Meet the Latitude 11 EDU, Dell's Windows 10 S answer to the Chromebook

Dell’s Latitude 11 EDU 360 3189 is one of the sturdy, affordable Windows 10 S laptops joining Microsoft’s campaign to nudge Chromebooks out of the classroom. You don’t have to be a student or a parent to understand the software giant’s desire to nurture a new generation of Windows users. When we tried it at Microsoft’s education-focused event May 2 in New York, we could see how it might have a fighting chance. 

The $299 Latitude 11 EDU has company: Other hardware partners include HP, Samsung, Toshiba, and Acer. It’s worth noting that all these companies already sell Chromebooks, so they know a lot about the competition. Most of these models are designed to be your kids’ first Windows machine, sticking with them all the way through high school on Windows 10 S. Over time, they’ll graduate to something a bit more powerful (and expensive), like a Surface Laptop

Dell Latitude 11 EDU 360 3189 Mark Hachman / IDG

Thwo USB ports, an SD card slot, and HDMI out mean that the Dell Latitude has more port expansion options than the Surface Laptop, by a long shot. 

Though I spent the majority of my time with the EDU 3150, I also tried out several of its competitors briefly: the $299 HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE, the Toshiba Altair-ME, and the Samsung Notebook M. (Prices weren’t available for the Toshiba and Samsung machines.) All had similar components and seemed to perform somewhat similarly. 

The EDU 3150’s basic specs mirror that of a similarly priced Chromebook: a Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of flash storage, and a 11.6-inch, 1366×768 display. At least in the demonstration model, the laptop was beefy enough to run a few core apps, such as OneNote, and FluidMath, a Windows app that used animation to help illustrate math problems. Connecting to the Internet and surfing the web using Edge also worked adequately.

Dell Latitude 11 EDU 360 3189 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Latitude’s plastic shell can withstand moderate drops.

Like education-focused Chromebooks, the EDU 3150 and its cohort are designed to be tough. Partner executives repeatedly dropped them from waist height or so onto carpet to show off their durability. Another education notebook, the Acer TravelMate B118, includes a waterproof keyboard that withstood a dousing by an entire glass of water.

Also like many Chromebooks, unfortunately, Dell’s laptop had some rougher spots. I found the trackpad rather tough to click, and the keyboard keys seemed stiff. The boxy plastic frame felt sturdy, however, and the edges of the screen were protected by a thick plastic bezel. Durability’s the key here, and the Latitude definitely conveyed that message.

Microsoft hopes school IT administrators will appreciate the manageability features of the Windows 10 S operating system, such as the ability to create custom images from a tool, save them to a USB stick, and provision a classroom’s worth of laptops in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have a chance to try that, though Microsoft executives said the ease and time for provisioning a classroom is comparable to what you’d experience with Chromebooks.

If you’re looking for an explanation of how Windows 10 S differs from Windows 10, you won’t find it here. From a user experience, I could find no difference—except the fact that you can only download apps from the Windows Store. If you try to load an app that’s not approved—say, Google Chrome or Valve’s Steam games distribution tool—a popup will bar your path.

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Waterfi Waterproofed Kindle Paperwhite review: A great e-reader that’s completely protected from water damage

If waterproof is high on your checklist of e-reader must-haves, we recommend that most people consider the Kobo Aura H20. It’s a capable e-book reader designed to stand up to the occasional poolside splash or even an extended soak in a hot tub. For anyone already invested in Amazon’s extensive collection of DRM-protected e-books, periodicals and comic books, however, investing in another company’s incompatible hardware could be a less than attractive proposition.

If you fall into this latter group of readers, you’ll be happy to know that a waterproof version of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite can be had, provided you’re prepared to pay through the nose for it.

For $230 ($110 above Amazon’s typical pricing,) Waterfi will see you set up with a third-generation Kindle Paperwhite which, through a proprietary process, has been waterproofed and tested for use in depths up to 210 feet. If that’s too rich for your blood, Waterfi will also apply its waterproofing treatment a first, second or third-generation Kindle that you already own. Just give them $99, plus the cost of shipping. In a few weeks, your Kindle will be back ready to take the plunge at your next pool party.  The company stands behind their waterproofing with a one-year warranty.

How does it work?

As a reading device, a Waterfi-treated third-generation Kindle Paperwhite looks and operates in the same manner as a stock piece of Amazon’s hardware does (for details on this, check out our review of the Kindle Paperwhite. The pretreated version Waterfi sells includes Amazon’s “special offers” euphemism for advertising on the screensaver and home screen.)

I couldn’t detect any difference in functionality: the display was just as crisp, page turns and other on-screen interactions with both devices were seemingly identical. And even though Waterfi stuffed their treated Kindle full of a water and corrosion-proofing material, I couldn’t discern any difference in weight between theirs and an untreated Paperwhite.

How the treated Kindle functions when it’s in the water is a different story.

Waterfi claims that their waterproofing process protects electronics from humidity, chlorine, heat and liquids. So, to test their treated Kindle, I took it for a thirty-minute soak in a hot tub. Pulling it out of the hot, chemically treated water, I found that the Waterfi-treated Paperwhite still worked, switching back on as if it were bone dry. That’s a win. But glory of the device’s survivability was dampened by the fact that the water on its display caused the Paperwhite’s UI to falsely register a flurry of input: pages turned on their own, system settings were changed, and bookmarks that I’m still working to remove were created.

[ Further reading: The best e-readers ]

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Because Apple and Samsung launch their flagship phones around six months apart, it’s always a little hard to compare them. Not in the absolute sense, of course, but any comparison has to factor in that a new model will be released (in theory) from one of the companies in around half a year.

For some that may be too long to wait as they need an upgrade right now, but for others in less of a rush, the temptation will be to wait and see if the rumours are true.

In this case, the Galaxy S8 looks to have stolen a march on the putative iPhone 8 by offering a 5.8in screen in a body that’s more commonly associated with a much smaller screen. Rumour has it that Apple’s going down exactly the same route.

For now, we’re comparing the S8 with the iPhone 7. Although their screens differ in size by more than an inch, they’re both the ‘smaller model’ – we’ll compare the S8+ with the 7 Plus separately.

Which is the cheapest?

These are not cheap phones. But you knew that before deciding to read it, right?

The Galaxy S8 costs £689 from Carphone Warehouse, which is £90 more than the cheapest iPhone 7.

But if you think you’ll need more than 32GB (and you probably will) then your options are the 128GB iPhone 7, which costs £699 from John Lewis or the extravagant 256GB version at £799.

The S8 has 64GB of storage, which you can expand via a microSD card.

Which has the better design?

We’ve waited what feels like a long time for a reduction in the bezels which surround every phone screen. Xiaomi was the first to offer the wow factor with its Mi Mix, then LG with the G6.

Now the S8 – with its Infinity Display – crams a 5.8in screen into a frame measuring 148.9×68.1mm.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 is 10mm shorter and 1mm narrower, but only houses a 4.7in screen.

For resolution the Samsung wins too. It packs in 2960×1440 pixels (that’s 570 pixels per inch) albeit in an unusual aspect ratio of 18.5:9.

The iPhone sticks with 16:9 and also sticks with the same 1334×750-pixel resolution as the iPhone 6 and 6s. Its 326ppi is fine, but put side by side with the Galaxy S8 you can see the difference. Apple may say otherwise, but we can even tell the difference between even this and the 401ppi iPhone 7 Plus’ screen in terms of outright sharpness.

The only issue is that not all apps work well with the unusual aspect ratio, particularly video – a lot of which is made for a 16:9 screen. You can zoom using the native video player to remove the black bars at the sides, though.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

And the S8’s screen is just fabulous. Partly it’s because the AMOLED tech gives colours more pop than the iPhone’s IPS LCD, but also because the edges of the screen are curved and this makes the bezels look even thinner.

We do, however, prefer the iPhone’s front-mounted fingerprint scanner. On the S8 it’s slightly awkwardly position on the rear, to the side of the camera.

But then again, you could argue that the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 is awkward too. It’s all too easy to leave behind the Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor or lose it entirely. And as of yet, the choice of Lightning headphones is pretty limited.

The iPhone is available in more (and brighter) colours but overall both are attractive phones.

What are their specs and features?

Here’s how the two phones compare on their main features:

Specification

Samsung Galaxy S8

iPhone 7

Operating system

Android 7.0 Nougat

iOS 10

Display

5.8in QuadHD+ (2960×1440, 570ppi) SuperAMOLED, dual-edge

4.7in 1334×750 326ppi IPS

Processor

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

Apple A10 with M10

GPU

Adreno 540

Custom (Based on PowerVR GT7600)

RAM

4GB

2GB

Storage

64GB, microSD support

32GB/128GB/256GB

Cameras

12Mp, f/1.7 rear; 8Mp selfie with autofocus

12Mp, f/1.8; 7Mp selfie

Security

Fingerprint scanner, iris scanner

Fingerprint scanner (Touch ID)

Connectivity

802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC, USB-C

802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, Lightning

Waterproofing

IP68

IP67

Battery

3,000mAh, fast wired- and wireless charging, Quick Charge 4.0

1,960mAh with fast charging

Dimensions

148.9×68.1×8.0mm

138.3×67.1×7.1mm

Weight

155g

138g

One of the S8’s extra features is wireless charging. No iPhone (yet) has offered this, but it’s possible that it’s coming on the iPhone 8.

The S8, being that bit newer, benefits from Bluetooth 5 (which offers better range) and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It also supports Cat 16 4G LTE, which means that in theory it will give you a faster internet connection than the iPhone when carriers upgrade their speeds. Right now, there’s no advantage.

Apple doesn’t talk much about specs when it comes to the processor and RAM but the iPhone 7 does have a quad-core CPU and six-core GPU. And it’s not short on performance.

The iPhone 7 hits 60fps in GFXBench’s Manhattan test and while the S8’s 54fps is lower, don’t forget that it’s managing this at a much, much higher resolution.

In the real world – as opposed to benchmarks – both phones feel (and are) very fast indeed. As we’ve said before, Samsung phones have a reputation for slowing down noticeably after a year of use, but obviously we can’t say anything about the S8 in this regard at this stage.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung has changed its TouchWiz interface quite a lot, but it’s still far from stock Android 7.

Apple has the benefit of designing both software and hardware, and you’re guaranteed a timely software update with the iPhone 7 to iOS 11 and, more likely than not, iOS 12 in 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Which operating system you prefer is down to you (as is your preference for the design of each phone) but Android is much less restricted than iOS and offers more freedom

Continuing with software, Samsung has added its own Bixby assistant to Google’s. Currently it’s a damp squib but could – and should – improve over time.

Siri is in need of a boost. Although helpful to an extent it doesn’t feel like the assistant’s capabilities have improved much over the last couple of years and it still regularly fails to correctly interpret what we mean.

Which has the better cameras?

Samsung has improved the camera compared to the already excellent S7’s and though it still has 12Mp don’t let that fool you into thinking that no progress has been made. When necessary – such as in low light – the S8 combines multiple frames to produce one based on the best parts from three, reducing or removing blur and ghosting.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Similarly, the iPhone has a 12Mp camera that also has optical stabilisation and is also capable of recording video in 4K. It uses Apple’s image processor for excellent performance and accurate colours – it can record the same wider colour gamut that the iPhone’s screen is capable of displaying.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 7

Ultimately they are two of the best cameras to be fitted to a phone, and it’s very difficult to say which is better. Both are capable of taking great photos and videos.

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Apple sees surprise fall in iPhone sales

Apple sold fewer iPhones than a year ago in the first three months of 2017, the company said in its latest results.

The California company, which is due to release a new phone later this year, said it sold 50.8 million iPhones in the period, down 1% year-on-year.

Apple reported a 4.6% rise in revenue across the whole company, slightly below analysts’ expectations.

Shares in the firm fell nearly 2% in after-hours trading after earlier hitting a record high.

Apple said quarterly profits were $11bn (£8.5bn), up 4.9% from the same period in 2016.

Despite falling unit sales, revenue from the iPhone still climbed 1% to $33.2bn as it sold more of the bigger, more expensive iPhone 7 Plus.


Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

This is always the least impressive time of year for Apple’s earnings, come as it does after the Christmas period. But worse-than-expected iPhone sales had investors slightly unhappy after anticipation of strong earnings sent shares to record highs earlier on Tuesday.

That said, revenues are up, in part because of “robust” sales of the iPhone 7 Plus, the bigger, pricier model.

Tim Cook told investors he was also pleased with the continued growth of its Services division – that’s things like Apple Music, Apple TV, iTunes and so on – but the health of Apple is only realistically measured with the success of that all-conquering smartphone.

Which is why the rest of the year will be exciting to watch.

With the iPhone’s 10th anniversary upon us, expectations are high for the next device.

Anything short of a major improvement would be troubling for investors who are banking on the next iPhone being a blockbuster, not an incremental upgrade.


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Intel just patched a critical flaw in its CPUs

Intel has just patched a critical vulnerability in its vPro processors, and worryingly this flaw has existed for no less than seven years.

To be precise, the problem is an escalation of privilege vulnerability in Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT), Intel Standard Manageability (ISM), and Intel Small Business Technology firmware – a bug which could be leveraged by an attacker to gain full control over a computer, then install malware or take other nefarious actions.

The average user needn’t worry about this, as it doesn’t affect Intel’s CPUs aimed at consumers, but business users with PCs or servers running vPro processors and utilising Intel’s AMT service have apparently been open to exploit for the best part of a decade.

The company said the problem affected Intel’s manageability firmware from version 6.x through to 11.6, but not versions before or after these.

Core of the matter

Those running any of these versions of Intel’s manageability firmware should ensure that their system is patched pronto, following the instructions Intel gives here.

These details show you how to find out if your PC is affected, and if it is, you’ll need to check with your computer manufacturer for updated firmware – or if the latter isn’t ready yet, use the mitigations Intel advises.

As Ars Technica reports, there has apparently been some debate in the security community about whether leveraging this flaw may require other conditions – such as having Local Manageability Service software running, as well as the aforementioned requirements – but it isn’t really clear whether this is the case or not.

At any rate, this is certainly a potentially very serious vulnerability which should get your full attention until it’s resolved one way or another.

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