HP is refreshing a slew of its high end mobile devices with upgrades that make them even more compelling for businesses -- and that's good news for consumers, as well. We got our first look at the new Android-powered Pro Slate 8 and Pro Slate 12 tablets today, along with the revamped Elite X2 convertible. Naturally, they're all a step up from HP's current lineup when it comes to hardware, but this year the company also focused on a few small tweaks to differentiate them from other devices aimed just at consumers. That could make them enticing options for anyone looking for a tablet that's a bit tougher than your average Android slate.

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Starbucks is best known for its freshly brewed coffee, but today the company's announced it's going to begin serving customers an entirely different kind of perk. Just as McDonald's is adding wireless charging points to its fast-food spots, Starbucks is doing the same, so you can recharge your phone while also re-energising your brain. Starbucks has already outfitted various stateside locations with Powermat's PMA wireless charging points, and the partnership between the two companies is extending to the UK. It's no secret that competitive wireless charging standard Qi is the more popular of the two, so if your high-end handset has wireless charging functionality, chances are it won't work with Starbucks' plates. That's why every location with the complimentary points will also have plenty of little dongles for customers to plug into their phones and tablets to make them compatible.

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Leak happens, and poor HTC might have just become the first victim out of the MWC lot this year. What we're looking at here are two alleged spyshots of the company's upcoming flagship, the "Hima" aka "M9," courtesy of Nowhereelse.fr, who has since removed the images. While the French blog has a mixed record of credibility when it comes to leaks, we're struggling to find signs of tampering in these photos, but that's not to say we're convinced just yet.

For one, the amusingly large camera hump on the back (remember the M8 Prime?) is a total eyesore on the familiar-looking but seemingly slimmer body; and it even reminds us of the Huawei Ascend Mate 7's own imager. If real, then HTC better have a very good justification for this. Maybe some love for a stealthy optical zoom feature? Or a larger sensor for bigger pixels? As for the pseudo-depth-sensing camera normally positioned at the top, the tipster may have cropped it out just to irritate us all.

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Have you ever wondered what a Spotify record store would've looked like in the '80s, or a Now TV-branded video rental chain? Me neither, to be honest, but that didn't stop Vodafone from including these fantasy locations in its retro-inspired "1984G Street." Set up a stone's throw from London's Covent Garden Tube station, the temporary, temporal anomaly was less 'street,' more handful of small pop-up shops with a nostalgia-meets-now vibe; much like Sony's PlayStation '94 20th anniversary store. It was just an elaborate PR stunt and brand awareness exercise, of course, as part of a Vodafone's ongoing campaign celebrating 30 years since its mobile network went live. It might've had something to do with 4G, too, given the name. David Hasselhoff rocked up in Knight Rider mode to officially open 1984G Street, which is fitting as he hasn't changed much in 30 years, despite eating more than his fair share of burgers off the floor. The morning I arrived, the Hoff and whatever crowd he drew had long departed, giving me plenty of opportunity to explore the strange installation.

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The Los Angeles Metro's Red Line

A few cities in the US have wireless service in their subway systems, but not Los Angeles. Take a trip to Wilshire Boulevard, for example, and you'll stay incommunicado until you're back above ground. You won't be out of touch for too much longer, though. The city and InSite Wireless have started deploying both cellular service and WiFi at subway stations, beginning with the Red Line. The launch will be modest early on, with four stations getting WiFi by May and cellular service coming in August. LA's plans are much more ambitious in the next couple of years, however. A second wave should get both the Purple Line and more of the Red Line up and running by June 2016, while the Gold Line railway's tunnels should be connected by March 2017.

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Bangladeshi protesters

Countries are occasionally tempted to block mobile messaging apps when protests or riots flare up, and Bangladesh just gave in to that urge. The nation has blocked two popular services, Tango and Viber, on the grounds that anti-government protesters (some of whom have turned violent) are using these chat clients to coordinate their activities. Officials say the bans will last "for the time being," which suggests that locals shouldn't get their hopes up for a reprieve -- it might not let up unless the demonstrations come to an end.

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Microsoft Next Lock Screen on a Nexus 5

Microsoft's intelligent take on an Android front end, Next Lock Screen, just got much more useful if you're a music maven or love to chat online. An updated version not only brings music controls to the lock screen (as you'll sometimes see elsewhere), but surfaces your Hangouts, Line and Skype messages -- you'll know at a glance whether or not that friend got back to you. The new software shows MMS chats, too. While it may still feel a bit odd to use an Android interface add-on from the folks in Redmond, the revamp is big enough that you'll want to give it a shot if your phone's existing lock layout just isn't cutting it.

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Three UK

When BT finally confirmed its intention to buy a UK carrier, the company said it had two carriers in its crosshairs: EE and O2. The telecoms giant eventually chose EE and is currently in the process of completing a £12.5 billion acquisition, but Telefonica-owned O2 has quietly become the subject of interest from Three UK owner Hutchison Whampoa. According to The Sunday Times, the UK mobile market could quite soon shrink from four major operators to just three, after talks between the two companies reportedly progressed to a point where Hutchison Whampoa is ready to make a £9 billion bid for Britain's second-biggest carrier.

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Google Voice's transcription feature really comes in handy when when you're not in the position to listen to spoken messages. This news isn't about Google Voice, though -- it's about a similar (but experimental) transcription feature that has just arrived to select Facebook Messenger accounts. If you were lucky enough to be part of this small-scale test, you'll now be able to read voice messages you receive and send. Since the feature was released to a very limited number of people (Facebook's David Marcus didn't say if and when more users will get it) we still don't know how it compares to Google's version. But if they're just like each other, then we're bound to see some hilarious, botched transcriptions in the future.

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Lumia 635 for Sprint

Believe it or not, Sprint hasn't had a Lumia-badged smartphone since Nokia (and now Microsoft) got into Windows phones -- you've had to go with HTC or Samsung and forgo a bunch of apps and services. You won't have that problem from now on, since Sprint just picked up the low-cost Lumia 635. It's been available on the carrier's prepaid Boost and Virgin Mobile labels for a little while, but the move gives you truly unlimited data without having to break the bank on either your phone or your plan. You can score a 635 for $168 up front, or $7 per month over two years.

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DEA officers training for raids

The NSA isn't the only American government agency keeping track of phone call metadata... or rather, it wasn't. A Department of Justice court filing has revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration maintained records of every call made from the US to Iran and other nations for nearly 15 years, stopping only when the initiative was discontinued (prompted at least partly by leaks) in September 2013. The DEA didn't get the content of those calls, but it also didn't get court oversight -- it used administrative subpoenas that only required the approval of federal agents. And unlike the NSA, this program was meant solely for domestic offenses like drug trafficking.

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Remember Softcard (formerly Isis, but renamed for obvious reasons)? It's a joint venture that AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile started in 2010 to get into mobile payments without ceding the market to Google Wallet and Apple Pay. That hasn't quite worked out, since few want to put a $70 case on their iPhone to use mobile payments, and a caseless option for the iPhone 6 has yet to arrive. Tonight Techcrunch first reported rumors that it's in talks for a sale to Google, while Paypal and Microsoft are apparently interested too. The initial report puts its pricetag at under $100 million, less than the hundreds of millions the mobile carriers invested in it. Google and Softcard have both declined to comment on the rumor, but it seems more a matter of when and who will pick up the pieces, not if.

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lisbon   january 26  2014 ...

In an extra-special Friday-night-before-a-holiday-weekend news dump, AT&T just announced that its Q4 results will include about $10 billion in charges. That includes a $7.9 billion "related to actuarial gains and losses on pension and postemployment benefit plans", plus a $2.1 billion charge for abandoning some copper lines it says it doesn't need anymore. Of course, you're probably already well into whatever your weekend plans are, so you'll barely even notice this happened once you get back to work on Tuesday -- which is just how AT&T hoped it would go.

[Image credit: shutterstock]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sure, AT&T and Verizon claim that if the FCC increases regulation of internet service to enforce net neutrality then they'd have reason to slow down investing in new upgrades, but Sprint is saying something different. GigaOm points out a letter to the FCC from Sprint (PDF) saying that it doesn't think the application of Title II classification under the Communications act (treating internet like a utility, like phone service) will cause any problems. Stephen Bye, Sprint's Chief Technology Officer writes that "Sprint will continue to invest in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, Section 706, or some other light touch regulatory regime" -- supporting what most net neutrality advocates, including the President, are pushing for.

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I refuse to "unfriend" people on Facebook.

Well, okay, that's kind of false. I will unfriend you if we're not actual, real-life friends, and I eventually forget how we knew each other. But that's not the point. The point is that my Facebook friends list is made up of people I know, or knew, in real life. They may not be people I speak to every day, or people I see in person with frequency, but they are or were a tangible part of my life: part of what makes me me. To put that more eloquently:

"I see it as my network: a digital representation of my network. An archive of the people I've encountered and come across. If I want to understand my story, my history, all of the ways that I've come about, this is one of those vehicles. It's almost like this weird digital therapy space where you can get to the heart of where you are via the people you've interacted with."

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