Saturday, 30 October 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Mobile review: October 2010

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 10:11 AM PDT

The end of October draws nigh, so it’s time for our mobile review roundup, pulling together all the phones we’ve checked out during the last lunar rotation. What have we seen? Plenty of mammoth touchscreen blowers, some Top 5 award winners, and some seriously promising cheap smartphones too. Read on for them all.

We’ve rounded up every mobile review we’ve published this month, so you can make your pick of all the new phones that much easier. Let’s break things down by platform – remember, you can check out the latest at any time over on our Mobile phone reviews page.

Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 review

Hey, guess what? Microsoft is totally back in the game, after the running joke that was Windows Mobile, otherwise known as the operating-system-that-must-not-be-named by the more superstitious. Windows Phone 7 is actually good, and we’ve got an in depth review of it. Bing bing!

HTC HD7 review

HTC appears to have cottoned on to the fact that everyone likes its massive 4.3-inch mobiles, and served up another iteration of it with Windows Phone 7 onboard. And a kickstand. Would you use one of them? We’re not sure, but boy do we like Xbox Live games on the HTC HD7.

Samsung Omnia 7 review

Not to be outdone by HTC, Samsung has taken its own popular hardware last seen in the Samsung Galaxy S, and slapped Windows Phone 7 on top of it. The result? Well, hit up our Samsung Omnia 7 review and find out.


HTC Desire HD review

Only the iPhone 4 has had bigger hype around it this year, so find out whether the HTC Desire HD really is everything we hoped for. Short answer: it’s amazing, but runs out of battery faster than you can say “Android fragmentation”.

Samsung Galaxy Europa review

It sounds like a 1980s band who might have had a song played in the background of an episode of Miami Vice once and then fizzled out. But actually, it’s a tiny little Android phone, with some of the features of the stellar Samsung Galaxy S. Not all of them work, mind you – read the full review to find out what’s what.

Orange San Francisco review

This £99 Android phone came completely out of left field, mixed our metaphors, and bowled us over. Find out why we’ve crowned it best Android phone: budget Top 5 champ in our review – just click the pic.

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Kiddy phones: good or bad, and which one?

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 09:06 AM PDT

Phones for kids. Good idea? Bad idea? The debate continues to rage over whether kids should even have a mobile phone, and if they do, at what age? This weeks guest column from our fatherly friends at ActiveDad tackles the issue head on, with mobile recommendations for the littlest callers around.

There’s no definitive answer. Some parents argue that young children don’t need a mobile phone at all. Others will suggest that it gives their kids a way to contact an adult in emergencies. That ‘peace of mind’ aspect is a powerful motivator, and phone makers are still awkwardly circling the whole idea of mobiles for children.

But some already have it licked. What's more, there's a mobile for every age group…

Firefly phone, 5-8 years
If you want to get a stripped-bare, locked-down phone for very young kids, then the Firefly fits the bill. It’s no smartphone, at least not in the traditional sense. But it’s certainly smart in the way it implements parental controls. There's no texting, no internet connectivity and parents can restrict outgoing calls to numbers they store in the phone book. Total control.
It's chunky too, with minimal buttons to call, hang up, dive into the phone book and dedicated ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ speed dial keys. Buy it SIM-free from a supplier in Ireland for €49.99.

Nokia 1800, 9-11 years
This is a ‘nope’ phone. Does it have a camera? Nope. Internet browser? Nope. Bluetooth? Nope. But the Nokia 1800 packs in a few extras to appeal to younger owners. There's an FM radio, it can send texts, doubles up as a flashlight and has various built-in games. Cracking battery life too, at up to 34 days on standby. It's also a steal at $4.90 on PAYG from Orange.

LG Wink, 12-14 years
The LG Wink is aimed squarely at early teens and focused on texting, access to social networking sites access and music playback. Perfect for slightly older, yet still young, kids.

Internet access brings its own set of potential problems. How do you regulate what your children are looking at? According to advice from children's net charity Childnet International: “UK Mobile Operators have to provide an Internet filter on their phones to help block accessing material that is potentially harmful to children, such as pornography. However, with most operators you will need to ask your operator to activate the filter.”

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, 15-16 years
The older kids get, the more that Internet access becomes a must-have feature. According to research by Ofcom one in ten kids use their phone to hop online. Once there, they're mostly downloading music or visiting social networks.

Just over a third of them use instant messaging on their mobiles too. The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the perfect fit, although a pricey upfront purchase at £129 on PAYG from Orange. It'll give teens access to the massive Ovi Music store, and even offers them unlimited free music downloads with Nokia Music Unlimited. With that in mind, you’ll likely save in the long run, even after shelling out for the phone.

Internet access and GPS is baked in too, so they can find their way home if they get lost, or chat through IM without blitzing their text allowance.

BlackBerry Curve 8520 17+ years
Your offspring's starting to hit house parties and in 12 months' time they'll be rounding up friends to visit the local pub. It's time for a smartphone, but one that won't break the bank.

At £15 a month, including a free phone, 300 minutes, 300 texts and unlimited e-mail, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 is a solid smartie, able to run apps and, thanks to BlackBerry Messenger, it'll send notes to teenage mates without costing a penny. Young yuppie types can even message groups of friends at once, and yes, it'll let them phone home to make excuses for being late too.

Want more parenting pearls of wisdom? Head over to

Photo credit: Ianturton

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Samsung Galaxy Tab video: Flash video in action!

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 08:14 AM PDT

Missed our Samsung Galaxy Tab review last weekend? Even if you didn’t, here’s a little sweetener for you: we’ve just updated it with a new video showing how Flash 10.1 streaming works on it. Come check it out!

We were one of the first sites on the web to bring you a full Samsung Galaxy Tab review last week, but as we mentioned at the time, Flash 10.1, required for much streaming video on the web,  wasn’t working on our unit. Samsung’s just sent us another model in its final packaging, and Flash works a treat on it.

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We’ve not had a problem streaming any videos to the Samsung Galaxy Tab we found on the web, and as you can see in the video below, you can watch the InBetweeners on 4oD on it, something not possible right now on an iPad. We’d actually go as far as to say this is the smoothest implementation of Flash we’ve seen on any Android device to date.

Don’t take our word for it though: pop that play button below, then head on over for all the gory details on Sammy’s slate in our Samsung Galaxy Tab review!

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Samsung Galaxy Tab: get yours early!

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 07:55 AM PDT

If you’re not put off by the higher than expected price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, then you better book Monday off, quicksharp, because the Carphone Warehouse will be opening the doors of some of its stores early for people wanting to get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy Tab on the morning of release. Click through for a full list of stores…

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The Carphone Warehouse stores that will be opening their doors at 8am on Monday for the Samsung Galaxy Tab launch are:

272-274 Oxford Street, London
Centrepoint, London
Cornmarket, Oxford
Commercial Rd, Portsmouth
Princesshay, Exeter

Which is a bit of a bummer for those of you in the North and the Midlands, as you appear to have been neglected, but Carphone Warehouse said that if you are north of Milton Keynes you’ll still be able to buy a Galaxy Tab on the day of release, although there won’t be any stores with early openings unfortunately. The Samsung Galaxy Tab will be released on Monday, and is priced at £500 on a £10 rolling contract with Talkmobile or £530 unlocked.

Will you be queuing for your Samsung Galaxy Tab? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know!

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James Cameron: not a fan of 3D glasses

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 07:34 AM PDT

Given that he’s the main behind Avatar, you might think James Cameron would be a huge fan of 3D TV technology – but he’s not, at least not in its current form. The director of Titanic, Aliens and The Terminator claims that 3D won’t find a place in the hearts of mainstream users until the glasses have been ditched. And that means five to ten years from now.

The comment, which came at a Churchill Club dinner in California this week, could come as quite a blow to those manufacturers pushing 3D as the next big thing – after all, while the public has the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Samsung are telling them that wearing 3D glasses is fine in, they’ve got the director of the most successful 3D movie ever saying that glasses are a barrier.

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Cameron told the audience that he expects autostereoscopic glasses-free 3D technology to be firmly in place by the end of the decade – and then, he says, 3D will make its mainstream breakthrough.

Do you agree with James Cameron about 3D? Are the glasses too much of a drawback, or do you see them as acceptable? Speak your brains in the comments box below.

Via MCVUK (image courtesy of jurvetson on Flickr)

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HTC Desire Z unboxed: photos and video!

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 07:28 AM PDT

It’s the HTC Desire Z folks, following up like a right hook after the HTC Desire HD’s punch to the jaw. We’ve got one and we’re going to review it, but before we do, check out our gallery and video, and tell us what you want to know about HTC’s first Android QWERTY phone in years.

In case you missed the HTC Desire Z in all the furor over the large and lavish Desire HD, it’s running the same Android 2.2 software skinned with HTC’s additions, like its own mapping app for GPS, and the ability to call your phone or track it form a computer should you lose it. The difference of course is the smaller screen at 3.7-inches, and that robust QWERTY keyboard that folds out from underneath.

Check out our Best Android phone Top 5 now

We’re loving the heft and screen on the HTC Desire Z so far, and though on paper its 800MHz processor sounds slower than the Desire HD’s 1GHz scorcher, performance is still blisteringly fast. The only issue is the slight slackening when you hold the phone upside down. Give us the Nokia N97’s hinge over this any day.

But enough talk, hit the unboxing video and let us know what it is that you want to find out about the HTC Desire Z.

Got any burning questions? Drop them in the comments below and stay tuned for our full HTC Desire Z review next week!

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Samsung Galaxy Tab vs BlackBerry PlayBook vs iPad

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 07:24 AM PDT

The Samsung Galaxy Tab, the BlackBerry PlayBook and the iPad are the three giants of the tablet world. Admittedly, it's a world that's currently quite underpopulated, but all the same, these three, running three different operating systems, and occupying different form factors, are the three big players, and the ones all eyes are on. Will the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the BlackBerry PlayBook topple the iPad? Click through for how the three squared up in the Electricpig tablet face off…

The iPad has the bigger screen here, with a 9.7" LED 1024 x 768 pixel screen resolution. The Samsung Galaxy Tab and the BlackBerry PlayBook come in evens, with 7" 1024 x 600 pixel screens. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has the added extra of being built from Gorilla Glass though, so might stand up to wear and tear better. Ultimately though, if you want to be watching full-length films, a bigger screen is better, and so the iPad will still attract the movie-hungry.

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Operating System
Here we have three operating systems, the BlackBerry tablet OS on the PlayBook, iOS on the iPad, and Android Froyo 2.2 with the Samsung skin on the Tab. Chances are you know one of these operating systems better than the other two, even in the case of the BlackBerry PlayBook, since even though this is a new operating system from BlackBerry, it should be familiar to users. One big consideration is what smartphone you use, as the PlayBook syncs with your BlackBerry device. Apple has more apps available, although the iPad app count is still climbing, and Android has 100,000 apps available. The BlackBerry App world though is falling short with just 10,000 apps available. Your choice largely rests on which you’re most familiar with, and which you like best.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab spec sheet claims seven hours of movie playback from a full charge, although in testing we got a full day of intensive use out of it and still had some left at the end. The iPad battery lasts 9-10 hours when surfing the web, listening to music or watching movies, and will be the lower end of that on 3G, and at the higher end if you're on Wi-fi. BlackBerry has not yet given out specs for the battery life we should be expecting from the PlayBook. This is a little worrying (why wouldn't they?) but BlackBerry have assured us that it will be a full day. As it stands, battery life for these devices doesn’t look to be enormously different – you’ll get a day of intensive usage, maybe a little bit less. But none of them will conk out when you’re half way to the office.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab review here

The iPad comes in three sizes, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. The Samsung Galaxy Tab comes as 16GB standard, but can be expanded with a microSD card by up to 32GB. The BlackBerry PlayBook has no storage options announced yet, but it's likely there'll be more than one option. Without being able to judge the PlayBook, the winner here is the Tab: expandable storage is more flexible than fixed. However, if you aren’t going to go over 64GB, then the iPad has the biggest maximum size.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab camera we found to be pretty shocking. The 3.2MP front facing camera brought out nothing but noisy out of focus shots, and the 1.3MP camera is only meant for video calling. The iPad on the other hand, has no cameras, while the BlackBerry PlayBook has the best of the bunch, with a 5MP rear facing camera and 3MP front facing camera. It also supports 1080p video recording. In terms of media-making, the PlayBook looks like the better bet, even though we've not put its camera through its paces yet, which makes the iPad and Tab look particularly bad.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab and the BlackBerry PlayBook are intended as two iPad topplers, that will threaten the iPad market share. Whether that will happen we have yet to find out, but what looks to be a deciding factor in the tablet wars is the price. Those not wanting to shell out on an iPad were hoping for another option in the Samsung Galaxy Tab. As it stands, that hasn’t happened. The form factor is also a deciding factor. The iPad is still quite heavy, but the 7″ tablet form is one that people aren’t quite sure what to make of. The proof is in the pudding. Without more information and some time in the wild for the Tab and the PlayBook, it’s not fair to announce a winner.

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Acer Liquid Metal Android Froyo smartphone goes official

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 06:24 AM PDT

Back in September we broke the news about the Acer Liquid Metal, and now it’s 100 percent official. Acer has just announced that the Android Froyo-packing Liquid Metal will be on sale from mid-November, priced at £299 SIM-free.

The Acer Liquid Metal features a 3.6in multitouch display; Qualcomm 7230 800MHz processor; a faster new web Flash compatible browser; Wi-Fi and 14.4Mbps HSDPA connectivity; a 5MP camera with autofocus, LED flash, image stabiliser and face/smile recognition; 720p HD movie recording; DLNA; and Dolby Surround audio tech.

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There’s also the Acer Breeze interface and the Acer SocialJogger app for serving up Twitter and Facebook feeds on the home screen. You can also use it for tethering your computer via USB cable, or even as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Acer Liquid Metal is coming in two colours, brown and silver. The brown edition will be available mid-November, while the silver will debut in early December.

Out November | £299 | Acer

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Reader Inquisition: you decide the next gadget

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 05:38 AM PDT

This week we held our inaugural Reader Inquisition, where we invited you, our readers, to come and get your hands on the Galaxy Tab before it’s available in the shops. We had a bit of lunch, bit of gadget talk, and a good time was had by all. But what next?  Rather than us telling you what we’ll be bringing for your perusal, we want you to tell us what you want. Click and tell us what you’d give your front teeth to play with at the next Electricpig Reader Inquisition

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ViewSonic 3DV5: Ultra-cheap 3D HD camcorder!

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 05:26 AM PDT

The Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D HD camcorder costs well over a grand, but thankfully there are other options, you know, for those of you who don’t fancy remortgaging the house to film in 3D. The ViewSonic 3DV5 is the latest: it records 3D in 720p and retails for £150.

Obviously we can’t vouch for the quality until we see it with our own two eyes, but the ViewSonic 3DV5 captures MPEG4 3D footage that can either be played back on a 3D TV (via the included HDMI cable) or viewed on the device’s own “autostereoscopic” (i.e. glasses-free) 2.4in screen.

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Alternatively, you can shoot the footage (stored on SD card) over to your PC or Mac using a USB cable. USB is also used for charging up the built-in battery.

Footage can also be filmed in 2D, and still images can be snapped. So basically the ViewSonic 3DV5 is a Flip-style camcorder that adds 3D capture to the feature list.

Out TBC | £150 | ViewSonic

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