Showing posts from January, 2014

Size Matters, But Not Necessarily In The Same Ways

"The iPhone is too small."

"The Galaxy Note is ridiculous - imagine holding that up to your head."

No doubt you'll have heard all of these comments or read them on the web, either in product reviews or fanboy debates on your favourite technology website.

Size matters and for a device as personal as a smartphone it matters an awful lot.

Current iPhone owners continue to argue that the 4" screen on the iPhone 5 is just the right size for one-handed use and allows a form factor which is more pocket-able, and keeps the weight down. On the other hand this introduces a number of compromises. The smaller size means a smaller battery - which means battery run time anxiety for owners; the screen is much less useful for viewing content and as a result the portrait keyboard is much less accurate than larger competition on the Android and Windows Phone side of the fence.

Apple has been rumoured to be looking at new screen sizes for its next revision of the iPhone - an…

CES 2014: A Sleeping Giant Stirs, But Who Should Be Worried?

CES 2014 was, as usual, an interesting show, notably for signs that Sony, the '00s under-achiever, is starting to find its mojo. Suddenly a company that seemed completely out of touch is understanding its customers, and building products that people actually want.

The PS4 has got off to a good sales start and since buying Ericsson out of its joint venture Sony's Xperia line has made great strides in every part of the Android market. Enough, even, to make the division profitable.

At CES Sony announced a new gaming service, Playstation Now, which promises to bring its back catalogue of PS3 (and some PS4) games to a wider audience. For casual gamers the ability to play games on your TV without a console could sway your next TV purchase to Sony.

It demonstrated an ultra short throw home cinema projector which can project a super high resolution 4k image onto your wall up to 147" diagonal - from around 18" away. Part of Sony's new Lifespace concept this promises to re…

Battery or Buttery?

I've covered the topic of battery life a few times in the past, but right now with the number of users reporting problems getting their phones through a working day I thought it was worth re-visiting.

The reason this issue has raised its head again is mostly down to Apple. Users who have upgraded to iOS7 on older devices and iPhone 5S owners have been reporting poor battery life. For some users their iPhone struggles to make it into the afternoon.

Previously I have always argued that battery life was the least important of a new phones features. After all the ubiquity of USB ports means that carrying a USB lead for your phone will let you juice it up in all sorts of places.

For me a day's smartphone use entailed unplugging my phone from charge on my bedside table, plugging it back into my car for my commute, plugging into me desk PC at the office and reversing the process in the evening. So long as the battery on my phone was able to survive the short periods when it was unpl…

2013 Review: Nokia Back In The Game

One of the more interesting trends of 2013 was the way that Nokia got its game on. With rapidly declining market share from traditional handsets and Symbian devices the Finnish company needed its Windows Phone bet to start paying off. Outside of the US it has done, to the extent that Nokia/Windows Phone has displaced Apple from the number two sales slot on occasions this year. Nokia's domination of Windows Phone sales is such that the two terms are now interchangeable. Nokia has achieved this success by targeting different niches of the market.
The big news was the arrival of its Pureview technology on a Windows Phone. When the 1020 arrived in rendered every other smartphone camera irrelevant. In the six months since its launch no-one has been able to even approach the level of sophistication of the Lumia 1020's camera. If the camera is your main reason for having a smartphone then the 1020 was a must have. At the other end of the market Nokia introduced the Lumia 520 and saw a m…

2013 Review: Apple Out of Ideas?

Apple managed to go through 2013 without ever looking like it had a big idea for the future. The iPhone 5, itself a incremental upgrade to the 4S went through an even more incremental update to become the 5S and 5C. In the latter case Apple took the 5, swapped its premium shell for a cheaper (to make) polycarbonate one and sold it as a new phone. It was a genius move on Apple's part, ensuring that the largest part of its business (the second tier iPhone) generated as much profit as possible on the same volume of sales.
For the 5S Apple introduced a number of behind the scenes updates. The most visible being the fingerprint sensor which replaced the traditional iPhone home key. Once more Apple demonstrated a keen understanding of its market. The 5S offered nothing to make 5 owners feel like they'd been short-changed by a major upgrade so soon after buying a new phone. Whilst also offering 4S owners enough that as their contracts came up for renewal the 5S was an easy sell.

2013 Review: No Amazing Androids

Something strange happened in 2013: I didn't buy an Android phone all year.

For most people that probably wouldn't merit a comment, but based on my past record of device procurement it's something of a shock.

That's not to say that I didn't buy any phones last year, but no Android phones came along that looked better than my Galaxy Note 2.

The nearest thing to temptation were the HTC One and Xperia Z. The former due to the arrival of an updated version of the Sense interface, its beautiful build and Ultrapixel camera. The latter due to its waterproofing and industrial design. Both phones flattered to deceive though. The HTC's camera proved to be less impressive than first suggested - especially when the Nokia Lumia 1020 was announced and completely stole its thunder. The latter through Sony's inability to follow through in great design. Poor screen, poor camera, lacklustre performance…. That Sony should release an updated Z just six months later, which stil…

Surface Pro Review: Part Two, A Workhorse in Action

Using the Surface Pro as my day to  day single computer has been something of a revelation. I found that it managed to be wholly appropriate in every situation that I placed it in.

As a desktop computer it excels - as it should. As a laptop it's almost as good. The kickstand works well - my legs are long, YMMV - and the screen's impressive viewing angle means that even though the body to screen angle looks like it should be wrong it actually works very well indeed.

I found the Touch cover to be great for typing on flat solid surfaces, however on the lap it was a bit too flexible. And although my accuracy was excellent I found that any lengthy typing session left me with sore fingertips. The Type Cover should resolve both these issues and the new version adds backlighting to the mix as well as being nearly as thin as the original Touch Cover.

As a tablet I found that the Surface Pro required some readjustment. Held in the hands unsupported for any length of the it's we…