Why October 2011 Was The Biggest Month In Phone History

October 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

How every major player made tremendous changes all at the same time and what it means…

Why October 2011 Was The Biggest Month In Mobile Phone History


“The more things change, the more they stay the same”. This famous quote is said to come from French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-90), but its origin is subject to ongoing dispute. As such it offers a perfect summation of the mobile phone sector after perhaps the most tumultuous month in its history.It all began on 4 October with the launch of the controversial iPhone 4S. It was followed a day later by the tragic death of Steve Jobs, arguably the innovator behind today’s touchscreen smartphones. Next RIM announced its new BBX operating system. On 19 October Google officially unveiled the most radical overhaul of Android to date with the launch of Ice Cream Sandwich and its corresponding Galaxy Nexus hardware. This week Nokia formally announced its first Windows Phone handsets, the first Nokia Lumia 800 Phone Nokia Lumia 710, marking the start of a sea change for the 146 year old company. Then Sony topped these headlines by buying out partner Ericsson to go at the sector alone.

Meanwhile throughout the month Microsoft rolled out Windows Phone Mango, the update which gets it back into the smartphone game. Even the position of the industry’s major players was shaken up as figures yesterday revealed Samsung passed Apple to become the world’s largest smartphone maker. Further signalling this new world order ZTE continued its relentless climb becoming the fourth largest mobile phone seller and RIM drifted into the dreaded category known as “others“.

And yet… the more things change, the more they stay the same. Continue reading


Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

October 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

A sample of my review for Wired of Sony Ericsson’s latest flagship smartphone…

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S review

28 October 11


Wired Rating


Wired: Slim, stylish, powerful and affordable
Stunning camera
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade just around the corner

Tired: Build materials could be better
No dual core processor

The “S” smartphone naming convention has a lot to answer for. Having twice been used by Apple to indicate “Speed” and performance upgrades to its iPhone 3G and 4 handsets it has come to symbolise technical evolution, not revolution. As such these releases have been met with apathy, but the enhanced user experience has seen both break sales records.

By contrast, Sony Ericsson would just like to stop haemorrhaging money, so perhaps it hopes adopting a similar approach with its flagship Xperia Arc can help drag the company back into the black. It may just be the smartest thing the company has done in years…

The Xperia Arc S’s developers appear to have had a simple mission statement: more performance at a reduced price. This is a nice deviation on Apple’s usual stance of putting out each new handset at the same price as the model it replaces. Consequently the Arc S retails for just £299 (sim-free) and can be had for free on most £25/month long term contracts. There is a third pleasant surprise too, but we’ll get to that later.

Taking the Arc S out of the box provokes two emotions. The first is that this is a lot of phone for the money, the second it doesn’t feel like a lot of phone. To explain, the Arc S is equipped with a substantial 4.2-inch, 854 x 480 pixel display which gives it a hefty 125 x 63 mm footprint, but at just 8.7mm thick and weighing a mere 117g, it feels more like a mock-up than a real smartphone. The size/portability benefits are obvious (the Arc S weighs 23g less than an iPhone 4S), but the downside is that Sony Ericsson has used cheap construction materials to do it. Continue Reading

Synology DiskStation DS712+

October 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Can Synology bring break neck performance to NAS without breaking the bank?

Synology DiskStation DS712+ review

Reviewed by Gordon Kelly (for TrustedReviews)
25 October 2011

Last month we took a look at the Synology DiskStation DS211j, a superb two bay NAS which brought networked storage to the masses. Now Synology is trying to overhaul the performance sector too…

Like the DS211j, the ‘Synology DiskStation DS712+’ is a two bay NAS server, but it is a radically different beast. The key feature is speed. Synology claims files can be transferred at over 180 megabytes per second and written at over 105Mbit. As sharp eyed readers will note, this is faster than a gigabit LAN connection so Link Aggregation (aka bonding two gigabit LAN connections together} is required to hit full speed. Needless to say, for the vast majority, this will mean NAS performance far in excess of anything they have seen to date.

To make such mighty claims the DS712+ is kitted out with an Intel Atom 1.8GHz CPU and a full gigabyte of RAM (specs which seem closer to a netbook than a NAS). It also supports 3TB drives, sports USB 2.0 and eSATA ports for connecting external HDDs and – needless to say – is equipped with x2 gigabit ports with Link Aggregation. Note you will still need Link Aggregation at your router, typically provided by a separate network switch (such as the D-Link DGS-1224T), but compliance with the 802.3ad industry standard is all that is required to ensure compatibility. In place Link Aggregation doubles gigabit performance to 2Gbps (256MB/s).

Despite this horsepower, the DS712+ isn’t much bigger than the budget friendly DS211j measuring just 157 x 103.5 x 232 mm and weighing 1.69Kg. Power draw is higher though at 27.5W when active and 17.6W in standby compared to 23W and 11W for its baby brother making for an immediate trade off. On the plus side operation is living room quiet at 19.2dB, but unless you install whisper quiet drives (or for the extremely well heeled, SSDs) cumulative noise levels mean the DS712+ is best kept out of sight. This isn’t to say the NAS would look out of place on display, however, the tasteful matt black finish is combined with excellent build quality and looks better than most AV equipment. Kept in a convenient location, the front loading drive bays also allow for easy HDD access and each bay can be locked to secure it against prying hands. Continue reading


Forced Medication: Why Google Hasn’t Taken To Tablets

October 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Why the search giant has found the going much harder than smartphones…


Forced Medication: Why Google Hasn’t Taken To Tablets


This week Google fixed a flaw that never should have existed in the first place: it sewed its smartphone and tablet operating systems back together. This has rightly attracted a great deal of praise and huge amounts of media attention, but arguably what is more interesting is why the tear was there in the first place.”Honeycomb was like: we need to get tablet support out there,” admitted Android’s head of user experience Matias Duarte in aninterview on Tuesday. “We need[ed] to build not just the product, but even more than the product, the building blocks so that people stop doing silly things like taking a phone UI and stretching it out to a 10-inch tablet. So that was the mission, and it was a time-boxed mission. Any corner we could cut to get that thing out the door, we had to.”



This is a startlingly frank admission and as close as you’ll ever find a multinational corporation’s senior executive to admitting it released a product it knew was a botch job. More than this it is an admission Google was behind the curve, that it was being reluctantly forced down a path it hadn’t yet planned to tread. That tablets have always failed historically may provide some justification for this, but more worryingly it is Google’s core business model which makes them a hard fit.

Tablets are fundamentally about consuming content. Google is fundamentally about finding content. It is a crucial near miss. Whereas the iPad’s early launch saw it snag the lion’s share of third party app development, Apple was also crucially able to flood it with content. Music, television, films, iBooks… all things Google currently has to outsource. Apple had iTunes, Google is working on attaining the equivalent of iTunes, but Google Music has so far proved a half measure, its eBooks project is on hold because of legal action and the less said about Google TV, the better. Worse still none of Google’s hardware partners have the resources to assist. The notable exception is Amazon and it buried Android deep under the surface of the Kindle Fire and has been actively looking to purchase its own platform. Make no mistake Amazon is a Google rival and alongside Apple it looks like the best equipped to conquer the mass market.

Continue Reading

D-Link Wireless N HD Media Router 1000 (DIR-657)

October 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Can D-Link’s stylish router capitalise on a wealth of proprietary technologies to make media streaming more reliable around the home?

D-Link Wireless N HD Media Router 1000 (DIR-657)

It is a tough job making wireless routers in 2011. The limits of 802.11n (available commercially in ‘Draft‘ form since 2007) mean manufacturers have been limited to the same core wireless speed standard for nearly five years. As such it is not only hard to differentiate products from the competition, but also to convince users they need to upgrade in the first place.

Taking another stab at both arguments is D-Link with its ‘DIR-657 Wireless N HD Media Router 1000’, a router which claims to address the biggest challenge facing wireless today: reliably streaming multimedia content around the home. The key differentiator here is D-Link’s proprietary ‘HD Fuel’ bandwidth prioritization technology which the company claims will identify and prioritise multimedia and gaming packet data to ensure faster and more consistent performance.



It sounds good in theory and D-Link hasn’t skimped in other areas as it attempts to win you over. The DIR-657 is DLNA-certified, comes with SharePort allowing any USB device (such as a printer or external HDD) to be accessed across the network, and also packs an SD card slot enabling easy sharing of camera and video recorder content. On the security sides of things you’ll find WPA2/128-bit AES data encryption, support for CAPTCHA and D-Link’s now commonplace one button WPS security setup. Meanwhile adding a little future proofing, the DIR-657 is IPV6 ready – the new protocol which will make room for another 340 undecillionInternet addresses. Of more immediate use D-Link has also outfitted the DIR-657 with four Gigabit LAN ports.


Despite all this D-Link has taken risks. Surprisingly the DIR-657 uses just a single wireless band (2.4GHz) meaning there is no dedicated network for media – instead it gets lumped in with bandwidth consumed by household web surfing and downloads. In addition D-Link has used its ‘N 300’ specification (offering speeds up to a theoretical maximum of 300Mps) when it has also long offered an ‘N 450’ spec. Obviously theoretical speeds have long been pie in the sky compared to real world performance, but for such a multimedia focused product it seems strange D-Link hasn’t opted to equip it with every possible advantage. Consequently our enthusiasm for the DIR-657 was somewhat muted and for all its headlining features we found that caution to be well advised. Continue Reading

History Repeating: The Misguided Smartphone Spec War

October 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Why specification battle between today’s cutting edge handsets must to stop…

History Repeating: The Misguided Smartphone Spec War

The word is about, there’s something evolving
Whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here
That the revolution’s near
But to me it seems quite clear
That it’s all just a little bit
of history repeating

– the Propellerheads featuring Shirley Bassey

Yesterday the iPhone 4S went on sale in France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK and US it reignited the smartphone world’s most ridiculous debate: specifications.


As many will know the iPhone 4S ships with a dual core processor, an 800MHz Apple designed, ARM based, A5 chip to be precise. It is the first iPhone to make the jump to multi-core architecture and iOS’s ability to assign different tasks to different processor cores brings about notably faster performance. In fact Apple is heavily promoting the iPhone 4S as being twice as fast as its iPhone 4 predecessor. This is an important specification change and it is worthy of discussion. What quickly makes it ridiculous is comparison.

Premium Android smartphones have long had dual core processors. The first, the LG Optimus 2x, was announced back in January. In the nine months since it has been joined by high profile models such as the Motorola Atrix, HTC Sensation and Sensation XL, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and imminently the Nexus Prime. Even with the Optimus 2x its dual cores were already running at 1GHz, while the cores of the two Sensations and Galaxy S run at 1.2GHz. Meanwhile the Prime (teased below) is expected to race along on 1.5GHz cores. Whatever is Apple doing releasing a new iPhone which is already so significantly behind the competition? It hasn’t, and this is the inherent problem in the smartphone spec war… 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. 

Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586)

October 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Three has released the first HSPA+ device in the UK. Do the theoretical benefits translate into real ones?

Three MiFi HSPA+ (Huawei E586) review

If you believe today’s tech marketers you not only need a smartphone and a laptop, but a tablet and an eBook reader as well. Keeping each online can quickly become expensive, but Three’s latest MiFi package offers a far more graceful solution. Vitally, it also offers the fastest…For those not in the know, MiFi devices are portable WiFi hotspots. They are pocket sized and battery powered, connect to a mobile network and send out a security protected WiFi signal to which you can connect all your portable devices. The downside is all your devices share a single connection. The significant upside is you pay for just one tariff leading to considerable cost savings.
Now in launching the Huawei ‘E586’ MiFi, Three has become the first UK carrier to sell an HSPA+ compatible device. The HSPA+or Evolved HSPA specification has an increased theoretical download speed of up to 21.6Mbps, while maintaining the 5.76Mbps theoretical upload speed of HSUPA. This compares very favourably to the 7.2Mbps theoretical maximum download speeds of rival MiFi products. Needless to say ‘theoretical’ has little to do with reality, but we’ll come back to this in a few paragraphs.Speed isn’t the only feature on the agenda though, the beauty of the E586 is its simple design. Front and centre is the small, but wonderfully clear, OLED display which provides at-a-glance information to everything you need. From top left to bottom right (see image below) these are: signal strength, connection type, the number of connected devices (up to five), connection status, new messages, battery level, total data usage and roaming state (‘R’ shows if enabled). Meanwhile on the right side you have power and security buttons, the latter of which displays the SSID and password and on the left there is a 32GB compatible microSD slot which turns the E586 into an elaborate memory key if plugged into a PC. This can be done via the micro USB port on the bottom of the E586, which is also used for charging. Helpfully Three supplies not just a charging cable, but also a matching dock. 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. 

Back to the Future: Why the 3GS Matters More Than the iPhone 4S

October 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Tim Cook’s biggest announcement was missed last night. Apple is going mass market and it is the iPhone 3GS which holds the key.

Back to the Future: Why the 3GS Matters More Than the iPhone 4S

Were you disappointed by the iPhone 4S? Tough. Apple doesn’t care…Last night the world’s most highly valued company fulfilled its promise. It gathered journalists into its Cupertino headquarters and came through on its pre-event proclamation: ‘Let’s talk iPhone’. Consumers and journalists alike simply focused on the wrong model. Apple’s excitement was not about the iPhone 4S, but the iPhone 3GS.
Tim Cook, in his maiden speech following Steve Jobs’ retirement, dropped hints from the beginning.  “Despite all [its] success and momentum, the iPhone has five per cent share of the worldwide market of handsets,” he explained in a rare, but crucial moment of humility. “I could have shown a much larger number if I just showed smartphones, but that’s not how we look at it.” Apple events are famed for their slow burn beginnings, but this was the second most important statement of the evening. It was followed by the most important: “We believe that over time all phones become smartphones. This market is an enormous opportunity.”The world missed it: Apple is going mass market. It is also going business. “Momentum is far outpacing the industry. It’s not just consumer, 93% of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPhone. It’s consistently rated #1 in every customer satisfaction ranking I can find.” Business and mainstream consumers share two common traits, they are cheap and they are slow. It you’re reading this then the likelihood is the majority of your friends have some kind of smartphone. The iPhone 4S is for you. It is for the five per cent. The iPhone 3GS is for the remaining 95 per cent.  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. 

Sony Tablet S [Updated]

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Has Sony’s first Android tablet been worth the wait?

UPDATE: Now also find my opinions on the Tablet S for Wired. Here’s a sample: “Sony has to be different. It is a strategy which has seen the company both rise and fall, but it doggedly refuses to change its ways. So there’s little surprise Sony’s long awaited iPad rival shows all the benefits and drawbacks this approach brings.Read on

Sony Tablet S

The relentless advance of touchscreen technology has brought many advantages to the tech world, but the increasingly generic look of slab-like devices is a noticeable downside. So praise be to Sony for deciding thin definitely is not in.The Tablet S (previously known as the Sony S1) is Sony’s long awaited first Android tablet and its primary defining feature is to snub its nose at the aesthetically pleasing but impractical race to be thinnest. Instead Sony has thought along more practical lines producing a tablet whose side profile is reminiscent of its wedge shaped Vaio laptops.
7This gives the Tablet S a more natural typing and viewing angle when laid flat and the curved edge is noticeably more comfortable when holding the device one handed in portrait orientation – the natural way for reading books, magazines and other nicely formatted content. What’s more, at 598g it has little practical detriment, weighing less than an iPad 2(601g). Clearly its maximum thickness (20.3mm) is greater by some margin than most of the competition (circa 10mm) but in everyday use this hasn’t proved at all problematic. Perhaps the only criticism we would made of this wedge shape is that it doesn’t taper enough – the thin end feels chunkier that it perhaps needs to be.What also lets the side down is the mediocre build quality. Aside from its glass screen, the Tablet S is all plastic, and mostly glossy plastic at that. This gives it a slightly hollow feel that just doesn’t quite have the premium feel of most rivals – the pathetic plastic flap that covers the ports is particularly unimpressive. As ever, it isn’t the case that the Tablet S will fall apart, its just about the feel of the thing. Continue Reading


Scotsman: The Future’s Calling

October 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Intrigued by what technology has to offer the business traveller traveller of tomorrow? You’ll enjoy my feature from last week’s special report in the Scotsman. Science fiction is fast becoming science fact…

PDFs can be downloaded here of page 1 and page 2

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. 

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