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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.

 

DSC_0229 DSC_0245

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!

 

By October 23, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Inateck 4 Port USB3.0 Hub With 1 Port Charging

vlcsnap-2014-10-18-22h12m13s239Gareth unboxes Inateck’s 4 Port USB3.0 Hub With 1 Port Charging, the cheapest USB 3.0 hub on around. This hub is equipped with both a 5V 4A power supply and built-in surge protection, 4 Port USB 3.0 + 1 fast charging port (5V 2A) for SamSung tablets and smart phones etc. 

SuperSpeed USB 3.0 supports transfer rates up to 5 Gbps – The actual transmission speed is limited by the setting of the device connected; Backward compatible with USB 2.0/1.1. Support 4 ports USB interfaces for Desktop/ Notebook/ Ultrabook/ SATA HDD Docking Sation/ Digital Camera; Compatible With Windows XP / Vista / 7/8 /MacOS X 10.8.4/ Linux. High Performance with VIA VL812 Chipset; Slim Size – Easy Carrying and Experience; Safe and reliable; Build in Overvoltage/Overcurrent/Leakage and Short-Circuit protection unit. Plug and play; Supports hot swapping. No install driver needed; LED indicators display the status of DC power supply and USB connections.

You can grab one from Amazon.co.uk here for only £19.99

 

By October 22, 2014 Read More →

Nexus 9 UK prices revealed

nexus-9-release-date-578-80The HTC built Nexus 9 has now arrived on the Google Play store and Amazon here in the UK with prices starting from £319 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version. Other variations include the 32GB pushing the price to £399 and adding LTE connectivity continues to increase the price to £459. This is more in keeping with Google’s Nexus 10 pricing over the last few years. Many are furious at the iPad-esq pricing and it’s easy to see why. Google have made much headway with their cheaply priced Nexus 7 over the last three years and most had hoped for the Nexus 9 to mirror this. It features a 8.9-inch display, supported by a 2.3 GHz 64-bit Nvidia Tegra K1 processor and a 6700mAh battery, high specs for a high price. Oh yeah, it’s made by HTC, who make expensive devices.

Pre-orders for the Wi-Fi only version opened on October 17 – Google is promising that units will leave the warehouse in 2-3 weeks. If you order, expect it on November 3rd. If it doesn’t arrive, just wait longer.

 

Posted in: News, Tablets
By October 21, 2014 Read More →

Unboxing Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Unboxing Samsung Galaxy Note 4Gareth has gotten his hands on, and unboxed Samsung Galaxy Note 4. This latest Phablet offering from Samsung is due to spark all manner of uncomparable iPhone 6+ vs Note 4 debates, battle and stand offs. Here Gareth, a Note veteran,  unboxes the phone and takes a couple of days to adjust to the features and form some some early opinions of the feature set.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 specification:

  • Dimensions - 153.5 X 78.6 X 8.5 mm / 176g
  • Display - 5.7” Quad HD Super AMOLED (2560 x1440)
  • Processor - 2.7GHz Quad Core Process
  • Memory - 3GB RAM + 32GB Internal memory
  • Supports microSD up to 128GB
  • Network - 2.5G (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) : 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850/900/1900/2100 MHz
  • 4G (LTE Cat.4 150/50Mbps) or 4G (LTE Cat.6 300/50Mbps)
  • Camera - Front Camera 3.7MP + F1.9/ Selfie (90º), Wide selfie mode (120º)
  • Rear Camera 16M+ Smart OIS/ Fast AF, Live HDR(Rich Tone)
  • OSAndroid 4.4 (Kitkat)Connectivity - Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2X2 MIMO)Download Booster
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth® v 4.1 (BLE),ANT+ , 
  • USB2.0, MHL 3.0
  • IR LED (Remote Control)
  • Battery3220mAh Fast Charging
  • S Pen – 15g, Hovering 15mm, Pressure level 2,048
  • Sensor - Gesture, Accelerometer, Geo-magnetic, Gyroscope, RGB ambient light, Proximity, Barometer, Hall Sensor, Finger Scanner, UV, HRM

By October 20, 2014 Read More →

ALCATEL ONETOUCH introduces the IDOL 2 MINI S

image001Alcatel Onetouch has launched the IDOL 2 MINI S 4G LTE smartphone through Carphone Warehouse. This good looking Android smartphone has been built with performance and usability in mind. Its brushed metallic finishing and diamond cut perfectly complement its Quad Core processing power and a sharp IPS display to create a smartphone perfect for style-conscious consumers. With an 8 megapixel rear camera for HD video capture and crisp photos with image stabilisation enhancements, the IDOL 2 MINI S is a premium choice without the price tag.

With a screen size of 4.5”, the IDOL 2 MINI S is compact and fits in the palm. Despite its size, the IDOL 2 MINI S doesn’t compromise on the user experience. Innovative, user-focused features like One Finger Zoom ensure that it can genuinely be used with one finger.

The IDOL 2 MINI S is available in Slate from Carphone Warehouse priced at £12 per month on pay monthly. 

image001

IDOL 2 MINI S

  • 4.5” qHD IPS display
  • 8.5 mm thin
  • Quad Core 1.2 GHz
  • 4G LTE – Cat 4
  • 8 Mpxl 1080p main camera
  • 2 Mpxl front camera
  • Android 4.3 (4.4 FOTA)
  • NFC
Posted in: News, Phones
By October 16, 2014 Read More →

50% off a Personalised Phone Case

5SmyoThese days, no matter what type of smartphone you own, a phone case of some kind is pretty much essential. Obviously there are 1000′s of designs out there but if you want to stand out and be individual then there’s no substitute for a persoanlised phone case.

The folks over at magicyourband.com have cases for Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices. Their 3D cases allow you to wrap your own photos, logos, images and text right around the whole case which not only looks cool but provides a high degree of protection.

The magicyourband.com design tool employs both Flash, WebGL and HTML5 technologies so should work on almost any device/platform.

The company has provided us with discount code NOVCASE50 which will give you 50% off any phone case that you purchase. The discount code expires at the end of November 2014 and is limited to one use of the code per customer. Just enter the coupon code in the checkout to have the discount applied.

Head over and check out the cases on offer!

Posted in: Deals & Offers, News, Phones
By October 8, 2014 Read More →

Is your Belkin broken?

F9K1113_AC1200_herowb_116It would appear that for some reason Belkin routers can no longer connect to the Internet. As of midnight EDT many Belkin router owners took to Twitter to all point out their Belkin routers were suffering from some sort of fault or demonic possession. At 9:30am PDT Belkin acknowledged the issue and an hour later, issued a workaround. Belkin has not yet revealed the cause of the mass outage. There are many, many annoyed users out there furious at Belkin and their ugly side can be seen on Twitter. One thing is for sure you can take away power, gas and water but don’t meddle with someone’s internet connection.

Update #2: Belkin says all routers should now be fixed.

We have confirmed that the internet connectivity issue is now resolved.

If your service has not yet been restored, please unplug your router and plug it back in after waiting 1 minute. Wait 5 more minutes and the router should reconnect. If you have any further issues, please contact our support at (800) 223-5546.

We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience to our customers. We are taking a number of actions to eliminate this sort of incident from reoccurring

Update #1: Belkin’s official statement.

 

Starting approximately midnight on October 7, Belkin began experiencing an issue with a service configured in certain Belkin router models that causes a failure when it checks for general network connectivity by pinging a site hosted by Belkin. We know this issue has affected select older Wireless-N Belkin router models including F9K1102, F9K1105, F9K1113 and F9K1116. We are continuing to investigate other possible routers that may have been affected. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Until there is a fix in place, we have identified a workaround for customers that are using the F9K1102 and F9K1105 routers to regain internet connectivity. That work-around as well as ongoing updates can be found at our outage status page for more information:http://www.belkin.com/outage

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