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Showing posts from April 26, 2009

New Samsung UMPC Looks Like A Retrograde Step

Samsung's newest Q1 has started to get into the hands of reviewers, however even with some size and performance improvements I believe that the cost in lost features make it a worse choice than the Q1u.

Chippy at UMPC Portal summed up the Q1Ex very well when he called it the 20% device: " 20% less weight, 20% less cost, 20% more GPU, 20% more battery life, 20% better looking!!", although what doesn't get mentioned is the 50% less usability.

The Q1u's mouse controller and user definable key pad make getting around the interface as easy as any standard notebook, even a user who hasn't seen a trackpoint mouse before would grasp the concept straightaway. The split keyboard takes a bit longer to get used to, but after a little bit of practice soon becomes second nature, after continued use 'muscle memory' of key positions develops and there's no need to look at the keyboard for key locations. It soon becomes indispensable and entering passwords, tweets, …

Netbooks Are Junk?

Stand-in CEO at Apple, Tim Cook, denounced Netbooks as junk and denied that Apple would be joining the race to the bottom by launching an OS X powered version of their own. Given that Net-books sit in the £150-£350 range and that the cheapest Apple portable is over £700 that's not a difficult position for him to take. Is he right? No, in fact the truth is somewhat different.

Netbooks sit in a special place in the portable pecking order - smaller and cheaper than most notebooks, less powerful but with much better battery run times. Despite the apparently lowly specs, performance is generally excellent, thanks largely to the special dispensation from Microsoft which allows them to run XP rather than the much more resource-hungry Vista.

Whatever Apple says about Windows, XP remains a strong OS, with 100% software and hardware compatibility. The selection of included software on Netbooks is generally pretty good and its hard to see how an Apple machine could change the market, other th…

Ayrton Senna, 15 Years On

Its hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since that fateful May afternoon at Imola. When Ayrton Senna's Williams hit the wall at the Tamburello corner the impact rang around the world.

Formula One had lost heroes before, even champions, but never live on primetime TV with an audience of millions. I can still remember the profound sense of shock that Sunday, the instant knowledge that this was a fatal accident (perhaps influenced by the death of Roland Ratzenberger the previous day) and the effect that it had on me in the following days and weeks.

Ayrton Senna was a genius inside the car and a deeply religious and compassionate man outside it. His loss changed racing forever and for that reason his exploits should never be forgotten. Rest in peace.

Spotify Could Mean The End Of Crap Albums

How often have you bought the new album from an artist who you've enjoyed in the past only to find that its loaded with filler, dross and only a couple of decent tracks. Or worse its just complete crap? Its happened to me plenty of times in the past but Spotify and similar services are going to find out those artists, as buyers can get a real feel for an album before ever needing to lay out any money for it. No need to believe the review of a possibly biased music journo, now every release is available for test drive to every potential buyer.

The game keeps changing for the music industry and the power is shifting away from the big businesses that have had a stranglehold for so long and towards the consumer. And the artists? There are real opportunities to take back control from the man, if they're brave enough to reach out and take them.

A-pork-alypse Now

So Swine Flu has crossed into the UK, giving the press another chance to air the nightmare scenario, scaremongering journalism that last blighted us when Avian Flu raised its head a few years back. If ever there was a case for retrospective punishment for bad journalism this is a prime candidate. Speaking to a member of our local Disaster Management team it sounds like the hype has already started to hit home - having already fielded requests for several thousand face masks from what would normally be sensible people.

Lets get this into some kind of perspective. Every year a flu epidemic kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people a year worldwide (WHO figures) - this is usually classed as an epidemic. In the past there have been a number of pandemics, where death tolls have been tens of millions (Spanish Flu, 1918) or 1-1.5million (Asian Flu, 1957 and Hong Kong Flu, 1968). Thus far we have a death toll from H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) of around 100.

Should Swine Flu develop into an pandemic then…

New Omnia To Sport Sliding Keyboard

Samsung's decision to keep the Omnia branding for Windows Mobile devices suggested that we'd be seeing more touchscreen devices from them.

Looks like the first of those will be arriving soon as the Omnia Pro, sporting heavily upgraded specs, like a faster processor, WVGA screen and a landscape sliding keyboard.

This sounds like interesting competition for the Touch Pro 2 and proved that Windows Mobile remains the platform of choice if you want choice in your hardware.

Launch is slated for June, which sounds like a busy month for smartphones, with both new iPhone and Palm's Pre likely to appear as well.

You Just Have To Laugh...

OK the potential for a worldwide pandemic is no laughing matter, but this XKCD comic manages to poke fun at ill-informed opinion and Twitter at the same time...

Three Expanding Skype Offering

Three made some headlines with its new Skype tariff this weekend - £3 a month for unlimited Skype calls. If you're a Skype Out user you can also use the service to call abroad although not within the UK.

The service uses Three's voice network to route calls to a Skype gateway, which restricts the number of compatible handsets to those which have a client, which means no Windows Mobile devices or any other real smartphones, for now anyway.

Hopefully Three and Skype will expand the number of clients soon, because this is the sort of service that could gain them significant numbers of new users - especially as second phones for users who make a large number of international calls.

Pedal Power For your Gadgets

This looks like an incredibly useful little tool for people who may have to spend extended periods away from mains power, not badly priced either. It will also suit those who want to boost their green credentials and burn some excess calories in the process.

The key thing about this charger (other than the fact that you pedal to charge it of course) is that it has an integrated invertor so you can plug any device in using its standard charger. that covers everything from camcorders to TVs as well as phones, laptops and even printers.

As a bonus you can charge the Gazelle from mains or an optional car charger. It also has an integrated torch (which will run for eighty hours on a full charge)

If its used to power the average laptop however, that runtime can drop as low as an hour. Not brilliant, but a possible life-saver if you're going native in a remote area with no mains.

Its a while since I've worked in an area where the Gazelle would have been useful, but were the necessity to …