Wednesday, 27 October 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

PSP Phone leaked: Photos galore

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 11:45 PM PDT

The PSP Phone is real, and its button-packed body has been papped and splashed all over the web. Built by Sony Ericsson, the PSP Phone comes packing Android, a multi-touch gamepad, traditional PSP buttons and what looks like a front-facing camera. Is Sony finally ready to take on the iPhone and Nintendo DSi? It certainly looks that way.

The images, courtesy of Engadget, aren't your usual grainy spy shots. These are crystal clear, and leave little doubt as to the PSP Phone's existence.

We're looking at a standard PSP control pad, with square, triangle, circle and cross buttons, start and select keys, shoulder triggers and a new multi-touch trackpad that looks like replacing the Dualshock controller's analogue sticks.

On the screen, there's no doubt this is Android, but with significant Sony sheen. The settings menu is adorned with a theme that matches the PSP's, although there are strange references to A and B buttons, rather than the PSP's usual control keys.

Around the back, the PSP Phone clearly has a camera, with an LED flash too, and up front there's a second lens. It looks like Sony's gearing up for video calls, or at the very least in-game video chat, as well as standard photography.

Branded as a Sony Ericsson device, this is definitely a PSP Phone. The only thing missing is a genuine PlayStation logo. Instead, there's a single S in the centre of the slide-out control pad.

What do you think? Is the PSP Phone enough to put Sony back at the top of the portable console game?

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Livescribe love letter competition: the best entries so far

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 09:39 AM PDT

Entered our competition to win a Livescribe Echo smartpen? There’s still plenty of time, with the closing date more than a week out. If you caught our original review of the biro with a brain, you’ll know it’s one you’ll want to enter. However, you’ll have to dazzle us with a digital ode that tops these ones we’ve received so far. Read on for the best picks, and to find out how to submit your own…

To enter our Livescribe Echo competition, all you have to do is write us a love letter, telling us in the comments why you love Electricpig – and tick off a few terms and conditions, see here for the details). It’s simplicity itself, but you’ll need to get the creative juices gushing to beat some of the submissions we’ve had so far.

Maya Russell’s poem warms our cockles, and sums up exactly what we try to do on the site:

Electricpig, you are the best gadget site I’ve ever seen,

Gaming, gadgets, phones and more – on all I’m really keen,

Reviews and news of everything that’s really techy,

Each day I can’t wait to see you, I’m already browsing with my brekky!

Top 5 lists, videos to watch and even a competition here or there,

You are my love, my only one – nothing can ever compare.

Yours forever, Miss Electricpiggy xxx

Shelley Jones meanwhile has penned an epic ballad devoted to the prize itself:

My ‘Lovescribe Echo Smitten Pen’,
My ‘Write’ in shining armour,
You write the words I’m lost for,
You help me pen a drama,
Or interviews, reviews the news,
A diary or book,
No other pen comes close to you,
None worth a second look,
So thank you, buddy, friend, pen-pal,
Forever in my pocket,
I carry you like jewellery,
My Echo Smartpen locket x

Of course, as our English teacher used to tell us, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, and Kevin Hutchinson has taken heed of that wisdom with his own entry:

I love you scratchings, sausages, pies and trotters, in fact nearly all of you.

Aw. We love you too Kevin.

Reckon you could do better? Entering is easy – just click here to find out how!

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Samsung Galaxy Tab review: Reader Inquisition!

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 09:37 AM PDT

Tried the Galaxy Tab yet? Electricpig readers have. Today we went beyond a mere Samsung Galaxy Tab review and put the Android tablet in the paws of a bunch of eager Electricpig fans so they could tell us what they think. Is it the right size? What about the price? How does the Galaxy Tab go down with the man on the street? Check out the discussion in full below.

We sat down with seven Electricpig readers for lunch today, Samsung Galaxy Tab in hand, to talk about the first real iPad rival to have gathered any buzz. We shot the breeze, and chatted about all the important topics we’ve been hearing from you after our own Samsung Galaxy Tab review, like size, software, and of course the price.

Size matters

Chad Potter compares the Galaxy Tab to an iPhone - they're not so different in dimensions

One of the big differences between the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the iPad is size: the latter is about half the area of Apple’s slate, and it caused division in the ranks at our reader inquisition. Dan Robins, a search manager at Carat, said Apple’s slate was too large to be practical: “I like the size – I found the iPad too big, it was a bit unwieldy, but this is great. I think that it’s perfectly watchable”

Chad Potter, an editorial manager at MediaTel Group was leaning more towards the iPad’s size, but Raj Nahar, an investment banker who commutes to work, saw things differently: “I’d have to disagree, I think that the size is perfect…I think it’s the right size to watch video on the tube, and obviously act as an eReader.”

Simon Wright, a TV manager who works with Chad also felt the same. “You can still do the same stuff as an iPad, it’s just more compact to take around all the time.” The debate around the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s size wasn’t resolved, but the camps were split between those who saw an iPad as a gadget for travelling to work, and those who preferred to keep it on the sofa.

What’s Android like on a tablet?

Hardware’s just one part of the equation of course, and the software the Samsung Galaxy Tab runs has been one of the biggest concerns since launch. Android 2.2 makes for great smartphones, but even Google says it isn’t for tablets, and the Tab’s 1024×600 resolution certainly pushes it to its limits, with the odd bit of letterboxing noticeable in apps from time to time.

Dan Robins tests out Angry Birds on the Galaxy Tab

Not everyone felt that it led to a seamless experience, despite the high tech 1GHz processor. Chad said it simply wasn’t “as cool as an iPad…the flicking from portrait to landscape, it’s just not as smooth”.

Simon meanwhile thought that the screen didn’t respond to every tap as he hoped: “Sometimes it’s jut not always responsive…It does seem a little bit slower than what I’m used to when I used the office iPad.”

What would you actually use it for?

We said in our own Samsung Galaxy Tab review that it didn’t feel much more productive than one of the new breed of superfast Android phones, but more than one reader thought they’d use it in similar scenarios as the iPad currently is.

Matthew Lyons, an operations analyst for Debenham’s website, said he could see himself using the Samsung Galaxy Tab as “a way of checking emails, web surfing, watching BBC iPlayer, just the little things you can do on a laptop…but I want Flash”, something that Android 2.2. supports but Apple’s iOS platform does not.

Ken Liu tries out the Galaxy Tab's ereadking skills with the Kindle Android app

Just as we came away unimpressed with the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Tab, few were that keen on holding a 7-inch tablet up to focus. Dan found that “it just becomes weird, as that type of thing is more of a phone thing”.

Ken Liu, who runs a personal training company, was more impressed with the front facing camera, which he tried out with fring for Android. “Video calling is the sort of thing that does actually have appeal…I video call my mum now and again,” he told us.

The price man, the price!

Last but not least, conversation turned to the tricky issue of the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s pricing. Whether you want to use 3G or not, you’ll be paying for the hardware in Samsung’s slate regardless, meaning the entry level model is priced around £100 more than Apple’s Wi-Fi only iPad at £530-550.

Sadly, despite the numerous Android fans (including HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S owners, and even one reader with an HTC HD2 hacked to run Android 2.2), there was little support for Samsung’s pricetag.

Ken was disappointed with the build quality for the asking price (“It just feels plasticky. With this it’s hard to say you’d pay £500 for something that feels so plastic,”) while Niall Johnson, an online and press data executive at MediaTel, summed up the general consensus pithily: “I look at this and it’s lovely, but see you in two or three years – the price is insane.”

Matthew Lyons would only consider buying the Samsun Galaxy Tab on a cheap contract - SIM free, it's too much right now

If Samsung wants to win over Electricpig’s readers at least, its only hope is for the networks to deliver reasonable subsidies on a contract. Matthew said he’d consider picking one up on a “data only contact for £15 per month, possibly”, but no one present said they’d stretch to the current SIM free asking price.

As we predicted, Samsung’s biggest challenge with the Galaxy Tab seems to be selling it right now, with the current version of Android, when we know rivals, and even Android 3.0 are just around the corner. Raj hit the nail on the head: “My policy is wait and see. It’s a good piece of kit, but if I could just wait another four months”. Quite.

What do you make of the Samsung Galaxy Tab? As Android slates go, is it too premature? Just right? Hit us up with your take on the Google tablet in the comments, and check out our full Samsung Galaxy Tab review for more coverage.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is available for pre-order now at eXpansys.

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Sims 3 Late Night arrives this Friday for PC and Mac

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 09:02 AM PDT

The latest PC/Mac expansion pack for the Sims, Sims 3 Late Night, hits the shops this Friday, so if you prefer your Friday nights to be lived vicariously in a virtual world of dive bars and vampire infested streets, then you’ll be wanting to get your hands on this quicksharp. If you thought Sims 3 Late Night was just the expansion pack with the cringiest of taglines: “the Sims just got sexy”,  then you were wrong. It’s also the most musically obscene, and comes rammed with My Chemical Romance tracks sung in Simlish.

Out 29 Oct | £30 | EA Games

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Win a Nokia N8: subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 08:28 AM PDT

Want a new Nokia N8 out-megapixel your smartphone-weilding mates? We’ve got one of Nokia’s new beauties to give away, courtesy of Vodafone, and all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning it is sign up for our new weekly newsletter, which is also awesome. It’s win-win we tell you!

Sign up to the weekly Electricpig Prime Cuts newsletter with the form below, and we’ll pick one subscriber at random on November 26. Really, it couldn’t be easier. Our usual competition terms apply. Now, tap in your details and hit that subscribe button!

Sign up for Electricpig Prime Cuts
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Engrave an iPad: what would you write on yours?

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Apple has launched an iPad engraving service in time for Christmas, and here at Electricpig towers it got us thinking about what we’d be stamping on our top of the range Apple devices if we had the chance. Here’s a couple of things we came up with to get you started, drop your line in the comments and tell us what you’d get engraved on your iPad

How about “WARNING: Cannot be read in direct sunlight”, or “My other tablet is a PlayBook”, “Steve Jobs says relax, it’s porn free”?

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Would you proclaim your Apple fandom (“Apple fanboy and proud?”) have a dig at copycats and competitors, or just the general public (“yes, it is great, no, you can’t touch it”) or would you write something else? Think of it like a super-techy caption competition.

Drop us a line in the comments and tell us what you’d get engraved on your iPad..

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Samsung Galaxy Tab vs Apple iPad

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 07:05 AM PDT

We finally got our hands on a Samsung Galaxy Tab, to put it through its paces. But after we’ve had some time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, how do we find it stack ups next to the tablet that set the bar for all future tablets, the iPad? Read on for a stat clash between the most hotly anticipated Android tablet of recent months, and the ruling device everyone else wants to overthrow, the all-conquering, first to the table iPad.

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Size and weight
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a lot smaller than the iPad, with a 7" screen compared to the 9.7" screen the iPad is packing. The 3G model of the iPad weighs 730g, and the Wi-fi model weighs 680g. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, being almost half the size of the iPad, clock in at just under half that, at 385g. The iPad is still far lighter than a laptop though: the smallest MacBook weighs 2.13kg. In terms of portability, the Samsung Galaxy Tab wins hands down, and not only for its size and weight; it's got a phone function bundled in as well (which will only function in speaker phone mode or with headset), meaning that you only have to take one device with you, rather than an extra phone as well if you're carting around an iPad. The downside is that the phone function can be a bit crackly, and sounds like a Skype call, check out our reviews editor Ben putting the phone feature through its paces below…

the iPad price ranges from £429 to £699, the former for a Wi-fi only 16GB model, the latter for a 64GB Wi-fi and 3G model. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab costs £530 for an unlocked 16GB model, which comes with 3G built in as standard. That's the same as a 16GB iPad with Wi-fi and 3G, which, in terms of connectivity and storage size, is exactly even, except you get the extra 3" of screen with the iPad, and the extra gloss of an Apple device that fuels so much Apple fandom.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Tab review here

The Samsung Galaxy Tab claims to get seven hours of movie playback out of a full charge, whereas the iPad claims to get up to 10 hours of surfing surfing the web, watching video or listening to music over Wi-fi, and that's on a bigger device. However, we reckon that you'll be further away from a plug more often with the Galaxy Tab, and you'll be wanting to use it more on the go, when you're far away from plug, rather than being sat down somewhere to work, or read like you're likely to be doing more with the iPad. This all depends on how you use the two devices, of course. We did find though, that in testing, we got a whole day of use out of the Galaxy Tab before the battery conked out, and that's with intensive 3G and Wi-fi usage.

The camera on the rear of the Samsung Galaxy Tab is 3.2MP, with no flash and no touch to focus feature, which we found to spit out nothing but noisy sub-par shots. Not great if you want this to be an all-in-one device. The iPad doesn't have a front or rear facing camera although there are rumours afoot that the next version will have one or both of these two. The video streaming on the Samsung Galaxy Tab stood up to a beating, and played everything we could push at it, making it a more attractive option than an iPad, which is locked into iTunes.

Read our full iPad review here,
including what we thought one month on…

We found there to be little in the way of surprises on the Samsung Galaxy Tab version of Froyo. Despite Google saying that Froyo wasn't really meant for tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab gets away with it because of its smaller size. The differences between Froyo here and on Samsung top end smartphones is some tweaks like multiple Gmail account and Exchange support and added security. We found the pinch to zoom worked pretty much as well as it does on an iPad. The iPad runs its own custom built iOS, which has extras over and above the iPhone menu, and which are smoother to operate than a desktop menu, like pop over menus.

We were expecting the Samsung Galaxy Tab to be a good solid alternative to the iPad, albeit with a very different form factor, but one that might appeal to those for whom the iPad still seems like a bulky option. As it stands though, we’re not quite sure what we’d want to use it for. The camera and phone functions on the Samsung Galaxy Tab are lacking, so that it can’t quite call itself a suitable all in one device, and it doesn’t have the big screen appeal that the iPad does for media playback, meaning you wouldn’t want to watch from the sofa on it. It is still enormously portable, but for the price, we think you’d be better off shelling out for an iPad, and keeping a smartphone to hand.

What do you think? iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab?

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VLC app now available for iPhone and iPod touch

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 06:32 AM PDT

An iPhone and iPod Touch version of the versatile media player VLC has just appeared in the iTunes App Store, bringing conversion-free video playback to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 3rd and 4th generation iPod touch models.

The new VLC app is basically an iPod touch and iPhone-friendly update of the existing iPad VLC app, which launched in September. Like the previous edition, it allows you to play back a host of file types that’d normally be incompatible with Apple’s gear – but it has been tweaked to widen compatibility, improve decoding speed and increase the smoothness of video playback. It can now also open attachments from Mail or Safari.

One thing it can’t do is access Apple’s hardware video decoder, which means 720p video playback will most likely be somewhat jerky.

Out now | £Free | App Store (via Applidium)

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Virgin Media gets NBC TV shows on demand

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 06:27 AM PDT

Virgin Media has signed a deal with US TV network NBC, bringing a host of shows from across the pond to the company’s Virgin Media Player on demand service.

From 1st December Virgin Media customers will be able to access episodes of shows such as The Office US, 30 Rock, Heroes and House through their set-top box or mobile phone. Entire past seasons of these shows will be available, and content will also be available in HD.

Out 1st December | £TBC | Virgin Media (via

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HTML 5 will kill Flash within five years

Posted: 26 Oct 2010 05:32 AM PDT

Today Adobe showed off a neat new tool currently in prototype, codenamed Edge. It’s a tool to build HTML 5 web pages, which means it’s in competition with Adobe Flash. If Adobe is offering tools to build Flash and HTML 5, is it getting into competition with itself, and dealing Flash a fatal blow in the process?

Flash has come under heavy fire recently, and has a right old slagging, in particular from Steve Jobs, in a slamming open letter he penned against Adobe. However, in the tablet wars that are hotting up, support for Flash 10.1 is becoming a way for tablet manufacturers to tout something that the iPad doesn’t have.

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But if Adobe helps developers move over to HTML 5, then does this spell the end of Flash, and will Adobe’s new HTML 5 tool Edge be the biggest mover in its downfall?

What do you think? Will Flash be dead in five years, flattened by the onward march of the better, faster, stronger HTML 5? Click and tell…

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