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Is the meeting you're in right now pointless?

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Apparently something we've all been suspecting is true - a majority of the meetings we're attending are not worth our time or effort.

According to a recent survey by Ovum and LogMeIn, 92% of employees in the UK stated the number of meetings they attend is going up, but 70% of the meetings attended were marked as a waste of time.

Over the last few years, smartphone shipments have been steadily increasing. Firms have been warned that employees will find ways to use their devices at work, and 26% of employees have used a personal device to get round technology barriers put in place by organisations.

So it's hardly surprising that 30% of UK workers admitted to playing on their smartphone during face-to-face meetings. But this figure is higher in the UK than in other European countries.

Ovum and LogMeIn's research found that many believe collaboration will help to reduce this problem, and with Juniper predicting employee-owned smartphones and tablets used as part of bring your own device (BYOD) policies will increase to over one billion devices globally by 2018, a BYOD and collaboration strategy has never been more important.

The below infographic from LogMeIn explains how the UK compares to other European countries when it comes to attending meetings that aren't worthwhile:

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IFA 2014: Samsung's first business tablet

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Samsung is well known for its consumer offerings, providing everything from TVs to connected fridges. So the technology firm surprised us all today when it announced its first ever business-focussed tablet designed for use in enterprises. 

The ruggedised Galaxy Tab Active has been developed for portable use in work environments with a focus on B2B industries such as retail, logistics and transport. 

Other tablets, such as the iPad Air, have features built in to make it easier for employees to use their devices at work, but they are still clearly consumer products. The Tab Active takes that one step further and combines features such as 8-10 hour battery life, KNOX and extended support, with an anti-shock cover. 

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Photo: Samsung

To make absolutely sure the tablet appealed to business customers, Samsung ran workshops with Fortune 500 companies to find out what was needed from a tablet for professionals. This is what they came up with:

Durability
When professionals are carrying around their tablet, they want to be able to drop it. This is what I've learnt from releases of products such as the Panasonic Toughpad. Suddenly when a device is used for work as opposed to personal tasks, we need to be able to make sure it will survive a nasty fall. The Galaxy Tab is shock-resistant, waterproof and resistant to dust and other nasties that can get stuck in cracks, so should be safe to use in every environment.

Replaceable battery
When you're out and about all day, you want to make sure your device is going to last in case you can't charge it. This device has 8-10 hour battery life and an easy to change battery to ensure the devices doesn't run out on you. It also has a built-in pogo pin charger to stop connectors getting mashed.

Hardware features
The built-in camera on this devices can be used as a barcode reader for use in the retail or logistic industry. The tablet also features NFC technology, comes with an input pen for ease of use and a cover designed for people who need to wear gloves when doing their jobs. 

Support
Support is something that a lot of firms can struggle with when implementing a BYOD solution, as it can be difficult to get ongoing support contracts for the devices that employees want most. But, like most Samsung devices, the Galaxy Tab Active will have KNOX to ensure security. The device will also have an extended 3 year warranty and Mobile Care Service, and remote Smart Tutor Service to get technical support.

Specs at a glance
Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • Display: 8" WXGA(1280 x 800) TFT LCD
  • OS: Android Kitkat (4.4)
  • Memory: 1.5GB LPDDR3 + 16GB internal memory MicroSD up to 64GB
  • Size: 126.1 x 212.9 x 9.75mm / 388g

Love your smartphone? Huawei thinks you could love it more

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At Huawei's most recent innovation day in Milan, there was a lot of talk about innovation in Europe, research and development centres, and the highly anticipated 5G. 

Quite clearly very passionate about the technology, chief Huawei device designer Joonsuh Kim told me that the main aim for him was to make people fall in love with Huawei devices. Kim hopes to provide consumers with something other than just technology.

He said: "Literally we are touching the consumer's heart. That means you can feel that you are emotionally engaged with a Huawei device."

To Kim, the device is all about user preference, and he believes that once consumers start adapting to their devices, they will want to use them for everything. 

He states that even though the Huawei brand may not be big yet, it's starting to get through to consumers. Its aim it to deliver users with a "pleasant surprise" through usability, comfort, and a perfect combination of hardware and software.

When building the concept for a phone, Kim considers several user scenarios to make sure there is always a device that caters to what consumers want - including the ability to have multiple SIMs, a more professional device which is lighter for increased portability, low-cost devices, or a personal-only device.  

The design team make sure that the hardware appeals to the user they are targeting, providing particular features to appeal to different types of audience such as business professionals, young users and entry-level users. 

Kim also believes that using Huawei's knowledge and connectivity in networking, it can be a leader in 5G when the time comes. 

During a presentation on device innovation, Kim used Angelina Jolie as an example of a perfect human being (following up by commenting that although she might have been considered the most attractive woman in the world, that was several years ago... ouch) and that aesthetics are very important when targeting the appropriate market. 

It just goes to show that even the smallest tweaks in design can make the biggest difference to consumer behaviour.

Apple announces iOS 8 at WWDC 2014

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At this week's WWDC 2014 - the conference that tells developers everything they need to know about what Apple has planned for the future - Apple introduced its next mobile operating system iOS 8.

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The new OS brings with it over 4000 new APIs in order to allow developers more opportunity to make applications for Apple's flagship iPad and iPhone devices.

There was a focus on the new HealthKit API, which will allow developers to build apps directed towards fitness and health services. With speculation of an Apple wearable on the horizon, enabling applications such as this could be a step in the smartwatch direction.

Apple also took a leap towards the internet-of-things trend with its new HomeKit API, designed to allow developers to make apps that will allow communication with other devices around the home.

Finally, Apple lightened the restrictions on its touch ID technology, meaning that users will now not only be allowed to access their iPhone lockscreens with the touchpad, but also log into apps. This is of course only on the 5S at the moment, but may also be used with future iPhones.

Although this announcement isn't quite as exciting as the eagerly speculated iWatch, it still encourages the use of smartbands/watches with Apple devices in the future, and brings us one step closer to using our phones to control all things household.

Developers have access to iOS 8 now, but the rest of us will just have to wait.


Microsoft announces new Windows Surface 3

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Microsoft announced the new Windows Surface Pro 3 tablet at an event in New York today. 

 

The device, which is 12 inches, is designed to fit perfectly into user's lives, with Surface product manager Panos Panay claiming that this could be "the tablet that replaces the laptop." 

 

The Surface Twitter feed was inundated with updates, labelling  the tablet an "entertainment powerhouse" due to its 2160 x 1440 resolution and Dolby sound capabilities.


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The new kickstand is multi-position, so you can angle the tablet any way you want to if placed on a table, although an emphasis was made about the "lapability" of the device, which apparently means it can be used to comfortably complete work from your lap.


As the tablet runs Windows 8.1 Pro OS, you can use all of the features and applications that you are used to, with the added ability to use the new stylus to generate hand-written documents in OneNote. 

 

Specs at a glace:

Surface Pro 3

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Resolution: 2160 x 1440
  • Weight: 800g
  • Thickness: 9.1mm
  • OS: Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Memory: Up to 8GB of RAM
  • Battery: Up to 9 hours
  • Storage: Varies from 64 GB up to 512 GB

 

The device includes features such as a redesigned keyboard that is larger than the previous model and includes an improved trackpad. The device also comes with an accompanying stylus dubbed the Surface Pen to make writing easier. Looks like this device might not only replace the laptop, but may also wipe out pen and paper altogether.

 

The new Surface is 800g, only 9.1mm thick, and is built to apply to Satya Nadella's vision of "empowering people to do more and be more."  

REVIEW: Dell Venue 8 Pro

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The tablet market is stronger than ever, with a 68% increase in tablet and hybrid device sales over the 2013 period.

Although Apple still remains in the top spot, there are plenty of alternatives to the ever popular iPad, including the Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet.

This 8 inch tablet, running Windows 8.1, comes with a full Microsoft Office suite of applications and is an easy to use platform upon which to experience windows 8.

In this video, we give an overview of the device and its specs:



The size of the tablet is small enough that it comfortably fits in one hand, with an appealing rubber-like texture on the back which makes it easy to grip. It also is very light at just under 400g, as well as its small size making it easily portable for working on-the-go such as on the tube or at home.

The usual Windows button, which would normally be located on the front of a Windows tablet, is a physical button at the side of the device, which impeded use a little, and I found it easier to use the swipe-menu feature to navigate instead.

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We had particular trouble using the on-screen keyboard, but there are a number of different accessories available to make this tablet easier to use when out and about, including a wireless keyboard, stylus and a tablet cover that doubles up as a stand, but it will cost you extra.

The display, which is HD 800p, is vibrantly coloured and good for watching videos or looking at documents and presentations, and with the full Office suite available all of your work is at your fingertips.

Although the battery life lasts all day when in use, it seemed to run down just as quickly when on standby, and I would have expected it to last longer.

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The processor is quite powerful considering the tablet's size, with an Intel Atom Z3740D Processor, so the apps load quickly. The dual-band Wi-Fi also ensures that web pages load quickly, although it can only be used where there are Wi-Fi hotspots or a reliable connection as the device has no SIM capabilities.

The tablet also features wireless display technology, allowing videos, photos or presentations to be streamed from your tablet to the nearest compatible TV using a Miracast secure direct connection.

Specs at a glance:

Dell Venue 8 Pro

    • Display: 8 inch HD 800p
    • OS: Windows 8.1
    • Camera: Front 1.2 MP, Rear 5 MP
    • Hard Drive: 32GB/64GB eMMC Hard Drive
    • Memory: 2GB Single Channel DDR3L-RS 1600MHz
    • Processor:  Intel  Atom Processor Z3740D (2MB Cache, up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core)

As far as small affordable tablets go, this is definitely one of the best for getting work done on a commute. The review unit was supplied to us by Ebuyer, where you can currently buy the Dell Venue Tablet Pro for £239.99.

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MWC FIRST LOOK: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+

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Over the last year the news has been filled with stories of Lenovo's success and it seems that they are slowly climbing their way to the top of the technology ladder.

The company even saw its smartphone sales increase by 102% over the course of 2013. So it's not surprising that during MWC, Lenovo has a whole new range of products to get excited about.

I focused on the new Lenovo Yoga table, since it will be available in the UK, and it was nice to take a look at something a bit different.

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The tablet has a cylindrical battery running along one edge of the device, which not only provides up to 18 hours of battery life, but also acts as an extremely comfortable handle for holding when reading documents or books and taking pictures.

There is a kick-stand built in, which has been extended for flexibility of angles, allowing the device to stand upright when viewing content such as videos or presentations, but it folds away nicely when you're not using it, and doesn't get in the way when you want to pick up and hold the device.

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The camera has been upgraded to an 8 megapixel camera, which takes pretty good photos and coupled with the battery/handle it's easier to take pictures than on traditionally shaped tablets.

Specs at a glance: 

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+

    • Processor: Snapdragon 1.6GHz
    • Camera: 8MP Front Camera
    • Memory: 2GB
    • Storage: 32GB
    • OS: Android 4.3

The Bluetooth keyboard has been updated, and also functions as a cover for the tablet with a strengthened back plate that slides across the screen to protect it from damage and also to make it easier to carry both parts around in a bag. It also puts the tablet to sleep when you slide the cover on, which ensures that it doesn't get activated in your bag and saves battery.


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The tablet and keyboard are also charged via micro USB as opposed to the previous proprietary charger, and the Yoga has a micro USB port with OTG capability, so it can be used to charge other devices when you're out and about.

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They might not be market leaders in the tablet sector, but this device is stylish and has enough features to set it apart from other devices in the same vein. 


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CES 2014: Panasonic announce new Toughpad FZ-M1

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Panasonic's range of rugged devices has always been at the forefront of portable technology for rougher working environments, and it looks like the new Toughpad will be no different.

Toughpads have previously come in a range of sizes, including  7-inch, 10-inch and a massive 20-inch. The new Toughpad is a 7-inch model designed to be easily portable for people working in industries such as transport, retail and emergency services. With a 4th generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, this fanless tablet is designed to provide high performance with low heat generation and power consumption.

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The Toughpad FZ-M1 weighs 540g and the strengthened glass houses an LCD touch screen with an anti-reflection layer to allow working inside and out. The touchscreen can also process up to ten finger touches at once. With optional business expansion models including NFC, smartcard reader and battery hotswap capabilities alongside the standard USB 3.0, headset and microSIM, the tablet can be adapted to suit the industry it is needed in. 

And now for the justification for its "tough" label: the tablet can be dropped from 5ft, heated to 50°C, cooled to -10°C and is dust and water resistant. It might not be massively pretty, but it does what it says on the tin.

Specs

Resolution: 1280x800

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro (Windows 7 version available)

Processor: 4th generation Intel Core i5 vPro

Memory: 4GB (8GB optional)

Dimensions: 7-inch tablet, 18mm depth

The Toughpad FZ-M1 is due to become available in February 2014 for a starting price of £1,183.

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Huddle Note - File sharing for the future

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Huddle has launched a new app for enterprises to use as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

We've talked about Huddle before, and how it allow teams all over the world to work collaboratively on projects by sharing files and comments in the cloud.

Huddle Note iOS Screenshot 1.pngThe new Huddle Note application now allows teams to create, edit and store any content in the cloud, making sharing and cross-platform use easier. As explained by Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell, it's a way for employees to share ideas wherever they are in the easiest way possible, without having to use other application or software.

He said: "People don't want to waste time skipping between apps, battling with legacy word processors, and then uploading documents to the cloud to share them with co-workers - especially when they're quick notes such as brainstorm ideas and meeting minutes. 

"With Huddle Note, we're adding an easy-to-use and intuitive way to capture content in Huddle, giving people a simpler, faster, mobile alternative to Microsoft Office and other bloated legacy offerings."

New features in the app include: creating and editing documentation in the cloud, sharing any content instantly with others and commenting and feedback. The app also has Huddle security features and an audit trail of activity so you can see when your documents have been read by others.

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This move away from "Jurassic systems" (Mitchell's words, not mine) will give workers everywhere a chance to share their ideas and be more productive in an environment where there's proper support available. 

With the workforce slowly becoming more and more dispersed, with people working from home, abroad or even on public transport, it's exactly what people need.

The new Huddle iOS application is also free to download from the appstore, so why not give it a go yourself? 

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British Airways deploys Panasonic Toughpads to help turnaround time for flights

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I was invited to take a flight to the Isle of Man with BA Cityflyer to see a demonstration of the Panasonic Toughpad, which is used for flights from London City Airport to keep tabs on flight data.

As our plane landed, a transfer of several paper documents occurred - one of the things this new innovation is working to reduce.

The Toughpad is essentially a more practical upgrade from the previous Panasonic Toughbook, and is used in combination with Electronic Technical Log (ETL) software from NVable to record and sign off flight and maintenance information.

The airline wanted something durable and practical. There can be no room for error of any kind during flights, especially hardware failure. The Toughpad meets these criteria, as not a single Toughbook or Toughpad device has been returned for repair in the years that BA has been using them. It also has better battery life and is 50% lighter than the Toughbook.

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Dave Cooper, line maintenance manager for BA CityFlyer, explained that there are mandatory documents that must be signed for every flight so that all of the people involved in the flight process know how many times an aircraft has flown and when checks need to occur.

The Toughpad and NVable ETL software allow this information to be entered via the tablet and immediately transmitted to the BA Cityflyer maintenance system so that engineers and flight crew can access the information. The quick availability of data has contributed to reduced turnaround times for flights, and also cuts down on mistakes made when information is transcribed from paper into digital systems.

When showing me the system, he pointed out the maintenance list for the plane we were on. Some of the items on the list had a bright yellow exclamation mark next to them - not the most comforting sight to see when in the air. He assured me that it just meant the plane would need examinations carried out later that day, information that had already been transmitted to the maintenance system.

Once we were safely back at City Airport, I asked the pilot Klaus Egge how the Toughpad had improved the data recording process. He admitted that the Toughpad method reduced human error, and that using the Toughpad in the cockpit is much more convenient than paper or the previous Toughbook.

He said that automatic functions, such as warning when inspections are due, are a great benefit of the new system. "In the past we'll have to check that manually by paper," he said. "It will be more accurate which is probably more important, the most beneficial part is that it will take away mistakes."

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