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31.03.2018 04:20

L’autonomie est l’un des principaux problèmes limitant le mobile. Les constructeurs et développeurs sont obligés d’optimiser au maximum leurs créations afin de garantir une durée de vie correcte. À défaut de trouver des technologies permettant de bénéficier d’une autonomie de plusieurs jours, voire plusieurs semaines, les ingénieurs se tournent vers d’autres solutions, qu’il s’agisse de batteries plus grosses ou de technologies de charges rapides.

En utilisant du graphène dans les batteries, certains chercheurs ont réussi à pousser davantage la température au sein des batteries (en évitant l’accident), permettant entre autres d’accélérer leur charge. Si Huawei envisage d’intégrer cette technologie à ces futurs terminaux, WPG cherche actuellement à en faire une batterie externe.

La firme chinoise a lancé une campagne de financement participatif sur Jingdong afin de permettre la commercialisation de sa Power Bank au graphène. Deux modèles sont actuellement proposés, avec des capacités de 5 000 et 10 000 mAh, supportant tous les deux une charge rapide Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 jusqu’à 12 V et 5 A (soit 60 W). Il est par ailleurs précisé que la plus petite des deux batteries peut être entièrement rechargée en seulement 10 minutes. De quoi s’assurer une longue utilisation de son smartphone.

Cet exploit semble avoir motivé les backers qui ont déjà financé le projet. WPG demandait en effet 100 000 yuans (un peu plus de 13 600 euros au taux de change actuel), mais a déjà récolté 232 187 yuans à l’heure de la rédaction de ces lignes. Il reste en outre 11 jours avant la fin du crowdfunding, promettant un gros succès à la campagne.

I nanomateriali potrebbero venire in soccorso degli smartphone affamati di energia. I ricercatori della Drexel University di New York hanno sviluppato un prototipo di elettrodi utilizzando il Mxene, un elemento caratterizzato da uno spessore talmente ridotto da essere praticamente in due dimensioni. Il progetto degli scienziati, avviato per trovare un nuovo modo per accorciare il più possibile i tempi di ricarica delle batterie moderne, è basato su una specie di “sandwich” composto da strati di Mxene e di idrogel. In questo modo si ottiene una struttura altamente conduttiva, che consente di portare al 100 per cento l’accumulatore di uno smartphone in pochi secondi, mentre le batterie delle automobili elettriche si possono ricaricare nel giro di qualche minuto. http://www.akkus-shop.com

“Il nostro studio rifiuta il dogma ampiamente accettato secondo cui gli accumulatori chimici, utilizzati nelle batterie e negli ‘pseudocondensatori’, sia sempre più lento rispetto alla conservazione fisica dei condensatori elettrici a doppio strato”, ha spiegato Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University e Bach professor della Drexel, a capo del team di ricerca.

“Abbiamo dimostrato che è possibile ricaricare in poche decine di millisecondi dei sottili elettrodi costituiti da Mxene”, ha aggiunto Gogotsi. “In questo modo abbiamo aperto la strada allo sviluppo di dispositivi di conservazione dell’energia ultrarapidi, che possono essere caricati e scaricati in pochi secondi e che sono caratterizzati da capacità decisamente maggiori rispetto ai ‘supercondensatori’ tradizionali”.

Lo studio, pubblicato su Nature, è stato finanziato dal Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (First) Center, un centro di ricerca sponsorizzato dall’U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Basic Energy Sciences, oltre che dal National Science Foundation e dal Binational Science Foundation. Il team statunitense è stato affiancato da altri ricercatori provenienti da università francesi e israeliane.

Android Go soll 191 Sprachen unterstützen und besonders auf mehrsprachige User eingehen – darunter auch jene, die nicht top-fit im korrekten Schreiben der jeweiligen Sprache sind. Daher wird die Tastatur-App Gboard phonetische Eingaben unterstützen: Man schreibt wie es klingt, gerne auch in einer anderen Schrift, und Gboard "übersetzt" das in korrekte Schriftsprache in passender Schrift. Außerdem wird der Übersetzungsdienst Google Translate direkt in das Keyboard integriert. Der Nutzer schreibt in seiner Sprache, Google übersetzt das unmittelbar in die Sprache des Gegenübers.

Die Go-Variante von Youtube Go wird bereits in Indien einem öffentlichen Beta-Test unterzogen. Die Nutzer sehen dort eine Vorschau auf das Video, um datensparend entscheiden zu können, ob sie das Video wirklich streamen möchten. Gegebenenfalls können sie zwischen einer qualitäts- und damit datenreduzierten "Basis"-Variante und der normalen Standardvariante des Videos wählen.




27.03.2018 02:21

This little charging station will power up to 4-devices all from a single outlet. You can easily charge all your devices without a mess of power cords or eating up many multiple outlets. Especially good to use on desktops and nightstands.Whether you're hiking, camping, traveling internationally or need water for emergencies, the highly rates Sawyer kit is the smallest water filtration that we've seen and can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It fits in the palm of your hand and you simply need to backwash the filter and its as good as new.Easily backup your computer or store music, picture and movies at about $0.023/GB. You'd be hard pressed to find a hard-drive with this much storage at this value.The Lenovo Flex 2 features a hinge allowing you to bend the display up to 300-degrees backwards, so that it can be used in a self-standing tablet more or as a convectional laptop (and everything in between). Fully loaded features include a powerful Intel i7 processor capable of pushing it's core up to 3.1 GHz, a full HD 1920x1080 resolution touchscreen and 8GB of RAM for multi-tasking. Highly portable with a weight of only 4.2lbs and measures a thing 0.87 inches.

If you were looking for a desktop to replace your aging desktop computer, then look no further. We generally would expect an i5 desktop to run around $500+ and at this it looks to be on clearance at Dell. This has plenty of power and will be future proofed for many years to come.Let’s be real here: There is no one piece of tech that’s going to magically fulfill all of the hopes you may have for improving yourself in 2016. As always, sticking to whatever goals you’ve set requires properly managed expectations and a healthy dose of perseverance on your part. You can’t buy that. None of this is to say that good tech can’t help, though. Per usual, the highest-quality gadgets will make your stab at self-improvement more enjoyable than it’d be with inferior gear. And at the very least, dropping the cash on something new should give you some motivation to make the most of that investment. Below we’ve rounded up a few devices that can help with some of the more common New Year’s resolutions. (Note that we’re sticking to hardware only, although free apps like Mint can certainly prove useful for some purposes.) While none of them will fix things overnight, if you use them properly, they can help you get there a little more pleasurably.

If you can get around the sentimental value of holding a physical book in your hands, paying for a Kindle should be a positive investment for anyone hoping to read more this year. The basic model will be fine for many, but the best mix of price and performance belongs to the Kindle Paperwhite, what with its built-in backlight and a higher-quality display. Either way, you’ll gain access to the most dependable library of e-books there is, and you’ll make keeping track of your own collection a little more convenient. Its battery lasts for months, lessening one of the usual blows of going digital, and that screen is a joy to read. The one notable downside — outside of the extra $20 it costs to remove the built-in ads — is that neither device is waterproof; if that’s an issue, the Barnes & Noble Nook Glowlight Plus is a decent alternative at $130.Every year, people resolve to get healthier, and every year, the motivation to do so inevitably begins to fade. No fitness tracker is going to pick you up and make you start jogging again, but the Moov Now is the likeliest to keep those incentives alive.

Instead of collecting a bunch of metrics and making graphs, the Moov helps you exercise better, guiding you through you running/cycling/swimming/etc. workouts like a miniature trainer on your wrist (or ankle). Beyond that, it’s waterproof, it tracks calories burned and sleep metrics, and its battery is rated at six months per charge. Being coached by your smartphone — which the Moov requires you at carry at all times, unfortunately — can be intimidating at first, but if you’re serious about running that half-marathon one day, it has the best chance of getting you to that level efficiently.Still, if you already know what you’re doing, more traditional trackers like the Jawbone Up Move or Fitbit Charge HR aren’t as hyper-specified in scope. Have a look at our fitness tracker buying guide if you’ve been thinking about jumping onboard.Along those same exercise lines, if you’re not confident in your current headphones to make it through a string of sweaty workouts, the Plantronics Backbeat Fit will be a fantastic substitute. They’re light, they’re sweatproof, they’re wireless, and they have a clear, smooth sound that should help you relax as your heart rate grows.

They are unsealed, though, which has its ups and downs. On the plus side, you can hear ambient noises while you’re wearing them, so you’ll be less likely to wander into oncoming traffic. On the downside, you can hear ambient noises while you’re wearing them, so the clinking and grunting of other people at the gym may be too audible for comfort. If you think that’ll be a problem, the Jaybird X2 are a more traditional pair of Bluetooth earphones with a fuller, more accurate profile. Alternatively, if you just want something decent for cheap, try the tight-fitting MEE Audio M7P. Again, we have a more complete guide to workout headphones, so take a peek there if you’re curious.If you’re making it a point to talk to your family more, a quality webcam like the Logitech C920 might be worth a look. It’s been around for a few years — this isn’t exactly a fluid market — but its 1080p video is crisp (and holds its own in low-light settings), its audio is clear, and it has a wide field of view for any group chats you may have. You can always use the selfie camera that comes with your smartphone or laptop, of course, but if those are just too grainy for your liking, this is an obvious upgrade. For those on a budget, the 720p camera on the Logitech C525 isn’t nearly as nice, but costs half as much.

If you’ve already put your plans to travel more in motion, there’s plenty of tech that’ll make your lengthier trips more tolerable. We’ll highlight the Bose QuietComfort 25 here, though — they’re better at noise-canceling than any comparable pair of headphones on the market, and really it’s not all that close. That they also sound nice — not $300 good, but still decently clear and refined — and are superbly comfortable only adds to their appeal. You really have to pay the premium for this (or the in-ear QuietComfort 20s) to get something resembling “true” noise-canceling. This isn’t a very competitive field, so anything cheaper will have obvious holes in its tech. Nevertheless, the Phiaton BT 100 NC are a decently powerful alternative that sounds very good for a $100 earphone. The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B are a similar deal, only they come in a full-size frame.Continuing the traveling idea, the Sony Alpha a5100 is a helpful companion for anyone hoping to archive their memories from here on out. It’s a great starting point to the world of mirrorless cameras, combining the compactness of a cheaper point-and-shoot with something approaching the image quality of a higher-end DSLR.

Its touchscreen and relatively easy-to-read UI make it digestible if you’re only just graduating from a smartphone, too. If you’re willing to trade some image quality for something more affordable, though, have a look at our recent affordable cameras guide for alternatives.It feels disingenuous to recommend any piece of tech to those trying to feel less stressed. If anything, disconnecting from the web’s endless content stream and focusing on what’s tangible is likely the healthiest thing to do.That said, collapsing on your couch and falling into a good movie or TV show is a pretty proven form of downtime. Provided you don’t go overboard with the laziness, a good media streamer and a handful of streaming services should be your conduit to hours of relaxation in the long run. For the former, our favorite is the Roku 2. Dollar for dollar, it’s the best value out there — it’s fast, it’s affordable, and Roku’s streaming platform continues to be the most convenient for the most people. As we note in our media streaming buying guide, though, which is best for you comes down to whether or not you’ve committed to a specific ecosystem. The Amazon Fire TV Stick, for instance, is a great alternative for people who use Prime Video first and foremost. The Apple TV, meanwhile, is the only way to go if you’ve built up a big iTunes library. And if you own a 4K TV, either the Roku 4 or Amazon Fire TV is your best bet.

The physical, social, and sometimes legal benefits of turning down those last few drinks should be obvious. Carrying a pocket breathalyzer around may seem goofy, but if you’re convinced you need to drink less this year, it might be enough to remind you to take it down a notch. The BACtrack S80 looks to be the best of these, with recommendations from hundreds of Amazon reviews and outlets like The Wirecutter for its accuracy and ease of use. There are cheaper options, but this is a field where the old “you get what you pay for” axiom tends to ring true. Still, taking any steps to curb a bad habit is better than doing nothing at all. You could do a lot with $50. Pick up some groceries, have a date night, go to a baseball game, even pay off a couple parking tickets.What you couldn’t do, for the most part, is buy a functional, reliable tablet. Peruse your local Walmart and you’ll find an army of no-name machines with ultra-budget price tags, and the shoddy screens, outdated software, about-to-break builds, and finicky performance to match.

The Amazon Fire, however, is an exception to the norm. It's a far cry from an iPad, but it’s one-eighth the price, and it has a level of stability that just isn’t there on most other $50 slates. It is to tablets what Motorola’s Moto E is to smartphones: A steady, utilitarian machine that doesn’t punish the cash-strapped for being cash-strapped.Now, let’s be clear here. In a vacuum, very little about the Fire is what I’d call “nice.” Its 7-inch, 1024x600 display is a little fuzzy. Its 1.3GHz MediaTek chip and 1GB of RAM mean it isn’t out-and-out fast. You don’t want to use its 2-megapixel camera. It’s not thin, and it’s made entirely from a hard coat of plastic. If you want high quality, you simply have to pay more. Have a look at our budget tablet guide for some good places to start.The key word here is “enough.” Yes, you’ll see individual pixels if you squint hard enough, but the colors here actually have some life to them, and the whole display doesn’t get washed out at an angle.Yes, the Fire takes a second to open apps, and it’ll chug if you’re downloading a few things at once, but it’s nothing but smooth for basic web browsing and video viewing, and casual games like “Monument Valley” play without a hitch. You won’t get work done, but for the everyday entertainment it’s aimed at, the Fire is perfectly fine.

And yes, the Fire’s plastic design feels inexpensive, but it’s robust. Nothing about it feels creaky or loose. It’s the kind of thing you can toss to your kids and expect to survive.That’s helped by a solid 7-8 hours of battery life. And while there’s only 8GB of storage space by default, you can add up to 128GB of extra room through a microSD card, which is great. It’s all good enough. When you pay $50 for a tablet, you’re playing a game of expectations. If yours are where they should be, the Fire will surpass them.On the software side, the Fire runs the same Fire OS 5 as Amazon’s other new tablets. We’ve addressed it before, but the gist is this: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, it can be very convenient. It has dedicated tabs that make it easy to access your books, movies, TV shows, music, magazines, and the like — so long as you’re using Amazon’s services.If you aren’t as heavy on Prime, though, Fire OS can feel like one big ad. There’s a dedicated “shop” tab that suggests things to buy from its store, and you’re never more than a couple taps from dropping $100 on a Prime subscription. There are also literal ads on the lock screen (which you can remove for $15). Amazon isn’t making much money on the Fire, so it’s banking on it becoming a gateway for people to jump into its ecosystem.

This can get annoying, but if you use the Fire casually, it’s at least possible to ignore. The revamped home screen isn’t too far off from what’s on regular Android and iOS, and a “recent” tab puts your latest apps one tap away. Amazon’s app store is still Google-less, but it has most everything else you’d want, alongside a surprisingly large number of free games. It’s not egregious enough to ruin the value. And if you do use Prime, it’s great.Really, a device like the Fire is inevitable. The tablet market is stretching to its ends: Companies have realized that the things just aren’t essential, so they’re turning them into high-end laptop substitutes or increasingly affordable entertainment machines. In other words, this is the yin to the Surface Pro’s yang.Fun fact: With the exception of that time I moved to China to teach English, I haven’t checked one bag in my nearly seven years of traveling around the world.I pack light, to be sure, but neither my sense of style, nor my personal hygiene, nor my general preparedness has suffered.




26.03.2018 23:58

Vielleicht ändern sich derlei düstere Prognosen aber auch ganz rasch, wenn das Unternehmen aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach im September die diesjährige iPhone-Generation präsentiert. Das vermeintliche iPhone 7 soll dem iPhone 6s zwar sehr ähnlich sehen, allerdings dennoch diverse Neuerungen mitbringen. Davon abgesehen wird Apple im nächsten Jahr den 10. Geburtstag des iPhone feiern und die Gerüchteküche erwartet im Rahmen dessen nichts geringeres als ein radikales Redesign des ikonischen Smartphones.
Microsoft hat sich erneut zu den Berichten über die Akku-Problematik des Surface Pro 3 geäußert. Diese tritt vermutlich nur bei Modellen auf, die mit einem Energiespeicher von SIMPLO ausgestattet sind. Das Unternehmen kann mittlerweile weitgehend ausschließen, dass die deutlich verkürzten Akku-Laufzeiten durch einen Hardware-Fehler verursacht werden und stellt hingegen einen Software-Fix in Aussicht.

Die für viele Surface Pro 3 Nutzer sicherlich guten Nachrichten wurden vom Surface Support Teammit einem Forumsbeitrag überbracht. Darin wird allerdings noch kein konkreter Termin genannt, wann mit dem Patch zu rechnen ist, der die Akku-Leistung des Tablets wieder auf das gewohnte Niveau heben soll. Davon abgesehen spricht Microsoft von einer „begrenzten Zahl an Kunden“, die überhaupt von dem Problem betroffen seien.
In jedem Fall muss zu diesem Zeitpunkt festgehalten werden, dass es beim Surface Pro 3 zu einem ernstzunehmenden Fehlverhalten des Akku kommen kann, und diesbezüglich auch das kürzlich veröffentlichte Firmware-Update keine Verbesserung mitbringt. Nutzer, die betroffen sind, können allerdings nun erst einmal insofern beruhigt sein, als dass sie ihr Gerät nicht einschicken und für teures Geld reparieren lassen müssen.
Wer sich unsicher ist, ob der Akku seines Surface Pro 3 in einem akzeptablem Rahmen arbeitet, und welcher Akku-Typ in seinem Gerät überhaupt steckt, der kann dies mit Hilfe des Kommandozeilenbefehls "powercfg /batteryreport" nachprüfen. Der Befehl bewirkt die Erstellung einer Datei, die sich in einem Webbrowser öffnen lässt und alle relevanten Infos zum Akku an sich sowie dem Energie-Management enthält.

Das aufstrebende Technologiekonzern Xiaomi, der in der westlichen Welt bislang vor allem durch seine Android-Smartphones für Schlagzeilen sorgte, wagt sich nun auch auf den Notebook-Markt. Auf einem Event in heimischen Peking haben die Chinesen das schicke MiBook Air angekündigt. Der Name suggeriert es bereits: Auch mit seinem ersten Laptop bleibt Xiaomi dem nicht zu Unrecht erworbenen Ruf als eifriger Nacheiferer von Apple treu.
Genau wie Apples MacBook Air wird das MiBook Air in zwei Größen erhältlich sein, allerdings erwartungsgemäß mit Microsofts Windows 10 als Betriebssystem ausgeliefert werden. Die größere Modellvariante besitzt ein 13,3 Zoll Display mit Full HD Auflösung, ist 14,88 Millimeter dick und bringt 1,28 Kilogramm auf die Waage. Xiaomi versäumt es daher nicht, darauf hinzuweisen, dass ihr Gerät somit mindestens 13 Prozent dünner ist und eine kleinere Grundfläche aufweist als das aktuelle MacBook Air 13 Zoll.
Das Gehäuse des MiBook Air besteht komplett aus Metall und bietet Platz für einen USB Typ-C Anschluss, welcher auf zum Laden des Geräts eingesetzt wird, zwei gewöhnliche USB 3.0 Typ-A Schnittstellen sowie einen HDMI Port. Die Tastatur hat die volle Größe und wartet mit einzeln beleuchteten Tasten auf. Im Chassis-Inneren stecken ein Intel Core i5-6200U Prozessor, eine Nvidia GeForce 940MX Grafikeinheit mit 1 Gigabyte GDDR5 VRAM, 8 Gigabyte DDR4 Arbeitsspeicher sowie eine 256 Gigabyte fassende PCIe SSD. Laut Hersteller soll die maximale Akkulaufzeit des Laptops bei durchschnittlicher Nutzung rund 9,5 Stunden betragen. Zum Wiederaufladen wird eine Schnellladetechnik unterstützt, die dafür sorgen soll, dass der vollständig entladene Akku des Geräts in einer halben Stunde auf 50 Prozent aufgefüllt ist.

Die kleinere Modellvariante des neuen Xiaomi-Notebooks verfügt über ein 12,5 Zoll Full HD Display, ist nur 12,9 Millimeter dick und wiegt gerade mal 1,07 Kilogramm. Vermutlich unter anderem aufgrund des flacheren, kompakteren Gehäuses ist die Hardware-Ausstattung im Vergleich zum größeren Modell etwas abgespeckt. Angetrieben wird das 12,5 Zoll Notebook in jedem Fall von einem Intel Core m3-6Y30 Prozessor, dem 4 Gigabyte RAM und eine 128 Gigabyte fassende SATA SSD zur Seite stehen. Auf eine dedizierte Grafikeinheit von Nvidia verzichtet der Hersteller beim kleinen MiBook Air. Außerdem steht neben USB Typ-C und HDMI Port nur ein USB 3.0 Anschluss zur Verfügung.
Noch ein paar interessante Details zum MiBook Air am Rande: Xiaomi wird die beiden Laptop-Varianten in den Farben Silber und Gold anbieten und ihnen auf dem Display-Deckel keinerlei Branding verpassen. Käufer werden allerdings passende Sticker direkt über den Hersteller erwerben können.

Das MiBook Air wird laut offiziellen Angaben sowohl mit 12,5 als auch 13,3 Zoll großem Display ab 2. August 2016 auf dem chinesischen Markt erhältlich sein. Der Preis für das kleinere Modell soll dort bei umgerechnet rund 525 US-Dollar, der für die größere Ausführung bei rund 750 US-Dollar liegen. Wie von Xiaomi leider gewohnt, ist leider noch völlig unklar, ob es das MiBook Air auch auf andere Märkte schaffen wird.
BlackBerry hat sein zweites Android-Smartphone vorgestellt, das DTEK50. Es ist ein Mittelklassegerät, welches dem Alcatel Idol 4 nicht nur sehr ähnlich sieht, sondern auch viele Ausstattungsmerkmale teilt. Anders als die BlackBerry-Modelle, für die das kanadische Unternehmen einst bekannt wurde, verfügt das DTEK50 also nur über ein Touchscreen, jedoch keine Hardware-Tastatur. Besonders hervorgehoben werden von BlackBerry die umfassenden Sicherheitsfeatures.
Das DTEK50 verfügt über ein 5,2 Zoll großes Full HD Display, wird von einem Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 Prozessor angetrieben und kann außerdem mit 3 Gigabyte RAM, 16 Gigabyte Flash-Speicher, einem microSD-Kartenslot, einem 2610 mAh Akku, einer 13 Megapixel Hauptkamera sowie einer 8 Megapixel Frontkamera aufwarten. Beide Kameras haben ein eigenes LED-Blitzlicht. Als Betriebssystem läuft Android 6.0 Marshmallow auf dem Smartphone, welches BlackBerrys um eigene Software-Anpassungen und -Features erweitert, die in etwa dem entsprechen, was wir bereits vom im letzten Jahr erschienenen BlackBerry Priv kennen.

Den Angaben des Herstellers nach ist das DTEK50 das derzeit sicherste Smartphone auf dem Markt. Dies will BlackBerry sowohl durch eigene Modifikationen an Android selbst als auch die sogenannte DTEK-Software erreicht haben. Letztere schützt das Gerät beziehungsweise den Nutzer vor Malware oder anderen Sicherheitsbedrohungen.
Neben dem DTEK50 will BlackBerry in den kommenden Monaten noch zwei weitere neue Smartphones präsentieren. Diese könnten dann auch wieder eine Hardware-Tastatur bieten. Zumindest haben sich die Kanadier nicht vollständig von diesem Feature verabschiedet. Microsoft prüft derzeit Berichte, denen nach es beim Surface Pro 3 zu Problemen mit dem Akku kommen kann. Wie The Verge informiert, kursieren Meldungen über stark verminderte Akku-Leistung des Tablets bereits seit Mai dieses Jahres, inzwischen scheint sich die Problematik jedoch weiter ausgebreitet zu haben. Einige Nutzer berichten sogar davon, dass ihr Surface Pro 3 mit einem voll geladenen Akku nur noch eine Stunde lang durchhält.

Es liegen derzeit keine offiziellen Angaben darüber vor, was die Ursache für die Akku-Probleme des Surface Pro 3 sein könnte. Dem Wortlaut des Artikels von The Verge nach könnte es allerdings mit dem Akku-Typ zusammenhängen, da Microsoft in dem Tablet Energiespeicher von zwei unterschiedlichen Herstellern (SIMPLO und LG) verbaut, jedoch nur Geräte mit einem Akku von SIMPLO von der Problematik betroffen zu sein scheinen.
Gegenüber der US-Publikation versichert Microsoft, dass die Akku-Problematik des Surface Pro 3 vom Unternehmen registriert und inzwischen auch mit hoher Priorität von einem Team bearbeitet wird. Die Ursache für die Ungereimtheiten solle nun ergründet und danach eine passende Lösung für Kunden angeboten werden. Betroffene fordert Microsoft außerdem auf, sich an den Kundendienst zu wenden und das Problem genau zu beschreiben.
Es sollte abschließend auch nicht verschwiegen werden, dass zwei Faktoren dieser Angelegenheit einen besonders negativen Beigeschmack geben. Einmal ist es so, dass das Surface Pro 3 bereits Mitte 2014 vorgestellt wurde, was unter anderem bedeutet, dass für sehr viele derzeit noch genutzten Geräte mittlerweile die Garantie abgelaufen ist. Der Austausch eines defekten Akkus dürfte in solchen Fällen nicht unerhebliche Kosten nach sich ziehen.




26.03.2018 04:08

As far as internals go, try to get at least 2GB of RAM on any non-budget slate (and most budget ones, to be honest). At least 32GB of storage should be enough to keep you comfortable, but if your device supports microSD cards, 16GB isn’t unmanageable. (For what it’s worth, the iPad’s lack of this support is likely its biggest weakness.) Processing power and battery life are hard to judge on a general basis, so again, look for feedback for a given device to get a general idea. The newer your Apple A(X), Qualcomm Snapdragon, Nvidia Tegra, or Samsung Exynos chip is, the better it’ll usually perform. Most devices with MediaTek processors have relatively low power. As far as other ports go, it’s hard to say anything is truly essential, but having a few USB, microUSB, or microHDMI slots rarely hurts. Same with supporting 802.11ac WiFi, or Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. You can pad some slates with 4G connectivity as well, but the monthly fees are probably only worth it if you really plan on carrying your device all the time.

Nobody needs a tablet. The best of them get close to blending the productivity of a laptop with the portability of a smartphone, but unless you splurge on something like a Surface Pro, they usually end up being weird approximations of the two. If you want to get work done, you’re usually better off with a laptop. If you want to read things on the go, you’re usually better off with a smartphone. (Or at least a big smartphone.)Instead, most tablets are still best for luxury. They're something for your in-between time, when you’re sitting around and you want a more convenient way of throwing on a Netflix stream, opening up an e-book, or playing a game of Plants vs. Zombies. They’re simpler to start up than laptops, and fitted with bigger screens than smartphones. They don’t replace the two, but they can be convenient sidekicks to both.Still, because a tablet isn’t essential to most people’s lives, it’s totally understandable if you don’t want to overpay for one. Luckily, you don’t have to. Although the highest-quality iPad Airs and Galaxy Tabs cost $400 or more, there are still a handful of worthwhile options in the $200 range. So, per usual, we scoured the web and did some hands-on testing to find them. (With one minor yet worthwhile exception, which we'll explain below.) We also gave them our usual BI Rating.

In doing so, we looked for the obvious. You won’t find strong enough performance to get a ton of work done, but in this range, you’re looking for a media machine anyway. The build doesn’t have to be made of high-end metals, but it should feel comfortable and well put-together. You want enough storage space, along with software that, at the very least, doesn’t get between you and your stuff. And of course, you want a good screen — colorful, bright, and, ideally, sharp. With few exceptions, that screen will be around 7 or 8 inches. With all that out of the way, here are our favorite affordable tablets you can buy today.Update (2/11/16): We've completed our first major refresh of this guide. The Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 is our new top pick among budget Android tablets, while the Amazon Fire gets a mention as an ultra-cheap option. We've also updated our Apple iPad mini 2 entry to further explain why it's been included here.First, we’re going to cheat a bit. If you can pony up an extra $70 to get Apple’s entry-level iPad, it’s the only almost-budget slate that's worth the plunge. The iPad mini 2 is technically the weakest of Apple’s current crop of tablets, but two years into its existence it’s held up well.

Its metal-and-glass build is still refined, tightly constructed, and pleasant-feeling in the hand. Its 7.9-inch, 2048x1536 IPS display isn’t as vivid or deep as the world-beating (among non-OLED options) panels of the newer iPad mini 4 or iPad Air 2 — mostly because of its lower maximum color gamut — but it’s still impressively sharp, and it’s still miles more fine-tuned than the vast majority of tablets in the budget range. Compared to those slates, it still comes off like a notably higher-end product. The main reason we’re breaking our $200 guideline, though, is because the mini 2 runs iOS 9. As we’ve said before, Apple’s mobile OS is far and away the best operating system for tablets. It’s constantly easy to navigate, it doesn’t force the risk of delayed updates, and it recently added split-screen support, giving the mini 2 a measure of multitasking ability in the process.Most importantly, it’s still something of the default among app developers — if a major app (or game) launches or makes a major update, you’re almost guaranteed to see it as soon as it hits, if at all, on an iPad. Android has closed the gap in terms of app quantity over the years, but it still presents that risk, especially when it comes to new games.

iOS also has decidedly more apps that are optimized for larger displays. Explore Android far enough and you’ll still see a few too many apps that are either awkwardly laid out or presented like they’re on a blown-up smartphone. That sort of annoyance is rare here.The only major downsides are that paid apps tend to cost a dollar or two more, and that Apple’s first-party apps are routinely less inviting their counterparts from Google, Microsoft, and the like. Otherwise, we’d say the added convenience is worth a premium. All of this means that, display discrepancy aside, the iPad mini 2 isn’t that far off from the iPad mini 4. The primary concern is that its specs are aging. But while its two-year old A7 chip and 1GB of RAM will never be as robust as Apple’s latest hardware, iOS is still light enough for them to get you through a YouTube binging session or most modern games without much issue. For the general entertainment purposes a small tablet is meant for, it’s fine. Likewise, the mini 2’s battery can’t power up iOS 9 for as long as its successors, but the 8 or so hours of juice it gets per charge is passable.

When it comes down to it, the iPad’s position atop the tablet food chain is deserved. Whichever one you pick, you get the most complete user experience, with an excellent display, in a design that looks and feels great. You don’t have to deal with as many compromises.For now, all of that still applies to the iPad mini 2, even if it is getting a bit long in the tooth. Now that its base model — which includes 16GB of unfortunately non-upgradeable storage — has dropped from $400 to $270, it’s the only Apple device in existence that could reasonably be considered a bargain. Nowadays, you can often find it for less than that.Yes, it’s a little bit pricier than the options below, but the difference in general quality, especially with regard to how better-adjusted iOS is on tablets compared to Android or Windows, is drastic enough to make it worth recommending upfront. If you absolutely cannot go above $200, however, the Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 is only budget Android tablet that can compete with — and, in many ways, best — the mini 2’s convenience. In fact, in terms of pure value, it’s the best buy you can make on any Android tablet today.

Much of that is because of how powerful this thing is. It runs on the same Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC and 2GB of RAM as its predecessor — which was also named the Shield, sold for $300, and was recalled last summer over fears of faulty batteries — and that makes it significantly more capable than any other sub-$200 tablet we’ve tested. It’s competing with the iPad Air 2s and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2s of the world more than anything else. The various benchmark tests we ran in our testing only furthered that idea. This is important, not just because it gives you a strong and speedy slate today, but because it’ll give you something decent in the years to come. That second GB of RAM is a big leg up. The Shield is particularly robust when it comes to graphics performance, which makes sense given how much focus it puts on gaming. Every game we tested was nothing but smooth, but beyond that, Nvidia’s loaded up the device with 3 free months of its (surprisingly fluid) GeForce Now cloud gaming service, the ability to stream your own (compatible) PC games straight to the tablet, and a handful of exclusive (relative to other slates) PC game ports. There’s also a handy mini-HDMI slot, which lets the Shield hook up to a TV and act as a makeshift console.

You need to pay another $60 for Nvidia’s (solid) Shield controller to get anything out of this, and GeForce Now’s limited selection makes it an iffy buy, but if you’re into gaming, these are all nice bonuses.Even if you’re not, though, the Shield gets very little wrong. Its 8-inch 1920x1200 display is sharp, bright, and rich for the money. It also uses a 16:10 ratio, which is a little more spacious than the usual 16:9 without making the device unwieldy. It’s not the thinnest or flashiest slate around, but its soft, grippy build is practical, and its front-facing speakers work well. (Though the overly recessed power button is a pain.) The 8-9 hours of battery life (with minimal gaming) is fine. It also supports up to 128GB microSD cards, which is good, since the 16GB of included space is too little for a gaming machine. And again, it’s fast.Given the price tag, the only real downside here is in the software. Nvidia’s done well to keep a near-stock version of Android 5.1.1 — with an Android 6.0 update available, though you might want to hold off on that for now — but, as mentioned above, Android itself lags behind iOS when it comes to tablet app support and multitasking functionality. The very idea of an “Android gaming tablet” is somewhat self-defeating; since so many games arrive first (or at all) on iOS, most people interested in gaming on the go are still better off with an iPad.

Nevertheless, Android is familiar for many, and Nvidia’s extra features can be fun for PC gaming enthusiasts. You’re buying the Shield for how rock solid it is as a tablet, though — this mix of power, display quality, and versatility just isn’t available on any other cheap slate.We’ve highlighted it before, but if you’re willing to invest in world of Amazon, the Fire HD 8 is a nifty little treat. Neither its 1280x800 display, nor its all-plastic design, nor its middle-of-the-road processor is going to wow you, but for a $150 slate it’s all competent and adequate. If you aren’t downloading something or playing a heavier-duty game, it runs smoothly enough to watch a video or browse the web. Its speakers are excellent, and it supports a microSD card. (Which is good, because this model only has 8GB of room by default.) It gets a decent 8 or so hours of battery life. And while its plastic coat will never feel “premium,” it is smooth, and it comes in a handful of lively colors.The best and worst thing about the Fire HD 8 is its interface. The newest version of Amazon’s Fire OS is a stark improvement over previous iterations, with a cleaner look and a homescreen that more closely resembles traditional Android. It doesn’t have the same tidy app drawer, but it’s simple enough to get around. It also features an extensive set of parental controls.

As you’d expect, Amazon’s OS is tightly wound with Amazon’s ecosystem of services. There’s dedicated tabs for your books (so long as they’re with Kindle), video (with Prime Video), music (with Prime Music), shopping (with, um, Amazon), and so on.If you’re an active Prime member, this is super convenient. Everything is presented to you on a platter; you can get to all your media with ease, and the Fire HD will serve up smart recommendations for things you might want to check out in the future. You get free unlimited cloud storage for all that Amazon content, and the OS makes it easy to stash Prime media for offline viewing. Other first-party services like Freetime (for kid-friendly content) and Mayday screen sharing (for fast customer support) have their uses as well.If you aren’t a Prime diehard, though, the fact that the whole UI pushes you toward giving Amazon money will get tiresome. Fire OS isn’t exactly helped by Amazon’s app store, either — it has most of the essentials, but it isn’t as deep or dependable as those on iOS or stock Android. Notably, there’s no Google support, which means there’s no Gmail, YouTube, or Google Play Music. On the plus side, initiatives like “Amazon Underground” get you dozens of games for cheap.




26.03.2018 02:30

Wie sich die abweichenden Taktraten sowie - im Fall der GTX 1070 - das Plus an Shader-Einheiten schlussendlich in der Praxis auswirken und wie sich die neuen mobilen GeForce-Grafikkarten unter Last in einem Notebook-Chassis verhalten, müssen erst ausgiebige,unabhängige Tests zeigen. Die Chancen stehen aber anhand der vorliegenden Infos und ersten Benchmarks schon mal gut, dass Nvidia tatsächlich nahezu Parität im Desktop- und Notebook-Segment erreicht hat. Etwas Rätselraten gibt es bis auf Weiteres noch bezüglich der GeForce GTX 1080 für Notebooks, da von der noch keine so detaillierten Leaks kursieren.
Wie im Zuge der Gerüchteflut im Vorfeld der kürzlich vollzogenen Präsentation des Galaxy Note 7 schon einmal gemunkelt worden war, möchte Samsung das unter anderem vom Galaxy S7 Edge her bekannte Dual-Edge-Display wohl zu einem wichtigen Identifikationsmerkmal all seiner künftigen Flaggschiff-Smartphones machen. Das geht aus einem aktuellen Interview des Korean Herald mit dem Chef von Samsungs Mobilsparte, Koh Dong-jin, hervor.
Samsung ist ganz offensichtlich von dem Erfolg der zuletzt erschienenen Premium-Smartphones mit leicht gebogenem Super-AMOLED-Bildschirm begeistert. Gemäß den Angaben des Herstellers wurde beim Galaxy S6 Edge die Nachfrage noch entschieden unterschätzt, beim aktuellen S7 Edge laufen Produktionsprozess und Abverkauf nun aber so gut, dass von der teureren Modellvariante sogar mehr Einheiten abgesetzt werden können als vom „normalen“ S7. Dies dürfte ein wichtiger Grund für die Entscheidung gewesen sein, das Note 7 nur in einer Edge-Ausführung auf den Markt zu bringen.

Zusätzlich zu den reinen Verkaufszahlen bringt das Dual-Edge-Display aber auch ganz pragmatische Vorteile für Samsung mit. Zum einen kann der Hersteller mit dem gebogenen Display derzeit ein absolutes Alleinstellungsmerkmal auf dem Smartphone-Markt verzeichnen, zum anderen bietet die fortschrittliche Technologie einen guten Grund, das Preisniveau im direkten Vergleich zur chinesischen Android-Konkurrenz hoch zu halten. Davon abgesehen eröffnet das Dual-Edge-Display zudem die Möglichkeit, Software-Features, die speziell auf diesen Bildschirmtyp zugeschnitten sind, zu implementieren. Also ebenfalls etwas, das keiner der Konkurrenten – nicht einmal Apple – zu bieten hat.
Was bedeuten diese Erkenntnisse und die Aussagen von Koh Dong-jin aber konkret für die nähere Zukunft. Nun,in Stein gemeißelt ist natürlich noch nichts, aber es ist gut vorstellbar, dass Samsung beim Galaxy S8 denselben Weg gehen will wie beim jüngst vorgestellten Galaxy Note 7, sprich lediglich eine einzige Modellvariante mit Dual-Edge-Display anzukündigen. Sollte sich nicht noch irgendetwas Unvorhergesehenes ereignen, darf mit dem Galaxy S8 wieder relativ früh im nächsten Jahr gerechnet werden. Die Gerüchteküche geht von einer Ankündigung im Rahmen des Mobile World Congress 2017 Ende Februar aus.

Dank einer Vielzahl von Leaks in den letzten Wochen und Monaten scheinen die bedeutendsten Eigenschaften der kommenden iPhone-Generation bereits vor der offiziellen Enthüllung bekannt. Über einen Nachfolger der vor fast zwei Jahren vorgestellten Apple Watch war bislang jedoch verwunderlich wenig zu lesen. Das ändert sich nun: Wie MacRumors und Apple Insider unabhängig voneinander berichten, informiert der mittlerweile bestens bekannte Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo aktuell Investoren über zwei neue Apple Watch Modelle für dieses Jahr. Das größere Upgrade, das im Folgenden der Einfachheit halber als Apple Watch 2 bezeichnet wird, soll der ersten Apple Watch Generation rein äußerlich sehr ähnlich sein. Apple wird also offenbar dasselbe grundlegende Industriedesign weiter nutzen. Im Inneren der Apple Watch 2 soll sich dafür aber einiges verändert haben. Die Rede ist beispielsweise von einem neuen, leistungsfähigeren Prozessor, der von TSMC im 16 Nanometer Verfahren gefertigt wird, sowie einem GPS-Modul, einem Barometer, besserem Wasserschutz und einem dünneren Display. Allerdings sollen diese Features einen größeren Akku nötig machen, um der Smartwatch eine ordentliche Laufzeit zu bescheren, weshalb Apple die Bauhöhe des Uhrengehäuses nicht verringern konnte.
Das zweite für später in diesem Jahr erwartete Smartwatch-Modell von Apple wird laut Kuo nur einem kleinen Upgrade für die aktuelle Ausführung gleichkommen. So soll dieses Wearable nicht die neuen Features der Apple Watch 2 bieten, sondern nur dezent verbesserte Komponenten der bekannten Apple Watch. Womöglich will Apple dieses zweite neue Modell künftig als günstigeren Einstieg in die Apple Watch Reihe vermarkten.

Was Apples Pläne für seine Smartwatch Line-up über dieses Jahr hinaus betrifft, konnte Kuo ebenfalls ein paar Infos aufgeschnappen. So soll es 2017 ein weiteres Update mit nahezu unverändertem Design geben, das allerdings zusätzlich unter anderem mit LTE-Modem aufwarten dürfte. Eine vollständig überarbeitete Apple Watch in neuem Look sollte Kuos Wortennach hingegen nicht vor 2018 erwartet werden.
Die Gerüchteküche sowie Branchenbeobachter sind sich sicher, dass Apple in diesem Jahr wieder im September ein großes Medien-Event abhalten wird. Neben einer neuen iPhone-Generation könnte es dort auch die neuen Apple Watch Modelle zu sehen geben.
Sehr vieles deutet darauf hin, dass Google in diesem Jahr zwei neue Nexus-Smartphones vorstellen wird, die nicht nur mit modernster Hardware und der neuesten Android-Version 7.0 Nougat aufwarten werden, sondern auch mit einem brandneuem Home Screen und wohl auch einigen speziellen Software-Features. Die für gewöhnlich sehr zuverlässig arbeitende und über gute Verbindungen zu Google-nahen Kreisen verfügende Webseite Android Police hat jüngst über mehrere Exklusivartikel hinweg darüber berichtet.

Wie schon durch frühere Leaks bekannt hat Google in diesem Jahr offenbar mit dem taiwanischen Unternehmen HTC als Hardware-Partner für sein Nexus-Programm zusammengearbeitet. Dieser Kooperation sind laut vorliegenden Informationen zwei unterschiedlich große und an das Design des HTC 10 angelehnte Smartphones mit den Codenamen Sailfish und Marlin entsprungen. Die beiden Geräte schicken sich an, gut ausgestattete Geräte im hart umkämpften Smartphone-Markt zu repräsentieren, sie werden allerdings wohl nicht durch irgendwelche besonderen Hardware-Features auf sich aufmerksam machen können, sondern vielmehr durch die Software. Das brandaktuelle Android 7.0 soll auf den bald erscheindenden Nexus-Modellen nämlich nicht so aussehen wie es die fünf in diesem Jahr veröffentlichten Beta-Versionen (Android N) bislang suggeriert haben. Vielmehr hat Google gemäß den Angaben von Android Police unter anderem einen neuen Launcher entwickelt, die Funktionsweise der Home-Taste angepasst und auch die ein oder andere neue Funktion in das Benutzerinterface eingebaut.

Bevor wir uns die Neurungen etwas genauer ansehen, sollte an dieser Stelle erwähnt werden, dass auch Android Police noch nicht erfahren hat, ob die neuen Software-Anpassungen explizit für die kommenden Nexus-Smartphones gedacht sind, oder ob diese auch auf Geräten wie den beiden im letzten Jahr vorgestellten Modellen Nexus 5X und Nexus 6P funktionieren werden. Außerdem gibt es bislang keine offiziellen Aussagen zu der Thematik. Es steht einzig und allein eine Anmerkung des Google-CEOs Sundar Pichai im Raum, der während eines Interviews im vergangenen Juni durchblicken ließ, dass Google mehr Alleinstellungsmerkmale für das Nexus-Programm anstrebt.

Android Police beschreibt in seinen jüngsten Artikeln über die kommenden Nexus-Smartphones Marlin und Sailfish gleich mehrere interessante Software-Neuerungen. Diese beginnen bereits beim Home Screen der Geräte, bei welchem beispielsweise die App Drawer Schaltfläche in der Mitte der unterersten App-Reihe sowie die bekannte Google Suchleiste am oberen Bildschirmrand entfernt worden sein sollen. Zugriff auf alle Apps erhalten Nutzer den vorliegenden Infos nach auf diesem neu gestalteten Home Screen durch eine kurze Wischgeste von der Mitte der untersten App-Reihe nach oben oder das Antippen eines kleinen Pfeils an dieser Stelle. Die Suchanfragen hingegen lassen sich nach Betätigen einer kleinen „G“-Schaltfläche links oben eingeben. Eine weitere Neuerung stellt die Home-Taste dar. War diese bislang einfach ein schlichter Kreis, soll sie sich künftig als animierte Kugel präsentieren, die höchstwahrscheinlich Zugriff auf Google Now beziehungsweise den noch schlaueren Google Assistant gewährt.
Weitere spezielle Features der neuen Nexus-Generation sollen ein Night Light Modus sowie ein neuer Support-Bereich in den Einstellungen sein. Der Nachtmodus ist mit dem zu vergleichen, was Apple als Night Shift bezeichnet, verpasst dem Display also für die abendlichen oder nächtlichen Nutzungsstunden eine deutlich wärmere Farbtemperatur, was gemäß Studien angenehmer für die Augen und auch positiv für das Schlafverhalten sein soll. Zu dem durch Screenshots belegten neuen Support-Bereich gibt es bislang nur wenig konkrete Angaben. Android Police vermutet, dass Google einen speziellen Kundendienst für das Nexus-Programm einführen könnte, über welchen sich Nutzer bei Problemen Unterstützung von Google-Fachpersonaldirekt auf das Gerät holen könnten. Ob diese Vermutung korrekt ist, muss sich aber erst zeigen.




24.03.2018 01:17

For now, all of that still applies to the iPad mini 2, even if it is getting a bit long in the tooth. Now that its base model — which includes 16GB of unfortunately non-upgradeable storage — has dropped from $400 to $270, it’s the only Apple device in existence that could reasonably be considered a bargain. Nowadays, you can often find it for less than that.Yes, it’s a little bit pricier than the options below, but the difference in general quality, especially with regard to how better-adjusted iOS is on tablets compared to Android or Windows, is drastic enough to make it worth recommending upfront. If you absolutely cannot go above $200, however, the Nvidia Shield Tablet K1 is only budget Android tablet that can compete with — and, in many ways, best — the mini 2’s convenience. In fact, in terms of pure value, it’s the best buy you can make on any Android tablet today.Much of that is because of how powerful this thing is. It runs on the same Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC and 2GB of RAM as its predecessor — which was also named the Shield, sold for $300, and was recalled last summer over fears of faulty batteries — and that makes it significantly more capable than any other sub-$200 tablet we’ve tested. It’s competing with the iPad Air 2s and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2s of the world more than anything else. The various benchmark tests we ran in our testing only furthered that idea.

This is important, not just because it gives you a strong and speedy slate today, but because it’ll give you something decent in the years to come. That second GB of RAM is a big leg up. The Shield is particularly robust when it comes to graphics performance, which makes sense given how much focus it puts on gaming. Every game we tested was nothing but smooth, but beyond that, Nvidia’s loaded up the device with 3 free months of its (surprisingly fluid) GeForce Now cloud gaming service, the ability to stream your own (compatible) PC games straight to the tablet, and a handful of exclusive (relative to other slates) PC game ports. There’s also a handy mini-HDMI slot, which lets the Shield hook up to a TV and act as a makeshift console. You need to pay another $60 for Nvidia’s (solid) Shield controller to get anything out of this, and GeForce Now’s limited selection makes it an iffy buy, but if you’re into gaming, these are all nice bonuses.Even if you’re not, though, the Shield gets very little wrong. Its 8-inch 1920x1200 display is sharp, bright, and rich for the money. It also uses a 16:10 ratio, which is a little more spacious than the usual 16:9 without making the device unwieldy. It’s not the thinnest or flashiest slate around, but its soft, grippy build is practical, and its front-facing speakers work well. (Though the overly recessed power button is a pain.) The 8-9 hours of battery life (with minimal gaming) is fine. It also supports up to 128GB microSD cards, which is good, since the 16GB of included space is too little for a gaming machine. And again, it’s fast.

Given the price tag, the only real downside here is in the software. Nvidia’s done well to keep a near-stock version of Android 5.1.1 — with an Android 6.0 update available, though you might want to hold off on that for now — but, as mentioned above, Android itself lags behind iOS when it comes to tablet app support and multitasking functionality. The very idea of an “Android gaming tablet” is somewhat self-defeating; since so many games arrive first (or at all) on iOS, most people interested in gaming on the go are still better off with an iPad. Nevertheless, Android is familiar for many, and Nvidia’s extra features can be fun for PC gaming enthusiasts. You’re buying the Shield for how rock solid it is as a tablet, though — this mix of power, display quality, and versatility just isn’t available on any other cheap slate.We’ve highlighted it before, but if you’re willing to invest in world of Amazon, the Fire HD 8 is a nifty little treat. Neither its 1280x800 display, nor its all-plastic design, nor its middle-of-the-road processor is going to wow you, but for a $150 slate it’s all competent and adequate.

If you aren’t downloading something or playing a heavier-duty game, it runs smoothly enough to watch a video or browse the web. Its speakers are excellent, and it supports a microSD card. (Which is good, because this model only has 8GB of room by default.) It gets a decent 8 or so hours of battery life. And while its plastic coat will never feel “premium,” it is smooth, and it comes in a handful of lively colors.The best and worst thing about the Fire HD 8 is its interface. The newest version of Amazon’s Fire OS is a stark improvement over previous iterations, with a cleaner look and a homescreen that more closely resembles traditional Android. It doesn’t have the same tidy app drawer, but it’s simple enough to get around. It also features an extensive set of parental controls.As you’d expect, Amazon’s OS is tightly wound with Amazon’s ecosystem of services. There’s dedicated tabs for your books (so long as they’re with Kindle), video (with Prime Video), music (with Prime Music), shopping (with, um, Amazon), and so on.

If you’re an active Prime member, this is super convenient. Everything is presented to you on a platter; you can get to all your media with ease, and the Fire HD will serve up smart recommendations for things you might want to check out in the future. You get free unlimited cloud storage for all that Amazon content, and the OS makes it easy to stash Prime media for offline viewing. Other first-party services like Freetime (for kid-friendly content) and Mayday screen sharing (for fast customer support) have their uses as well.If you aren’t a Prime diehard, though, the fact that the whole UI pushes you toward giving Amazon money will get tiresome. Fire OS isn’t exactly helped by Amazon’s app store, either — it has most of the essentials, but it isn’t as deep or dependable as those on iOS or stock Android. Notably, there’s no Google support, which means there’s no Gmail, YouTube, or Google Play Music. On the plus side, initiatives like “Amazon Underground” get you dozens of games for cheap.In the end, the Fire HD is a decent budget tablet that can be a great value — so long as you eat what Amazon’s cooking.

If a 7- or 8-inch screen just won't do, the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 is currently the best big tablet you can get for less than $200. Its hearty 10-inch IPS display is sharp (with a 1900x1200 resolution) and bright, and while its blue polycarbonate build doesn’t feel high-end, it at least looks refined for a budget slate. Its 16GB of storage can be tripled through a microSD card, its speakers are great (though they should be on the tablet’s front, not back), and its beefy battery got us around a truly superb 11 hours of life per charge.The Tab 2’s performance is a bit more mixed, but again, it’s fine for surfing and streaming. The 64-bit, quad-core MediaTek processor and 2GB of RAM will stutter with console-style games or serious multitasking, but for casual browsing and Netflix watching, it gets the job done. Just don’t expect the kind of workhorse you’d get with a Lenovo laptop.Refreshingly, the Tab 2 opts for a clean, nearly stock Android experience instead of inevitably failing with a custom skin. It comes with version 4.4 KitKat by default, but you can upgrade to version 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. There’s very little bloatware — and the unnecessary apps that are here are all totally removable — and the gesture controls Lenovo adds to the proceedings are easily ignorable. (Though some, like drawing an “e” to open your email, can be fun.)

Otherwise, if you’re at all familiar with Google’s mobile OS, you’ll easily be able to get around here. Although Android’s interface and app store aren’t as optimized for tablets as iOS, it’s still a good-looking and highly customizable platform, and it’s only gotten more straightforward for newcomers as the years have passed. When, or if, it'll be updated remains to be seen, however. A Lenovo rep tells us "there should be an upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in the future," but that they don't have an exact time frame for the release at this time.The Tab 2 A10 has a smaller sibling called the Tab 2 A8 that goes for $75 less, but it’s too widely handicapped to be worth recommending. The A10, meanwhile, is an obvious value, especially when you consider how difficult it can be to find quality 10-inch slates for cheap.For another smaller Android option, try the Asus ZenPad S 8.0. This is the spiritual successor to the Asus MeMo Pad, which itself was as a successor to Asus' old Nexus 7, whose praises we’ve sung before. Much like those devices, the ZenPad looks and feels nicer than its modest price would suggest. It doesn’t have the iPad's aluminum, but its matte-and-leather chassis is slimmer, lighter, and smoother than you’d expect a $200 device to be.

That’s aided by an 7.85-inch 2K (2048x1536) display that, while not as upper-class as that resolution would suggest, is still sharp and lively, with great viewing angles. Its colors could stand be a little more accurate, but it’s better than most of what you’ll find in this price range.This configuration of the ZenPad runs on a quad-core Intel Atom processor and 2GB of RAM. As with the Tab 2 above, it isn’t as consistent with heavier-duty tasks, but it’s more than serviceable for using casually around the house. There’s 32GB of included storage, which is, again, nicely expandable with a microSD card. Battery life isn’t great, though, usually lasting around 5-6 hours per charge. That’s not a huge deal given that lots of people aren’t going to tax their tablets too heavily, but stronger is always better.The bigger annoyance is with Asus’ custom Android skin, ZenUI. It runs over Android 5.1 Lollipop, but it strips away a chunk of the warmness and convenience of the base OS. It’s still Android, so it’s never outright difficult to use, but it’s blander, and much of Asus’ tinkerings aren’t obviously useful. (It does have similar gesture controls as the A10, though, as well as a handy double-tap-to-wake feature.) Thankfully, you can always go to the Google Play store and download an alternate launcher instead.

You can’t get around the sheer amount of bloatware on this thing, though. Most of it can be disabled or uninstalled, but having to deal with it in the first place is no fun.It’s worth noting that there’s a step-up model of the ZenPad S 8.0 that comes with 4 GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, USB type-C (although we’d rather have this model’s tried-and-true micro-USB port for now), 802.11ac WiFi support (this one’s unfortunately limited to slower 802.11n), and a faster processor for $100 extra. That’s a lot of upgrades, and in practice it is faster and more capable than this unit.But $100 is $100, and you still get the same look, feel, and display here. Go for the step-up if you need the higher-end performance, but the entry-level ZenPad is plenty fine as a budget Android option. The Amazon Fire is a tablet for people who don’t always use their tablets. In many ways, it's the Moto E of slates — a device that isn’t outright good in any one area, but competent in most, which in turn makes it a superb value for its dirt-cheap price tag.

The Fire’s nondescript slab of black plastic neither looks nor feels premium, but it has a level of stability to it that other ultra-budget tablets lack. It doesn’t feel creaky or loose, and it’s proportioned well enough to use easily with one hand.Its 7-inch, 1024x600 display is as fuzzy as that resolution would suggest, but its colors and viewing angles are acceptable for casual use. Its 1.3GHz MediaTek chip and 1GB of RAM aren’t strong, but they do enough for basic web browsing or casual games to be relatively smooth. That’s in part helped by the Fire OS 5 described above, whose Amazon-pushing annoyances are easier to swallow at $50. It only has 8GB of storage but default, but that’s expandable up to 128GB with a microSD card, which is great.I loved "The Jetsons" as a kid — so in late April I said the Apple Watch would not be complete until it got video-chat capabilities.So when I read the latest scoop from 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman, who says Apple plans to add a FaceTime video camera into the top bezel of the second-generation Apple Watch, I couldn't help but get excited.



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