TIME medicine

Look Up Your Meds On This Massive New Drug Database

Iodine

The Yelp of medicine is here

Iodine, a new health start-up from a former Wired editor and Google engineer offers an easy-to-use database of drug information.

The database, which launched on Wednesday, uses Google surveys to get consumer information on a wide variety of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Users can search a specific drug from Aleve to Xanax and see how people generally feel about its efficacy, about the side effects from actual users, tradeoffs, comments from users, warnings, costs, and a readable versions of the drug’s package insert.

And the database will continue to grow. According to the New York Times, Iodine uses Google Consumer Surveys, of which they have 100,000 ones completed, and they add to their website every day. Iodine also uses data from clinical research, pharmacist surveys, adverse event reports made to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC)–which reports the average wholesale price pharmacies pay for over 20,000 drugs.

Thomas Goetz, the former Wired editor and co-founder of Iodine told the Times that Iodine is developing the largest survey of American’s drug use and experiences which could not just help consumers but help impact policy.

The folks behind Iodine may have actually succeeded in making Big Data useable—and helpful.

MONEY Tech

New Law Bans Companies From Punishing Online Critics

Yelp review sticker on window
Reviewers in California need not fear retribution if they disagree with this sign. Scott Eells—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new California law will outlaw "non-disparagement" clauses that prevent customers from posting negative reviews online.

Writing a Yelp review just got a whole lot safer thanks to a new law, signed by California governor Jerry Brown, which prohibits companies from going after customers who write negative reviews of their services.

The law, which appears to be the first of its kind in the United States, prevents companies from including “non-disparagement” clauses in their contracts with customers. The L.A. Times explains these clauses are often hidden in long user agreements that many consumers unwittingly agree to when using a service.

From now on, California businesses that try to enforce such a provision will face a civil penalty of $2,500 for their first offense, $5,000 for each repeated infraction, and an additional $10,000 fine for “a willful, intentional, or reckless violation” of the statute.

This type of legislation might seem unnecessary since forcefully silencing one’s customers seems to be a clear violation of the First Amendment. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of American companies from trying to mute criticism using just the type of contracts this bill seeks to outlaw.

MONEY’s Brad Tuttle previously reported on a series of businesses that shake down their dissatisfied clients. One upstate New York inn threatened to bill customers $500 per negative review if they hosted an event at the location and any guests took their grievances online. Another couple was pursued by a collection agency after violating an (arguably non-existent) non-disparagement clause by slamming the online retailer KlearGear on RipoffReport.com. Thankfully, a federal judge ruled in the customers’ favor.

While American courts have generally protected citizen reviewers against retribution from businesses, with or without a specific legislative mandate, that hasn’t always been the case internationally. Earlier this year, a French court fined one food blogger a total of €2,500 (about $3,200 at today’s exchange rate) after the blogger’s negative review of a restaurant appeared near the top of Google’s search results.

At least in California, online critics need not fear a similar fate.

TIME Computers

Acer Chromebook 13 Impresses with Long Battery, Spacious Screen

Acer’s Chromebook 13 is arguably the best Chromebook for the money right now.

For $300, you get a 13-inch high-resolution screen — it’s 1080p in a sea of Chromebooks with 720p screens — and battery life that can hit 10 hours before needing to be recharged. Those are the two biggest selling points.

Battery life is real-deal here. I’ve been using the Chromebook 13 off and on as a secondary machine for the past week and have recharged it twice. I even took it with me on a four-day weekend and left the charger at home. The feeling was equal parts exhilarating and anxious, like riding an edible roller coaster made largely of ice cream sandwiches. If you’re doing basic stuff, you’ll probably be able to squeeze 10 hours out of this thing. If you’re hammering on it, expect about eight. Acer promises up to 11 hours, so hitting anywhere in the 8-10 range is pretty good.

The 1920×1080 screen is uncommon in a $300 machine and it’s a big selling point on its own, but don’t expect to be blown away. Viewing angles leave a bit to be desired and the matte panel — though pretty good outdoors — makes everything look somewhat lifeless. I kept wanting the screen to be great, but that burning desire kept getting quietly and fairly snuffed out by the $300 price tag.

What you’re getting from the screen, basically, is more space on the dance floor. Here’s a 72op Chromebook (on the left) up against the Chromebook 13’s 1080p screen:

720vs1080
Doug Aamoth / TIME

The trackpad and keyboard are both hits in their own right, too. The trackpad especially: it’s buttery-smooth for two-finger scrolling, rivaling the gold-standard MacBook trackpads. The island keyboard is plenty spacious, with the keys having Goldilocks-like travel: not too shallow, not too deep. Each keypress elicits a satisfying thump.

Under the hood, Acer’s installed a mobile-ish Nvidia Tegra chip, the first of its kind in this type of machine. The promise is great horsepower with minimal tradeoff to the battery. Battery life is a definite win here, though I’d say horsepower merely falls into the “good enough” to “pretty good” range depending what you’re trying to do. Chromebooks are appealing as secondary computers for people who use computers a lot or as basic computers for people who need something for browsing the web. If you’re looking for either of those things with this machine, you won’t be disappointed; if you want to use this as your primary computer and you’re going to load up a bunch of browser tabs, you might want to consider dropping an extra $80 for the next model up — which features double the RAM and double the storage — or spend a bit more for a mid-range PC.

And like any $300 computer, build quality isn’t going to be anything spectacular. The Chromebook 13 is Acer’s most solidly-built and best-looking Chromebook yet, though it’s still ensconced in white, smudge-magnet plastic and there’s a meaningful bezel surrounding the screen. The machine travels light, though, at 3.3 pounds and shares a similar length-and-width profile as a 13-inch MacBook Air, with a thickness of 0.7 inches:

CB13vsMBA
Doug Aamoth / TIME

Various quibbles aside, Acer’s Chromebook 13 has it where it counts: long battery, high-resolution screen, great trackpad, great keyboard and a very manageable travel size. The processor holds it back ever so slightly, but the day-long battery life should easily counterbalance that for most people.

Couple quick notes before we wrap up:

  • Toshiba’s got an impressive 13-incher launching in early October. For $30 more, you get an Intel processor, double the RAM and a 1080p IPS screen that ought to look better than the Acer’s matte display. Battery life for the Toshiba will be shorter though, with the company promising up to nine hours — which will likely mean around 7-8 hours in the real world. And Acer’s known to cut prices pretty aggressively when needed. The Chromebook 13 is still a safe buy right now, but if you’re looking for a little more horsepower, a better screen and are willing to give up a few hours of battery, it might be worth it to wait to compare the two once they’re both on the market.
  • There’s a $280 version of this Acer Chromebook that features a 720p screen and up to 13 hours of battery life. I’d argue that the extra $20 for the 1080p screen is absolutely worth it, but if you’re looking to squeeze every last minute out of your laptop battery, the $280 model is worth a look.
  • There’s a $300 version with 4GB of RAM (the regular version has 2GB) available at select retailers. That should be a no-brainer if you frequent one of the establishments listed at the bottom of the product page.
TIME Smartphones

OnePlus One Review: Phone of Dreams

oneplus one
The OnePlus One smartphone features a 5.5-inch screen Jared Newman for TIME

It's hard to imagine a better phone for Android geeks. Too bad you can't get one.

As I walked around Google’s I/O conference last month, my phone seemed to have a mythical status among the Android faithful.

“Is that the OnePlus One?” they’d ask. “How’d you get it? Can I see?” But it wasn’t the phone’s capabilities that made them so curious. It was the fact that the OnePlus One is nearly impossible to buy.

Right now, the only way to purchase a OnePlus One is through an invitation from another owner. And because OnePlus only seeded the phone to a small batch of original owners through a contest and other promotions, there aren’t a lot of Ones to go around. (Mine came direct from the OnePlus PR department, with no invites attached.)

It’s easy to see why Android geeks are clamoring for the OnePlus One. It has all the hallmarks of a high-end Android phone, including a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a 2.5 GHz quad-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera.

But at $350 unlocked, it’s roughly half the price of an unlocked iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S5. While you can get subsidized phones for cheaper, an unsubsidized plan from AT&T or T-Mobile would save a lot of money in the long run when paired with a OnePlus One.

Besides, the OnePlus One is a standout phone even without the cost savings.

The funny thing is that when I show this phone to regular people, it draws an entirely different reaction. There’s nothing outwardly impressive or even noteworthy about it, save for the black backing that’s as grippy as ultra-fine sandpaper. (A 16 GB white model has a ground cashew backing that’s supposed to feel like baby skin. I found someone at I/O with this version, and while it felt pretty smooth, I didn’t have my test baby on hand for comparison.)

Still, much of the OnePlus One’s appeal comes from what it doesn’t do. In contrast to so many other Android phones, the One is devoid of questionable gimmicks and flare for flare’s sake. The front of the phone is unadorned with tacky brand names or logos, and there are no dual-lens cameras, finicky fingerprint readers or problematic curved glass. When the screen is off, it’s nothing but a thin silver frame surrounding a panel of black glass. The simplicity is striking.

Jared Newman for TIME

Start it up, and you’ll find something very close to stock Android 4.4, with hardly any unnecessary bloatware. The handful of tweaks that do exist come courtesy of CyanogenMod, a modification of stock Android that many enthusiasts install on their phones anyway. There’s a quick settings bar that appears above your notifications, a set of audio equalizer controls and a store for themes that alter the phone’s look and feel. But none of these additions feel intrusive, and most of them can be modified or removed.

Because the system is unburdened by junk and excessive visual flourishes, the OnePlus One always feels fast. The phone never left me hanging as I switched apps, swiped through homescreens and opened the camera. That’s not always the case with the latest mainstream Android phones.

The camera also lacks frilly features, but it’s dependable all around. Its f/2.0 aperture means it can handle low-light photography about as well as the HTC One (no relation), and while it’s not quite as good as HTC’s phone at fending off shaky hands, it’s capable of snapping much more detailed photos. I had no major issues with responsiveness either, as the phone takes about a second to establish focus and snaps photos instantly thereafter. My sole complaint is that you can’t hold the shutter button down for burst mode like you can on the HTC One and iPhone 5s. (There is a separate burst mode option, but that defeats the purpose when you’re trying to capture the perfect moment.)

Jared Newman for TIME

The other thing you only appreciate with time is the OnePlus One’s battery. I tend to charge my phone every night, but after most days I had well over 50 percent battery life in the tank. That includes days when I was constantly using the phone’s mobile hotspot or watching lots of video. It was nice having a phone where battery life was not a concern at all.

My only problems with the OnePlus One tended not to rise above nitpick status. The display, while clear and crisp enough at 1080p, can be a bit hard to read outdoors on sunny days, and its auto-brightness setting doesn’t always hit the appropriate level. I could also do without some of the software tweaks that OnePlus has added, such as the settings shortcuts that are redundant with Android’s own quick settings panel, and the gesture-based shortcuts that I always seemed to enter accidentally. But as I said above, OnePlus allows you to switch these off.

Most of the time, the OnePlus One just did what it was supposed to do. And outside the geekier climes of Google I/O, it never drew attention to itself by causing headaches or getting in the way, and never felt like it was anything less than a high-end handset.

That’s exactly how a smartphone should be, and it’s sad that so many Android vendors feel the need to distract with flips and cartwheels instead. If OnePlus can actually distribute this phone more broadly–and I’m told an actual pre-order system is coming eventually–its ability to excite people without glitz and gimmickry will be its greatest trick.

TIME Books

The 5 Best Books for Your Kids This Summer (According to Other Kids)

Time for Kids asked its reporters to review new children's book releases. Here's what they had to say

Looking for an engaging summer read for your child? TIME For Kids Magazine asked its kid reporters to review the season’s hottest new books. The result is a list of kid-approved page-turners:

Credit: HMH Books for Young Readers

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

By Marcia Wells

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Max Siegel

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 240

What’s the basic story line?

Edmund Xavier Lonnrot (Eddie Red) is an average sixth grader. That is, if the average sixth grader has a photographic memory and can draw anything he sees. His whole life, Eddie has used these gifts for fun. But one day, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) seeks his help with a case involving some major art thieves. Eddie finally puts his extraordinary talents to good use.

Are the characters believable?

Although Eddie has some amazing talents, those talents are believable. A person can have photographic memory and great art skills, just as Eddie does. What is unbelievable about this book is the plot. The NYPD hires Eddie to work on a case. Although the police don’t intend this, Eddie faces major danger. I’m not sure about the legality or possibility of the NYPD—or any police force, for that matter—hiring a kid to help with a case.

Who would like this book?

Any kid who likes a good mystery with constant twists and turns—and who feels okay never knowing who’s good and who’s bad—would love this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would give this book an 8. It’s a clever mystery that will keep readers engaged. The huge plot twist at the end is surprising and really elevated the book for me. Plus, Eddie’s situation is compelling. He’s just a regular kid who has extraordinary talents.

Credit: Viking Juvenile

The Glass Sentence

By S.E. Grove

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Kristen Rigsby

Genre: Fantasy

Number of pages: 512

What’s the basic story line?

In 1799, the Great Disruption threw the continents into different time periods. The once-mastered art of mapmaking became a great challenge, one suited for only the most experienced and trained explorers.

Nearly 100 years after the Great Disruption, Sophia Tims and Shadrack Elli, Sophia’s uncle and master cartographer, begin map reading and map writing in an attempt to find Sophia’s missing parents. But when Shadrack is kidnapped by fanatics looking for a memory map of the entire world called the carta mayor, Sophia must set out to find him too. With the help of her newfound friend, Theo Thackary, and a glass map that Shadrack left for her, Sophia ventures into the unknown. Along the way, she encounters a multitude of mysteries, creatures, and hazards.

Are the characters believable?

Some of the characters in The Glass Sentence are believable. Sophia Tims is an inquisitive and audacious 13-year-old who loves to explore, read maps, and draw. Theo Thackary is an adventurous and daring boy who often gets into trouble. Other characters in the book, however, are creatures of fantasy. The Lachrima, for example, is a ghostlike being that haunts people with its cries. Other main characters, such as Varessa and Martin, are part human and part plant.

Who would like this book?

Anybody who loves works of fantasy, especially the Chronicles of Narnia series, the Harry Potter series, or the Lord of the Rings, will enjoy exploring this unique and captivating world with Sophia and Theo.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate The Glass Sentence a 9.5. The alternate world of the Great Disruption is incredibly inventive. Sophia and Theo come to life, venturing through unknown terrain and uncovering the secrets of mapmaking along the way. The plot seamlessly ties the world and the characters together, taking the reader on a fascinating and wild journey. From the moment you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down.

Credit: HarperCollins

Saving Lucas Biggs

By Marisa de los Santos and David Teague

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Gloria Choi

Genre: Science fiction

Number of pages: 288

What’s the basic story line?

Thirteen-year-old Margaret O’Malley’s life is turned upsidedown when her compassionate father is sentenced to death by the cruel Judge Biggs. Margaret’s father is innocent, and she sets out to prove it. As time ticks by, Margaret makes a devastating choice. She is forced to unravel her family’s deepest secret—a sacred super power. She uses her ability to time-travel to make a daring journey into the past, when Judge Biggs was just a boy. Can she change the course of history and prevent him from growing up to be a corrupt man? Or will she return to the present only to find her father is still destined for disaster? Luckily for Margaret, she has her friends Charlie and Grandpa Josh, who join her in the quest to save the person she loves the most.

Are the characters believable?

Characters like Margaret may not seem believable at first. After all, she has an incredible super power passed down from her ancestors. Super power aside, she is just another girl with a special gift. Everyone can relate to Margaret’s desire to help a loved one no matter how big the obstacles.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who favors a combination of science fiction (especially time travel), adventure, and fantasy will like this book. In particular, fans of the Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, the novel The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells, or even the film Back to the Future will enjoy reading Saving Lucas Biggs.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate Saving Lucas Biggs a 9. The plot and characters are interesting, relatable, and captivating. The story exhibits a wide range of emotions, from sheer excitement to bleak desperation.

Credit: Candlewick

Three Bird Summer

By Sara St. Antoine

Reviewed by TFK Kid Reporter Camryn Garrett

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of pages: 256

What’s the basic story line?

For his entire life, 12-year-old Adam has spent summers at his Grandma’s cabin in Minnesota. But this year things are different. His parents have divorced. On top of that, Adam’s cousins won’t be vacationing at the cabin with him. Also, Grandma seems to be acting differently. At first, she’s just a bit more forgetful than usual. But after spending more time with her, Adam realizes Grandma is “slipping.”

There are new neighbors at the cabin this summer, including a girl Adam’s age named Alice. At first, Adam isn’t interested in spending time with her. But as time goes by, their friendship flourishes. Throughout this unusual summer, Adam searches for hidden treasure with his new friend and begins to uncover family secrets as well.

Are the characters believable?
The characters are believable because they don’t have cookie-cutter personalities. Adam is quiet and shy and finds girls difficult to understand. Alice is adventurous and unlike any girl he has ever met. Readers will likely see aspects of their personalities in the characters and recognize their friends too.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who appreciates memories of family vacations or summertime in general will enjoy the vivid imagery that fills Three Bird Summer. Readers will fall into the story, almost as if they’re actually spending the summer exploring Three Bird Lake with Adam and Alice.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book an 8, because the imagery is astounding, allowing readers to feel like they are experiencing the story along with the characters. The plot didn’t begin to pick up until the middle of the novel, but the relatable characters create enough interest in the story to compel readers to keep turning the pages.

Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Poached

By: Stuart Gibbs

Reviewed: by TFK Kid Reporter Graham Ross

Genre: Mystery

Number of pages: 336

What’s the basic story line?

Teddy Fitzroy lives at FunJungle, the world’s largest zoo. He has a reputation for being a troublemaker. FunJungle has recently acquired a big moneymaking attraction—a furry koala named Kazoo. Unfortunately, the adored koala goes missing, and all fingers point to Teddy! A security guard nicknamed Large Margeis sure Teddy is guilty, and she will stop at nothing to prove it. Teddy must find the real thief before it is too late. Will he find the real koala-napper, or will he be framed and sent off to juvenile hall?

Are the characters believable?

Some of the descriptions are exaggerated. For example, an eighth grader is described as having “biceps as thick as Burmese pythons.”Other than that, the characters do seem pretty believable. Teddy acts like an average kid who is trying to fit in at a school where he is an outcast. Large Marge acts like a typical person with a grudge. She sees Teddy as a nuisance and is fixated on catching him red-handed.

Who would like this book?

Anyone who enjoys thrilling stories with plot twists on every page would love this book.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

Hands down, I would certainly give this book a 9. I appreciated how author Stuart Gibbs made even the tensest parts of the book humorous. I especially enjoyed the suspense created by the twists and turns on every page.

See the full list of book reviews from Time for Kids’ kid reporters here.

TIME Reviews

Surface Pro 3 Review: In Defense of the 2-in-1 PC

Jared Newman for TIME

As soon as Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 3, I kicked myself for being impatient.

Last fall, I bought a Surface Pro 2. The screen was smaller than I’d like, and the tiny, felt-covered trackpad was a detriment to traditional laptop use, but I wanted a light and powerful touchscreen device, and was tired of waiting for the perfect laptop-tablet hybrid.

The Surface Pro 3 tries to fix everything wrong with its predecessor, making fewer overall trade-offs as both a laptop and a tablet.

The screen is larger, and not as cramped for vertical space. The trackpad is roomier and covered in smooth glass. The kickstand adjusts to practically any angle. Yet the tablet is 0.2 inches thinner and a quarter-pound lighter than the Pro 2 — or 0.1 pounds lighter with the Type Cover keyboard attached — without any drop in battery life. It also has a heftier stylus and a dual-magnet keyboard that snaps to the tablet’s bezel for a raised typing surface. (Here’s a spec comparison with the MacBook Air.)

So while it pained me to do so, I dumped my Surface Pro 2 on eBay and bought a 256 GB Surface Pro 3 with an Intel Core i5 processor ($1,429 with the Type Cover keyboard) to replace it. I’ve now been using it for a month — some of that time with a Microsoft review unit before the release date — and it could be my ideal computer, if only the software didn’t have so many little annoyances.

The Surface Pro 3 appeals to me for several reasons. I already use Windows for work, mostly on the desktop in my home office, and I use OneDrive to sync my notes and documents between devices. I also play a decent amount of PC games for leisure, and I’m not allergic to using Windows Store apps for some tasks. I like the idea of a hybrid device for when I’m away from the desktop, since I don’t always a want a full-blown laptop if I’m just playing games or reading. (The stylus is nice to have, but I haven’t found much use for it as someone who doesn’t draw or write things by hand.)

In fact, there’s one scenario that sums up my Surface experience perfectly, pictured below:

Jared Newman for TIME

Most of the screen is running the classic Windows desktop (and the absurdly addictive card game Hearthstone). I also have Tweetium snapped to the side, which is great for killing time between rounds. If I’m on the couch or in bed, I prop up the tablet with a kickstand, fold the Type Cover keyboard underneath and control everything with my fingers. But if I want to do some writing, I can pull out the keyboard and open WritePlus in the main window. Windows automatically saves the app’s .TXT files to OneDrive, so they’re waiting for me when I get back to my desktop.

Being able to do all this on a single device involves some compromises. Juggling the desktop and snapping Windows Store apps is sort of complex, and using touch with desktop apps isn’t always ideal. For writing, the Type Cover keyboard doesn’t have the same spacing and travel as a laptop keyboard, and the trackpad — while much improved over the previous Surface — still has less depth than those of dedicated laptops.

But the Surface Pro 3 also eliminates some complexity by not making me juggle multiple devices. If I’m taking a device up to my bedroom to play Hearthstone, I don’t have to think about whether I’m also going to do some writing or e-mailing before bed.

Granted, I could just use an iPad with a third-party keyboard, but this introduces its own trade-offs. The keyboard would not be full-size like the one on the Surface Type Cover, and all the fully adjustable keyboard cases I’ve seen add a lot of bulk, unlike the Surface tablet’s built-in kickstand. Likewise, I could just use a dedicated laptop, but that’s not as comfy when I’m just trying to relax with some games or watch the Yankees on MLB.tv. I could bring both a laptop and a tablet upstairs with me, but it’s a pain to switch machines for each task.

The Surface Pro 3 becomes the catch-all, and even if it’s not perfect as a laptop or tablet, the improvements in this version make the trade-offs more tolerable. The 12-inch screen with 3:2 aspect ratio runs about as wide as an 11-inch MacBook Air and about as tall as a 13-inch Air, so it actually feels like you’re working on a proper laptop. Being able to fully adjust the kickstand also helps in a lot of situations. For instance, I often use the Pro 3 while reclining knees-up on the couch, and now I can bend the kickstand all the way around so it’s tilting slightly outward from my legs.

Jared Newman for TIME

As for in-lap use, someone with shorter legs might have trouble balancing the kickstand, but it’s never been an issue for me, even with the Pro 2. And while a kickstand isn’t as comfortable on the knees as the flat surface of a laptop, it brings to mind another trade-off: With the Surface, you don’t have any heat dissipating into your lap, because it all comes out the top of the tablet.

The only area where the Surface Pro 3 is a clear step down from its predecessor is gaming. That’s because Microsoft removed a “high performance” power option that unshackles the processor at the expense of battery life. Without this option — apparently removed to make room for Connected Standby — I don’t get the same uninterrupted smoothness in games like Fallout: New Vegas. The 3:2 aspect ratio also seems to create problems for some games. (At least there’s Steam in-home streaming from my desktop, which performed flawlessly and had no formatting issues.)

Overall though, the Surface Pro 3 is a fine piece of hardware. At this point, it’s only the software — and the wide variety of bugs and annoyances within it — that holds Microsoft’s hybrid back.

After two years, Microsoft still hasn’t figured out how to ship a device that isn’t riddled with problems, from obnoxious glitches to system-crippling bugs. At launch, the Surface Pro 3 needed a day-one patch to keep it from not turning on properly. But this patch in turn introduced Wi-Fi problems that persist on some machines, despite a recent firmware update.

Those are only the headline-grabbing bugs, but there are more. Sometimes the Type Cover stops working properly and I have to re-connect it. One time the system stopped fully responding to touch, and I had to restart it. Even an old problem I had on the Pro 2, where programs stopped responding to key presses until I hit “Alt,” reemerged on the Pro 3. I’ve noticed little design flaws as well, like the way Tweetium opens links in a second tab in Internet Explorer, leaving an open blank tab right next to it. There’s also the fact that some desktop programs, such as Google Chrome, still aren’t optimized for the Pro 3’s high pixel density display.

While you may not notice these things at first, over time, they build into a level of frustration unbecoming of a high-end device. And after using a Surface Pro 2 for six months, I’m not totally confident that Microsoft can get its tablet running smoothly through future updates.

Sad as that is, I choose to stick with the Surface Pro 3 because it’s the only two-in-one device that doesn’t feel sorely lacking on the hardware side. The bugs and glitches are a side effect that I can live with.

I do understand why Surface Pro 3 reviews have been mixed so far. If you perform two clinical evaluations of the Pro 3 — first as a laptop, then as a tablet — you’ll find some deficiencies on both ends and conclude that getting two separate devices is better. But there’s also a middle ground where having one device makes life easier, and the Surface Pro 3, in spite of its software woes, covers that ground better than anything else I’ve tried.

TIME Computers

Samsung Chromebook 2 Review: Almost Worth the Price

Jared Newman for TIME

I really thought this would be the one.

When Samsung announced the Chromebook 2 a couple months ago, it seemed to be the mid-range device that we’d been missing since Samsung discontinued its Series 5 550 last year. The 13-inch version is currently the only Chromebook with a 1080p display, and it comes in a slick package that mimics Samsung’s most expensive Windows-based laptops. I was hoping these features would justify the $400 price tag.

After using Samsung’s 13-inch Chromebook 2 for several weeks, I’m conflicted. The Chromebook 2 is a solidly-built machine with an impressive balance of weight and battery life, but it also has a couple of problems that keep me from giving it a wholehearted recommendation.

Let’s start with the display. On paper, the 1920-by-1080 panel should be the Chromebook 2’s strongest selling point. Not only does it make everything sharper, it allows the taskbar and icons to be smaller, leaving more room on the screen for actual webpages.

But like so many other laptops that cut corners on price, the viewing angles on the Chromebook 2 are atrocious. As you shift your position, you have to constantly adjust the screen to avoid having the colors wash out. The screen looks especially bad when watching videos or looking at dark webpages. It’s by far the biggest problem with this laptop, and a huge letdown for what should be a killer feature.

One other minor complaint about the display: By default, the high pixel density made text a little small for my liking, and I have pretty good vision. Increasing page zoom to 125 percent in Chrome settings made things more readable; it should probably be set this way by default.

Aside from the display, the build quality of the Chromebook 2 is superb. The island-style keys have just the right amount of travel and snappiness, and the keyboard hardly flexes at all under heavy pressure.

Below the keyboard is a spacious trackpad that’s smooth to the touch. You can click on the trackpad almost all the way up to the top without having to apply too much pressure, and it supports two-finger scrolling and clicking. (You can also tap the trackpad instead of depressing it.) Overall, it’s fantastic.

The Chromebook 2 is fairly light for a 13-inch laptop, weighing in at 3.1 pounds. That’s 0.2 pounds lighter than Toshiba’s 13-inch Chromebook, though it’s the same weight as Asus’ 13-inch Chromebook that’s due out later this month. (Both of those laptops, however, have 1366-by-768 resolution displays.)

Jared Newman for TIME

Samsung’s Chromebook 2 is also one of the slimmest Chromebooks around, at 0.65 inches, and its bottom half has the same contoured edges found on Samsung’s Ativ Book laptops. Aesthetically, I’m not crazy about the “titan gray” finish–I’d prefer the white or black color options of the 11-inch model–and the faux-stitching makes less sense on a laptop cover than it does on Samsung’s Galaxy phones.

Unlike most other laptops, the Chromebook 2 uses an ARM-based octa-core Exynos processor, a lot like what you’d find in a high-end tablet. This allows it to run quietly with no fan, and despite the high-resolution display it still lasts for more than eight hours on a charge.

That processor does have a downside, in that it’s less powerful than your average laptop. Depending on your needs, this might not be a major issue. I generally didn’t have a problem scrolling through webpages, editing Google Docs or juggling a bunch of browser tabs. But I did notice occasional sluggishness when loading heavy pages and switching between tabs. Compared to Samsung’s original Exynos-based Chromebook, which had a slower processor and just 2 GB of RAM instead of 4 GB, the Chromebook 2 is still a big step up.

For connectivity, the Chromebook 2 has two USB ports–one on each side–along with HDMI output and a headphone jack. There’s also a microSD card slot, though I wish Samsung had included a full-sized SD slot instead. The speakers are loud and clear enough for video, but like most laptops, you won’t get much bass when listening to music.

If Samsung had only shipped a higher-quality display with the Chromebook 2, I could have fallen in love with this laptop. I’m a sucker for build quality, especially when it comes to the keyboard and trackpad, and I could have forgiven the middling performance, given that it’s still good enough for most basic web browsing. Chromebooks can’t do everything that a Windows laptop or MacBook can–you can’t install desktop software, which rules out programs like Office and iTunes–but the simplicity of a browser-based operating system has its own advantages. The Chromebook 2 could have been the perfect machine for users who want to spend a little more.

Instead, I’m wishing Samsung had tried just a little harder to make the ultimate mid-range Chromebook. This one is frustratingly close.

TIME Tablets

This Is What People Are Saying About Samsung’s iPad Killer

Samsung Product Announcement
Steve Sands—WireImage

Very impressive

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This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

You’ve got to give Samsung credit. They are relentless.

In six months, they’ve thrown nine different tablets at the market created by Apple’s iPad. The ninth, unveiled Thursday night at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, is called the Galaxy Tab S.

The tech press posted its reactions overnight. A sampler:

Simon Rockman, The Register: S is for SMACKDOWN. “Samsung has raised the stakes in its battle against Apple’s ever-popular iPad with its newest range of Galaxy fondleslabs, which are both bigger and have higher screen resolutions than those of its fruity rival. The new Galaxy Tab S comes in 8.4-inch and 10.5-inch configurations, both of which are the thickness of a current iPad (6.6mm) and slimmer than previous Samsung slabs. The slimmest of the fondleslab lot, of course, is the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet at 6.4mm – but at this extreme it’s splitting hairs.”

Tim Moynihan, Wired: Samsung’s New Galaxy Tablets Are Razor-Thin and Razor-Sharp. “There’s no mystery as to which tablets they’re meant to compete with. In terms of weight, screen size, pixel density, and slimness, the new tablets compare favorably to Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Mini. The new tablets are also priced the same as Apple’s 16GB/Wi-Fi models of each version: $500 for the 10.5-incher and $400 for the 8.4-incher. At one pound, the larger Tab S weighs the same as the smaller-screened iPad Air, while the smaller Tab S (10 oz.) is both lighter and larger-screened than the iPad Mini (11.6 oz.).

For the rest of the reviews, got to Fortune.com.

TIME Gadgets

Tablets: Hands On with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S

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Samsung's 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S tablet Stewart Wolpin / Techlicious

You won’t believe the colors you can see with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S, which Samsung unveiled in New York City last night. Colors on the Tab S, Samsung’s new flagship tablet, are obviously noticeably deeper, brighter and crisper than on an iPad or even Samsung’s own former flagship Galaxy Note Tab tablet.

But the best news about the new two-model Tab S series are the prices: just $499 for the 16 GB 10.5-inch version, $399 for the 16 GB 8.4-inch version. Maybe these price tags aren’t bargain basement, but they compare more favorably with Apple’s iPad ware than in the past, and offer some decidedly higher-value viewing advantages.

The Tab S’ brilliant color display is achieved thanks to its Super AMOLED screen rather than the usual LCD. AMOLED displays have long been known to produce not only brighter, deeper colors but better stand up to sunlight (although, from past smartphone comparative experience, I’ve not been overly impressed with AMOLED’s sunlight reflecting capabilities vs. traditional LCD) and are less power hungry; Samsung claims you’ll be able to watch 11 hours-plus of 1080p video on the Tab S on a single charge.

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Apple iPad Mini (left) and Samsung Galaxy Tab S (right) Stewart Wolpin / Techlicious

Images and video are also startlingly sharper on the Tab S thanks to their 4K 2560 x 1600 displays versus iPad’s Retina 2048 x 1536 screen (although, quite honestly, I’m not sure if Samsung wasn’t using the original non-Retina iPad Mini for comparative purposes).

Adding to the Tab S image/video viewing experience is its adaptive brightness; its sensors sense and adjust white balance to provide just the right amount of brightness depending on not only ambient light – fluorescent, home reading lamp or outdoor sunlight, but to your activity – reading, watching a movie, viewing images, game playing, etc. Unfortunately, there was no sunlight or other variable lighting conditions available to ambiently tax the Tabs.

Samsung also uses a wider 16:10 aspect ratio (your HDTV has a 16:9 width vs. height ratio) than the 4:3 aspect ratio on iPad. As a result, images and especially widescreen video on the 8.4- and 10.5-inch Tab S models look far larger than you’d expect compared to the 7.9-inch iPad Mini and 9.7-inch iPads, which have to letterbox movies.

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Both Samsung Galaxy Tab S models are 6.6mm thin Stewart Wolpin / Techlicious

Both the new Tab S models are also thinner and lighter than their Apple competitors, despite having larger viewing area. Both the Tab S models are 6.6mm thin compared to the 7.5mm thickness of both iPads; the 10.5-inch Tab S weighs in at 465 grams vs. the smaller iPad Air’s 469 grams, while the 8.4-inch Tab S tilts the scales at 294 grams vs. the smaller iPad Mini at 331 grams.

Features and Apps

Aside from advancing the tablet display and thickness state-of-the-art, Samsung is pushing its Paper Garden magazine app. The company unveiled partnerships with Condé Nast (Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ), National Geographic and – geek alert – Marvel Comics, each with specially-designed and some exclusive content.

The Tab S will come with a pile of free short-term and trial music, video and reading subscriptions, including a copy of the movie Gravity.

Samsung also demonstrated a new Content Home widget, which aggregates all your sound and image content sources into single home page.

You’ll also be able to use your Tab S in conjunction with your Galaxy S phone to transfer or make WiFi phone calls or for “mirroring” – seeing the content from your phone on the Tab S screen. Samsung also has ported several features from its pro Galaxy Note tablet series including multi-window for side-by-side app viewing.

Technically, the Tab S seems extra speedy when compared side-by-side with earlier Note tablets. The Tab S brains are “octacore” engines – a 1.9 GHz quad core processor paired with a 1.3 GHz quad core processor, and apps swim in a generous 3 GB of memory. The Tabs will come in 16 GB and 32 GB varieties – no prices for the 32 GB versions were announced. Each can be expanded by 128 GB via a microSD card slot.

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Bluetooth keyboard case for the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Stewart Wolpin / Techlicious

Each will be available in bronze or white, each sharing the dimpled rear cosmetics of Samsung’s Galaxy S5 phones, and ringed in gold. Also available will be two types of cases, a simple flap-over or a “book” case that offers three angles for writing or viewing. There’s also be a 7.5mm thin Bluetooth keyboard designed for each.

The Tab S goes on pre-sale today on Samsung.com and Amazon: $399.99 for the 8.4-inch model, $499.99 for the 10.5-inch model. Wi-Fi versions will be available in July; LTE editions will go on sale later this year.

This article was written by Stewart Wolpin and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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