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CES 2013 VIDEO: Amzer screen protectors

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Would you risk hammering or drilling your smartphone?

In this video from CES 2013 in Las Vegas, Kyle Zurkan from Amzer, demonstrates the company's ShatterProof screen protection for smartphones.


On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a Buffalo MiniStation Air

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We are seeing increased demand on devices such as tablets to be used on the move, but with the average high-end amount of storage in tablets being around the 64GB mark, there is a need for a more portable storage solution, for those who work with large amounts of data.

The Buffalo MiniStation Air is hoping to be a solution to this problem, by providing 500GB of storage for data on the move. The handheld device is compatible with PC, Mac, and also tablets and smartphones through the use of an app. Cleverly, the device has its own internal wireless data connectivity, which allows you to stream to and from your devices while on the move. It also transfers data very quickly from your PC or Mac thanks to its USB 3.0 connectivity. 

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My first hurdle was turning on the device. There are two buttons on the side of the device, and I couldn't tell if the device was out of battery, or if I wasn't pressing the correct button, or even pushing it hard enough. I managed to switch it on a couple of times and it worked, but then I tried the same button to switch it on again and it wouldn't, so I resigned to giving it a good charge before trying again. 

Again, I had trouble with the button, but after pressing it a few times, a couple of lights came up on the shiny black surface to indicate that it was on and that the WiFi was working. I then connected the gadget to my mobile device, by turning on the wireless and typing in the key which is on the back of the gadget. I then downloaded the accompanying app and was ready to give it a whirl. 

I was testing it out using my iPhone 4, and annoyingly the app kept crashing which soon became very irritating. I figured out that if I didn't click on things too quickly and allowed the app a little more time to think, it wouldn't throw a hissy-fit and chuck me out of the application. But as soon as I became used to the layout of the app again, I'd pick up speed in accessing the files, and yet again I would be chucked out of the app!

When I did manage to spend more than 30 seconds at a time inside the app, I found it well organised. Data can be transferred from your computer onto the device in the same way as an external hard drive or USB stick. You could also add data from your mobile device onto the MiniStation Air, and also transfer data from the MiniStation Air onto your mobile device.

I was also really pleased with accessing photos, music and videos because it was extremely quick and easy to do so. There was an added joy that while watching videos, the wireless connection was so good that I didn't need to wait for any length of time for it to buffer.

For £100, you get a fair bit of storage for your money, however the fundamental bugs with the iOS app was very disappointing, but hopefully something that can be quickly fixed with an update. 

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First look at the Kindle Paperwhite

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I interview my colleague, Cliff Saran, who has just got his hands on a new Kindle Paperwhite. He gives me his first impressions.

Microsoft Surface tablet launch in New York

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Microsoft has launched its new operating system, Windows 8, in New York, and also its own tablet offering in the form of the Surface tablet. 

The Surface tablet is available running full Windows 8 or on Windows RT which runs software certified by Microsoft and placed in the Windows Store.

But will the latest tablet, set at a high £399, be the right choice for businesses looking to utilise tablets in the enterprise?

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Windows 8: Redefining the future of computing?

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Computer Weekly talked to Anand Krishnan from Microsoft's UK developer and platforms group in the run up to the launch of Windows 8 and we published a video on why to develop for Windows 8 earlier in the week.

Before we wrapped things up we took five minutes to ask Krishnan a few questions about the hardware surrounding Windows 8, and what the operating system will mean for the future of computing.

He said: "We think we're standing on the edge of a revolution, redefinition of what it means when using the word 'device'. I think it has to date stood for phones and tablets, and we're walking into a world now where a device is just a computer."

Krishnan then gave us a quick taster of Windows 8 operating on a tablet, while also giving his opinion on why the upcoming Surface Tab from Microsoft is so expensive.

The price for the Surface was announced last week, at a starting price of £399 for the standard 32GB RT version of Windows 8. Exactly the same starting price as the standard Apple iPad.

"I pre-ordered mine in the first hour," he said. "I think it's very good value... but I looked at what I got 32GB expandable, keyboard, Office and Microsoft streaming music service. I think it's a good price point." 


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Testing out 4G speeds on the EE network

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EE, the new brand for mobile operator Everything Everywhere, offered a sneak preview of 4G speeds yesterday.

I was given the Huawei Ascend P1, HTC One XL and the Apple iPhone 5 to test out the speedy mobile broadband, which the company is soon to make available in the UK. 

Additionally I was given an iPhone 5 locked to 3G to compare speeds. So for the purpose of this test, the white iPhone 5 is on the 4G EE network, while the iPhone 5 in black is on the 3G EE network.

And generally the 4G speeds did impress, check out my video tests below:

4G vs 3G on Apple devices 

Testing 4G on Android devices 

Streaming YouTube on 4G vs 3G 

Downloading Angry Birds over 4G on a HTC One XL 

Downloading the Amazon app over 4G on a Huwaei P1 Ascend 

However, during my experiments I discovered that downloading anything through the iTunes store was taking an unusual amount of time on 4G. I found that it was taking up to three minutes for a single song and the seconds seemed to increase rather than decrease on the download bar.

This is quite likely that the handful of Apple devices EE was using to demonstrate 4G speeds were all connected to the same account which was being used by five different people at the same time. It could also be an Apple/4G compatibility problem - Apple failed to provide comment by the time of publication. 

So while there are claims that upgrading to 4G will be seamless, I don't think we can expect not to have a few bumps in the road.


EE has announced that from today, 4G ready handsets including the Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, HTC One XL and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE will be available to buy on Orange and T-Mobile 3G price plans. Once the superfast EE network launches in the coming weeks, Orange and T-Mobile customers with 4G ready handsets can then choose to move across to the new 4G EE network or remain on the existing 3G network.  

The CW complete guide to audio - Part 2

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Welcome to the second edition of the Computer Weekly Complete Guide to Audio. Last week, my colleague, Matt, sampled a range of headphones available at the moment, from all-round general use to the desktop listening.

Giant headphones seem to be on trend at the moment, with "hipsters" showing off their headgear on the street. Whether you like to show off your kit or keep it on the down-low with buds, there are plenty to choose from on the market.

This part looks at noise cancelling headphones as well as a pair of dynamic bass headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones
RRP: £299.95

My first reaction to these headphones were that they are huge - Colossal even in the current market of headphones! I was shaking my head looking at the semi rigid case they belong in which I think is larger than the case for my first ever CD Walkman.


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But wait, wait, wait... don't disregard this gadget due to its size, apparently the best things DO NOT come in small packages.

I popped the included AAA battery in the discreet compartment on the right earphone, placed them over my ears and flicked the switch on the side and welcomed the sudden utter silence.

If you haven't experienced the joy of noise reducing headphones before, it's quite difficult to explain. In the office for example, any background noise from traffic outside, printers or servers diminishes and work colleagues sitting close by become significantly reduced in volume. It was very much like sitting in my own little bubble. 

Sadly I wasn't jetting off anywhere on a plane this week to try them out properly, but I can only imagine how satisfying it would be to be sitting next to somebody with an average set of earphones struggling to hear their music over the noise from a flight. Instead, plug the wires into the headphones and the other end into your audio source and you can hear every note without distractions.

I did, however, test them on the tube and I have never experienced such a peaceful rush hour journey. I don't recommend wearing them on the underground regularly however, as you will easily miss announcements and people trying to pass you muttering 'excuses me' which may inflict a few evil glares.

A nice addition was the fact that Bose provide you with an AAA battery, audio jack adapter for the plane as well as two sets of wires, one specifically for Apple products. When using with Apple products the headphones come with a small remote and microphone.

If you run out of spare AAA batteries then you will have to resort back to your standard Apple earphones as the Bose headphones don't conduct any sound without a battery - leaving you with an overpriced pair of ear muffs. Sadly I wasn't paired with the headphones long enough to find out how long the AAA battery lasts, but Bose state that the average AAA battery will provide 35 hours of use, which should see you through even the longest flight.

After a short while wearing them while writing this post, I found they were a little heavy on my neck, however, with your seat reclined and head back on a long haul flight this wouldn't be a problem at all.

Who these would suit? The frequent flyer, I know I initially moaned at the size of the headphones, but that was before the enveloped my ears in delicious silence. If I was lucky enough to own these I would make space in my overhead luggage at any cost to include these on every flight.

Pioneer SE - CL541i-k Closed Dynamic Headphones
RRP: £29.99

I have been using these earphones on and off for about a week, they're extremely portable being the bud style rather than the over ear variety and come with a nice little drawstring felt bag to protect them. 

Initially popping the buds in my ears was very uncomfortable. They conveniently come with three sizes of earphone tips which enable the bud to go deep into your ear. They come with ear holders (an odd triangle addition to the average shape earphone) which are designed for extra stability and apparently comfort. 

It took some getting used to, but once my ears were used to the unusual invasion, I found them quite comfortable and very secure.

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The dynamic bass kicks in when the buds are thoroughly plugged into your ear, if they're not securely inside your ear then the music is to some degree tinny. As soon as you press them that little further, the earphone tips seem to suction and the 10.5mm dynamic bass driver kicks in. Not only that, but due to this suction method the earphones act to some degree as noise cancelling. 

These headphones are designed especially for use with Apple products, with built in microphone, call answer button and volume control.

Who these would suit? The Apple consumer who likes quality bass and the ability to integrate calls.

Pioneer SE-NC21 (noise cancelling headphones)
RP: £99.99

My Initial thoughts were that the headphones were not as large as the Bose headphones and came in a smaller sturdier case. While not enveloping the ears completely, they sat very comfortable on top of my ears, but they did become a little hot and sweaty after extended use. 

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Pioneer state that it reduces ambient noise by 90% and once you place in the included AAA battery and flick the switch, the background noise from the office and traffic outside does indeed disappear. But noise from work colleagues, phones and keyboards in the room was still clearly audible. 

Batteries last around 120 hours with the average alkaline battery, and when they run out, the noise-cancelling function stops working, but they still work as headphones. However, the sound quality reduces significantly, echoes and becomes a little too bass-heavy without the noise cancelling switched on. 

I tested them out on public transport and the fact that I nearly missed my stop is surely a good sign that I was engrossed in my music and there were minimal exterior distractions. 

Compared to the Bose headphones they do not reduce noise as significantly, but for a third of the price, they work very well and also don't make you feel as if you are sitting in a fish tank. They also come with an in-flight plug adapter. 

Who these would suit? The all-round user who also flies a few time a year.

* Review note: While my colleague, Matt, chooses Peter Andre's back-catalogue for testing audio quality, I'd sooner check for decent sound using Disney's Lion King opening number, The Circle of Life, for its dulcet undertones and quivering high notes.

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Review: Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam (RRP: £199.99)

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The idea of working remotely from home instead of commuting into the office is slowly beginning to become a reality. Claims that flexible working saves money, energy and increases productivity has encouraged some firms to set in place remote working strategies.
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With an array of software and services such as VPNs (virtual private network), Dropbox, Skype, along with gadgets like webcams, smartphones and Mi-Fis (mobile Wi-Fi hotspots), spending a day away from your desk can easily be as productive as a day in work.

And if our near-empty London streets during the Olympics were anything to go by, perhaps many people out there have been trying out flexible working for the first time this past fortnight?

According to Microsoft, a staggering 90% of UK businesses now allow flexible working according to a Microsoft survey, but businesses are failing to provide the technology and policies to support it.

For the flexible worker or in-office conferences, computer accessory giant, Logitech, have produced a ConferenceCam suited for small group video conferencing with the added bonus of a full HD camera. 

Set up

Setting up the device was generally straight forward, attach the camera, plug into a power socket and your USB port and away you go - no device software needed.

There is no 'ON' button, so I was waiting a little while for a confirmation light, and it wasn't until I noticed Skype notifications coming out of the device speakers that I realised it was all connected with no software downloads - very simple.

Ease of use

Hit video call on Skype and the ConferenceCam connects like any other web cam.

Tested on Windows 7 using Skype, my first impressions of the video quality were great. The image was very sharp, thanks to the full HD camera. And the all-in-one audio and video worked really well, picking up voice clearly on both ends of the call.

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The device is £199.99 and also comes with a little remote control which allows you to sit back and adjust the angle of the camera using its 78 degree field of view (this can also be done on the base of the device). The camera also has a zoom function, however this could be a little smoother.

Logitech claims that its ConferenceCam bridges the "small meeting gap" in the market. It accommodates groups of 3-4 people without them having to sit each other's laps. This removes the need for a large scale meeting room video system which can be very costly. It is also surprisingly light; weighing 568g it can easily be picked up and taken into a meeting room.

So how many people can you actually fit in the cameras field of vision? We thought we would experiment in the CW office....

Well, we very comfortably fitted seven in the frame and as you can see the picture is great.

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I made Skype calls over fixed broadband and over a Mi-Fi mobile connection and both times the clarity of the video came across very well, with an expected reduction in quality over mobile.

Any negatives?

You can connect the device via a power socket or an additional USB cable, meaning that there are two sets of cables running from the ConferenceCam. 

It's the type of gadget which I'd want plugged in all the time so it's ready to go, but with the increasing amount of gadgets on the everyday work desk, finding that extra power socket or USB port can be a nightmare. It would be useful if the device was powered by a single USB cable - but it is by no means a major fault of the product.

Jabbar incompatibility

We spoke to a fellow user of the ConferenceCam, Jonathan Villasan, who manages a telepresence system in New York. He tested out the ConferenceCam on Skype, Google Video Chat and Jabber Video for Telepresence. It's worth noting that while he found the same great results on Skype and Google, the Jabber video conferencing system was unable to use the ConferenceCam's full zoom and panning functions. Villasan informs us that Logitech are looking into this. 

He said: "Despite the issues, overall we still find the BCC950 to be useful for our environment because it still solves a lot of issues for our PC users. Namely the convenience of having the built-in speakerphone and microphone to mitigate feedback (big issue for us), flexibility in placement relative to a fixed webcam, and having a wide-angle lens helps so users don't have to 'squish' to get in the picture.

"Currently we are using it in one of our affiliate hospitals where our medical students do their clerkships. Each clerkship has a lecture every eight weeks and having this deployed lets our students participate at their assigned hospital so they don't have to travel (50 miles) back to campus."

Living room conferencing system

Keeping in mind the topic of flexible working, a device like this could potentially be used in the home, thanks to its lightweight nature.  David Maldow, Human Productivity Lab analyst and an associate editor at Telepresence Options, also tested out the ConferenceCam recently. He managed to create a living room videoconferencing system, using his television screen, a laptop and a VGA-DVI cable.

"This is the first time I have been able to use the biggest piece of glass in the house for videoconferencing, it was very easy to set up, and affordable," said Maldow. "You may not purchase the ConferenceCam with this purpose in mind, but if you own one you might want to try this out because it is pretty cool."

Thanks to the ConferenceCam's compact size and elongated "neck", he found that the eye contact using the device was close to natural, while the placement of the camera didn't distract from the conversation. 

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Coming up: Logitech BCC950 Conference Cam

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We're in the process of reviewing this Logitech for Business BCC950 Conference Cam.

Logitech claim that this conference cam is perfect for small video conferencing meetings due to its wide angle HD webcam with an omni-directional duplex speaker phone.

We're looking forward to testing out how it has been optimised for common desktop video conferencing and UC platforms such as Microsoft Lync and Skype.

Video conferencing is becoming ever more popular as companies want flexible and cheap solutions to face to face meetings. 

The Olympics has also been thought to boost video conferencing as employees work from home, and we can expect this to continue after the Games have left London. 
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If anyone has been using this model of conference camera, please get in touch, we'd love to hear your feedback.

Please leave a comment below or email cbaldwin@techtarget.com

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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!!

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