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SAMSUNG’S GALAXY TAB S4 IS THE FIRST ANDROID TABLET THAT GETS PRODUCTIVITY RIGHT

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DeX mode is actually usable for doing real work • Top-notch display • Long battery life • Comes with S Pen
The Bad

Book Cover Keyboard costs extra • Not many DeX-optimized apps • Fragile glass back

The Bottom Line

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S4 successfully juggles play and productivity with its special DeX mode, but the cost for the convenience is steep.

Mashable Score3.75
Cool Factor4.0
Learning Curve4.0
Performance4.0
Bang for the Buck3.0

Tablets are finally living up to the “post PC” promise.

After years of serving as our obedient couch and bed consumption companions, tablets are now leveling up with productivity-driven features. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S4 is a great example of this shift from play to work.

The Android tablet is good for kicking back and watching Netflix or checking Twitter. But its marquee feature is the built-in “DeX mode” that makes the Android software look and function more like a PC that sets it apart from Apple’s iPad Pro.

It’s also really nice to see an S Pen included with the tablet instead of sold as a separate accessory. Ahem, Apple.

There’s little doubt the $650 Tab S4 is gunning for the iPad Pro, which also starts at the same price. I mean, every tablet is nowadays. Microsoft’s Surface Go seemed like it had the most potential — it starts at only $400 and it runs full Windows 10 — but ultimately its puny Intel processor and poor Windows 10 optimization for a 10-inch touchscreen held it back.

The Tab S4 mixes the best of both the iPad Pro and the Surface Go. With the tap of a software setting, the tablet’s UI switches between your tried-and-true grid-based homescreen to one that looks like Windows.

Just want to casually browse the web, or watch YouTube, or play Candy Crush? Leave the Tab S4 as is out of the box.

But, if you want to work in a PC-like space with a task bar, multiple resizable windows, and mouse and keyboard support, you’re gonna want to turn on DeX mode.

Bigger screen and louder sound

The Tab S4's skinny at 0.27 inches (7.1mm) thick.

The Tab S4’s skinny at 0.27 inches (7.1mm) thick.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Tablet trends are heading in the same direction as smartphones: larger screens and slimmer bezels.

For the Tab S4, Samsung went with a 10.5-inch Super AMOLED display (2,560 x 1,600). As you’d expect from a Samsung screen, it’s bright, vibrant, and crisp.

This time around, though, it’s not a blatant copy of the iPad Pro. The screen’s aspect ratio is 16:10 compared to the iPad Pro’s 4:3, which makes it a little taller in portrait mode and a little wider in landscape. I found it easier to consume and create content in both portrait and landscape orientations compared to tablets with more narrow 16:9 aspect ratios.

Though the bezels are thinner, there’s still enough of it for your thumb and inner palm to rest on without touching the screen.

Ooh, now that's a nice screen.

Ooh, now that’s a nice screen.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The Tab S4 also rocks clear and loud sound. Just like the Tab S3, there are quad stereo speakers firing out of the top and bottom of the tablet. The audio’s tuned by AKG and supports Dolby Atmos sound. They’re not front-firing speakers, but they still sound quite good for a tablet that’s so skinny.

Beyond these key tablet features, the Tab S4 is pretty standard for a Samsung slate. The rear is still made of glass like the Tab S3, which means it’s both a fingerprint magnet and more susceptible to cracking if dropped compared to aluminum or plastic tablets. Definitely pick up a case if you’re rough with your tablet.

There's a 13-megapixel camera on the rear, but seriously, dude? Use it for scanning documents, not at concerts.

There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the rear, but seriously, dude? Use it for scanning documents, not at concerts.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Above the display is an 8-megapixel camera as well as an iris scanner. The camera has the same “Intelligent Scan” introduced with the Galaxy S9, which lets you unlock your device using both the less secure, but faster face unlock and the more secure, but hair slower iris scanner. In my tests, the Tab S4 recognized my face quickly and unlocked in both portrait and landscape orientation (not so much at angles, though).

On the rear is a 13-megapixel camera with autofocus. It’s a decent camera for a tablet. The photos can’t compare to shots from a flagship phone like the Galaxy S9, iPhone X, or Pixel 2, but they’re not terrible when the lighting is good. Low-light photos, however, are awful.

Praise the gods, there's a headphone jack and USB-C port with fast charging!

Praise the gods, there’s a headphone jack and USB-C port with fast charging!

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The Tab S4 also keeps all essential ports. There’s a USB-C port on the bottom with support for Samsung’s Fast Charging (a fast-charging plug is included in the box), a headphone jack, and also a microSD card slot for expanding the 64GB of internal storage.

For $650, there’s little room for cheap materials and poor build quality, and fortunately, Samsung doesn’t scrimp on the Tab S4.

Android transforms for work

The S Pen comes free with the Tab S4. It doesn't slot into the tablet, though.

The S Pen comes free with the Tab S4. It doesn’t slot into the tablet, though.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Samsung’s marketing makes it clear the Tab S4 is all about productivity. But here’s the truth: Samsung’s been using productivity as a way to differentiate its devices from Apple’s for years. It’s not like Samsung’s just now realizing people want to be able to do work on their mobile devices.

Remember the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet? Samsung touted its S Pen Stylus and ability to run two apps simultaneously. Or how about the Tab S3? The company’s Galaxy Note series phones is an annual reminder of how much it cares about productivity. And let’s not forget Samsung’s efforts to turn its flagship Android phones into pseudo PCs with the DeX Dock.

The Tab S4 feels like a turning point for working on tablets. It essentially splits the difference between what Apple’s delivering with the iPad/iOS and the Surface Go/Windows 10.

This keyboard case is $150 extra.

This keyboard case is $150 extra.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

At its core, the Tab S4 is still powered by a mobile operating system, Android 8.1 Oreo. However, the Tab S4’s ability to transform Android’s interface into one that resembles and works sort of like Windows makes it just a little more versatile than an iPad Pro in my opinion.

Despite all the work Apple has has done to make iOS on iPad better for productivity — Split View, Slide Over, and drag-and-drop (for some apps) — the software is still designed for touch. Likewise, Windows 10 and its full desktop experience is better with keyboard and mouse.

Android in “DeX mode” on the Tab S4 fulfills a space in the middle — its fully touch-compatible, but also supports keyboard and mouse (if and when you need it).

REGULAR ANDROID MODE
ANDROID IN DEX MODE

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

This DeX mode is the bridge between mobile and desktop I think many people have been waiting for. Connect the Tab S4 to Samsung’s $150 Book Cover Keyboard (sold separately) and it automatically switches out of its app grid homescreen into DeX mode, complete with desktop, task bar, and windowed apps.

The touchscreen still responds to your fingers or the S Pen, but because the Tab S4 runs Android apps, there’s none of the menu-heavy cruft found in Windows apps.

Pair a Bluetooth mouse — I connected a Microsoft Surface Mobile Mouse without any problems — to the Tab S4 and it really becomes PC-like. And if you really want to, you can buy a USB-C dongle to hook the Tab S4 up to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse for an even more desktop-like experience.

Like with the Surface Go, I worried that the screen would be too small to display multiple apps or the last-gen Snapdragon 835 chip paired with 4GB of RAM would be too slow to keep things running smoothly.

But the Tab S4 surprised me. I was able to write the bulk of this review on it — with a handful of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming music, and the Slack and Gmail apps open — without the Tab S4 slowing down the way the Surface Go did.

DeX mode is cool.

DeX mode is cool.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Right now, DeX mode’s biggest weakness is that there aren’t many apps optimized for it — meaning tuned for keyboard and mouse with support for resizable windows and things like right-click functionality. Samsung tells me there’s “over 60 apps” that are optimized for DeX mode.

Besides Samsung’s own suite of Android apps, Microsoft’s Office 365 apps and many of Google’s apps are also DeX-ready. As mentioned before, there’s also Slack and Spotify. Some games like Vainglory also work in fullscreen with keyboard and mouse.

Apps that aren’t optimized for DeX mode open up in non-resizable windows and keyboard and mouse support is hit-or-miss. For example, in Instagram you can scroll through the feed and click on posts with a Bluetooth mouse, but you can’t pull-to-refresh the feed unless you use the touchscreen.

The Tab S4 also lasts seemingly forever thanks to its huge 7,300 mAh battery. In DeX mode with WiFi on and brightness set to 50 percent, I got about 11 hours streaming YouTube videos at full HD resolution. For work in DeX mode with multiple apps open and multiple Chrome tabs, I got between 7-8 hours on a charge.

Samsung's Book Cover Keyboard is a bit cramped. But that S Pen holder is pretty dope (also removable!).

Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard is a bit cramped. But that S Pen holder is pretty dope (also removable!).

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard isn’t the best keyboard I’ve ever used with a tablet. The keys are a bit too small, making the whole experience cramped, despite the keys themselves having a good amount of travel.

My biggest issue with Samsung’s keyboard is that some keys, like the top row of number keys, are too darn narrow. I frequently found myself hitting the wrong keys because of their tiny size. Instead of the backspace button, my pinky would hit the bracket key below it. The tab and common buttons are also unusually narrow compared to the others.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard costs $160 and doesn’t have as many keys, but at least all of its keys are large enough to accurately hit. If you’re worried about a roomy keyboard, consider looking into a wireless one. It just won’t fold up and prop the Tab S4 the way Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard does.

Cool, but hard to justify the cost

The Tab S4's pricey when you add on accessories.

The Tab S4’s pricey when you add on accessories.

IMAGE: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

I really like Samsung’s thinking with the Tab S4. It tries to have things both ways and mostly succeeds. I much preferred and succeeded in working on the Tab S4 whereas I couldn’t on an iPad Pro and didn’t want to continue on a Surface Go.

The Tab S4 reminds me of new Chrome OS-powered tablets (productivity) trying to get play cred with Android apps, only it’s the reverse. The end goal is still the same: a tablet’s that truly functional for both work and play.

But even though I mostly liked using the Tab S4, its pricing is hard to stomach — $650 for a tablet is already a lot to ask. Factor in Samsung’s Book Cover Keyboard and the cost balloons up to $800. Add a Bluetooth mouse and that price jumps even further. Compared to an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil ($910 total), the Tab S4’s a better value, but it’s still pricey.

For the money, why not just buy a laptop or a Chromebook convertible like Google’s Pixelbook? The Pixelbook runs Chrome OS, which is a PC-like experience, supports keyboard and mouse, and also runs Android apps in windows. It also has a larger screen; converts into tablet mode; and has a built-in trackpad, more ports, and a more spacious keyboard. Sure, it’s not as portable, but you get a lot more bang for your buck.

If money is no issue, the Tab S4 is a versatile device that won’t disappoint. It’s both a great Android tablet for content consumption and for productivity. For most people, though, the price probably isn’t worth the sleek convenience. A slightly larger Chromebook that runs Android apps works just fine.

 

 

 

Source:  Mashable

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FOSSIL SPORT SMARTWATCH DEBUTS WITH NEW WEAR 3100 CHIP AND WEAR OS

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Fossil has announced its first smartwatch with a Snapdragon 3100 chip and Google’s redesigned Wear OS. The wearable, called the Sport Smartwatch, comes in six different colors — gray, pink, red, blue, green, and black — in both 41mm and 43mm sizes. There’s also a wide range of silicone straps (28 in total) that are interchangeable and water-resistant.

Fossil is emphasizing the Sport Smartwatch’s ambient mode, integrated heart rate sensor, 350mAh battery (with promised all-day battery life), as well as NFC and GPS capabilities, which are all supposed to be improved from the watch’s last generation — though there are few details right now about how they’ve changed. The watch also includes Spotify and Noonlight, an emergency services app, pre-installed.

Fossil will start selling the Sport Smartwatch for $255 today online and directly at Fossil retail locations.

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POOR WEBSITE DESIGNS COULD TRIGGER LEGAL ACTIONS

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Internet marketing has become so popular that e-commerce retail sales in the United States are on pace to double between 2009 and 2018, with sales amounting to US$127.3 billion in just the second quarter of 2018, according to an August 2018 update from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The transaction value of e-commerce service industry contracts reached $600 billion in 2016. Despite the rush to digital commerce, the rules for business transactions are still the same, whether they are concluded on paper or electronically.

Essentially, that means legally valid sales agreements need to demonstrate clearly that both vendors and consumers are aware of — and consent to — the terms of the agreements. It is especially important for vendors to ward off expensive class action suits by including contract terms that prohibit such suits and instead rely on arbitration to resolve any issues with consumers.

Yet recent federal court cases indicate that poorly presented Internet contracts can result in the nullification of arbitration provisions and class action prohibitions — thus giving consumers greater leverage in legal disputes with vendors. Usually the breakdown occurs when vendors mismanage either the display or the content of their websites — and sometimes both.

Website Messages Must be Conspicuous

The most recent example is a June case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision. The case stemmed from complaints that Uber Technologies wrongly added the cost of local tolls in and around Boston to customers’ bills. In Cullinane v. Uber, a federal district court initially ruled in favor of Uber and dismissed the complaint.

However, such is the state of differing perspectives on applicable laws, that the appellate court overturned the district court and ruled against the company.

Uber failed to convince the appeals court that the website sales agreement properly displayed both an arbitration clause and a prohibition against litigation, because the notice was not “conspicuous” enough to be legally valid. Absent adequate notice to the customer, there could be no agreement between the parties over terms and conditions, the court said in denying Uber’s motion to compel arbitration.

The case provided insight into the importance to vendors of arbitration clauses as a way to fend off class action suits.

Compared to litigation, arbitration is a “speedy, fair, inexpensive, and less adversarial” process, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in an amicus brief in the Uber case. Members of the organization “have structured millions of contractual relationships — including enormous numbers of on-line contracts — around arbitration agreements.”

Similar suits dealing with the issue include a second case against Uber with a different plaintiff and over a different issue, as well as separate cases involving Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In each case, courts have gotten into the weeds of website design, finding flaws in styles, the choice of colors, the size of printing fonts, and the use of hyperlinks.

For example, in Cullinane v. Uber, the appellate court noted that the website connection to the contract terms “did not have the common appearance of a hyperlink” because it was framed in a gray box in white bold text, rather than the normal blue underline style. Other screens on the site utilized similar highlight features causing the court to conclude that if “everything on the screen is written with conspicuous features, then nothing is conspicuous.”

Uber’s petition for a rehearing of the case was denied by the appeals court in a July 23, 2018, ruling. The company had no comment on the litigation, Uber spokesperson Alix Anfang told the E-Commerce Times.

Pulling the Trigger on Consent

Of equal importance with presentation is the vendor’s choice of using active or passive mechanisms to obtain customer consent to the terms and conditions of agreements.

In Nicosia v. Amazon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a district court decision favoring the company, and instead ruled in favor of the consumer plaintiffs.

The Second Circuit described two major types of customer consent mechanisms. The first, called a “clickwrap” procedure, involves the use of an “I accept” button, which forces customers to “expressly and unambiguously manifest assent,” according to the court.

A more passive alternative is a “browserwrap,” which “involves terms and conditions posted via a hyperlink” and does not request an express showing of consent. “In a seeming effort to streamline customer purchases, Amazon chose not to employ a clickwrap mechanism,” the court noted in the August 2016 ruling.

Ultimately, the court based its decision not on the consent mechanism per se, but on Amazon’s failure to display its terms adequately. The result was that “reasonable minds could disagree” on the adequacy of the company’s notice to consumers.

Amazon declined to comment for this story, spokesperson Cecilia Fan told the E-Commerce Times.

The significant variance among federal courts on the validity of Internet contracts may be caused more by different judicial perceptions than by differing laws covering “conspicuous” or “reasonably communicated and accepted” terms.

While these cases have been brought in federal courts, there is no federal standard for what constitutes adequate notice. Thus, for procedural reasons associated with the Federal Arbitration Act, federal judges have relied on applicable contracting law in different states, including California, Massachusetts, Washington and New York.

“I do not yet see a majority of courts moving toward a single legal standard, especially not one that is adapted to today’s technology,” said Liz Kramer, a partner at Stinson, Leonard, Street.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit reached opposite results in recent cases “despite pretty similar circumstances,” she told the E-Commerce Times. One problem “is that state law applies, and the states are not consistent on what makes terms conspicuous enough to form part of the contract.”

“Different courts define the standard in different ways, but they all boil down to the principle that the arbitration clause — and the links to the clause — must be clearly presented to the consumer in order for there to be a meeting of the minds — in other words, an acceptance — of the arbitration clause,” said Mark Levin, a partner at Ballard Spahr.

“It is not so much the standard that is unsettled, but the application of the standard to the facts, since each website is unique and there are a multitude of factors, both in content and visual display, to consider in determining whether the consumer accepted the clause,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Even if there was a U. S. Supreme Court decision, or legislation that defined a single standard, there would still be a need to apply that standard to unique facts in virtually every case,” Levin said.

Web Designers Should Seek Legal Help

While vendors strive to create ever more attractive and compelling websites, designers and marketing staffs need to address the basic nuts and bolts of contract communications, said Levin.

For electronic documents, vendors should “refer to the arbitration clause near the beginning of the terms and conditions, make sure the link to the clause is obvious and clear, minimize the number of mouse clicks it takes for the reader to get to the clause, and refer to the arbitration clause again at the end, close to an electronic signature or ‘I agree’ button,” he advised.

The easiest way for e-commerce vendors to avoid trouble is to skip any indirect notification procedure, suggested Stinson’s Kramer. Deliberate downplaying of key contract terms is an invitation to legal challenge.

“The best way to ensure that an arbitration agreement is enforceable with customers who agree online, or through an app, is to have them actually click ‘I agree’ after reviewing the terms and conditions,” she said.

“Great care should be taken in designing and structuring a website arbitration clause, since courts scrutinize every detail, cautioned Levin.

“This is definitely an area where businesses should enlist legal counsel to help with the design, substance and placement of the clause to help ensure that a court will enforce it,” he said. “If adequate attention is not paid to these issues at the outset, the business could end up in a debilitating class action lawsuit.”

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COLOURED CONTACT LENSES LEFT GIRL TEMPORARILY BLIND

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AN 11-year-old Canadian girl who wore coloured contact lenses as part of her Halloween costume was left blind for four days.

Emilie Turcotte woke in agony and screaming that her eyes were “burning like fire” on the morning after she wore them to go trick-or-treating with her friends.

She had dressed up as a demon and her mother, Julie, had allegedly purchased the coloured lenses at a party supply store in Montreal where the family lives.

Emilie Turcotte ended up in hospital after wearing coloured contact lenses for Halloween. Picture: CEN

Emilie Turcotte ended up in hospital after wearing coloured contact lenses for Halloween. Picture: CENSource:Supplied

Julie said she had to carefully prise open her screaming daughter’s weeping eyelids with her fingers.

According to Julie, Emilie’s eyeballs appeared “blood red”.

“For four days we were so scared. She could not see anything,” Julie told the Montreal Journal.

“All that, for Halloween contact lenses.”

In time, Emilie has been able to regain her sight but doctors ordered her to wear sunglasses for a month in order to let her damaged corneas heal.

Emilie, 11, and five friends wore spooky lenses to go trick-or-treating in Montreal. Picture: CEN

Emilie, 11, and five friends wore spooky lenses to go trick-or-treating in Montreal. Picture: CENSource:Supplied

Now, Emilie’s mother is warning other parents of the danger of the lenses, which are commonly available as part of Halloween costumes and have been worn by celebs such as Kylie Jenner.

Emilie was one of six friends who bought similar costume lenses for the Halloween tradition of trick or treating.

She wore them for about four hours at school, before taking them off for dinner.

Emilie then put them back on to go trick-or-treating with her friends and removed them before going to sleep.

Doctors explained that the lenses had damaged her corneas.

She could not see for four days and had to wear sunglasses for a month to let her corneas heal. Picture: CEN

She could not see for four days and had to wear sunglasses for a month to let her corneas heal. Picture: CENSource:Supplied

“When you lose your eyesight, it cannot be replaced,” Julie said.

“Contact lenses are a good disguise, but at what price?”

Emilie’s friends did not have the same reaction to the contact lenses.

Canadian eye care experts are calling for the sale of coloured contact lenses to be banned unless medically required.

Eric Poulin, president of the Quebec Association of Optometrists, said: “It is a medical product and it should be treated as such.

“They are sold everywhere, but they should not be.”

Mum Julie warned other parents of the dangers. Picture: CEN

Mum Julie warned other parents of the dangers. Picture: CENSource:Supplied

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Badrul Hussain said: “Each year we treat patients, including children under 16, who have developed eye conditions after wearing cosmetic contact lenses.

“There can be an increase in these problems in the period around Halloween,

“Some of the cases we see, like patients sharing lenses with friends, wearing the same pair year after year well past the expiry date, and storing them in tap water, have devastating effects.

“The cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, is delicate and can be scratched easily by inexperienced contact lens wearers.

“This can expose the eye to organisms that can cause nasty infections, which in extreme cases can result in permanently impaired or loss of vision.”

The British Contact Lens Association added: “Wearing fancy lenses might make you look cool for one night on Halloween but losing your sight could be a lifelong horror story.

“Contact lenses are a medical device, not a fashion accessory. They should be fitted by a fully-qualified professional.”

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