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.


Orange launch data roaming bundle, but only if you use it

Friday, July 15th, 2011

This is quite a good deal.  Obviously I would like to see the daily cost drop to a level closer to UK data rates, but I like the idea; Orange will now charge you £3 per day for data whilst roaming, and that £3 gives you up to 30MB within that day.  However, you only get charged if you use any data, so if you went abroad and only used data on 2 days of your holiday, you would limit your bill, and not be charged for every day.

If you want to buy more data, or just have a bit more flexibility, then Orange are also offering bundles that last 30 days:

  • 30MB of data over 30 days: £15
  • 150MB of data over 30 days: £50
  • 500MB of data over 30 days: £150

Now, it’s starting to look expensive; when many of us have more than 500MB included within our monthly bill within the UK, £150 for that same amount of data is very high, but looking at it the other way; £3 a day will start to mount up over a 2 week holiday.

Information from What Mobile.


Ovi Store now support mobile billing

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Something not many people seem to have noticed, but Nokia have announced that many of the UK networks are now supported for billing within the Ovi Store; before, you had to either strike it lucky with your network choice, or use a credit card, but Nokia have confirmed that if you are a customer of T-Mobile, Orange, 3UK, O2 or Vodafone, you can now select to have any purchases added to your mobile phone bill instead.  It’s not clear if this agreement covers the smaller virtual operators such as Virgin Mobile or GiffGaff, but it’s certainly a good start, and adds an option commonly not available on other platforms.


Everything Everywhere to launch contactless payments via mobiles

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Everything Everywhere (the name of the new merged Orange and T-Mobile companies) has announced that it is going to integrate contactless payments into mobile phones, and launch a payment service (in conjunction with Barclaycard) in Q2 2011.  Of late we’re heard that some mobile phone vendors are secretly (or openly) including NFC capabilities into new mobile phones, and it looks like EE plans to take advantage of these and allow the mobile phone NFC to be used for contactless payments.  This comes on the back of McDonald’s announcing it will be rolling out contactless payment support this year too.

It looks like 2011 may be the year that the idea of mobile phone payment systems truely take off.  The EE solution is being produced in conjunction with Gemalto, who will produce (presumably) new SIM cards with both the SIM and the payment capabilities on the same chip, allowing the phone to provide two functions.

Orange also stated they are planning an Orange Cash card, which will be a pre-paid contactless payment card.  In London, there has been a good take up of contactless payment machines, especially useful for sandwich shops; imagine having the ability to buy your lunch by simply waving your phone near the till! In terms of the current 40,000 machines, they are located at places such as EAT, Pret a Manger, Little Chef, and will soon roll out at Co-Op stores.  In fact, one of my local take-aways already supports contactless payments on their credit card machine, so I expect even more places to support it throughout 2011.

Having said that, there is one problem with the current implementation; in my local takeaway, having been told the amount to pay, I could happily insert my chip’n’pin credit card whilst they entered the amount and then I could enter my PIN; since they upgraded to the new machine, I have to wait until the amount has been entered and the machine will then and only then accept the credit card being inserted; so we’ll all have to get used to paying a bit more attention to the process.

This is the sort of integration UK Gadgeteer has always supported; bringing different technologies together to make a better experience.  More news later in the year as EE prepare to roll out the solution.

Picture courtesy of Orange UK.


Apple iPad and 3UK

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

It’s not a lot of information to start with, but 3UK have just released the following statement:

Three UK today announced it will offer new purchase options for iPad users, including more affordable prices when purchased with a data service plan, for iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G models in the coming months. iPad allows users to connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before. Users can browse the web, read and send email, enjoy and share photos, watch HD videos, listen to music, play games, read ebooks and much more, all using iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface. For more information about iPad please visit

Although you’ve been able to get iPad data SIM contracts for some while, it’s nice to see 3UK being able to sell the hardware too.  I’m hearing rumours that it’s likely the iPad will be available from other networks too (Orange and T-Mobile have been mentioned), and that it will be a subsidised price (similar to most phone contracts), which may bring the Apple iPad into the reach of many more people as a special Christmas present…


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 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.


Three launch The One Plan

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

3UK have launched a new phone tariff, The One Plan.  This is a very interesting move by 3UK.  It’s available on all their phones, and they claim it should be big enough for everyone!

The plan (a 24-month contract) comprises:

  • 2000 cross network minutes
  • 5000 3UK3UK minutes
  • 5000 texts
  • 1GB Internet access

Having 2000 cross network minutes was something we first saw on the Apple iPhone 4 plans launched last week, and although none of these values are being stated as “unlimited” (for which we are very supportive), it’s also fair to say that most people will actually have a challenge getting through any of this limits, except maybe the 1GB Internet data, but even that is more generous that many of their competitors (Vodafone offer 500MB with most phones, as does Orange).

This plan will cost from £25 per month (*), depending which phone you get it with, so, for example, the iPhone 4 will be between £35 and £45 depending on the model and how much you pay upfront for the phone.

3UK have also announced that as from July, they will no longer use the word “unlimited”, something Vodafone announced last year (but only for data), and let’s hope this is the catalyst to encourage all networks to remove this misleading term from their marketing and actually compete with each other on quality and measurable quantity.

On top of that, they have massively clarified their old Internet tariffs too.  Since the introduction of the 24month contracts, they offered “unlimited” internet, which was really “only” 500MB.  To start, they will be converting that 500MB into 1GB for all existing customers on Internet Texter 500 or 900 plans and the Internet Talker 900 plan (over the next few months; you’ll get a text telling you what’s happening).  For elder contracts, although occasionally bundled into a deal, the majority of people pay £5 per month to get 2GB of data (at times it was sold as “unlimted” or 1GB, but in most cases it was actually 2GB); now this option still exists today, so people who were on 2GB per month will remain on that; no sly reductions here, and even better, 3UK have confirmed that the customers who are getting 500MB or 1GB free with their new contracts can still pay the £5 per month to add an additional 2GB of data to their contract.

So, it would appear you could take the new One Plan, and for £30, get all those minutes listed above and have a total of 3GB Internet allowance per month too!

Yet again, 3UK are leading on their tariff options, and these internet options make 3UK a very realistic option for many.

(*) We should point out that at the time of writing, the One Plan seems to cost at least £28 buying the cheapest phone, so although in time it will be offered for £25 with certain mobiles, it seems to cost a little more right now. The £25 per month option is for the SIM only 12 month option, offering the same level of contract, but for just £25 per month, and only on a 12-month contract.

So, looking at some popular phones right now, these are all free on a 24-month One Plan contract, with a monthly cost:

Given the phone is free, these are all very good value, especially given the amount of service you are buying.  The Internet Texter and Internet Talker plans still exist for those who don’t need this amount of minutes / texts.

As always, these offers are available from the 3Store.


Truphone expands Local Anywhere

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Truphone Local Anywhere

When Truphone launched their Local Anywhere service, which allows you to use your phone in multiple countries as if you were running a local SIM.  Having originally launched with support for US and UK, I’ve already covered the announcement of adding Australia (see here), and now they have announced the addition of two more countries; The Netherlands and Spain.  These are the result of partnerships with Vodafone and Orange (respectively), and should come on stream in the Autumn.  As with all countries, you will be able to add a local phone number to your Truphone Local Anywhere SIM giving benefits to your callers (local number wherever you are in the world) and to those you call in terms of low call rates and providing an easy local contact number to be rung back on.

It’s nice to see Truphone continuing to expand, and it’s likely that we’ll see more announcements before the year is out.


iPhone 4 on 4 networks

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 4.  Today, all the 4 main networks have confirmed that they will be selling the iPhone 4 from June (24th), with many offering pre-orders from around the 15th.  So, that’s O2 (obviously), Vodafone and Orange (already selling the iPhone 3GS), and now T-Mobile who will all be carrying the iPhone 4 later this month.  It’s nice to see T-Mobile step up and offer the iPhone at last, although with all prices likely to be pretty much identical, even with 4 networks there’s no real competition on this phone.

Still no agreement or update from 3UK on their plans though.


Eye-Fi now supporting Devicescape

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Eye-Fi Pro

Here’s some nice integration between different products…

The latest Eye-Fi card, the X2 range, can now use Devicescape technology to be able to connect to wireless hotspots, and some of the new X2 cards even come with 1 years worth of wireless hotspot access included in the price.  By using Devicescape, it’s possible to configure your Eye-Fi memory card with your BT Openzone, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile or Boingo user details, expanding the number of wireless hotspots you can connect to.  There appear to be 4 cards in the new X2 range;

  • The 4GB Connect X2, which supports over 25 sites (including Flickr)
  • The 4GB Geo X2, which adds geotagging to the Connect X2
  • The 8GB Explore X2, which as well as doubling the size, has the geotagging support, and also comes with 1 years hotspot access
  • The 8GB Pro X2, which builds on the Explore X2 by adding support for RAW files and supports Ad Hoc transfers too

With manufacturers like Canon and Nikon now building Eye-Fi support directly into the firmware of their cameras (so if you are in range and transferring a file, even if you shut the camera down, it is likely the camera will keep the memory card powered that little bit longer), they are definitely worth considering; yes, they cost more than a traditional memory card, but it’s the convenience factor you are paying for.

In fact, imagine you are out shooting photographs for the day; your camera knows about the Eye-Fi card, the Eye-Fi is connected to your MiFi device, and so your pictures are immediately uploaded whilst you are out and about, so that when you get home the pictures are already being displayed on your WiFi picture frame at home; that’s the type of integration we like here at UK Gadgeteer; it might need 3 or 4 different products, and some magical glue in the middle (such as a Flickr account), but it’s achievable by anyone today.

If you want to be even more clever, don’t forget you can use Pixelpipe with your Eye-Fi card (see here) which would allow you to distribute the pictures to multiple destinations with only one upload.