Author Archive: Gareth

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of both the Mobile Tech Addicts podcast and The Mobile Tech Addicts Show.

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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 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 3, 2014 Read More →

Panasonic in bed with Netflix for 4K

netflix-4k-ultra-hd4K panel TV’s are hardly going to sell without content and that is why Panasonic is working closely with Netflix to enable 4K streaming on the new AX900 4K UHD TV at launch timing. The earlier AX800 4K UHD TV model will also become compatible shortly following a firmware update. 

4K content, today

The AX900 and AX800 also feature the widest range of inputs to ensure you have an extensive spectrum of 4K content at your fingertips. They are equipped with the new 4K 60p-supporting HDMI terminal, which is compatible with the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) 2.2 protocol, allowing 4K content to be transmitted at high frame rates. With input signals of up to 60 frames per second, both models provide the ultimate choice for consumers looking to access the next level in home entertainment.

Panasonic also mentioned they will be working with Amazon to make the AX900 and AX800 compatible with Amazon’s upcoming selection of movies and TV shows, along with its Amazon Studios original TV series, in Ultra HD quality. Welcome news to all those with a Prime subscription and nothing to watch Prime Instant Video on.

Posted in: News, TV & Home Cinema
By September 3, 2014 Read More →

Panasonic unveil the X940 Ultra-Large Screen 4K TV

vieraPanasonic has today announced the new ultra-large X940 series, which boasts an 85 inch screen and an exceptionally fast panel for stunning 4K images. The new European VIERA 4K Ultra HD (UHD) model combines its large screen size with supreme motion picture quality, cutting-edge design and intuitive features to provide incredible home entertainment experiences. Ultra HD LED TV with 2000Hz (BLS) offers exceptionally fast panel for impressive motion picture quality and 3D. It’s Quad Core Pro5 is a powerful processor, with HEVC decoder, for next-generation 4K entertainment and ultimate images. Featuring “Local Dimming Pro” allowing the user to enjoy added dynamics with robust blacks and delicate gradation, a 4K Studio Master Drive for more accurate colour and richer, smoother gradation at virtually any brightness. 

Another feature is TV Anywhere for your entertainment, from the TV to your Web-enabled mobile device, even outside the home, alongside My Stream helping the user to enjoy content recommended to match your preferences, easily via an intuitive interface. Finally an Info Bar will see the user walk by the TV in standby and immediately get the time, weather and more. Add this up and you have one of the most rich feature sets available on the market. 

Full press release follows:

4K Ultra HD Picture Quality on an Ultra-Large Screen

With UHD resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, four times as many pixels as a conventional Full HD device, the X940 series stands out with its superior image sharpness, showing every nuance in perfect detail.

Due to a powerful 2000Hz Back Light Scanning (BLS) panel and the ‘4K Intelligent Frame Creation’ technology, it guarantees breath-taking sharpness and smooth, clear images, even when watching fast action scenes.

 

The high-end Local Dimming Pro in the X940 offers an excellent class of dimming to boost contrast performance, enabling dynamic images with the deepest blacks and ultra-whites. This system provides additional details in both dark and bright areas, by analysing and optimising the individual image areas in real-time. This achieves the Supreme Contrast, underlining the stunning picture quality.

 

The X940 employs Panasonic’s new original high-performance image-processing engine, the Quad Core Pro5 super-high speed processor. This immaculately renders highly intricate and detailed 4K images as well as achieving beautifully elegant 4K quality with precise noise reduction and motion image compensation.

 

With 4K Studio Master Drive, the X940 is able to deliver more accurate colour; richer, smoother gradation, and more shadow detail at virtually any brightness. This is due to a 3D Colour Management System (Super Chroma Drive), in addition to the Black Gradation Drive which looks for and applies brightness compensation to low-brightness image elements. To deliver colours which are truly faithful to the original source, the X940 uses LCD panels equipped with a newly developed, high-colour-space LED backlight. In particular, the Studio Master Colour enables the X940 to reproduce colours accurately even at low saturation and brightness levels, greatly enhancing the picture quality of dark scenes.

4K content, today

Panasonic’s 2014 UHD 4K TVs all feature the widest range of inputs to ensure you have an extensive spectrum of 4K content at your fingertips. The X940 is equipped with the new 4K 60p-supporting HDMI terminal, which is compatible with the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) 2.2 protocol, allowing 4K content to be transmitted at high frame rates. With input signals of up to 60 frames per second, the line-up provides the ultimate choice for consumers looking to access the next level in home entertainment, as well as professionals – such as those working in small TV studios – for whom picture quality is imperative.

In addition to the 4K 60p-supporting HDMI terminal, the X940 is equipped with a DisplayPort 1.2a terminal which can transmit 4K signals at 50/60Hz without any reduction in colour or frame rate performance. PC gaming enthusiasts can easily connect their PC via the 60p-capable DisplayPort and enjoy the latest blockbuster games in incredible detail and with extremely high motion clarity. The advanced upscaler also enables you to enjoy your favourite Full HD Blu-ray Disc movie or TV show with stunning motion clarity.

 

Photography enthusiasts can also enjoy their pictures on the 4K Photo Viewer or via the 4K Swipe & Share function accessed by the Panasonic TV Remote 2 App on their tablet or smartphone. The X940 also supports 4K video playback from USB, SD card or online sources as they are compatible with the new HEVC (High Efficiency Video Codec) format, which is ideally suited for ultra-high resolution video content.

 

Additionally, the 4K web browser further enhances web pages and with Panasonic’s 4K Channel you can access a wide range of high resolution content at any time.

Flexible networking options

In addition to the wide 4K networking capabilities, the X940 is equipped with the widest range of input signals so you can get content from virtually any source to be viewed on your ultra-large screen. Its Twin HD Tuner can simultaneously receive two separate HD programmes via cable, satellite or terrestrial broadcast and in parallel record one of those channels on an external USB hard drive. You can start watching a show that was previously saved while recording another one, or watch a live broadcast while recording a second programme and send it via the internet or a private network to your tablet or smartphone.

 

For even more entertainment possibilities, HbbTV connects your favourite TV programming with the internet, providing supplementary programme information as well as the media libraries of many broadcasters. With integrated Wi-Fi and DLNA capability, you can surf the internet and access an ever-increasing number of Internet Apps, all from the comfort of your couch, as well as enjoy multimedia content such as photos, movies or music that are stored on a home network device or USB media.

 

TV anywhere you are

With brand new features including TV Anywhere, my Stream and Info Bar, the X940provides a whole new level of TV entertainment.

 

With TV Anywhere you can access your TV’s content from anywhere you are in the world. Using the Panasonic TV Remote 2 App and connecting to the Panasonic Cloud, you can stream live TV shows or movies on your tablet or smartphone wherever you are, as well as recorded content from a USB hard disk drive connected to your TV. If you are travelling, TV Anywhere enables you to begin watching a movie at home, start recording before you leave the house and then continue to watch from where you left off when you reach your hotel. If you forget to start the recording, you can still do this on the road thanks to the Panasonic TV Remote 2 App.

 

Furthermore, my Stream totally redefines the TV viewing experience. The service provides individualised channels of personalised content for you and your family members, aggregated from a variety of sources. You have access to films and TV shows from cable, terrestrial broadcast, and Video on Demand (VOD) sources based on your viewing preferences, allowing you to easily access the content you love, without spending the time searching for it. Recorded content, home movies, family photos and online videos are also seamlessly included in the my Stream interface.

 

Voice Print recognition technology, available via the touchpad remote and the Panasonic TV Remote 2 App, is used to identify which member of your household is using the TV and automatically calls up their my Stream profile. In addition, the innovative voice interaction and control functions not only understand individual words, but also whole sentences. Additionally with more integrated voice commands available, you can easily find the content you are looking for.

 

The X940 series has also been designed and built to ensure easy operation, even for the most non-technical of users. This includes an optimised My Home Screen, VIERA’s start-up screen that can be personalised to the individual preferences of each family member.

 

A new and innovative Info Bar automatically displays useful information for the whole family, quickly and conveniently. A proximity sensor coupled with Face Recognition technology via the built-in camera work together to recognise your presence and automatically display relevant information, such as the weather forecast, time and notifications. This all happens without even turning on the TV. 

 

Posted in: News, TV & Home Cinema
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