TECH BREAK: BlackBerry has got its groove back - Daily Nation
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TECH BREAK: BlackBerry has got its groove back

Friday January 11 2019

BlackBerry.

Under TCL, BlackBerry has got its groove back. PHOTO| FILE 

By KIUMBUKU MUCHUKU
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You may disagree, but under TCL, BlackBerry has got its groove back, with the devices getting better release after release.

The KEY platform is growing, and making rounds now is the KEY2 LE, by far, one of the best phones released out there. It comes riding on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chipset, with an octa-core Kryo 260 processor, backed by 4GB of RAM. It has an Adreno 509 GPU that outputs to a 4.5-inch display that comes with 1080 x 1620 pixels resolution.

Its available with either 32GB or 64GB storage, expandable by microSD to 256GB. It has two cameras at the back, consisting of a 5MP depth sensor and a 13MP shooter with 4K support, Phase Detection Auto-Focus, dual-tone dual-LED flash and HDR support.

At the front is an 8MP selfie camera that records 1080p video. It is an LTE phone, is available as a single or dual-SIM phone, has 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi support, and Bluetooth 5.0.

The fundamental appeal for many BlackBerry devices is the keyboard, and this one comes with a capacitive touch 4-row keyboard with a fingerprint sensor on the space bar, allowing the phone to have a clean rear finish with only the two cameras at the back.

One might imagine that the phone’s screen might be a drawback, being smaller than the average smartphone, but this is anything but. While BlackBerry might still be aiming to put more phones in more suits, they will draw more users than that with this phone. For one, the keyboard is everything you want on this phone.

Highly responsive, inbuilt fingerprint sensor and with a nice touch effect. It is fast, powerful, has a good workflow, especially with their apps, and is all around well put together.

TCL has not messed with the traditional BlackBerry build quality and that is a good thing. It ships with a 3000 mAh battery that breaks a day easily and runs on Android 8.1 (Oreo).

That said, everyone I know wonders why the phones feel overpriced. Ideally, it comes down to the build quality. This one is going for close to Sh40,000.

Instagram blunders with tap-to-navigate test

While Instagram experiments with new ideas every other week, their latest test has gone awry, causing outrage among fans. The new feature being tested was the tap-to-navigate, which turned the traditional news feed into a Stories-like system.

It forced users to tap through posts instead of scrolling, something that many users did not like. The feature was supposed to be released to a limited set of users but accidentally went wider than was expected. Instagram did not mention the number of users affected, though it seems that it was a multi-country incident.

The feature was poorly received, and some users even threatened to delete the app from their devices. Despite the backlash, Instagram is still testing the feature, though with a limited user base.

HP taps AMD for the Chromebook 14

It is no big secret, but the usual arrangement of Chromebooks in today’s era means that they ride Intel processors. HP is attempting to break this with a new Chromebook that runs an AMD processor.

While the same Chromebooks are available with Intel options, putting AMD on the platform makes for a very interesting device. The machine runs an AMD Dual-Core A4-9120 that is backed by 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and an AMD Radeon R4 Graphics card.

It has a 14-inch display with 1,366 x 768 pixels resolution that is WLED-backlit. It also has SVA anti-glare support, which allows you to play with it outside.

HP has been very friendly with the ports, adding two USB Type-C 3.1 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, external storage support via microSD and a headphone jack.

The simplicity of Chromebooks is intoxicating, and this platform is by no means any more different. HP has developed a simple clean and very sleek Chromebook that is, to be honest, very good looking. Its light, barely cracking 1.5 kilos.

That’s not bad, and with its 14-inch profile, makes it ultra-portable. Storage is expandable, but the nicest touch on this is the 100GB of cloud storage.

It connects to 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, while you can add peripherals using Bluetooth 4.2. If you are looking for video calls, then you have a TrueVision HD camera that has a microphone integrated into it.

The best art is the nine hours and five minutes you get to run this on a single charge, plenty to give a full work day. Does this make for the best laptop in the market? Well, It is an interesting approach.

The only unusual bit is the AMD processor, that, to the ordinary user, would be barely an issue, after all, the Chromebook runs, and it runs well. What remains to be seen, however, is whether in the long-term, performance will be an issue once it gets some mileage on it.

This will cost you around Sh27,000, which is quite reasonable. Should you get your hands on one? If you are looking for a Chromebook, yes, absolutely. It has everything you want, shy of a full HD display.

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