FFC To Create “Nutrition Labels” For Your Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission do a lot of things, including monitoring and investigating companies which have less than kind business practices. In their latest attempt to help people they’ve taken their inspiration from something we see (and ignore for the most part) everyday, nutrition labels.

In their latest attempt to give consumers a fair few the new nutrition labels will be used to help customers understand both home internet service providers (ISP’s) and mobile carriers. While not mandatory carriers are being “urged” to use the labels which will give you an idea about the following properties:

  • Price
    • This includes all those hidden fees they often hide, such as line rental or limited discounts
  • Data Caps
    • Ever felt like you may be getting a slower service? You should be able to see if you’ve hit your data usage cap, if one even exists
  • Speed
    • This will be included alongside things like latent and packet loss, giving you an idea not just how fast your service would be but also how reliable it is to

ISP’s are free to come up with their own labels, but they must be made in an “accurate, understandable and easy-to-find manner”.

Examples of the Broadband and Mobile labels can be found below.

Hoping to avoid the surprise fee’s that account for more than 2,000 complaints received by the FCC, the new labels could help people decide on the company that’s right for them, rather than the advertisement that fools the most.

Phantom 3 Creators DJI Announce New Agricultural Drone

DJI is a company known for their drones, the recognisable phantom 3 is one of their models after all. While the public seek to use these drones more and more, with everything from wedding videos to football games recorded, it is no surprise that DJI just announced their latest model, Agras.

The Agras-1 is designed to help with crop spraying, with an impressive resume of being able to cover anywhere between seven and ten acres with a tank holding around ten litres of liquid. While impressive stats the more impressive features such as a microwave radar which scans the ground, this lets it automatically adjust and moderate the amount it sprays. Flying at eight metres per second, the drone is not only fast but also durable with both anti-corrosive and waterproofing measures designed to keep the drone in flight during even some little rain.

With the ability to fly manually or automatically, the drone is set to help out farmers by not only automatically crop spraying but with the eventual attachment of sensors feeding back information on the crops and farmland. Costing roughly $15,000 (approximately £9937.20) according to DJI’s comments to the wall street journal it comes in a little higher than the average consumer drone.

4K Television Shipments Predicted to Reach 40% in 2016

The consumer adoption of high-definition Televisions has taken a considerable amount of time but this isn’t surprising considering the fairly low quality footage on traditional broadcasts. Initially, people were told to upgrade to ‘HD Ready’ sets as a way of preparing for high-definition content. However, many of these users felt quite angry when ‘Full HD’ displays replaced the older 720p Televisions. The marketing was incredibly confusing and pretty misleading. While 1920×1080 TVs are the modern standard, broadcasts usually revolve around 720p video.

Intriguingly, a research paper conducted by IHS, predicts 4K TVs will account for 40% of sales in 2016. This is a massive change compared to 2014, and forecasts for the year-end of 2015. Ricky Park, Director of Large Display Research for IHS Technology argued:

“The increased supply of LCD TV panels has caused a downturn in panel prices, providing consumers with a cheaper selection of wide-screen TVs and whetting their appetite for even larger TVs with higher resolution”.

“The consumer requirement for higher resolution will also grow, as more 4K TV video content becomes available”.

4K Televisions are becoming more affordable, and consumers demand the best visual quality available. Additionally, it’s quite common for households to use sets in excess of 40 inches. This was unthinkable 5-10 years ago, when 28-32 inches seemed extremely large. As Televisions increase in size, so does the demand for a greater resolution as low pixel densities cause a sub-par viewing experience.

What is the screen size of your Television?

New Firefox Testing Feature Warns Of Insecure Website Password Submission

Consumers are exposed to a myriad of cyber threats which are intent upon harvesting as much information as possible, from bogus emails offering state cash refunds to spoofed pages which purport to be from a genuine vendors, but are in fact aiming to collect sensitive consumer details. Well known and popular browser Mozilla Firefox have recognised the importance of alerting consumers to the security of password submission by offering a simple yet important safeguard within the latest Firefox Nightly build.

The security measure in question is in the form of a faded crossed out padlock icon within the address bar of the browser, thankfully it’s more useful than simply a new icon. The aim of this new feature is to warn consumers if a password field is not submitted over HTTPS and thus regarded as insecure. If a consumer clicks on the icon it will provide further details as to why a particular site is considered insecure, below is an image to convey the change. This feature is currently “only in testing as part of Firefox 44 Nightly”.

This new yet simple feature is a good way of informing consumers as to the risks of submitting a password over an insecure method, cyber security is a hot topic and the more every individual knows the better. It will be interesting to note the rollout timescale of this feature once Firefox confirms it for its finished builds. On a side note, let’s hope consumers actually update their browsers in order to benefit from the latest security fixes, I bet many a reader knows someone who is running a version of Firefox that is at least 10 versions behind that of the currently available.

Image courtesy of technodyan

Reports of iPhone 6S & Plus Randomly Powering Down

Smartphones have moved on leaps and bounds over the last decade, the processing power which is confined within a portable device is quite mind-blowing. But, these devices do have their problems which include generally poor battery life and a tendency to break if dropped, unlike that Nokia 1100 model which would puncture the floor while leaving the phone unharmed.

Talking of glitches, there seems to be a new problem which has been reported by many consumers who have upgraded to iOS 9 while using the iPhone 6S and iPhone Plus. According to reports via various tech forums, the devices in question “randomly and unexpectedly power off” which is certainly inconvenient. Users also report that their phones power down even if the battery is fully charged while others have noticed the home button felt warm or even hot. These reports have been mainly attributed to the above models, although one consumer noted similar problems on the iPhone 5S.

Below are responses from consumers concerning this issue

“I overslept this morning, because my phone quit working overnight! (no alarm) I tried the power button, but it was unresponsive. When I went to try a hard reset, I BURNED my finger on the home button”

The screen was off, and the phone rang. The screen remained dark, but the ringing kept going, but couldn’t be answered. The home button was EXTREMELY hot, and the only way to get the screen back on was to hard boot it (home and power buttons)”

“Happened twice, bought 6s+ (9.1 beta 2) on Friday was dead on Saturday night while charging. Happened again Monday afternoon. Reset all settings and nothing since. Am currently running beta 3.”

Consumers have since upgraded their phones to iOS 9.0.2 and are waiting to see if the problem reappears. There is speculation although no firm conclusion as of yet that the glitches might be down to the A9 processor within the iPhone 6S, which had two manufacturers; TSMC and Samsung.

Unfortunately, the nature and power of these phones will always lead to glitches and errors, Apple will need to ensure such instances are dealt with in a speedy manner with the aim of avoiding potential negative consumer views of the brand. Consumers will also be hoping that any bug fix updates do not introduce new problems to their devices, as in the case of the botched bug fix for iOS 8.

Thank you cnet and macrumors for providing us with this information.

Consumer Rights Act 2015 Comes Into Force

The Consumer Rights Act (2015) was enacted into law today which properly outlines the responsibilities retailers have to their customers in a transparent manner. Previously, the Sales of Goods Act (1979) provided information on consumer rights and constituted situations which were eligible for a full refund. Sadly, the Act contained a lack of clarity meaning retailers could use their own judgement to set the duration for returns. As a result, this ambiguity in the law meant it was unknown if 2, 5, or 20 days was enough to allow for a full refund.

Thankfully, the Consumer Rights Act has addressed this head-on and ensures customers can get a refund within 30 days of the initial purchase date if the item is faulty. This seems like a sensible procedure and provides peace-of-mine. Throughout Europe, companies are required by law to uphold a 2-year guarantee, but this only covers manufacturing flaws. Now the Consumer Rights Act is officially valid, customers can get a refund, and not just a replacement model which they might not want. In theory, this also covers digital purchases, meaning any game not-fit-for-purpose has to be exchanged. This becomes quite complicated as a corrupt audio file is easy to replace, but broken games could take months to fix, as shown by Batman Arkham Knight.

Here is a brief rundown of the new legislation’s basic principles:

  • Must be of satisfactory quality, based on what a reasonable person would expect, taking into account the price
  • Must be fit for purpose. If the consumer has a particular purpose in mind, he or she should make that clear
  • Must meet the expectations of the consumer

As with any legal announcement, it will take some time to learn how it applies to digital transactions. Perhaps, a precedent is required to determine its effectiveness for broken games, or poor quality movie streams. Whatever the case, this is a pro-consumer move and should work well alongside Distance Selling Regulations in the UK.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

First 2TB Consumer SSDs Are Now Available

Samsung announced that they would be releasing 2TB versions of their popular 850 Evo and 850 Pro families a couple of months ago, but thus far no one has spotted the drives out in the wild. That is up until now, they have been spotted in shops, are available through Samsung directly, and can be ordered from multiple online shops with others taking pre-orders until stock arrives.

While 2TB SSDs aren’t anything new in themselves, this is the firs time that we get this capacity on the consumer level and at a more reasonable price. Both drives are built with 40nm V-NAND, but not the same type. The Evo drive is built with TLC Toggle while the Pro is built with MLC Toggle NAND. The new Samsung 2TB drives are using 2GB LPDDR3 Cache to help with the performance and utilize the Samsung MHX controller.

The two series aren’t far from each other when it comes to performance. The Pro can read with 550MB/s where the Evo only does 540MB/s in sequential operations and the random performance of the Pro is 2K higher and comes in at 100K IOPS. The write performance is identical on both series with 520MB/s sequential and 90K IOPS random 4K.

I mentioned earlier that these drives come at a reasonable price, whether that is true or not probably depends on your absolute needs. The Samsung 850 Pro can be had for around 900 Euro while the  Samsung 850 Evo is a little cheaper and can be had for around 720 Euro. Those prices are actual list prices and might variate depending on the retailer. The MSRP for the drives has been set to $1000 and $800 respectively.

eBay Seller Faces $19K Legal Bill After Suing Buyer Who Left Negative Feedback

Ohio-based company, Med Express, is facing a hefty legal bill amounting to $19,250, after attempting to sue an eBay customer for leaving negative feedback. Amy Nicholls purchased a microscope light via eBay for $175, and was charged an additional $12 shipping fee. Unfortunately, she was forced to pay an extra $1.44 in postage costs and became quite dissatisfied with the company’s lack of customer service. Subsequently, she voiced her concerns and left negative feedback regarding the transaction. Unbelievably, Med Express suddenly acted in an audacious manner and claimed that they offered a $1.44 partial refund before demanding the feedback to be withdrawn.

Med Express massively misjudged the situation and Amy refused to alter her original feedback rating. Med Express’ founder, Richard Radey, decided to file a lawsuit thinking Amy would be scared into removing the feedback in an act of complete arrogance. Thankfully, Amy is a strong-willed individual and acquired the help of Paul Levy, an infamous lawyer who campaigns against big-business bullying tactics.

After this information was disclosed to Richard Radey, he suddenly had a change of heart and dropped the case. However, he had a notorious reputation and was involved in a number of similar lawsuits. Levy described Radey’s apology to Ars Technica in 2013 and said:

 “Problem is, I don’t believe a word of what he says,”

Given the chain of events, Levy sought to recoup the legal costs of two lawyers representing Amy Nicholls and another undisclosed individual. After a long dispute, a Medina County, Ohio judge ruled that Med Express and Radey must pay $19,250 to Tom Haren and Jeffrey Nye who were the laywers in question.

This is a fantastic day for consumer rights and most-of-all justice. Med Express underestimated Amy Nicholls’ tenacity and learn’t a very expensive lesson about consumer freedom. Far too many companies take their customers for granted and behave in a disgraceful way. Finally, one of these companies employing bullying tactics has got their comeuppance. If you ever feel the need to leave negative feedback for an unsatisfactory service, do so!

What is the worst experience you’ve had on eBay?

Thank You Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Aqua Blue PS Vita Launching In The US This November

The PS Vita has been somewhat disappointing over its life and so have recent handheld consoles in general, the emergence of mobile phone and tablets have transferred the consumer base onto a more multi-tasking devices. In the US at least, the PS Vita will be launching with a new colour scheme which might entice fans of the handheld to buy into the experience, or more likely it’s just a money shaming gimmick.

The colour in question will be Aqua Blue which will stand out considering US buyers have been limited to either Black or White options up until now. The basic device will be the same, there won’t be any hardware improvements and under the shiny colour will still be the second generation Vita which is currently out on the market. The Recommended Retail Price will be $199.99, so $200 dollars then.

Below is two further screenshots of the handheld, as you can see, it’s quite striking but other than that, it’s the same. Sony have informed fans that it’s better to pre-order the console as of now, as it “won’t be around for long” It will be interesting to note how this device fares within the market considering game developer support is slowly losing interest in the PS Vita, it remains to be seen how sales will fare.

Amazon Accused of Spying on Users’ Social Media Profiles

If you purchased from Amazon before, you know that reviews are important to get the right customer feedback from others who had bought the same product in the past. This is a great way of knowing that your money is going towards something that deserves the price tag it comes with. However, Amazon needs to sweep through all these reviews and take down illegitimate reviews. But how do they do it? One writer appears to know the hard truth.

Imy Santiago bought a book from Amazon a while back. She apparently loved it so much that she wanted to post a good review about it on Amazon to congratulating the author and let others know a consumer’s opinion about the book. However, she was greeted with an unexpected email rather than having her review posted on the website. The email was as follows:

Dear Amazon Customer,

Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

She went back and read her review and also took a close look at the retailer’s guidelines, to which she saw nothing wrong in what she wrote. So she went on and emailed their customer service team to get a better answer. Their reply was as follows:

Hello,

We cannot post your Customer Review for (book title deleted) by (author name deleted) to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author. 

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or misleading will not be posted. To learn more about this policy, please review our Customer Review Guidelines (http://amazon.com/help/customer-reviews-guidelines) and FAQs (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=201077870).  

We encourage family and friends to share their enthusiasm for the book through our Customer Discussions feature or Editorial Reviews feature. To start a Customer Discussion visit the Meet Our Authors forum and enter your discussion title in the Start a new discussion box. You’ll find the forum here: 
http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S

To have your Editorial Review posted to the detail page, e-mail it directly to the author so they can add it for you. 

If you believe you’re eligible to write a Customer Review for this book, send additional details to review-appeals@amazon.com

We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,

Harm J,

At this point, Santiago wrote an email explaining that knowing an author online is not the same thing as knowing an author personally. We all have fan pages we like, authors or other public figures we add as friends, but having a website as Amazon snooping around users’ social media websites and judging by profiles is surely not a way to make sure reviewers are ‘legitimate’. Amazon also did not reveal how they ‘determine’ how accounts are related and are not able to share ‘further information’ about what made them deny a good review.

Santiago may have crossed paths with the author, may it be online or even in person at an expo for example, but Amazon’s decision to deny sharing information on how they determine this is quite unsettling. I mean, if not even the customer knows how companies find out two people are related and are not provided with an explanation, then there’s clearly a privacy violation in the middle of it. What do you think?

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

Here’s Why We Won’t See DirectX 12 in Action This Year

Thinking of upgrading your graphics card for the new Windows 10 and DirectX 12? Well, I think you should wait a bit longer. While everyone is hyped to see what devs can do with the latest DirectX version, we are forgetting the most important thing, which is the platform.

What this means is that DirectX 12 is locked to Windows 10 exclusively, which limits the platform and titles released for it. I mean sure, I am a PC gamer myself, but don’t expect everyone to switch to a PC or Xbox One just because there’s a new version of DirectX rolling out. Statistics also proved that most gamers are happy with their PlayStation 4 right now, so devs don’t really have a reason to switch their development and focus on DirectX 12, at least not until next year.

Also, another thing to take into account is that most people haven’t even upgraded to DirectX 12 compatible hardware, meaning that it will take some time until we see a lot of consumers ready for DirectX 12 games. But let’s see why it will take time to switch from the current version of DirectX to the new one, because I know most of you are wondering why it will take this long and maybe even argue that DirectX 11 was adopted faster.

When taking a look at DirectX 11, the main reason it was adopted so fast by consumers as well as developers is the next-gen platforms and native development tools. DirectX 11 got released in the same year as the Xbox One and PS4, while we also had Epic and other developers release Unreal Engine 4 with native DirectX 11 support. This meant that the tools and hardware have been out there for everyone, from big to small, to use and explore the new tech.

In contrast, DirectX 12 currently looks like the old DirectX 10. We see a new thing added, but there’s hardly enough support for it both for development as well as hardware to run it. This is why DirectX 10 failed to deliver such a hype in the gaming industry and why developers focused more on DirectX 9 back in the day. However, we won’t see the same fate bestowed on DirectX 12 as we saw for DirectX 10, but we will see the same slow movement towards the new tech.

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information

Oculus Already Working on Second Consumer Version

Since Oculus announced their consumer version of the Oculus Rift there has been much conversation on what is to come next in Oculus Rift’s lineup, so the question is Oculus rift already working on the second version of the Rift?

”Of course” says the Oculus’s founder, Palmer Luckey. ”There certain things you have to,” he paused, “there are components with long lead times, years even, or custom optimizations that aren’t going to fit into their roadmap for a few years. Those are the kind of things you have to start doing some work on if you want to ship a product on time.” What those things are specifically, Palmer wouldn’t elaborate, but there is plenty of room for speculation.

Oculus has been investing a large amount of its resources into computer vision technology, purchasing companies like Surreal Vision, The 13th Lab and Nimble. additionally Oculus’ newest running partner Microsoft is investing into the computer vision scene with its Hololens and has some of the most advanced projects in the field.

The idea of AR in a VR headset is quite far from new but is has never been truly perfected. Early concepts of the Rift have shown a forward-facing camera at the front of the face, a feature which seems to have been removed for the first customer edition.

An image (see above) from Will Steptoe’s “AR Rift” project that used two cameras at the front of the Rift to create mixed reality experiences. Will now works for Oculus…

One of the images leaked earlier this year showing an early concept image for the CV1 – note the camera

It seems very obvious that Oculus would like to evantually enable inside-out tracking within its own headset-meaning that it would no longer require and external sensor for positional tracking. this will eliminate any issues with occlusion as well as enabling positional tracking.

It’s good to see that Oculus are continuing to push the Rift even further even when the first consumer version isn’t available yet

Will you get the Oculus rift or wait till the second consumer version?

Thank you UPLOAD for providing us with this information

SanDisk Flash Drives and SSDs at Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – SanDisk also brought along all their other storage devices such as the impressive 128GB Ultra Fit USB 3.0 drive. This is the world’s smallest high-capacity USB 3.0 drive and it can hold up to 16 hours of Full HD video while not being much bigger than the nail on your thumb. The drive still transfers files at up to 130MB/s, allowing you to transfer a full movie in less than 40 seconds.

The new Z400s SSD was also on display, a perfect balance between performance, capacity, and reliability for replacing your PC’s HDD. It’s build as a cost effective alternative to mechanical HDDs.

If the 128GB capacity from the tiny Ultra Fit drive isn’t enough, then SanDisk also has the 256GB Ultra USB 3.0 drive with up to 256GB capacity.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 is a portable SSD with a capacity up to 480GB that fits right into your pocket while being four times faster than an external HDD. It has a rugged and durable design and it is shock resistant, a perfect combination for when you’re on the go.


SanDisk also had their other drives such as the X300 and X110 in 2.5-inch and small form factor drives with them.

Enterprise users also had their part to look at with the CloudSpeed ECO Gen2 SATA3, Lighting Ultra Gen2 12Gb/s SAS, Optimus MAX 4TB SAS and Fusion ioMemory SX300 PCIe Application Accelerator.

LiteOn Introduces ZETA Line of Consumer SSDs

Lite-On Group mainly creates products for the OEM sector, but not exclusively. We recently saw the release of M.2 SATA OEM Modules and now Lite-On also wants to enter the consumer SSD market. The Lite-On ZETA SSD drive will come in three capacities up to 512GB capacity and speeds up to 520MB/s while reading and up to 420MB/s while writing.

While the Plextor brand also belongs to the Lite-On Group, there doesn’t seem to be any conflict of interest between the two brands as the latest Plextor drives exceed these in performance. No word on pricing or availability yet.

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 128, 256, 512 GB
  • Controller: Silicon Motion SM2246EN
  • NAND: SK Hynix 16nm
  • Cache LPDDR3: 128, 256, 512 MB
  • Transfer Speed: Read: 520 MB/s, Write: 150, 260, 420 MB/s
  • IOPS : 128GB: 67.5K/37.5K – 256GB: 82.5K/72.5K – 512GB: 83.5K/80K (READ-WRITE)
  • Features: TRIM, NCQ, AES 256-bit

Thanks to Expreview for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Expreview

New Xbox App and Cortana Shown in Windows 10 Leak

A new build of Windows 10 has leaked onto the internet today, showing a number of new tweaks and additions, most notably with Cortana and a new Xbox app.

The Verge reports that this build shows off more of Cortana’s interface, as a previous leak only gave us an idea of how it would work, rather than how it would look. The virtual assistant is closely integrated with the OS, offering quick access via the search feature of Windows 10. It apparently works in pretty much the same way it did in that earlier video, however it all looks somewhat more complete.

Another addition in this build is a new Xbox app, which appears to give more comprehensive access to Xbox Live with achievements, the store, friends and more. Think of it like having an Xbox on your desktop, without the ability to play Xbox games.

Besides all that there are some UI tweaks and additions, as well as a new settings app – supposedly signalling the end of the humble Control Panel.

All the preview builds so far have been labelled ‘Technical Preview’ so it’s expected that this build is to resemble the features Microsoft is set to unveil at their recently announced event on January 21, with an increased focus on consumer features instead. After that there will probably be a ‘Consumer Preview’ that will most likely resemble the finished product.

Be sure to visit the source link to see some more screenshots.

Image Credit and Source: The Verge

Google Glass to Use Intel Processor

The Wall Street Journal reports that the next version of Google Glass will use Intel Processors.

The Journal says that Google has formed a deal with the chip maker, meaning Google’s yet-to-be widely released wearable will be powered by Intel. It’s not yet clear exactly how Glass will use Intel’s hardware, but it seems almost certain that the Texas Instruments chip currently used will be replaced with an Intel one.

The report says that the deal is part of Intel’s push to become more widely involved in wearables, a rapidly developing market that the once dominant Intel has yet to have a significant impact upon.

The report also suggests that Intel will help move Glass into industry and medical markets, an area increasingly seen as the place Google Glass will have a chance of being successful as a finished product.

We reported recently on the news that Glass is losing the interest of a number of parties, including Google itself. The Reuters article behind that report suggested too that Glass is seemingly being aimed at industrial uses now, instead of its original intended position as a consumer wearable.

Source: The Wall Street Journal 

Supermicro Silently Launches mATX Z97 Motherboard

Supermicro has been building consumer-motherboards aimed at overclockers and gamers for a while now. To further increased their portfolio in this area they’ve silently launched the C7Z97-M and C7Z97-MF motherboards. This is the first time Supermicro is venturing into the ATX form factor. The only difference between the two boards is, the MF version supports remote control via IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) on the network interface and the M version doesn’t.

The Micro ATX motherboard has one PCI-Express x16 and one x8 slot; when both are used they run as 8x/8x . It has a PCI-Express 2.0 x4 slot as well for extra connectivity. The C7Z97-M supports up to 32 GB Non-ECC and unbuffered 1600 MHz memory with overclocking options up to 3300 MHz. Storage is covered by six SATA3 ports provided by the Z97 chipset and the support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. The Gigabit network is provided by an Intel i210-AT controller with IPMI support for the MF version. The 7.1 channel sound comes from a Realtec ALC1150 HD Audio chip.

It has an onboard headers for USB 3.0 ports and two headers for USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a COM-port header and a 20-pin TPM header (Trusted Platform Module). To keep your overclocked system cooled, you can connect a total of five 4-pin fans with every function that they can include. The external connections are covered with 7.1 HD Audio jacks, PS/2 connector for mouse and keyboard, HDMI and Display Port for video and a RJ45 for the network. It has four USB 3.0 ports on the IO panel as well as two USB 2.0.

The black and red colour theme might be a bit late as more and more people are moving away from it. It still looks great and once you’ve added RAM modules and a PCI Express card, the board will look just black.

Thank you SuperMicro for providing us with these information

Image courtesy of MyDrivers

AMD Slashes a Third of the Radeon R9 295X2 Price-Tag in New Promotion

AMD has launched a new promotional deal where it cuts about a third of the price on it’s dual GPU flagship R9 295X2, bringing it down to just $999. Unlike NVIDIA’s Titan Z price cut, this one isn’t just for OEM partners, but also you (the consumer). Any one can take advantage of the new price, but it will be limited to selected retailers. This is great news for all us consumers, cause we also get a chance this time around.

It shouldn’t take long before AMD’s partners have their new deals up and running on their end, and we should see some cheap priced systems with these within a couple of days. The new deal won’t last forever though, so those in the market for this upgrade shouldn’t wait to long. With the usual Radeon rewards package included, this is a great deal that is hard to walk past for any one who want 4K or multi-monitor gaming.

If you need a little refreshment on the cards specifications, it is based on a pair of 28 nm “Hawaii” GPUs and has a total of 5,760 Graphics CoreNext 1.1 stream processors, 352 TMUs and 128 ROPs as well as 8 GB of memory across its two 512-bit wide GDDR5 memory interfaces.

Thank you TechNationNews for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of TechNationNews.

Valve Facing Australian Federal Court

Valve’s STEAM service has by now certainly become a household name in the gaming platform genre, similar to other products such as Ubisoft’s iPlay and EA games’ Origin. There’s no denying it’s a mainstay in the commercial game sales and instant messaging scene, with us previously reporting their massive 8 million concurrent users clocked during a recent summer sale.

Unfortunately, the giant has gotten itself into a little bit of strife – Valve has allegedly been misleading its Australian customers and is now facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia. The claim is that Valve are providing misleading information in regards to their refund, warranty and consumer guarantees in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

Australian Consumer Law is responsible for protecting the ever-sunny countries population of their rights when purchasing goods and services, alongside product safety. This law is enforced and acted upon by the Australian Competiton and Consumer Competition, also known as ‘The ACCC’ – locally pronounced as “The A triple-C”.

The ACCC has claimed that Valve has been misleading its Australian consumers in various ways, claiming “consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances”. They went on to address the ever popular argument of company location. As we’ve seen in the past, companies are able to get past certain country laws and boundaries simply by hosting their servers or headquarters in a country which contains laws friendly to their terms and conditions. ACCC boss Rod Sims addressed this, saying that Australia’s Consumer Law could not be changed, no matter where the company is based.

This drew the ACCC to action, seeing the first hearing to be located in Sydney on October the 7th, 2014.

As we learned thanks to CNET, Sims went on to say:

“Valve may be an American based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law” 

“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances…[and] consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”

Vice president of Valve, Doug Lombardi, also released a statement. He claims that valve are:

“Making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers” CNET

What’s the worst-case-scenario here for Valve? Probably a hefty fine – which we’re sure they’ll have no issue paying.

As an Aussie myself, this news doesn’t change much for me. Are you an Aussie and do you care?

Image courtesy of Ouyabrew

OCZ ARC 100 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


There is absolutely no shortage on the market any more when it comes to Solid State Drives (SSD), but not all of them are aimed at the same users and setup scenarios. So to add one more to the list, OCZ has just launched its new range of ARC 100 drives. A budget friendly series of highly reliable drives.

The ARC series is where performance meets affordability. The platform is built for a sustained performance and mixed workloads while keeping an IO consistency. Built upon the brand new Toshiba A19nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash and with a heart in form of OCZ’s own Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 controller.

With OCZ now a part of Toshiba, this could be considered a complete in-house product. This is also one of the reasons the drive can be offered at such a low price and the new ARC 100 comes in three sizes. 120 GB for a MSRP of $74.99, the 240 GB for $119.99 and the 480GB  can be had for $239.99.

The main target group for this drive are those who wish to upgrade their consumer notebooks and home desktops to some solid performance, or to those who just want to build a system on a budget without sacrificing the power of Solid State.

All ARC 100 SSDs are engineered and tested to ensure superior quality, reliability, and compatibility and also come backed with OCZ’s brand new “ShieldPlus Warranty”, an industry-leading approach to service that eliminates all the hassle surrounding support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with. With no original proof of purchase required, end-users simply provide their ARC serial number and a dedicated OCZ customer service representative will provide troubleshooting and support. In the event that the product is determined to be defective, a brand-new ARC SSD of the same capacity will be advanced shipped to the customer. When the replacement is received, end-users will only need to place their original drive in the box and send it back with the included pre-paid return label. OCZ ShieldPlus is available in both North America and EMEA at time of launch, and additional supported regions will be announced in the future. Customers will have the peace of mind that they not only have a quality solid state drive, but also the very best service and support should they ever require it.

Where many SSD’s will fail, the ARC promises to keep up with you. Running multi-read-write instances can force many drives to their knees, but not this one. We’re promised sustained performance around 20k IOPS throughout the most tasking processes where most competition drives scramble between 3 and 5k when it comes to mixed workloads. Other features worth mentioning are the 256-bit AES encryption and ultra slim 7mm formfactor.

This sounds like a solid drive with a small price tag. The expectation are high to see if the drive will show the same results on our test bench.

Facebook Messenger Sparks Anger in Low-End Smartphone Users

Facebook’s aim is to be a social network, dedicated to maintaining friendships, creating new ones, share experiences and most importantly, chatting with friends. However, the social networks appears to do exactly the opposite and spark a large number of enemies who hate its current strategy.

The social network giant appears to have made another attempt at ‘forcing’ users to install its Facebook Messenger, the standalone app that you now need to chat with your friends. Previously, the Facebook mobile app incorporated all its features, including the chat feature.

The new app however rips the chat feature and users are required to have both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger app installed in order to enjoy the full experience on their mobile devices.

By separating the two, Facebook apparently made quite a lot of its users frustrated of having to depend on two apps instead of just one. Older smartphone users are especially infuriated by the social network’s decision due to the fact that they simply do not have the processing power of using them both simultaneously. A user commenting on this strategy shares her (paranoid) way around it all:

“If you root your phone so that Facebook is not in the bloatware, then don’t download either one. I use it straight from the website browser and delete my cache, history, data when I log out. The heavy battery use of the apps following me around like big brother and the slowdown of my phone was enough to justify this option.” she said.

Another user seems to skip using the Facebook app altogether, refusing to install it due to its ‘intrusive’ permissions required just to get the app on the smartphone:

“I guess I’ll be taking numbers and sending more text messages. I’m not downloading Messenger and I sure as hell refuse to upgrade Facebook. Haven’t upgraded the app since October. The permissions required are beyond intrusive and are absolutely unnecessary.”

Others are just moving to other means of communications and simpler apps that provide these features, stating that developers are just releasing apps based on their usage preference and not the actual consumer:

“Sometimes it seems that the people creating these apps assume that everyone uses them in the way they do; that everyone has the latest devices with lots of storage space. With FourSquare/Swarm I honestly can’t see the point for me; I don’t give a toss where people are right now, because I’m not a 20-something valley geek who hangs out at just a few places with all my mates, which seems to be the point of the new app.”

All users’ frustrations seem to make sense, since the Facebook app itself uses around 150 MB storage space. Installing another one for the same service is simply too much for some users owning lower-end smartphones and even the features do not justify the space it requires in order to get the full Facebook experience on your smartphone.

Thank you TechRadar for providing us with this information

Australia Wants To Cut Internet Connection for People Downloading from Torrent Websites

There have been some talks about the high number of pirates in Australia, having the government worried about what to do in response to the piracy activity. Earlier this year, Australia is said to have had the highest number of illegal downloads of Game of Thrones: Season Four.

A leaked document entitled “Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper” appears to show some of the government’s future consideration towards piracy. The document is said to point out the main reasons why Australians choose to download content illegally, which are cost and availability. The government however appears to be more keen on enforcing the law instead of addressing the real reason which leads to piracy in the first place.

The document is also said to be discussing the role of the ISPs to place restrictions, such as lowering downloads speeds or blocking internet availability in some cases, on customers who are accessing and downloading content illegally. The ISPs however cannot do anything about it, according to the paper, since if they were to allow their customers access to pirated content without punishing them, it is said that rights holders can then take legal action against the ISPs themselves.

“The Copyright Act would be amended to enable rights holders to apply to a court for an order against ISPs to block access to an internet site operating outside Australia, the dominant purpose of which is to infringe copyright.” the paper states.

Experts say that the options outlined in the paper are too harsh compared to international standards and are not addressing the problem of Australians being unable to access content legally when it is currently available in other markets. They say that the law enforcement underlined in the paper would only give power to copyright owners over consumers, while also having large-ranging impacts on the free and open internet.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information

Dell Announces Bitcoin Payment Trial For US Customers

As more and more small businesses start to accept cryptocurrencies as a recognised form of payment, many large companies are now looking towards the world of digital currencies to draw customers towards them as the world moves forward in its digital ways.

Dell are the latest name to jump on the Bitcoin bandwagon as they announce the start of a pilot scheme in the US for both consumer and business users in partnership with Coinbase. During the checkout stages users will be able to select Bitcoin as a payment method after which they will be taken through to a special payment area where you can transfer funds from your Bitcoin Wallet through to Coinbase after which Dell receives payment in Dollars.

As an incentive for users to adopt Bitcoin as their method of payment, a special offer on Alienware systems has been setup, with 10% savings on a number of systems to be made (up to a value of $150) , simply by paying in digital.

Availability of Bitcoin payment in other regions has not been announced as of yet, although we can imagine the services will be rolled out to other regions following a successful pilot scheme in the US.

Source: Dell.com

 

Oculus Swings Ban Hammer After Catching People Selling Pre-Orders, Again.

It was only one week ago that Oculus VR suspended all pre-orders and cancelled all shipments to China after it was discovered the people were reselling their hardware for a profit, or at least ordering the hardware with the intention of reselling it. Now the ban hammer comes out again as Oculus spot even more people selling their Rift pre-orders!

DK2 is just getting ready to ship right now and Oculus are already having trouble meeting the high demand for their new hardware, which has already passed 40,000 pre-orders. Impressive for something that is only really intended for developers, not for consumers, least not until the Consumer Rift is release late next year (date uncomfirmed).

Listings on eBay (now removed) were asking for $5000 for their DK2 pre-order! This is a huge mark-up over the $350 asking price. Genuine Oculus customers were pissed that people were trying to sell their place in the waiting line for the hardware, managed to squeeze a few details from the eBay seller and passed it onto Oculus.

“Don’t worry guys. We found him and we cancelled his order.” said the Oculus Community Manager.”

“Just so everyone is clear, the information provided alone was not enough to take action. We perform our own investigations with tools at our disposal to make sure that there isn’t a false positive. Our community is awesome! Thank you for helping us make sure that we are getting kits into the hands of devs and shutting down profiteers.” Added their Community Service Lead.

Oculus have since confirmed they have cancelled even more pre-orders as their investigations continue, as well as stomping on those who snagged multiple pre-orders to resell, banning their entire orders in the process.

This pleases me a lot, I’m waiting in line for my DK2  to be shipped and perhaps now I won’t have to wait quite as long.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch.

Seagate Desktop 3.5″ 4TB Solid State Hybrid Drive Review

Introduction


In today’s market, there are countless storage options out there for you to choose for your current system or for a new build that you are planning and in general we find one of two main options being selected for the primary boot drive – this being either a hard drive which offers up large storage capacities, or a solid state drive that mainly offers up the speed.  In the OEM sector, the operating system is typically installed on to a hard drive, whilst custom-built systems from the like of Overclockers UK and PC Specialist use either hard drives or the faster technology that a solid state drive has to offer based on the target audience and the price point.

When we look at where we can boost the performance of a system, be it a pre-built system that is already owned, or one that is in the process of being “spec’d” up, one of the key areas where performance can be gained is through the storage medium, but even in today’s market, the price per GB of storage that a SSD sees over that of a hard drive is still quite high. This premium for SSD performance can in some instances leave users with quite a dilemma; do you choose space or performance?  One option that many say you should go down is to buy a SSD for the boot drive and then a secondary hard drive for the volume, but although the price of entry-level solid state products is far more affordable than it was only a year or to back, by the time you take the price of a hard drive into account, the cost is still fairly expensive for some. Naturally the other logical route that many users see is to simply go down the mechanical drive route and sacrifice performance in favour of purchase cost and the larger volumes that are on offer.

There is a third option that still seems to be pushed to one side of the market, namely the hybrid drive. This type of drive which incorporates both solid state technology along with the volume of a spinning platter has been around for a couple of years now and even though there are a good selection of products on the market, there is this unspoken hesitation that a hybrid drive is not all that good and it is better to just cut your losses and get a SSD. The matter of fact is though that as the technology has matured, the performance benefit that can be seen from a SSHD over a straight forward mechanical drive is far greater than it used to be and the result is a drive which can offer faster read speeds and in turn giving the user a notable boost in the overall system performance – particularly when booting into Windows as an example.

Filtering through the specifications of the desktop SSHDs, we can see that all SKUs come with a 64MB cache on a SATAIII interface along with an average seek time as low as ~8.5ms. For the solid state portion of the drive we get 8GB of MLC type NAND and as a result we can see read speeds of up to 190MB/s on offer when accessing cached data (up to ~156MB/s directly from non-cached data.

D-Link Announce a New Line of ‘Colourful’ Routers

Over the last couple of years we have been watching consumer electronics become more ‘stylistic’ for the home with less of the harsh lines and eye-sore designs that was once associated with technology at one time. There are, however, on or two product groups that are still deemed to be an eye-sore in the home and routers, which we all need to get on the internet, are deemed to be one of the worst things we have to look at. When you look at the OEM products that your ISP sends you, it’s not really going to be winning any design awards any time soon.

As one of the bigger names in the consumer and OEM networking markets, D-Link are looking to change the way in which we see our networking hardware in the home, with a new range of ‘designer’ routers that bring colour to the home and break away from the typical box shape that is associated with the humble router.

Available in red, teal, black and white, the cylindrical routers will offer up the latest 802.11ac network capabilities with 433Mbps speeds on the 5GHz band and 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, alongside four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single USB port for sharing media and printers on the network.

Daniel Kelley, the VP of D-Link marketing give as statement saying, “Wi-Fi routers have never had the reputation of being the most aesthetically pleasing products in the home, and we set out to change that with our color routers. With the launch of our new line of AC750 Wi-Fi Routers, customers not only get a powerful home network capable of supporting the most demanding applications, they also have a stylish device they can proudly display on the desk rather than buried underneath it.”

Whilst I can see where D-Link are coming from, the cylindrical design that they have chosen only reminds me of the new Mac Pro that was featured earlier in the year and how it resembled a trash can. Whilst I get that we need to come up with a more contemporary design, there are a number of other shapes that can be chosen, rather than one that looks like a bin.

The new AC750 routers are available now with an exclusive price of $79.99 at Amazon. If you feel this is a good design then please let us know below, or alternatively tell us what you feel would be a more suitable style to bring to the consumer market.

Source: Press Release

Western Digital EX2 2-Bay 8TB My Cloud NAS Review

Introduction


Since the launch of Western Digital’s single bay My Cloud NAS and its bigger brother the four by EX4 is we have seen a strong movement over to cloud-based storage and thought of doing so less daunting. The latest addition to my cloud family comes in the form of a 2-bay system, offering both the benefit of a multi drive setup with the option for data redundancy along with a simple clean design and a small desktop footprint.

Like the other two systems in the cloud family EX2 is optimised from Western Digital’s own red NAS drives and the particulars system that we have today to look at comprises of two 4TB drives giving us a total of 8 TB of storage in RAID0 mode, although out-of-the-box system is configured in RAID1 leaving 4 TB of space to work with. Like the EX for the EX two comes in a number of different capacities including 4, 6 and 8TB models, along with a disk-less option for those who want the flexibility to install their own drives.

At the heart of the EX2 we are given a Marvell Armada 370 single core 1.2 GHz processor, along with 512 MB DDR3 memory, two SATA 6Gbps interfaces, a single Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB three ports. On the software management side we are given the same interface as seen on the my cloud and the EX four along with the same mobile application as previously seen.

with the EX two following in the footsteps of the older MyBook Live in respect to its design, it is suitable for both the consumer and prosumer environment giving the functionality to access our files on the go along with data redundancy, which for some of us is more critical these days and prices starting at around £160 or $190 US.

Inside the blue box which we have come to associate with Western Digital’s My Cloud products and alongside the NAS, we have a single Ethernet cable, DC power adapter with UK and EU tips (regional) and a few bits paperwork with warranty and quick setup information.