Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note

I’m not entirely sure who the Samsung Galaxy Note is aimed at, but as somebody who gets to observe from the sidelines, this is one fun, functional and loveable device — although it comes at an out of contract price of around £450-500 upwards, give or take.

The biggest talking point of the Galaxy Note is its size: packing a 5.3-inch Super AMOLED display that sports full HD resolution of 1280 x 800p, this thing is BIG for a phone. That begs the question – Samsung actively encourages it – is the device a smartphone or a tablet?

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Review: Nokia E6 (a must have upgrade)

On paper at least, Nokia’s E6 smartphone could have been designed just for me.

It keeps most of the design cues and form-factor first seen on the E71 and its successor the E72 – easy one handed operation, great physical QWERTY keyboard, rock solid build (well, the E71 at least), superb call quality, free turn-by-turn navigation, amazing battery life and sleek design –  while introducing a high resolution touch screen, 8 megapixel camera, HD video recording and playback and the latest version of Symbian, somewhat redesigned for touch.

In fact, the E6 is the type of smartphone that I’ve been waiting for: a touch screen phone that doesn’t generally force me to use touch so that I can still operate the device one-handed and swap between direct manipulation and click and scroll when either is more efficient or convenient. Of course, attempting to combine the best of both worlds could mean the E6 falls horribly between the two. I’m glad to say, however, that for the most part this isn’t the case.

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Quick review: Amazon Kindle 3 e-reader

This morning I took (early) delivery of Amazon’s new Kindle 3 – I opted for the WiFi only version – a device that claims 50% better contrast than any other e-reader, a 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6″ size reading area, and a 20% increase in the speed of page turns. These are, of course, all very welcome improvements but specs alone don’t tell the real story of Kindle’s appeal and why it sets the bench mark for an e-reading experience. Instead, it’s Amazon’s decision to adopt a vertical model: controlling the hardware, software and, most controversially, content of the Kindle that define the user experience. But first, let’s dive into the device itself.

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Review: Palm Pixi Plus – It's all about webOS and that form-factor

As regular readers will know, I’m a big admirer of Palm’s webOS (see Palm Pre review) and a fan of the BlackBerry-esque portrait QWERTY form-factor as found on Nokia’s E72 – my current primary smartphone.

It’s therefore not a stretch to presume that Palm’s second device running webOS, the Palm Pixi (or to be precise, the Palm Pixi Plus, the GSM variant that adds WiFi), would be right up my street with its portrait physical QWERTY keyboard and multi-touch screen. And for the most part it is, with the exception of an underpowered processor and eye-squinting web browser. Read on for my hands-on review.

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Internet TV: 10 UK on-demand and live video offerings compared

Last time we surveyed the UK’s live and on-demand Internet TV landscape (back in July 07), it was a bare-bones affair. The BBC’s iPlayer was Windows-only and hadn’t yet launched out of private beta, while rival broadcaster offerings were lacking content and, like the iPlayer itself, crippled by DRM and the need to install additional and sometimes conflicting software.

How things have changed.

Today, TV watching Brits are spoilt with choice when it comes to live and on-demand online from the 6 main UK broadcasters, along with a number of aggregators, including the newly launched SeeSaw, the closest yet to the US Hulu.

Read on for our full guide:

1. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayerBBC iPlayer has the most helpfully laid out video on demand site in the UK. However, the newer version of the site (currently on show at adds to this with an impressive new design. As ever, there is access to a TV schedule so you can find what was on when, for each channel.

The front page of the site has a small section that displayes featured programmes in each genre. However, clicking the “Show All” button takes you to a full listing for that genre. Down the side category pages are a list of all categories, which when clicked expand to show a list of sub-categories, and how many programmes are in each. Each of these pages have options to list programmes by how recently they were broadcast, or as a full A-Z list.

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Review: Motorola Milestone (Droid)

When Motorola unveiled its Droid smartphone in the US, it was critically acclaimed and hailed by many as the Android smartphone to beat at the time and, of course, like any high end touchscreen smartphone, branded as a potential iPhone contender.

The story this side of the pond, where it was released as the Motorola Milestone, couldn’t be more different, however.  It, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been picked up by any of the UK carriers to be sold with subsidy and instead can be picked up in its unlocked, unbranded form only. I’ve had the device on-loan for a while now and I have to say, for such a capable and in many respects rock-solid offering, the Milestone sure has divided opinion amongst friends and colleagues.

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Quick review: HTC Legend

I didn’t have as long with HTC’s Legend as I normally require for a full review – so I’m going to keep it short. To sum up the Legend: it takes everything we liked about its predecessor, the HTC Hero, and turns it up a notch.

As regular readers may remember, the HTC was the phone that restored my faith in Google’s Android, largely because of HTC’s Sense UI, which adds much needed polish to the out-of-the-box Android experience and other improvements, such as social networking integration, a better virtual keyboard and web browser.

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Review: TVCatchup – Streaming live TV to your browser

tvcatchup frontpage

TVCatchup is a UK-only VoD site with a difference. When the site launched in late 2007, TVCatchup offered live streams of UK Freeview TV channels, along with the ability to record programmes. Unfortunately, copyright concerns saw TVCatchup withdraw their site, until relaunching, sans PVR functionality, in late 2008 (Source).

In its current form, TVCatchup is very simple, offering only live streams of almost all UK Freeview (free to-air) channels. The website gives a list of all available channels which can be clicked on to view. Better still, there is a TV/PVR like programme guide, showing a horizontal timeline of what’s on currently, and allows you to go forward (and back) in time to see what’s coming up. It also allows users to drag and drop TV channels into any order they like. However, there’s no EPG data available. Along with the channel list, there is a tab giving access to UK Freeview radio stations, this is in a testing phase, and during this review the audio player loaded but didn’t stream any audio. We’re sure this will be fixed soon though.

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Review: MSN Video Player mixes it up with classic TV, news & gossip

MSN Video Player Front PageMSN Video Player is Microsoft’s offering into the video on demand (VoD) market, which launched last month in the UK. It’s reported to have launched with around 1000 hours of content, licensed from various sources. However, Microsoft hasn’t cut the type of deals with UK broadcasters required to enable MSN Video Player to be a way to catch up on recent TV.

The bulk of content on MSN Video player is made of back catalogue TV shows, although there is other material. The ‘Clips’ section, has sub-categories of: News, Viral, Celebrity, Sport, Gaming and “MSN Originals”. The sports content is further broken up into individual sports, but don’t get excited, as it’s just a long string of interviews with players and coaches. Viral and Celebrity videos are self-explanatory, but don’t expect to find any deep or insightful content. The news videos are quite useful, and are taken directly from ITN and MSN’s own news service. The “TV clips” and “MSN Originals” categories seem to overlap somewhat with the Celebrity videos, and are all quite random in topic and duration

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The Gadget Show Live: Hands-on with the new Flip MinoHD

In our review of the original Flip MinoHD, I was critical of the point-and-shoot camcorder’s tiny 1.5 inch viewfinder/screen, which made it fiddly to frame shots accurately. The fact that it has a 4:3 aspect ratio despite shooting in 16:9 widescreen, reduced the visible preview even more.

It seems that Cisco – makers of the Flip – have been listening. The newly revamped Flip MinoHD, which I got a hands-on with at last week’s Gadget Show Live, has a 2 inch screen with very little letter-boxing. It also sports a much nicer body, with the back utilizing aluminum, and also adds up to double the storage (8GB) and a HDMI port for connecting to a High Definition television.

The software remains largely unchanged I’m told, and it’s not clear if the company has added any image stabilization, which was another complaint of mine. But hey, you can’t have everything.

Video after the jump…

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