New mobbler version in testing

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Following on from our mention of changes coming at Last.fm, the team behind mobbler are currently testing a beta version of their Last.fm client in preparation for the changes.  So, the old stations that will no longer be available are removed, and the new Mix Radio has been added.  On top of that, there are a whole range of new / improved features:

  • Fix for radio on Nokia N8/Symbian^3
  • Subscriber-only radio
  • Share on Twitter
  • Signup
  • Biography
  • Local events based on cell ID
  • Better lyrics display
  • Username limit increased from 15 -> 32 chars
  • Better equaliser support
  • Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Ukrainian added and other languages updated
  • Old scrobbles warning
  • Play Mix Radio station
  • Play Last.fm group radio station
  • Play a custom lastfm:// radio station
  • Removed discontinued Loved Tracks and Playlists radio station
  • 20 volume steps where available (Symbian^3)
  • Display subscriber’s prestigious black icon
  • Rejigged the Start a station menu

However, it’s worth also noting that this version comes with a warning:

“Mobbler versions 0.10.x and 1.10.x uses the official Last.fm radio API which only allows paying subscribers to stream the radio. Non-subscribers with free accounts are allowed a 30 track free trial from Last.fm. Only paying subscribers can play the radio. Free user accounts can’t play the radio. Subscribers will see a prestigious black icon at the top left when online. If you have an S60 phone (i.e. pre-N8/Symbian^3) an older version may still stream radio until Last.fm disable it.”

So, in essence, Last.fm are transitioning to a situation where you need to pay the subscription fee to stream any radio stations (a position already in place on the hardware devices such as the Revo IKON and PURE Sensia), so it’s an understandable move.  Also, the mobbler team are keen to point out that whilst the older mobbler versions will currently still work (for those streams that were available to non-paying customers in the first place), it’s a situation that may not last forever.  On the other hand, £3 per month is a lot less than Spotify, so may be more acceptable if you don’t need to specify exactly what you want to listen to (and of course, most Symbian devices still have plenty of capacity for you to carry around a fairly large music collection anyway).

Head to the mobbler Beta Testing webpage for more information on the beta test.


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Improvements to an O2 Joggler

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Earlier this year, O2 were selling their O2 Joggler units for only £50 (they are still available, but back to the more common £100 price).  Many of us (me included) bought one at that time.  After an initial flurry of enabling telnet (allowing remote network access into the device), and using that access to install some other native apps (Google Maps, Google Calendar, Twitter, Flickr; though that last one never did quite worked properly), many of us either turned them off, sold them, or simply left them doing what they were designed for; running small apps.

However, a small community of users have persevered and actually released a whole range of updates and additional applications for the Joggler.  I’m not aware of many developers stepping up and releasing apps; it’s more the community have worked out how to get other existing apps to work on the devices, or they have worked out ways to tweak the device for better access.

Whilst I was manually installing apps, I heard of a user who was creating a set of scripts called “Pimp my Joggler”, or PMJ.  This took a lot of the hassle out of enabling telnet and installing those apps.  Like many others, having already done the hard work and worked out ways of enabling things, it didn’t offer a great deal extra (especially after Quinten released his script to enable telnet from a USB memory key).

Since then, other users have also joined in, and suddenly there is an impressive tool that’s well worth installing on your O2 Joggler; Plug’n’Pimp.  This doesn’t have a lot of similarities with the early tools, which are still useful, and shouldn’t be dismissed, but what is does offer is an easy way to upgrade and install a couple of really useful applications as well…

It installs from a USB memory key (you put the files in to the root directory, insert the USB key into the USB socket, and power up the Joggler).  Once complete, it will use the built in Messages application to confirm it has been successful (and again for other software updates).  The first nice feature is that you access the Joggler using a web browser to manage this new application.  Once there, you can install a number of new applications:

  • BBC Live player; giving you access to a range of BBC channels to stream live (UK only)
  • A PDF reader
  • Opera Mobile; see more below
  • Squeezebox Server; a version of the home audio media player
  • SqueezePlay; see more below
  • An SWF Manager; to allow a wider range of SWFs files to work on the Joggler

I’ll come back to a couple of those tools in a while.  As well as those, you can install a number of tools onto the Joggler:

  • Driver pack; improved drivers (including a better wireless driver, and adds support for NTFS)
  • Screen Off; a button to turn off the screen
  • Restart; a button to restart the O2 interface
  • Samba support; this allows the Joggler to be able to access Windows / Samba shares over the network

You can also tweak some of the settings of the device (such as Brightness, enabling and disabling auto-dim).  The key reason why I like this app though it that it will check for updates to itself and the various installed applications for you, and allow you to keep everything up to date without needing to constantly be checking around lots of different forums and websites and then manually applying lots of updates to the O2 Joggler.

For me though, two apps have stood out; Opera Mobile and SqueezePlay.  Opera Mobile; yes, a full web browser on the device, which is the one function that everyone was annoyed that it was not included from day one.  Being Opera Mobile, it’s designed for a full touch interface, and has access to a QWERTY keyboard whenever input is required.  You can even turn on advance features like Opera Turbo, to use compression to require less data to access websites.  Opera Mobile also supports a wide range of Opera Widgets, and these all seem to work fine on the Joggler, so there’s a Wikipedia widget included straight away, support for Instant Messaging, even ping.fm, and many more available for download.

Finally, for me, but I appreciate not all, there is SqueezePlay.  For those who have a Slim Devices (now Logitech) Squeezebox, you’ll be well used to the “Squeeze” name.  SqueezePlay is the dekstop audio client of the Squeezebox Server, and uses the same UI as used in the latest generation of Squeeze products.  Once installed, this auto discovered my Squeezebox Server, and immediately had access to all my home audio music.  As it’s the same program, it also supports third party apps and additional plugins to offer even more functions, so there’s a Flickr plugin and even a Facebook client!  As it uses the standard functions, you can extend this even further; I’ve got a map of the world showing the areas of the world in daylight as the screensaver for when in SqueezePlay, which comes from a plugin extension.

With these additional apps installed, my O2 Joggler has received a new lease of life; due to it’s speed, it’s never going to be the main web browser in the house, but with the ability to fit into my whole house audio music system, and the ability to easily access particular websites and snippets of information, it’s suddenly looking a lot more useful.  I’ve not gone as far as to move the Squeezebox Server onto the Joggler itself; but with the ability to access large external USB disks or network shares, this is certainly possible!

For more info on Plug’n’Pimp and many other customisations and tweaks, head over to the Joggler.Info forums, whose users and FAQs provided key information to allow me to install these additional apps.


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Sony Ericsson LiveView

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I can’t decide if this is a really cool gadget, or completely misses the point.  The new Sony Ericsson LiveView allows you to connect the device to your mobile phone, and access key functions of the phone without actually using the phone itself.

It comes with a wrist strap, so I guess Sony Ericsson’s plan is for you to wear this instead of a watch, and have the ability to access information on your phone as well as having a clock.  It has a 1.3″ 128×128 pixel OLED screen, 4 touch buttons (on the edges of the screen) and 2 real buttons (power & menu), and supports a wide variety of phone functions:

Music player control Play, pause, next, previous track and volume adjustment. Track title display
Social Networking Services Display Facebook™ updates. Display Twitter™ updates
Messaging Display incoming texts. Display RSS feeds
Calls Show phone number for incoming calls. Mute ringer for incoming phone calls. List of missed calls.
Other Calendar reminders. Find your phone. Display time and date.
Connectivity Bluetooth™ technology. Micro USB connector. Bluetooth™ range approximately 10m
Screen 1,3”colour OLED display, 128×128 pixels
Compatibility Compatible with the Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10, Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini and Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini pro and most other brands on Android 2.0 and above. For updated compability chart see www.sonyericsson.com/liveview
Facts 1)2) Size:3.5 x 3.5×1.1cm. Typical consumer battery usage time: 4 days
Availability and versions Available in selected markets from Q4 2010
Colour
  • Black
Standard kit content
  • Sony Ericsson LiveView™
  • Clip
  • Wristband
  • MicroUSB charger
  • User guide

However, instead of the usual “tied to their proprietary OS” nonsense, it appears this device is designed for Sony Ericsson’s Android phones (and more specifically their X10 Android phones); it also needs Android v2.2 or above, so is currently limited to the X10, X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro.

Interestingly, Sony Ericsson will release the LiveView Android App, and have already announced the API which would allow other developers to link into the device via your phone (in fact Sony Ericsson has said the application will be able to notify you of other applications that take advantage of the LiveView APIs).  As a starting point, it will be able to control your music, read texts, see incoming calls, and allow you read your latest Facebook and Twitter news.

Don’t have a Sony Ericsson phone? Sony Ericsson have also stated that the device will also be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire, making it even more interesting…

Due in Q4 (so just in time for Christmas), although with no pricing, it’s not yet clear whether this is a must have gadget or not.


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Revo announce new colour touchscreen DAB radio

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

After the successful launch of the Revo Ikon (released last year), Revo have now added another touchscreen DAB radio to their portfolio, and have released this unit as the first “under £200 colour touchscreen digital radio with multi-format reception”. What does that really mean? It means DAB radio (and DAB+), FM radio, Internet radio, ability to play Last.fm music streams, ability to play music from a PC, ability to play music from an iPhone / iPod attached via it’s dock, and if that’s not enough, it’s got an AUX socket and stereo RCA sockets for piping other music to the device.

The radio features a 3.5″ TFT colour touchscreen, with a similar user interface as that used on the Revo Ikon, and has an 8W amplifier and NXT’s Balanced Radiator loudspeaker technology.

I like the range of technologies that Revo put into their DAB radios, and expanded their touchscreen range makes sense, especially by introducing a cheaper device (although with a less powerful amplifier and it appears to not have the stereo speakers of the Revo Ikon).  As with the Revo Ikon and the PURE Sensia, the device only comes with a limited trial subscription to Last.fm (in this case, 31 days), so to continue to use the streaming facilities you’ll need to pay £3 per month.

The Revo AXiS will be available from 1st October 2010, and be sold at £199.95.


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Pure Digital FlowSongs, new radios and Sensia update

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Over the last month or so, Pure Digital have been busy.  They’ve launched two new radios, updated the PURE Sensia software, and have now released a new service, Pure FlowSongs, which is a very interesting (and nicely integrated) service for some of their Internet radios…

Firstly, the Pure One Mi (pronounced Me), only costs £34.99, and includes DAB and FM radio, a clear digital display, 16 presets, multi-lingual menus and a USB socket for future updates, and is one of the more compact models they have ever produced.

They’ve also release the Pure Oasis Flow, a weatherproof and splash resistant, rechargeable internet-connected digital radio, costing £169.99, which features DAB and FM radio (as well as the internet radio via Wi-Fi), and should work for up to 15 hours on DAB.  It also supports the new Pure FlowSongs, covered below.

The PURE Sensia update is interesting.  When the radio first launched, I wondered how many additional plugins we would see over time for this device, and whether Pure would be able to continue to support it with new features.  Well, last month, Pure added Picasa support to the Twitter, Facebook and Weather applications already available.  This allows you to login to your online Picasa account and view a slideshow of your online pictures, either in the smaller visual panel, or full screen.  Some photo information can be overlaid on the picture, and you can change the timing of the slideshow, as well as pause it.

However, the most interesting item is Pure FlowSongs, which was announced this week.  This is only available in the UK (as a public beta), and is supported on the following radios:

PURE Sensia, PURE EVOKE Flow, PURE AVANTI Flow, Pure Oasis Flow and PURE Siesta Flow

The new software to support Pure FlowSongs will be released on Monday (16th August) and will allow you to identify, and then purchase any song you hear on the radio.  Importantly, you can be listening to the DAB radio, FM radio, or an Internet radio station (the software is limited to the internet-connected radios due to what happens next, not that the radio source needs to be internet based); the radio will then use a Shazam service (well known for their mobile application to detect what music is being played) to identify the song.  In the case of the PURE Sensia, there is an addition button on the screen (see below) whereas other radios will need a button combination to be pressed.

If you want to use the service, your radio needs to be registered at the Pure Lounge, and you’ll need to provide a credit or debit card to topup your online account, but then you’ll get a free 90 day trial of the identification service (normally £2.99 a year), and if you decide to purchase a song, they will cost an additional 79p to £1.29, and this uses the 7Digital music service.  The purchasing function on the device will be protected by a 4 digit PIN for security.

Once purchased, the song can then be downloaded (as an mp3) to your PC or Mac, but it will also be located within your Lounge account, allowing you to stream the song to your radio too.  Pure Digital also state the songs can be uploaded to an iPod, and have stated the mp3 files are DRM-free, allowing them to be played back on any mp3 device.  When you stream, the mp3 will be 128kbps, but the downloaded files will be up to 320kbps.

The integration of the Shazam service to allow you to identify any music being played is a very powerful extra facility for these radios; over the last year I’ve been impressed with both Pure Digital and Revo for adding support for Last.fm into some of their devices, and I think this ability to identify and even purchase songs adds even more to the experience.  Even better, although not yet available as part of the beta, Pure Digital are looking to enable you to buy whole albums using this method, which is likely to work out better value.


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Tasker for Android

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Just occasionally someone points out an application to you, and you go wow, that’s really useful; Tasker seems to be one of those such applications.  Designed along similar lines to Locale (which has so many plugins from different people now, and all charge for them, it’s difficult to see the good and bads ones anymore), it offers the ability to create rules and control a whole raft of different functions on your Android phone. It’s not free (it costs £3.99), but this seems well worth given the range of controls it has.

I particularly like the ability to make system changes when you run particular apps, so, for example, you can keep the GPS generally turned off (to preserve battery life), but then when you run Google Maps you can turn on the GPS, and turn it off again when you exit.  In fact, the range of triggers is fascinating; Application, Time, Day, Location, State or Event.

LifeHacker here has a tutorial on how to set up the auto GPS function, how to create an alarm in the morning (that also fires up your favourite apps), and to create a “Face Down” task which shuts off GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth, and makes the ringer quieter.

For even more options, this LifeHacker post goes further and discusses the following options: reading out SMS messages (for when you are driving), limited data usage overnight, pop up a menu of music apps when headphones plugged in, mark and find your parking place, and most importantly, it links to the Tasker Wiki, where a whole range of users have added information on their suggested profiles.

There’s also lots of information about the application, including a tour of some of the features on the Tasker website here, which is well worth a look too.

This is one very comprehensive application, which looks like it has the power to really customise the way you use your Android phone.


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Nokia release new firmwares

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Last week Nokia released 3 key new firmwares.  Firstly, the Nokia E71 (and I suspect the Nokia E66 and Nokia E63, as they seem to share a common base and seem to get updates at the same time) was updated to v500, although at the time of writing, this was not yet available for either the generic EURO1 codes nor the operator branded versions in the UK, but hopefully it will become available over the coming weeks.

v500 contains the following updates:

  • Maps v3.03 Lite which has Free Navigation support
  • Music Player upgrade
  • Quick Office v6.2 which has Office 2007 support
  • Ovi Store upgraded to 1.6.0.18 and Download! Removed
  • Ovi Suite included in Memory card
  • Functionality improvements in E-mail configuration
  • Qwerty keypad improvements
  • Emergency call termination with RSK key corrected
  • Corrected Bluetooth link drop when an outgoing call is made in a carkit
  • Corrected localization issues in world clock
  • Fix provided for selecting desired mailbox when multiple mailboxes are configured

Probably more important is the Nokia N97 firmware update to v22, and the Nokia N97 Mini firmware update to v12.  Given the Nokia N97 is always accused of not having enough memory and space on the internal C: drive, then having to install Ovi Maps (over 10MB) to that area is always a burden. Well, this new firmware at least includes v3.03 Ovi Maps within the firmware, removing the need to have that additional 10MB application install (although we note that v3.04 is now out with the added cell ID and Wi-Fi based positioning, so without using a third party app such as Maps Booster, there is still, ironically, a need to install Ovi Maps in addition to the version in firmware for some of us).

The other new features include:

  • Ovi Maps v3.03 with free Navigation built-in
  • Nokia Messaging stub built-in
  • Default screen brightness raised to 75%
  • Default theme now the jet black ‘Nseries 2’, giving longer battery life than the previous ‘Nseries 3’
  • RAM optimisations
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes, including “Default Nokia tune is played as ringing tone for incoming calls instead of the one user has defined in Profile settings. Also sometimes device has stopped alerting for incoming calls. Both issues are now fixed” which has plagued a good few users.

As with all firmwares, you will need to decide between the impact of applying a new firmware (and the need to wipe the phone and start again with all your contacts, bookmarks, application and settings) against the fixes provided by the new firmware.  As always, expect to wait longer (and potentially forever) for operator branded versions to arrive; for example a 3UK Nokia E71 is still on v300, having never released v400 (or v410) for their devices, so the chance of v500 being released is quite small (it’s not all 3UK; an Orange N97 will still be stuck on v10, as they have never released v11, v20 or v21, let alone the new v22).

Nokia E71 firmware information courtesy of Symbian World, Nokia N97 Firmware information courtesy of All About Symbian.


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Dell Streak available tomorrow from O2

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

This is a very interesting device, and one I had the fortune to get a sneak peek Hands On with last week.  This is a 5″ tablet phone, which I have to say is a little large to hold up to your ear when on a call, so you might want to budget for a Bluetooth Headset to not look quite so silly, or simply add this to your existing phone with a data only contract (more later).  However, it’s running Android, and features a very nice touchscreen, which can take the knocks of every day life (I saw the blunt end of a knife be punched into the screens of 2 devices and neither suffered any problems with the touchscreen still working fine straight afterwards).  Obviously Dell & O2 don’t condone this level of abuse, and do warn that there are still certain angles where a drop onto a hard floor will still cause serious damage, but at least it’s a little tougher than many, and features something called Gorilla Glass to provide that protection.

The device I saw had a range of additional Android applications installed onto them, so although I can’t comment on what comes as standard with the device, they seem to have full support of the Android Marketplace, and hence there is a whole raft of additional applications that can be installed.

Although I didn’t get long with the devices, they seemed to be coping with many demos without a major impact on battery life, although that obviously needs a longer trial to establish whether it can last more than the common single day of usage.

O2, however, are offering the phone on a whole host of tariff options, ranging from the 30-day rolling Simplicity contracts (the Dell Streak 32GB will cost £399 upfront on all Simplicity contracts) to the high end £60 per month “unlimited” everything 24-month contract (where the device will be free).

24 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £35 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £60 Free Free

18 month smartphone tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
100 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £149 £249
300 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £59 £149
600 Unlimited Unlimited £40 Free £89
900 Unlimited Unlimited £45 Free £59
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £50 Free Free
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £65 Free Free

The Smartphone tariffs above offer unlimited texts, data and Wi-Fi at thousands of BT Openzone and The Cloud hotspots as well as a wide range of minutes.

12 month simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £15 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £45 £349 £399

30 day simplicity tariffs

Included minutes Included data & Wi-Fi Included texts Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
300 Unlimited Unlimited £20 £349 £399
600 Unlimited Unlimited £25 £349 £399
900 Unlimited Unlimited £30 £349 £399
1200 Unlimited Unlimited £35 £349 £399
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited £50 £349 £399

Again, it’s nice to see Wi-Fi at hotspots included even on these tariffs.

However, maybe the biggest area of interest will be the Data Only options, where the device isn’t actually used as a phone at all, but instead, concentrates on it’s capabilities as an Internet Tablet…

Contract length Included data Included Wi-Fi Monthly cost Streak 16GB cost Streak 32GB cost
24 months 3GB 500MB £25 Free* £99
24 months 3GB Unlimited £30 Free £49
18 months 3GB Unlimited £15 £349 £399
18 months 1GB Unlimited £10 £349 £399
1 month 3GB Unlimited £15 £399 £449
1 month 1GB Unlimited £10 £449 £449

* The 16GB Dell Streak is free on a £25 a month 24 month tariff until 30 June 2010, after which it’ll cost £49.

Although there’s quite a jump from the £15 per month 18-month contract to the £30 per month 24-month contract, with the smaller outlay of the phone itself, it works out roughly the same cost (within £10) over 24 months on both.

The specs of the device (taken from Dell) include:

  • A sharp 5-inch capacitive multi-touch WVGA (800×480) display for a great full-screen experience watching video or browsing the web
  • Fast 1GHz Snapdragon ARM-based mobile processor from Qualcomm
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash that offers easy point & shoot capability and quick uploads to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and more
  • VGA front-facing camera enables video chat functionality down the road
  • A user-removable (and replaceable) battery
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack means many of you can use the Dell Streak as the music source (and more) in your car
  • Integrated 3G + Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) + Bluetooth 2.1 (think headsets, external keyboards, stereo headsets, etc.)
  • UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA
  • A user-accessible Micro SD slot expandable up to 32GB. That means you can store  lots of movies, music, photos or other kinds of files.

On the software side, here’s what you can expect:

  • A customized multi-touch version of the Google Android operating system that features Dell user interface enhancements
  • Access to over 38,000  apps (and growing) via the Android Marketplace
  • Microsoft Exchange connectivity and integration through TouchDown
  • Google Voice support
  • Integrated Google Maps with voice-activated search, turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views
  • Quick access to activity streams via integrated social network app widgets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

The only downside I can see to the device right now, is that I believe it ships with Android 1.6, although it’s likely that Android 2.1 or 2.2 will become available as an update, but not until later in the year (we’re hearing September).  The device as it stands, though, will be available tomorrow from O2 Stores and the O2 website.

I should point out as part of our “Not Unlimited” campaign, that I doubt that any of these “unlimited” references actually get you unlimited service, but O2 have not yet provided the detail behind what the actual unlimited limits are.


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3UK news on iPads and Nokia E72

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

The iPad is coming to the UK on Friday.  Earlier this week we covered the iPad SIM Only deals from Vodafone (here), and today’s we’re looking at 3UK‘s similar offering:

  • £7.50 per month (1 month rolling contract), 1GB of data per month, no calls
  • £15 per month (1 month rolling contract), 10GB of data per month, no calls

Now, let’s just compare those to Vodafone for a second; to get 1GB of data, Vodafone will charge £10 per month, whereas as 3UK are charging £7.50 per month; it’s clear to see which one is better there.

Equally, for £15 per month, 3UK are offering 10GB of data, whereas Vodafone are only offering 3GB of data; in fact, taking this comparison a stage further; the maximum data you can buy from Vodafone is 5GB per month at £25 per month, whereas 3UK will give you 10GB of data for just £15 per month.

Something tells me this £15 per month 3UK option is going to be quite popular…

Of course, not everyone can afford the 3G version; if you select the Wi-Fi only version, then it’s well worth considering the 3UK MiFi option, which will allow you to connect a number of devices to a 3G connection at the same time, and still offers similar options:

  • Purchase the device for £54.99 (includes 1GB of data), and then you can purchase 5GB of data per month for £15 per month (1 month rolling contract).
  • Purchase the device for £49.99 on PAYG, and then you can purchase 3GB of data for £15 or 5GB of data for £25.

Given that the PAYG data rates are higher than the iPad rates, it’s well worth considering whether or not the savings that can be made with the cheaper data actually offset the higher upfront purchase cost of the iPad 3G, or whether the benefit of the 3UK MiFi and it’s ability to connect multiple devices is more important.

Finally, and on a completely different topic, 3UK informed me this week that the Nokia E72 is now available from 3UK on contract (in both Black and White).  As a result of this change, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is no longer available, although refurbished handsets are still currently on sale.  The Nokia E72 is a very nice QWERTY device and well worth a look, especially with the free SatNav that Nokia are offering as part of their Ovi Maps strategy.


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Spotify expand their range of options

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Spotify Mobile

Last week there were two options with Spotify; you could either go for Spotify Free (although you needed an invite in the UK, since it became so popular again when they released their mobile clients), or you paid £10 per month for Spotify Premium.  Spotify have now made things a little easier, and are offering 4 options, depending on exactly what you are after.

Firstly, there is a new Spotify Open option.  This does not need an invite (and in fact the Spotify Free option remains invite only, but is still available); and has one other key difference with Spotify Free – there is no Spotify Radio Mode, which was very useful if you didn’t know what exactly you wanted to listen to, but need know what sort of music you wanted.  Also, you are limited to 20 hours per month.

Also, there is a new option, Spotify Unlimited, which sites between Spotify Free and Spotify Premium, yet only costs £5 per month (a price that many said they would be willing to pay when the Spotify Premium originally came out).  It does support the Spotify Radio Mode, and like Spotify Premium is ad-free, and does not have a 14 day limit of accessing Spotify from abroad that the Spotify Free and Spotify Open options have.

However, if you want to have access to Spotify music when offline, or play Spotify music on your mobile (whether online or offline), listen to Spotify’s exclusive content, or benefit from enhanced music quality, then you’ll still need to take out the Spotify Premium subscription.

Having a greater range of options is a good thing, and many people may decide the £5 per month is a price worth paying for online access to a very large (though not yet complete) catalogue of music.

Some useful pieces of information;

  • If you have Spotify Free, and you buy a subscription to Spotify Unlimited or Spotify Premium, then if you let your subscription lapse, you will return to Spotify Free, not the newer Spotify Open.
  • You can no longer buy a day-pass, but for just a little more you can now get a whole month worth of Spotify Unlimited.  Technically you’ll sign up to recurring payments, but if you cancel before the end of that month, you’ll only pay for the single month, as there is no long term tie-in contract.  You will obviously continue to get the higher level of service until the end of the month; so you could pay and cancel the next day, but still benefit from a months’ worth of service.

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