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Category Archives: Gadgets
It’s been long reported that Google treats its employees well, from offering them free food and fitness classes to laundry service and car washes. But according to a recent report, Google recently rolled out death benefits to employees, including a generous offer to pay the spouse or partner of a deceased staffer half of their salary for a decade.
The news of these death benefits — which was first reported by Forbes — also comes with “no tenure requirement,” which means each employee in its 34,000 workforce qualifies. It was put into place earlier this year.
Mashable confirmed with a Google spokesperson that the benefits don’t just stop at salary. The surviving spouse or partner of a deceased employee will also acquire vested stock benefits, and children will receive $1,000 a month until the age of 19. The timeline can be extended if the child is in school full time.
Google said it is taking this approach because it is the right thing to do, ensuring that each employee’s family is taken care of if an unforeseeable event were to occur — even if there is no direct benefit to the business.
Although it might attract more candidates to apply for a position, Google said that is not the reason why it implemented the benefits — more potential hires would just be a side effect.
Posted Via Mashable
Video footage of an iPhone allegedly exploding in a young man’s pocket has been posted online.
17-year-old Henri Helminen is seen pulling out the violently smoking device from his pocket and throwing it on the floor, in security tape footage acquired by Finnish news site Kauppalehti.
“The phone was working perfectly” beforehand, Helminen told Kauppalehti. The unidentified iPhone model was bought no more than three months ago was destroyed in the fiery incident, he added.
Apple did not respond to request for comment on Wednesday.
Authenticating the video is nigh on impossible. However, it’s not the first time iPhone users have reported their shiny rectangles self-immolating.
In 2011, one Australian airline reported an iPhone 4 glowing red and emitting thick smoke as a plane landed in Sydney, according to The Telegraph. The case was referred to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) for investigation.
In a follow-up report, the safety regulator said there had been “no previous record in the ATSB’s databases of self-ignition involving mobile telephones or other portable electronic devices” on aircraft in the country, and the incident was a result of a “misplaced screw” in the device thought to have been from a shoddy repair job.
A week later, another iPhone 4 “spontaneously combusted” in Brazil. As it happened on dry land, there was no official investigation into the cause of the incident.
Samsung has also seen its flagship Galaxy S III smartphone in the news under similar circumstances when a report of a recently released Android device “burned from the inside out” after the owner connected it to a non-charging car mount.
Photos posted on an Irish message board showed the device’s underside had melted around the charging point.
Samsung acknowledged the board postings and signaled an investigation would be carried out. “We are committed to providing our customers with the safest products possible and are looking at this seriously,” a statement read.
Source : CNET
The good: The futuristically-styled $199.99 HTC One X offers Android fans on AT&T plenty to like, such as a massive, bright 4.7-inch screen, blazing 4G LTE data speeds, a powerful camera, and zippy performance running Ice Cream Sandwich and Sense 4.
The bad: Sadly, HTC One X owners can’t claim quad-core bragging rights. Also, the nonremovable battery and lack of SD card slot weaken an otherwise incredible Android smartphone.
Looking at the One X, it’s clear that HTC strayed a bit from tried-and-true design playbook. Instead of the aluminum unibody construction the company’s handsets typically sport, the One X is crafted from a single piece of polycarbonate plastic. Believe it or not, that’s a good thing, since the plastic material HTC selected feels high-grade, not the cheap stuff I’ve seen in other phones. As a result the One X’s chassis has a pleasingly premium quality similar to the Nokia Lumia 900, another handset that opts for pricey Lexans over metal.
A flat slab that has smoothly rounded edges and a gently curved back, the HTC One X definitely flaunts an ultramodern aesthetic, especially the chic white-hued version I reviewed (HTC also makes a soberer black model). You’ll want to be careful how you tote the One X since its white surface attracts smudges easily. Measuring 5.3 inches tall by 2.75 inches wide by 0.36 inch thick, the One X certainly is a handful. Still, its 4.6-ounce weight lends the plastic phone some solidity.
Gracing the front of the device is a massive 4.7-inch (1,280×720-pixel) super LCD screen. It gets very bright, brighter in fact than the HTC One S‘ qHD AMOLED screen, and has viewing angles that are nice and wide. Of course the One S’ high-contrast display produces more vibrant colors and darker blacks, which I prefer.
Above the screen sits a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats and vanity shots. Below the display are three capacitive buttons for back, home, and recent apps. On the phone’s right side are controls for volume, and a Micro-USB port sits on the left. Up top are a tiny power button, a micro-SIM card compartment, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, while around back are the 8-megapixel camera and LED flash. Two big drawbacks, though, are the phone’s lack of an SD card slot for extra memory expansion and its nonremovable battery.
In addition to the phone’s cutting-edge components, much of the HTC One X’s real power lies in its robust software. Not only does this smartphone run the latest version of Google’s Android OS, version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but also HTC has gingerly grafted its revamped Sense user interface on top. HTC says that Sense 4 meshes seamlessly with ICS’ new abilities and strives to stay out of the way. Indeed, much of Sense 3′s fancier eye candy, such as the endlessly spinning 3D carousel of home screens and over-the-top weather graphics, is absent.
There are two ways to unlock the phone; you can either flick a virtual ring from the bottom of the screen to the center, or slide icons into the ring to quick-launch major phone functions. For instance, dragging the camera symbol into the ring fires up the One X’s main imaging sensor to snap pictures and video in a flash. Other standard lock-screen shortcuts bring up the Web browser, text messaging, and phone dialer.
Just like on T-Mobile’s HTC One S, you can choose from seven screens that you can populate with application shortcuts and animated widgets. By default, HTC places its iconic weather clock front and center on the main home screen. Tapping the widget’s digital readout launches a world clock complete with a slick 3D globe visual, and hitting the weather portion of the clock pulls up a detailed forecast. Another boon to weather nerds like me is the engaging graphics displayed on the lock screen that correspond to current atmospheric conditions. I was even able to choose them as my live wallpaper.
At the foot of each home screen is a tab containing the same four quick-launch icons shown on the lock screen. I particularly liked being able to swap these icons for others or even create and add folders holding multiple app icons. Any changes here are reflected on the lock screen and placing application shortcuts on top of one another creates a folder.
Sense adds some neat tricks to the browser, such as a Pure Content Reader view that removes all ads and displays just the basic text of a selected Web page. You can also choose pages and video to bookmark for later perusal offline.
As you’d expect on a modern Android device, the One X comes with the usual Google services onboard, including Gmail, Google+, and Navigation, along with the Play Store, from which you can download apps from a catalog of over 500,000 titles. Play also provides digital books, movies, games, and music to purchase. If that’s still not enough entertainment, HTC’s Watch app hawks TV shows and movies for rental or purchase. For example, I could rent “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” for $3.99 or buy it permanently for $14.99.
Other compelling third-party software that’s preloaded on the One X includes the Kindle eBook reader, the MOG music subscription service, and TuneIn Internet radio (a personal favorite). AT&T sprinkles the device with its own selection of apps, such as U-verse Live TV, which serves up both live programming and full TV episodes and movies (for an extra $9.99 per month, and you can’t use it over Wi-Fi), a bar code scanner, and FamilyMap for locating family members ($9.99 per month for two family members, $14.99 for up to five).
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The good: Apple’s new iPad includes a stunning new screen, matched by a quad-core graphic processor and the world’s largest app and media store to feed it content. There’s a proper 5-megapixel rear camera now, with 1080p recording quality. Optional 4G data from AT&T and Verizon afford an uncompromising mobile experience.
The bad: The new iPad is slightly heavier than last year’s model; apps and movies optimized for the screen might take up more space; and ports for HDMI, USB, and SD require adapters.
The bottom line: With a host of improvements–faster graphics, 4G wireless options, a better camera, and a gorgeous high-res screen–the latest iPad cements its position at the head of the tablet pack.
Looking at the new iPad, you’d think someone was playing a trick on you. It looks almost exactly like last year’s model. The tablet’s glass and aluminum construction is still 9.5 inches tall and 7.31 inches wide. Thickness is now up slightly at 0.37 inch, weighing in at a beefier 1.44 pounds. You get the same home button on the bottom of the screen, and a volume rocker on the right side along with the mute switch/rotation lock. Up top you have the sleep/wake button and headphone output, and the bottom edge retains the 30-pin port.
Apple’s retreat from being one of the thinnest, lightest tablets on the market may leave some room for competitors. Already, we’re seeing tablets like the Toshiba Excite X10 LE, which are thinner than the iPad 2 and just as light. Apple is betting that a best-in-class screen will trump any concerns over the slight uptick in weight and thickness. And if they’re wrong, well, the iPad 2 is still around for those who can’t bear the extra 51 grams.
But the surefire way to tell a new iPad apart from an iPad 2 (aside from counting pixels or breaking out the scale) is to flip them over. No, this isn’t a tablet gender test; what you’re looking for here is the rear camera in the top-left corner. On the new model, the camera is slightly larger, accounting for the improved optics and camera sensor, similar to what’s used in the iPhone 4S (though not identical).
Beyond the vastly improved screen there are a number of other upgrades worth mentioning. The iPad’s processor has been upgraded to what Apple is calling an A5X. Like the A5 processor used in the iPad 2, this CPU remains dual-core. The “X” is there to signify that the graphics processor has been beefed up to quad-core. This seems to be a necessary measure for juggling four times the pixels of the previous model, but regardless, games and graphics perform fluidly.
Against everyone’s expectations, Apple did not include its Siri digital assistant on the new iPad–at least, not entirely. Siri’s voice-to-text dictation capability has migrated to the iPad, but that’s it. If you want to find nearby sushi restaurants, you’re going to have to search for the answer online, like a neanderthal.
Still, the addition of voice dictation is a welcome feature, and it can be handy for composing quick e-mails and bypassing the touch-screen keyboard when searching for information online. Its accuracy leaves a little to be desired, though. Just like autocorrected typing, the iPad’s dictation isn’t infallible.
Last but not least, there’s the iPad’s updated rear camera, which the company calls its iSight camera. It is a huge improvement over the iPad 2′s 0.7-megapixel shooter; this updated shooter is now 5 megapixels. If you’ve spent any time over on Apple’s iPad page, you’ve probably seen the exploded view of Apple’s five-element lens system, which was adopted from the iPhone. However you want to explain it, the photo quality is exceptional for a tablet, and we have the photos to prove it.
I still contend that it’s a bit silly waving a tablet around to capture photos and video, but I understand the counterpoint and I’ll admit that the iPad’s screen makes a better display than any camera, smartphone, or photo frame.
Features we take for granted
Let’s not forget all the features that made the first two iPads unbeatable. If you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, the new iPad will feel immediately familiar. Out of the box, you get many of the iPhone’s capabilities, including Apple-designed apps for Web browsing, e-mail, maps, photos, music, video, and YouTube. More apps can be installed using the built-in App Store software or by connecting the iPad to iTunes via your computer using the included cable. If you already own apps purchased for an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can transfer these apps to the iPad, as well.
The original iPad made its debut with iOS 3.2. That OS’ limitations seem prehistoric today. You couldn’t bounce between applications with multitasking. You couldn’t organize applications into folders. And support for document printing and AirPlay streaming of music, videos, and photos didn’t arrive until November 2010.
At launch, the new iPad comes with iOS 5.1 (see our full rundown). Recently added features such as iMessage, Newsstand, Notifications, and Twitter integration are all included, along with support for Apple’s free iCloud online backup service.
One sticking point in the original iPad that Apple hasn’t addressed in the new iPad is Adobe Flash support for Apple’s Safari Web browser. Apple seems dead set against supporting Adobe’s popular tool for presenting video and graphics on the Web, and without it, some corners of the Web are still inaccessible on the iPad.
To Apple’s credit, even the maker of Flash (Adobe) has conceded that HTML5 is a better solution for presenting content on mobile devices going forward. As such, the Web is steadily bending toward greater compatibility with the iPad, and the issue of Flash compatibility seems less contentious than it once was.
In terms of browser features, the iPad’s Safari browser matches what you’ll find from the best competing tablets. With Google’s recent improvements to Android’s Chrome Web browser in Android 4.0, Apple now has some tough competition.
But in terms of the subjective Web-browsing experience, Apple’s Retina Display gives the new iPad a decisive victory. Because text is rendered with such razor-sharp clarity, everything from Facebook to The New York Times take on a printlike quality that is easier on the eyes than what any laptop or tablet offers.
To 4G or not to 4G?
For those who just get a little itchy at the idea of not being connected to the Internet, Apple offers a version of the iPad with an integrated 4G cellular data connection, priced at a $130 premium over models that only offer Wi-Fi.
The jury seems split on whether the added cost of a cellular data capability is money well spent, or an unnecessary expense. Ultimately, if you can afford it, do it. Aside from the 10 grams it adds to the iPad’s overall weight, there are no drawbacks to owning an iPad 4G model other than the data plan it requires. Yet, unlike so many 4G tablets on the market, Apple’s requires no contracts; the data plans you purchase month to month can be ratcheted up and down as you please.
Another advantage of iPad with 4G is the added capability of assisted GPS (A-GPS), allowing users to accurately pinpoint their locations on a map and take advantage of navigation and location-aware apps. The Wi-Fi-only models of the iPad can use rudimentary Wi-Fi hot-spot triangulation techniques to guess locations, but are much less accurate and consistent
The 4G version of the iPad also includes a 4G hot-spot capability, allowing other Wi-Fi devices (laptops, tablets, portable media players) to take advantage of the cellular data. At launch, only Verizon’s iPad 4G supported this hot-spot feature, but AT&T may eventually offer the service, as well. Our tested download and upload speeds using the iPad as a 4G hot spot found a slight, but negligible drop in data performance.
If you have no plans to regularly use the iPad outside of your home, you’d do just as well to save some money and stick with a Wi-Fi model. But if you do take the plunge, the 4G download performance on either network should knock your socks off, provided that you live in an area that supports it. For more, see our separate CNET How To on choosing the right carrier for the iPad, as well as a side-by-side comparison of each carrier’s 4G LTE service.
iPad as e-reader
As far as e-book content goes, the iPad has you covered. Every major e-book retailer (and quite a few specialized stores) offer an iPad app, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Stanza, and Apple’s own iBooks.
Mainstream magazines, including The New Yorker, Wired, and Vanity Fair, all have iPad-specific editions. Even specialty publications, such as comic books, test prep, and sheet music, have found their way onto the iPad.
But when you compare the experience of reading on the iPad with its paper-based ancestor or dedicated e-ink readers, the iPad still falls short. It’s beefy at 1.44 pounds (a Kindle Touch weighs under half a pound), and in spite of the Retina Display’s exquisitely rendered text, glare is still an issue–especially outdoors. Also, a product like the Nook Simple Touch promises up to two months of reading without a recharge, whereas the iPad will only get you 10 hours.
In spite of all these criticisms, the iPad has already proven itself a success as an e-reader. There are certainly cheaper options out there, but none with the breadth of features and e-book shopping options offered by the iPad.
SOURCE: CNET Reviews..
I found the phone’s design and two colors — marble white and pebble blue — immediately compelling. The handset’s plastic looked far more premium than other devices. Yes, the white version is shiny plastic, but the silver accents give it a more premium look and feel. The “pebble blue” color (which to my eyes is more like a slate gray with bluer overtones) looks like it has a brushed finish. I’m not sure how to describe the feel in the hand to naysayers, but it was comfortable, and almost felt like the phone was conforming to my palm. The slickness didn’t bother me, but I do wonder if it’d be a little slippery in some circumstances. The design is also accessible, with the 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED screen (1,280×720 pixels) taking center stage. Samsung does this purposely, to make the handset as universally appealing as possible, and I think it’s a good strategy. The one point of contention I see is that central select button, which raised shouts of dissatisfaction with a lot of CNET readers. I personally like the hardware button on most of the European models of the Samsung phones, but this one in particular is a little squashed and narrow; I’d prefer a larger rectangle or a square. Android Ice Cream Sandwich
The Galaxy S III features Android 4.0 ICS with its TouchWiz interface. I’ve never been the biggest TouchWiz fan, but I found this version a little less intrusive, and the phone navigable and easy to use. Samsung’s TouchWiz does add certain enhancements that we’ll get to in a moment, so I have to appreciate the layer.Features
One of the most impressive features is the 1.4GHz Samsung Exynos 4 quad-core processor on this global model. It felt very fast, but of course the data network also contributes to impressions of speed when it comes to data-heavy tasks like loading Web sites and uploading photos.Since Wi-Fi always struggles within the concrete depths of a convention center, there was some legginess there, but I can’t attribute that to the processor. I’ll need more real-world tests to really gauge the internals.The camera is another major area of interest. Here it’s an 8-megapixel shooter that can shoot 1080p HD video. For all you naysayers who were hoping the rumors of a 12-megapixel camera would pan out, bite your tongues. After all, the outdated assumption that the more megapixels you have the better simply isn’t true (and here’s why).While I didn’t have enough time with the device for any amount of intense photo testing, I will say that the photo software looks familiar and indoor photos taken in the terrible convention center lighting didn’t do the phone any favors. However, I did manage to take the Galaxy S III to a nearby park for some outdoor shots, where I got better acquainted with the new software-sharing features. The photo quality was strong in daylight, and burst mode and sharing had potential.
The front-facing 1.9-megapixel camera supports shooting 720p HD video, something new for Samsung. There’s some sensor intelligence in there that can keep the screen lit while you look at it, a scenario suited for video chats.
Samsung has put a lot of work into differentiating itself from rivals with its apps. There are a lot, many involving sharing using AllShare Play, a DLNA protocol app, and many involving Wi-Fi Direct. For instance, you can open the AllShare Play app to view content across your AllShare apps on the smartphone, tablet, computer, and so on.
There’s also a group photo-sharing app that leverages AllShare, and an enhancement on Android Beam, which uses NFC technology, or near-field communication, to “beam” URLs, map data, and smaller chunks of information between compatible phones. S Beam uses Wi-Fi Direct to send files up to 1GB in size, including photos, music and video files, and documents. You don’t have to have Wi-Fi on to use it, but you do need a phone with S Beam.
The app that probably captured the most attention is S Voice, a Siri-like presentation that builds off Samsung’s voice actions app. It works as promised, doing things like fetching the weather or a map, placing calls, and so on, but one element I do like is being able to wake the app up when it idles by calling its name.
Another great voice element is being able to speak commands to do things like answer or ignore phone calls when they come in.
This is a hardcore gadget that I must get as soon as its out…Great Phone…….
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Source: CNET Reviews.