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.

 

HP Spectre x2 review: It beats the Surface Pro on value, if not performance

 

Our review of HP’s Spectre x2 12.3-inch 2-in-1 tablet begins with a simple question: Can HP continue its tradition of being an elegant, yet durable alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Pro flagship?

The answer is Yes. HP took the best bits from its Elite x2 tablet and the first-generation Spectre x2 tablet (2015), then updated the new Spectre x2 with the latest Kaby Lake chips. The Spectre x2 gives you more features for the money than the Surface Pro: Our $1,300 review unit included both the keyboard and the stylus right in the box (hear that, Microsoft?). It’s a shame this solid value is let down by middling battery life and a pesky fan.

 HP Spectre x2 2017man / ID

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display
  • Kickstand, pen loop anchor the productivity
  • Extra software
  • Performance: Marred by mediocre battery life
  • Conclusion: Good value despite a few flaws

Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display

HP will offer one $1,300 retail version of the Spectre x2 (the one we tested):

  • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c012dx
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 360GB PCIe NVMe

Four more SKUs will be available via HP.com:

An entry-level Core i5 version for $1,150:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12t
  • CPU: Core i5-7260U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 128GB PCIe NVMe

An entry-level Core i7 version for $1,230:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c052nr
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 256GB PCIe NVMe

Two higher-end Core i7 versions have these starting configurations and can be upgraded. This one starts at $1,670:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 512GB PCIe NVMe

The highest-end one starts at $1,970:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 1TB PCIe NVMe

 

Even if Apple Breaks $1 Trillion, It Won’t Stay on Top Forever

 

APPLE JUST BECAME the first US company to surpass $800 billion in market capitalization. Speculation quickly followed that Apple would soon become the first $1 trillion company, with a rumored $1,000 iPhone 8 coming at year’s end. The company’s share price has been on a tear since the beginning of the year, and sales of the iPhone 7 have been strong in part because of safety issues surrounding rival Samsung devices. Apple retains an enviable brand image and a devoted consumer base.

And yet, the shadow cast by past corporate behemoths is creeping up on Apple. As valuable as Apple is now and could still become, the company looks vulnerable to being eclipsed in the years ahead, if not threatened to its corporate core.
Apple makes hardware. It manufacturers a product. Yes, that oversimplifies the vast network of users connected by its software and bound by iOS. But Apple’s software is hardware dependent; it runs on Apple products. That makes Apple more like the manufacturing giants of the 20th century than like the software and digital players of the 21st. By that standard, even a trillion-dollar vote of confidence now hardly portends business immortality for Apple.

APPLE JUST BECAME the first US company to surpass $800 billion in market capitalization. Speculation quickly followed that Apple would soon become the first $1 trillion company, with a rumored $1,000 iPhone 8 coming at year’s end. The company’s share price has been on a tear since the beginning of the year, and sales of the iPhone 7 have been strong in part because of safety issues surrounding rival Samsung devices. Apple retains an enviable brand image and a devoted consumer base.

And yet, the shadow cast by past corporate behemoths is creeping up on Apple. As valuable as Apple is now and could still become, the company looks vulnerable to being eclipsed in the years ahead, if not threatened to its corporate core.
Apple makes hardware. It manufacturers a product. Yes, that oversimplifies the vast network of users connected by its software and bound by iOS. But Apple’s software is hardware dependent; it runs on Apple products. That makes Apple more like the manufacturing giants of the 20th century than like the software and digital players of the 21st. By that standard, even a trillion-dollar vote of confidence now hardly portends business immortality for Apple.

One lesson here (one that we humans seem to learn and then forget with numbing regularity) is that tenure at the top can be remarkably short-lived. Magazine covers lauding success and power in the present have a way of seeming quaint and dated within a very short timeframe (much as magazine covers themselves are coming to seem quaint and dated!). Size and market share for mega-companies are no guarantee of future size and market share, no matter how potent the franchise or deep-seeming the moat.

Moats and networks are the current buzzwords of tech success. Here Apple looks unassailable now but strangely defenseless going forward. It has a network of apps that work within an Apple ecosystem and users who seem not only content but enthusiastic. Google has certainly built a real rival in its Android platform, but one that works as without generating direct revenue for Google (advertising and app revenue from Android are a different story). Apple for now has a virtuous circle of users who pay for the hardware and then pay for services linked to its software.

The world, however, is moving quickly toward a digital future where devices become commoditized. It is likely that within a decade, devices become more and more interchangeable, less expensive, more powerful. They will devolve into conduits for various software and digital services that generate the bulk of profits. Already, Apple’s proprietary ecosystem is becoming less closed. A few years ago, if your family (like mine) had iPhones, Macs, and iPads, the pain of switching to Windows or Android platforms was intense. There was little compatibility and porting was a pain. As Apple has become ever larger, it has also bit by bit become more open, as its customers have demanded. More applications and the data they depend on live in the cloud, and more people use a variety of devices to lead their digital lives.

It isn’t at all clear what Apple could do to fortify itself against these trends, or that it could find the motivation to do so. It is an insanely profitable company generating billions in cash every week. Rarely do companies with a franchise that lucrative make radical shifts. Alphabet/Google is determined to find its next multi-billion dollar revenue stream to lessen its dependency on search; Microsoft has been doing the same with its reliance of Windows. Neither has yet to find that next unicorn, but they have the advantage of being firmly housed in the digital world and not, like Apple, tethered to making devices that are rapidly becoming generic.

No Secrets

The companies that have survived the decades have either become shadows of their former selves—think US auto makers—or different companies entirely. IBM managed to shift from a maker of high-tech 20th century machines (typewriters and computers) to a seller of high-tech services and solutions, but it still had a machine franchise. It too is now struggling to find a next wave. GE has spun through multiple iterations, and while it isn’t in any danger of going out of business, it is finding global competition and margins an ongoing struggle. What is Apple’s long-term plan for itself in a world that is definitively not moving in the direction of its model?

To be clear, I happen to own Apple stock personally; it’s been a very good investment, and one that I continue to hold. Why? Because in the next few years, it seems more likely that Apple will reach that trillion-dollar mark than flounder. The next wave of dramatic changes in how we use hardware to access software is not yet on the visible horizon, and it may be that Apple has a dramatic plan to position itself accordingly when that comes nearer. For the near future, Apple is likely to grow and stay dominant, just as Nokia did throughout the 1990s and into the early years of this century.

HTC U11: Perfect if you want smartphone with brilliant camera, audio output

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC’s latest, the ‘squeezable’ HTC U11, appears to have all qualities of the flagship breed – several technological innovations with powerful innards in a compact body. In the premium segment, the HTC U11 not only offers top-of-the line specifications but also innovative features like the HTC Edge Sense, USonic and BoomSound.


The HTC U11 seems to be another instance of HTC’s legacy of devices with technological innovations packed with powerful innards in a compact device. But can it compete with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, LG G6, and Sony Xperia XZ Premium? Let’s find out:

Design

HTC seems to have taken a rather traditional approach to the design form of the HTC U11. Having experienced other recent flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, the design language of HTC U11 might seem boring.

It is the first time since the M7 series that HTC is moving from metal to 3D glass for the front and back of the body. The Gorilla Glass 5 covers the device, with a metal frame sandwiched.

At a time when competitors are working hard to remove the bezels completely, the HTC U11 disappoints with bezels that are noticeable on sides and huge on top and bottom. The phone could have easily had a bigger 5.7-inch screen size in the same form factor. In fact, even the home button with an embedded fingerprint sensor is small and placed at the lower bottom, making the device prone to accidental fall.

On the rear, the smartphone has a new ‘liquid surface’ – basically a replication of the water property of reflecting multiple shades of colours. But glossy back is a fingerprint magnet. Thankfully, the HTC U11 comes with a cleaning cloth in its box!

Another major thing to notice in the HTC U11 is the absence of a 3.5mm audio jack. The smartphone otherwise scores highly with its brilliant audio quality, both through speakers and headphone. However, we will dwell on this aspect in the later part of the review.
HTC U11, HTC

Display

The HTC U11 sports a 5.5-inch Super LCD 5 screen of quad-HD (1440 x 2560) resolution in a 16:9 aspect ratio. While the screen is good and delivers consistent performance, – on a par with the best screens available in other premium smartphones – the absence of futuristic technologies such as HDR-ready display and 18:9 aspect ratio are hard to miss.

Considering that most of the content is available to run on a 16:9 aspect ratio and a transition to 18:9 ratio may or may not eventually happen in future, HTC seems to have taken a safe bet with the use of a traditional aspect ratio.

For a device with such a large stature, a 5.7-inch screen could have been the best fit, but the company might have played safe here as well and chosen to design the device with the best of both worlds.

Hardware and software

The HTC U11 is a real powerhouse when it comes to technical innards. The smartphone is among the first to be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, coupled with Adreno 540 graphic processing unit (GPU) and Snapdragon X16 LTE modem that offers LTE speed up to 1 Gbps. The device has a massive 128 GB internal storage that supports universal flash storage (UFS) version 2.1, expandable up to 2 TB using microSD, and a whopping 6GB RAM.

The smartphone works perfectly, with no signs of lag or need to reboot, even after extensive use. The device does, however, get a little warm after prolonged use but does not heat up exponentially.

The most interesting part about the HTC U11 is that, in a first for any smartphone, it can be operated using squeeze-based interactions. The smartphone makes use of an array of pressure-sensitive sensors on both of its sides. These sensors recognise a ‘squeeze’ action to deliver app-specific features. For example, a single squeeze could open the camera and another squeeze could click a picture. The squeeze feature could be customised to effect a single-click or double-click command, based on your preference, to deliver the desired result.

The strong hardware is complemented by a brilliantly optimised software. The device runs Android Nougat v7.1.1, covered under HTC Sense User Interface, which maintains a balance to offer consistent performance. There also are a few hidden perks like multi-window, the HTC Boost plus app and Power Optimiser app that work in sync with the hardware to improve the overall utility of the smartphone, without consuming too much of its battery juice.

The Sense UI in the HTC U11 is equipped with three digital assistants – Google assistant, Amazon Alexa and HTC Sense companion. The assistants open numerous venues for you to begin exercising assistant services.The HTC U11 smartphone

Camera

Camera is one department where HTC has come back with a bang. This department, usually controlled by Samsung and Apple, has seen immense activity of late. Things are going to hot up further, with the HTC U11 bringing the best camera with an accreditation from DxO, a software company with expertise in image processing software and photography benchmarking tools. The smartphone’s camera scores 90 in DxOMark4.

The HTC U11 sports a 12-megapixel (MP), bright f/1.7 aperture rear camera, assisted with phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilisation and dual-LED flash. On the front, there is a capable 16MP camera with f/2.0 aperture for perfect selfies.

The rear camera is a real performer, much ahead of competition, and does well while recording 4K videos, too. The only weakness is the slow-motion recording, where the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is an undisputed king.

Taking a different approach to video recording, HTC has also improved the overall sound recording capabilities during video recording. Promoted as Acoustic Recording, the camera makes use of 4-omnidirectional microphones to record the sound of far-off subjects. For example, if you need to record a musical gig without the noise around, you could zoom in on the subject and all the microphones would come into play. The microphones would eliminate the noise around and focus on the sound coming directly from the subject. This feature improves the video-recording capabilities of the smartphone and is sure to win accolades for HTC.

BoomSound speakers and USonic headphones

HTC introduced BoomSound speakers in its ‘M-series’ smartphones and the technology soon became a favourite among audiophiles. The BoomSound speakers not only deliver excellent audio output, but also offer by far the most clean, crisp and perfect audio experience on a smartphone.

In terms of quality, the BoomSound speakers on the HTC U11 are louder than the previous generation. In this speaker set-up, the front earpiece works as a tweeter and the bass is handled by a dedicated speaker mounted at the bottom.

The device sports a music and theatre mode, which adjusts the frequencies to deliver immersive sound experience as soon as you play a video or music on the device. The mode can be changed from the notification area.

In terms of audio routed through wired handset, the quality is equally good – courtesy the HTC USonic headphones that come bundled with the handset. The USonic headphones take the game to another level by adjusting the experience based on your listening habits. At first use, the headphone analyses the ear and modifies the sound output based on the information received by the headphones. The smartphone then optimises the sound output to deliver output specially aligned to your ears.

The headphone makes use of a USB type-C port to take its power and digital audio signals. The absence of a 3.5mm audio jack seems to be the only negative. However, since HTC has bundled USonic headphones with the device, that should not be much of a problem.

Battery

Powering the HTC U11 is a rather modest 3,000 mAh battery. The smartphone features ‘Boost app’ to monitor and adjust the processor to suit your usage. The ‘optimise’ feature of the boost app reduces the power consumption to an extent.

The battery does not return good numbers, and that is one of the major let-downs of the smartphone. The device works for barely half a day before asking for a refill. On limited use, the smartphone might run for just about a day. The supplied rapid charger refills the device quickly, but the usage increases many times over if you are recharging with your screen on, and the refill time increases to more than two hours.

Verdict
The current line-up of premium devices from different manufacturers shows that the smartphone game is going to get much more interesting. The HTC U11 can be a perfect choice if you are looking for a premium smartphone with brilliant camera, incredible audio output, consistent performance, top-of-the-line innards, ample storage and RAM. Also, at Rs 51,990, the smartphone is the most affordable in its league and seems to have been competitively priced.