Mihaita Bamburic

Nikon beefs up its mirrorless range with new 1 V3 camera

Nikon 1 V3

Smartphones may be the most popular devices for taking pictures nowadays, but there is still a place for dedicated cameras, which continue to offer superior image quality. For this reason, I, like many other photography enthusiasts, have a DSLR. It may not be small, but it is a pleasure to shoot photos with. But, mirrorless cameras are slowly catching up and may soon prove to be as good as or better than their bigger siblings, with their more pocketable design playing a key part in this.

Nikon's new 1 V3 mirrorless camera, that the Japanese manufacturer unveiled today, is one of the most attractive offerings in its 1 range. Like other, similar bodies, it is quite light, coming in at just 324 grams. And it brings impressive specifications to the table, like a 171 focus point system and 20 FPS shooting rate.

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Fitbit Force recall affects 'about' 1M units

Recall

Activity trackers, also known as fitness bands, are popular wearable devices that are designed, among other purposes, to give users insights into their sleeping habits, the option to track the time and distance they walk and the number of steps they make. In the case of the Fitbit Force, however, activity trackers are also giving users rashes.

Fitbit has officially revealed 1.7 percent of Force users have reported skin irritations, which has led the company to announce a voluntary recall and issue a public apology. In two filings, with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Healthy Canadians agency, the wearables company reveals the extent of the recall -- roughly one million units in US and "about" 28,000 north of the border, in Canada, sold between October 2013 and February 2014.

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Windows XP, 2001 called and it wants you back

Woman Telephone Old Phone Talking

I admit to being utterly, utterly puzzled why some people and businesses choose to keep using Windows XP in 2014. Maybe they have not received the memo it is nearly 13 years old, and terribly outdated. If the operating system was a living being, it would be called a dinosaur. And we are not seeing those alive and kicking in living rooms, offices and ATMs, are we?

I am not going to pull out the security card and trump it as a reason to upgrade. We all know this argument does not resonate with Windows XP users. Instead, they should be looking at the real benefits an upgrade, to let's say Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, will do for them and at what could happen if they choose not to abandon the sinking ship. This is a strategy Microsoft has adopted in a new please-upgrade-from-XP-we-really-want-you-to infographic, aimed at the UK Government.

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Google adds new monetization options for Chrome apps, extensions, and themes

cloud money dollars

Google has announced new monetization options for Chrome Web Store apps, extensions, and themes, giving developers a better chance of generating decent revenue from their offerings. The search giant has also introduced new tools and services that are meant to make it easier to automate the publishing process.

The new available monetization options depend on the type of Chrome software. In the case of themes, developers can only list them as paid. Meanwhile, extensions can also get a free trial, subscription and in-app payments. On top of upfront payments and subscriptions, packaged apps now offer a free trial and in-app payments, in the latest change to the Chrome Web Store.

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iOS 7.1 makes the iPhone 4 run faster

speedo

Apple's policy of updating older iPhones to the latest iOS version has its perks. Users are better protected against security exploits, get access to new features (but not all of them), and Apple can tout low fragmentation levels. However, there is also a downside. Newer iOS releases often make older iPhones sluggish.

I have first-hand experience with this, as my iPhone 3G ran slower after updating it to iOS 4.0, than it did before. The same thing has also happened with the iPhone 4, which Apple had vetted to receive the iOS 7.0 update, even though the mobile operating system was designed to work best with beefier hardware. Luckily, it looks like iOS 7.1, that was released yesterday, attempts to solve this problem, albeit not entirely.

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Microsoft, Samsung 'take a leading role' backing Qi wireless charging

Wireless Charging Smartphone Wall Cable Charger Plate Pad

Qi is one of the most popular wireless charging standards, used by many companies in devices like chargers, speakers, smartphones and tablets. It adds convenience to such products, giving users the option to top up the battery on their handsets without plugging cables into them. I personally use a Qi wireless charger, made by Nokia, with my Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 7.

One of the hurdles Qi has to overcome to become more popular and attractive to consumers is mass-market support from key players, like smartphone vendors and mobile operators, which can dictate which standard they embrace. Qi appears to be on the right track, as it just added Microsoft and Samsung to its growing list of supporters.

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Pre-order an Xperia Z2, get a Sony Bravia TV for free

sony_xperia_z2

Smartphone penetration continues to rise in markets across the globe, as vendors compete to get more attractive devices, at increasingly lower price points, in consumers' hands. Meanwhile, the premium market is becoming a niche, as indicated by the ongoing drop in average selling price. The consumerization of smartphones also means sellers have to get creative, or at least attempt to, to get buyers to shell out a hefty sum.

Mobile operators have bundled smartphones with accessories and other smart devices in order to attract buyers. For instance, my Nokia Lumia 920 came with a free pair of Nokia Purity HD headphones. Now, Vodafone's UK arm is using a similar strategy, giving those who pre-order a Sony Xperia Z2 a free Sony Bravia TV.

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Windows Phone users do crave popular apps, no matter what apologists, fanboys say

Apps Love

Whenever a pundit brings up apps as an irrefutable argument for Windows Phone weaknesses, platform fanboys and apologists quickly point out they could not care less about whatever the Store is then lacking. They may also say that there already are good alternatives available, and major titles -- that are popular on Android and iOS -- are not really that important, when you have live tiles to look at all day. Basically, such an argument is, therefore, a pathetic excuse to bash their beloved platform.

Instagram? "No, thanks, that is for hipsters". Candy Crush? "I do not need that lame game on my Windows Phone as there are better ones available". "Oh, and you are an iPhone/Android fanboy for mentioning this!". You get the gist. But after we get off the comments train, we see that whenever Windows Phone gets a popular app, it quickly rises to the top of the Store. Yes, these users, of which I am proud to be one, do crave major titles, just like everyone else.

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How to create a bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB drive

mavericks

If you do not fancy using the App Store or the built-in recovery mode to download and run the large OS X 10.9 Mavericks setup file, Apple gives you the option to create a bootable USB drive to install the operating system on your Mac. It is fast and works even when there is no Internet connection available.

The process is pretty straightforward, and does not require advanced skills, or downloading a dedicated third-party tool (although I will also explain how to use one, in case you decide or need to go down this road). All you need is an 8 GB USB drive (it can be larger), which you may already have lying around somewhere, and a Mac.

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks to fully support 4K displays in upcoming update

Large Display TV Screen

Even though 4K displays have started to pop out for quite some time now, Apple has been lazy at fully supporting them in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. So when my colleague Brian Fagioli tested the Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD he found that, while Windows 8.1 was able to adequately handle it, Apple's Mac operating system rendered the display "unusable".

The reason for this lies in the display settings made available by the OS. Those only allow folks to choose a lesser resolution like 1080p. Fortunately, that is set to change as Apple is readying an update for OS X 10.9 Mavericks that will soon allow users to take full advantage of what 4K displays have to offer.

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There's finally a great Dropbox client for Windows Phone

CloudSix for Dropbox 2

Windows Phone may be seeing new, popular titles launched in Store, like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Vine, but the tiled smartphone operating system continues to lack some notable apps. The reason is major developers are still waiting for the platform to gain more traction before committing.

YouTube is absent, but there are a couple of good clients available that nearly make up for it. But, when it comes to Dropbox a decent selection is virtually non-existent. Part of the reason is the cloud storage service is focusing its resources in mobile on Android and iOS, like many other major companies, and (probably the majority of) Windows Phone users are in OneDrive's backyard already, whether they like it or not. But, if they choose to embrace Dropbox now they can turn to CloudSix for Dropbox.

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Jelly Bean, KitKat continue their rise in Android distribution

Businessman rise stairs chalk

Google's Android distribution charts give us a fresh look at adoption trends with each monthly update. In early-March, we see Jelly Bean and KitKat continuing their rise in popularity, while older iterations of the popular open source operating system are on their descending path.

Based on the number of devices accessing the Play store in the seven days ending March 3, KitKat is running on 2.5 percent of monitored Android handsets. Its distribution share is 38.88 percent higher compared to the previous month, when it accounted for 1.8 percent. KitKat will see a stronger uptake once smartphones like the new Samsung Galaxy S4 are released, and vendors upgrade their existing devices to the latest Android iteration.

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BlackBerry brings OneDrive to BB 10 smartphones

onedrive

After being forced to drop the SkyDrive name following a legal dispute with UK broadband provider Sky, Microsoft relaunched its cloud storage service, last month, under a new, yet somewhat familiar moniker, OneDrive. Rebranded apps quickly hit Android, iOS, OS X and Windows Phone, adding new features in the process.

With the OneDrive roll-out almost complete, BlackBerry (yes, that is right) just introduced the cloud storage service on its own platform, BlackBerry 10. The move effectively gives Microsoft access to more potential customers, and allows OneDrive to better rival the availability of other market competitors, like Box.

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Windows Phone finally gets Facebook Messenger, 'app gap' slowly closing

Facebook Messenger Windows Phone

Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore spoke last year of the Windows Phone app gap, claiming that it would end before the start of 2014. Unfortunately for the platform, that has not turned out to be accurate as there are still lots of great titles that are either missing from Store or offered in a half-baked version on the tiled operating system. The good news is the app gap is actually closing, albeit slowly (and not anytime soon).

Microsoft revealed at MWC 2014 Facebook Messenger will launch on Windows Phone, and the app is finally available in Store today. This is one of the most important wins for the platform, as the service is hugely popular in many markets.

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Lenovo, LG have a 'me too' moment, also tell Ellen they have better smartphone cameras than Samsung

Lenovo DeGeneres Samsung

Ellen DeGeneres' Samsung Galaxy Note 3 made waves at the Academy Awards after being used to snap an on-stage selfie and a group shot. Both quickly became hugely popular photos taken at the event, and target practice for the South Korean maker's rivals.

Nokia was first to take a stab at Samsung for the terrible quality of DeGeneres' selfie, implying she should have used one of its smartphones instead. The photo posted by the star even had the #blurry hashtag added on Twitter to make up for what was basically a missed shot. Not to miss this opportunity (to be unoriginal), Lenovo and LG also took to Twitter to convince us that their smartphones would have fared better than Samsung's phablet.

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