Honor 4X Review

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Honor 4X

A few weeks back, I met with Honor UK at the Three UK launch of the Honor 6+ (see here for more information on the Honor 6+). Whilst I was there, I was offered a loan of the Honor 4X, which is more of a budget phone than the Honor 6+, coming in at roughly £150 (at time of writing, £145 on Amazon direct from Honor). I wasn’t expecting a lot from the phone, given the fantastic spec of the Honor 6+ and the price of this device, but I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the phone.

First of all, if you are a “brand snob” and want a phone with a well known brand behind it, then whilst you are less likely to buy this phone, you are also likely to pay a lot more money for either the same spec, or, I suspect, actually a lower spec.

So, let’s get to those specs (click more to find out the specs and my overall opinion of the phone)…

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Pioneer announce HUD for SatNavs too

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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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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Vodafone announce Red Hot; phone rental scheme

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Sometimes a company offers something that’s actually quite innovative, and personally, I wonder if this is actually a very fantastic offer.

Vodafone has announced Red Hot, which is a scheme whereby you rent a phone (for a 12 month period), and also pay line rental, and then at the end of the 12 months, you can hand the phone back, and get a new phone. None of the traditional 24 month tie in that most mobile operators are concentrating on right now. Now, as with all these things, there’s a few good and bad points to consider if you are thinking about the deal:

  • It costs more than an normal contract, but then you get to change phones every year.

Let’s take the Samsung Galaxy S3 16GB, one of a small number of phones being offered on the deal (others include Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note II); normally buying on a traditional plan, it would cost £42 per month (24 month contract, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data per month on the new Red Data plan); the equivalent is £47 per month on Red Hot (12 month contract, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data per month). Given that the deal also includes insurance for the handset, it’s actually fairly comparable, and with the ability to change your phone after 12 months to the next greatest handset, quite a good deal.

  • If you don’t want to swap after 12 months (because the new phone you want isn’t quite released), you can hang onto the current phone for up to 6 months.
  • You don’t own the phone though, so although you can easily hand it back, you can’t sell it on ebay to recover any cost.
  • If you hand the phone back damaged, then charges will apply. Of course, with included handset insurance, it would seem sensible to claim on the insurance and then hand the phone back (assuming the damage is covered within the small print of the insurance, though an excess charge will apply).
  • You do need to return the phone and original charger.
  • With £75 charge for deep scratches or dents, you might be wise to buy a case to protect it (after all, it’s not your phone).
  • One final thing to watch out for; a “non-approved operating system” will occur the maximum damage charge, so you shouldn’t hand it back with a custom ROM installed (yes, I can see an argument that it’s still a variant of Android, but I suspect that’s not a gamble most people will want to take).
  • It’s not exactly clear how much a phone next year will cost, but of course, you would be free to walk away from the contract anyway.

Although there’s a lot to consider, I actually think the prices aren’t bad, and well worthy of consideration, especially for those who are happy to swap phones every phone (but not more often). More details can be found at the Vodafone Red Hot page.


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Gadget Show Live – Tickets still available!

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

I was fortunate to be invited to the Gadget Show Preview / Professional Trade Show event yesterday, and it’s nice to see The Gadget Show Live even bigger and better than last year. Whilst last year everything was iPhone / iPad related, this year it was nice to see a wider range of devices supported by the various accessories manufacturers at the show, with Kindle and Samsung Galaxy Tablets also getting a look in.

Even better; if you haven’t already bought a ticket, I understand from the organisers that a limited number of tickets are still available for today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday), although the rest of the week is now fully booked, so don’t travel unless you already have tickets.

Along with the main Gadget Show Live Super Theatre (featuring a massive 360 degrees viewing screen), there are a number of smaller seminar type presentation areas, and a few stands are running their own presentations too. In terms of exhibitors, there are the big guys (LG, Samsung, Sony, Canon, Kenwood, Philips and Pioneer), the larger retailers (PC World, Scan), and even a couple of mobile networks (Orange and O2), both of whom are running Show special deals during the event. As always, there are smaller companies (such as OrbitSound and Bicygnals) who are often worth a look at their slightly more specialised items.

There’s lot of food facilities (though a little expensive), including Subway and Starbucks, and even a chance to try the new Volkswagen Up! car in the driving experience; equally, for gamers, there are plenty of XBox consoles to try out, and a fair few Kinect installations on various stands. If you have children, look out for LeapFrog for younger ones, or something more fun such as the Parrot AR.drone for the older children.

Although The Gadget Show have announced that as from the new series (soon to start) only Jason and Polly will be presenting, all 5 of the “current” presenters will be appearing at the Gadget Show Live this year. For details of the shows and a full exhibitor list, head off to the Gadget Show Live website for more details.

If you want to attend, head over to the Gadget Show Live website and buy your tickets in advance of travelling (if any are left!); also don’t forget NEC charge £8 per car for parking.


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Three abolish out of bundle data charges

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Three have announced a refresh of their price plans as from tomorrow. Although The One Plan remains, all other plans seem to have been modified. However, the big news is that Three have abolished all out of bundle data charges, although this looks to be at the expense of newer lower limits.

The plans come in two flavours, Essential and Ultimate; all plans come with data, although the Essential plans only have 250Mb included for free. Should you run out of data (and you’ll get a text to tell you this), we assume your data will get cut off, instead of automatically incurring fees, but you can then add either another 250Mb (for £2) or add All You Can Eat data for £5, with both of these options lasting up to 30 days, and without any commitment to pay again in the next month.  This idea of allowing more data on an occasional basis seems a good move to me, although I would personally have preferred to see a slightly higher data bundle.

However, all the Ultimate plans have All You Can Eat data, so no worries there over your data usage. Again, I assume that The One Plan remains the only new plan available where you can tether (connect your PC to your handset and access data).

The plans are (with example handset prices; some handsets will cost a higher monthly charge, and all plans are for 24 months):

Essential Ultimate The One Plan
100 300 500 100 300 500 1000
Data 250MB All-you-can-eat data
Minutes 100 300 500 100 300 500 1000 2000 + 5000 Three-Three minutes
Texts 5000
Samsung Galaxy Ace

£15

Samsung Galaxy SII

£27

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36

HTC Wildfire S

£20

Samsung Galaxy Ace

£18

Samsung Galaxy SII

£30

Sony Ericsson

Arc S

£25

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36 (£49 upfront)

Samsung Galaxy SII

£34

Nokia Lumia 800

£30

iPhone 4S 16GB

£36 (£69 upfront)

Samsung Galaxy SII

£36

iPhone 4 8GB

£36


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Pure launch new Highway DAB Radio

Friday, November 25th, 2011

One of the first articles on the UK Gadgeteer website back in 2007 was around the PURE Highway, a portable DAB radio designed for car use.  This turned out to be a very popular device, although one small complaint about it was that it had to connect to the windscreen mount, and you had to have wires all over the dashboard (aerial & power).  Competitors, such as Revo, produced DAB addon car units which needed more permanent fitting in the car, however, Revo have now left the car market.

Well, Pure are addressing these issues and have launched a new Highway DAB radio, the Pure Highway 300Di.  This unit has a small control unit (removable, for when you want to hide the presence of the unit) using an OLED screen (and backlit buttons).  In fact, the simple display / buttons and control knob remind me of the very successful Parrot range of Bluetooth car kit control units).  This connects to a control box designed for placing behind the dash, or in the glovebox.  This needs permanent connections to the car (I suspect it’ll possible to DIY fit it, but it’s not designed for plugging into a cigaretter lighter, unlike the PURE Highway, which remains on sale for those who want a truely portable unit).

As well as providing DAB (via a DAB aerial which needs external fitting), the unit has a USB port allowing you to plug in USB memory sticks, USB devices, or you can use your Apple USB cable and the device will be able to fully control (and charge) your Apple iPod or iPhone.

Most DAB radios only have one tuner, whereas most car radios adopted the idea of dual tuners quite a few years ago; this allows the second tuner to go hunting for a stronger signal without impacting the radio playback, and in fact, the Pure Highway 300Di has a second tuner which will automatically keep the station list up to date with only the stations available as you travel around the country.

To connect it to your car, you can either use an AUX-IN type socket, or it can use an FM transmitter, either wireless using the car’s existing aerial, or it can be wired into the aerial circuit giving a crackle free experience.

In addition, Pure have added a couple of innovative new modes:

  • Forcourt mode, where the device will go into standby for up to 15 minutes, allowing you to return to your car, and the unit will already be ready for action with the same music.  In you are listening to the DAB radio, you can pause (for up to 8 minutes) and continue listening when you return to the car.
  • Picnic mode, where the device is able to continue playing the music for up to an hour after the car ignition is switched off.  The 1 hour limit is to prevent the car battery being drained, although some cars will limit you to only 15 minutes even though the unit could do longer.

For those wanting to add DAB to your existing car, and want something a little more permanent than the PURE Highway, this may well be the device for you.  Pricing will be £179.99, although it’s not yet available, it will be sold exclusively through Halfords for a period.

Having said it’s not available, I believe it should be on sale within the next week or two, and during the initial launch, Halfords will be offering free fitting (normally around £25).


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Nokia World: something big from Nokia?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We’re a week away from Nokia World, and from what I’m hearing, we might be in for a treat.  First of all, I believe Nokia will launch at least two Windows Phone devices.  This isn’t particularly surprising, given the leaks and snippets of information that have been released accidentally / intentionally from Nokia.

However, what might surprise people is that these devices may well be available within weeks for sale; yes, that’s right; it’s very possible you’ll be able to buy a new Nokia Windows Phone device in time for Christmas!

Also, similar to the new Nokia N9, I believe that at least one of these devices (if not both) will move to the new microSIM format, that (until the Nokia N9 started shipping) was pretty much limited to the Apple iPhone. I’ve already heard one UK network talk about making microSIMs available for not just Apple devices, and the hints I’m hearing are that Nokia is adopting microSIM across a wider range than just the Nokia N9.

I may be wrong, but I think Nokia World will bring a range of surprises, but mainly the start of Nokia’s comeback with the release of Windows Phone devices (which I also suspect may be actually available for developers to check out during the event).


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New phone launches

Friday, October 7th, 2011

This week saw the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S. Despite many people not convinced the upgrade from the iPhone 4 was worthwhile, the consensus is that all pre-order sites have been inundated with people pre-ordering the device today.  The deals aren’t bad either; 3UK will sell you the new top of the range 64GB model for £279 upfront with a £35 per month (but 24-month contract) One Plan, offering 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, and All You Can Eat data.

Vodafone (as are all networks to be honest) are also offering the iPhone 4S; their closest deal is £319 upfront with £36 per month (24-month contract) with 600 minutes, “unlimited” texts, and 500MB of data; to rival the 3UK deal you would need to spend much more per month (which would equally reduce the upfront cost, but increase the total cost ).  However, there are always deals to be had; Vodafone seem to be currently offering a £59 cashback on online orders, and will allow unlimited data usage for the first 3 months as part of their new Data test drive promotion.

For those with a desire to upgrade, especially from an iPhone 3GS, this is a tempting offer.  For those looking for a new phone but do not necessarily need an iPhone, there are new releases from Samsung, HTC, and more importantly Nokia due to start shipping in the next few months that may suit you better…


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Symbian, Android or the latest iPhone; all available from 3UK!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks, 3UK have released (or will release) a fair range of new handsets, covering the main smartphone OSes; a couple of weeks ago, they released the Desire S running Android, which although not a great upgrade from the old Desire, is a worthy phone contender for someone looking for a new Android phone.

Yesterday they also announced the Nokia E7 (Symbian^3 with a flip out QWERTY keyboard) was now available, and today they have announced that from tomorrow you’ll be able to buy the long-awaited white Apple iPhone 4 on 3UK.

So, it seems whatever your smartphone OS choice is, you have an option to get one of the latest phones available from 3UK (although less popular, they also have BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices).  As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


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