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 3UK3UK 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.

image

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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Review: DODOcase from Mobile Fun

May 24th, 2013 Tags: , , ,

A few weeks ago, Mobile Fun suggested that I try a different case for my Nexus 7, and they kindly offered a DODOcase for the review. Mobile Fun stock a whole range of Nexus 7 Cases, so at the higher end of the price range (£24.95), I was interested to see what this case offers.

I’ve been using the case now for a couple of weeks, and do you know what; it’s a very nice case. As with many cases (except, as I understand it, ironically the official Asus cases) all cases have a little magnet in them to allow the Nexus 7 to automatically turn on and off the screen as the case opens and closes, and this is no exception. The case also features an elastic strap to hold the case closed, which seems to work really well. My previous case wrapped around to the back and had a magnetic type clasp, but I’ve not had any issues with this new style.

My previous case also had a tri-fold front panel to give the ability to be folded up iPad-style to allow the device to be stood up (though at a very shallow angle); the DODOcase has a different approach, and one that I have found even better; a little plastic clasp on the elastic strap can be used to make the case stay open, and ensures it is at a good angle. So far, this has never failed to work, and seems a really neat way of allowing the Nexus 7 to stand up.

The Nexus 7 is held in the case with 3 adhesive strips, which although very strong, aren’t so strong the Nexus 7 can’t be removed (equally, the Nexus 7 has never fallen out of my case). It gives a much neater case than others I’ve seen, and still allows access to the 4 Pogo pins on the side, which many cases don’t in reality; I don’t have the official Nexus 7 Dock to be able to confirm whether or not you can use the stand with the case still on, but this issue affects most cases. The hard cover (front and back) is made (according to the information included) using the same techniques that bookbinders use, and the quality shows through.

This is a very functional, yet pretty case. My only concern with the case is that the speaker slot on the rear is facing into the case, but I’ve yet to have any major problems with that.

The case costs £24.95 from Mobile Fun, and they sell it in Black or Purple; in terms of combining aesthetics with protection, I think this case is one of the best value cases out there, but if you are not convinced, it’s still well worth looking at their range of Nexus 7 Cases to find something that does suit.

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

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Vodafone showing innovation around phone signal

May 7th, 2013 Tags: , ,

Vodafone have started a new blog covering some of their activities, called Vodafone Social. Of late they have covered three items of interest, which if you haven’t seen, show they are aiming to keep at the forefront of technology and innovation. Firstly, they have documented how they have provided a whole village with signal, whereas it used to be a mobile “not-spot”; in fact, to show they are quite serious about this, they haven’t just build an open femto-trial in one village, but have now completed this in three villages; East Garston, Cranborne and Newcastleton.

However, if you are ever in London, you will be well aware of the new tall building, The Shard. As part of the visitor centre high up in the sky, Vodafone have also provided a similar solution to those visiting, and you can read all about that here.

If you think that’s quite impressive, I’m also impressed they’ve spent the last year working with East Midlands Trains to improve the signal strength of Vodafone customers on their Meridian trains, which feature a metallic coating (to protect commuters from the bright sunlight) but which also hinder phone signals, and have deployed another variant of the technology that Vodafone have embedded into the trains themselves to improve the signal, even when travelling at full speed. If you are interested, you can read about that here.

It’s well worth you considering putting Vodafone Social into your RSS reader, as it does give an interesting insight into projects involving Vodafone that you might never find out about.


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Revo offering discounted DAB Radios this weekend

May 3rd, 2013 Tags: , ,

Revo, manufacturers of some very nice DAB radios, have a half price offer on two of their top units this weekend. To celebrate their 10th Anniversary in business, they have the Revo K2 and Revo HERITAGE with 50% off, which means the units are priced at £149.95 and £124.95 respectively. If you are considering either of these two models, now is your chance to pick them up with a massive discount.

These offers finish on Sunday. See Revo Special Offer for more details.


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Clever little device for displaying road speed

February 15th, 2013 Tags: , , , , , ,

This, the Snooper My Speed Aura, is a clever little device. Although it’s made by Snooper, a well established speed camera detector company, it actually has a more useful purpose than alerting you to speed camera locations (which it can also do…); it tells you the normal speed limit along a road. By utilising the Navteq road speed database and a GPS signal, it is able to tell you what it thinks is the normal speed for the road for your car (**), and that, to me, is a clever trick.

Actually, it can also detect speed cameras; it has access to the Snooper Aura speed camera database, so using the GPS can also alert you to whether there is a speed camera in the area, but the ability to tell you the speed limit of normal roads would give you confidence over whether you were speeding or not to being with.

Normally £130 (with lifetime updates to the Snooper speed camera database), it’s currently available from Halfords for only £90 (though they don’t keep it in stock, so you need to order it to be delivered to home or to a store which will take a few days, so this deal is not for those who want to buy it straight away.

It only comes with a windscreen suction mount, and I couldn’t find any third party mounts, though it might be possible to modify the mount to be able to mount directly onto the dash, and doesn’t seem to have a battery, so would need power at all times in the car, and the only other downside is that I haven’t tried the Snooper speed camera database to know how accurate it is (of course, you don’t really need to rely upon it with this particular device). In fact, you can buy it without the speed camera database (but the Halfords price with the camera support is still cheaper).

Even better, Snooper have recently updated the software inside the device, and any new devices bought this year have a new trick up their sleeve; you can specify what type of vehicle you have (car, truck, car towing) and it will adjust the speed to reflect your speed on the road, which I think makes the device even more useful, especially for those who occasionally tow, or have caravans, motorhomes etc.

On the screen above you can see it’s displaying a speed camera alert (you can turn off the smiley face if you want a more professional looking device!), when there are no speed cameras around that circle displays the current road speed instead.

** – sometimes it doesn’t know the exact speed for the road, so provides a suggested advisory speed. Also, when speed limits change the device may not know about the change, so you should always used devices like this as a secondary aide, and still pay attention to the road signs!

Although the device comes with lifetime speed camera updates, the updates for the road speed information does cost; it’s currently £10 per year, which seems not too bad, especially when you realise that covers the whole of Europe (where data is available), and not just the UK. I’ve no idea how often Snooper update their data though; their website says the £10 charge allows you to update “once per year”, which does sound a little infrequent to me.

Overall, a clever little device that concentrates on doing one thing, and seems to do it quite well. My only problem with it is the price; for the same price (actually slightly less), you could buy a device such as the Garmin Nuvi 30, with full European navigation as well as the facility for displaying the road speed limit (a function of most recent models from both Garmin and TomTom). In my mind, there are only two situations where the Snooper My Speed really shines; when you drive a truck or tow, so the ability to select vehicle type is important (satnavs that offer that facility are normally much more money), or where you have a built in satnav in your car already, and don’t need a second device, but would like to benefit from knowing the road speed limit at all times.


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ThreeUK announce Ultrafast commitment

February 4th, 2013 Tags: , ,

Three logo

ThreeUK have today announced their Ultrafast commitment (see below); in principle it is simply that with the right handset, you will be able to benefit from their LTE network when launched later this year using your existing sim and more importantly your existing contract, which means for everyone with the unlimited data on the One Plan, you will have unlimited on their new faster LTE network as well (unlike EE who charge a premium for the service).

Although ThreeUK are still bidding for LTE network frequencies as part of the current auctions, they purchased some 1800MHz range from Orange/EE last year which EE had to give up to be able to launch LTE early, so ThreeUK already know this frequency range will be available to them later this year irrespective of what frequencies they win in the LTE auctions.

Well done ThreeUK!

“Our customers choose Three because they love the internet and know they can get great speeds and great value on our award-winning network,” said Three UK chief executive Dave Dyson.

“As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we’ve listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don’t want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we’ve decided our customers will get this service as standard.

With Three, it’s simple, great value and Ultrafast. What you might expect from the network that was built for the internet.”

Customers with Ultrafast / LTE ready devices, including the Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z, Apple iPad mini and Apple iPad with Retina display, can already enjoy ThreeUK’s Ultrafast network and will also be able to use the 1800Mhz spectrum when it is added later this year. Device choice is growing rapidly with new Ultrafast ready LTE versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II being launched on Three within the next month, and the BlackBerry Z10 launching mid-February.


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