The prime minister has laid out a comprehensive plan of internet restrictions if she wins the election

Theresa May has refused to rule out censoring the internet like China.

The prime minister has looked to introduce sweeping and deep changes to the way the internet works, in what she claims is a necessary move to prevent terror. Those have included restricting the kinds of things people can post online and forcing internet companies to weaken security so that intelligence agencies can read their messages.

Many of those plans have been criticised by internet companies, who argue that such undertakings would require them to put their customers safety in danger and undermine their businesses. It might not even be possible to comply with such rules, they have argued, since laws in other countries explicitly prohibit such measures.

“I think what we need to do is see how we can regulate,” she told the Evening Standard, in response to a question on restrictions on the internet.

The prime minister was then asked if she would rule out “Chinese-style cyber-blocking action”.

She only said that she would “work with the companies” and gave no explicit commitment that she wouldn’t introduce censorship and restriction regimes like the ones that operate in China.

 

HTC U11 review: A fragile, squeezable flagship

 

HTC introduced the “U” smartphone line back in January with the U Ultra and U Play handsets, and those were just a taste of what the company had coming. The U11 is HTC’s newest flagship and follow-up to last year’s HTC 10, and it looks significantly different from last year’s device. With an all-glass back and no headphone jack, the U11 chooses which of the typical flagship design choices it wanted to keep and forgoes others. It supports Google Assistant as well as HTC’s own Sense Companion AI, with Amazon Alexa support coming soon after it ships in the US on June 9. The HTC 10 was one of our favorite flagship smartphones last year, and the U11 is a thoughtful upgrade from that, even if its design is polarizing.

Design

The U11 smartphone looks and feels flashier than the HTC 10, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. Ars’ Ron Amadeo appreciated the simple yet solid metal design of HTC’s 2016 flagship, but the company certainly deviated from that blueprint with this device. The U11 has an all-glass back that makes it strikingly shiny but also a wild collector of fingerprints. That shine complements the bold colors it comes in (red, sapphire, silver, and black), but every time it catches your eye, you’ll be compelled to wipe down the phone.

SPECS AT A GLANCE: HTC U11
SCREEN 5.5″ 2560×1440 LCD
OS Android 7.1.1 with HTC Sense
CPU Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, up to 2.45GHz
RAM 4GB
GPU Adreno 540
STORAGE 64GB (expandable up to 2TB with microSD card)
NETWORKING 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
BANDS GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA2000: 800/1900
3G UMTS: 850/AWS/900/1900/2100 MHz
LTE (FDD): 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/66
PORTS 1 USB 3.1 Type-C
CAMERA Rear: 12MP HTC UltraPixel 3, UltraSpeed AF, OIS, f/1.7, 4K video recording
Front: 16MP front camera
SIZE 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9mm (6.05 x 2.98 x .31 inches)
WEIGHT 169 g (5.96 ounces)
BATTERY 3000 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0
STARTING PRICE $650
OTHER PERKS Edge Sensor, fingerprint sensor, ambient light sensor, G-sensor, gyro-sensor, voice commands with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Motion Launch

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 has an all-glass design, and while glass is pretty, it’s not as durable as metal, especially for devices that you use and abuse every day. The U11’s back is the main glass part of the handset, and technically the device still has a unibody design—you just can’t tell by the placement of the glass as it sits atop the aluminum underneath. The bold back colors aren’t built into the glass, but rather they slide underneath the glass, so they won’t fade as some metal finishes can with time and use. They can’t be scratched off either.

The handset’s aluminum body peeks through on its sides where the few buttons and connectivity options live: on the right are the power button and volume rocker, on the top lies the SIM/microSD card slot, and on the bottom is the single USB Type-C port. You can’t see them, but eight tiny pressure sensors are hidden in the device’s lower sides—those are the sensors you “squeeze” to activate Edge Sense features and apps, which we’ll discuss more in a later section. The handset is IP67 water-resistant, and Edge Sense can even be used when the device is wet.Image result for HTC U11 review: A fragile, squeezable flagship

The screen and front panel are where the U11 looks a bit dated. Hugging the 5.5-inch, 2560×1440 display are chunky top and bottom bezels and a set of hardware navigation buttons. This is a stark contrast from recent flagship designs that favor paper-thin bezels to allow maximum screen space. The typical Android back and app-drawer capacitive buttons are on either side of the physical home button/fingerprint sensor. This is another contrast, as both new Android smartphones and iPhones have started to move away from physical home buttons.

One similarity the U11 has with the iPhone 7 is the lack of headphone jack. Included in the box is a USB Type-C-to-3.5mm audio jack, so you can connect your wired headphones to the device with the adaptor. HTC also includes its own headphones in the box that have active noise cancelling; thanks to power over USB Type-C, the headphones don’t need their own battery to provide active noise cancelling.

Edge Sense

The U11’s most interesting feature is Edge Sense, or the squeezable nature of the handset. When holding the device naturally with one hand, you can squeeze both sides to initiate an action. Edge Sense has two customizable pressure points—a short squeeze or a long squeeze. Upon setting up the feature, you’re asked to adjust the pressure level for your own hand. For example, the natural amount of pressure I put on the device’s edges is different from what my boyfriend would, so you can set up Edge Sense to recognize a base level of pressure that feels natural for you. After setting it up on my review unit, Edge Sense worked well in that my squeezes were always recognized and software never mistook grabbing and handling of the smartphone for a squeeze.

At any time, you can use the Edge Sense settings to customize short- and long-squeeze actions. These are your current options: bring up the camera app, take a screenshot (my personal favorite), launch HTC Sense Companion, launch an app of your choosing, start an instant voice recording, turn on your Wi-Fi hotspot, or turn on the flashlight. Those are all practical uses for Edge Sense, and the ability to set it to bring up any app you want is convenient.

HTC told Ars that convenience is the main idea behind Edge Sense. The company wanted to address the ergonomic issues plaguing large smartphones (not being able to reach all your apps with one hand, etc.) without compromising the seamlessness of the device. HTC didn’t want to add another button to the edge of the U11, like Samsung did on the Galaxy S8 with its dedicated Bixby button. So the company found a different solution that would allow more functionality without cluttering the device’s sides.

As mentioned above, Edge Sense works even when the U11 is wet, since it’s all based on the pressure of your hand. Since it doesn’t recognize the presence of skin either, Edge Sense will also work when you’re wearing gloves. Even if you put a case over the U11, you can go back into the Edge Sense settings and adjust the pressure sensitivity so the feature works even while the case is on.

Overall, I enjoyed using Edge Sense more than I thought I would. I appreciate this design choice over adding another button or two to the sides of the U11, and I appreciate even more that it’s fully customizable. Unlike Samsung’s Bixby button that really only has one use, HTC’s Edge Sense can be what you want it to be. If you’re not a huge fan of Edge Sense, you can turn it off as well—and since there are no extra physical buttons, you won’t even know Edge Sense exists if you disable it entirely.

Cameras

The solid 12MP rear camera and 16MP front-facing camera from the HTC 10 have carried over to the U11. Most of the pictures I took outside in natural light are bright and full of color. With photos taken in sunlight on the HTC 10, colors sometimes appeared gray and washed-out, but that didn’t happen as much on the U11. There were a few times when the camera brightened the sunlight a bit too much, producing colors that weren’t as rich as those produced by the Galaxy S7 Edge—but instances of that issue were few and far between. Low-light photos continue to be noticeably brighter than those taken with the S7 Edge.

Software

The app drawer is pretty cluttered when you boot up the U11 for the first time. Many of the pre-installed apps are Google products, but a number of HTC apps are squeezed in as well: Boost+ for optimizing power and managing apps, HTC Help for troubleshooting, Themes for decorating your phone’s UI, and the like. Having so many apps already installed on the device before you even get to customize it is annoying, but the good news is that most of them can be uninstalled easily.

The biggest piece of HTC software on the U11 is the Sense Companion AI, which learns about you, your interests, and your phone habits to provide all kinds of suggestions, like where to go to dinner, with whom to share a photo, and which apps to delete.

As you use the U11, the AI learns how you use your phone, and a small blue orb will float into the display when it has a suggestion for you. You can also go into the HTC Sense Companion app to see a full list of the most recent suggestions if you tend to ignore the orb. Those tips are presented much like Google Now info cards are, with little doodles and text with information like traffic updates, weather changes, and more.

Where HTC’s AI comes in handy is for device optimization: HTC told Ars that Sense Companion may tell you that you have 20 apps on your U11 that you haven’t used in a month and suggest deleting them so you have more space. Over time, Sense Companion will also be smart enough to remind you to charge your smartphone during free times of the day when you have a busy schedule. Allowing Sense Companion access to your calendar will help it understand your schedule and suggest times to charge up on days when you have back-to-back meetings.

A note about Amazon’s Alexa: our review unit didn’t have Alexa yet. According to HTC, U11 devices will receive Alexa through an update to the Alexa Android app. Unlike Huawei’s integration with Alexa, you won’t need to open an app to access Amazon’s virtual assistant—the wake word “Alexa” will be enough to trigger a response. But the Alexa app will be necessary to configure and personalize the virtual assistant. Our review unit had Google Assistant only, which you can access by saying “OK Google” or long-pressing the home button.

A great feature that HTC brought over from the HTC 10 is adoptable storage. Introduced in Android 6.0, this feature lets the device “merge” internal and microSD card storage. The U11 comes with 64GB of onboard storage, but with the help of a microSD card, it could mimic a handset with up to 2TB of internal storage. After inserting a microSD card, you just have to go into the device settings and format the card’s storage as internal. Then the system will move apps and programs around as needed automatically, rather than making you manually choose where everything needs to be.

Software and security updates

The U11 has the April 1, 2017 security patch and will receive Android O, but HTC didn’t say when. The company also told Ars that smaller updates will depend on “carrier lab approval, scale, and urgency of the update.” Our review unit is a U11 on Sprint, and HTC says that model will get its first update at the end of this month or early July.

The U11 ships with the latest version of Android, which is great, especially since Samsung’s and LG’s flagships don’t (the S8 and the G6 ship with Android 7.0). But in the past, HTC’s major Android updates have been quite carrier-dependent. The unlocked HTC 10 received Nougat three months after the software’s initial launch, while the T-Mobile model waited five months for it. Updates only got worse from there, with the Sprint model waiting six months and the Verizon model waiting seven months for Nougat.

If you want the fastest update to Android O in the future, you should probably go with the unlocked version of the U11. Otherwise, it’s hard to say when your model will get the latest version of Android.

Even worse for HTC is the uncertainty of its security updates. There’s no guarantee that all U11 models will receive every security update in a timely fashion. Not only is that terrible in comparison to Samsung, LG, and Google, which all provide monthly security updates to their flagships, but HTC has also had legal troubles in the past surrounding this issue. In 2013, the FTC reached a settlement with HTC that required the company to patch notable security holes in millions of its Android smartphones and tablets. HTC is subject to a security review for 20 years after that settlement as well.

Listing image by Valentina Palladino

Canadian firm’s fleet-tracking service ‘Radar’ has made it a market darling again

 

A visit to trucking firm Titanium Transportation helps explain why BlackBerry’s stock is once again a darling in Canadian markets, having soared 70% in two months.

Nestled in an industrial area some 50 kilometres north of Toronto, the trucker is an early adopter of a new BlackBerry fleet-tracking service known as Radar, which uses $400 boxes to collect and transmit information on movement, temperature and physical contents of Titanium’s 1,300 truck trailers.

Efficiency gains tied to Radar should allow Titanium to get maximum utilization of its fleet, positioning it to cut the number of trailers by 5% and also reduce labour costs, company executive Marilyn Daniel told Reuters.

“Time is everything in our world,” she said. “Being able to tell a driver where exactly a trailer is as opposed to having a driver search through a yard for sometimes hours has been a definite improvement.”

Radar is emblematic of BlackBerry chief executive John Chen’s strategy for turning around the Canadian icon, by steering the company away from consumer electronics and back to its roots of selling products to businesses.

Industrial customers

Beyond Radar, BlackBerry is also betting on other types of software for industrial customers. It is leveraging its QNX subsidiary’s software foothold deep inside car infotainment consoles to expand into self-driving technology, while promoting its cybersecurity software and services to thwart increased threats from hacking.

BlackBerry’s stock rallied after it showed signs of progress in quarterly earnings results at the end of March, followed by news in April of a nearly $1 billion cash windfall from arbitration with Qualcomm expected to fund future investments in growth. That comes in the face of an expected revenue decline to below $1 billion this year for the first time since 2004. At its smartphone peak, BlackBerry had annual sales of $20 billion.

Among the recent BlackBerry bulls are institutional investors such as Nokota Management, which took a new position with almost 4.8 million shares in the first quarter, and Oppenheimer Funds, which added 3.3 million more shares to its existing 4 million share stake, according to U.S. securities filings.

Iridian Asset Management and Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, two of BlackBerry’s biggest shareholders, each raised their stakes by around a quarter as of the end of March. Nokota did not respond to requests for comment, while the others all declined to discuss their stakes in BlackBerry.

The strategy is not without risks. BlackBerry faces challenges entering the telematics market, where analysts say rivals include Omnitracs, Teletrac Navman, Tomtom NV , Trimble Inc and U.S. telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc.

Verizon last year paid some $2.4 billion to buy GPS vehicle tracking firm Fleetmatics Group Plc.

Radar “is not a unique and earth-shattering product,” said Nicholas Farhi, a partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who advises companies on optimising logistics operations.

That’s why some investors advise caution, saying it is too soon to figure out how to properly value the new BlackBerry offerings.

“It’s not the type of situation you can justify from a valuation standpoint,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management, which manages more than $1.5 billion and exited the stock a decade ago, when BlackBerry phones were still dominant. “It is all about hope and promise.”

 

CNN rolls out a new travel vertical

Verticals are hot in media. CNN is taking the wraps off CNN Travel, a new vertical site that will provide people with travel recommendations for families. It launches with a staff or 10, with aspirations to triple that by the end of the year.

The site will focus on travel recommendations. At launch, CNN Travel offers illustrated city guides of world capitals ranging from Dubai to New York, which include suggestions on where to eat in certain locations and so on. Instead of the news junkies it draws to its parent site, CNN Travel is meant to lure people planning getaways. In the coming months, it will launch podcasts, a live events business and will press further into video. In addition to the core edit team, CNN Travel may tap into a network of 800 contributors around the world.

“There will be quite a lot of destination-based content around experience and where to stay, practical advice,” said Ed O’Keefe, CNN’s svp of premium digital content.

Unlike many other publishers, which stash new verticals inside their motherships, CNN has its own URL, CNNTravel.com, and is expected to ultimately exist as a standalone site, with an audience built through SEO.

“We’re not creating a subvertical of CNN hoping we might scrape up some more display business,” O’Keefe added. “We’re thinking of these investments as independent businesses.”Image result for CNN rolls out a new travel vertical

The hope for this independent business, which O’Keefe likened to a well-capitalized startup, is that it taps into the so-called “endemic” advertising in particular categories. With CNN Travel, the aim is to appeal to the wide swath of airlines, hotels, cruises and resorts looking for a more specialized audience than a broad general news site. That effort has begun auspiciously: Its global launch sponsor is Hilton.

“They’re not going to be next to Comey news,” O’Keefe said of CNN Travel’s advertisers. “That’s something within the CNN repertoire that’s helpful for traditional advertisements we might want to take.”

CNN Travel is also the latest in a batch of recent vertical launches CNN has made. CNN Tech, overseen by former Bloomberg vet Sam Grobart, bowed just a couple weeks ago, and CNN Politics, grew substantially during the recent election season and has motored along since.

But where politics is something primed for social, CNN Travel as a site (and as a category) is geared toward performing well in search. To get there, CNN Travel needs to have content on all the locations that readers — and advertisers — might find interesting. It doesn’t have that all mapped out yet, but the site’s edit staff has spent the past nine months getting those things ready under the direction of its editor-in-chief, Brekke Fletcher, whom O’Keefe plucked from WSJ. Magazine.

As it continues to build its list, the site will also be able to rely, to an extent, on programming from CNN’s linear programming. At launch, CNN Travel will feature a weekly video adapted from “The Wonder List with Bill Weir,” a TV show in its second season. Provided the videos are a hit with Travel’s audience, the goal is to ramp that up to a daily video installment.

What CNN Travel will not feature, for the time being, is content from “Parts Unknown,” the popular show hosted by former chef Anthony Bourdain. While there is a slight overlap between the “Parts Unknown” audience and the audience O’Keefe hopes CNN Travel will attract, it is slight. “We look at Travel as the soft Instagram filter to the hard look that is ‘Parts Unknown,’” he said.

BlackBerry, a Canadian Icon, Hopes to Ride Trucks to Growth

 

visit to trucking firm Titanium Transportation helps explain why BlackBerry’s stock is once again a darling in Canadian markets, having soared 70 percent in two months.

Nestled in an industrial area some 50 kilometers north of Toronto, the trucker is an early adopter of a new BlackBerry fleet-tracking service known as Radar, which uses $400 (roughly Rs. 25,000) boxes to collect and transmit information on movement, temperature and physical contents of Titanium’s 1,300 truck trailers.

Efficiency gains tied to Radar should allow Titanium to get maximum utilisation of its fleet, positioning it to cut the number of trailers by five percent and also reduce labor costs, company executive Marilyn Daniel told Reuters.

“Time is everything in our world,” she said. “Being able to tell a driver where exactly a trailer is as opposed to having a driver search through a yard for sometimes hours has been a definite improvement.”

Radar is emblematic of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen’s strategy for turning around the Canadian icon, by steering the company away from consumer electronics and back to its roots of selling products to businesses.

Beyond Radar, BlackBerry is also betting on other types of software for industrial customers. It is leveraging its QNX subsidiary’s software foothold deep inside car infotainment consoles to expand into self-driving technology, while promoting its cyber-security software and services to thwart increased threats from hacking.BlackBerry, a Canadian Icon, Hopes to Ride Trucks to Growth

BlackBerry’s stock rallied after it showed signs of progress in quarterly earnings results at the end of March, followed by news in April of a nearly $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,430 crores) cash windfall from arbitration with Qualcomm expected to fund future investments in growth. That comes in the face of an expected revenue decline to below $1 billion this year for the first time since 2004. At its smartphone peak, BlackBerry had annual sales of $20 billion.

Among the recent BlackBerry bulls are institutional investors such as Nokota Management, which took a new position with almost 4.8 million shares in the first quarter, and Oppenheimer Funds, which added 3.3 million more shares to its existing 4 million share stake, according to US securities filings.

Iridian Asset Management and Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, two of BlackBerry’s biggest shareholders, each raised their stakes by around a quarter as of the end of March.

Nokota did not respond to requests for comment, while the others all declined to discuss their stakes in BlackBerry.

“Hope and promise”
The strategy is not without risks. BlackBerry faces challenges entering the telematics market, where analysts say rivals include Omnitracs, Teletrac Navman, Tomtom NV, Trimble Inc and US telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc. Verizon last year paid some $2.4 billion (roughly Rs. 15,433 crores) to buy GPS vehicle tracking firm Fleetmatics Group Plc.

Radar “is not a unique and earth-shattering product,” said Nicholas Farhi, a partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants who advises companies on optimizing logistics operations.

That’s why some investors advise caution, saying it is too soon to figure out how to properly value the new BlackBerry offerings.

“It’s not the type of situation you can justify from a valuation standpoint,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management, which manages more than $1.5 billion and exited the stock a decade ago, when BlackBerry phones were still dominant. “It is all about hope and promise.”

And yet hope and promise among BlackBerry investors were hard to come by in the aftermath of Apple and Samsung walking away with the consumer hand-held phone business.

Since taking the company’s helm in 2013 to attempt a turnaround, Chen has turned to technology products used inside automobiles and corporate cyber-security services, in addition to targeting the gritty trucking industry with Radar.
He also bolstered the company’s ability to manage rival devices in the workforce – still the single largest contributor to sales – with the purchase of rival Good Technology in 2015. And he outsourced production of handsets last year, meaning the company receives a cut from any devices sold by its partners rather than carrying the risk and revenue on its own books.

With Radar, BlackBerry enables customers to track trailers across country, and drivers can quickly locate vacant trailers scattered across vast parking lots. Previously, where drivers had to walk around those lots, banging on trailers in search of a hollow sound indicating it was empty.

BlackBerry charges $10 to $20 per month for every trailer connected to Radar, a product that an analyst at investment bank Macquarie says could play a pivotal role in a more than doubling of BlackBerry’s sales by 2020.

 

Samsung Galaxy Book review: An excellent 2-in-1 for a good price

Samsung’s Galaxy Book is a 2-in-1 tablet with a detachable keyboard that gets pretty much everything you care about right. Its price, performance, and battery life are all among the best we’ve tested.

While it lacks the razzle-dazzle of flagships like the new Surface Pro, it’s still the sort of all-around performer that will attract a buyer looking for good value. Samsung’s only real swing and miss is a somewhat gimmicky integration with its Galaxy smartphones, which replaces the Windows Hello features that are becoming more common.

Samsung Galaxy Book side

Adam Patrick Murray

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Price: Galaxy Book’s value proposition
  • Features: A mobile pedigree, for better and for worse
  • Keyboard: the Book’s foldable keyboard doesn’t suck
  • Performance: Galaxy Book is among the best
  • Bundled apps: Samsung’s apps are hit-and-miss
SHOW MORE

Price: Galaxy Book’s value proposition

While some competing 2-in-1 products we’ve reviewed cost upwards of $1,400, the version of the Samsung Galaxy Book we tested ships for $1,300. The price includes 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, plus optional LTE connectivity via Verizon. A more full-featured version starts with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. There’s also a microSD card slot that accepts cards up to 256GB. Inside you’ll find 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth 4.1 BLE.

The Galaxy Book family also offers a smaller 10.6-inch tablet, with a 7th-generation Core m3 inside, starting at $630. For both sizes, the associated keyboard and pen ship for free, a trend we’d like to see become more common.

Samsung Galaxy Book

Adam Patrick Murray

The Galaxy Book’s beautiful Super AMOLED display is definitely a selling point.

Samsung rightfully earns praise for its bright, vibrant displays, and the Galaxy Book is no different. The 12-inch, 2,160×1,440 Super AMOLED touchscreen shines 355 nits’ worth of light into your eyeballs, and displays rich colors—though without the advanced options Microsoft built into its Surface Pro. Part of that has to do with the Galaxy Book’s integrated high-dynamic range (HDR) capability, which allows the screen to render brighter brights and deeper blacks. This is a feature typically found on high-end televisions, so the Galaxy Book is unusual, and perhaps unique, among Windows tablets in having it.

I expected the Galaxy Book to lean a bit more upon Samsung’s legacy of quality Android tablets, however. It’s no crime to exclude a physical Windows button, as the Galaxy Book does. I was a bit surprised, though, to discover that the screen bezel was a bit on the chunky side. The Galaxy Book’s dimensions are fine: 11.47 x 7.87 x 0.29 inches, and just over 2.5 pounds with the keyboard attached, or about 2.78 pounds if you add the small, cellular-style USB-C power charger. Still, the tablet felt somewhat awkward to hold in the hand.

Samsung Galaxy Book vs Surface Pro 4

Adam Patrick Murray

Though the Surface Pro 4 (bottom) is thicker than the Galaxy Book, it weighs slightly less when you attach both keyboards.

Features: A mobile pedigree, for better and for worse

Unfortunately, buying a Galaxy Book brings up a new consideration for many: what USB standard your peripherals use. Samsung has committed wholeheartedly to USB-C, with a pair of ports than can be used for charging or for peripherals. That’s fine for phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, which use USB-C for charging but rarely connect to a wired USB device. The PC ecosystem encompasses a vast number of legacy devices, however, and you undoubtedly own some pre-USB-C device that you’ll want to connect to the Galaxy Book. At least Samsung was somewhat merciful: There’s a traditional headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy Book USB-C

Adam Patrick Murray

One of these things is not like the other.

Because the two USB-C connections are the only I/O ports available, you’ll either need to invest in USB-C dongles or think about buying new gear.  A $20 USB-C hub, with three USB-A connections and an ethernet jack, is one option. Even better, Samsung is currently offering a free multi-port USB-C adapter if you order the Galaxy Book directly from the company.

Samsung clearly tapped its mobile team in other aspects of the design. Some people simply love taking photos with a tablet’s rear camera, and Samsung’s high-quality 13MP part should serve you well. Photos were sharp and bright, although the tablet can take seconds to focus. A more mundane 5MP camera sits up front.

Samsung Galaxy Book S-Pen

Adam Patrick Murray

The S-Pen may be a bit less ergonomic than other styluses, but you don’t have to charge it, either.

The Samsung Galaxy Book also ships with an S-Pen, the Samsung stylus that its Note phones made famous. Though I’ve begged other 2-in-1 vendors to secure the pen internally, as the Samsung Galaxy Note does, the Galaxy Book ignored my pleas.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review: A Tough Flagship Choice For Rs 59,990

Sony has entered the flagship smartphone race with a bang with its Xperia XZ Premium. The latest flagship Sony smartphone comes loaded with Sony’s in-house technology and is a step-up effort by the company to challenge the current market-ruling flagships by other companies, be it the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the Apple iPhone 7Plus.

Now it is not easy to stand-up to the market champions and call them out for a duel. So naturally, Sony could not leave anything to chance. The technology features that come with the smartphone are not to be taken lightly but how well do they contribute to an overall flagship smartphone experience? Let’s find out in this review.

What’s Cool?

Sony has focussed on three core segments to make the Xperia XZ Premium stand out from the competitors – its display, camera and processor.

To begin with, the Xperia XZ Premium comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. This is the first smartphone in India to offer the latest Qualcomm flagship processor, beating others (the OnePlus 5 that made claims to take this spot). Now as soon as this processor’s name pops up, you can be assured that the smartphone will not be under-par in performance.

Coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage and a support for Android 7.0 Nougat, the phone is extremely smooth to operate and till date, we have not found it lagging in any task. The storage is optimum to store as much data as you want and if you find it not up to your liking, there is always an option to expand it to 256GB using external micro SD card.

With the processor power and the sharp display, the Xperia XZ Premium is a treat to watch videos and play games on. Speaking of the display, Sony has introduced its 4K HDR proprietary technology in the 5.5-inch display of the XZ Premium, which it claims to have brought down from its Bravia range of televisions. The display is sharp, crisp and at a pixel density of 807 PPI, delivers a great experience.

The smartphone is IP 65/68 certified dust and water resistance and we put it to test by taking the phone on a river rafting spree. Make no mistake, the Xperia XZ Premium will surprise you by its ability to work in water. There is also a ‘Glove mode’ on the phone that allows you to have a better touch-screen experience while wearing gloves.

A commendable feature is the placement of the fingerprint sensor of the Xperia XZ Premium on its power button. This comes as a refreshing change from the standard home button integrated fingerprint sensor and is not at all as irritating as the ones placed at the back, like the one on the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Snapdragon 835 Processor, Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Flagship Smartphone, Android Smartphone, Smartphone ReviewSony Xperia XZ Premium – Fingerprint Scanner. (Photo: Siddhartha Safaya/ News18.com)

The Xperia XZ Premium is powered by a 3,230 mAh battery. Now, this is nothing that a smartphone can boast about but it easily gets you through a day of heavy usage and so we would rate it on the good side. Plus point, the battery performance is enhanced by Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 and Sony’s own Qnovo Adaptive Charging, both of which aid in quick charging of the smartphone’s battery. The Xperia XZ Premium supports USB Type-C connectivity.

Also read: Samsung Galaxy S8: Top 10 Features You Will Absolutely Love

Sony has repeatedly mentioned the camera capabilities of the smartphone, which, are not something to be missed. Though we would only comment upon limited features of the Xperia XZ Premium camera in this section, these features will certainly up your photography game. Sony has included its Exmor RS Sensor in its 19-megapixel primary and 13-megapixel front cameras. The interesting features that these cameras carry are Super-Slow Motion recording at 960 fps, Predictive Capture and Augmented Reality capabilities. There is also a dedicated camera key at the bottom-right of the phone for easier photo-capturing.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Snapdragon 835 Processor, Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Flagship Smartphone, Android Smartphone, Smartphone ReviewSony Xperia XZ Premium – Primary Camera. (Photo: Siddhartha Safaya/ News18.com)

You can have a gist of what Sony Xperia XZ Premium’s Super-Slow Motion recording can do by having a look at the Video review of the phone. It is one thing to look at an edited Slow-motion and another to shoot it yourself. The Super-Slow Motion recording will certainly expand the ‘what to shoot’ options for anyone and comes as something that you’d really look forward to in this smartphone.

Predictive Capturing, on the other hand, takes multiple shots of the image that you just clicked. This happens seconds before and seconds after you capture the image. It works just like Apple’s ‘Live Images’ and lets you select the best image for your click.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Snapdragon 835 Processor, Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Flagship Smartphone, Android Smartphone, Smartphone ReviewSony Xperia XZ Premium – Camera Key. (Photo: Siddhartha Safaya/ News18.com)

Also read: HTC U11 Review: It Squeezes Into the iPhone 7 & Samsung Galaxy S8 Territory

What’s not so Cool?

One thing that nobody would like about the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is that the phone is practically a fingerprint magnet. Touch it once and your fingerprint is visible enough for it to hold its credibility in a court case.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Snapdragon 835 Processor, Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Flagship Smartphone, Android Smartphone, Smartphone ReviewSony Xperia XZ Premium – Fingerprints. (Photo: Siddhartha Safaya/ News18.com)

Also, Sony has used its standard design mantra for this flagship phone. The ‘loop surface’ are not something unique and apart from the extremely glossy and reflective finish, the design will only excite a long-time Sony aficionado. A good and easy way for Sony to go off the signature design would have been to reduce the bezel size on the Xperia XZ Premium.

Now coming back to the camera of the Xperia XZ Premium, well, a subtle way of mentioning its performance is that the camera is not as good as Sony claims it to be. Apart from the features mentioned in the above section, the Xperia XZ Premium does not score very well on the camera front. Simply put, at the price at which the smartphone is available, you would expect a lot more than what you get. One mentionable downside for professional photographers, the camera’s shutter speed cannot be increased to more than 1 on Manual mode.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium Review, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Snapdragon 835 Processor, Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Flagship Smartphone, Android Smartphone, Smartphone ReviewSony Xperia XZ Premium – Selfie Camera. (Photo: Siddhartha Safaya/ News18.com)

Verdict

The Sony Xperia XZ Premium is undoubtedly a very good smartphone to have, especially if you are done with the regular Samsung and Apple flagship offerings. It is a loaded device, looks elegant and overall promises a good smartphone experience.

Yet the price tag on the Sony flagship is a bit too top-notch. There are some major chunks of refinement missing from the smartphone for it to have touched the Rs 59,990 price list. Considering the competitors are Samsung’s revolutionary flagship with the Bezel-less design and Apple’s trustworthy flagship offering, the USP of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium can only be its inbuilt Technology features.

Tivoli Audio Model One Digital review: Big sound from a small footprint

 

If you looked at Como Audio’s Duetto tabletop radio and couldn’t swallow its $399 price tag, Tivoli Audio’s Model One Digital sounds about as good and costs $100 less. The Tivoli lacks a number of features compared to its competitor, but you might not miss them.

Like the Duetto, the Model One Digital is equipped with an FM radio, but it’s primarily designed for streaming digital music. There’s Bluetooth support, of course (although aptX support is conspicuous in its absence), or you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network and play the music you own via a DLNA server.

There’s also support for most of the major streaming services, including Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, and the lesser-known (in the U.S., at least) QQ Music. There’s TuneIn support for Internet radio stations, but Apple Music is not supported, and neither is Apple’s AirPlay technology.

Tivoli Model One Digital

Michael Brown/TechHive

Kudos to whoever designed Tivoli Audio’s app.

You control the radio mostly from Tivoli’s app, which is available on Android and iOS devices. You can also perform basic functions with the volume/power knob and the aluminum ring encircling the radio’s 3-inch display. Turning the ring changes stations and presets on terrestrial radio, and scrolls through playlists on streaming media. Pushing the ring in pauses and resumes a stream.

I expected to encounter a bit of play in the larger ring, but the way the volume control knob wiggles under your fingertips feels disappointingly sloppy. The rest of the radio feels so precise in comparison. The circular display shows basic information, such as the track and artist name, the current source, the status of your network connection, and the time. But the only way to view album art is on your device, via the app.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The Tivoli Model One Digital has elegantly retro styling, but its largeish display is underutilized—no album art.

As does Como, Tivoli has its own multi-room audio ecosystem, with several other speakers that can be networked and controlled from the app. The Model One Digital has a “party mode” button on its back that can instantly stream the same music to all the compatible speakers at once. It’s on this point that Tivoli offers a significant benefit over Como: Buy Tivoli’s $60 ConX, and you can transform any speakers into a Tivoli network node. Or you can use the same device to stream music from any audio device—a turntable, for example. That’s pretty cool.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The 3.5-inch slot port helps the Tivoli Model One Digital deliver impressive bass response. But the paucity of inputs and outputs is disappointing.

Features Como offers that Tivoli doesn’t

This is a good time to sum up the features that Como Audio includes in the Duetto that you won’t find on Tivoli’s radio: I’ve already mentioned two of them: aptX codec support and the ability to display album art on the radio itself. The Model One Digital also lacks NFC support, for quick-and-easy Bluetooth pairing; a headphone output; an optical digital audio input, a line-level output (there is an analog Auxiliary input); a USB port for playing music from USB storage, which can also be used to power a Chromecast dongle or an Amazon Echo Dot; and hardware radio preset buttons.

Tivoli Model One Digital top

Michael Brown/TechHive

The cabinet is made from furniture quality wood, with a tweed-like cloth grill. The ring around the display has multiple function.

You’ll need to decide for yourself, but that’s a lot of features to give up to save a hundred bucks. Fortunately for Tivoli, it doesn’t sacrifice audio quality. The diminutive Model One Digital sounds fabulous, reproducing music in high fidelity at volume levels that are entirely disproportionate to its size: Crisp highs, a well-defined midrange, and surprisingly robust bass response, thanks to a 3.5-inch slot port in back. I no longer have the Duetto to make an A/B comparison, but going by memory, I’d say audio quality is a tossup at worst. Having said that, however, I think the Duetto earns its price premium.

 

Amazon Dash Wand review: A home shopping device made for a not-too-distant future

 

Amazon will sell you groceries, one way or another. Case in point: The day before it announced plans to buy Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion, it released Amazon Dash Wand, a small Alexa-powered gadget that will likely be just as integral to the company’s produce push.amazon dash wand button

Amazon’s new scanning stick is Jeff Bezos’s latest attempt to link the virtual world with the physical one. But even though it’s not Amazon’s first shot at a home shopping assistant, it’s definitely the first fully formed one. Combining the ease of a Dash button with the versatility of the relatively unknown Dash scanner and the smarts of an Echo, Dash Wand could be the thing that finally streamlines the way we buy groceries, and eliminates checkout lines, empty refrigerators, and even trips to the store. But that’s going to take a while.

For today, Dash Wand has too many quirks and shortcomings to be considered a threat to your local supermarket. While it’s cheap enough to be an impulse buy, it probably won’t do much to enhance your existing Amazon-Alexa experience, at least not yet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Dash drawbacks
  • Simple scanning
  • Alexa lite
  • A marathon, not a Dash

Dash drawbacks

Amazon’s wand is basically Dash 2.0. Like the company’s first bar-code scanner, which was limited to Amazon Fresh customers, the 6-inch stick has a rubberized loop at the top for hanging purposes, but this time around it’s also magnetic. Unlike the Echo, the Dash Wand needs to be within reach—keeping it in a drawer will severely cut down on its use and usefulness—and its refrigerator-friendly design is definitely one of its best qualities.

amazon dash wand batteriesChristopher Hebert/IDG
Dash Wand’s releiance on AA batteries cuts down on Alexa’s usefulness.

Even with Alexa built in, Dash Wand is very much an active device, in that it doesn’t respond to a wake word. Like the Echo Tap and the Alexa Voice Remote for Fire TV, you need to press the button to activate it, a consequence of Dash Wand being powered by a pair of AA batteries. Amazon kindly includes a set in the box, but with Wi-Fi, a bar-code scanner, and an AI assistant, I have to assume it will burn through them pretty quickly.

While your Dash Wand will likely live on your refrigerator, for most customers, what’s inside the icebox is off-limits. Unless you live in one of the areas served by Amazon Fresh—currently limited to the Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, New York, and Philadelphia areas—produce and other perishables won’t be added to your Amazon cart when you scan them.

amazon dash wand scannerChristopher Hebert/IDG
The bottom of Dash Wand contains a laser bar-code scanner.

That’s a deficiency that’s likely to be corrected within a year or two, once the fruits of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase begin to be realized. It might have been a coincidence that Dash Wand was released the day before the announcement of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, but the Dash Wand is clearly built for a grocery store. It’s not hard to imagine a day when you can scan some items and have them show up within an hour, or even take your wand to your local Whole Foods store to do your own scanning.

Simple scanning

As far as the other items in your house, Dash Wand will work pretty well, eventually. My wand struggled to read bar codes the first time around, but after a reset it performed much better. Thankfully, the setup process is a snap, requiring little more than signing into your account and typing in your Wi-Fi password, both of which are done via the iOS or Android app. (Note that the Dash Wand works with 2.4GHz networks only.)

amazon dash wand scanChristopher Hebert/IDG
Scanning items with your Dash Wand is as easy as it as at a grocery store.

To use it, you need only press its button and the bottom bar-code scanner springs to life, ready to read whatever’s placed in front of it. It struggled occasionally with bar codes that were curved and some itemsds didn’t show up at all, but for the most part it worked as well as a department store price checker kiosk. I tested a variety of items, from salad dressing to soda to a Sonos Play:1 speaker, and the wand dutifully added them to my cart, though when head over to the app or site to check out, make sure to pay attention to what’s inside it.

If Amazon doesn’t sell the exact item in question (which happens more than you think), it will offer an alternative. For example, when I scanned a can of Goya Red Kidney Beans, it offered an 8-pack or a bag of dry beans instead. This is fine, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the cost. Amazon often suggested items that were priced outrageously high. In the case of the red beans, the price for a case of eight cans was $19.59, a surcharge of 150 percent over the average supermarket price of $0.99 a can.

 

For those who made it in previous years, a shot at a new life

 

“Kismat achhi thi, isiliye itna achha college mil gaya, nahin toh mein kaha padh paati.” Ashu, a third-year BA programme student at JMC College, is fully aware of the arduous journey she’s had to undertake. “But apart from luck, had I not played handball or other sports at school, I would have never known about JMC,” said Ashu, who got 80 per cent in her Class XII board examination, and got into the college through sports quota for softball. “At the Vikaspuri centre where I used to play, my seniors were already in college. They filled my admission form for me. I just went for the trials,” she said.

Ashu, who comes from Najafgarh, has three siblings — a sister who is disabled, a brother who dropped out of school after Class IX and now works in a factory, and another sister who is currently in school.

Ashu’s father died of a heart attack when she was 15. Her mother works as a guard at a girls’ hostel in Palam. “I performed very well during trials and the tournaments, so I study free of cost. My mother is a Class XII pass, so she helps me study. In the college, as lectures were delivered in English, I used to face problems, but my friends and teachers supported me,” she said.

While Ashu wants to pursue a career in sports, her mother wants her to do a BEd and become a teacher.du admission 2017, sports quota, du sports students, jmc college, st stephens college, du,ac,in, delhi uni, indian express

For the time being, she has another aim: “This much I know, I will be able to guide my sister well and make sure she gets to pursue what she is interested in.”

For Ruchi Singh, who graduated from St Stephen’s College this year, the path to sports was very different. Singh, who comes from a Rajput family in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, never thought her father’s wish — that she learn shooting for self defence — would become a ticket to DU.

“In 2005, there was a shooting camp in my village. My father took me there after school. The coach there gave me five shots to hit. It was my first time holding a pistol, though I had seen many at home, locked in cupboards. I hit the five targets; I don’t know how. The coach told me I should practise more. Only after I came home did my dad tell me I had done well,” said Singh.