3 Value MiFi (Huawei E586)

June 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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Is a cut price mobile WiFi a bargain or a false economy?

Price as reviewed £50.00

Overall 7/10

Key Features

  • HSPA+ 21.1Mbit compatible
  • LED icon display
  • Connects up to five devices
  • 4.5 hour battery life
Much like Cloud computing and the latest smartphones, one of the products most evangelised by techies to mainstream users is mobile Wi-Fi. These small devices allow multiple products to connect to their mobile internet connection, removing the need for numerous network contracts and saving hard earned cash. Yes we would always welcome even cheaper tariffs, but interestingly Three seems to think the mobile WiFi units themselves needs a cut price option.
61011 3 Value MiFi (Huawei E586)
Features
Consequently we now have the 3 Value MiFi – which is at its core a Huawei E5331 mobile Wi-Fi device. Like its more expensive sibling, the excellent Three Premium MiFi, it provides HSPA 21.1Mbit compatibility, connects up to five devices simultaneously and has 30 minutes less battery life at 4.5 hours. More radically, the 3 Value MiFi does away with the Premium’s detailed three line OLED display in favour of five simple LED icons, but aims to make up for this by costing 40 per cent less at just £50.
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So does the argument make sense? Out of the box we’re not convinced. Despite being the more fully featured device the Premium MiFi has a smaller footprint (95.5 x 49mm versus 92.8 x 60mm) while being only fractionally thicker (49mm versus 60mm) and at 80g is five grams lighter.  We also have issues with the Value MiFi’s build quality. The white finish is more prone to marks and there is a rough join between the device and its removable rear cover that feels cheap.
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In terms of connectivity the 3 Value MiFi is a victim of cut backs since it loses the Premium MiFi’s 32GB compatible microSD slot – which allows that model to function as memory key when plugged into a computer. Meanwhile the move to a basic icon display (network strength, Wi-Fi signal, battery and new mail) omits key information which could prove costly long term such as a roaming indicator and the amount of data you have downloaded. Furthermore each icon’s colour system of green or orange to signal strong or weak gives the user a somewhat binary level of information compared to the Premium MiFi’s strength bars.
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Design
There is another frustrating complication too… This is a sample, read the rest of the review on TrustedReviews

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. 

Lenco IPT-223 iPod/iPhone Tower

June 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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A sub £250 6.1 dock, DVD player and soundbar rolled into one.

By  (for TrustedReviews)
Reviewed 08 June 2012

Price as reviewed £239.00

Overall 8/10

Key Features

  • 6x 10W, 30W sub.
  • Integrated DVD player
  • iPod/iPhone video output
  • FM tuner, sleep timer
  • SD/MMC card reader
  • HDMI, SCART, auxiliary audio output
In technology size matters. And the best kind of size is “small”, preferably with a side helping of thin and light. The Lenco IPT-223 is none of those things and is all the better for it. The successor to the IPT-2, a surprise hit with a bargain RRP, the IPT-223 comes with entirely new internals, additional functionality, a neat party trick and a larger price tag. So do the numbers still add up?
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Design
Out of the box little appears to have changed. As we head towards an increasingly minimalist period of gadget design this may not be to everyone’s taste, but with its striking appearance the Lenco IPT-223 remains an obvious talking point. Less welcome are some unaddressed issues with build quality, namely the hollow moulded (detachable) stand and mix of matt and shiny surfaces. None of this is to say the IPT-223 is poorly-made, it feels extremely solid and the control buttons can take a battering, but it is frustrating to see the same grumbles resurface.

94 00002367e d22a orh616w616  IPT 223 front 1 Lenco IPT 223 iPod/iPhone Tower

Features
Reinforcing this sense of déjà vu are the IPT-2-matching dimensions of 208 x 189 x 870mm (315 x 305 x 933mm with the base), but when you look closer it is all change. The most obvious and unexpected addition is that of a DVD player. The Lenco IPT-223 has added SCART, video out and HDMI so the tower can double up as a DVD player as well as outputting photos and videos from an iPhone or iPod touch. There are also left and right auxiliary inputs so it can be used as a sound bar. Interestingly none of this is the party trick.

The new-found video friendliness hasn’t replaced other aspects of the IPT-2 either, it still has an FM tuner, obligatory Apple dock connector and SD/MMC card slot while it can read MP3, WMA and Jpeg files from a DVD. Meanwhile the LED display is unchanged with a bevy of surrounding controls including function, eject, sleep timer and tuner memory buttons while the playback controls are positioned on top. There is also a new remote which adapts to its wider remit by looking more like one for a DVD player than your average dock. As with virtually all remotes it is 100 per cent plastic, but well made and the tower is responsive.

So to the party trick… This is a sample. Read the full review at TrustedReviews

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. 

ViewSonic VX2460h-LED Monitor

June 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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Does the world’s thinnest monitor sacrifice substance for style?

Price as reviewed £159.00

Overall 8/10

Key Features

  • 24in 1920 x 1080 TN panel
  • 6.8mm thick
  • 2ms grey to grey response time
  • Eco power-saving mode
  • Dual HDMI inputs

Technology and fashion are now virtually inseparable, as is their obsession with thinness. Monitors have joined phones, tablets, laptops and televisions in a desperate race to shed the pounds. Now ViewSonic has produced the skinniest monitor of them all, but is it a trend setter or a misdirected fashion victim?

Design
Certainly the name is unlikely to become iconic, but the ViewSonic VX2460h-LED makes a striking first impression. At just 6.8mm thick at its thinnest point our first fear was the VX2460h may snap in our hands. Of course like so many specifications in the monitor industry this dimension is somewhat misleading. It is 14mm thick at the display’s widest point and the stand itself is 200mm deep – the 6.8mm measurement is for superficial rather than practical reasons. Fashion would be proud.
6102 ViewSonic VX2460h LED Monitor
 Whether fashion would be proud of the Viewsonic VX2460h-LED from the front, however, is more debateable. In slimming down the monitor ViewSonic has had to squeeze internals around the outside of the panel which results in a wide bezel. The approach will divide opinion and we aren’t a big fan of the bezel’s glossy piano black finish either. It does house intuitive touch sensitive power, source and onscreen menu buttons though and overall the look is somewhat retro.

Features
ViewSonic has also indulged its retro intentions with the inclusion of a VGA port at the back and a useful 3.5mm headphone jack, but otherwise it is 21st century all the way with inclusion of dual HDMI ports. This arrangement is becoming increasingly standard on modern monitors and makes it easy to toggle between two sources such as a laptop and desktop or even phone and tablet.

Less commendable is the minimalist stand. This is a sample, read the full review on TrustedReviews

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. 

Internet bullying is a (sad) fact of life

June 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

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My debut blog post for MSN Social Voices.

Are legislators’ attempts to curb trolling misjudged and should we all grow thicker skins?

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“Just hit him back, harder.” For years this was the simple advice given by fathers to children bullied at school. This bullying would not only take the form of taunts and pranks, but real physical abuse. Did such a risky piece of advice work? Sometimes, sometimes not. Today it certainly isn’t condoned, but there is a strong argument to be made for today’s web users to grow a thicker skin.

Today The Defamation Bill gets a second reading in the House of Commons. Its aim: to give websites a procedure to take down abusive material and identify trolls without facing legal recrimination. Some call it an abuse of privacy; others say it is long overdue legislation to deal with the scum of the internet. It is both… and good luck separating them.

Quite frankly everyone needs to grow a backbone. The websites which need stronger content filters, the social networks which need to stand up and take responsibility for the stupid, insulting and occasionally racist comments which form a tiny part of the millions of messages that earn them billions of dollars.

Users themselves also need to toughen up. Last month a survey found just over half of all Internet users have received abuse online or by text message… boo hoo, that’s about 50% less than those who have received it in real life.

For every righteous case there is something utterly ridiculous and the problem with written words is the unsolvable potential for misinterpretation which is only compiled by the internet’s ability to hide identity or get fraped.

“It will be very important to ensure that these measures do not inadvertently expose genuine whistleblowers,” said justice secretary Ken Clarke speaking about the Defamation Bill. “We are committed to getting the detail right to minimise this risk.”

Do you have faith in a legal process which came up with the Digital Economy Act (a law which prosecutes the bill payer of an internet connection, regardless of who committed a crime using it) and negotiated the ‘detail’ of the SOPA anti-piracy legislation with record labels and Hollywood studio bosses behind closed doors? Hardly.

Then the alternative is simply to give in. “You have zero privacy anyway,” said Sun Microsystem’s CEO Scott McNealy in 1999. Thirteen years later it is still something we are struggling to come to terms with. The free services we have long enjoyed have always come with this cost.

Did you think the power of the internet to connect people the world over wouldn’t also lead to the power to snipe, bully and troll the world over? How sweet.

Read the original article on MSN Social Voices and much more here.

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. 

Buffalo AirStation 1750 802.11ac Router

June 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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Next generation Wi-Fi has arrived and it is very, very fast.

Price as reviewed £199.00

Overall 7/10

Key Features

  • First 802.11ac networking equipment
  • 2.4GHz & 5GHz dual bands
  • 802.11a/b/g/n backwards compatible
  • Currently needs 802.11ac media bridge

Welcome to the bleeding edge, the place where next generation technology awaits, along with quite a few paper cuts. Leading us to this exciting yet sometimes infuriating region this time is Buffalo, which has become the first company to ship a router and network bridge compliant with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
94 000023883 db01 orh616w616 6 Buffalo AirStation 1750 802.11ac Router
Next Generation WiFi 
The brief on 802.11ac is simple: it is the long-awaited successor to 802.11n and it promises data rates beyond 1Gbps (125 megabytes per second) over the still little used 5GHz band. It also claims to offer increased range to eliminate dead spots around the home. The fly in the ointment is the 802.11ac standard has yet to be finalised and (much like ‘Draft N‘ devices) impatient companies are already starting to ship ‘Draft AC’ equipment with the promise of future firmware updates to bring it into line with the finalised standard whenever and whatever that may be. In addition there are currently no 802.11ac laptops, tablets, phones or even USB and PCI cards on the market.

Which brings us back to Buffalo and its catchily-named AirStation 1750 Wireless 802.11n 11ac Gigabit Dual Band Router WZR-D1800H-EU (above, left). In order to immediately enjoy its next gen connectivity it has also launched the equally snappy ‘AirStation 1300 Wireless 802.11n 11ac Gigabit Dual Band Media Bridge WLI-H4-D1300-EU’ (above, right). This acts as a receiver for the router’s ac Wi-Fi and has four Ethernet ports on the back to connect devices. It is a workaround, but for the likes of NAS boxes, media players, desktop PCs and other devices that a) don’t have integrated Wi-Fi, or b) tend not to move around, it is a smart and completely driverless one.
94 00002387e 2527 orh616w616 1 Buffalo AirStation 1750 802.11ac Router
Features
So let’s take a closer look at the router part. Naturally the ’1750′ figure, suggesting 1750Mbit speed is a cheat (it combines theoretical 1300Mbit 802.11ac and theoretical 450Mbit 802.11n speeds), though interestingly it could have been higher since 802.11n is supported over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands giving a 900Mbit figure. For the record 802.11ac only works over the 5GHz band.

This is a sample. Read the full article at TrustedReviews

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. 

AOC E2251FWU 22in USB Monitor

June 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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A USB powered 22in Full HD monitor. Smart, yes. Practical? We’re not so sure.

Price as reviewed £123.00

Overall 6/10

Key Features

  • 22in Full HD display
  • Power via two USB ports
  • 5ms response time
  • TN panel
 If you don’t have £1,700 spare for a new Retina Display MacBook Pro then don’t despair, there are simpler and cheaper ways of attaining even greater desktop real estate. Multi-monitor setups are on the rise, prices are falling and setup is minimal. Can AOC make waves in this burgeoning market?

94 00002377f 53e8 orh616w616 4 AOC E2251FWU 22in USB Monitor
Design
The ‘E2251FWU’ is AOC’s weapon of choice and it is a potentially powerful one. Unlike most of the competition, such as Lenovo’s ThinkVision LT1421, the E2251FWU is a desktop size 22in display with Full HD resolution. Moreover, like its typically smaller rivals, the E2251FWU is still powered solely by USB and it consumes only eight watts during standard operation.

The picture is positive on paper and in reality the E2251FWU also makes a good first impression. The design is clean with relatively slim bezels on three sides, it is thin and there are two standing positions: 1. in a picture frame manner supported by an arm on the back and resting on its thicker bottom bezel, and 2. adding the optional stand to the rear arm to lift it to the same height as a standard desktop monitor. It is also fairly light at 2.45Kg (2.6Kg including the stand) and while the bezel is made of low grade plastic, there are no creaks and squeezes in the construction.

94 00002377e 4072 orh616w616 3 AOC E2251FWU 22in USB Monitor
We do have complaints about the design though. In either standing position the E2251FWU cannot be adjusted. This is understandable without its base, but even when it is added there is no tilt, pivot or height adjustment and we found its position tilted too far forward for our liking. This won’t be an issue for laptop users who will use it flat, but for those hoping to line up the E2251FWU at the same height as their existing monitor it is frustrating – especially since it also does not support a portrait mode.

Features
On the plus side setup is a breeze…. This is a sample. Read the full review on TrustedReviews

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. 

Audyssey Lower East Coast Audio Dock Air (AirPlay)

June 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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Do you want a small AirPlay dock with huge performance? You should…

Price as reviewed £299.99

Overall 9/10

Key Features

  • Two 4in woofers, two .75in tweeters, two 4in passive bass radiators
  • BassXT technology
  • AirPlay
  • Highly compact

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of reviewing technology is finding a product which confounds your expectations. The Audyssey ‘Lower East Side Audio Dock Air’ is the crazily named follow up to the equally bonkers South of Market Audio Dock. It has reduced functionality and downgraded speakers yet costs just as much because Audyssey has added AirPlay. Our style over substance argument was readied… but we were wrong.

Design
Out the box the Dock Air looks nothing like its bigger brother. Audyssey has ditched its gentle curves for a more rectangular design and significantly cut down the dimensions. At just 22.6 x 21.1 x 12 cm and weighing 2.3Kg is it the most compact AirPlay dock we have seen. The design may be minimal, but it is also attractive. Unlike show-offs such as the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air which aim to catch your attention, the strength of the Dock Air is its subtlety to blend into a room. You won’t notice it until it is switched on and with its small size it will fit just about anywhere.

1 Audyssey Lower East Coast Audio Dock Air (AirPlay)

Happily where the Dock Air does tie closely with its older sibling is build quality. The materials have changed – Audyssey has opted for fabric speaker grills not metal and a matt plastic band which stretches around the whole unit – but it is painstakingly put together. The band in particular has an aluminium core which makes it feel extremely robust. One area we do take issue with is the volume dial on the top which is a little fragile, though it does cleverly double up as a mute button when pressed.

Features
Aside from the wheel, interaction with the Dock Air is minimal. Two small green LED status lights behind it indicate AirPlay status and respond to input from any connected device (there is no remote control), a headphone input is positioned at the front and at the rear is power, a 3.5mm auxiliary jack and a pairing button to initiate the AirPlay connection. As for AirPlay itself it has earned a reputation for excellent audio quality (it transmits lossless with ease), but a less than intuitive setup.

For a debut AirPlay device, Audyssey has overcome this latter problem well… This is a sample. Read my full review at TrustedReviews

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 Music Unlimited

June 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

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I take a second look at Sony’s Spotify rival after it widens platform support.

Price as reviewed £3.99

Overall 7/10

Key Features

  • 15 million track library
  • Web browser, Android, iOS, PS3 & Bravia apps
  • Music matching from existing libraries
  • High efficiency streaming audio format
  • Basic & Premium subscriptions

According to Thomas Edison “genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”. It is a phrase which nicely sums up the slow and somewhat painful evolution of Sony’s ‘Music Unlimited’ audio service and while it still remains a long way from genius, there is no doubt its IQ is on the rise. What is Music Unlimited? First announced way back in September 2010, Sony initially took the baffling decision to focus ‘Qriocity Music Unlimited’ on its smart TVs and PS3 games console. It launched an Android app in June 2011 and dropped the messy Qriocity (pronounced ‘Curiosity’) branding, but only with this month’s long awaited launch of an iOS app do we finally have a multiplatform service to potentially rival Spotify and Rdio. So does it measure up?

94 000023533 40be orh616w616 PC app Sony Music Unlimited

Concept In many ways Music Unlimited is both more ambitious and more limiting than its rivals. In the plus column is the fact it is built into the wider hub of the Sony Entertainment Network which includes Video Unlimited and the PlayStation Network (separate subscriptions). In addition it is plugged into Sony’s existing ecosystem of PS3, PlayStation Vitaand Bravia smart TVs as well as its (and all third party) Android smartphones and tablets. In this sense no other service is as comprehensive for Sony aficionados. Where things take a more familiar turn is the primary functionality of Music Unlimited itself. Users can create playlists, share their listening on social media and download music for offline listening. Like Rdio (but not Spotify) it also can add searched for content to a library of music sorted by artist, album and song and will scan and match your PC’s existing digital music collection. Furthermore Sony claims to offer industry leading streaming performance thanks to its own highly efficient codecs (more of which later).

94 00002352c f485 orh616w616 iOS app Sony Music Unlimited

Apps As we mentioned in the intro, what marks Music Unlimited’s true arrival on the streaming music scene is its support of the biggest platforms…

This is a sample. Read the full review on TrustedReviews

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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