It’s time for PC game demos to make a comeback

 

I’ve been privately lamenting the lack of PC game demos lately. There was a time when demos were commonplace: a chunk of a brand new game you could try out for free before you bought the full game. Demos gave us a chance not only see what a game had to offer and whether or not we enjoyed it, but also allowed us to continually tweak the settings and try different graphics options to see how our PCs handled it. Plus, instead of waiting months for a sale to try the game without a lot of risk, you could play right when the game came out, while everyone else was still talking about it.

While I was at PDXCon this past weekend I spent a few minutes talking with Kim Nordstrom, former general manager of Swedish game company King and current leader of Paradox Interactive’s mobile initiative. We chatted about PC and mobile games, and especially about Introversion’s Prison Architect, which is making an unlikely appearance on mobile platforms with Paradox as the publisher. Nordstrom’s plan for Prison Architect provide a few lessons PC games could learn from with its unusual, almost shareware-era approach to pricing.

Mobility

Big, meaty mobile games have a challenge when it comes to sales. The roots of mobile are in free games, or exceedingly cheap ones: 99 cents, maybe a couple of dollars. Pricing a mobile game at $15 or $20 is a dubious prospect, which is why so many are free-to-play with microtransactions: get the game into players’ hands first, and try to get money out of them later. The issue is that ‘microtransaction’ has become something of a dirty word, and that’s mostly true on PC as well. While there are a number of great free-to-play games on PC like Dota 2 and League of Legends, there are scores more that have left us highly suspicious of the F2P model, with gated progress and gameplay designed around making you so damn impatient you’ll pay just to advance at a reasonable pace.Image result for It's time for PC game demos to make a comeback

On mobile, Prison Architect will cost around $15. That feels like a fair price for what you get—it’s a complex management simulation and a great gameone of my favorites from 2015—but Nordstrom knows simply plopping it on mobile stores with that price tag probably won’t fly. So it will be free to download, and unlocking the complete game lands somewhere between free-to-play and full-price.

“It’s not a free-to-play with microtransactions, nothing like that, it caps at $15 right now,” Nordstrom told me. “But we basically just made it so anyone can install it, and it’s a try before you buy.”

Nordstrom holds out his hands a few inches apart, then widens them as he describes how the game unlocks more content for those who purchase it in chunks. “And the game size is this big, we offer you this much for free, and then we’re very clear on if you pay whatever dollars, you get the sandbox, if you pay [more] you get the chapters, and if you pay the full price you get the full game.”

So, you get to play a portion of the game as much as you want for free, just like a PC demo. Inside the game itself there’s a store that lets you unlock the rest of the features at certain price points. While that sounds suspiciously like microtransactions, there’s a difference: the total amount you can spend is capped. You won’t be nickel-and-dimed forever. If you decide to spend money, you’ll know exactly how much, in advance, it will cost you, and once you’ve spent it, you’re done. You own everything, and you’re never prompted or even tempted to spend more.

The demo, man

As Tyler concluded recently, big-publisher games can cost a lot on PC, especially when you factor in their many special editions, and that along with having no way to try a game before buying it has kept me away from a lot of games in the past few years. With Steam refunds, you can play a game for two hours before returning it or deciding to keep it but as we pointed out recently with Prey, which had a console demo but irritatingly none on PC, that’s nothing like a proper demo at all. (The reason given by Prey’s co-creative director Raphael Colantonio was “It’s just a resource assignment thing. We couldn’t do a demo on both the console and on the PC, we had to choose.”)

Sometimes there are free weekends for games, which are great, but that’s usually well after launch (this weekend’s Rising Storm 2 beta excepted) and usually long after people are actively talking about the game and your friends are still playing it. I’ve never bought a game just for a pre-order bonus, because pre-purchasing isn’t a great idea and the bonuses aren’t much to speak of (what am I really going to do with a digital art book, besides either flip through it once and forget it, or completely forget to flip through it at all). And pre-orders don’t always include a discount, so there’s rarely any real reason to pre-purchase anything.

We do get a few demos nowadays—though most often they don’t arrive as a game is released, such as Dishonored 2’s demo which came months after launch—but we need more, and more games with something like Prison Architect’s mobile model. If Deus Ex: Mankind Divided had been downloadable for free on day one, with a nice chunk of it playable indefinitely (like Prison Architect’s mobile version), players who were undecided about purchasing it for $60 could have gotten a good long look at what it has to offer. It would have given players like me time to play with a selection of augs and try out different playstyles. And it would’ve provided us with a good chance tweak the settings to see how well the it ran on our PCs, something the two-hour Steam refund window simply doesn’t allow for (and really shouldn’t be used for anyway).

If a potential customer such as myself ultimately decides not to buy the rest, what does the publisher really lose? I know creating game demos means more work, and that it’s not as simple as cutting off a slice of the game and plopping it in a folder. But in addition to demos being beneficial to gamers, developers and publishers can gain valuable information from making free demos available. As Kim Nordstrom told me, there’s value not just in the sales a company makes but in having information about the sales they didn’t make.

“The problem is that we as a company, we would never learn if we [had] a $4.99 price point in a storefront, or even a $14.99, because we wouldn’t know,” Nordstrom said. “We would just know who bought it, [but] we wouldn’t know who didn’t [buy] it.”

Information on who didn’t buy your game is useful. How many people were interested enough to download it but were turned off by something in the opening hours? How many people were willing to pay some, but not all, of the full price? Plus, it could whet the appetite of some customers who would then buy later during a sale instead of simply forgetting about it. This strikes me as a net positive for both developers and players.

Even if people don’t buy Prison Architect on mobile after trying it for free, Nordstrom says, “…they’ll play the game and if they enjoy it they might get interested in the company, or the brand, or Introversion’s games, and such. And they might spread it in terms of [word of mouth], and some people say ‘Holy crap, this is a great game, I’m going to buy it.'”

For publishers and developers, demos put a game in front of more players on launch day, provides them with additional information on how their game is being played and received, and can increase interest in their games even if not everyone who tries them, buys them. They can even get more technical feedback if their game is having problems on launch day. For players, they’re given a chance to sample more new games, to properly try before they buy, and less incentive to abuse Steam’s refund policy or wait months for a sale. PC demos are good for everyone, and it’s time for them to make a comeback.

Tivoli Audio Model One Digital review: Big sound from a small footprint

 

If you looked at Como Audio’s Duetto tabletop radio and couldn’t swallow its $399 price tag, Tivoli Audio’s Model One Digital sounds about as good and costs $100 less. The Tivoli lacks a number of features compared to its competitor, but you might not miss them.

Like the Duetto, the Model One Digital is equipped with an FM radio, but it’s primarily designed for streaming digital music. There’s Bluetooth support, of course (although aptX support is conspicuous in its absence), or you can connect it to your Wi-Fi network and play the music you own via a DLNA server.

There’s also support for most of the major streaming services, including Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer, and the lesser-known (in the U.S., at least) QQ Music. There’s TuneIn support for Internet radio stations, but Apple Music is not supported, and neither is Apple’s AirPlay technology.

Tivoli Model One Digital

Michael Brown/TechHive

Kudos to whoever designed Tivoli Audio’s app.

You control the radio mostly from Tivoli’s app, which is available on Android and iOS devices. You can also perform basic functions with the volume/power knob and the aluminum ring encircling the radio’s 3-inch display. Turning the ring changes stations and presets on terrestrial radio, and scrolls through playlists on streaming media. Pushing the ring in pauses and resumes a stream.

I expected to encounter a bit of play in the larger ring, but the way the volume control knob wiggles under your fingertips feels disappointingly sloppy. The rest of the radio feels so precise in comparison. The circular display shows basic information, such as the track and artist name, the current source, the status of your network connection, and the time. But the only way to view album art is on your device, via the app.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The Tivoli Model One Digital has elegantly retro styling, but its largeish display is underutilized—no album art.

As does Como, Tivoli has its own multi-room audio ecosystem, with several other speakers that can be networked and controlled from the app. The Model One Digital has a “party mode” button on its back that can instantly stream the same music to all the compatible speakers at once. It’s on this point that Tivoli offers a significant benefit over Como: Buy Tivoli’s $60 ConX, and you can transform any speakers into a Tivoli network node. Or you can use the same device to stream music from any audio device—a turntable, for example. That’s pretty cool.

Michael Brown/TechHive
The 3.5-inch slot port helps the Tivoli Model One Digital deliver impressive bass response. But the paucity of inputs and outputs is disappointing.

Features Como offers that Tivoli doesn’t

This is a good time to sum up the features that Como Audio includes in the Duetto that you won’t find on Tivoli’s radio: I’ve already mentioned two of them: aptX codec support and the ability to display album art on the radio itself. The Model One Digital also lacks NFC support, for quick-and-easy Bluetooth pairing; a headphone output; an optical digital audio input, a line-level output (there is an analog Auxiliary input); a USB port for playing music from USB storage, which can also be used to power a Chromecast dongle or an Amazon Echo Dot; and hardware radio preset buttons.

Tivoli Model One Digital top

Michael Brown/TechHive

The cabinet is made from furniture quality wood, with a tweed-like cloth grill. The ring around the display has multiple function.

You’ll need to decide for yourself, but that’s a lot of features to give up to save a hundred bucks. Fortunately for Tivoli, it doesn’t sacrifice audio quality. The diminutive Model One Digital sounds fabulous, reproducing music in high fidelity at volume levels that are entirely disproportionate to its size: Crisp highs, a well-defined midrange, and surprisingly robust bass response, thanks to a 3.5-inch slot port in back. I no longer have the Duetto to make an A/B comparison, but going by memory, I’d say audio quality is a tossup at worst. Having said that, however, I think the Duetto earns its price premium.

 

Amazon Dash Wand review: A home shopping device made for a not-too-distant future

 

Amazon will sell you groceries, one way or another. Case in point: The day before it announced plans to buy Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion, it released Amazon Dash Wand, a small Alexa-powered gadget that will likely be just as integral to the company’s produce push.amazon dash wand button

Amazon’s new scanning stick is Jeff Bezos’s latest attempt to link the virtual world with the physical one. But even though it’s not Amazon’s first shot at a home shopping assistant, it’s definitely the first fully formed one. Combining the ease of a Dash button with the versatility of the relatively unknown Dash scanner and the smarts of an Echo, Dash Wand could be the thing that finally streamlines the way we buy groceries, and eliminates checkout lines, empty refrigerators, and even trips to the store. But that’s going to take a while.

For today, Dash Wand has too many quirks and shortcomings to be considered a threat to your local supermarket. While it’s cheap enough to be an impulse buy, it probably won’t do much to enhance your existing Amazon-Alexa experience, at least not yet.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Dash drawbacks
  • Simple scanning
  • Alexa lite
  • A marathon, not a Dash

Dash drawbacks

Amazon’s wand is basically Dash 2.0. Like the company’s first bar-code scanner, which was limited to Amazon Fresh customers, the 6-inch stick has a rubberized loop at the top for hanging purposes, but this time around it’s also magnetic. Unlike the Echo, the Dash Wand needs to be within reach—keeping it in a drawer will severely cut down on its use and usefulness—and its refrigerator-friendly design is definitely one of its best qualities.

amazon dash wand batteriesChristopher Hebert/IDG
Dash Wand’s releiance on AA batteries cuts down on Alexa’s usefulness.

Even with Alexa built in, Dash Wand is very much an active device, in that it doesn’t respond to a wake word. Like the Echo Tap and the Alexa Voice Remote for Fire TV, you need to press the button to activate it, a consequence of Dash Wand being powered by a pair of AA batteries. Amazon kindly includes a set in the box, but with Wi-Fi, a bar-code scanner, and an AI assistant, I have to assume it will burn through them pretty quickly.

While your Dash Wand will likely live on your refrigerator, for most customers, what’s inside the icebox is off-limits. Unless you live in one of the areas served by Amazon Fresh—currently limited to the Seattle, Northern California, Southern California, New York, and Philadelphia areas—produce and other perishables won’t be added to your Amazon cart when you scan them.

amazon dash wand scannerChristopher Hebert/IDG
The bottom of Dash Wand contains a laser bar-code scanner.

That’s a deficiency that’s likely to be corrected within a year or two, once the fruits of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase begin to be realized. It might have been a coincidence that Dash Wand was released the day before the announcement of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, but the Dash Wand is clearly built for a grocery store. It’s not hard to imagine a day when you can scan some items and have them show up within an hour, or even take your wand to your local Whole Foods store to do your own scanning.

Simple scanning

As far as the other items in your house, Dash Wand will work pretty well, eventually. My wand struggled to read bar codes the first time around, but after a reset it performed much better. Thankfully, the setup process is a snap, requiring little more than signing into your account and typing in your Wi-Fi password, both of which are done via the iOS or Android app. (Note that the Dash Wand works with 2.4GHz networks only.)

amazon dash wand scanChristopher Hebert/IDG
Scanning items with your Dash Wand is as easy as it as at a grocery store.

To use it, you need only press its button and the bottom bar-code scanner springs to life, ready to read whatever’s placed in front of it. It struggled occasionally with bar codes that were curved and some itemsds didn’t show up at all, but for the most part it worked as well as a department store price checker kiosk. I tested a variety of items, from salad dressing to soda to a Sonos Play:1 speaker, and the wand dutifully added them to my cart, though when head over to the app or site to check out, make sure to pay attention to what’s inside it.

If Amazon doesn’t sell the exact item in question (which happens more than you think), it will offer an alternative. For example, when I scanned a can of Goya Red Kidney Beans, it offered an 8-pack or a bag of dry beans instead. This is fine, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the cost. Amazon often suggested items that were priced outrageously high. In the case of the red beans, the price for a case of eight cans was $19.59, a surcharge of 150 percent over the average supermarket price of $0.99 a can.

 

For those who made it in previous years, a shot at a new life

 

“Kismat achhi thi, isiliye itna achha college mil gaya, nahin toh mein kaha padh paati.” Ashu, a third-year BA programme student at JMC College, is fully aware of the arduous journey she’s had to undertake. “But apart from luck, had I not played handball or other sports at school, I would have never known about JMC,” said Ashu, who got 80 per cent in her Class XII board examination, and got into the college through sports quota for softball. “At the Vikaspuri centre where I used to play, my seniors were already in college. They filled my admission form for me. I just went for the trials,” she said.

Ashu, who comes from Najafgarh, has three siblings — a sister who is disabled, a brother who dropped out of school after Class IX and now works in a factory, and another sister who is currently in school.

Ashu’s father died of a heart attack when she was 15. Her mother works as a guard at a girls’ hostel in Palam. “I performed very well during trials and the tournaments, so I study free of cost. My mother is a Class XII pass, so she helps me study. In the college, as lectures were delivered in English, I used to face problems, but my friends and teachers supported me,” she said.

While Ashu wants to pursue a career in sports, her mother wants her to do a BEd and become a teacher.du admission 2017, sports quota, du sports students, jmc college, st stephens college, du,ac,in, delhi uni, indian express

For the time being, she has another aim: “This much I know, I will be able to guide my sister well and make sure she gets to pursue what she is interested in.”

For Ruchi Singh, who graduated from St Stephen’s College this year, the path to sports was very different. Singh, who comes from a Rajput family in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, never thought her father’s wish — that she learn shooting for self defence — would become a ticket to DU.

“In 2005, there was a shooting camp in my village. My father took me there after school. The coach there gave me five shots to hit. It was my first time holding a pistol, though I had seen many at home, locked in cupboards. I hit the five targets; I don’t know how. The coach told me I should practise more. Only after I came home did my dad tell me I had done well,” said Singh.

The SambaCry scare gives Linux users a taste of WannaCry-Petya problems

 

The SambaCry vulnerability is to Linux what WannaCry and Petya are to Windows: big security threats.  Linux users are immune to most vulnerabilities and malware outbreaks that affect Windows users. But the recent discovery of a vulnerability in Samba (dubbed SambaCry) brought them back to reality. The vulnerability has since been fixed, but the discovery warrants a little discussion.

What is SambaCry?

SabmaCry is not malware like WannaCry or Petya. Instead, it is considered a vulnerability, which presents malware with a possible avenue for attack. The vulnerability–officially called CVE-2017-7494–was named SambaCry due to similarities to the vulnerabilities that WannaCry took advantage of.

SambaCry is a vulnerability in the Samba server service, which provides SMB/CIFS capability in Linux and Unix-based systems. SMB/CIFS is, basically a file and printer-sharing protocol that Windows uses. Linux systems are capable of using several file sharing protocols, but Samba is often used in mixed environments because Windows has a hard time reading Network File System (NFS) shares.

When a Linux server is running Samba, folders called CIFS shares will appear as a network folder for Windows users. Linux and Mac users can see these shares as well, but they must be running an SMB client. (Samba can serve as both a server and client.)

The SambaCry vulnerability allows a remote user to send executable code to the server hosting the CIFS share, and execute arbitrary code. That code can encrypt a file system and hold it for ransom, for instance. Needless to say, this was a big problem that had to be taken care of pronto.

Am I affected?

If you’re wondering if your Linux system is affected, the answer is, “probably.”

Affected systems can look very different. Any server that uses Samba to host files is potentially affected. That means if you share files from your Linux laptop, you could be affected. If you’re using a Raspberry Pi as a file server, it could be affected. If you’re using a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, you could be affected.

While a system that is behind a firewall (i.e. not exposed to the Internet) is safer, all Samba users should be wary of this vulnerability.linux security lick public domain

Okay, I’m scared. What do I do?

The first thing to know before you get too freaked out is that Samba has already been patched for its 4.6, 4.5, and 4.4 branches. If you’re running a recent Linux OS (released in the past year or so), you’ll be running one of those branches. To protect yourself, you should simply upgrade the software on your device.

Normally, I’d be concerned about devices like NAS appliances because device manufacturers can be slow to provide updates. However, this vulnerability strikes at the core of NAS functionality, and major NAS providers have already offered patches to their operating systems. I checked my own Synology device (DS416j), which was updated to fix the vulnerability on May 25. I also checked QNAP’s website for an update to a random 4-bay NAS, and the software had been patched on May 27.

If you own a NAS, I highly recommend taking the time to update your NAS’s software immediately. If you don’t already have it enabled, enable automatic updates so that future vulnerabilities can be patched. Even though I have automatic updates enabled on my Synology, I’m the kind of person who wanted to check to ensure that the update didn’t silently fail.

If you’re running a home server on a Raspberry Pi or an old PC, take the time to update the system. If you’re running Ubuntu Server, simply type the commands sudo apt update and sudo apt upgrade into a terminal.

A friendly reminder

Although Linux systems rarely suffer the same type of desktop malware that affects Windows users, Linux is not completely secure purely by virtue of being Linux. Remember that just like Windows users, one of your best defenses is keeping your system up-to-date.

Nokia Feature Phone Lineup to Get a New Addition Soon, Certification Site Tips

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A new leak points to another Nokia feature phone
  • Images of the phone were spotted by TENAA
  • The feature phone goes by the model number TA-1017

The reincarnation of the Nokia 3310 was met with adulation and nostalgia across the globe. The feature phone launch reignited hopes for the dying category in the market, and now as per new reports, Nokia-licensee HMD Global is looking to launch a new feature phone in the coming months.

A Nokia-branded feature phone going by the model number TA-1017 was spotted on the Chinese regulatory site TENAA. By the design of it, it’s a rather ordinary looking feature phone, probably looking to be admired for its durability. At the back sits the speaker grille and camera lens, however there is no flash support seen. At the front is the small display with the physical keyboard taking up much of the space.Nokia Feature Phone Lineup to Get a New Addition Soon, Certification Site Tips

The listing claims that the feature phone does not support 3G connectivity, but there might be another more expensive variant that will offer support. It is expected to run the S30+UI and dual-SIM support is not yet sure. There’s no word on availability or price of the feature phone yet. To recall, HMD Global launched the Nokia 150 and Nokia 150 Dual SIM feature phones back in December, ahead of the launch of its first Nokia Android smartphone – the Nokia 6 – in January.

Nokia is expected to launch several other smartphones this year. So far, the company has launched the Nokia 6, Nokia 5, Nokia 3, and Nokia 3310 (2017) in many countries. At the start of this month, Nokia launched the Nokia 3, 5 and 6 in India, and made the cheapest variant available offline as well as online in the country. Consumers will have to wait till July to get their hands on Nokia 6 and Nokia 5. The Nokia 5 will be available offline, while the Nokia 6 will be exclusively available via Amazon India.

 

Amazon, Apple, Google And Other Tech Stocks Did Not Crash: Just A Glitch

 

Share prices for Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft all appeared at $123.47, which would’ve marked a whopping crash if it were true. Amazon’s opening price, for instance, is $972.79 per share — it’s a long way down to $123.47 and would’ve been catastrophic.

For Amazon, for instance, it would’ve marked a catastrophic drop from its opening price of $972.79 per share. The dubious share prices were due to a glitch and affected roughly 16 stocks, but not all of them negatively. For Zynga, the ailing Facebook game maker that was once on the roll, the glitch gave the impression that it’s once again successful.

Tech Stocks Crash Glitch: What Happened?

In a statement to the Financial Times, Nasdaq explained that the whole issue stemmed from “improper use of test data” that third-party financial data providers picked up.

As the U.S. market closed early Monday before the 4th of July holiday, traders got alarmingly wrong stock prices for several companies, including some of the largest and most successful technology companies. Amazon’s and Alphabet’s stock prices appeared to show a staggering drop of more than 80 percent.

Third-party data providers pushed the wrong prices after the early market close, as the exchange operator was testing its pricing data feed. Some providers such as Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and Bloomberg LP showed the fake changes in share prices. Nasdaq spokesman Joe Cristinat says the test data is sent on a daily basis, but the fact that third-party providers distributed it was a glitch and the changes never really happened. Nasdaq is reportedly working with providers to solve the matter.

No Nasdaq Technical Issue

On the bright side, at least the wrong prices appeared on a holiday when the market had closed. Such mistakes would have a greater impact when the market is open. Christinat highlighted that Nasdaq itself did not have any technical issue and it didn’t make any trades at the wrong prices. Third-party data providers simply took the test data and improperly distributed it as if the figures were real. The stock prices on Nasdaq’s official website showed the real figures, unaffected by the glitch that third-party data providers experienced.

“We can confirm that our third-party finance data partner was providing some inaccurate information, which they received from Nasdaq,” Google told Financial Times. “This is currently being fixed and we hope to update our stock price data shortly.”

 

How BlackBerry (BBRY) Stock Stands Out in a Strong Industry

 

One stock that might be an intriguing choice for investors right now is BlackBerry LimitedBBRY. This is because this security in the Wireless Non-US space is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is in great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective.

This is important because, often times, a rising tide will lift all boats in an industry, as there can be broad trends taking place in a segment that are boosting securities across the board. This is arguably taking place in the Wireless Non-US space as it currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 69 out of more than 250 industries, suggesting it is well-positioned from this perspective, especially when compared to other segments out there.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is actually looking pretty good on its own too. The firm has seen solid earnings estimate revision activity over the past month, suggesting analysts are becoming a bit more bullish on the firm’s prospects in both the short and long term.

BlackBerry Limited Price and Consensus

BlackBerry Limited Price and Consensus | BlackBerry Limited Quote

In fact, over the past month, current quarter estimates have remained unchanged at a loss of 1 penny, while current year estimates have risen from a loss of 5 cents per share to a loss of 4 cents per share. This has helped BBRY to earn a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), further underscoring the company’s solid position. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

So, if you are looking for a decent pick in a strong industry, consider BlackBerry. Not only is its industry currently in the top third, but it is seeing solid estimate revisions as of late, suggesting it could be a very interesting choice for investors seeking a name in this great industry segment.

5 Trades Could Profit “Big-League” from Trump Policies

If the stocks above spark your interest, wait until you look into companies primed to make substantial gains from Washington’s changing course.

Today Zacks reveals 5 tickers that could benefit from new trends like streamlined drug approvals, tariffs, lower taxes, higher interest rates, and spending surges in defense and infrastructure.

LLB entrance exam format needs a makeover, make them like NEET or JEE

 

Last Sunday, thousands of law aspirants appeared for the Delhi University LLB entrance exam. Interestingly, a week before the exam, the entire pattern for the examination was altered. This brings to attention the need for setting up proper guidelines and instructions for conducting law entrance examinations with clear guidelines to even regulate the cases of erroneous questions and grace marks.

This year, as a part of the entrance exam, certain questions were irrelevant to law, like question number 37 when asked, ‘What was the most common password in 2016 throughout the world?’

Apart from this, there were a number of questions that only a law student could have answered, not an aspirant. For instance question number 92 which required students to apply complex legal concepts such as ‘free consent’, ‘consideration’, ‘specific performance’, etc, that requires a detailed and in-depth understanding of the provisions of law, interpretation of statutory provisions, and even law of torts, to name a few.llb entrance exam, du llb result, clat

This indicates the importance of a makeover for the process of conducting LL.B. entrance exams in India. Most importantly there is a need for a single entrance examination on a pan-India basis much like the engineering and medical entrance formats.

Also, there the entrance exam should be conducted by an independent body dedicated to entrance tests for higher education, that is, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the United States, as proposed in the Programme of Action in 1992 under the National Policy on Education, 1986, and more recently by the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitely in his 2017-2018 Budget speech.

In order to make a larger number of candidates appear for the entrance in India, it is a good idea to limit the mode of examination to just one-preferably the online mode.

To make the exam homogenous, there should be a uniform pattern for the exam which should be specified beforehand. Apart from this, the subjects on focus should be English, logical reasoning, analytical ability, general knowledge and current affairs, much like the LSATs.

Currently the entrance exam evaluates candidates on legal aptitude including the social sciences, Indian constitution and political system and elementary mathematics, which might be unnecessary at this stage. These subjects tend to put students from different streams at a considerable disadvantage, like arts students for the Mathematics, and most others for the legal aptitude.

 

HTC U11 Review: A ‘Squeezable’ Smartphone Designed to Flaunt

 

Quick Question: What’s common between an orange, a forearm exerciser and HTC’s new primo product called U11?

Answer: You can squeeze all of them!

Yes, that’s what HTC claims to be the U11’s UPS, “the squeezable smartphone”.

PS: Sorry for the lame forearm exerciser joke!

https://giphy.com/embed/3o7TKPdUkkbCAVqWk0via GIPHY

Yes, the HTC U11 looks something out of HTC’s top drawer, but the company seems to be trying too hard to make up for the shortcoming of the HTC U Ultra and U Play.

Does the HTC U11 really make you squeeze that extra buck out of your pocket? Let’s take a look.

Snapshot

Click here to collapse

Pros:

  • Great display
  • Battery life is good
  • Camera clicks excellent pictures
  • Clean UI
  • Beautiful mirror finish
  • Edge Sense
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • Attracts smudges & fingerprints
  • Slippery in the hand
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack

What’s Good?

The fact that I could squeeze and play with the phone instantly made me like the HTC U11. The ‘squeeze’ feature acts like a shortcut gesture, something like what we have seen with Moto’s flick gesture or OnePlus’ Alert Slider. Although, I feel HTC’s gesture squeeze is the most intuitive.

The HTC U11’s Edge Sense feature allows you to squeeze the phone where the pressure sensors on the phone’s sides helps you interact with different applications of the phone.

You have options like “short squeeze” or “squeeze and hold”. The company has said that they will add more gestures in the future. The liquid glass surface design looks beautiful and I loved the way it reflects different colours in different lights.

(Photo: The Quint)

The 5.5-inch quad-HD display is fantastic! HTC didn’t stretch this one, unlike the S8 or the G6 display and stuck to the traditional thick bezel design. It offers great viewing angles and performs well even under direct sunlight.

The phone is running on the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset coupled with 6GB of RAM. A standard in today’s flagships. Performance is great and really didn’t have any problems with the phone. HTC has kept the phone devoid of bloatware which gives some extra points to the U11 and also makes the Android Nougat experience much better.

HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat
HTC U11 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat (Photo: The Quint)

The HTC U11 comes with IP67 water-resistance, which means that the phone can be completely submerged underwater.

Apart from the 64GB of on-board storage it comes with an option to expand and we always like that. The same woofer and tweeter combo gets carried forward from the HTC 10 but this time the audio via the speakers sounds much more refined and louder.

Also, despite the fact that the 3.5mm jack has been removed from the setup, audio via the USB type-C headphones was remarkable. The headphones also offer noise cancellation so that makes the deal more sweeter.

The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there.
The 12-megapixel rear camera on the HTC U11 is one of the best out there. (Photo: The Quint)

Camera quality is excellent. It’s rated to be the best camera according to the DxOMark ratings. Snaps in daylight look excellent via the 12-megapixel rear camera. The 16-megapixel front camera is also ‘wow’. Just to round it up, you won’t have any complaints with the camera on the U11.

3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day
3000mAh battery on the HTC U11 is enough to last you the entire day (Photo: The Quint)

Despite the fact that 3000mAh on paper might look underwhelming that HTC U11’s battery performed really well. After a complete days use there was still enough charge at the end of the day for your evening Youtube matinee.

What’s Bad?

This list is going to be very short because it was really tough finding anything wrong with the U11. To start with, the liquid surface design might look beautiful but it attracts a lot of smudges and fingerprints so always carry a cleaning cloth if you want to flaunt this phone.

Although the HTC Sense squeeze feature is pretty innovative, it is prone to a lot of accidental activation. Sometimes you might accidentally trigger the application inadvertently by gripping the phone too hard (happened with me). Though not a deal breaker, it has to be used carefully.

On-board you have three virtual assistants like HTC’s Sense UI, Amazon’s Alexa and even Google Assistant. Okay, Alexa isn’t in India yet, but isn’t one assistant enough?

Also, photos in low light settings have overblown highlights. It is clear that the camera tries to overcompensate for the dark areas.

Worth Buying?

At Rs 51,990 the HTC U11 is the most aggressively priced flagship in India. It has the wherewithal to hold its own and compete shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the S8 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.

No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11
No 3.5mm headphone jack on the HTC U11 (Photo: The Quint)

The only thing working against HTC is that they are still under the spotlight because the HTC U Play and Ultra weren’t a huge hit and customers are now weary about the U11 the same way. Don’t worry people, the U11 is a much better gizmo and justifies its price tag appropriately.