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Gadget Guide: Smartphones

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Computer Weekly's Gadget Guide on smartphones gives you a round up of all the latest smartphone news, previews, and reviews from Inspect-a-Gadget.

If you're researching the wide range of smartphones in the market head over to our guide for the low-down on the devices you just can't live your life without. 

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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!!

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.

Review: Hands On with the Motorola DEXT

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1977_30_Motorola-Dext-263-35-Sim-free.jpgHello Motorola, I said, unwrapping the PR package - because I am that indoctrinated, that brain-mushed, I frequently talk to myself using catch-phrases from adverts. Simples.

The Motorola DEXT (called the Cliq in the United States of the Americas) is the company's other hot phone of the late noughties. You know, the one that isn't the Motorola Milestone? That by the way, was called the Droid everywhere else but Blighty.

It's as though whoever's in charge of Motorola's branding outside the US is one of those guys. You know who I mean. He's some big cheese in regional, who waits until the end of the discussion and then laconically sticks his hand up. "Actually, I disagree," he says, just when you thought you'd sorted out the office coffee rota.

Here's Orange's official demo of the Motorola DEXT:


So - the DEXT. I played with it a bit before Christmas came along and snowed me in, stomach distended with brassicas and brandy.  Here's what I liked:

The brilliant, beautiful keyboard. Seriously. Some folks have said that it wasn't to their taste - but stacked next to the Blackberry's cramped collection of keys or any virtual keyboard, it wins big. It slides out from behind the handset, which looks very iPhoney in form and and size when closed. When opened, it's more like a mini netbook. A teeny, tiny web wonder. The keys are ergonomically moulded so your fingers easily find the right characters - instead of the one next to it. Or the three next to it.  So far, so ace.

This is a phone you can imagine doing business with. It was Motorola's first Android handset, so you have the benefit of Google's growing App store and easy installation. And the phone itself comes with a dedicated headphone socket as well as mini-USB for folks who like to use their handsets as MP3 players. Or, to stream Spotify.

On the whole, then, I was favourably disposed towards the DEXT, which was easy to set-up and use. I mean, what's not to like about such a powerful little gadget. With 1GB onboard storage, 256MB RAM and a CPU running at 528 Mhz, the DEXT is significantly faster and stronger than the first Motorola powered home computer I bought; an Atari ST. That was back in 1985 though... And it was the size and weight of four house bricks.

The DEXT fits nicely in the palm, when not in extended keyboardy mode. It feels like a phone, not a PDA with a voice bolt-on. So, welcome to the 21st Century, astronauts.

Still - and perhaps this is personal - I'm not overly keen on Motorola's UI, "Motoblur". It's part of a growing trend among 3G phone manufacturers and service providers, showcased too in the recently released Vodafone H1 360 ( a Samsung handset), to candy coat the underlying features of VERY POWERFUL PHONES with a cartoon layer of social media connectivity.

The idea is that your handset is a gateway to social media services - Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and some that your service provider bolts on - so that you can be umbilically connected to everyone in your address book, 24/7.

"I just ate cheese!" bleeps Chris's status update. You know it's him because you can see his avatar battling for screen estate with a bunch of others and you know he said it because there's a little speech bubble coming out of his beardy hipster gob. It's all so... tiresome.

There are markets that suck this kind of stuff up (I'm looking at you Japan). Not me. I want a phone that makes calls, runs apps, does a bit of video and music. And, fortunately, the DEXT does all those things brilliantly well. Better than many of it's smartphone rivals. If I didn't have to send it back, I would have just set my home page to show the weather and forgotten all about the tedious social networking features.

But I did have to send it back, sadly, reluctantly. Goodbye Motorola DEXT.

The Motorola DEXT is available exclusively from Orange with Pay Monthly plans starting at £30 a month.




Here's the science bit, grabbed from Motorola's DEXT fact sheets:

Motorola DEXT™ with MOTOBLUR™

Talk and Standby Time for GSM4

360 minutes/6 hours of continuous talk time, and standby of 325 hours/13.5 days

Form Factor

QWERTY side Slider, Full Touch

Band/Modes1

WCDMA 900/1700/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps (Category 7/8), EDGE Class 12, GPRS Class 12, GPS

OS

Android 1.5

Weight

163.00 g; 5.7 oz

Dimensions

58 x 114 x 15.6 mm; 2.28 x 4.49 x 0.61 in

Browser1

Android HTML Webkit

Email Types

POP3/IMAP embedded (including Macmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL1), Push Email

Battery

1420 mAh

Connectivity1

Bluetooth3 1.5, 3.5mm, USB 2.0 HS, Over the Air Sync (OTA); Wi Fi

Display

320 x 480 pixels (w x h), 187 DPI

Messaging1

MMS, SMS, Email (POP3/IMAP embedded, Push Email) IM (Embedded) Open Source

Audio

AAC, AAC+, AAC+ Enhanced, AMR NB, MIDI, MP3, WAV

Video

Playback - H.264, H.263, MPEG at 24fps at HVGA resolution; Capture - H.263, MPEG at 24fps at HVGA resolution

Camera

5 megapixel, auto-focus

Memory

Removable 2GB MicroSD card (included); Supports 32GB MicroSD (optional)

Location Services1

Integrated 5-way navigation, GPS, Turn by Turn directions, Google Maps with Street View , E-Compass

Size

~103.15 cc; 6.32 inches

Antenna

Internal / Antenna diversity (2 antennas to enhance reception)

WLAN

802.11b, 802.11g

Address Book/Calendar1

MOTOBLUR aggregates Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Gmail, and syncs your work contacts, email and calendar



When's Fair Usage Ever Fair?

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O2's iPhone exclusivity finally ends on November 10th when Orange start shipping the Apple devices to eager customers.  Today they published details of the tariff - and Twitter is all-a-fluster with Orange's use of the term "Fair Usage".  You see, all the Pay Monthly plans come with "unlimited" mobile internet.  But the small print at the bottom says that a "Fair Usage" policy of 750MB/month applies to mobile internet browsing and WiFi.

750MB a month doesn't seem particularly unlimited. Let's make a comparison.  Standard mobile internet packages for your PC - those things that come with a USB dongle - usually start at 1GB.  No one calls those packages "unlimited", especially as they're at the bottom rung of the ladder.  

For example, Orange's own dongle offering starts at 500MB per month (on a 12 month contract) and goes up to 10GB a month - with stops at 1GB and 3GB along the way. They can't all be unlimited, can they?

In real terms, 750MB a month might be enough for checking emails and logging in to Twitter in the morning - but start flicking through your friend's photos on Facebook or log in to Funny or Die, and see how long it lasts.  

O2 has what it calls an "excessive usage" policy in place on its unlimited iPhone plans - with no top end defined.

But don't let all that detract you from the real news:  Yay, iPhones!  And, overall, it does look like Orange's offering is slightly cheaper than O2's...

---

Update:

via @conorfromorange on Twitter:

"...for our new iPhone offers we are using a fair usage policy of 750MB for Mobile data, & 750MB for free Wi-Fi access with our Wi-Fi partner"

So that's actually two lots of 750MB, depending on how you access the 'net.

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