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Preview: PC World's Techlog


Published: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:43:26 -0800

Last Build Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:43:26 -0800


Up to 30% Discount On Otterbox Cases For iPhone, Galaxy and Other Devices - Deal Alert

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:13:00 -0800

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Google shifts on email encryption tool, leaving its fate unclear

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:27:00 -0800

Google is asking developers to take over its effort to make end-to-end email encryption more user-friendly, raising questions over whether it’ll ever become an official feature in the company’s browser.

On Friday, the search giant said its email encryption tool, originally announced in 2014, was no longer a Google product. Instead, it’s become a “full community-driven open source project,” the company said in a blog post.

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Porsche Design's Book One looks to outrace Microsoft's Surface Book

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:16:00 -0800

As with its cars, Porsche Design loved what it has created with its new Book One 2-in-1, made to challenge Microsoft’s Surface Book.

The 2-in-1 device is unique in that it is both a convertible and a detachable computer. The Book One can become a tablet by detaching the 13.3-inch screen or folding the screen 360 degrees onto the keyboard.

The folding functionality exists because of the hinge, which has been borrowed from the Porsche cars’ gearbox. The flexible folding and detaching mechanism gives the device a unique design that is hard to find in other 2-in-1s today. It’s likely other PC makers will try to come up with copycat designs.

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Google beefs up Play Store discovery, introduces strikethrough discounting

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:48:00 -0800

It’s called the Play Store for a reason. Google’s app store is filled with a veritable cornucopia of games—so many, in fact, it can be hard to find good ones that aren’t from big-name developers like Nintendo or Electronic Arts. But through a series of initiatives announced at the Game Developer Conference, Google is looking to change that.

As the Play store expands and gaming becomes more sophisticated, Google has turned its attention to the little guy. While the biggest games will still get the most visibility, Google has announced that it will begin promoting apps with high-quality gaming experiences—this based on engagement, not just installs.

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Alienware 13 Gaming Notebooks Discounted Up To $169 For a Limited Time - Deal Alert

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:44:00 -0800

Alienware’s first 13-inch VR gaming laptop features up to 7th Gen Intel Quad Core H- Class processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 10-Series graphics. For a limited time various configurations have been discounted up to $169, with free shipping. See the various configurations and discounts now on Dell

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SHA-1 collision can break SVN code repositories

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:23:45 -0800

A recently announced SHA-1 collision attack has the potential to break code repositories that use the Subversion (SVN) revision control system. The first victim was the repository for the WebKit browser engine that was corrupted after someone committed two different PDF files with the same SHA-1 hash to it.

The incident happened hours after researchers from Google and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands announced the first practical collision attack against the SHA-1 hash function on Thursday. Their demonstration consisted of creating two PDF files with different contents that had the same SHA-1 digest.

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Google is giving away a Chromecast with the Google Home

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:17:00 -0800

As long as you don't mind having an always-on microphone with a direct connection to Google, the company's smart speaker, Google Home, is a fantastic little device. But Google Home really shines when you pair it with a smart thermostat, smart lighting system, or a Chromecast.

Google seems to realize that, and right now at Best Buy and the Google Store you can get a free Chromecast ($35) or Chromecast Audio ($30) with the purchase of a Google Home. The smart speaker is offered at its regular price of $129. To take advantage of the deal you must add the Chromecast to your cart manually before checkout. The Chromecast Ultra is not available as part of this sale.

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SK Telecom pushes for interoperable quantum crypto systems

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:10:54 -0800

SK Telecom and Nokia have developed a prototype quantum cryptography system that combines the South Korean company's quantum key server with an encryption device from Nokia.

The system, shown Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, was put together to demonstrate interoperability between the two vendors and comes as SK Telecom kicks off a push to get telecom carriers and equipment vendors working together on next-generation quantum-secured networks.

Quantum cryptography involves the transmission of encryption keys across fiber optic networks. It relies on the principles of quantum mechanics to detect if an eavesdropper has viewed a key en route.

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Facebook's Telecom Infra Project is a year old

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:21:58 -0800

Facebook's Telecom Infra Project is already pulling in a significant proportion of the world's telecommunications industry, just a year after it launched with the goal of dramatically cutting the cost of building networks needed to get the next billion users online.

In that time, it has grown from five members to 450, and now encompasses technologies for delivering internet access by fiber, Wi-Fi, 2G and 4G networks, relay towers, drones, and satellites.

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Save 38% on the TP-LINK Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Works with Amazon Alexa - Deal Alert

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:18:00 -0800

The TP-LINK HS100 smart plug is quite simply a power outlet that you can control from anywhere. Using your smartphone, you can turn devices on & off, set programs to turn them on & off at set times while you're away, or engage a "countdown timer" which powers the switch off after a set amount of time. Installation is simple -- just plug a device into your smart plug and connect to your wifi network. The HS100 is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, for voice control. Buy multiple plugs and get creative.

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Cog Systems offers more secure version of HTC A9 smartphone

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:02 -0800

It sounds like a smartphone user's worst fear: Software that starts up before the phone's operating system, intercepting and encrypting every byte sent to or from the flash memory or the network interface.

This is not some new kind of ransomware, though, this is the D4 Secure Platform from Cog Systems.

The product grew out of custom security software the company developed for governments, and which it saw could also be put to use in the enterprise as a way to make smartphones more productive while still maintaining a high level of security.

It includes a Type 1 hypervisor, a virtualized VPN and additional storage encryption that wrap the standard Android OS in additional layers of protection largely invisible to the end user.

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Sony's Android-powered Xperia projector turns any flat surface into a touch screen

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:44:00 -0800

Back when we first got a look at Sony’s Xperia Projector at last year’s Mobile World Congress, it seemed like the brightest idea in a sea of concepts that will likely never be seen again. More than a simple projector, the device turned any table or wall into a touch-enabled screen, letting you swipe and manipulate apps and screens as if you were using a 23-inch phone.

But what seemed futuristic then has now become reality. At this year’s MWC, Sony has turned the Xperia Projector into a real product with an official name and a shipping date. Called Xperia Touch, the Android 7.0-powered tabletop device is due to hit shelves this summer, and it could be the first must-have gadget from Sony in years.

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Intel isn't done with x86 smartphone chips yet

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:43:00 -0800

Smartphones with Intel-based x86 chips aren’t dead yet. Intel may have stopped making Atom chips for smartphones, but a partner is keeping that effort alive.

Chinese chip maker Spreadtrum is still making x86 smartphone chips based on the Atom architecture named Airmont. The company will ship a powerful eight-core Atom variant for smartphones in the second half of this year.

Smartphone makers will be able to use the Spreadtrum SC9861G-IA chip in mid-range handsets. It will have a PowerVR GT7200 graphics core and support 4K video and displays with resolutions up to 2560 x 1440 pixels.

It’s far more powerful than the original Atom smartphone chips made by Intel. Handsets with the chip were shown at Intel’s booth at the ongoing Mobile World Congress trade show.

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Android tablets struggle as Windows 2-in-1s come on strong at MWC

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:42:00 -0800

In 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs welcomed the post-PC era when it introduced the iPad.

Now in 2017, PCs are still around and on their way to recovery, while slate-style tablets are struggling. Apple remains the top tablet seller, but its shipments are diving, and Android tablets aren’t as hot as they used to be.

Unlike its heyday, tablets aren’t expected to be huge presence at this year’s Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona. Lenovo and Samsung are launching some Android tablets, but more attention is being heaped on Windows 10 2-in-1 PCs that can be tablets and laptops.

Where Android has faltered, Windows is now taking over. Many people are replacing tablets with multipurpose Windows 2-in-1 PCs.

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Twitch will start selling video games you're watching on streams

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:38:00 -0800

Twitch, the popular live video game streaming site, wants to go head-to-head with digital game stores like Steam and GOG. The company announced Monday that Twitch viewers will soon be able to purchase games and in-game content while watching their favorite streamers. 

Sometime this spring, Twitch viewers will start to see “Buy now” buttons underneath the video for the game they’re watching. While watching someone play Tom Clancy’s The Division, for example, there would be a button right below the stream allowing viewers to purchase it.

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New Windows 10 feature blocks desktop apps, points to Windows Store instead

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:28:00 -0800

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50% Discount On Doom PC - Deal Alert

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:14:00 -0800

Developed by id Software, the studio that pioneered the first-person shooter genre and created multiplayer Deathmatch, DOOM returns as a brutally fun and challenging modern-day shooter experience. Relentless demons, impossibly destructive guns, and fast, fluid movement provide the foundation for intense, first-person combat – whether you’re obliterating demon hordes through the depths of Hell in the single-player campaign, or competing against your friends in numerous multiplayer modes. Expand your gameplay experience using DOOM SnapMap game editor to easily create, play, and share your content with the world. At the moment its typical price has been slashed 50% on Amazon down to just $19.99. See the deal now on Amazon.

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SAP sets March 30 as launch date for its Cloud Platform SDK for iOS

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:00:02 -0800

Almost a year after SAP teamed with Apple to develop business applications for smartphones and tablets, the German enterprise software developer is ready to unveil the first fruits of their partnership.

On March 30, it plans to release the first version of SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS, a tool to enable businesses to integrate Apple's handheld devices with their back-end information systems. And at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week it opened enrollment for SAP Academy for iOS, a mix of paid and free training services to help develop apps with that tool.

It may have looked as though Apple were retreating from the enterprise when it axed its Xserve rack-mounted server line in 2011, it, but since then it has multiplied its partnerships with enterprise hardware, software and service vendors, most notably IBM in 2014, Cisco Systems in 2015 and, last year, SAP.

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Sony's Xperia XZ Premium has a 4K HDR screen, super slow-mo

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:56:00 -0800

Sony’s smartphone roadmap has never been predictable. It was barely six months ago at IFA when it merged the Xperia X and Z lines to create the Xperia XZ, a handset with top-of-the-line specs aimed at jump-starting its standing in the high-end U.S. market. While that gambit didn’t quite work out the way it had hoped, Sony has decided to take another crack at it.

But instead of changing its strategy, Sony is doubling down on it. It brought no less than four new phones to Mobile World Congress, including two new flagships, the Xperia XZs and the XZ Premium, a phone that shines, quite literally.

The first thing you notice about the new phone is the mirror finish that surrounds the device. Available in deep sea black and luminous chrome, the finish gives the phone a sparkly appearance that seems destined to require lots of polishing. But the innovation in the XZ Premium is actually below the surface. Its primary features are both firsts on a smartphone: a 4K HDR display and super slow-motion video.

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Nokia, Sprint show a massive MIMO antenna to boost cell service

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:37:58 -0800

A cellular base station with 128 antennas may soon help some mobile operators serve many more subscribers in crowded areas.

Nokia demonstrated the technology, called massive MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) with Sprint at Mobile World Congress on Monday. It’s one of several types of advances in LTE that could eventually come into play with 5G, too.

Massive MIMO uses a large number of small antennas to create dedicated connections to multiple devices at once. In this case, the base station has 64x64 MIMO, or 64 antennas each for upstream and downstream signals. In Nokia and Sprint’s tests, it increased the capacity of a cell by as much as eight times for downloads and as much as five times for uploads.

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The legendary Nokia 3310 is back—and it still has Snake

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:31:00 -0800

This year’s Mobile World Congress is starting to look like an oldies tour.

It’s a time-honored tradition in pop music for acts long past their prime – some with only a few of their original members – to play a few of their greatest hits at state fairs and other cheery venues. As one star of a bygone era leaves the stage, the next takes over.

On Sunday, for the second time in two days here in Barcelona, a licensed manufacturer introduced a handset bearing a venerable phone brand that evoked that company’s glory days.

Following BlackBerry’s introduction of the KEYone, a smartphone from partner TCL with the familiar physical keyboard of BlackBerries past, Nokia licensee HMD Global launched a (slightly) modernized version of the Nokia 3310, a rugged, beloved feature phone first introduced in 2000.

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Hands on with the Moto G5 and G5 Plus: Almost like budget Nexus phones

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0800

Motorola's G series phones have been darlings of the Android community for their ability to deliver exceptional value. You can't expect the world from a $200 phone, but Moto G phones are usually "good enough" to make budget-conscious buyers balk at spending two or three times as much for a premium phone.

The company is looking to continue that trend with the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. The G5 will cost only 199€ (it's not coming to the U.S.), while the G5 Plus will be only $229 when it ships here in March. For the price, they seem quite good. The bodies, now metal, aren't going to win any design awards, but they feel a bit more premium than the old plastic G series phones.

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HTC's new Vive payment plans diffuse the high cost of PC virtual reality

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:52:00 -0800

The annual Game Developers Conference is underway this week in San Francisco and you can expect a lot of virtual reality news. And it’s HTC first out of the gate with a bevy of Vive updates—mostly concerning developers, but at least one very important new program for consumers.

Let’s start with the latter, as it’s perhaps the biggest Vive news:

“For the first time, Vive is launching a financing program in North America. For $66 a month and no-interest financing for 12 months, users can purchase a Vive on with zero down. Additional new financing options are available at varying finance terms.”

The Vive’s sticking to its $799 price, so this is unlikely to offset the “VR is too expensive” complaints. It does potentially make VR a bit more “affordable” though, spreading the burden out over the course of a year like a cell phone and/or car payment instead of requiring one large up-front sum.

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Samsung mulls iris scanners on Galaxy phones to log into Windows PCs

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:43:00 -0800

Soon, your Samsung phone may be able to recognize your iris and log you into your Windows PC.

Iris-scanning via phone is not yet a feature available for Samsung’s latest Galaxy Book 2-in-1s, which were announced at Mobile World Congress. But the company wants to quickly bridge the gap between its Galaxy smartphones, which run on Android, and its Windows PCs and 2-in-1s.

Software called Samsung Flow links the company’s Android smartphones to Windows PCs. Samsung and Microsoft are looking to collaborate on logins via Windows Hello—designed to use biometric authentication to log into PCs—and one big Flow feature is the ability to use Galaxy smartphones to wirelessly log into the new Galaxy Book.

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Lenovo's integrating Amazon's Alexa in Moto smartphones

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:28:00 -0800

Lenovo is working with Amazon to get the Alexa voice assistant into a range of Motorola smartphones, and in the process, looking to depose Google's voice assistant technology.

The partners will first focus on developing an Alexa "Mod," a block that will attach to a Moto Z modular handset. The companies will then integrate Alexa directly into a variety of Moto handsets and devices, Lenovo said during a press conference in Barcelona on Sunday.

The Moto Z is much like Google's Project Ara, where individual parts like speakers and projectors can be added to boost the functionality of the handset.

The exact details of the Alexa Mod for Moto Z weren't provided, but an onstage image showed a speaker that could hook up to the handset. It looked like a flatter and curved version of Amazon's Echo or Echo Dot.

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Lenovo innovation goes on a break with Tab 4 Android tablets

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:25:00 -0800

Lenovo says it wants to redefine Android tablets, but you won’t find anything spectacular or innovative in its new Tab 4 tablets.

The four new tablets, which come in 8- and 10- inch screens, are incremental upgrades to the Tab 3 devices. The new tablets are faster, have better screens and deliver better special effects with improved graphics processors.

One unique feature in the new devices is the inclusion of Dolby Atmos speakers, which delivers booming sound. Lenovo also included Atmos in its Legion Y720 gaming laptop, which was announced at CES.

The new tablets can be broken into the Tab 4 and Tab 4 Plus brands. The Tab 4 Plus brands have faster processors and boast better features.

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NTT DoCoMo demos VR control of robots over 5G

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:14:49 -0800

While next-generation 5G cellular will bring faster downloads for consumers, the new networking technology is poised to bring big benefits to business users enabling new uses for cellular networks.

At this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Japan's NTT DoCoMo is demonstrating one such use: remote control of robots via a wireless virtual reality system.

In one corner of the company's booth was a simulated factory floor with three robots. The area was surrounded by four depth-sensing 3D cameras that together provide enough video for an immersive, all-around virtual reality image.

That 3D video, totaling roughly 700Mbps of data, was sent across a 5G radio link to a receiver where it was processed and fed to a VR headset. The radio link was running across a few meters on the crowded expo floor but it was hitting a top speed of around 15Gbps -- that's many times faster than is possible with the fastest of today's 4G networks.

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A closer look at the LG G6's fancy dual camera features

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:00:00 -0800

As with the LG G5 and V20, the G6 has two cameras—one standard, one wide-angle. Unlike those phones, the wide-angle camera isn’t a lower-resolution, lower-quality sideshow to the standard camera. On the G6, both cameras have the same 13MP sensor, so you get the same quality no matter which one you pick. 

While LG’s camera software has been quite good for awhile now—especially the manual controls—they’ve made some adjustments to take advantage of the new 18:9 aspect ratio display. The extra room is used for a “film strip” down the side during regular shooting, or for a variety of useful modes when shooting square photos (as the display is exactly the ratio of two squares side-by-side). 

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MartinLogan Motion AFX review: Remarkable add-on speakers for object-oriented movie soundtracks

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 04:00:00 -0800

Immersive audio technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X create an incredible three-dimensional sound field that simply blows away traditional multi-channel home theater. Once you hear it, you just can’t go back.

If you’ve longed for immersive audio in your home theater, but balked at the thought of installing speakers in your ceiling, MartinLogan has a fantastic solution. The company's Motion AFX, $599 per pair, are Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers deliver all the benefits of object-oriented soundtracks such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X without the hassle of opening your ceiling.

How do the Motion AFX perform their magic?

Dolby Laboratories, the company behind Atmos, knew that most consumers wouldn’t be able to install in-ceiling speakers. So, with some creative thinking, the laws of physics, and a bit of psychoacoustics, Dolby came up with a slick solution aptly called a Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker. To be labeled as an Atmos-enabled speaker, a speaker must conform to Dolby’s standards.

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5G is coming, but don't get carried away, T-Mobile USA's CTO says

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:54:33 -0800

T-Mobile USA's Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray prescribed a dose of reality for the 5G mania overtaking Mobile World Congress this week, telling Ericsson’s kickoff press briefing Monday morning he’s still in the LTE business.

“5G is not ready yet,” Ray said. “It’s maturing quickly, but it’s not real today, and I can’t go and deploy a 5G radio to serve my customers with and give them a handset.”

For one thing, using millimeter-wave frequencies like 28GHz for mobile services is still a big technical challenge, Ray said. He dismissed so-called commercial 5G deployments in the U.S. involving fixed-wireless service to homes, including one involving Ericsson and Verizon, as fringe use cases for the technology.

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