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Android touchscreen monitors to aid declining demand

Published on May 6, 2013 by in Android, News, Tablet

Taiwanese analyst outfit WitsView says monitor-makers are considering a 21 inch Android monitor as a way to fix the sales slump in the display industry. That slump is in part caused by slowing PC sales thanks to users’ preference for tablets and smartphones. By tapping into that shift, WitsView feels, monitor-makers may find a way to grow again.

The firm offers the following description for this product:

“An Android LCD monitor is a LCD monitor equipped with the ARM processor, featuring the Android operating system, and adjustable to a horizontal angle on top of the touch function and WiFi, which can be regarded as a simple version of [all-in-one computer] AIO or a large-sized tablet.”

The analyst firm goes on to say “the user experience on an Android LCD monitor is similar to that on a tablet and can be seen as the extension of a tablet.” But WitsView also feels that the Android-powered monitors would compete with all-in-one PCs, the cheapest of which retail for around $US600. At $US400 an Android monitor would undercut those PCs handily but also give monitor-makers a chance to sell a product with a higher margin than their conventional wares.

WitsView’s post on Android monitors doesn’t say who will make them, when or if they may emerge or if punters want them.

Current experience suggests there’s not likely to be a queue for giant tablets: Sony’s 20” Vaio Tap has been well-received but is not a hit product. Nor have environments offering rapid bootup and access to a basic computing environment done well: the SplashTop “instant-on” environment scarcely rates a mention on the eponymous company’s website just four years after appearing in many netbooks.

Perhaps if Android monitors could easily be unclipped from their stand and revert to battery power they could be of utility or interest. Such an arrangement could make desks less of an anchor for monitors and therefore spur new reasons for purchase, an important factor given the devices don’t really wear out. Your correspondent’s 24” screen, for example, is seven years old and shows no sign of wearing out other than a dodgy power button.

Which leaves just one important consideration: what to call a giant convertible monitor/fondleslab hybrid? Do feel free to offer your ideas in the comments.

The following video demonstrates such a device, developed by Acer.

 
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Google Play Music arrives in Ireland

Google has made music available through its online store in Ireland for the first time.

The Play Music Store went live in Ireland, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Portugal yesterday morning, bringing the total number of countries that can access the main rival to Apple’s iTunes store to 18.

Users can add up to 20,000 songs from their existing music collection to the Google Play “online locker”, which is accessible through the app for Android smartphones and tablets, and at play.google.com for computers and iOS devices.
The store offers millions of old and new songs from all major record companies, as well as dozens of independent labels and artists.

“Whether you want the latest single from Tinie Tempah or a classic album from Dire Straits, you’ll find it on Google Play,” Google’s head of international music partnerships Sami Valkonen said today.
Once downloaded, songs can be synced between Android devices and computers using the Google Chrome app, which Google claims is the key advantage of Play over other music services.

“The free online locker means you can take your music with you wherever you go, on any device,” Mr Valkonen said.
The cost of purchase varies depending on the track, but Google claims prices are on par with other music services. Singles cost between 99c and €1.29.

Through the Artist Hub feature, independent artists can create a profile, upload music files, suggest a retail price and sell their music directly to their fans through the store.

The Social Shares feature allows users to share the music they have purchased with friends on Google+, giving others a chance to listen to a track in full once before deciding whether to purchase it themselves. Instant Mix generates custom playlists based on the mood and style of a selected track.

Google Play Music first launched in Europe last November. A multi-territorial licensing process recommended by the European Commission last year has allowed Google to roll out the service to more countries.

With the expansion of the service, Google hopes to cash in on the rising popularity of digital music. Sales of digital albums increased by 14 per cent last year, according to the latest music industry report from Nielsen/Billboard, while sales of digital tracks were up five per cent.

Google Play also offers apps, movies, television programmes and books, but the US and UK are the only countries where customers have access to all stores.

- Irish Times

 
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New flagship HTC One vs iPhone 5

HTC’s new flagship smartphone, the HTC One, was unveiled last month at a media event in New York. Touted as the world’s first smartphone with UltraPixel camera (with capability to capture 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors), the One is expected to go global (across more than 185 mobile operators and major retailers spanning about 80 regions and countries) from March, while the UK has an expected release date of 15 March.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Display

The HTC One features a 4.7in Super LCD3 display, which is wrapped in a zero-gap aluminium unibody design for enhanced ergonomics (sits comfortably in the hands). It supports a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels at a pixel density of 469 pixels-per-inch (ppi), which is notably higher than the 4in iPhone 5 that offers just 640 x 1136 pixels (326ppi) on the tried and tested LED-backlit IPS LCD screen.  This is the first phone with a full HD display to hit the market, and has a much higher density than the iPhone’s Retina display.

Both the smartphones boast unibody aluminium design. In addition, the HTC phone offers unique antenna technology, which is expected to help users achieve crystal clear signal during phone calls.

Given the superior display technology and higher resolution screen of the HTC handset, its display is expected to offer better contrast, more natural colours and better clarity under bright sunshine than the IPS LCD counterpart.

The iPhone 5 offers Corning’s Gorilla Glass protection, while the HTC phone equips the newer Corning Gorilla Glass 2 technology with oleophobic coating for enhanced protection against scratches, smudges and other superficial damage to the screen. The latter also gets a revamped User Interface – Sense UI v5.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Operating System

The HTC One packs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean out-of-the-box, which is further upgradeable to Android 4.2.2. Some of its noteworthy features include HTC BlinkFeed (live-streaming of social, entertainment and lifestyle updates), HTC Zoe (ability to capture three second clips of 1080p video, while simultaneously shooting stills), HTC BoomSound with Beats Audio integration, HTC Sense Voice (boosts call Volume and quality in noisy environments for louder and clearer phone calls) and HTC Sense TV (an interactive programme guide and remote control for TVs, set-top boxes and receivers) which make an impressive package for Power users and tech-enthusiasts alike.

The new Android 4.2 update, which is expected to arrive on HTC One is likely to deliver a noteworthy improvement over Android 4.1.

Android 4.2 packs a host of new features including Gesture Typing which enables users to slide fingers over the letters they want to type on the keyboard while increasing the typing speed. The operating system (OS) also supports wireless display which allows users to share movies, YouTube videos and other videos and images on their TVs. Other noteworthy features include Daydream, enhanced Google Now, Google Search and Android Beam.

On the other hand, the iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 out-of-the-box, which is now upgradeable to the latest iOS 6.1.2 update (includes fixes for Exchange calendar bug and reduced battery life). iOS 6 brings a host of new features including the all-new Apple Maps with turn-by-turn navigation system, Facebook integration, Passbook organisation, enhanced Siri with support for new languages, and iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Processor and RAM

HTC One offers a powerful quad-core 1.7GHz Krait 300 processor integrated on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 chipset which is reportedly the first chipset to integrate four cores of 1.7GHz Krait 300 processor onboard. The Snapdragon chipset includes an Adreno 320 GPU for graphics processing. According to Qualcomm, the new CPU is expected to deliver unprecedented performance per watt and consequently offer greater battery life.

According to recent benchmark tests conducted by GSM Arena, the HTC One easily blows away all competition in overall scores against its nearest rivals: Sony Xperia Z, HTC Butterfly, HTC One X+, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nexus 4.

The iPhone 5, on the other hand, is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor based on the new A6 chip architecture. The phone’s graphics processing is done by the PowerVR SGX 543MP3 chipset with triple-core Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

The iPhone 5 offers just 1GB of RAM, while the HTC One offers twice its memory with 2GB of RAM.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Connectivity

Both the smartphones support Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP connectivity options and offer LTE capability. The iPhone 5 supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n standards, while the HTC One offers Wi-Fi 802.11 a/ac/b/g/n standards. The former offers data speeds of HSDPA up to 21 Mbps and HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps, while the latter can connect to HSPA+ speeds (up to 50 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps download).

Only the HTC One offers support for Near Field Communications (NFC) and Infrared port for communicating with infrared enabled devices. Instead of NFC, the iPhone 5 adds a new e-commerce solution via Passbook app built into iOS 6.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Storage

The HTC One comes in just two storage variants: 32 and 64 GB, while iPhone 5 offers an additional 16GB storage variant, besides 32 and 64 GB models.

Both the smartphones lack support for microSD expansion slot, which is a major drawback for Power users.

HTC One v iPhone 5: Price

The HTC One is likely to hit the UK market by 15 March, so we should see it here in Ireland a few weeks after this. The SIM-free version is priced at £510 (including VAT). This is about £100 cheaper than the iPhone 5′s SIM-free version (32GB White), which is priced at £609.99 at Amazon.co.uk.

 
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Notable App: Screen lock switch

Published on March 9, 2013 by in Apps, Security

As a security concern having a screen lock is always a good idea, considering the vast amount of private data one’s smartphone exposes.  However at certain times of prolonged or frequent reaching for one’s handset it can become a chore and inconvenience to constantly have to go through the hoops of entering a password or unlock pattern.

This neat little app allows you temporarily turn on or off the screen lock for times when you want constant and quick access to your phone, like when having an IM conversation or SMS conversation.

Check out the app on Google Play, you can add a widget to the home screen to alternate between locked and unlocked access.

Download on Play Store

 
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New app allows passengers to check taxi details

Published on March 9, 2013 by in Apps, News, Transport

 

New Taxi app allows to check driver background

 

A new app that will allow taxi passengers to check the details of the driver has been launched by the Government.

All taxi drivers will be required to register on the Taxi Driver Check app or face a €40 fine.

The free app provides photo identification of the driver registered to the car.

Passengers can also check if all details, such as vehicle make and licence number, are correct.The app also provides an option for passengers to report irregularities to the National Transport Authority or to email the taxi details to a friend.

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly said it was a great day for consumers, who will now be able to check if the driver is who they say there.He said the responsibility will be on taxi drivers to keep all details up-to-date.

Mr Kelly has also urged consumers to report unregistered taxis.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Taxi Advisory Committee, which represents taxi drivers and other interest groups, is meeting today as concern is being expressed about a proposed new penalty points system.

The special penalty points are part of new taxi laws, which introduce disqualifications for taxi drivers with criminal convictions.

However, taxi drivers are concerned about the new system, which could mean a taxi driver losing his licence for three months for an accumulation of offences, such as overcharging or waiting outside ranks.

Taxi organisations recently postponed a protest pending a meeting with Minister Kelly.

- RTE News

 

 
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Remote Web SMS: Now free on Google Play

Published on March 2, 2013 by in Uncategorized

Remote Web SMS allows you to view text messages on your phone and send messages using wifi. See all sent and received messages on your phone remotely on your PC or another phone, useful if phone is charging or otherwise out of reach.

This was previously a paid app but is now released free, enjoy!

 

Remote Web SMS

 
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iPhone vs Android: The long view

The iPhone was no doubt the one single handset that propelled the concept of the smartphone beyond the confines of the corporately dominated Blackberry and sparse Symbian consumer handsets, and we are now firmly in the trenches of smartphone war.  Apple certainly won the first few bouts with the expected slick design and simplicity in ease of use, so embraced by loyal Apple fans they were willing to overlook the shortcomings in engineering and implementation of the device, as with any previous Apple mobile device such as the iPod, it generally takes them three or four iterations to get at what they were aiming for first time around. There is no doubt  that in the public eye as the ‘must-have’ smartphone, however this tide is starting to shift and a divide of loyalty grow.

Google have always been long-term planners, and admittedly the earliest versions of Android were lacking in slickness compared to iOS.  However it is Google’s long view that now has them hitting Apple hard, for the simple reason that Google have the best engineers, along practically unlimited resources and their data resources also, get the engineering right and the user experience simply evolves to natural state of sensibility and ease of use. Apple fail to ever grasp this concept, even with their almost equally infinite resources, making it look pretty but glancing over the details in implementation, often with gaping holes, such as earliest model not having 3G data, and the more recent Apple Maps fiasco on iOS 6 release. Google don’t make these type of mistakes, and as the tide shifts, the iPhone has now been supplanted by the HTC One X as the highest desirable and satisfaction level phone, the Samsung Galaxy SIII lagging just behind the iPhone.

 
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Facebook Pages Manager app released on Android

Facebook Pages app now finally released for Android, iOS version has been available for some time now so this is most welcome, essential for anyone who manages their Social Media Marketing on the go.  The app it is quite decent and really does simplify managing a Facebook Page/Place on their Android, photo’s, events, and status updates can all be easily posted, along with notifications and some basic admin features. It nicely separates the identity of a post compared to managing a page with the standard facebook app, this has been a long standing issue with the standard app.

 

 
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Check your mobile data coverage speed

Published on February 26, 2013 by in Apps, Tips

Do you often experience unusable wifi in public area and transport? Wouldn’t it be nice to see the throughout and available bandwidth on the current wifi connection?  Hotels in particular claim to have wifi but it is often unusable, as also on the current wifi rollout on the Irish Rail fleet, the Speed Test app is a nifty app that measures throughput and consistency of connection, along with ping and more detailed connection information.

Download the Speed Test app from Google Play, it is most convenient when deciding to have coffee or lunch to check the locations wifi strength before deciding to choose that particular location.

 
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Pick of the litter: Budget Android phone

It has long been the case that budget Android handsets have been sluggish, often running outdated versions of Android and cutting corners with screen, camera, GPS and other areas.  The Sony Tipo is refreshingly well equipped for a budget phone.  It sports most of the hardware found in higher priced models, GPS, Accelerometer, proximity, compass.  The CPU is a Cortex A5 clocked at 800Mhz, with 512Mb RAM may appear a little sparse it still delivers enough power to comfortably run Ice Cream Sandwich, one of the few budget handsets currently available that does or can.

The handset is of the mini variation, compact and light, a good choice for those who don’t want to carry a slate around in their pocket.  The display is crisp, but on the small side at 320 x 480.  Video playback is smooth and crisp, but it is limiting for gaming.  Camera is 3.2mp so don’t be expecting too much from this, also there is no flash, however Sony do use decent camera lenses in their phones. GPS is nice bonus to have here at this price range.  There is also an FM radio.  The lack of native divx in media player may be an annoyance to some but plenty of Google Play apps for this.

The media player has nice integration with YouTube and other third party services, with extensions for more available from Sony.  Social media integration on the phone is also handled quite well.

The Sony Tipo is available in Ireland for €80 off the shelf or on prepay.

 
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