Archive for December, 2009

Project Canvas to give Internet TV a big push or why the market doesn't always know best

It looks like Project Canvas will go ahead after the BBC Trust, which oversees the UK public broadcaster, gave the thumbs up to the proposal, concluding that the positive impact it will have on the Internet-connected future of TV outweighed any anti-competitive repercussions.

Project Canvas, a Joint Venture involving the BBC and competing broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five, along with ISPs BT and TalkTalk, aims to produce a set of standards for delivering video over IP on set-top boxes and, eventually, Internet-connected TVs, along with other Internet content — think widgets. It was predictably opposed by the two main incumbents, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky and Virgin Media, both of which dominate the existing pay-TV market in the UK.

Presuming consumer electronics companies build out hardware that supports the new standard (they will) set-top boxes should begin to appear later next year featuring a unified program guide and delivery mechanism for all of the Project Canvas partner’s own on-demand catch up services. In other words, one box that features content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and so on.

However, the real potential of Project Canvas to shake up and accelerate the advent of Internet television is that a Software Development Kit (SDK) will also be provided so that third-parties can build a range of add-on services. This could be more online video or other Internet content, such as various widgets for Twitter, Facebook, weather etc. and stuff that nobody has even thought of yet.

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Wrapup: Write for last100, HTC Tattoo review, Sony Ericsson Satio #fail, MiFi hands-on, Flip and Boxee set-top boxes, and more

Here’s a summary of the last two few weeks’ digital lifestyle action on last100. Note that you can subscribe to the weekly wrapups, either via the special weekly wrapup RSS feed or by email.

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htc-tattooFirst up, an apology for not posting as regular as usual on last100. As some readers may already know, I’ve recently been appointed as Contributing Editor at TechCrunch Europe where I’m helping to cover the European technology start-up scene. I’m also doing quite a bit of consultancy work at the moment for Curverider, the company behind the open source social application engine, Elgg.

That said, I’m hoping to juggle my time a little better now that I’ve settled in at TechCrunch and to post more regularly again on last100. Although if anybody is interested in helping out from time to time or doing the odd guest post then please get in touch. I don’t really have any budget (for the right person, I’ll try and find some) but it could be good exposure for someone starting out in the world of tech and gadget blogging and wanting to get ‘out there’. The remit as usual is primarily news and analysis of the Mobile, Internet TV and Digital Music space. We love hardware and app reviews too.

Anyway, onto the wrapup…

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Zatz Not Funny: Living with the Android, One year with my Eee PC, Boxes of the year, Apple's purchase of Lala

A periodic roundup of relevant news from our friends at Zatz Not Funny


Living with the Android

Dave Zatz: After several weeks of surfing with living with the Android, I’m comfortable declaring any build 1.5 or higher as a suitably modern, powerful mobile OS that will meet the needs of most.

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Nokia E72 in the house!

17112009021Regular readers of last100 will know how much I like Nokia’s QWERTY touting E71, with it superb keyboard and BlackBerry-esque – only more svelte – form factor. I was therefore really looking forward to the E72 (see ‘My favorite smartphone just got superseded‘)

The E72 keeps much of the same design as the classic E71 but adds a slightly faster processor, an updated version of the operating system – Symbian S60 3rd edition feature pack 2 – better camera and a mini track pad for “easier” scrolling through web pages and email (luckily it can be turned off). The wait was a long time coming, however, as the E72 got delayed and delayed.

It finally went on sale last month in the UK and, shortly after, Nokia kindly sent me a loan unit, which I’ve been using as my main device for a few weeks and hope to write full review very soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the device, leave a comment and I’ll answer as best I can.

The Guardian newspaper's iPhone app offers off-line mode – mobile Internet's killer feature?

guardian-iphoneThe Guardian has released a paid-for iPhone (and iPod touch) app that makes reading the UK newspaper on Apple’s device a truly smartphone experience.

Along with features such as the ability to customize the newspaper’s ‘front page’, support for audio, finger-friendly navigation, including ‘swiping’ through photo galleries, the feature that really stands out is off-line browsing.

As I write over at TechCrunch Europe, the functionality…

… works in a similar way to music streaming service Spotify’s own iPhone app. Sections of the newspaper can be ‘cached’ in advance to enable access when outside of a WiFi network or mobile signal. As with listening to music, this is particularly appropriate for reading a newspaper on-the-go, such as when commuting on London’s Underground or any other subway for that matter. The app also offers access to the various Guardian podcasts, which can be downloaded in advance or streamed.

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The Gadget Show Live 2010 – discounted tickets available

It seems a bit early to be talking about an event that doesn’t take place until April next year, but I wanted to give UK readers a quick heads up that The Gadget Show Live 2010, which takes place from 8 to 11 April, is currently running a pre-Christmas promotion.

The expo is a spin-off of the popular Channel Five TV show of the same name and takes place at the NEC in Birmingham. This year’s The Gadget Show Live was a lot of fun and I got up close with products from Sony, LG Mobile, Flip, Swap, BeBook, and more – shooting some video along the way. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do the same again next year. I’ve already bagged a couple of press passes so with a bit of luck (and budget) we should be good to go.

Talking of budget, here’s how to qualify for that early bird discount. Go to and insert the code VH22 for the special £11.95 Christmas discounted ticket, available only until 24 December 2009. Apparently 36,000 tickets have already been sold (around 50,000 is the capacity over the four days) and that Saturday is already fully booked.

And for a bit of reminiscing, here’s the highlights of our coverage from this year’s event…

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Review: HTC Tattoo (vs HTC Hero) – Android's mass-market future?

htc-tattooFirst, a quick confession: I had no intention of reviewing the HTC Tattoo. Why? On paper at least, it’s a poor man’s HTC Hero. Yes it does feature the same HTC Sense UI, which greatly improves on the stock version of the Google-led operating system, but the Tattoo lacks some of the hardware features to match. However, following a mix up with a courier and a serendipitous email from HTC’s PR firm, a Tattoo for review was sent my way.

What I’ve come to realise in the few weeks that I’ve had the device on loan is that the HTC Tattoo, while not especially exciting in itself, points to Android’s mass-market future, and why rival platforms, along with the plethora of dumb-phone OSes, need to sit up and take notice.

What’s different and/or missing

Screen size. Gone is the Hero’s 3.2 inch screen. Instead, the Tattoo uses a smaller 2.8 inch display. It’s considerably lower resolution too. Down from 320 x 480 (HVGA) to a more feature phone-like 240 x 320 (QVGA) resolution. The most noticeable difference is that web pages and lists require more scrolling because of the reduction in vertical screen real estate. Images also look less sharp. The upside – and this shouldn’t be underestimated for some users – is that the device is smaller and more pocketable. In other words, it feels more like a phone! As a result, it’s a little more comfortable to hold too and that bit easier to operate one handed.

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Flip's home movie set-top box launches – wrong target audience?

flipshare-tv-groupingWe knew it was just around the corner. Our good friend Dave Zatz saw to that, thanks to a bit of clever FCC probing. The FlipShareTV set-top box has finally launched. The device aims to make it easy to share home videos shot on a Flip ‘point and shoot’ camcorder onto the living room TV. Additionally, it can pull down video from Flip’s own video sharing website, so there’s a ‘service’ element too.

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No native iPhone BBC iPlayer app – yet (blame PowerPoint)


In case you didn’t hate PowerPoint presentations enough already, here’s another reason. The native iPhone app for iPlayer – the BBC’s TV catchup service – was a mockup. It doesn’t actually exist outside of PowerPoint, reports Macworld UK.

BBC blogger Nick Reynolds has responded to speculation based on a press pack issued by the Beeb which appeared to feature images of the app by saying that “the images are old images and should not be taken to mean that anything is likely to happen soon. Since the images seem to have provoked unnecessary speculation we’ll probably update the pack later today and remove them.”

So there you have it, no iPlayer app for iPhone – yet.

Or presumably anytime soon.