Mihaita Bamburic

What you should know about the E-Label Act

Nexus 7 electronic label FCC ID

The FCC label on radio-equipped devices sold in US has been mandatory since 1973. By now, we have gotten used to seeing it, no doubt because there is usually nothing that we can do to hide it. But, as technology evolves, its physical presence is bound to cause some serious problems (not to mention that it spoils the look of some gorgeous devices).

However, in mid-July, a new bill, called the E-Label Act, was introduced to give companies that operate in US the option to feature an electronic FCC label on their radio-equipped products. And, after passing through Senate and Congress, President Obama just signed it. Here is what you should know about it.

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Motorola unveils Cyber Monday deals -- big discounts on 2014 Moto X and accessories

New Moto X

Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping events of the year for online buyers. You can get what you want, at great discounts, without ever leaving the sofa. What's not to like about that? And if a new smartphone is what you are after on December 1, then you should take a look at what Motorola has in store for you with its Cyber Monday deals.

The star of the show, as you might imagine, is the second-generation Moto X, which Motorola will offer at a significant discount, both on and off-contract. The company has also announced significant discounts on accessories. Here are the details.

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BlackBerry is desperate -- will give iPhone 6 users up to $550 to switch to Passport

Blackberry passport

If you have an iPhone, the chances of wanting to switch to a BlackBerry handset anytime soon are pretty slim. After all, there are few reasons why you might want to do it. And BlackBerry knows it. So, in an attempt to make the switch appealing, the Canadian maker has introduced a new trade-in offer, where it will give iPhone users up to $550 to move to Passport.

The trade-in offer applies to iPhone 4S and newer, including iPhone 6. The most that you are able to get for an iPhone 4S is $240, while for one of Apple's latest smartphones BlackBerry is giving you up to $550. Of the aforementioned trade-in values, in each case $150 is made up by the so-called "BlackBerry Top-Up" (BlackBerry's added incentive).

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Microsoft has an amazing deal on Lumia 635 -- just $39 off-contract

Nokia Lumia 635 AT&T

If you want to get a Windows Phone 8.1 device for cheap, chances are you are waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to start to pick one up. And who could blame you? Microsoft as well as various retailers will have some nice deals waiting for you -- and millions of other shoppers -- then.

But why not get one right now? Microsoft has an amazing deal on Lumia 635, selling the smartphone -- in black, AT&T trim -- for just $39, off-contract. That is amazing value for the money.

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Android 5.0 Lollipop encryption severely impacts performance

Too slow

Encrypting your device may make it more secure, but it also makes it slower due to the added overhead. This is not much of a problem on a fast PC or laptop, as its hardware is able to cope with the extra load. It, however, is a major reason for concern on Android 5.0 Lollipop devices, such as Google's new Nexus 6. Android 5.0 Lollipop is at fault here.

Anandtech has discovered that the difference in performance can be as high as 80.7 percent, and as low as 50.5 percent, between Nexus 6 with encryption turned on and with the feature disabled. Meanwhile, those who update to Android 5.0 Lollipop on Nexus 5 will also notice a notable difference in performance, albeit not as big, even with encryption disabled.

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New Gorilla Glass 4 better protects displays against shattering

Corning Gorilla Glass 4

Corning's Gorilla Glass is used to protect billions of mobile device displays. In fact, some of the most popular handsets -- like HTC One (M8), Google Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy S5 -- feature Gorilla Glass 3 or Gorilla Glass 2. Some companies, like ASUS, are also using it on touchscreen ultrabooks. That's because it fares well under normal usage, offering good protection against scratching.

However, things are different when it comes to drops -- as tough as Gorilla Glass may be, it can shatter quite easily when handsets are dropped, potentially leading to damaged displays. Its maker, Corning, says that this is the biggest issue that consumers are reporting. With Gorilla Glass 4, it finally addresses this shortcoming.

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Microsoft blames performance update for Azure outage

mobile phone raincloud

Microsoft Azure was hit by an 11-hour outage on November 19, in United States, Europe and certain parts of Asia. The outage impacted multiple services offered through the cloud platform, including Azure Storage, Virtual Machines, Service Bus, and Visual Studio, just to name a few. The culprit? Microsoft links a performance update to the mishap.

The performance update, which is meant for Azure Storage, "had been [successfully] tested over several weeks", says Microsoft, on a small subset of targets, prior to being applied. However, during the general roll-out, Microsoft noticed an issue which resulted in an "inability for the [storage blob] front ends to take on further traffic, which in turn caused other services built on top to experience issues".

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Windows Phone gets official Duolingo, WolframAlpha apps

Duolingo Windows Phone 2

The app-gap is still not a thing of the past for Windows Phone Store, but, fortunately, things are getting better. There already are lots of third-party alternatives -- some of which are quite good -- to many prominent apps. And, thanks to the functionality enabled by Windows Phone 8.1, it is possible for more types of apps to launch, like Fitbit and Microsoft Remote Desktop.

The biggest progress, however, is made when well-known developers launch their apps on the platform. This week Windows Phone scores big, as both language-learning app Duolingo and computational engine WolframAlpha make their appearance in Store.

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Jolla crowdfunds its first tablet, hits goal within hours

Jolla Tablet

Crowdfunding a mobile device is a tricky thing to get right. Just ask Ubuntu maker Canonical. To make its Edge smartphone happen, it turned to Indiegogo to get $32 million, of which it only managed to raise (a record) $12.8 million. Its failure can be linked to the sky-high goal, a mistake from which Finnish mobile device vendor Jolla appears to have learned from.

Jolla is also turning to crowdfunding, for its first tablet called Tablet, but the goal it set, of just $380,000, is much, much, much more easier to reach. In fact, at the time of writing this article, Jolla has raised more than $490,000 (a figure that is quickly rising), with 21 days left until the crowdfunding campaign ends, on December 9.

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What to expect from upcoming Microsoft Surface Pro 3 firmware update

Surface generated almost $1 billion revenue for Microsoft last quarter

Since launching Surface Pro 3 in June, Microsoft has released frequent firmware updates -- mostly twice a month -- to fix bugs, update drivers, increase performance, improve stability, and enable support for new features. The entire changelog is rather long, and it will get even longer once the new firmware update, that should likely come this month, is released.

The new Surface Pro 3 firmware update addresses the Bluetooth, home button, stylus and Wi-Fi drivers, as well as UEFI. Through new home button and Surface Pen drivers, Surface Pro 3 should no longer accidentally wake up from sleep while it is being carried or stored.

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Microsoft will roll out Lumia Denim firmware update in 2015

Delay Businessman Business Clepsydra Sand Glass

When Microsoft announced the Lumia Denim firmware in early-September alongside Lumia 830, Lumia 735 and Lumia 730, the software giant said that it will be rolled out in a future update for existing Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets, running lesser versions, in Q4 2014. But, as we are in the middle of the last quarter of the year, Lumia Denim has yet to make its way to most compatible Lumia handsets.

While there is still time for Microsoft to commence the much-awaited roll out, it looks like the software giant will only give Lumia Denim to most of its Windows Phone 8 customers in early 2015, according to UK mobile operator O2.

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Microsoft: MacBook Air users, are you really, really sure you don't want Surface Pro 3?

awful headache

If you are a MacBook Air user, chances are you are pretty happy with your device. It may not be the fastest or the lightest laptop around, but it has a great keyboard, gets amazing battery life, is more affordable than ever, can run Windows, and, thanks to iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite, works great with iOS 8 devices. Even Microsoft is impressed, calling it "great" and "delightful".

Microsoft, however, believes you can do better. In a new video ad made for this holiday season, the software giant once again aims to make MacBook Air users finally see the light, and realize that the device they should be using is Surface Pro 3. But if MacBook Air is already "great" and "delightful", why would someone want to switch?

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New Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 preview build adds extra features

Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft has released a couple of Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 builds for devices enrolled in the Preview for Developers Program. Virtually all changes have been made under-the-hood, as Microsoft has seemingly focused on refining the user experience and enabling, rather than introducing new features.

Now though, we have a new Preview for Developers build -- still Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, version 14203.306 -- which adds a number of very useful user-facing features, some of which you might want to take advantage of right away.

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How to install (and update to) Android 5.0 Lollipop on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10

Lollipop Forest

After launching alongside Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, Android 5.0 Lollipop is now making its way to the rest of Google's family of smartphones and tablets. So, naturally, you want to get it up and running as soon as possible on your older Nexus devices, now that it is finally ready for prime time. And why wouldn't you? The latest version of Android packs lots of sweet changes, chief among them the new design language dubbed Material Design, the new, faster default runtime called ART, battery life improvements, 64-bit support, beefed-up security, new APIs and much, much more.

There are two ways you get Android 5.0 Lollipop on your Nexus device. You can use the OTA update file to update or the factory image to make a clean install. This article will explain how can leverage both to run the latest version of Android on your Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

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Can't send SMS, browse the web on 4G? This is why

phone signal

For a whole weekend, I thought the new smartphone I had just bought was defective. Because why else could it not send any SMS messages to any of my contacts nor connect to the Internet via 4G? It was the only logical explanation at the time, as everything else -- my monthly plan, the 4G coverage in my area, the settings -- was in order. While that was happening, I could receive SMS messages, calls were working fine. Getting a defective device is not impossible, after all. I am also not the luckiest person in the world. These things happen.

The problem, however, was not with the device, or even the SIM as some may think. As it turns out, whenever this happens, you just happen to be in the wrong place. Literally. Some may be lead to believe that their setup is to blame, when it is actually the carrier's 4G network in the area that is at fault. You may find that it works great in some places, and only have problems at work, for instance.

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