Gadget Show Live suggestions

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I headed to a special Preview Day today at the Gadget Show Live yesterday, and can report that’s it’s going to be a good show this year.  The first year it was run I felt there were a few too many small companies selling fairly useless gadgets, but whether it’s the economy or not I don’t know, but this year there were very few useless gadgets to be seen.  Equally, two years ago everyone was selling iPhone docks, and although there were still a variety of iPad accessories, it generally felt a much more balanced show.

If you only get an hour or two to attend, my suggestions for companies to visit include:

  • LG, if only to view their ultra slim OLED TVs, which look very impressive
  • Samsung, for having a wide variety of options from TVs, home appliances and the Galaxy Tab
  • 3View, for having a Freeview PVR with a range of additional functions, such as BBC iPlayer
  • Revo, for having a decent range of good looking and quality sounding DAB radios
  • Viewsonic, for promoting their risk free ViewPad trial (which we covered here)
  • Orbitsound, for their range of impressive speakers (both portable and for your TV) using their airSOUND technology

A couple of others companies caught my attention with new gadgets, and I’ll cover those later.  I will say that although Samsung had a massive banner running the length of one of the halls advertising all 3 Android Tablets (the Tab, the new 8.9″ and the new 10.1″ tablet), they only seemed to have the original Galaxy Tab on their stand.


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Fancy a refurbished iPhone exclusive?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Occasionally we are notified of offers not normally available to the general public, and this is one of those.  If you fancy a refurbished Apple iPhone 4 on contract with 3UK (iPhone 4 16GB on The One Plan, 24 month contract) then head here to see more details.  As this is on the One Plan, you get 2000 cross network minutes, 5000 texts, 5000 3UK3UK minutes, and of course the All-You-Can-Eat data (ie no limits at all).

There is an upfront charge of £69 and a monthly charge of £30 (if you were to select a normal iPhone 4, you would be paying £35 per month, so this is a saving of £120 over the 24 month period).

This offer is not available via the normal 3Store; you will need to go direct via this link here.  This is likely to be a limited offer, so don’t wait too long!


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New “mapping revolution” coming?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Every year a range of hopeful companies launch new products and solutions at the SXSW event in the US, hoping to be the next big thing.  Some successes have come from SXSW, for example, FourSquare.  We’ve been notified of a company who are planning to launch a new mapping solution (designed for mobile phones) that they say “will change the way you think about your location”.  We’ve not much information to go on at the moment (nor whether it will be a US-only service), and there’s a very good chance it will launch as a limited beta (although we understand there’s already an iPhone application due for release to coincide with the launch), but if it does release, and is worthy of further mention, then we’ll provide more information next week.

They provided an additional quote: “it is going to (hopefully) blow away all other mapping apps on your phone… particularly the ol’ google maps.”

Very interesting, and more news next week as it becomes available…


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Last.fm moving to subscription radio only for mobiles

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Although it’s been something that many have foreseen for some time, and of course, outside of the UK (plus US & Germany), they’ve been charging for some time, but Last.fm have now confirmed that you will need a subscription (at £3 per month) to continue to listen to Last.fm radio on many mobile and hardware devices.  The change happens on 15th February, and the list includes:

  • Google Android – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Apple iPhone – free app; subscription required for radio in US, UK and Germany
  • Microsoft X-Box Live (also with Kinect) – App free with X-Box Live Membership in US and UK
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 7 – Free in 2011 in US and UK; subscription required for radio in Germany
  • All Logitech Squeezebox products – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • All Sonos products – Free until mid-summer 2011 for US, UK and Germany; subscription required thereafter
  • Revo AXiS, Ikon, Domino, Heritage – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Roberts Stream 63i, 205, Colourstream, 83i – subscription required in US
  • M3 Muvid Products – subscription required in Germany
  • Teufel Audio Raumfeld – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • Selected Onkyo AV receivers – subscription required in US, UK and Germany
  • Denon and Marantz selected AV receivers – subscription required in UK and Germany
  • To be fair to Last.fm, many of those devices we’ve covered here before (including the PURE Sensia and Revo units) have needed a subscription from the day they were launched, so the headline change has already affecting many users.  Last.fm have stated:

    “On the Last.fm website an ad-supported, free-to-listeners model is what supports our online radio services in the US, UK and Germany. In other markets and on emerging mobile and home entertainment devices, it is not practical for us to deliver an ad supported radio experience, but instead, we will migrate to what we believe is the highest quality, lowest cost ad-free music service in the world.”

    Some people are likely to stop using Last.fm at this point, however, many others will consider the charge (less than £40 for the year, and still less than other services such as Spotify) worthwhile.


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    ViewRanger updates Android app

    Friday, January 28th, 2011

    ViewRanger, who produce a very feature rich mapping application (which can use multiple map sources, such as OpenStreetMap and more importantly, 1:25000 and 1:50000 OS maps) has updated their Android application. Currently the new version (v1.4.1) is in beta, but available direct from ViewRanger here. Although originally a Symbian app, ViewRanger have expanded to cover the Apple iPhone as well as many Android devices, although some features are yet to arrive on these platforms.

    The new features include:

    • Support for selected Android tablets
    • Local and online searches
    • UI improvements

    The full feature list is here.  If you are somewhere who spends time in the countryside and don’t currently have a device such as a Garmin GPS or the SatMap Active 10, then you should look at ViewRanger for your smartphone.


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    3UK make “All you can eat” data available to all new customers

    Thursday, January 27th, 2011

    When I last mentioned the One Plan (from 3UK), the new “All you can eat” data option was only available to Apple iPhone users.  I see (from the 3Store website) that if you take out a 24month contract on the One Plan today, you now get the “All you can eat” data allowance on any phone.  At a time when other companies (such as T-Mobile) are restricting their Internet allowance, a network that is happy to let you use as much as you can.

    However, we do believe this is currently limited to new customers; existing customers will need to check with 3UK as to whether they are able to benefit from this tariff.


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    T-Mobile reduce Internet usage across all tariffs

    Monday, January 10th, 2011

    Although it’s not 100% clear, it looks like T-Mobile has decided to reduce the amount of Internet data allowance each handset has to quite a low level (in fact, one of the low levels available from the main networks).  Whereas before T-Mobile had a high fair usage limit (often 3-4GB before they got upset and warned users), or stated a limit around 1GB (but without enforcing it), they have just published this information (here) stating that the limit is now 500MB across all contracts (old and new) as from 1 Feb 2011.  When other networks have tried this in the past, they have often accepted that it warrants a change in the T&Cs, and allowed people to cancel contracts early, however, we are hearing that T-Mobile are not letting people out of contracts over this change.

    Let’s be clear, for many users this simply won’t be a problem; 3UK recently told me that over two thirds of their users use some of the 150MB data allowance provided whenever you topup, but most did not exceed that limit, nor needed to buy any additional internet allowances, so it may well equally be that many T-Mobile users will never reach the new lower limits, however, there will be some who use devices such as Android phones, which are constantly syncing data (email, calendars etc.) and using online navigation solutions (such as Google Maps), and uploading photos or videos directly from the handset who will find the new lower limit a struggle.

    Other networks seem to offer 500MB on their lower tariffs, moving up to 750MB and then 1GB for the higher tariffs (or specific tariffs, such as for the iPhone), so this does seem to be a rather low limit across all tariffs, and there are still statements on the T-Mobile website implying that there are a range of allowance for Apple iPhone devices.

    In fact, if you head to the Fair Use Policy pages (here), these still list figures of up to 3GB as applying to new contracts, so it’s definitely not clear what rates will apply for someone taking out a contract today, but it’s fair to say that it looks like T-Mobile may be reducing everyone’s allowances from next month.

    T-Mobile have privately let me know that even if you go through the 500MB limit (and they’ve said very few customers do use more than that on a monthly basis), you should still be able to browse the web and read email even at the limit.  It’s ironic that T-Mobile have introduced these new lower limits only a few weeks after 3UK started to remove limits from some of their high end iPhone tariffs…


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    Pure announce new iPod / iPhone dock

    Thursday, January 6th, 2011

    Pure are promoting this as an advanced Apple iPod / iPhone dock, but to be honest, they could have easily promoted it as a DAB radio or an Internet Radio with a dock.  It also features a smooth satin-touch finish, a full-function remote and backlit touch-sensitive controls.  The Pure Contour offers a whole range of features, including:

    • DAB, FM and Internet Radio options
    • iPod / iPhone dock
    • Digital end-to-end technology (Pure ClearSOUND)
    • 36W RMS of class-leading audio
    • Digital, FM and Internet radio
    • Flow technology for internet radio, on-demand content including podcasts, PURE Sounds and media streaming from a computer
    • 30 digital radio favourites, 10 FM favourites and unlimited internet favourites
    • Retractable dock with smooth damped movement
    • Component (YPbPr), S-Video and Composite video outputs for viewing iPod/iPhone video on your TV
    • Stereo headphone socket
    • Alarms and timers
    • Upgradeable via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB

    All in all, a very nice, well specced unit.  However, it should be given the price; it will retail at £200!

    No word on availability yet.


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    3UK provide feedback on ‘All you can eat’

    Thursday, December 16th, 2010

    I’ve had some interesting feedback from 3UK on the ‘All you can eat’ data allowance that comes with the new Apple iPhone on The One Plan, and basically, it’s a genuine unlimited tariff. 3UK have said that people expect unlimited data, and this tariff will actually provide that.

    It’s nice to see a UK network stand up and say ‘we know you like surfing and using apps on your phone, so go ahead without worrying’. 3UK also hinted that this change would in time apply to all phones on The One Plan. But we’ve not yet seen that on the website.


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    Are 3UK offering new unlimited iPhone tariffs?

    Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

    Yesterday, 3UK made some changes to their Apple iPhone tariffs.  In summary, the main information is:

    • iPhone 3GS 8GB – The One Plan – £35 a month – £19 upfront charge – “All you can eat” data allowance
    • iPhone 4 16GB – The One Plan – £35 a month – £69 upfront charge – “All you can eat” data allowance 
    • iPhone 4 16GB – Internet Texter 500 – £30 a month – £149 upfront charge – 500Mb data allowance
    • iPhone 4 32GB – The One Plan – £30 a month – £239 upfront charge – “All you can eat” data allowance
    • iPhone 4 32GB – Internet Texter 500 – £35 a month – £159 upfront charge – 500Mb data allowance

    Now, generally, these are minor updates to the tariffs, but I note that instead of the “1GB data allowance”, The One Plan is now being labelled with “All you can eat”.  Going back last year, 3UK were one of the first to stop using the term “unlimited” as they had a limit (either 1GB or 2GB).  Does this now mean that 3UK are offering truely unlimited tariffs with the iPhone?

    I tried to find out more from 3UK, but they are yet to update some of their help documents to reflect this new term, and to provide the detail behind what it actually means.  In fact, if you try to buy such a plan, you are still told it comes with 1GB of data, and extra internet will cost 10p per Mb.

    At this stage, this change to the One Plan is only available on the iPhone, although I would expect 3UK to broaden this to other smartphones in the New Year.  When we find out more information about what “All you can eat” actually means, we’ll provide an update.


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