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In Brief

Asus Chromebook C200 angle

Pre-orders for the first Asus Chromebook have begun with Amazon charging $249 for the Chrome OS laptop and shipments expected on June 26. The C200 is an 11.6-inch Chromebook that uses the newer Intel(s intc) BayTrail-M processor instead of the fairly standard Haswell-based Celeron chip found in most current Chromebooks. That’s likely a step-down in performance but with the benefit of even more battery life: Asus says you can expect 10 to 11 hours of runtime from the 2.5 pound laptop. The C200 supplements the already available $179 Asus Chromebox and a larger C300 Chromebook coming soon.

Upcoming Events

Microsoft Surface event 2014

Microsoft is holding a Surface event in New York City and we’re there. The company is widely expected to launch a small Surface Mini tablet but there could be more than just a single new device today. Hopefully, Microsoft will update on how the Surface line is doing as well. Read more »

In Brief

Samsung Group_Gear 2_Gear 2 Neo
photo: Samsung

U.K.-based research firm Strategy Analytics figures that Samsung took 71 percent of the smartwatch market in the first quarter of 2014, with an estimated 500,000 smartwatches sold. Android Beat noted the milestone on Monday saying the sales estimates don’t include return rates. The company has since launched new models that run on its Tizen platform instead of Android, setting up a big showdown for next month. Google’s I/O developer event takes place in June where it will further detail Android Wear software for smartwatches. LG and Motorola plan to launch Android Wear devices at or soon after the event, offering Google Now contextual notifications on the wrist.

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In Brief

OS X Mavericks logo

Nearly three months since the last update, Apple released OS X version 10.9.3 on Thursday. According to Apple’s own support page detailing the changes, the software provides a better 4K scaling experience on both the Mac Pro and MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina Display computers. That’s assuming you own a 4K monitor, of course. There’s something for every Mac owner though including Safari 7.0.3 and the ability to sync both contacts and calendar events over a USB connection between your Mac and iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

In Brief

Galaxy S5 copper

If you needed another example of a smartphone sales slowdown at the high-end of the market, Samsung provided it on Thursday. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung co-CEO JK Shin said the company sold 11 million Galaxy S5 handsets in the first month of availability. That’s only 10 percent higher than number of Galaxy S4 phones sold in the first month when it launched in 2013. This suggests that the market for expensive phones is a bit saturated and is the reason companies such as Motorola and Nokia are creating capable low-cost smartphones such as the Moto E and Lumia 630.

In Brief

straight-talk-sim

Although Straight Talk has long advertised its mobile broadband service as “unlimited”, the company acknowledged in September that it only offered 2.5 GB per month. After hitting that limit, the provider slows down speeds on its $45 monthly plan. That speed bump is now good for 3 GB of speedy service, Straight Talk said on Wednesday. Straight Talk doesn’t have networks of its own but instead buys wholesale service from traditional carriers and resells it. Essentially, you get the same service and coverage provided by AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon, for example, at a discount on your iPhone, Android handset or other smartphone.

In Brief

Surface 2 Windows

An official Microsoft support page spotted by The Verge references the Surface Pro 3, a device that doesn’t yet exist. It’s possible that the reference is a typo meant to say Surface Pro 2 but it would seem to loosely confirm a CNET report from last week suggesting that Microsoft will debut a new Surface model at a planned event next week. That would be in addition to the expected Microsoft Surface Mini, likely an 8-inch device running Windows RT 8.1. We’ll be on-hand at Tuesday’s event to find out if Surface Mini is getting another sibling.

In Brief

LG MobileComm USA White

Both Virgin Mobile and Boost Wireless now carry the $179 LG Volt, an Android 4.4 smartphone that uses Sprint’s Spark service. The tri-band LTE network — currently available in only 24 cities — promises faster mobile broadband speeds by using different wireless frequencies depending on the activity. Downloading video, for example, will use the fastest currently available network while smaller email data chunks would flow over a slower frequency. For the price, the LG Volt doesn’t look too bad: It has a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 4.7-inch display with 960 x 540 resolution and large 3,000 mAh battery that should easily last a full day.

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