Reviews of gadgets, hardware, software cloud services, and Operating systems

Review of Sonivo Induction Speaker

By on Aug 4, 2013 in Reviews |

Returning to some blogging here, I have a portable speaker to review. The Sonivo Universal Induction speaker is possibly the easiest portable speaker to use that I’ve come across. The speaker comes in matte black plastic and measures 12.5cm by 6.9 cm by 4.4cm, which makes for a very compact little box. It’s not exactly something you can throw in your pocket, but it’s great for throwing in a backpack. Admittedly, it’s more bulky than the rounded speakers you’ll see like the X-Mini II or Veho 360BT. The speaker is stupidly simple to use, there’s just a power switch. It doesn’t even have a volume control as it just amplifies its input source. If you like to have fine control over everything you may not like this. However, it saves you having to think about the multiplicative nature of having two volume controls. The unique selling point of this speaker is of course its inductive input. By this, I mean that all you have to do is lay your smartphone or other portable media player (e.g. an iPod) on top and the sound from your device’s speaker is carried into and amplified by the Sonivo speaker. If you understand anything about electronics, you’ll understand the principal of electromagnetic induction – and that this is how speakers work. For those who don’t – when a current is passed through a wire coil it creates a magnetic field, which can move a permanent magnet. It’s like when you get two bar magnets and they’ll either mutually attract or repel each other. In speakers the magnet pushes and pulls on the speaker cone and that then creates sound. This makes it ridiculously easy to get the sound from your portable device into the induction speaker. There’s no Bluetooth (or Wifi) pairing and there’s no cables. In case you’re wondering if this is really NFC – i.e. near field communications with tap-to-pair Bluetooth – no, it isn’t. It’s completely analogue tech. That means this is actually fun to use, and you can even carry it around your house, just pick the pair of devices together and go into another room. If you’re thinking that this sounds too good to be true – it...

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Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Review

By on Oct 16, 2012 in Reviews |

I recently wrote an article for All About Symbian called “Don’t Supersize my Smartphone” , in which I lamented the trend towards larger screen sizes equalling better specification. Therefore, the technological fates dictated that the behemoth Samsung Galaxy Note 2 would come to stay with me for a weekend, courtesy of a freelance article I was commissioned to write by CNET UK, see it here. In this review, I would like to offer my perspective and impressions, rather than giving a forensic audit of every single feature . After all, I only had it for a weekend! The Note 2 is unabashedly BIG. For the first couple of hours with the device, I’d go so far as to say it was unmanageable. Despite that, its smooth contoured (but plastic) body and remarkably thin design made it rather pleasing to touch. Samsung came up with a rather clever way of mitigating the ample width of the Note 2 by creating portrait keyboards (qwerty and T9) that were squashed up to one side of the screen. With practice, I think that should work for most people. I was able to send several text messages with ease in this “one handed input” mode – even so, I had to perch it, precariously, on top of my little finger. Of course, the Note 2 is really made for two-handed operation. Which dexterously brings us to the unique selling point of the Note 2, the “S-Pen”, I.e. its stylus. Even though I think a phone should be something you can operate with one hand, it’s a satisfying experience to use pen input, necessarily with both hands involved. A case in point is that I’m writing this post on my Nexus 7 using a Proporta stylus. The S-Pen is far more than just a simple stylus though, it has a button on its shaft that ties in with software specific to the note, and it can be detected just above the screen without making contact. This, so-called, Air View mode allows you to do things like scroll web pages without even touching the screen. It sounds like a novelty, but it is physically easier to wave a stylus than it is to make a swiping gesture –...

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Review: Proporta Turbo Charger 7000

By on Sep 8, 2012 in Reviews |

Today I’m reviewing the Proporta Turbo Charger 7000 which was kindly given to me to review by Proporta. I’d like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to test this device, and enable me to share my experience of the device with the readers of this blog. Proporta’s range of Turbo Chargers have been around for quite a while, steadily going up in capacity over time from 3400 mAh, to 5000 mAh, eventually to a massive 7000 mAh. Your average smartphone has a battery capacity between 1200mAh to 1600mAh. I tested the Turbo Charger 7000 with my Lumia 800 (1430mAh) and my Nexus 7 tablet (4350mAh) during a weekend away. The aim was to get through two days without taking power from the mains. Keep reading to find out whether that was successful or not! Packaging and Features The Turbo Charger comes in high quality packaging, in which you’ll find a suede drawstring bag which is supplied to contain the charger, two retractable USB cables and a range of charging tips for those cables. The charging tips supplied are: 1 x DS Lite, 1 x iPod, 1 x Nokia, 1 x Sony Ericsson, 1 x Micro USB and 1 x Mini USB. I feel that it might have been better to include two Micro-USB adapters and two Apple adapters. However, in most cases you can use your own USB cables and ignore the supplied equipment – especially if you are worried about losing such small parts. The only exception I found with cable compatibility was on the Nexus 7 tablet. It will only take power from the Turbo Charger with the retractable USB cable and Micro USB adapter supplied. Having a drawstring bag is ideal given the size of the Turbo Charger and its accessories. However, I would suggest Proporta use a different type of material in the future, as the suede used here was shedding lots of fibres. For my trip away, I used my own nylon drawstring bag. The Turbo Charger has two full-size USB ports which enables you to charge two devices simultaneously. One port is labelled as “Low Power” supplying 0.5 Amps as with a computer port, and the “High Power” port supplies a...

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Review – Proporta Dibber Stylus

By on May 10, 2012 in Reviews |

Once upon a time, touch screen devices were (gasp) new, and all came with a stylus. There was no tolerance for finger prints in those days. Alas, the iPhone came along and spoiled all that with an alternative technology – capacitive touch screens. These screens responded to electrical contact with human skin, instead of requiring pressure from a pointer as the old resistive technology required. Clearly, recent history showed that this type of interaction had a massive appeal with consumers around the world and now forms the blueprint for all smartphones. It’s understandable; most geeks grew up watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where glass displays were all over the star ship Enterprise. It’s funny how Star Trek never showed the crew members who had to wonder around cleaning all the glass though! Yes, even though we can directly interact with the data on our screens, there is always finger juice to be cleaned up afterwards – bring back the good old stylus! That’s where Proporta’s Dibber stylus comes in, which I’ve been testing after they kindly offered one to me for review. If you look on Proporta’s website, you’ll see a zoo of Dibber styluses for difference phones. However, I believe this is just marketing and that they are all indeed the same product. For example, I asked for the Nexus One branded Dibber, but its packaging still featured an iPhone. Indeed, there’s no such thing as a device specific stylus – if there was we’d need different fingers for each smartphone! The stylus is simply a metal tube with a plastic clip (for securing to a shirt pocket), and the other end is tipped with the magical capacitive tip. Having only used resistive styluses before, it was a surprise to find this had a semi-spherical soft tip. Part of the advantage of using the old type of stylus was that a hard point was much more accurate than a fingertip or fingernail. However, capacitive screens are made to understand the signal pattern from contact with a squishy human fingertip, and so this stylus simulates that. That’s not to say the Dibber isn’t more accurate than a finger. I particularly noticed the difference when typing on Symbian’s portrait...

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Reviewing Samsung’s “Essential” SDHC memory card

By on Oct 24, 2011 in Reviews |

Today, I am reviewing a Samsung memory card, sent to me by Memory Card Zoo. Samsung claim its line of Essential Micro SDHC cards are resilient against water and dust. Not only that, but it also says they are safe from shocks, magnetic fields and X-Rays! Memory Card Zoo sent the 8GB model for me to review, which would set you back a mere £10.79 with free delivery. Well, I don’t have electromagnets or X-Ray machines to hand, but I do have an abundant supply of water. So I gave this memory card a bath in warm water, and found that it kept on working! Before the soaking, I put it through a 21 hour continuous write test, via the USB reader shown below. The card sustained an average write speed of just over 4MB/s. This is lower than it should have been, for a class 6 card. The USB reader used for this test was an INOV8 adapter, which fits every memory card format I’ve come across! That was also sent to me from Memory Card Zoo, who sell it for £6.95. I usually find that Micro SDHC cards get too hot to touch during extended write periods. However, this one dissipated its heat quite well, and only became slightly warm to touch during writing. As mentioned above, I dropped the Essential memory card into some warm water and left it there for 10 minutes. I didn’t think there was room for pockets of gas in a Micro SDHC card, but I saw an air bubble escape as it went down. After being careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, I gave it a quick dry and continued with another write speed test. For the last test, I decided to use the memory card slot in my laptop, using the SD card adapter which Samsung supply. This time, the Samsung Essential Micro SDHC card sustained a write speed of 10MB/s, far better than before. Even more impressive, considering that it had just been submerged in water! Presumably, the memory card slot is connected to the main data bus of my laptop, rather than being an internal USB device. We might take such speeds for granted these days, but it’s worth comparing...

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Motorola Milestone 2 Comparison Photos

By on Sep 4, 2011 in Mobile News, Reviews |

Last time, I reviewed the Motorola Milestone 2 and published a gallery of close up photos for your viewing pleasure. This time the Milestone 2 is back shown up against some other milestone devices. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun! To compare the Milestone 2 in its opened QWERTY mode, I paired it up against the much loved Nokia N900, Nokia’s last Maemo device. It’s easy to call the Milestone 2 chunky, but when you put it up against the N900, you realised that things were a lot fatter just a few years ago. For portrait touch slab mode, I put the Milestone two up against the two de facto Android reference devices, the Nexus One and Nexus S. The Nexus One and Milestone 2 both have 3.7″ screens, while the Nexus S is the biggest at 4″. You also get to see the difference in the type of screen materials used. Both the Nexus One and Milestone 2 have somewhat silvered backings, while the Nexus S has a real obsidian look going on. So read on if you want to see the Milestone 2 (literally) stacked up against the Nokia N900, HTC Google Nexus One and the Samsung Nexus S! 24082011181 Top view stack: Nexus One, Milestone 2, Nexus S 24082011180 Left view stack: Nexus One, Milestone 2, Nexus S 24082011182 Rear view: Nexus One, Milestone 2, Nexus S 24082011179 Front view: Nexus One, Milestone 2, Nexus S 24082011178 Top view stack: Milestone 2, N900 24082011177 Left view stack: Milestone 2, N900 24082011175 Rear portrait view: N900, Milestone 2 24082011174 QWERTY smartphones, N900 vs Milestone...

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