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Showing posts from November 18, 2017

Smells Like Teen Spirit - But Different

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It's my son's thirteenth birthday today, so this rendition of Nirvana's breakthrough by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain seem appropriate. I can't believe this recording is almost as old as he is though...

iPhone X Supply Problems Easing

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Today I walked into two different electronics stores here in Auckland to find the iPhone X available for purchase. Not order or pre-order, but actual devices, in stock to walk away with, if you were prepared to lay down the NZ$1800 entry fee.
That comes on top of reports that in other countries lead times are down to around one week.
Apple has boosted production and all is well in the world. Well, maybe. If you visit any of the carrier stores in NZ you find that there are still lengthy delays to getting your iPhone X. So what gives?
My guess is that the sky high price of the iPhone X has meant that more and more buyers are having to pay by installments. Even if they could afford the upfront purchase, the interest-free purchasing options being offered by carriers make sense.
Those retailers who only offer the iPhone for an upfront purchase - or with more onerous payment plans - are finding that demand is soft for the  most expensive iPhone ever.

Macau GP Carnage Raises Questions Of Track Safety

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The Macau GP is as old as the hills, a race run through the streets of the former Portuguese colony. This weekend saw one of the most bizarre incidents in the race's more than fifty year history.

On the opening lap of the GT race almost the whole field was wiped out, in an incident which blocked the track and delayed racing by more than two hours.

GT cars are big beasts, and the Macau circuit is incredible narrow in places, meaning that when an incident occurs in the wrong place, carnage ensues.

Fortunately this time around the damage was just mechanical. Next time the event and drivers might not be so lucky.

Nelson Piquet used to say that driving an F1 car around Monaco was like flying a model helicopter in your bedroom. A GT car around Macau is like landing a jumbo jet in your garden.

Several drivers have asked for advanced warning systems in cars to combat this kind of multi vehicle pile up. Others have scoffed at the idea.

The truth is that the speed at which an incident of this typ…

Apple's Vrvana Purchase Spells The End For Hololens

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TechCrunch is reporting that Apple has bought Canadian AR headset manufacturer Vrvana for $30m, adding further weight to rumours that the company intends to back its next iPhone release with an AR headset to further strengthen its position in what many believe to be the next big growth space.
Of course Microsoft have been here for a while and the Hololens wowed the crowds when it was first announced. It's still far and away the best solution available on the market today. It's also incredibly niche, with Microsoft targeting industrial and enterprise buyers.
Apple will almost certainly be targeting consumers when (not if) its AR headset launches. At the same time Apple has done little to actively market the iPad to enterprises but the growth of its usage in the workspace continues to surge.
It seems likely that wherever there's an application for AR, Apple will outgun Microsoft for customers.
Then there is Google. Its Glass was first to market and crippled by the way Googl…

F1: Kubica Deal With Williams Not Done Despite Rumours

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It's being reported that Williams has signed Robert Kubica to a two-year contract as a replacement for Felipe Massa, much to the disdain of former drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve.
The story is very much being denied by Williams and common sense would more than back up the veracity of the denial. Kubica will drive a Williams for the first time in the post Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tyre tests. This will be his opportunity to demonstrate both pace and resilience in a  bid to seal the deal for a race seat.
That being the case - and it being generally acknowledged that no other team is interested in Kubica's services at the moment - it would be crazy for Williams to commit anything to paper without being able to assess the Pole's capabilities.
At the moment it looks to me like Kubica is Williams' first choice, but that Kubica is going to have to be incredibly impressive in next week's tests to edge Daniil Kvyat out of the seat.

Microsoft Begins Surface Hub Offensive

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The Surface Hub is probably the Surface product you're least likely to come across in everyday life, because it's extremely niche. But within that niche it's an incredibly big noise.

Now Microsoft has decided to put some marketing muscle behind it with a set of videos demonstrating the power of the big screen Windows 10 PC. Some work, some look a little contrived.

There's no denying that there's a place for these devices though. More than a decade ago I moved two large hospitals onto Digital Radiology solutions replacing light boxes with large wall mounted touch screen PCs running Windows XP Tablet Edition. It was a workable solution - but barely. Now the Surface Hub would make that kind of project trivial to achieve.

Progress is a damn fine thing, and so is the Surface Hub.

Huawei Mate 10 Quick Review

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Huawei's Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro arrived in New Zealand this week and I had an opportunity to get some hands on time with both phones.

The standard Mate 10 is the phone which is more interesting because Huawei have kept the 16:9 screen aspect ratio and shrunk the bezels around it. As a result the Mate 10 is closer in size to a 5.5" phone than its predecessor. 

The all glass design is a step away from the Mate 9's metal unibody, and the Mate 10 feels much nicer by comparison. There's a new arrangement of cameras on the back of the phone, with a matt / glossy effect highlighting the sensor pack. The effect is visually pleasing, if not in the same league as HTC's seriously shiny backs.

Even now the Mate 9 is one of the better performing handsets you can buy, so the jump from the Kirin 950 to the Kirin 970 CPU adds a further boost which smooths out any lumps resulting from Android 8.0 and EMUI 8 which come installed on the Mate 10.

The EMUI skin has come a long way recent…

Quality Control On Premium Smartphones Seems Lacking

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When you're dropping $1,000 on a smartphone it's reasonable to expect that what you receive is going to be well built, from quality components and with software which is properly optimised for that hardware.
For Google and Apple, responsible for both hardware and software on their devices, it really is the minimum we should be able to expect as customers.
Yet somehow both have managed to deliver devices with significant failings in both hardware and software.
Google's Pixel 2 XL is probably the biggest culprit, but the Pixel 2 is not perfect either. The larger Pixel has an average (that's being kind) OLED screen, but has also had problems with the touchscreen, Bluetooth and camera app. The smaller phone has a locked bootloader issue.
The iPhone X has had the cold weather touchscreen issue, green lines on the display, blue shift (although to a much smaller extent than the Pixel 2 XL), poor audio reproduction, with crackling on the upper speaker, and it ships with a che…

Who Is The Second Biggest Smartphone Manufacturer? It's Not Huawei Or Apple

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Looking at global smartphone sales figures it's clear who is the biggest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world. Samsung. It plays big in every sector of every market and comfortably outsells everyone one else by some margin. 
Who's the second biggest? According to the sales charts its either Huawei or Apple, who are waging a sales war to achieve that accolade. Unfortunately, the way most analysts present their results skews the positions of the top five OEMs.
The second biggest smartphone maker in the world is BBK Electronics. Who? A Chinese OEM based out of Guangdong province, that's who.
The reason BBK's name is never found on the sales charts is because of its branding of devices. Becasuse BBK is actually the company that owns the Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus brands and manufactures the phones that go out under those names.

In both Q2 and Q3 of 2017, combined sales of Oppo and Vivo phones made BBK the second biggest smartphone vendor worldwide. Whilst Apple may reta…

Did Siri Shortcomings Force Apple To Delay HomePod

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Apple's HomePod smartspeaker was due to begin shipping to customers next month, but today Apple delayed it until 'early 2018'. Unlike an iPhone X, the HomePod seems to be a particularly simple piece of technology to assemble and production yields should be high.
This suggests that something other than the hardware has caused Apple to delay the launch until after its prime selling season and my guess is that thing is Siri.
Siri lags behind other virtual assistants when used on the iPhone or iPad, even with the benefit of a screen to display information. If it struggles to cope with complex queries or instructions on a smart speaker, with no display to back it up, the user experience is going to be horrible.
Having taken some flak for poor quality control for its latest software on its latest devices, it's more than likely Apple is avoiding damage to the HomePod's reputation by holding back until it has an experience which is at least as good as Amazon Alexa or Goog…

Some Phones Do, Some Phones Don't, But Can You Tell Which

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Since Google announced Android Oreo almost exactly three months ago, a lot of new Android phones have been announced.

Not a lot of them are coming with Oreo installed though.

We've seen recent launches from OnePlus and Razer fail to deliver the latest Android build. Samsung, LG and Nokia all announced new flagships around the time of Oreo's launch, yet when they reached retail shelves they were still running on older versions of Android.

None of these phones have seen an update yet.

In fact you can count the number of phones running Android  on one hand. Google's Pixels, Sony's XZ1, XZ1 Compact, XZ Premium, HTC U11, U11+ and U11 Life and Huawei's Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro. Of those only the original Pixels, Sony XZ Premium and HTC U11 haves seen upgrades.

Android is so fragmented that the version which comes installed on a newly announced smartphone is a complete lottery. 

It's one of the key reasons why I think the smartphone market will still fall Apple's way, given…