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By March 12, 2015 Read More →

A feature of Android 6.0?

samsung-galaxy-note-ii-multi-window-us-cellular-1We are getting Android 5.1 in the next few days, or weeks depending on how lucky you are and this update brings with it a fairly routine collection of tweaks and improvements. However, the future of Android will always feature more exciting features in the long run and anything that might help increase productivity is not beyond the realms of imagination.

Down in the depths of Android’s source code a small hint exists that Google may be working on a multi-windows feature. Some may scoff that Samsung have already brought this to their Touchwiz overlay however there is a software tool in place of a core feature. Whilst a little buggy over the years the idea is sound and for Google to place it into stock Android at some point in the future makes Android a whole lot more of a viable option for desktop work stations (again bringing the existence  of Chrome OS into question.)

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By March 11, 2015 Read More →

Acer CB5 Chromebook Benchmarks

Acer_Chromebook_15__CB5-571__white-front_up_left_angle.0When is comes to Chromebooks there is really only one company to entertain at the moment. Acer. Whilst the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is generally considered to be the best in it’s field right now Acer has occupied the top spot at any other time and it looks like they plan on taking it back with the Chromebook 15.

Technology Resource Advisor’s Chris Elkendier managed to benchmark the Acer CB5 (C910) to find it outperforms several other Chromebooks thanks to the Broadwell processor inside, and it only outperformed by the smaller 11.6-inch variant the C740. It is important to point out that the 1080p and 720p version of the CB5 performed identically.

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The Acer Chromebook 15 has already gone on pre-order in the UK from Amazon with a touchscreen Nvidia Tegra K1 2.1 GHz, 4GB RAM, 32GB. A full range has become available on Amazon.co.uk. The Chromebook will land May 20th.

 

Posted in: Laptops, News
By March 11, 2015 Read More →

Oppo’s 5 minute charge Smartwatch

oppo-smart-watch-leak-640x327Imagine having a smart watch that can go from 0 to 100% in just 5 minutes of charging. Oppo certainly is. There is a possibility the Chinese is on their way to perfecting the technology to make this possible.

With some fuss over the Apple Watch 18-hour battery life and folks glowing over their Pebble’s week long e-paper approach there is no simple solution short of placing a bulkier battery leading to larger and slightly more off putting form factor.

Oppo’s is employing a next-generation VOOC charger. We have seen VOOC charging in both the Nexus 6 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to pull more power in and deploy is sensible to prolong battery life. A watch naturally has a small battery, e.g. 300mAh in place of a 2400mAh in you average smartphone. Utilising a similar charging style this could slash the recharge time down to minutes. Only time will tell if the battery will be able to withstand frequent charging.

Posted in: News, Rumours, Wearables
By March 11, 2015 Read More →

Acer plan a big announcement

Acer-April-23rd-2015-event-invite-640x265Last year in New York Acer launched a pretty stonking little convertible Windows 8 tablet with keyboard dock, the Switch 10. This year Acer has lined up another big launch in the Big Apple however having launched their Liquid Z220 and Z520  at Mobile World Congress the potential for what they are about to release is fantastic! We saw a sneak preview last year of the Jade and their Leap fitness tracker and most were pretty impressed alongside a range of handsome, affordable tablets and notebooks. With Acer it could be anything, this is what makes things so potentially exciting.

What would you like to see from Acer this year? An update to the Switch 10 or Switch 11? A high end Acer Android phone or tablet? Tune in for The Mobile Tech Addicts Show on Thursday evening at 20:30 GMT for a discussion.

Posted in: News, Rumours
By March 11, 2015 Read More →

Asus Zenfone 2 pushing 4GB of RAM

asus-zenfone-2-1There was another major announcement yesterday, this time in Taiwan from Asus. We will be seeing a number of Zenfone variants based on a 5-inch and 5.5-inch handset. At the lower end a base model 5-inch Zenfone 2, ZE500CL, will ship with a 1.6Ghz Intel Atom Z2560, 2GB RAM, 720p HD display and 16GB memory for roughly $158. Another variant of the Asus Zenfone 2, the ZE550ML will feature a larger 5.5-inch panel however this is stuck with the 720p resolution. RAM and memory are unchanged. The processor manages a boost to a 1.8Ghz Intel chip for $190.

Thankfully loosing the 720p display is the Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML with a 5.5-inch 1080 display, 1.8Ghz processor, 2GB RAM and 32GB memory $221. Finally there is the Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML with a 2.3Ghz Intel Z3580, 5.5-inch FHD display, 32GB memory and and amazing 4GB RAM for $285.

Zenfone 2 is set to launch in numerous locations around the world with the same specifications and possibly featuring a Mediatek or Snapdragon version. The Intel processor will likely appeal to some as there is the potential to drop Windows 10 onto the device.

 

Posted in: News, Phones
By March 10, 2015 Read More →

Nikon Coolpix P900, a thing of beauty

2101510734Recently Nikon announced a new mid range entry to their catalogue, an updated bridge camera with the focus on the zoom lens. A particularly bonkers 83x zoom to be exact. Modestly priced at around £500 the P900 has an 83x, 24-2000mm equivalent lens a superzoom like no other on the market. On paper at least, we can’t imagine a scene that this lens shouldn’t be able to handle. From the a weed on the top of a build to a gazelle leaping across the Serengeti, this camera will be able to handle it. To keep things steady, the camera has an advanced image stabilization system that offers 5 stops of shake reduction. The lens is so long that the flash has to pop up noticeably higher over the barrel, as you can see here.

If you’re a keen photographer of wildlife or the night sky, the 16-megapixel COOLPIX P900’s incredible 83x optical zoom lets you capture details not visible to the naked eye. Shoot instantly with rapid AF and a reduced shooting time lag, while 5.0-stop Dual Detect Optical VR enhances blur reduction.

Enjoy flexible composition with the vari-angle monitor and built-in electronic viewfinder, for shooting detailed stills at super-telephoto and Full HD movies. Built-in GPS/GLONASS/QZSS support pinpoints shooting locations and images can be shared instantly with built-in Wi-Fi®¹ and NFC² support.

Styled for comfortable shooting, the COOLPIX P900 brings you closer than ever to the beauty of nature.

 

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Posted in: Cameras, News
By March 10, 2015 Read More →

Android 5.1 Lollipop arrives

android-5.1-lollipop-updateNot steal Apple’s thunder as they launch iOS 8.2 and the Apple Watch, Google have started rolling out Android Lollipop 5.1 and a new Android Wear ad campaign. What is new with Android Lollipop for 5.1? There is new support for HD voice calling, if you device supports it then you will notice a suitable upgrade to hearing someone’s salivary glands from far away. A new form of Device Protection to keep your phone or tablet secure. Lollipop now supports a dual-SIM setup and the Quick Settings have been tweaked for Bluetooth and WiFi. One authentication has been set up on your Google account locked devices will require authentication even after a reset, a great deterrent and there is no point in anyone stealing an Android device any more! 

Here is the Android Wear video release yesterday, just before another Smartwatch was spoken of…

 

Posted in: Gadgets, News, Phones, Wearables
By March 10, 2015 Read More →

Time to consider the Apple Watch

watch-dmWe have been awaiting the Apple Watch launch since September last year. There has been a great deal of speculation since the inception and it seems every hardware manufacturer is getting in on the game. 6 months have passed, has Apple surpassed everyone expectations?
 
Over the years a large number of smartwatches have come into play, some have reshaped the landscape for wearables, but more often then not they have fallen by the wayside, disappearing off shelves and forgotten about. Lets have a look at how things have been shaped over the years.
 
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The first major player in recent Smartwatch evolution was the Sony Smartwatch. This tiny wearable might have had more in common with the iPod Shuffle than what we accept as a smartwatch today. A plastic clip on the back attached the body of the device to a changable band. The watch ran a simple OS that allowed basic interation with your smartphone, via a Sony watch client. A more primitive version of Android Wear. As with almost all smartwatches this was cursed with a charging method from hell. I personally owned one of these and whilst I took pride in wearing it, I didn’t find any real use for it outside of switching music tracks … when it worked.
The Smartwatch 2 and 3 evolved the range into a competitor, however at a time when Samsung was leading a very limited market.
 
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The Samsung Galaxy Gear was a terrific example of trying to push as much onto your wrist is possible. This expensive device utilised voice commands and included a simple camera. Whilst quite large and initally clocking in a terrible battery life, the Gear became almost an early benchmark of how well things could work. Samsung took the time to develop a short lived ecosystem for the Gear and whilst developers were sparse most of the key players were there. A solid build help sell the limited numbers but the numbers were good enough for Samsung to entertain the product line. Battery life improved and the charge mechanism, still a little cumbersome, certainly wasn’t as off putting as Sony’s attempt.
Samsung followed the original Gear with the Gear 2, Gear Neo, Gear Fit and most recently the Gear S. four devices that attempted to cover all walks of life, combining features Samsung figured people were looking for from the original Gear. The Gear range took a dramatic turn to the Tizen operating system from Android however it is left unappealing to many as, like the Apple Watch, the range of only compatible with certain Android phones from Samsung.
 
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LG has a range of ever improving Android Wear devices. After their first Orange exclusive phone watch, the ill-fated G910, LG decided to adopt the Android Wear OS and produce some of the most popular watches on the market. The G Watch is a perfect example of an entry level wearable, combining features with simple design and versatility. The LG Watch R is the bigger brother and pushes more of a traditional shape and form. Both certainly have their merits and flaws. LG has recently announced a move to the excellent WebOS platform for the LG Watch Urbane, with the most impressive looking design yet.
 
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Motorola seem to have the higher end of the market covered. The recent launch of the Apple Watch has seen a large number of folk happily announcing their preference of the Moto 360, this looks to be Apple’s main competitor. I use competitor in the loosest of sense as there isn’t a iPhone user that will be able to use this with their phone out of the box. Perhaps the best way to look at this is that Moto 360 users and those on the fence about smartwatches will not be migrating to Apple solely for their wrist mounted wearable. The 360 is a beautiful example of elegance and reliability in a smartwatch and alongside the original LG G Watch are the two watches most would recommend to someone on that fence.
 
 
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With some omissions from Pebble and Asus this brings us up to Apple’s first attempt, otherwise we could be here all day. In the 6 months since Apple first announced they would be making a smartwatch they have been able to see how the market is shaping and carefully approach it with the most desirable and well executed device. Or have they?
 
Money is a big factor when adopting a new device and whilst some like to pay top dollar for an impressive wristwatch, you are paying for something that might have a life span of two years. I have a fancy Omega left to me by my father, I plan to leave it to my son in turn and I am fairly certain it will still be operating when that time comes. Certainly the Sport model of the Apple watch priced £299 and £339 will be the most popular however, I couldn’t imagine wearing it all the time and the better bet is the Steel £479 – £949 for daily use, however that pricing is just painful. The £8,000 edition can be customised up to £13,500, is this an investment? Can it be considered a heirloom? Will it work in three years time without mild cursing?
 
The smartwatch actually comes in two sizes measured by height: 38mm (1.5in) with a resolution of 272 x 340 and the 42mm (1.65in)  have a 312 x 390 display. When adding in the six different metal colours, stainless steel, silver aluminium, space black stainless steel, space grey aluminium, 18-carat yellow gold and 18-carat rose gold this takes the choice to 35 different models.
 
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One of the most popular remarks an Apple user would make to defend their use of a device over Android, Windows or some-such is that it just works. That’s what everyone wants. No lag when opening the camera, no errors about compatibility and no resets to get things going again. Apple has a better track record for success from users. However, they have taken the Apple Watch to the deep end and packed in so many features that I am certain many users will feel a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Some features you will either never touch or only use to show off. An Android Wear device is, essentially, a second screen for your notification panel. The Apple Watch seems to want to become the focus of your attention and help you resist the urge to pull you phone to do something, no matter how complex.
 
I am sure that Android Wear will encompass many of the features Apple have demonstrated over time, for right now whilst in it’s infancy, the idea of cramming in as much as you can may not be the best approach. Smartphones were around before the iPhone made them popular, Windows Mobile and Palm devices were popular, however they did scare many away as they were complex, if a little unfriendly. Both Google and Apple took the smartphone and broke it down into simple to use, basic features and built on it. The Apple Watch feels like it might be a forth generation product.
 
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The Apple Watch has a huge features list and that is an attraction to a number of gadget gurus out there. This will appeal to many, including most of the readership of this site. The mass market might only end up using the device a little more than a way to avoid annoying telemarketing calls and PPI reclamation offers. The idea of the paying for goods and services is barely a blip on the radar when smartphones are concerned, doing this from your smartwatch is going to be completely alien to the mass majority. As a glimpse of the future this is a great idea however, paying for the technology now is a bit of a waste. You currently cannot purchase this from your local Apple shop using Apple pay here is the UK.
 
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The battery on the Apple Watch will last a day, 18 hours Apple claims. This really isn’t stellar compared to recent Android Wear devices, however there will be much room for improvement. With charger looks beautiful and easy to operate. I am glad Apple have taken the time to develop a neat solution with the magnetic inductive wireless charger. I don’t think many folks would have guessed an existing standard would be used here however this is Apple and they are a law unto themselves.
 
I do feel I have been overly negative of the Apple Watch when I am a big fan of wearable technology. There is a lot to love here, with changeable bands, water resistance etc… As I said before Android Wear is like a second screen for your notifications panel. That helps you decide it is is worth your while to dig your phone out of your pocket and that is what most people will use a smartwatch for. Paying the money Apple are asking will probably leave a bit of a bad taste in their mouths after a month or so.
 
Join the debate on Thursday night at 20:30 on the Mobile Tech Addicts Show. Gareth, Matt, Dan, Jay and Micael get together to see if Apple have knocked it out of the park or is this another Newton.
 
 
Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets, News, Wearables
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By March 10, 2015 Read More →

Zano is a versatile drone

pjdhUQCDones are here and they are getting more versatile by the week. They are becoming more affordable and a various sizes are available. The Zano is an ultra-portable, personal aerial photography and HD video capture platform and mall enough to fit in the palm of your hand. One of the biggest features is that the Zano boasts to be intelligent enough to fly all by itself! Zano connects directly to your smart device (iOS or Android) via onboard WiFi and enables you to instantly begin capturing and sharing moments.

A size of the drone is 2.5 x 2.5 in (6.5 x 6.5 cm), which is one of the smallest out there. A collection of sensors work seamlessly together to allow Zano to avoid obstacles, hold its position and know exactly where it is in conjunction with your smart device, at all times.

This means Zano operates on a virtual tether connected to your smart device. Tilting your phone or tablet left or right, forward or backward will control the Zano. Zano can also be adopt a “Free Flight” mode, using on-screen Joy Sticks. Screen slide bars control altitude and rotation. The device will hold its position unless instructed otherwise and this allows for maximum control and freedom without the fear of piloting Zano, if Zano senses it’s strayed too far from your smart device or is running low on battery, it will automatically return to your smart device.

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Additionally there is a “Follow Me” feature. When activated the Zano locks the drone at a certain distance from the user’s smart device to capture all the action. The Zano has an infrared sensor that is claimed to already be providing prototypes with adequate obstacle avoidance.

The drone is 55 g (1.94 oz) in weight and the battery can either be charged via Micro USB while inside the drone, or externally through a special adapter. Photos are snapped at 5 megapixels, while video is captured at 720p. The company says this is limited by Wi-Fi bandwidth and the Zano is technically capable of 1080p at 60 fps, leaving the door open to higher resolution video by way of future software updates.

You can pre-order a Zano drone at their official website for £169.95

 

Posted in: Cameras, Gadgets, News, Phones
By March 9, 2015 Read More →

LG to develop a Super Flagship later this year

LG_Logo.svgIt seems logical that the LG G4 will continue LG’s flagship series with an impressive array of goodies designed to tempt you away from the iPhone, HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6, to name a few. However, Korean Press is reporting that LG executives state LG are planning to launch a smartphone in the second half of this year that is essentially a “Super Flagship.”

“We are planning to release a product that stands above the G series,” said Cho Jun-ho, who heads LG’s mobile business in a surprise move at the Mobile World Congress that runs in Barcelona, Spain, through Thursday. “It will be launched during the second half of this year.”

The obvious thought is that this might well be a Samsung Galaxy Note, iPhone 6+ rival that will push the boundaries in 6 months time, once the LG G4 is taken for granted. Churning out a flagship phone once a year must not be good business any more, with technology pushing forward every month. It is hard to say if Apple and Samsung really consider their flagship devices as flagship devices when they do technically have bigger brothers, however those bigger brothers never sell as well.

One can only hope that things stay the way they are as we are seeing a level of comfortable stability with each company keeping their flagship at the centre of attention and something we can get excited about, swaps rumours of and hope that we eventually find that perfect device. Switching flagship devices will likely leave consumers with a bad taste this their mouth, feeling abandoned after 6 months when a new baby comes. Apple have a very carefully thought out a release process to avoid alienating their consumer base. Samsung are known to dazzle each year with a massive update, packing everything in and consumers enjoy the spectacle. If LG were to push the envelope a couple of times a year, would the wonder of the flagship wane quickly? Or would be help keep things moving forward?

Posted in: Editorial, News, Phones
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