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Weekly Tech Update #416 - New Mobile Hardware Launches at CES 2018

We have just posted up Episode #416 of Weekly Tech Update! In this episode we'll be discussing Cyber Monday was a big one, Lenovo says goodbye to the ThinkPad and CES 2018 will reportedly see the launch of the Galaxy S9 and the LG G7. We have those stories and more at the links below...

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Google to remove YouTube support from Amazon Fire TVs

The battle between Amazon and Google has heated up once again with Google announcing they'll be pulling YouTube from Amazon Fire TV devices come January 1st, 2018.

This has been going on for a while with Google accusing Amazon of not following their terms of services and blocking Fire TV users a few months back. Amazon then figured out a workaround which of course didn't make Google all that happy and now they are once again putting a stop to Amazon Fire TV users from using their services.

I'm sure none of this has anything to do with the fact that they both sell competing media devices...

Arstechnica hs the full story.

This drastic measure comes a few months after Google blocked YouTube access for Amazon’s Echo Show device. At the time, both sides blamed the other. Google claimed Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violated its “terms of service” and created a “broken user experience.”

Amazon recently got YouTube to work again on the Echo Show, but in a roundabout way that wasn’t sanctioned by Google. The new version also overlaid voice commands on the on-screen controls, which Google claims also violates its terms of service. That version of YouTube will be blocked immediately while the Fire TV app won't work, starting January 1, 2018.

Bitcoin mining platform hacked, 56M gone

Sorry, 2 Bitcoin stories in the same day, I apologize in advance to everyone who is sick of hearing Bitcoin news.

It's being reported that NiceHash, which is a Bitcoin mining program, has been breached and potentially has seen 56 million USD worth of Bitcoin disappear. 

I'm sure there will be a few customers of theirs that aren't so happy but unfortunately their paths of recourse are pretty much zero.

Guru3D has the story.

Steam no longer accepting Bitcoin

Lot's of online retailers now accept Bitcoin but already is seems like some are starting to question how good of an idea that is with Steam being the first to pull the plug on using Bitcoin for payment. Citing high fees and volatility, Steam has removed Bitcoin as a payment option. With the sharp fluctuations in the price over the last couple months I'm really not too surprised that vendors are getting concerned with accepting Bitcoin as payment only to see the value drop sharply in a matter of seconds. The Verge has the story.

Steam is no longer accepting bitcoin as a payment method, game company and distributor Valve announced today. The company is attributing its decision to cryptocurrency’s “high fees and volatility.” In a blog post, Valve explained that bitcoin transaction fees have gone up to nearly $20 per transaction last week, “compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin.” Those fees then have to be shouldered by gamers making purchases on Steam, and the total cost to consumers could be even higher if the value of bitcoin dips in the meantime.

Hands on with the Snapdragon 835-powered HP Envy x2

Qualcomm has just partnered with Microsoft and launched a few laptops that run Windows 10 that are powered off their ARM processors. The question surfaces, "how good can it be?" While a Snapdragon 835 is plenty of CPU for a phone, how does it handle a desktop experience? While they run Windows 10, the models that launched on Tuesday - including the Envy x2 - run Windows 10 S. They will support Windows 10 Pro however. Take a look below and see how the Envy x2 handles real life.

But from what I saw, the Envy x2 is a great 2-in-1 device. I'll be more interested to see how it runs on Windows 10 Pro, and how the performance and battery life changes when running emulated Win32 apps. After all, HP claims 20 hours of active battery life, and 700 hours of standby. Those tests tend to run apps that are optimized for battery life.

Source: Neowin

iPhone X Scores Lower that iPhone 8

While the iPhone X has a beautiful display, there are a few flaws that make it score a bit lower overall in customer approval. That is even without the higher pricetag. The iPhone X is actually quite fragile and combined with poor battery life, it doesn't make it to the top of very many people wish lists. The fact is that even the iPhone 7 is probably a better option than the iPhone 8 or iPhone X. That's not good news at all for Apple.

If you’re still on the fence, this is one of those times where it pays to try before you buy. Play with all of these phones in the store, paying attention to how much the gorgeous iPhone X display means to you and how you feel about learning new gestures—and then considering how often you’ve dropped previous gadgets on the sidewalk.

Source: ConsumerReports

Windows 10 ARM Laptop Emerge

ARM has come to laptops and now have been embraced by Microsoft. That's right, Qualcomm and Microsoft have teamed up with some hardware partners to make laptops that will run full version Windows 10. The benefits are better power efficiency, reliable performance, always-on connectivity and better battery life. This looks awesome and the only loser here is Intel.

Contrary to what you might expect, the new Windows 10 ARM computers don’t look hugely different from their Intel counterparts. They all support standard Windows 10 features, such as a touchscreen, Windows Hello, and pen input. HP Envy X2 looks just like the Spectre X2 detachable already available, while Asus’ NovaGo is a standard laptop that is visually indistinguishable from the rest of its lineup.

Source: TheVerge

Lenovo Tackles Business Without the ThinkPad

I believe it was Jason Schneider who predicted that once Lenovo got established as a quality business notebook maker - by continuing to use the ThinkPad branding - they'd eventually drop it in favor of machines that are strictly all their own. The time has some and the V730 has leaked and it shows that Lenovo is trying to make a solid metal machine with a 13-inch display that is geared toward the business user. ThinkPad doesn't make an appearance here though, so my educated guess is that it is garbage.

Inside the V730 is the latest Intel technologySo, the new SoCs of the "Kaby Lake-R" series are used, with the Intel Core i7-8550U representing the highest of emotions, with its four cores a base clock of 1.8 GHz at a maximum turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz achieved. The DDR4 memory can be expanded to up to 16 gigabytes, while the built-in PCIe SSDs offer up to 512 GB. 

Source: WinFuture

One More Reason to Buy a Chromebook

If you are looking for a cheap laptop for doing light-duty work and communication on the go, Chromebooks (Google) and Streambooks (HP) are viable solutions. Many entry level Windows machines come with a year subscription to Office 365 in order to sweeten the deal. Google, on the other hand, has decided to do something a little extra with select Chromebooks. They have partnered with Netflix to offer you a free 6-month subscription. One more reason to choose Chrome.

Google says the deal will be available until December 31, 2017. The Samsung Chromebook Plus is the cheapest of the three eligible models, priced from $449, while the Samsung Chromebook Pro comes in at $549. Top of the tree is Google’s Pixelbook, which starts at $999.

Source: SlashGear

Microsoft Renews Surface Contract with NFL

This is a bit of good news for Microsoft. They have just renewed their Surface contract with the NFL so we'll see Microsoft products for another year on the sidelines of the NFL. This is a huge boost for Microsoft as the NFL draws a huge audience and branding your product at such events can be very lucrative. The contract only lasts until the end of the 2018/2019 season, but they could extend once again at that point.

“We're excited to help the NFL change the game with Surface devices being used by players and coaches on the sidelines to make more informed decisions, referees using Surface for instant replay to enhance the speed of the game, and teams using Microsoft products in their business and football operations,” says Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president.

Source: TheVerge

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