Tablets with low-resolution screens are already selling for $45 on Amazon, many of which have single- or dual-core processors from a Chinese chip company called Allwinner.
But the prices could fall under $35 when Allwinner ships its “fully formed” quad-core A33 chip for only $4, said analyst firm Linley Group in a newsletter this week.
The chip’s quad-core processors will deliver better performance than older chips, and be capable of supporting 1280 x 800 displays, the analyst group said. The chip is based on ARM’s Cortex-A7 design and has a Mali-400MP2 GPU, which is capable of rendering high-definition video.
The cheap tablets will likely come from no-name vendors in China, and won’t offer the bells and whistles of Samsung or Apple tablets, but they could increase price pressure on brand names like HP and Acer, which have entry-level tablets priced around $100.
They’ll be most suited to first-time buyers or users who aren’t picky about hardware or software but certainly not power users, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. That’s because they’ll likely have limited memory, storage and fewer ports than more expensive devices.
“Users eventually will move up in performance,” McGregor said.
The tablets would almost be disposable items, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.
And they could be here soon.
Mass production of the chip has already begun and prototype tablets have already been built.
A lot would come from Shenzhen, China, where a bulk of the device development is taking place, said Brookwood.
“This Shenzhen ecosystem, it’s absolutely scary what they are doing,” he said. “They operate on very thin margins. The kind of margins that no U.S. vendor can think about running on.”
The no-name tablets usually don’t come with customer support, and some may not have the Google Play store.
The vulnerability means that on the surface, it looks like the popups and advertisements are coming from the websites users are visiting, when they are actually coming from the fake Evernote web extension.
Researchers at the company discovered the vulnerability in a “multi-plug .PUP” file, which installs the fake Evernote browser extension.
A PUP file is one that has the .pup file extension and is most commonly associated with the Puppy Linux operating system. PUP files run when an installer program is opened on the user’s computer and they are similar to the installer.exe files that are used with Windows applications.
“A quick look shows the PUP is digitally signed by ‘Open Source Developer, Sergei Ivanovich Drozdov’, although the certificate has since been revoked by the Issuer. This serves as another reminder that you can’t always trust a program just because it’s digitally signed,” said Malwarebytes malware intelligence analyst Joshua Cannell.
“Clicking ‘Visit website’ directs the user to the Chrome webstore page for the actual Evernote Web extension,” Cannell added. “Chrome believes the real extension is installed, as verified by the Launch App button. When clicking this button with the fake extension installed, nothing happens, whereas normally the user is met with an Evernote login screen.”
Cannell explained that this is because the extension uses a content script to run in the context of the webpages a user browses.
“The content script is guaranteed to be loaded into every web page using the extension manifest (manifest.json). When visiting webpages, you’ll get a series of annoying advertisements, all leading to potentially more unwanted programs and offers,” he added.
To remove the extension, Chrome users need to visit the extensions tab in the browser and click the picture of a garbage can.
Evernote hit the headlines for its security concerns last year when it emerged that its network had been compromised by hackers.
The online note-taking service issued a password reset for all users after the discovery. It said that it “discovered and blocked” suspicious activity on its network, but claimed that no user data was compromised during the intrusion.
“In our security investigation, we have found no evidence that any of the content you store in Evernote was accessed, changed or lost,” Evernote said.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, citing unnamed sources, said that Microsoft will deliver a “technical preview” of Threshold late in September or early in October. Previously, Foley had reported that Microsoft would offer a preview of some kind this fall.
Threshold may be officially named “Windows 9″ by Microsoft — the company has said nothing about either the code name or labeled the next iteration of its desktop and tablet OS — although there are arguments for dumping a numerical title because of the possible association with Windows 8, which has widely been pegged as a failure.
“Technical Preview” is a moniker that Microsoft has used in the past for its Office suite. For both Office 2013 and Office 2010, Microsoft used the term to describe an invitation-only sneak peek. Both application suites were later released as public betas prior to their official launch.
Windows, however, has used a different nomenclature. For 2012′s Windows 8, Microsoft called the early looks ”Developer Preview,”"Consumer Preview” and “Release Preview,” all open to everyone. The first was analogous to an alpha, the second to a beta, and the third to a done-but-not-approved release candidate.
Windows 7, however, had used the more traditional “Beta” to describe the first public preview in early 2009. The previous fall, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the firm had seeded an invite-only “pre-alpha” version, also dubbed a Developer Preview, of the OS to programmers and some influential bloggers.
Within hours, the Windows 7 Developer Preview leaked to file-sharing websites. Microsoft may have changed its practices for Windows 8, letting anyone download the first preview, because of the inevitably of leaks.
In an update to her blog of earlier today, Foley added that the “Technical Preview” nameplate notwithstanding, Microsoft would allow anyone to download Threshold/Windows 9 when it becomes available in the next few weeks.
If Microsoft does ship a preview soon and sets its sights on a second-quarter 2015 final release, it will have significantly accelerated the tempo from past practice. With Windows 7 and Windows 8, Microsoft offered its first previews 12 and 13 months, respectively, and the public beta 8 or 9 months, before launching the operating system.
Eight or nine months from September would be May or June 2015; that, however, assumes that the Technical Preview is of beta quality. The name itself hints at something less.
Microsoft appears eager to put Windows 8 behind it. It has stopped beating the drum about the OS and recently announced that it would not issue any additional major updates. Instead, the firm said last week, it will include improvements or new features in small packets using the same Windows Update mechanism that regularly serves security patches.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said it would accept public comments on its proposed new “net neutrality” rules through Sept. 15, giving the American public extra time to voice their opinions and concerns on how they think Internet traffic should be regulated.
The FCC has received more than 1 million comments already on new rules for how Internet services providers should be allowed to manage web traffic on their networks.
The FCC had set a deadline of July 15 for the initial comments and then September 10 for replies to those initial comments. However, the surge in submissions overwhelmed the FCC’s website and the agency had delayed the first deadline by three business days.
“To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the Bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days,” the FCC said on Friday, delaying the final deadline for comments to September 15.
The company reported Thursday that its net profit reached $214 million, while quarterly revenue increased 18 percent year-over-year to $10.4 billion.
Although better known as a PC maker, Lenovo has been making major gains selling mobile handsets in its home market of China. It is now the country’s largest smartphone vendor with a 12.5% share of the market, according to research firm IDC.
The second quarter was the first time Lenovo smartphones outsold its PCs, with 15.8 million units, the company reported on Thursday.
Lenovo’s handsets still aren’t making as much money as PCs. Almost half its revenue came from selling laptops, while its mobile devices division, which includes tablets, accounted for only 15% of its total revenue in the quarter.
The company’s PC business has in the past been helped by its huge presence in its home market of China. But in the second quarter, Lenovo reported that it was also making gains in PC sales to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
In those markets, the company’s revenue reached $2.8 billion, up from $1.9 billion a year ago.
Lenovo, which currently ranks as the number one PC vendor in the world, is trying to expand in servers and mobile devices. Earlier this year, the company announced it would acquire Google’s Motorola Mobility, and IBM’s x86 server business.
Lenovo is still working with regulators to get approval for those deals.
OPENSSL, the web security layer at the center of the Heartbleed vulnerability, has been issued with a further nine critical patches.
While none are as serious as Heartbleed, patching is recommended for all users according to an advisory released today. The vulnerabilities stem from various security research teams around the web including Google, Logmein and Codenomicom, based on their reports during June and July of this year.
Among the more interesting fixes involves a flaw in the ClientHello message process. If a ClientHello message is badly fragmented, it is vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack which could be used to force the server to downgrade itself to the TLS 1.0 protocol, a fifteen year old and therefore pre-Heartbleed patch variant.
Other reports include memory leaks caused by denial of service attacks (DoS) and conversely, crashes caused by an attempt to free up the same portions of memory twice.
OpenSSL now has two full time coders as a result of investment by a consortium of Internet industry companies to form the Core Infrastructure Initiative, a not-for-profit group administered by the Linux Foundation. The Initiative was set up in the wake of Heartbleed, as the industry vowed to ensure such a large hole would never be left unplugged again.
While OpenSSL is used by a large number of encrypted sites, there are a number of forks of the project including LibreSSL and the recently launched Google BoringSSL.
Google recently announced that it would be lowering the page rankings of unencrypted pages in its search results as an added security measure.
Bill Gates has unloaded another 20 million shares of Microsoft, the technology giant he co-founded, driving his portfolio under the 300-million mark for the first time, according to regulatory filings.
Over a five-day span from July 24 to July 30, Gates sold the shares at prices ranging from $43.45 to $44.54, turning the holdings into $882 million in cash. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published the sales documents between July 28 and July 31.
Gates, former CEO and chairman, has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually — usually 20 million each quarter — for the last decade in a long-standing plan to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth.
At the end of his latest sales stretch, Gates owned 298 million shares worth $12.9 billion at Monday’s closing price. If Gates continues his sales pace, he will empty his portfolio by September 2018.
Gates ceded the title of largest Microsoft shareholder in April, when his holdings dipped under the 333 million owned by ex-CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer, who has promised to pay $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team, has about $14.4 billion in Microsoft stock.
Both men remain on the company’s board.
Since Gates vacated his role as chairman in February to become an advisor to new CEO Satya Nadella, Gates has been almost entirely in the background at Microsoft. He has remained in the news, however, most recently in a report from China that he will help start a philanthropic education program in that country.
According to Forbes, Gates is the second-richest person on the planet, with an estimated wealth of $79.5 billion.
The Internet Engineering Task Force is putting the final touches on HTTP/2, the second version of the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). The working group has issued a last call draft, urging interested parties to voice concerns before it becomes a full Internet specification.
Not everyone is completely satisfied with the protocol however.
“There is a lot of good in this proposed standard, but I have some deep reservations about some bad and ugly aspects of the protocol,” wrote Greg Wilkins, lead developer of the open source Jetty server software, noting his concerns in a blog item posted Monday.
Others, however, praise HTTP/2 and say it is long overdue.
“A lot of our users are experimenting with the protocol,” said Owen Garrett, head of products for server software provider NGINX. “The feedback is that generally, they have seen big performance benefits.”
First created by Web originator Tim Berners-Lee and associates, HTTP quite literally powers today’s Web, providing the language for a browser to request a Web page from a server.
Version 2.0 of HTTP, based largely on the SPDY protocol developed by Google, promises to be a better fit for how people use the Web.
“The challenge with HTTP is that it is a fairly simple protocol, and it can be quite laborious to download all the resources required to render a Web page. SPDY addresses this issue,” Garrett said.
While the first generation of Web sites were largely simple and relatively small, static documents, the Web today is used as a platform for delivering applications and bandwidth intensive real-time multimedia content.
HTTP/2 speeds basic HTTP in a number of ways. HTTP/2 allows servers to send all the different elements of a requested Web page at once, eliminating the serial sets of messages that have to be sent back and forth under plain HTTP.
HTTP/2 also allows the server and the browser to compress HTTP, which cuts the amount of data that needs to be communicated between the two.
As a result, HTTP/2 “is really useful for organization with sophisticated Web sites, particularly when its users are distributed globally or using slower networks — mobile users for instance,” Garrett said.
The laptop, which has a 14-inch screen and Android 4.3, was announced in June. At the time, HP said it would be priced at $399.
It is available on HP’s website.
The SlateBook 14 was introduced after customers told HP they wanted laptops with Android. The laptop has an interface similar to that on Android tablets and can adjust mobile apps to run on the larger touchscreen. Users will also be able to sync laptop data with mobile devices and vice versa.
The laptop is also for those who rely on the Web for most of their computing, much like Chromebooks. It has a few advantages over Chromebooks, with support for key Android apps such as Skype. Android also boasts better wireless printing support than Chromebooks.
The laptop weighs 1.68 kilograms and offers nine hours of battery life, according to specifications on HP’s website.
It has a quad-core Tegra 4 processor, 2GB of DRAM and 16GB of storage. Connectivity features include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a webcam, USB 3.0 port and a micro-SD slot for expandable storage.
It could be a strong multimedia laptop with a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen and an integrated graphics processor that can handle 4K video. TVs can be connected to the laptop through an HDMI port.
But because the browser war is a zero-sum game, when Chrome won others had to lose. The biggest loser, as has been the case for the last year: Mozilla’s Firefox, which came dangerously close to another milestone, but on the way down.
Firefox accounted for 15.1% of the desktop and laptop personal computer browsers used in July, a low point not seen by the open-source application since October 2007, a year before Chrome debuted and when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) was only on version 7.
Chrome had flirted with the 20% mark before. More than two years ago, Chrome’s user share — a Net Applications’ measurement of the unique visitors running each browser — had come close: 19.6%. But Chrome then took a prolonged dip that only began reversing last fall.
Chrome’s July user share of 20.4% put the browser solidly in second place, but still far behind IE in Net Applications’ tallies. IE’s share last month was 58%, down slightly from the month before.
Firefox also lost user share in July, dropping half a percentage point to 15.1%. It was the ninth straight month that the desktop browser lost share. In the past three months alone, Firefox has fallen nearly two points.
The timing of the decline has been terrible, as Mozilla’s current contract with Google ends in November. That deal, which assigned Google’s search engine as the default for most Firefox customers, has generated the bulk of Mozilla’s revenue. In 2012, for example, the last year for which financial data was available, Google paid Mozilla an estimated $272 million, or 88% of all Mozilla income.
Going into this year’s contract renewal talks, Mozilla will be bargaining from a much weaker position, down 34% in total user share since July 2011.
Apple’s Safari remained in a distant fourth place behind Firefox, with a user share of 5.2%, down four-tenths of a percentage point in the last month. Meanwhile, Opera Software’s Opera browser brought up the rear with a small 1% user share.
USB devices such as mice, keyboards and thumb-drives may be used to hack into personal computers in a potential new class of attacks that evade all known security protections, a top computer researcher has revealed.
Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin’s SR Labs, noted that hackers could load malicioussoftware onto tiny, low-cost computer chips that control functions of USB devices but which have no built-in shields against tampering with their code.
“You cannot tell where the virus came from. It is almost like a magic trick,” said Nohl, whose research firm is known for uncovering major flaws in mobile phone technology.
The finding shows that bugs in software used to run tiny electronics components that are invisible to the average computer user can be extremely dangerous when hackers figure out how to exploit them. Security researchers have increasingly turned their attention to uncovering such flaws.
Nohl said his firm has performed attacks by writing malicious code onto USB control chips used in thumb drives and smartphones. Once the USB device is attached to a computer, the malicious software can log keystrokes, spy on communications and destroy data, he said.
Computers do not detect the infections when tainted devices are inserted into a PC because anti-virus programs are only designed to scan for software written onto memory and do not scan the “firmware” that controls the functioning of those devices, he said.
Nohl and Jakob Lell, a security researcher at SR Labs, will describe their attack method at next week’s Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas in a presentation titled: “Bad USB – On Accessories that Turn Evil.”
Thousands of security professionals gather at the annual conference to hear about the latest hacking techniques, including ones that threaten security of business computers, consumer electronics and critical infrastructure.
The kit includes development boards, a USB programmer and access to the software development kit (SDK), which includes example applications that aim to accelerate the development of new low-power connected Internet of Things (IoT) products, CSR said.
“We are seeing Bluetooth Smart underpinning many more products as the Internet-of-Things shifts from concept to reality,” said CSR IoT leader Rick Walker. “By launching the CSRmesh Development Kit we are equipping developers with the tools they need to innovate and take advantage of the many opportunities offered by the IoT. We are helping them to bring networked devices to market as quickly and simply as possible.”
CSRMesh, which combines a configuration and control protocol with CSR’s Bluetooth Smart devices including the CSR101x family, has already been adopted by several lighting manufacturers, including Samsung, for its smart bulb lighting solutions.
The CSRmesh protocol works by using Bluetooth Smart to send messages to other Bluetooth Smart devices in the network, which in turn relay them onward, allowing messages to be addressed to individual devices or groups of devices. It is also possible for devices to belong to multiple groups.
Control of the devices is via any smartphone or tablet that supports the Bluetooth Smart standard, or via standard control devices such as light switches or control panels that have been Bluetooth Smart enabled.
The SDK is initially offered with software supporting networked lighting applications, with updates for home automation and other IoT applications based on CSRmesh due later in the year.
The CSRmesh Development Kit is now available from selected CSR distributors from $299, or about £180, and features three CSRmesh Bluetooth Smart development boards, one USB programmer, batteries and a setup guide. Additional development boards can be purchased from $49 each, or about £30.
“Developers can also purchase additional CSRmesh Development Boards to expand their mesh development and testing,” CSR said. Below is a video of what is possible with CSRMesh for lighting.
The partnership helps move Sprint well beyond it’s role as a basic wireless carrier for businesses to one that will bolster basic Google cloud service and access to Google apps with Sprint’s own hands-on professional consulting, much of it free.
The announcement comes amid widespread reports that Sprint is in discussions to buy T-Mobile and just weeks after a six-month study of wireless carrier network performance found Sprint didn’t finish first among national carriers in any of 125 U.S. cities.
Sprint’s resale of Google Apps for Business kicks off officially on Aug. 18. Sprint will charge businesses the same rate that Google does — with pricing starting at $5 per month per worker for access to a variety of apps such as Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs, or $10 a month per user per month for Google Apps access with unlimited cloud storage, and other services.
In addition, Sprint will offer its new Google Apps for Business customers a number of free services, including consulting on mobile deployment strategy, project management and cloud help-desk support (with all cloud servers under the ownership of Google). Sprint will charge for certain professional services, such as creating single sign-on capability or domain services. Pricing for those services, in addition to the standard Google Apps for Business costs, will be announced closer to launch.
Sprint’s John Tudhope, director of marketing for enterprise services, said Sprint’s Google Apps for Business customers won’t need to be Sprint wireless customers to get the new service.
Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and the U.S. had wireless broadband penetration of more than 100 percent as of December 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday. That means there was more than one wireless broadband subscription per person, usually because consumers have more than one mobile device that can go online. The U.S. just barely crossed the bar, while Finland led the group with more than 123 percent penetration.
Across all 37 OECD countries, wireless broadband penetration rose to 72.4 percent as total subscriptions grew 14.6 percent. The group spans North America, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Mexico and Chile. It’s sometimes treated as a barometer of the developed world.
Wired broadband subscriptions also grew in 2013, reaching an average of 27 percent penetration. That means there was just over one wired subscription per four people: Wired broadband services, such as cable and DSL (digital subscriber line), typically are shared. Switzerland led in that category with 44.9 percent penetration, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark. The U.S. had just under 30 wired subscriptions per 100 people, while Turkey came in last with just over 11.
DSL still makes up a majority of wired broadband subscriptions, at 51.5 percent, followed by cable with 31.2 percent. Fiber-optic grew to a 16.7 percent share, gradually replacing DSL services. Fiber more than doubled its share of the market in the U.K. and also gained strongly in Spain, Turkey and France. While those countries still have relatively low fiber penetration, Japan and Korea continued to lead the OECD for that technology. Nearly 70 percent of all wired broadband in Japan goes over fiber, and almost 65 percent in Korea.
The OECD has compiled some of its broadband statistics on a portal page. For all the technologies it tracks, the group uses a generous definition of broadband as a service capable of at least 256K bits per second downstream.
Intel has announced the Drive Pro 2500 series of solid state disk (SSD) drives that are “self encrypting”, which the firm says makes them more secure against data breaches.
Aimed at businesses, the Intel SSD Pro 2500 series will come in a 2.4in 7mm form factor with 120GB, 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB capacities, M.2 80mm size with 180GB, 240GB and 360GB capacities, and M.2 60mm size with 180GB or 240GB capacities.
Intel promises that each form factor type will provide random input/output operations per second (IOPS) of up to 48K/80K and sequential read/write data transfer speeds of up to 540/490MBps.
“[The] Solid State Drive Pro 2500 series [has] over [six times] higher performance with new advanced low power modes yielding an optimized user experience and longer battery life,” Intel said in a press briefing.
In terms of power, the drives will have an active wattage of 195mW, idle 55mW and devsleep of 5mW. The drives will also ship with Intel vPro-capable remote manageability features.
Intel said that the reason behind the launch of the self encrypting SSDs is due to rise of data breaches affecting businesses having “significant financial consequences”.
Intel said the average cost of data breach incident is in the region of $3.4m (£2m), with malicious attacks being the main cause. The firm also said that lost laptops are a concern and the average cost of a lost unencrypted device is $50,000 (£30,000) including intellectual property loss, data breaches, lost productivity, replacement and legal costs, so the need for businesses to encrypt data is more pressing than ever.
Data breaches are also becoming a bigger concern on a personal level, too, as it has emerged that cyber crooks are increasingly turning to “sextortion” attacks in which they blackmail victims with the threat of exposing explicit photographs or messages.
Security experts warned that cyber criminals might try to befriend victims and trick them into sharing pictures, or may use malware to target victims’ webcams and take pictures themselves in order to acquire blackmail material.