News

By November 29, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Archos Activity Tracker and Connected Scales

vlcsnap-2014-11-24-14h40m28s186Gareth unboxes the Archos Activity Tracker and Connected Scales. These now budget fitness accessories cost £50 a piece and promise to enhance your fitness tracking.

The Activity tracker is a simple pedometer that connects, by bluetooth, to your smartphone, Apple or Android. An app collated the information and presents you with targets and results from your daily activities.

The Connect Scales are another simple addition. To keep you weight loss (or gain) in check the scales can differentiate between four different people can record results to the same app as the activity tracker.

By November 27, 2014 Read More →

ALCATEL ONETOUCH adds two new smartphones to the affordable POP C range

image004ALCATEL ONETOUCH has released the POP C5 and the POP C7 to the UK SIM free market. The latest smartphones to be added to its range of easy to use POP smartphones, the POP C5 and POP C7 are designed with the first-time smartphone buyer in mind.

The POP C5 has a 4.5” screen and 5 megapixel camera, which comes with a panoramic picture function as well as a front camera, enabling video chat.

The POP C7 features a 5” display with a Quad Core 1.3 GHz processor to accelerate all tasks and apps. The POP C7 also features a 5 megapixel camera capable of taking great quality images, perfect for instant sharing.

image004

 Both the POP C5 and POP C7 run the Android operating system. Based on the ethos of the POP smartphone range: ‘easy to choose, easy to use’ the POP C5 and the POP C7 come preloaded with popular apps, such as Facebook, What’s App and Twitter, so the smartphones are ready to use, straight out the box.

 The POP C5 and the POP C7 are available in Bluish Black from Freemans.com.  The POP C5 is priced RRP £85 SIM free and the POP C7 is priced RRP £115 SIM free.

Posted in: News, Phones
By November 26, 2014 Read More →

Alcatel Onetouch Pixi 7 at Three store

PictureThere is a new Alcatel Onetouch tablet hitting the market in time for Christmas, – the PIXI 7 – a wifi tablet which has gone on sale in Three stores nationwide today for £69.99.

This 7 inch Android tablet features a 960 x 550 pixel screen, a 2840 mAh battery, a low quality 0.3 mp camera on either side of the tablet and an unusual triple core processor. Combined with KitKat and a price of £70 this might just be enough to catch a little attention from those not so sure that they need a tablet but are happen to have one somewhere.

 

ALCATEL ONETOUCH today launches the PIXI 7 to the UK market, a 7 inch WiFi tablet which offers affordability without compromising quality.  

The ALCATEL ONETOUCH PIXI 7 is designed to be compact and light, weighing only 285 grams, making it one of the lightest 7-inch ULC tablets on the market. Available in Bluish Black the ALCATEL ONETOUCH PIXI 7 has a sleek and modern design with rounded edges.
Powered on Android 4.4 (KitKat) the PIXI 7, comes with a selection of pre-installed apps making the tablet user friendly straight out of the box. This Android operating system delivers optimised memory and touchscreen functionality and redesigned e-mail.
The PIXI 7 is equipped with two cameras: a front camera and rear camera, so photos can be quickly uploaded to social networks thanks to the built-in high speed WiFi.
The ALCATEL ONETOUCH PIXI 7 is also the ideal TV companion. It contains an infrared port which transforms the tablet into a universal remote control and the PIXI 7 also allows you to stream content straight from your tablet to your TV.

The ALCATEL ONETOUCH PIXI 7 is available in Bluish Black from Three stores nationwide priced at £69.99.

For more information regarding ALCATEL ONETOUCH please visit www.facebook.com/alcatelonetouchuk.

Posted in: News, Tablets
By November 25, 2014 Read More →

ExpressVPN keeping you safe and secret

Screenshot 2014-11-19 at 15.03.24There is no shortage of Virtual Private Network solutions out there, they really seem to be all the rage this side of the NSA reaching into the search engines and online storages to harvest our very personal data and to build a profile on each and every one of us. It seems in the future a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, will be requirement for anyone wanting to “close the curtains” and keep themselves to themselves online. Much like Anti-virus and Malware scanners you can pick up something fit for purpose for not a lot of money. ExpressVPN promises to cover your tracks on your mobile device and provide you peace of mind when browsing on your phone.

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Using ExpressVPN couldn’t be simplier. Loading the app takes only a few seconds and you are greeted with a list of networks available to you. This is were you can take advantage of simple services no matter where you are in the world. For example, if you happen to be a UK citizen and wish to access BBC Iplayer whilst on a trip to New York, you can select a Network in London and this will in turn tell BBC Iplayer that you are in fact in the UK and will let you connect.

In the screenshot above I have selected Los Angeles as a recently connected server. This will scramble any trace of where I am for the duation of my connection to the server and make it impossible for a service to track, or spy on your location. 

Screenshot_2014-11-13-07-21-51

 

By comparison to some other VPN’s out there there is a short delay as the app connects to the required server. Other VPN packages can connect automatically to a random server and in the case of F-secure Freedome connect instantly. ExpressVPN is notably cheaper F-Secure’s offering and whilst not as pretty the savings are worthwhile.

Screenshot_2014-11-13-07-22-05

 

Once connected, that’s it. A little key icon will appear in the notification panel to let you know you are safe. You are on-line, in that country and various online services, trackers will believe this. It is important to point out that online stores might present prices in the currencies pertaining to the country network you have connected to and to remedy this you will need to switch the VPN off. However, this can also be handy for price matching and even finding cheaper deals for the international travellers.

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A subscription to ExpressVPN is available for $99.95 for a year. This is an incredibly good deal if you take you online privacy seriously. There are a lot of threats out there and alongside the security come some of the bonuses of not having to worry about local internet service providers limiting what you can see and where you can see it. In addition ExpressVPN brags round the clock support and a money back guarantee if not satisfied.

Posted in: Apps & Games, News, Reviews
By November 21, 2014 Read More →

Panasonic AX802 TVs now compatible with Netflix Ultra-High Definition 4K streaming

Screenshot 2014-11-19 at 15.01.48Panasonic have very kindly made one of their most popular models compatible with that, most cutting edge of services, Netflix 4K. This important move will see all current 4K content and upcoming content viewable on the AX802 screen that has been wowing audience across the UK. Netflix have recently unveiled a massive upcoming list of productions, all of which they plan to shoot in 4K. Very soon the library for the Panasonic AX 802 will jump from somewhat shallow to a veritable feast thanks to Panasonic’s recent partnership with Neflix. Press release follows:

 

Existing AX802 owners will receive a firmware update when they connect their set to the internet which will allow them to begin enjoying 4K Netflix movies and shows such as “House of Cards”, “Breaking Bad”, and beginning in December with “Marco Polo”, a new slate of Netflix Originals.

In addition, Panasonic’s newly released AX902 TVs are compatible with Netflix streaming in 4K right out of the box.

About Viera AX802

Superb 4K Images meet Cutting-Edge Connectivity Options

Ultra HD LED TV with 2000Hz (BLS) – exceptionally fast panel for impressive motion picture quality and 3D

  • my Stream – enjoy content recommended to match your preferences, easily via an intuitive interface
  • 4K Studio Master Drive – for more accurate colour and richer, smoother gradation at virtually any brightness
  • Info Bar – walk by the TV in standby and immediately get the time, weather, any new messages and more
  • Hexa Processing Engine PRO – fast processing power, with HEVC decoder, delivers thrilling 4K entertainment

 

About Viera AX902

  • Ultra HD LED TV with 3000Hz (BLS) – superior highest-speed panel for amazing images, motion clarity and 3D
  • Premium Furniture Design, available in 65” and 55” screen sizes
  • Local Dimming Ultra – highest class of dimming delivers dynamic images with deepest blacks and ultra whites
  • 4K THX Certified – Experience stunning 4K content, just as the directors intended
  • 4K Studio Master Drive – for more accurate colour and richer, smoother gradation at virtually any brightness
  • Studio Master Colour – The wide colour gamut is able to reproduce colours accurately and faithfully
  • Quad Core Pro5 – powerful processor, with HEVC decoder, for next-generation 4K entertainment and ultimate images
  • TV Anywhere – your entertainment, from the TV to your Web-enabled mobile device, even outside the home
  • my Stream – enjoy content recommended to match your preferences, easily via an intuitive interface
  • Info Bar – walk by the TV in standby and immediately get the time, weather and more

 

Posted in: News, TV & Home Cinema
By November 17, 2014 Read More →

Ultimate Ears Boom Social Speaker Unboxing

vlcsnap-2014-11-15-21h02m13s63Gareth takes a look at the Ultimate Ears Boom Social Speaker. This pricey Bluetooth speaker pushes itself as the wireless speaker made to rage, riot, party and play the music you love, out loud. UE BOOM’s 360-degree design blasts bold, immersive sound into any space. Its versatile, go-anywhere shape is designed to be as spontaneous as you – it brings the music, you bring the friends. And with a water and stain resistant acoustic skin and 15-hour rechargeable battery, you’re ready for wherever the day or night takes you.

RRP: £169.00 and you can order one from here: UE BOOM.

 

Posted in: News, Videos/Unboxings
By November 12, 2014 Read More →

Microsoft Lumia 535: “5x5x5”

Chakra_Back_OrangeToday Microsoft Devices Group welcomes the Microsoft Lumia 535 to the Windows Phone 8.1 range, bringing the latest Microsoft experiences to more affordable price levels with five great integrated Microsoft experiences, a wide-angle 5MP front facing camera, and a spacious 5 inch display to help people do more of what they want, for less:

  • Fit more into your Skype video calls with the 5MP wide angle front facing camera
  • Pre-installed Office suite and OneNote – to access, edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and OneNote notebooks anywhere
  • 15GB of free OneDrive cloud storage to save and sync your media across devices
  • Experience a truly personal virtual assistant with Cortana on hand to anticipate your needs and make tailored suggestions
  • Built in Microsoft Outlook to connect with work and personal e-mails while on the go
  • A 5 inch qHD display to showcase photos and videos or get even more productive with Office
  • Dual SIM variant for maximum flexibility

Available in both Single and Dual SIM variants, Lumia 535 will begin rolling out to key markets in November, with UK availability expected in Q1 2015. Lumia 535 will be available in bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey, cyan and black and is estimated to cost around 110 EUR before taxes and subsidies. 

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Microsoft Corp. announced today the Microsoft Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM smartphones running the latest Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, bringing the latest Microsoft experiences to more affordable price levels.

Offering five great integrated Microsoft experiences, a wide-angle 5 megapixel front facing camera, and a spacious 5 inch display – all for an affordable price – Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM help people do more of what they want, for less.

  • Make memorable Skype video calls and seamlessly switch between voice and video with built-in Skype integration
  • Access, edit and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and OneNote notebooks wherever you are, with the pre-installed Office suite
  • Save and sync photos, videos and Office documents securely with 15GB of free OneDrive cloud storage
  • Experience Cortana, a truly personal virtual assistant that anticipates people’s needs and makes tailored suggestions
  • Connect with work and personal e-mail while on the go, with Microsoft Outlook built-in
  • Showcase photos and videos or get even more productive with Office on the large, 5 inch qHD display
  • Fit more memorable backgrounds or add more friends into Skype video calls and selfies with the 5 MP wide angle front facing camera
  • Never miss a call or text, and be reachable on both SIM cards at any time with Smart Dual SIM for maximum flexibility

“Lumia 535 comes with our “5x5x5” proposition,” said Jo Harlow, Corporate Vice President for Phones at Microsoft. “Innovation should be available to everyone, and we are doing this through the very best integrated Microsoft services free and out-of-the-box, a 5 MP wide-angle front-facing camera and a spacious 5 inch, qHD screen – all at an affordable price.”

 

Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM will begin rolling out to key markets in November, and will be available in bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey, cyan and black. Pricing for Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM will vary by market and operator, but is estimated to be around 110 EUR before taxes and subsidies. 

Posted in: News, Phones, Press Releases
By November 10, 2014 Read More →

HTC Nexus 9 hands-on video

N9-grid1-1600A few weeks ago HTC held a small press conference and announced the new HTC Nexus 9.

The Nexus 9 is one of the first devices featuring the latest Android 5.0 Lillipop. This new OS version breathes new life in to Android and unusually for HTC, the Nexus 9 has no HTC Sense overlay so there is a nice clean feel to the UI.

It has been quite some time since HTC produced a tablet and we have high hopes for the Nexus 9. In the video below we start with a short unboxing and then go hands-on with the hardware and a look at the OS and UI.

 The HTC Nexus 9 is available now from Currys. Our thanks to them for the for the review device!

 

 

HTC Nexus 9 specification:

  • 2G Network:     GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G Network:     HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
  • 4G Network:     LTE
  • Dimensions:     228.2 x 153.7 x 7.9 mm (8.98 x 6.05 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight:     425 g (Wi-Fi) / 436 g (3G/LTE) (14.99 oz)
  • Display:    IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors,   1536 x 2048 pixels, 8.9 inches (~281 ppi pixel density)
  • Protection:     Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Stereo loud speakers
  • 3.5mm jack
  • Internal memory:      16/32 GB, 2 GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Bluetooth  v4.1, A2DP, apt-X
  • NFC
  • microUSB v2.0
  • Primary camera:     8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, 1080p@30fps, stereo sound rec.
  • Secondary camera:     1.6 MP, 720p
  • Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)
  • Chipset     Nvidia Tegra K1
  • CPU     Dual-core 2.3 GHz Denver
  • GPU     Kepler DX1
  • Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Battery:  Non-removable Li-Po 6700 mAh battery
By November 6, 2014 Read More →

HTC Confirms Android 5.0 for M7, M8

B1jghMACUAE4s3DGreat news for owners of HTC’s flagship devices, the HTC One M8 and last year’s HTC One M7. In a tweet HTC USA have confirmed that:

We have the Android Lollipop code. We’ll be updating the HTC One (M8) & (M7) within 90 days from today. #HTCAdvantage

Which means that we’ll see Lollipop on the M7 and M8 by the beginning of February 2015. This will be deployed as an over the air update starting with SIM free devices first. No precise details on the deployment to various carriers and how long we’ll have to wait here in the UK as yet but it’s certainly a step in the right direction!

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

Cruise ships take a Quantum leap forward

QuantumJust last week Royal Caribbean International took delivery of their newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, from Meyer Werft Yard.

Now you may well be wondering why we’re talking about a cruise ship, and to be honest, when Royal Caribbean invited us aboard a few weeks ago, I too wondered

But Quantum of the Seas is all about technology and is the most technologically advanced cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean say it’s the world’s first Smart Ship, with “boatloads of bandwidth” which allow the cruise line to offer unprecedented connectivity – 500 times more than any other cruise ship; easy-to-use systems that expand guest choices and simplify schedules, plus, RFID technology that speeds up the boarding process and allows guest to track their luggage every step of the way.

Tracy and I were able to spend two nights on Quantum, to experience all of this technology for ourselves. This equated to two days of liberally using words like ‘Awesome’, ‘Amazing’, ‘Incredible’ and ‘Brilliant’.

So let’s starts with a few facts and figures…

  • Registry: Nassau, Bahamas
  • Built at Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany
  • 168,666 GRT
  • 1,141 feet (348 meters) long
  • 136 feet (41 meters) wide
  • 28 feet (8.5 meters) draft
  • 22 knots cruising speed
  • 16 guest decks
  • 18 total decks
  • 16 guest elevators
  • 4 bow thrusters with 4,694 horse power each  
  • 4,180 guests (double occupancy)
  • 4,905 guests total
  • 2,090 of Royal Caribbean’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever
    • 375 Virtual Balcony staterooms — interior staterooms offering expansive real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations through virtual balconies
    • Up to 16 Family-Connected staterooms — perfect for multi-generational families or groups of friends, these staterooms provide separate bedrooms and bathrooms for all 
    • 12 new Studio staterooms with balconies and 16 Studio Interior staterooms, both for single travelers  

  

The use of technology starts before you even step aboard

About 10 days before we were due to set sail, Royal Caribbean sent me my “reservation number” and asked if we would complete the online check in. This process is very similar to online check in for an airline where they go through and take all your relevant information including passport and visa details. Although, as we were going on a cruise-to-nowhere, a visa was not required.

During the process you are also asked to take or provide a headshot which is then used as part of the boarding process. If you were going on a cruise which stopped at other ports the photo is used to identify you when you leave and board the ship as they scan you in and out with your WOWband or smart card. If you are not happy providing your own photo they can also take one at the port as part of the check in process. The last part of the online check in was to set up your onboard charging account. Once you have this set up it means that once onboard just a quick scan of your band and you can pay for anything!

The other big part of the pre-planning Royal Caribbean have introduced comes from their change from a traditional main dining room to their new ‘dynamic dining’ system. Once I was checked in I could then go and make restaurant reservations for our 2 nights along with entertainment reservations for the shows. The system will also handle the shore excursions and spa appointments in the future. What’s really nice is once you have something booked it tells you if you are going to have a clash and you can view everything in the really well laid out planner. Once onboard all these reservations will then transfer to your Royal iQ app and will also save guests from standing in lines and trudging from place to place on the first day of the cruise. As Royal Caribbean say, ‘you get the first day of your vacation back’.

Royal Caribbean guests can go from “sidewalk to ship” in 10 minutes with no check-in counter, no forms to fill out and no lines to stand in. The average check in time on the day we boarded was just 7 minutes!

 

RFID Technology

WOWBand

WOWBand

RFID technology is becoming more commonplace and Royal Caribbean are certainly using this to its advantage in a number of key ways.

During the boarding process, RFID tags are placed upon your luggage. This allows guests to track their luggage in real time on their smartphones and monitor their bags’ progress through key points en route to the stateroom.  On departure, the process is reversed.   

Quantum of the Seas also has new RFID ‘WOWband’ wristbands, which can be used as your room key or can be used to pay for onboard purchases, make reservations, find your photos in the onboard photo shop etc.

Simplicity and efficiency are also at the heart of two new apps that put guests in charge of their cruise choices: Cruise Planner, which allows guests to research and book dining reservations, shore excursions, spa appointments and more before their vacation begins; and Royal iQ, available as a downloadable app and provided at freestanding iQ stations around the ship.  Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of their program, and keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.

 

WiFi onboard

Connectivity on cruise ships has always been hit or miss and bandwidth is a big issue. This is set to change with Quantum of the Seas though, as Royal Caribbean International teamed up with O3b Networks, a global satellite provider, who developed a new technology. This new satellite network delivers “fiber-optic bandwidth.” Quantum of the Seas features O3b fiber-like Internet service which will provide more than 500 times the bandwidth that you’d experience from a regular on-board connection.

The O3b fiber-like Internet service was first piloted on Oasis of the Seas in December 2013 and has also been since introduced on Allure of the Seas. The new system fitted to Quantum of the Seas will provide O3b coverage as the ship approaches the east coast of the United States.

Royal Caribbean International is now testing a variety of pricing. While the prices are highly subject to change, the current pricing offers guests $29.95 per hour, $99.95 per day, and $189.95 for unlimited usage on a 7-night cruise for one device.

You may read elsewhere in the press that there was ‘no Wifi coverage’ on Quantum during the inaugural sailing but that’s just sensationalism. There was indeed WiFi on board but there isn’t O3b satellite coverage in Europe as yet. This will be ready in time for the launch of the next Quantum Class ship, Anthem of the Seas, when she commences service from Southampton in April of 2015.   A fact that was made clear to members of the press both before and during the inaugural sailing.

 

 

Ripcord

Ripcord by iFly is just awesome! This offers guest the chance to experience skydiving in a wind tunnel and is the first of such to be installed on sea-going vessel.

Following a short briefing video and time with an instructor, guests are provided with a jumpsuit, goggles, helmet and ear protection. Your group is then taken to the wind tunnel where you get to take it in turns to experience what it’s like to freefall skydive.

With a series of hand gestures and physical guidance from an instructor it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of the basic positions but it looks like a lot of training would be needed to get really good at it. Fortunately, you’ll be able to buy packages to give you a certain number of training sessions with an expert.

I’d recommend keeping each session fairly short to begin with though, it takes a lot out of you!

DSC_0233 IMG_5406 DSC_0281

 

North Star

If skydiving seems a little bit too energetic for you then there’s another way to experience some sights aboard Quantum of the Seas with North Star.

North Star is “an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean”. Guests board a large glass capsule at the end of a large boom arm and are then hoisted high in to the air for unique views of both the ocean and the ship itself.

Here you can take some exceptional photographs and I’m sure it will be even more amazing to be able to take photos of some of the cruise destinations and North Star is able to operate both at sea and in port.

 

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IMG_5415 IMG_5518

 

Sea Plex

So heights may not be your thing but if you’re still looking for some fun then there’s plenty to be had at Sea Plex.

Sea Plex offers the largest indoor active space at sea and is a distinctive and flexible sporting and entertainment venue offering more first at sea experiences, guests can experience a circus school with flying trapeze, or play basketball on a full-size regulation basketball court. By night, the first-ever bumper car and roller skating offerings deliver fun and excitement. Or, guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth which hovers above the activity below.

 IMG_5400 IMG_5401 

 

Bionic Bar

One of the coolest additions to Quantum of the Seas are the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar.  

These masterpieces of technology can create and pour your favorite mixed drink in just a few seconds right before your eyes. Tablet computers allow patrons to select their desired drink for an extensive list while electronic screens at either side tell you how long you’ll have to wait for your drink and where you are in the queue.

Unfortunately the Bionic Bar was plagued with teething problems during our time on Quantum of the Seas but we were able to see it operational on a number of occasions and it certainly is a talking point. It also ensures that you get your turn to order from the bar fairly and the robots don’t ask for tips!

Quantum of the Seas launch photos

 

Of course, it takes far more than a bionic bartender and skydiving to make a truly smart ship and items mentioned in this post are just a few of the more obvious, customer-facing innovative technologies that you’ll find aboard Quantum of the Seas. Below the surface there’s plenty more to talk about from the on-board waste reclamation to the air-lubrication system…

Tracy and I were lucky enough to see much of what goes on behind the scenes on Quantum of the Seas and spent some time with Captain Patrik Dahlgran, Capt. (Felix) Srecko Ban, Captain Gus Andersson and Richard Pruitt (Vice President of Safety and Environmental Stewardship).  But that’s all for another post!

 

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