Monthly Archives: March 2014

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

It’s a world’s first coming from a company you’ve never heard of — if you live outside of China, anyway. Taking Google’s newly minted OS and slipping it into an affordable chassis, Ainovo’s Novo 7 Basic could very well be a sleeper hit among the tech-obsessed masses. Sure, it may lack the brand equity and tidy content ecosystems that are part and parcel of Amazon and Apple’s offerings, but thanks to that $99 price, users may find themselves seduced by the temptation of Ice Cream Sandwich alone. Apart from a small fraternity of devices including the Galaxy Nexus and ASUS Transformer Prime, few devices have officially played host to Android 4.0, lending this 7-inch tab a distinct advantage over the more expensive, Gingerbread-packing Kindle Fire. With a 1GHz Ingenic JZ4770 mobile applications processor based on a MIPS XBurst CPU, an 800 x 480 LED display and VGA front-facing / 2-megapixel rear cameras, this no-frills slate could blaze a bargain trail past Bezos and Co. So, does it manage to hold its own against its well-known competitors? Or will all that corner-cutting reveal this low cost tablet to be just another below-the-bar offering? Follow on past the break as we deliver the answers to these and other burning questions.

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

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Hardware

There’s no beating around this bush: you’re getting what you pay for and in this case, the Novo 7 Basic’s body underwhelms. That’s not to say its build won’t hold up to the duress of everyday use, but the constant stream of squeaks and creaks associated with light handling of the device doesn’t do much to inspire confidence. Sheathed in a two-tone plastic casing, Ainovo’s more premium tab somehow confusingly manages to be less aesthetically pleasing than its uniformly-designed $79 stablemate, the Paladin. Consumers looking for a palm-pleasing, ergonomically sound construction won’t find much to cling to here, as the tab’s smooth back gives way to hard edges and attracts more than its fair share of fingerprint filth. At 7.4 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches (187.5 x 112 x 12mm), it’s nearly indistinguishable from the Fire, coming in at 0.1 inches shorter and 0.3 inches narrower. These two tabs are comparably thick, but the real tell-tale sign of separation is the slate’s extra six ounces of weight. Make no mistake: this is a heavy handheld, one that obviously doesn’t benefit from the use of luxe, ultralight materials.

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

Ainovo’s kept most of the I/O busy work relegated to just one side of the Novo 7 Basic, with every available input, slot and capacitive button taking up residence on the right side. This neatly bunched array includes ports for headphone, HDMI, mini-USB and power sockets, in addition to a recessed reset button and space for a microSD card. Move along slightly to the front side panel and you’ll see the usual assortment of Android soft keys (sans search), as well as volume controls that complement the physical rocker located next to the power button. Branding on the unit is refreshingly sparse and made to be as unobtrusive as possible, with a diminutive logo displayed on the upper left front face, as well as one opposite the speaker on the device’s posterior. And if you were wondering about those woefully underpowered cameras, the Basic’s plunked them both right where you’d expect, situating that VGA front-facer above the menu controls and the 2-megapixel rear shooter on its upper back.

A multimedia repository this tablet is most decidedly not. Armed with an ample 8GB that’s further augmented by a removable 2GB microSD card, the Basic is the company’s halfway point between planned 4GB and 16GB iterations. Despite occupying this middle ground, it has just enough dedicated space to harbor a sizable library of music, apps, videos and photos, though it’s your perogative to store some of this stuff in the cloud. Most of what this ICS tab can do hinges upon what you, the user, bring to it — namely, third-party apps and content. Prospective owners looking for always-on connectivity should probably up their budgets and gaze adoringly upon other high-end, network-connected slates. The only 3G option this creaky clunker’ll cough up is the ability to connect to an external modem. Mercifully, it does come with support for WiFi a/b/g/n, so as long as you’re close by to that home network or even a hotspot, access to the wilds of the world wide web shouldn’t be an issue.

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

We’d love to spin some marvelous tale telling you how pristine and retina-like this display is, but, again, this is a $99 tablet we’re talking about. And really, at this wallet-friendly price, you can’t complain too much about the subpar 7-inch 800 x 480 LED-backlit display which, when contrasted with the Fire’s excellent 1024 x 600 offering, seems like an expected trade-off. It’s not like you’re going to be consuming much native media on the Basic anyway, considering it’s egregious lack of Android market access (which we sideloaded to no avail). So, unless you have a vast arsenal of .apks to install (ones that’ll stick, anyway), prepare to dive deep into whatever dregs of quickie clips YouTube you can dredge up and be content with that. Stark loss of contrast, poor viewing angles and a glare-prone screen? Yes, these three dings conspire to make the slate’s visual accessibility a less-than-palatable experience. Even indoors, under fluorescent lighting, we had a difficult time angling it just so we could discern the screen unhindered.

Performance and battery life

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

Alright, so we know it’s not the prettiest, and certainly not the most top-shelf tablet PC you could shell out for, but the true measure of the budget Basic’s worth is how its 1GHz MIPS-based Ingenic CPU and 512MB of RAM hold up day to day. Spec-wise, this ICS tab in beggar’s clothing won’t be turning any heads: it’s mediocre, at best, with a distinct lack of dual cores. Still, in our time testing the tablet, we were surprised to encounter relatively few performance hiccups, but nothing so bothersome as to disrupt the entire user experience. Occasional stuttering transitions aside, the overall UI mostly flows uninterrupted, demonstrating a satisfying level of responsiveness. It’s worth noting that the force of the device’s haptic feedback does take some getting used to, seeing as it’s strong (and loud) enough to register as a physical jolt in the hand.

Bound by this temperamental tab’s fickle acceptance of side-loaded apps, we weren’t able to draft a true benchmark tête-à-tête with other devices using the usual suspects. That said, we did have success cramming Quadrant onto it, which generated a puny score of 913 — and this despite the fact that the test favors lower-resolution gadgets. Stack that up against the Galaxy Tab 7.0′s 2,700 and you’ll get a clearer picture of just how great the tech divide is here. Ainovo’s tab didn’t fare much better in SunSpider testing with its score of 5,691.1ms withering at the feet of the Kindle Fire’s Silk-rendered browser. Again, this shoddy performance is understandable given the Basic’s lowly origins.


Tablet
Battery Life
Ainovo Novo 7 Basic 8:00
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 12:01
Apple iPad 2 10:26
ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime 10:17
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 9:55
Apple iPad 9:33
Motorola Xoom 2 8:57
HP TouchPad 8:33
Lenovo IdeaPad K1 8:20
Motorola Xoom 8:20
T-Mobile G-Slate 8:18
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus 8:09
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 8:00
Archos 101 7:20
Archos 80 G9 7:06
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook 7:01
Acer Iconia Tab A500 6:55
Sony Tablet P 6:50
T-Mobile Springboard (Huawei MediaPad) 6:34
Toshiba Thrive 6:25
Samsung Galaxy Tab 6:09
Motorola Xyboard 8.2 5:25
Velocity Micro Cruz T408 5:10
Acer Iconia Tab A100 4:54
Toshiba Thrive 7″ 4:42


Tablets are not smartphones and, as such, they don’t suffer the draining double whammy of incessant consumer use and network connectivity. True, they can be just as susceptible to a stream of push notifications, but we expect these WiFi-only, mini-computing devices to sip on their charges for two days, at the very least. Despite lacking the extra 400mAh oomph packed into the Kindle Fire, the Novo 7 Basic’s 4,000mAh battery holds up with moderate to light usage well over the expanse of three days. Bear in mind, that’s with WiFi enabled and one email account set to sync at 15-minute intervals. We weren’t able to truly stress the longevity of the charge with data-hungry apps like Twitter due to the lack of market access, but based on our formal rundown test (video looping, brightness fixed at 65 percent), the tab should last you a full eight hours — right in line with the company’s own claims.

Software
Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

In the event you didn’t register this tidbit the first few times we mentioned it, we’ll remind you once more that Ainovo’s tab has been stripped of all essential Googleness — most distressingly, Gmail account integration. How does that work out for the end user? Rather poorly, to be honest. The most enticing part of Google’s mobile software is its seamless integration of GApps across all Android-based devices. But without that built-in suite of software, we’re left with two productivity options: web browsing and gaming. It’s this second point that the Basic really attempts to drive home, loaded up as it is with a handful of games. As you might expect, that world-famous pack of surly, slingshot birds makes an appearance here, in addition to Spider-Man HD, The Last Defender, TurboFly 3D and Wow Fish. It’s a questionably dedicated purpose for this tablet to be assigned when you take into account its pitiful display, dearth of accessible content (PlayStation certification would go a long way here) and the reliance on touchscreen controls.

We don’t expect anyone eyeing this tab to devote more than a few misdirected minutes slogging through its spartan offerings. It could double as your go-to eReader, what with Amazon’s Kindle app pre-installed, but if that’s your bag, why not just spend that extra $100 and pick up the Fire? Or better yet, just grab a cheaper Kindle Touch. As for its web surfing abilities, well, don’t expect to be wowed. Full desktop pages took up to 46 seconds to load on a high-speed wireless connection, though once completed, navigation was rather brisk. Pinch-to-zoom also managed to keep pace with the rapid movements of our fingers without resorting to the dreaded white spaces and checker-boarding.

Camera

Let’s be honest here, Ainovo’s no Samsung, so this slate’s combo of cams’ tendency to underwhelm is neither disappointing nor shocking. In truth, you should overlook its optical abilities altogether. The Basic claims to capture video at 720p, but as you’ll see in our sample above, that’s far from the reality. What ends up playing back on screen is a jittery, muddled clip with audio that’s clearly overwhelmed by environmental noise.

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

Photos taken with the device appear much the same, delivering cloudy images with poor contrast and a diminished level of detail. If you’ve gotten comfortable with the notion of available scene modes to toggle through, then look elsewhere. The only optimization you’ll encounter in the settings is the option to adjust white balance. We’d like to call this 2 megapixel rear module workable, but even that is far too much of a compliment. Your phone is likely far better suited to photography than this thing.

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic sample shots

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Wrap-up
Ainovo Novo 7 Basic review

Tablets. Everyone wants one, no one’s quite sure what to best use them for and their typically premium pricing has kept the category from truly permeating every echelon of the consumer space. So, it would stand to reason that a sub $100 tablet running the latest code out of Mountain View would not only appeal to the most frugal-minded, but also overtake the market entirely. Unfortunately, but understandably, without the backing of billion dollar coffers and the desire to sell units at a loss, Ainovo’s Novo 7 Basic just cannot compete in specs, build quality or app selection. The company may have aimed to create the one tablet to serve the lowest common tech denominator, but in the end, that promise is more appealing than the product. Yes, $99 is an irresistible prospect on paper, but for an extra Benjamin you can have dual cores, a solid (if unoriginal) chassis, dependable performance and a direct line to Amazon’s retail and content hub. Really, it’s a no-brainer. Unless you’re keen to add the Basic to your collection of misfit gadgets, we’d strongly advise you bite the bullet and take Bezos up on his cloud-connected lure.

Ainovo

Ainovo Novo 7 Basic

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Stock Android 4.0.1 OS
  • Handful of pre-loaded gaming content

Cons

  • Washed-out, low-res display
  • Lack of Android Market access
  • Terrible cameras, even for a tablet

Conclusion

Ainovo’s Ice Cream Sandwich tablet lacks the true everyman appeal of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. At $99, this slate is a must-have only for those with the strictest of budgets.

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Must See HDTV for the week of March 31st: HIMYM finale, Game of Thrones, Final Four

Must See HDTV for the week of March 31st: HIMYM finale, Game of Thrones, Final Four

March Madness comes to an end this weekend, but it’s the perfect time for the return of one of our favorite series, HBO’s Game of Thrones. It’s joined Sunday night by the premiere of Mike Judge’s new comedy Silicon Valley, and Turn, a new Revolutionary War spy drama from AMC. This is also the week we finally say goodbye to How I Met Your Mother, and Anchorman 2 arrives on Blu-ray. Check after the break for trailers plus our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and gaming.

Blu-ray, Streaming movies & Games

  • Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues
  • 47 Ronin (3D)
  • The Pirate Fairy
  • Fargo (remastered)
  • Dragon Ball Z (S3)
  • MLB 14: The Show (PS3)
  • Goat Simulator (PC)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
  • Halo: Spartan Assault (PC – Steam)

Monday

  • Dancing with the Stars, ABC, 8PM
  • Bones, Fox, 8PM
  • Bitten, Syfy, 8PM
  • How I Met Your Mother (series finale), CBS, 8PM
  • Star-Crossed, CW, 8PM
  • The Voice, NBC, 8PM
  • WWE Raw, USA, 8PM
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, HBO, 9PM
  • Friends with Better Lives (series premiere), CBS, 9PM
  • The Following, Fox, 9PM
  • The Tomorrow People, The CW, 9PM
  • Dallas, TNT, 9PM
  • Being Human, Syfy, 9PM
  • Mike & Molly, CBS, 9PM
  • Mom, CBS, 9:30PM
  • The University of Sing Sing, HBO, 9:45PM
  • House of Food (series premiere), MTV, 10PM
  • Bates Motel, A&E, 10PM
  • Archer, FX, 10PM
  • Intelligence (season finale), CBS, 10PM
  • Lost Girl, Syfy, 10PM
  • Chozen (spring finale), FX, 10:30PM
  • Inside Comedy, Showtime, 11PM

Tuesday

  • Glee, Fox, 8PM
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC, 8PM
  • The Voice, NBC, 8PM
  • Rockets/Nets, TNT, 8PM
  • NCIS, CBS, 8PM
  • The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama, PBC, 8PM
  • Flyers/Blues, NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • The Mindy Project (spring premiere), Fox, 9PM
  • From Dusk Till Dawn, El Rey Network, 9PM
  • About a Boy, NBC, 9PM
  • Face Off, Syfy, 9PM
  • The Goldbergs, ABC, 9PM
  • NCIS: LA, CBS, 9PM
  • Twisted (season finale), ABC Family, 9PM
  • Growing Up Fisher, NBC, 9:30PM
  • Trophy Wife, ABC, 9:30PM
  • The Listener (season premiere), ION, 10PM
  • Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, Syfy, 10PM
  • Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, BBC America, 10PM
  • Clash of the Ozarks (season finale), Discovery, 10PM
  • Game of Arms, AMC, 10PM
  • Mind Games, ABC, 10PM
  • The Profit, CNBC, 10PM
  • Person of Interest, CBS, 10PM
  • Justified, FX, 10PM
  • Tosh.0, Comedy Central, 10PM
  • Cougar Town (season finale), TBS, 10PM
  • Inside Amy Schumer (season premiere), Comedy Central, 10:30PM
  • Trail Blazers/Lakers, TNT, 10:30PM
  • Are You The One? Reunion, MTV, 10:30PM

Wednesday

  • Arrow, CW, 8PM
  • Survivor, CBS, 8PM
  • Melissa & Joey, ABC Family, 8PM
  • American Idol, Fox, 8PM
  • The Middle, ABC, 8PM
  • WWE Main Event, ION, 8PM
  • Bruins/Red Wings, NBC Sports Network, 8PM
  • Suburgatory, ABC, 8:30PM
  • Baby Daddy, ABC Family, 8:30PM
  • The 100, CW, 9PM
  • Modern Family, ABC, 9PM
  • Mixology, ABC, 9:30PM
  • Psych After Show, USA, 10PM
  • Doll & Em (season finale), HBO, 10PM
  • The Americans, FX, 10PM
  • Legit, FXX, 10PM
  • Workaholics, Comedy Central, 10PM
  • Nashville, ABC, 10PM
  • The Real World, MTV, 10PM
  • Chicago PD, NBC, 10PM
  • CSI, CBS, 10PM
  • Triptank (series premiere), Comedy Central, 10:30PM
  • Deal With It, TBS, 10:30PM
  • Ali G: Rezurection, FXX, 10:30PM

Thursday

  • Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (series finale), ABC, 8PM
  • Community, NBC, 8PM
  • The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 8PM
  • Spurs/Thunder, TNT, 8PM
  • Parks & Recreation, NBC, 8:30PM
  • The Millers, CBS, 8:30PM
  • American Idol, Fox, 9PM
  • Saint George, FX, 9PM
  • Suits, USA, 9PM
  • Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 9PM
  • Reign, CW, 9PM
  • Two and a Half Men, CBS, 9PM
  • Hollywood Game Night, NBC, 9PM
  • Surviving Jack, Fox, 9:30PM
  • Anger Management, FX, 9:30PM
  • The Crazy Ones, CBS, 9:30PM
  • Review with Forrest Macneil, Comedy Central, 10PM
  • Portlandia, IFC, 10PM
  • Scandal, ABC, 10PM
  • Vikings, History, 10PM
  • Parenthood, NBC, 10PM
  • Sirens, USA, 10PM
  • Mavericks/Clippers, TNT, 10:30PM

Friday

  • Turbo Fast, Netflix
  • Unforgettable (spring premiere), CBS, 8PM
  • WWE SmackDown, Syfy, 8PM
  • Last Man Standing, ABC, 8PM
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?, CW, 8PM
  • Rake, Fox, 8PM
  • The Neighbors, ABC, 8:30PM
  • Hart of Dixie, CW, 9PM
  • Enlisted, Fox, 9PM
  • Bellator MMA Live, Spike TV, 9PM
  • Raising Hope (series finale), Fox, 9PM
  • Shark Tank, ABC, 9PM
  • Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes, HBO, 9:30PM
  • Continuum (season premiere), Syfy, 10PM
  • Game of Stones (season finale), Discovery, 10PM
  • Hannibal, NBC, 10PM
  • Vice, HBO, 11PM

Saturday

  • NCAA Basketball Tournament Final Four, TBS, 6:09PM
  • NCAA Basketball Tournament Final Four, TBS, 8:49PM
  • The Trials of Cate McCall, Lifetime, 8PM
  • Ripper Street, BBC America, 9PM
  • Da Vinci’s Demons, Starz, 9PM
  • Saturday Night Live: Anna Kendrick/Pharrell, NBC, 11:30PM

Sunday

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series @ Texas Motor Speedway, Fox, 2:30PM
  • Bob’s Burgers, Fox, 7PM
  • American Dad, Fox, 7:30PM
  • Giants/Dodgers, ESPN, 8PM
  • The Simpsons, Fox, 8PM
  • Once Upon a Time, ABC, 8PM
  • The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, CBS, 8PM
  • Family Guy, Fox, 8:30PM
  • Game of Thrones (season premiere), HBO, 9PM
  • Mr. Selfridge, PBS, 9PM
  • Overhaulin, Velocity, 9PM
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Fox, 9PM
  • Naked & Afraid, Discovery, 9PM
  • Believe, NBC, 9PM
  • Resurrection, ABC, 9PM
  • Shameless (season finale), Showtime, 9PM
  • Turn (series premiere), AMC, 9PM
  • Silicon Valley (series premiere), HBO, 10PM
  • Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, Comedy Central, 10PM
  • Crisis, NBC, 10PM
  • House of Lies (season finale), Showtime, 10PM
  • Revenge, ABC, 10PM
  • Veep (season premiere), HBO, 10:30PM
  • Looking, HBO, 10:30PM

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Study claims kill switch for stolen cellphones could save $2.5 billion per year

Study claims kill switch for stolen cellphones could save $2.5 billion per year

It’s easy to understand the personal benefits of a potential kill switch requirement for cellphones; thieves would have less incentive to swipe your handset if they knew that it would become a brick. However, Creighton University professor William Duckworth has conducted a study suggesting that a remote shutdown feature could also save phone users a lot of money. Based on a 1,200-person survey, he estimates that consumers could avoid spending a total of $2.5 billion per year — $500 million in buying replacement phones, and $2 billion in insurance that covers theft. The savings would be good news for customers, though not the carriers and insurers that earn revenue from the status quo.

With that said, there are concerns that the study is overly optimistic. Asurion (which is in the phone insurance business) reckons that about 60 percent of missing phones are lost, not stolen; you might want to pay for coverage if you tend to forget phones at the bar. A kill switch also wouldn’t completely eliminate theft, since nogoodniks might still want phones for parts. Even if Duckworth is looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses, though, his survey suggests that at least some cellphone owners could hold on to more of their cash.

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GEAK Watch packs Android, WiFi and a plethora of sensors, claims to be ‘world’s first true smartwatch’

GEAK Watch packs Android, WiFi and a plethora of sensors, claims to be 'world's first true smartwatch'

Nowadays, we can’t help but be skeptical of products that claim to be a smartwatch. In fact, what is a smartwatch, anyway? Perhaps GEAK, a Shanghai-based subsidiary of content giant Shanda, has a somewhat convincing answer. Simply dubbed the GEAK Watch, this wearable device packs a surprising number of components, with the most notable one being the 802.11b/g/n WiFi module — a feature that Motorola’s MOTOACTV already boasts. This lets the Android 4.1 system download apps directly or even receive OTA updates, but you can also create a wireless ad hoc network to do instant messaging with fellow users nearby — the watch can apparently do voice-to-text input. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC for device pairing, along with GPS and FM radio — yes, there’s a headphone jack, too.

In terms of sensory features, the GEAK Watch offers to monitor the user’s sleeping pattern, pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, mood and number of steps walked (some of these require additional accessories). The components that take care of all these are somehow tucked into the 8mm-thick body of the watch, with the brain being the rare 1GHz Ingenic JZ4774 that’s based on MIPS architecture. The chip’s accompanied by 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and a suspiciously minuscule 500mAh lithium polymer cell — no word on the battery life just yet, though. There’s a 1.55-inch, 240 x 240 multi-touch OGS display to seal the device, and overall the watch is certified for a reasonable IPX3 water resistance.

Honestly, this smartwatch sounds too good to be true, and it’s only priced at just ¥1,999 or about $330. It’ll be up for pre-ordering in China from July 3rd, so it shouldn’t be long before we find out if the GEAK Watch is worthy of the “world’s first true smartwatch” title.

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Political backlash against Mozilla’s new CEO continues as OkCupid suggests browser alternatives

Political backlash against Mozilla's new CEO continues as OkCupid suggests browser alternatives

Last week Mozilla appointed former CTO Brendan Eich as its new CEO, but the response to that move has centered on something other than its focus on mobile. In 2008 Eich donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California, and as a result a number of employees have called for him to step down. Today that protest extended to other websites, as The Verge points out Firefox users visiting the dating site OkCupid are greeted with the page shown above, saying it would “prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” At the bottom it includes links to Google Chrome, Internet Exploder (natch), Opera and Safari as friendlier alternatives, above a link for users to bypass the page and continue browsing with Firefox.

Since Eich’s appointment, Mozilla has posted several statements about its support for diversity, inclusiveness and marriage equality for LGBT couples, including one penned by the CEO himself. Three board members have also resigned from the foundation, although it says that’s not related to the CEO choice. Mozilla says that OkCupid never reached out to it to “confirm facts” (the full statement from a spokesperson is included below) but so far is sticking to its previous responses — we’ll see if Eich’s request for “the time to “show, not tell” is granted.

Mozilla:

Mozilla supports equality for all, including marriage equality for LGBT couples. No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves the same rights and to be treated equally. OkCupid never reached out to us to let us know of their intentions, nor to confirm facts.


I love @mozilla but I’m disappointed this week. @mozilla stands for openness and empowerment, but is acting in the opposite way.

– Chris McAvoy (@chmcavoy) March 27, 2014

To me, @Mozilla is about openness & expression of freedom. I hope to see us have leadership that represents those values in their actions.

– emgollie (@emgollie) March 27, 2014

Have waited too long to say this. I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO. https://t.co/K3OqeImUnU

– iamjessklein (@iamjessklein) March 27, 2014

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Google+ adds page view counts to user profiles

Google+ adds page view counts to user profiles

Earlier this month, we learned that Twitter’s considering introducing view counts to individual tweets, and it looks like Google+ just flipped the switch on a similar initiative. Follower counts are now joined by the total number of page clicks, which includes the sum of your profile, post and picture views since October 2012. Some profiles have already begun showing the count by default, but you may need to check a box in your profile settings before it appears for you. Similarly, you can disable the feature by unchecking the box.

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Samsung confirms thinner and lighter Galaxy Tab 4 tablet range

Samsung confirms thinner and lighter Galaxy Tab 4 tablet range

Though the FCC already ruined the surprise, Samsung has just launched three new lower-tier Galaxy Tab 4 tablets. The series consists of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, 8-inch Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 and — wait for it — the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 4 10.1. The design has changed substantially from the Galaxy Tab 3, instead following the lead of the Galaxy Tab Pro series with thinner bezels and less weight. Unlike the high end range, though, the Tab 4′s specs are squarely aimed at the mainstream: a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1,200 x 800 WXGA graphics, Android 4.4 KitKat, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of memory, a MicroSD slot and 3/1.3-megapixel front/back cameras on all models. All three will launch with LTE Cat 4 capability from the get-go, along with Samsung services like Link and WatchOn. They’re set to arrive this quarter in black and white colors, with no pricing yet — but we’d figure on around the same as last year’s $300 Galaxy Tab3 8.0.

Samsung Galaxy Tab4 Series

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Outlook Web App for Android will help your smartphone fit in at work

Outlook Web App for Android will help your smartphone fit in at work

It’s easy to find Android phones that can handle the Exchange-based email you often find in the workplace, but they don’t always support all the latest features. That won’t be a problem for much longer, though, as Microsoft has just revealed plans to bring Outlook Web App to Google’s platform later this year. Much like its iOS counterpart from 2013, the Android release should let you take advantage of Office 365 technology that might not make it into third-party email software. The app may not be all that exciting by itself, but it could be the key to using your preferred phone for work instead of having to switch to company-approved hardware.

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New surgical robot makes it easier to perform complicated surgeries (video)

New surgical robot makes it easier to perform complicated surgeries (video)

Those who visited our Expand events in San Francisco and New York last year already know that Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot allows for minimally invasive surgery while still giving doctors the kind of dexterity and control they need to do the job. However, the current iteration of the system, the da Vinci Si, is only optimal when targeting a small, focused area. If the surgeon wants to explore a different part of the body mid-operation, he or she would need to reposition the entire apparatus, which sometimes means driving the patient cart around to the other side or having to wedge the da Vinci base in between the patient’s legs. Today, however, Intuitive Surgical has announced the da Vinci Xi, a brand new surgical robot that promises to make it a lot easier for surgeons to perform exactly those kinds of complex surgeries.

Indeed, the big feature of the Xi is that it has four arms mounted onto an overhead boom architecture that can rotate and pivot into virtually any position. The arms can even be disconnected and reconnected mid-procedure if the doctors feel like swapping them around. According to Paul Millman, the company’s Vice President of product development, a surgeon could disconnect the arm, rotate the whole boom a 180 degrees and reattach it in just a minute or two. Further, the endoscope used to see what’s inside the body is far easier to set up and supposedly delivers sharper and more defined three-dimensional images. It can also now be attached to any arm, which lets the surgeon scope out the surgical area with more flexibility. The arms of the da Vinci themselves are now smaller, thinner and have a greater range of motion. Even the instrument shafts — the sleeves that are inserted inside the incision — are longer so that surgeons can probe further than before.

New surgical robot makes it easier to perform complicated surgeries (video)

“Say a surgeon is removing cancer in the uterus… He or she might need to explore other areas like near the diaphragm, or the stomach… there are different sites where the cancer is likely to spread,” says Millman. “With the new robot, you can now excise that cancer right in the same procedure.” He adds, “Our goal is to take away the barriers from using this technology. We’re removing steps and complications where we can.” As the FDA has just granted clearance to the da Vinci Xi, you probably won’t see it in your local hospital any time soon. However, if you want to get an even better idea of what the da Vinci Xi can do, feel free to have a peek at the company-provided video below.

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Outlook Web App comes to iOS devices in native form

Outlook Web App comes to iOS devices in native form

It hasn’t been hard to get Exchange support on iOS devices, but there’s some for whom third-party apps and web clients just won’t do. Microsoft has them covered today — it just repackaged the Outlook Web App as a pair of native iOS releases. Both OWA for iPad and OWA for iPhone deliver email, calendar and contacts to Office 365 subscribers with access to Exchange Online. The developer is quick to note that this isn’t a recreation of the Windows Phone environment, and there are a few elements borrowed from Outlook’s web version. Still, we see a few reasons to give OWA a try: the native iOS software sends push notifications, takes voice commands, and supports both passcodes as well as remote wipes. Between the new apps and Office for iPhone, it’s clear that iOS users are now welcome in Microsoft’s world.

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