Top 5 Gadget Recommendations

July 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Reprinted with permission from my original article featured on the TalkTalk official blog

Navigating the tech jungle can be hazardous at the best of times, but following a flood of summer releases just what are the most desirable gadgets now available on the market? I’ve come up with a Top 5 list designed to hit different product types and budgets, so let’s kick on…

MP3 Players

SanDisk Sansa ClipThis category may be slowly swallowed by ever more capable mobile phones but if you want a cheap and cheerful purchase you can’t do much better than the venerable SanDisk Sansa Clip. Apple may rule the roost with the iPod line but the Clip is everything the iPod shuffle wishes it could be. Unlike the shuffle it sports a screen, sequential playback, an FM radio and microphone recorder. Battery life is also 50 per cent better than the shuffle at 15 hours from a single charge and while tiny (29 grams) the Clip isn’t so small you’ll lose it down the back of the sofa. Perhaps best of all however is the price with an 8GB Clip costing just £39 and a 4GB Clip a mere £29. An iPod shuffle? £59 for 4GB. Ladies and gentlemen we know where most people’s money goes, but this is where you put the smart money.


Olympus Pen E-P1Ever wish you could have the quality of a professional DSLR digital camera combined with the small, lightweight convenience of a compact? The Olympus Pen E-P1 could just be the first camera to do it. Launched just last month, it employs ‘Micro Four Thirds technology’ to cut down on overall bulk without sacrificing image quality. Furthermore, just like a professional camera the lenses on the E-P1 can be swapped for different sizes and even a dedicated Flashgun can be fitted on top. The Pen E-P1 will also shoot High Definition video and features HDMI output so it can be plugged straight into a TV to view your latest masterpieces. It doesn’t come cheap with prices starting from £599.99, but right now there is nothing else like it.


Samsung NC10The laptop has long eaten away at sales of the desktop PC but it seems in these recession haunted times that the new ultra portable, low cost ‘netbook’ category is quickly devouring laptops. A flood of virtually indistinguishable models have landed thanks to Microsoft imposing ‘maximum specifications’ on manufacturers, but the best of these to date is the unassuming sub £300 Samsung NC10. It may not be the most beautiful, but the NC10 is superbly built, features a fantastic keyboard, bright screen and outstanding battery life (more than six hours on a single charge). The newer Samsung N120 will soon replace it, but with a £60 price premium for virtually no difference you’re best snapping up the NC10 while you still can.


FlipVideo UltraHDJust a few years ago High Definition video recording was only available in professional production equipment costing tens of thousands of pounds. How times change. Like the netbook market, budget camcorders have also exploded onto the scene over the last 12 months. The FlipVideo line is arguably the most successful and the launch of the Flip Video Ultra High Definition Camcorder this month brings High Definition recording into the palm of your hand for just £159. Operation is simply a matter of point and shoot, there’s two hours worth of recording courtesy of the 8GB of onboard storage and you can also take still shots. If you enjoy sharing content the UltraHD’s built in software can automatically upload it to YouTube, batteries are replaceable and there’s even an HDMI port so everything you record can be displayed straight from your device onto an HDTV. Goodbye expensive camcorders.




Mobile Phones

iPhone 3GSFinally, and perhaps predictably, we can’t have a gadget roundup without mentioning the new iPhone 3GS (available at Carphone Warehouse – Ed). It may have been more evolution than revolution but Apple’s third generation handset remains king of the hill thanks to a focus on craftsmanship in a sector too long dominated by specifications. If you can afford the steep tariffs proposed by O2 (a network believed to be coming to the end of its iPhone exclusivity) the 3GS is without doubt the best mobile phone money can buy. If you’re looking for a sneaky sixth recommendation and the iPhone 3GS proves a little too rich for your blood check out the HTC Magic on Vodafone. Built on top of Google’s exciting Android mobile phone operating system it may lack the glamour of the iPhone but Google doesn’t like to be second with anything and it remains a hugely impressive handset on a fast evolving platform. In fact this time next year it may just be Apple iPhones which are the poor man’s Google phone.



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Apple iPod shuffle (3rd Generation)

March 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Apple’s smallest ever MP3 player is also possibly its most controversial – and this is why…

The preamble: My cult and contentious reviews’ system. Designed as a time saver to highlight the potential deal breakers in a product before you commit to reading lengthy reviews on your favourites sites and/or magazines. For a more detailed description please read: the Rules

iPod shuffle 3rd Generation

iPod shuffle 3rd Generation

Just the Bad Points Review: iPod shuffle (3rd Generation)

  • Removal of on-player controls renders your existing third party earphones/headphones useless without cost of a separate adaptor
  • Positioning of inline controls on the new earphones is just below the chin, not ideal during exercise
  • Positioning of inline controls on adaptor too low with existing third party earphones
  • Clip and on-player controls of its predecessor meant you could position them wherever convenient
  • Reduced battery life (10 hours compared to 12 hours on 2nd generation shuffle)
  • No display unlike all major rivals in its price range
  • No track selection functionlity
  • No FM tuner as on rivals
  • No voice recorder as on rivals
  • VoiceOver text-to-speech prone to mispronunciation
  • Heralded minimalist design is surely just an aluminium coated memory key
  • Improved 4GB storage still only half that available on some rivals
  • Requires new iTunes download
  • Were adding 5mm to its height, dropping 10mm in width, 2mm in depth and 5 grams in weight from shuffle 2G worth all this?
  • Price (£59) is a lot more than an 8GB Sansa Clip (£39) which also has a display, FM tuner, voice recorder, track, album, artist and playlist selection, 15 hours of battery life and drag and drop content