Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


O2 Offers 12 Month Smartphone Lease

Posted by Andrew at 6:25 PM on December 12, 2011

O2 LogoIn a change to the mobile phone contract status quo, UK mobile telco O2 has announced a 12 month smartphone leasing service. For £55 per month, you get a 16 GB smartphone, 750 minutes, unlimited text, a paltry 500 MB of data and insurance. Allegedly unique in the UK market, both consumers and business will be able to take advantage of O2 Lease.

If you are wondering what the difference is between a 12 month lease and 12 month contract, it’s simply that the smartphone doesn’t belong to you and must be returned in reasonable condition at the end of the lease. That’s why insurance is included in the cost of the lease so that the smartphone can be replaced in the event of damage or loss.

O2 extols the benefits of a 12 month lease, tying it into the upgrade cycles of the smartphone models and giving you the latest model without a long contract. The choice of smartphone models isn’t mentioned but O2 offers all the premium smartphones – Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nokia Lumia 800 and Blackberry Torch. 32GB models cost an extra £10 per month. Update – O2 Lease is specifically mentioned against the iPhone 4S here.

If you really want the latest phone and you’re a big talker or texter, this scheme might be worth considering but the tiny data allowance really makes it all a bit of a farce. My monthly data usage is between 600-800 MB and I don’t think that I’m a particularly heavy user. Yes, I might download the odd podcast but it’s mostly email, web browsing, Twitter and RSS feeds.

Personally, I tend to buy my smartphones SIM-free as there are far better tariffs out there and you can easily sell the smartphone after 12 months to part-fund your next purchase. Do the maths for yourself and see what works for you.

The full press release is here.

Android Handsets More Unreliable

Posted by Andrew at 2:15 PM on November 3, 2011

Android LogoWireless expert WDS is reporting that high failure rates in Android handsets are costing mobile network operators as much as $2 billion per year in dealing with repairs and returns. Reviewing the four leading mobile operating systems, its study found that Android-based devices seemed more prone to failure as 14% of technical support calls on Android were for hardware, versus 11% for Windows Phone, 7% for iOS and just 6% for BlackBerry OS.

Simplistically, Android handsets were twice as likely to suffer a hardware fault that an Apple or RIM device. The study suggests that cheaper hardware, software customisations and OS updates all contribute to the failure rate and in turn, the increased impact on the network operators to provide technical support and customer service. WDS analysed over 600,000 technical support calls from July 2010 to August 2011.

One thing we must be absolutely clear on,” says Tim Deluca-Smith, Vice President of Marketing at WDS, “is that our analysis does not find any inherent fault with the Android platform. Its openness has enabled the ecosystem to grow to a phenomenal size, at a phenomenal rate, and it’s this success that is proving challenging.

He added, “The Android customer experience differs enormously between devices and this means that the way in which Android devices are retailed and supported must consider factors such as the hardware build and quality of components.

If you are thinking about buying or upgrading your smartphone, you might want to bear this research in mind before you purchase.

The full WDS whitepaper can be downloaded from this page.

Android Leads UK Smartphone Race

Posted by Andrew at 1:40 PM on November 1, 2011

Android LogoIn the UK, Android is beginning to dominate the smartphone space, with 50% of handsets sold in the last quarter running Android. RIM (Blackberry) and Apple are almost level pegging on 22% and 18% and with half of UK adults now owning a smartphone, Android has an impressive lead.

Breaking the Android figures down, HTC is the top dog, with nearly 45% of Android handsets sold. Samsung is picking up the pace at 38% but Sony Ericsson is the big loser, falling to 8.5% of the Android market.

Surprisingly, this means that HTC, Samsung, RIM and Apple are each taking about a quarter of the market. Compared with mindshare that Apple generally has and the dominance in the tablet market, it’s clear that the iPhone is under performing.

Personally, I would agree with the figures. Looking round the office, Android phones are definitely in the majority followed by iPhones and Blackberries. I think Blackberries are popular with younger people as both my nephews have that brand of phone. The breakdown of the Android shares also rings true. This time last year, it would have been exclusively HTC smartphones but now there are quite a few people sporting Samsung devices.

The research was carried out by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech over the past 12 weeks. To be fair, this probably means that iPhone sales were down as people waited for new model but there’s no doubt that Android is the no.1 smartphone OS in the UK.

 

Blackberry Offers Free Apps in Apology. Will You Forgive RIM?

Posted by J Powers at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2011
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In result to last week’s Blackberry outtage, RIM profusely apologized for the issues they came up with. In return, they are offering $100 in free applications to their users. Will that be enough for Blackberry users to continue with the phone?

Last week, Blackberry had a nation-wide email and Internet services outtage that lasted 3 days. A “network failure” was to blame for this outage. ZDNet is reporting that RIM has lost $350 million for that outtage.

Today, RIM put out a press release. CEO Mike Lazaridis made a public apology and then announced they will be giving customers $100 in applications as compensation.

“Our global network supports the communications needs of more than 70 million customers,” said RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. “We truly appreciate and value our relationship with our customers.  We’ve worked hard to earn their trust over the past 12 years, and we’re committed to providing the high standard of reliability they expect, today and in the future.”

The list of applications are:

  • SIMS 3 – Electronic Arts
  • Bejeweled – Electronic Arts
  • N.O.V.A. – Gameloft
  • Texas Hold’em Poker 2 – Gameloft
  • Bubble Bash 2 – Gameloft
  • Photo Editor Ultimate – Ice Cold Apps
  • DriveSafe.ly Pro – iSpeech.org
  • iSpeech Translator Pro – iSpeech.org
  • Drive Safe.ly Enterprise – iSpeech.org
  • Nobex Radio™ Premium – Nobex
  • Shazam Encore – Shazam
  • Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant – Vlingo
Are Free applications enough to customers? What if I already bought all of these applications already? Will I get a refund?

These Applications are only $35

Apparently, these 12 applications are $8.33 each? Well, no – Each application is probably on average $2.99 each. I even thought a couple of those applications were free already.
You have 4 weeks to download all of these titles between October 19th and November 16h (4 weeks). But 12 applications at $2.99 each is only $35.
RIM states other applications will become available as they go, but this is not compensation. What is compensation? Maybe a FREE MONTH of service?
Whether or not it will keep customers remains to be seen. But it is important to call your carrier and complain. This is not the first time a phone had a major outage (Remember in October 10, 2009, Microsoft Sidekick had a outage that deleted user data). But it’s all about how customers can be reimbursed for the issue.

Adobe Rolling Out Connect Mobile 1.7

Posted by Alan at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2011

Yesterday, Adobe announced the release of Connect Mobile version 1.7.  The Android version is now available, and the Blackberry and iPhone versions are coming soon.

If you aren’t familiar with Connect Mobile, then here is a brief introduction.  Adobe Connect is a web conferencing tool, geared mainly towards business users.  In other words, it’s mostly an enterprise tool.  It allows businesses to hold training classes and meetings online, thereby saving the cost of paying travel expenses for those involved. It’s based on Adobe Flash (like most Adobe products) which allows it to be used for richer content.

For enterprise level deployment they offer several tiers of hosted plans that I won’t bore you with the details of here.  If, however, you are interested in it individually, then you have two options.  The first is a $45 per month subscription, which gets you 9 hosts and allows each host to control webinars with up to 25 in attendees.  The second is a pay-per-use plan, which will cost you $0.32 per user per minute.  You can check enterprise and individual plans here.

You can download version 1.7 for Android from the Android Market.  Keep and eye on the Blackberry App World and iTunes App Store for those versions to show up in the very near future.

Windows Phone 7 Data Usage Rising

Posted by Alan at 5:49 PM on June 20, 2011

Mobile data usage has been rising for quite some time now.  But, with the release of the latest Nielsen report on cell phones, there’s some interesting data.  The fastest rise is Windows Phone 7, which has shot up 89% since it’s launch.  As of the November launch (4th Quarter 2010) data usage was at 149 MB, but now, as of the first quarter 2011 (March 2011), data usage has climbed from to 317 MB.

While it is the fastest riser of this time period, WP7 still lags far behind iPhone and the industry-leading Android.  iPhone has risen steadily to 492 MB, while Android has risen to 582 MB.  By contrast, RIM’s Blackberry OS has flat-lined and Windows Mobile, which is now on life support, has slowly trailed off.  Web OS unfortunately did not garner a mention in the report.

This seems to indicate that the field is narrowing to a 3 platform race between iOS, Android, and WP7.  While Blackberry remains popular with corporate customers they are falling behind overall, despite their recent efforts.

So what are all of you using, and why?  What do you like and dislike about your mobile OS?  Which mobile OS do you think will come out on top in the future?  Give us your thoughts in the comments.

GadgetTrak Remote Tracking Software For Mobile Gadgets

Posted by tomwiles at 2:46 PM on February 9, 2011

GadgetTrak is a piece of software that you install on your mobile phone or laptop. The software will periodically check in and let you know the physical location of the device. If a camera is present, for example on a laptop, it can even take a photo of the thief and email it back to the owner. The software cannot be disabled by the thief.

For a Mac or Windows laptop, the price is $34.95 per year.

For Android and Blackberry phones, which includes remote data wipe ability, secure encrypted backup and a loud piercing audible alarm even if the device is in silent mode, the price is $19.95 per year.

For iPhone, iPod, and iPad, the GadgetTrak app is .99 cents, The iOS version does not include remote data wipe, but does include remote camera and push notification support to inform the thief of the GadgetTrak software’s presence.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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My Blackberry’s Not Working..

Posted by Andrew at 5:17 PM on January 12, 2011

Courtesy of the BBC, a very British comedic take on the latest technology….

Is The Blackberry Playbook A Player?

Posted by Alan at 6:16 PM on January 9, 2011

For a couple of months now there has been some buzz surrounding the upcoming Blackberry tablet known as the Playbook.  Is it for real or just a lot of hype over nothing, like some of the recent phones from RIM?  This CES provided a hands-on which finally gave people a chance to find out.

This relatively small 5×7 device has created a rather large hubbub in recent times and since I haven’t had the chance to play with one I decided to see what the lucky few have had the chance had to say about it.

Frankly I have been a bit surprised.  I expected a bit of a downer, given the recent spate of bad luck RIM has had with new products.  But I have seen the gaming, multimedia, and video conferencing capabilities called “sexy”.  It has been deemed a “flash loving” device, which immediately separates it from the Apple iPad.  In short, I have not found any real negatives in any of the major reviews I have read.

Of course, with or without Flash, it still has an uphill battle to compete with the iPad.  We have also seen a proliferation of Android and Windows 7 tablets at CES, which also pose a direct threat to the Playbook.  While Windows 7 has been widely maligned as a tablet OS the ones I have seen in the past few days may change that sentiment.

We don’t have an exact release date for the Playbook yet, but it doesn’t appear to be too far off.  If they can get to market in a timely manner and beat a lot of the other tablets that debuted this past week then they have a shot to at least find a spot in the market, if not take a decent portion of it.

Energizer announces the first inductive charger with QI technology

Posted by Mike Dell at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2010

Energizer is releasing a new inductive charging system this October at Target stores and on Target.com. It’s officially called “Energizer Inductive Charger”

The new charging pad will charge any QI (Pronounced Chee) enabled device or a device with a QI accessory. Energizer will have the first two of these accessories available at the same time. They are starting with the iPhone 3G and 3GS sleeves and a BlackBerry® Curve™ replacement battery door. They say they will have more accessories available at a later date. Ultimately, doors and sleeves will not be required as manufacturers begin introducing new devices with the Qi standard built in.

iPhone 3g and blackberry on the Energizer Inductive Charger with QI Technology

Imagine sitting at your desk and just putting your smart phone on a nice looking pad and not having to plug it in to keep it charged. Or at the end of the day, just put your gadgets on the pad at the bedside and they will be all charged up in the morning.

In the past, these inductive chargers all had a different standard and had to speak the correct language to work. QI is an open source standard so any QI device and charger can work together. QI does require metal to metal contact to work. QI Logo

I’m looking forward to having a charger like this for my smartphone (Droid).

For more information about these new products check out: Energizer Inductive Charger.

To read more about the QI (pronounced Chee) standard, go to The Wireless Power Consortium home page.