Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to Hand Over Reins to Successor Andy Jassy on July 5

 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Wednesday that he will hand over operational control to his successor on July 5, leaving as the e-commerce giant flexes its muscles in television and cloud.

Bezos is ceding his chief executive role to Andy Jassy, who heads Amazon Web Services, the lucrative cloud computing unit at the Seattle-based company. Bezos will take the role of executive chair.

Bezos announced his departure date at an annual shareholders meeting, saying it has “sentimental” value to him because it will be the 27th anniversary of Amazon officially becoming a corporation.

Bezos assured investors that Jassy is well known in the company, having been at Amazon almost as long as Bezos.

“He is going to be an exceptional leader, and he has all my confidence,” Bezos said of Jassy.

“I guarantee you, he won’t let the universe make us normal.”

The executive transition comes with Amazon having attained tremendous power in online commerce as well as cloud computing, where it competes with Google and Microsoft.

Amazon has been among technology firms that have flourished as the pandemic accelerated a trend of using the Internet for work, play, and education.

The company’s dominance in online commerce has also put it in the crosshairs of critics and regulators worried it may be abusing its power.

Amazon on Wednesday announced a deal to buy the storied MGM studios for $8.45 billion (roughly Rs. 61,500 crores), the US tech giant a vast content library to further its ambitions in streaming.

The move comes with Amazon experiencing surging growth in online retail and cloud computing while making a push into entertainment as more consumers turn to stream media.

However, the deal could increase scrutiny for Amazon, one of the Big Tech firms gaining unprecedented economic power in recent years and in the crosshairs of antitrust enforcers around the world.


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Google Faces EUR 102-Million Fine for Excluding Enel App From Android Auto

 

Italy’s competition regulator has fined Google EUR 102 million (roughly Rs. 900 crores) for excluding an e-mobility app developed by Enel from the US tech giant’s Android system.

For more than two years, Google has not allowed Enel’s JuicePass to operate on Android Auto – a system that allows apps to be used safely in cars – unfairly curtailing its use while favoring Google Maps, the regulator said on Thursday.

“The contested behavior can influence the development of e-mobility in a crucial phase … with possible negative spill-over effects on the growth of electric vehicles (EV),” it said.

In a statement announcing the fine for abuse of a dominant position, the regulator asked Google to make JuicePass available on Android Auto.

JuicePass is owned by Enel’s “e-solutions” subsidiary Enel X, which brought the case against Google. The app offers users services for finding and booking EV charging stations on maps and viewing details.

Google “respectfully disagrees” with the antitrust regulator’s decision and will examine the documents to decide its next steps, a spokesman for Google in Italy said.

Google’s priority for Android Auto is to ensure safety while driving, with stringent guidelines on which apps it supports, he said.

“There are thousands of apps compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to enable even more developers to make their apps available over time,” the spokesman said.

The regulator said the US giant had a dominant position that allows it to control the access of app developers to final users through Android and its app store Google Play.

Enel acknowledged the decision, saying it was an important enabling factor for the growth of electric mobility in Italy.

“In accordance with this decision, a level playing field with Google apps will be granted for Enel X’s app, JuicePass, and in general for all recharging app developers,” it said.
© Thomson Reuters 2021


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Brain Computer Interface Turns Mental Handwriting Into Text on Screen, Could Help People With Paralysis

 

A team of researchers at Stanford University have, for the first time, decoded brain activity related to writing by hand. To further explore this, the researchers collaborated with a participant with paralysis who had sensors implanted in his brain. The team then used an algorithm that identified the letters the participant imagined and attempted to write. The system then displayed the same text on-screen in real time, meaning as and when the participant imagined them. Krishna Shenoy, the study co-author and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at the university, said the innovation, with more development, could well help people with paralysis rapidly type without using their hands.

In the experiment, the participant could type 90 characters per minute, which was more than double the typing record set by the previous “brain-computer interface,” the researchers said. Shenoy jointly supervised the study with Jaimie Henderson, a Stanford neurosurgeon.

Jose Carmena, a neural engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research says such technology had the potential to help people with all kinds of disabilities. “It’s a big advancement in the field,” he says.

An injury or a disease may take away a person’s ability to move but the brain’s neural activity connected with walking, holding a cup of coffee or tea, or even speaking a sentence remains. And this activity is exactly what the scientific community can tap into to enable people with paralysis or amputations to express their thoughts or even carry out an activity.

In recent years, Shenoy’s team has deciphered the neural activity related to speech, hoping to reproduce it. Not just that, his team had also developed a technology to help participants move a cursor on the screen with help of implanted sensors.

This helped them type at least 40 characters on the screen by pointing and clicking on letters. Frank Willett, a neuroscientist in Shenoy’s group, said that they wanted to find “new ways of letting people communicate faster,” adding that he could try “something different” also motivated him.

Krishna Shenoy’s team now envisages a more comprehensive system that — besides handwriting for text entry — includes point-and-click navigation and even attempted speech decoding. “Having those two or three modes and switching between them is something we naturally do,” he said.

For this, his team next plans to collaborate with someone who cannot speak. For example, someone with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder causing the loss of movement and speech.

Henderson says the new system, when operation, could help people suffering from paralysis caused by several conditions, including brain stem stroke.

Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author of the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, suffered from the same, but he was able to write a beautiful book by “selecting characters painstakingly, one at a time, using eye movement,” Henderson said.

“Imagine what he could have done with Frank’s handwriting interface!”


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Apple’s Find My Network Could Be Exploited to Send Text Messages to Nearby Devices, Security Researcher Finds

Apple’s Find My network could be exploited to broadcast arbitrary messages to nearby Apple devices, a security researcher has found. The network is formally meant to help people find their lost items. It is claimed to have “industry leading security” as well as end-to-end encryption. However, research shows that the Find My network can enable a way to send any text messages — and not location details — to nearby devices including iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Security researcher Fabian Bräunlein has found a loophole that allows exploitation of the Find My network protocol to send normal text messages to nearby devices. The researcher was able to transmit text messages by replicating the way an AirTag communicates over the crowdsourced network and sends its GPS coordinates as an encrypted message.

Bräunlein took reference from a recent study conducted by Germany’s Technical University (TU) of Darmstadt that was aimed to help developers build accessories for the Find My network. After understanding the protocol powering the network, the researcher developed a custom device with a microcontroller running a proprietary firmware to transmit the message. He also built a custom Mac app to decode and display the message from the device.

The proof-of-concept created by Bräunlein essentially replaces the location data that the Find My network normally broadcasts with text strings.

It is unclear at this moment whether the model developed by the researcher could be used to circulate malicious content over the Find My network. However, the extensive research conducted by Bräunlein shows that the protocol used by Apple could be moulded to broadcast not location data but content such as text messages.

Earlier this week, a German security researcher reported that the Apple AirTag could be hacked to replace the default Find My link with a custom link for NFC readers. This manipulation was similar in nature to what has now been found on the Find My network.


We dive into all things Apple — iPad Pro, iMac, Apple TV 4K, and AirTag — this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at jagmeets@ndtv.com. Please send in your leads and tips.
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Tesla Halts Use of Bitcoin for Purchases, CEO Elon Musk Tweets

 

Tesla will no longer accept Bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin fell more than 10 percent after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its use, less than two months after Tesla began accepting the world’s biggest digital currency for payment. Other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, also fell before regaining some ground in Asia trade.

The use of Bitcoin to buy Tesla’s electric vehicles had highlighted a dichotomy between Musk’s reputation as an environmentalist and the use of his popularity and stature as one of the world’s richest people to back cryptocurrencies.

Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way Bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.

Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”

“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment,” he tweeted. Tesla shares fell 1.25 percent after hours.

Tesla revealed in February it had bought $1.5 billion (roughly Rs. 10,930 crores) of Bitcoin, before accepting it as payment for cars in March, driving a roughly 20 percent surge in the cryptocurrency.

Tesla would retain its Bitcoin holdings with the plan to use the cryptocurrency as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy sources, Musk said.

Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that currently often relies on electricity generated with fossil fuels, particularly coal.

At current rates, such Bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Analysts said Musk’s about-face was inevitable.

“The environmental impact from mining Bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA.

Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset manager CoinShares Group, said Tesla was unlikely to have sold many, if any, cars using Bitcoin and the backflip generated positive publicity while simplifying payment processes.

“Elon was getting a lot of questions and criticisms and this statement allows him to appease critics while still keeping Bitcoin on his balance sheet,” Demirors said.

Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales, said he was more concerned about Tesla management’s “very hasty and precipitous” decision-making.

Musk did not say in his Twitter comments whether any vehicles had been purchased with Bitcoin and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cryptocurrency support

Some Bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system – with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices – uses large amounts of energy too.

Musk reiterated he remained a strong believer in cryptocurrencies.

“We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1 percent of Bitcoin’s energy/transaction,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Just a day earlier, Musk had polled Twitter users on whether Tesla should accept Dogecoin, a currency he has helped turn from a joke into a valuable commodity.

He announced on Sunday that his commercial rocket company SpaceX will accept Dogecoin as payment to launch a lunar mission next year – just hours after he sent the cryptocurrency spiraling downward when he called it a “a hustle” during a guest-host spot on the Saturday Night Live comedy sketch TV show.

China dominance

The dominance of Chinese Bitcoin miners and lack of motivation to swap cheap fossil fuels for more expensive renewables could mean there are few quick fixes to the cryptocurrency’s emissions problem.

Chinese miners account for about 70 percent of Bitcoin production, data from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance shows. They tend to use renewable energy – mostly hydropower – during the rainy summer months, but fossil fuels – primarily coal – for the rest of the year.

Officials in Beijing are conducting a check on data centres involved in cryptocurrency mining to better understand their impact on energy consumption, sources told Reuters last month.

In theory, blockchain analysis firms say, it is possible to track the source of Bitcoin, raising the possibility that a premium could be charged for green Bitcoin.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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Corsair Crystal 680X Review: Expensive and beautiful

 

Corsair Crystal 680X detailed review

Corsair scaled up the tiny Crystal 280X PC case to give us the Crystal 680X. What looks like a cousin to the Corsair Air 740, the internals are quite similar since it follows the dual-chamber design. In one compartment, the main components attached to the motherboard are installed whereas in the other, your storage devices and PSU is installed. Not only does this make the build process easier, but also contributes to better airflow potential. We received the black variant of the Crystal 680X and here’s what we think about it.

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

Technical specifications

Motherboard form factor: Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX

Power supply standard: ATX standard (max. length of 225mm)

I/O ports: 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 3.1 Gen-2 Type-C, 1x microphone, 1x headphone

Drive bays: 3 x 3.5-inch HDD, 4 x 2.5-inch SSD

Cooling support: 3 x 120mm (front), 2 x 140mm (front), 2 x 120mm (top), 2 x 140mm (top), 1 x 120mm (rear)

Radiator support: Up to 280/360mm (front), up to 240/280mm (top), up to 120mm (rear)

Clearances: CPU cooler – 180mm, Graphics card – 330mm

Dimensions (H x W x D): 423mm x 344mm x 505mm

Exteriors of the Corsair Crystal 680X

As already mentioned earlier, the Crystal 680X is a bigger version of the Crystal 280X. There are three tempered glass panels around the case. All these panels are removable although the front panel takes slightly more time. The side glass has a hinged mechanism, so it’s easier to access your components quickly. It can also be removed using the screw holding it to the case on the top hinge. All the glass panels have a faint black tint to them.

corsair crystal 680x

You will find dust filters everywhere except on the top that stays open all the time. If the user chooses not to install fans on the top panel, then you don’t have any option to close it off. Although you can lower the gap between the top glass panel and the case, it still isn’t enough to keep the dust out. It would have been better if Corsair had included a dust filter to shut it off.

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

Keeping up with the advances in ports, the 680X packs a USB 3.1 Gen-2 Type-C port on the front along with two USB 3.0, headphone/microphone ports and power and reset buttons. The only problem ports present on top of cases become easy targets for dust to collect and eventually start malfunctioning.

corsair crystal 680x

Inside of the Corsair Crystal 680X

Corsair has ensured almost every part of the Crystal 680X delivers immense build quality. At the time of writing this review, the case scored the highest in build quality compared to all the previous cases we’ve tested recently. They have gone with thick gauge steel plates inside for the motherboard and fan mounting plates, where some manufacturers tend to cut costs. You will be able to notice the bulk of the system when picked up, a good sign of high build quality.

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

However, we found the HDD and SSD trays to be incredibly delicate. The build quality of the main body of the case is on one extreme whereas the plastic trays are on the other. It’s similar to the one we found in the Air 740 and looks like Corsair hasn’t really upgraded durability here.

corsair crystal 680x

Three Corsair LL120 RGB intake fans are pre-installed on the front panel. They’re installed on fan mount that can be removed for easy installation.

corsair crystal 680x

The fans connect to the Corsair Lighting Node PRO allowing illumination and speed control using Corsair’s iCUE software. You can change the addressable LEDs on the fans individually according to your preferences.

corsair crystal 680x

A dual-chamber layout works well to separate the components and give you less of a headache when you’re building a system. The HDD and SSD trays don’t require any tools to install the storage devices. Cable management is implemented well and we were able to quickly build our test rig into it. There are enough tie points to route your cables to every component and enough room to stow away the extra PSU cables.

corsair crystal 680x

Testing methodology

To check how the case performs out of the box, we test it with the pre-installed fans. For a better idea of our testing process, head over to our review of the Corsair Obsidian 500D. In the second part of our testing, we installed two 120mm fans at the bottom panel and then installed two more on the top panel. This configuration ensured we got a better idea of the case’s cooling capability apart from the default setting.

corsair crystal 680x

Our testing configuration is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i7-4960X

Motherboard: ASRock X79 Extreme9

Graphics card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7790

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65

RAM: Corsair Dominator 2x8GB DDR3 (16GB)

HDD: WD Red 2TB

SSD: SanDisk Extreme II (240GB)

Power supply: Antec HCP-1000 Platinum

Thermal performance

The Crystal 680X keeps things cool quite brilliantly. After sitting idle for 15 minutes, the Intel Core i7-4960X came down to 34 degrees Celsius while the Radeon HD 7790 settled at 34 degrees. Do note that the case comes with three intake and one exhaust fan, so such low temperatures weren’t surprising. When we put the system on load, the CPU reached 51 degrees and the GPU touched 69 degrees. The CPU temperature seemed to be lower than our usual records, so we repeated the tests again and found almost the same with little variance.

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

To determine whether the case can do better with more fans, we populated the remaining slots that included the bottom panel as intake and top panel for exhaust. While extra did make some difference to the GPU temperatures, we didn’t notice much of a change in the CPU temperatures. Another observation was that whether we occupied the top panel or not, the temperatures didn’t change much considerably. Only notable difference was the impact of the bottom intake fans that reduced the maximum temperature of the GPU by three to four degrees.

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680x

corsair crystal 680X

corsair crystal 680x

We can certainly say that you won’t really need extra fans for cooling. As for aesthetics, the three front panel fans are already illuminated with RGB lighting. You might want to replace the exhaust with an RGB fan to complete the look.

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A unique UI in a sea of homogenous Android TVs

 

The AmazonBasics brand has made a name for itself when it comes to accessories such as charging cables, batteries, laptop stand, HDMI cables and more. One can also expect a certain level of quality and durability of these products. Recently, Amazon launched the AmazonBasics TVs in 32, 43, 50 and 55-inch screen sizes. The 32-inch TV is an HD ready TV, while the 43-inch variant is available in FHD and 4K options. The 50 and 55-inch variants are available in 4K with support for HDR, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. Priced at Rs 39,999, the 55-inch AmazonBasics TV competes with the likes of the Mi TV 4X, Hisense 55A71F (review), and the Realme SLED TV (review), to name a few. The TV’s biggest USP is that it runs on the Fire TV UI found on the Fire TV stick. Is it a worthy contender to consider?

AmazonBasics 55-inch 4K Fire TV Edition TV: Key specs at a glance

Panel Size: 55-inch

Panel Type: IPS LED

Panel Resolution: 3840 x 2160 – 4K

Panel Refresh Rate: 60Hz

HDR 10 support: Yes

HDR 10+ support: Yes

Dolby Vision Support: Yes

Weight: 10.3 kgs

HDMI Ports: 3

USB Ports: 2

Bluetooth: Yes

Wi-Fi: Yes

Ethernet: Yes

Speakers: 20W

Built-in storage: 8GB

Price: MRP: 39,999

AmazonBasics 55-inch 4K Fire TV Edition TV: Display and picture quality

Kicking things off with the display, the AmazonBasics Fire TV Edition TV has an IPS panel which means you can expect good viewing angles with some compromise to the black levels. However, if there is some bias lighting in the room, the blacks look quite alright. It is a 4K panel with support for HDR 10, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. We do not know the panel’s maximum brightness, but we peg it to be in the ballpark of 350 nits. It also does not appear to have any dimming zones. Based on the content played (HDR, SDR or Dolby Vision), there is a healthy mix of picture presets to choose from, which we will discuss in the following sections. Let’s take a look at the picture performance of this TV in detail.

The AmazonBasics 55-inch TV supports 4K, HDR 10, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision.

4K and HDR performance

As we’ve mentioned above, the AmazonBasics 55-inch 4K TV supports all popular HDR formats – HDR 10, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision. There is a decent catalogue of HDR content available via streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar In India.

the TV supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Let’s start with Dolby Vision content. Playing content like Our Planet and Altered Carbon on Netflix was quite a pleasant experience. Even in some of the darker sequences, the content was still visible on the screen. In bright sequences in some of the content, you can view the details in the bright highlights before it clips or appears burnt, and while this threshold is relatively low on all budget TVs, it’s not something we can complain about, as you will only notice it when you know what you are looking for. Content in Dolby Vision from Netflix looks good with rich colours.

Dolby Vision settings on the AmazonBasics 55-inch TV.

For Dolby Vision picture presets, we have Dolby Vision Bright, Dolby Vision Dark, Dolby Vision Standard, Dolby Vision Dynamic and Custom. I recommend switching between Dolby Vision Bright and Dolby Vision Dark based on the lighting in the room for consuming Dolby Vision content. Dolby Vision Standard and Custom has a very cool bias making the content look a bit off. The difference between Bright and Dark preset is the dimming of the backlight and brightness to enjoy content in a darker room, but in our opinion, the Dolby Vision Bright preset seems to work the best.

There is a lot of Dolby Vision content available on Netflix.

Moving over to HDR content, and this is where things get a little confusing. Consuming HDR content on YouTube works fine with content looking lush, especially movie trailers and the demo clips used to showcase the capability of a TV. However, it’s with HDR 10+ content on Prime Video that we saw a few misses. A show like The Boys Season 2 Episode 8 towards the end, where we have a lot of bright lightning and some good shadows in the forest, it’s a fun watch on this TV. But a show like Jack Ryan Season 2 Episode 2 and the Grand Tour Season 1 Episode 1 had a slight green bias. We saw the same content on a laptop (MacBook Air) and an LG B9 OLED TV, and while the green bias was there as a part of the colour pallet, it was a bit more pronounced on the AmazonBasics TV. Changing the picture presets didn’t help in this case. The sequence in the Grand Tour Season 1 Episode 1 has all the cars driving across the desert; the desert has a green tint to it which looks a little unnatural.

Prime Video has a good catalogue of HDR10+ content.

With HDR 10 content, we have picture presets like Bright and Dark, which, just like the Dolby Vision presets, increases and decreases the brightness and backlighting. You can change these settings based on the room’s lighting and how grey the blacks look to you when consuming content.

When it comes to 4K HDR content, the AmazonBasics TV’s performance is at par with what the competition is offering, and that’s not a bad thing. We have seen a slew of homogenous performing TVs, and having one more means consumers have more options to choose from.

HDR settings on the AmzzonBasics 55-inch TV.

FHD performance

We played a lot of FHD content on the TV like Young Sheldon, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man Homecoming, some trailers and clips from YouTube and more. A show like Young Sheldon has a vibrant colour pallet, and it looks good on this TV. Even Spider-Man’s suit has the punchy blue and red you’d expect. There are some night sequences where the content can get a little muddy, but nothing that’s out of the ordinary for this price segment.

There is a lot of SDR content avialable on streaming platforms.

I would recommend sticking with “Standard”, and “Movie” from all the presets on offer for SDR content. Be it for watching regular TV shows or Movies or even content on YouTube. For me, Dynamic made the content look slightly overexposed in some situations, and I don’t recommend that preset, especially for movies.

Gaming performance

We played our standard slew of games from the Xbox One X, including Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (review), Forza Horizon and Gears 5 (review). The TV doesn’t have a “Game Mode” in its picture presets and resorts to the standard HDR presets found when consuming HDR content from the built-in apps. The lack of a “game mode” would mean that the input lag is relatively high. While we don’t know the exact input lag on this TV, we can tell you that if you play games like Call of Duty competitively online, this TV isnt for you. Even in an action-packed single-player game like Gears 5, there was a hair’s delay when commanding an action and its execution on screen. While this shouldn’t affect those looking to play single player games or couch co-op, it will hinder your performance in the online arena.

Gaming on the AmazonBasics 55-inch TV

As for visuals, the HDR bright settings was the best for a good visual experience. A game like Gears 5 has lush environments, and it shows on this TV. Forza Horizon, on the other hand, looked a tad dimmer than I’d like. In some TVs like the Mi TV 4X, you can change the HDMI input from HDMI 2.0 to HDMI 1.4, ensuring the console is outputting in SDR. On the Mi TV, this means we got a slightly brighter image in SDR. In the case of the Amazon Basics TV, we can switch from HDMI 2.0 to 1.4 in the settings, but changing this had no noticeable impact on the gaming performance. Needless to say, if gaming is a priority, there are other TVs to choose from.

You can switch between HDMI 2.0 and 1.4 on the AmazonBasics 55-inch TV.

Audio performance

The AmazonBasics TV has 20W of sound output and is enough to fill the average living room with sound. The speakers do a decent job in content like news and TV shows, and one can even enjoy a movie or 2. But for complex action sequences with background score, onscreen action and dialogue, the speakers left me wanting more. The audio performance from the Hisense 55A71F was better than the AmazonBasics TV.

On the AmazonBasics TV, you can enjoy the sound of breaking ice in a movie like Togo, just don’t expect to really ‘feel’ it.

Settings on the AmazonBasics 55-inch TV.

UI

The AmazonBasics TV is running on the Fire TV OS, and it is identical to the one on the Fire TV Stick, with the addition of source selection and picture settings. You can switch HDMI sources as well using Alexa on this TV which is pretty cool.

The AmazonBasics TV supports all popular streaming services.

The UI is as smooth as we have seen on the Fire TV Stick, and the UI supports all the popular streaming service available, including Apple TV. So, if you have a library of movies on your Apple TV account or would like to stream Apple TV Plus shows, you can do so from the comfort of this TV. This is not an app most budget 55-inch TVs support, so it is a thing to consider if you are invested in Apple’s streaming service. Overall, the UI barely lagged, making me feel like a Fire TV stick was connected to the TV. Alexa also works like a charm. From saying things like “Play Stranger Things on Netflix” to “play Mandalorian on Hotstar” and even switching HDMI sources, it obeyed my commands with ease.

The Apple TV app runs smoothly on the AmazonBasics 55-inch TV.

With the launch of the third-generation Fire TV Stick (review), we have seen the new Fire TV UI, and we hope it makes its way to this TV soon. Overall, the Fire TV UI is more fluid than what we have seen on some budget Android TVs and has the potential to give the likes of Xiaomi’s PatchWall and OnePlus’ Oxygen Play a run for its money.

Remote control

The remote control on the AmazonBasics Fire TV is identical to the one we saw on the 43-inch Akai TV, and if the branding was removed from the two remote controls, they’d be identical twins. The remote control is ergonomic, and just like the Fire TV remote control has all the buttons neatly laid out. We have dedicated hotkeys for Prime Video, Netflix, Amazon Music and a dedicated button to bring up your apps. The playback controls, menu options, and more are the same as the Akai TV (review) and even the Onida Fire TV (review), so there are no complaints there.

The AmazonBasics TV remote control comes with dedicated OTT hotkeys.

Build and design

Coming to the AmazonBasics TV build, the display has relatively slim bezels all around, and two metal feet hold the TV in place when kept on a table-top. The feet have a slightly circular arch design which is a departure from the sharp angular feet we have seen on other TVs like the realme SLED TV (review) or even the OnePlus U1 (review). The feet are wide, but the TV isn’t tall enough to let you keep the OG PS4 or Xbox One below it. You may be able to fit a set-top-box below it.

The AmazonBasics 55-inch TV stands on 2 metal feet.

The AmazonBasics Fire TV has an AV-in port, IR pass-through, antenna, 2 USB ports, 3 HDMI ports, optical port and a LAN port for connectivity options. The TV also supports Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi.

AmazonBasics 55-inch TFV connectivity options.

Bottom Line

The AmazonBasics Fire TV edition TV is priced competitively when looking at the 55-inch budget TV space. The most significant advantage this TV has over its competition is the UI. We have seen Android TVs in the budget space lag with some heavy multitasking, and while the AmazonBasics TV isn’t perfect, its UI brings a bit more fluidity than some of the competition. The TVs picture quality is acceptable and at par with what the competition offers in this price segment. However, the audio left us wanting more. There is some input lag when gaming on this TV, making it hard to recommend for gamers who want to play competitive games. But for the casual gamer, this TV should work just fine. We haven’t reviewed all the budget 55-inch TVs out there, but from the ones we have, we can safely recommend the AmazonBasics TV as a contender for those looking for a budget smart TV for their movies and TV show needs. It’s also the only 55-inch TV at this price that we’ve tested that supports the Apple TV app.

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Apple Responds to Epic Games’ Allegations, Defends App Review, Payment Systems

Apple has in a statement defended its app review and in-app payment systems, claiming that it helped stop more than $1.5 billion (roughly Rs. 11,021 crores) in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020. The Cupertino company also detailed the number of apps it rejected from its App Store over hidden or undocumented features, circulating spam, and giving misleading experiences. The new move by Apple comes amid its legal clash with Fortnite maker Epic Games over alleged monopolistic actions that impact developers and suppress competition.

In an extensive statement released on its newsroom site, Apple said that its App Store in 2020 rejected more than 48,000 apps for containing hidden or undocumented features, 150,000 apps for being spam, copycats, or misleading to users, and over 215,000 apps for privacy violations. The company also claimed that it prevented over three million stolen cards from purchasing apps on the App Store and banned a million accounts from ever transacting again.

Apple additionally said it last year deactivated 244 million customer accounts and rejected 424 million account creations — all over fraudulent and abusive activities. The company also claimed that throughout the year, it terminated 470,000 developer accounts and rejected an additional 205,000 developer enrolments over fraud concerns.

Despite regular termination and rejection for additional enrolments, Apple said that it found and blocked nearly 110,000 illegitimate apps on pirate storefronts that resemble popular apps but distribute malicious software or modify known apps without their developers’ authorisation. The App Store team also blocked 3.2 million apps distributed through its enterprise programme last year.

“Apple’s goal is always to get new apps onto the store,” the company said in the statement. “In 2020, the team assisted more than 180,000 new developers in launching apps. Sometimes this takes a few tries.”

At the opening of the trial in Oakland, California last week, Epic Games accused Apple of building its App Store as a “walled garden” in which it squeezes money out of both developers and users. This wasn’t, however, the first legal move against the iPhone maker.

In fact, Epic Games last year made a strong impact when it replaced Apple’s in-app purchase system with its native solution on Fortnite. That was to restrict the commission that Apple gets from developers. However, in response to Epic Games’ tough step, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store.

Alongside Epic Games, companies including Spotify have accused Apple of creating a monopoly with its App Store. But nonetheless, the Tim Cook-led company claims that it “works around the clock and behind the scenes to keep the App Store a safe and trusted place for users and developers alike.”


We dive into all things Apple — iPad Pro, iMac, Apple TV 4K, and AirTag — this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Dell Precision Laptop Models, Alienware m15 R6 Gaming Laptop With Latest Intel Processors Launched

Dell Precision 3561, Precision 5560, Precision 5760, Precision 7560, and Precision 7760 laptop models have been refreshed with the latest Intel processors. The models in the series can be fitted with either Intel’s 11th Gen Core H-series CPUs or Intel Xeon W CPUs. Dell has recently updated many of its laptop models with the latest processors and better configurations and the Precision series workstation laptops have got the same treatment. They come with Windows 10 pre-installed and myriad configurations. The Dell Precision lineup also comes with several in-built security features such as Intel vPro Technology and a fingerprint reader with ControlVault 3. Dell has also introduced the new Alienware m15 R6 gaming laptop.

Dell Precision 3561, Precision 5560, Precision 5760, Precision 7560, Precision 7760, and Alienware m15 R6: Price, availability

The price and availability of the refreshed Dell Precision lineup has not been shared by the company yet. The Alienware m15 R6 is priced at $1,299.99 (roughly Rs. 95,500) and will be available this summer.

Dell Precision 3561 specifications, features

The Precision 3561 from Dell comes with up to a 15.6-inch UHD (3,840×2,160 pixels) display that has a 16:9 aspect ratio, 400 nits of peak brightness, 100 percent sRGB coverage, and a 60Hz refresh rate. Under the hood, it can be equipped with up to an Intel 11th Gen Core i9-11950H CPU or an Intel Xeon W-11855M CPU, along with up to an Nvidia T600 GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM. It can pack up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3,200MHz and up to a 2TB of M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Gen4x4 Class 40 SSD storage. For connectivity, the Dell Precision 3561 comes with up to Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX210 2×2.11ax, Bluetooth v5.1, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, HDMI 2.0, RJ-45, uSD card reader, and optional Smart Card and fingerprint reader. Audio is handled by dual speakers tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro. It is backed by up to a 96Whr battery and weighs 1.79kg.

Dell Precision 5560 specifications, features

Dell Precision 5560 features up to a 15.6-inch UHD+ (3,840×2,400 pixels) InfinityEdge display with a 60Hz refresh rate, 500 nits of peak brightness, 100 percent AdobeRGB, 99 percent DCI-P3, and Gorilla Glass protection. It can be powered by up to an Intel 11th Gen Core i9-11950H CPU or an Intel Xeon W-11955M CPU, and paired with up to an Nvidia RTX A2000 GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM. The Dell Precision 5560 has the same RAM and storage capacity as the Dell Precision 3561. Connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an SD card reader. There is also a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button. The laptop can be equipped with up to an 86Whr battery and it weighs 1.84kg.

Dell Precision 5760 specifications, features

Dell Precision 5760 comes with a 17-inch display that can have up to WLED UHD+ (3,840×2,400 pixels) resolution with a 60Hz touch display, 100 percent AdobeRGB, 99 percent DCI-P3, 500 nits of peak brightness, DisplayHDR 400 certification, and Gorilla Glass protection. Under the hood, the Dell Precision 5760 can be fitted with the same CPU options as the Dell Precision 5560. On the GPU front, it comes with up to an Nvidia RTX A3000 GPU with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM. RAM capacity is the same as the Dell Precision 5560, but the Precision 5760 can be packed with up to 4TB of Gen 4 PCIe x4 NVMe M.2 2280 SSD storage. Connectivity options include Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX210, Bluetooth v5.2, four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-sized SD card reader. Dell Precision 5760 has the same audio options as the previous two laptop models, but it can be fitted with up to a bigger 97Whr battery.

Dell Precision 7560 specifications, features

Dell Precision 7560 features a 15.6-inch display that have a configuration of up to UHD (3,840×2,160 pixels) resolution with DisplayHDR 600 certification, 100 percent Adobe RGB, and 800 nits of peak brightness. It has the same GPU options as the Dell Precision 5560, but the GPU options include up to an Nvidia RTX A5000 with 16GB of GDDR6 VRAM. It comes with up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3,200MHz and up to 4TB of Gen 4 PCIe x4 NVMe M.2 2280 SSD storage. Connectivity options include Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 Global 5G Modem, Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (6GHz), Bluetooth v5.2, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, a universal audio jack, an SD card slot, a smart card reader, and a SIM (Micro) slot. Dell Precision 7560 comes with up to a 95Whr battery and weighs 2.45kg.

Dell Precision 7760 specifications, features

Dell Precision 7760 features a 17.3-inch display with up to UHD (3,840×2,160 pixels) resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 100 percent Adobe RGB coverage, 500 nits of peak brightness, and DisplayHDR 400 certification. CPU and GPU options are the same as the Dell Precision 7560 and so are the RAM and storage options. It also has the same connectivity and battery options as the Dell Precision 7560. The Dell Precision 7760 weighs 3.01kg.

Alienware m15 R6 specifications, features

Alienware m15 R6 features a 15.6-inch display that can be equipped with a full-HD (1,920×1,080 pixels) panel with up to 360Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, 300 nits of peak brightness, 100 percent sRGB color gamut, and Nvidia G-Sync support. It can also come with a QHD (2,560×1,440 pixels) panel that has a 240Hz refresh rate, 2ms response time, 400 nits of peak brightness, 100 percent DCI-P3 color gamut, and Nvidia G-Sync and Advanced Optimus support. Under the hood, it comes with up to an Intel 11th Gen Core i9-11900H CPU, paired with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM and 115W Total Graphics Power (TGP).

It comes with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3,200MHz and up to 4TB (2x 2TB) PCIe M.2 SSD for storage. Connectivity options include three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 4 port, an HDMI 2.1 port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an RJ-45 Ethernet port. You also get up to Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 and Bluetooth v5.2. Alienware m15 R6 is backed by an 86Whr battery and weighs 2.69kg.


Is Mi 11X the best phone under Rs. 35,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:50), we jump over to the Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Poco Extends Warranty on Smartphones by 2 Months Due to COVID-19 Crisis in India, Pauses May Launches

Poco is offering extended warranty to all customers whose warranty was set to expire in the months of May and June. Poco has extended the warranty for such customers by two months in India. The company’s move comes amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the country. The company has also announced that it will not launch any new devices during the month of May. Poco also said it will update its consumers on any new developments regarding upcoming launches or warranty extensions.

The extended warranty for Poco smartphones was announced on Twitter. The company announced that the smartphones whose warranty was said to expire in months of May and June. Poco will provide an additional two months of warranty to customers who fall under this criterion. The company said that it has taken this step due to the rising cases in the second wave of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

In a press release, Poco said it “wanted to reiterate that nothing is more important than the well-being of our employees, consumers, members of the Poco family, and everyone who has been associated with us.”

Commenting on upcoming releases, Poco said that it “has consciously decided not to conduct any launch in May 2021.” The company further added, “We are pausing our new launches as we hope for the situation to improve.”

This is not the first time a company is extending the warranty on its products due to COVID-19. In 2020, many brands offered extended warranty on their products for up to 75 days. OnePlus was one such brand that not only extended the warranty but also extended the return and replacement for its devices from 15 to 30 days. Additionally, OnePlus also provided free two-way shipping for all returns, replacements, and repairs. Other brands to provide extended warranty in 2020 were Samsung, Nokia, Lenovo, and Motorola.


Poco M2 Pro: Did we really need a Redmi Note 9 Pro clone? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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