Sunday, February 15, 2015

I just found my new favorite Windows laptop, and it's cheaper than the MacBook Air



I usually shy away from Windows 8 laptops. The interface isn't as natural as what you'd find with OS X and Windows 7. Many of them have displays that twist around and fold, which I don't find much use for.

But Dell's newest XPS 13 laptop is so excellent it persuaded me to give up my personal MacBook for Windows 8 for a week.

The XPS 13 is light, gorgeous, and works well. If you want a Windows machine that's just as good, and perhaps better than, the MacBook Air, this is the laptop to buy.

The XPS 13 comes in a few different configurations. My review unit comes with a 3,200 x 1,800 resolution touch screen, 256GB of solid state storage, 8GB of memory, and a Core i5 Intel processor for $1,399. If you wanted to go for the non-touch screen option with all of the same specifications, it would cost $200 less  than a 13-inch MacBook Air with the same storage, memory, and processor. 

You can get an entry level model without a touchscreen, a 1080p display, 128GB of storage, 4GB of memory, and a Core i3 processor for $799.

No matter what configuration you choose, you'll probably be impressed with the XPS 13's screen. Dell's latest 13-inch laptop uses what it describes as an "infinity display," meaning the screen itself stretches almost completely from edge-to-edge. There's barely any bezel at all — which allows Dell to make a laptop that's the same size as a typical 11-inch notebook, but has a 13-inch screen.

The so-called "infinity display" looks gorgeous too; colors really pop and images look bold. The screen itself is glossy, which I liked, but some may find distracting since it produces a bit of glare. It wasn't overwhelming though, and the glossy texture is necessary to make swiping the touchscreen easy and comfortable.

The one problem I had with the screen, however, was that it seemed rather dim. Whenever I used it I had to keep the brightness cranked all the way up or at least above halfway to see content on the display easily.

Even though the XPS 13 is a bit cheaper than the MacBook Air, it's one of the few Windows laptops that can actually stand up to Apple's in terms of design. The lid and underside of the laptop are made of brushed aluminum, giving it a polished and premium look. When you open it up, you'll notice the keyboard deck is coated with a soft carbon fiber material, which makes it comfortable to rest your wrists as you type.

Generally speaking, the keyboard is sturdy enough to make typing easy and enjoyable. But, if you're being picky like me, you'll notice the keyboard flexes a little bit when you press down on it. It's a minor complaint, but one worth noting.

During normal use, the Dell PS 13 performed smoothly and quickly. Apps usually launched within two to three seconds, and the computer powered on in about 12 seconds. 


And the Dell XPS 13 is powerful too. Since it runs on Intel's newest processors, it boots up quickly and offers long battery life. With mixed usage, which included browsing the web, doing light work in Google Drive, and streaming content from Netflix, the laptop lasted for about nine hours. That's impressive, especially since I had to leave the display brightness at its highest setting during the majority of the time I used it. 

There are few negative things to be said about Dell's new laptop. The glossy screen can sometimes produce glare, and the keyboard could be better. That's about it.

So if you're in the market for a new Windows laptop, the XPS 13 is one of the best you can buy. If you want a 13-inch screen, this is the smallest laptop you'll find with a display of that size. The borderless screen, lightweight design, and aluminum build make one of the sexiest ! laptops out there — it's one of the only Windows laptops that can stand up to the MacBook Air in terms of sheer looks.

SEE ALSO: Meet the man behind Microsoft's ambitious vision for the future of computing

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Article: Report: 16 Million Mobile Devices Infected by Malware at the End of 2014

A new report indicates that the current malware infection rate for mobile devices is 0.68 percent, leading researchers to believe that at least 16 million devices were infected with malware at the …

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Google and Mattel team up on a new virtual reality 'view master' (GOOG)



Google and Mattel are teaming up to put a new spin on the classic "view master" toy, the two companies announced at an event Friday morning. 

Starting in the fall, Mattel will sell a view master powered by Google Cardboard technology that will give kids a taste of virtual and augmented reality. 

Buy Mattel's headset, pop in an Android phone with the view master app (or any other Google Cardboard app currently in the Google Play Store) downloaded, and you'll be able to explore simulated 3-D worlds. 

Mattel will also sell "experience reels" that will offer other exclusive augmented reality content that you can't get on the apps. For example, Mattel will sell a San Francisco-themed reel that will use augmented reality to let kids explore different tourist destinations.   

View-masterGoogle introduced Cardboard at its I/O conference last summer as a cheap way to let people become immersed in virtual reality. Mattel's view master will essentially be a kid-friendly version of cardboard. 

"We're using Google Cardboard platform to reimagine the view master like kids have never seen before, using the power of virtual reality, augmented reality, and photo-spheric images," Mattel SVP Doug Wadleigh says. 

The device will launch this fall and will cost around $30. It will be able to accommodate Android phones of all sizes (with other operating systems likely following). 

"Our goal is to make virtual reality accessible for everyone," Google's Mike Jazayeri says. "The more people — like Mattel — making viewers, the better for everyone."

Although Mattel's view master device wasn't ready for us to test, we got to try out its experience reels in the Google Cardboard headset! .

View Master  

In many ways, it really was similar to a classic view master experience. As you looked around the 3-D world, you could press a button on the side to switch scenes. We got to try out Mattel's space-themed reed, San Francisco reel, and dinosaur reel, the three the company has developed so far. 

Here's the front of the device:

View Master

And a look at the back:View Master

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Article: A Search Engine That Finds Online Criminals

Memex is a different kind of search engine. The open source software indexes Web content Google isn't designed to catch and presents search results graphically to reveal hidden connections among them. It was built by Darpa, the U.S. military's research arm, and runs in a Web browser. It's being u...

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drag2share: Miami cops flood Waze with fake police sightings


B7KYX5 Police officer writing a traffic citation while an unfortunate driver looks on from his car.Model release - YESPropert

Hundreds of Miami police officers aren't happy with Waze's police-finding feature, and they're not content with asking Google to remove it. According to NBC Miami, a number of cops in the city are taking matters into their own hands, downloading the app and inundating it with fake police sightings. We're sure a lot of people love the app for that particular feature, as they can use it to make sure they're driving well below the speed limit in the presence of law enforcement. Some American officers told AP last month, though, that the app could pose a threat, as wanne-be cop killers can easily use it to find a target.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz (president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police) for one believes that it "puts [them] at risk, puts the public at risk, because it's going to cause more deadly force encounters between law enforcement and suspects." But not every law enforcement officer out there shares Ortiz's opinion, such as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: "If someone is suffering mental illness and they want to commit a heinous crime or hunt a deputy or a police officer; they don't need Waze to do that," he told the news outfit. Despite getting flak from authorities, Waze's developers stand by the feature, telling NBC Miami that police partners support it, because people tend to drive more carefully when they know cops are around.