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Showing posts from November 20, 2016

Dongle Life Isn't Unique To The MacBook Pro, Isn't Terrible For Everyone

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The dongle life. It's what you should be expecting to live if you switch to the MacBook Pro. If you are moving from any previous MacBook Pro nothing that you used to plug in will work anymore. Dongles feature heavily in your future.
But the MBP isn't the first laptop to go all in on the new USB Type c connection. It isn't even the first Apple laptop to do so. So why the big commotion?
For users who work primarily from one desk dongles shouldn't be off putting. Plug in a USB-C dock, plug in your peripherals and you're good to go. Better even than the previous MBP, because now you need only connect one cable to provide your laptop with power, external screens, keyboard, mouse and other peripheral access.
For those who live a more mobile life things just got more complicated.
If you have a bunch of USB peripherals which you previously plugged into an older MBP then you'll need one or more USB-B to USB-C adapters. If you need video you can pick a multiport adapte…

Hey HTC, Now Would Be A Good Time To Revisit Windows Mobile

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HTC made a bit of a pig's ear of its last foray into Windows smartphones. Not that there was anything wrong with the phone itself. The HTC One M8 for Windows was every bit as good as its Android toting twin sister.
Unfortunately HTC fluffed the product's whole lifecycle, from launch, through failure to provide a timely Windows 10 upgrade.
With Windows phones making great strides in many markets - European and South American ones especially - HTC failed to sell or market to any of them. The net result were sales figures that served only to make HTC's Android sales look marginally better.
Failing to jump on the Windows 10 upgrade was a brutal failure which demonstrated a total lack of care for loyal customers.
Move forward a couple of years and things aren't going well for HTC. Mounting losses, falling sales and a gig as the uncredited artisan responsible for the Google Pixel hardly bodes well for the future.
So what better time to refresh its Windows phone offering an…

Kiwis Can Grab A Cheap Surface Pro 4 Today

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Microsoft recently introduced a new SKU for the Surface Pro 4 line in New Zealand - the Core M3 version, but without the Surface Pen. At a $200 saving over the standard M3 version it's a good offer.

Just for today it's even better, with both JBHifi and Noel Leeming offering the SP4 at under $100. The former is bundling the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, whilst the latter has a year's Office 365 subscription included.

Given the $1,500 asking price for the standard SP4 Core M3 that's a hefty saving, in effect allowing you to pick one up with the Surface Ppen and Type Cover for less than the usual entry level price.

It's not often that New Zealand gets included in the better Microsoft offers - but just for once we seem to have picked up a pretty good deal.

Microsoft Black Friday Sale: Lumia 950XL Buyers Bag Free 950 And Dock

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In what is proving an ever more desperate bid to clear stocks of its high end Lumia handsets, Microsoft will now give you a a free Lumia 950 and a Display Dock if you buy a 950XL from the Microsoft Store. As ever, this deal is available for US customers only.
The deal is available for a limited time - although it doesn't specifically say that it is Black Friday only - so you may find the deal available through the weekend as well.
However don't hold off too long, as Microsoft generally sells these offers out quite quickly when they have been available in the past.
As to the motivation for this sale, my view is that this isn't in itself a desperate bid to clear unsold stock, as has been previously suspected when this offer appeared before. The Lumia 950 has been in and out of stock in various regional stores before, suggesting that Microsoft is continuing to receive handsets from its manufacturing partner.
Could it be that Microsoft is using the Lumia 950 offers to keep in…

Still No Family Plan For Microsoft Groove Users

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I suppose the fact that Microsoft has still not added a Family plan to Groove music speaks volumes for the service and Microsoft's ambitions for it.
When Amazon can come out of the gates as new kid on the block and offer family plans right from the get go, you have to question why Microsoft is still lagging on this option, even as it continues to add features to the service.
As of today everyone worth mentioning has a family option for their music service bar Microsoft.
Microsoft has never published user numbers for its Groove service either. With 400 million Windows 10 users converted in just over a year you would think that it would take  very little to convert some of them to the Groove service too. Just 1% of those users would put Microsoft into the top three music streaming services.
In reality though I suspect that there are rather fewer than the four million users that conversion rate would suggest.
Is music streaming so lacking in a profit stream that Microsoft has comple…

Windows 10 Mobile x86 Emulation On ARM - Microsoft Still Playing The Long Game

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Reports that Microsoft will release a future version of Windows 10 supporting x86 emulation on ARM processors suggests that Microsoft does have a future mobile plan and that plan will be an enhanced vision of devices like the HP Elite x3 able to run a much wider selection of Windows 10 software.
The idea that a mobile first CPU could provide full access to desktop software and performance seems a bit far fetched today, but the Redstone 3 update isn't likely to be released until mid-2018, which allows the hardware a chance to evolve further and deliver the raw performance necessary to make this feasible.
That's an interesting change of focus for Microsoft. The old Wayne Gretzky quote applies here - ' I skate to where the puck is going to be'. Building software to take advantage of hardware that wasn't available yet was something Steve Wozniak made a virtue of in the early days of Apple.
Further signs that Microsoft is the new Apple?
What does this mean for Windows …

What's Samsung's Plan For The Galaxy S8?

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The Galaxy Note 7 debacle is just about beginning to fade from the public perception, replaced by other more important issues. That's good news for Samsung, as are polls that show that it has retained a high level of customer loyalty, even amongst former Note 7 owners.
So what is Samsung's next step? The Galaxy S8 is due within the next four months and, as yet, the company has not been able to say definitively what the cause of the Note 7 fires was.
That's going to make any S8 announcement a particularly awkward thing for Samsung.
Which is a shame, because my gut feel is that the S8 is going to take the smartphone concept to a whole new level, building upon both the S7 and Note 7 to create something which is stunning and game changing in a way that will erase the remaining bad memories of the Note 7 fires.

Continuum Could Drive Adoption Of Smaller Phones

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Windows Mobile's Continuum functionality offers an interesting possibility for future smartphone buyers - the ability to have the smaller phone in their pocket that they demand whilst still being able to connect a larger screen for 'big picture' functionality.
Whilst only Microsoft does this right now there's no reason why Android or iOS users shouldn't gain the same functionality - in fact at least some of this capability is available on both the major mobile platforms.
The key to Continuum is that it allows the use of a larger screen and input device than the phone itself can handle. That's been exploited solely for the mobile to desktop category so far, but why stop there.
Imagine instead an iPhone SE sized device performing your day to day mobile needs, but also being able to attach to a larger iPad-like screen to become a tablet too. Add in a lap dock style accessory and the desktop dock functionality already demonstrated by HP and you really have one dev…

Apple 'Bulbs' Ad - Is That The Sound Of Scraping Barrels?

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Remember how Apple's adverts used to tell you how a new product would change the world, the way you feel or the way you work or more usually all three? Even the ones that stretched credibility somewhat?
Well here's the ad for the new MacBook Pro. When even Apple's famous advertising can't make a product seem desirable you have to at least consider that you have a prize turkey all trussed up for Christmas.

Did Satya Nadella Just Kybosh The Surface Phone

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Whilst in Australia to meet developers and start-ups, Satya Nadella granted an interview to the local Financial Review newspaper. Covering subjects from AI to LinkedIn, Nadella had more than a little to say about the smartphone platform. Parsing the language he used carefully he effectively killed any hope of a Surface Phone for at least the foreseeable future.
Presenting the HP Elite x3 as an example of Microsoft's presence in 'structural innovation' he claimed that Microsoft's smartphone presence would be defined by what 'we can uniquely do in what is the ultimate mobile device'.
In other words, the current strategy of supporting vendors with Windows 10 Mobile will continue, but Microsoft's focus will be around pushing its services onto iOS and Android devices to an even greater degree than today.
Nadella tied Microsoft's Windows smartphone efforts to 'a specific set of customer, who need a specific set of capabilities'. Enterprises.
Phones l…

Slow Wired Charging And Limited Battery Life - The iPhone's Oft Ignored Weak Points

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I currently use three phones on a daily basis: a Lumia 950, Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6. Two of these phones have excellent battery life, wireless charging and wired fast charging. The third manages to be a perfect flop, with limited battery endurance and relatively slow charging, despite its smaller battery size.
The biggest sin for me though is the absence of wireless charging. The technology just seems like a no-brainer for Apple. This is the company that pushed Wifi into the mainstream with the original iBook and Airport. Wireless charging seems just as desirable and useful to the end user. So why no love from Apple?
Wired fast charging is brilliant too. In a low battery situation it's possible to get sufficient charge into either the Galaxy or Lumia to last out the rest of the day in as little as ten minutes.
The thing is that I rarely get to a point where I have to make use of the facility. I have wireless chargers dotted around my home and office - by my bedside, on my desks, e…

HMD To Launch New Nokia Phones At MWC '17

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HMD Global will be attending the 2017 Mobile World Congress in February next year to launch its first phones sporting N okie branding. This will be a landmark moment, both for Nokia and HMD, as this marks a real opportunity and risk for both companies.For Nokia the risk is to its reputation. The smartphone market hasn't been kind to the company that ruled the mobile phone market. It failed with Symbian, failed again with Windows Phone and then ended up selling off its mobile division to Microsoft, who promptly wrote a the thing off. That is a lot of damage for one reputation to bear, no matter how good it has been. After a decade of failure the Nokia name can ill afford to be linked to any more average phones.For HMD there is significant financial risk to contend with. It paid upfront for a ten year license to the Nokia name. It has allegedly invested another $500m building the necessary infrastructure to shift and support Nokia phones once they exist. It too cannot afford to laun…

The Apple Coffee Table Book Might Seem Ridiculous But...

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Yes, Apple published a book. a coffee table heavyweight, covering twenty years of design. It is high quality both in its presentation and its materials. People who spend silly money on coffee table books will be rushing to grab one of these.However the idea of a book published by a designer to celebrate his own work seems rather pompous and narcissistic. Especially one who seems to have wildly lost the plot over the last few years.So, if you're tempted to go out and grab this one let me present you with a mental image: Jonny lve locked in a padded cell, masturbating furiously to his own reflection in a mirror. That's what you're getting when you purchase this book. So, the ideal thing to put on your coffee table?

Does HP Have A Consumer Windows 10 Mobile Incoming?

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At least one German website is convinced that HP has a consumer focused Windows 10 Mobile ready for launch in early 2017 as a partner for the enterprise Elite x3. How likely is that to be the case?Pretty good actually. Having invested in getting one Windows phone to market, there's a logic to extending involvement. After all, HP is heavily involved in the consumer PC market, so why not go for phone sales too?HP appears to have favoured status with Microsoft at the moment and the rumour mill suggests that the new phone will leverage technology previously reserved for Lumias. With Alcatel having launched a high-end consumer Windows phone and HP expected to have this one on the market as early as February, there's a fair chance that Windows phone owners will have an interesting choice of replacements, should they decide to stick with Microsoft. That might be too little, too late but it does also represent the strongest sign of life from Windows 10 Mobile in more than a year.Not e…

2016 MacBook Pro Hands-On

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The new MacBook Pro has landed in New Zealand and I had an opportunity to get hands on with the entry-level 13" model this weekend.
Here's a laptop that manages to disappoint in so many ways that it's hard to believe that Apple really launched it on loyal customers.
Worst thing about this machine? The keyboard. I mean seriously, side by side with its predecessor, it isn't pleasant to use at all. Apparently its an improvement over the MacBook's original version, but it felt just as nasty to type on to me. I gave the machine to a colleague who is an existing MacBook Pro owner and his response was that the keyboard was a deal breaker all on its own.
Then there are the ports. On this model two Type-C USB ports, guaranteeing the need to purchase a whole heap of adapters. For me personally it wouldn't be a deal breaker, but my colleague felt otherwise.
The new MacBook Pro is smaller than the outgoing model, but the reduction in mass and volume is just not enough to…