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New PCs enter the market at Computex

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Dell, Acer and Asus have all unveiled various PC models at Computex in Taiwan this week. In a midst of a PC market crash, the computer manufacturers have taken a leap of faith and revealed new designs the safety net being of course the hybrid tablet devices.

Dell

Dell announced its XPS 11 model, a 2-in-1 convertible Ultrabook. This hybrid device has a 360 degreed rotation design in order to hide away the keyboard and flip into a tablet device. At 14.9mm and 2.5 pounds this product could be utilised within an BYOD environment, which has seen many of these types of devices in recent months.

Additionally, Dell launched an OptiPlex 9020 and All-in-One machine. This commercial desktop will be available in four different form factors, an all-in-one computer, as well as three different sized towers, all powered by Intel Core i7 processors.

Dell also launched a 4th-gen Intel business laptop, including swappable batteries. The Latitude E6540 will feature comprehensive file-level encryption, advanced authentication and malware protection.

The XPS 12, OptiPlex 9020 desktop, and Latitude E6540 will be available in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the computer manufacturer added two printers to its portfolio of peripherals. The B1165nfw and B1265dfw claim to provide affordable printing options, wireless networking capabilities and document management software. The two printers will have the ability to print, scan, copy and fax within the single device.

Acer

Acer announced its new Iconia tablet, the Iconia W3, which claims to be the first 8.1-inch tablet running Windows 8. The company believes that this is the "optimum size for productivity and entertainment, while comfortable enough to sit in one hand". It will be available pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013.

The company also launched a "phablet" device - the 5.7-inch 1280x720 screen Liquid S1. It offers an option to insert two SIM cards, and runs Android Jelly Bean and a 1.5 GHz processor. Additionally, it has a few functionalities to boost productivity: The Acer Float User Interface, which allows several apps to stay open at the same time so users can multitask; the Auto Profile which supports predefined network settings, which will adjust settings such as brightness, volume and connectivity as users visit frequent locations.

Acer also launched its flagship ultrabook, the 13.3-inch Aspire S7. The ultrabook boosts a longer-lasting battery for "all day computing" as well as a updated cooling fan which makes less noise. It also offers wireless display technology for sharing on a big screen wirelessly. Like its previous model, it will include a 10-point WQHD display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution taking full advantage of the touch capabilities of Windows 8.

Asus

Probably, most interesting from all the launches at Computex, was the Transformer Book Trio from Asus. This 11.6-inch clamshell tablet with a detachable display, consists of two operating systems. It can switch between Windows 8 notebook, Android tablet and Windows 8 desktop PC.

The Transformer series has been a success of Asus in the consumer space in recent years, the ability to switch between app stores, synch data and apparently "continue to surf a webpage when moving from notebook to tablet, could be a game changer for the device in the business space also.

The PC station dock has its own 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor, keyboard and 750GB hard drive and it can also be hooked up to a monitor to be used as a desktop PC. Additionally the screen can be removed from the station dock to be used on the go as a tablet with a 2.0 GHz Intel processor , 64GB and full HD display- taking the meaning of "hybrid" one step further.

Intel

Intel also had a presence at Computex, revealing a 22nm low-power, Atom system on a chip design, which it claimed would offer faster graphics and twice the CPU performance of the current generation. According to Intel, the new chip would power Android and Windows 8.1 devices for up to eight hours.

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CES 2013 HANDS ON: Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 and Toughpad JT-B1

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This week at CES in Las Vegas, Panasonic added to its line of rugged Toughpad tablets with the Windows 8 Pro 10.1-inch FZ-G1 and the Android 7-inch JT-BI.

Since 1996 Panasonic has been producing mobile computers for the mobile workforce who need to rely on a more study product that will resist dust, water, shocks when in use in the field. The two tablets join a 10.1-inch Android tablet which was broadly available last year.

Toughpads are designed for mobile workers in sectors such as military, government, construction, healthcare, public safety, utilities, retail, and maintenance to name a few.

The devices come with optional added extras such as heighten security features, electronic scanners and card readers. The new tablets are also splash proof and feature screens that are viewable in the sunlight, as well as being robust enough to survive drops and dust.

The Windows 8 Pro FZ-G1

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•             Operating System: Windows 8 Pro

•             Processor: 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3437U vPro™ 1.9GHz up to 2.9GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology

•             Memory: 128-256GB SSD, 4-8GB RAM, optional micro SDXC

•             Rugged: MIL-STD-810G, 4' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

•             Display: 10.1", sunlight viewable, touch screen and active digitizer, 800nit, WUXGA (1920x1200)

•             Battery: 8.0 hours (user-replaceable)

•             Dimensions: 10.6" x 7.4" x 0.75"

•             Weight: 1.1kg

•             Wireless: Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE or 3G

•             I/O: Full size USB 3.0, HDMI, optional micro SDXC, Full size USB 2.0, wired LAN, true serial port or dedicated GPS.

Panasonic claims it will survive a 4 foot drop and it wouldn't surprise me as this device, despite its rugged and therefore very clunky look, is surprisingly light at just over a kilogram, easy enough to carry about.

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The FZ-G1 comes with a barcode scanner and the option of adding on e-card readers and other types of bespoke enterprise technology. Its battery is also replaceable if you run out of the included 8 hours.

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The Android 4.0 JT-B1

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•             Operating System: Android 4.0

•             Processor: TI OMAP4460 1.5GHz Dual core

•             Memory: 16GB ROM, 1GB RAM, micro SDHC

•             Rugged: MIL-STD-810G, 5' drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range)

•             Display: 7", daylight viewable, 500nit, WSVGA (1024 x 600)

•             Camera: Front: 1.3Mp fixed focus, Rear: 13.0Mp auto focus w/ LED light

•             Battery: 8.0 hours - Large 5,720mAh battery (user-replaceable)

•             Dimensions: 8.7"x 5.1" x 0.7"

•             Weight: 0.54kg

•             Wireless: Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE + 3G

•             I/O: Micro USB

This device is a much smaller form factor, running Android's operating system, the device itself doesn't have the capacity to run Windows 8, so it's aim at those out in the field not needing quite as much power under the hood.

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This device is easily portable at half a kilogram, pop it straight into a laptop bag without noticing. It also is available with additional extras including different types of handles to grip securely to the device.

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The FZ-G1 will be available from March, starting at $2,899, and the JT-B1, will ship February, starting at $1,199. At these prices they are definitely aimed at large scale operations, as smaller businesses would be unlikely to kit out the entire workforce at pushing two grand per device for Windows.

Speaking to Kyp Walls, director of product management, at CES, I asked him how he thought the Windows 8 Pro version would fair in the enterprise space which is generally not looking to adopt the new operating system straight away.

He said, "Even though it has been built for Windows 8, a fair number of our customers will buy it with a Windows 7 downgrade."

Panasonic have a Windows 7 Toughbook on the market at the moment, but the convenience of buying the new FZ-G1 is that it is around a third lighter.  

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CES 2013: Lenovo product launches at CES: ThinkPad Helix hybrid device and a Mobile Touch Monitor

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Lenovo have been busy, along with the launch of a 27-inch multiuser table PC, the Horizon, the company also had a few more tricks up its sleeve at the CES Unveiled event in Las Vegas.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

Weighing less than a kilogram, this ThinkPad Helix is Lenovo's latest offering of a hybrid detachable tablet. Where the ThinkPad Twist, just well, twisted, the Helix is completely removable from its keyboard.

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While completely removable, it is also reversable. The tablet can connect to the keyboard dock either in the traditional clam shell way, or appearing face up, so that the product can be used as a slate when the tablet is close onto the dock.

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Available with a i3, i5 or i7 intel core processor, and up to 10 hours battery life (six in the tablet and four in the keyboard dock), this could become a great offering to the workplace. 

Less than a kilogram as a tablet, and 1.7kg as a full ultrabook device, the hybrid also claims to have Lenovo's best screen at full HD resolution and 11.6-inches.

Lenovo LT1423p Mobile Touch Monitor

Lenovo has launched a mobile touch external monitor which will work with any Windows 8 device. There are two models, a wireless and a non-wireless monitor.

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The non-wireless device weighs 1.6kg, whereas the wireless device weighs 2.4 kg and has 4 hours of battery life.

Both monitors feature a 1600 x 900 13.3-inch resolution display, protected with Gorilla Glass.  

The monitor mirrors whatever computing device it is connected to, which enables 10 finger touchscreen capabilities to non-touchscreen devices. 

The products will cost $449 for the wireless option (available in June) and $349 for the wired (available now), both will come with a snap on case which allow converts into a stand. 

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Small updates, big difference

Lenovo has also updated its U and Z series ultrabooks to include touch functionalities, while the Yoga 11S is now running an intel core and full Windows 8, rather than the RT version. 

Keep checking Inspect-a-Gadget for hands-on experiences at CES with these devices.

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Fujitsu targets enterprise with the Q572 and the Q702 tablet range

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Windows 8 with its intuitive touch interface was launched at the end of October and analysts are predicting that this operating system may bring the use of tablets firmly into the enterprise space.

While the world has been going crazy for Apple's iPad, the enterprise could see the convenience of using slate devices over laptops when mobilising the workforce. However, iOS and later the influx of the Android OS on tablets, was clearly not strong enough to handle all business needs. Tablets were mainly consumption devices. 

Enter Windows 8 and the wide choice of hardware. 

Microsoft's own offering, the Surface tablet, is a disappointment in respects that it only runs the RT version of Windows 8, meaning customers can only use applications from the Store and not any external software. Meanwhile, other hardware manufacturers have been releasing tablets and hybrid devices that can run the full Windows experience.

Both of Fujitsu's offering, in the form of the Q572 and the Q702, run either Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro, but are also compatible with Windows 7.

While Fujitsu also insisted that Windows 8 also needs to live on the desktop in order to be successful, the company also recognises the need for tablets to be integrated into the enterprise space, to complement existing traditional desk-based solutions. 

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The Stylistic Q572

The Q570 is a step up from the M532 which was a device for media consumption, running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Q572's Core i3 processor speeds up creating and editing content on-the-go.

The Q572, is a 10.1 inch tablet, weighing 820g and also has 4G/LTE connectivity.

The tablet comes with a stylus and also features a swappable battery. You have the option to dock the device as well as Bluetooth for attaching keyboards and also a HDMI port. 

Enterprise security features include a SmartCard reader, full disk encryption as well as a fingerprint sensor.

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The Stylistic Q702

The Q702 is a hybrid device, combining a detachable keyboard with the ease of use of a tablet. This device is one step up again from the Q572, with even bigger processing power for heavy workloads thanks to the Core i5 processor (also available with the Core i3).

The detachable keyboard makes the device a good option for data input, while also providing additional power. When the device is in hybrid mode, it has about 9 hours battery life, however I did find this device to be quite warm to the touch after being a display for a while.

The 11.6 inch tablet weighs about 850g and so does the keyboard, so the combined weight comes to that of an ultrabook. It was quite chunky, but having option to detach the keyboard and leave it behind is very usefu. It also comes with a stylus pen, USB 2.0 and 4G/LTE support. It too features the same enterprise security features as the Q572.

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I found the Q572 to feel a little clunky in my hands, and while the Q702 is just as heavy, the option to easily snap onto a sturdy keyboard, reminded me of a heavier, yet much sturdier Windows Surface tablet. If you remember, I wasn't very impressed with the Surface Touch Cover keyboard. I feel that if you create a hybrid device make sure that the keyboard is easy to use, otherwise you may as well use the on-screen keyboard to input. The Q702 keyboard on the other hand, really turned the slate device into a more familar laptop or ultrabook, with the convenience of leaving the keyboard behind when it isn't needed and simply switch to touch or stylus mode. 

Both products will be available mid-December and with prices to be confirmed nearer the time.  



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New processors for smartphones will make devices smarter and more energy efficient

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Future iPhones, iPads and high-end Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, could all soon be equipped with ARM processors which will deliver desktop computer performance on tablets and smartphones.

Chip designer, ARM, has announced its ARM Cortex-A50 processor series which introduces energy efficient 64-bit processing technology. 

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Future smartphones based on the new ARM could run more sophisticated applications as the Cortex-A50 processor series transitions from a 32-bit to a 64-bit execution state.

The Cortex-A50 family includes an encryption engine which will provide extra security for internet payments and VPN connectivity, while the A-53 is ARM's more power efficient processor, claiming to deliver today's "superphone" experience while using a quarter of the power.

The A-57 processor is all about the high-performance and will decrease the gap between your smartphone and computer even further. 

The two processors combined with ARM's big.LITTLE technology will enable devices to be extremely powerful, while using minimal battery life.

This news is big for the smartphone market. When we hit such heights of technological innovation, we then want it faster, better, while wanting out battery to last even longer. ARM's new processor designs aim to take this pipe dream and make it a reality. 

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Google extends its Nexus family

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Hurricane Sandy may have prevented Google's press conference in New York from making a big announcement today, but the company has released product details on its official blog

Google has announced three new Nexus devices available in "small, medium and large". 

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The devices include a smartphone as well as a 7 and a 10 inch tablet, all of which run Android 4.2.

Nexus 4 smartphone.

This smart cookie comes with a quad-core processor and... wait for it... wireless charging! Just like the Nokia Lumia 920, you can place the device on charging plates to easily recharge, I'm quite excited at that prospect of this taking off in upcoming phone launches.

Again, like the Lumia, the 4.7 inch (320 ppi) display encourages using your phone for photography with Google applications such as Photo Sphere.

Nexus 7 tablet

The improved Nexus 7 tablet now comes with 16GB or 32GB of storage as well as offering a version with mobile connectivity. No 4G to be seen here, the 3G connectivity will be available from Three in the UK. 

The new Nexus 10

This new addition to the Google family, claims to be the "highest resolution tablet on the planet at 2560-by-1600 (300ppi), that's over 4 million pixels." Also available in 16 and 32GB, it has nine hours of video playback and 500 hours of standby time. 

The Android 4.2 operating system allows multiple users to switch from the lockscreen. With business users taking their personal devices into the office more and more, there is a potential keep different profiles for home and work use. 

Interestingly this 10 inch tablet, is the same price as Apple's 7 inch iPad mini ($399).

The Wi-Fi version of the Nexus 7 is available in the UK from today, while the 3G version as well as the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 will be available from mid-November

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REVIEW: Motorola Razr i, RRP £344.99

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Motorola's latest offering in the form of the RAZR i, comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and what Intel claims to be the fastest chip ever placed in a smartphone.

It is Motorola's first phone to launch in the UK after the Google acquisition and after getting my hands on it, it seems to be leading the way in the mid-range smartphone market. 

Launched at the beginning of this month, the phone contains the Intel Atom providing up to 2Ghz of speed. The Android software runs without hitches, yet there are some compatability issues with the Intel chip. As pointed out in Pocket Lint, some applications do not run, such as Adobe Flash Player, which means you can't run apps such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player. 

It may be that this hasn't been addressed as Flash is no longer in its prime, however it will be interesting to see if Motorola rectifies this, or waits to see if developers make changes instead.

OK, so not the best start. But first impressions in the looks department and, yes it is another "Black Mirror", but press the unlock button and a gorgeous bright screen comes to life. Another big claim for the device is that it has a 4.3 inch 540x960 screen which "goes right to the edges." And it does indeed go right to the edges of the screen, avoiding that black frame you get with other smartphones.


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It also sits really nicely in the hand at only 126g and even with the Intel chip powering away, the 2000 mAh battery will keep you going for the day. 

I particularly like the widget that comes with the Motorola overlay. It is made up of three circles of varying sizes which are customisable. You can select for text messages, missed calls or voicemails to rotate in the circle which provides the time. You can also turn over the middle circle to see  the weather in preselected countries. The smaller circle also provides you with how much battery you have remaining. 

It just makes the homescreen feel very personal. And after all that, if you're a more angular person and despise circles you can still remove it from the homescreen, nice to know you're not stuck with it, even if it is a Motorola addition.

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Screen which homes intuitive pages as well as widgets. The phone offers personalisation of pages as Android standard, but a suggested "Mobile Office" page is very useful to install right away to "get work done anywhere, anytime" with Quickoffice, email, calendar, bookmarks and SmartActions all set up and ready to go in the click of one button. 

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The phone has a dedicated camera button to be able to launch from screensaving mode in under a second. The 8MP camera could possibly compete with the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920. While it doesn't have as many fancy editing software, the instant-launch camera can capture 10 images in less than a second, which I found very impressive and made my iPhone 4S camera seem about twenty years old. 

The phone isn't enabled for 4G or NFC, and doesn't have any fancy wireless charging (or thank god come in luminous highlighter colours), but this phone isn't trying to set a fashion statement or be the first to conquer anything. This is a quality mid-range smartphone that does everything you expect it to do quickly and efficiently, while lasting longer than an iPhone.

Available sim-free from Amazon and Expansys for £344.99, or £342.99 from Clove, or free on various networks on contract.

T-Mobile's Business SIM-only plans include a 30-day or 12-month plan whilst getting up to 2000 minutes and a Flexible Booster, plans start from £10 per month. 

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Convertible devices from Lenovo

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Lenovo have revealed a new fleet of convertible PC devices designed for use with Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. While all the other big names were launching hybrid devices at the end of the summer, Lenovo only launched traditional Windows 8 tablets. It's great to see the company finally jumping on the band wagon to reveal some interesting action-packed products. 

In an attempt to mimic the gymnasts of London 2012, the products spin, twist, and flip to drastically merge the line between tablet and desktop computing.

The ThinkPad Twist, aimed at small businesses, while the - aptly named - IdeaPad Yoga, is aimed at consumers.

The ThinkPad Twist

This 12.5-in hi-def display ultrabook can be twisted to switch to a convertible tablet. Packaged with a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors, Windows 8 Pro and optional 3G networking capabilities, it also has 500GB or 128 GB SSD of storage.

The product claims to offer a "nearly all-day" battery life, with dedicated small business software tools, including Lenovo Solutions for Small Business powered by Intel Small Business Advantage and Lenovo Cloud Storage by SugarSync. 

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IdeaTab Lynx

Packing the latest dual core Intel Atom processor, this 11.6-inch tablet can be used as a full Windows 8 tablet via its multi-touch screen or can be connected to its keyboard for utilising the Office package. The device boasts 16 hours of battery as well as an optional base which can connect to a full-size USB port for using with accessories. 

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IdeaPad Yoga 13

The IdeaPad Yoga range has an innovative hinge which is capable of rotating 360° and fold from laptop to tablet in one motion. The Yoga 13 is available on full Windows 8, while its smaller counterpart, the Yoga 11 runs Windows RT. 

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IdeaPad Yoga 11

Got to big this one up for the bold choice of colouring - Clementine - which I kind of like!

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Pricing and availability

  • ThinkPad Twist will be available from business partners from mid-November with pricing for models starting at £809 through to £979 (exc VAT)
  • Pricing and availability of IdeaTab Lynx is to be announced.
  • IdeaPad Yoga 13 will be available from early November through, Dixons, John Lewis, PC World and Currys.  Pricing starts at £999 (inc VAT).  
  • IdeaPad Yoga 11 will be available through the same above retailers starting from late November.  Pricing starts at £699 (inc VAT).  


Expect a review on the Yoga and Twist models coming soon on Inspect-a-Gadget.

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Four years in the making: The best of the best.

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karate-kid2.jpgHaving created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.

Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event
I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.

iPhone Vs N97
This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.




HTC Desire HD Review
David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.

Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.




What is the best mobile OS around?
At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?

This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.

The most ambitious video we ever tried.





Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken
There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)




Video review of the wiimote like Gyration Air Mouse
This video is pretty much when I realised that I can be funny. What people don't realise is that filming didn't take long but discussions between David and I on what was funny took forever.

He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".




Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate
I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off. 

David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.




Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad
What do you do when you get your hands on an iPad before the UK release? Write a review. Then what? Make a video about having a special relationship with it. Yep, not sure why.



The HTC and Google story: A love affair and a tragedy
Lord knows what compelled me to write this. Had I taken more time to craft it, I think it could've been great but when I read it now I feel it's rushed. Still good, where the idea came from I'll never know.

Video: Flip Mino HD review
This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.

Video: Zeemote review - Is this the future of mobile gaming?
I did this video because Zeemote said that they'd give me a free phone if I reviewed it. So...

GeeklyWeekly Sexy Halloween Special
Wow, how bad is this video? It doesn't even have anything to do with gadgets!!

The rise of the Ultrabooks. But what's next?

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Being the sophisticated race that we are, we've managed to progress seamlessly from desktops to laptops and onto notebooks. But, the latest instalment in mobile computing, aside from tablets of course, appears to be Ultrabooks. 

Faisal, who was blogging live from CES, supplied the ComputerWeekly office with all the news and information on Ultrabooks that our hearts desired. In fact, we even put together a photo gallery.

But what exactly are Utrabooks?

Well, allow me to enlighten you. They are effectively, Intel powered, thinner, high spec laptops made from superior materials.  

Emerging new features include back-lit keyboards, USB 3.0 ports and faster boot times. 

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Ultrabooks are being pitched as the answer to the slumping PC market, with said slump being blamed on those pesky ARM powered tablets. 

Question is, if this fails where do Intel go next? Megabook? Supabook? Speciabook? Amazebook? Wonderbook? Incredibook? Hyperbook? CallItWhatEverYouWantBook?

If you have any suggestions stick them on a post card and send them to the usual address. But seriously, leave a comment if you think you could help Intel out.  

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