October 2010 Archives

Amazing Short Film Shot on a Mobile Phone

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nokian8.jpgWant a measure of how far smart phones have come in recent years? This short film was shot entirely on a Nokia N8 - and it doesn't suck. The specs are up to it though. Boasting a 12 megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss lens, Dolby digital plus and 720p HD video capability - the N8 is more like a supercompact digital camcorder with a smartphone built in.

Still, with the star power of Charles Dance, Pamela Anderson and Dev Patel (the young lad from Slumdog Millionaire) this short flick can't help but impress.

"I hope 'The Commuter' shows aspirational filmmakers that you can create a great movie even using a mobile phone," says Dev. Check out the movie below and visit Vimeo for more movies made on the Nokia N8.

Apple delays white iPhone 4 until Spring

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Fancy a white iPhone 4? You're going to have to wait. Reuters has reported that it won't be released until Spring 2011. By which time, early adopters may well want to hang on a few more months for iPhone 5...

No one knows exactly why there's been such a long delay, though the model has been "more challenging to manufacture than (...) originally expected," according to a spokes-drone.

Rumours about those manufacturing issues have included light leaking through the translucent plastic and difficulties matching the case colour with the buttons. How difficult can it be though? Remember, the default colour for the first iPods was white... If anyone should be able to get it right, it's Apple.

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Not a white iPhone, unfortunately...

Palm WebOS - Rising from the ashes

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Palm WebOS

Palm webOSThe sad thing is, Palm's WebOS could have quite easily surpass both Android and iPhone had it not been for poor marketing.

WebOS is by far the best multitasking operating system there is. The thought put in by Palm to develop WebOS means that it's easier to use than any other.

The main strength is the fact that after opening an application, you hit the home button and then you have the apps appear as 'cards'. You can look through the apps and pick the one you want to use while the others stay running in the background.

In order to close an app, you simply flick the 'card' off the screen. It's that simple. The other thing is you can have around 8 apps running at a time before you start to feel serious lag and encounter problems. Something the iPhone wishes it could do.

The quality of the apps is up there with Apple, although the choice is still limited. Nevertheless the apps that are available are of such quality that when you get a good one, you're not going to need to try many.

WebOS also has the ability to integrate information from different sources such as Gmail, Yahoo!, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Microsoft Outlook (via Exchange ActiveSync). The calendar is also clever and integrates calendars from multiple sources.

Palm PreCompared to the other operating systems, WebOS is the one that I feel is easiest to use as well as being the most fun. I don't mean fun in a games or widget way, I mean fun in that the way you interact with the OS, such as flicking apps off the screen, is a joy and not a chore.

Sadly WebOS fails due to the fact that the company, Palm, failed in its marketing and couldn't keep up with the big boys.

This meant Palm struggled and was eventually bought by HP. this uncertainty hindered Palm's progress and now HP look like they will use WebOS for devices other than phones.

This also meant that the choice of phone was limited. The Palm Pre and Palm Pre Plus were probably the best Palm phones with the Palm Pixi and the Palm Pixi Plus the only other alternatives.

The Palm Pre and the plus version are very good but, a difficult QWERTY keyboard as well as some problems with the build quality of the hinge keyboard slips out with.

WebOS is by no means far behind iPhone and Android, at the moment anyway. In a year or so we'll know exactly what HP has install for this fantastic OS.

See also:

Other articles:


Positives

Negatives

Quality of apps

Choice of apps

Multitasking

Palm's plight

Integration of apps

Choice of phones


 



Voting in the video and the poll below will still count to the overall result.


Google Android - The best mobile OS?

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Google Android

androidGoogle is trying to take over the world.

It seemed strange that a search engine would want to create a mobile operating system, especially an open source one that will work on numerous devices, but Google has shown that it's groundbreaking and daring all in one huge juggernaut.

So, how does Android set itself apart? Well, the app market is slowly catching up with Apple but it's the fact that Android doesn't work on the 'open an app /close an app' system of the iPhone.

You can open an app and have it running in the background or even place it on the homepage as a widget that continuously updates. This means that you can have Twitter, email, eBay, Live football scores and maps all running at the same time.

It is the multitasking and personalisation that truly makes Android different to iOS4. You can easily change your background, something new to iOS4, use songs as ringtones to different people and groups.

Personalisation doesn't end there though, integration of apps into the OS also plays its part due to the open source nature of Android.

For example, if you install the Facebook app, then you can link people's profile to your contacts list. Photos will have the added option of posting on Facebook, same with videos and all this without opening the app.

HTC EvoThere's also the fact that being a Google OS means you get Google products first and they work best. Gmail, Google Maps, Calendar etc. all work best on Android and it really shows. The apps are integrated into almost everything you do.

A new addition to 2.2 is the voice to text service that allows you to recite texts and emails turning it into text. This has been done before, but nowhere near as good as this.

You don't need to train your voice and it's extremely accurate. But as I said before the integration doesn't stop there.

You can use the service on Google Maps, Google Search and a whole host of other apps.

The 2.2 Froyo update also includes USB tethering, WiFi hotspot functionality and Adobe Flash 10.1 support.

Android is personalisation and integration. Something other operating systems fall behind on.

The Android operating system is the most flexible at the moment and it's market share is growing especially due to the huge choice of mobile phones that it is available on.

Currently, Android is on HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, Dell and Acer handsets as well as Android tablets.

See also:

Positives

Negatives

Personalisation / multitasking

Quality of games

Integration of apps

App library not as strong as iPhone

Great choice of phones

 

Google apps are best on Android

 



Voting in the video and the poll below will still count to the overall result.


Windows Phone 7 - The new mobile OS contender

Faisal Alani | 2 Comments | 1 TrackBack
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Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone logoLet's start with the fact that Microsoft have failed incredibly in the mobile phone market. Windows devices were poor and far behind their rivals Android and iPhone.

Windows Mobile 6.5 was a little better and enjoyed a very brief period of praise before getting pulverised once again due to Android 2.2 and iPhone iOS4.

So what has changed?? Absolutely everything. Don't make the mistake of thinking Windows Phone 7 is an update of Windows Mobile 6.5. It's a completely new operating system.

Windows Phone 7 home screen, called the Start screen, is made up of 'Tiles'. Tiles can be linked to anything including apps, features, functions and things like individual items (such as contacts, web pages, applications or media items).

Tiles can be added, rearranged or removed. The Tiles are dynamic and update in real time - for example, the tile for an email account would display the number of unread messages or a Tile could display Facebook updates.

Windows Phone 7Similar to Android, Windows Phone 7 has features with 'Hubs'. Hubs combine content on the phone with online content, so if you have pictures on Facebook then your photo album will show pictures from both. Same goes for contacts, music and video (using the Zune store), Games (which integrates with Xbox LIVE), Windows Phone Marketplace, and Microsoft Office.

Microsoft thought long and hard when they developed Windows Phone 7. They needed something truly unique to bring them up against iPhone and Android.

They came up with Xbox LIVE.

Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 will bring Console-like gaming experience to phones by displaying the user's avatar in 3D, the same way it appears on the Xbox 360.

The user will be able to interact with the avatar, view gamerscore and leaderboards, message Xbox LIVE friends, and Spotlight. Multiplayer (turn-based) gaming with live multiplayer will be released after launch.

Microsoft has unveiled more than 50 premium Windows Phone 7 Games titles that will make use of Xbox LIVE on mobile.

They have also specified that Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7 will not have real-time multiplayer games at launch, instead opting for turn based gaming, but is currently working on real-time multiplayer integration between Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360 games.

These include the ability to be signed in simultaneously on the console and phone, send and receive messages between Console and Phone, unique gamer points only available by purchasing the gaming title on the phone, etc.

It's these clever additions that make Windows Phone 7 a real contender.

See also:

Other articles:


Positives

Negatives

Xbox LIVE

New to market

Live home screen

Microsoft's track record with phones

Synchronisation to Windows

A lack of apps

Choice of phones

 




Voting in the video and the poll below will still count to the overall result.


Apple's Netbook? The 11.6" MacBook Air debuts

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mbair11.png
Apple summoned the bedraggled masses of technology writerdom yesterday to make one of its periodic announcements. And there was a lot to announce. The study notes version was:

* There will be a new version of OS X in 2011 with new features in it instead of old features made faster. 

* FaceTime, the new video calling app for iPhone is now available for the Mac too. 

* The next version of OS X will include an app store, which we think is a pretty clever trick. Why didn't Microsoft think of that? 

* iLife, the Mac's home centred productivity suite has had an overhaul. 

Now to the important bit for gadget fans. The MacBook Air line has been refreshed and includes a new device size that looks suspiciously like a netbook. You know, those things that Steve Jobs said were rubbish and underpowered and that Apple would never make. 

But, I'm being facetious here. Of course I am. I'm a technology journalist - that's my job. The MacBook Air 11.6 actually looks pretty slick. 

With a 1.4 or 1.6Ghz core duo processor, the ultra thin, 11 inch laptop features 2GB of RAM, nVidia 320M graphics and a compact 11.6 inch screen. The multi-touch trackpad, however, is the same size as the trackpad on other MacBook Air models. 17 mm at its thickest point and 3mm at the thinnest bit - the well tested unibody design still seems like a staggering feat of engineering. As for the 128GB of onboard memory, it's solid state. That should make for an ultra-quiet, fast booting machine. 

When I finally get one, I want two. The first to use and the second to take apart, just so I can see how they packed everything in there. Of course, savings have been made with zero-redundant components and Apple's typically forward looking philosophy. Or, aggressive corner cutting for the sake of the seamless design, depending on your viewpoint. 

There's no optical drive, for example. While the larger 13" model has an SD slot, the MacBook Air 11 incher doesn't. There are two USB ports though, which is two more than an iPad. There's WiFi but no 3G. You'll struggle to load Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office on there without a network connection or external drive. It comes bundled with iLife so you'll start with a decent suite of office and creativity tools. As for everything else - cloud applications and downloadable apps should see most savvy users through. The launch of the Mac App store and the exclusion of a DVD drive can't be entirely unrelated...

So, this is a device clearly meant to be used as a second machine, an ultraportable for the road.  It looks geekgasmic - but is it any good? At £849 for the 11.6 inch model (rising to £1099 for the 13" model) only the most cash flush gadget fans will get to find out. And as soon as we have one, we'll let you know.

Video: Android, iPhone, Palm & Windows Mobile 7 Compared - The Ultimate Mobile OS Video Comparison

Faisal Alani | No Comments | No TrackBacks
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A few years ago, mobile phones differed massively. You chose a phone for it's size, functionality, camera and user interface.

Then, on the 7th of January 2007, the iPhone was released and as Apple have told us repeatedly, it changed everything.

Touchscreen devices became the norm and therefore changed the user interface. The introduction of Apps meant that you could do more than ever before, making the phone closer to a small computer than a phone therefore the name 'smartphone' was introduced.

We've got to the point now that smartphones have started to settle a bit. Functionality is pretty similar between devices and, despite the consumer getting more choice; the actual hardware doesn't differ massively other than whether it has a QWERTY keyboard, screen size and how many megapixels the camera is.

The real decision is made when you decide which OS you want. We now have four contenders to the throne since Windows Phone 7 was released.

This article hopes to go through what the positives and negatives of each OS is in plain english without any jargon.

The video below is the first part of this analysis. Watch the video, listen to the cases made and vote on your favourite.

Apple iPhone iOS4 - The best OS out there?

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Apple iPhone iOS4

ios4As far as operating systems go, Apple's is probably the most simple and straight forward. You have a grid of apps that do various things. And that's it, simple.

You have amazing functionality and simplicity. The ability to do pretty much anything that you would like to on a PC/Mac in such a simple way has drgged us into a new age of mobile computing.

Most people wouldn't have dreamed of being able to check email on your phone and doing things that sounded complex, like remotely accessing your computer using your phone and WiFi, insanely easy.

My only concern is that the iPhone puts too much reliability on doing everything for you. This simple system means when things go wrong, then we're stumped! But there's always an app.

Apps can do things like email, web browsing, picture editing, fart noises, games etc. in fact the App market is the most comprehensive and has by far the best quality.

iPhone 
4It's the apps that make the phone. The actual user interface (UI) is good but not great. There are simple things like the ability to change your ringtone that you can't do but with apps as good as these, sometimes it doesn't matter.

Yes you can't change your ringtone but you get something that's not available on any other mobile OS, despite Palm's best efforts, iTunes. This is a deal breaker, as most people already use iTunes and have iPods.

iTunes on the iPhone is a great music player. Let's not kid ourselves by even comparing the music players on Android, WebOS and Windows Phone 7, iPods are by far the best / most popular MP3 players around and the iPhone uses the same functionality being simple and stylish.

The iPhone is famous for the fact that you can just take it out of the box, set up iTunes, email and install apps without reading the manual. It's popularity is tied to the style of the phone, simplicity and ability.

The iPhone does lack personalisation in that you just have a grid of apps, but some may argue that adding apps is personalisation. I, however, don't think that's the case.

On Android you have live widgets that sit on your homescreen linked to the internet continuously updating. For example the Facebook widget shows live updates from your friends. This is multitasking at it's best.

The multitasking that was added to iOS4 is a bit disappointing. You can only run seven app services in the background and it's a case of looking at one-at-a-time. You access the list by double tapping the home button.

Apple claims they put restrictions in place to help battery life and memory but I'd prefer to manage my phone myself.

Multitasking isn't terrible on iOS4 but it could definately be better and feels like an after-thought unlike WebOS and Android.

Would this put you off the OS? For some, yes. But for most it will bother them up until the point when they find a 'killer app' that makes it irrelevant.

The app library allows you to do pretty much anything you can think of on a smartphone. Apps are king at the moment and while Apple leads in this field, they can still claim to have probably the best operating system around.

See also:
  • Full article: Android, iPhone, Palm & Windows Mobile 7 Compared - The Ultimate Mobile OS Video Comparison
  • Google Android - The best mobile OS?
  • Palm WebOS - Rising from the ashes
  • Windows Phone 7 - The new mobile OS contender

Other articles:


Positives

Negatives

Apps

Personalisation / multitasking

Easy to use

 No flash support

Top quality games

 

iTunes

 





Voting in the video and the poll below will still count to the overall result.


Telly of the Future! Streaming TV at the tipping point...

Karl Hodge | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks
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iplayer.png
Here's our early prediction for 2011. The streaming TV market will go "boom".

Yeah. Pretty safe prediction considering the recent release of the new Apple TV, Google TV's Sony backed launch and even cheesy services like LoveFilm shifting inexorably towards streaming and download formats.

That's before we've even mentioned cable and satellite "on demand" services from Virgin and Sky.

But there's another model that has a head start over all the others. Browser based streaming.  And in the UK the market leader isn't a private company. It's the good old BBC.

BBC iPlayer is one of the corporation's undeniable success stories, averaging over a 100 million programme downloads every month. Available on a variety of platforms, desktop and mobile, and with a steady regime of innovation and careful response to user feedback, it's among the world's most popular online TV services.

At the Samsung Smart TV Conference in London this week, senior BBC dude Charles Tigges talked about future innovations to the popular service, including remote control apps for smartphones and TV on demand as a "red button" service within the next two years - for the next generation of "smart TVs". 

The one bum note in all this is the idea that BBC games are set to be a more central offering in the future. When there are already established game delivery platforms in the cloud for XBox, PlayStation and even PC, is this really an area the BBC should be looking at?

Regardless, we love iPlayer - and we're pretty sure that it'll be leading the charge as TV on demand goes thoroughly mainstream over the coming months.

Also worth checking out:

SeeSaw - A catch-up TV service with free content from all the big channels and TV series to rent or buy.

4OD - Channel 4 has put a substantial amount of its back catalogue online for free viewing.

BlinkBox - Fancy free films? BlinkBox has lots - and more than a few to rent or buy too.

The iPad likes to stay at home...

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ipad_herosml.png
You thought the iPad was a mobile device? Think again. New research from Conde Nast (the publisher that unleashed Vanity Fair and Glamour magazine apps on iPad users) shows that most folks don't take their iPad on the road with them.

The news is the result of around 100 hours of interviews and over 5,000 surveys. A major finding was that most people tend to leave their iPad at home, using it for leisure purposes rather than business. The research calls this "lean back activity" - or relaxation time in plain English.

The survey also has encouraging news for the nascent iPad magazine market. 83% of respondents who had bought electronic editions for their iPads said they'd buy the next issue when it came out. It's a conversion rate print mags would drool about - and a crumb of comfort to those doubters who worry that professional content is on the wane.

Perhaps the iPad - and more widely, the tablet niche - could still be the saviour of the book and magazine industry.

Angry Birds Get Angry with Microsoft

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The world and his civil partner knows that today's the day Window Phone 7 is officially launched. But this weekend mobile game maker RovioMobile decided this was the best moment to take a swing at Microsoft, the world's largest software developer™ 

Microsoft has been trailing the launch of Windows Phone 7 over at its dedicated site, showcasing specs, features and forthcoming apps. Somehow the logo for Angry Birds, the wildly successful game for iPhone, found its way onto one of those pages. Did developer RovioMobile have a quiet word with Microsoft, pointing out their error? Did they issue a politely worded statement clarifying the matter. No. Like the titular birds in their app, RovioMobile blew their stack, in a tweet from their official account:

  angrytweet.png Way to conduct business guys! 

Unrepentant, the RovioMobile kamikaze marketing approach begat further tweets of a similarly self-entitled ilk: 

"(It's) nothing to do with if we do or don't, it's just that we decide that ourselves." 

 "we have not committed to do WP7 yet, we don't like others using our IP without asking." 

Yeah! You tell 'em, makers of Angry Birds and, erm, More Angry Birds. You tell those piddling fools at Microsoft to stop their intellectual property thieving ways. You stick it to the man, in public, on Twitter. That's the professional way to deal with these things...

By the way, if you're reading this in the future, Angry Birds was an iPhone game briefly popular in 2010. You know Microsoft. They're the guys who own everything.

Macs vs PC - Which is better??

Faisal Alani | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks
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2688943823_b95b169bca.jpgI was interviewed about Macs versus PCs. Here is what I said on price, style etc.

Here is the interview in full.


Q. Is it possible to summarise the main differences between Macs and PCs, the key features that set them apart?

The best way to describe the difference between a Mac and a PC is that they are two different ways of thinking. In most cases you can come to the same result using either but they will go about it in a different manner. For example when using Windows on a PC, to close the program, a user simply clicks the red X at the corner of the program window.

However, for Macs, this is not the case. When the red X on a Mac program box is clicked, that window closes but the program does not. It is still open and running, even though there are no documents or windows open. To close a program completely, a user must click on the program name on the top status window (it must be active to do this) and then click on Quit.

Another way to close a program, which is usually faster, is to use the shortcut Apple + Q. The Quit command closes all multiple windows that may be open under the program.

This is all down to the fact that Macs run on the Mac OS X operating system and PCs run on Windows. It's down to the individual as to which is easier to use. You can run Mac OS X on a PC but not vice-versa although OS X on a PC wouldn't work as well as on a Mac.

There are also differences in hardware in that Macs are only built by Apple whereas PCs are built by a number of companies. This reflects in the price, in that Macs are generally more expensive, and the quality of Macs is considered more stable and stylish.

 

Q. Most creatives, designers, musicians and others, seem to use a Mac, why would you say that is?

Macs appear to be cooler/trendier but they are also a better fit for designers. Apple has carved out a reputation for being the 'alternative' choice for those that see themselves as an individual, which is what art is all about.

But it's not just about image. Macs tend to be the best platform for design and creativity due to the strength of the applications available for it and the fact that Macs are generally high quality computers.

This and the image of using a Mac make up the perfect team for those that see themselves outside the corporate culture.

 

Q. Would you agree that, for those in the creative industries, a Mac is a better fit as a laptop, or are there PCs that can do just as good a job, for less?

There are PCs that can do just as good a job, especially as you can build a PC. The only problem is that Macs have applications that run only on Macs. Many would argue that that is not the case, but these applications are built specifically for Macs and so the PC version is usually an after-thought, although this is starting to change.

I can't speak for every industry but for publishing it would be very difficult for us to just use PCs.

 

Q. Why do you think Macs, just as with the iPhone and other Apple products, receive so much coverage when they still have a relatively small market share, compared to PCs?

It's just very good marketing. Apple understands how to manipulate the market and how to instigate a media frenzy.

The build-up to a product launch is something Apple has mastered, just by being very secretive about their ideas and what they're creating. This is also helped by the fact that Apple is genuinely very creative, often releasing something fresh and new.

Once the product is launched, Apple uses a very subtle yet strong approach. Their advertising is always understated and the company relies on enthusiasts to promote their products by word-of-mouth.

It's this passion and eagerness that pushes the media to provide so much coverage.

 

Q. To what extent do you think that the discussion about Mac vs. PC is not so much a case of which is better, but rather about your needs as a user and what you primarily need a laptop for?

Whenever anyone asks me for advice as to which PC or Mac they should buy I always ask 'what do you need it for?'

The reason is that unless you're editing video, graphic design etc. then you probably don't need to spend that amount of money on a Mac.

Most people just want to browse the web, check their e-mails and use a word processor, which doesn't need a high-powered machine. This is the reason for the rise of the netbook, they're cheap and do all basic functions without too much hassle.

The needs of the user are paramount but people like the idea of saying they use a Mac and the image that goes with it, even though in most cases they're not using it to its full capabilities.

 

Q. Apple has a very strong brand identity. How much of the appeal of Macs do you think has to do with marketing and with its desirability as a brand, a status symbol?

It has everything to do with marketing and branding but also the fact that their products are great.

Apple is very clever and deserves a lot of credit for resurrecting a company that was struggling in the mid-nineties.

There's no question that having a Mac, iPhone, iPad etc. has a stigma attached to it, but that shouldn't take anything away from the fact that these are fantastic products. If they weren't so good then all the marketing in the world wouldn't help.

People buy into the marketing but they then add to it by evangelising the products. When someone has a Mac, they generally tell people about it and promote it either by word-of-mouth or by writing about it (blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc.).

This wouldn't work if the products weren't so good and easy to use.

 

Q. Although there are also high-end PCs, Macs are generally far more expensive than a PC. Do you think the higher price is justified?

The price point isn't justified in relation to a similar specification PC but Apple sells the products at a premium, making them more desirable.

If Ferraris were cheap that would ruin their desirability.

It says a lot about you if you spend money at the higher end and if you save up for something, you tend to feel more of a sense of achievement when purchasing it. In a strange way it's a win-win situation.

 

Q. Macs are considered to be the trendier and cooler laptop option. How important do you think style and design is to its popularity?

It's part of the package. Apple products are seen to be premium products and the style and design is part of that image.

The functionality is great but, as I said before, Apple relies on people to promote the product. The fact these products look great makes people want to show it off.

In technology you rarely find a product that does well on looks alone, but when you marry style with functionality then it's a winning formula.

Dell have tried a similar tactic with their latest line of laptops coming in an array of colours and even going as far as getting designers and artists to contribute.

Apple has always understood the need to sell good-looking technology, dating back to the original iMac.

The fact is that if you want people to pay more money then it needs to look good, perform and, in Apple's case, enhance your status.

 

Q. Is it possible to say if a Mac or PC is more secure and, if so, why that is?

A Mac is definitely more secure due to the fact that there are few viruses that can infect Macs. PCs need virus protection and sometimes that's not enough.

Malware exists on Macs but it's very rare in comparison to PCs.

 

Q. What do you personally use, PC or Mac, and why?

Personally at home I use a PC but at work I have to use both. For my personal life, a PC is more than enough, but at work we manage the website mainly using PCs and put the print magazine together using Macs, due to the graphic and design applications available.

I'm comfortable on both platforms but tend to find a PC easier to use.


*Picture from Flickr user hades87

Crazy Japanese Body Horror iPhone Charger

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What do you get the iPhone fan who has everything? A charger that looks like a prop from Hellraiser, is the answer if you're a sick, sick puppy. 

Don't ask us where this thing came from. We know the folks in the video are speaking Japanese and that's it. No idea where you can find one or who made it. But we're guessing the contract has to be signed in blood and it will cost you your first born child. Ew.

Cisco brings HD video calling to the US

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umi.jpgTelepresence. Now that's a word we haven't heard much since the 90s... Looks like science fact has finally caught up with science fiction though as U.S. electronics company and heavyweight VoIP provider Cisco announces "umi"  - a device and service combo they're calling a "home telepresence system".

In layman's terms it's video calling, through your telly.

Umi, pronounced "you-me", has some pretty impressive specs. There are two parts - a set top box which is, basically, a dedicated computer and a separateTV mounted camera. With up to 1080p video, it'll plug directly into any HDMI TV. The resolution scales dynamically, based on available bandwidth. Built in microphone and speakers pick up your words of greeting and send them over the ether via the Internet to your Umi owning friends and family. Alternatively, you can connect to PC users as long as they have a web cam and Google Video Chat.

I don't know about you, but I've never felt quite comfortable with video calls - either on my computer or mobile (and Faisal's views on the subject are just a couple of blog entries down the page) - but this seems like a distinctive step up from the poxy, pixelated video calling we've all been used to. With HD quality on your flat screen TV, we can imagine this being a much more immersive, engaging experience. If it works.

Of course, it ain't cheap. $599 for the kit and $24.99 a month for the service subscription. And it's not available in the UK. In fact, the only real reason we're blogging about it is to say "Ooh, look at that. Cool".

Orange and T-Mobile now share networks

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Everything Everywhere logo.jpgA tip of the hat to fellow tech journalist and blogger Gary Marshall for this one. 

Mobile monoliths Orange and T-Mobile merged back in July. The rebranding convoy is still rumbling into life and before too soon whether you're on T-Mobile or Orange, you'll be on the new super-network "Everything Everywhere" - which is a nice thought. 

One clear sign came yesterday, when it was announced that customers are now able to take practical advantage of the merger. Whether you're on Orange or T-Mobile, you can now use either network to make calls or send texts. Mobile data should come later. To enable the feature you'll need to sign up with your provider to switch on roaming first.

If you're on Orange sign up here
 
If you're on T-Mobile sign up here.

And enjoy a new world order with more bars on your moby.

10 Star Wars facts you never knew!

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This wonderful infographic goes through an amazing amount of detail on what went into creating the Star Wars octology and what the result of them was.

Star Wars facts - infographic
[Source: School Grants Blog]

Left 4 Dead 2 debuts on Mac, for five quid!

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Online PC game buying system Steam came out for the Mac back in May and, since then, Valve have steadily been porting their titles over to the platform, including lauded FPS fun fests Portal and Half Life 2.

Today, the latest in the list went live - Left 4 Dead 2 (a game we declared our love for in a previous entry). But that's not all... Oh no. In addition to all the existing L4D2  content, you also get the brand new add on campaign "The Sacrifice" - an expansion featuring characters from the original Left 4 Dead. Oh - and there's also "No Mercy", another add-on campaign Valve have just chucked in 'cos they felt like it.

If you buy the PC version, you can install it on a Mac as well - for free - using SteamPlay.

As if that wasn't all ace enough, the price has been slashed, SLASHED we tell you, to just £5.09 (from £14.99). Heck, you can even buy the four pack so you can frag zombies with your mates for £15.29. If you don't already own the original Left 4 Dead, the best deal is the Left 4 Dead bundle - games 1 and 2 for £7.81.

Billed as a "midweek madness" offer, we'd rush to take Steam and Valve up on it - it won't be around for long. And tell your colleagues you're in meetings all afternoon. Meetings with mutant, homicidal zombies.

Skype comes to Android phones

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android.pngAndroid owners can get free calls over WiFi and 3G with Skype at last. 

Voice over IP application Skype for Android was announced yesterday. If you download the app to your phone, you'll be able to make low rate calls to mobiles and landlines, using WiFi or mobile data connection. And, of course, there are free features like Skype-to-Skype calls, instant messaging and incoming calls to your Skype number. The app shares the same account and credits as the desktop version.

Compatible with Android 2.1 or above, the app has been tested on HTC and Motorola handsets and is available to download now from www.skype.com.

One fly in the ointment - Most UK mobile providers don't really allow VoIP applications on their networks... The most friendly to VoIP that we know of is Three Mobile. Please feel free to set us straight in the comment section.

New Palm smartphone out next year, say HP

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palm-pre.gif"You will see us coming early next year with new phones," Senior HP Eric Cador said in Barcelona today.

So, there you have it. Finally some confirmation of a new Palm smartphone to be released since HP's acquisition.

As we all know, HP bought Palm for WebOS (the brilliant smartphone operating system) and not because of their phones, Palm Pre and Palm Pixi.

Rumours were circulating that this was just so that HP could use the software for a HP tablet and while that may still be the case, we'll also get to see some phones too.

The news of the smartphone comes ties in quite nicely to other rumours that the new Palm smartphone will drop the QWERTY keyboard and just use a virtual keyboard like on Android and iPhone.

10 reasons why I hate FACETIME more than papercuts in my eyes

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FaceTime.jpgFollowing on from my other post, I've decided to summarise my hatred for Facetime on the iPhone.

  1. The name is terrible 'Fancy some Facetime?' it sounds awkward and dirty. Get away from me. You might as well of called it 'ArseFace'.

  2. You can only use it over WiFi when every other phone in the world has it on 3G and WiFi.

  3. Those stupid commercials where no one says anything.

  4. That stupid commercial where the football team wins the cup and video calls their injured friend.
    Why? Because no Sunday league team has WiFi in their $%£&ing changing room and if they did I can't imagine the players setting up their phone just to let their mate know they'd won.

  5. Video calling has been around for SEVEN YEARS.

  6. Because Apple pretends it's new technology and advertises the s%$t out of it.

  7. The other commercial that shows bad fathers playing away watching their kids do stuff for the first time on their iPhone while the mistress lathers up in the shower.

  8. The way Apple make it out like it's a new invention and that everyone will start doing it. It's old and no-one's bothered.

  9. Having a camera on the front and back is, again, nothing new. If one more person tells me 'It has a camera on the front AND the back' I'm going to give them some FaceTime they'll never forget.

  10. And finally, did I mention that the name really sucks? Apple are normally really good with naming things (iPad, iPhone etc.) but what does FaceTime mean?? Does it mean it's time for our faces?? Shoot me.

Inspectagadgets Android app tops 1,200 downloads!

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app pic copy small.jpgIf you have an Android phone and you haven't installed it already, the Inspectagadgets app is a great addition to your phone.

The app has just had over 1,200 downloads and shows no signs of slowing down. It's the second most downloaded gadget news app on Android (behind a certain Engadget).

The app doesn't just include posts from this blog, it has posts from Zath! the gadget and gaming blog as well as Gadget Master, the modding blog.

The app is free to download and has some cool features for you to play with.

If you're already using the app, I hope you're enjoying it.

We're also pushing the app onto the iPhone so watch this space.

The insanity of Apple's FaceTime - what a load of...

Faisal Alani | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks
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1826273.jpgBack in 2003 I went to the Three store in Oxford Street and signed up to my first mobile phone contract.

I paid £25 a month, received 500 anytime minutes and a free NEC e606 (pictured).

What attracted me to the e606 was the fact that you could video call on 3G, which was amazing at the time.

A year later, I upgraded to an LG that had a rotating camera and pretty much every year ever since I've had a phone capable of video calling.

So for seven years, I have had the capability to video call.

How many times in those seven years have I used it? Once. I tried it with my brother, we agreed it's rubbish and never tried again.

So why do Apple feel they can advertise something like it's new? Their product isn't even superior due to the fact that you can't use FaceTime on 3G.

Answers on a comment below please.

The Next Tablet PC - Huh?

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978-371-G46s.jpg
Next, a store best described as Topshop for the over 30s, have released a tablet PC.

The Apple iPad has succeeded in many ways - but for geeky analysts like us one issue stands out. It's changed the way other manufacturers see the tablet market. Microsoft, Dell and others cancelled tablet projects shortly after the iPad was first seen in the wild. Now, a new wave of tablet announcements is upon us with Blackberry, LG and HTC all rumbling into action.

And then there's Next. Next, the high street, mid-range clothing emporium. That place you get your socks and pants from. 

We don't currently know who's making the tablet for Next (the rumoured frontrunner is Elonex) but we do know its specs. It runs on Android, has a 10.1 inch screen with 1024x600 resolution and boasts 8GB of solid state storage. And, for those who moaned about their absence on the iPad, there are a couple of USB ports. It's available to buy right now, from Next's online catalogue, for a meagre £180. You can find out more at Next's online shop.

VIDEO: I want to live in a Nintendo 3DS world - Nintendogs and Street Fighter

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nintendo-3ds2_1727354c.jpgI predicted this day would come, and that day is February 26 2011. That is when the Nintendo 3DS will be released in Japan.

Then one month later, it will be released in the western world.

How will this world look? Well, it'll be plain but full of smiles and colourful clothes if this video is anything to go by.




I think the Nintendo 3DS will change gaming teh same way the Wii did. A 3D handheld device without glasses at an affordable price? That's truly incredible.

But it doesn't stop there.

It'lll come with a charger stand, AC adapter, 2GB SD card and six augmented reality cards.

Yes augmented reality. You'll see how the crazy card works in the video above. I used to collect football stickers, my neice used to collect Pokemon cards but this is something weirdly amazing.

Other functions are a slide pad, a motion sensor, mic and a gyro-sensor.

It's backwards compatible, so it can play DS games and plays games downloaded from the 3DS Virtual Console. In fact the DS games are teh same size as the 3DS ones.

The Nintendo 3DS is 134mm by 74mm. It is 21mm thick and weighs 230 grams.

The top screen is 3.53 inches and with an liquid crystal display of 800 x 240 pixels. The button screen is 3.02 inches with a liquid crystal display of 320 x 240 pixels.

It has two outer 0.3 megapixel cameras and one inside the portable's clamshell.

It also has WiFi connectivity as you'd expect.

There's also this new feature that will be launched with Street Figter IV where you have the 3DS in your pocket and when you walk passed people in the street carrying a 3DS, your card characters will fight and you win points/cards.

Because 3D Street Fighter isn't enough, check out the video below!!! Awesomeness.


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This page is an archive of entries from October 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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