Saturday, 7 May 2011

Electricpig.co.uk - tech news fast!

Electricpig.co.uk - tech news fast!


Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

Posted: 06 May 2011 04:10 PM PDT

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your carThe iPad 2 remains the tablet to beat despite strong offerings from Motorola, Samsung and even RIM. As an established educational tool, the iPad has proven its prowess in the classroom. The slate has even found its way into the hands of IT managers from many of Fortune's top 500 businesses. Today, it's time to explore the power of the iPad in your car — say hello to the top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your vehicle.

1. A smartphone is a tablet's best friend

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

If you own a smartphone, odds are you've already committed yourself to some sort of data plan. Why not leverage that device (and contract) by sharing your Internet with your iPad 2. As an added bonus, iPhone 4 owners will also benefit from being about to share GPS location data.

Armed with a data connection, an iPad 2 is a swipe of the finger away from downloading more than 60,000 applications, opening the door for almost limitless potential. Sure, you could share your phone's Internet connection with a laptop, but shorter battery life, excess heat and larger dimensions are problematic when trapped in the confines of a small automobile.

2. The iPad 2 display is unmatched

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

Whether you are judging the iPad 2 display based on viewing angle, color accuracy, dimension or responsiveness, this multi-touch 9.7-inch IPS panel is a gem. Compared to most in-car navigation units and even stand-alone units, 9.7-inches dwarfs the competition. One of our biggest complaints when using either a built-in navigation system or standalone unit, besides the size, is the resistive display.

Apple has shown the effectiveness of a capacitive, multi-touch screen. The ability to pinch-to-zoom and register multiple, simultaneous contact points makes for a much more user-friendly experience. Combine these technical capabilities with an outstanding viewing angle and all passengers in your vehicle will have a front row seat to your mobile theater.

3. Just like in real estate: location, location, location

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

A smartphone is a perfectly acceptable means of replacing your in-car navigation unit, but even the biggest smartphone only packs a 4.5-inch display. If you live and breath all things Apple, your world is even smaller, approximately 3.5-inches (at least until the iPhone 5). To take your navigation to new heights you can tap into either the iPad 2's pre-installed iOS Maps application or have your pick at third-party offerings.

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

The key to using the iPad 2 in place of your current GPS unit is the data connection, providing a whole of information and resources both through the web browser and via the App Store. A normal GPS unit is packed with a growing number of points of interest (POI), but that's no match for the real-time search capability of a tablet and a data connection. Fire up the new Bing app while using iOS Maps and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

4. Take gaming to the next level

Using a smartphone for gaming is fun, but using the iPad 2 is even better. As it currently stands, the dual-core A5 chip inside the iPad 2 and accompanying graphics chipset delivers a considerable improved gaming experience when compared to the iPhone 4. Not only do the games look and play better, but a larger display makes it easier for others to watch. Don't believe us? Try sharing a 4-inch smartphone with a row of kids in the back seat and see how long it takes before they complain.

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

To take things a step further, some games such as Scrabble, actually allow players to use either an iPhone or iPod touch to serve as the tile rack, allowing the iPad 2 to serve as the board. The new level of interaction and possibilities for in-car gaming are second to none. Additionally if someone in the car does not have a smartphone of their own, the iPad 2 will come to the rescue.

5. Cut the cord and take your media on the go

Top five reasons the iPad 2 belongs in your car

With thousands of apps and your smartphone's data connection in tow, the iPad 2 is ready to become your streaming machine. Applications such as Netflix, Hulu Plus as well as those released television providers allow access to loads of content, both TV and film. Simply hand off the iPad 2 to your passengers (preferably with a pair of ear buds) and enjoy a nice and quite drive.

For those of you who love your music, tap into Pandora or Spotify and forget about syncing to iTunes or purchasing new music. If you'd really like to take the music experience to the next level try out the VEVO player for iPad and watch music videos on the beautiful 9.7-inch display. Not able to use VEVO? No problem, just fire up the YouTube player pre-installed on the iPad 2 and head to the VEVO's channel.

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Mobile bill slashing Onavo iPhone app headed to Android

Posted: 06 May 2011 10:29 AM PDT

Here’s a tidy little iPhone app to check out before you head off home for the week: Onavo. It’s a data crunching app that helps you slash your internet consumption on the go – ideal if you’re on a tariff with a poxy amount of megabytes, or even abroad.

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Compressing web data to save on phone bills isn’t a new idea – it’s how Opera Mini works on dumbphones, and it’s one of the key selling points of RIM’s BlackBerry Internet and Enterprise Services. But Onavo shoves all data from email, browser and apps through its servers for you on your iPhone – and the company says an Android app is coming soon too.

Whether you find it essenital, or even if you’re on one of those rare unlimited packages, you’d do well to grab it now: Onavo says it’s only free for a short period. We can’t see how it’ll fund those servers without some money coming so grab it quick – it’s working for us so far on our iPhone 4.

Out Now | £free | Available on the iTunes App Store

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Lynx Stream hands-on: Give nights out the Lynx Effect

Posted: 06 May 2011 10:21 AM PDT

Banter-filled nights out are about to become a whole lot more memorable – in that you may soon be able to actually remember them. Out now, Lynx Stream is a brand new free app that combines Twitter, Facebook, photos and video to create a stream combining every moment of every night out – from checking-in to right up to when the night is over. What better way to road-test it out than go on a night out? Read on for our impressions.

Clearly aimed at the social-media generation unable to go out without snapping photos for Facebook posterity, Lynx Stream lets you post photos, captions, video and Tweets to a live feed on your iOS or Android handset, as you can see in the video below:

We discovered that setting up was simply a case of creating an event and inviting everyone into the stream. Unfortunately any latecomers won’t be included – you’ll need to start a new stream and add everyone on once more. But once you get going Lynx Stream is surprisingly addictive, like a TV show where you can’t wait to check your phone for the next development.

A homescreen presents a menu with options to Check-in, Tweet, post your Facebook status, record videos, take a photo and add captions to a scrollable timeline of events.

Adding any of the above is simple once you’ve signed in using Facebook or Twitter. Even capturing video was a case of tapping the video icon and recording a video clip up of up to 15-seconds. Lynx Stream can store up to 10 clips per stream. Photos too are added instantly, and can be enlarged to fill your screen.

Our favourite feature is being able to save ones stream as an URL to view as a slideshow you can view amongst you, or share. Thankfully anything untoward you’d rather forget can be swiftly erased from memory. Phew.

You don’t have to be a Nuts-reading banter-boy or girl to get the most out of it. We can see Lynx Stream being used during other non-alcoholic themed activities such as family holidays and day trips.

The Lynx Stream app is available to download for free from the iTunes App Store and Android Market. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Out now | £Free | The Lynx Stream

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Motorola Atrix review: So close, and yet so far

Posted: 06 May 2011 09:19 AM PDT

The Motorola Atrix absolutely blew minds when it debuted at CES in Las Vegas at the start of January. It was a gadget fiend’s wet dream. Not only were all of its specs cutting edge – bigger battery, sharper screen, more memory, dual-core CPU – but you could even use the thing as a damn laptop.

Of course since then, we’ve seen plenty more dual-core phones, and some of them have proven to be even more insane. And then of course, Motorola’s still sticking to its guns with its software skin, Motoblur, atop a now out of date version of Android. So is this still the killer phone hardcore tech addicts have been waiting for? Read our Motorola Atrix review and find out – our thoughts on the insane lapdock are included!

It’s not that the Motorola Atrix is a bad phone – far, far from it. It’s just that all the tweaks you can make to improve the experience are defaults on rival handsets. If you’re a business user though, you may still love it – let’s take a look.

Hardware and design

If anything, the build of the Motorola Atrix is by far the most boring element of the whole experience. It’s just a touchscreen with a black plastic casing. It’s sturdy. it’s smooth. Bar the striped black and grey back casing, it’s bland. And that’s fine, when it’s so powerful. Sure, it’s not as we-need-an-intervention thin as the Samsung Galaxy S 2, but we get that not everyone wants that – it doesn’t stretch your fingers in quite the same way either, which is welcome. So it’s all good, plus there’s an LED notification light, which we know some of you love.

Actually, that’s not quite true – see that button behind the display? That’s a fingerprint sensor as well as the power button. It actually works, and you soon find that slowly swiping your finger to unlock the phone is quicker than typing in a PIN and then pressing OK – which to keep your Google account secure, you should do on any Android smartphone.

Check out the best Motorola Atrix deals now

We think it could have been more sensibly placed, as pressing down on it to lock the screen with one hand actually requires you to squeeze the screen with your thumb, which we don’t like. But it’s a minor fault – we welcome fingerprint technology on smartphones, as it’s fast and no one else we gave it to could unlock the Atrix with it in place.

Screen

The Motorola Atrix’s 4-inch screen is one of the very first ever (iPhone 4 aside) to offer a qHD resolution – 960×540 pixels, as opposed to the previous high watermark of 800×480. As such, everything is superbly sharp. Videos look fantastic, and you can see more emails on screen at one time. It’s the future, so get used to it.

That said, its colour reproduction can’t compare with an AMOLED display, like those that Samsung deploys. Blacks still sport those dark purple hues a backlight inevitably gives. But on the flipside, the Motorola Atrix is noticeably more easy to sue in bright sunlight than a Samsung phone with an AMOLED screen, so you’ll still be very pleased with the results.

Android 2.2

Motorola says an Android 2.3 update will come to European Motorola Atrix phones, but truth be told, Android 2.2 on a new phone isn’t a kiss of death. In fact, with a quick install of the Android 2.3 keyboard, you’ve got the single biggest benefit right away – not that Moto’s onscreen keyboard is bad by any means. And you know we love Android itself. It’s so flexible, with so much potential – if you don’t believe us check out our best Android apps all time top 100.

But, and you probably saw this coming, we really have some issues with Motoblur, Motorola’s software skin. We’ve been moaning about it since 2009, and we still hate it. While there are some nice benefits to it, such as an easy to use DLNA streaming app, a speedy browser that adjusts text to fit the screen, preloaded file manager and LinkedIn integration, there are a lot of reasons why it’s really, stunningly stupid. In fact, here are a few, bulletpoint style:

  • When you swipe through your homescreens, the call, contacts and menu button disappear for a second or more, leaving you waiting if you want to make a call or open an app. Arg!
  • Why on earth is there a huge widget that show my own face and what I last tweeted? I know what I look like, and I know what I just said because it was me who said it.
  • When I click the widget to read a tweet, where is the Reply option? Two clicks away? Too long!
  • Every few hours, Motoblur informs me that I have 20 new Twitter messages. No I don’t. Stop telling me that I do.
  • Why does it take so long to thumb through tweets and Facebook updates when this phone uses a top of the line dual-core Tegra 2 1GHz processor and plays games perfectly?
  • Why does Motoblur use 25 percent of the battery? The only option to reduce this is to sync over Wi-Fi only, which is helpful, but not enough.
  • Why is that when I realise I don’t like Motoblur, I can’t remove my account and I have to factory reset the phone?
  • Why doesn’t the screen always timeout in the amount of time it’s supposed to?

And the list goes on. There’s an all pervading sense that nobody at Motorola has actually tried to live with a Motoblur phone: we know this isn’t the case, so we can only assume people are too afraid to speak up. Moto, it’s this simple: as long as you continue to push Motoblur on unwitting customers, we can’t give your phones five stars. It’s that bad.

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The thing is, you can simply remove these problems by deleting the widgets, installing LauncherPro to revamp your homescreen, and never signing into a Motoblur account. The problem is not everyone who buys this phone will know to do this, and worse, Motorola still sees it as a selling point. We spoke to executives at the company this week who insisted it was here to stay – depressing, since Motorola launched one of the handful of vanilla Android phones ever to hit the UK, the Motorola Milestone.

Oh, as a quick aside, Orange has done its usual trick of sticking in some pointless bloatware as well. Hilariously, some of it didn’t even work: Orange Maps just crashed every time we tried to open it. It wasn’t missed, but at least you never have to use any of it if you don’t want to.

Performance, battery life and call quality

Within apps, the Motorola Atrix is a sterling performer, turning in a very healthy 1844 benchmark on Quadrant Standard – and installing LauncherPro removes any lag problems. Games look beautiful, and we love firing up Nvidia’s Tegra Zone app to see which titles will really look great on it. Battery life too is healthy: even with Motoblur slurping through juice it still clears a day of solid use – though it should be said that the Atrix has an extremely high capacity battery (2000mAh) to achieve this.

Call quality too was exemplary: we never expect anything less from Motorola and on this front it delivers, with a crisp mic and speaker. Moto should be proud of this at least.

Camera

The five megapixel camera turns in respectable shots in daylight, though we do miss the vast number of settings you can tweak on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Samsung Galaxy S 2. And while there have been some complaints about the video camera “only” shooting 720p HD video, we can’t complain when it looks this great:

This is normally where we’d wrap a review, but there’s plenty more to talk about with the Motorola Atrix and its accessories:

Lapdock

Yup. The Motorola Atrix is the first smartphone to come with its own laptop accessory. It’s well engineered, with its own seven hour battery that charges the phone, while the Atrix provides the 3G connection and processing power.

Pop the Atrix in the slot behind the lid, and a special Webtop OS fires up on the screen in a matter of seconds. It looks like a regular desktop, but your phone appears within one window, and you can open a file explorer, or a fully fledged version of Firefox through which you can install plug-ins (Awesome) or play back standard definition Flash video smoothly.

We love the build of the lapdock itself: it’s surprisingly long, but very thin (just thick enough to house a couple of USB ports), and mostly made out of solid metal, with lovely island keys that don’t sag down in the middle when pressed. We also love how the state is saved when you pull the Atrix out – you can either open your viewed web pages on the phone with one tap, or simply keep them there to re-open immediately when docked again. USB devices work, and you can pair a Bluetooth mouse.

We also love how easy it makes remote desktop working. Citrix is frankly superb – if your business uses it, you can go ahead and add on a star to the score. However, there’s not a great deal you can do otherwise. It’s a pity Android apps open as a tab in the phone window, rather than as separate scalable window, and we had issues with the trackpad – no matter how we adjusted the settings there was always an irritating bit of lag.

As a result, it’s not quite the no brainer the Asus Eee Pad Transformer‘s £50 keyboard/laptop shell is, priced as it is at £299. For certain business users, it’s an absolute must buy, but for everyone else, it’s probably not worth the price of admission.

Work And Play kit

For a much more reasonable £50 (if bought through Orange), you can get a dock which gives you the same Webtop experience when plugged into an HDTV, and even the ability to plug three USB devices into the back. When paired with the accompanying Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it gives you full internet access on any TV, which if you don’t have a PlayStation 3 or smart set top box, is absolutely worthwhile. We love internet TV on the TV, even if it isn’t HD. Note you’ll need this to display an Android app in full screen on your TV – plug the phone in directly by HDMI cable and the barebones entertainment centre software launches, which only plays video files Android natively supports.

Charging dock
Fairly pointless unless someone just stole your alarm clock. Don’t bother.

Verdict

With the Motorola Atrix, Moto has once again turned in a stupendous piece of hardware. Unfortunately, for all its efforts, it’s still not delivering a sensible UI, and more crucially, a fun software experience. HTC has nailed it. On its Galaxy S phones, Samsung has nailed it. Until Motoblur is addressed, those two manufacturers will continue to dominate our Android phone charts.

On the other hand, this is quite possibly the best business Android phone ever – if you’re on Orange, use Citrix for work, and don’t already have a means of watching BBC iPlayer on your TV, this is essential. But how many people fall into that niche?

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Jaguar’s eyelid-flipping 800hp electric supercar to go on sale (At a mere £700,000…)

Posted: 06 May 2011 07:40 AM PDT

When Jaguar announced the C-X75 concept car last year, most scoffed at the idea it would ever go into production. On the face of it, the C-X75 looked like an expensive piece of show-boating. After all, the C-X75 promised to combine a small-capacity petrol engine with two gas turbines and four electric motors to develop enough performance to burst both your kidneys: 0-60 in three seconds and a top speed of over 200mph.

But guess what, the automotive gods have smiled upon us – today Jag announced it will be putting the heart-stopping, carbon-fibre C-X75  into production. Sadly, while the electric motors (one on each wheel) made it in, the two gas turbines didn’t – but they may be available at a later date.

When driven by electricity only, the car will have a range of around 30 miles. It’s also super-clean, with a CO2 rating of 99g/km. In other words, one of the fastest supercars in the world will also be one of the greenest.

F1 team Williams are in charge of aerodynamics – and the ultra-light carbon fibre chassis, which replaces the aluminium version seen on the original concept. The price? To you sir, a mere £700,000. Just one question: does it have an iPod dock?

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And the winner of the Nintendo 3DS is…

Posted: 06 May 2011 05:10 AM PDT

Back at the launch of the Nintendo 3DS handheld console in March, we gave you the chance to win one of these swanky new machines, along with two games – courtesy of Gamesbasement.co.uk. All you had to do was submit your best design for a wacky, Ninty-style peripheral. We’ve trawled through the entries to pick out the weirdest, most ingenious one, and we have a winner. Step forward…

Tony Featherstone! Tony designed the outlandish Nintendo 3DSaw you see here, which allows you to give your handheld a full HD, glasses-free 3D experience simply by cutting out the screen and letting you look at the world around you. It’s so obvious, it’s genius.

Tony, from Newcastle, says the “inspiration behind the design was to create a bit of satire, something which poked fun at many peoples’ complaints about the 3D only working when you look at it from a certain angle, and how the screen has quite a low resolution.” He’s planning to give the Nintendo 3DS to his son, who turns nine this month.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations Tony, your prize is on its way to you now. Stay tuned, we’ll have more great competitions for you soon!

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AirServer: AirPlay for your Mac revealed

Posted: 06 May 2011 03:34 AM PDT

If you want to mess about with AirPlay but don’t have an Apple TV or AirPort Express to hand to sling files from your iOS device to, here’s a solution. AirServer is a no-frills app that turns your Mac into an AirPlay receiver. Once you’ve installed it, AirServer sits in the menu bar waiting for you to select your Mac as an AirPlay receiver on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Do that and your music, video or photos will then appear on your Mac. It’ll even work with DRM-protected audio and video and is a great way of playing films or music from your friends iOS devices when they come round. AirServer will set you back $3 from the link below. You need Mac OS X 10.5 or later, iTunes 10.2.0 or above and an AirPlay-capable device running iOS 4.2.1 or higher.

Out now | $3 | AirServer

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E-Ink cloth revealed: ultra-customisable t-shirts incoming

Posted: 06 May 2011 03:02 AM PDT

E-Ink Holdings, the brains behind the Amazon Kindle display tech, has revealed a new technique for creating updatable digital displays on cloth, essentially E-Ink cloth. It could point to a future filled with cool ultra-customisable t-shirts or more depressingly ad banners on every bosom in town. Get into the details after the jump…

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The new tech is slightly different to what you’ll be used to. It’s called a Segmented, Ultra-Thin Rugged and Flexible display aka SURF (you know someone slaved away to get such a nice acronym) with the ‘segmented’ part meaning that you can only turn big blocks of E-Ink on and off at once right now.

That means currently that it can pretty much just show one image flashing on and off in greyscale. In the future though, those blocks will get smaller and allow individual pixels and therefore more complex images. Take a look at one of the early prototypes in action below:

Out TBC | £TBC | E-Ink (via Fast Company)

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Android tablet apps: Google Earth joins the ranks

Posted: 06 May 2011 02:43 AM PDT

Good news if you’re packing an Android Honeycomb tablet like say the Motorola Xoom: Google has outed an Android tablet-optimised Google Earth. It’s free and you can grab it right now. Read on for details…

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To take advantage of extra real estate offered by tablet screens it gives you access to fully textured 3D buildings and a new action bar at the top of the screen that makes it easy to speedily jump through layers and switch around other options.

Take a look at the Android tablet version of Google Earth for yourself and let us know what you think of it in the comments by clicking on the headline and jumping right in.

Out now | £free | Android Market

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Sony threatened again: hackers promise new attack

Posted: 06 May 2011 02:28 AM PDT

Sony looks set to face another hacker attack following the PlayStation Network security breach. CNET claims to have been in contact with hackers planning a third major attack on Sony systems this weekend. The group claim they will publicise all or some of the information they gain from any security breach and claim to already have access to some Sony servers.

Yesterday, Anonymous struck back at claims by Sony that it was behind the original PlayStation Network breach releasing a statement that stressed: “While we are a distributed and decentralised group, our ‘leadership’ does not condone credit card theft.”

Out now | £NA | Sony (via CNET)

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