YouView boxes improved with both iPlayer and Netflix

November 5th, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , ,

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In the last week, there have been two very useful improvements to the YouView boxes announced. Firstly, the newer BBC iPlayer interface, which has already rolled out to many other set top boxes was made available on the YouView platform just under 2 weeks ago. Then, today, YouView have announced that Netflix is now available to a selection of the YouView set top boxes.

If you bought your YouView box from a retailer (and it is branded BT or Humax), you should find Netflix becomes available today, and, if you have a BT YouView box and you aren’t already a Netflix subscriber then BT YouView users will be able to subscribe and get the Netflix subscription charged to their BT bill (and there are rumours of an exclusive BT YouView offer from Netflix soon).

TalkTalk and Huawei YouView set top boxes are yet to receive the Netflix update, but it should be available in the New Year.
It’s very nice to see that Netflix will get integrated into the search facilities on the box for Netflix subscribers.

For those who aren’t yet a Netflix subscriber, or won’t get the update until next year, the new BBC iPlayer will at least offer you the last 30 days of BBC programmes (something that has recently rolled out to the website too), and BBC Connected Red Button services, which include BBC Sport video highlights.


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Three UK improve roaming further

July 17th, 2014 Tags: , ,

Three UK have improved their already impressive “Feel at Home” roaming offer. This has traditionally offered the ability to use your minutes, texts and data just like at home for free, but now, it’s been extended to more countries. From 1st July, the list of countries has increased to 16 and is now:

Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

To enjoy Feel At Home you’ll need to have been with Three for 30 days before it will work. After that time, International Roaming should be automatically switched on and then you can use Feel At Home. There are still a couple of minor conditions, the main one being that tethering (or Personal Hotspot, ie allowing other devices to share your internet connection) is not allowed at all, and unlimited data plans are actually limited to 25Gb. Finally, if you spend extended periods of time abroad, you’ll be limited as to how much you can use it; in those scenarios, you are most likely better off getting a local SIM (and as Three will happily unlock their phones for free, you won’t be penalised for this either).


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This week – Gadget Show Live 2014

April 8th, 2014

I’m off to the NEC in Birmingham today for a preview of this year’s Gadget Show Live.

This year there are nearly 100 new products, products never seen in the UK before, and many UK launches, plus a whole range of British built or British Designed products to see at the event. I understand tickets are still available, although many of the live theatre shows will now be fully booked. If you want to buy a ticket, they can be purchased from www.gadgetshowlive.net.

I hope to report back over the next few days with anything that really catches my eye.


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Nexus 4 case review

October 15th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

rearth case for nexus 4

As well as the Qi Universal Charging Pad that Mobile Fun sent me (reviewed yesterday here), they were also kind enough to send me a case for my Nexus 4. One of the main reasons for this was to see whether or not the case would have any effect on the capabilities of the charging pad, and I’m pleased to say it performed without any issues with the case on. In fact, the Nexus 4 was never charged on the charging pad without the case.

The case provides a good all round protection to the phone. For the sides, it’s a little like a bumper case, but made of a stiffer material that feels nice and strong around the device, and the back of the phone (slightly prone to damage) is also protected with a clear cover allowing you to still see the rear of the phone.

One little thing that’s not mentioned on the Mobile Fun website is that you can customise the case. If you have a picture or design that is slightly smaller than the back of the case, the case comes with a sticky sheet that can be used to attach the picture inside the back of the case to be displayed.

I also like the way the front of the case is slightly proud of the phone’s screen offering protection against scratches when laid face down. Actually, there are also little lugs that ensure the back is equally protected when face up. The case has cutouts for the sockets (microphone, USB, headphones) at the top and bottom, small missing sections in the back for the speaker and the camera, whilst the power and volume buttons are protected, but the new buttons built into the bumper around the edge work just as well as the original buttons.

Generally, I found it a very nice case, that did not seem to add a lot of bulk to the device, especially given how much protection it offers. At £14.95 I also think it’s a very good price. Of course, Mobile Fun have a whole range of cases for the Nexus 4 available here.

Just like the wireless charging pad, the Nexus 4 case has performed without any issues, and I thank Mobile Fun for offering the case alongside the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the case, they had no editorial input into this article.


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Wireless Charger review

October 14th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

Qi charging pad

Mobile Fun contacted me and asked me if was interested in looking at one of their wireless charging pads, the Qi wireless charging pad. This arrived the next day, and I put it into immediate service to see how well it worked. Using my Nexus 4, it has faultlessly charged on a regular basis without any issues.

The charging pad is clever enough to work out that the phone is charged, and will automatically shut off; this caused a small moment of concern when I first got it, as the Nexus 4 was already sufficiently charged that the pad appeared to do nothing. I find letting the Nexus 4 run down and then placing on the pad to be the best way (and sometimes turning the phone on, or at least using it just before is beneficial; without that, it seems to take the phone and pad a few seconds to spot each other, and that can means I would often stand there for a while until the charging light came on. By using the phone (or at least turning it on) just before always seem to start the charging faster.

My only other concern with the pad is something I’ve seen in the comments on the Mobile Fun website; the blue charging light doesn’t look too bad in the daytime, but at night is capable of lighting a room quite well, so this may not be to everyone’s liking. Personally, when charging has been necessary overnight, it’s actually not proved to be a problem, but it is something to be aware of.

The Qi Universal Charging Pad currently costs £29.99 from the Mobile Fun website (see here for a link to their devices), which is a good price for me. As the device is a Qi compatible charging device, it will work with a whole range of devices, including the Nokia Lumia devices with built in charging, or with charging backs fitted.

Thanks to Mobile Fun for providing the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the charging pad, they had no editorial input into this article.


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Three brings back their fantastic roaming deal

September 18th, 2013 Tags: , , , ,

Three logo

Three UK have brought back their fantastic roaming deal; a lot of people were upset when they dropped their “3 Like Home” roaming deal a few years back, but the new “Feel at Home” deal actually has some pretty good terms attached to it. As before, the deals only apply to countries where Three already have a sister network, though the deal will apply whether you are actually roaming onto the Three network or not.

Firstly, the list of countries:

  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Denmark
  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Ireland

What is different, however, is that it now applies to most customers and tariffs, whether you have a phone contract, PAYG SIM, 3g dongle, or even some business contracts.

So, if you had 5000 texts to send per month in the UK, you can still send 5000 texts whilst roaming without any additional charge. Also, if you have 3UK-3UK minutes, these can additionally used to ring 3 customers in the country you are roaming in. There are a few minor exceptions to this deal (eg certain numbers, such as premium numbers starting 09 would be excluded in the UK, and are still excluded when abroad), and you should check the terms before travelling (especially if you are a PAYG user, as more restrictions apply). You should also still study the remaining roaming charges (eg receiving calls from international numbers).

I should add though, that although data is included in this deal, there are a few limitations to data usage that you need to be aware of: firstly, tethering is NOT included at all, there is a 25Gb limit per month, and data speeds may be slower than the UK.

In fact, Three UK point out that should you exceed 25Gb of data, 5000 texts or 3000 minutes per month in any two months within a year, they may block the service. I doubt the text or minute limit will be a major problem, but if you assume you are limited to just under 1Gb of data a day (which is still a lot of data!) you should be fine. Obviously services such as Netflix could easily exceed that usage, so you do need to think carefully about data usage, but it’s still way more than the other UK networks currently offer.

If you want more information, especially around those restrictions, head to this page on the Three UK website for more information.


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Three offering a strong 4G commitment

September 17th, 2013 Tags: , , , , ,

Three logo

Although we first covered this earlier this year (here), we thought it worth restating Three UK‘s position in respect of their 4G rollout plans and the impact on their tariffs. The plans are quite simple; coverage to start in London, Birmingham and Manchester starting some point in December, with more cities during 2014. The impact on tariffs is even easier; there isn’t any!

Three UK have stated that existing users will get access to 4G (assuming you have a 4G phone compatible with Three UK‘s LTE frequencies), and will continue to benefit from All You Can Eat data without any additional charges or payments. It is possible that your phone will need a minor software update to enable 4G, although many manufacturers are already rolling this update out in preparation, however, existing SIMs will work, and there will be no need to sign a new contract.

This compares very well to Three’s competitors; eg with EE and Vodafone, you need to move to a 4G tariff, and all the other networks seem to be charging a premium for 4G data.


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Pioneer announce HUD for SatNavs too

September 16th, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pioneer Navgate HUD

After we covered the Garmin HUD a month or so back, it’s interesting to see Pioneer have now announced a very similar principle. However, these two devices can’t be directly compared; as well as offering a much better display, offering much more detail, it has a price to match… Whereas the Garmin unit will be around £150, this is going to sell nearer to £600!

For that though, you will get traffic, navigation instructions, points of interest, road hazards and more (clock, the current speed and speed limits, speed and red light camera warnings, the distance to the destination, as well as the estimated time of arrival) in full colour. The device attaches to the sun visor (meaning you will not be able to actually use it as a sun visor anymore), and for that, I do like it, as well folded up, it will not be as obvious to thieves.

Only just obvious from the picture above is the cable that’s needed to power the device, but the device also has a light sensor to vary the amount of light (and hence power) the device uses.

The Pioneer Navgate HUD will work with iGo Primo (iOS only) and CoPilot Live (both iOS and Android versions as best I can tell), so this does increase the range of options if you don’t want to change your existing navigation app of choice.

More information should be available next month when the device is available.


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Garmin announce portable Head Up Display

July 9th, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Today Garmin have launched a very interesting product, although before you get too excited there are a couple of issues; firstly, it’s not actually for sale yet, it’s likely to arrive in the UK around September October time, and although it’s not yet guaranteed to come to the UK, I think it is quite likely to arrive as even Garmin UK have been talking about it.

The Head Up Display is portable, although more on that later, and assuming you have the right SatNav software on your smartphone, will display turn information (lane assist), distance to the next turn, current speed and speed limit, and estimated time of arrival. It looks like it may also be able to warn you of upcoming speed cameras and traffic too.

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At something like £80 – £130 it won’t come cheap, but will offer two modes of operation; you can attach a reflective film to your windscreen for the best effect, but if you swap cars a lot, it will also come with a reflective lens panel (as above; there’s quite a large bezel to this, which is a shame, but a small price to pay). It appears to need constant power, but the power cord includes a USB port for connecting your phone charger to, allowing you to only need one power socket in the car. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone, Android device or even your Windows Phone, although your choice of SatNav software is limited; on iPhone you can use Garmin’s StreetPilot for iPhone or NAVIGON for iPhone whereas for Android and Windows Phone you are limited to only NAVIGON. Finally, it will auto adjust the brightness depending on the conditions.

I like this device. Given Garmin already have Bluetooth built into many of their hardware devices (for both handsfree calling and their Ecoroute HD product), I hope they are able to add support into their hardware devices for the HUD, but even so, this does look like an interesting product even if you can only use it with your smartphone.

We’ll provide more information closer to release time.


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Mobile Fun offering free delivery this weekend

June 21st, 2013 Tags: ,

Just a quick heads up; Mobile Fun are offering Free Delivery today (for standard delivery, normally £2.99) if you enter the code YAYFRIDAY at the checkout. This code should continue to work until midnight on Sunday, so you’ve got a little time to pick your best tech accessories and purchase them.


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