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Top Stories  |   (Apr 18, 2014)

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Macworld gems: The Roost MacBook stand, iMacompanion USB port

Charming, surprising, intriguing finds now available or coming to market soon

Continuing our look at some of the more interesting devices and services we ran across at Macworld in San Francisco last month, MacNN and Electronista staffers will periodically write about items and vendors that caught our eye at the show that we thought our readers would like to know about. Today's focus is on two successfully-funded Kickstarter campaigns: The Roost stand for notebooks, and the iMacompanion USB port from Wiplabs.

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Review: Cat B100 feature phone

Rugged Cat-branded feature phone tested for durability

Mobile communications are an important part of any business, but most smartphones and mobile devices are not able to withstand the rigors of some environments. The Cat B100 feature phone attempts to fill this role by providing basic phone services in a device that can be dropped in dirt and survive an encounter with water. Is it suitable for use in construction sites, just like the vehicles it is named after? Our review attempts to answer that.

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Apple vs Samsung, Day Seven: You can't infringe an invalid patent

String of Samsung witnesses find that Apple's patents are all invalid

Not only did Samsung not infringe on Apple's patents, a parade of witnesses for Samsung told the jury today in the Apple-Samsung trial, those patents aren't valid even if Samsung did copy them. With some help from Apple's very light cross-examination, Samsung again flew through a lengthy list of experts who testified on the relative worthlessness of Apple's patents for "data detectors" (also referred to as "quick links"), universal search, autocorrection and the "slide to unlock" concept.

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Photos of rumored Amazon smartphone prototype with six cameras leak

Five front-facing cameras shown in leaked photographs of Amazon smartphone

Photographs of what is believed to be Amazon's first smartphone have surfaced. Encased in what appears to be a protective casing to prevent the external appearance from being leaked, the images of an alleged prototype device seem to suggest that the smartphone will have a 3D interface powered by multiple front-facing camera sensors.

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Photos show alleged schematics, molds for iPhone 6 [u]

Existence of molds suggests Foxconn almost ready to go into production

(Updated with Nowhereelse mold photo) Photos posted to Chinese site Sina Weibo show what appear to be schematics and case molds for a next-generation iPhone. The schematics indicate a design roughly consistent with current iPhones, including touches like chamfered edges and thin bezels. It's difficult to determine size, but one obvious difference is the phone's depth, which is even thinner than the iPhone 5s.

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Hands on: Sony Portable Headphone Amplifier (PHA-2)

Sony rolls out the PHA-2 portable headphone amp for smartphones, PCs

Just as Apple seems to have switched its attention away from standalone music players in favor of its iPhone and iPad businesses, Sony has made a play for the burgeoning high-resolution audio market. One of its latest high-resolution audio devices is the PHA-2 portable headphone amplifier that has been designed to work particularly well with Macs and Apple's iPhone and iPads. Not only does the device sport an in-built battery for use on the go, it also includes a high-quality DAC that supports 24-bit/192kHz audio files that includes a digital input for iPhones and iPads. Helping improve sound quality further, it also includes separate operational and headphone amplifiers.

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Apple vs. Samsung, Day Five: Now it's Samsung's turn

Tweet: 'Both sides relying on stories to sell jury, Samsung borrowing Google's'

At the end of the twelth day of the Apple-Samsung trial, and fifth day of testimony, Apple rested its case against Samsung following a detailed presentation from "microeconomist" and PhD Chris Vellturo in which he explained for the jury exactly how he calculated the $2.191 billion in damages Samsung should owe Apple for its infringement. Samsung, which has admitted in an earlier damages retrial that it copied from Apple, began presenting its defense -- by borrowing a Google software executive.

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Revealed: Samsung misled investors, pundits with shipments vs. sales

Company relies on conflation of sales with shipments to fool Wall Street, customers

A confidential report from Samsung dug up by Apple lawyers has -- for the second time in as many trials -- revealed that the Galaxy phone maker routinely misleads both investors and the public on its actual sales to end users, at least in the US market. The discrepancy can sometimes be large, and in Samsung's case it used those misleading figures to chip away at the iPad's "marketshare" when in fact it had not made even a modest dent.

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Apple rests in second Apple-Samsung trial

Samsung begins its defense, downplays Apple patents, losses

Apple's presentation to the jury in the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over , with attorneys for the iPhone maker resting their case as expected on Friday following the completion of damages expert Christopher Vellturo's detailed explanation of why Apple is asking for $2.191 billion in total from Samsung. Apple had one final witness on its list, but decided against calling him following Vellturo's testimony. Samsung has already begun its presentation, which seeks to minimize the value of Apple's royalties and calls the damages estimate "grossly inflated."

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Samsung Galaxy S5, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Fit ship globally

Flagship Samsung smartphone, smart watches go on sale today

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has gone on sale in 125 countries, as part of its global launch. Initially unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February, the flagship smartphone is being sold in stores and through carriers in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and the majority of Asia, flanked by the Gear 2 , Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit smart watches.

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Apple confirms its services not affected by 'Heartbleed' flaw

SSL bug could still be found in Mac servers running PostgreSQL, MacPorts, other add-ons

Apple has confirmed on Thursday that all of its operating systems and key web services, as well as its website and iCloud service, are not affected by the "Heartbleed" SSL flaw that is threatening much of the web. The "Heartbleed" bug, a flaw in the implementation of later versions of OpenSSL -- which is used by many but not all websites to handle secure log-ins and other transactions -- has put as much as two-thirds of the World Wide Web at risk.

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Apple vs. Samsung, Day Four: $2.191 billion

Apple reveals total damages and royalties sought from Samsung

The fourth day of testimony in the second Apple vs. Samsung trial has ended, with various Apple-hired experts and employees going over the nature of the patents at stake in Apple's part of the case. The jury also got a dose of history borrowed from the first patent trial , details about Apple's manufacturing process, and finally heard the full, exact amount that Apple is seeking from Samsung in terms of both damages due to lost sales as well as what it owes in royalties for its infringement: $2.191 billion.

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Critical OpenSSL 'HeartBleed' bug uncovered, affects HTTPS encryption

Security flaw in OpenSSL encryption library dates back to early 2012

A major security flaw has been discovered in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library, jeopardizing security for a large number of SSL/TLS-based transmissions. The fault, named the " Heartbleed Bug ," has apparently existed since March last year but only recently uncovered, and puts at risk not only the contents of encrypted online communications, but also the SSL keys used in the transmission.

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Intel unveils Thunderbolt Networking for Thunderbolt 2

Direct Ethernet competitor moves data at 10Gb per second

In a direct challenge to the venerable networking standard Ethernet, Intel on Monday introduced Thunderbolt Networking -- an interconnect standard for Thunderbolt 2-equipped devices that can transfer data at up to 10 gigabits (Gb) per second, 10 times faster than the previous limit. Mac users with Thunderbolt 2 devices running OS X Mavericks already have the new feature built-in, with PC drivers for Windows said to be coming "soon."

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Apple vs Samsung, Day Two: Schiller gets cross, Christie on stand

New details on competition emerge; lies told in court, says Apple

The second full day of the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with Phil Schiller starting the day by continuing to submit to cross-examination by Samsung attorney Bill Price. Also on the stand on Friday was early iPhone engineer Greg Christie , and Apple-hired patent expert witness Dr. Andrew Cockburn. In the course of proceedings, some additional details about how buyers perceive the iPhone and its creation were revealed, and Judge Lucy Koh ruled against Apple on two objections.

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YouTube offers 'showdown' between Touch ID and Samsung swipe reader

Touch ID more reliable, but S5 swipe reader able to be used with more merchants

A new video posted to YouTube offers a head-to-head demonstration of the iPhone 5s' "Touch ID" fingerprint-recognition technology and the "swipe-style" fingerprint reader found in Samsung's Galaxy S5, its just-released latest flagship smartphone. Over the course of five minutes, the poster of the video makes clear that Touch ID, first introduced late last year, continues to offer a better overall experience. The clip covers the technical aspects of both companies' approaches.

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Nest halts sales of smoke alarm to fine-tune disabling Wave feature

Alarm could be accidentally disabled by motion, now disabled in existing units

Ahead of any reported problems among existing users, Nest is voluntarily halting sales of its Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm due to potential issues with one of the features. In addition, the company will be remotely disabling the Nest Wave feature in existing units, which allowed users to turn off alarms by simply waving their hands at the unit. Internal company testing had shown that the feature could in some circumstances disable the alarms unintentionally, which might delay an alarm in the event of a real fire.

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Hands On: Amazon Fire TV media streamer

Amazon finally releases streamer for video, audio, gaming

An Amazon-branded set-top box like a Roku or Apple TV has really been inevitable for some time. Yesterday, Amazon formally introduced the Amazon Fire TV box, an HDMI peripheral for a so-equipped television. The media streaming market is very crowded. Solutions like Roku and Apple TV dominate the landscape, with the new Google Chromecast device coming in with a bit less independent functionality than its competitors. How does the Amazon Fire TV hold up to its competitors in the living room, rather than a media event floor?

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Microsoft officially debuts Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana assistant

Announcements spearhead start of Build developer's conference

At today's Microsoft Build developer's conference, the company has officially taken the wraps off of a major update to its mobile operating system, Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8.1 brings improvements to compatible devices, as well as the beta release of previously-rumored voice-controlled virtual assistant, Cortana .

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Amazon launches Fire TV media streamer, starts shipping today

Fire TV set-top box offers voice search by microphone in remote control

Amazon has launched its new streaming media player, the Fire TV , at its New York media event today. Part of the retailer's push into the streaming video marketplace and building upon the success of its Kindle tablets, the Amazon Fire TV is a small set-top box that allows users access to TV shows and movies watch video from Amazon's Instant Video , as well as other services.

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Apple vs. Samsung, Day One: Apple asks for $2B in damages

Samsung seeks $6 million for its purchased patents, two jurors excused

A bit of juror trouble was ironed out, last-minute issues decided, opening arguments heard and the first witness called on the opening day of the second Apple-Samsung patent trial, which began on Tuesday in San Francisco. Judge Lucy Koh, who oversaw the first trial, is again in charge as the two companies present their cases over a different set of patents -- five from Apple, two from Samsung -- that each says are being infringed by the other.

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Samsung shows updated Galaxy Tab 4 line, ships this quarter

New tablet comes in three sizes, all with LTE optional

As expected , Samsung has launched a trio of Galaxy Tab 4 tablets for the entry-level market. The new line consists of the seven-inch Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, eight-inch Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 and the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 devices, all with thinner bezels and less weight than the previous similar models from the Korean manufacturer.

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Jury picked in Apple vs. Samsung trial, Schiller to testify [U]

Attorneys finding it challenging to find users uninfluenced by Apple, Samsung

[Update: jury finalized, Phil Schiller to be first witness] Jury selection is now in progress as part of the second Apple versus Samsung patent trial , this one covering a different set of patents than were covered in the first trial in 2012. Juror candidates -- some of them clearly eager to avoid serving -- are being questioned about any stock holdings in either company, whether they know anyone who works for Apple or Samsung (or their respective attorney's firms) and of course what brand of tablets, smartphones, computers and televisions they own.

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Feature: High-resolution audio [U]

High-resolution audio looks set to make an impact in 2014

If you think that high-resolution audio includes music ripped from typical CDs in lossless formats including FLAC and ALAC, you'd be wrong. The term refers to music that has a higher sampling frequency and bit depth than standard CD recordings, which are mastered at a bit depth of 16-bits and with a sampling frequency of 44.1kHz. FLAC and ALAC, however, do support music recorded at resolutions equivalent to those used in studio recordings, which is better than CD-quality. In recent times, a growing number of sites have started offering music in studio quality giving listeners the opportunity to listen to music literally as the artist intended.

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Hands on: Sony Hi-Res Walkman (NWZ-ZX1)

Sony takes aim at the high resolution audio market with the NWZ-ZX1

Electronista has been given the opportunity to go hands on with Sony's forthcoming NWZ-ZX1 High-Resolution Audio Walkman. The new device is part of an entire High-Resolution Audio portfolio that Sony is currently starting to roll out to markets globally aiming to tap into the resurgence of interest in high quality audio. After missing out on the digital music revolution that started with the Apple iPod, Sony is positioning itself to make sure that it gets in early on the market for high definition audio players. Digital music has now come full circle with increases in data bandwidth allowing users fast and easy access to high quality uncompressed and lossless audio files.

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Turkey blocks YouTube over security meeting recording leak

YouTube banned in Turkey one day after similar Twitter block lifts

Turkey is blocking access to YouTube, in order to prevent the spread of videos alleging there to be corruption in the country's government. The new ban on the video service comes just a day after courts ordered the block on Twitter to be lifted by the government, with the telecommunications regulator (TIB) claiming the latest block is to prevent a "national security issue."

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BlackBerry SVP attempts to bolt for Apple, gets sued

Court rules software chief must stay at job until June

A court in Ottawa has ruled in a lawsuit brought by BlackBerry against one of its own employees . The firm sued its own senior vice president of software, Sebastien Marineau-Mes, when he announced that he would be leaving the floundering smartphone company to take a job as Vice President of Core OS at Apple last December.

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Updated HTC One launches with Duo Camera, updated specifications

Five-inch Full HD display, depth-perception camera system in new HTC One

As expected , HTC has launched the updated "all new" One at events in London and New York. An extension of the original model, the HTC One (M8) offers a similar distinctive external design to the previous version that includes a new dual-camera system on the reverse, with more general improvements made to the internal components and the smartphone's display.

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Hands-on: VideoGIF for Mac

VideoGIF for Mac makes it easy to create your own custom GIFs

GIFs. You see them everywhere on the Net, but putting them together in the past has usually involved a little Photoshop know-how or skill with another similar type of application. VideoGIF for Mac, by Pearl Mountain aims to make the process simpler and less expensive. We have had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the app, which has recently gone live on the Mac App Store and have been impressed with how easy and how much fun it is to use.

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Follow-up: EA compromised site used in Apple ID scam shut down

Vulnerability shut down, but fooled visitors into providing info

Late Wednesday afternoon, Electronic Arts reported that it had finally closed a serious vulnerability on its web servers that allowed hackers to host a fake "Apple ID" page -- part of a phishing scam that attempted to trick users into visiting the fake page and supplying personal information and credit card details that Electronista reported on earlier today. Netcraft, which originally spotted the compromised pages , reported the problem to EA on Tuesday night.

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