|eXpansys Friday Deals: Selected deals between 11am and 4pm, 31st July 2009|
*Voucher codes do not apply with these deals. Limited to 2 units per customer, available while stocks last.
Posted by: Matt
|eXpansys Friday Deals: Selected deals between 11am and 4pm, 31st July 2009|
*Voucher codes do not apply with these deals. Limited to 2 units per customer, available while stocks last.
Posted by: Matt
ZiiLABS announced Tuesday they were launching Plaszma, their new open standards development platform. At the heart of the news was the Zii EGG StemCell Computer, a new device capable of running Android. The press release was filled with marketing fluff and hard to follow, but I have attempted to break down the top points and what this means for Android.
The Traxdata EZ Drive YEGO is a 4GB flash memory USB storage device which doubles up as a two-port USB hub. Quite a nice concept so we’ll see if it’s practical.
. USB Flash Drive
. 2 Port Hub
. Unique and Funky Design
. Conforms to USB Specification 2.0
. Backwards compatible with USB Specification 1.1
. Supports PC Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP/Vista, Mac OS 8.6/9.x/10.x, Linux Kernel 2.4 and above
. True Plug & Play Connection to the USB port
. Non-volatile memory, no battery required
. Data to be preserved up to 10 years
. Supports Booting from HDD
. Optional partition and security function provided
. LED light indicates usage status
. Power Supply: Powered via USB port. No external power or battery needed
. Power save: Support power saving mode to reduce power consumption
The general concept of the Traxdata EZ Drive YEGO is great! It’s a USB memory stick (in this case 4GB) and a 2 port USB hub so that you still have the capacity to plug in other devices whilst using the memory stick.
This review model didn’t come in any real packaging but I’m guessing there isn’t much with it anyway as it’s a ‘Plug & Play’ device. From looking around on the web it looks like it would come in plastic packaging, and this ‘Y’ shaped gadget comes in a few different colours too.
It’s very lightweight yet feels solid enough that it could withstand a few bumps.
As a memory stick it functions just as you would expect. With the ‘Plug & Play’ connection the computer takes a few moments the first time you connect it to your pc to set up the relevant drivers needed and then you are ready to use it. Copying files to and from the device is straight forward, and as it is a USB 2.0 connection the file transfer speed is quite fast.
This one has a 4GB capacity. To give you a rough idea of how much will fit onto 4GB – it will hold approximately 1639 photos (based on a 5MP camera and a file size of 2.5MB) or 1000 songs/66 hours of music (obviously this will depend of the file size again).
As mentioned, it is also a 2 port USB hub. You can see in the pictures where the sockets are. This is a great idea so that although you are using a USB port on your PC you are still able to plug other USB devices in.
I tried it out and it worked perfectly. No issues at all. But, there is one small issue that you may encounter which depending what kind of PC or laptop you are using. If you have two USB ports side by side you won’t be able to use the other port when this is plugged in due to its shape. Not to worry though as there are the two ports on the device of course! But, some laptops have vertical USB ports. If your laptop in on a desk or table you will find that the ‘Y’ shape makes it impossible to plug in, so you would need to have the laptop on your knee or a laptop riser in order to use the USB device.
The Traxdata EZ Drive YEGO is a nifty little device letting you save data onto the memory stick without it hogging the USB port you have plugged it into. It doubles up as a 2 port USB port which essentially frees up the USB port you are using as well as providing you with an extra port.
The only real issue is the ‘Y’ shape. I’m not talking about the look of it – it actually looks quite good and unique. What I mean here is that the ‘Y’ shape can actually be impractical depending on the location and/or orientation of your USB port.
Over all, a good device. Just have a look at where your USB ports are before considering purchasing a Traxdata EZ Drive YEGO!
Reviewed by: Emma
You may recall that we unboxed and reviewed the Sony Ericsson C905 recently so when we are asked if we would review the Sony Ericsson C903 a few days ago my initial reaction was that this would just be a cut down version of the C905. Despite there being some obvious similarities between the two handsets the C903 looks fairly different. The C903 has only a 5MP camera where the C905 is 8MP and the C903 has a more plastic feel to it.
There are lots of comparisons to be made between the two handsets so I think they are best left to the full review but for now have a look at my brief unboxing video below.
Note that I mention the memory card support in the video and incorrectly stated that it supported MicroSD cards, in fact the C903 uses M2 memory cards.
Sony Ericsson C903 specification:
Packed full of features the C903 Cyber-shot™ will give you the best picture possible with Face Detection, finding up to three people in the frame at a time and Smile Shutter™ which automatically picks out beaming smiles. Snap up to nine images in quick succession using BestPic™, pick your best and delete the rest.
Show off your images with the crystal clear, auto rotating 2.4” display, send them to your blog or connect to your TV screen using the TV-out function and get up close and personal.
The C903 Cyber-shot™ also comes complete with aGPS – never lose track of where you took an image or where you are – simply tag your photos to a location or use the feature to find your way home or to the pub.
Posted by: Matt
It’s still a few months to go before we see the Archos 9 tablet on store shelves (October 22) but we would like to catch the complete specifications this early before handing our $500 to a retail store. You can’t find the Archos 9 specs list on the Archos site but some people in Europe managed to dig it up.
Well it happened a little earlier than we al expected but today we started hearing reports that the HTC Hero has started shipping with many UK retailers receiving limited supplies today so if you haven’t already pre-ordered the HTC Hero you might want to get your skates on before they sell out. If other recent HTC devices are anything to go by there might be a delay between the first and second shipments!
The current deals on the HTC Hero that we are aware of are as follows:
eXpansys have the HTC Hero in stock for £399.99 with £30 of eXpansys vouchers thrown in – details HERE
SuperETrader have HTC Hero devices in stock for £395.60 with a free 8GB memory card – details HERE
Clove Technology have the HTC Hero in stock also for £395.60 – details HERE
Devicewire.com have the HTC Hero in stock also for £394.99 (or £10 less with our HEROTAM discount code!) and free delivery – details HERE
Posted by: Matt
The guys from Clove have just let me know that the HTC Hero has arrived into stock and is available from today for overnight shipping. The model they have is the white one and can be used officially on any GSM network in the UK.
You can order it now from Clove and hopefully we will be getting a review device very soon.
In June this year Samsung hosted launch events called “Samsung Mobile Unpacked” in London, Dubai and Singapore. This event saw the live launch of the Samsung S8000 Jet. The device is advertised as being “smarter than a smartphone”. Let’s see if Samsung are right?
The ten second review:
Device: Samsung S8000 Jet
Summary: A beautiful device jam-packed with features.
Best of: AMOLED Screen, User friendly.
Worst of: Video recording
What’s in the box?
Also have a look at Matt’s Samsung S8000 JET unboxing video for more.
The top of the handset contains the 3.5mm headset socket and the micro USB port.
On the left hand side only a volume up/down rocker can be found.
The right hand side houses three buttons. The one nearest the top is the device lock button. The middle launches a cube style menu as well as motion features and the bottom key is a dedicated camera key.
On the front of the handset at the top are the secondary camera lens and also a light sensor. At the bottom are the send/end keys as well as a menu quick launch button.
The rear of the device contains the 5MP camera lens as well as the flash. The nice thing about the back is that at certain angles it looks black but when the light hits it right it has a deep red colour.
I was looking forward to the Samsung JET arriving on my doorstep. I have always been a Samsung fan and have owned more than ten of their handsets over the years. I was intrigued to see how the Jet compared to its main rival (which I would say is the LG Arena) and also if it was as smart as Samsung say it is. As I recently reviewed the Arena I was looking forward to the battle!
After opening the box for the first time I was pleased with the look and feel of the Jet. At only 99 grams the handset is very solid and just feels well made.
The design of the phone is just as good as the build. Its plastic casing is smooth and its rounded edges make it feel comfortable to hold.
The Jet comes with a case inside the box. This is only for protection and does not have a belt clip/loop. I initially thought this was a nice add-on but the case is made of thin plastic and feels cheap.
Using the Samsung JET was a real pleasure and a better experience than I imagined it would be. The AMOLED screen is absolutely stunning! Its colours are so bright and vibrant.
Samsung use there Touchwiz interface on the Jet. This contains the widgets bar on the left of the screen. From here you can drag and drop widgets of your choice onto the home screen. A nice additional feature is that you can swipe the home screen left or right to give you a total of three home screens. By adding widgets to these it can give you quick access to your most used features. For example: on one home screen I had the myspace, facebook and youtube widgets. The only downside to these are that they are not applications but links to the websites. Still a great feature if you use them a lot but not perfect. Could be “smarter” Samsung!
At the bottom of the screen are four on-screen shortcut keys. These are keypad, phonebook, messages and main menu. These work like a dream as the screen is so responsive.
Another shortcut option is the button next to the camera button. A short press of this button opens up a cube interface which contains easy access to the media features on the handset (photos, music, video, radio, games and internet). Although a nice looking feature I found this a bit of a novelty after a while and I could access these features just as quickly through the main menu. It looks nice though!
A longer press of the same button opens up the motion sensor. This teaches you how to use movement and taps to change music tracks etc. I couldn’t get along with this option and found it quite frustrating! Again, it sounds a nice feature but how many people are going to be walking down the street listening to music and then waving there phone around in the air just to skip a track. It may be quite funny to watch though!
Using the Samsung music player was a nice experience. Once opened the player is extremely easy to use with nice big on screen buttons and a graphic equalizer. If the phone is rotated into landscape the screen auto rotates and shows you the albums cover work. You can then scroll left or right to choose the album you wish to listen to.
The sound quality was not as good as I expected though. The supplied Samsung earphones are nice and I actually use these myself but I have had better quality on a lot of other devices. The speaker produced a decent volume but lacked the sound quality. This is one of the few areas where the LG Arena was much better.
Creating both SMS and email on the Jet is a quick and simple. The onscreen keypad is great as the keys are big and responsive. You also have the option to auto rotate the screen and this gives you a full QWERTY keypad. Although in this option the keys are smaller it is still easy to use and with the T9 option messages can be typed with minimal mistakes. The Jet also gives you the option to use handwriting recognition. This actually works well but if its speed you want then stick to using the keypad.
The Jet also has email capabilities. The only down side to this is that you need to input all the settings manually. This is something most “smartphones” do automatically. The upside to this is that you only have to do it once and once it’s done it works well.
The phone contacts menu on the Samsung JET is super cool. It will store up to 2000 contacts and each contact can have a photo attached. In addition there personal information such as email and home address can be stored. A nice feature.
The main menu on the handset is beautiful. The background in the menu is black and this really makes the colours of the menu icons jump out. The main menu consists of three pages and again these can be accessed by swiping left or right. As there are twelve icons per page its very easy to find what you want, unlike some other operating systems which will have you going into folders to find the feature you need.
Web browsing on the Jet is pretty nice. The pages render well and it gives you the option to tap the screen to zoom. Using the Jets Wi-Fi is an added bonus and the whole browsing experience was as good as any other “feature phone”. A nice feature is that you can have several pages open at the same time. By clicking an on screen button you can view the pages you have open and then scroll left or right to select the chosen page. This is actually better than on a lot of “smartphones”.
The 5MP camera does a reasonable job. Its pictures are not fantastic but are as good as you would expect. What really helps though is how easy the camera features are to use. The on screen option buttons make changing the cameras setting simple. There is a nice selection of “scene” modes to choose from. These include portrait, landscape, night, sports, indoors, sunset, dawn and a few more. A decent amount for getting the right shot. The flash on the Jet is pretty decent and has an auto option as expected. There is certainly plenty of space for keeping photos. The Jet has 2GB of internal memory with the option to insert a micro SD card.
Using the video recording option though was a bit of a let down. On screen the video recording look fine but once transferred to a PC they are grainy and a bit blocky. I used QuickTime to view the videos and even watching the videos at half screen size it was not good. Compared to the LG Arena the JET’s video recording was a major let down.
As expected the Jet has lots of additional features such as alarms, calendar, radio, voice recorder, timer, stopwatch, world clock and a few more. All worked a treat and were really easy to use.
Overall the Samsung JET is an amazing little phone. Its jam-packed with features and so easy to use. Although the camera and video features are not as good as on the LG Arena pretty much everything else is better in my opinion.
“Smarter than a smartphone” I don’t think so! It’s smarter than most other “feature phones” but compared to Windows Mobile, Symbian and the iPhone it’s a little bit behind.
If you want a good all round device without the business features then buy a Samsung JET. I would! In fact I think I may well get one for my other half!
Review by: James
Full, two-way interaction with Twitter over SMS is now available for everyone who uses O2, the largest mobile operator in the UK. There are no extra fees associated with Twittering over SMS on the 02 network—standard or in bundle rates apply for updating your account and receiving tweets over SMS is free so Tweet your heart out!
To Twitter over SMS with your iPhone or any other mobile, head over to your account settings and activate your device. The Twitter shortcode in the UK is 86444 if you want to save it in your address book. Twitter started with a strong focus on texting and continue to provide SMS access around the world.
Via Twitter Blog
When Matt asked me if I was interested in looking at the Acer Aspire 4810T I did what I usually do and asked if there was anything in particular I should be paying attention to. His answer surprised me to the point that I didn’t really believe him – "It’s got a 9 hour battery" he replied.
Needless to say this was something I was intrigued to test.
What’s in the box
Well as is sometimes the case when we are reviewing devices, we didn’t get a full retail box. The box just contained the laptop with it’s battery and 2 power cables. So there is not really much else I can say on that.
Acer Aspire 4810T Specification:
|Genuine Windows Vista®|
. Intel® Centrino® 2 mobile processor technology,
. Dual-Channel SDRAM support
. 16:9 aspect ratio
|Graphics||. Mobile Intel® GS45 Express Chipset|
. High-definition audio support
. 2.5" hard disk drive* / solid state drive*
. Integrated Acer Crystal Eye webcam
. BIOS user, supervisor, HDD passwords
. 338.4 (W) x 240 (D) x 24/28.9 (H) mm
. ACPI 3.0
. 86-/87-/91-key keyboard
. 5-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD)
Let’s do a quick tour around the Aspire 4810T.
Nothing much to see at the back apart from the battery, so let’s look at the front.
If you look closely at the picture you’ll see that there is a slot in the middle front edge – this is a 5-in-1 card reader, and just above that (looking white in the photo) is a bar that glows amber to show the battery is charging and blue when the battery is fully charged.
There’s not much to see from underneath, but the things worth noting are the 2 catches to release the battery, and single large removable cover for access to the hard drive and memory sockets.
Before I get into the review I just want to point out again that we didn’t have a retail box, so some of the things mentioned here might be addressed in the full packages.
The first thing that happened to me on handling the 4810T was that I tried to open it up the wrong way – doh! For some reason the styling made my brain think that the battery area was actually the front – and this was something that I did several times whilst testing it. Don’t think that is something wrong with the design though, it’s more likely something wrong with me 😀
At just under 2kg the 4810T is certainly very portable, and certainly something I could carry with me all day.
The 14" screen is billed as an "HD Acer Cine Crystal LED LCD" – which is nice I guess. But to me it’s a gloss finish widescreen display with a native resolution of 1366×768.
First off the bat, the 14" screen doesn’t feel at all small and being widescreen certainly helps that.
I do have a personal issue with the fact that the screen is gloss finish – and this is NOT unique to the 4810T, but to all screens – the reflections drive me mad. What was wrong with the matt finish we used to have on laptop displays? It was certainly more suitable for being outdoors with, and meant less fiddling with the screen to find an angle where things were visible. On some laptops this is further exacerbated by the fact that the LCD has poor viewing angles. Thankfully that is not the case here, the 4810T is viewable from a reasonable range of angles, so once you find a position where the reflections aren’t annoying then you are set.
The screen resolution of 1366×768 is another oddity for me - I guess that’s "just how they come" but it doesn’t seem to be ‘standard’ resolution at all. Not that it affects the usage of the laptop, just seems odd to me.
The next thing you notice with the Aspire 4810T is the keyboard. It reminds me of the one you get on some Mac laptops, with the keys being ‘plates’ instead of ‘chunks’. The keys are perfectly responsive, and though your fingers might find the sensation of the new surfaces slightly unusual at first, you will soon get used to them.
The new keys do cause something curious to happen though.
When you open the laptop you will often find a dust pattern has formed on the screen. If you look closely at the image above you can see what I mean. This pattern appears to be caused by a build up of dust in the keyboard then when the laptop is moved around the dust falls between the keys and adheres to the screen. This just means that the first thing you do when opening your laptop is wipe the screen. Nothing earth shattering, but not something I’ve had happen on laptops with the more ‘traditional’ keys.
So onto actually using the laptop.
[ On the laptop we had for testing the activity lights above the keyboard weren’t working at all. I can only assume this was a glitch on the device we had rather than a more serious design problem. ]
This 48010T came with Windows Vista SP1 pre-installed and boots up fairly quickly. General testing of basic functions showed that the laptop was perfectly capable of performing the normal day to day tasks that you would ask of it with applications opening quickly.
Anyone looking that the CPU speed in the specifications need not worry unless they are running some heavy applications. The 4810T performs just fine with the normal things you’re likely to do on a laptop like office applications, web browsing etc. Obviously if you push your machines with more complex tasks then there is a point where it will slow down, but isn’t that the case on all PCs?
The 500GB hard drive is split into 2 partitions, one being a 10GB recovery partition, leaving 456GB formatted for the OS. So even with the OS on there, there is plenty of space for your files.
Like most PC’s the 4810T comes supplied with various software pre-installed.
The trial software includes McAfee Security Center and a 60 day trial of MS Office 2007. Other software installed include WinLocker, eSobi, Orion and Google desktop.
Acer have also included some of their own applications as well – Acer eRecovery Management, Acer Arcade Deluxe, Acer Backup Manager, Acer Crystal Eye Webcam, Acer GameZone and Acer GridVista.
I want to spend a moment going through the Acer software.
Acer GridVista is a tool for organising applications within a screen – it’s a bit like the Tile Horizontally/Vertically tool within windows itself. It allows you to place upto 3 apps in fixed positions on the screen in a preset grid, a bit like having multiple monitors. It seems to work nicely enough and I can see the benefit for some people.
Acer GameZone – a collection of 19 ‘casual’ games including things like Mahjong and Luxor. Added to the MS games that are part of Vista there is plenty to keep you distracted from your work.
Acer Crystal Eye Webcam is, as it’s name suggests, for the built in webcam.
Acer Backup Manager, again the name is fairly explanatory, for backing things up.
Arcade Deluxe – not more games as you’d think, but an app that is more like Media Center, with a video player, music player, photo viewer and web video browser all controlled from the same interface. I’m not sure who’d use this when all the functionality is already built into Windows, but it’s there if you want to use it.
Acer eRecovery Management is another backup tool, though it’s primary function is to allow the user to reset the laptop back to factory settings. Here is where I found some problems with the way the laptop was setup. In theory the recovery tool let’s you set the laptop back to factory conditions by rebooting from the recovery partition on the hard drive. In practise it doesn’t work, at least not on this laptop.
I clicked the button to recover the drive, agreed which drive I was recovering to and nothing happened. So I tried making sure the app was running as administrator and tried again, same thing. So I thought, I’ll go into Safe Mode and try from there, but the laptop wouldn’t boot into Safe Mode – it just crashes mid boot and restarts the laptop.
Depending on what is in the retail packaging this could be a major problem for the user.
If there is no Vista disk or other recovery disk included, then the user could find themselves with a machine that won’t boot and won’t let them into Safe Mode to fix the problem.
When you first start the 4810T it does encourage you to create a backup disc, but that’s not really an answer as the user that may not have writeable discs handy.
I could live without the recovery tool if the package contained a reinstall disk (though that does mean the 10GB recovery partition is not needed), but not being able to boot into Safe Mode could lead to big problems for the user and most users will only discover it when they need it most.
Certainly the first thing I’d be looking at if the laptop was mine was how to get Safe Mode working, just in case.
Another installation glitch I found was that a link to the ‘Acer Quickstart Guide’ actually pointed to a document that wasn’t installed. Not as serious obviously, and might even be a result of being a review device, but without being able to recover to factory settings I can’t tell.
Whilst I’m discussing things that irritated me, the network connector is arranged so that the ‘locking clip’ is on the underside as you are using the laptop. Which means that when you want to disconnect the cable you have to lift the laptop first – surely it would make more sense for the connector to be the other way up so that the user can release the cable without moving the laptop. You can see this is you look at the photo of the right hand side of the laptop above.
With the complaints over, let’s get onto the more positive aspects of the Aspire 4810T.
The eject button for the CD/DVD drive is above the keyboard instead of being on the drive face itself. This is a great idea and saves it being nudged accidentally – though I did press it instead of the power button a couple of times 😀
There is a button beside the trackpad that allows you to turn it on and off, and the button lights up when the trackpad is off. Normally this is a function key, but here Acer have opted for a separate physical button. So if you find you are touching the pad whilst typing you can just press the button to disable it. The light is a bit brighter than I think it needs to be though.
When playing back audio I was pleasantly surprised by the audio separation of the stereo. Sounds were very obviously left and right when watching movies, not something that all laptops can say.
And talking of movies we get to the test that I ran to see how good the battery really was – I played some DVD movies. Normally this is a bad idea on laptops as spinning the drive and doing the decoding really eats battery power.
After 2 full movies, totalling over four hours of playback, there was still battery to spare! I’m convinced – the battery life on the 4810T is stunning.
The 9 hours that has been talked about for the battery life on the 4810T obviously depends on what you are doing, but I can well believe that if you are just doing some text based work or web browsing that the 9 hour life is possible. In reality most people don’t need 9 full hours as they are likely to be able to put some charge in at some point in their day, but it certainly stops you having to worry about your battery.
It certainly takes a little getting used to the fact that when the battery life is at 25% it’s still saying 2 hours life left 😀
– Without question, the battery life
– drive eject button being on the main keyboard area
It’s hard to be accurate on this not knowing the retail box contents
– software setup
– gloss screen (yes I know it’s a personal choice, but for me it’s a negative)
– network connector ‘upside down’
If you just want a laptop that runs all day then this is well worth looking at, the battery life will not disappoint.
For me though the battery life alone doesn’t justify the price. Laptops are getting ever cheaper, and if I was to purchase a similarly spec’d one elsewhere and bought a second battery to extend the usage time, then I’d still be saving money for the same sort of package.
But one thing is for certain, this battery technology will be used in other laptops before very long.
The glitches with the software setup are a real concern, the inability to get into Safe Mode in particular. Reading some forums they suggest that this can happen on PC’s where the hardware is causing the Safe Mode boot to fail, and if that’s the case here then that’s a deal breaker for me. I would certainly be trying a clean Vista install from scratch and seeing if that can get into Safe Mode. I don’t need Safe Mode that often, but when I need it, I really need it to work.
Review by: Iain