Latest Technology News

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Verizon) -- Unboxing and first impressions

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There are many times when tech pundits are wrong about things. I remember thinking the first iPad was a disaster -- who wanted a computer that did not have a USB port for flash drives? The whole world apparently, including myself, only a short while after it launched. The same can be said about Samsung's Note line of smartphones. When the first Note launched, I thought people looked idiotic using such a large phone. I mean, talking on that monstrosity in public? You look like a loon, right? Wrong there too -- people loved it and the industry followed Samsung's phablet lead. Hell, the term phablet is almost a misnomer now, as large screens have become the norm. The screen sizes we considered to be "normal" only a few years ago, are now designated with terms like "mini".

So here we are in 2014 and Samsung is still the leader of the large screen movement, although imitators are catching up. Apple got into the phablet game with the iPhone 6 Plus and even Google is set to release the Nexus 6 in conjunction with Motorola. Still, as great as the iPhone 6 Plus is, and as wonderful as the Nexus 6 is sure to be, Samsung releases the Galaxy Note 4 in hopes to remain the gold standard and the one to beat. I finally got my hands on one -- arguably the best one -- the Verizon variant, which will not be released until October 23. Yes, BetaNews has achieved it early and here are my impressions.

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Apple solders RAM into new Mac mini to block memory upgrades

Apple solders RAM into new Mac mini to block RAM upgrades

This week, Apple unveiled a number of new and updated products. The latest additions to the iPad range were the crowd pleasers, while the iMac with Retina 5K Display was something of a headline-grabber. Yosemite was expected, but the Mac mini refresh came slightly out of the blue.

For anyone looking for a cheap way to get their hands on a Mac, it's a great starting point -- prices start at just $499. But you'd better make sure you select a model with enough RAM when you place your order -- Apple has taken steps that mean it is impossible for buyers to install more memory.

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Avira 2015 offers optional Dropbox install, online product management

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Avira has announced the arrival of its 2015 product line, including Avira Free AntivirusAvira Antivirus Pro and Avira Internet Security.

The main highlight is a "superior" engine to improve PC protection, along with enhanced Android and iOS apps.

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Paragon Hard Disk Manager Suite 15 now available

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Paragon Software Group has announced the release of Paragon Hard Disk Manager Suite 15, the latest edition of its all-in-one drive management package.

The new Embedded Recovery Media Builder 3.0 creates Windows PE and Linux-based recovery discs from within the suite, and if you’re running Windows 7 or later then there are no further downloads required. (XP/ Vista users will still need Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit or Automated Installation Kit.)

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Cable providers should now panic -- cutting the cord is getting easier all the time

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Cord cutters are not new, they've been around for years now. Various reasons lead to this decision -- ranging from a simple lack of interest in programming to a desire to get TV shows and movies through other means. Over-the-air (OTA) has always been possible, and some go that route, but a growing number of services have sprung up to fill the gap left behind when cable and satellite service is cancelled.

Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all provided options for movies and TV shows, and now each has spread its wings and moved into the realm of producing original content. That is likely the time when cable providers should have moved into panic mode.

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FlightGear 3.2 enhances graphics, flight dynamics, plane models

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The free, open-source flight simulator FlightGear 3.2 has been updated to version 3.2 with a stack of new and enhanced features.

A more realistic JSBSim flight dynamics model now includes support for ground effects, including bumpiness, solid-ground detection and adjusting of friction factors. (The official release notes point out that you can’t ride on water any more, either.)

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Skype 7.0 lets you format your IMs

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When you say, "lets Skype", you usually want to have a video call. That is what made Skype popular, and where its strength lies. However, lately Microsoft has also been focusing on written conversation, perhaps in reaction to how successful IM apps have been.

Microsoft updated Skype last week to 7.0 on Mac and Windows (beta), and one of the features overlooked in the UI redesign was formatting for instant messaging. You can now bold, italicize, or strike-through your messages.

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View, process and sort RAW images with FastRawViewer

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It's no secret that working with a camera's RAW images can improve photo quality, as you’re accessing all the information from the original shot.

But as RAW files are also huge, and often slow to render (if your preferred software supports them at all), it's no surprise that most photographers stick to JPEG.

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Tablets: Quest for the enterprise

Tablet Market Tiers

Yesterday, Apple announced a minor refresh to their iPad portfolio, with improvements mostly focused on Touch ID and a thinner footprint. In many ways, this did feel like this was a "placeholder" upgrade. The new iPads would certainly appeal to loyalists, but they don't seem to target the primary reasons behind the recent slowdown.

The slowdown in iPad sales (or high-end tablet sales, in general) was caused by three factors -- 1) Increasing overlap in use cases of large screen smartphones (or phablets) and tablets, 2) Inability to move downmarket, despite lower iPad Mini prices, because of competitive reasons highlighted in the chart above, and 3) Limited upmarket mobility because of a lack of developer focus around productivity.

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Kazam's Tornado 348 is the world's thinnest smartphone

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British phone manufacturer Kazam is launching its new flagship Android 4.4 KitKat smartphone, which will also become the world's thinnest handset.

At just 5.15mm thin, the Kazam Tornado 348 technically already holds the title, but will have to wait to receive the Guinness World Record, currently held by the Gionee Elife S5.5.

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5 essential tips for staying safe online

5 essential tips for staying safe online

The security of the internet is an on-going concern. Whether you're online for fun, or you're conducting business, there are all manner of pitfalls you may encounter. Issues such as viruses and malware are now widely known about, but these are far from being the only security issues to concern yourself with. Security has been thrown into the limelight once again by high-profile stories like the Fappening, problems with SnapChat, concerns about the Whisper app, and the POODLE SSL 3.0 vulnerability.

A large proportion of companies and individuals are aware of the importance of anti-virus and anti-malware tools, firewalls and the like. Security tools are all well and good, but there's also a lot to be said in favor of changing online behaviors; it's something that the online community and businesses are increasingly coming to understand. Much of what this entails -- taking care about the personal information you share and educating yourself about services before you use them -- is common sense, but it bears repeating.

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Microsoft supercharges Cortana with new Bing features -- can it beat Siri and Google Now?

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Google is the king of both search and personal assistants. As great as Cortana and Siri are, Google Now is currently superior, offering more functionality. Quite frankly, Google Now is so good at learning about you, that at first, it can seem a bit creepy. Still, Cortana is steadily making progress and Microsoft's personal assistant is becoming more formidable with every passing day.

Today, Microsoft announces that it is supercharging Cortana with better Bing features and integration. The question is, will these new features usurp Google Now?

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The iPad Air 2 is why tablet sales are falling

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So yesterday Apple announced the latest iteration of its hugely popular iPad. I own a fourth gen model, and as someone who likes to be on the cutting edge, I was all set to snap up the new device. Except, what I saw didn’t excite me or give me a killer reason to drop $600+.

Tablet sales are slowing, and a large chunk of the reason for that can be laid squarely at Apple’s door. While the iPad Air 2 will appeal to first time buyers, businesses, or people looking to upgrade from inferior tablets, it just doesn’t offer enough to get existing iPad owners like me to upgrade. But it’s thinner! It’s lighter! So what? I’m not a frail old lady, or cursed with a muscle wasting disease. My iPad 4 is hardly a major weight, and to be honest, I like my devices to have a bit of heft to them anyway.

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Snapchat talks API, warns about a hacked third-party app

Breakup Smartphones

Snapchat has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity. But for software and apps popularity also means becoming a bigger target. There's been no shortage of news recently regarding systems being breached, with Kmart being the most recent victim.

In this case the victim isn't Snapchat, at least not directly, but a third-party app that uses the chat service's API. While the company is happy that so many want to use its API, it felt forced to issue a warning to the folks who decide to use these apps.

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Apple launches iPhone 6, 6 Plus in China, Samsung brings Galaxy Note 4 to US, UK

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Today is a big day for both Apple and Samsung, as the two are launching their latest flagships in three of the largest smartphone markets: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus officially hit China, and Galaxy Note 4 arrives in US and UK. It's a "finally" moment in both cases, as the handsets were announced more than a month ago.

For Apple, having its new iPhones officially available for sale in China, the largest smartphone market, is a huge opportunity to boost sales in what could very well be its best quarter of the year. The pair had to launch later in China this year, due to regulatory hurdles. Among other things, the local government has forced Apple to beef up the security of iOS 8 to give the new iPhones its nod of approval.

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