Top Gear Series 25 Episode 1 review: The future finally looks bright

Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris in Top Gear

Top Gear is revving its engines as it looks to accelerate full-speed ahead into a new era after its stalled start in 2016. But if the first series without Clarkson, May and Hammond was a *cough* car crash – Chris Evans’ iteration was a disappointment with critics and audiences alike – and last year’s series was an attempt at rebuilding, then the new run looks ready to put the pedal to the metal and maybe even guide it back to its glory days.

It’s down to Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid to find their own identity while winning back long-time fans of Top Gear – and on the evidence of the first episode of series 25, they look very close to striking a winning formula that stays true to the show without becoming a cheap imitation of its past.

LeBlanc appeared comfortable at the helm in the first episode of the new season, although if truth be told, with his presenting team of Chris Harris and Rory Reid, it feels like the three petrolheads are on an equal footing, enjoying their time together.

The banter between the trio is fantastic – and it was an inspired choice to kick the series off with an episode almost entirely dedicated to a road trip across Nevada in tribute to the V8 engine.

Their cheeky humour shines through, especially with a number of impromptu tasks, including a Wild West “duel in the dirt”. After which, the loser is faced with a nail-biting challenge – the watch-between-your-fingers ‘Chain Car Figure of 8’ which really has to be seen to be believed.

It’s not all long open roads and inventive tasks, though – at one point, the trio face a race against Officer Block as they run a crate of moonshine to the state line. And we’ve also got the return of the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car segment, which is a very welcome move.

BBC's Top Gear season 25 - The Stig

This week, it’s comedian Rob Brydon in the hot seat – and it’s worth watching for his commentary on his run alone. Charming, hilarious and knowledgeable, he’s a great guest to kick off the series, even if Matt and Rory can’t resist tearing into some of his choices in cars.

He set himself a goal of beating Tinie Tempah’s time of 1:50.04 – you’ll have to check the episode this weekend to see if he was able to – but the excuses came in early as the track was absolutely drenched.

Battling the elements, Rob struggled with the gears but got enough control to put in a very good effort. Commentating on his run, he teased from the studio: “The classic Roman profile gripping the wheel with assuredness and a strange sensuality.”

Naturally, it’s not perfect – some lines and segments come across as a little awkward and too scripted, with the three stars still finding their feet and getting used to each other. Reid admitted last year that chemistry doesn’t come overnight, and while that’s definitely true, they’ve still taken great strides and now come across as much more likeable.

There was a slight disappointment that the trio couldn’t complete a challenge at Bonneville – the US’ fastest race track – because freak rain left it waterlogged, but they seem just as gutted as us. Harris admitted: “I suppose I’ve now got one of the worst Bonneville stories out of anyone I know.”

All in all, the biggest take away from the first episode is just how easy it is to watch without comparing it to what has come before, and enjoy it for what it is. Sure, The Grand Tour has Top Gear’s successful and beloved trio at the helm, but LeBlanc, Harris and Reid are in the driving seat of a new era and the road ahead looks clear. Hit the gas, boys.

[“Source-digitalspy”]

Cheetah Mobile’s Live.me App Gets $50 Million in Funding, Looks to Expand in India

Cheetah Mobile's Live.me App Gets $50 Million in Funding, Looks to Expand in India

Aiming to make inroads into the Indian market, Chinese firm Cheetah Mobile on Tuesday announced that its live-streaming platform Live.me app has received $50 million (roughly Rs. 326 crores) in funding from China-based tech company Bytedance.

With the new alliance and funding, Live.me, that has more than 35 million global users, seeks to expand into more local languages and other content genres to reach an even broader audience in India.

“We are delighted to welcome Bytedance as a strategic partner for our fast-growing, live-streaming business. Bytedance’s investment will accelerate the growth of Live.me’s live video and short video businesses,” Sheng Fu, Cheetah Mobile’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

Following its debut in India earlier this year, Live.me is now pursuing an expansion strategy by setting up a new office in Mumbai and building strategic partnerships with local influencers with the goal of creating popular content for the users.

As part of the definitive agreement, Live.me will provide live-streaming services to Bytedance in the overseas markets.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

iPod nano, shuffle Discontinued as Apple Looks to Simplify Lineup

iPod nano, shuffle Discontinued as Apple Looks to Simplify Lineup

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The two products have been removed from Apple’s online store
  • The shuffle hit the market in 2005 with faster flash storage
  • Apple updated the storage capacities for the iPod touch

After years of being outsold by the iPhone, the venerable iPod has taken a big step toward eventual oblivion. Apple said Thursday it was discontinuing two of the cheapest iPod models: the nano and shuffle.

The two products have been removed from the Apple online store and will vanish from retail locations as well. Apple demoted the iPod’s placement in its retail stores a couple of years ago, moving the devices to the company’s accessory shelves. The $149 nano and $49 shuffle were last updated with new colors in 2015, but the nano hasn’t been revamped since 2012 while the shuffle hasn’t been redesigned since 2010.

“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” Apple said in a statement.

The original iPod arrived in 2001. It wasn’t the first digital music player but it upended the music industry and put 1,000 songs in your pocket. The shuffle hit the market in 2005 as the first iPod with faster flash storage and without a screen, while the nano was introduced later in the year as a replacement for the then-popular iPod mini. Both went through several redesigns in their early years before being supplanted by iPhone.

The iPod touch, the company’s highest selling iPod and once referred to by Steve Jobs as an iPhone without the phone, remains on sale. The company updated the device’s storage capacities on Thursday, discontinuing the 16GB and 64GB models and lowering the price of the 32GB and 128GB options to $199 and $299, respectively.

Apple discontinued the iPod classic in 2014, a large iPod with a “click wheel” that looked most like the original model. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said at the time that the classic was discontinued because the company was unable to source the necessary parts. Nonetheless, with the success of the iPhone, the lack of an App Store and services like iCloud and Apple Music, the non-touch iPods have become less useful to both Apple and consumers.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has sold more than 400 million iPods so far, while the iPhone surpassed a billion units sold in July 2016.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Injustice 2: Sub-Zero Gear Loadouts and Shaders Revealed, Reptile Shader Looks Incredible

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(Photo: NetherRealm Studios)

As you may or may not know, with the latest Injustice 2 update, Sub-Zero was actually added to the game. Now you can’t play as him quite yet, but he’s there. Much like Red Hood before him, even though we can’t play as Sub-Zero we can access him in the character select roster, and when you do that, he’ll show up with a random assortment of gear and shaders equipped.

YouTuber “TheHackingFreak” has put together a video browsing through a variety of gear and shader loadouts, and while there are a lot of repeats and duplicates in the video, we went through and picked out all of the standout loadouts, and the ones that we think look the coolest. You can find them all in the gallery. As you go through you’ll notice a variety of interesting shaders.

You’ll of course see your variations on ice blue and black, and some offensive pink and purple in there, but the most interesting are the green shaders. With the right equipment on, those green shaders will basically give you reptile. There’s no mistaking the resemblance, and we’re pretty sure that the color palette chosen for that particular shader was chosen for the sole purpose of making him look like Reptile. Who needs a premier skin when you can do a simple color swap? Pretty effective, if you ask us.

Those of you familiar with Mortal Kombat lore will also see another possibly-famliar face in the crowd. Some of the darker shaders and loadouts make Sub-Zero appear very much like Noob Saibot. In the Mortal Kombat canon, Sub-Zero returns as Noob Saibot as a kind of phantom after being killed by Scorpion, so it makes sense that his likeness should end up in the game as well — even if only as a shader.

Check out all of the images in the gallery and let us know what you think. Which color and gear combination is your favorite? Chime in on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

[“Source-comicbook”]