Archive for November, 2013

By November 23, 2013 Read More →

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ unbox & hands-on

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9Back in October of this year, Amazon announced that the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ would be available here in the UK in time for Christmas and just a few days ago, in a further announcement we learned that the HDX had commenced shipping.

With the HDX Amazon not only do we get an amazing hi-res IPS display with a staggering 2560 x 1600 resolution but there’s also a 2.2GHz Quad-core CPU, 2GB RAM and 16, 32 or 64GB storage.

Dispite the heavyweight specification the Fire HDX is still able to boast its “lightest large-screen tablet” status, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9” is astonishingly light at 374 grams.

In another innovation, the HDX also has a “Mayday button” a revolutionary on-device tech support system which is free, 24/7, 365 days a year.

In the video below I get hands-on and set up my new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ and have a look around that new Fire OS 3.0 Mojito UI.

By November 23, 2013 Read More →

SSD Face-off

SSD Face-offHaving a go at doing an SSD face-off with three lower priced SSDs in a typical PC setup. All three SSDs are tested on the same platform in an IDE set up. From the expensive Kingston SSDnow 100 V, to the considerably cheaper Toshiba Q Series Pro and including the OCZ Vertex Plus R2 for good measure we see that money isn’t everything when it comes to picking up an SSD.

By November 22, 2013 Read More →

Nexus 5 Camera Fix

Nexus 5 Camera FixPossibly one of the most disappointing things about the otherwise-excellent Nexus 5, apart from the battery life, is the camera. Whilst it may be 8 megapixels and offer an optical image stabilizer,  the image quality still leaves much to be desired. This is a real shame when pitched against excellent cameras in the Xperia Z1, Nokia 1020 and the HTC One.

Many other reviewers are calling the Nexus 5 camera ‘terrible’ or ‘awful’ but personally I don’t think it’s quite as dire as others are making out but certainly think that it really lets the Nexus 5 down.

Nexus 5 Camera Fix

There is potentially good news for Nexus 5 owners. Thanks to one of the developers over on on the xda-developers forum, Jishnu Sir,has been working on a Nexus 5 Camera fix and has released a camera patch which is said to improve the camera quality in a number of key ways:

  • Sound Recording now in Stereo with the secondary Mic.
  • Faster Focusing for the camera.
  • Front Camera also records 720P [email protected] 20 Mb/s.
  • Front camera Audio [email protected] 192000 Kb/s.
  • AntiBanding default set to 50Hz
  • Focus Range Adjusted.
  • Enhanced Smooth Zoom.
  • Turned Edge Enhancement ON.

So that’s definitely good news. However, if you want to apply the Nexus 5 Camera Fix package you’ll have to have a Nexus 5 with an unlocked bootloader in order to install it. This will certainly deter many a Nexus 5 owner.

However, what it does point to, is that the Nexus 5 camera can be improved with a software patch and reveals that the camera hardware, optics, sensor etc. are actually quite good.

So there are now calls for an official update to be released for the Nexus 5 to address the issues about and, hopefully go even further with help from the manufacturers and development team.

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By November 22, 2013 Read More →

Carriers rejecting plan to add smartphone kill switch

PhoneFireBack in June, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an initiative called Secure Our Smartphones, with a coalition of consumer advocates, police, prosecutors including other officials in an effort to put pressure on smartphone makers to bring a halt to smartphone theft. One of the goals was the introduction of an industry-wide “kill switch” that would allow consumers to remotely render a stolen smartphone worthless.

Now five months later, the New York Times reports that wireless carriers State side are not keen with the idea. Gascón was reportedly working on a deal with Samsung Electronics to include anti-theft software with its phones in the United States, that would have undoubtedly rolled out worldwide soon after. Unfortunately, this software requires approval from the wireless carriers that service the phones: in this case, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. All four rejected the idea a kill switch. Described as “unwilling Gascón reportedly viewed emails that took place between a Samsung executive and a software developer that revealed the four carriers’ reluctance to allow the software. The emails suggested that all four were more concerned about the profits made through insurance programs that are purchased to cover lost or stolen phones.

“Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences,” Gascón said. “This solution has the potential to safeguard Samsung customers, but these emails suggest the carriers rejected it so they can continue to make money hand over fist on insurance premiums.”

Instead of worrying about money the Carriers could have pointed out that there is room for abuse for such a step, say the kill switch is installed and a hacker gains control of the phone. They could disable the device and lock owners out. Or in the case of police evidence could be destroyed remotely from confiscated devices.

In the case of Apple’s Activation Lock, that’s not entirely true: the customer can disable the phone if it’s been lost, and then reactivate it with the correct username and password if found. For Android Device Manager, users can remotely lock their smartphone or tablet with a new password, or remotely reset the device to the original factory settings. The latter doesn’t stop thieves from selling the device on a secondary market, but at least the user data is mostly erased.

Gascón is reportedly evaluation what action can be taken against the carriers refusing to cooperate with the kill switch initiative.

“We have repeatedly requested that the carriers take steps to protect their customers. We are now evaluating what course of action will be necessary to force them to prioritize the safety of their customers over additional money in their pockets,” he said.

Posted in: News, Phones
By November 22, 2013 Read More →

Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 cheap goodness

nvidia-tegra-note-7If you were looking to pick up one of the best values in an Android tablet in time for Christmas, then you probably want to check out the Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 is the first (and currently only) Tegra 4 powered Android tablet available. At a price of just £179.99 over at PC World and Currys, the power and features of this little tablet might surprise you.

Here’s a recap of the Advent Vega Tegra Note 7:

  • NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 SoC, (This is the same ultra-fast processor and GPU combo found in the NVIDIA Shield)
  • 7-Inch IPS 720p Display
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 5MP rear camera
  • 1.3MP front-facing cam
  • Android 4.2.2 at launch
  • An integrated stylus
  • Dual front-facing speakers
  • MicroHDMI port

While the amount of RAM is a bit low, and the display isn’t true HD like many of the newer tabs, the graphics prowess of the Tegra 4 could rival some desktop PCs. This tab is obviously built with gamers in mind, but at this price point it should attract more than just gamers.

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By November 22, 2013 Read More →

The Toshiba Excite 7 announced

Toshiba Excite 7The Toshiba Excite 7 was officially announced yesterday. It boasts a quad-core processor, a microSD slot and more for only $169.99 (105). Here’s a breakdown of specs and features:

Toshiba Excite 7 specs:

  • 7-inch 1024 x 600 Display
  • Quad-core processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 0.3MP front facing camera
  • 3MP rear camera
  • Android 4.2.2 runs the show
  • Enhanced stereo speakers
  • 12 hours of general use / 7.5 hours of video playback
  • microSD support

The specs are rather mediocre, although the microSD slot and Quad-Core CPU is appreciated. At this price point there are certainly better options however with the name Toshiba you know you will be getting a good quality device.

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By November 21, 2013 Read More →

SlingPlayer 3.0 rolls out

SLING MEDIA INC. SLINGPLAYER 3.0Sling Media have just released an important update for Slingbox customers, offering SlingPlayer 3.0 and a SlingPlayer for Roku boxes.

A new version of SlingPlayer for iPhone and Android smartphones is available today as part of the Roku channel introduction. Sling Media will also introduce an app for Windows 8.1 in December.

FOSTER CITY, Calif., Nov. 18, 2013 Sling Media Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. (NASDAQ: SATS), today unveiled three new clients that further enhance discovery, navigation and the social experience customers now enjoy with content, giving Slingbox customers the ultimate video experience both inside and outside of the home. SlingPlayer 3.0 and the SlingPlayer channel on the Roku® streaming platform are both available for download today. A new version of SlingPlayer for iPhone and Android smartphones is available today as part of the Roku channel introduction. Sling Media will also introduce an app for Windows 8.1 in December.

“With today’s announcements, Sling Media has clearly brought the Slingbox experience into the living room, changing the way our customers discover, navigate, view and socialize around content,” said Michael Hawkey, VP and General Manager of Sling Media. “With SlingPlayer 3.0, we’re giving customers the tools they need to turn traditional prime time into Prime Time Social Time. Our customers have been asking for Roku support and a Windows 8.1 app. We’re pleased to deliver the Roku channel today and the Windows 8.1 app in the very near future.”

SLINGPLAYER 3.0

SlingPlayer 3.0 combines the core value proposition of viewing live or recorded TV anywhere with powerful, seamless discovery and second screen enhancements that customers are now asking for. SlingPlayer 3.0 turns the iPad into the first screen and second screen at the same time.

Features include:

  • Content discovery – SlingPlayer 3.0 offers a visually appealing interface that enables users to seamlessly find content they want to watch from the vast number of shows on TV at any given time. Filters are provided in conjunction with customers’ personal TV lineups for easy management as well as third-party services that provide users with tools to quickly discover content they may be interested in.
  • Sports experience – SlingPlayer 3.0 greatly enhances the sports fan’s experience providing an easy and visual way of finding which channel the game is on, no more cumbersome surfing of the grid guide. In addition, once a game is selected, either for viewing on iPad or on the TV, fans can enjoy live statistics on individual and team leaders, get game scores and engage their social networks to comment or call out their favorite team or player.
  • Social – SlingPlayer 3.0 uses social media for both discovery and engagement. Users can filter live TV programming based on their personal social media network likes and once tuned to a show, users can join the Twitter conversation with a live feed of content-relevant tweets or let everyone know what they’re watching via Facebook posts.
  • Second Screen Control – Slingbox customers can use SlingPlayer 3.0 as a powerful second screen companion. Users now have the ability to cast their Slingbox experience to a TV from their mobile device, making SlingPlayer 3.0 the ultimate remote control inside the home, in addition to being able to watch your home TV on a connected device from anywhere in the world.
  • Split-Screen Navigation – This split screen framework empowers Slingbox customers to browse for other content, view show details, engage with social networks or see live sports stats while simultaneously watching video on the iPad.
  • Compatibility – SlingPlayer 3.0 requires iOS 7.0 or higher.

SLINGPLAYER CHANNEL ON ROKU
Slingbox customers can now watch their live or recorded TV through a Roku streaming player connected to a TV in another room in the house or in a remote location. Customers will use either SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone or Android phone to initiate the video and send it to the TV with a tap of a button. They will also need to install the free SlingPlayer channel, from the Roku Channel Store. Roku devices supported at launch include the Roku 3, Roku 2, Roku 1, Roku LT (models 2400X and 2700X), Roku 2 XS, Roku 2 XD and Roku 2 HD players as well as the Roku Streaming Stick. Support for the Roku HD (model 2500X) and Roku LT (model 2450X) will be added later this month.

“Roku offers consumers the most choice of any streaming device,” said Ed Lee, vice president of content acquisition, Roku. “This partnership with Sling Media will bring even more value to Roku customers by giving them additional ways to enjoy live or recorded TV on their Roku players.”

Features include:

  • Sling to a Big Screen – Use Slingbox to send your TV to another TV via a Roku player. Use cases would include households with a second TV in the home (bedroom, basement, office, back porch etc.), in vacation homes or in college dorm rooms.
  • Smartphone Remote Control – The authentication and navigation of live and recorded TV played via Roku is all done via the SlingPlayer client on iPhone or Android phone. Customers must be on the same network as their Roku and once video is initiated on the phone they can “send” to the TV with a single tap. Changing channels, accessing the guide or DVR, etc. is all done via the phone commands.
  • Value – The SlingPlayer channel on Roku adds value to existing cable/satellite subscriptions, bringing live TV to additional TVs inside a home or in remote locations that have may have broadband, but not a cable/satellite/telco service.

SLINGPLAYER FOR WINDOWS 8.1
Sling Media is developing an app for Windows 8.1 customers who own a Slingbox. This new app will deliver an enhanced SlingPlayer experience across Windows 8.1 devices including Surface, desktop PCs, laptops and convertible devices. Sling Media expects the Windows 8.1 app to be available in December.

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By November 21, 2013 Read More →

The best tablets for reading

tabsAs much as most people enjoy diving into a good book, dragging around heavy hardbacks is probably less high on their list of favourite things to do. Since e-readers burst onto the scene a few years ago many people have jumped onto the electronic trend, but with tablet technology becoming increasingly advanced, their multi-functionality means they might just be the best new book you buy. If you’re shopping around for tablets you can also use as an e-reader, here’s a run-down of some of your options.

Asus Google Nexus 7 (2013 Edition)

The latest edition of Google’s Nexus range has the highest resolution of any tablet to date, with a 7-inch Widescreen Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WUXGA) screen that boasts dimensions of 1920×1200 pixels and a resolution of 323ppi. At 290g, it is 50 grams lighter than its predecessor, with double the RAM and a 15-hour battery life, so if you’re deep into that can’t-put-it-down novel, you won’t have to worry about sudden blackouts. Running on the Android operating system means it has flexible resolution handling, so different eBook or document files should all appear just as clearly.

Apple iPad (4th Generation)

The new generation of iPad comes with Apple’s trademarked Retina display, which at 264ppi is impressive, but not quite as impressive as the Nexus 7. Still, it does offer a larger screen at 10.1 inches, and the ease of zooming in and out might suit people who usually wear glasses to read. If your priority is convenient transportation, the compact, 7-inch iPad Mini offers all the same technology with a smaller screen size. The cheapest option of each model comes with 16GB of storage space as standard, but if you’re looking for more memory you can go up to 32 or even 64GB. Remember though, with the iBookstore you can download and delete books as you choose – they’ll always be saved for a re-download.

Samsung Galaxy Note

This chunky tablet comes in the same 10.1-inch size as the iPad, but with double the RAM, housing a powerful 2GB and a Quad Core Processor. While it also comes with 16GB of standard storage, the Note has a slot for a micro SD card that allows this to be easily expanded up to 64GB. The screen is not as sharp, with a resolution of 1280×800, but this is more than adequate for displaying text, and with a battery life just shy of 10 hours, it equals the iPad. However, the inclusion of a stylus pen that allows you to write on screen makes it handy for making notes while reading, so if you like to annotate your texts for your studies or book club, this will be ideal.

Sony Xperia Z Tablet

Although it’s slightly more expensive than the other options, Sony’s Xperia Z has one major advantage – not only over other tablets, but also traditional books. It’s water-resistant; so all those prone to knocking over glasses or reading in the bathtub can breathe easily with this in their hands. It has a large 10.1-inch display, with a resolution of 1920×1200, 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage space. Compared to the other 10.1-inch tablets, it’s almost 100g lighter, and is also the thinnest on the market, but still has everything you need inside.

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By November 21, 2013 Read More →

Top 3 Interactive Tables

table-pcNo, that isn’t a typo – we don’t mean tablets. Interactive tables are the latest developments that are revolutionising the way we live, particularly in the field of education. Packed with educational games and interactive learning activities, these touch screen devices are much tougher than tablets, and can be used by more than one person at a time. Here are three of the best interactive tables on the market right now:

1.       SMART Table

Created by SMART, a company dedicated to improving people’s lives through technology, the SMART boards tops our list. Designed for children who are just starting out in education, this clever device is available from United Carlton and can add a whole new dimension to the classroom.

Using the SMART table toolkit, teachers can design their own activities and send them to the table for the children to complete. There is also a wealth of activities available to download online too.

The table actively encourages group work. It features lots of problems that require students to work together and is big enough for more than one person to use, so they’ll be no impatient kids grumbling about having to wait their turn.

As it is designed to be used by little ones, the table boasts a robust, durable design with a scratch-resistant surface that won’t be damaged by an overly enthusiastic youngster.

2.       Promethean ActivTable

Moving on from tables for the little ones, the Promethean ActivTable is suitable for older students.

The large, tall table with a 46 inch screen is all about inclusion, catering for up to six users at any one time, while also providing disabled access too. It is the perfect tool to get students working collaboratively.

The table even provides teachers with a feedback report, documenting how each student contributed and performed during their group work. This provides teachers with better feedback than ever before, allowing them to tailor their teaching to the needs of the class collectively and individually.

3.       KioPro

Having seen the benefits to education that an interactive table can bring, many manufacturers are designing ones specifically for the business world. The KioPro is described as the ‘ultimate sales presentation tool’ and with its sleek coffee table design, it’s easy to see why.

The large touchscreen, available with a Windows 8 or Android operating system, allows you to compile high-quality presentations. And, if someone foolishly mistakes it for a coffee table, the screen is toughened to protect from damage.

The future

Could this London restaurant be the future? All of their tables are touch-screen and can be customised, with diners able to select their ‘tablecloth’, order their food, play games and even watch a live feed of the kitchen!

This may be uncommon now, but we predict we will be seeing a lot more of interactive tables in the future.

Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets, Tablets
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By November 21, 2013 Read More →

A new HTC One could be on the way

htc-m8One of the tech world’s most reliable leak sources, @evleaks, suggests that there could be a successor to the very popular HTC One early next year. Apparently, it will also be running Android 4.4 KitKat when it launches.

Other rumours suggest the new phone will come with 3GB of RAM, a 5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, Boomsound speakers, and the seemingly omnipresent Snapdragon 800. It’s also expected to maintain the One’s signature metal casing.

Other suggestions are that this will be called the HTC Two? But personally think something along the lines of HTC One Pro is more likely.

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