Great Features on a Budget Tablet – RCA Saturn 10 Pro



The RCA Saturn 10 Pro tablet is a 10″ Android tablet that marries budget specs with high-end features at an astonishingly low price, GB£109. That’s about US$140. Amazingly, that price includes a detachable keyboard, but have they cut the corners in the right places, or is this true value for money? Let’s take a look.

Sold by Asda in the UK, the Saturn 10 Pro is the big brother to the Mercury 7L and both carry the RCA branding though I’m not sure if the RCA brand is as strong in the UK as it might be in the US. Eagle-eyed GNC readers will spot a great deal of similarity with the Venturer EliteWin which I reviewed previously. Unsurprisingly it’s no coincidence as the Saturn 10 Pro is produced by Venturer under the RCA brand. For those wondering what happened to RCA as a company, it was purchased and then broken up by GE in the 1980s.

Taking a quick look over the tablet, I think the design has got stronger with each iteration of the tablet. MoMA won’t be asking for an exhibit any time soon, but the Saturn Pro isn’t far off some of the other low cost tablets from a certain large on-line retailer. Mind you, it’s still quite thick at 11 mm without keyboard. Handily, most of the controls and features have been concentrated on what I perceive as the left-hand side. This is a good thing as it means there’s one unencumbered short edge which can be used to grasp the Saturn Pro in portrait mode.

Quickly reviewing features, there’s a microphone, HDMI connector, reset button (that I never had to use), microSD slot, 5V DC jack (never used), microUSB (used for charging), 3.5 mm headphone jack, power button, volume rocker and full-size USB port. The keyboard connects onto a long edge via four pogo pings with magnets keeping the tablet in place. The single speaker round the back is possibly one of the loudest I’ve ever heard on a phone or tablet.

Speed is not one of the Saturn 10’s strengths. Although equipped with a 1.3 GHz quad core processor and 32 GB of storage, it’s held back by the paltry 1 GB of RAM. In benchmarking, Geek Bench 3 gave the Saturn 387 and 1113 in the single and multicore tests respectively. For comparison a Nexus 5 from 2013 scores 859 and 1764. In real world conditions, that means Alto’s Adventure takes over 20 seconds to launch. Still, it’s playable when it gets going though the tablet sometimes stutters when there’s too much action in the games. Surfing the web and watching YouTube is fine – give it time to get the videos loaded.

The display could be better too. 1280 x 800 on a 10″ screen simply is disappointingly low and at times there’s a hint of blurriness round text in places. Look closely at the “t” in the photo – it’s not crisp. 1280 x 800 was the resolution of the original Nexus 7 in 2012, and that had a 7″ screen. The Nexus 9 is 2048 x 1536 in a 9″ screen. To be fair, most of the time it’s not noticeable but open a text-heavy magazine in Zinio and it’s quite obvious.

And as for the cameras, lots of light is needed to get anything worthwhile from the two megapixels. Stick to using the camera in your smartphone.

What’s good? The plethora of ports is definitely interesting – full-size USB, microUSB, microSD and HDMI are all handy, particularly for photos and documents. Plug in a memory stick or card, fire up Google Photos and flick through the photos. Copy between media using ES File Explorer. I’m not sure if I had a setting wrong somewhere but I didn’t seem to be able to use the microUSB port for anything other than charging. Connecting up the Saturn to my PC via USB didn’t show any additional drives.

Connecting the Saturn to a big TV via HDMI is fun. I had the tablet on holiday with me and I could take the day’s GoPro footage and check it out on the big screen in the evening with the family watching. It’s good from that point of view.

Of course, the keyboard and touchpad are a win too. The keys are small but big enough for even a fat-fingered typist like myself to touch-type without too many errors and the key action is perfect acceptable. The keyboard has a sixth row of keys for back, home, search and other functions which greatly improved the Android-with-a-keyboard experience. Turning the tablet screen off is possible with the keyboard, but it’s not possible to wake the tablet from keyboard. The touchpad is sensitive, though I found it suffered a bit from stray fingers brushing the surface and occasionally text would end up being typed in the wrong place.

On first inspection, the user interface would appear to be mainly stock Android 6.0 (June 2016 security patch) but there are a couple of customisations. The most obvious is the that status bar has few additional icons. Pressing the camera on the left takes a screenshot and the speaker icons control the tablet volume. It’s a smart idea to have onscreen volume controls though I would have preferred keeping the Home button centred.

The other change is more of a disappointment – the “Firmware update” screen is black screen with a grey “CHECK NOW”. How hard would it have been to code a screen in keeping with the rest of the OS? It’s somewhat concerning too that the most recent security update is from June 2016.

Everything else is as expected for an Android tablet with full access to Google products; Play Store, Music, Movies, Games, Maps and so on. It’s all there – the Saturn 10 Pro is fully functional Android tablet (specs). Battery life is quoted at six hours and that’s not far from the truth.

Let’s be clear, the Saturn 10 Pro is not a Pixel C but then again, you’d get three Saturn 10s for the price of one Pixel C. The Saturn 10 is a budget tablet with a great deal of functionality from a microSD slot to a full-sized USB port,  HDMI out and a keyboard. On the other hand, the tablet is slow, cameras are low-res and the screen is disappointing for a 10″ display. What’s important to you will determine if £109 is money well spent on the Saturn 10.

As an example, I wouldn’t buy one personally because I read lots of magazines on my tablet and I want a glossy hi-res screen to enjoy the features. That’s important to me, but if you want to do a bit of email on the sofa, having the keyboard might make it a killer proposition at the price. As an aside, if Venturer was able to produce a tablet that bumped the specs to the mid-range and priced it well, I think they’d have a real winner.

If the Saturn 10 Pro makes your shortlist, it’s available from Asda for GB£109 at time of writing. Video unboxing and review below.

Thanks to RCA Venturer for providing the Saturn 10 Pro for review.


Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition Available for Pre-Order



Microsoft announced that Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition, is now available for pre-order. Limited quantities are available. Microsoft suggests that those who are interested “Get it before it’s gone forever”. Xbox One X Project Scorpio Edition costs $499.99, and will be available on November 7, 2017.

The Project Scorpio Edition features a custom design and vertical stand. The console, and the controller, each have a limited edition Project Scorpio badge on them. Every Xbox One X Project Scorpio console has a unique serial number.

Memory and Storage:

  • 8GB Flash Memory
  • 1TB HDD Internal Storage
  • 12GB GDDR5 at 326 GB/s

Video Capabilities:

  • 4K UHD Blu-ray Optical Disc Drive, HDMI
  • HDMI 2.0b (out), 2160p @ 60Hz, AMD FreeSync
  • HDR10 Support

Audio Components:

  • DTS 5.1
  • DOLBY Digital 5.1, TrueHD with Atmos
  • PCM 2.0, 5.1. 7.1

Wireless Capability

  • WiFi – Dual band wireless Wi-Fi Direct for home networks
  • IR – IR Blaster Send and receive signals

Connectivity

  • Power Port
  • 1 HDMI Ports (1 HDMI 1.4b in, 1 HDMI 2.0b out)
  • 3 USB 3.0 Ports
  • IR Out
  • S/PDIF
  • Ethernet Port

 


The End Is near for Dropbox Public Folders



Popular cloud-storage and file-sharing service Dropbox announced earlier this year that it’d be ending its Public Folder option. These special folders allow Dropbox users to link directly to a file, without having to use a special URL generated by creating a sharable Dropbox link. The advantage of storing files in a Dropbox Public Folder is that users could easily link to those files thru third-party apps and services. But it’s likely that this function was misused by Dropbox users in ways that the service never really intended.

In a recent e-mail blast, Dropbox reminded its users that the Public Folder option will be terminated on September 1st:

This is a reminder that your Public folder links will become inactive on September 1. On that date, your Public folder will become a standard Dropbox folder, and your files will remain safe in your account. If you want to share those files again, you’ll need to use shared links instead.

The Public folder was the first sharing method we introduced, and since then, we’ve built more sophisticated ways for you to share securely and work together with your team. In addition to shared links, we have a number of sharing options designed to make collaboration easier and give you more control.

In the e-mail, Dropbox acknowledged that this change will be inconvenient for some users. Dropbox has created a support page to help users switch from sharing via the Public Folder to the standard method of sharing files thru Dropbox.


Mass Effect: Andromeda Announced End of Single-Player Updates



Mass Effect: Andromeda was created by Bioware (which was acquired by Electronic Arts). The Mass Effect Andromeda Team has sad news for people who enjoy playing the game solo. They are not going to release any more single-player or in-game story content.

A brief update on the Mass Effect: Andromeda website explains a change to the game.

Early in development, we decided to focus Mass Effect: Andromeda’s story on the Pathfinder, the exploration of the Andromeda galaxy, and the conflict with the Archon. The game was designed to further expand on the Pathfinder’s journey through this new galaxy with story-based multiplayer missions and we will continue to tell stories in the Andromeda Galaxy through our upcoming comics and novels, including the fate of the quarian ark.

Our last update, 1.10, was the final update for Mass Effect: Andromeda. There are no planned future patches for single-player or in-game story content.

The Mass Effect Andromeda team says that their multiplayer team will provide details of their ongoing support and upcoming content, including new multiplayer missions, character kits, and what’s in store for N7 Day.

It appears that those who want to continue playing Mass Effect: Andromeda will not be able to play it as a single-player game, and must switch to multiplayer instead (if they would like to see new content). Ars Technica reported that Bioware says the multiplayer modes will receive more “story-based APEX missions.”


Fibion Brings Science To Activity Tracking (Part 2)



In the first interview, I chatted with one of Fibion‘s partners, Olli Tikkanen, about their approach to activity tracking and how the Fibion team can produce accurate data on movement and lifestyle from the Fibion tracker. This time, I’m speaking with Jonathan Bloomfield, MD of Support2Perform, Human Performance Specialists, here in Northern Ireland, who use Fibion trackers to carryout assessments on clients.

The team at Support2Perfom use the Fibion tracker and the analysis tools to do a deep dive into the wearer’s daily behaviour. The tracker is typically worn for about a week before the data is uploaded and analysed. The results are displayed in different graphics to show the person’s activity in a meaningful way. How much of my day is sitting around?

 

 

This data forms the baseline for change and having made lifestyle changes, the Fibion analysis can be redone to check that they’ve had the desired effect.


Fibion Brings Science to Activity Tracking (Part 1)



Fitbits and other activity trackers are popular: I see them on the waists and wrists of colleagues everyday and I have one myself. Good as they are at encouraging activity, they tend to be a fairly broad brush with an emphasis on hitting targets, typically 10,000 steps. While some trackers attempt show the breadth of activity across the day, they’re not very good at the detail. When was I sitting? When was I standing? How often did I stand up?

The team at Fibion can help answer these questions with their professional sitting and activity analysis, which aims to move away from the gamification of fitness to a scientific assessment for improving health. By combining the Fibion device with algorithms based on scientific research, the Fibion analysis gives accurate results for a week-long measurement, showing how much time is spent sitting versus standing and active.

The device itself might be considered overly plain, but that’s by design. If you don’t see your steps, there’s no incentive to do more, and so the Fibion is more likely to record a representative lifestyle. It’s all about the science.

In the first of two conversations, I interview Fibion partner Olli Tikkanen on their approach and the dimunitive tracker. In part 2, I’ll talk to a professional who uses Fibion to assess activity in the workplace.


iOS 11 Law Enforcement Switch #1221



Apple has implemented and Law Enforcement Switch in iOS 11 that allows users to turn off TouchID very simply. This is sure to rub the government the wrong way. But Apple continues to push boundaries in making it harder for Law Enforcement to get access to all the encrypted data within the phone. What was once a hard thing to turn off can now be done in seconds. Plus a deep look at what tech companies are doing including mine following what happened in Charlottesville.

You have heard me raving about GEMS. This is as slick as it gets in viral marketing. Order here and let know how you use them and I will keep you up to date on how my viral marketing is working.

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Blizzard Entertainment Released StarCraft: Remastered



Blizzard Entertainment has released StarCraft: Remastered.  It is described as “Blizzard Entertainment’s lovingly crafted upgrade of the real-time strategy classic and its legendary expansion “Brood War”. Blizzard announced StarCraft: Remastered in March, saying the game would be out “later this summer.” You can purchase StarCraft: Remastered for $14.99 USD.

Widely regarded as one of the most influential strategy games of all time, StarCraft and Brood War tell the story of the first interstellar war between three distinctive factions: the Earth-born terrans, psi-powered protoss, and hive minded zerg. StarCraft: Remastered lets players reexperience the saga of iconic characters like Jim Raynor, High Templar Tassadar, and Kerrigan, through upgraded 4K visuals, enhanced audio and music, and new illustrated story interludes.

StarCraft: Remastered provides players with an arsenal of new updates and features including:

  • Full graphical upgrade of the original StarCraft and the StarCraft: Brood War expansion
  • Widescreen UHD support for up to 4K resolution
  • Matchmaking and leaderboards
  • Player profiles that track individual statistics
  • Cloud saving for campaign progress, hotkeys, and replays
  • Improved high fidelity music and sound
  • Ability to switch between Remastered and the original StarCraft with the click of a button

StarCraft: Remastered is available now for Windows and Mac PCs. It is available in English, Brazilian Portuguese, Latin American Spanish, French, German, European Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Korean, Japanese, and simplified and traditional Chinese.


Data Demands #1220



The DOJ is making Data Demands of Dreamhost as they are looking for more info about the rioters who it appears the DOJ felt was organized through the site and will likely end up being an epic court battle. But more worrisome is the depth of data they are looking for. I discuss how Google and GoDaddy brought out the ban hammer over the past 24 hours as well..

You have heard me raving about GEMS. This is as slick as it gets in viral marketing. Order here and let know how you use them and I will keep you up to date on how my viral marketing is working.

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Geek News Central Facebook Page.
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Overwatch League Adds Two New Teams



The Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league. Overwatch was created by Blizzard Entertainment (a division of Activision-Blizzard). Previously, The Overwatch League announced the first seven teams.   Now, they have announced two additional teams.

The two newly announced teams include:

  • Jack Etienne, founder of esports organization Cloud9 (London)
  • Stan and Josh Kroenke, owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (Los Angeles)

The original announcement of team owners included:

  • Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
  • Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterming.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
  • Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
  • Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
  • Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
  • NetEase (Shanghai)
  • Kevin Chou, Co-Founder of Kabam (Seoul)

The Overwatch League now includes teams from Asia, Europe, and North American – including two teams for Los Angeles. The official player signing window started on August 1, 2017, and will end on October 30, 2017. All Overwatch League teams will be able to sign players to contracts during that timeframe, including teams that join the League during the signing window.