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General News News (1374)

Thermaltake Launches Website for 3D Printed Computer Components

Category: General News
Posted: February 4, 2016 04:20PM
Author: Nick Harezga

The "Maker Movement" and 3D printing are very popular topics these days with several companies involved and an increasing number of resources for aspiring makers. Thermaltake is launching a website geared towards people that want to 3D print their own computer components and describes it as "a platform established for DIY and Modding enthusiasts to share customized PC components ideas." Users can download models uploaded by others or share their creations with the world. Thermaltake feels that the designs offered on the site fulfill its four core values which are "Excellent Quality, Unique Design, Diverse Combinations, and Boundless Creativity."

Source: Press Release




Toshiba Expecting a Bigger Full-Year Loss Than First Predicted

Category: General News
Posted: February 4, 2016 08:33AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

It is being reported that Toshiba is expecting its full year loss to be greater than the $4.6 billion previously predicted. The new expectation is that it will be a $6 billion dollar loss, and this is all following a $1.3 billion accounting scandal from 2009. That scandal involved an overstatement of profits and has led the company to restructure itself, which is an ongoing process. The CEO has also announced 240 additional job cuts or replacements as part of this restructuring effort, which is already expected to hit 10,000 jobs. The CEO also repeated plans to sell off the company's laptop and home appliance businesses, as both were loss-making. While both Sharp Corp and Foxconn (which may be merging) could be the potential purchasers for the home appliance business, it could also go to a foreign manufacturer.

Source: Reuters



Sharp Reportedly Enters Exclusive Merger Talks With Foxconn

Category: General News
Posted: February 4, 2016 12:48AM
Author: bp9801

It's looking like Sharp may soon have a new owner, as it has reportedly entered exclusive takeover talks with Foxconn. Both Foxconn and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ) were the frontrunners to purchase Sharp, but now it looks like Foxconn is the winner. Sharp was put up for sale early last year to try and save the troubled Japanese TV manufacturer, which saw its stocks drop 50% in 2015. The company was supposedly leaning more towards INCJ in order to keep the company in the hands of its fellow countrymen, despite Foxconn offering far more money. Foxconn's CEO, Terry Gou, made a personal trip to Sharp HQ last week to offer a $5.45 billion bid, with that bid being the winner. INCJ only offered $2.54 billion, and despite having bailed out Sharp three times in the last three years, it looks like Sharp is going with the Taiwanese tech giant.

Sharp currently supplies the screens to Apple's iPhone line, with Foxconn producing parts for Apple, Amazon, and Xiaomi, among others. If Foxconn's deal goes through, it could potentially lower production costs to those companies and more, while also absorbing all of Sharp's current debt and retaining its top management. Sharp has lost nearly $10 billion over the last several years due to lost TV sales and market share to rivals in Korea and China. Keep it tuned for updates on whether or not Sharp becomes a part of Foxconn, and exactly what it means for potentially cheaper hardware (or at least any that utilize an LCD screen).

Source: IBTimes



Microsoft Looks to the Ocean for Data Centers

Category: General News
Posted: February 1, 2016 03:15PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Microsoft has detailed the prototype of one of its latest research projects, a data center designed to be submerged in the ocean for up to five years at a time. Named after a town in Massachusetts, Project Natick packs servers cooled by pressurized nitrogen into a custom submarine capsule. The capsule can be used for up to twenty years with the five year time frame used to swap out servers for newer hardware. An underwater environment provides many benefits including low surrounding temperature and Microsoft claims that Project Natick can be built and deployed in 90 days. More than half of the world's population lives within 124 miles of the coast, allowing for reduced latency for those users.

Source: PC World



Voice Service Being Tested for Google Fiber

Category: General News
Posted: January 29, 2016 02:40PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Google Fiber offerings are currently limited to Gigabit Internet and television services, falling one component short of being able to compete with the "Triple Play" bundles offered by most cable and Internet providers. That could be changing in the near future as Google is beginning to send out "invitations to an experimental telephone service for some of its high-speed Internet subscribers." The service is called Google Fiber Phone and has similar features to the currently available Google Voice service including "voicemail transcriptions and automatic call screening based on the time of day." Invitations are being sent to customers in the Trusted Tester program, and depending on how it goes the service could roll out to all Google Fiber customers. Google could even add its Project Fi cellular service to the bundle at some point, giving it a leg up on the traditional providers.

Source: Washington Post



GIGABYTE Overclocking Contest Starts January 31

Category: General News
Posted: January 27, 2016 02:52PM
Author: Nick Harezga

GIGABYTE is hosting its latest overclocking contest, the Z170-Winter OC Challenge, with the help of HWBOT. The contest begins January 31 and runs until the end of February. Four categories will be available for entries, two for two core systems and two for four core systems. The categories are further divided into enthusiast, rookie, and novice overclockers or elite and extreme overclockers. Each category is split into three stages: XTU, HWBOT Prime, and Geekbench Multi Core. First prize winners will receive a Z170X-SOC Force motherboard and anyone that submits a score will be entered into a drawing for a Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard. Full rules can be found on HWBOT or the OC-ESPORTS page.

Source: OC-ESPORTS



Vulkan Developers Day Held by NVIDIA

Category: General News
Posted: January 20, 2016 09:32AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Recently NVIDIA held its first ever Vulkan Developers Day at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters. For those who do not remember, Vulkan is the next generation graphics and compute API being developed by the Khronos Group, which also developed and maintained OpenGL. Like OpenGL, Vulkan is going to be an open-standard API that will work with various platforms and devices, and like DirectX 12, it is being designed to be more efficient and allow applications direct control over the GPU. Such low level APIs can significantly reduce CPU overhead, improving performance. Both APIs can also work across multiple CPU threads, further increasing performance.

At the Vulkan Developers Day, several key engineers from NVIDIA and its partners discussed and gave lectures on the best ways to leverage the power of Vulkan, and naturally how to do so with NVIDIA hardware. John McDonald of Valve also spoke about High Performance Vulkan Programming. The day ended with workshop sessions and time for developers to speak with the engineers directly. Once Vulkan is publicly released, recordings of the sessions will be made available through NVIDIA's developer portal.

Source: NVIDIA Blog



Phishing Attack Targets LastPass

Category: General News
Posted: January 19, 2016 04:24PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Security researcher Sean Cassidy of Praesidio has revealed a phishing attack targeting the LastPass password manager at ShmooCon 2016 in Washington D.C. He calls it LostPass and describes it as "sophisticated enough to fool users into handing over their passwords, email, and all the passwords and documents stored in their LastPass vault." The LostPass exploit seeks to deceive users by creating a pixel-for-pixel replication of legitimate LastPass messages. In order to be exposed to LostPass, "the intended victim must visit a malicious website or a real website vulnerable to XSS. Once laden with malicious code, the website can then prompt the user with a notification which shows login expiry and an appeal to log in again -- made worse by the CSRF flaw as the website can log the user out of LastPass to make the request appear legitimate." At this point the attacker can gain access to the users account, even if two-factor authentication has been enabled, and can "install a backdoor in their account via the emergency contact feature, disable two-factor authentication, add the attacker's server as a trusted device."

Cassidy informed LastPass of his phishing attack in November and the company has responded. A company spokeswoman stated, "We did work directly with Sean Cassidy, and can confirm this is a phishing attack, not a vulnerability in LastPass. However, we've released an update that will prevent a user from being logged out by the phishing tool, thereby mitigating the risk of the phishing attack. In addition, LastPass has a built-in security alert to let you know when you've entered your master password into a non-LastPass web form."

Source: ZDNet and Fast Company



PC Shipments Down, Gaming PC Sales a Bright Spot

Category: General News
Posted: January 13, 2016 03:35PM
Author: Nick Harezga

General PC shipments were down 10.6% during the fourth quarter of last year, for a total of 71.9 million units, according to IDC. Despite the down quarter, there was some good news for high-end gaming PCs and all-in-one systems as they are the two fastest growing market segments. Gaming PCs benefit from a number of factors that aren't shared by the mainstream PC market. Gaming PCs don't face the same challenge from smartphones and tablets and are purchased by consumers that "aren't price-sensitive, and are willing to spend to get the latest and greatest technologies." Major manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo are making strides to release systems targeted at gamers in hopes of profiting from the gaming PC segment which IDC estimates is growing at 26% per year.

Source: PC World



Smaller Amazon Echo Rumored to be in Development

Category: General News
Posted: January 12, 2016 04:54PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Anonymous sources have told the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is working on a smaller version of its digital voice assistant, the Echo. The new device would be portable, cutting the power cord in favor of battery power. The rumored device is code-named "Fox" and will be charged using a docking station and will "fit comfortably in the palm of someone's hand." In order to help maximize battery life the device will lose its voice activated feature, instead requiring users to push a button to issue voice commands. It is expected to be available at a lower price point than the $180 of the full size Echo.

Source: CNET



Thermaltake Goes Green with Smart Power Management

Category: General News
Posted: January 11, 2016 03:10PM
Author: bp9801

During CES last week, Thermaltake teamed up with modders from around the world to try out the new Smart Power Management (SPM) Platform it launched late last year. The SPM Platform features DPS G PC App 2.0, DPS G Smart Power Management Cloud 1.0, and DPS G Mobile App 1.0 to give users the ability to monitor and record power consumption, voltage distribution, and electricity cost of their system. In order to help raise awareness of global warming and to reinforce the benefits of energy saving, Thermaltake had modders from rhe United States, Australia, Philippines, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Malaysia, and Japan try out SPM on the Smart DPS G Gold and Bronze power supplies. The modders were impressed with SPM, with many commending the ability to monitor how much power each system is using, as well as the potential electric utility bill each month. Not only that, but SPM can also show the CO2 emissions and energy consumption of the current data set compared to the previous three months, giving you an idea of how lean or hungry you were with the power.

Thermaltake fully supports the SPM Platform and plans to have more power supplies (like the recently announced DPS G RGB 1250W) hit the market with it soon. It also hopes more companies and retailers join in on the company's Green Movement, since there's plenty to do still to save the planet and its resources.

Source: Press Release



NVIDIA Announces DRIVE PX 2 System at CES

Category: General News
Posted: January 5, 2016 04:46PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Information about what to expect from the NVIDIA press conference at CES this year began to circulate last month, with a heavy emphasis on systems for the automotive market expected. NVIDIA has delivered on those expectations with the DRIVE PX 2, the successor to the DRIVE PX, which was announced at CES 2015. The system will be powered by a pair of Tegra "Parker" SoCs and a pair of Pascal based discrete GPUs. The end result of this is four NVIDIA Denver and eight ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores and four Pascal GPUs. The added GPU power will help with the computational needs of computer vision necessary for self-driving cars, packing an estimated 8 teraflops 32-bit floating point and 16 teraflops 16-bit floating point performance. The added GPUs will come at a cost of increased power and heat dissipation requirements, causing NVIDIA to design the PX 2 with liquid cooling. In the presentation, NVIDIA was comparing the performance to that of a GTX Titan X, but worth noting is that the PX 2 will need to be programmed with multiple GPUs in mind while the Titan X is a single GPU card. NVIDIA reiterated its commitment to "develop a hardware ecosystem for the automotive industry rather than an end-to-end solution. Which is to say that they want to provide the hardware, while letting their customers develop the software."

Source: NVIDIA via AnandTech




Oculus Begins Shipping Rift VR Headset to Developers

Category: General News
Posted: December 22, 2015 03:45PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Back in June at E3, Oculus announced that it planned to release the Rift Consumer VR Headset in the first quarter of 2016. The company still plans to meet that deadline and it is beginning to ship the final version of the Rift to developers this week. Developers that wish to participate "should submit their VR apps through the standard Oculus dev portal," after which the company will "be in touch with next steps." The Oculus Rift software also reached a significant milestone this week with the release of version 1.0 of the Software Development Kit (SDK). Version 1.0 represents a point of stability in the software whereas previous versions often carried "substantial changes in the way developers have to have their apps interact with the Rift hardware." This year is shaping up to have a great deal of potential in the VR space, and it will be interesting to see what Oculus competitors have to offer as well.

Source: Ars Technica



BIOSTAR Helps Bring Father & Son Closer Through Gaming

Category: General News
Posted: December 10, 2015 03:24PM
Author: Nick Harezga

It's always nice to hear stories of companies giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate among us, and BIOSTAR is the latest company to help out. The company recently helped Michael Gaughan, a father that had suffered a stroke four years earlier placing him on a long road to recovery, build a "dream PC" for his son serving in the US Army. Gaughan sought BIOSTAR's help to make the PC in order to play the latest games with his son like they used to in the past, helping him to cope with the stress of active military duty. He described the experience of working with BIOSTAR stating, "I built this with the help from very generous people and companies like BIOSTAR, who came through with the missing parts for the motherboard. They have been very supportive in this process from start to finish. I want to thank BIOSTAR for all their help and support in making this happen."

Source: Press Release



Google Fiber Evaluating Chicago and Los Angeles

Category: General News
Posted: December 8, 2015 03:21PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Google has some good news for citizens of Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA as it has announced that it is "exploring the possibility of bringing its super-fast Internet service" to the two major metropolitan areas. Chicago and LA would be the largest markets to receive the 1 Gb/s Internet service, joining Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, among other towns. Director of Google Fiber expansion Jill Szuchmacher stated, "Today, we're inviting Chicago and Los Angeles to explore bringing Google Fiber to their cities. As we’ve explored bringing Fiber to other metros across the U.S., we’ve worked to refine our checklist and prepare for building our network in different places. Now, we’re ready to use that same process to work with two of the biggest cities in the country. Home to a combined 6+ million people, Chicago and L.A. are the two largest metros we’ve engaged with to date. And with the help of gigabit Internet, Chicago and L.A. can boost their creative cultures with Internet speed to match their size."

Source: USA Today



Swift Programming Language Now Open Source

Category: General News
Posted: December 4, 2015 01:19PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Swift is the programming language used by Apple for development on iOS and OS X software, a language that drew inspiration from "Objective-C, Rust, Haskell, Ruby, Python, C#, CLU, and far too many others to list." The company announced that it would remove the proprietary nature of the language at WWDC 2015 and has now officially Open Sourced Swift under the Apache license. This license "allows developers the ability to use the software for any purpose and to distribute their own modified versions of the software without paying royalties to Apple," and by making the language Open Source it "could lead to rapid expansion of its use and functionality in software development."

Source: Apple Insider



Potential Root Certificate Exploit Found on Dell Laptops

Category: General News
Posted: November 23, 2015 03:36PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Dell is the latest company to bundle a digital certificate on its laptops that could make "it easy for attackers to cryptographically impersonate Google, Bank of America, and any other HTTPS-protected website." Earlier this year Lenovo was scrutinized for the Superfish software and later the Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64. Multiple reports pointed to at least the Inspiron 5000 and XPS 15 series laptops as containing the self-signed TLS credential. One user, Joe Nord, that helped to find the certificate noted that he was able to visit an HTTPS test site without receiving any sort of warnings in any browser but Firefox. The certificate in question is signed by eDellRoot and uses the same private cryptographic key in all cases. It is unknown if the certificate can be used to "sign applications so that they bypasses Microsoft malware checks," and Dell is actively looking into the matter. Until then, follow the link to see how you can check if your system contains the certificate.

Source: Ars Technica



Microsoft Zune is No More

Category: General News
Posted: November 16, 2015 03:24PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Microsoft stopped production of the Zune music player in 2011 but continued offering its Zune online services. That was until yesterday when the company finally closed the door on its music experiment. The move wasn't a surprise as Microsoft announced that November 15 would be the end of Zune back in September. Microsoft is continuing to offer a monthly music pass through the Groove Music Pass, offering the same features as the Zune Music Pass with the exception of 10 free monthly downloads.

Source: Mashable



Roku Announces New Streamer Available for Black Friday

Category: General News
Posted: November 11, 2015 03:05PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Roku has announced a new entry-level device, the Roku SE, that will be available starting November 26. The SE carries an MSRP of $49.99, but that will be discounted to $25 on Black Friday, the day after it is released. The SE will have a reduced feature set compared to the higher priced Roku offerings, with maximum resolution of 1080p, no Ethernet port, and no voice search. It is compatible with both HDMI and analog TVs and is controlled by the latest Roku OS 7. It is expected to support the full catalog of Roku channels with the exception of content at higher resolutions than 1080p.

Source: Tech Crunch



Linux Servers Are New Target of Ransomware Hackers

Category: General News
Posted: November 9, 2015 03:35PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Ransomware hackers had previously focused their efforts on personal and business computers in their attempts to extort money from victims desperate to get their files back. Russian company Doctor Web has discovered that the hackers have set their sights on Linux web servers with an exploit they have named Linux.Encoder.1. The exploit utilizes administrator privileges to encrypt files in home directories, SQL server directories, and directories for services such as Apache. Files are targeted based on extension and then encrypted using "a strong encryption algorithm and public-key cryptography, making the files hard to recover without backups or paying the ransom." Local backups are also targeted leaving victims with the need for offline backups or ransom money.

Source: PC World



Blizzard Shows Off Warcraft, StarCraft II Trailers at Blizzcon

Category: General News
Posted: November 7, 2015 10:50AM
Author: Nick Harezga

The annual Blizzcon event is ongoing in California and Blizzard has debuted trailers for the conclusion of the StarCraft II saga and the upcoming Warcraft movie. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void finishes the trilogy with the player in control of the final in-game race, the Protoss. Players are tasked with stopping Amon, "a xel’naga who wants to remake the universe in his image – after first completely destroying it, of course." The Warcraft trailer builds on the short teaser released earlier in the week and shows off both human and orc forces who are forced to unite against a common foe.

Source: Polygon and Game Rant



Zerodium Pays $1 Million for iOS 9 Jailbreak

Category: General News
Posted: November 3, 2015 03:16PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Exploit acquisition company Zerodium published a $1 million bounty for an untethered iOS 9 jailbreak in September, seeking an "exclusive exploit for use against iPhone users." An exploit had been previously released by Chinese team Pangu but the exploit didn't qualify for the bounty as it was publicly available and not remotely executable. The bounty was claimed just "a few hours" before the end of the contest. Details about the exploit and the team behind it were not released other than the acknowledgement that it was "an exclusive, browser-based, and untethered jailbreak."

Source: ZDNet



CISA Passes Senate Despite Glaring Privacy Concerns

Category: General News
Posted: October 27, 2015 06:04PM
Author: bp9801

The Cybersecurity Information Security Act, otherwise known as CISA, passed its U.S. Senate vote earlier today by a tally of 74-21. It now heads off to a conference committee where it can try to mirror the bill passed by the House earlier this year, and there's a chance it could be filibustered before then or even vetoed by the President. However, CISA has been endorsed by the White House, which is a change from its condemnation of CISPA two years ago. CISA may stall, but it may also come to pass. Now, for why CISA isn't the greatest idea is that while it's designed to try and curtail cybersecurity breaches of businesses, it's rather open ended in what it defines as a threat. Basically, CISA allows these businesses to openly share its cybersecurity threat data with the FBI, NSA, and others in order to help those agencies defend other companies from future threats. The problem is the threat definition of CISA is extremely open ended, where nearly anything can be considered a threat. And to make matters potentially worse, the companies can share all user data without a warrant and even offer a backdoor to circumvent any user privacy laws.

According to Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), CISA lays down the groundwork for companies to collect user data quickly and provide it to the government. It isn't some user data, but all user data from as many users as the company feels like gathering the data on. Any cybersecurity threat information gathered on the grounds of CISA can be shared "notwithstanding any other provision of law." Health records, financial information, emails, text messages, and anything else a company gathers by way of CISA would no longer be private. Two amendments to CISA that would have added more privacy were not passed, although the votes were fairly close, so there's a chance support for those amendments will return.

CISA is meant to stop breaches, but it does nothing for poor computer architecture, unencrypted data, outdated servers/firewalls, employees downloading malware, or anything else that can also contribute to data breaches. CISA only seems to be concerned with outside threats and nothing internal, which is just as big of a threat.

Academic institutions, tech companies (most of Silicon Valley, really), computer security professionals, and civil society organizations were all against CISA, yet it still passed. More than one million faxes were sent to the Senators by their constituents opposing CISA, and yet it still passed. The Department of Homeland Security even warned that the passage of CISA could flood it with superfluous information or things of "dubious data," while also destroying privacy protection. Yet CISA still passed the Senate. The EFF expressed its disappointment with the passage of CISA, as I'm sure many others will, too. The EFF intends to keep fighting for more privacy protection to be included in CISA , because even with the good intentions of the bill, its current wording is seriously flawed and can expose all of our data to the government. We'll keep you updated on how CISA proceeds from here.

Sources: EFF, Yahoo, and Wired



BIOSTAR Announces New Motherboard and Video Card

Category: General News
Posted: October 21, 2015 02:51PM
Author: Nick Harezga


BIOSTAR has announced a pair of new products with the Gaming H170T motherboard and Gaming GeForce GTX980Ti video card. The Gaming H170T uses the latest Intel H170 socket with support for sixth generation socket 1151 Core processors. Puro Hi-Fi audio technology has a built-in amplifier and utilizes an independent power delivery system for audio components, resulting in "significant reduction in electronic noise producing superb sound quality." A "moistureproof" PCB design provides for excellent performance in high humidity environments while eXtreme Durable Capacitors provide stable power supply with a lifespan up to 6.25 times that of liquid capacitors. It can support up to 32GB of DDR3 in four slots, PCIe M.2, and SATA Express.

The GeForce GTX980Ti is based on the NVIDIA Titan X GPU and features 2816 CUDA cores, just shy of the Titan X's 3072. It features 6GB of GDDR5 at a speed of 7GHz on a 384-bit bus. The card uses the PCIe 3.0 x16 interface with DVI, three DisplayPort, and HDMI output support.

Source: Press Release




Dell Agrees to Purchase EMC For $67 Billion

Category: General News
Posted: October 12, 2015 10:34AM
Author: Nick Harezga

Dell has announced that it will purchase storage specialist EMC in conjunction with Silver Lake, MSD Partners, and Temasek Holdings for a total of $67 billion. The deal has a total value of $33.15 per share, a 28% boost from the October 7 closing stock price, with a mix of cash and stock being used as compensation. EMC has a 21% share of the storage market, roughly double the share for Dell, and the acquisition should augment the Dell server business and return value to EMC shareholders. The deal will close sometime next year between May and October.

Source: Ars Technica



Amazon Considering Live TV Service

Category: General News
Posted: October 7, 2015 03:25PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Rumors indicate that Amazon has engaged in talks with major media companies including CBS and NBC Universal for several months regarding the creation of a online pay-TV service. The service would pair Amazon original content with offerings from other networks, creating an offering to provide consumers with another option for "cutting the cord." Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn addressed the rumors stating, "It’s possible Amazon is simply looking at the economics of the business, which would involve them talking with content owners about costs." Rayburn also added that the recent acquisition of Elemental Technologies "provides a platform to deliver live TV over the Web."

Source: Bloomberg



LoopPay Corporate Networks Breached

Category: General News
Posted: October 7, 2015 02:55PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Samsung has reported that LoopPay, a company it acquired earlier this year, was the victim of a network security breach. LoopPay is responsible for the "secret sauce behind Samsung Pay," the payment service launched just last week. The attack was reportedly carried out by "a state-sponsored Chinese hacking group—known as the Codoso Group or Sunshock Group among security professionals." Samsung chief privacy officer Darlene Cedres addressed the breach stating, "Samsung Pay was not impacted and at no point was any personal payment information at risk. This was an isolated incident that targeted the LoopPay corporate network, which is a physically separate network from Samsung Pay. The LoopPay corporate network issue was resolved immediately and had nothing to do with Samsung Pay." it is believed that the motivation behind the attack was to gain access to the intellectual property of LoopPay, particularly magnetic secure transmission and cryptographic information.

Source: Fortune



Amazon to Ban Sales of Apple TV and Chromecast

Category: General News
Posted: October 1, 2015 03:01PM
Author: Nick Harezga

As of October 29 Amazon plans to discontinue sales of the Apple TV and Google Chromecast on its website, advising all merchants through a memo. Amazon made this move as "it wants to sell living room devices that are fully compatible and optimized for its Amazon Prime Video service," adding that "Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, and Fire TV are excellent choices." The divide between the companies appears to be centered around an unwillingness to share revenue from content sales with Apple and Google. Consumers will still be able to get their hands on the devices through many other reputable retailers.

Source: The Verge



Lenovo Caught Bundling Junkware on Its Systems Again

Category: General News
Posted: September 24, 2015 02:49PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Lenovo has faced some bad press multiple times this year for bundling spyware on its systems, first with Superfish and then with the Lenovo Search Engine. At the center of the latest controversy is "Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64," which "uploads Customer Feedback Program data to Lenovo." Micheal Horowitz of Computerworld looked into the software further and found references to Omniture, an online marketing and Web analytics firm. As of right now the software has only been found on refurbished systems, but it is possible that it could be found on all Lenovo systems.

Source: NDTV



Amazon Expands Fire Device Family

Category: General News
Posted: September 17, 2015 03:44PM
Author: Nick Harezga

Rumors of an upcoming tablet release from Amazon were first reported a little over a week ago, and it has now been revealed that the company had more than a cheap tablet planned. Amazon released a trio of new tablets earlier today including the rumored $50 tablet that has a 7" screen rather than the expected 6". Amazon gave a closed demo that compared the device with other tablets costing less than $100 and Amazon believes it performs comparably to the higher priced devices thanks to its 1.3GHz quad core processor and 1GB of RAM. The tablet will also be available in a $100 Kids Edition that "offers a no-questions-asked replacement policy for two years" and includes a rubber bumper and one year of Amazon FreeTime. Also unveiled were the speculated 8" and 10" tablets, which feature a 1.5GHz quad core CPU, MicroSD slots, up to eight hours of battery life and a resolution of 1280x800.

In addition to the new tablets, Amazon has also updated the Fire TV with support for 4K resolution and the Alexa voice service. Amazon Fire TV Director Tim Twerdahl confirmed that all Amazon original TV shows and Netflix 4K content would be available, with the promise that any other content released in 4K resolutions by movie studios would be offered. Twerdahl added that the Fire TV would be able to detect 4K TVs and provide the appropriate resolutions, but also stated that users without 4K TVs would see the benefit of decreased bandwidth usage due to the use of a new HEVC video codec "which he said is twice as efficient compared to the codec in use today." A new Fire TV Stick will be available at a cost of $50 for the inclusion of a voice remote, though the current version will remain at $40 without the voice remote. A remote can be purchased separately or an Android app can be downloaded to enable voice support.

Rounding out the announcements is FireOS 5, the "biggest redesign ever," which will be included with all new Fire devices with added support for older devices in the future. Senior Manager of Fire Tablets Aaron Bromberg described the new UI stating that it is "designed to mimic the layout of high-quality magazines with an eye toward making it easier for users to browse and discover new movies, songs, and books." A feature called OnDeck will automatically download eligible content for Prime subscribers to the device, with support for saving to MicroSD storage. Word Runner is another new feature targeted at users that read Kindle books on their tablets and it uses an algorithm to bring a single word at a time to the center of the screen to help improve reading speed. Pre-orders are now being accepted with an expected ship date of September 30.

Source: Wall Street Journal and PC World



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