Trending December 2023 # Dell Beats Apple On Green Report Card # Suggested January 2024 # Top 16 Popular

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An environmental watchdog group has issued a new report card, giving Dell props for executing a program under which customers can easily return old gear for recycling by the manufacturer. Apple, which often crows about its green cred, received only a C+ for its device take-back and recycling programs.

The report card, produced by the Electronics Take-Back Coalition, scores each electronics maker on how many recycling drop-off centers it has (even in states where the law doesn’t require them), on the volume of recyclable devices currently being taken in, and on the way the manufacturer goes about recycling returned devices.

Dell and Samsung Go Green

The group’s national coordinator, Barbara Kyle, praises Dell on its efforts over the past two years to set up a working infrastructure to accept, receive, process, and recycle its worn-out gear. Kyle says that just two years ago Dell’s take-back/recycle program consisted merely of an offer to consumers to mail back their device. Now the company has drop-off centers at its stores across the United States, and it has partnered with Goodwill drop-off sites to accept its dead computers.

Samsung gets credit in the report for doing roughly the same thing during recent years, earning a grade of B-.

Apple, for all its claims of environmental friendliness (which some critics have disputed in regards to the iPhone), garnered only a C+ grade for its take-back and recycling programs. The report points out that although Apple has a mail-back program and that the company will take back your old computer in the store when you buy a new one, it will not allow you to just drop off an inoperable device at one of its stores for recycling–nor will it take back a nonworking, non-Apple device without a $30 charge.

The report also dings Apple on its lack of transparency about the amount of take-back and recycling it’s actually doing. “Apple doesn’t disclose volume information, and doesn’t provide any way to evaluate whether Apple is collecting high volumes in nonmandated states in addition to states that require it to,” the report states.

All in all, the major U.S. PC, TV, and printer manufacturers had a poor showing in the report. Of the 29 graded, none received an A grade. In fact, 21 received a mark of C- or lower, and 12 of them received failing grades.

Printer Makers’ Recycling: Fail

The biggest underachievers in the report card are the printer makers: All but one received an F grade. The Electronics Take-Back Coalition handed out the failing grades to Brother, Canon, Epson, Kodak, and Lexmark, saying that the companies have little infrastructure or desire to take responsibility for the disposal of their printers at the devices’ end of life.

The leading U.S. printer maker, HP, was not assigned a score specifically for its printer recycling program (HP earned a C- for its PCs and printers combined), but Kyle says that HP is like most other printer makers in its take-back programs.

“There is just almost no information available from HP. They say ‘We have a mail-back program,’ but that’s just the same as saying ‘We have no program at all.’” Consumers are unlikely to box up and mail back a dead printer at their own expense just for the manufacturer to recycle it, Kyle says.

E-Waste Often Exported

Some companies in the report have good programs for taking back old devices, but recycle the equipment irresponsibly. Manufacturers, Kyle says, routinely “recycle” old gear by sending it overseas to “backyard” recycling centers in poor countries such as Ghana and India, and in poor parts of China. The dead devices are easily shipped overseas on the same boats that deliver new devices and components to the United States.

It is in these backyard recyclers that the human and environmental cost of technology-materials disposal is paid. The backyard recyclers are mainly interested in removing all metals from the devices they receive, selling it in various forms for money. Other, less-valuable materials such as plastics are either burned or thrown into a landfill.

For instance, Kyle says, the recyclers place circuit boards over an open fire to melt the solder off. Workers use strong, barely diluted acids at the sides of rivers to burn the chips off the circuit boards. The remaining plastics–which contain lead–are burned, releasing dioxins into the air to be breathed.

The Electronics Take-Back Coalition believes that gear makers are responsible for the recycling of their products at the end of life. In addition, the group says, the companies are responsible for letting their customers know that take-back and recycling programs exist, and for taking the hassle and cost out of the act of returning dead gear so that customers will actually comply.

Kyle points out that not only do manufacturers trumpet their “green” sensibilities in PR campaigns, but they also build the cost of recycling into the price of the products they sell–so it’s the consumer who is actually paying for the recycling.

Most major manufacturers do have programs that allow you to return your old devices for them to recycle. The question is whether the electronics companies are really taking action on recycling, or merely going through the motions.

For more information, see the report cards for all companies (PDF), and read the Electronics Take-Back Coalition’s press release.

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Best Apple Card Wallets In 2023

Apple Card is made of titanium, and therefore, this might prevent your iPhone from receiving wireless charging if you are using a wallet case. This indicates that users who install their iPhones in wallet cases might have to find other options. So, where to keep your Apple Card? Well, we have listed a few card wallets you can use to store your Apple Card.

1. Easyoulife

Easyoulife presents a credit card holder zipper wallet made of genuine leather. This card case has 26 slots to store all your credit/debit cards apart from Apple Card. There is enough room for your driver’s license, social IDs, gift cards, discount cards, and more. The small size of this case is perfect to fit in your pockets, fanny packs, travel bags, laptop bags, and other bags.

You can buy this zipper wallet to gift somebody. Available in more than 15 shades, this Apple Card case protects your ID from wireless theft. Its high-quality PVC card slots safeguard your titanium card from damage.

Check out on Amazon

2. Travelambo

Travelambo has come up with a 100% hand-made wallet for women of discerning tastes. It is your RFID blocking bi-fold multi card case with zipper pocket. The best thing about this case is you can keep your iPhone in it. There are sixteen slots to store your credit/debit cards and other IDs.

Travelambo uses high-quality synthetic leather to make it an inexpensive and yet extraordinary wallet for women. This soft and durable case has two zipped long slots for cash and mobile. You can pick up any cardholder from an impressive range of forty-five shades.

Check out on Amazon

3. Clifton

Clifton’s leather wallets for men & women are minimalist in design. The RFID blocking technology secures your virtual money from robbers. This compact and slim cardholder has five card slots, one ID card slot, a compartment for cash, and a document compartment.

Clifton has used 100% genuine cowhide leather, which makes it tough against any injury or damage. This smart wallet is your reliable partner in any season. The case is a perfect gift for men, who appreciate elegance, convenience, and ample room.

Check out on Amazon

4. Pinch

Pinch is a handcrafted wallet case for your Apple Card. To provide full protection to your titanium card, professional artisans have tough stitched this case that gets better with age. Pinch has used birch leather to impart the right character and heritage to this wallet.

This TUV certified case has an RFID shield to protect information leakage. All your digital documents are secure inside this wallet. It is one of the most stylish cases that has functionality in equal measure.

Check out on Amazon

5. FurArt

FurArt has made a minimal wallet case for Apple Card. You can easily manage your eight cards, including IDs and a driver’s license. The best thing about this card holder is that it retains its thin profile even after inserting cards. For the same reason, you would like to carry this cardholder in your front or back pocket.

The brand offers you a bewildering range of colors; you can select your favorite from 45 different shades. Two notable features are removable D-shackle for lanyard or key-ring and a finger groove to push the cards out easily.

Check out on Amazon

6. Buffway

Buffway is another brand that crafts slim and minimal front pocket to store Apple Card. The leather wallet is for men and women, who live a stylish lifestyle. A slim and discreet card holder case is your modern outlook to hold your plastic money. The minimalist wallet easily fits in your pocket, purse, fanny pack or travel bag.

Check out on Amazon

7. Shell-D

Look at the rounded corners, which make it comfortable for you to carry this wallet in front or back pocket. This cardholder is made of ABS plastic to guard your cards against scratches.

Check out on Amazon

8. Zhoma

Zhoma has crafted this credit card case from high-quality genuine leather with fabric lining and soft hardware. RFID blocking security travel wallet prevents thieves from scanning your credit/debit cards, banking information, and other digital documents. It gives you peace of mind when you are on a long vacation and surrounded by strangers at airports, crowded streets, and shopping malls.

This case comes with enough storage capacity of 11 card slots; moreover, you can keep currency bills, notes, or receipts inside the wallet. When you open the case, it looks like an accordion; zip up the case to protect your cards and money.

Check out on Amazon

9. Yeeasy

Yeeasy has crafted this wallet from 100% genuine cowhide leather. You can notice a soft and smooth texture with a refined appearance. This is a durable case that boasts 25 card slots to put all your credit/debit cards and social ID, and driver’s license. Keep all your valuable documents in one place.

The wallet is small enough to put in your handbags or fanny pack. You can use the zipper pocket to store coins and currency bills. Since the wallet has RFID blocking technology, your documents and cards are secure against any data theft.

Check out on Amazon

That’s all friends!

Wrapping up…

A cardholder case is an essential accessory for credit card owners. An Apple Card inside the iPhone wallet case prevents the device from being charged wirelessly. For this reason, people have to rely on separate wallets to store Apple Card.

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Suraj is an operations head on the iGB team. He contributes to the social media section along with tips and tricks for iPhone, Apple Watch. Apart from blogging, he likes to work out as much as he can in his gym and love to listening to retro music.

14 Ways To Fix Green Screen Of Death On Windows

If your PC suddenly enters a green screen with a ‘:( notation and some error messages, that’s the Green Screen of Death (GSOD)! Indeed, it’s quite similar to Blue Screen of Death, but there are a few differences between them.

While you’ll encounter BSOD on the main Windows version, you’ll come across GSOD only on the Windows Insider program. Thus, it’s possible that you may have never heard this term before. But if you notice the green screen continuously, it’s probably due to corrupted OS files on the Insider version of your OS.

However, the major cause behind GSOD completely depends upon the error code you’re getting. Hence, in this article, we will discuss what these codes are, what causes them, and their possible fixes.

Basically, GSOD is also a stop error like BSOD. So, most of the codes you’ll encounter on the blue screen are also seen on the green screen.

Well, you can come across both stop error and hexadecimal codes. With their help, we can know the main issue behind the green screen.

MANUALLY_INITIATED_CRASH: This error occurs when you initiate GSOD manually. For example, you can add the CrashOnCtrlScroll registry file to the Windows Registry to get this error code.

CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED: The Critical Process Died error is initiated when a critical Windows component cannot run the process and ends for some reason. Often, you come across the hex code 0x000000EF when you see this error on the green screen.

SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION: This is a much more complex error that happens when an exception prevents the execution of a transaction from kernel to user mode.

CLOCK_WATCHDOG_TIMEOUT: If you have a multi-processor system and if a clock interrupts on the secondary processor missed out, you’re likely going to encounter GSOD with this error code. 

PAGE FAULT IN NON PAGED AREA: When there are unmatched page files within memory, you may get the PAGE FAULT IN NON PAGED AREA error. Thus, Windows can’t fetch the file it needs, which triggers the GSOD.

Given below are some of the most common error codes you may see and what they could mean:

Apart from them, some other common codes when encountering GSOD on the Insider version of Windows include BAD_POOL_CALLER, MEMORY MANAGEMENT, INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE, etc.

Since Windows Insider Program is just an early version of Windows letting users interact with its new features, there can be several unnoticed bugs that may trigger GSOD.

Indeed, there can be many reasons why you’ve encountered the Green Screen of death. Interestingly, most of these are quite similar to what causes the Blue Screen of death on Windows.

Corrupted system files and disks

Failed Windows update

Corrupted device drivers

Problematic RAM

Damaged USB peripherals

Setting inappropriate page files sizes

Problematic Windows OS

Malware and threats

Overclocked CPU and other hardware components

Well, the fixes of Green Screen of Death depend on the stop error code. Nonetheless, we have included some easy techniques in this section that should solve your problem, no matter the code you’re getting.

But before that, we recommend restarting your PC if you’re only experiencing this issue for the first time. Well, your computer should reboot itself after Windows collects some error information to store as dump files. However, if you have turned off the automatic restart setting, you’ll need to restart Windows manually.

Furthermore, you should try updating Windows to its latest version. This ensures that the critical files are updated and can stop both BSOD and GSOD.

If restarting or upgrading Windows didn’t work, you can now move ahead and try out the following fixes.

If your PC is infected with malware, it may misbehave with other applications or system files. Thus, there’s a possibility that these harmful viruses can eventually crash Windows and cause GSOD.

Although there are plenty of reliable third-party antivirus programs, we highly recommend using the in-built Windows Security software for detecting and removing viruses. Here’s how you can use the application on Windows 11:

Well, running Windows on safe mode can help inspect whether the GSOD occurs due to hardware or OS issues. If you stop seeing the green screen on safe mode, it’s probably because of a memory or other hardware failure.

Here’s how you can boot Windows on safe mode to determine the prime reason behind the Green Screen of Death:

When using heavy programs or games, there might be memory allocation errors. Moreover, you may even encounter problems in the page files if you’re using HDD. 

Indeed, these issues can potentially crash your system in the middle of your work. So, we recommend restoring them if you encountered GSOD after updating recently. Else, you can uninstall such programs and reinstall them from scratch. 

Let’s first learn how you can restore an application on Windows 11. However, the steps below may only be compatible with some programs:

However, if you do not see this option on your desired program, it’s because it doesn’t support restoring to the previous version. In such a case, the only option is to reinstall it:

However, if you see the GSOD again, we recommend not to use the app as it might not be compatible with Windows.

If you’ve overclocked your CPU top more than it can support, there’s a high probability you may experience GSOD issues. So, we recommend resetting BIOS, and here’s how you can do just that:

Restart your computer and use the dedicated key to enter BIOS.

In the BIOS menu, look for a Reset option and select it. In some motherboards, you may find Load Setup Options or Load Setup Settings.

Finally, save the changes and exit BIOS. This will reset your BIOS and revert the overclocking settings.

SFC, CHKDSK, and DISM are the three utilities that help fix OS glitches in no time. Each of these commands has its own purpose that lets you navigate through system errors and solve them.

In this section, we will discuss how you can use these system tools to eradicate the Green Screen of Death on Windows.

Most Windows versions have an in-built utility that lets you troubleshoot graphics and kernel-mode drivers that might be responsible for the GSOD. Here’s a complete guide on how you can use the Driver Verifier Manager tool on Windows 11:

If the Driver Verifier Manager didn’t do the trick, you might need to manually update or uninstall the corrupted device drivers, especially the display and graphics ones. Generally, the outdated adapters have an exclamation sign. So, if you find one, here’s how you can update them:

If you’re facing the green screen error after updating a certain driver, it’s probably because the version doesn’t support Windows or has bugs. In such a case, you can roll back the driver to its previous state:

If updating and rolling back doesn’t help, it’s time to reinstall the device driver. Here’s a simple way to do it:

Undoubtedly, disk error is another prime cause of the Green Screen of Death. When you have corrupted program files, temporary internet files, or temporary installation files, these can create system crashes. So, the easiest way to remove them is by performing a disk cleanup:

If your PC is rebooting continuously, showing the green screen of death, there’s a possibility of memory errors. So, we recommend using the built-in Windows Memory Diagnostic app that helps troubleshoot any errors causing the issue:

All hardware components connected to the ports need drivers, and they must be regularly updated. If one of them is corrupted or isn’t compatible with Windows, there’s a high chance you’ll encounter GSOD.

So, we recommend unplugging all the cables and seeing if the problem still persists. If this solves your issue, connect them individually and identify the defective device. Then, you can update the driver, or in the worst case, you may need to stop using the peripheral to prevent GSOD.

Mostly, users have experienced the Green Screen of Death when using USB devices. If this is the case, you may notice the SYSTEM_THREAD_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED error pop up. This is probably due to issues in the chúng tôi and the best way to resolve it is by dumping the file.

Furthermore, you can also try reseating RAM, GPU, CPU fan, and other major hardware components to check for vital errors. While doing so, we recommend cleaning the ports to eliminate possible dust.

Whether you’re experiencing BSOD or GSOD, the main issue causing this error is difficult to know. Nevertheless, you can directly access the dump files created by Windows as soon as your PC enters the green screen. 

Well, these files are present inside the Mini Dump folder, and you can easily determine the reason behind the crash using the WinDbg Preview application:

If neither of the aforementioned solutions worked for you, an underlying error within the startup programs is likely causing the GSOD. So, you can clean boot Windows and check if the green screen appears again:

If you recently updated Windows or installed new programs, they might be responsible for GSOD. So, reverting Windows to its previous state may solve this issue. 

Basically, this feature resolves the critical errors within your recently installed apps and drivers. So, without further delay, let’s get right into the necessary steps to restore Windows 11 to default:

Even if system restore didn’t help, it’s time to leave the Windows Insider Program and update your Windows to the stable version.

As mentioned earlier, the Insider version might contain underlying issues that may not support many features. So, we recommend using the normal version as far as possible.

Here’s a complete guide on how to switch from the Windows 11 Insider Preview build to the Stable build:

However, if you encounter a blue screen with similar error messages, you can refer to our other post, where we have included the necessary fixes for BSOD on Windows.

Beats Studio Buds: Features, Specs, Pricing, Review, And Deals

Beats launched in June 2023 its new earbuds Beats Studio Buds, a new true wireless brand as another option for users apart from the Powerbeats Pro introduced in 2023. Apple calls them the “fast-selling” Beats product to date. Here’s everything about them.


The new Beats Studio Buds feature a lightweight and compact design. With a similar look to the AirPods Pro charging case, its downside is that it doesn’t have wireless charging support.

Originally, it was only available in Black, White, and Red. In 2023, Beats released three new colors Moon Gray, Ocean Blue, and Sunset Pink. Check them here.

The Beats Studio Buds don’t feature a stern, and have a dial-like shape, with a ridge on the outside that features the Beats logo. Like the AirPods Pro, it features three different replaceable silicone tips.

Beats earbuds in the wild before release

Beats Studio Buds have been spotted in the wild a few times, mostly thanks to the basketball star LeBron James.

In June, the unreleased earbuds have made a cameo appearance in Roddy Ricch’s new music video “Late at Night.” The shots leave no doubt that these are the new Beats earbuds. You can have a glimpse of them starting at 29 seconds here.

The earbuds were also found another two times in the wild. TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio was seen wearing a pair in a new video. Also, the US soccer star Alex Morgan has been seen with the white variant of the Beats Studio Buds:

Features: ANC, Transparency Mode, and more

For the first time, Beats earbuds feature Active Noise Canceling as well as Transparency Mode. With six microphones, these earbuds can isolate the exterior sound or make it feel like you’re not wearing earbuds at all.

Different from the Powerbeats Pro or other Beats headphones, this one doesn’t feature Apple’s H1 or W1 chip. It means that although you can easily pair these earbuds with your iPhone and iPad, you do need to pair them with each device at a time. Features as in-ear detection don’t exist in these earbuds.

With Bluetooth 5.0, it has a stable and consistent connection. There’s also support for Spatial Audio in Apple Music.

Beats Studio Buds also feature integration with Apple’s Find My application. When paired via Bluetooth, this allows you to locate your lost Beats Studio Buds using their last known location or by playing a sound. 

Tactile controls

Beats found a clever way to turn the tops of each bud into physical buttons for playback control. Here are the details on how this works:

Press once for play, pause, or answer a phone call

Press twice to skip forward

Press three times to skip back

Long Press to cycle between ANC ON (default), Transparency Mode, and ANC OFF.

You can customize the control for the “press and hold” trigger to activate Siri as well. For instance, pressing and holding on the right earbud could cycle between ANC and Transparency mode, while pressing and holding on the left earbud could activate Siri. But again, there is also support for “Hey Siri,” so physical controls to access the voice assistant aren’t necessarily required.

Sound quality

Since it’s a Beats earbuds, it has a prominent bass, although this time the sound feels more balanced than ever, similar to the original AirPods. Here’s what Beats says about Beats Studio Buds sound quality:

Studio Buds were designed and engineered to prioritize high-quality audio playback and overall comfort — no matter if you’re listening to music, streaming a movie or chatting with a friend. The ergonomically tilted acoustic nozzle features a laser cut micro-vent to ensure pressure relief on the eardrum.

Its powerful, balanced sound is driven by the proprietary 8.2mm, dual-element diaphragm driver, which features a central rigid piston with a flexible outer surround. Coupled with a two-chamber acoustic design, Studio Buds achieves outstanding stereo separation and low harmonic distortion across the frequency curve so you hear every note.

Beats Studio Buds special editions

As it’s recurring for Beats products, the company releases every now and then special version of its products.

Union’s 30th anniversary

In November 2023, the wireless earbuds got their first limited-edition design in partnership with Union. This new version celebrates Union’s 30th anniversary. The Studio Buds feature a bold red, black, and green design and packaging, drawing inspiration from the Pan-African flag and paying tribute to Union’s roots as a Black-owned business. The case also features Union’s historic frontman logo as an ode to the brand’s legacy.

Music is the lifeblood of our store, so when Beats approached us, we were excited to work with them on these Buds. Collaboration is almost as important as music,” said Union founders Chris and Beth Gibbs. “It feels great to have worked with Beats on this project and to have collaborated with Vince Staples, a longtime friend of the store, to bring our vision to life.

Lunar New Year

By the end of 2023, Apple released a Lunar New Year edition for the Beats Studio Buds. The special edition features a red and gold design.

The gold stripes represent tiger print accents, as 2023 will be the “Year of the Tiger.” According to the company, the product will be available in stores starting January 1, 2023.

We’re celebrating the Lunar New Year with our special-edition Beats Studio Buds. As a tribute to the Year of the Tiger, the Buds feature an all-red design with gold tiger print accents. Out on January 1st!

Daily Paper

The third special edition was in partnership with the Amsterdam clothing brand Daily Paper. In this version, the Buds have a graffiti-looking case with white earbuds and a Daily Paper sign in red.

“Music is one of the most important brand pillars for us as it brings our community together,” said Abderrahmane Trabsini, Co-Founder and Design Director of Daily Paper. “Working with Beats has always been on our wish list of collaborations. It’s also an extension of the current SS22 collection which is inspired by hip-hop culture.”


By the end of July 2023, Beats announced a new edition in collaboration with Twitch streamer NICKMERCS Kolcheff.

Each earbud features the letters MFAM (Mercs family), paying tribute to his loyal Twitch community, and the Spartan crest designed on the charging case, referencing his Greek heritage surname.

“The Beats Studio Buds are the earbuds I use every day,” NICKMERCS said. “I’ve been working out and traveling with them for a while now and I’m super excited and proud to collaborate with Beats to produce the MFAM Beats Buds that my community around in the world can wear it with pride anywhere.”


Also in July 2023, Beats partnered with Futura Laboratories, a design studio created by graffiti artist FUTURA to launch a special edition of the Beats Studio Buds. These wireless earbuds will go on sale this Saturday and feature a graffiti-like look.

Different from the edition announced last week, this one is all-black with some graffiti on the earbuds and the case as well.

On January 25, 2023, Beats Studio Buds got its first firmware update. Version 9M6599 shows the battery status of the wireless earbuds on iOS devices every time the charging case is open and nearby, similar to the experience AirPods users have. 

Another welcome change is that it now supports instant pairing via iCloud. Apple has also enabled new physical controls using the “b” button on the earbuds. Users can now enable an option to change the volume level of the Beats Studio Buds just by pressing their side buttons. The company says that this feature works with iOS, macOS, and even Android devices.

When will the Beats Studio Buds be released?

Beats Studio Buds was announced on June 14, 2023. It started to be sold on the Apple Store on June 24.

How much do the Beats Studio Buds cost?

At Apple, the Powerbeats Pro usually costs $249.95 but Apple is offering a $50 discount. This is also the price of the AirPods Pro.

Beats Studio Buds costs $149. Its lower pricer point is due to the lack of a wireless charging case and an H1 or W1 chip.

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon Store.

Beats Studio Buds Review

At 9to5Mac, we already reviewed the Beats Studio Buds. We praised these earbuds for its price and sound quality:

With Beats Beats Studio Buds, you get ANC support, Transparency mode, fast pairing with Apple devices, stellar sound quality, and a versatile in-ear design, all packed into an incredibly compact form factor. There are limitations, such as the lack of in-ear detection and wireless charging, and no H1 or W1 chip, but the value is there with a $150 price point.

Ultimately, the Studio Buds are proof the Beats brand is alive and stronger than ever, and certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. There are compromises to hit the $149.99 price point, but the pros more than outweigh the cons if you don’t already have AirPods Pro or Powerbeats Pro. 

Beats Studio Buds, AirPods, or AirPods Pro?

If you like the stemless design, the option for black and red, and an in-ear fit with ANC, the Beats Studio Buds are a great way to get most of the AirPods/AirPods Pro features at a reasonable price. But that’s as long as you don’t mind missing out on a wireless charging case, auto device switching, and ear-detection/auto-pause and play.


Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the Beats Studio Buds and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Dell Streak 7: Solid Design, Mediocre Display

The Dell Streak 7 is a study in contrasts. This Nvidia Tegra 2-based Android tablet counts smart and subtly sharp design among its strengths–unfortunately, its unimpressive display and inelegant software implementation constrain its appeal. T-Mobile’s aggressive pricing–at $200 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a two-year contract (as of February 1, 2011), it’s $100 less than the Samsung Galaxy Tab on the same carrier–make the Streak 7 worth considering, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but the device’s numerous weaknesses may outweigh the value price.

Streamlined Design

Although the design of the original Streak didn’t impress me, design is the Streak 7’s greatest asset. It’s not that the new Streak is especially slim or stylish; rather, its build quality, button placement, and subtle contours are appealing.

The unit measures 7.9 by 4.7 inches, 0.4 inch longer than the Galaxy Tab; both devices are half an inch thick, although the Streak gives the impression of being a sliver thinner. It also seems to be lighter, even though it actually weighs 15.5 ounces versus the Tab’s 13.4 ounces. In the hand, the subtle curves of the Streak feel comfortable to hold; they’re preferable to the more squared-off design of the Tab. The Streak also feels more conducive to hold in one hand.

On the whole, its design feels streamlined yet functional. Only the headphone jack, situated at the top right (vertical) or upper left (landscape), seems awkwardly situated.

Even the port cover is well designed: It’s sturdy yet not bulky, and it smoothly fits with the edge (something that often can’t be said of port covers). It provides easy access to the full-size SD Card slot and the SIM-card slot. To open the port cover in the first place, you’ll need to use your fingernail, but it notably snaps open and closed easily.

The three navigation buttons–one each for back, menu, and home–are aligned at the right (or along the bottom, depending on how you hold the device). The positioning is offset, which means your palm won’t accidentally invoke the capacitive touch buttons when you’re holding the device in landscape mode with both hands (in contrast to the Galaxy Tab). That said, I found the navigation buttons and other touchscreen elements to be annoyingly sensitive to accidental brushes.

Usability Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

Regrettably, design elements alone do not guarantee a tablet’s usability. I ran into enough issues with the Streak 7 and had enough gripes about it to come to a lukewarm conclusion at best. It will face particularly stiff competition from tablets that ship with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), too. Dell has said that it will offer Android 3.0 on the Streak 7 in the future, but for now you get it with Android 2.2–an OS that’s clearly not optimized for use with tablets.

The mediocre capacitive multitouch screen is another sore spot. The resolution is 800 by 480 pixels, the same as we’ve seen on tablets such as the ViewSonic ViewPad 7 and the HP Zeen (which is sold only with the Photosmart C510 printer it’s intended to be used with). The display is a huge disappointment, its weaknesses glaringly obvious when I placed the Streak 7 side by side with the Galaxy Tab (which has a 1024-by-600-pixel resolution). Images looked washed out and lacked punch; text was barely passable, and certainly not well suited for long stretches of reading given the noticeable pixelation and the sparkly background. Even game graphics looked blocky and pixelated at times, in spite of the Nvidia Tegra T20 dual-core 1GHz processor.

Glitches Galore

When I did get this feature to work, I got a glimpse of how much fun it could be to view the contents of my camera’s SD Card on the Streak 7. After I popped the card in, the Streak 7 successfully (but slowly) mounted the card to recognize the media and add it to the Gallery for viewing. At this writing, Dell had no suggestions as to why these crashes might have happened, and reps suggested that I try a second unit. I will do so and update this review accordingly.

As with the original Dell Streak, apps that are not designed for use on larger-screen Android devices display in their smaller form, flush to the upper-left corner of the screen. The unit froze when I tried to open several apps downloaded from the Android Market, even though I’d randomly chosen the apps from among the highly rated options in the Top Free Apps section. This crashing issue could be due to bugginess in the Streak 7 and how it handles the scaling of non-tablet-optimized apps specifically, or it could be due to Android 2.2 and how it deals with those apps. It’s hard to say. But in all cases, the apps did just fine on the Galaxy Tab and struggled on the Streak 7. Dell didn’t have a response when I questioned the company about the Streak’s app scaling.

The battery life was another disappointment. In my tests, the integrated 2780mAh battery drained very quickly if I left the mobile broadband radio on: After just 8 hours of being on, and after sporadic light use, the battery had already drained to 48 percent. The Galaxy Tab, which carries a 4000mAh battery, had far better standby time–about two and a half days after its last charge–and after I used it to a similar extent as I did the Dell Streak 7, the Tab’s battery registered at 58 percent.

Other Specs

What else is inside the Dell Streak 7? It has 16GB of internal memory, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, and support for T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network as well as for 3G, UMTS, and EDGE networks. As you’d expect from an Android 2.2 tablet, it supports Adobe Flash 10.1. Dell describes the Streak 7 as having full HTML Web browser capabilities, but many Websites still recognize the OS as a mobile phone, not a full-bore Web browser.

T-Mobile bundles a host of apps, including its T-Mobile TV for live and on-demand TV access, BrainPop for kids, the Zinio magazine reader, Slacker, Amazon Kindle, Let’s Golf HD (demo), Asphalt 5, Zoodles, Blockbuster, Think Office, and Qik Video Chat for conducting video chat over mobile broadband and over Wi-Fi. Oddly, you get neither a task killer nor a file manager, both of which would have been useful additions for consumers.

T-Mobile’s aggressive and highly competitive pricing makes the Dell Streak 7 budget-friendly, and if this model had come out simultaneously with the original Streak, I would have less trouble excusing its faults. But I expect better of a second-generation Dell product, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab provides a superior user experience for just $100 more. Additional options are just around the corner, too, so I recommend that you shop around before committing to this subsidized tablet for two years.

Apple Cracking Down On Third

With iOS 12, Apple launched a new Screen Time functionality for monitoring device and app usage. As part of that, TechCrunch reports today that Apple is cracking down on third-party screen time trackers in the App Store with stricter reviews and in several cases, removal from the App Store.

What’s important to note is that these applications had not been using any official, Apple-approved frameworks or methods for tracking screen time. Instead, they relied on combinations of VPNs, MDM solutions, and background location functionality. In some cases, they create privacy concerns for Apple and the end-user.

TechCrunch outlines several applications affected by Apple’s crackdown on screen time workaround apps. One such app is Mute, which publicly announced its removal from the App Store in October, while another is the three-year old screen time app Space, which was removed in November.

Several other applications were also reportedly removed from the App Store or had updates rejected, but did not want to be publicly named. In most cases, developers were told they were in violation of an Apple Store guideline related to location functionality:

Some of the developers, we understand, were told they were in violation of App Store developer guideline 2.5.4, which specifies when multitasking apps are allowed to use background location. Specifically, developers were told they were “misusing background location mode for purposes other than location-related features.”

Other apps were cited for violation of a different guideline related to how they implemented public APIs.

However, it hasn’t been all bad news for some of these screen time applications. Both Space and Mute, after going public about their removal from the App Store, were contacted directly by Apple for additional details on user privacy and how they use location-based services. In the case of both, the apps were reinstated to the App Store.

The Apple reps asked the companies about how they handled data privacy, and reminded them they have to have a customer-facing feature that requires location-based services in order to legitimize their use of such an approach, they reported.

“We are of course hugely grateful that Apple has chosen to continue to allow our business to operate,” said Space CEO Georgina Powell.

Not all applications have had such luck, though, including OurPact and ACTIVATE FITNESS. Both of these applications were informed by Apple that they could no longer use MDM – mobile device management – technology for building screen time functionality.

Amir Moussavian, CEO of OurPact parent company Eturi, said the following in a statement to TechCrunch:

“Our team has received confirmation from Apple that managing application access and content outside of iOS Screen Time will not be permitted in the Apple device ecosystem. It’s incredibly disappointing that Apple is choosing to dissolve the iOS parental control market at a time when childhood and adolescent screen time management is finally being understood as a necessity.”

Other applications, such as Kidslox, haven’t been completely removed from the App Store yet, but instead Apple is rejecting recent updates to the apps. Kidslox CEO Viktor Yevpak accused Apple of “systematic destruction” of the third-party screen time management industry in a blog post.

But sources familiar with Apple’s thinking dismissed this as being some sort of targeted crackdown against third-party screen time apps. Rather, the pushback developers received was part of Apple’s ongoing app review process, they said, and noted that the rules these apps violate have been in place for years.

Apple has a history of going against applications that mimic built-in iOS functionality, but whether or not that is actually what’s going on here is unclear. The timing of the crackdown on APIs used by third-party screen time apps, which is just months after the introduction of the first-party Screen Time feature, is certainly suspicious.

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