Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Google SCVNGR: Foursquare fighter hits the UK

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 09:05 AM PDT

Google backed SCVNGR, the location-based app that hates vowels, is hitting the UK properly. It's been lurking in the iTunes App Store for months but it's now getting support from the Google Maps Places API which means it'll actually know you're in your local pub or the 24-hour garage yet again. It's an interesting development which will put Google right in the fray with Facebook Places and Foursquare. Intriguing!

Unlike Foursquare and Facebook Places, SCVNGR bolts a gaming layer on top of all the usual check-in guff, setting quick challenges to grab points. It's the gameification of your boring chores and could make the idea of checking in a little more exciting. We've been playing with it for a while but the arrival of a comprehensive database of British places (as well as locations across the world) finally makes it worth grabbing.

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SCVNGR Chief Ninja, Seth Priebatsch (owner of the dumbest job title in history), says: "Our goal has always been to build the game layer on top of the world. But until today we were missing a critical component…the rest of the world." He calls the Google Places API "the best in the world" and he's probably right. If people start cottoning on to SCVNGR, Facebook and Foursquare will have something to worry about.

SCVNGR is free and available on Android (Google Android 2.1 or higher) and iPhone right now. Take a look and let us know what you make of it. Hit us up with your review in the comments.

Out now | £free | SCVNGR

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Zen Touch 2: new Creative Android PMP player

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 09:02 AM PDT

Along with its duo of resistive Android tablets, the ZiiO 7" and 10", Creative has also launched a new Zen player, the Creative Zen Touch 2. It's a pocket sized "wireless entertainment device" (that's a PMP to me and you), and is running Android.

The Creative Zen Touch 2 is running Android 2.1, just like its ZiiO Creative cousins, but has much more of a chance of making the best of it with its 3.7" screen. It's all hooked up with Bluetooth capabilities, meaning you can stream to a wireless speaker set, or to Bluetooth headphones. The Creative Zen Touch 2 also has a camera, plus browser and Wi-fi capabilities, as well as the option to pay a bit extra for a model with GPS.

Under the hood there's an accelerometer, plus expandable storage via a microSD slot. The Creative Zen Touch 2 is available in three versions: a 16GB model, an 8GB model, or an 8GB model with GPS functionality. Bafflingly though, there is no 16GB model with GPS. The price for the 8GB without GPS is £150, with GPS it's £160, and the 16GB version is £160.

What do you think about the Creative Zen Touch 2 player? Drop us a line in the comments. and let us know…

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Samsung Galaxy Tab hits T-Mobile: price and date

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 08:44 AM PDT

The Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet has been priced up for T-Mobile, as it moves steadily on in its quest for a network grandslam. In truth, you get no subsidy at all at £529 for the Samsung Galaxy Tab on Pay As You Go, but payment options for 3G data come in one day (£2), one week (£7) and 30 day (£15) flavours, so at least you won’t be tied into any form of contract. You’ll be able to pick it up on 10 November.

What network will you be buying the Samsung Galaxy Tab on? Let us know where your allegiance lies in the comments!

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Creative ZiiO review: first impressions, gallery and video

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 08:05 AM PDT

This morning we got a look at the two new Creative Android tablets, the ZiiO 7″ and the ZiiO 10″. While they’re a snip at around £200, there’s also some major corner cutting gone on with Creatve’s latest offering.

The biggest corner that’s been cut is in the screens. Both the 10″ and the 7″ ZiiO tablets have resistive touchscreens. When we heard this a big cross got struck through these two tablets in our minds. But then, in the demo we were given, we didn’t notice any clunky pressing action going on, or any excessive finger stabbing: it seemed like (and we know this might be hard to believe) that for resistive touchscreens, these ones are pretty good.

The other major corner that’s been cut is in the operating system. It runs Android 2.1, which, according to Google, tablets are not supposed to run. Google has said tablets should not be running Froyo, never mind Android 2.1, as both the ZiiO tablets are. While the brief demo we got of the black 10″ ZiiO tablet seemed to work fine, it does seem to be a gamble. A Froyo update is apparently incoming though, but we think it’s worth holding off buying one of these until this update arrives.

Which brings us to the third corner cut: there’s currently no apps provider available on the device. The ZiiO tablets do not have Google Certification, which means they do not have access to the Android Marketplace. If and when Creative gets Google Certification for its tablets, then it will be able to get Android Marketplace. But a spokesperson told us today that Creative would bring out a new model of the ZiiO tablet if and when this happened.

The ZiiO 10″ and 7″ tablets appear to be for little more than media players with big screens. They are not built for all the other things you want to be able to do on a tablet. There was no news on the processor and RAM of the ZiiO tablets either, and we were told that these were “still being optimised”.

In terms of inputs and outputs there’s a headphone jack, HDMI, and microSD. Battery life is five hours of continuous movie playback, or 10 hours of mixed use. If all you want is something to watch videos and play music on, then here’s you answer. But if you want a content-rich tablet, then look elsewhere.

ZiiO 7" out early December | £200-£220
ZiiO 10" out mid December | £250-£270

Here’s a quick demo video of the Creative entertainment hub on the ZiiO 7″ tablet:

What do you think of the Creative Android tablets? False economy or real bargain? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you think!

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Michael Jackson Wii game: sequined glove accessory is just creepy

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 07:31 AM PDT

Michael Jackson plus the Wii plus a sequined glove? That's just asking for trouble. Michael Jackson The Experience will arrive with a special pr-order gift – a white sequined glove just like the man himself sported. Michael Jackson The Experience is moonwalking its way onto the Wii, Nintendo DS and PSP on November 23 with Xbox 360 and PS3 following in early 201. Will you be snapping it up and strapping on your sequined glove? Click the headline and leave your thoughts in the comments. We think we'll pass…

Out November 23 | £varies | Michael Jackson (via Mashable)

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New MacBook Air makes our Best laptop Top 5!

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 07:10 AM PDT

We’re smitten with the new MacBook Air, in case you didn’t notice, and bar an unfortunate problem migrating data over, it’s quite possibly the best ultra portable laptop we’ve used. It should come as no surprise then to see it’s earned a spot on our Best laptop Top 5 list, and Best Mac too. Read on to find out why.

Cast your eyes over to the right and you’ll see our Best laptop Top 5 shortlist, with the 13-inch new MacBook Air sitting snug at number five. When it comes to bang (and connectivity) for your buck, the Intel Core infused Toshiba Portege R700 provides better value for money, but for casual users who know they want an OS X machine for on the move, we can’t recommend the MacBook Air highly enough.

Check out the list to the right

We’ve also knocked the 13-inch MacBook Pro off our Best Mac Top 5 in place of the new MacBook Air as well, due to the latter’s portability, slick screen and unibody design. Video editors should still look for a 15 or 17-inch MacBook Pro anyway, but everyone else will appreciate the weight off your shoulders toting one around.

Disagree with where we’ve placed the new MacBook Air? Let us know your thoughts on the best laptop here in the comments.

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Royal Mail evening deliveries trial: online shopping gets speedier!

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 07:01 AM PDT

Royal Mail is trialling new evening deliveries to make online shopping speedier. The six month trial, which is sadly restricted to folk living within the boundaries of the infernal M25 motorway, will let you select an evening delivery slot for items nabbed from participating retailers. So who's on board to bring you you’re stuff right now?

We'd love firms like Amazon to get on the bus with the Royal Mail evening deliveries trial but right now the companies joining in are House of Fraser and beauty stuff slingers L'Occitane. Royal Mail says its talking to other companies about the project. Its also extending opening times for 600 of its busiest delivery offices on Wednesdays.

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Mike Brown, Royal Mail's fulfilment director, says: "Royal Mail is continually looking at ways in which we can invest in new services and innovations to help both retailers and shoppers have even greater choice over the delivery of items."

The Royal Mail evening deliveries trial will allow shoppers at House of Fraser and L'Occitane can get their items delivered between 6pm and 10pm. Great if you've got emergency need for a new shirt or a half hundredweight of blusher. When other firms join up, this could be revolutionary for online shopping addicts.

Let us know: do you like the idea of the Royal Mail evening deliveries? And are you frustrated its just for the M25 dwelling contingent right now?

Out now | £varies | Royal Mail (via Post And Parcel)

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UPDATE: Twitter Unfollow Finder: who is not following you back?

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 06:25 AM PDT

UPDATE: It seems the Unfollow Finder has no manners, and will tweet an advert for itself without asking. If you don’t mind spamming your friends to find out who’s not following you, go right ahead, but we’ve removed the link through to it, to avoid unintentional sign-ups.

Unfollow Finder analyses your Twitter account and lists who’s not following you back. It’s a dinky little tool, web-based and quick to use, and it might give you a chance to have a cull of all those people you practically batch followed when in the first ecstasies of Twitter account activation. Along with who is not following you back it will also tell you who is following you who you don’t follow.

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Microsoft Kinect has arrived: What do you want to know?

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 06:05 AM PDT

Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 goes on sale a week tomorrow, but we’ve just landed our own already, along with a clutch of launch Kinect games. We’ll be bringing you full review coverage soon, but now’s the time to tell us: what do you want to know about Kinect?

In exchange for early access to one of the most hyped gadgets of the year, we can’t say a peep about Microsoft Kinect and what it’s like to use until 04.01am on Thursday morning, or show you what the finished product looks like.

Rest assured though, we’ll have all the Microsoft Kinect coverage you could possibly need come Thursday morning – and we’d like you to help shape it.

Got any questions about Microsoft Kinect? Want to know if there are any games worth buying at launch, or if motion control multiplayer is all it’s cracked up to be? Whatever your burning queries are, drop them here in the comments, or email them to us at Stay tuned, and we’ll be back with much more really soon!

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Lunchtime Lowdown: HTC Desire Z review, Creative Android tablets and Foursquare rioters

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 05:24 AM PDT

Tummy rumbling? We don’t blame you: by our watches, it’s sandwich hour. Help yourself to a side helping of gadget news, piled high on one plate too: it’s all here ready and waiting for you in your lunchtime lowdown!

It’s been a busy few hours on the Android front. In mobile, we set loose our full HTC Desire Z review, and the QWERTY sliding smartphone crashed into our Best HTC phone Top 5. On the tablet side of things, Elonex’s £97 Android tablet popped up for sale at Asda, while Creative outed its own impressively cheap line of Google slates too.

Elsewhere in mobile, we rounded up the best Windows Phone 7 apps of the month so far, while another iPhone 5 rumour cropped up, hinting at contact free payments.

Finally, Foursquare’s been the host for something rather unfortunate: rioters checking into a riot. Could the cops catch them red handed this way?

Hungry for more headlines still? Roll on through to the homepage and help yourself to them all as they break.

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