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ios6apocalypse: Maps May Drive Apple Round the Bend

September 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

iOS Maps could be a bigger threat to Apple than Google or Microsoft…

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 21 September 2012

Let me run a sequence of numbers past you: eight, five, seven, seventeen and three. They are the number of updates Apple made to iOS before each significant upgrade. So for example v1.0 of iOS had eight updates before v2.0 was launched, v2.0 had five updates before v3.0 was launched, v3.0 had seven updates before v4.0 was launched and so on. The numbers are distorted at v4.0 because Apple added a CDMA-only version of the iPhone 4, but the long running GSM edition still received 11 updates. For iOS5 we got three updates in 12 months, two of them classed as security and bug fixes.

They provide evidence to a growing perception that Apple is not innovating anymore, that its class redefining mobile software is beginning to show its age and there is an increasing divide between the company’s hardware designers (obsessed with industrial minimalism) and its skeuomorphic-crazed software team determined to give everything fake leather, denim and paper finishes. This alone is claimed to be causing a significant rift within Apple. Superficiality aside, however, the problems run much deeper and – more worryingly – they are self inflicted.

Wrong Turn
We all know about the problems of iOS Maps: limited local business information, no public transport, occasionally baffling directions and the odd ill-informed geography lessons. They also feature many woefully distorted 3D images which spawned the ingenious Twitter hashtag #ios6apocalypse. Apple was predictably terse “We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it”. But it did not answer the bigger question: why start at all?

Arguably Apple did not answer, because it is aware we all know: iOS Maps is not a solution to a problem customers needed fixing, it is a solution to a problem Apple wanted fixing. It’s name? Google. Apple’s strength is its homogeny, but it comes from being a paranoid control freak and ever since Google announced Android, Apple knew it could no longer rely on a market rival to supply core parts of its operating system long term. This is a sample, read the full editorial 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. 

Western Digital My Net N900 Central

September 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Part NAS, part router, the flagship in WD’s new networking range is a real contender.

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 19 Sept 2012

Pros

  • Excellent 5GHz 802.11n performance
  • Integrated storage offers simple NAS functionality
  • Simple remote access to media content

Cons

  • Weak 2.4GHz 802.11n performance
  • Cheap build materials
  • Too expensive for a router lacking 802.11ac

Review Price £249.00

Overall Score: 7/10

Key Features: 3×3 dual-band 2.4GHz & 5GHz antenna; Integrated HDD; Basic NAS functionality ; FasTrack Media Streaming Prioritisation; 4x Ethernet ports, 1x USB

D-Link, Cisco/Linksys, Buffalo, Netgear, DrayTek, Billion, Solwise… the major players in the networking space have been the same for years. So why is a hard drive maker getting involved? The answer lies in looking beneath the surface…

Features
The ‘My Net N900 Central’ is the flagship in Western Digital’s first router range and its ace in the hole is a WD speciality: storage. Yes it suddenly all makes sense because the Central is part router, part NAS and it comes in two size options 1TB and 2TB. Sell a router and WD sells a hard drive at the same time.

This is no cheap sales grab though because, much like the original WDTV, Western Digital has thought carefully about this product before launching it. As such a number of expected boxes are checked: simultaneous dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n wireless connectivity (rated at up to 450Mbit each, hence the ‘N900′ name), four Ethernet ports and USB for connecting a printer or even more additional storage.

In addition the internal hard drive offers automatic backup for any computer connected to the network and an extra party trick is ‘FasTrack’ – WD’s proprietary prioritising technology which aims to distribute bandwidth to entertainment needs such as streaming of audio, video or online gaming. Taking this a step further WD has created WD 2go, a ‘personal Cloud’, which gives Macs, PCs and smartphones (Android and iOS via WD 2go apps) access to the Central’s HDD multimedia content from any location with an Internet connection.

It is worth noting this isn’t a full blown rival to the Cloud Connect and mydlink platforms recently launched by Cisco and D-Link which also let you adjust your settings remotely, but on paper it should offer enough to keep media junkies happy. Less exciting, but just as important are the inclusion of IPv6 compatibility, WPS and WPA2 security, guest access and parental controls.

Design
Given the HDD it is no surprise the Central is larger than your average router… This is a sample, read the full review @ 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. 

MetaWatch Strata

September 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

An ingenious watch which tells you what your smartphone is nagging you about.

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 12 Sep 2012

Key Features: Smartphone notifications sent to watch screen; Rugged, water resistant, sports design; Battery life 5-7 days; Open source SDK; iPhone and Android compatible
Manufacturer: MetaWatch

Introduction
The smartphone has spent the last 10 years killing the watch, but could they now be about to revive it? We met up with Fossil spin-off MetaWatch which not only believes the watch’s best days are still to come, but that the comeback begins this month…

September sees MetaWatch start distribution of its ‘Strata’ smartwatch to developers and early backers. This category of customer comes from MetaWatch’s hugely successful KickStarter campaign which saw it raise over three times its initial $100,000 (£62,223) funding goal. A consumer release will begin later in the year and ramp up to full distribution in 2013. We took a closer look to see what has everyone so excited?

Concept
Like all the best ideas, the concept behind the Strata is simple: a watch which receives smartphone alerts such as incoming calls, SMS, emails, calendar reminders and social networking messages and displays them on its screen. The benefit to runners, drivers and those on the move is obvious, but it comes as part of a wider objective of ‘hands freedom’ which MetaWatch argues is about helping us better filter information so we only take smartphones out of our pocket when we really need to.

To achieve this, MetaWatch doesn’t see the Strata as a watch, but a smartphone accessory. It uses the low power Bluetooth 4.0 protocol to connect with an iPhone or Android handset and access their alerts (more of which Apple opens up to third parties with the incoming iOS 6 mobile operating system. On top of what is mentioned above, the Strata can also control music playback, display weather and GPS information, replicate alarms and provide proximity alerts to stop you walking off without your phone (Apple employees take note).

Another clever aspect is that while the Strata has six main buttons (three each side) both they, the display layout and all software updates are handled via the MetaWatch Android and iOS app (being released soon). This is a sample, read the full review @ 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. 

Why Technology Companies Can’t Keep A Secret

September 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

It is in everyone’s interest leaks keep spouting.

 

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 08 September 2012

“It’s almost here.”

In the last few days Apple told the world it will hold an event on 12 September at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. As is par for the course Apple did not disclose the topic of the event, but it attempted to remain mysterious with a looming ‘5’ shadow to imply a new iPhone will be announced…

…except we know it will be announced.

We not only know the iPhone 5 will be announced, we have seen it. Virtually every part of the iPhone 5 has leaked, from the iPhone 5 backplate to the iPhone 5 USB cable. From the iPhone 5 Nano SIM card to the iPhone 5 battery. From the quad-core A6 iPhone 5 processor to the iPhone 5 4-inch screen and front panel. In fact so many parts have leaked we now have a fully assembled iPhone 5 from all the parts – and it switches on. We have been able to run iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 vs Nokia Lumia 920 features before the product is even announced. Needless to say we knew about the Samsung Galaxy S3 before launch and the Nokia Lumia 920 in advance as well. Tech companies can no longer keep a secret, but does it really matter?

No Alarms & No Surprises
The romantic in us says yes. “This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for 2 1/2 years” said Steve Jobs when introducing the original iPhone at MacWorld 2007. It was rumoured an Apple phone was on the agenda, but it had been on the agenda for five years. When Jobs proclaimed “Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products… the first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls, the second is a revolutionary mobile phone and the third is a breakthrough Internet communicator” the crowd was excited, but also confused – they didn’t fully understand the categories. Jobs repeated them round and round before saying “…are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device and we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple reinvents the phone.”

Five years later a US jury would agree that notion (as Samsung is forced to pay Apple $1.05bn), but at the time people were just happy to be spellbound. It was the most exciting event I’ve reported on and nothing else has come close… because of leaks. A culture of snooping has taken over since: blurry cam photos, production floor thefts, betrayed NDAs (nondisclosure agreements) and more have worked their way down from politics to celebrities to sports people to tech. There are no surprises left; we know the infighting of governments, the foibles of our idols and the plans of the biggest tech companies. Everything is laid bare for us to scrutinise and criticise before to its intended announcement and, often, its final form.

And yet the cynic in me says this doesn’t matter, that it is in fact a very good thing… 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. 

The Hybrid: Jack of All Trades, Master of All?

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

The laptop-come-tablet form factor looks set to rule them all.

 

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 04 September 2012

Research the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ and you will find the first recorded uses came without its famous caveat. It meant a master of integration, having numerous skills and being able to bring them all together to powerful effect. It was only during the 20th century that the phrase began to be interpreted in a more cynical way and I wonder if now it is time for the 21st century to reclaim the original meaning…

En Vogue
As IFA 2012 rushes to give away its secrets the theme of the event has already become clear: the hybrid. This new category of laptop-come-tablet claims it can successfully fulfil the requirements of each device as and when needed. Looking like an ultrabook, their touch enabled screens detach from their keyboards when you need something even more portable.

As a concept, hybrid laptop-turn-tablet devices are not new, but suddenly every major manufacturer is in on the act. Samsung (Ativ Smart PC and Smart PC Pro), Sony (Duo 11), Asus (Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT), Lenovo (IdeaTab S2110), Acer (W510 and W700), Dell (XPS Due 12 and 10), Toshiba (Satellite 925t) and HP (Envy x2 – pictured) are just some of the heavyweights seemingly keen to do themselves out of two sales for the price of one and they are doing a fine job of convincing us.

Ed wrote earlier this week that he had been converted by the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity because of its high resolution screen, switchable tablet/laptop form factor and super long battery life (especially when docked) and all these models make the same breakthroughs. Furthermore IFA’s newbies come with a key differentiator: Windows 8.

The Microsoft Effect
For make no mistake about it, Microsoft is the key driving force behind this influx of hybrids… 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. 

Genelec 6010A Active Speaker System

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

The professional studio brand goes mainstream with stunning results.

 

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 5 Sept 2012

Score 9/10
Review Price £378.00

Pros
Stunning, size-defying audio performance
Smart, rugged, minimalist design
Expandable to 5.1 setup
Value for money

Cons
No HMDI connectivity

Key Features: Twin amps for bass and treble drivers; 3in bass, 3/4in treble drivers; 181 x 121 x 114mm & 1.4Kg; Expandable to 5.1 arrangement; Optional 5040A subwoofer

Introduction
It is often said that good things are worth waiting for and our hunt to review Genelec’s 6010A speakers, in tech terms, has been nothing short of epic. We were first blown away by them 15 months ago in a basement sound studio during a tech tour of Finland and with commercial, but no press availability in the UK it has been a long hunt to get them back into our grasp and a more real world testing environment. So were they worth the wait?

First a bit of background, because who exactly is Genelec? The Finnish company has actually been around since 1978 and built a large following amongst audiophiles, professional recording studios and video editing suites. Customers include the BBC and Sky Television. Until the introduction of the 6010A, however, Genelec hasn’t been particularly visible to the mass market.

Active Monitors
What has gained Genelec a cult following in pro circles is that it produces active monitors rather than traditional loudspeakers. As we mentioned at the time of our original preview: “This means that rather than having a single conventional amp producing one big signal to then be split up by a crossover circuit in the speaker, it has separate amps for each cone within the speaker unit. This allows the amps to be optimised for each driver and in particular results in a more accurate sound at low volumes. It also means you don’t need a separate amp – just plug the speaker into a conventional line-level output, or an mp3 player’s headphone jack.”

Furthermore all Genelec speakers can adapt their sound to their environment via a gain dial at the back, switching to compensate for wall or corner proximity (Genelec offers setup guides) and each speaker is individually powered. This approach makes it easy to add further speakers in future, move around a setup or to split up a wide array into separate arrangements around the home – no further amps required. We were supplied with two 6010A speakers and an optional 5040A dedicated subwoofer.

Design
When opening up the 6010A what is initially most striking is the size of each speaker… 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. 

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