Archive for March, 2014

By March 26, 2014 Read More →

Increase Productivity With a Small Business Technology Makeover

Depositphotos_38612687_xsMore than 80 percent of small businesses responding to a recent j2 Global survey said they are ready to retire their old systems in favor of new technology. Look at your company’s equipment and processes for those areas taking up too much of your time and money. Consider the following technology as a way to put new life, and efficiency, back into your business:

Small Business in the Cloud

Entrepreneur magazine sees the migration of small business practices to the cloud as a natural growth step. Once used primarily as a place to store information, the cloud now offers a variety of services, such as:

  • data backup and recovery
  • applications
  • testing and production platforms
  • networking services
  • disaster recovery

Some companies offer entire office environments in the cloud. Intermedia’s Office in the Cloud provides file storage, syncing and collaboration, office tools, voice and email services. All of these services are through secure connections and can be accessed by all desktop, laptop and mobile devices.

Back Office Processing Revamped

Many vendors have moved their standard business software offerings to the cloud, enabling customers to get rid of cumbersome and expensive desktop-based software, licenses and support fees. CRM, sales force management, marketing tools, accounting and payroll are all available in the cloud. For example, Intuit’s invoice application is now cloud-based, and like most products in the cloud, it includes mobile interfaces.

These cloud-based tools save you money and are accessible whenever you need them and wherever you can get a network connection. This makes your sales force on the road more productive or lets you look up current customer data quickly before an offsite meeting. It also opens up more outsourcing opportunities since it’s easy to give a remote worker access to these tools.

Updated Cash Registers

Point-of-sale (POS) solutions have altered the way payments are taken. Entire POS systems now run on tablet computers. Small card readers plug into tablets or smartphones and let you swipe credit cards. The smallest of retailers can now take a variety of forms of payments with these tools. Many of them interface with cloud-based accounting systems making reconciliation and reporting easier.

Phone, Netbook and Tablet in One

Fox Business predicts phablets will be adopted by small businesses in 2014. These phone/tablet devices have been on the market for a few years, but have not been well received in the UK and US. They are popular in countries where people want to save money by buying this all-in-one device versus a separate smartphone and tablet.

The larger screens are easier to work on and browse the Internet. With smartphones becoming even larger, phablets may have already filled the niche of people who want to do real work on their mobile phones.

A Cloud on Your Desk

Businesses are concerned about storing data in the cloud until a high-level of safety and security is proven. But they still want the ease of getting to it as if it were in the cloud. Western Digital’s My Cloud is a network drive that sits in your office but can be accessed by you and your staff over the network. Up to 4GB can be stored on the drive fully encrypted. Software lets you control who has access to certain areas. You can use any laptop or mobile device to get to the secured data. With devices such as this and cloud data storage, you’ll have access to all of your business information when working away from the office.

Posted in: Editorial
By March 25, 2014 Read More →

HTC One (M8) features and specification

HTC_One_M8_front_mainAfter months of speculation, rumours and leaks, HTC have just officially announced the successor to the 2013 Android phone of the year, the HTC One. The official name for the new flagship phone is HTC One (M8), using the internal M8 codename to distinguish it from last year’s model which now becomes known as the HTC One (M7).  This puts the rumours of the ‘All new HTC One’ and ‘HTC Two’ names firmly to bed, thank goodness!

True to form, HTC are cramming in a lot of innovation and new technology with the HTC One (M8) and it goes well beyond the dual rear cameras that seem to have become the focus of so much attention.

HTC’s focus has been firmly upon the design of the HTC One (M8) and this certainly shows. The aluminium body construction, that HTC say has taken them 12 years to perfect in terms of getting the antenna design right, now extends round the sides of the handset and right up to the edge of the 5-inch full-HD screen for a truly edgeless feel.

The Metal Grey version of the M8 has an honest metal finish with hairline striations one the back for that brushed metal finish that HTC say takes more than 120 polishing oils to get just right. If the metal look isn’t to your liking there will also be Arctic Silver and Amber Gold versions for you to choose instead.

Despite the increase to a 5-inch full HD display, the use thinner bezels and the menu buttons now being on screen means that the physical size of the HTC One (M8) is dramatically different to the M7, at 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm, it’s just 9mm larger and 17g heavier.  The screen has Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it and, like other models, has the LCD screen bonded to the back of it so there’s no air gap between the two. This leads to a huge improvement in the clarity of the display and almost insane viewing angles.

You can check out my HTC One (M8) first-look video too.

Motion Launch

Motion Launch is a new feature HTC have added to the the M8 and has both software and hardware elements. On the hardware side, HTC have created their own silicon co-processor to take care of sensory input. These sensors are in an ‘always-on’ state and the extremely power-efficient co-processor is able to continously monitor that input. This enables the user to use gestsures to interact with the phone even when it’s in sleep mode. So, for example, a double tap on the screen will wake it up and turn on the display while a swipe from one of the four sides of the screen will wake up with one of four functions.

Additionally, holding the M8 up in the landscape orientation and waking it up with the volume key launches straight in to the camera app and a second press of the volume key captures an image.

 

Duo Camera

The cameras on the HTC One (M8) have attracted a LOT of attention over the past few weeks as leaked images started to surface that appeared to show two rear facing cameras. This lead to a lot of theories. Was one ‘camera’ actually a fingerprint sensor? Could it take 3D photos? Would there be a 4MP ultrapixel camera and a 13/16MP ‘normal’ camera?

Finally we have the answer, HTC call them Duo Camera. Two rear facing cameras, one being the same 4.1 Ultrapixel unit that we see on the other HTC one devices but the other is of undisclosed resolution. The second camera is there purely to capture depth and spacial information when a photo is taken. The second camera cannot be used in its own right and there’s no option to switch.

The purpose of the Duo Camera feature is that every photo taken will have depth information recorded along with it. This them alows for some very cool after effects duting editing photos in the gallery. Photos can be re-forcused allowing you to focus on just one ‘layer’ of the photo. This might be a person in the foreground for a portrait picture with great bokeh or maybe you defocus the foreground objects to show of the scenery in a landscape to better effect.

There are many more effects available including desaturating the background, turning backgrounds in to sketches or cartoons and many more. There’s also a very cool 3D paralax effect called Dimension Plus that alows you to mode the phone and see different perspective in the images.

The depth information is recorded on every image and, unlike other cameras and phones that have attempted this, only one photo is taken rather than 5 or so at different focal lengths. Images are captured really quickly.

Some of the features we’ve previously seen in Zoe will be available in an HTC Zoe application that will be available from the Google Play Store later this year. This will allow users of older HTC phones and even non-htc phones to use some of the Zoe features or to collaborate with friends to create some awesome Zoe moments.

HTC_One_M8_sim HTC_One_M8_duo_cam 

We probably shouldn’t forget that front facing camera though. HTC have included a 5.0MP f2.0 front facing camera on the HTC One (M8) and it’s probably the best front-facing camera we’ve ever come across. Not only is it a very fast lens and sensor but it’s also wide-angle which is great for the ubiquitous ‘selfie’.

Both cameras benefit from Qualcomms Digital Image Processor which greatly improves and enhances the captured images without ruining them!

 

Dot View cases

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest and when you see the HTC’s Dot View cases for the HTC One (M8) for the first time there’s definitely a “why didn’t anyone think of this before?” moment.

HTC are lauching a range of accessories at the same time as the HTC One (M8) goes on sale and one of these accessories is the Dot View case. Not only doe the Dot View case protect both the back and the front of the M8, it also has magnets to turn on and off the display as the cover is opened. BUT, where the Dot View case is truly unique is in the front cover, there are thousands of tiny holes. These holes allow light through from the HTC One (M8) display and allow you to see just just enough in terms of notifications and alerts.

Futhermore, the phone will also react to touch input with the case closed. A double-tap will wake the phone and it’ll display the time and weather or any missed call alerts for example

HTC_One_M8_dot_viewHTC_One_M8_dot_view_open

 

 

Boomsound

Boomsound was a feature that HTC introduced with the first HTC One and it really was groundbreaking in terms of the impact. Two large, forward-facing stereo speakers coupled with a large audio amplifier made a dramatic difference. Not only were the speakers loud but the dynamic range was also amazing, the speakers sounding much larger than their physical size would otherwise suggest.

HTC have made enhancements to the Boomsound experience with the HTC One (M8). The accounstic chambers have been redesigned and there’s a new amplifier which has better control over the sound. The result is a 25% increase in the volume level and also a marked improvement in the audio range.

HTC_One_M8_front_cam

 

HTC Sense 6.0

With the HTC One (M8) comes the new version of HTC Sense. There are lost of changes here so we’re going to be covering this in a video shortly.

 

 

 

HTC One (M8) specification:

 SIZE: 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm

WEIGHT: 160 grams

DISPLAY: 5.0 inch, Full HD 1080p

 

CPU SPEED

  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 801, 2.3GHz quad-core CPU

 

PLATFORM

  • Android™ 4.4 with HTC Sense™ 6
  • HTC BlinkFeed™

 

MEMORY

  • Total storage:  16/32GB
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Expansion card slot supports microSD™ memory card for up to 128GB additional storage (card not included)

 

NETWORK

2G/2.5G – GSM/GPRS/EDGE:

  • 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

 

3G – WCDMA:

  • EMEA: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps
  • Asia: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps
  • AT&T: 850/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps
  • Sprint: 850/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA up to 14.4 Mbps
  • Verizon: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 14.4 Mbps
  • TMUS: 850/AWS/1900/2100 MHz with HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps    

 

CDMA:  

  • Sprint: 800/1900
  • Verizon: 800/1900  

  4G – LTE:

  • EMEA: 800/900/1800/2600 MHz
  • Asia: 700/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz
  • AT&T: 700/850/AWS/1800/1900/2600 MHz
  • Sprint: FDD 800/1900 MHz , TDD 2600 MHz
  • Verizon: 700/AWS/1800/2600 MHz
  • TMUS: 700/AWS MHz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

SIM

  • Nano SIM

 

SENSORS

  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Gyro sensor
  • Barometer sensor

 

CONNECTIVITY

  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth® 4.0 with aptX™ enabled
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz)
  • DLNA® for wirelessly streaming media from the phone to a compatible TV or computer,
  • HTC Connect™
  • micro-USB 2.0 (5-pin) port with mobile high-definition video link (MHL) for USB or HDMI connection  (Special cable required for HDMI connection.)
  • Support consumer infrared remote control

 

SOUND

  • HTC BoomSound™
  • Dual frontal stereo speakers with built-in amplifiers
  • Sense Voice

 

CAMERA

Duo camera

  • Primary camera: HTC UltraPixel™ camera, BSI sensor, pixel size 2.0 um, sensor size 1/3”, f/2.0, 28mm lens
  • HTC ImageChip 2
  • 1080p Full HD video recording with HDR video
  • Secondary camera: capture depth information

 

Front camera

  • 5MP, f/2.0, BSI sensor, wide angle lens. with HDR capability, 1080p Full HD video recording
  • Gallery with UFocus™, Dimension Plus™, Seasons, Foregrounder, Image Match

 

MULTIMEDIA

Audio supported formats:

  • Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma (Windows Media Audio 10)
  • Recording: .aac

 

Video supported formats:

  • Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv (Windows Media Video 10), .avi (MP4 ASP and MP3)
  • Recording: .mp4

 

Location

  • Internal GPS antenna + GLONASS
  • Digital compass

 

BATTERY

  • Capacity: 2600 mAh
  • Embedded rechargeable Li-polymer battery
  • Talk time: Up to 20 hours for 3G
  • Standby time: Up to 496 hours for 3G
 

 

By March 25, 2014 Read More →

HTC One (M8) first look video

HTC_One_M8HTC’s new flagship “HTC One (M8)” saw its official annoucement and launch today during an event held here in London. We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the new HTC One (M8) a few days ago and recorded an initial first-look video that you can see below.

I’m hugely impressed with the new HTC One (M8) – last year’s model is now referred to as the HTC One (M7) – if you thought that last years model was well designed and engineered then you’re going to love the new one. The body is now around 90% aluminium, up from 70% previously. The boost in screen size, up to 5″ is a welcome change while the use of a slimmer bezel design and the change to on-screen menu buttons rather than off-screen capacitive buttons has enabled HTC to cram everything in to a phone that is not physically a lot bigger than the M7 model.

This video is a failry short one and I will be following this up with another series of videos looking at various features in more detail so keep an eye open for those over the next day or so but check out the HTC One (M8) features and HTC One (M8) press release posts for more.

 

 

By March 25, 2014 Read More →

HTC’s event today – We’re covering it…

AllNewHTCOne-LEAK-02-578-80HTC are holding a launch event here in London today and we’re going to see their new flagship phone, the HTC One (M8), for the first time – officially at least.

Gareth and I will be covering the event and we’ll start our coverage once we arrive at the venue at around 2PM this afternoon.

Be sure to follow our twitter and google+ updates and feel free to ask us any questions. We’ll have the full lowdown on the HTC One (M8) in pictures and video as soon we we can post it.

 

Posted in: News, Phones
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By March 25, 2014 Read More →

Google working on smart contact lenses

google-patentGoogle Glass could be a thing of the past. There is a rumour that Google is now working on smart contact lenses. The USPTO patent application filed by the search giant doesn’t look to be quite as capable as Google Glass, instead a “multi-sensor contact lens” working as a basic input device. This would connect to either a watch or Smartphone and this would provide the brain of the operation. 

Intomobile are reporting that Google have filed such a patent as illustrated on the right. They theorise this lens could also be able to pick cues from the environment, bundling a number of sensors for light, pressure, temperature, conductivity and electric field, all of which would be combined with a control circuit and power source embedded outside the user’s physical field of vision. So no brains would be included in this lens with all computing happening at a different location (smartphone?).

It does not seem so long ago that Google Glass seemed like a crazy dream that we wouldn’t see until 2020. However, time and tech are on our side for this and this really doesn’t seem to be to far out of reach. Next up, the Google Underpants!

By March 24, 2014 Read More →

Microsoft update their Store search function

BjezPNdIAAA0So-Store fronts have been become increasingly controversial lately. From Google Play failing to differentiate between phone and tablet apps up until recently to Steam’s deluge of old titles from big studios pushing newly release indie software into oblivion software and app stores just haven’t managed to find that fine line between give what you want and being able to take a quick payment to push something you don’t really need.

One of the worst offenders was Microsoft with the Windows Phone Store. Recently Microsoft have spent some time with their mobile store and has finally updated its Windows Phone Store search algorithm. Less finding spam apps, more finding what it is you are actually looking for.

Both Google and now Microsoft are known for their search techniques, Google and Microsoft’s Bing search are at the forefront of their related operating system and the World Wide Web. It’s a bit of a shame that their cutting edge search technology cannot yield the same results in something as simple as an application store as those for the entirety of the internet.

Posted in: Apps & Games, News
By March 23, 2014 Read More →

HTC tease the HTC One (M8) again

HTC One (M8) Dot ViewHTC have been teasing us again with tweets and Facebook posts about their press and launch event being held on the 25th March here in London. The posts include the hastag #‎HTCOneUp‬, so that’s certainly one to watch.

We now know that flagship phone to supersede the HTC One will officially be called the HTC One (M8) but there are no further official details available as yet, HTC will release full details on Tuesday and we’ll be covering the event both on here and in video that we’ll have online as soon as we can.

Keep checking back on the afternoon of the 25th March – it’ll be worth it, promise!

Posted in: News, Phones
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By March 22, 2014 Read More →

Samsung Chromebook 2 arriving in May

Chromebook2-11-01-680x342Samsung has announced that customers in the UK will be able to buy the Chromebook 2 series from May 2014. Available in 11.6 and 13.3-inch versions, the 11.6-inch black device will be able to buy from selected retailers from 1 May, and the 11.6-inch white device and 13.6-inch devices from 12 May.

The new models offer faster performance, longer battery life and a slim, light build, all enhanced by a durable textured lid and elegant stitched design. The 13.3-inch model also features a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution screen, so whatever you are viewing, whether it be for work, teaching, learning, or entertainment, you can enjoy in crystal clear clarity.

The Samsung Chromebook 2 Series wakes up in less than one second and cold boots in less than ten. Samsung’s energy-efficient Exynos 5 Octa processors mean you can multitask and render graphics and videos quickly. Up to 8.5 hours of battery life in the 13.3-inch device means that you can enjoy the Chromebook 2 throughout a full work or school day – all on a single charge. The Google Chrome OS also regularly auto-updates, so you always have the most recent technology and security features without needing to think about updating your device.

Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT & Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland said: “Since we introduced our first Chromebook in 2011, Samsung has been committed to continually developing the design and features of the series to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs, while staying true to the core Chromebook attributes of simplicity, speed and security. The Chromebook 2 Series does just that, which is why we’re delighted to be bringing the devices to the UK market.”

Posted in: Desktop Computing, News
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By March 21, 2014 Read More →

Do you know how much your mobile is actually worth?

is-developing-a-mobile-app-worth-the-cost--ec618bf2b6More and more people these days are trading their mobile phones in for cash and many of us, especially when we are in dire need of that cash won’t stop and think about how much our phone is worth. Instead we will simply just post it off, or hand it in to our nearest store and take whatever cash they’ll hand over. Have you ever stopped to think about how much your phone is actually worth? What metals are involved in the making of it?

There are three main metals that can be found in mobile phones, lead, nickel and cadmium and the use of each of these three makes recycling a phone all the more important. Cadmium is an especially toxic metal, and when a phone is dumped or sent to a landfill somewhere, trace elements can potentially find their way into food and water supplies. Recycling a phone means that you remove the chance for contamination. Lead and nickel are similarly bad for you, making recycling ever more important.

In reality, around 90% of a mobile phone can be recycled and reused, an amazingly high statistic compared with other electronics, and due to the turnaround of technology (most mobile phone contracts now last two years), it is certainly worth trading in and recycling your phone when you upgrade to a brand new one.

Often, it isn’t even mobile phones that the recycling phones wind up becoming. You can find the materials from recycled phones in everything from copper roofs on buildings, to ski-lifts, winding their way up the side of mountains to get you to your destination. It’s amazing how much variety there is in the use of these materials, and even the plastic is used, often going into benches.

Trading in a phone will even get you a bit of money, where dumping it won’t, and after a few years of use, being paid to get rid of a phone is a blessing, and certainly won’t make you feel ripped off. You’ll be able to see the effect of your recycling all over the world.

If you want to find out a good price for your phone, you can always check out a website like Albemarle Bond who value metals of many different varieties. It can interesting to see how much a phone’s metals is really worth.

Posted in: Editorial, Phones
By March 20, 2014 Read More →

Nexus 9 with a 2k+

The-new-Nexus-7Rumours of a Nexus 6 and a Nexus 8 have been floating around the web for months. Today we have inklings of a Nexus 9. Supposedly, Google is developing an 8.9-inch Nexus 9 tablet designed to compete directly with the iPad Air. According to this rumour, it will have a display that is better than 2K. No specifics were given regarding the specs of this display or the device itself. 

The only other thing revealed was that it will be one of the first devices to include Android 5.0, and that it would cost around $299.99. If true, it would probably be a ridiculously good bargain and fuel my theory that we will see a Nexus 10 version 2 with Android 4.5 sooner!

Posted in: News, Tablets