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Showing posts from March, 2013

Sony Still Has A Problem

Sony's latest flagship was the first of the 2013 competitors to launch. The Xperia Z packs a 1080p screen, boasts a degree of resistance to the elements and a high spec camera. Yet no one is buying it. It's a symptom of the disconnect that Sony have with customers.

Sony released poor phones, supported them badly and left customers with a bad taste in the mouth. Too many people just won't consider buying another phone with Sony's name on it. Contrast that with Apple, Samsung and HTC's passionate followings.Giving those customers the confidence to come back to a Sony product has to be their priority now. This can only be achieved by making promises and delivering on them.

There's no compelling reason to buy an Xperia Z. The S4 and One have it matched or beaten in all areas, Samsung and HTC are more likely to deliver timely updates and both are doing innovative things with their platforms.

How can Sony recover their market?

I see a few options that could w…

Electric Cars: Red Dwarf's Kryten Reviews The Renault Zoe

This looks like a defining moment for electric vehicles. The Renault Zoe is both cheap enough to appeal to everybody - about half the price of previous electric cars - a level achieved by removing the price of the battery from the sale price; and manages to have the sort of range which is very usable day to day.

Renault have covered all the bases here, purchase costs, running costs, warranty, technology - even an rental car agreement for the times you need something bigger or with a longer range for those special occasions when the Zoe won't do - holidays, moving, etc.

I can see this turning out to be a real success, if the UK's drivers are prepared to approach it with an open mind.

F1: Dangerous Decisions

Aside from all the uproar about team orders and who did what to who in Malaysia last weekend, there was a more serious issue which seems to have been missed by all of the normal F1 pundits.

When Ferrari decided to leave Fernando Alonso's Ferrari out on track at the end of the first lap they put driver safety second behind track position and that was an unacceptable decision. This should not be allowed to pass without comment.

The front wing on Alonso's car was damaged, attached to the car by only one of its supports and was breaking up as the car circulated the Malaysian track. Given the speeds attained on both the first and last straights of the lap the prospect of a chunk of that wing detaching and hitting one of the following cars doesn't bar thinking about. Who can forget Felipe Massa's serious head injuries after a similar occurrence in Hungary in 2010?

Even if that worst case scenario hadn't occurred when the wing inevitably collapsed and became wedged under the…

How Much Extra Will You Have To Pay For The Latest Device?

Retailers have started announcing prices for the new Galaxy S4 and they make for eye watering reading. At somewhere close to £600 its a lot of cash for a phone. Its much more expensive than the equivalent iPhone 5.

That the S4 makes sense when priced against the iPhone is debatable, however when you look a little closer at the Samsung catalogue its price is impossible to justify.

The Galaxy S3 remains a fantastic phone and can now be had for well under £350. Is the S4 really worth a £250 premium over its predecessor.

There's also the HTC One, which has a number of key advantages over the S4 and can be had for around £485 - I can't see anyway that the S4 justifies that price difference.

Now it may well be that these early prices are ambitious and will fall as availability increases.

It may also be that the S3 pricing is temporary as the model is run out (unlikely though as the S2 still sells well).

Whatever the case, for the moment Galaxy S4 pricing doesn't sit well and you'…

Selling Cider By Mocking Apple

Brilliantly done...

Why All The Holes?

Nokia's higher end Windows Phone 8 devices both include wireless charging. Its a brilliant concept and one that should spread to all handsets as soon as possible.

But why didn't they take the opportunity to make everything else wireless too and do away with all the holes in their phones?

I single out the Lumia 920 here particularly because it doesn't offer expandable memory.

Like all top end Lumias before it the 920 is cut from a single piece of polycarbonate. It would have been very easy to leave off the headphone socket and micro-USB port and retain the integrity of the device completely.

Ultimately a smartphone needs only two openings in its case - one for a power button and another for its SIM card.

Bluetooth has all the profiles necessary to deliver wireless audio whilst syncing to a desktop is still occasionally required that can be covered using wifi.

Nokia has the ability to deliver on this more than anybody else just at the moment.

Its just a question of being adventuro…

F1: Team Orders, Crazier Than Ever

The Malaysian Grand Prix produced yet another crazy race last Sunday, only this time the chaos was all around in-team politics. It demonstrated that teams need to understand the whole race picture before demanding that one of their drivers obediently follows the other around.

It certainly shouldn't be used as a ruse to ban team orders.

In summary, Sebastian Vettel passed team mate Mark Webber in the closing stages of the race ignoring Red Bull's instructions not to. Further back Nico Rosberg was denied the opportunity to pass Lewis Hamilton when he complied with Mercedes instructions to hold station.

Both decisions have been villified. Vettel's for being unsportsmanlike, Mercedes for favouring Hamilton.

The nature of F1 means that drivers have to run a race based on the ability to make best use of tyres that have been designed to wear badly.

Both Vettel and Rosberg had managed their machinery early in the race to ensure they had fast cars towards the end of it.

Neither was expec…

Cheaper Phones Offer Better Value

What's the best smartphone that money can buy, today, right now?

Chances are that there are as many answers as there are top end smartphones.

The problem is that these top of the line devices set such high expectations that it's almost inevitable that they are going to disappoint you.

Take a look at some of the reviews of the iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and HTC One. You'll find nit picking that if we stepped back and thought about would have us laughing at their irrelevance.

The price that we pay for those high end devices is so high though, that we are unable to forgive even the smallest mis-step by the manufacturer.

Cheaper phones have a much easier time of it. Our expectations are so much lower.

There's an awful lot that a £125 smartphone can get away with because of its price. And in the end even those bargain basement devices accomplish all that a smartphone should.

So next time you're picking a smartphone ask yourself 'how much am I paying for all these bell…

Microsoft Needs To Fix HTC 8S Disaster

The HTC 8S. Here's a phone that is great to look at and to hold, yet by sporting only 4GB of onboard storage it is a horrendously crippled device. After installing a handful of applications users will start to see error messages about a lack of onboard storage. This will not go down well. Some larger applications will refuse to install at all, whether the phone is chock full of apps or factory fresh. At least in the latter case users may be able to return the device and switch to something less compromised. If Microsoft are lucky it might be a Nokia. The 8S is being pushed as an entry-level Windows Phone by several operators in a number of territories. The presence of expandable storage will lull buyers into a false sense of security about the 4GB of onboard memory, they'll buy and only later realise the problems they face.. Any short term gain will be wiped out as soon as these users bump up against that storage limit. A poor state of affairs for both Microsoft and HTC.If Mic…

Galaxy S4 Leaves HTC Looking Down The Barrel

HTC executives made plenty of negative noises about Samsung's Galaxy S4 over the course of its launch and immediate post launch in New York. Citing its unique launch show, triumph of marketing and lack of design progress, HTC (and a number of industry commentators to be fair) suggested that the S4 launch left the One in a strong position.

They are very wrong.

The S4 marks a sign that Samsung have reached a new maturity, delivering Apple-sequence refinements to a great product, evolution without revolution. The changes that Samsung added will only make the S4 a more formidable choice in the market for anyone who doesn't want the bulk of the Note 2 or the limited environment of the iPhone 5.

The HTC One is almost certainly a better phone than the S4. However the One X was similarly better than the S3 and look how that panned out. HTC have gone big on their new camera technology and the advanced software that sits behind it. Zoe apart though Samsung has them matched in just abou…

Glass Heralds Life 2.0?

It look like Google is on to something with its Glass concept, taking the GoPro camera concept - an all action device used by sportsmen and adrenaline junkies to capture the thrills and spills of their chosen activity - and brought it into the mainstream. It may not seem like it at the moment, with the Glass concept device looking quite geeky and many people asking, probably correctly, who on earth is going to walk around with one of those strapped to their head? The answer, of course, will be everybody. And here's why.
In its current iteration Google Glass is a useful adjunct to a smartphone, reducing the level of intrusion that devices have into our real world interactions. Microsoft's launch advertising for the Windows Phone 7 - the phone to save us from our phones - got a handle on this early on, even if they were selling exactly the product they were offering to release us from. How many times have you seen families, parents, even children disconnected from the environme…

How Apple and Samsung Are Winning Through Customer Engagement

Blackberry, Nokia, HTC and Sony. What do these companies have in common? A stated aim to be number three in the mobile marketplace. You're probably asking yourself is this really the limits of their ambitions? I can tell you it isn't, but circumstances currently mean that number three is all they have to shoot for right now. Apple and Samsung are winning - and winning well. Displacing them requires them to either become complacent and slip up or a significant investment in time, money and development, something that few competitors are able to do in the current financial climate.
So why are the big two doing so well?
For Apple its easy to see. By delivering only high quality products and backing them with a phenomenal customer experience they engage with customers on an emotional level. Owning an iPhone is only ever a good experience for the customer and that positive emotional attachment is reinforced every time that Apple enhances its experience or capabilities. We rush to b…

When Battery Life Really Matters

Battery life on my smartphone has always been of academic interest to me, something to test and report but never actually having to worry about.

I've always driven to work (with my phone plugged in) and had a charger at my desk when I got there. The longest real test of stamina had been surviving some of the longer meetings that I attend (why are the longest meetings always the least interesting?)

Since arriving in New Zealand though, battery life has become an important consideration for me. Spending time learning about your new home is made much easier when you have access to a good suite  of apps. The last thing I need is to be relying on my phone in a new country and have it die halfway through the day. No car and no office means no continual recharging.

The Galaxy Note 2 has really earned its stripes here. I've never had to worry whether it will last me to the end of the day - even making it last through a second day wouldn't trouble me unduly.

With a modern smart…