Saturday, 17 January 2015

Sony closing all its Canadian stores within the next couple of months

Sony has announced that it is closing all 14 of its brick-and-mortar retail stores in Canada, including three in Alberta and the Greater Vancouver area each, five in the Greater Toronto Area, and one in Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City each. The move will reportedly affect around 90 jobs and is likely be completed within the next six to eight weeks.
The Japanese company is encouraging its Canadian customers to purchase its products either from third-party retailers, its online store, or by telephone.

Google Search and Maps will inform you of ticket availability for live events

Google is making buying tickets for live events a bit less convoluted by striking a deal with live event companies Ticketfly, Ticketmaster and AXS. Now, tickets for live shows will be offered to you via Google’s Search and Maps services on both mobile and desktop.
Upon searching for a specific venue, you will see upcoming events and whether or not tickets are currently available. Artist schedules will also appear when you search for a specific band or performer.

Sony Xperia C3 and C3 Dual review: Let me take a selfie

The Sony Xperia C3 is touted as a PROselfie smartphone but it could've easily been missed in a growing crowd of handsets boasting high-res wide-angle front cams. Sony's first 5MP front-facer with a 25mm wide-angle lens sure took a while, yet latecomer Xperia C3 is keen to jump the queue. It's one of the few to offer a LED flash on the front, taking selfie photography to the next level.
Sony Xperia C3 Dual Sony Xperia C3 Dual Sony Xperia C3 Dual Sony Xperia C3 Dual
Sony Xperia C3 official pictures
As a midrange package, the Sony Xperia C3 looks nearly spot-on. The 5.5" IPS display of 720p resolution is enhanced by the Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, while the Snapdragon 400 chipset with four Cortex-A7s clocked at 1.2GHZ and 1GB of RAM must've been an easy pick. The Xperia C3 comes in two flavors: one with LTE connectivity and a dual-SIM version that's said to have dual-call support, still quite a rare option.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Facebook will show AMBER Alerts in its News Feed, on Web and mobile

Facebook will start showing AMBER Alerts to its users in their News Feeds. This will happen on both the Web and inside Facebook’s mobile apps for iOS and Android. Obviously, you’ll only see those alerts that are relevant to your location.
AMBER Alerts have been issued in the US since 1996. It’s a child abduction alert system, in case you didn’t know. So far AMBER Alerts have made it to radio and TV stations, and even digital road signs and LED billboards in some places. They are also sent via email and SMS, and have recently been expanded to appear in Google searches and in Google Maps.

Meizu MX4 Pro review: Sharpened up

Pro in a smartphone's name implies bigger and better - so much so that it's even been abused to fool the unsuspecting. Meizu did not resort to such trickery though and their MX4 Pro takes things up more than just a notch from the stock version.
An updated chipset and 3GB of RAM, a higher-res front cam, bigger screen and a fingerprint scanner are more than enough for the MX4 Pro to earn its stripes. But Meizu didn't stop there. They have the highest resolution screen on a mobile phone / phablet: 1536 x 2560px is between QHD (LG G3, Oppo Find 7 and the likes) and WQXGA (Samsung's S and Pro tablet series, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9).
Not least, the Meizu MX4 Pro almost managed to keep the impressive screen-to-body ratio of the stock MX4. The hardware Home button / fingerprint scanner obviously needed more space below the screen and it's probably the only reason why the Pro failed to match its sibling's 75.5% screen-to-body ratio. At 73.7%, it's close enough though.
Meizu MX4 Pro Meizu MX4 Pro Meizu MX4 Pro
Meizu MX4 Pro
The octa-core processor marks a change of allegiance from MediaTek back to Exynos and RAM has been bumped to 3GB. The selfie camera is a 5MP unit over the 2MP front-facer of the Meizu MX4. The battery capacity has seen an upgrade as well. We'll soon find out whether it's enough considering the outrageously pixel-rich screen. Let's get things going with a look at the Meizu MX4 Pro's key specs.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Rise and Demise of Nokia, an infographic

Did you know that Nokia started off as a paper mill in the Grand Duchy of Finland, then part of the Russian Empire? The company got its name from the town Nokia, where the second such mill was build. Also named after the town is Finnish Rubber Works. These two, plus Finnish Cable Works combined in 1922 to make the Nokia Corporation.
The joint company increasingly moved into communication equipment, finally releasing its first mobile phone in 1987. This infographic details Nokia’s rise to the top and eventual downfall.

Apple raises the App Store minimum price

Apple has raised the minimum price for apps in the App Store. Apple announced the upcoming change back in December and it now applies for all EU countries and Canada.
Apple’s flat rate for different markets is gone for good. The price now includes the appropriate VAT for the market, which regional Store you are using, and thus it will be collected by its local government.

Samsung’s upcoming Penvatars will make your S Pen experience more fun

Bored of that little cursor that shows up on your device’s screen when you use the S Pen? That’ll no longer be the case as you’ll soon be able to customize it using Samsung’s upcoming app dubbed Penvatars.
The South Korean company has teamed up with Marvel for the first set of Penvatars. This means that you’ll be able to select from characters like Nick Fury, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor.
There’s no word yet on when these small avatars will be available, but whenever they’ll be, the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge will be the only devices to support them, although it’s quite possible that more devices, including the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note, will be added to the mix later on.

Windows 10 gets a redesigned taskbar, Spartan and Cortana get closer

Microsoft will be detailing the upcoming Windows 10 in two weeks, but the new features keep leaking on a daily basis. Recently we learnt Microsoft is working on a stand-alone web browser called Spartan, which should replace (though not put to rest) the Internet Explorer.
Today we get to see more of Spartan and the brand new and redesigned taskbar, which comes with the new looks of Windows.

Philips announces Fidelio NC1L noise-canceling headphones with Lightning connector

Last year, Philips announced the Fidelio M2L headphones designed to work with Apple’s Lightning connector. At CES this year, Philips announced a new model, the Fidelio NC1L that also includes built-in noise cancellation.
Just like the M2L, the NC1L includes its own integrated DAC and amplifier for converting the pure digital signal from the Lightning port into audio signal for the drivers. It also includes four microphone array for the noise canceling feature to work.

AccuWeather now has Android Wear support

The AccuWeather app for Android has received an update which enables it to work on Android Wear smartwatches. The update is currently undergoing a phased rollout, so if you have the app and don’t yet have the new version, it should make its way to you within a few days.
AccuWeather won’t simply show you weather notifications on Android Wear. Instead, it has full support for the wearable platform.

With over 170,000 attendees, CES 2015 becomes the largest show in history

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that took place in Las Vegas broke all records to become the largest show in history, according to a VentureBeat report. The event witnessed a total of over 170,000 attendees (of which over 45,000 were from outside the US) compared to around 160,000 a year ago.
“This CES vastly exceeded our expectations. The show inspired and likely gave almost every attendee a sense that innovation will provide solutions to a range of global issues from the environment and agriculture to transportation, health and safety,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Sennheiser updates Momentum headphones, launches two new wireless noise-canceling variants

Sennheiser has updated its premium Momentum series of headphones. The current Momentum and Momentum On-Ear now feature improved design for better comfort as well as the ability to fold them for easier transportation.
Along with that, the company also announced two new wireless versions of the Momentum headphones. They feature the design improvements of the second generation models, but cut the cord and go for Bluetooth (aptX) to transfer the data. The headphones feature built-in controls to control your audio playback and calls, as well as NFC for pairing easily with your smartphone or tablet. On top of that, they also feature active noise-cancelation, which is not present in the wired models.

OneDrive on Windows Phone will allow offline file access in the future

Microsoft is listening to suggestions over at the User Voice forums on how to improve its products and one commenter mentioned how offline access to files in OneDrive will be great to have. In comes Casey Penk (a program manager at Microsoft) who reveals that the team is already on it.
Keeping offline copies from OneDrive is possible on a desktop Windows 8.1, but not on the phone. Competing services like Dropbox and Google Drive have file pinning as well (on Android and iOS at least).
Anyway, Penk says there’s no timeline for the launch of the offline feature, but if you were hoping for it too at least now you know it’s in the pipeline.

BlackBerry announces BBM for Android Wear, coming soon

The latest app to announce support for Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch platform, is none other than BBM. BlackBerry’s messaging service will soon be available for Android Wear devices (in “early 2015″), though an exact release time frame hasn’t been given.
BBM for Android Wear will let you access your messages straight on your watch, without the need to reach for your smartphone all the time.

Mad Catz announces crazy new L.Y.N.X.9 gaming controller for Android

Mad Catz has announced a new gaming controller for Android devices. Called the L.Y.N.X.9, this is by far the craziest design I’ve seen for a controller and looks like something out of a Transformers movie.
The similarities to Transformers don’t end in just appearance. The L.Y.N.X.9 is capable of transforming itself into various form factors, using supplied accessories. You can either fold it completely, where it shrinks down to roughly the size of a spectacle case. You can extend its arms when you are playing, with extra detachable grips. You can add a smartphone mount on top to hold your phone in place right above the controller. There is also a QWERTY keypad mount that can be attached below the controller for typing.

Google app for Android updated with new ‘Now cards’ settings option, and more

Google has updated its Google app for Android to version 4.1.21.1657903, bringing several new features and improvements, including new Google Now card settings, as well as changes to OK Google settings.
The updated app now offers a new “Now cards” settings option that allows you to manage your card history, delete card preferences, manage notifications for card updates and show/hide cards. You can access this option by pulling out the slide-out navigation menu and heading to settings.

ASUS introduces a trio of Windows Transformer Book Chi tablets

Alongside the Zenfone 2 and Zenfone 2 Zoom phone duo, Asus also introduced a trio of Windows tablets from its Transformer Book Chi series. Тhe T90, T100, and T300, as their called, all run Windows 8.1 and can be attached to keyboard docks to become a full-fledged laptop.
Like their names suggest, the Transformer Book T90 Chi and Book T100 Chi feature 8.9″ and 10.1″ screens, respectively. The resolution of the T90 is 1280 x 800, while the larger T100 is one step ahead with full HD panel. Both are powered by the Intel Atom Z3775 and are offered in 32GB and 64GB flavors.

Lenovo Vibe Band VB10 is official with E-ink display

Lenovo is entering the wearable market with the Vibe Band VB10 – a smartband with a 1.43″ E-ink display of 296 x 128 pixel resolution. The Vibe Band can last up to 7 days with its display and Bluetooth always turned on.
What’s even cooler is the band’s IP67-certified wateproofing, as it can last up to 1M of water for maximum of 30 minutes. The band works with both Android and iOS smartphones and packs a slew of fitness tracking functionality. The Vibe Band can track steps, calories, distance and sleep.

ZTE Spro 2 is a pico-projector/LTE hotspot with Snapdragon 800 chipset

ZTE brought out the second generation of its pico-projector/Wi-Fi hotspot. The ZTE Spro 2 features a powerful Snapdragon 800 chipset, full access to the Play Store and a 720p built-in projector.
The Spro 2 also acts as an Wi-Fi hotspot, sucking up 150Mbps of LTE data and spitting it back out over Wi-Fi.

Nikon D5500 is the company’s first DSLR with a touchscreen

Nikon has announced its latest enthusiast camera in the face of the D5500 – the first DSLR by the Japan-based company with a touchscreen.
Skipping over the D5400 (out of superstition perhaps), Nikon’s D5500 adds a few improvements over its predecessor D5300 – a new fully touch-enabled articulating 3.2″ 1,037,000 dots screen, redesigned control dial, more ergonomic grip, proximity sensor above the viewfinder that turns off the LCD, full ISO range of 100-25,600 and a body that’s slightly smaller and lighter.

Sony unveils $1,200 Android-powered Walkman player with hi-res audio

Sony’s once massive Walkman brand is still going, however the glory days are long gone. I’m not sure how much market there is for music players in general, Walkman or otherwise, but I can guess the market size for a $1,200.
It’s as high-quality as a pocketable player gets – it supports FLAC/ALAC (up to 96kHz/24-bit) and Bluetooth with SBC/LDAC hi-fidelity codec. Dual-band Wi-Fi is also available for DLNA playback.

New Toshiba Encore 2 Write Windows tablets announced with Wacom pen support

Last year Toshiba released a pair of tablets under the Encore 2 name. Both devices featured a slick body with rounded edges for better handling and a nice Satin Gold finish. Both tablets feature 1280 x 800 pixel screens in 10 and 8-inch form factors, respectively. They are powered by quad-core Atom processors and come with an array of connectivity options: 802.11n Wi-Fi, Micro HDMI and wireless display support.
In a recent announcement Toshiba revealed that it will now offer an improved version of the devices that include support for Pen input and are bundled with one, produced by Wacom. The extra input method is said to be very precise, with 2048 levels of pressure intensity and should offer an array of new possible features and uses for the next generation Encore 2 tablets, dubbed Encore 2 Write.

Mophie launches new Juice Packs for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Mophie’s line of Juice Pack-branded battery cases are quite popular, and today the company has unveiled a trio of new such offerings, tailor made for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. What’s more, all three are already up for pre-order at the Mophie website (although when they’ll start shipping is still a mystery).
The iPhone 6 gets two options, the Mophie Juice Pack Air and the Juice Pack Plus, while there’s only one Juice Pack available for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Microsoft’s upcoming Spartan Web browser for Windows 10 shown in first leaked screenshot

At the end of last year, we heard an intriguing report which said that Microsoft would ship Windows 10 with two Web browsers on board – IE11 for backwards compatibility, and a new one codenamed Spartan, which was allegedly being built from scratch. Today the existence of project Spartan has pretty much been confirmed by the leaked screenshot you can see below.
This apparently shows us the second version of Spartan, dating back to November. It’s an older iteration than the one currently in the works, but it does help us get a general idea about it. And immediately that codename starts making sense, for this is shaping up to be a very bare bones experience, with a very minimalistic design.

HP announces 6 new monitors, including 4K, 5K, curved, and 3D displays

HP went ballistic today with its monitor announcement, launching no less than seven of them at once. This includes some 4K monitors, some curved, one 5K screen and there’s even a 3D monitor.
The HP Z27q is the 27-inch 5K monitor with a 5120×2880 resolution, identical to the new iMac with Retina display. The monitor has two DisplayPort 1.2 inputs, four USB 3.0 outputs, tilt, swivel, pivot, and height adjustment, and covers 99% of the Adobe RGB gamut. The Z27q will set you back by a reasonable $1,299 starting March.

Netflix starts blocking VPN users

Netflix maybe an excellent service, full of great content, which can be accessed from pretty much any device these days, but it is also seriously limited geographically. Due to licensing issues, the service can be accessed from only a handful of countries around the world, and even then the content is not the same everywhere.
To get around the location issue, many of the users have been using VPN. Unfortunately, the movie studios aren’t too happy with that, which has resulted in Netflix slowly starting to block VPN services.

Omate unveils two round smartwatches, one goes on pre-order

Smartwatches are in vogue and round ones enjoy special attention. Omate will be launching two new ones this year – the Racer and the Roma – both based on the MediaTek MT2502 chipset “Aster.”
Unfortunately, the two smartwatches will run proprietary software rather than Android Wear. Also, little is known in terms of specs.
The Omate Racer is the last watch from left to right. It will go on pre-order tomorrow at $100 until January 15. After that it will jump to $130, shipments are expected in Late February.

Friday, 2 January 2015

All Samsung Smart TVs in 2015 to run on Tizen

We have seen Samsung developing its very own Tizen operating system on the smartphone side. Now the company will be introducing it on its range of Smart TVs this year in 2015. In fact, all Smart TVs made this year by Samsung will be running on Tizen.
Tizen is a Linux-based open source operating system developed by Samsung and Intel. With Tizen on its televisions, Samsung will be able to have better functionality and applications. For starters, the new Tizen Smart TVs will let you check team and player stats during a game while watching TV, PlayStation Now support for streaming PlayStation 3 and 4 games on your television without needing a console, play games such as Just Dance from Ubisoft using the TV remote and camera, stream content from your smartphone to the TV and live broadcasts from the TV to your phone, and a lot more.

Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed watches to have smartwatch functionality

With technology brands slowly starting to encroach upon the territory of traditional timepiece makers with their fancy schmancy smartwatches, the watermakers are slowly starting to feel the heat. But while traditional watches are far away from extinction right now, that doesn’t mean watchmakers aren’t worried or not taking any steps to avoid becoming irrelevant.
Montblanc has announced a new Timewalker Urban Speed collection of watches that will have a special addition to the bottom of the strap. An optional display called e-Strap can be purchased with the watch that turns it into sort of a smartwatch.

India blocks Pastebin, Archive.org, GitHub, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and many other sites

India’s DoT or Department of Telecom has randomly ordered internet service providers across the country to block a long list of websites. The names include the likes of Pastebin, Archive.org, GitHub, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and many others.
Many of the names in the list are sites meant for pasting and sharing text files. Why exactly these sites are being blocked is not yet know. Depending upon your area and ISP, some sites may or may not be blocked but the DoT order is in effect regardless.

Joe Belfiore confirms updated Office for Windows Phone is in works

Last year we saw Microsoft release updated and free versions of Office on both iOS as well as Android. But while most people saw this as a great decision, it left a small group of people miffed. Particularly those using Windows Phone.
As it happens, Office on Windows Phone, which has always been advertised as one of its main features, hasn’t been updated in ages and lags considerably behind Office on iOS and Android. People have been starting to wonder why Microsoft is ignoring its own platform, until Joe Belfiore had to come out and assure everyone that they are not.

BlackBerry Classic review: For old times' sake

The BlackBerry Classic is a quintessential BlackBerry, any way you slice it. With a hardware QWERTY keyboard and navigation buttons, a strictly business appearance and the best enterprise chops in the industry, the newcomer is reminiscent of the Blackberries of old when the mobile world was not all about big touchscreens.
Bb Classic Bb Classic Bb Classic
BlackBerry Classic official photos
At a quick glance, the Classic appears to be a direct successor of the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900. Seriously overdue for an update, the Bold Touch made its debut in the distant 2011 and it still enjoys a solid following in the corporate world.
The BlackBerry Classic harks back to the glory days of the Canadian company not only in terms of appearance, but also hardware specs. The device's Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset dates back to the year its predecessor launched. The BlackBerry Classic is clearly not a smartphone you will buy for its cutting edge hardware specs.
See a detailed look of its key features below.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Samsung unveils new Series 9 ultrabook, Series 7 AiO

Samsung slipped in two new computers in 2014 even though New Year’s Eve is less than 48 hours away. One is an updated Series 9 ultrabook, the other a Series 7 all-in-one PC.
Interestingly, both lack the ATIV branding that Samsung used for its Windows/Windows Phone devices.

Samsung Series 9 2015 Edition

The Samsung Series 9 2015 Edition ultrabook measures just 11.8mm thick and tips the scales at 950g (a bit over 2 pounds). The screen is 12.2″ big with 2,560 x 1,600px resolution and Adaptive Display (a feature borrowed from Samsung’s Galaxy series and not the only one).

Samsung Galaxy Core Prime review: Core values

The Galaxy Core lineup represents Samsung's take on the essential smartphone. The Galaxy Core Prime updates the base formula in two areas - a slightly better camera and slightly better chipset - and it serves as a smaller alternative to Galaxy Grand Prime.
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Samsung Galaxy Core Prime Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
Samsung Galaxy Core Prime official photos
The Core Prime was announced mere months after Galaxy Core II (not to mention Core LTE, Core Lite LTE and several others), but brings definite improvements over all members of the family, even if most specs are shared among the Cores.
For one, the 64-bit capable Snapdragon 410 is definitely a first. The 5MP/720p camera has been done on other Cores, but it is still the best in the lineup. The front-facing camera is the best one yet - a 2MP/480p shooter - that goes over the low bar of having no selfie camera at all or a 1MP one. It defiantly lacks the ambition of the Galaxy Grand Prime's selfie camera but it's also not very ambition when it comes to pricing so it all sounds fair.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Interview becomes Sony’s no. 1 online film of all time

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has revealed that its latest release The Interview has become the studio’s top grossing online film of all time. Made from a budget of $44 million, the movie managed to pulled in more than $15 million in online sales through the first four days of the holidays alone.
“Through Saturday, December 27, including all of its online distribution platforms, The Interview has been rented or purchased online more than 2 million times,” SPE said in a statement. This compares with the estimated $2.8 million the movie made over the same time period in theaters, although that was a limited release.

Minnesota ISP is now fastest in the world, offers speeds 10 times faster than Google Fiber

Some residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota will soon have access to superfast Internet, thanks to US Internet, which has recently announced that it will offer a mind-boggling 10Gbps broadband speed to both residential and small-business owners in the city. Just to give you an idea, this is 10 times the speed of Google Fiber, which is currently available in Kansas City; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas.
“The launch of our 10 Gbps Internet service will make Minneapolis the first city in the world to receive access to the Internet at speeds never before experienced in our country, or any other country for that matter,” U.S. Internet CEO Joe Caldwell said in a statement. The service will be available for $400/month — there’s also a $99 installation fee.
The Minnetonka-based ISP, which has around 30,000 customers in southwest Minneapolis, already offers 1Gbps broadband service for $65 per month to those customers. Local residents can sign up for the new 10Gbps service here.

BlackBerry Classic hands-on: First look

BlackBerry Classic looks a lot like its Bold 9900 sibling, intentionally of course, as the company wants to keep it this time as close as its best-selling phones from the glorious past. The modern upgrades are easily noticeable as well - you get a high-res touchscreen, capable camera department and stylish exterior.
The BlackBerry Classic features a 3.5" 720p touchscreen with 294ppi density and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz Krait processor with 2GB RAM, just like the popular BlackBerry Z10, and offers an 8MP rear cam with a LED flash.
BlackBerry Classic  BlackBerry Classic  BlackBerry Classic  BlackBerry Classic
BlackBerry Classic
The front look as a traditional BlackBerry - there is the beloved four-row QWERTY keyboard with ergonomically-shaped keys, a square display and the brought back to live helpful trackpad. The control deck is here to stay too - you get the familiar call buttons plus the menu and back keys.
The phone revolves around a silver metal frame, while the non-removable rear is made out of high-quality plastic with grippy dotted pattern for extra pleasurable handling. Indeed the BlackBerry Classic feels great in hand, as all its predecessor did, compact and comfortable to use for typing or browsing.