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


Payleven Mobile Payments at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2014

Payleven Chip and PINOne of the common problems facing start-ups and small businesses are the costs associated with taking credit card payments. The transaction costs can be high for small turnovers and point-of-sale machines are expensive with a monthly rental fee. To counter this problem, Payleven offers a low-cost mobile payment solution for European businesses using a Chip’n’PIN card reader that uses Bluetooth to communicate with both Apple, Android and Amazon smartphones and tablets. The Chip’n’PIN unit costs only GB£60 (ex-VAT) with a transaction charge of 2.75%. Payleven have partnered with GoTab to offer a complete solution for around £250 including a tablet and the card reader.

The approach is similar to US-based Square, but as Chip’n’PIN is only beginning to be required across the pond, Square’s reader unit is a simpler card-swipe device that plugs straight into the smartphone. Having a full Chip’n’PIN card reader in Europe is a necessity but the independent unit makes the transaction look much more professional anyway.

Simon from Payleven tells me about their solution and takes me through some of the features.

My.com Launches the First Mobile-Only Email Service

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2014

my.com logoMy.com is offering an interesting alternative to the desktop based email service that you are currently using. The @my.com email service is a mobile-only approach that has been designed to fit with the increasingly mobile-centric worldwide trend.

The @my.com email service functions within my.com’s myMail app (which was launched in November of 2013). The myMail mobile app was designed for managing multiple email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and more. Those who are currently using the myMail app can now add @my.com to that list. If you are already using myMail, you will be prompted to create a @my.com email account when your app is updated on your device.

Those who want to register for their own @my.com email address can do so now. Registration is open and it is 100% free. The myMail app is available for Apple iOS on iPad and iPhone and for Android smartphones. (The myMail app, by the way, is free to download).

Some of the features of myMail include push notifications, quick gestures for moving to folders or deleting, a clean user interface, and spam/virus protection. It also gives users 150 GB of free email storage. That is 10 times the amount of email storage that Google provides in Gmail!

You won’t need to create a password. Instead, you will receive an SMS code after you register for myMail. Once you use the SMS code, it becomes invalid for anyone else. In short, you won’t have to remember a yet another password and you won’t have to login to your email.

All email traffic through myMail is encrypted as an additional security measure. This is very different than the typical desktop based email service that can be compromised by hacking, phishing, or from a stolen password.

Get your phone wet? All may not be lost with DryBox

Posted by Alan at 12:41 PM on April 24, 2014

dryboxMobile phones and water are a notoriously bad combination. However a new product from a company called DryBox aims to fix your woes when this problem strikes your handset.

The Rescue has pretty lofty claims, including a drying time of only 30 minutes and that it can save a device as much as two to three days after it got wet. “The DryBox Rescue system utilizes a patent-pending drying chamber as part of a process that rapidly removes moisture at the molecular level from several small electronic devices”, the company claims.

There are some steps that the victim needs to take for the best chance of good results. Users are recommended to remove the battery (if possible) and don’t charge the phone.

For now, this is not a consumer product, but instead will be something that will be in the hands of  certain retailers and repair shops. Victims of a wet phone are recommended to proceed to the nearest location in their area. These are not yet available however and no time frame has yet been announced. You can visit DryBox to learn more.

Boosty Your Broadband at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 2:31 PM on April 14, 2014

Boosty BoxWhile many of us are fortunate enough to be served by fibre connections to our homes, many of us are still stuck on copper ADSL circuits with single digit download speeds. This isn’t great, especially with the rise of on-line gaming, movies-on-demand and second screening. Most of us have a another high speed data connection in our smartphone and this is where Boosty comes in, seamlessly adding a 3G / 4G mobile data connection to your home network.

I talk to Paul about how easy it is to add the box to your network and the accompanying service which lets you control who uses the mobile data and how much data is used. The Boosty box can use a WiFi connected smartphone or a 3G/4G USB dongle.

Boosty will be available in the next few weeks for £69.99 which includes the cost of the Boosty box plus a year’s subscription to the service. Pre-order at the Boosty site now.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and Power Bank Review

Posted by Andrew at 4:38 PM on March 20, 2014

TP-LInk LogoThe TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and 5200 mAh Power Bank (M5360) combines two of the handiest portable accessories – a 3G wireless hotspot and a USB battery pack – into a single unit. Sounds good on paper, but convergence doesn’t always work out. Let’s take a look.

3G Wireless and Power Bank

The M5360 comes neatly packaged in a slide-out box. Included with the 3G Mobile WiFi are instructions, a charger, USB-to-microUSB cable and some SIM adaptors which hold the smaller SIM sizes. The 3G Mobile WiFi itself is larger than the average mobile hotspot but this hardly unexpected given that there’s an additional 5200 mAh battery stashed in there. Overall, it’s 44 x 29 x 100 mm and while the weight isn’t officially given, my kitchen scales say 150g.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi

As you’ll see, the 3G Mobile WiFi is white with a clear plastic cover over the OLED screen. Moving round the unit, at the top there is a microUSB socket to charge up the Power Bank. On the right side, a power button turns the unit on, off and toggles between charging only and simultaneous 3G sharing and charging. There’s a reset button (that I never had to use) and covered slots for the SIM and micro SD cards. Finally on the bottom is USB socket that can be used for charging other devices. It’s only rated at 1A, so it’s more suited to charging smartphones and media players than 10″ tablets.

Getting going is simple – slip a SIM in and power the 3G Mobile WiFi up. As the unit is not network-locked you can use whatever SIM you choose, and helpfully on the rear of the device is all the information necessary for connecting to the WiFi network, including SSID and password. The 3G Mobile WiFi generally self-configures, but if you need to change anything, you can log on to the unit via a web browser and make changes.

Profile Management

With a 3 SIM everything went smoothly but I also tried the unit with a SIM from MVNO Giffgaff, which actually uses the O2 network. In this instance, I had to log on to the 3G Mobile WiFi and make some changes to the profile. To be perfectly clear, this reconfiguration is needed because of the MVNO nature of Giffgaff and illustrates the flexibility of the 3G Power Bank.

The small screen gives the usual information about the 3G Mobile WiFi side of things, including signal strength, connectivity, client number, battery and SMS messages. The download rate, upload rate and data volume are shown too. The unit supports the usual GSM protocols up to HSPA+ so in theory the max download rate is 21.6 Mb/s with 5.76 Mb/s upload, but local conditions are likely to significantly reduce this. With respect to WiFi, it’s 11b/g/n and up to 10 clients can connect at once.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi Screen

Now for the best bit….using the internal battery, the M5360 will run for over two (working days) without recharging. TP-Link quote 16-17 hours under heavy use by a single person and up to 26 hours will lighter use. I’m inclined to agree with TP-Link as I was able to use the 3G Power Bank for two and a half working days of relatively light use before recharging. Sweet.

In addition to powering the 3G Mobile WiFi, the battery can be used to charge another device as well. There are two options, wireless sharing and charging, and charging only; a quick double press of the power button toggles between the two modes. The 5200 mAh battery is roughly double the size of a smartphone battery, so expect to fully recharge your phone twice from the Power Bank.

Any problems? No, not really. My only feedback is the the positioning of the charging USB port on the top seems a bit odd as it simply looks funny when the 3G Power Bank is standing on its end. I would have preferred the socket on the side towards the bottom, or even on the bottom with an optional charging dock. Minor points, I know.

Overall, the TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and 5200 mAh Power Bank is a useful combination of the two. The ability to run the hotspot for a full working day (and then some) with several connected clients is attractive. The only downside is that the M5360 is heavier than a normal WiFi hotspot but that’s the price you pay for a bigger battery, but if it’s sitting on a desk, there’s no issue anyway.

Speaking of price, expect to pay somewhere around GB£70 for the M5360.

Thanks to TP-Link for supplying the review unit.

Luiqipel discusses its latest smartphone protection

Posted by Alan at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2014

luiqipelLuiqipel, as the name implies, is the company who waterproofs your phone. But now it has taken things a bit further, attempting to prevent other damage as well.

Impacts? Screen scratches? Those are two areas the company is focusing upon. The latest technology is a think film that may look like it’s close to nothing, but actually provides the damage control that customers are looking for, both from drops and encounters with keys in pocket or purse. The company claims that a screen can survive a four foot drop of a steel ball upon it. There’s a demo of the latest product, and you’ll need to watch the video below to get a look. You can visit Liquipel to learn more.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network

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PlayPlay

Rovio electrifies Angry Birds with new levels

Posted by Alan at 8:06 AM on November 26, 2013

Fans of the Rovio series of games can rejoice today, as the Finnish game maker is rolling out an update to its flagship mobile product. While it’s probably no longer the most popular Angry Birds, the original has become a classic in the minds of many gamers.

“Today Angry Birds received an electrifying new update with 30 fun-filled levels set in Professor Pig’s lab”, the company states. It then proceeds to describe that customers will find the new levels contain a bonus — the Bomb Bird has now become electrified. “His temper has grown after he accidentally stumbles upon powerful potions and electricity in the Professor’s lab”, as Rovio describes it.

Not to let a marketing opportunity fail to pass them by, the studio is also pushing a new tee-shirt emblazoned with the logo “shockwave”. It has also release a short trailer video to get you familiar with this latest update. You can watch the video below, but beating the levels is something we can’t help you with.

GNC Exclusive: My.com Launches myMail & myChat

Posted by geeknews at 6:01 AM on November 19, 2013

Last week at Techonomy 13 I was able to sit down with Dmitry Grishin Chairman and CEO of Mail.Ru Group one of the worlds largest Internet companies to talk about the launch of his new company MY.com in the United States Today. Dmirty demonstrated two their new apps that they are launching today.

mymailThe first myMail an innovative email application, that is very visual, and has a design unlike anything seen to date in an email application. This is an app where you can manage all of your email accounts and switch between them easily. Unique to myMail is that it allows users to customize and enable real-time push notifications even if the email providers do not support them.  myMail was extremely fast, a lot of time has went into optimizing the app.

What intrigued me the most was the visual qualities. The screen show provided does little to show off the design, built in filters and ease of navigation.  I encourage you to try myMail launching for free today on both iOS and Android.

Dmitry said “I’m happy to introduce our new products to the competitive U.S. Internet market,”  “Russian developers tend to have outstanding backgrounds in mathematics, physics and engineering, which have propelled Russian companies to the forefront of the domestic Internet market. Now we will use all the skills and experience we’ve earned to enter the U.S. market.”

mychatThe second if myChat a mobile messaging service for free text, voice and video messaging. myChat’s conversation-centric interface allows for ongoing, streaming chat and sharing of media, like photos and pre-recorded video messages. Voice and video calling are seamless no matter what platform users are on – iOS or Android. myChat it is my opinion that the versatility of this app will give all competing apps a run for their money.

The third is myGames which is part of a growing collection of fun, free mobile games already available here in the United States. myGames’ title Jungle Heat is a Top 25 Android bestseller; it has already generated nearly 1.5 million downloads on the iOS platform and 6 million downloads on the Android platform.

The current collection of games also includes Poker Arena and Lucky Fields, which has seen more than 1.2 million Android installs since being soft-launched in August.


 

Nokia Lumia 1520 sneaks out early

Posted by Alan at 5:53 AM on November 17, 2013

Windows Phone fans anxiously await the next versions of the Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia. For some fortunate customers, like the Xbox One, a few lucky people are getting the handset just a bit early. The latest in the line of Nokia phones falls into a category that has been dubbed a ‘phablet’, which loosely translates to an oversized smartpahone – one that rivals Android devices like the Galaxy Note.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is set to be released in late November, when Microsoft has plans to also launch its next-generation gaming console, the Xbox One.  The 1520 purports 4G LTE and a 3,300mAh battery, with a 20 MP rear camera. And, now the oversized phone has hit the market a bit early, with an advance version apparently being sold at an AT&T retail location.

A poster in the forums over at Windows Phone Central has managed to land the device and posted images and a receipt as evidence. “Ok here is a copy of the receipt, this should provide all the ‘Proof’ that I own the phone”, says Michelle SV. Then, she proceeded to post images of the box being taken apart as well. It was compelling evidence, though not foolproof, as these things have been faked before,

The phone was sold unlocked and, beyond that, the customer claimed to have entered a second store and was also offered a Lumia 1520. Microsoft has, so far, failed to issue comment. However, given the recent travails with Xbox One thanks to another retailer, the company is possibly game planning a strategy to deal with these, increasingly common, mishaps that seem to be occurring.

nokia lumia 1520

A Microsoft Future

Posted by Andrew at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2013

Microsoft Windows 8Last week’s “Microsoft Fantasy” here on GNC suggested that Microsoft was in danger of fading into irrelevance; that it should retreat to servers and gaming; that it should re-orient its mobile strategy around Android. I suggest that Microsoft is now very well positioned to offer far more than its competitors. And to negate any ad hominem attacks, I’m no Microsoft fanboy – I’ve a Linux desktop, Android tablet, Nexus smartphone and a Chromebook – but I can see a better strategy in Microsoft than defeat and retreat.

There are three players in the OS space – Microsoft with Windows, Google with Android and Apple with iOS. Each of these pairings has strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft is strong in servers, PCs and gaming. Google is good in mobile. Apple’s strength lies in PCs, entertainment and mobile. Obviously there are other players, such as Sony who are strong in gaming, but they can be discounted without OS aspirations.

Microsoft is a large organisation. It can be slow to respond and doesn’t always identify and embrace future technologies as fast as it should. The internet and Internet Explorer is a pretty good example. Other times, it moves into new markets, starting slowly and building up: look at the Xbox – it’s the market-leader. Certainly Microsoft has never been strong in the smartphone market being overshadowed previously by Blackberry and Palm, but it has a track record of trying tablet-type devices. Anyone remember Windows XP Tablet Edition? No, you probably don’t, but it existed.

But let’s think about how Microsoft’s competitors can realistically move in on their turf. For all the rise of BYOD, most large organisations use Windows on the desktop, Exchange for email, Ms Server on the tin. Google is trying hard to offer software as service in the cloud but there’s still lots of nervousness about the cloud and the leaks about US snooping aren’t going to help. Apple isn’t big in business by any stretch of the imagination and this is unlikely change. Both Apple and Google are into entertainment but neither have expressed much interest in hardcore gaming. It’s certainly not impossible for a hot Android or iOS console to come out but for now I think we can discount that.

Accepting then that Microsoft is reasonably unassailable (without being complacent) in gaming or business, let’s look at mobile and tablets in particular. Both Apple’s iPad and Android-based tablets are great devices, but even the most ardent fan will admit that tablets are generally best for consumption rather than production – it’s watching videos, surfing the web, listening to music. For creation, most people return to the keyboard and mouse on a desktop or laptop. Looking at business, while opportunities exist for tablets in business without a doubt, the bread and butter is still going to orient around Word and Excel.

The trend to mobile has been going on for years: from the desktop to the laptop to the tablet. But it’s extension to new devices, not extinction of the old. When laptops came out, did all the desktops go away? No. And it will be no different with tablets. We can see the rebalancing in the slow down of PC sales but this is entirely to be expected.

And this is Microsoft’s killer advantage – a potentially seamless suite of devices and form-factors from servers, through desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Business in particular want to use what they have already invested in – ActiveDirectory, Group Policies, Sharepoint. Microsoft and its partners are responding to this with devices that offer both a touch interface via the Modern UI and a traditional desktop for legacy applications where a keyboard and mouse is needed. The bottom line is that there’s no longer any need to shoehorn in Apple or Android onto the infrastructure at extra cost.

But what about the consumers? They’re not businesses, they’ve no investment, they’re not going to be swayed by ActiveDirectory concerns. They want apps! Absolutely, but let’s be honest about apps – most key apps and popular games are available across all platforms, and the relative low cost of apps means that it is easier to jump ship to a different OS.  Windows 8 isn’t perfect, but I would lay good money that if a 7″ Windows-based tablet was available for Nexus 7 money, they’d sell shed-loads. A similar argument follows for smartphones and Windows Phone has actually been doing quite well recently with solid gains according a recent IDC survey.

Microsoft is ahead of the game in recognising that the future is not a tablet future, but a touch future, and building touch into the core of Windows is a winner. For me, all Microsoft needs to do it get the prices down, tweak the usability of Windows 8 and continue with the “Windows Everywhere” advertising. It’s a Microsoft future.