Review: Telstra 4G Tablet

Telstra’s new 4G tablet … the “Telstra 4G Tablet”.

Telstra’s newest 4G tablet is called, rather unimaginatively, the Telstra 4G Tablet. For the most part, it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill Android tablet with a 10.1-inch screen, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of internal storage (with microSD expansion) and Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) out of the box.

The main reason you’d want to consider it over the dozens of other tablets on the market is that it has built-in LTE 4G. It’s also relatively cheap. Compared to the equivalent fourth-generation 4G-equipped Apple iPad, the Telstra 4G tablet will leave you with an extra two hundred bucks in your pocket.

Just don’t expect to spend all that money on accessories. Telstra says a black cover and a screen protector will be available from December 26, but there’ll be nothing in the way of docks, speakers, camera kits, TV cables or keyboards like you can get for the more popular Apple and Samsung tablets. It will, however, work with Bluetooth keyboards and speakers, as well as any portable speakers that plug into the headphone jack.

The “Telstra 4G Tablet”.

At first glance, the Telstra 4G Tablet looks a lot like the now-defunct HP TouchPad, with the same all-black casing, symmetrical bezel and rounded corners. The main difference is that Telstra’s tablet has a 16:9 aspect ratio, making it taller when you hold it in portrait orientation. It’s a generic look, but not unattractive.

Build quality is surprisingly good for a budget tablet, especially compared to Telstra’s first effort, the T-Touch Tab. The rubberised frame around the screen makes it pleasant to hold in any orientation, and the textured back allows you to get a good grip on it (unlike the iPad).

There are two slots at the top for the full-sized SIM card and microSD card slot, and the bottom houses the proprietary connector for syncing and charging. Sadly, there’s no micro-HDMI port for connecting the tablet to a TV.

The screen, speakers and cameras are where you’ll feel the sting of the cheaper pricetag. The former two aren’t exceptionally bad – it’s just that tablets at the premium end of the market have gotten so much better.

The 1280 x 800 resolution is dwarfed by tablets that offer Full HD and higher resolutions, and its older LCD screen technology means colours aren’t as vibrant. To its credit, the screen doesn’t wash out completely at extreme viewing angles, which is the usual hallmark of a cheap tablet.

The top-mounted stereo speakers pump out a decent amount of noise – you’ll be able to hear music in a noisy café when it’s cranked to full volume – but there isn’t much depth to it. Streaming Gangnam Style on YouTube resulted in next to no bass response, and it sounded like it was being played from a passing car for all the presence it had.

The weakest point, however, is the tablet’s camera. Front-facing cameras aren’t usually very good as a general rule, but the rear five-megapixel camera took us aback with how bad it was. In anything but ideal lighting conditions, it produces lots of noise, and it manages to smear any light sources even when it’s sitting completely still.

Performance is reasonably good thanks to the dual-core 1.5GHz processor and new-ish Android 4.0 operating system. It’s still a little slow in places – on complex websites like SMH, zooming in and out was jerky – but the experience was smooth enough that we didn’t feel the urge to throw it out the window, which is more than we can say for most cheap Android tablets.

Battery life is also impressive. The capacious 6900mAh tablet was able to play videos (with screen brightness at 50 per cent and mobile data enabled) for a continuous nine hours. If nothing else, the Telstra 4G Tablet can double as a portable wi-fi hotspot using Android’s built-in wireless tethering feature. It also tethers over USB if you connect it to a Windows or Mac computer with the bundled cable.

To buy or not to buy? If 4G is a must-have, this tablet is a surprisingly strong offering for the asking price. Judged on hardware alone, the Telstra 4G Tablet is a winner. But it’s the lack of tablet-optimised Android apps and games that lets it down. The Google Play Store itself is an embarrassment of riches, with a 675,000 apps now on offer for Android devices, but only a small percentage of those actually look good on a tablet.

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The Massive Growth Of Facebook Ads Got This Startup $7 Million In Funding

Triggit, the so-called “demand-side platform” that buys ads in real-time bidding exchanges for about 200 clients, won $7.4 million in series B funding from Spark Capital and Foundry Group, the company said.

The new investment came after explosive growth in the business Triggit is placing inside FBX, Facebook’s RTB ad exchange.

FBX works by allowing outside advertisers to drop tracking “cookies” on users’ web browsers. When those users sign into Facebook, the cookies triggers ads promoting those advertisers. Triggit’s clients include Hilton, Kmart and Lowes.

Spark Capital founder Santo Politi said Triggit is “on track to become very profitable.”

CEO Zach Coelius told us his company handled about 200 clients internationally, all of which spend upwards of about $10,000 a month on RTB ads. The company has grown from about a dozen staff at the beginning of the year to 32 employees today.

Triggit place ads in all the major RTB exchanges, but FBX is driving the growth, Coelius says: “We’ve seen 300 percent topline revenue growth[from Facebook ads] since FBX launched in June.”

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US suspends embassy account on Vietnam website

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has deactivated its account on a popular Vietnamese website that’s full of suspected pirated music and Hollywood movies, the State Department said Wednesday

The embassy had used its social media account with ZingMe to promote American values, including respect for intellectual property rights. But its presence had raised questions about digital piracy on the site and led to a review.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the suspension is part of a dialogue with ZingMe’s parent company, VNG, about intellectual property rights and digital piracy. He said the embassy hopes to be able to reactivate its account after “adequate progress” is made on the property rights issue.

The review was ordered after The Associated Press reported last month that the embassy’s ZingMe account had raised questions about whether Washington was legitimizing a site accused of piracy.

At the time, the department said the account was created to reach out to Vietnamese youth in a restricted environment. It said the review was being conducted because “some of the contents of this website are suspect and run counter to our Internet freedom policy.”

Officials familiar with the review said there had been spirited internal debate about whether the embassy should continue to use the site. Those officials said the department’s human rights and public diplomacy bureaus were in favor of letting the embassy remaining on ZingMe because of the site’s huge reach, particularly to Vietnamese youth. The officials said that position was countered by the department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, which takes the lead on intellectual property rights issues.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the review publicly.

The free-to-download bonanza has pushed Zing into the ranks of the world’s top 550 websites, while also raising concerns about the content available on the site. Record labels, singers and industry groups say the site repeatedly has ignored requests to take down material.

Coca-Cola and Samsung pulled their advertising from the site this month because of piracy concerns following questions from the AP.

The Recording Industry Association of America, which praised the decision by Samsung and Coke to withdrawn from Zing and has labeled Zing a “notorious” pirate site, said it was neither endorsing nor criticizing the embassy’s decision.

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Fire suppression systems urged in all cargo planes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government should require fire suppression systems in all cargo containers or compartments of planes to prevent the kind of ferocious in-flight blazes that have killed four cargo pilots over the past six years, federal accident investigators said Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board didn’t specify what kind of technology the Federal Aviation Administration should require airlines to install. But the board’s letter to the FAA came a day after United Parcel Service said it has developed systems that can prevent or contain even fires in shipments of lithium batteries, which burn at very high temperatures.

Lithium batteries are suspected to have caused or contributed to the severity of the fire in the crashes of a UPS jumbo freight airplane in Dubai in 2010 and an Asiana Cargo plane off the coast of South Korea in 2011. In 2006, two UPS pilots were able to escape a plane shortly after landing in Philadelphia before it was consumed by flames. That plane also contained lithium batteries.

Current fire protection regulations for cargo planes are inadequate, according to the board’s letter.

“These fires quickly grew out of control, leaving the crew with little time to get the aircraft on the ground,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a statement. “Detection, suppression and containment systems can give crews more time and more options; the current approach is not safe enough.”

FAA rules say airplane fire warning systems must be able to detect fire in a cargo container within a minute of its ignition. But the NTSB said its tests of two types of cargo containers showed a time lapse between ignition and detection ranging from 2 1/2 minutes to more than 18 minutes.

In the tests, the fires “grew very large, capable of causing significant damage to an aircraft” before they were detected, the letter said.

Current FAA regulations require halon gas fire suppression systems in below-deck cargo holds, but not in the main cargo compartment above deck. The main strategy for fighting fires above deck is to deprive them of oxygen by taking the plane to an altitude where depressurization is achieved.

In the case of the UPS plane that crashed in Dubai, however, there was a lapse of 2 1/2 minutes between detection of the fire and depressurization, which was enough time for the fire to damage the plane and affect the pilots’ ability to control the aircraft, the NTSB said.

Also, halon systems don’t work on fires involving lithium metal batteries, which are found in watches, calculators and a wide range of consumer goods.

Unlike other kinds of batteries, lithium metal batteries can spontaneously ignite if exposed to air. Also, the positive and negative poles in some lithium batteries are close together, leading more easily to short circuiting, which can cause a fire.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which power devices such as laptop computers, cellphones and MP3 players, are a fire concern, too. Fires involving lithium-ion batteries can reach 1,100 degrees, close to the melting point of aluminum, a key material in airplane construction. Lithium-metal battery fires are far hotter, capable of reaching 4,000 degrees.

The FAA said in a statement that it will review NTSB’s recommendations. The statement noted that FAA has been researching alternatives to halon suppression systems for a number of years. A report two years ago by the agency concluded that the cost of installing fire suppression systems in main-deck cargo compartments was too expensive to justify requiring airlines to add them.

UPS said tests last month of a new type of cargo container it has developed showed the container can suppress and contain lithium-ion battery fires for as long as four hours , which is enough time in most instances for pilots to safely land the plane. The tests were conducted at the FAA’s technology center in Atlantic City, N.J., with FAA and NTSB officials looking on.

The container is made from fiber-reinforced plastic akin to materials used in body armor and suits for race-car drivers. Temperatures during the test reached as high as 1,200 degrees, but a powdered flame suppressant released inside the container prevented most of its contents from being damaged, UPS said. The airline is also testing a new type of flame-suppressing cover for cargo pallets.

While the new technologies require further testing, “we believe they have the potential to revolutionize cargo safety,” UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot said.

Separately, the FedEx Corp. has developed a fire-suppression system that, once a fire is detected in a cargo container, punches a hole into the top of the container and injects an argon-based foam capable of smothering a fire, as well as absorbing toxic fumes, officials for the airline said.

FedEx has installed the system on its Boeing 777s and MD11s, which fly long routes over water and to remote areas of the globe. “We will continue installation on our entire long-haul fleet,” FedEx spokeswoman Maury Donahue said.

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Online:

NTSB letter: http://tinyurl.com/ch6obl2

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Follow Joan Lowy at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

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