Here’s a round-up of some of the products, news and events that we covered this week, as well as some of the best stuff that was produced by the other titles in our publishing stable.
Aldi Android phone gets even cheaper
If you want a really cheap Android phone, then make sure you visit your nearest Aldi on 30 November. The company has cut $20 off the price of the original phone that we saw back in July.
In what appears to be a bid to clear excess stock, Aldi's current catalogue advertises a Medion-branded 4in, 3G Android smartphone with dual-SIM capabilities for $129. It will go on sale from Saturday, 2 November.Via Good Gear Guide.
The Medion E4002 smartphone has a 4in touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480, is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM, and includes 4GB of internal memory.
The handset is identical to the one the supermarket chain advertised back in July, though at that time the device sold for $149.
Apple stuff galore
A busy week in tech peaked with Apple announcing new iPads and computers, including a kick-arse Mac Pro that’s designed, well, for pros.
Besides the Xeon CPUs and dual FirePro graphics cards, the new Mac Pro offers faster storage performance, and also better bandwidth for Thunderbolt devices. The new storage system is comprised of PCIe-based flash components, which first made an appearance in Apple’s MacBook Pro, and is said to offer transfer rates up to 1200 megabytes per second (MBps), which is much faster than what a SATA-based flash drive can do.Via Good Gear Guide.
The storage capacity is up to 1TB, which is a high mark for a solid state drive (SSD) based computer, and more storage can be added via external avenues, including Thunderbolt 2. External drives based on Thunderbolt 2 are said to offer theoretical data transfer speeds up to 20 gigabytes per second, and the connection can also be used to connect up to three 4K monitors.
Every facet of the Mac Pro is faster than the previous generation, and this includes wireless connectivity. The Mac Pro has 802.11ac wireless networking built in, which can offer much greater file transfer rates than 802.11n. Meanwhile, Bluetooth has been upgraded to the 4.0 specification.
Nokia goes phab and tab
Nokia had an event in Abu Dhabi to introduce some new products, including a couple of phablets (we feel dirty saying that word, but it’s now an accepted term, it seems) as well as its first Windows RT-based tablet.
Windows Phone users may be disappointed when they realize they can no longer make fun of their Android-wielding friends over their large phones. With its 6-inch screen, the Lumia 1520 is only marginally bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Note III, but the 1080p display is a huge improvement over its predecessors.Via Good Gear Guide.
Microsoft's latest Windows Phone update will take advantage of the bigger screen size by enabling three rows of live tiles rather than the standard two, which you can use to highlight the most important apps for immediate thumb access. The device will also come with a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a MicroSD expansion slot, as well as a 3400mAh battery pack.
ASUS innovates hard
Closer to home, ASUS had a local launch in Sydney to showcase some of its latest products, including the premium-priced Zenbook Ultrabook, and also an Ultraportable that the company touts as being a 3-in-1 hybrid, rather than a traditional 2-in-1 (tablet and laptop) hybrid.
ASUS has come up with a hybrid Ultraportable computer that it touts as being a 3-in-1 device, rather than a standard 2-in-1. The Transformer Book Trio, as it's called, is essentially an Android tablet that can sit in a keyboard base (which then makes it a laptop), but that base also has its own CPU in it, which makes it a stand-alone desktop PC. These scenarios account for the three devices in one unit.Via Good Gear Guide. Via ARN.
The Transformer Book Trio's concept isn't a new one. It's something that we saw earlier in the year with the Transformer AiO all in one PC, which has an 18.4in screen that's an Android tablet, and a large base with a CPU in it. That product left us scratching our heads a little as to who might use something like that, mainly because it means you have to cart around an 18in tablet. However, the same concept on the Transformer Book Trio seems to be more useful.
Epic review of the Surface 2 tablet
We ran a review of Microsoft’s Surface 2 this week, too, and our reviewer thought it would be fun to use it as his primary computer for the whole week. The verdict is pretty interesting.
Don’t be confused by the slight change in naming conventions: the Surface 2 is essentially the new Surface RT, running Windows 8.1 RT atop an NVIDIA Tegra processor, and compatible only with Windows Store apps. The Surface 2 Pro is [unsurprisingly] the new Pro, running full-blown Windows 8.1 on Intel hardware and compatible with the entire back-catalogue of Windows applications. ... At first glance, the Surface 2 looks like an even-more-polished version of the Surface RT. Looks like that at second and third glance, too, because that’s exactly what it is. Given that the RT was a well-built and attractive tablet, I’m not complaining in the least.Via New Zealand PC World.
Its angular sides and dead-flat rear are a nice change from the gently rounded edges common among the competition – the Surface 2 looks businesslike in a way Lenovo would appreciate, and has the slightest hint of retro-PC charm.
We now know what Instagram ads will look like
Instagram user feeds will be getting ads soon, but don't worry because the company says that the ads will match the natural feel of the site. CMO has the details.
In a post on its website, the company revealed ads will feature a sponsored label and icon to make them easily identifiable to users. Ads will be served based on who a user follows on Instagram, photos and videos they like, and their interests and information from Facebook, Instagram’s owner.Via CMO.
By clicking on three dots at the bottom right corner of sponsored content, users have the option of hiding the photo or video and providing feedback about ads that were less interesting or unappealing. All users will see ads, the company said, regardless of whether they’re Facebook users or not.
The Internet just got bigger
Computerworld explains that the Internet now has four new top-level domains: all of them use non-Latin scripts.
The Internet – or at least its namespace – just got bigger. Early this morning, while most of Australia was eating breakfast or getting ready for work, four new top-level domains were added to the Internet's domain name root zone.Via Computerworld.
The new TLDs are a product of the drawn out, and frequently fraught, process to create new 'generic' top-level domains, run by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
The four new gTLDs all use non-Latin scripts: شبكة ("web" in Arabic), онлайн ("online" in Russian), сайт ("site") and 游戏 ("game" in Chinese). In total, the gTLD process will result in expansion of top-level domains from 22 to up to 1400.
More domains will be added to the root progressively. "ICANN’s New gTLD Program was designed to facilitate a measured rollout of new domains so as not to disrupt the Domain Name System," ICANN said in a statement.
Ex-Telstra hands are all over the NBN
Computerworld reports that Telstra's former chief, Ziggy Switkowski, has announced that a former Telstra executive director, JB Rousselot, will be leading a strategic review into the rollout of the NBN.
NBN Co's executive chairman, Ziggy Switkowski, has announced that former Telstra executive director JB Rousselot will lead the strategic review into the government-owned company's rollout of the National Broadband Network. ... Turnbull announced earlier this month that former Telstra CEO Switkowski would be taking the reins at NBN Co as chairman. At the same time, Turnbull announced the strategic review into NBN Co and the rollout of the NBN: "What the status of the project is at the moment – how much it is going to cost, and how long it will take to complete it on the current plan, or the Labor government's plan at the 93 per cent fibre-to-the-premises model."Via Computerworld.
Telstra to give startups a leg up
The telco announced a program that will provide $40,000 in funding to 10 Aussie tech startups every six months.
Telstra has today opened muru-D, a startup incubator in Paddington that will provide access to a investment, a co-working space, business support, mentoring and coaching. The program lasts six months and will be held twice a year.Via Computerworld.
The word “muru” means “pathway to” in the indigenous Gadigal language, while the D stands for “digital.”
Speaking at the launch in Paddington, member for Wentworth and communications minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the startup initiative as “totally antithetical to everything Telstra used to stand for.”
“Isn’t it fantastic that Telstra—this gigantic institution, this huge telco—is embracing innovation in this insurgent manner?” the minister said.
Fake shopping sites shut
Eight sites trading under stolen business names have been shut following an investigation by Western Australia ScamNet.
Bogus shopping websites which used the identity of real businesses have been shut down following an investigation by Western Australia ScamNet.
Consumers in the state complained to the consumer watchdog after they had not received electronic goods ordered online. The items included iPads, iPhones and a camera which were below market prices. Consumers spent a total of $7000 on goods.
The websites only accepted payment by bank to bank transfer. According to WA ScamNet, the eight websites were set up by using the names of legitimate businesses which are either still operating or recently closed down.
Video of the week
We've got a few football fans in our office who came into work bleary-eyed after getting up early on Thursday morning to watch the UEFA Champions League. This was one of the better goals of the morning, from Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Paris St Germain — it was his hat-trick goal and he went on to score another. Phwoar!!!!!, as they say. [And i'm not even a soccer fan - Ed].