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31
Jan

Telstra’s superfast 1Gbps network lets you download an HD movie in three minutes


Why it matters to you

Telstra’s 4G LTE network is now one of the fastest in the world, and points toward the speeds consumers in other nations can expect in the future.

Move over, U.S. carriers: There’s a new speed demon in town. At the Gigabit LTE Experience Summit in Sydney, Australia, on January 30, mobile operator Telstra launched the “world’s fastest” 4G LTE network, capable of offering download speeds of up to one gigabit per second and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps.

The new service, which will launch in Sydney and other select Australian cities in the coming weeks, is ten times as fast as the country’s National Broadband Network. And it’s significantly faster than U.K. carriers such as EE, which advertises a peak download speeds of 90 Mbps, Virgin Media (50Mbps), and BT Infinity (76Mbps).

Telstra says it’s fast enough that customers should be able to download an HD movie in three minutes, and an hour-long TV show in as little as 16 seconds.

More: AT&T will begin testing 5G network technologies in Texas later this year

Not every customer will be able to take advantage of this offering. Telstra’s new service requires Netgear’s Nighthawk M1 gigabit LTE mobile router. But the carrier expects future smartphones to be “fully compatible” with the network’s technologies.

Telstra’s network should be a boon for virtual reality and high-resolution video. Some studies estimate that 360-degree videos require four to six times the amount of bandwidth of traditional video. And high-resolution 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) clips, on average, consume twice as much traffic as standard-definition (SD) movies and TV shows (streaming video service Netflix says it needs a minimum of 15 Mbps for 4K compared to 5 Mbps for SD, for instance).

More: T-Mobile covers nearly as many people as Verizon and will commit to 5G in the future

“As our customers continue to use increasing amounts of data for entertainment and business use, Telstra’s continuous innovation ensures out network is ready to deliver the country’s best mobile experience,” Telstra Group Managing Director Mike Wright said in a press release. “We are well placed to evolve our 4G network and are putting the building blocks in place for Australia to be ready for 5G — this will deliver more bandwidth and lover latencies which are critical for emerging applications such as downloading 4K video, IoT, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and shared virtual reality.”

The rollout of Telstra’s super-fast network comes as U.S. carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile prepare to deploy high-speed solutions of their own. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, AT&T said that it expected to achieve widespread 4G LTE speeds of 1Gbps thanks to “optimizations” and “thousands” of new antennas. It expects to begin the first trials in Austin, Texas, during the first half of this year.

More: What is LTE Advanced and why should you care?

Verizon began testing 1Gbps connectivity in select cities earlier this year. Sprint said it would deliver 1Gbps speeds in 2017. And T-Mobile, not to be outdone, contends that it’s the only network in the U.S. to have measured 1Gbps on its existing network.

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31
Jan

The return of Sprint — wireless carrier posts strongest quarter in 4 years


Why it matters to you

While Sprint has long lagged behind the other big three carriers, a recent turnaround suggests consumers are giving the firm another look.

Sprint’s “Can you hear me now?” guy may have turned to Verizon, but it looks like customers are turning to Sprint. Unfortunately for the defecting spokesman, it looks as though now was a bad time to switch teams, as Sprint announced during its fiscal third-quarter report on Tuesday that it added 405,000 net new post-paid subscribers, 368,000 of whom were phone customers, marking Sprint’s highest growth rate in four years.

While the company still stands as the fourth largest wireless carrier (behind Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T), its latest numbers represent more robust growth than anticipated, which was attributed to a range of promotions the carrier offered. In 2015, Sprint announced that it sought to shave up to $2.5 billion from fiscal 2016 expenses by way of layoffs and cost controls. And it looks like something the firm is doing is working.

More: How AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are preparing for Super Bowl 51 crowds

“Sprint is turning the corner,” Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said in a statement. “Even with all the aggressive promotional offers from our competitors, we were still able to add more postpaid phone customers than both Verizon and AT&T.” Net losses stood at $479 million, down significantly from $836 million just one year earlier. And Sprint’s net operating revenue rose to $8.55 billion, which exceeded analysts’ estimates of $8.27 billion.

While T-Mobile also posted strong customer growth numbers in its latest report, Verizon’s increase was a bit more anemic, and AT&T reported postpaid phone customer losses. “Even in a highly competitive quarter with multiple promotional offers from its competitors, Sprint was able to report its highest postpaid phone net additions in four years,” the service provider noted, and added that “The company also remained postpaid net port positive for the third quarter in a row and had its highest postpaid phone gross additions in four years.”

31
Jan

U.S. travel ban causes disruption for internet nonprofit ICANN


Why it matters to you

ICANN, the non-profit that maintains the internet, may need to schedule future meetings outside the U.S.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, better known as ICANN, is a nonprofit dedicated to coordinating the maintenance work required to ensure that the internet is as stable and secure as possible. This week, multiple representatives of the organization have indicated that the U.S. travel ban will cause disruption to its upcoming schedule of meetings.

Kaveh Ranjbar is one of ICANN’s board members, and on Monday he missed his flight to Los Angeles because of the ban, according to a report from Motherboard. After consulting with the organization’s lawyers, he called his flight provider, and was promptly told that he would not be able to board.

“I have both Iranian and Dutch nationalities and passports and I even have a multiple-entry U.S. visa in my Dutch passport but apparently none of that matters!” wrote Ranjbar in a post published via Facebook. “Being born in Tehran means that at least for the next 90 days, I can’t get into the U.S.”

More: Internet access declared a ‘basic service’ in Canada

Ranjbar will miss the ICANN board workshop in Los Angeles, as well as a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force in Chicago where he was set to be appointed as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s liaison to the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee. He will now attend these meetings remotely.

The travel ban isn’t just affecting people trying to get into the United States. Farzaneh Badiei is an Iranian-born associate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who serves as the chair of the noncommercial users constituency at ICANN, and she will reportedly be unable to attend the ICANN community forum scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March.

Badiei came to the United States as a research scholar using a multiple entry visa in December 2016. Given the current situation, she’s concerned that if she left the country to attend one of her scheduled events, she would be barred from entry upon her return.

ICANN is working to find a solution that will ensure that its important work can go ahead as planned. While it would be an imperfect fix, there is now talk among ICANN members that conferences and meetings previously held within the United States may me moved to other countries.

31
Jan

U.S. travel ban causes disruption for internet nonprofit ICANN


Why it matters to you

ICANN, the non-profit that maintains the internet, may need to schedule future meetings outside the U.S.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, better known as ICANN, is a nonprofit dedicated to coordinating the maintenance work required to ensure that the internet is as stable and secure as possible. This week, multiple representatives of the organization have indicated that the U.S. travel ban will cause disruption to its upcoming schedule of meetings.

Kaveh Ranjbar is one of ICANN’s board members, and on Monday he missed his flight to Los Angeles because of the ban, according to a report from Motherboard. After consulting with the organization’s lawyers, he called his flight provider, and was promptly told that he would not be able to board.

“I have both Iranian and Dutch nationalities and passports and I even have a multiple-entry U.S. visa in my Dutch passport but apparently none of that matters!” wrote Ranjbar in a post published via Facebook. “Being born in Tehran means that at least for the next 90 days, I can’t get into the U.S.”

More: Internet access declared a ‘basic service’ in Canada

Ranjbar will miss the ICANN board workshop in Los Angeles, as well as a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force in Chicago where he was set to be appointed as the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s liaison to the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee. He will now attend these meetings remotely.

The travel ban isn’t just affecting people trying to get into the United States. Farzaneh Badiei is an Iranian-born associate researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who serves as the chair of the noncommercial users constituency at ICANN, and she will reportedly be unable to attend the ICANN community forum scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March.

Badiei came to the United States as a research scholar using a multiple entry visa in December 2016. Given the current situation, she’s concerned that if she left the country to attend one of her scheduled events, she would be barred from entry upon her return.

ICANN is working to find a solution that will ensure that its important work can go ahead as planned. While it would be an imperfect fix, there is now talk among ICANN members that conferences and meetings previously held within the United States may me moved to other countries.

31
Jan

Animal Crossing mobile game delayed again, will be released later this year


Why it matters to you

Following the release of the disappointing ‘Amiibo Festival,’ a new Animal Crossing game can’t come soon enough for fans, who will certainly be frustrated by the latest delay.

The Animal Crossing mobile game that Nintendo had planned to launch early this spring has been pushed back to an unspecified point in 2017. This is the second delay for the game — the first one for mobile devices — which was pushed into 2017 late last year.

The information comes via an earnings report from Nintendo, which stated that Animal Crossing is now planned to launch next fiscal year. That period begins April 1, meaning that the wait could be negligible. It doesn’t appear that performance or design problems are to blame for the move, but rather that Nintendo wants more time for Fire Emblem Heroes and the Android version of Super Mario Run to breathe.

More: Fire Emblem series will get four new Nintendo games by 2018

Nintendo has given very little concrete information on the mobile version of Animal Crossing thus far, but has said the game “will be connected with the world of Animal Crossing for dedicated gaming systems.” With no game announced for the Switch thus far, this likely means connectivity with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for 3DS. Nintendo also said that it would feature “more prominent game elements” than the social application Miitomo, which is similar in some design aspects to the Animal Crossing series.

Mobile devices seem like the perfect fit for Tom Nook and his friends. It will allow players to control certain aspects of their towns for a few minutes at a time before going about their day. The series has thus far appeared on the GameCube, Wii, DS, and 3DS, with spinoffs on both the 3DS and Wii U.

The last two Animal Crossing releases haven’t exactly been met with the fanfare and acclaim that the series has experienced in the past. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer was called “boring” and “repetitive,” while the party game Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival was largely reviled and compared unfavorably to the Mario Party series.

31
Jan

Xiaomi Redmi Pro 2 and Redmi Note 2 Pro news and rumors


Xiaomi had quite a year last year with the Redmi Note 2 and the Redmi 2, and it looks like the company is set to follow up on those devices with a few new handsets for 2017. In fact, rumors have been circulating quite a bit about the new phones, called the Redmi Note 2 Pro and the Redmi Pro 2, and we now have a pretty good look at what the phones could have on offer.

The rumors are interesting for a few reasons — perhaps the most notable one being that Xiaomi launched the Redmi Pro last year only in China — suggesting that it would be a one-off device. Does the existence of a follow-up suggest we’ll see the phone in other markets? We’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s everything we know about the Redmi Note 2 Pro and Redmi Pro 2 so far.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro 2

It’s looking more and more like Xiaomi will launch a follow-up to the Redmi Pro, called the Redmi Pro 2. In fact, press shots and specs have appeared online showing that the phone could offer some pretty nice specs.

First up is the camera, and unfortunately it looks like Xiaomi isn’t interested in keeping the dual-camera setup for the Pro 2. According to a leak on Chinese social media site Weibo, the phone will offer a simple 12MP rear-facing camera with an f1/2.55-inch sensor and a 1.4μm pixel size.

Apart from the camera, the specs seem quite nice. The phone will come in two variants, and with one offering 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, and the other boasting a cool 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. We don’t yet know what kind of chipset will come in the phone, or if there will be different chipsets in the different variants.

We do have prices for the device, and according to the leak the phone will be quite reasonably priced. The 4GB variant will come at 1,599 yuan, which equates to $232, while the bigger 6GB version will come at 1,799 yuan, or around $261.

What about the release date? Well, we don’t know for sure yet, but it’s possible that we’ll see the device launch at Mobile World Congress alongside the Mi5.

31
Jan

Get more desktop real estate with AOC 27-inch frameless monitor (51% off)


Having a large display for your desktop PC is great, but staring at big, chunky bezels around the screen is not – particularly if you are running a multi-monitor setup. Wide bezels surrounding the display can be visually distracting and create a bulky, unattractive appearance. As desktop monitors have gotten larger and slimmer, however, models like the AOC 27-inch frameless monitor are increasingly sporting superslim bezels tht cut down on bulk and give you more desktop real estate.

The AOC i2769Vm offers a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and utilizes IPS display technology for convenient viewing at various angles. A latency of just 5ms cuts down on input lag for quick response times while gaming, and the LED technology gives you vibrant colors while reducing power consumption. The sleek, frameless look is achieved with a 2mm ultraslim bezel surrounding the screen, making this model an attractive option for multi-monitor arrangements. A VESA 75mm mounting system on the back of the housing lets you securely affix the monitor to your wall or to a flexible display mount.

More: Maximize your monitor’s flexibility with the Fleximounts F9 Desk Mount, now $70

The AOC 27-inch frameless monitor utilizes standard VGA and HDMI display ports, as well as Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) and DisplayPort connectivity. With HDMI, you can easilyconnect the i2769Vm to your P,C as well as compatible video game consoles with a single cable that carries both high-definition video and audio signals. MHL allows you to attach your Android device to the display for streaming video, while the DisplayPort feature allows for a direct connection between a laptop computer and the monitor.

Normally $350, the AOC 27-inch frameless monitor is now available on Amazon at a discount of more than 50 percent that brings it down to just $170. In its various configurations, this model boasts a 4.4-star rating with more than 900 customer reviews, and is a solid bargain for anybody looking for a large, full HD desktop monitor.

$170 on Amazon

31
Jan

After failing to produce its Kickstarter product, Triggertrap announces closure


Why it matters to you

Triggertrap users will be losing app updates and technical support after Tuesday, while the company’s failed Kickstarter serves as a reminder that even funded projects don’t always see production.

The company that helped make cameras smarter with connected smartphone apps is going out of business — on Tuesday, Triggertrap announced it will be closing after financial struggles that began when the company could not deliver its latest product.

Founded in 2011, Triggertrap is a device that connects cameras with a smartphone app for enhanced functionality. In a letter to supporters, CEO Haje Jan Kamps said that the company has been struggling since the Triggertrap Ada Kickstarter failed over a year ago, despite raising nearly four times the original goal.

More: Built-in Wi-Fi has nothing on this new DSLR control with light, sound, and laser triggers

“Ever since our failed Kickstarter campaign, Triggertrap has been struggling,” Kamps wrote. “We’ve gone through several rounds of layoffs to keep the company afloat, but ultimately, ended up being unable to save Triggertrap.”

The Ada, like the company’s earlier products, connected a camera and a smartphone for enhanced functionality, but unlike earlier options, offered a modular design that allowed photographers to add different sensors to trigger shots, from a laser to sound.

While the Kickstarter campaign successfully reached the funding goal, raising nearly $500,000, the company grossly underestimated the cost of getting the Ada to market. The prototype cost five times more than the initial budget — and then the manufacturing costs tripled the initial budget.

After the company announced they wouldn’t be able to deliver on their funded Kickstarter project, the company has faced financial struggles ever since, according to Kamps’ statement. After 18 months operating with minimal staff — and 10 of those months struggling to make payroll — the company has finally admitted defeat.

More: Despite 60,000 pre-orders, the Lily flying camera is permanently grounded

While the failed Kickstarter played a large role in the company’s closure, the camera market is quite different now than when the company launched in 2011. At the time, operating a real camera with a smartphone was a relatively new idea. Six years later, most new cameras have Wi-Fi built in. While the Triggertrap Mobile kits offered more features like sound, motion, and facial recognition triggers, the smartphone camera remote is less of a novelty today.

Triggertrap says technical support ends on Tuesday and while the app will remain available, with no one around to update it, future operating system updates could leave the app incompatible. The company says there are only a few hundred Mobile Kits left, with many of the Triggertrap kits on their website listed as out of stock. The remaining kits will be sold at a significant discount before the shop closes in the next few weeks.

Triggertrap anticipates the closure will be complete in February.

31
Jan

Lego Life is a social network that encourages kids to share their creations


Why it matters to you

Families have another child-friendly option with this safe social network that has been tailor-made for kids.

Social networks aren’t necessarily amenable to kids, and that’s putting it mildly. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube prohibit kids younger than 13 from signing up for good reason — the wide-open potential for cyberbullying, explicit adult content, and abuse places those sites among the web’s rougher frontiers. And that’s why Lego, the Denmark-based company behind the eponymous rectangular building blocks, is trying to fill the gap with a social network for kids ages 7 to 12 called Lego Life.

Lego Life, which Lego says has been in conceptualization for the last three years and in development for one, launches Tuesday in the form of a free app for iOS and Android devices. Young users can create Lego avatars with hair and outfits that reflect their personality, and they can share pictures or videos of their creations with a small circle of digital friends. Kids “like” other posts by tapping a heart icon, and a tiered system of rewards encourages them to share. The more Lego Life users post, the more accessories they unlock for their Lego avatar.

More: Parents can privately share pictures of kids with new Sherish app

Kids can follow their favorite topics and interests in a news feed, where they’ll see highlighted works from Lego’s expert builders. And they can join small groups dedicated to subjects such as vehicles, superheros, animals, and Lego characters like Master Wu from Lego Ninjango, Emma from Lego Friends, and Lego Batman.

Lego has taken pains to ensure that Lego Life remains a safe place for kids to interact and play. Parents must confirm their children’s accounts via email, and user names are automatically generated to prevent crudeness. Every post must be Lego-related, and each piece of content — photo, video, or text — goes through a rigorous screening process that scrubs it of any inappropriate content. A third-party company uses software to scan image for faces, text, and vulgar language. Objectionable content is flagged for human review.

A pre-approved set of emoji lets kids comment safely, but even those are moderated. If kids figure out a way to use emoji inappropriately or crudely, the Lego Life team says it’ll block or tweak the offending emoji.

More: Instamoms are a social media phenomenon of child fame, vanity, and money

Lego makes $5.4 billion a year through toy sales and licensing deals with video game and movie studios. The draw, here, is to inspire kids to play with Lego in the real world. One of the social network’s headline features involves “challenges” that encourage kids to accomplish tasks like developing the architecture for Lego buildings and photographing Lego characters.

“We know we’re taking a bit of a risk. We’re creating an app that asks the kids to put the iPad down for 20 minutes. But we think that building with Lego bricks is fun and enjoyable,” Senior Director of Lego Life Rob Lowe told Fast Company. “Especially when you give a kid restraints, and when you combine with rewards, and a progression system, I think it will be an interesting experience for kids to get into.”

31
Jan

Enjoy virtual surround sound with Razer Kraken 7.1 gaming headset, now just $54


For those who take their gaming seriously, a quality headset can make all the difference when it comes to immersion and competitiveness. Along with allowing you to fully enjoy music and sound effects, a good headset enables you to communicate more effectively with your teammates during those down-to-the-wire multiplayer matches. The highly-rated Razer Kraken 7.1 gaming headset, currently on sale for $54, is one such model that would make a welcome addition to any hardcore gamer’s battle station.

Razer Kraken 7.1 gaming headsetAs a very popular and well-known manufacturer of gaming peripherals, Razer needs no introduction. The firm’s keyboards, mice, and headsets remain staples in the gaming community and the Razer Kraken 7.1 gaming headset is a standout member of this stable. The Kraken utilizes two 40mm drivers which utilize virtual surround-sound technology for detailed multi-direction audio and increased situational awareness when you’re immersed in your game. The attached digital microphone offers crisp voice input and retracts into the headset so it’s out of your way when not in use.

More: Create your perfect workspace with Sabrent’s universal dock, now only $90 on Amazon

The last thing you want to worry about during a long gaming session is sore ears, and the Kraken’s padded headband and cushioned earcups keep you comfortable for periods of extended use. Razer’s own Synapse software allows the user to create custom pre-sets for specific games and for other audio applications, and the Chroma model features color-changing LED logos on the earcups for a customizable look.

The Razer Kraken 7.1 gaming headset has earned a solid 4-star rating from over 1,000 customer reviews and retails for $100. For a limited time, Amazon is offering it for just $54 — a generous 46-percent discount off of the original price. If you’ve been hunting around for a quality gaming headset or have had your eye on one of Razer’s offerings, then now is a great time to grab one while the getting’s good.

$54 on Amazon