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Xiaomi’s first-ever Android One smartphone Mi A1 gets a price cut

Robin Sinha | Gadgets Now | Updated: Dec 11, 2017, 12.26PM IST

e6d8d_62017861 Xiaomi's first-ever Android One smartphone Mi A1 gets a price cut

Xiaomi launched its first-ever Android One smartphone, the Mi A1, in September this year in India. The company launched the handset at Rs 14,999. But now, the company has slashed the price of the smartphone by Rs 1,000, making new price cost of the device at Rs 13,999.

The company’s global vice president and India managing director, Manu Kumar Jain announced the price cut on micro-blogging website Twitter. Interested users can buy the device from Mi.com and Flipkart websites.

Xiaomi Mi A1 price cut announcement comes just few days after the announcement of the smartphone’s Rose Gold colour variant in the country. It was already available in Black and Gold colour versions.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat and comes with pure Android UI onboard. The company is already testing Android 8.0 Oreo for the smartphone. Running Android One on the Mi A1 is likely to receive quick OS updates, bug fixes and a clean interface. Xiaomi says the device is also get Android P.

Sporting a 5.5-inch full HD (1080×1920 pixels) resolution display with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass, the Xiaomi Mi A1 features a full metal body with rounded edges. Under the hood, there is a mid-range octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, clubbed with 4GB RAM and Adreno 506 GPU.

The smartphone comes with 64GB inbuilt storage, which can be expanded using a microSD card.

The dual-rear camera of the smartphone consists of a 12MP wide angle and a 12MP telephoto lens for an improved bokeh effect in portrait shots. The telephoto lens enabled 2x optical zoom. This pairs with Mi A1’s 10x digital zoom. Some of the camera features users will get include Beautify 3.0, Portrait Mode, HDR and more. At the front, the smartphone has a 5MP camera.

The Xiaomi Mi A1 supports 4G, dual-band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, hybrid SIM card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS and Bluetooth. It is backed by a 3080mAh battery and has a fingerprint sensor at the back.

Xiaomi Mi A1 specifications

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Price hikes push health insurance shoppers into hard choices

Margaret Leatherwood has eight choices for health insurance next year but no good options.

The cheapest individual coverage available in her market would eat up nearly a quarter of the income her husband brings home from the oilfields.

The Bryson, Texas, couple makes too much to qualify for Affordable Care Act tax credits that help people buy coverage. But they don’t make enough to comfortably afford insurance on their own, even though Paul Leatherwood works seven days a week.

“I hate to put it like this, but it sucks,” said Margaret Leatherwood, who stays at home and takes care of her grandchildren.

This largely middle-class crowd of shoppers is struggling to stay insured. They’ve weathered years of price hikes and shrinking insurance choices with no help. Faced with more price increases for next year, they’re mulling options outside insurance or skipping coverage entirely — a decision that could lead to a fine for remaining uninsured and huge bills if an emergency hits.

The sign-up period for 2018 coverage closes on Friday in most states, meaning shoppers have only a few more days to find something that squeezes into their budgets.

“I kind of cringe when I am meeting with those clients because I don’t have a solution for them,” said Kelly Rector, a Missouri-based insurance agent.

The ACA helped chop the U.S. uninsured population 41 percent to 28.8 million people earlier this year from 48.6 million in 2010, when it became law, according to the latest government figures.

The law expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor and created health insurance marketplaces where people can use income-based tax credits to buy a single or family individual insurance plan if they don’t get coverage through work. Those subsidies cover part or all of the bill, capping insurance costs at a percentage of income for those who are eligible. That shields recipients from price hikes of 20 percent or more that have hit many markets.

But that help stops abruptly for people making four times the federal poverty level or more — around $48,000 for an individual and more than $98,000 for a family of four.

Of the roughly 15 million people who bought ACA-compliant individual insurance for this year, nearly 7 million had no tax credit help, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Meanwhile, the uninsured rate among adults who make too much to qualify for help buying coverage jumped to 5 percent this year from 2 percent in 2016, according to The Commonwealth Fund.

Brokers and health care researchers expect that to climb again, especially for people with income levels close to the cutoff for federal help.

“It’s not going to be like an on-off switch where prices get too high and nobody buys coverage,” said Sherry Glied of New York University. “It’s more like a drip, drip, drip.”

The vulnerable population includes the self-employed, small business owners and those close to qualifying for the Medicare program that covers people age 65 and over.

These customers can face monthly bills that climb past $2,000 for a family plan and then a big deductible before most coverage starts. Plus fewer markets this year have insurance that comes with a health savings account, which lets people save for medical expenses before taxes. Those accounts are popular with individual insurance shoppers who don’t get tax credit help, said St. Louis broker Emily Bremer.

Leslie Glogau said some of her customers in the Orlando, Florida area are considering short-term, limited-benefits plans that are cheaper than ACA-compliant coverage but can leave them vulnerable to big medical bills. Such plans also won’t stave off the uninsured penalty, which can amount to a few thousand dollars depending on income.

“People just don’t know which way to turn,” Glogau said.

Insurance shoppers won’t be fined if they can’t find an affordable option in their market. But going uninsured would still leave them exposed to huge medical bills.

Margaret and Paul Leatherwood wound up with a limited-benefits plan this year, but they want better protection in case of a big bill. She’s 58 and he just turned 60. They’re weighing joining a medical cost-sharing ministry for next year.

These ministries are not insurance, but they allow people to band together to share expenses, often by making monthly payments. They can be cheaper than regular coverage, and belonging to one allows customers to escape the ACA penalty for remaining uninsured.

Such arrangements usually come with restrictions or qualifications. For instance, participants may not be allowed to use tobacco, and there might be limits on help for medical conditions that existed before the customer signed up.

“That’s really the only option we have that’s going to cover anything,” Margaret Leatherwood said.

Lance and Stephanie Schmidt bought family coverage in the individual insurance market for years because they don’t get employer-sponsored coverage through Lance’s dental practice. But the Oklahoma City couple opted for a cost-sharing ministry this year after they realized the monthly insurance bill for their family of five would have more than doubled to over $1,200 and stuck them with a deductible that topped $7,000.

They now pay $450 a month for a plan through Liberty HealthShare, and they are leaning toward returning next year.

“There’s still some risk there, but so far it has proven to be just fine,” said Stephanie Schmidt.

Cost-sharing ministries and short-term plans aren’t the only alternatives to individual insurance. Tom Morrill, a broker from Kansas City, Missouri, has helped many of his customers set up group coverage through their businesses.

He said that gives them better options than what they would find on the individual market, where coverage prices from the dominant insurer, Cigna, are climbing an average of 42 percent. Four insurers have left that market. The 10 remaining plans all have narrow networks of providers and don’t pay for care outside those networks.

“It’s nuts,” Morrill said. “Rates have jumped dramatically. It’s not good coverage.”

iPhone SE 2: Release date, price, news and rumours about Apple’s forthcoming ‘budget’ smartphone

Apple’s got the premium end of the smartphone market covered with the £999 iPhone X – so it’s no surprise that the company is turning its attention to the other end of the spectrum.

The company’s iPhone SE was billed as a powerful 4-inch option for those wanting a smaller device when it launched in March last year. And rumours are currently circulating that Apple plans to update it in the coming months.

It’s also about time that Apple updated the form factor of the device – which is based on the iPhone 5 from 2012 -as well as updating the internal components to keep it competitive in 2018.

Here’s everything we know about it so far.

Release date

There’s no telling on when Apple may reveal the next version of the iPhone SE but gadget watchers reckon it could be in March 2018, a year after the first phone was launched.

A report on the Focus Taiwan News Channel suggests that it will be launched in the first quarter of 2018. That same date is echoed by Macworld – a much more reliable source of Apple rumours.

Price

The original iPhone SE is displayed
(Image: Getty)

As well as the smaller screen size, part of the appeal of the iPhone SE 2 will undoubtedly be the price. Apple raised a few eyebrows with the £999 entry-level price tag of the iPhone X but the SE 2 will be considerably cheaper.

The original iPhone SE started out at £379 for 16GB and was then bumped up to £349 when the internal storage was upped to 32GB. Apple discontinued the 16GB model so it’s highly likely the new SE 2 will arrive with 32GB or even 64GB as the minimum. Apple is unlikely to drop the price with the new model so expect it to cost a minimum of £350.

Design

A picture allegedly showing the back panel of the iPhone SE 2
(Image: Weibo)

There’s limited information around about what the iPhone SE 2 might look like but a report from BGR suggests it will have a glass back. This makes sense as all of Apple’s recent handsets have a glass back to facilitate wireless charging.

The site also got hold of a picture (above) that had been circulating on Chinese social media allegedly showing the back panel for the new iPhone SE 2.

What we all want to know though is whether or not Apple will decide to keep the headphone jack.

Features

The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 5Se running iOS 10
(Image: Apple)

According to a report from Tekz24.com , Apple will build the iPhone SE 2 at a factory in India.

It will boast an A10 Fusion processor (the same one in the iPhone 7) and will have a 12MP camera on the back with an upgraded 7MP selfie camera on the front.

The internal RAM will remain at 2GB and storage options will be a choice of either 32GB or 128GB.

The site also says the battery will be raised from 1,640mAh to 1,700mAh. Given that it will have a smaller, lower resolution screen than other iPhones, you should expect the battery life to be fairly decent.

iPhone SE 2 release date, price, news and rumours about Apple’s forthcoming ‘budget’ smartphone

Apple’s got the premium end of the smartphone market covered with the £999 iPhone X – so it’s no surprise that the company is turning its attention to the other end of the spectrum.

The company’s iPhone SE was billed as a powerful 4-inch option for those wanting a smaller device when it launched in March last year. And rumours are currently circulating that Apple plans to update it in the coming months.

It’s also about time that Apple updated the form factor of the device – which is based on the iPhone 5 from 2012 -as well as updating the internal components to keep it competitive in 2018.

Here’s everything we know about it so far.

Release date

There’s no telling on when Apple may reveal the next version of the iPhone SE but gadget watchers reckon it could be in March 2018, a year after the first phone was launched.

A report on the Focus Taiwan News Channel suggests that it will be launched in the first quarter of 2018. That same date is echoed by Macworld – a much more reliable source of Apple rumours.

Price

The original iPhone SE is displayed
(Image: Getty)

As well as the smaller screen size, part of the appeal of the iPhone SE 2 will undoubtedly be the price. Apple raised a few eyebrows with the £999 entry-level price tag of the iPhone X but the SE 2 will be considerably cheaper.

The original iPhone SE started out at £379 for 16GB and was then bumped up to £349 when the internal storage was upped to 32GB. Apple discontinued the 16GB model so it’s highly likely the new SE 2 will arrive with 32GB or even 64GB as the minimum. Apple is unlikely to drop the price with the new model so expect it to cost a minimum of £350.

Design

A picture allegedly showing the back panel of the iPhone SE 2
(Image: Weibo)

There’s limited information around about what the iPhone SE 2 might look like but a report from BGR suggests it will have a glass back. This makes sense as all of Apple’s recent handsets have a glass back to facilitate wireless charging.

The site also got hold of a picture (above) that had been circulating on Chinese social media allegedly showing the back panel for the new iPhone SE 2.

What we all want to know though is whether or not Apple will decide to keep the headphone jack.

Features

The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 5Se running iOS 10
(Image: Apple)

According to a report from Tekz24.com , Apple will build the iPhone SE 2 at a factory in India.

It will boast an A10 Fusion processor (the same one in the iPhone 7) and will have a 12MP camera on the back with an upgraded 7MP selfie camera on the front.

The internal RAM will remain at 2GB and storage options will be a choice of either 32GB or 128GB.

The site also says the battery will be raised from 1,640mAh to 1,700mAh. Given that it will have a smaller, lower resolution screen than other iPhones, you should expect the battery life to be fairly decent.

Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale: Apple iPhone X sees price drop, Google Pixel 2 sees 34% discount

Starting noon on December 7, Flipkart launched a two-day ‘Big Shopping Days’ sale with massive discounts across categories and brands. The star attractions of the sale are: Apple iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 mobile phones.

Flipkart went live at 12 PM with a limited stock sale on Apple iPhone X handsets. The sale started from a price point of Rs 89,000 and also feature an additional offer of Rs 5000 instant discount to those using SBI credit cards for their purchase. The phones are available at no cost EMI by the ecommerce company.

Banking on mobile phones
Flipkart’s two of the biggest categories – mobile phones and electronics – feature some of the deepest discount with the sale scheduled to last from December 7 to 9. Another star attraction in the category is Google Pixel 2 handsets which is made available to customers at a steep discount, starting from Rs 39,999 or lower. Google Pixel 2 is originally available at Rs 61000 in the market.

Other mobile phone brands like Samsung on Nxt, Moto C Plus, Lenovo K8 Plus are also part of the sale with heavy discounts.

Electronics, accessories, and more
Another big seller for Flipkart – electronics – features heavy discounts on several products and brands. The company is offering massive discounts on laptops, headphones, speakers with brands like Sony and JBL leading the discount race with 70% off.

DSLR cameras are being sold on discount with certain brands also offering free headsets worth Rs 6499 free on the sale of these cameras.

One of the featured offer is a flat 50% discount on Fossil Wander smartwatches.

The website also has a separate section dedicated to gaming fans called Gamer’s Paradise and lists up to 50% off on gaming laptops, consoles, and other accessories. Microsoft Xbox S is being offered at a discount range of 10-23%; with purchase of video games inviting an extra 10% off.

Other big categories invited big discounts are: Personal and Healthcare products (up to 80% off), Fashion and Lifetsyle (50-80% off). Winter clothing will have up to 80% off across brands.

The website has also tied up with the SBI bank for extra offers to those using the bank’s credit cards for their transactions, with 10% instant discount on offer.

​LG launches Signature phone at higher price than iPhone X

8cbb8_lg-signature-edition ​LG launches Signature phone at higher price than iPhone X

LG Electronics has launched a limited edition “super” premium phone in South Korea.

The company will sell only 300 units of the LG Signature Edition, which will be priced around 2 million won ($1,800), higher than iPhone X’s 1.63 million won in the country.

LG has used the Signature brand for its high-end home appliances and TVs, but this is the first time it is being used for a phone.

The company’s reshuffle last week shows that its mobile business will likely be subsidiary to its TV and home appliance businesses. CEO Jo Seong-jin originally started the Signature brand in home appliances, with great success that led to record profits.

LG said the Signature phone, which comes in black and white, was made from materials used in boutique watches.

The design is focused on being “simple” and “dignified”. The backside uses zirconium ceramic that is said to reduce scratches. Consumers can choose to engrave their names in the back cover.

Its specification is near identical to the V30 and the phone has 6GB Ram and 256GB internal memory. It comes with Android 8.0, has Qi wireless charging, and LG Pay. It sports a 6-inch OLED display, has a 3,300 mAh battery, and a dual camera.

LG’s mobile business has posted 10 straight quarters of losses.

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FCC Wants to Kill Net Neutrality. Congress Will Pay the Price

FCC chair Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal net neutrality provisions and reclassify broadband providers from “common carriers” to “information services” is an unprecedented giveaway to big broadband providers and a danger to the internet. The move would mean the FCC would have almost no oversight authority over broadband providers like Comcast, Verizon, and ATT.

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Ryan Singel (@rsingel) is media and strategy fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and the CEO/cofounder of Contextly.

For years, those broadband providers have used lawsuits and agency filings to fight FCC oversight and overturn its authority to prevent net neutrality abuses. But never in those companies’ most feverish dreams did they expect an FCC chair would propose to demolish all net neutrality protections and allow ISPs to extract tolls from every business in the country.

Even industry analysts who expected the reclassification of broadband providers from Title II common carriers to Title I information services were stunned. Following Pai’s announcement, independent cable analyst Craig Moffett sent out an email to investors entitled “Shock and Awe and Net Neutrality,” writing, “We’ve known since the election that the FCC would reverse Title II. But we never expected this. Yesterday’s FCC Draft Order on Net Neutrality went much further than we ever could’ve imagined in not only reversing Title II, but in dismantling virtually all of the important tenets of net neutrality itself.”

If Congress allows Pai’s plan to pass, all that will be left of FCC oversight of broadband providers is a weak disclosure requirement: If Verizon, for example, wants to block content, charge sites to be viewable on its network, or create paid fast lanes, the company will simply have to tell its subscribers in their contract’s fine print. (Broadband providers won’t have to disclose, and the FCC won’t have control over, the sneakier ways they’ve found to mess with the internet.)

Enforcement will be left to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency that’s never enforced open internet rules and has no ability to formulate its own. The FTC won’t even be able to protect consumers against most net neutrality violations after the fact, and nor will it be able to protect consumers against greedy broadband providers.

And violations will come if Pai’s plan passes.

ATT’s Ed Whitacre summarized broadband providers’ true motivations best back in 2005: “Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?,” he said. “The internet can’t be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.”

Verizon echoed that sentiment in 2013 when it sued to challenge the 2010 open internet rules. It told a federal court that as an “information service” it had the right to charge online services like Yelp access fees simply to work on its network and should be able block those sites from Verizon subscribers if Yelp didn’t pay. (Verizon won that case, leading to the 2015 order and the reclassification of broadband providers as “common carriers”.)

The 2015 order, replacing the one Verizon had overturned, recognized this as a threat and prohibited ISPs from charging sites and services simply to reach their users. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, thinks this would be innovative. Now his plan would usher in a radical upending of how the internet has worked in the US since its inception.

Every website could have to pay more to simply be online; prices for online services would likely rise as companies start to pay broadband providers to be in fast lanes, while broadband providers would find even sneakier ways to enact tolls on the internet, free of any agency able to set rules to stop them.

    MORE ON NET NEUTRALITY

  • How to Make Sense of Net Neutrality and Telecom Under Trump

  • Bogus Emails and Bee Movie: Digging Into the FCC’s Broken Net Neutrality Comments

  • Ajit Pai’s Shell Game

Startups and their potential investors would no longer have certainty that they could compete against incumbents, as they would need lots of money simply to pay each broadband provider for access or to escape the slow lane.

Today, small and medium-size businesses rely on a myriad online business services for internal communications, sales, and accounting, to name just a few. Slack, Dropbox, Gusto, Quickbooks, and thousands more would have to pay access charges and fast-lane fees, costs they would likely have to pass to their customers.

Non-mainstream media news sources across the political spectrum would no longer be able to afford to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Even churches that now reach their members online with streaming sermons, video libraries, and online video chats, would no longer be protected from blocking or access fees.

Americans understand this and are rightly freaking out.

Since the order was released, they’ve flooded Congress with more than half a million calls, and that’s only counting calls placed through the site BattleForTheNet.com.

The citizen outrage crosses party lines; net neutrality is more popular than both parties combined. A poll this summer found that 77 percent of Americans support the current protections, including 73 percent of Republicans.

This is not surprising. History has shown that internet freedom is the new third rail of US politics.

In 2012, a bipartisan majority of Congress was dead set on passing SOPA, a law ostensibly intended to stop online copyright infringement but which would have threatened huge swaths of the internet. All conventional wisdom said it was a done deal. Then, freedom-loving people of the internet melted representatives’ phone lines after a day of online action in January 2012. Even SOPA’s biggest supporters had to concede the internet killed SOPA.

When online bots poisoned the net neutrality comment period, FCC chair Ajit Pai shrugged it off.

In 2014, when the FCC set out to replace the struck-down 2010 net neutrality protections, conventional D.C. wisdom suggested that preserving net neutrality by designating broadband companies as common carriers was politically impossible.

But millions of Americans proved otherwise. When TV host John Oliver pleaded with viewers to contact the FCC in support of net neutrality, they responded at such volume that the agency’s website crashed. That resulted in a win: limited but well-defined FCC net neutrality rules which, for the first time in FCC history, survived court challenges.

Then in March, Congressional Republicans used a little-known legislative tool to repeal FCC rules that required broadband providers to get permission to track their subscribers’ every moves online for advertising purposes.

That vote blew up in their faces when Republicans came back to their districts and held town hall meetings, where the politicians’ arguments that they voted to strike down the rule because it didn’t apply to online companies like Google did little to appease voter anger. That’s already likely to be an issue in the 2018 midterms.

So far senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the only Republican member of Congress who has explicitly criticized Pai’s plan and has come out on the side of the internet.

As the appointed head of an independent agency, Pai is technically free to ignore the American public. He’s done just that, saying that he doesn’t care about public sentiment. Pai did nothing when online bots poisoned the net neutrality comment period and posted anti net neutrality submissions using Americans’ names without their permission or knowledge. Instead of taking this corruption of a democratic process seriously, Pai shrugged it off.

And while the FCC held multiple public hearings with participation from experts during previous net neutrality actions in 2008, 2010, and 2015, this time around, Pai didn’t hold a single one.

Voters know Republicans in Congress are the only ones who can stop Pai, and they should keep calling. If enough Republicans tell Pai to stop, he will likely back down. After all, Congressional pressure has stopped the FCC before.

Members of Congress face a choice: They can side with their constituents, who overwhelmingly want them to defend the greatest communication and innovation platform ever invented, or support one of the most blatant anti-consumer corporate giveaways in modern history.

Some lawmakers believe the current FCC protections are the right solution, and others think that Congress should step in with a legislative solution to settle the matter once and for all. But all should agree that Pai’s plan to repeal the protections without a replacement is reckless and unnecessary.

There’s no crisis Pai needs to save us from.

The only crisis looming is the one that Pai’s plan will create for entrepreneurs, free markets, free speech, and for Republican members of Congress running for re-election who didn’t make the choice to stop Pai when they had the chance.

WIRED Opinion publishes pieces written by outside contributors and represents a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here.

Best Buy Launches ’20 Days Of Doorbusters’: MacBook Pro Gets Price Cut — iPhone, Samsung Later

Credit: Apple

Apple 13.3-inch MacBook Pro.

On Saturday, Best Buy launched a MacBook Pro sale, part of its 20 Days of Doorbusters.

Best Buy slashed $200 off a bevy of the latest (mid-2017) MacBook Pro models on December 2. Models range from the 128GB base model, cut to $1,099.99 from $1,299.99, to the 256GB model, reduced to $1,299.99 from $1,499.99, to a 16GB/512GB model, on sale for $1,999.99, down from $2,199.99.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy “Doorbuster’ deals change every 24 hours. On Saturday, it’s MacBook Pros.

Most of the MBP models on sale don’t come with the OLED Touch Bar, which, for some consumers, may be a gratuitous feature anyway.

All Deals will go live in the wee hours (U.S. time) each day and will continue until everything is sold out or until 11:59 p.m. CT each day.  The details of each deal day won’t be revealed until the deal starts.

Here’s an excerpt from the Best Buy press release:

The day’s featured doorbuster is guaranteed to be the lowest price you’ll find at Best Buy all season long.

But we’re keeping the deals a surprise, so you won’t know which product will be featured which day until the morning it’s announced.

Other deals worth noting include touch-screen laptops on Day 5 (December 5), Big-screen Smart 4K TV on Day 6, Samsung cell phones on Day 10, iPad on Day 11, wireless security cameras on Day 12, and iPhone on Day 17.

And Best Buy has ongoing deals here.

Credit: Best Buy

Best Buy ‘Doorbuster’ schedule.

Black Friday Price Drop: Bluetooth FRESHeBUDS over 75% off

8f4a7_freshebuds Black Friday Price Drop: Bluetooth FRESHeBUDS over 75% off

If you’re in the market for some solid Bluetooth earbuds that deliver quality audio without breaking the bank, we’ve got a deal for you!

We’ve just caught wind that this pair of FRESHeBUDS Air earbuds are going for just $24.95.

Since their sticker price is $119.99, that means you’re getting nearly 80 percent off with this offer.

Earlier this year at CES, we tried out a pair Onkyo’s $100,000 headphones. The sound was pretty stellar, but worth that price tag? Frankly not.

The truth is that we’re reaching an era of audio technology where quality sound can be delivered quite inexpensively. Often, most of what you’re paying for with audio products these days is brand recognition.

In short, if you’re just in this for the music then this might be the right deal for you.

FRESHeBUDS Air Earbuds in a Glance:

  • Bluetooth 4.1 capability delivers clear, HD audio wirelessly
  • 6 hours of battery life lets you listen almost all day
  • 30-foot range lets you answer your phone or change songs w/ your phone well out of reach
  • Magnetic attraction makes it easy to keep track of your headphones whenever you’re not using them

They’re sweatproof, lightweight, weatherproof, and perfect for jamming through your workout or your daily commute. Click the button below to check them out!

emThe AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to a href=”https://goo.gl/WPGPbB”the AAPICKS HUB/a. /em

hr

h3Looking for a new phone or plan? Start here with the Android Authority Plan Tool:/h3
a href=”https://goo.gl/Rex3q1″img class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-811348″ src=”https://cdn57.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/whistleout-compare-phones-and-plans-840×385.jpg” alt=”” width=”840″ height=”385″/a

The big iPhone X price comparison chart

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians who have been holding out for the iPhone X can now get their hands on Apple’s special 10-year anniversary edition flagship. 

Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile have released their pricing plans for the new phone, which are all tied to 24-month postpaid contracts. 

As we’ve previously done with the iPhone 8, we’ve sifted through all the telcos’ iPhone X offerings and sorted them according to the different specs and plans available. (Note however that Maxis’ online store will only be up next week so any purchases will have to be made directly at the Maxis Store nearest to you.) 

This time around the iPhone X plans are identical to the ones for the iPhone 8, with all four telcos offering unlimited calls to all local networks for all their bundled plans. (See our previous story here.) 

Boasting Face ID and an edge-to-edge 5.8in Super Retina display, Apple’s latest flagship comes with wireless charging, a new feature for iPhones. 

As with the iPhone 8, the iPhone X comes in two flavours – 64GB and 256GB of internal storage – and is available in Silver and Space Grey. 

For more information, visit Maxis, Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile.

Related story:
The big iPhone 8 and 8 Plus price comparison chart

Doctors back new Ohio health-care price transparency bill

As Ohio’s health-care price transparency law remains tied up in court by Ohio hospitals and others, one of the legislature’s few doctors has introduced a replacement proposal backed by the medical community.

Rep. Stephen Huffman, R-Tipp City, a physician and chairman of the House Health Committee, said the new transparency bill would give patients information upfront about out-of-pocket and covered costs of procedures with prior authorization. It also would require disclosure of costs for a number of other procedures, such as MRIs or childbirth, if the patient requests it seven days in advance.

“I hope that, given the opportunities, more and more people are shopping services,” Huffman said.

But Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, said he has seen these ideas pushed before, and he doesn’t think the medical community’s motive has anything to do with a desire for more price transparency.

Butler, chief author of Ohio’s current health-care transparency law that passed in 2015, said the new bill is little more than an attempt to avoid real price disclosure.

“They do not want the majority of patients to know what their costs are going to be beforehand because they don’t want them to compare those prices with prices that are seen outside of a hospital setting, where they are sometimes one-tenth of the cost,” Butler said.

“I don’t blame the hospitals for not wanting transparency and putting forward an idea that looks good but doesn’t really provide transparency.”

The Ohio Hospital Association, joined by doctors, surgeons, and physical therapists, filed a lawsuit in December to block the current law from taking effect. Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid Department also failed to write rules implementing it.

Current law requires providers to give patients a “good faith” estimate of how much non-emergency services would cost, before and after accounting for health insurance. And it requires that the information be provided before treatment.

Todd Baker, executive director of the Ohio State Medical Association, called the current law “ambiguous and unworkable.”

Mike Abrams, president of the Ohio Hospital Association, has said the law requires providers to give information they cannot access without contacting unrelated third parties. Complying would mean delaying care to track down information from insurance companies, which might not provide it.

The lawsuit, Abrams said, “is to protect patients from disruptions and delays in their care, and to protect health-care providers from being in the untenable position of violating a law with which it is impossible to comply.”

Huffman said his bill would better define what prices must be disclosed: “Every little procedure is difficult to define, because there are a lot of unknowns in medicine.”

A key difference between current law and Huffman’s proposal, Butler said, is that instead of providing prices automatically, the new bill would require patients to request an estimate in many cases.

“They know patients almost never ask for an estimate. That is why they’re proposing it,” Butler said, pointing to the struggles with a transparency law in Massachusetts.

The Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts nonprofit group espousing free-market principles, has twice studied the implementation of the law there, most recently in April, finding that too often providers are not complying with the law.

“Providers and carriers alike claim that health care is so complicated that consumers lack the sophistication or desire to compare quality or price, and few consumers seek such information,” Pioneer wrote. “At the same time, hospitals and insurers justify their lack of outreach to consumers regarding price transparency.”

Greg Lawson, research fellow for the Buckeye Institute, a conservative research group that supports more price transparency, said Huffman’s proposal is better than nothing. But Lawson also is concerned that without requiring health-care providers to provide prices, few will ask for it.

“This is an unfortunate watering down and walking back of what was intended,” Lawson said. “It’s definitely not robust enough to get where we think we need to be on getting prices into consumers’ hands.”

jsiegel@dispatch.com

@phrontpage

iPhone 8 PRICE CRASH – Apple’s new flagship slashed in price but deal ends TOMORROW

Apple’s new has just received a major price cut.

This next generation smartphone, which was released in September, is currently on offer from Mobiles.co.uk from just £29 per month – that’s one of its lowest prices to date.

The deal includes unlimited calls, texts and a generous 12GB of data.

There’s also a voucher code, DEALENVY10, which will reduce the upfront cost from £185 to £175.

The iPhone 8 includes an updated glass design, improved cameras with better low light photography and much faster processor.

Apple’s new smartphone also features wireless charging and a True Tone display which can adapt to different lighting conditions.

America is about to kill the open internet – and towns like this will pay the price

It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer.

Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report frustratingly slow connections. There’s no binging on the latest must-watch Netflix show or streaming music on Spotify to suit your mood. No quick downloading of a podcast for your journey to work as you grab your coat. No running several devices simultaneously as parents catch up with internet banking or shopping on Amazon while their children chat on social media and watch YouTube videos.

Quick Guide

Net neutrality

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally – whether that’s an email from your mother, a bank transfer or a streamed episode of Stranger Things. It means that ISPs, which control the delivery pipes, don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly, and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example, slowing the delivery of a TV show because it is streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason, some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate ISPs and to enshrine in law the principles of net neutrality. The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as title II “common carriers”, a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry. Two years on, Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has pushed to overturn the 2015 order arguing they overstep the FCC’s jurisdiction and hinder corporate innovation. On 18 May, the FCC voted to support a new proposal that would repeal the order and started a 90-day period in which members of the public could comment. A final vote is expected in December.

Some have no broadband at all because the only provider, CenturyLink, has maxed out its system and there is a waiting list to get a connection, while others live outside the service area. Conrow and others have been complaining about the service for years. And if the internet’s top regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), gets its way, Conrow worries things may never get better.

In 2015, under Obama, the FCC passed the open internet order, which treated the regulation of broadband as a utility, similar to electricity or water, something seen as essential to modern life. Among other rules companies were officially banned from offering tiered services – fast and slow lanes for different service in an attempt to preserve “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic online should be treated equally. An ombudsman was established to police complaints about net neutrality.



A man walks out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images

With the FCC now under Republican control those plans are now on the chopping block. The regulator has outlined its plans to scrap the open internet rules and will vote to implement its plans in December.

Conrow’s husband Matthew works from home as a programmer for a company in Los Angeles. He gets just enough bandwidth to allow him to do his job, but said: “Nobody can touch the internet while I’m working because any drain at all kills it. We’re paying for 3Mbps. When I check my network, I get about 2.2max, usually less than two. The IT techs down in LA watch my connection in and they’re like: ‘Gee, your connection’s terrible!’.”

Conrow, a mail carrier, said: “Thankfully I don’t have to use the internet during the day, but I’d like to use it for more when I get home. We don’t stream anything – movies, Spotify … I’m really bummed out I can’t watch Stranger Things. We have to download podcasts overnight it takes so long.”

A couple of years ago, Conrow set up Winlock Needs Internet and residents banded together to lobby the cable company, politicians and the FCC for improvements to the service outside the town centre – but nothing has changed. Conrow says that their efforts, which included holding a town meeting with a representative from the cable company, have worn them down and they are increasingly resigned to the situation.

Conrow said: “There’s little financial return on the high cost of digging lines and putting in fibre in small, spread out communities.”

A spokesman for CenturyLink told the Guardian: “Based on our current plans and timeline, we have no plans at this time to build out our infrastructure in this area.

“The actual speed customers experience will vary depending on not only the bandwidth provided to the customer by CenturyLink, but also other factors outside of CenturyLink’s control such as customer location, the quality of the customer’s equipment and wiring within the home, and the websites accessed by the customer.”

Conrow is worried about plans put forward by the FCC chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Donald Trump in January, to scrap the Obama-era protections. Last August he also proposed lowering the standards for high-speed internet.

Conrow said: “If the FCC lowers the requirements for what qualifies as high-speed internet and they hamstring net neutrality it would effectively shut down our hopes for useful connections. Nothing I’ve heard from Ajit Pai has left me feeling optimistic.”

She added: “We don’t have a choice as far as internet providers. If net neutrality goes out the window, we lose the choice about what they’re sending down the pipeline to us.”

In some ways, the digital situation in rural Winlock gives a glimpse of what service could be like if FCC oversight is curtailed, net neutrality is rolled back and internet providers are allowed to block or throttle traffic, or offer “fast lanes” to websites that pay extra for the privilege.



‘I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth.’ Photograph: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

Mike Griffee, a chaplain at the Lewis Country Chaplaincy Services, lives just outside Winlock. He has difficulty doing online training courses without the screen freezing, finding it’s better to get up early when fewer people are online in his neighbourhood.

Griffee said: “It’s not just the training, we like to stream stuff from Netflix or Amazon in the evening, but there’s a lot of time you’re waiting and it’s buffering. It can take two hours instead of one to watch Midsomer Murders. It’s infuriating.”

Conrow added: “I’ve heard from parents that their kids struggle too, with more school assignments being done online.”

Patti Angeliz Sugita has no CenturyLink connection at her house a couple of miles from Winlock and gets her internet via satellite.

Sugita, who runs an animal rescue charity, has six satellite dishes at her property and finds the service better at night. “I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth to download files and upload videos needed for the charity.

“I can’t stream without constant buffering and towards the end of the month I can hardly access necessary sites.”

When the Conrows moved to Winlock from Los Angeles 10 years ago, they checked there was internet at the house before closing the deal.

“We moved up here … and found we were on the cusp of what the nearest hub could handle. It is enough to get a trickle,” Matthew Conrow said.

Being left behind by the internet also exacerbates an economic divide, he said.

“Properties are for sale and people come to look and hear they’ll have to live at dial-up speeds. Across the freeway is Toledo, which has fibre to every person’s door. It’s like: ‘Well I’m going to buy over there then’.”

He believes the internet should be treated as a public utility. “Someone needs to say, ‘you need to get the internet infrastructure out to these people’, because this is a basic need now, with schooling and working practices.

“It’s that feeling of being left behind from a basic service. You feel like you’re disconnecting, whether it’s colleagues in LA talking about a show you’ve not watched, or not being able to get Alexa. Then there’s the whole concept of the internet of things where everything in your house is connected to the internet – where does that leave us?”

Michelle Conrow picks up a book about the history of the US postal service lying next to her laptop, flicking through the pages.

“It talks about when there was a debate over whether we should have service to rural areas. It was all the same arguments about why we shouldn’t – too expensive, it doesn’t return the investment – and why we should – farmers need the news, people need to order things. It was a similar debate with the telephone, electricity … we’ve been here before.

“Are we going to end up with the internet for everybody just like these services that seem so obvious now?” She pauses. “I worry we won’t.”

America is about to kill the open internet and town like this will pay the price

It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer.

Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report frustratingly slow connections. There’s no binging on the latest must-watch Netflix show or streaming music on Spotify to suit your mood. No quick downloading of a podcast for your journey to work as you grab your coat. No running several devices simultaneously as parents catch up with internet banking or shopping on Amazon while their children chat on social media and watch YouTube videos.

Quick Guide

Net neutrality

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally – whether that’s an email from your mother, a bank transfer or a streamed episode of Stranger Things. It means that ISPs, which control the delivery pipes, don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly, and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example, slowing the delivery of a TV show because it is streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason, some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate ISPs and to enshrine in law the principles of net neutrality. The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as title II “common carriers”, a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry. Two years on, Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has pushed to overturn the 2015 order arguing they overstep the FCC’s jurisdiction and hinder corporate innovation. On 18 May, the FCC voted to support a new proposal that would repeal the order and started a 90-day period in which members of the public could comment. A final vote is expected in December.

Some have no broadband at all because the only provider, CenturyLink, has maxed out its system and there is a waiting list to get a connection, while others live outside the service area. Conrow and others have been complaining about the service for years. And if the internet’s top regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), gets its way, Conrow worries things may never get better.

In 2015, under Obama, the FCC passed the open internet order, which treated the regulation of broadband as a utility, similar to electricity or water, something seen as essential to modern life. Among other rules companies were officially banned from offering tiered services – fast and slow lanes for different service in an attempt to preserve “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic online should be treated equally. An ombudsman was established to police complaints about net neutrality.



A man walks out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images

With the FCC now under Republican control those plans are now on the chopping block. The regulator has outlined its plans to scrap the open internet rules and will vote to implement its plans in December.

Conrow’s husband Matthew works from home as a programmer for a company in Los Angeles. He gets just enough bandwidth to allow him to do his job, but said: “Nobody can touch the internet while I’m working because any drain at all kills it. We’re paying for 3Mbps. When I check my network, I get about 2.2max, usually less than two. The IT techs down in LA watch my connection in and they’re like: ‘Gee, your connection’s terrible!’.”

Conrow, a mail carrier, said: “Thankfully I don’t have to use the internet during the day, but I’d like to use it for more when I get home. We don’t stream anything – movies, Spotify … I’m really bummed out I can’t watch Stranger Things. We have to download podcasts overnight it takes so long.”

A couple of years ago, Conrow set up Winlock Needs Internet and residents banded together to lobby the cable company, politicians and the FCC for improvements to the service outside the town centre – but nothing has changed. Conrow says that their efforts, which included holding a town meeting with a representative from the cable company, have worn them down and they are increasingly resigned to the situation.

Conrow said: “There’s little financial return on the high cost of digging lines and putting in fibre in small, spread out communities.”

A spokesman for CenturyLink told the Guardian: “Based on our current plans and timeline, we have no plans at this time to build out our infrastructure in this area.

“The actual speed customers experience will vary depending on not only the bandwidth provided to the customer by CenturyLink, but also other factors outside of CenturyLink’s control such as customer location, the quality of the customer’s equipment and wiring within the home, and the websites accessed by the customer.”

Conrow is worried about plans put forward by the FCC chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Donald Trump in January, to scrap the Obama-era protections. Last August he also proposed lowering the standards for high-speed internet.

Conrow said: “If the FCC lowers the requirements for what qualifies as high-speed internet and they hamstring net neutrality it would effectively shut down our hopes for useful connections. Nothing I’ve heard from Ajit Pai has left me feeling optimistic.”

She added: “We don’t have a choice as far as internet providers. If net neutrality goes out the window, we lose the choice about what they’re sending down the pipeline to us.”

In some ways, the digital situation in rural Winlock gives a glimpse of what service could be like if FCC oversight is curtailed, net neutrality is rolled back and internet providers are allowed to block or throttle traffic, or offer “fast lanes” to websites that pay extra for the privilege.



‘I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth.’ Photograph: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

Mike Griffee, a chaplain at the Lewis Country Chaplaincy Services, lives just outside Winlock. He has difficulty doing online training courses without the screen freezing, finding it’s better to get up early when fewer people are online in his neighbourhood.

Griffee said: “It’s not just the training, we like to stream stuff from Netflix or Amazon in the evening, but there’s a lot of time you’re waiting and it’s buffering. It can take two hours instead of one to watch Midsomer Murders. It’s infuriating.”

Conrow added: “I’ve heard from parents that their kids struggle too, with more school assignments being done online.”

Patti Angeliz Sugita has no CenturyLink connection at her house a couple of miles from Winlock and gets her internet via satellite.

Sugita, who runs an animal rescue charity, has six satellite dishes at her property and finds the service better at night. “I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth to download files and upload videos needed for the charity.

“I can’t stream without constant buffering and towards the end of the month I can hardly access necessary sites.”

When the Conrows moved to Winlock from Los Angeles 10 years ago, they checked there was internet at the house before closing the deal.

“We moved up here … and found we were on the cusp of what the nearest hub could handle. It is enough to get a trickle,” Matthew Conrow said.

Being left behind by the internet also exacerbates an economic divide, he said.

“Properties are for sale and people come to look and hear they’ll have to live at dial-up speeds. Across the freeway is Toledo, which has fibre to every person’s door. It’s like: ‘Well I’m going to buy over there then’.”

He believes the internet should be treated as a public utility. “Someone needs to say, ‘you need to get the internet infrastructure out to these people’, because this is a basic need now, with schooling and working practices.

“It’s that feeling of being left behind from a basic service. You feel like you’re disconnecting, whether it’s colleagues in LA talking about a show you’ve not watched, or not being able to get Alexa. Then there’s the whole concept of the internet of things where everything in your house is connected to the internet – where does that leave us?”

Michelle Conrow picks up a book about the history of the US postal service lying next to her laptop, flicking through the pages.

“It talks about when there was a debate over whether we should have service to rural areas. It was all the same arguments about why we shouldn’t – too expensive, it doesn’t return the investment – and why we should – farmers need the news, people need to order things. It was a similar debate with the telephone, electricity … we’ve been here before.

“Are we going to end up with the internet for everybody just like these services that seem so obvious now?” She pauses. “I worry we won’t.”

REVIEW: The OnePlus 5T is not only a bargain — it’s the best Android phone you can buy at any price

51ece_bi-reviewsone%2520plus%25205t4x3 REVIEW: The OnePlus 5T is not only a bargain — it's the best Android phone you can buy at any priceBusiness Insider

The new OnePlus 5T is an excellent smartphone, but one thing about it stands out from the rest: its $500 price.

That amount is near the top of what OnePlus has charged for its past smartphones. But it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than other top-of-the-line devices — many of the latest flagship smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, cost more than $900.

Given that, you could be forgiven for thinking OnePlus made some serious compromises with the 5T to get its price so comparatively low. But you would be wrong.

While the 5T has some trade-offs, they aren’t meaningful. And I’d recommend the new phone even if it were to cost as much as its rivals.

Check out the OnePlus 5T:

Apple iPhone X Supply Catching Up With Demand; Some Balk At Price

Apple‘s (AAPL) production of the iPhone X smartphone is starting to catch up with demand — as evidenced by shorter delivery wait times — but the high price of the premium handset also could be repelling some consumers, one investment bank says.

Expected delivery dates for the iPhone X when ordered from Apple’s website have shrunk to 2-3 weeks from 3-4 weeks recently, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang said in a note to clients on Tuesday. He chalked that up to Apple ramping up production as well as consumer pushback to the device’s price tag, which starts at $999.

“We continue to believe that the high price points remain a significant concern with consumers,” Zhang said.

He believes Apple might bring down the cost of the iPhone X by offering a version with an LCD screen instead of an OLED screen next year. That LCD-screen handset could be called the iPhone 8S, he said.

Consumers also appear to be skipping the company’s midrange iPhone 8 series handsets in favor of less expensive, year-old iPhone 7 series handsets, Zhang said.


IBD’S TAKE: Apple stock has an IBD Composite Rating of 89, meaning it has outperformed 89% of stocks in key metrics over the past 12 months. For more analysis on Apple, visit the IBD Stock Checkup.


“Our research suggests Apple increased iPhone 7/7 Plus production before the holiday season by 3 to 4 million units but also cut iPhone 8 production by the same amount for December,” Zhang said. “In our view the average, mid-end consumer is choosing an iPhone 7 over the iPhone 8, whereas high-end consumers are more likely to choose an iPhone X.”

Zhang reiterated his buy rating on Apple stock with a price target of 180.

Apple shares were up 2%, near 173.45, in morning trading on the stock market today.

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America is about to kill the open internet and towns like this will pay the price

It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, Washington, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer.

Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report frustratingly slow connections. There’s no binging on the latest must-watch Netflix show or streaming music on Spotify to suit your mood. No quick downloading of a podcast for your journey to work as you grab your coat. No running several devices simultaneously as parents catch up with internet banking or shopping on Amazon while their children chat on social media and watch YouTube videos.

Quick Guide

Net neutrality

Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally – whether that’s an email from your mother, a bank transfer or a streamed episode of Stranger Things. It means that ISPs, which control the delivery pipes, don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly, and which sites get blocked or throttled (for example, slowing the delivery of a TV show because it is streamed by a video company that competes with a subsidiary of the ISP) and who has to pay extra. For this reason, some have described net neutrality as the “first amendment of the internet”.

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate ISPs and to enshrine in law the principles of net neutrality. The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as title II “common carriers”, a public utility-type designation that gives the FCC the ability to set rates, open up access to competitors and more closely regulate the industry. Two years on, Trump’s new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has pushed to overturn the 2015 order arguing they overstep the FCC’s jurisdiction and hinder corporate innovation. On 18 May, the FCC voted to support a new proposal that would repeal the order and started a 90-day period in which members of the public could comment. A final vote is expected in December.

Some have no broadband at all because the only provider, CenturyLink, has maxed out its system and there is a waiting list to get a connection, while others live outside the service area. Conrow and others have been complaining about the service for years. And if the internet’s top regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), gets its way, Conrow worries things may never get better.

In 2015, under Obama, the FCC passed the open internet order, which treated the regulation of broadband as a utility, similar to electricity or water, something seen as essential to modern life. Among other rules companies were officially banned from offering tiered services – fast and slow lanes for different service in an attempt to preserve “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic online should be treated equally. An ombudsman was established to police complaints about net neutrality.



A man walks out of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S Photograph: Bloomberg/via Getty Images

With the FCC now under Republican control those plans are now on the chopping block. The regulator has outlined its plans to scrap the open internet rules and will vote to implement its plans in December.

Conrow’s husband Matthew works from home as a programmer for a company in Los Angeles. He gets just enough bandwidth to allow him to do his job, but said: “Nobody can touch the internet while I’m working because any drain at all kills it. We’re paying for 3Mbps. When I check my network, I get about 2.2max, usually less than two. The IT techs down in LA watch my connection in and they’re like: ‘Gee, your connection’s terrible!’.”

Conrow, a mail carrier, said: “Thankfully I don’t have to use the internet during the day, but I’d like to use it for more when I get home. We don’t stream anything – movies, Spotify … I’m really bummed out I can’t watch Stranger Things. We have to download podcasts overnight it takes so long.”

A couple of years ago, Conrow set up Winlock Needs Internet and residents banded together to lobby the cable company, politicians and the FCC for improvements to the service outside the town centre – but nothing has changed. Conrow says that their efforts, which included holding a town meeting with a representative from the cable company, have worn them down and they are increasingly resigned to the situation.

Conrow said: “There’s little financial return on the high cost of digging lines and putting in fibre in small, spread out communities.”

A spokesman for CenturyLink told the Guardian: “Based on our current plans and timeline, we have no plans at this time to build out our infrastructure in this area.

“The actual speed customers experience will vary depending on not only the bandwidth provided to the customer by CenturyLink, but also other factors outside of CenturyLink’s control such as customer location, the quality of the customer’s equipment and wiring within the home, and the websites accessed by the customer.”

Conrow is worried about plans put forward by the FCC chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by Donald Trump in January, to scrap the Obama-era protections. Last August he also proposed lowering the standards for high-speed internet.

Conrow said: “If the FCC lowers the requirements for what qualifies as high-speed internet and they hamstring net neutrality it would effectively shut down our hopes for useful connections. Nothing I’ve heard from Ajit Pai has left me feeling optimistic.”

She added: “We don’t have a choice as far as internet providers. If net neutrality goes out the window, we lose the choice about what they’re sending down the pipeline to us.”

In some ways, the digital situation in rural Winlock gives a glimpse of what service could be like if FCC oversight is curtailed, net neutrality is rolled back and internet providers are allowed to block or throttle traffic, or offer “fast lanes” to websites that pay extra for the privilege.



‘I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth.’ Photograph: Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

Mike Griffee, a chaplain at the Lewis Country Chaplaincy Services, lives just outside Winlock. He has difficulty doing online training courses without the screen freezing, finding it’s better to get up early when fewer people are online in his neighbourhood.

Griffee said: “It’s not just the training, we like to stream stuff from Netflix or Amazon in the evening, but there’s a lot of time you’re waiting and it’s buffering. It can take two hours instead of one to watch Midsomer Murders. It’s infuriating.”

Conrow added: “I’ve heard from parents that their kids struggle too, with more school assignments being done online.”

Patti Angeliz Sugita has no CenturyLink connection at her house a couple of miles from Winlock and gets her internet via satellite.

Sugita, who runs an animal rescue charity, has six satellite dishes at her property and finds the service better at night. “I wake up at 3am so that I can work in my office and have enough bandwidth to download files and upload videos needed for the charity.

“I can’t stream without constant buffering and towards the end of the month I can hardly access necessary sites.”

When the Conrows moved to Winlock from Los Angeles 10 years ago, they checked there was internet at the house before closing the deal.

“We moved up here … and found we were on the cusp of what the nearest hub could handle. It is enough to get a trickle,” Matthew Conrow said.

Being left behind by the internet also exacerbates an economic divide, he said.

“Properties are for sale and people come to look and hear they’ll have to live at dial-up speeds. Across the freeway is Toledo, which has fibre to every person’s door. It’s like: ‘Well I’m going to buy over there then’.”

He believes the internet should be treated as a public utility. “Someone needs to say, ‘you need to get the internet infrastructure out to these people’, because this is a basic need now, with schooling and working practices.

“It’s that feeling of being left behind from a basic service. You feel like you’re disconnecting, whether it’s colleagues in LA talking about a show you’ve not watched, or not being able to get Alexa. Then there’s the whole concept of the internet of things where everything in your house is connected to the internet – where does that leave us?”

Michelle Conrow picks up a book about the history of the US postal service lying next to her laptop, flicking through the pages.

“It talks about when there was a debate over whether we should have service to rural areas. It was all the same arguments about why we shouldn’t – too expensive, it doesn’t return the investment – and why we should – farmers need the news, people need to order things. It was a similar debate with the telephone, electricity … we’ve been here before.

“Are we going to end up with the internet for everybody just like these services that seem so obvious now?” She pauses. “I worry we won’t.”

iPhone power adapters tested: Is fast charging worth the price?

New to this years’ iPhones is fast-charging capability. According to Apple, you can juice up your phone to 50 percent in just 30 minutes! There’s just one catch: You have to buy a new power adapter. Oh, and a new USB-C to Lightning cable, too. That’s two catches, and it’s starting to sound expensive.

Is it even worth it? We grabbed five power adapters and three iPhones, ran a bunch of tests, and got to the bottom of the iPhone charging mystery. The truth is, while USB-C fast charging certainly works, you’re much better off buying Apple’s 12W USB-A Power Adapter—the one that comes with most iPads. It’s a lot less expensive ($19) and nearly as fast.

How we tested

The iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus all support fast charging from USB-C power adapters that support the new USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) specification. It’s the same way the new MacBooks get charged over USB-C. 

But we wanted to see how well that stands up to using the adapter that comes with your phone, and the 12W adapter that Apple includes with iPads. What’s more, we wanted to see how these new phones stack up against older iPhones that do not officially support USB-PD fast charging.

We tested three phones: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus and X have essentially the same size battery. The former is 2691 mAh and the latter 2716 mAh—that’s about a 1 percent difference, so we’ll just call those 2700 mAh. The iPhone 7 Plus has a slightly larger batter at 2900 mAh. That’s less than 8 percent larger, but it is enough of a difference that, even if the iPhone 7 Plus were to draw just as much power as the other phones, it would take just a little bit longer to charge up.

For each of these phones, we drained them to 1 percent remaining battery life, then made sure no apps were running and the phone was in airplane mode to prevent any background activity like app updates or photo syncing. We then charged them up with each of our five test adapters, making note of the charge level every five minutes.

078a7_iphone-chargers-100741701-large iPhone power adapters tested: Is fast charging worth the price?Jason Cross/IDG

The five adapters we tested.

The five adapters tested, along with their price and maximum output wattage, are as follows:

iPhone power adapters tested: Is fast charging worth the price?

New to this years’ iPhones is fast-charging capability. According to Apple, you can juice up your phone to 50 percent in just 30 minutes! There’s just one catch: You have to buy a new power adapter. Oh, and a new USB-C to Lightning cable, too. That’s two catches, and it’s starting to sound expensive.

Is it even worth it? We grabbed five power adapters and three iPhones, ran a bunch of tests, and got to the bottom of the iPhone charging mystery. The truth is, while USB-C fast charging certainly works, you’re much better off buying Apple’s 12W USB-A Power Adapter—the one that comes with most iPads. It’s a lot less expensive ($19) and nearly as fast.

How we tested

The iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus all support fast charging from USB-C power adapters that support the new USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) specification. It’s the same way the new MacBooks get charged over USB-C. 

But we wanted to see how well that stands up to using the adapter that comes with your phone, and the 12W adapter that Apple includes with iPads. What’s more, we wanted to see how these new phones stack up against older iPhones that do not officially support USB-PD fast charging.

We tested three phones: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 8 Plus and X have essentially the same size battery. The former is 2691 mAh and the latter 2716 mAh—that’s about a 1 percent difference, so we’ll just call those 2700 mAh. The iPhone 7 Plus has a slightly larger batter at 2900 mAh. That’s less than 8 percent larger, but it is enough of a difference that, even if the iPhone 7 Plus were to draw just as much power as the other phones, it would take just a little bit longer to charge up.

For each of these phones, we drained them to 1 percent remaining battery life, then made sure no apps were running and the phone was in airplane mode to prevent any background activity like app updates or photo syncing. We then charged them up with each of our five test adapters, making note of the charge level every five minutes.

078a7_iphone-chargers-100741701-large iPhone power adapters tested: Is fast charging worth the price?Jason Cross/IDG

The five adapters we tested.

The five adapters tested, along with their price and maximum output wattage, are as follows:

Revising Apple Price Estimate To $180 On Services And iPhone Strength

We are increasing our price estimate for Apple from $166 per share to about $180 per share, to account for strong momentum in the iPhone business and a robust outlook for the company’s services division. Our price estimate represents a slight premium to the current market price. In this note we explain the changes we have made to our forecast model for the company.

iPhone To See Growing Momentum With New Launches

The iPhone business is set for a strong fiscal 2018, driven by the launch of the iPhone X and, to a lesser extent, the iPhone 8 Plus device. The iPhone X could turn out to be more lucrative to Apple than previously estimated. Research firm IHS estimates that the 64 GB version of the smartphone costs about $370 to build, well below previous estimates, which pegged potential costs at as much as $581. This would imply that margins could be roughly in line with previous iPhones, and dollar gross profits are likely to be significantly higher, given the $1,000 starting price. Apple’s manufacturing ramp-up for the device also appears to be progressing well, with shipping times declining to as low as 2 to 3 weeks, from the previous estimates of as much as a month. Apple also has a wider lineup of legacy iPhones this year, including the iPhone 7, 6S and SE, which could cater to more price-conscious buyers (price range $350 to $669), allowing Apple to compete head-on with mid-range Android devices. Margins on these legacy devices could still be attractive, as they use a basic design that is more than 3 years old.

Services Business Will Outperform, Aiding Margins

Apple’s Services business has emerged as the company’s fastest-growing segment, growing by about 23% year-over-year in FY’17 to about $30 billion. The company has indicated that revenues could approach levels of about $50 billion by 2020. There are multiple trends driving Services sales. For instance, sales at the App Store could rise as Apple launches new developer kits such as the augmented reality-focused ARKit, which could enable a richer experience. Apple may also benefit from trends such as cord-cutting and a shift towards streaming video and music services, as the company earns a commission (typically 15% to 30%) from third-party subscriptions made on its platform. The Apple Pay business could also see revenues accelerate (albeit from a small base) over the next few years, as Apple has already done much of the heavy lifting in terms of building out the necessary infrastructure in many developed markets. As services account for a greater portion of Apple’s revenues, they could have a more positive impact on gross margins, while helping Apple reinforce switching costs around its ecosystem, protecting the high-value iPhone business.

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