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Showing posts from April 28, 2013

Time For A New Advantage

HTC's history is littered with phones that are great ideas before their time. Or more likely great ideas held back by the Windows Mobile platform they ran on.

Some of those ideas have become embedded in the smartphone experience, whilst others have been forgotten.

One such phone was the HTC Advantage.

First 5" screen on a phone? Check. Mass Storage? Yes. Auto rotate? Video out? USB host? Gesture controls?  Yes, all of those were in there too.

It was a huge phone, even by the standard of the day. But aside from its size it would stand comparison with modern phones for its feature set.

One thing that HTC added that no one else has copied yet is the detachable keyboard. A slim, magnetic qwerty keyboard that turned it into a mini laptop when attached magnetically, and acted as a screen cover when not in use, again by virtue of magnetism.

I can think of a few of today's smartphones that could benefit from a similar arrangement...

Facebook Home... Nope

So Facebook's new Home arrived on select Android devices a few weeks ago. After a bit of delay I installed it onto the Galaxy Note 2 to see how it worked.

The answer is, it works really well - if you live your life exclusively in Facebook that is.

Otherwise it's a painfully intrusive barrier between you and the things that you bought your phone for.

Nice try Facebook, but its not for me - or countless others I suspect.

Android's strength is in its flexibility and specifically the home screens. Slapping great gobs of Facebook all over them really doesn't make much sense.

What Constitutes A Premium Smartphone?

Since the launch of the Galaxy S4 Samsung have been taking a fair amount of flack for the build of its phones.

How can Samsung ask for the same money as the iPhone or HTC One, when those phones are manufactured from premium materials and the S4 is a plastic monolith?

Depends what you call premium materials and what's important to you.

Whilst I haven't had a chance to go hands on with the One, I can happily say that the iPhone feels no more premium to me than the Galaxy Note 2, which employs the same manufacturing process as the S4.

In the hand the two phones are as different as can be, size and materials from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Yet whilst the iPhone feels fragile and ready to leap to its death anytime is used out of its case, the Note 2 has a feeling of robustness that transcends is size. No case required here.

The iPhone, in the safety of the sort of case that most users employ actually occupies a greater volume than the naked Note 2. Weighs close to t…

F1: Bernie Screws The Minnows

At the end of last season the battle for survival as one of F1's minnow teams proved too much for Spanish team HRT, leaving the sport with just eleven teams competing this season.

It looks like the sports supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, thinks even that is too many. Today he announced that Marussia - the eleventh placed team at the end of last season, will not receive a share of the sports prize fund.

Previously the distribution of the money was governed by a Concorde Agreement signed by all the teams. However when that expired at the end of last season Ecclestone negotiated individual deals with each of the top ten teams.

For Marussia then, this means a cut of $10m from its funds for next season. Already strapped for cash and forced to run pay drivers, it seems highly unlikely that Marussia will survive and make it onto the
grid in 2014 - even if, as seems likely, they beat Caterham to tenth place this season.

To Sell Phones, First You Must Have Phones

HTC have something of a saviour device on their hands right now. A good thing too, as the company slid closer and closer to oblivion late last year we all asked ourselves "can they do something special to turn things around?"

The answer has been an emphatic yes.

The One, which launched earlier this year, has been a critical success, generating more positive column inches and social comment than the last ten HTC phones put together.

However there remain two serious obstacles to making this phone the success it should be: availability and marketing.

Right from the off HTC struggled to get the phone out to customers and even now, months after its announcement, it is only available in select countries. Contrast this with rival Samsung's GS4 - launched much later, but with worldwide availability yesterday and in serious numbers too.

Secondly marketing. Most people don't choose a phone based on what they see in the store. The decision has been made by the marketing th…