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Spice Stellar Pad (Mi-1010) review

Spice Stellar Pad (Mi-1010) review

Although Spice had launched its first tablet, the MiTab as early as September 2011, it wasn’t really able to get a foothold in the highly crowded Android tablets market, dominated by players like Micromax, Zync and Karbonn, amongst others. The company’s sort of made a comeback with a new 10-inch tablet, which it calls, the Spice Stellar Pad (Mi-1010). The tablet with impressive specs has been priced well at Rs. 12,999 and runs Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of Android. We’ve been playing with the device and here’s our take on the mid-economy tablet.

Hardware/ Build & design
The tablet feels solid although it’s a bit on the heavier side but the weight has been distributed well. The tablet has a 10-inch screen surrounded by a black bezel on the front, and a silver back, which is made of plastic, with a matte finish. The back also sports the Spice logo, placed right at the middle, two speaker grills and the camera lens at the top. There’s some branding at the lower part as well.

spice-tablet-back-635.jpg

There are no hardware buttons on the front, giving it a sleek look. The materials used don’t feel cheap, and we can safely say that it’s one of the better designed Android tablets available in the market.

On the right side, there are charging and connectivity ports including a USB on the go port, an HDMI port and 3.5mm headphone jack, in addition to a 2.5 mm custom charging port. Thanks to the USB on the go port, you can connect this tablet to PC in disk mode, just like a regular Micro-USB port and then turnaround and act like a PC when you connect a USB drive or 3G dongle to the tablet.

On the flip side, this implies that you need to carry the tablet’s custom charger along, which is a bit inconvenient.A large number of devices support charging through micro-USB, eliminating the need to carry multiple chargers, we don’t think devices should come with custom charging ports.

There’s also a microphone, a reset button, and a memory card (SD/ TransFlash) slot. There are markings for each on the back of the tablet, albeit in grey colour which tends to reduce the visibility since the back is silver. The top sports a Power/ Sleep button and a volume rocker, all in plastic.

Overall, the hardware appears to be durable and is tastefully done.

Display
The 10-inch TFT display comes with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels, which is pretty decent compared to other budget tablets in the segment. The screen is bright, and although we found that it’s reflective to some extent, visibility under sunlight was not bad. The display has an IPS panel that facilitates wider viewing angles, which essentially means that more than one person can view content playing on the screen properly, even from different angles. We found that this holds true in the case of the Spice Stellar Pad, and we were able to view media playing on the screen from different angles. There was a slight backlight leakage from the sides and a blue tint towards the right hand side of the screen, but we’re not sure if it’s limited to our review unit. The touch sensitivity is good, and we didn’t encounter any issues while using the device.

Software/ Interface
The Spice Stellar Pad runs Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean, the latest iteration of the operating system, and doesn’t include any custom skin. It’s a stock build of the OS bundled with a few third party apps including music streaming app, Dhingana, a file browser, the Economic Times and Times of India news apps, Shark Dash- a game, a video player and a Gravity Calibration utility. We like the fact that there’s no bloatware.

Screenshot-01-635.png

The Spice Stellar Pad is one of the few tablets that runs Jelly Bean. Unlike the Nexus 7, the tablet’s onscreen controls are on the bottom left instead of the centre, and the notification panel and quick access settings (for Wi-Fi, Screen rotation, brightness, sound and shortcut to settings) are located at the bottom right.

During our use, we didn’t notice much lag while navigating through menus, and Google’s much touted ‘Project Butter’makes the overall experience more responsive than tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich.

The other major feature that Jelly Bean brings is ‘Google Now’, a voice based information assistant and an extension of Google search. You can ask questions and the tool returns answers or search results. It uses ‘cards’ which are essentially small boxes that offer different sets of information ranging from weather forecast, directions, traffic information, scores, appointments, and currency conversion, among others. Google Now collects information based on the user’s behavior, location and even e-mail to offer information, automatically.

We’re not sure if the tablet will get updated to Jelly Bean 4.2, but if it does, features like multi-user accounts (different profiles and access for different users) and lock-screen widgets would also come to the tablet.

Screenshot-02-635.png

Camera
The Spice Stellar Tab comes with a 3-megapixel rear camera and a front facing VGA camera. We found that the pictures taken with the rear camera were a bit grainy. It was worse when we tried clicking them in low light. The rear camera does not have auto-focus. Though we’re not sure if someone will use the tablet as dedicated devices for clicking pictures, we found that it’s only suitable for casual clicks. The front camera is functional at best and does a decent job when used for making video calls.

Performance/ Battery Life
The tablet is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, a quad-core GPU and 1 GB of RAM. We did not encounter any crashes while working on this tablet and multitasking was comfortable. We also did not notice much lag and were able to play tablet optimized games and HD video clips, without a hitch. The tablet comes with the native Android browser and Chrome, and renders all webpages well. Adobe Flash is pre-installed allowing the browser to display Flash videos, banners and other elements. The speakers on the tablet deliver good quality sound at even high volume levels. There’s no voice calling but the major omission is Bluetooth connectivity. We’re not sure why Spice had to exclude it since all major Android devices offer this feature.

The Spice Stellar Pad comes with a 7600mAh battery and we were satisfied with the backup that it offered, although we had some problems charging it up after the battery was completely drained. It took almost 2 hours to get to 10-15% charge levels delivered but the problem could be limited to just our unit, and we’ve requested Spice to send a replacement. We’ll update our review if we see a difference. We were able to get around 8 hours of video playback, even with the display on full brightness levels. The standby time with push notifications and e-mails on was also decent. With intermediate usage during the day, we were able to get 2 days of backup. The tablet would easily give 8-10 hours of usage on a single charge.

Verdict
As we mentioned earlier in the review, the Spice Stellar Pad is one of the better Android tablets out there in the market. At a price of Rs. 12,999, it offers a good package with decent hardware, a bright screen that supports wide angled viewing and the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. It’s a good value for money proposition. If you’re looking for a tablet that also offers voice calling, the Huawei Mediapad Lite is another good option available in the same price range.

Pros

  • Runs Jelly Bean
  • Good performance
  • Display with decent viewing angles

Cons

  • Slightly heavy
  • Battery charging issues (could be specific to our unit)
  • No Bluetooth

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 3.5
  • Display: 3.5
  • Performance: 4
  • Software: 4
  • Battery Life: 4
  • Value for Money: 4
  • Camera: 2.5
  • Ecosystem: 3.5
  • Overall: 3.5


Spice Stellar Pad in pictures

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Original Article here

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

Dying Husband Left Her the House and Car, but Forgot the Apple Password

After Peggy Bush’s husband, David, succumbed to lung cancer last August, she liked to play card games on their iPad to pass the time. The 72-year-old resident of Victoria, Canada, was on an app one day when it suddenly stopped working, and she was unable to reload the device without providing a password for their Apple ID account.

Bush’s husband never told her the password, and she hadn’t thought to ask. Unlike so many of the things David had left for Bush in his will – car ownership, the title of the house, basically everything he owned – this digital asset followed him to the grave.

According to reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Channel, the journey to procure the password proved more difficult than any other process involved in David’s passing.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Bush told CBC. “I could get the pensions, I could get benefits, I could get all kinds of things from the federal government and the other government. But from Apple, I couldn’t even get a silly password.”

At first, they thought the solution would be simple. Bush’s daughter, Donna, called Apple to ask about having the password retrieved and the account reset. The company then requested David’s will and death certificate.

When they got these documents together and called a second time, Apple said they had never heard of the case. Donna told CBC that it took several phone calls and two months of waiting for Apple to accept a notarized death certificate, her father’s will and the serial numbers for the iPad and Mac computer to which Bush also wanted access.

But this was not enough. Over the phone, a representative told Donna the next step: “You need a court order.”

“I was just completely flummoxed,” Donna told CBC. “What do you mean a court order?”

Obtaining one could cost thousands of dollars, depending on the need for a lawyer, so Donna decided to take her complaint straight to the top.

“I then wrote a letter to Tim Cook, the head of Apple, saying this is ridiculous,” she said. “All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad. I don’t want to have to go to court to do that, and I finally got a call from customer relations who confirmed, yes, that is their policy.”

While Bush had the option of setting up a new Apple ID account, that would have meant losing all the app purchases that she and her husband had made on the original one.

Bush ended up buying a new laptop (not a Mac). Her mission to gain access to her husband’s Apple ID seemed futile until CBC’s “Go Public” wing contacted the company on Bush’s behalf.

Apple apologized for the “misunderstanding” and has since started working with Bush to solve the issue without a court order, CBC reported this week.

For the Bushes, the overdue response feels like putting a Band-Aid on a larger problem.

“We certainly don’t want other people to have to go through the hassle that we’ve gone through,” Donna told CBC. “We’d really like Apple to develop a policy that is far more understanding of what people go through, especially at this very difficult time in our family’s life, having just lost my dad.”

Toronto estate lawyer Daniel Nelson told CBC that online access is controlled by service providers such as Apple, even if users own their digital material. He described the court order demand as “heavy-handed,” but also said Canadian digital property laws are “murky.”

While the incident occurred in Canada, Americans have encountered similar snafus involving the digital assets of deceased relatives on this side of the border.

In 2011, after 15-year-old Eric Rash of Virginia committed suicide, his parents desperately wanted to know why. But when they tried looking to his Facebook page for answers, the website cited state and federal privacy laws blocking their access.

“We were just grieving parents reaching out for anything we could,” Rash’s father, Ricky, told The Washington Post in 2013.

The question of whether digital assets should be treated the same as material possessions where inheritance is concerned has emerged naturally with the growing ubiquity of social media usage, but few concrete answers have been offered by lawmakers and legal authorities. Most states place digital and physical property in different categories, and tech companies themselves prohibit password-sharing. This means that often a person’s virtual trail continues to float in cyberspace following their death, adding to the grief felt by surviving family.

That, however, is slowly changing.

Thanks to a bill passed two years ago, Virginia is now among a handful of other states that have enacted legislation addressing the inheritance of email, blogs and other social media. More recently, Delaware passed a law in 2014 that gives family members and other heirs complete control over an individual’s digital accounts after their passing. And nearly a year ago, Facebook rolled out new settings that allow users to manage how their account will appear to the public and whether they want to pass it onto someone else in the event of their deaths.

“It’s big. It’s real big,” attorney Deborah Matthews told The Post in August 2014, after the Delaware legislation was announced. “I ask my clients the same thing I ask them about their safe deposit boxes: Who has access? Who has a key?”

© 2016 The Washington Post


Original Article

BioShock Collection Headed to PS4 and Xbox One: Report

BioShock Collection Headed to PS4 and Xbox One: Report

The entire BioShock franchise is already in development for backwards compatibility on the Xbox One, but you might be able to purchase the game for both current gen-consoles if reports are to be believed.

(Also see: Microsoft Changes How Xbox One Backward Compatibility Titles Are Released)

The series found life in 2007 on Windows PCs and Xbox 360, and has since then been released for PlayStation 3 among other desktop OSes and iOS devices. But on Friday, the Ministério da Justiça – Brazil's ministry of justice – rated BioShock: The Collection as "not recommended for minors under 18" for all major video game platforms, including PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and Xbox 360 and Xbox One; it was first spotted by video gaming blog VG247. What this can mean is that the series has been remastered for today's consoles, and might see release in the near future.

At the same time, one needs to be wary of any rumours regarding 2K Games and BioShock. That's considering BioShock: The Collection made a brief appearance at a digital retail platform as early as last September with an expected release date of 27 November 2015, but nothing eventually came out of that.

For what it's worth, the Brazilian rating board has inadvertently revealed similar information in the past. Upcoming third-person shooter Quantum Break was imagined to be an Xbox One exclusive until this month's official announcement of a computer version, but the Ministério da Justiça had declared and published a rating for both the Xbox One and PC version towards the end of January. The rating was removed soon after, leading people to think it was a mistake but a PC version did indeed exist as is now known.

(Also see: Quantum Break for PC Shows the Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few)

This could all be nothing, but keep an eye here and we'll be sure to let you know what becomes of the matter.

Would you be interested in playing BioShock, BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite on your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One? Or are you an Xbox One owner who will be happy with the backward compatible version? Tweet to us @Gadgets360 with #BioShock or let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

China’s Huawei Backs Apple in Fight Over Encryption

China's Huawei Backs Apple in Fight Over Encryption

China's Huawei said it backed Apple's chief executive Tim Cook in his stand-off with the United States government over breaking into an iPhone, but stopped short of saying explicitly it would adopt the same stance.

"It is very important, we agree with that," Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei's consumer business group, told reporters in Barcelona gathered for the Mobile World Congress. "Privacy protection is very important for Huawei, we put a lot of investment into privacy, and security protection is key, it is very important for the consumer.

"Apple is resisting US government demands that it unlock an iPhone used by Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others at a holiday party in San Bernardino in December.

(Also see: Why Even the FBI Can't Hack the iPhone)

"Tim Cook spoke up for that (privacy) … for us it is really very important," Yu said. "I think it's good letting the government understand why we cannot do some things. There are some things we can do, but there are some things we cannot do."

Asked directly if Huawei would take the same approach in similar circumstances, Yu said Huawei would "insist on the important things for consumers".

"Some things the government requires from vendors we cannot do," he said, citing an example of unlocking an encrypted Android device. "These are important things for the consumer, for privacy protection."

Yu was speaking after Huawei unveiled its Huawei Matebook, a two-in-one tablet and detachable keyboard aimed at the business market, and pitting the company against rivals Apple, Samsung and Lenovo.

The new product featured an Intel Core m-series processor and runs Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, he said.

Huawei, the leader in the Chinese market and third ranking worldwide according to Gartner, uses Google's Android operating system on the more than 100 million phones it shipped last year.

Yu said the company was confident growth would continue. In January, traditionally a quiet month for sales of electronic goods, the company shipped more than 12 million devices, he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Original NDTV Gadgets

The Order: 1886 Review – We Played This Game So You Don’t Have To

The Order: 1886 Review - We Played This Game So You Don't Have To

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) has had a year of up and downs in India and it's still to have a monster hit along the lines of last generation's fantastic Uncharted series of games, or The Last of Us. We'd mentioned that there were two games that could turn the PS4 from into a must-buy, and one of them – The Order: 1886 – is hitting the shelves on Friday.

On the surface, the premise of the game sounds remarkably cool. It is a third-person shooter in the mould of Gears of War, set in the backdrop of Victorian era London, but in a world of steampunk sensibilities replete with 19th century automatic weaponry and werewolves. The narrative borrows from Arthurian legend, placing you in the role of Sir Galahad (who here bears a striking resemblance to minor Bollywood celeb Milind Gunaji), a knight of the Order – a group sworn to keep humanity safe from werewolves, vampires and all sorts of nasty monsters that inhabit the world. There's very little not to like in that outline.

Before the game released though, a leaked playthrough of the game raised concerns because of its apparently short length. There's no denying that The Order: 1886 is not Skyrim. It took us not more than six hours to complete the game. Considering that the game costs Rs. 3,999, that is legitimately a cause for some concern, but it's not the biggest – or only – problem with The Order: 1886.

sniping_the_order_1886_sony.jpg

The pacing of events in the game is terrible, and it fails to keep you invested in the action. Nothing shows this more than the game's creaky opening. You do very little in its first five minutes apart from watching a seemingly endless number of cut-scenes. Unfortunately, it is a sign of things to come.

For a third-person shooter, there is very little shooting in the opening chapters. Instead, you'll find yourself harassed with stealth sections where a single wrong move means dying and restarting, annoying quick time events (QTEs) – scenes that compel you to press an assortment of buttons in a given order, and all sorts of cinematic effects in the name of plot progression.

This could still be forgiven if the core of the game was enjoyable. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay of the gunfights itself is forgettable. In most levels, you'll start off exploring an area, then jump across a few ledges, get into a firefight that has you running and gunning from cover, finding the odd lock to pick or electronic power unit to circumvent. All of this is peppered with the aforementioned extra-long cut-scenes.

galahad_vs_elder_the_order_1886_sony.jpg

Playing The Order: 1886 feels as if developer Ready at Dawn spent more time on the choice of camera angles instead of gameplay. The gunplay is lacklustre. There's no sense of satisfaction or weight to the weaponry; the handling of all the weapons is too similar and taken together, it makes the gameplay off-putting. Only a few weapons are actually interesting.

The dragoon pistol feels like it packs a punch, and the highly amusing thermite rifle that lets you light up your foes after spraying them with an explosive mist. Most other weapons though are forgettable albeit overpowered. So much so that key features like Blacksight, which lets you gun down your opponents by slowing down time, and Blackwater that lets you heal yourself in battle were barely needed in our entire playthrough.

"In-game features you'll never put to good use" could well be the slogan for this game. Early on in The Order: 1886, you can use the PS4's trackpad to tap in morse code for air support. It's fantastic idea that's used just once in the game, reducing it to utter pointlessness. The game has a host of audio logs, documents, photos, and objects to find and inspect – but very few of them have any explanation for what's going on, and seem to exist purely to allow you to get more in-game achievements.

At the same time, there's the audacity to use a boss fight with similar QTE prompts, twice. For a game that features just two boss fights, it feels lazy. All of this results in The Order: 1886 being painful to play, particularly because you can see how much potential there was in the ideas.

In terms of production values there's very little wrong with it. From stellar art direction to some of the best graphics outside current PS4 posterchild Driveclub, it's a treat to look at. Coupled with almost perfect voice acting, character animations, and a suitably grim soundtrack you have a technically brilliant game. The sheer superlativeness of the game's production values makes its plentiful flaws a lot more apparent.

Perhaps its biggest misgiving is in its indecisiveness in terms of story. You're teased with introductions to a host of interesting characters from history – such as Rani of Jhansi and Nikola Tesla – and introduced to situations that should ideally be resolved in the game's brief run, but this does not happen. It feels as if the last third of the game went missing or held back as downloadable content or a sequel. In the end, you're left with more questions than answers and a tremendous number of plot-holes that make your average Bollywood script seem like an award winning affair.

airship_the_order_1886_sony.jpg

To sum it up, The Order: 1886 is best described as a vertical slice of gameplay. It shows off a lot of features but very few of them come together in a manner that's deemed as cohesive. Throw in the short gameplay length and the wasted potential of its setting, and you have a game that you should squarely avoid. Sony's exclusives are usually of high standard. This is not one of them.

We played a retail copy of The Order: 1886 on the PlayStation 4. It is available for Rs. 3,999.

Pros

  • Great setting
  • Looks good

Cons

  • Unsatisfying gunplay
  • Recycled boss fights
  • Short duration
  • Feels incomplete

Rating (out of 10): 4

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Original article from NDTV Gadgets