Archive for June 10th, 2012

‎TechInUs Review: Toshiba Excite 10

Toshiba announces Excite 10, 7.7 and 13 tablets, Thrive slates on their way out
Toshiba Excite 10 ICS tablet goes on sale, prices start at $450 for 16GB model
Toshiba AT200 review

In the tablet market, big as it is, one notion generally holds true: thinner equals better. Toshiba, for example, surely tried to equate a svelte silhouette with a premium product in its super-slim Excite 10 LE. And indeed, its 1.18-pound body and solid Honeycomb experience add up to tablet that puts Toshiba’s earlier Thrives to shame. That $530 model is definitely priced like a high-end tablet, but it’s accompanied by a new, lower-priced Toshiba slate, the Excite 10.

For $450, you get a tablet with a tad more meat on its bones, but that increase in weight and thickness comes with some more powerful specs: a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor with 1GB of RAM — not to mention Ice Cream Sandwich. While you can probably guess which of these slates makes a stronger contender (hint: the one without the “LE”), figuring out the Toshiba Excite 10’s place in the grand hierarchy of tablets takes a little more exploration. Luckily, that’s what we’re here for, so join us past the break as we do our best to get through the review without a single “excite” pun.

Hardware

If you’ve ever had your hands on — let alone glimpsed — the Toshiba Thrive 10, the first thing that will strike you about the Excite 10 tablet is the slimmer silhouette. While the Thrive measures 0.6 inches (15.24mm) thick, the Excite is whittled down to 0.35 inches (8.89mm). Similarly, Toshiba has cut down on weight: the Excite 10 weighs 1.32 pounds (21.12 ounces) compared to 1.6 (25.6 ounces) for the Thrive 10. This, of course, makes it much more comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.

Toshiba clearly went back to the drawing board to improve upon the chintzy build quality of its Thrive slates. In addition to slimming down the design, the company opted for more premium materials. The Excite 10 ditches the Thrive’s rubberized cover for a classier aluminum backing. It doesn’t sacrifice a good grip, thanks to a dimpled texture. While the slate is comfortable to hold, it bears mentioning that the design doesn’t feel very sturdy — if you press on the back, you’ll notice a bit of flex.

 

The Excite 10 has the right idea when it comes to ports. The left side of the slate houses a headphone jack, micro-HDMI connection, micro-USB 2.0 and a full-size SD card slot that lets you add up to 128GB of external storage (and theoretically more). The left side sports the power button, a lever for locking screen orientation and a volume rocker, while the top has the 2-megapixel front camera and 5-megapixel rear-facing shooter.

Moving on to the display, we have a 10.1-inch Corning Gorilla Glass panel with a 1280 x 800 resolution. At 149ppi, that pixel density isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the screen at least delivers good viewing angles and accurate colors. One pitfall, though, is that the display exhibits some backlight bleeding. This is most noticeable when you’re viewing darker screens, and while it doesn’t make it impossible to enjoy movies and YouTube clips on the tablet, it does separate the Excite 10 from higher-end slates.

 

Software

The Excite 10 runs Ice Cream Sandwich (build 4.0.3, to be exact), and as with past tablets, Toshiba didn’t tamper with Google’s interface. Yep, it’s pretty much stock Android here, and that’s not a bad thing. Ice Cream Sandwich’s streamlined interface shines on the 1280 x 800 display, and the tablet isn’t bogged down by obtrusive bloatware.

Toshiba pre-loaded the full host of Google apps — including Calendar, Gmail, Play Market, Search, Voice and YouTube– along with its own branded utilities. There’s Media Player for playing music and watching videos, File Manager for keeping tabs on your media and News Place for, well, catching up on the headlines. The third-party apps are for the most part useful; you get Adobe Reader, Netflix, Quickoffice and the Zinio e-magazine reader. Sure, there are five games, including Backgammon and Solitaire, pre-installed, but these are pretty inoffensive.

Camera

Like most tablets, the Excite 10 is no point-and-shoot camera replacement, and the 5-megapixel shooter won’t deliver any frame-worthy shots. In fact, the camera is downright bad — images look fuzzy and lack detail, and zooming in only makes matters worse. Expect the washed-out colors that come standard on mid-range tablets’ cameras. No vivid reds and blues here; pics we snapped on the street looked dull and overexposed. Moreover, images show pixelation and, even when we pinpointed our focus spot, not very sharp.

 

The Excite 10 is capable of capturing 1080p video, though the muted hues and lack of image stabilization don’t add up to great HD footage. Still, video is pretty fluid — especially if you’re not moving it around too much — and the tablet does a good job at capturing ambient sound.
Configuration options and the competition

For $450, you can get an Excite 10 tablet with 16GB of storage. Stepping up to 32GB will cost you $530, while the top-of-the-line 64GB version goes for $650. It’s not the most expensive tablet out there — ergo, it falls short of the new iPad — but it’s priced along the lines of the Acer Iconia Tab A510 ($450) and the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 ($379). The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 may be $50 cheaper, but that slate trailed behind other similarly priced options when we ran it through our benchmark tests.

Taking a closer look at those competitors, we have a strong contender in the Iconia Tab A510. Like the Excite 10, that slate starts at $450 and runs a Tegra 3 processor, and it offers excellent performance and long battery life (10:23 hours) in a slightly heftier package than the Excite 10 (1.5 pounds versus 1.3). Then there’s the ASUS Transformer Pad TF300 ($379), which offers solid performance of its own and stellar longevity when you add in the keyboard dock. And though the Android purists among you can skip past this sentence, it’s worth mentioning that the iPad 2 is now priced more competitively than the Excite 10 ($400 versus $450).
Wrap-up

Toshiba hasn’t exactly positioned the Excite 10 as a high-end tablet, and its $450 starting price is par for the course for a mid-range product. We’d choose the Excite 10 over the $530 Excite 10 LE in a heartbeat, as it offers much better performance and Ice Cream Sandwich in a package that’s only slightly bulkier. And compared to Toshiba’s earlier Thrive tablets, not to mention most other competitors, the Excite 10 has an attractive, streamlined design.

As it becomes easier to find a good sub-$500 slate, it’s also becoming more common to see quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processors on the spec list. That’s all good news for you, dear readers, and the Toshiba Excite 10 has many of the makings of a great Android tablet. The thin and comfortable design, full-size SD card slot, clean build of Ice Cream Sandwich and Tegra 3 power all add up to a good user experience, but shortcomings like backlight bleeding and occasional performance glitches hold this tablet back from earning a glowing endorsement. While $450 is not chump change, the Excite 10 might be worth it if you have your heart set on a 10-incher running Android. However, for the same price, you can get Android tablets from Acer and ASUS that provide longer battery life and equal — if not better — performance.

 

 

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Anonymous takes on internet censorship‎

CHANDIGARH: Volunteers of the group, ” Anonymous” held a protest against internet censorship by the government of India. The protest was held at Sector-17 Plaza from 4pm to 5.30pm and the group raised slogans like, “Kapil Sibbal Get Well Soon”, “Madras High Court Get Well Soon”.

“We don’t want anything to be censored online because now-a-days the web is an effective tool to express thoughts and share things with others – be it through social networking or emails,” said a volunteer from the group. “Without Internet, people cannot be liberated,” added another participant.

A CA student, Vaibhav Gumber who also joined the protest, said, “By blocking websites the government of India is blocking our expression.” The demonstrations come in the wake of a March 29 court order in Chennai asking 15 Indian Internet providers to block access to file-sharing websites.

, ,

1 Comment

IT ministry says ‘Anonymous’ is lying, its website running fine‎

NEW DELHI: Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN), the country’s premier agency dealing with cyber security contingencies, said that its website was neither attacked nor brought down on Saturday. Hackers allegedly belonging to the group called Anonymous had earlier claimed they had attacked CERT-IN website with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

A spokesperson from ministry of communications & IT told TOI, “The claim that CERT-IN website was attacked and brought down by hackers is without any basis and at complete variance with the facts. The fact is that the website has been running continuously & uninterruptedly — including the whole of today.”

Incidentally, TOI could not access CERT-IN website on Saturday morning for a few hours. A check with http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com, a tool that can tell a web user if a website is down or not, revealed that CERT-IN was inaccessible.

The government acknowledged that hackers have been carrying out DDoS attacks on certain websites. “These attacks have been monitored and mitigated in a timely manner. Due to the massive attacks carried out by the hacker groups, it is possible that the sites may have been slightly slow in responding, depending upon the connectivity from where the sites were accessed, giving the impression that the site has been brought down,” said the spokesperson. He added that CERT-IN is analyzing logs of the attacked websites to identify hackers. “The attacks were multi-pronged. Therefore analyzing the logs and identifying the attackers will take reasonable time. As for action against them, all possibilities are on the table and law will take its own course,” he said.

Earlier Anonymous, which protested against what it perceives “web censorship” in several Indian cities today evening, had claimed that it attacked and took down CERT-IN website. “This is your response team #india! They can’t even protect themselves. How will they protect others,” read a tweet from @opindia_revenge, the group’s Twitter handle.

“We will keep attacking http://cert-in.org.in and http://india.gov.in ! #GOI, ready to face ups and downs?” said the hackers.

, , ,

2 Comments

Origin’s DeMartini: Steam sales ‘cheapen intellectual property’

EA’s Senior Vice President of Global Ecommerce David DeMartini said that deep-discounting of games on Valve’s Steam service “cheapens intellectual property” in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz . As head of EA’s Origin digital distribution service, DeMartini suggested an alternative to Steam’s approach in dealing with “aging inventory.” “We don’t believe in the drop-it-down, spring-it-up, 75 percent off approach, but we’ve got something else that we do believe in that we’ll be rolling out,” he said, without revealing the company’s plans outright. DeMartini also commented on the company’s recent announcement to waive distribution fees for crowd-funded titles, saying it was “the first thing Origin did that no one could complain about.” Fully-funded games that hit Origin’s virtual shelves will not be subject to the service’s fees for the first 90 days. He added, “We figured this is something we could do that is going to please the hardcore; it’s going to please the independent development community.”

,

Leave a comment

Project Fedora hits funding goal with one week left

The next live-action adventure title in the Tex Murphy series, Project Fedora , has been fully funded with a week left in its Kickstarter campaign. After raising almost $500k from over 5,000 fans, creators Chris Jones and Aaron Conners are turning their attention to the project’s stretch goals in the event they raise even more money for the project. Stretch goals include porting the game to additional platforms in more languages as well as expansions on the game’s story. Jones discusses the team’s “big finish manifesto” in the video above. [Thanks, Shaun!

Leave a comment

LinkedIn sheds more light on security breach

SAN FRANCISCO: LinkedIn Corp, criticized for inadequate network security after hackers exposed millions of its users’ passwords, said on Saturday it had finished disabling all affected accounts and did not believe other members were at risk.

The company, a social network for business professionals, promised to beef up security, days after more than 6 million customer passwords turned up on underground sites frequented by criminal hackers.

The break-in – the latest in a string of high-profile Internet breaches around the world – has damaged the reputation of the high-flying company with more than 160 million members, and raised questions about whether LinkedIn had done enough to safeguard the private information of its users.

Some cyber-security experts had warned that the company could uncover further data losses over coming days as it tries to figure out what happened.

In its blog post, LinkedIn said it had notified all affected users – whose accounts had not been accessed – and added it did not think other users had been compromised.

“Thus far, we have no reports of member accounts being breached as a result of the stolen passwords. Based on our investigation, all member passwords that we believe to be at risk have been disabled,” it said in a blog post.

“If your password has not been disabled, based on our investigation, we do not believe your account is at risk.”

LinkedIn is a natural target for data thieves because the site stores valuable information about millions of professionals, including well-known business leaders.

It has hired outside forensics experts to assist as company engineers and the FBI seek to get to the bottom of the break-in. The company said on Friday it did not know if any other account information was stolen besides passwords.

But customers whose passwords were among those stolen were still getting notified by LinkedIn as of Friday afternoon, days after news of the breach surfaced.

The way the company responds to the theft will play a critical role in determining the extent to which the incident damages LinkedIn’s reputation, experts said.

LinkedIn shares rose 2.6 per cent to $96.26 on Friday. While the breach has not appeared to hurt the stock, investors are likely watching the matter closely because the stock carries one of the loftiest valuations in technology.

, ,

Leave a comment

Hacking: Experts call for code

NEW DELHI: Cooking, sketching, horse riding, swimming – there is no dearth of skills that one can pick up in handy, bite-sized courses during summer. Now you can add computer hacking to that list.

Advertised as ‘ethical hacking’, the courses claim to teach you how to hack passwords and social networking accounts – all to protect your system better, of course. But cyber lawyer Pavan Duggal says that under law, there is no such thing as ‘ethical hacking’ and institutes offering such courses need to be regulated.

Faridabad-based Brains Booster, which claims to have an IIM alumnus as faculty, offers an “exclusive” summer ‘Hacking Course’. In its promotional pamphlet, the institute claims to teach how to “hack Facebook account in less than 1 minute” and even how to “run your virus when anyone opens your pen drive”.

Byte Code Cyber Securities in Delhi lists ‘Yahoo Hacking and Google Hacking’ and ‘Wi-Fi Hacking’ on their website as part of their 60-hour ethical hacking course. And Appin, with more than 100 centres nationwide, has a six-week course in ‘information security and ethical hacking’. All these courses cost upwards of Rs 6,000.

The institutes maintain that they function within the purview of law. “Unless you know how hackers and viruses work, how will you protect your system?” argues Suvam Patwari of Brains Booster. Appin, which claims to have served Intelligence Bureau, makes the same point.

“We are also in the service trade. We handle cyber and data security for corporate offices as well,” says Devendra Awasthi , centre manager at an Appin branch.

However, with a cyber criminal and an ethical hacker requiring similar skill sets, it pays to be careful about the laws. The additional DCP of the economic offences wing, S D Mishra, says the Delhi Police cyber crime cell has never received a complaint against such institutes. They have, however, made arrests in the past in cases that involved the hacking of bank websites.

Duggal points out that hacking is punishable under Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000, with three years’ imprisonment and/or up to Rs 5 lakh fine. If a contaminant (virus) is created and released into a computer system or network, the victim can sue the hacker for damages up to Rs 15 crore per intervention.

Duggal says the courses exploit a loophole in the IT Act. “The IT Act has no provisions to penalize those who encourage various kinds of cyber crimes. There is no such thing as ‘ethical hacking’ under law. This needs to be regulated , otherwise these courses will keep mushrooming,” he says.

 

Computer security expert Ankit Fadia recommends caution for aspirants. “It is impossible to hack into a Facebook account as quickly as these institutes claim. It’s only a marketing ploy and the students will be disappointed. It is the responsibility of the training institute to teach from the perspective of data security rather than hacking a friend’s Facebook account,” says Fadia , author of ‘The Unofficial Guide To Ethical Hacking’ and ‘How To Unblock Everything on the Internet’.

Protector or provocateur – the jury is still out on ethical hacking. But now you know what some folks are doing this summer.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

NetApp’s cloud storage solution for mid-sized biz

NetApp has launched a new low-cost cloud storage solution – FAS2220 to help mid-sized businesses keep pace with the growing demands of cloud data storage while managing the volume of data being generated. The storage solution being offered by the company’s latest launch has a capacity of 6 TB single-controller unit, for a price that starts at under $8,000.

“NetApp is providing our partners with a unique opportunity to be part of an ecosystem that will enable them to strengthen their customer relationships, build profitable new revenue streams, and take advantage of industry-leading enablement programs designed to help them transform their business to capitalize on the cloud,” said Julie Parrish, senior vice president of Worldwide Partner Sales, NetApp.

Manish Goel, executive vice president of Products, NetApp said, “The growth of data and an ever-expanding competitive landscape combined with limited budgets and resources means that mid-sized businesses must make smart decisions when it comes to their IT infrastructure.

The enhanced FAS2200 platform provides customers with the simplicity, flexibility, performance, and value they need while delivering a storage foundation that they can build on with confidence to achieve business success.”

NetApp also unveiled an expanding ecosystem of value-added reseller (VAR) partners to provide these mid-sized businesses with cloud backup and disaster recovery services built on NetApp, along with new channel enablement programs to help partners expand their business.

FAS2220 will be available on June 12, 2012, through NetApp’s worldwide network of value-added authorized resellers, distributors, and systems integrators.

,

Leave a comment