Archive for January, 2014

By January 14, 2014 Read More →

Sony announces Xperia E1, claims it best in class

1_Xperia_E1_White_FrontToday Sony have announced its latest Android smartphone, the Xperia E1, and claim, based upon its specification, that the E1 is the best device in its class.

The Xperia E1 is powered by Qualcomm’s MSM8210 1.2 GHz Dual Core processor, 512 MB RAM and features a 4 inch (233 ppi) display combined with a large 1700 mAh battery, which is the basis for the ‘best in class’ claim.

Full press release and further details follow:

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By January 14, 2014 Read More →

Would you like your Samsung Galaxy S5 in Metal or Plastic?

Samsung-Galaxy-S5Rumour has it the Galaxy S5 will be available in two versions later this year. According to SamMobile an inside source has “confirmed” some of the specs of the company’s next-generation flagship Android handset. Apparently Samsung the next incarnation of the Galaxy S will have a “metallic back plate while being constructed of metal on the sides and front.” There will be a cheaper model made from plastic, just like previous Galaxy S versions, and cost €650 ($888). It will be interesting to see if there is much difference with the rumoured Galaxy F.

Inside the Galaxy S5 is said to be two processors, an Exynos 6 model and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 CPU. The Exynos model featuring 64-bit support and built-in LTE, and will likely equip the metal Galaxy S5 model, while the Snapdragon would be found inside the plastic version. Both versions would feature a 5.25-inch Super AMOLED display with Quad HD (2560 x 1440) resolution, a 16-megapixel camera and Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box. Details about RAM, battery capacity and optical image stabilization support for the main camera are not available at this time.

Why stop there, when speculation should quickly lead to a Galaxy S5 Mini and the Galaxy S5 Zoom? With the Galaxy S5 possibly being unveiled in mid-March during an event in London, we should see the device roll out to market early April. A Galaxy S5 Mini is expected to be unveiled in June, and feature a Super AMOLED display and run KitKat, while the Galaxy S5 Zoom would be announced in May, sport a 4.8-inch qHD (960 x 540) display and run KitKat as well. 

Posted in: News, Phones, Rumours
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By January 14, 2014 Read More →

The future of Tachograph technology

TachographDigital tachographs are well established in Europe. The technology first took centre stage in 2004 and was made compulsory by the EU in 2006 for vehicles over three and half tonnes. The technology is used to track and record the time a driver spends behind the wheel and how fast they are going. They are commonplace in the transport industry where employers have to manage and stay within EU drivers’ laws.

However, recent developments in India have lead the country to start considering the adoption of the technology.  In an article published by Dipak Kumar and Pankaj Doval for The Times of India, the Road Transport Ministry in Karnataka are seeking an explanation for a series of recent bus fires. The ministry sought an explanation from manufacturer Volvo and are also looking into the possibility that overworked drivers could be behind the incidents. A spokesperson from Volvo said that a finalised report is coming soon, as they are still conducting an inquiry into the case.  

Tachograph technology could greatly benefit India when investigating traffic accidents like this in the future. Automobiles can be fitted with a digital tachograph and the data from a driver’s journey can be recorded onto a ‘driver card’. The information stored on this card can be periodically downloaded by transport authorities or employers to track the driver’s speed, distance travelled and rest times.

While this may sound good in theory, questions are raised as to which governing bodies would check and enforce this technology. In the EU, it is an employer’s responsibility to keep track of these driving records and be ready to present them when transport authorities require them. Failure to make or keep records under GB domestic rules can lead to fines up to £2,500.

Aside from it being a legal requirement, there are a number advantages to digital tachograph equipment. It helps reduce the likelihood of unfair competition when a business forces its drivers to work over their legal driving hours. As such, it creates a fairer market where smaller companies that abide by the rules aren’t being muscled out by exploitative competitors.

The technology also allows employers to identify problem areas and improve their efficiency. Stoneridge Electronics are a company which provide tachograph analysis packages that can be very beneficial to employers. They can use the analysis software to create business reports and track trends. If drivers aren’t taking the most efficient routes for example, employers can work with them and improve efficiency. It is also a good deterrent against bad driving habits like speeding.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to tachograph devices are their usefulness in the event of a road accident. If a driver is ever involved in a crash, the tachograph will give a detailed report of how fast they were going and how long they had been driving. When this data is stood up against eye-witness accounts and other testimony, it can be invaluable for shedding light on the events.

While the implementation of tachographs in India may only be a pipe-dream, it’s clear the country could make excellent use of this technology and the advantages it provides.

Posted in: Editorial
By January 13, 2014 Read More →

Windows 8.2 could be Windows 9

Windows 8.2 could be Windows 9Many reports are currently circulating about the anticipated update to Windows 8 dubbed ‘Threshold’. It was previously understood that the next version would be Windows 8.2 and many hope that it will include the return of the much demanded start menu.

However, according to this report, it’s likely that the successor to Windows 8.1 will be called Windows 9 and that Microsoft out the next iteration of its client operating system at the Build Conference on 2 to 4 April in San Francisco. It is claimed that Microsoft want to create some distance between Windows 8 and the Start Menu debacle, hence the change to Windows 9 and a seemingly clean slate.

If the report is accurate we could expect to see Windows 9 to start shipping to consumers in early 2015.

More details here.

By January 13, 2014 Read More →

Google Glass Glassware must-haves

Google Glass GlasswareMany of you will know that since I got my Google Glass about a month ago I have become a massive convert and huge supporter of it. In fact I wear my Glass almost all the time now, pretty much only taking it off when I go to bed or before meeting.

Those that I work with have also become accustomed to seeing that ‘thing’ attached to my head!

At the moment Google Glass can still be considered to be in Beta and, as it stands, the list of apps, known as Google Glass Glassware, is somewhat limited. However, many new developers have taken up the mantle and and the list of available third-party apps is now growing.

So I thought I would take a moment to mention a couple of the apps that I consider to be must-have and those that I use all the time.

 

Toolkit for Glass

This one is from my dear old friend Paul O’Brien. Toolkit for Glass offers several features that probably should have been a part of the base OS of Glass. Paul’s toolkit provides the following:

  • use ‘open camera’ to give you a camera viewfinder, take pics using the camera button. Enables you to properly frame a photo.
  • use ‘switch wifi’ to toggle wifi with voice confirmation. Turning off WiFi when you aren’t using it helps to extend the battery life.
  • use ‘switch bluetooth’ to toggle bluetooth with voice confirmation. Turning off Bluetooth when you aren’t using it helps to extend the battery life.
  • use ‘get status’ to receive a voice readout of battery, wifi and bluetooth status’
  • just for testing some stuff – use ‘magnify’ to open the camera where sweep forward will zoom in, sweep back will zoom out

Glasquare

This is an unofficial version of Foursquare specifically for Google Glass. Glasquare features include:

  • 3 voice commands: Check me in, Show best venues and Search venues for …
  • super-fast check-ins with a possibility to add photos and comments
  • 10 best venues around you/matching your search with details
  • directions towards a selected venue
  • read tips of the selected venue

SpeedHUD

google_glass_screenshot-300x168The use of Google Glass while driving continues to be controversial and there are still plans to ban it while driving.  However, there are a couple of apps out there that, in my opinion, would certainly improve driving safety and one app that I enjoy using is SpeedHUD which is believe demonstrates the very reason why a blanket ban is premature at best.  SpeedHUD shows your speed and compass direction.

 

Obviously there are many more Glassware apps out there but these are just the third-party one that I use all the time. Whether you are new to Google Glass or an veteran they are definitely worth a look!

 

 

By January 12, 2014 Read More →

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10 unboxing and hands on

Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10Lenovo have a wide range of ‘multimode’ devices on the market and we’re continuing to look at the entire range with the Ideapad Miix 10.

This Windows 8 computer can transform from laptop to tablet in seconds offering great flexibility and enables you to have the capabilities of several devices in one package. The keyboard doubles as a flexible case/cover but this can be removed completely should you wish to use it in naked tablet mode.

Those out there considering their first tablet computer may want to look at devices like this, running Windows 8, as they offer a good alternative to Android and iOS tablets on the market as they are capable of running desktop applications which is useful in the corporate environment and where business productivity is important.

In the video below you’ll see the Miix 10 in a little more detail, I’ll show you the hardware and how the keyboard works with the removable tablet unit. Not the normal unboxing as our review unit was a bit battered but otherwise it’s a full unbox and hands-on.

By January 11, 2014 Read More →

Better than Black Friday: Deals to Look Forward to After Christmas

Better than Black FridayEvery year, consumers across America push themselves away from the Thanksgiving table and hit the stores in search of Black Friday deals. Some even camp out for days in hopes of securing a fantastic deal. Although many people believe that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest sales day for retailers, that honor, according to Time.com, typically goes to the day before Christmas when the panic-stricken and the procrastinators are frantically looking high and low for a few last-minute purchases.

If you decided to skip Black Friday this year but are still looking for bargains, don’t fret. There will be plenty of time after Christmas to pick up the items you wanted for much less than full price.

Wait to Buy Electronics

If you really want a certain electronic item, but don’t need to have it before Christmas, then the Christian Science Monitor recommends waiting until after the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Prices for electronics typically drop not long after the public gets a look at the new models that will soon be hitting store shelves.

Jackets and Winter Clothing

If you’ve had your eye on a jacket and you can tell there is plenty of inventory in your size, take a gamble and wait. According to Boston.com, the prices of cold weather-related clothing typically drops dramatically after Christmas. Of course, there is always a chance that last-minute Christmas shoppers will snatch up the item you wanted and that you’ll be greeted with an empty rack on the 26th. If that happens, don’t despair. You can always search for the item online. For example, if you really love a pair of two-tone boots at Macy’s, but your size is no longer available when you visit your local store, check Macy’s website, which may still have what you’re looking for.

If you don’t find your size online, re-visit your local store in a week. Remember, after Christmas is a notorious time of the year for returning gifts and, with any luck, you may find that someone has returned the item you’ve been lusting after.

Groupons and Living Social Deals

These social network websites offer coupons for goods and services. Typically, you will pay half of the actual cost of the item being offered by these sites, which means that you can stretch your dollars even further when you hit the sales floors.

Travel

The period after the holidays and before Easter is one of the best times of the year to find travel bargains, according to CNN.com. People tend to travel less during the winter months, kids are in school and most people are still feeling the pain of the Christmas binge spending. If travel was one of your Christmas wishes, then wait until after the 25th to book. By doing so, you will typically be able to find great deals on flights, hotels and attractions, such as Disney.

Cars

If you didn’t get a car with a big red bow on it in your driveway, then head to the dealerships. Because the dealers and salespeople will be trying to meet their sales goals, you will find the best bargains on autos at the end of the year, according to USA Today. In addition, the dealerships are eager to clear their sales floors to make room for the new year’s models, so you’ll find great incentives at this time of the year to purchase a car.

By January 10, 2014 Read More →

Nokia Lumia Black Update Roll-out Begins

nokiaglancescreenThe Nokia Lumia Black software update will start to roll-out for Nokia Lumia WP8 owners around the world from today. The update brings new features, improvements in imaging, new apps and app updates from Microsoft and Nokia to make the Lumia smartphone experience even better.

The main features brought along with the update from Nokia include:

  • App Folder. This brand new feature makes your Lumia experience even more fluid by giving you an option to further personalize and organize your Start screen. With App folders you can group similar apps and settings into one folder, a tile, on your Start screen.
  • Nokia Glance screen 2.0. Helps you keep track of information in real time, making all your most important notifications including: phone, messages, email, outlook, calendar, or any apps that use notifications such as Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, or games;  always visible at a glance on your screen. It saves time and energy.
  • Bluetooth LE. Will now be enabled across the full Windows Phone 8 Lumia range for compatible gadgets like the Adidas MiCoach accessories. 
  • Nokia Refocus. The amazing Nokia Refocus comes to all Windows Phone 8 Lumia smartphones with 1GB of RAM and upwards.
  • Nokia Beamer. Sharing what’s on your phone is easier than ever with Nokia Beamer. You can now beam documents, presentations, anything you like, to any HTML5-enabled screen by simply scanning a QR code on the screen. It’s coming to all of the phones with 1GB RAM upwards.
  • Nokia Storyteller. The app arranges your photos for you, by date and by place, making it easier to tell the stories behind your pictures, and give extra context through the close integration of interactive maps.
  • Nokia Camera. Combines Nokia Pro Camera and Smart Camera to simplify the photo-taking experience, and ensure you get the perfect shot every time. The app has been available for Lumia PureView smartphones since last year, but it’s now coming to the rest of the WP8 Lumia range. The latest Nokia Camera update also brings raw DNG support for Lumia 1020 owners.
  • Latest generation of imaging algorithms. The Lumia Black update further improves the image quality, especially in Lumia 1020. Among others, the improvements include a new oversampling algorithm, making your images more natural looking with reduced noise, while ensuring your photos remain wonderfully sharp.

 

The Lumia Black update also brings a series of enhancements from Microsoft to Nokia Lumia smartphones. These include safe driving mode – which cuts out unnecessary distractions when you’re on the road; customised ringtones for each contact. You can now also close apps within the in multitasking view and lock the screen rotation if you wish.

 

Timings: The Lumia Black update has begun rolling out today for Lumia 1020 and Lumia 925 smartphones, with other models in the range following in the coming weeks.

 

How to update: Nokia Lumia smartphones automatically check for updates every week, and will notify people when it finds one. Otherwise check by going to Settings -> Phone update – it downloads and installs straight from that screen.

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By January 10, 2014 Read More →

Acer C720 Chromebook Unboxing video

Acer-Chromebook-previewed-at-IDF-forward-angleThe Chromebook of the moment has got to be the Acer C720. Currently being released in a number of different configurations featuring various amounts of RAM and storage, touchscreens and now colours.

Acer seem to have hit upon a winning combination of value, power and quality. What new edge does the Acer C720 bring to the table, despite options? Well, not a lot to be entirely honest, in terms of specification it’s really on par with all the other Chomebooks out there at the moment. However, the C720 does offer great value for money and seems to be the solid choice.

As always, I’m starting off the review process by recoding an unboxing video, which you’ll be able to see below. Here I’ll be showing off the hardware as well as taking a look at the OS and UI once we’ve booted up. A process that takes seconds!

By January 9, 2014 Read More →

Google adds more to their Takeout menu

urlGoogle have expanded their Google Takeout service. Previously, most of us had used Takeout to export our feed archives from Google Reader before the big shutdown last year, a shutdown many still mourn to this day.  However, Google made switching to an inferior RSS client the relatively easy. It seems tha they have now expanded the service to all you to back up 18 of their services locally.

Screenshot 2014-01-08 07.19.56

 

A handy feature that might just help those with concerns about storing everything in the cloud and somehow feel their trusty 7 year old USB Hard Disk is a safer place than Google’s own multi-billion dollar facility. Doing a back up really shows a frequent user just how much information they put up there, privacy sceptics will be flipping out.

Posted in: Editorial, News