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Top Stories  |   (Oct 20, 2013)

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Google event invite for October 24 could be Android, Nexus 5 launch

Sources claim no hardware, software announcements at Google Play event

Google has started to send invitations to an event on the 24th of October, one which could feature a number of software and hardware announcements. The event, asking attendees to "Join us for a night out with Google Play," could potentially be the launch of Android 4.4 , KitKat, as well as the expected official reveal of the Nexus 5 smartphone.

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Technology companies demand greater transparency from UK government

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter memo over spying concerns

A group of technology companies has asked members of the UK government that there needs to be a debate about Internet surveillance . Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter have jointly written a memo to Members of Parliament (MPs) calling for more transparency in requests for information by government-controlled organizations, such as GCHQ.

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Microsoft globally launches Windows 8.1, update available to download

Free, paid downloads of Microsoft operating system upgrade commence

Windows 8.1 , Microsoft's upgrade for Windows 8, is now available to download and buy . The update, which reintroduces the Start Button to the desktop among other changes, can be downloaded from Microsoft directly or bought as an installable DVD, with current Windows 8 users able to download it via the Windows Store at no charge.

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Sony launches A7, A7R full-frame mirrorless cameras, E-mount lenses

Sony A7, A7R are first full-frame mirrorless cameras

Sony has launched it long rumored and eagerly anticipated Alpha 7 full-frame mirrorless camera. The new 24.3-megapixel camera is aimed at fans of the company�s NEX camera line looking to step up into a full-frame camera as well as camera enthusiasts looking for a compact bodied, full-featured, full-frame device. In a surprise, the company has also revealed the Alpha 7R aimed at professionals that removes the low-pass filter and includes several additions including an upgraded 36.3-megapixel sensor.

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Nike+ FuelBand SE introduces color, now harder to cheat

New FuelBand SE algorithms add accuracy to activity monitoring

Nike has launched an updated version of its Fuelband activity monitoring device at its NikeFuel Forum event. The Nike+ FuelBand SE retains the same basic design of the original, adding some bright accents to the main black color, but it is now able to more accurately track movements used in specific types of activities through its new algorithms, making it much harder to fool.

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Sony ships Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia Z1, SmartWatch 2 in United States

Smartphones, smart watch sold off-contract, unlocked from Sony directly

Sony has put two new Xperia smartphones and an upgraded smart watch on sale in the United States, off-contract. The unlocked Xperia Z Ultra LTE and Xperia Z1 have gone on sale through the company's online store, and are accompanied by the follow-up to the SmartWatch, the SmartWatch 2 , which also goes on sale today.

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BlackBerry writes open letter in attempt to ease customer fears

Claims customers can 'continue to count on BlackBerry'

BlackBerry has issued a letter to its customers, advising "You can continue to count on BlackBerry." The letter is an attempt by the company to put its customers at ease following the large number of negative headlines in the media in the last few months, ranging from the poor sales of its smartphones , to the ongoing potential breakup and sale discussions , to the massive job losses .

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Sonos officially launches Play:1, updates software on existing systems

Wireless speaker joins Sonos Play range, free Bridge available

Sonos has added to its Play range of wireless home speakers, which currently consists of the Play:3 and the Play:5 , with the Play:1 . At the same time as launching the compact speaker, one that briefly appeared on sale late last week, Sonos has released a software update that adds some minor changes to the way the speakers function.

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Microsoft adds phablet support to next Windows Phone 8 update

GDR3 will work with Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor in future

Microsoft will be adding support for phablets in the next Windows Phone 8 update, among other new additions. The third general release update for the mobile operating system, also known as GDR3, will pave the way for Windows Phone devices with five-inch and six-inch displays, and will be taking advantage of the higher resolutions by allowing the Start screen to show up to six Live Tiles across instead of four, as well as scaling up existing core WP8 apps.

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HTC One Max official with 5.9-inch display, fingerprint scanner

HTC One Max adopts aluminium finish, picks up microSD card support

The HTC One Max is official with leaks ahead of its launch completely accurate. As expected, the device adopts the critically acclaimed aluminum design language of the 4.7-inch HTC One, along with a 5.9-inch 1080p display and a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the device. However, the One Max differs in some ways from the HTC One by incorporating a removable rear cover allowing for the addition of microSD expansion up to 64GB, but dropping optical image stabilization from its Ultrapixel rear camera.

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LG G Flex smartphone with 6-inch curved display leaks out

Rumored LG G Flex curved display smartphone appears in press renders

The rumoured LG curved display smartphone has surfaced in the first leaked photos of the device. Like the recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy Round , the LG �G Flex� utilizes bendable display technology to create a smartphone design with a radical curve not previously seen in a smartphone display. Interestingly, LG has opted to put its curve along the x-axis of the Flex, rather than along the y-axis like Samsung�s device. While intriguing, the design approach has yet to be proven to offer genuine functionality from an ergonomic perspective, with critics suggesting that it is likely to be another example of Android makers simply applying technology for technology's sake.

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Sony easing off US smartphone sales to improve Japan, European markets

Marketing efforts also a factor in Sony's change of priorities

Sony could be relaxing its push to release smartphones in the United States, in order to protect its sales in Japan and Europe. CEO Kaz Hirai advised that, in terms of smartphone sales, Sony's "biggest priority is maintaining our share in Japan or increasing it," as it attempts to fight off the rising popularity of the iPhone in its home country.

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Falsified press release says Samsung acquiring fingerprint firm [U]

Unauthorised press release stated Samsung acquiring Swedish company

In the wake of Apple�s successful iPhone 5s launch, which included the debut of Touch ID, an apparently false press release has been issued without authority by Cision, a press agency. The press release originally claimed that Samsung had acquired Swedish company Fingerprint Cards AB for $650 million. Cision says that it is currently investigating how the press release came to be published. The release claimed that Fingerprint Cards AB was to become the Samsung Fingerprint Cards Division, with the current CEO Johan Carlstr�m to become the new division president.

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Fitbit Force revealed, updates Flex with OLED screen, altimeter

Display on Fitbit Force provides activity statistics, call notifications

Fitbit has launched its second wrist-based activity tracker, following on from the Fitbit Flex . The Fitbit Force , leaked last week in promotional materials, updates the Flex's design by adding an altimeter and a small OLED display that provides more detailed information than the five-dot LED light system used in the original.

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Samsung loses Obama administration veto on ITC import ban

Small range of phones affected

Samsung did not receive a hoped-for Obama administration veto of an ITC import ban , according to an official statement by US Trade Representative Michael Froman. "After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow [the ban to take effect]," says Froman. Just a small number of older, generally outdated phones will be affected, since more recent devices have worked around the two Apple patents that form the basis for the ban. The patents involve aspects of multi-touch technology and a sensor for headphone jacks.

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HTC reveals official 18ct Gold HTC One

HTC 18ct Gold HTC One revealed to celebrate MOBO music awards

HTC has revealed an 18ct gold version of its critically well-received HTC One Android smartphone flagship. Officially dubbed the Gold HTC One will be presented to the winner of the Best Newcomer category sponsored by the Taiwanese handset maker at the MOBO Awards in Glasgow on October 19. Interestingly, the device only features the MOBO 18 logo laser etched on the rear, with the logo of the company�s former partner Beats Audio conspicuously absent, despite the fact that the special edition device has been made to honor a music event.

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Review: Western Digital's My Cloud external 2TB drive

WD remakes NAS concept

Western Digital is attempting to reinvent the network-attached storage (NAS) concept with its new My Cloud device. The external storage aims to eliminate all of the network complications while expanding the available features. In our full review , we try to determine if the company has succeeded in simplification without too much sacrifice.

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Bang & Olufsen 65-inch full-HD integrated audio/visual system launched

New system sports 7.1 surround, 3D, motorized TV pedestal

Bang & Olufsen has launched a new 65-inch plasma television line that the company says will "take both sound and vision into a new era." The BeoVision 12-65 New Generation 1080P television boasts a motorised floor stand in some configurations to move the 65-inch Bang & Olufsen flagship screen to the user's favorite viewing position on command, as well as a discrete "video engine" that can be installed in a different location than the television.

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Netgear Nighthawk 802.11ac router revealed with QOS, beam forming

New router boasts USB 3.0 connectivity, beamforming technology

Networking company Netgear has launched its newest dual-band 802.11ac wireless router, the Nighthawk AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7000). The Nighthawk combines a powerful 1GHz dual-core processor with a USB 3.0 port for peripheral connectivity and Netgear Beamforming+ to boost speed, reliability of connection, and best possible range for Wi-Fi 802.11ac connectivity in the home.

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Adobe hacked; source code, 2.9M users' data compromised

Company will notify users if affected, recommends changing passwords

Adobe has notified users through a post on its company blog that has been hacked, detecting a number of "sophisticated attacks" on its network that accessed Adobe products' source code as well as some user account information for roughly three million users. The company says that credit and debit card numbers stolen in the attack were encrypted, and that it believes any decrypted payment information was not copied or removed.

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First Android 4.4 KitKat images show mobile payments option

New dialer, mobile data plan management spotted in photographs

The first images of the next version of Android may have been revealed. Photographs of a smartphone running what is claimed to be an earlier build of Android 4.4, complete with pre-KitKat images representing the previous Key Lime Pie name, appears to hint at a few of the features that will come in the next version of the mobile operating system.

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Lavabit SSL keys requested by US government, reveal unsealed documents

Request to monitor e-mail escalated to threats of fines, jail time

Encrypted e-mail service Lavabit was pressured by the FBI to provide private SSL keys for all of its traffic, according to unsealed court documents that provide more details about the service's shutdown. The Texas e-mail provider's refusal to provide details about one specific account, believed to be that of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden , forced the courts to threaten daily fines and possible imprisonment if it continued to disobey the FBI's order.

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Court: Samsung has illicit access to Apple-Nokia licensing terms

Samsung allegedly used terms to gain upper hand in negotiations

Samsung executives obtained illicit access to the terms of licensing agreements between Apple and Nokia, and at least Apple is requesting sanctions, according to an Apple v. Samsung court order from Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal. The licensing terms were contained in a non-redacted document marked for use by outside legal counsel with the phrase "Highly Confidential -- Attorneys' Eyes Only." Nokia's Chief Intellectual Property Officer, Paul Melin, charges however that on June 4th, Samsung executives ended up using the document in a negotiation session with his company.

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Hands on: Dell Venue 7, Venue 8 Android tablets

Dell delves back into consumer tablet arena

Dell's new Venue 7 and Venue 8 tablets mark the company's return to the consumer tablet arena, after a long hiatus following an unsuccessful attempt with the Streak series. The new Android tablets will be sold alongside the company's Windows 8.1-powered Venue "Pro" tablets. Electronista had a chance to try out the new tablets at Intel's Developer Forum conference last month in San Francisco.

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German court stays Google injunction, restores iCloud push email

Ban had stymied German users even after patent found likely invalid

As of 9PM local time in Germany, users in that country are finally -- after 19 months -- able to activate push email services from iCloud. The previous block was due to a patent dispute with Google-owned Motorola Mobility over a patent on a push-type messaging originally granted for beepers, and which has in the intervening months been found invalid for four separate reasons by a court in the UK, and later on in three different courts in Germany.

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Apple, Google, others back proposed surveillance transparency laws

Laws would only offer more precision in reporting gov't. requests

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo are among the companies that have signed a new Center for Democracy and Technology letter asking the US Congress to pass Rep. Zoe Lofgren's (D-CA) Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013, and Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. The bills were first introduced in August, and would let companies be more precise about when and how often they receive national security-related requests and hand data over to the government.

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Dell gains regulatory approval, will go private by end of 3rd quarter

Silver Lake deal worth $25B to complete by November 1st

Dell has cleared its final hurdle to going private, by receiving regulatory approval. The PC producer has revealed it has received "all necessary pre-merger regulatory clearances" for the $25 billion buyout by Silver Lake Partnerships and Dell founder Michael Dell, with the deal expected to close before the end of the third quarter of Dell's financial year, November 1st

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Valve reveals Steam Controller with two trackpads replacing joysticks

Trackpads, clickable touchscreen feature on Steam Machine controller

Valve Software has completed a trilogy of announcements , by revealing a new game controller. The Steam Controller , said to be designed to work on SteamOS and with all games on Steam, uses a pair of clickable circular trackpads instead of the dual joystick configuration used on other controllers, which Valve says provides a "far higher fidelity input" than in other versions.

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BlackBerry reveals near-$1B loss, ships Z30 smartphone in UK

Low revenues, high losses confirmed, conference call cancelled

BlackBerry has released its quarterly financial results, on the same day as its Z30 smartphone goes on sale in the United Kingdom. Just as it expected , it managed to earn $1.6 billion in revenues for the second quarter, down from the $2.9 billion in the same period last year , though the operating loss is marginally less than the $1 billion predicted, reaching $965 million.

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Hands on: Sony Xperia Z1, 20.7MP camera, Snapdragon 800

Sony throws down the gauntlet with its powerhouse Xperia Z1

In the wake of its official reveal at IFA Berlin, Sony has given Electronista an opportunity to get some quality hands on time with its new Xperia Z1 flagship smartphone ahead of its October rollout. The Xperia Z1 follows the Xperia Z and utilizes virtually the same chassis design but with some subtle and welcome refinements. However, like the iPhone 5s versus the iPhone 5, the Xperia Z1 is a true next-generation device from Sony and incorporates numerous enhancements that make it worthy of attention from anyone in the market for a new smartphone.

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