Pixel 3 handsets, with a Pixel 3, a Pixel 3 XL and an even more premium one at the top-end being launched according to one source. And we're expecting them to finally, officially, arrive in the Middle East.

We’ve also heard that the three phones are codenamed “crosshatch”, “albacore” and “blueline”, but exactly what their specs and features will be remains to be seen.

HTC U12

  • Expected release date: Mid-2018
  • Expected price: Probably around AED 2,499

The only real rumor about the HTC U12 is that it could have a dual-lens camera, as HTC has revealed that it plans to build a dual-lens phone.

Everything else is just guesswork for now, but there’s a good chance the HTC U12 will have a Snapdragon 845 chipset, squeezy Edge Sense-powered sides and a similar design to the HTC U11 and HTC U11 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

  • Expected release date: August / September 2018
  • Expected price: Probably at least AED 3,499

Rumors suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 could have a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, which is a feature both Samsung and Apple have been rumored to be working on for a long time.

That would mean the phone could have an all-screen front without relegating the scanner to the back.

There’s also a very, very small chance that the Galaxy Note 9 will have a folding screen. This is something Samsung’s been rumored to be working on for even longer, and it looks like the company could finally be close to launching such a phone, but we wouldn’t count on seeing the tech trialed on something as high profile as the Note 9.

OnePlus 6

  • Expected release date: June 2018
  • Expected price: Over AED 2,299

The OnePlus 6 is the company's next numbered handset, and it probably won't arrive before mid-2018.

Currently there aren't many OnePlus 6 rumors, but it's likely to have many of the same specs and features as the OnePlus 5T, which itself is rumored to have a 20MP dual-lens camera and a 6-inch 18:9 screen.

We also suspect the OnePlus 6 will use the Snapdragon 845, and it's unlikely to have more than the 8GB of RAM you can already get in the OnePlus 5.

Nokia 9

  • Expected release date: Early 2018
  • Expected price: Around AED 1,999

The Nokia 9’s release date is unknown, but we’re expecting to see it sooner rather than later, and when we do it could have a 5.5-inch QHD curved OLED screen, a water-resistant all-metal shell, a dual-lens 22MP Carl Zeiss camera and a 3,800mAh battery.

If those specs prove accurate then the Nokia 9 could truly compete with the best flagships around, though one slightly less promising spec rumor points to it having a Snapdragon 835 chipset.

That’s a flagship chip, but it’s one that’s been around for most of 2017. If the phone launches before the end of the year then that might still be the best option available, but if it slips into 2018 then hopefully it will use the Snapdragon 845 or equivalent.

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The best business projectors in the UAE for 2018

If you're regularly making presentations in your line of work, then making sure you buy the best business projector that suits your needs will be essential.

Getting the right business projector can help transform your presentations and meetings, making them more engaging, interactive and professional.

In our list of the best business projectors of 2018, we've selected a large range of projectors, from compact devices that are easy to pack away and take with you on the road, to full-featured business projectors that feature a range of connectivity options and boast stunning image quality.

As well as listing the best business projectors, we also have our very own price comparison tool that will help you find the best prices as well.

Buying a projector for work means you're looking for different features than if you were buying a projector for entertainment purposes, so super-high resolutions and millions of inputs aren't going to be high on your 'must have' list. 

Unfortunately, plenty of offices often cheap out in when buying business projectors, or not doing their research, and investing in headaches for years to come. So now is a good excuse as any to review our favorite options for your office's projector unit.

The Epson EB-1795F is a great business projector that’s ultra-portable with great image quality. It offers a variety of different connectivity options to avoid fumbling for cables, and with a bit of prep in an office, almost any device can connect to it within seconds of it being turned on. 

The Gesture mode is a thoughtful idea, but doesn’t quite play out as effectively in real life. Aside from this, the EB-1795F is a reliable business projector that can easily travel wherever you go, and is up and ready to use in mere minutes. 

Epson EX7235 Pro

If your meetings are never in the same location often, you're going to want a no-nonsense projector that's easy to carry. For that, we can recommend the Epson EB-S04. Weighing in at 2g pounds, and measuring 297‎ x 234 x 77mm, it also comes with a carry case included, which makes this a great business projector for people often out on the road. It supports connecting via USB, WiFi, VGA, HDMI, or the mobile MHL. Not only is it easy to move around with, it's extremely easy to use, so much so that booting and choosing your input source only took a mere 34 seconds in our testing. This is all with an intensely strong lamp, which maxes out at 3000 lumens.

It is ideal for those who need a simple, portable projector for anything except for streaming video, as we experienced quality issues there, with output being either grainy or stuttering. So it's not the best projector for watching films on, but as a business projector, it's excellent.

ViewSonic Pro8600

If you’re looking to present in a bright room, or shopping with no worry about price, ViewSonic’s Pro8600, weighing 8.5 pounds and measuring 13.1″ x 10.4″ x 4.3″ (W x D x H), and Pro8520HD, also 8.5 pounds and a very similar 13.1″ x 10.4″ x 4.8″ (W x D x H) are especially relevant. The Pro8600 retails for about $1700 (around £1125, AU$2068) online, and the Pro8520HD can be found online at a bump up to around $1799 (around £1190, AU$2188).

Both machines run very loud and very bright, thanks to the Pro8600’s 6000 lumen and the Pro8520HD’s 5000 lumen capable lamps. So if you’re looking to make presentations to people who drift off when the lights go out, make sure you consider these options. Neither are great with USB, but if you’re looking to present video, both have HDMI slots – the Pro8520HD actually offers two, if that’s something you would need.

Both projectors render HD color video beautifully, although Pro8520HD arguably over-saturates the colors. While the video on the Pro8520HD is of great quality, you’re going to need to have any audio pretty loud, thanks to a whirring fan that hovered around 79 decibels in our testing. While the Pro8600 suffers the same noise pollution – its fan reaches 65 decibels – it does feature a useful ECO mode that can dampen the noise. As you would expect from projectors marketed on their HD quality, these units can get an image large enough for native HD proportions.

Usually when you choose a portable business projector you have to make a few sacrifices in order to have such as small device – but that's not true with the Epson EB-S31.

Epson has an excellent reputation with business projectors, and it has brought much of its expertise to the EB-S31. Its 3,500 lumen brightness is much brighter than many other portable projectors, and means you have more flexibility when setting up the EB-S31 in environments where there is still ambient light.

The EB-S31 is small and light enough to carry around with you on business trips – but it also has a very large projection size – up to 300 inches – which makes this an incredibly versatile portable business projector.

Sony VPL-FHZ55

The Sony VPL-FHZ55 is designed to be installed once and not moved for a long time. At 26.5 pounds nobody will be volunteering to move it between floors, or even carting it between rooms. It measures 15.3″ x 19.8″ x 5.8″ (W x D x H) and we believe it best positioned on a ceiling, even though that will make it even harder to ever move. With all that size, there is a lot to say about it.

Noteworthy for being the first 3LCD projector – a projection chip technology popularized by Epson and Panasonic – with a lamp-less treatment, thanks to a blue laser light source deployed by Sony. For all that above hype and hubbub, the enormous price should not shock you.

It’s seriousness isn’t just from a top-out of 4,000 lumens, but the fact that it can go for 20,000 hours, reducing the routine expense of replacing burnt out lamps that projectors generally include.

It is connector heavy, as it should be with that price-tag. The right-hand side is a full set of BNC/component inputs, an RGB D-sub 15-pin slot, DVI-D, monitor output and an HDMI input. On the opposite side is S-video, composite video, various analogue audio ins and outs, an RS-232C control jack (beloved of Crestron control systems, among others), the DC inlet, and wired LAN.

Unfortunately, as we notice all too frequently even with the best reviewed units, there is no built in WiFi for the VPL-FHZ55, though it can be networked. And the last thing we’ll note is that the VPL-FHZ55 needs some room. To fill our 80-inch test screen we had to place the VPL-FHZ55 about 11.5 feet away!

The Asus ZenBeam E1 is a beautifully designed pocket projector that's small and light enough to carry around with you if you often make presentations on the road. 

Despite its small size, it can project images up to 120 inches in size, and it has a built-in 6,000mAh battery that can power the projector for up to 5 hours, which makes it rather flexible, as you don't have to worry about finding a plug socket to power the device. In a rather nice touch, the projector can also double as a power bank for other mobile devices.

The Asus ZenBeam E1 isn't the most powerful portable projector, but its versatility, ease of setup and eye catching design gives it a place on our list of best business projectors.

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In Army of None, a field guide to the coming world of autonomous warfare

The Silicon Valley-military industrial complex is increasingly in the crosshairs of artificial intelligence engineers. A few weeks ago, Google was reported to be backing out of a Pentagon contract around Project Maven, which would use image recognition to automatically evaluate photos. Earlier this year, AI researchers around the world joined petitions calling for a boycott of any research that could be used in autonomous warfare.

For Paul Scharre, though, such petitions barely touch the deep complexity, nuance, and ambiguity that will make evaluating autonomous weapons a major concern for defense planners this century. In Army of None, Scharre argues that the challenges around just the definitions of these machines will take enormous effort to work out between nations, let alone handling their effects. It’s a sobering, thoughtful, if at times protracted look at this critical topic.

Scharre should know. A former Army Ranger, he joined the Pentagon working in the Office of Secretary of Defense, where he developed some of the Defense Department’s first policies around autonomy. Leaving in 2013, he joined the DC-based think tank Center for a New American Security, where he directs a center on technology and national security. In short, he has spent about a decade on this emerging tech, and his expertise clearly shows throughout the book.

The first challenge that belies these petitions on autonomous weapons is that these systems already exist, and are already deployed in the field. Technologies like the Aegis Combat System, High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM), and the Harpy already include sophisticated autonomous features. As Scharre writes, “The human launching the Harpy decides to destroy any enemy radars within a general area in space and time, but the Harpy itself chooses the specific radar it destroys.” The weapon can loiter for 2.5 hours while it determines a target with its sensors — is it autonomous?

Scharre repeatedly uses the military’s OODA loop (for observe, orient, decide, and act) as a framework to determine the level of autonomy for a given machine. Humans can be “in the loop,” where they determine the actions of the machine, “on the loop” where they have control but the machine is mostly working independently, and “out of the loop” when machines are entirely independent of human decision-making.

The framework helps clear some of the confusion between different systems, but it is not sufficient. When machines fight machines, for instance, the speed of the battle can become so great that humans may well do more harm then good intervening. Millions of cycles of the OODA loop could be processed by a drone before a human even registers what is happening on the battlefield. A human out of the loop, therefore, could well lead to safer outcomes. It’s exactly these kinds of paradoxes that make the subject so difficult to analyze.

In addition to paradoxes, constraints are a huge theme in the book as well. Speed is one — and the price of military equipment is another. Dumb missiles are cheap, and adding automation has consistently added to the price of hardware. As Scharre notes, “Modern missiles can cost upwards of a million dollars apiece. As a practical matter, militaries will want to know that there is, in fact, a valid enemy target in the area before using an expensive weapon.”

Another constraint is simply culture. The author writes, “There is intense cultural resistance within the U.S. military to handing over jobs to uninhabited systems.” Not unlike automation in the civilian workforce, people in power want to place flesh-and-blood humans in the most complex assignments. These constraints matter, because Scharre foresees a classic arms race around these weapons as dozens of countries pursue these machines.

Humans “in the loop” may be the default today, but for how long?

At a higher level, about a third of the book is devoted to the history of automation, (generalized) AI, and the potential for autonomy, topics which should be familiar to any regular reader of TechCrunch. Another third of the book or so is a meditation on the challenges of the technology from a dual use and strategic perspective, as well as the dubious path toward an international ban.

Yet, what I found most valuable in the book was the chapter on ethics, lodged fairly late in the book’s narrative. Scharre does a superb job covering the ground of the various schools of thought around the ethics of autonomous warfare, and how they intersect and compete. He extensively analyzes and quotes Ron Arkin, a roboticist who has spent significant time thinking about autonomy in warfare. Arkin tells Scharre that “We put way too much faith in human warfighters,” and argues that autonomous weapons could theoretically be programmed never to commit a war crime unlike humans. Other activists, like Jody Williams, believe that only a comprehensive ban can ensure that such weapons are never developed in the first place.

Scharre regrets that more of these conversations don’t take into account the strategic positions of the military. He notes that international discussions on bans are led by NGOs and not by nation states, whereas all examples of successful bans have been the other way around.

Another challenge is simply that antiwar activism and anti-autonomous weapons activism are increasingly being conflated. Scharre writes, “One of the challenges in weighing the ethics of autonomous weapons is untangling which criticisms are about autonomous weapons and which are really about war.” Citing Sherman, who marched through the U.S. South in the Civil War in an aggressive pillage, the author reminds the reader that “war is hell,” and that militaries don’t choose weapons in a vacuum, but relatively against other tools in their and their competitors’ arsenals.

The book is a compendium of the various issues around autonomous weapons, although it suffers a bit from the classic problem of being too lengthy on some subjects (drone swarms) while offering limited information on others (arms control negotiations). The book also is marred at times by errors, such as “news rules of engagement” that otherwise detract from a direct and active text. Tighter editing would have helped in both cases. Given the inchoate nature of the subject, the book works as an overview, although it fails to present an opinionated narrative on where autonomy and the military should go in the future, an unsatisfying gap given the author’s extensive and unique background on the subject.

All that said, Army of None is a one-stop guide book to the debates, the challenges, and yes, the opportunities that can come from autonomous warfare. Scharre ends on exactly the right note, reminding us that ultimately, all of these machines are owned by us, and what we choose to build is within our control. “The world we are creating is one that will have intelligent machines in it, but it is not for them. It is a world for us.” We should continue to engage, and petition, and debate, but always with a vision for the future we want to realize.

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