iOS 8.1 Coming Monday, Brings Back Camera Roll

It’s official. Apple iOS 8.1, the first major update to the company’s latest version of its mobile operating system, goes live on Monday, October 20.

ios 8Included in iOS 8.1 is the return of the Camera Roll, which allows users to quickly view recently snapped photos. This latest version of iOS also includes a beta version of the iCloud Photo Library, so users can store all images from their mobile devices directly in iCloud instead of using internal memory.

iOS 8.1 will also pair with the latest OS X software, Yosemite, which will be released to the public today. Back at WWDC, Apple announced new Continuity features that will make it easy to users to switch between their iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and MacBook computers.

For example, with “Handoff,” users can begin writing emails on their MacBook Air and then pick up right where they left off on their iPhone. Users will now also be able to answer and make voice calls on a Mac or iPad, as long as both the iPhone and other Apple device are on the same Wi-Fi network. Finally, users can now use their iPhone as a hotspot when their iPad or Mac is out of Wi-Fi range.

OS x YosemiteThe other major feature coming with iOS 8.1 is Apple Pay, which will be compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and will go live with retailers on October 20. Apple initially announced Apple Pay back in September at the launch event for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but the software wasn’t ready to roll out to the public.

Apple Pay is a contactless payment system that’s integrated with Passbook, which allows users to store credit card information in what Apple refers to as the “Secure Element” directly on their iPhone. These cards can then be used to make payments using Near Field Communication and TouchID to authenticate purchases. Third-party developers will also be able to integrate Apple Pay into their apps.

The post iOS 8.1 Coming Monday, Brings Back Camera Roll appeared first on

Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport wants to be the best smartphone for working out. The Sprint-exclusive device comes loaded with apps and services, including up to 6 months of premium access to Spotify, to help users get motivated, exercise, and track their progress.

Beyond that, the S5 Sport is similar to the original S5. The phone runs Android 4.4 (KitKat) and has a 16-megapixel camera, 5.1-inch screen, 1080 x 1920 resolution, and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. 

The post Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport appeared first on

Amazon Fire Phone

The Amazon Fire Phone is a 4.7-inch smartphone running Amazon’s own Fire OS, which is a heavily modified version of Android. It does not have access to Google’s services and content, but relies on the Amazon Appstore and Amazon’s excellent selection of eBooks, magazines, movies and TV shows.

It’s heavily integrated with Amazon’s other services, including Amazon’s shopping service, thanks to Firefly, which uses the smartphone’s camera to identify objects for purchase.

The post Amazon Fire Phone appeared first on

Microsoft Lays off Thousands, Ditches Android: Readers React

With the recent announcement that Microsoft is laying off 18,000 employees, coupled its Nokia division abandoning its entry-level Android handset efforts, both opinions and epitaphs are swirling. Is Nokia close to anything resembling an independent company? Brighthand‘s forum had its share to say.

Nokia X2Contributor Mi An had both a brief lament for Nokia and skepticism for the decisions that led to the apparent downsizing.

I always admired certain Nokia hardware from a distance, before they got into generic slab production. It was a brave company. I commented often in the early days on the then-former MS exec’s decisions that always, (not so) shockingly, put MS’s well-being above Nokia’s. That the now returned MS Executive VP [Stephen] Elop [Former CEO of Nokia prior to the buyout by Microsoft] is the one to lower the final boom surprises me not at all. “Hello there” indeed. Hook’s wolf in grandma’s clothing analogy is very apt.

Some have argued that Nokia never could have managed a multiplatform strategy and it wasn’t worth trying Android at all given Samsung’s dominance, but 1) Samsung wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant in 2010 or 2011, and the lead position was changing hands rapidly, with HTC dominating in Android 1.x and Moto surging in 2.x. It was a dynamic environment. 2) Samsung ultimately achieved dominance with the sort of broad approach that Nokia excelled at before Elop (the approach HTC took before the blogosphere taunted them into One-size-fits-all).

Forum moderator CLeonard saw parallels to the experimental mess–and awkward dilemma, as both the creator of the platform and a major licensee–that Google got itself into by buying Motorola, and foresaw a similar end.

Seems very similar to Google’s acquisition of Motorola. Buy a struggling company for their assets and intellectual property. Fail to utilize this in a profitable way. Have to wonder if MS will look to spin Nokia off. If so, who would even be potential buyers?

Then again, there were the more pragmatic attitudes. Hook noted that Microsoft couldn’t toss away Nokia the way Google did Motorola:

Not quite equivalent. They need [Nokia] to produce hardware for WP [Windows Phone] because, honestly, no one else seems to want to. They just don’t need that many Nokia people to do it.

Some others viewed it as a necessary housecleaning after an era of Microsoft mismanagement. mtidmarsh put it very simply:

From what I’ve read, this is a move that resembles [Current Microsoft CEO Satya] Nadella cleaning up [Former Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer’s mess. I think [Nadella] fully believes that the Nokia acquisition was a huge mistake and as [CLeonard] mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft decided to spin Nokia off.

These are just a few of the many discussions going on in the Brighthand forums. Got a tech problem you need help with? An opinion on the latest news? Or just something you’re curious about and want an answer to? Sign up for the Brighthand forums and join the conversation today.

The post Microsoft Lays off Thousands, Ditches Android: Readers React appeared first on

Dell Chromebook 11

Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Dell’s latest Chromebook is a good performer, but it’s more expensive than our current favourite

The Dell Chromebook 11 is a low-price Chrome OS-powered laptop, and like the majority of Chromebooks it’s suitably small, compact and good-looking. It’s also cheap, relative to a regular general-purpose laptop, but as it’s a Chromebook there are limitations that you have to accept, such as a primary reliance on the internet and an incredibly low-capacity SSD.

Dell Chromebook 11

To its credit, Dell has made the device look stylish without having to apply a high price. The dark grey plastic shell is understated and wouldn't look out of place on a more expensive corporate laptop. The Chromebook 11 weighs 1.3kg, and is 21mm thick. This means it’s certainly portable, and will easily fit in a school bag or rucksack, but isn’t as svelte as we’d like. Even though the Chromebook’s chassis is made out of several different plastic components, they fit together well and we struggled to find any weak points in the various joins.

The touchpad on the device is small, but it's responsive to both taps and clicks. It doesn't recognise any gestures beyond two-finger scrolling and two-finger clicks, but it's reliable enough for normal inputs.

The Chromebook 11 has a decent complement of connection ports, with two USB3 ports, a HDMI graphics output, an SD card reader and a headphone jack. Happily, the HDMI port can output Full HD video should you connect it to a Full HD monitor.

Dell Chromebook 11
Dell Chromebook 11

The Dell Chromebook 11 is powered by an Intel Celeron 2955U processor running at 1.4GHz. This is a processor used in several Chromebooks, and while it’s a fairly weak processor when used to power a Windows-based laptop it’s fast enough for general web browsing, document editing and video watching on a Chromebook. Sadly, our standard benchmark tests aren't compatible with Chrome OS, so we used the JavaScript-based SunSpider benchmark to compare it against other Chromebooks. The Dell Chromebook 11 completed the SunSpider benchmark in 424.5ms which, unfortunately, is slower than the Acer C720’s SunSpider result of 355.6ms.

In real terms, the device is capable of running with dozens of tabs open without much objection. Chrome OS tends to forget about open tabs, meaning it has to reload them from a cache stored on its 16GB SSD. Unlike some Chromebooks, this process only takes a couple of seconds on the Dell Chromebook 11.

The Chromebook 11’s screen is fairly typical of super-cheap laptops, and in our tests the 1,366x768-resolution TN panel could only display 58 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut. Viewing angles are also poor, but no worse than those of any other Chromebook we've used.

Battery life is certainly good, with the Chromebook 11 lasting 9 hours and 30 minutes in our battery test. This is the best result we've ever seen for a Chromebook by some margin. It lasted two hours longer than the Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102, which was the previous best performer.

Dell Chromebook 11

The Dell Chromebook runs Chrome OS, an operating system dependent upon web-based applications and cloud storage to be useful. Ideally, you'll be connected to the internet throughout your time with the device, but when your connection drops the device is still useful. While almost all of its applications run in the web browser, some, such as Google Docs and Sheets can also run when you're not connected to the internet. The changes you've made to documents will be synchronised with Google Drive when your internet connection returns.

You may want to change how you share documents with friends and colleagues if you adopt the Chromebook way of life. While it’s possible to save files to a USB flash drive, it’s much easier to share documents by sending a link via email or private message. If you allow it, they'll also be able to edit the document to add their feedback or correct errors, and you'll see those changes reflected in real time.

If you like your media, you’ll be happy to know that it's easy to listen to music and watch videos stored on a USB drive thanks to Chrome OS’s built-in media player and an easy-to-use file explorer.

Chromebooks provide a cheap means of using Google's services and apps, and the included 2-year, 100GB subscription to Google Drive storage adds extra value, as it would normally cost around £1.20 per month.

Dell Chromebook 11

The Dell Chromebook 11 is a good addition to the Chromebook range. Its solid performance, combined with the ever-improving Chrome OS and sturdy build quality, make it a good buy. However, if you're after an 11in Chromebook, you're better off with the cheaper Acer C720 Chromebook, or you could get the 13in Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 for around £35 more. Also, Intel Core i3-based Chromebooks will soon be available, which are likely to be significantly faster. You may, therefore, wish to wait before you buy a Chromebook.

Basic Specifications

Model Chromebook 11
Rating ***
Processor Intel Celeron 2955U
Speed 1.4GHz
Number of cores 2
Memory installed 2.00GB
Memory slots (free) Not stated (Not stated)
Max memory 4,096GB
Dimensions(HxWxD) 21x291x201
Weight 1.3kg
Sound Not disclosed
Pointing device Touchpad
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption idle 8W
Power consumption active 25W
Screen size 11.6in widescreen TN
Native resolution 1,366x768
Graphics adaptor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics outputs HDMI
Hard disk capacity/capacities 16GB SSD
Optical drive type None
USB2 ports 2
FireWire 0
Bluetooth Yes
Networking None, 802.11n (dual band)
PC card slots 0
Memory card reader SD Card, USB stick
Other ports None
Carrying case No
Operating system Chrome OS
Operating system restore option Restore partition
Software included Google Docs
Other standard accessories 2 years 100GB Google Drive storage
Optional extras (inc VAT) None
Parts and labour warranty One year collect and return
Price inc VAT £215 inc VAT
Part number CB1C13
13 Jun 2014

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

We get a first look at the new 10.5in and 8.4in Samsung Galaxy S tablets, with their amazing AMOLED screens

Samsung is making a big push in the tablet market by unveiling two brand-new models, the hand-held Galaxy Tab 8.4 and its larger brother the Galaxy Tab 10.4. With a brand new design and thin bodies, the tablets are designed to be easy to carry anywhere, but it's the screen that's going to get everyone's attention, as Samsung is using its Super AMOLED technology for better contrast and richer colours. We were on-hand at the launch to get a first-look at both tablets in action.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 stacked

Samsung Galaxy Tab S screen

There's no better place to start than with the screens. Samsung has used Super AMOLED in its phones for ages, but moving the technology into tablets should produce a big step forward in terms of image quality.

Samsung has used AMOLED technology before in tablets before, with the Galaxy Tab 7.7, which we reviewed just over two years ago. However, that product only had a resolution of 1,280x800, where as both the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Galaxy Tab S 10.5 have hi-resolution 2,560x1,600 screens.

There are some minor differences between the screens in both devices. First, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 uses a diamond pentile arrangement of sub-pixels, which is the same as for the Samsung Galaxy S5.

In an LCD screen, each pixel is made up of three sub-pixels: red, green and blue. With the pentile diamond arrangement, sub-pixels are laid out in a diamond formation with alternating large red and blue sub-pixels, surrounded by green sub-pixels.

Diamon Pentile

 The diamond pentile arrangement uses fewer sub-pixels than on an LCD display

This means fewer sub-pixels than on an LCD screen, which is some cases can make text a little harder to read. However, when you're talking about screens with such high resolution and pixel density, this really isn't a problem. We had no problems with the Galaxy S5's high-quality screen and the Tab S 8.4 was just as sharp and clear.

With the Tab S 10.5, Samsung is using an S-Stripe pattern of sub-pixels. This gives three sub-pixles - red, blue and green - although the blue sub-pixel is taller and thinner, sat next to the square blue and green sub-pixels. This is technically a better layout and couldn't be used on the smaller tablet as its pixel density was too high for the technology. However, side-by-side, there's very little to tell the Tab S 10.5 and Tab S 8.4 apart.


 The S-stripe layout uses three sub-pixels per pixel

In fact, we have to say that these products have some of the best screens that we've ever seen on a tablet. As well as the high-resolution making everything look sharp, you get the full benefits of Super AMOLED, which is better colour reproduction (greater than 90 per cent of the Adobe RGB colour gamut) and incredible contrast of 100,000:1, which is 100x greater than with LCD. In other words, it means that you get true blacks and bright whites.

It definitely works, too, with Samsung demonstrating to us the new Super AMOLED screens against its own LCD-based tablets. The difference is quite incredible, particularly with the deep inky blacks produced by the Tab S models. Colours look bright and vibrant, too.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S screen comparison

 It's hard to tell from a photo, but the Galaxy Tab S (right) produces much darker blacks than last year's LCD panels (left)

Samsung gives you three preset viewing modes to choose from: AMOLED cinema, AMOLED Photo and Basic. The former two boost colours and may be a bit much for some people, while Basic gives a more gentle and muted image.

We like the new Adaptive display mode, which uses an RGB sensor on the front of the tablets to detect the current ambient light. Based on the warmth of the light, the tablet can automatically adjust its screen settings to keep the screen looking natural. For example, home lighting tends to be quite yellow, but the Tab S models can adjust for this, keeping whites looking clean and bright and compensating for any colour casts. It only takes a few seconds for the tablet to adjust, but it's good to see this kind of technology built in.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S build quality

As with the company's smartphones, Samsung has stuck with plastic for the Galaxy Tab S. There's a lot of arguments over whether metal is better than plastic, but the real truth is that there's nothing wrong with plastic if it's done well, and Samsung has certainly done that.

Tough, rigid plastic gives both models a secure a tough feel, while the dimpled effect from the Galaxy S5 has made it over. It's a nice touch and gives consistency to this year's products. Neat, sculptured edges and a thin brushed-metal effect band running around the side of the tablets give them a modern look and feel.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S rear

Most importantly, these tablets are thin and extremely light. Impressively, both are just 6.6mm thick. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 weighs just 294g and the Galaxy Tab S weighs just 465g.

As a comparison, the iPad Mini with Retina Display weighs 331g; the iPad Air weighs 469g, although it has a smaller 9.7in screen compared to the Galaxy Tab S.

Both tablets are available in two colours: titanium bronze and dazzling white. We've a slight preference for the darker titanium bronze, but there's nothing wrong with the white version either.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S processor and key specs

It's good to see that both tablets have identical internal specifications, so the choice about which one to buy comes down to a size preference, rather than having to make any compromises.

Samsung has used an Exynos 5 Octa CPU. This uses ARM's big.LITTLE architecture, with four high-performance 1.9GHz cores for when there's a lot of work to do and four low-power 1.3GHz cores for when the tablet has less to do. The benefit of this architecture should be an improvement in battery life, although we've yet to test it properly.

We ran the SunSpider 1.02 JavaScript test on both tablets, with the Tab S 8.4 completing the test in a nippy 1,025ms and the Tab S 10.5 in a similar 996.1ms. We were unable to test graphics performance, but browsing around Android and flicking between home screens we found the tablets to be quick and responsive. We can't wait to get the products in for review to see how they perform.

Both tablets will be available in 16GB and 32GB versions, with a Micro SD card slot taking cards of up to 128GB accepted. They both have 802.11ac Wi-Fi built in, and can be bought in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi plus 4G (LTE) versions.

Both models also have 8-megapixel rear cameras and 2.1-megpixel front cameras for video conferencing. We were unable to test the image quality in our time with the tablets, so you'll have to wait for a full review for our proper conclusion.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S front camera

Samsung Galaxy Tab S Android

As you'd expect from a new tablet, the Tab S ships with Android 4.4 KitKat. It has Samsung's usual range of tweaks, which are generally minor and useful in nature. There's a My Magazine home screen, which pulls in feeds from social media, but you still get access to the traditional Android home screens.

More useful is the split-screen mode, letting you run multiple applications on the same screen, which we first saw with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro.

As with all Android 4.4 tablets, the Tab S can have multiple user accounts, letting you more effectively share one tablet with the entire family.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 in stand

Samsung Galaxy Tab S fingerprint reader

Coming over from the Galaxy S5 is the fingerprint sensor built-into the lozenge-shaped home button. This works in exactly the same way as on the smartphone, with a swipe of a finger over the button used to unlock the tablet or authorise a PayPal payment.

Up to three fingers can be registered per user. We didn't have time to try the system out in force, but as it's the same excellent system as used on the Galaxy S5, we don't anticipate any problems. In fact, it's good to see this security device make it onto a tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S fingerprint reader

Samsung Galaxy Tab S cases

Samsung Galaxy Tab S book case colours

A new range of cases has been developed for the Tab S, with both simple flip covers and all-encompassing book covers available in a variety of colours. Rather than using magnets, the covers now have 'simple clickers' where you pop the studs on the cover into the holes on the back of the tablet. It's a little fiddly to do and requires a bit of force, but once attached the covers feel super-secure.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S case clicker


Samsung Galaxy Tab S rear camera and clicker

It's the book cover that's the most interesting, letting you place the tablet in three positions, which Samsung has ergonomically tested. There's viewing mode for watching video, touch mode for using the touch screen normally and a flatter typing mode for when you need to send out a message.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S viewing mode

It also completely protects your tablet, letting you throw it in a bag without worrying if it will come out scratched.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S book case closed

For the Tab S 10.5 there's also a keyboard cover available. This hard shell clips over the Tab S's screen, protecting it from harm when you travel. When you want to use the keyboard, you simple unclip it and stand the tablet in the groove, with communication taken care of by Bluetooth.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S keyboard case closed

The keys are a little small and there's quite a bit of flex in the keyboard tray, but it doesn't take long to get used to and we managed to build up a bit of typing speed after using it for only a few minutes.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S keyboard case

Samsung Galaxy Tab S SideSync 3.0

Just as Apple announced how it would integrate all of its products with iOS 8, Samsung is tightly integrating its products with SideSync 3.0.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S side view

This technology lets you pair your Samsung smartphone (Android 4.4 devices only) to your tablet, letting you remote control it. You can play games, send messages and even drag-and-drop photos from one device to another.

You can go one-step further if you have a Galaxy S5, as you can even answer calls from your tablet. This is useful if you've got your phone on charge in a different room. The only thing you have to remember to do is launch SideSync on both devices and make sure they're connected; a more seamless design where the devices connect automatically when they're on the same network would have been nice, but this is a good start and worked well in the demonstration that we saw.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S Extras

Samsung is bundling some new extras with the Tab S. First is an app called PaperGarden, which lets you download magazines from some big publishers. It works well enough, but it's to be seen how many people will actually access magazines this way.

More useful all-round is the Galaxy Gifts app, which gets you access to subscription services for free. These differ by app, but there are some good deals to be had including three-months of Marvel Unlimited and one free Kindle book per month through the Kindle app.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S Battery Life

Samsung is promising pretty much all-day battery life from its new tablets, with both designed to last 11 hours in-use. The Galaxy Tab 10.5 has a bigger 7,900mAh battery, while its 8.4in baby brother has a 4,900mAh battery. The reason for the different batteries comes down to the size of the tablet and what Samsung could squeeze in. However, while the 8.4in tablet may have much smaller battery, it also has a much smaller screen. Given that its powering the display that drains the battery the most, a smaller tablet can get away with a lower-capacity battery and still last a decent amount of time. We'll bring you full battery tests once we've got the tablets in for review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

The real difference between the products comes down to size. With the 8.4in version, Samsung has aligned the home button, so that the tablet sits more naturally in portrait mode. It's a great size, with the screen big enough to browse the web and watch video comfortably, but still fitting neatly in one hand.

Given how light the tablet is, it's surprisingly comfortable to hold and use it for long periods of time. This is definitely going to be the model of choice for those people that travel a lot or want to use the tablet for reading.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

With its larger 10.5in screen, the Tab S 10.5 has the home button placed at the bottom of the screen when it's in landscape mode. This is the best fit for this kind of tablet, making it more comfortable to hold this way. Although it has a relatively large screen, the tablet's still light enough to hold in one hand comfortably. It's a great fit of anyone that wants to view a lot of photos and watch a lot of video.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5

Samsung Galaxy Tab S availability and price

The Galaxy Tab S will be available from 4th July 2014 in the UK. The 10.5in Wi-Fi version will cost £449, with the LTE version another £100 at £549. The 8.4in model will cost £349 with the LTE version £449. We'll bring you a full review and more information when it's available. Until then, the slim bodies, light-weight and excellent AMOLED screens are shaping the Galaxy Tab S models up to be one of this year's biggest and most interesting tablets.

Processor: Quad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz), Screen resolution: 2,560x1,440, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16/32GB, Wireless data: 4G, Size: 247.3x177.3x6.6mm, Weight: 465g, Operating system: Android 4.4 (KitKat)

Model Galaxy Tab S 10.5
Processor Quad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz)
Screen size 10.5in
Screen resolution 2,560x1,440
Screen type Super AMOLED
Front camera 2.1 megapixels
Rear camera 8 megapixels
Flash Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 16/32GB
Memory card slot (supplied) MicroSD
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Wireless data 4G
Size 247.3x177.3x6.6mm
Weight 465g
Operating system Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Battery size 7,900mAh
Model Galaxy Tab S 8.4
Processor Quad-core 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa (+quad-core 1.3GHz)
Screen size 8.4in
Screen resolution 2,560x1,440
Screen type Super AMOLED
Front camera 2.1 megapixels
Rear camera 8 megapixels
Flash Yes
Compass Yes
Storage 16/32GB
Memory card slot (supplied) MicroSD
Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Wireless data 4G
Size 212.8x125.6x6.6mm
Weight 294g
Operating system Android 4.4 (KitKat)
Battery size 4,900mAh
First Look
17 Jun 2014