Tuesday, 17 December 2013

World's Cheapest Tablet goes on Sale

THE world's cheapest tablet has gone on sale and it'll set thrifty consumers back just A$54.Check out this tablet
It's called the Datawind UbiSlate 7Ci and it's a basic 7in device that was originally launched in India as an affordable way for students to get access to the internet. Now, the slate has been made available for world market from their website.
While the price is almost too good to be true, the cost reflects the specs of the Android device with a screen that cannot match the sharpness of more premium tablets and relatively sluggish performance. But is does boast a storage that can be expanded by microSD card up to a none-too-shabby 32GB. There's built-in Wi-Fi too.
This basically means you'll be able to do most of the basic functions like web access and email that you can do on more expensive tablets like the iPad or Galaxy Tab. You'll be able to play Angry Birds, just don't expect to be blown away by the hardware.
The unit has received fairly adequate reviews with the overall consensus being that is can be pretty clunky to use with a poor screen and not-so-great battery life, but for the price it's a brilliant entry. For non-tech savvy folk this is a great gift.
Datawind has said it is planning to "disrupt" the tablet market by bringing low-cost devices complete with processing power to match Apple's latest iPads. We like the sound of that.
Datawind UbiSlate 7Ci specs:
- 7in, 800 x 480, display
- 512 RAM
- 1GHz processor
- 4GB storage expandable to 32GB via microUSB
- Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich

Buy this $7.85 million mansion with Bitcoin

Look between the cushions of your virtual couch to see if you have enough Bitcoins to snap up a massive mansion in Las Vegas
Bitcoin mansion
This cozy little place can be yours for Bitcoin.
You can use Bitcoins to buy computers, veterinary care, or a Tesla Model S. If you're a Bitcoin multimillionaire, you can also buy a Las Vegas mansion and park your Tesla inside the four-car garage. The $7.85 million 24,500-square-foot palace sits on over an acre of land right next to a country club.
Jack and Laura Sommer are the sellers. Jack Sommer, a developer, once owned the Aladdin casino. Two of his sons are Bitcoin enthusiasts who convinced Dad to accept the virtual currency as a payment option for the 12-bedroom, 15-bathroom house.
Accepting Bitcoin for the mansion is a clever advertising move meant to get the word out about the luxury home, and perhaps lure a Bitcoin-rich buyer who wouldn't mind unloading some virtual cash on a high-end property. "The advantage is that we're expanding our market and adding some notoriety," Sommer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The famously fluctuating currency poses some challenges when dealing with a long escrow period. Today's estimated exchange rate has one Bitcoin equaling just over $700. Earlier in the month, the exchange rate was right around $1,000. Any Bitcoin-based buying contract would have to take this issue into account.
If a Bitcoin buyer does appear, the mansion could easily become the most expensive Bitcoin real estate transaction ever conducted. If you're lucky, you might be able to find a cleaning staff that will work for Bitcoin, since you're not going to want to mop all that marble flooring yourself.

Worst And Best Phones of 2013

Now that 2013 is wrapping up, we take a look back at the handsets that rose to the top, and the others that sank to the bottom.
Motorola Droid Maxx and ZTE Groove
We'll remember some of these devices fondly, but there are others that we wish we could forget.
With 2014 approaching, we at CNET would like to take this time and reflect. Reflect on our family and friends, our personal accomplishments, and of course, the smartphone highs and lows of 2013 (this is a tech site after all, what were you expecting?).

Others were flagships from familiar manufacturers, but some companies took measures to start afresh in order to elevate and differentiate their chief handsets for 2013.Unsurprisingly, the top handsets of this year were dominated by much of the same key players we consistently see from year to year. That includes updated iterations of popular phones such as the fingerprint-scanning Apple iPhone 5S, the powerful Samsung Galaxy S4, and the ultra-juiced up Motorola Droid Maxx.

12 smartphone standouts of 2013 (pictures)

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This includes going back to minimalistic names like HTC's simplistic One and LG dropping the "Optimus" moniker from its G2 device, as well as opting for a novel design, with the former smartphone sporting a stylish all-aluminum construction, and the latter relocating its power buttons to the rear.
Then there were the curveballs. The ones that brought unique but well-executed new features to the market, like Nokia's Lumia 1020 that's equipped with a 41-megapixel camera, and the highly customizable Motorola Moto X.
Of course, not everything came up roses this year. There were a handful of devices that were less than stellar. Some were simple feature phones (like the LG Envoy II and the Huawei Pal) that got docked not because they were too basic, but because they couldn't even perform the simplest tasks reliably.

The eight not-so-great: 2013's handset duds (pictures)

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Smartphones that make their way onto this list usually do so because of other reasons, in addition to poor performance. For example, the ZTE Groove and the Alcatel Authority are outdated right when they come out of the box. Also, there's nothing like the laggy processors found in the Cricket Engage LT or the Alcatel One Touch Evolve to bog down the user experience.
What do you guys think, do you agree? Whether you think we overlooked another superb device, or didn't give a disappointing phone its due regard, let us know in the comments section below

AmazonFresh vs. supermarket: A hands-on shopping test

An AmazonFresh deliveryman scans my bags to confirm their arrival.
In 1999, an online grocery-shipping company caught my attention. As a kid who had absolutely no say in what made the pantry cut, I shouldn't have cared so much. But the idea of summoning a pile of food through a few mouse clicks was simply magical.
My plan to get Mom onboard -- hours of adding items to a virtual grocery cart to await her quick credit card swipe -- didn't quite pay off, however; online grocers never made it into her circle of Internet trust. Besides, she said, "it's too expensive." WebVan came and went, and we continued visiting the local supermarket for our weekly food stock.
But Friday, my 14-year-old dream came true. Five years after Amazon launched AmazonFresh in its hometown of Seattle, the service arrived in San Francisco. Without thinking twice, I signed up for the free 90-day trial and began adding my usual items to a virtual grocery cart.
Here's how it works: If you place an order by 10 a.m., groceries will arrive "by dinner," while orders placed later in the day will arrive as early as the following morning. For some ZIP codes, you'll have to be present during a one-hour window to pick up your food, while other areas allow for drop-off delivery. If your order is over $35, delivery is free (but don't forget to tip your driver.)
The catch is that after the free 90-day trial, AmazonFresh will set you back $300 per year, which also includes Amazon's regular Prime membership.
CNET's San Francisco office is nestled in one of the few ZIP codes covered by Fresh, and is also close to a Safeway, a popular supermarket chain mostly found in the western and central states. And me? I'm your typical Bay Area grocery shopper who shops once weekly, likes dollar-off coupons, and tries to shop in season.
Not scientific, but the variables were good enough to run a test that compared price, quality, and shopping experience.
Mom's complaint was always that online groceries and associated fees were more expensive than Safeway's prices, so I was surprised and happy to find that when it came to individual items, AmazonFresh is very competitive.
Item         AmazonFresh      Safeway     Notes
Skirt steak (1 pound)$8.99$6.05n/a
Frozen spinach$1.28$1.19n/a
Clover 2 percent milk$3.99$4.19n/a
Honeycrisp apple$1.49$1.26n/a
Organic eggs$3.99$4.99n/a
Organic baby carrots    $1.49$1.99n/a
Baked beans$2.99$2.99n/a
2 Hass avocados$2.50$2.50n/a
Shredded mozzarella$2.69$3.99BOGO deal    
Delivery tip4n/an/a
For example, the eggs on Fresh were $3.99, compared with $4.99 at Safeway. Cilantro was 50 cents cheaper at Safeway, but baby carrots were 50 cents cheaper on Fresh.
Still, I had to make sure any instances of lower prices weren't a fluke. I asked for comment and it turns out that "[Amazon keeps its] prices on grocery items in line with what you'd find at your local supermarket." The prices I paid, though, are only true for San Francisco. Though all customers see the same prices in an entire metro area, prices will vary from city to city.
So the two sellers are essentially even, but there's a big, huge $300 elephant in the room -- Amazon's annual fee.
To find out if AmazonFresh's annual fee is worth it, I had to do a little math. For starters, I already pay $60 yearly for Prime membership, which brings the actual cost of Fresh (for me) down to $240. Then, I calculated my annual gas expense using this handy calculator: $7.78.
On average, the time-honored American tradition of getting in the car and heading to a supermarket (maybe two for picky shoppers), adds up to about 44 minutes per trip, according to the USDA, not including time spent traveling or planning. It involves traveling no more than 5 miles, and spending an average of $116.52 weekly, according to the Food Marketing Institute.
For me, shopping at AmazonFresh doesn't quite break even after gas and the included Prime membership, but if time is money (more on that later), AmazonFresh might be worth that extra $232.22 per year.
Shopping in-store allowed me to check produce items before adding them to my cart. (Click to enlarge.)
But there's more to consider here than price.
Over the years, I've discovered little tricks for ensuring that a fruit or vegetable is just right. I like tomatoes on the firm side, while avocados should give just a little. As for oranges, the heaviest ones are always the juiciest.
Putting trust into the hands of robots and employees who aren't necessarily as observant isn't easy. While Amazon does let you choose between "ripe" and "not ripe" avocados, everything else is a gamble.
At Safeway, I followed my usual routine, checking produce for ripeness and quality. There was even a nice employee unpacking bananas who let me choose from his new selection. Freedom to choose was all mine, and chatting with fellow humans didn't hurt, either.
In the end, my skepticism about online produce was reinforced by the sad, inedible "ripe" avocado I received via Fresh. Several of the vine tomatoes were also too mushy for my liking, echoing the worry I had upon ordering produce online.
Though Amazon will refund unsatisfactory orders, replacing those items would require me to wait until the next day's delivery, or head to the local store and choose them for myself.
The variety of local, national, and international grocery items on Fresh is astonishing. A search for tomatoes returns pages of options -- canned, fresh, Roma, vine, organic, Hot House, you name it.
Left: Safeway. Right: AmazonFresh.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
There's also an abundant selection of local meats, baked goods, cheese, and even restaurant items that vary by city. Things like fresh, local bread can be ordered with a click.
Sometimes, items (like Clover Organic Milk) are labeled "Out of Stock" without any information about when they'll become available. This seems to happen most with local items, but those are often available on the following delivery day.
Safeway, on the other hand, had everything on the list. The selection of tomatoes and other produce wasn't as plentiful, but the run-of-the-mill essentials I needed were there.
Shopping experience
I'll admit it: I love grocery shopping. But not everyone gets as energized as I do about an activity that consumes nearly an hour weekly (and a whole lot more around the holidays), not including travel time.
(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
AmazonFresh is fantastic for those who want grocery shopping to be a quick sport. After choosing a delivery time and date, the shopping begins. Searching for grocery items is just like shopping on Amazon, user reviews and all. The browser panels are kind of confusing, and search terms can't be too specific, but I found the items I needed in a snap.
Upon checkout, I was asked to include a tip (with a suggested amount) before confirming the order. Total time: 20 minutes flat.
At 11 a.m. the next day, I went downstairs to my office lobby and waited patiently for my delivery, which was slated to arrive within the hour. As I waited, I found myself wishing Amazon had some sort of delivery-tracking system, or a 10-minute warning via text message.
Finally, at 11:41 a.m., a big green truck rolled up, and out came three large, reusable grocery bags. The bags, each with their own QR code, were scanned with the deliveryman's smartphone, and the groceries were mine.
Shopping at Safeway after the Fresh experience amplified the differences between online and in-person shopping. Though I had a shopping list and plan of attack, it took me longer to find the items I needed. At one point, I found myself evaluating and squeezing a pile of tomatoes before realizing they were organic, and not the "regular" ones I needed. D'oh.
Picking up a skirt steak wasn't easy, either. After several minutes of searching for it at the unattended meat counter, I stalked an employee, who then called another employee, who finally came to my rescue. By that time, 10 minutes later, I had, of course, found what I was looking for.
Despite the obstacles, I simply enjoyed shopping in-store. I was surprised to find a buy-one-get-one offer on the shredded cheese, and I had a happy conversation with the woman at the checkstand -- there's an element of spontaneity with an in-person experience that one simply doesn't get online.
With travel and time spent shopping, getting my groceries at Safeway did set me back nearly an hour, with 41 minutes spent in the store. If time is money, brick-and-mortar grocery shopping is three times the cost.
Of course, Amazon isn't the first company to tackle online groceries after WebVan's epic $1.1 billion failure. FreshDirect's name is already synonymous with online groceries in the New York metropolitan area, shipping pantry and perishable items to hungry doorsteps. After launching in Roosevelt Island in 2002, the company spent the next 10 years expanding to Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, and now serves most New York City addresses.
Amazon's approach was similar. The company first launched AmazonFresh in its hometown of Seattle, targeting only the densely populated ZIP codes for maximum efficiency and profit. It was only five years later, in June 2013, that its Fresh service made its way to Los Angeles' most concentrated neighborhoods.
Now that it's available to arguably one of the more suitable populations on the map, San Francisco, I'll eagerly await AmazonFresh's expansion across the bridge to the East Bay, where I can have groceries delivered to my home -- at least on those occasions when I'm not planning to feed 20 with fresh vegetable stir-fry.

Apple's 2014 won't be like 2013,Why?

It's not just about the next hit product. Apple is preparing for a future beyond phones, tablets, watches and TVs, in which it's the premium brand for life in a fully digital age.

Hundreds of people await the iPhone 5S and 5C launch at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan.

As 2013 draws to a close, Tim Cook is feeling good. The holiday quarter once again proved that Apple's products and stores can draw a crowd. Pent-up demand for new iPhones and iPads was satisfied once again, and Apple's reputation as a purveyor of objects of desire was reaffirmed. As a reward, Apple' stock price hit a 52-week high this month.
Apple's precision-engineered, meticulously designed, mass-produced objects of desire are not the most advanced or clever computing machines. Many Android devices are tricked out with more pixels and features. Nor is Apple the undisputed market share leader, which is not the company's first priority.
After its initial breakthrough product and domination of the market, Apple cedes share to followers and carves out a highly profitable niche. Like BMW in the automotive industry, Apple is not trying to blanket the market. The Android platform now maintains the majority market share by far, especially outside the US, but for contestants other than Samsung the profits are slim or none. And, Apple's mobile platform, iOS, accounts for more than 50 percent of mobile Internet usage, according to Net Market Share research.
Mobile and tablet worldwide market share of operating system usage for November 2013. Net Market Share collects browser data from a worldwide network of over 40,000 websites. (Credit: Net Market Share)

In the coming year, Apple will continue its wash, rinse, repeat cycle, incrementally refreshing the iPads, iPhones, and Macs with more speed, less weight, longer battery life, additional sensors, and improved apps.
There are also hints that 2014 won't be another year of just incremental improvements like 2013. Apple could reveal something more dramatic and groundbreaking than adding a fingerprint sensor to an iPad or delivering iPhones and iPads with bigger screens and better cameras, or finally shipping the powerful R2-D2- looking Mac Pro.
It's been four years since the company's last market-defining product, the iPad, was unveiled. Here's what Steve Jobs said at the time: "iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price. iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before."
Apple is rumored to be working on several products that could be eventually pitched as the "most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price." According to reports, Apple has in excess of 100 people working on an "iWatch." The company has trademarked the iWatch name around the world, and has filed 79 patents containing the word "wrist."
Neptune's Pine is among the upstarts trying to lead the next wave of wearable computing. (Credit: Neptune)
Following its usual product strategy, Apple isn't rushing to market to join the pack. Pebble, Samsung, Sony, ZTE, Martian Fitbit, Basis, Neptune, Metawatch, Qualcomm already have wrist wearables in the market, and LG, Google, and even Dell might be working on similar products. No one so far has a hit product. Apple hopes that an iWatch can follow the same pattern as the iPod, iPhone and iPad -- not the first in its category, but the one that redefines a market and dominates it for the first phase of adoption.
That will be a far more difficult challenge than in the past with all the innovative startups chasing the dream. And, the bar is set much higher for Apple.
It may be that an iWatch will focus on a few apps, such as health and fitness, and serve as more of an accessory to the iPhone. You don't have to take it out of your pocket to browse alerts and other information or talk to Siri. An iWatch with a beautifully curved, sapphire touch screen and sleek band would be more fashion statement than game-changing product.
In fact, Apple is on a mission to become more fashion forward. The company added two major fashion industry icons to its executive ranks. Former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve joined as a vice president to work on "special projects," and Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was tapped to lead retail operations, managing the online store and more than 520 brick-and-mortar outlets.
Apple TV user interface concept.
(Credit: Andrew Ambrosino)
That enhanced fashion IQ could be applied to a range of entertainment products, another area that Apple wants to transform. The company could launch a stylish, large-screen 4K TV with Apple TV built-in or a set-top box this year, accompanied by apps that plug into iOS ecosystem and take the pain out of managing and controlling what's on the screen or in the box.
Apple is also working with automobile companies to integrate features like Siri, Apple Maps, and iTunes into the built-in displays of cars.
One Apple patent describes a head-mounted goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience. The goggles could be linked to a devices, such as computers, televisions, smartphones, and gaming systems.
(Credit: USPTO)
And, don't be surprised is you start hearing rumblings about eyewear from Apple. The company has many patents for head-mounted displays and other technologies relevant to augmenting-reality devices like the Oculus Rift and Google Glass. Apple will play the tortoise to Google's hare, watching the landscape evolve and taking its time to create a more perfect device that will attract tens of millions of buyers.
What's becoming clear is that Apple isn't just focused on trying to create another hit product. The company has long been preparing for a future in which technology is deeply woven into the fabric of everyday life. It's about creating an experience and brand that represents the best of the digital future.
iPhones, tablets, watches, glasses, TVs, sensors, robots, and cars are vehicles for enabling Apple's software and services to flourish. It's about becoming the premium brand for living in a fully digital age, in which billions of people and tens of billions of objects gathering and sending signals are connected.