Skip to content

Archive for

23
Feb

Tesla: Model 3 production is on track to start in July


Tesla’s final earnings report for 2016 is most notable for what it tells us to expect in the upcoming year. In a letter to shareholders (PDF), Elon Musk & Co. report that Model 3 production is on track to start in July, ramping up to full-scale production in September. As our friends at Autoblog note, that means the earliest pre-ordering customers could see their cars by the end of this year.

In the letter, Tesla also says it’s planning to double the number of Supercharger locations in North America, which should make those cross-country trips even easier. Another convenience-enhancing move that is the expansion of its mobile repair service, as it claims that more than 80 percent of repairs can be performed remotely at owner’s home or workplace. TechCrunch reports that on a call with investors, execs mentioned some customers in Asia have the opportunity to roll insurance and maintenance into the car’s purchase price. Tesla VP Jeff Evanson said: “It’s our vision in the future that we’ll be able to offer a single price for the car, maintenance and insurance in a really compelling offering for the consumer.”

Other items that came up included the departure of CFO Jason Wheeler, to be replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who was previously the CFO before leaving in 2015. Tesla also plans to produce 71 percent more cars (between 47,000 and 50,000) in the first half of 2017 as compared to the first half of 2016, and it will announce locations on Gigafactories 3, 4 and 5 later this year.

Source: Tesla Q4 2016 earnings (PDF)

23
Feb

Firefox adds the ability to snooze tabs on Test Pilot


It probably happens quite often: you come across an interesting piece, but you’re too busy to actually read it. While you can always bookmark a web page, Firefox’s latest Test Pilot experiment can help make sure you’ll see it again when you do have time for it. The experimental feature called SnoozeTabs dismisses any tab you want and asks you to set the time when you want it to reappear on your browser.

You simply need to click its icon and then choose from the options that appear in a pull-down menu: you can program the tab to reappear later that day, the next day, the weekend, next week or next month. But if you have a specific date and time in mind, you can manually put that in, as well. When the snooze time’s up, the tab will pop back into your browser and will even notify you of its presence.

The latest Test Pilot version also comes with Pulse, which sends the browser’s engineers your instant feedback on which sites work well and which don’t. We’re guess that’s a lot less exciting than SnoozeTab — either way, you can test both features as long as you have the Test Pilot add-on. It’s an extension for the stable version of Firefox, so you can play with upcoming features even if you don’t have the browser’s experimental builds.

Source: The Mozilla Blog

23
Feb

Stealth action game ‘Serial Cleaner’ starts after the murder


Many stealth action games have you creating bodies: you’re a hitman, a thief or someone who otherwise needs to eliminate enemies in a hurry. But what if you were the person disposing of the bodies? That’s the premise behind Serial Cleaner, a top-down sneaking title from Curve Digital and iFun4all. The highly stylized, ’70s-themed game has you removing bodies and cleaning up bloodstains while you dodge investigating police. Think of it as dealing with the aftermath of a Hotline Miami level, with a dash of Viscera Cleanup Detail thrown in.

The developers are also promising some unpredictability. Bodies won’t always be in the same place, and the real-world time of day will be reflected in the game itself — you might want to play at night if you prefer the cover of darkness. Ideally, the title will also reward you whether you think well on your feet or meticulously plan your routes.

The game won’t officially arrive until this summer, but it’s likely to be available on your platform of choice: it’s launching on Linux, Mac and Windows through Steam as well as the PS4 and Xbox One. And if you’re not willing to wait, you can buy Serial Cleaner right now through Steam’s Early Access program. It’s hard to say if the gameplay will keep you around when the novelty wears off, but it’s good to see a game in this genre that doesn’t rehash familiar settings.

Source: iFun4all

23
Feb

Apple Speaks Out Against Trump Order to Rescind Protections for Transgender Students


Apple tonight spoke out on President Trump’s move to rescind Obama administration protections for transgender students, providing a statement to Axios. The protections had allowed transgender students to use bathrooms that corresponded to their gender identity.

The Cupertino company reiterated its commitment to equality, saying that everyone deserves a chance to be free from stigma and discrimination.

“Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination. We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has spoken out against the actions of the Trump administration. In late January, CEO Tim Cook said that the immigration executive order was not a policy that Apple supported. Apple made its HR, legal and security teams available to employees who were affected and eventually joined nearly 100 firms filing a legal brief against the order.

Under Cook, Apple has had a history of speaking out in favor of equality. In March 2015, Cook spoke out against Indiana’s controversial “Religious Freedom” law, which allowed business owners to turn away LGBTQ customers by citing “religious freedom.” Cook also called on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill.

Additionally, in 2013 both Cook and Apple came out in support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and released a statement of support after the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

23
Feb

BLU Life Max Review


There are two things you really need to know about Life Max from BLU: it has a great battery life and it’s cheap.

For some, that will be reason enough to consider a purchase, especially as it does also come with a 5.5” screen, fingerprint sensor and dual sim functionality. But as with any budget device, you’ll need to be willing to make some rather large compromises to get that low price.

This is the Life Max, let’s see if the trade-off makes sense for you and your wallet.

See also:

Best cheap Android phones (February 2017)

2 days ago

Design and Build

The Life Max features a no-frills, budget-friendly build. It has a large 5.5” screen, no physical home button and blackish dark blue colorscheme.

The best thing I can say about it is that at first pass, you wouldn’t necessarily know it was budget phone.

Whether or not you like the design of the Life Max is likely to hinge on how you feel about the faux leather back panel. That’s the most noticeable design feature here and to be honest, it’s a lot better than you’re probably expecting. It’s rather understated and actually nicer than the feature found on the Galaxy Note 4. That said though, this is definitely still an acquired taste and won’t be for everyone. And you’re not going to be mistaking this for real leather anytime soon.

One thing about the design that we don’t like so much is the crazy positioning of just about everything.  It’s all topsy-turvy with the microUSB port (not USB-C) on the top of the device and volume rockers on the right above the power button. Neither of these things are the end of the world, but it’s confusing and can be irritating – especially changing the volume. Presumably this was something to do with cost-saving, as it’s hard to imagine anyone thought this would be an improvement.

BLU-Life-Max-9a-840x473.jpg

The device feels pretty cheap too. Despite being fairly large, it’s incredibly light and it probably wouldn’t take too much force to snap it in half. Without the battery in, it feels like one of those plastic place holders you find in stores.

But while it might not be the most logical or premium build, the best thing I can say about it is that at first pass, you wouldn’t necessarily know it was budget phone. For the asking price, that’s pretty impressive.

BLU-Life-Max-5a-840x473.jpg

Display

That IPS LCD screen is also pretty average. At 5.5”, it will give you plenty of real-estate for a variety of tasks and it is fairly bright too. At 720p (720×1280), it’s certainly not as crisp as many others, though you need to look closely in order to tell. It should be fine for consuming media, even if it’s not top of the line.

One feature that BLU seems keen to highlight is the ‘3D glass’ but it’s an incredibly tenuous claim and not one you’ll notice during use; it’s just that the screen is very slightly raised.

BLU-Life-Max-8a-840x473.jpg

Hardware

What will also define your media experience are the speakers and these leave something to be desired. The odd placement of the USB means that there’s plenty of space for the two speakers along the bottom. Except when you inspect more closely, you’ll realize that sound only actually comes out of one of them and is very tinny. In fact, this is one of the most ‘budget feeling’ aspects of the phone and it is a bit of a let-down when you’re watching YouTube or playing games.

BLU-Life-Max-6a-840x473.jpg

What’s a little less budget feeling is the inclusion of a finger print sensor round back just below the camera. This is nice to find on a phone of this price and it’s increasingly useful for a range of apps and services these days.

Except when you inspect more closely, you’ll realize that sound only actually comes out of one of them and is very tinny.

Another very nice feature is the inclusion of a dual SIM slot. This is a rare option that will be very welcome for some users I’m sure. The phone comes unlocked which is a big bonus and I’ve had no problems with call quality or signal.

Performance

Speaking of games and performance in general, the Life Max is certainly no powerhouse. Processing is taken care of by a quad-core 1.3GHz CPU with a basic 2GB of RAM. Graphics are handled by the Mali-T720 GPU, which is a popular choice for budget phones coming out of China (BLU is based in Miami but its hardware is currently produced in China).

Benchmark scores put it significantly below even a Samsung Galaxy S5, so the CPU is far behind modern flagships. But for people who will just be using their device for Twitter and Facebook, this hardly matters. Mobile gamers will still be able to play most titles on the Play Store but should expect occasional stutters and lower framerates when playing the most demanding 3D games on high settings. I also had a few games fail to launch that run fine on my other devices.

Life-Max-16a-840x468.png

I will say that rummaging through the UI isn’t the most buttery smooth experience, either. You do get the occasional lags and there’s a minor perceptible pause when trying to scroll through images in the gallery or switch between apps. It’s certainly not futureproof but for those mostly passive users, it should suffice. What’s going to be more troubling for a lot of people is the measly 16GB of storage, only around 10GB of which is free to play with. Thankfully, the Life Max comes with expandable storage but you’ll still need to be prepared to do some juggling if you want to store lots of large media files on here.

Some benchmarks for those that are interested:

 

Life-Max-Scores-2-1-840x688.png

Life-Max-Scores-1-1-840x693.png

Battery

The battery is where things get a little more interesting, as the Life Max sports a very impressive 3,700mAh battery. This puts it ahead of even BLU’s own higher-end offerings, such as the Vivo 6, or much more demanding phones like the Galaxy S7.

BLU-Life-Max-12a-840x473.jpg

When you combine this impressive battery size with the modest screen resolution, good software optimization from Google and a lack of fancy gimmicks, you have a phone that really can last a decent amount of time before giving up the ghost. BLU claims that the phone can last 3 days with normal use. With my normal use, it’s closer to two but that’s still very impressive compared with most other handsets and it’s something I really wish that other manufacturers would prioritise.

As a phone that is named for its longevity, it’s a shame not to see quick-charging here. What is nice though, is the replaceable battery for the times you need a bit more juice or your phone has decided to freeze and refuse to turn off.

Camera

The camera is often one of the first casualties of cheaper phones and unfortunately, the Life Max doesn’t do much to buck this trend. Here you get an 8MP rear shooter and 5MP selfie camera. The inclusion of a front facing flash for the selfie camera wins points, although I can’t see anyone wanting to use this for much other than Skype calls.

The rear shooter meanwhile is a mixed bag. One the one hand, it produces photos that look washed out, struggles in anything other than perfect lighting and takes a very long time to take thanks to noticeable shutter lag (worse of course with HDR turned on). Photos often come out overexposed and a little lacking in detail. That said, if you’re willing to put the effort in and get creative, it can still produce some decent end results, especially once you have your Instagram filters in place.

Auto focus is surprisingly capable, even producing some decent macro effects without having to tap to focus. The camera app also has a few nice options, including controls for white balance, exposure and ISO, as well as some fun features like smile detection.  Just be prepared to work for it and don’t go on holiday thinking you won’t need to take a separate camera. This isn’t great but I’ve seen worse.

Just be prepared to work for it and don’t go on holiday thinking you won’t need to take a separate camera…

Software

The Life Max comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow installed out of the box. One nice thing about BLU’s phones is their lack of bloatware or unwanted customizations. This is a very vanilla Android experience, which is great news and helps tremendously with the performance and lifespan. Android 6.0 is a very user-friendly OS and one that technophobes should have no problem finding their way around (which is a potential market for a phone like this).

BLU-Life-Max-1a-840x473.jpg

Updates for budget phones are always a question mark though and I wouldn’t hold your breath for Nougat.

Specifications

Display 5.5-inch 720p LCD display
Processor 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737
GPU Mali T720 GPU
RAM 2GB
Storage 16GB
MicroSD Yes
Dual SIM Yes
Camera 8MP main cam, 5MP front
Battery Li-Po 3700 mAh, removable
Software Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Dimensions 154.5 x 77.1 x 8.7 mm
Price $109.99 / £89.99

Conclusion

As a phone that’s available for an extremely pocket-friendly price, it would be unfair to compare the Life Max to flagship devices that cost hundreds of dollars. The question we should be asking is whether it is good value for money and the answer to that has to be yes. At such a low cost, you really can’t go wrong and when you consider the massive battery, fingerprint sensor and dual SIM slot, you’re actually getting more than the bare minimum here. This actually isn’t BLU’s cheapest phone – that honor goes to the R1 HD! BLU is a dab hand when it comes to budget, entry-level smartphones and the Life Max is just further evidence of this.

BLU-Life-Max-2a-840x473.jpg

This is not a phone for anyone who loves smartphones though. Gamers should probably look elsewhere too, as should anyone who likes having the latest gadgets. This is a device for someone who wants a basic phone that offers some smart functionality on top, and won’t break the bank – you probably already know if that’s you. Just make sure that you’re happy to forego features like fancy cameras, top-end performance, good quality speakers or a 1080p resolution. Oh, and be prepared to be confused by odd placements for buttons and ports.

This is a device for someone who wants a basic phone that will act like a phone and won’t break the bank – you probably already know if that’s you.

That said, I can also see other scenarios where someone might want to pick up a phone like this. If you want a backup phone for taking on long trips, then the cheap price point and great battery will make this a strong choice.

The Life Max is available in the US for $109, and it’s available for just £89.99 in the UK until Monday March 6th. If you’re looking for a cheap phone, then this might be a good time to look into the Life Max.

Buy now on Amazon

23
Feb

Sony shows off world’s fastest SD card with speeds up to 300MB per second


Why it matters to you

Faster SD cards shorten transfer times, handle longer continuous photo bursts, and prepare for the next generation of high-performance cameras.

Sony has launched a new line of SD cards aimed at high-end photography and video professionals. The SF-G series cards, as they’re called, will be available in 32-gigabyte, 64GB, and 128GB sizes — but the most impressive feature is their speed. With read speeds up to 300 megabytes per second and write speeds up to 299MBps (Sony just couldn’t eke out that last one megabyte there), the new cards are officially the fastest in the world.

There are few, if any, host devices currently on the market that require or can even make use of so much speed — those that do are already using faster memory formats, like CFast 2.0 or XQD.  SF-G cards will easily handle the demands of current 4K mirrorless cameras, of which Sony makes quite a few, but also pave the way for higher-performance models to come. Sony also states the high write speed will enable longer sustained bursts of high-resolution photos, but this will depend on the camera’s ability to keep up with the card.

More: Lexar explains why not all memory cards are created equal

One thing any user can get excited about, though, is taking advantage of that 300MBps transfer speed to offload data to a computer more quickly. Alongside the new cards, Sony has announced a USB 3.1 card reader specifically designed for this purpose — just keep in mind, a standard spinning hard drive might not even be able to keep pace with the card.

Interestingly, the SF-G series is not ushering in a new standard — it’s apparently not even part of the latest SD 5.0 specification. The cards are standard USH-II U3 cards. In fact, as DPReview pointed out, U3 offers only a guaranteed sustained write speed of just 30MBps. Sony claims the higher performance numbers of SF-G cards are thanks solely to the company’s unique firmware and a new algorithm that “prevents the decrease of data-writing speeds,” according to a statement. That would seem to imply that SF-G cards are designed for higher sustained speeds, not just brief moments of maximum performance, so hopefully sustained speed will be much higher than what the U3 designation specifies.

23
Feb

Galaxy S8+ specs materialize: 6.2-inch extra-tall display with rounded corners expected


This is shaping up to be a big phone … but not as big as you’d think.

We’re still over a month away from an expected announcement of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and that means we’re well into the flow of leaks. The latest, which comes from @evleaks, details purported specs for the larger Galaxy S8+ — and aside from physical size it looks to be very similar to the smaller Galaxy S8.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ spec sheet. Impress your friends, confound your enemies…with knowledge. pic.twitter.com/lHrHge8BUa

— Evan Blass (@evleaks) February 22, 2017

The thing that really stands out here is the confirmation (of sorts) that we’re indeed looking at a really large 6.2-inch display for the bigger Galaxy S8+ model. The resolution of “QHD+” points again to the display being taller than the 16:9 panels we’re used to, with something more of an 18:9 aspect ratio. So even though a 6.2-inch display seems like it would be huge compared to an already-large 5.7-inch display we saw with the Galaxy Note 7 (RIP), the difference in aspect ratio and bezel size may not actually give your hand as many struggles as you’d first think.

This new aspect ratio is where the market is headed.

The larger, taller screen in a more compact body follows right along with the details LG has revealed about the G6, though despite the concurrent development Samsung will technically be second to the party as it launches its phones over a month later. Interestingly it also seems as though Samsung is getting in on the rounded display game as well, curving the corners of the Galaxy S8+ screen for a neat visual effect. Given this information, it seems to be the direction the market is going: taller displays, smaller bezels and generally larger screens without as big of increases in overall size.

galaxy-s8-s8-plus-renders-5.jpg?itok=nZW

The rest of the specs shown off by @evleaks corroborate what we’ve seen before: 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, a 12MP camera on the back and iris scanning from the front. Samsung is sticking with all of the same basic features that were big hits on the Galaxy S7 and Note 7, while adding several new items in the bigger display and redesigned body.

23
Feb

Failed ‘Super Retro Squad’ Kickstarter returns as ‘Glitch Strikers’


When Jay Pavlina created Super Mario Bros. Crossover in 2010, he had a viral hit on his hand. The popular fan game tweaked Nintendo’s classic platformer to allow characters from other retro games to take Mario’s place. Two years later, Pavlina gambled big on the crossover gameplay mechanic and lost, successfully crowdfunding $53,000 for an original game called Super Retro Squad before announcing in 2014 that the game was on indefinite hiatus. The project was assumed dead, with backers facing endless silence in the face of refund requests. Today, however, the project returned as Glitch Strikers, a new title based on the original concept that actually looks like it might come out. It even has a trailer.

At a glance, the trailer looks a lot like Pavlina’s original promise: a game with multiple worlds based on classic NES titles that can cross-over into each other. Specifically, the trailer shows a Mario-like character named Manni exploring game worlds inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Megaman, Metroid, Contra, Ninja Gaiden and more, stopping in each world to ask the characters for help beating his own game — which has been overrun by impassable glitches.

Despite the similarity to the game’s original vision, the game isn’t quite everything the Super Retro Squad promised to be. Instead of offering both 16 and 8-bit graphics, Glitch Strikers music and visuals will be based specifically on the NES era of gaming — and the original project’s online multiplayer and stretch-goal bonus levels may not make the final cut, either. The game is also being released in stages, with the planned Steam release offering the portion of the game based on the original Super Mario Bros to start, and DLC packs with additional game experiences later down the line.

It’s nice to see something come out of this old project, but Pavlina understands that not all backers will be satisfied with the late release. On Twitter, he says refunds for the original Kickstarter may continue if Glitch Strikers turns a profit.

Source: Exploding Rabbit

23
Feb

Huawei teases Honor VR Camera ball thingy that shoots 360-degree vids


Huawei makes clip-on 360-degree cameras now.

The company has announced a new device called Honor VR Camera. It’s a camera accessory for smartphones, and it was quietly developed in partnership with Insta360. Huawei has only revealed that the tiny ball-like product supports “3K photography” and live-streaming — and that you’ll be able to save and share 360-degree videos through an app developed by Insta360. Oh, and it’ll be available internationally.

  • Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Release date and everything you need to know

But that’s all we know for sure. We don’t know the camera’s shooting resolution, nor whether it will work with non-Honor/Huawei-branded smartphones. From looking at the images given to the media, there appears to be a USB Type-C plug on the camera ball itself. This would presumably go into a compatible port on your device, while all the camera controls appear to be limited to the app from Insta360.

Huawei

Mobile World Congress 2017 is a few days away. Huawei will likely announce more details, including information about pricing, during the show. Pocket-lint will be there live to bring you the latest.

23
Feb

FCC approves first LTE-U devices


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that as a way to help alleviate network congestion, his organization has approved devices that tap into the LTE-U spectrum. Specifically, allowing devices to access the less-trafficked, unlicensed parts of the 5GHz frequency band. In layman’s terms this means that as demand for Wi-Fi networks increases, LTE-U backs off a bit. And when the reverse happens, customers can take advantage of some of the unused network capacity for their LTE gizmos. T-Mobile will be among the first carriers to do so, and allow its customers to co-opt the first 20MHz of “underutilized unlicensed spectrum” in the 5GHz band.

“The LTE-U devices that were certified today have been tested to show they meet all of the FCC’s rules,” the Commission said in a statement. The FCC went on to say that such devices aren’t required to meet the coexistence plan (LTE-U and WiFi) to be certified by the Commission.

As TechCrunch notes, the gadgets that passed certification today are base stations from Ericsson and Nokia that are already out in the wild. “The grants issued today are for the ability for the devices to operate under Part 15 rules in the 5GHz band,” according to an FCC statement given to the publication. So, maybe don’t expect to see widespread rollout of anything that’ll boost your mobile speeds just yet.

Source: FCC, T-Mobile

%d bloggers like this: