Archive for 2014

By September 15, 2014 Read More →

Samsung go for the jugular with a new Note 4 video

Screenshot 2014-09-15 17.42.57Light in tone yet never more savage, Samsung have launched a new video that pulls many punches and forcibly establishes themselves as the trendsetter.The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple iPhone 6+ are going head to head is a bigger match than the flagship devices iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5. Both phones are going to capture their audiences and there will be no surprises that the iPhone 6+ will outsell the Note 4 greatly, however the dent in iPhone 6+ sales that the Note 4 will make is the interesting bit and from the looks of this video Samsung are going to take no prisoners.

By September 15, 2014 Read More →

Inateck Portable USB 3.0 + OTG Hub Unboxing

vlcsnap-2014-09-14-13h11m54s235Gareth has a look at a handy little peripheral from Inateck. This USB 30 Hub has a little adapter allowing you to not only connect it to your laptop or PC, but also your Android phone or tablet by way of the MicroUSB connector. Featuring super fast USB 3.0 speed and a full sized USB slot this is one peripheral folks on the road are going to need if they have camera’s and USB devices to connect. You can order one from Inateck via Amazon for £16.99.

Other variants include:

USB 3.0 hub + Gigabit Ethernet Adapter – £25.49

USB 3.0 hub with 4 ports, bus-powered – £11.99

Apple styled Aluminum 4 port adapter – £14.99

By September 12, 2014 Read More →

ZIIIRO Watch – Suturn – Chrome review

ziiiro-watch-saturn-chromeAs a watch enthusiast, when Matt asked me to review one for the site, I jumped at the chance!

I have quite a few watches of different styles including both analogue and digital so the piece that I will be reviewing here is interesting as it combines both types of display into one watch in a unique way, kind of, sort of! Read on to find out more.

Starting with the more “normal” elements of the watch, it is constructed from 316L stainless steel and has a mesh strap that is also made from stainless steel. The case width is 45mm which makes this quite a large watch by most standards and the strap is 23mm wide and both combine to make this quite a striking looking watch even without taking the unique selling point of this watch into account. The watch sits well on the wrist and fits under a shirt cuff without difficulty. The watch is rated as water resistant to 30m which means that it is OK for doing the washing up but not for swimming really – this may seem odd but you need 100m for swimming in fresh water and 200m for salt water due to a number of reasons that are far too boring to be discussed on a website as interesting as this one!

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So what is it that makes this watch different? What we have here is a digital watch that represents time using an outer ring of 12 segments all the way around the dial, and inner ring of 60 segments and a center circle. As you might have guessed the outer ring represents the hours, the inner the minutes but what about the center bit? Well that is used to show a.m. and p.m. When it is dark it is p.m. and when light it is a.m. This actually works quite well and the button at 2 o’clock  illuminates an electroluminescent backlight that allows the watch to be viewed in darkened (even pitch black) environments. There are a couple of downsides to the display but they are in no way deal breakers if you like the other aspects of it. The first is that you really need to expose the whole of the face from under a cuff in order to see the time whereas with an analogue watch you can see where the hands are roughly pointing to with only about 2/3rds on show. Not too bad there then? The second point is that it can be difficult to accurately judge minutes if the corresponding hour segment is not filled in. Again, not too terrible?

I’ve been very impressed with this watch and it is a nice change from my regular collection of G-Shock and automatic watches.

So you may be wondering how much this unique and interesting piece of horological technology costs? It retails for £145 at http://twistedtime.com/ziiiro-watch-saturn-chrome.html which is maybe not quite in the impulse purchase price range for most people but is quite reasonable for a watch that will stand out from the crowd and it is extremely unlikely that you’ll see another on anyone else.

Posted in: Gadgets, Reviews
By September 11, 2014 Read More →

Gareth’s Top TV from IFA

TV FranceWalking around Berlin’s IFA show you will realise the most important aspects of ever stand is the display. Every device and unit there relies on the most eye popping display to attract attention. Samsung, Sony and LG stands are full of jaw dropping panels with ever increasing size, beauty and novelty.  However, on closer inspection you can see colour contrasts pushed up and false vibrancy used to achieve an eye popping result. Most of these panels are eye popping for a minimal amount of time.

Panasonic was the only company to happily display their older panel beside their latest offering for direct comparison.  You can get right up and examine the pixels and colour representation within millimetres of the screen. Most other companies have their panels roped off.

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LG and Samsung brag them have true black on their screens however you can see they are not. Panasonic are refreshingly honest with their approach, true blacks are very hard to do, they aren’t their yet however they are close. They can show the progress from where they were this time last year.

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One of the most endearing things about the Panasonic flagship is their pride in the design. Having visited a number of shows I have spoken to many engineers over the years about the development of their products, however I have never had an Engineer ask me what I think of specific design aspects, only to step back and continually admire the work their company had produced. Panasonic’s engineers have taken pride in their work, not for profit, not for glory, but as a personal achievement in creating something that stands out and impresses.

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Panasonic have made a lot of effort to turn a Smart TV into an actual Smart TV. Most consumers have Smart TV features forced on them when buying a new TV, the functionality is usually half baked, slow and prone to bugs. It is normally turned off and a set top box used to replace. Panasonic have added a feature set to their high end devices, and some diluted features to the lower, that will impress those out hunting for the living room replacement model. A combination of services that integrate with the users lifestyle to produce a truly Smart experience.

Much like an Xbox One, the new Panasonic has a built in camera with facial recognition and the ability to build a profile for each registered user. Once the user has been recognised, or selected when multiple users are in one place, the TV can, even from standby, show information pertinent to the user. Weather, social updates, relevant TV content and recommendations based around viewing habits. Smart TV features a user would benefit from, and not what a manufacturer wants to throw are the user on a clunky interface. Panasonic’s Mystream and Infobar are simple, elegant and useful without interrupting or imposing.

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Adding in the ability to stream to devices over 3G and 4G, scheduling and recommendations Panasonic is making extra effort to evolve the television into a companion to spend time with in your freetime. This is something other TV’s cannot boast. LG and Phillips have adtoped mature operating systems for their models in WebOS and Android however these are not specifically designed to deliver the content directly to you, however you need it. Running ontop of a specifically designed Quad Core Pro5 chipset the AX 902 can handle most anything required and the software runs smoothly without issue.

Panasonic’s Viera AX902 is a head turner if ever there was one. Less gimmicks that the other manufactures, more progress in delivering a better TV viewing experience. A team of engineers have built a TV they would want to use themselves, not one they that solely to please shareholders.

By September 10, 2014 Read More →

When can I get my iPhone 6?

iphone6s-renderingOn the 9th September Apple announced not one, not two but three new devices. Possibly the most exciting announcement since the original iPad all those years ago. An exciting moment as Apple expands their product line to provide more choice for the consumer and more fuel for the Apple bashers to attack with. Love it or hate it there is a large percentage out there looking to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest. However, where and when are you likely to get one?  The iPhone 6 is due to be released on September 19th in the UK.

You can get one from Apple if you don’t want or need a phone plan. The Apple Store is a little more expensive as you are paying for a SIM unlocked version allowing to put in whatever SIM card you fancy, be it 3G or 4G. Paying for the device upfront allows you the freedom to choose your tariff and even swap to a better deal down the line.

The pricing model has changed a little as the Apple now have multiple phones on their market and this is the first time we have seen the much anticipated 128gb varient.

iPhone 6 – £539 (16GB), £619 (64GB) and £699 (128GB)
iPhone 6 Plus – £619 (16GB), £699 (65GB) and £789 (128GB)

  • Three are taking details of those interested in ordering the device, their site was inaccessible last night, possibly due to these phones. You can now register here.
  • Vodafone do not have a listing for either of the new iPhones at this point in time however they will update this very quickly, I would imagine. You can pre-register interest on the Vodafone website
  • Phones4U also have no specific pre-order information, but the company said they’ll be stocking both new iPhones at all Phones 4u stores and online, as soon as they arrive in the UK. Check their site for information on pre-orders.
  • EE has been listed as a partner for Apple’s Wi-Fi calling. EE are offering the phone from September 12 on pre-order, and to purchase on September 19. Check out the EE website to do so.
  • O2 are not taking pre-orders or registry for the iPhone 6 or 6+ at this moment in time. This will change in time and we will update you as soon as we know.

Apple of course announced the iWatch, a sexy looking peripheral for the iPhone. We won’t see this until early 2015. The pricing is $349 and that translates to £220, so we will unfairly round that up to £299 as the likely UK price.

Posted in: News, Phones
By September 9, 2014 Read More →

Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro pops

Vibe z2 There was no end of Phablets at IFA, in Berlin, this year. It seems every hardware manufacturer was bringing one to market or giving a serious refreshing to an existing model. Lenovo were no different.

A couple of companies continually popped up repeatedly on the news feeds as their presence at IFA was made known. Lenovo was a prime example. Havin taken over Sony’s PC business end and Motorola Mobility Lenovo are on their way to becoming one of the tech giants. Their line up at IFA was an impressive one.

Amidst their collection of laptops, desktops, tablets and grey area hybrids Lenovo dropped in the Vibe Z2 Pro, rocking a 6-inch  IPS display with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. Running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, with RAM up to 3GB, and built-in 32 GB the Vibe Z2 unfortunately looses expandable storage.

A newly revised 16 megapixel camera with optical stabilization, dual SIM card slots and a impressive 4000 mAh battery compliment the thin metal frame measuring 156 x 81,3 x 7,7 mm and weighing only 179 grams. This is a suitably impressive piece of kit and it looks just delicious!

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Posted in: News, Phones
By September 5, 2014 Read More →

Alcatel launch something a little different

hero-2-710x363Alcatel has announced its new OneTouch Hero 2, a flagship device with some pretty solid specs at IFA and it looks to be something to watch. The OneTouch Hero 2 is powered by a MediaTek MT6592 octa-core CPU with 2GB RAM. There’s also a massive 6-inch 1080p display, and other specs include a 13.1MP rear cam, 5MP front cam, 16GB storage, aluminum body, microSD, 802.11n Wi-Fi, 4G LTE support, a 3100 mAh battery and Android 4.4 KitKat. There’s also a stylus that makes this is note competitor of sorts, though obviously Alcatel’s digital pen likely can’t begin to compete with the advanced functionality of the S-Pen.

Alcatel haven’t released pricing information for the Hero 2, however they are usually fairly budget conscious when it comes to pricing. They have noted the Hero 2 is due arrive to select markets sometime this month.

Posted in: News, Phones
By September 5, 2014 Read More →

A new Moto X has appeared over there

newmotoxleadMotorola are showing off their new Moto X in Chicago whilst everyone parties in Berlin. Engadget sneaked off to cover it whilst Sony and Samsung wowed all else. This incarnation still sports a 5.2-inch AMOLED display, still has Corning Gorilla Glass, however it is roughly half an inch wider than the last X. Updated for this year is a 1080p full HD display instead of a 720p one, the screen takes up almost the entirety of the phone’s face, with minimal bezel on the bottom and the top. This phone is now a good bit bigger, measuring 72.4mm wide by 140.8mm tall and it weighs about 144 grams. The Moto X retains the curved back from the original, however it is slightly slimmer — arching from 3.8mm at its thinnest to 9.9mm.

An updated 13-megapixel camera features 4x zoom and an all new ring flash. This will allow capture of 4K video instead of just 1080p. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor rules with a 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, an Adreno 330 578MHz GPU and 2GB of RAM keeping things moving. Powered by a 2,300 mAh battery Motorola are confident this will keep you going all day. Storage sees both 16GB and 32GB iterations, yet no mention of  expandable storage.

Best of all, stock Android! Motorola have pre installed a few services however not in the way of the UI. In saying the, there are a couple of stock changes, “Ok Google” has been changed to “Ok Moto X,” this inself is a little annoying so Motorola have had a little fun here and added  ”Wake up sleepyhead,” and “Hello Jarvis.” Nice little addition. Other voice commands include ”Take a selfie” activating the front-facing camera along with a countdown timer so you never have to press a button. “Good morning” to shut off Sleep Mode and tell you about your first appointment, “What’s Up” to inform you of the time and the latest notifications, plus “Navigate” followed by the name of a destination. You can also say “Play YouTube” to launch YouTube and “Post to Facebook” to update your Facebook status.

 

Posted in: News, Phones
By September 5, 2014 Read More →

Here comes Panasonic’s AX900 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV

Panasonic VIERA 65AX900This autumn Panasonic will release its premium AX900 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV featuring the company’s best picture performance. The AX900 has been designed and engineered with the knowhow Panasonic has developed through its rich heritage in delivering the highest picture quality, and coupled with advanced features and functions it delivers the smartest and most intuitive home entertainment experience available.The AX900 features Ultra HD LED TV with 3000Hz (BLS,) a superior highest-speed panel for amazing images, motion clarity and 3D and will be available in 65” and 55” screen sizes.  The AX900 is equipped with next generation picture quality technologies which as a package seek to achieve:

  • Accurate, rich, and robust blacks that also retain fine detail;
  • Colour reproduction which is true to the director’s intentions and calibrated to be correct at every brightness level;
  • Picture quality performance which perfectly matches the environment in which it is being viewed.

Accurate, rich, and robust blacks

Reproducing deep, rich blacks, whilst also retaining rich colours in dark scenes has been a long standing weakness of LCD TVs. In order to deliver best-in-class black performance, the AX900 uses a Direct LED with full-array local dimming complemented with Panasonic-unique Local Dimming Ultra technologies. Other full array local dimming systems suffer from a ‘halo’ effect around moving bright objects because their local dimming fields lack sufficient brightness control or are either entirely on or off. The AX900 analyses the incoming video signal not in traditional 3 x 3 matrices, but across 5 x 5 matrices of local dimming fields and adjusts the brightness level of each individual field by extremely fine degrees (i.e. not just on/off), providing smooth motion of bright objects, a high contrast ratio, deep, rich blacks and extremely fine gradation which retains detail even in the darkest scenes.

Colour reproduction true to Hollywood director’s intentions – at any brightness level

Colour reproduction in dark scenes has been another weakness of LCD TVs. In order to allow viewers to enjoy films as the directors intended, the AX900 engineers have also worked together closely with the renowned Panasonic Hollywood Laboratories to ensure that the colours on the AX900 are exactly the same as the director intended. To achieve this Panasonic has adopted colour management technologies which have until now have only been used to the same degree by professional studio monitors, such as our professional-standard 3D Look Up Tables with 8000 registry points which allow us to calibrate colour reproduction at extremely fine brightness steps meaning that colour is reproduced accurately at any brightness level. Panasonic is the first company to use this professional technology at the same level in a consumer television.

Furthermore the use of a highly transparent LCD panelalso produces outstanding brightness and allows the AX900 to achieve an extremely high dynamic range, with richer more nuanced colours in both dark and bright scenes.

 

Picture quality performance which perfectly matches your living room

Furthermore to deliver the very best picture performance it is also necessary to analyse the lighting conditions in the room in which the TV is placed. Accordingly, in another industry first, the AX900 explicitly links its video signal processing to ambient light levels in order to deliver picture quality which is a perfect match for your living room.

The combination of the above Panasonic original picture quality technologies lead to significant picture quality performance improvements in a LED LCD TV.

 

Beyond Smart features

The AX900 is Panasonic’s first TV to employ our quad-core Pro5 super-high speed processor which further enhances Panasonic’s ‘Beyond Smart’ feature set. The ‘my Stream’ function, which learns users’ preferences and displays a list of content recommendations, has also further evolved. A flowing user interface display and video playback in thumbnail form make it even easier to find desired content.

The ‘TV Anywhere’ function allows users to transfer live broadcasts or recorded contents via the cloud to their smartphone or tablet device anywhere in the world.

The ‘Info Bar’ quickly and conveniently displays new and useful information without even requiring the user to turn on the TV due to a proximity sensor coupled with Face Recognition.

Connectivity

A host of network functions allow full enjoyment of this picture quality performance for a wide spectrum of 4K content. Four 4K60p-supporting HDMI terminals and one DisplayPortTM enable simultaneous connection of a 4K-compatible home cinema, a set-top box, a PC, and more. Future use is assured by the AX900 Series’ ability to play content with HDCP2.2 copyright protection and its H.265 (HEVC) decoder can decode 4K content from a variety of providers. Furthermore Panasonic is working closely with Netflix to enable 4K streaming at launch timing. The AX900 will also be compatible with Amazon’s upcoming selection of movies and TV shows, along with its Amazon Studios original TV series, in Ultra HD quality.

Design

The AX900 Series was designed based on the concept of Premium Furniture Design. This cutting-edge design concept removes redundant elements to achieve a simple elegance, and glass and metal materials provide an authentically luxurious touch. The AX900 Series literally blends into the living space while adding a stylish touch to its surroundings.

 

Posted in: News, TV & Home Cinema
By September 4, 2014 Read More →

Lenovo gets their vibe on at IFA

IMG_2110Today we were fortunate enough to be guests at Lenovo’s IFA 2014 keynote. Lenovo are probably best known in the UK for their laptops, but they do have a tablet range that is growing in stature here and a large phone range outside the UK.

 
The press conference was hosted and kicked off Aymar De Lencquesaing, President of Lenovo EMEA and SVP in the Lenovo group.
 
It has been a year of milestones for Lenovo. In the PC business they have been overall number 1 for 12 months running (number 1 in 15 individual countries), and the gap to second place is growing, as Lenovo has nearly 20% market share. Rumours of the death of the PC have been greatly exaggerated and there is still perceived growth in the $200bn market opportunity. But as we said, Lenovo isn’t just about the PC market, they actually now ship more tablets and smartphones than PCs. Lenovo is number 3 in the worldwide tablet market and number 4 in the smartphone market, although they will get a bump to 3rd place when the Motorola acquisition completes.
 
Lenovo’s phone strategy within EMEA has specifically targeted emerging markets. They are the fastest growing mobile brand, in China they were #2 for 8 consecutive quarters, hitting number 1 in Q2 2014. 
 
As a company, Lenovo have very solid financials, with record profits and revenue in the last quarter. In EMEA revenues have increased 50% in the last quarter year on year, but as mentioned, Lenovo is changing. They are acquiring IBM System X as well as Motorola, moves that are set to close by the end of the calendar year. Of course, we are all excited about the acquisition possibilities but Lenovo can’t discuss anything with regards to strategy until it completes. With that said, the stated aim is to be number 1 in all the business in which they operate.
 
Lenovo announced 2 Smartphone devices at the IFA event, both in the existing VIBE range.
 
Jeff Meredith, head of marketing in the mobile business group, introduced the Vibe X2 and Vibe Z2, which will take their place in the range alongside the previously  announced Z2 Pro.
 
With a European RRP of €399, the Z2 was introduced first. It’s a phablet, on trend with the moves to a 5.5” screen, running Android 4.4 KitKat on top of Qualcomm quad core snapdragon (410 perhaps?) silicon. With a 13 Megapixel camera with OIS and an 8 Megapixel front camera, it should be particularly strong in the imaging department. At 158g and 7.8mm thin, it’s a pretty appealing device visually, is good to hold and feels well constructed.
 
The real event fanfare was saved for the X2 however, priced at €429 and touted as the ‘world’s first layered smartphone’. It is constructed with 3 coloured original layers and will be available in 5 colours – charcoal, gold, white, red, bamboo, with endless colour possibilities and new ‘X2 originals’ designs planned going forward.
 
The X2 packs a Mediatek True8Core LTE MTK6595, which Lenovo claim is the world’s first true Octa-Core processor. It too runs Kitkat but with a full HD 5″ screen. It weights 120g and is 7.27mm thin, with 13 Megapixel primary and 5 Megapixel secondary cameras. LTE is onboard, a must for the target market for the device.
 
As well as the ’3 layers’ in the device already, ‘Vibe Extensions’ are additional accessories in the same style. A battery extensions adds 75% more power and a speaker layer developed with JBL also includes a useful kickstand.
 
On top of Android 4.4 sits Lenovo’s Vibe 2.0 software layer, with emphasis on user friendliness and software enhancements such as the ubiquitous selfie and beauty shot modes. Obviously.
 
Mobile done, Dilip Bhatia, VP of Marketing and Design, PC group, came on stage to introduce some new PC hardware.
 
“Lenovo has a fundamental belief that technology should adapt to the user. We observed how families behaved at home to help shape their products.” he told us, before introducing the Lenovo Horizon 2S, a 19.5” two in one tabletop PC. It can function in an all in one mode as well as a lay-flat mode. A 27″ model will also be available.
 
The device comes with 60 games and apps installed which does raise concerns of bloatware, but there do appear to be some genuinely useful additions too. The ‘Aura UI’, specifically designed for the horizontal touchscreen has a ‘spinner’ look for accessing features. A nice addition – that failed completely in the demo – allows you to take picture on a Lenovo phone, shake the phone and have it appears on the Horizon desktop, to be manipulated with multi-touch gestures.
 
Next up came one of my favourites, the Thinkpad, specifically the refreshed Helix convertible laptop for business users.
 
Lenovo pitch is as the best business class 2 in 1 in the market. It does do everything – LTE, digitiser support, tablet mode, laptop mode, desktop mode… it’s designed to meet all the requirements of not just individuals but also the IT dept.
 
A clever quick shot cover is included for use in tablet mode – simply fold down the corner of the cover, and the camera comes on ready to take a picture.
 
To finish? A quick mention of their celebrity endorsement – “Ashton Kutcher has been with us for a year now, and has a genuine stake in our new products. You’ll see the output of this soon!”
 
Posted in: Laptops, News
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