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Archos’ IFA 2013 plans revolve around 7 smartphones, 5 tablets

Archos' IFA 2013 plans revolve around 7 smartphones, 5 tablets

As IFA 2013 fast approaches, we’re learning ever more about what we can expect from this year’s tech-tastic conference.

While Samsung scored some attention earlier this week with an invite hinting we’ll spot the Galaxy Note 3 Sept. 4, Archos today is overwhelming with sheer numbers.

According to a financial release (PDF) published yesterday, the company plans to detail its brand strategy during IFA. That strategy revolves around marketing “a full range” of seven Android smartphones to be released this fall.

The company also revealed it’s investing in high-end tablets as well as some on 3G, “with more than five product announcements at IFA.” The tablets will revolve around certain themes, such as gaming, connected TV and education/early learning.

Easy does it

There’s not too much else to glean from the release, but just know Archos’ carry-on bags will be fully loaded when it makes the trip to Berlin.

Archos has already released a number of devices this year, including a trio of tablets in February.

Clearly the French firm is looking to make its mark at IFA and, on the smartphone front, it’s choosing to do so with Android. We’ll be on the ground to bring you the latest at the conference, including hands on with these Archos devices if available.

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Dell slaps extra security onto commercial PCs

Dell slaps extra security onto commercial PCs

Dell is tightening up security on its commercial PCs with three new Dell Data Protection (DDP) features on newly shipped machines.

All of its Precision, Latitude and OptiPlex PCs now come with a one year subscription to the new DDP Protected Workspace function, which moves the user’s browsers, PDF readers and Office suite into a contained virtual environment away from the host operating system. Any malware attacks can be identified in real-time based on behaviour and actions inside the environment.

It is the first large scale deployment by an original equipment manufacturer of virtual container technology from Invincea. This is expected to cover more than 20 million devices over the next 12 months.

No word yet from Dell on the pricing of the subscription in subsequent years.

Encryption and authentication

The other two features are DDP Encryption, which protects data at file level so it should be safeguarded when sent to the cloud or transferred to another device, and authentication software named DDP Security Tools.

Dell says it’s possible to manage encryption and authentication policies through the same console.

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Aereo books streaming TV trip to Boston as CBS bites back

Aereo books streaming TV trip to Boston as CBS bites back

The folks in Boston could use some good news following the events of the last week, and it will arrive on May 15, when Aereo begins streaming live television from its second major U.S. market.

Aereo announced Tuesday that its controversial live television streaming service will spread its wings and fly from New York to Boston, where it be available to 4.5 million consumers across three states.

Beginning May 15, television viewers who have pre-registered from the company’s website will receive a special invitation to join the service, which uses “groundbreaking” antenna technology to stream live television into homes.

By the end of May, Aereo will expand the offer to all eligible customers in the Boston market, which includes residents located in 16 counties encompassing Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

TV meets cloud

After successfully launching in New York City last year, Aereo announced ambitious plans in January (PDF link) to expand to 22 additional markets.

Boston’s designated market area currently offers 28 over-the-air broadcast channels, a mix of major networks, special interest and Spanish-language channels.

The streaming TV startup has found itself at odds with traditional broadcast networks including Fox and CBS, who have threatened to kill over-the-air broadcasts after losing the first round of legal action to shut down Aereo.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that CBS has retaliated by acquiring an undisclosed stake in Syncbak, an Aereo competitor currently being tested by more than 100 stations, which uses authentication technology to stream local broadcasts.

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Early View: Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes

Early View: Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes

Google never saw a good idea it didn’t want to emulate, and this time it’s got the photocopiers set to Evernote: the new Google Keep is an Android app with cloud-based syncing to keep tabs on your thoughts and photos.

But it’s entering into a competitive market, with stacks of productivity apps in the Google Play store. Is Keep good enough to rival the apps it’s clearly inspired by? Could the web app tempt iOS users away from the stock iOS apps? Let’s find out.

Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes: compatibility

Keep is available in three parts: an Android app, which you use to manage your notes; an Android widget for Jelly Bean, which provides ultra-fast access to those notes on your home screen; and as part of the web-based Google Drive at drive.google.com/keep.

Google Drive hasn’t got a Keep button yet, but that’s due next week. We’d expect lots of third-party apps to add support for Google Keep too, although that hasn’t happened yet.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UbvkHEDvw-o

The web-based version is very basic, but then so is Apple’s iCloud for notes and reminders: while it’s possible to access them via the web, it’s not something you’ll want to do very often, if at all. You’ll have a much more pleasant time if you use iOS and OS X’s Reminders and Notes apps with iCloud syncing them in the background.

If you want the widest compatibility, Evernote’s the one to go for. It’s not one app but an ecosystem: the main Evernote app takes care of multiple kinds of notes, but there are task-specific apps too: Hello (iPhone, iPod touch and Android) for keeping details of people, Skitch for sketches, Evernote Food for – yes! – food.

The core Evernote app is available for pretty much anything: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and even WebOS, and third party apps expand Evernote’s features to other devices such as Sony’s Reader hardware.

Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes: features

Of the three different offerings, Apple’s is the most basic: Notes is a very simple document editor that supports images and basic file attachments, and while Reminders does support location-aware tasks that’s about it. The Keep app doesn’t support location-based notes or content tagging yet, but it does offer automatic transcription of voice notes and a colour coded birds-eye view of all your notes (which looks rather like Windows Phone, or the Pinterest app).

On Jelly Bean, Keep widgets can ensure you don't forget anything important

Evernote doesn’t do reminders but compatible third-party apps do, and in addition to notes it has Stacks, which you can use to organise your stuff into different categories. It can store and search notes by location or by tags, supports audio as well as images and rich text, offers dictation in iOS and Android and supports file attachments too.

You can also create new Evernote items by email, and Evernote integrates with IFTTT, so for example you can create a new Evernote note whenever you star an item in Google Reader or check in somewhere in Foursquare.

Evernote also has The Trunk, an online app store of Evernote-compatible apps such as Receipts HD for tracking expenditure, Penultimate for storing handwritten notes, Scalar for calculations and so on.

Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes: price

Keep, Notes and Evernote are all free, but Evernote also offers a premium version that delivers more power. Premium users get the ability to search inside PDF attachments, making Evernote a handy tool for travellers and business users, and they can share notebooks for others to edit.

Premium also offers Note History, which keeps track of changes, but the most important difference between free and paid-for is that Premium users get 1GB of uploads per month instead of 60MB. If you’re a camera-happy note taker, you’ll burst through the free version’s upload limit in ten minutes. Google Keep has no such limit, and iCloud is based on storage space (5GB for free users) rather than data use.

Google Keep vs Evernote vs Apple Notes: security

There are two kinds of security to think about here: security in the sense of how well your data and personal information is protected, and security in terms of whether your chosen service will still be around in the not too distant future.

Evernote scores badly in the former and Google in the latter: Evernote recently suffered a major data breach, forcing users to change their passwords, and Google famously canned Google Reader this month, the latest in a very long list of once-promising services it’s since shut down. In many respects Keep is rather like Google Notebook, and that one got the bullet back in 2006.

The tablet UI for Keep is a bit odd, and by

The end of Google Reader is certainly enough to convince some people that Keep isn’t worth investing time or data in, but we suspect that its future is rosier than Reader: it’s part of Google Drive and integration with Google+ is clearly coming, so you’re looking at a Pinterest-style app that can help Google in its mission to know all about you and to sell ads based on that knowledge.

Google Keep vs Evernote vs iOS Notes: first impressions

It’s probably unfair to judge Keep just yet: it’s a bare bones release that will clearly get more powerful very quickly, especially if third party apps can tie into it. But is it ready for you to embrace it yet? If you’re on iOS or on a desktop, we reckon the answer is no: the web version doesn’t do very much, and there are plenty of apps and web apps that do much more or do it more elegantly (Clear on iOS, OneNote Mobile, the myriad To-Do and Getting Things Done apps on all platforms and so on).

Keep will integrate with Google Drive, but the web interface is very basic.

On Android, however, we’d say a qualified yes if you don’t already have any productivity apps: it’s a simple and effective program that’s particularly handy on Jelly Bean. For hardcore note-takers, idea-jotters and receipt-filers, however, Evernote leaves Google Keep in its dust.

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Buying Guide: 7 best word processing apps for tablets

Buying Guide: 7 best word processing apps for tablets

Will Microsoft Word come to the iPad? After initial evidence it now appears unlikely, which means that the burgeoning market for free text editor apps on the iPad and elsewhere can continue. There are so many available for both iOS and Android that we can only present a few here, but all have their pros and cons.

Format handling is critical, but it’s more about integration with a device’s OS than simple readability; can you take a Word doc from an email, make changes and send it on back? And though these apps are all about typing, arguably more important than text-entry is navigation, with ease of correcting mistakes crucial – especially if you’re tapping away on glass rather than a Bluetooth keyboard.

Lastly, where – and how – is that document saved? Extra brownie points are reserved for integration with cloud storage services like Dropbox.

Go forth and tap-out that novel.

1. FioWriter – £6.99 (iOS)

Designed exclusively for iPhone and iPad, FioWriter is minimalist and best suited to touchscreen addicts. Documents can’t be edited from Mail, but can be created in iCloud and Dropbox, though the key reason to buy is the Mac-like usability.

Best word processing apps

Touching the top of the screen scrolls the page back to the top, while the use of extensive Apple shortcuts (command + F to find words, for example), makes FioWriter instantly familiar – though this functionality ceases if you link a Bluetooth keyboard.

Though there’s no wordcount option and barely any formatting (aside from six fonts in any size), mistakes are accurately rectified as you type or talk, though the basic TXT file format is all it deals in. A free ‘lite’ version is also available, though it’s strictly a demo; only five documents can be saved before it locks-up.

2. iA Writer, 69p (iOS)

It’s hard to argue with free or 69p apps, and there’s not much wrong with the supremely elegant and good value, Dropbox-friendly iA Writer app.

Best word processing apps

One of the most popular text editing apps around, there’s not much to criticise since it’s an utterly clean interface. Meant to keep writers from distraction and so boost productivity, one option focuses solely on the line you’re writing, making all else unreadable, while the keyboard has been cleverly tweaked to include useful punctuation shortcuts and left/right navigation to numbers and other characters.

Showing wordcounts and readable length (useful for speech-writers), there’s little more to say about it save for recommending that buyers consider installing a slightly more ambitious text editor app alongside that’s capable of more extensive (i.e. some) formatting for emergencies. Works with Dropbox and iCloud.

Read our full iA Writer review.

3. SmartOffice 2 – £6.99/£7.74 (iOS/Android)

Reasonably priced and effortlessly polished, SmartOffice 2 is one of the more ambitious and flexible text editor apps around – and unlike most it’s available on both of the dominant operating systems.

Best word processing apps

In our test it opened Word docs straight from Mail, though appeared to ignore ‘bold’ formatting. It doesn’t permit copy and pasting, but in other areas it’s more flexible than rivals, with pinch zoom of all documents – and that includes spreadsheets and presentations as well as documents of Microsoft Office origin.

Outputting in a wide choice of formats, it integrates with Dropbox and Box.com both in fetching and exporting files, and is compatible with a load of wireless printers as well as being Airplay-compatible for document sharing. If that’s great for presentations, overall it’s let-down by a slightly complex, busy interface.

4. Kingsoft Office 5.3.2 – free (Android)

Search for office, word processing or text editor in Google Play and it’s Kingsoft that always seems to pop-up first, but this free software has got much more sorted than just its Google Drive and Dropbox-friendly design.

Best word processing apps

Able to open emailed documents of almost any format, fetch files from anywhere and handle myriad formats, using Kingsoft is nevertheless a step-down from others in terms of elegance. The toolbar is huge, blocking the view of a document, but it’s exhaustive and familiar-looking, and a special reading mode puts a document full-screen without the clutter.

Documents can be marked as favourites for easy access and the app is surprisingly resistant to large Powerpoint or image-heavy files. It won’t make you smile with a classy interface, but as a reliable productivity app there’s few bette value options for Android users than this free app.

5. Apple Pages – £6.99 (iOS)

If Pages was a free or native app on the iPad, there wouldn’t be too many other text editors in Apple’s app store. It’s now capable of preserving many of the subtler formatting effects generated in Microsoft Word documents as it imports and edits them, and Pages can output as a doc file, too.

Best word processing apps

iCloud backup is fully integrated, though it’s a poor relation to Dropbox, which isn’t part of Pages.

Formatting is excellent and we particularly like the polished templates available and the chance to embed photos, though this sister to Apple’s spreadsheet-centric Numbers and presentation-focused Keynote apps will be a touch too arty for some. For others the lack of Dropbox is a killer.

Read our full Pages review.

6. Textilus – £2.99 (iOS)

Working primarily with the universal RTF format that plays nicely with Microsoft Office on a PC as well as on Macs, Textilus links to Dropbox and offers a thoroughly comprehensive – and even customisable – text editor experience.

Best word processing apps

It’s possible to open Mail attachments through Textilus, and when you’ve finished editing a ‘convert and send via Mail’ option allows PDF, TXT, HTML and RTF formats. It’s also possible to export documents to Dropbox, Evernote, open in any other text-friendly app on your iPad, or print to an AirPrint printer.

It’s also able to convert an entire text document into HTML source code and put it on the clipboard with one press, though it’s writers who will most like Textilus’ habit of presenting document statistics as you write, including wordcount and reading time.

7. Documents To Go 3.0 – £11.99/£9.25/£11.50 (iOS/Android/Blackberry)

Compatible with all Microsoft file-types as well as PDF, Documents To Go is something of a stalwart in the world of text editor apps. Writers will love its instant, always-on wordcount display while anyone working on commercially sensitive documents may find Documents To Go’s password protection feature as irresistible as the advanced PDF handling (a feature missing in the free version), which includes pinch-to-zoom and page rotation, as well as its polished handling of Word, Powerpoint and Excel files.

Best word processing apps

Playing nicely with Google Drive but not Dropbox, Documents To Go 3.0 uses its own ‘InTact’ protocol to sync documents on a smartphone or tablet with other versions on a PC, but it needs a USB link-up.

One of only a handful of text editors available on iOS, Android and via the Blackberry App World, Documents To Go is also one of the most expensive text editing apps around – and with so much choice around, we’re not convinced.

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