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Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker

September 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Well built, small and powerful, so why doesn’t the new Bose SoundLink Mobile Speaker quite work?

Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker

Search Google for the term ‘mobile speaker’ and more than three million results will be returned.  There are few more competitive sectors and, for the potential buyer, few more chaotic. Almost every manufacturer has had a go by now offering a plethora of products in different sizes, form factors and price points. Bose is late on the scene, but – being Bose – has added yet another new twist on the sector…
94%7Cff8066%7Cb15e 27 09 2011 15 10 17 Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker
The ‘SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker’ was announced earlier this month to a great deal of fanfare. The SoundDock Portable has been the company’s long serving iPhone dock for those who like their music on the move, but the SoundLink is significantly smaller, lighter and cheaper. For those lusting after a Bose system it presents a new low entry point. 

How much smaller, lighter and cheaper? The SoundLink measures 244 x 130 x 48mm and weighs 1.3Kg verses the SoundDock’s 307 x 175 x 103mm and 2.37Kg. It is also £90 less expensive. It’s a positive start and seems to fill a hole in Bose’s product range. So what do you get? Bose is typically hush hush about the technology inside the SoundLink giving no performance specs whatsoever.
94%7Cb3a393%7C21b2 orh616w616 27 09 2011 15 09 52 Bose SoundLink Wireless Mobile speaker
To quote the company: “It combines four low-profile neodymium transducers for clear high- and mid-frequencies, with new dual-opposing passive radiators – designed with a patented waffle-shaped surround – for rich, deep, low notes. With the radiators placed in an opposing fashion, vibration is eliminated, turning the energy into acoustic power. The speaker’s audio package is complemented with sophisticated electronics, including Bose digital signal processing algorithms, to reproduce instrument definition and detail at any volume.” That’s your lot. Less ambiguous are the SoundLink’s other attributes… Continue Reading

 

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Has Facebook Just Changed the Internet?

September 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Radical new features introduced at the company’s F8 annual conference could have far reaching affects.

Has Facebook Just Changed the Internet?

The world’s largest social network has just undergone two of the biggest changes in its history and they may alter the way we use the Internet forever…

On Thursday evening Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used the company’s F8 annual conference to announce new multimedia, app and gaming integration. Deals with the likes of Spotify, Netflix, Zynga, the Guardian and Washing Post are fundamentally changing Facebook from a content link to a supplier. As these services are linked through Facebook rather than hosted on the site (for example, you still need to install the Spotify client) the social network remains an indirect supplier, but much like a cinema is supplied by a film studio it remains a supplier nonetheless.

600 Has Facebook Just Changed the Internet?

Vitally Facebook also becomes a content destination and, with Zuckerberg announcing half a billion people had recently visited the site in just 24 hours, potentially the world’s most powerful promoter and distributor. Spotify immediately illustrated this, following the Facebook deal it announced free, unlimited music streaming for six months in the US (its newest and Facebook’s biggest market). If 800m active users (50 per cent of which log into Facebook in any given day) are going to have the Spotify brand suddenly thrust upon them then Spotify is rightly determined to take advantage.

Facebook has not revealed who is paying who with these multimedia tie-ins, but all parties look set to benefit. More to the point, however, it is Facebook which holds the power. Its multimedia partners have significant rivals, Facebook does not and as these companies fight to agree deals with Facebook revenue cuts should mean whichever way it plays out, Facebook wins. It gets better for Zuckerberg too now the site has turned profiles into ‘lives’… Continue Reading

 

Exclusive: Vuzix Wrap 1200 Video Eyewear review

September 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Video glasses may be our future, but I investigate whether they are ready to be our present…

Exclusive: Vuzix Wrap 1200 Video Eyewear review

In almost every Science Fiction film there is a moment where the lead puts on some glasses which enhance the world around them. The concept appeals to little kid in all of us, that we may somehow see things better than everyone else without their knowledge. Furthermore in a world increasingly dominated by small screens, where visibility is traded against portability, the need for our devices to present information in a more easily digestible format is growing. All of which pains me to say: we’re not quite there yet…
776100%7C632b vuzix wrap 1200 video glasses 0 Exclusive: Vuzix Wrap 1200 Video Eyewear review
The latest attempt to make our Sci-Fi dreams reality comes from Vuzix. The company has pedigree having made video eyewear for 14 years and is currently under contract with DARPA to develop its next generation of military heads up displays. In the meantime it has launched the ‘Wrap 1200′ for consumers which it hopes will be the launch point for taking video eyewear into the mainstream.

On paper the specs are certainly impressive. Vuzix boasts the Wrap 1200 gives wearers the impression of watching a 75in screen from 3m away, the standard living room viewing distance. It can display in 16:9 widescreen and good old 4:3 aspect ratios, is both 2D and 3D compatible, has an onscreen menu system and twin 852 x 480 pixel panels for each eye. The Wrap 1200 works with virtually any device featuring video out such as smartphones, iPhones, iPods, portable DVD players, tablets and games consoles.

Crucially, unlike many previous video glasses, the Wrap 1200 is also fully adjustable.  The company’s ‘AccuTilt’ display technology allows users to independently tweak left and right eye focus and match their own IPD (Interpupillary Distance or eye separation) for optimum placement in front of each eye (much like binoculars). Furthermore there is an adjustable hypoallergenic nosepiece which enables the Wrap 1200 to be worn over glasses and noise-isolating earphones are included, though you can plug in your own if you prefer. It sounds good, but the first doubts creep in when you open the box. Continue Reading

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Reimagining Microsoft: The Risks & Rewards of Windows 8

September 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Could Microsoft leap to the forefront of innovation after being pushed into a corner?

Reimagining Microsoft: The Risks & Rewards of Windows 8

“If Windows 8 is Windows reimagined, we’re also in the process, and Windows 8 is an important step of that, of reimagining Microsoft.”
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It was a remarkably candid Steve Ballmer who let these words spill from his lips during the second day of keynote addresses from the BUILD Windows developer conference. He let another gem fall soon after: “We haven’t sold quite as many as I would have liked in the first year ” he told financial analysts when asked about Windows Phone 7. “I’m not saying I love where we are but I am very optimistic on where we can be. We’ve just got to kick this thing to the next level.”

Whether it’s reimagining or kicking to the next level, the line coming out of Microsoft is one of change. It isn’t a new line and it is one we’ve grown sceptical of hearing, but with its shoots rooted in equal parts innovation and desperation it is change which is truly coming.
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Arguably the innovation was seen long before this week’s public outing of Windows 8. The OS itself is merely a hybrid of the UI long available in Windows Phone, the gaming and social prowess of Xbox Live, the App Store running at the heart of Mac OS X Lion and built upon the dual ARM/Intel support announced in January. Ballmer himself has referred to “the next release of Windows” as the company’s riskiest product bet and he is right, but the risk lies more in Microsoft’s ability to mix these tried and tested ingredients together than question marks about their individual viability.

3b075c%7C3b6d 5 Reimagining Microsoft: The Risks & Rewards of Windows 8
As for the desperation, this is equally clear. While the company is unlikely to ever relinquish its grip on the PC market it has grown increasingly fearful of Apple’s declarations of a Post-PC Era and a future based on mobile software filtering down. Windows Phone remains in its infancy and iPads dominate 73 per cent of the tablet space which Windows 8 tries so desperately to appease. Meanwhile Android’s open hardware policy out Microsoft’s Microsoft and Google outmanoeuvres Microsoft online.

The rewards of Windows 8 could change this. CONTINUE READING

Copyright for all reviews, editorials and features on this site belong to their respective publishers. All samples published on this website are via prior agreement with those publishers and serve to act as a portfolio and centralised location for all my work. Contact me at gordon@gordonkelly.com should you wish to commission me or supply review samples, press releases or arrange meetings. 

Updated: Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)

September 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Update: My review of the Monte Carlo for Wired is also now live and can be found here.

 

The Orange San Francisco was the smartphone bargain of the year… until now.

Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)

Value is a hotly debated topic in the TrustedReviews offices. A high price can deflate our enthusiasm for an exceptional product while a low price can get us excited about something decided average (look no further than the HP TouchPad firesale). So when a good product comes along at a startlingly low price our interest skyrockets.
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The product in question is the Orange Monte Carlo (aka the ZTE Skate), an Android smartphone we first saw in February at Mobile World Congress and was confirmed for an Orange rebrand back in July. The specifications are what we would expect of a high-end Android handset: 4.3in touchscreen, HSDPA, WiFi, GPS and Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Far less expected however is the asking price: just £149.99 on pre-pay. Is it too good to be true? In part, yes.
6f812b%7C1422 1 Updated: Orange Monte Carlo (ZTE Skate)
Out of the (admittedly cheap) box, what immediately strikes us about the Monte Carlo is its construction. At 125.9 x 67.8 x 10.4mm it feels large in hand, but tipping the scales at a mere 120g it is remarkably lightweight. The upside is, despite its large footprint, the Monte Carlo isn’t a pocket-ripper. The downside is the weight is a result of the cheap plastics used in construction. This is the first sign of cost cutting with the Monte Carlo and means it doesn’t have the tactility of an HTC Desire S or Samsung Galaxy S2. That said our Monte Carlo sample didn’t creak or bend and its home, menu and back buttons beneath the screen feel durable.
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As for the screen itself, this follows a similar pattern of cost cutting but to no great loss. The panel isn’t AMOLED or IPS, but it packs in a respectable 480 x 800 pixels, colours still look bright, text is sharp and the touchscreen is responsive. Less responsive is the performance of the Monte Carlo itself. CONTINUE READING

 

Yahoo! The Google That Never Was

September 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

After another CEO’s head rolls I look at where it all went wrong for Yahoo!

Yahoo! The Google That Never Was

“I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s chairman of the board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.”These are the shockingly candid words sent to staff by Carol Bartz, who until Tuesday was the CEO of Yahoo!. Remarkably it got worse. “These people f***ed me over,” she told Fortune magazine just 48 hours later. “They [Yahoo's board of directors] were spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country. Now they’re trying to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are.”7fdaa4%7Cce04 bartz Yahoo! The Google That Never WasIn response activist investor Daniel Loeb bought a 5.1per cent stake in Yahoo! yesterday, but instead of siding with Bartz he argued the chairman and three other members should resign for hiring her in the first place and not firing her sooner. Don’t feel too sorry for Bartz though. In her first year she netted a potential $47.2m and her severance payment could be in excess of $10m for her 2 1/2 years in charge. The fact these figures will likely be heavily reduced because they are tied to long term stock options only makes them more damning. It didn’t have to be that way.
d4e528%7Cec6a 3 Yahoo! The Google That Never Was
Originally called ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’, Yahoo! was founded on 1 March 1995 by Stanford University graduates David Filo and Jerry Yang. They did the fashionable thing at the time by evolving Yahoo! into a web portal before riding the dot-com bubble with an IPO that saw shares rocket to a whopping  $118.75 each by January 2000. It marked Yahoo’s high water mark. The company was a mainstay of a youthful Internet, loaded with cash and ready to spend. It was the Google of 2000 at a time when the actual Google was a 20 month old start-up which wouldn’t file for its fund raising IPO until mid 2004. Yahoo! had similar grand plans… CONTINUE READING

BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide 2011

September 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Each year I write a number of features for the BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide. Released for the run up to Christmas it features 119 pages detailing the latest and greatest gadgets and trends for mainstream consumers.

My articles include tablet and superphone (dual core smartphone) group tests, plus a look at the eBook revolution and the best laptops currently on sale. I was kindly given extracts from some of these features which you can see below – click them to enlarge. There are download links to PDFs of these extracts.

Superphones

Tablet Tour

Tablet App Guide

The Ultimate Gadget Guide 2011 is on sale now for just £4.99 including P&P. Click here to purchase a copy.

Superphones BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide 2011 tablets BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide 2011 apps BBC Focus Ultimate Gadget Guide 2011

Synology DiskStation DS211j

September 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

‘Exciting’ is not usually associated with networked attached storage, but it is now Synology has bought a full featured NAS to a truly mainstream price point.

Synology DiskStation DS211j

  • Reviewed by Gordon Kelly
  • 07 September 2011

According to recent stats 35 per cent of users have never backed up their computer and of those that do the majority backup less than once per year. The most elegant solution is network attached storage, but cost and complexity mean it has yet to scale down to mainstream consumers. This could be about to change…

The Synology DiskStation DS211j is the baby brother to the excellent Synology DiskStation DS411j and it brings with it two significant changes: a reduced form factor supporting two hard drives not four and a 40 per cent price drop. The knock on effect is the DS211j, at just 161x88x218mm and 1Kg (excl. drives), is more convenient to store and its £150 RRP will turn heads.
c5802e%7C4660 1 Synology DiskStation DS211j
One look at its spec sheet should firm up that interest. The DS211j packs the same horsepower (1.2GHz Marvell Kirwood CPU, 128MB DDR2 RAM) as the larger DS411j along with support for JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays plus iSCSI support. It also matches up with one front and two rear USB ports which can be used to add further storage, backup specific content to thumb drives or share a printer across a network. These ports support some WiFi dongles so you can ditch the cables.

For those who do wish to cable up the DS211j supports the now mandatory Gigabit Ethernet and should appeal to multimedia fans being DLNA and UPnP compliant. iTunes Server is built in too along with ‘Audio Station’ for streaming Internet radio stations or iPod playback (withoptional USB speakers) and ‘Download Station’ functions as a BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule and NZB (Usenet) download client without needing a PC. CONTINUE READING

 

2011: The Year Everyone Copied Apple

September 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Technology advances at a breakneck pace, but true innovation has never been more lacking.

 

2011: The Year Everyone Copied Apple

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 03 September 2011

From 2006 to 2010 Apple ran its famous Get a Mac ad campaign. Actors differed from country to country, but the premise was always the same: a casually dressed ‘cool’ guy pretends to be a Mac and mocks his unfashionably dressed colleague who claims to be a PC. In 2008 Microsoft responded with its I’m a PC commercials to celebrate the diversity of its users and, by extension, the diversity of Windows computers. Whether or not consumers were impressed, it is now clear Microsoft’s hardware partners were not.

In 2011 a different message now rings loud and clear: “I’m a Mac copy”. The trend started in 2009 when HP released the Envy 15, but as IFA 2011 draws to a close it is clear the theme has not been innovation, but duplication.

Ultrabooks and tablets have been the stand out categories from this year’s Berlin tech show. The former is a term coined by Intel representing ultra thin, affordable and powerful laptops. Intel enforces strict style, size, weight, component and pricing guidelines on manufacturers who wish to qualify for some of the CPU’s giant’s $300m subsidies. The result: every model announced – the Acer Aspire S3, Toshiba Portege Z830, Asus UX21 and Lenovo IdeaPad U300s - without exception, look exactly like the MacBook Air.
899d57%7Ca233 wpid asus ux21 laptop 2011: The Year Everyone Copied Apple
Don’t feel sorry for manufacturers though, even without Intel’s incentives they are still at it. At IFA Samsung launched the 15in Series 7 which is a clone of the MacBook Pro. The main rival to Ultrabooks will be tablets. This sector is even more desperate to pay homage to Apple, having written off the form factor until the Cupertino giant took another stab at it. Now they all want back in, but despite increasingly impressive hardware the public have yet to be tempted. Right now the world’s second largest selling tablet is discontinued. 21 months on from the announcement of the first iPad there can be few greater embarrassments. CONTINUE READING

Bose Companion 20

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

This 2.0 speaker setup is one of the first Bose products I’ve seen that actually lives up to its billing.

Bose Companion 20

 

OVERALL 9 /10

Value
7/10
Usability
10/10
Features
6/10
Design
8/10

Features

  • 2.0 speaker arrangement
  • Wired volume/line in/headphone pod
  • Auto standby for power saving

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Powerful, bassy sound
  • Convenient wired remote
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Possibly a bit too bassy
  • No bass/treble control

If you look back over the years Bose has had a tough time on TrustedReviews and has never received a recommended award. The reasons are generally twofold; they tend to be overpriced and yet underperform sonically. Well now we have a Bose product we like, a lot.

The Bose Companion 20 is something all too rare from the company: a new product. The famed  Bose SoundDock Portable, for example, was released way back in 2007 and yet it remains largely unchanged while many of the competition is refreshed every 12-18 months. Bose may well choose to keep the Companion 20 unchanged for many moons, but as it stands we benefit from the company’s latest technical innovations and as such, in August 2011, it is a joy.92fcf2%7C6902 23 08 2011 15 51 49 Bose Companion 20

As the name hints (but doesn’t fully explain), the Companion 20 is a 2.0 speaker system, the familiar pitch being: there is no need for a separate sub woofer. Given the task at hand the speakers are fairly compact measuring just 219 x 119 x 89mm and weighing 1.13Kg each. They also couldn’t be simpler with no bass or treble adjustment and all operations confined to a simple ‘control pod’ that houses a touch sensitive power/mute button, second auxiliary input and headphone jack.

All told first impressions are positive. Build quality is excellent. The metal front grill and rear look good while Bose has steered away from the dreaded piano black to use more dust phobic matt finishes on the top of the speakers and around the control pod. The touch sensitive response of the pod’s surface (the entire metal top) is also excellent instantly turning the speakers on or off, a status illustrated by a white power indicator. The volume ring also oozes quality, feeling smooth but with a slight sense of inertia. CONTINUE READING

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