Motorola Moto X Comes to the UK

Motorola M LogoAs widely rumoured, the Motorola Moto X is coming to the UK and the rest of Europe. The specs and features seem as per the US version – touchless control for Google Now, Active Display, Connect extension for Chrome and twist to start camera. KitKat will be on the Moto X out of the box and as expected, it looks like Motorola’s touch on the OS has been relatively light, with the addition of apps such as Migrate and Assist which were seen previously in the Moto G.

Specwise, it’s Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System which includes a software optimised Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (1.7GHz Dual-Core Krait CPU, quad-core Adreno 320 GPU), a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor. RAM is 2 GB (excellent!) with 16 GB and 32 GB storage versions available. To sweeten the deal, there’s two years of 50 GB storage free on Google Drive.

All the latest wireless technology is included with Bluetooth 4.0 LE + EDR, wifi 802.11a/g/b/n/ac and LTE bands 800/1800/2600MHz (B20/B3/B7). Of course it has 2G and 3G as well. 10 MP rear camera and 2 MP HD front camera.

Motorola Moto X

There’s no information in the press release regarding the customisations that are available in the US, only that there will be a black version and a white version. Update: Motorola have confirmed that Moto Maker will not be available at launch but they are exploring options.

The Moto X will be available in black from 1st February from Phones 4u, Carphone Warehouse, O2, Amazon and Techdata.  The white Moto X will be an exclusive for Phones 4u for the first three months.  Prices vary but start from GB£25 per month on contract or £380 SIM free and off-contract. As with the Moto G, that’s a pretty good price for a 4G SIM-free smartphone.

GoGo Wifi Plans for 60 MBps In-Air Wireless with Ground to Orbit (GTO)

Gogo Logo

Imagine being 30,000 feet in the air and doing wireless business, watching a Netflix movie or even downloading and installing updates to your computer. With new initiatives, that could happen very soon.

Gogo In-flight wireless – a leader in in-flight connectivity – announced a new program called Ground to Orbit (GTO). This combines satellite feeds with Gogo’s air-to-ground Wifi capabilities. The added satellite would basically download content, while air-to-ground sends your http requests, emails, uploads and more.
Virgin America will be the first to offer this new hybrid service starting next year (2014).

Gogo has proven time and again that it’s the leader in developing new technologies that will bring more bandwidth for the buck to the aero market.  GTO is the next step in our technological evolution and is a ground breaking new technology for the commercial aviation market in North America,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small.  “When we launched our in-flight Internet service five years ago, we were able to deliver 3.1 Mbps per aircraft through our Air to Ground network.  About a year ago, we began rapidly deploying our next generation Air to Ground service that took peak speeds to 9.8 Mbps.  GTO will now take peak speeds to more than 60 Mbps. That’s a 20-fold increase from where we started.”

Virgin-america-logo

Gogo will be initializing the Ku antenna developed specifically for receive only functionality. Ku is two times more spectrally efficient and half the height of other antennas. The Ku anntenna system also allows Gogo to install new technologies without installing new antennas. This could ultimately lower the cost of Gogo hardware needs.

Faster In-Air Internet Initiatives

A few months ago, the FCC approved a new spectrum for Wifi on aircrafts. Switching the Wifi spectrum to the 14.0-14.5 GHz range could add up to 60 Gbps for planes with in-flight Wifi. This would serve all airplanes with wireless across the US. Speeds up to 60 Mbps per user match those you might find from home Internet.

Of course with any wireless initiative like this, weather can still be a factor in your internet connection. From storms to sunspots your speeds may vary in the air. Still, to be able to rent a movie, download an album or even participate in a meeting 30,000 feet in the air sounds very promising.

 

Google Brings Faster WiFi to Starbucks

Starbucks logoGreat news for people who love to hang out in Starbucks, or who are using the local Starbucks as their “office”! Google has teamed up with Starbucks in order to bring a faster WiFi connection to all 7,000 company owned Starbucks stores that are located in the United States. Best of all, you will be able to use the newer, faster, WiFi at Starbucks for free!

According to Google, soon you will be able to visit Starbucks and surf the web at speeds that are up to 10 times faster than before. Do you live in a Google Fiber city? If so, Google is hoping to be able to make the WiFi connection at your local Starbucks to be up to 100 times faster than it used to be.

Of course, there is a bigger, more altruistic reason for offering faster, free, WiFi at Starbucks than to make things a bit easier for freelancers who use the coffee shop as an “office”. In times of trouble, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people went to a Starbucks so they could use the store’s WiFi and connect to their loved ones. The upgrades to the WiFi will make that easier.

Google says that they will start rolling out the new, faster, WiFi starting this month. You will be able to tell when your local Starbucks has had the WiFi upgraded when you visit the store and notice you can log into the “Google Starbucks” SSID.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

Parrot AR.DroneRemote control vehicles are fun and remote control aircraft doubly so. Imagine then how much fun a remote control quadricopter is, especially when it’s controlled by wifi from your smartphone. Todd takes flying lessons from Parrot’s Julian.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is an update of the original AR.Drone, with the main difference being an HD camera on the drone which streams video footage of the flight back to the device so the operator can see what the Drone is seeing. The AR.Drone 2.0 is controlled via wifi from either an Apple or Android  tablet/smartphone.

There’s some pretty sophisticated technology in the AR.Drone. For example, it has a downward-facing camera that the Drone uses to track motion over the ground. On a windy day, the Drone can hold position over a spot by using this camera to detect wind-blown motion and then compensate for it. Very clever and cool.

The AR.Drone is pricey enough but not unaffordable at $299. Available now from good retailers worldwide.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Daniel Lewis of The Audacity Podcast for the TechPodcast Network.

Pure Jongo at CES Unveiled

Pure LogoAt this year’s CES, Pure launched Jongo, the world’s most affordable (and colourful) multi-room music system. Vicky tells Todd all about it.

The Jongo range will shortly include a couple of wireless speakers and a hi-fi adaptor, all with both Bluetooth and wi-fi built-in. Music can be streamed using the Pure Connect app via wi-fi to any speaker in range or else smartphones and tablets can stream music directly to the speakers using Bluetooth. Both Apple iOs and Android devices are supported and it uses the existing wi-fi infrastructure: there’s no need for special transmitters.

The S340B speaker will be available soon and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Price is listed as $229.
The stereo speaker (T640B) and the hi-fi adaptor (A140B) will be on-sale in the summer with MSRPs of $329 and $119, respectively.

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

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TP-Link announces new wall socket WiFi extender

Wireless extenders are not new and tiny ones that sit right in your wall outlet are not even new. However, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, networking company TP-Link unveiled its latest — the TL-WA850RE. It brings a sleek look and a bit more functionality to these tiny extenders.

Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prn/20130110/NY37671

This one packs in wireless “n” which is the new standard, although it is backwards compatible with older standards as well.  There is a host of features which company has oulined:

  • Supports domain name-based login for a more user-friendly setup experience
  • CD-less installation
  • Easily extend wireless coverage at a push of the Range Extender button
  • Profile function helps users remember previously paired wireless networks
  • 300Mbps wireless speed ideal for smooth HD video, music streaming and online gaming
  • Works seamlessly with all 802.11b/g/n devices

The product is expected to hit the market in the second quarter of this year, but the price has not yet been revealed.

D-Link Cloud Cameras and Routers at CES

D-Link LogoD-Link announced at CES today a range of IP cameras and routers with cloud connectivity for remote monitoring and viewing.

The two new cameras are the Cloud Camera 1050 (DCS-931L) and Cloud Camera 1150 (DCS-933L) which come with remote monitoring as standard via mydlink and mobile devices, but also offer new capabilities such as audio detection with image alerts based on sound, not just motion, and an integrated wireless repeater mode for expanded coverage that eliminates wi-fi dead zones and lets consumers easily add more Cloud Cameras without worrying about existing wireless coverage. That’s a pretty clever idea, building a repeater into the camera. Of course, these are 802.11ac devices and the 1150 also offers infra-red illumination for night operation.

 

DCS-931L CameraDCS-933L Camera
To go with the IP cameras, D-Link’s new 11ac routers are the wireless AC1750 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router and Wireless AC1200 Dual-Band Gigabit Cloud Router (aka DIR-860L and DIR-868L) which deliver speeds of up to 1750 Mb/s and 1200 Mb/s respectively by combining both 11ac and 11n technologies. In addition, both Cloud Routers offer easy remote network management with the free mydlink Lite app from an iPhone, iPad or Android device, which is interesting and could be useful in a number of environments.

Catering directly to today’s increasingly mobile lifestyles, D-Link’s new Cloud Cameras and Cloud Routers offer the latest features and performance available for home network and monitoring needs,” said Daniel Kelley, Associate Vice President of Marketing, D-Link. “Keeping an eye on loved ones and valued possessions is easier than ever with greater Wi-Fi coverage and higher quality viewing and recording day and night. And, the new 11ac Cloud Routers give today’s connected homes with multiple user and high-bandwidth activities the ultimate in network performance and remote management capabilities.

The cameras and routers will be available in the next few months – The Cloud Cameras 1050 and 1150 will be available in February for $79.99 and $99.99 respectively. The dual-band gigabit Cloud Routers DIR-860L and DIR-868L will be later in April for $149.99 and $169.99.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Review

Buffalo LogoThe Buffalo MiniStation Air is “wireless streaming storage” for smartphones and tablets that provides 500 GB of extra space. Simply, it’s a 500 GB portable hard drive with wifi and complementary apps for Android and iOS. The idea is that the MiniStation Air connects to your PC or laptop via USB 3 and gets loaded up with stacks of music and video which can then be played via an app when out-and-about. It’s a great idea, but how does it stack up against “the cloud” and other solutions such as Pogoplug? Let’s find out.

Buffalo MiniStation Air Box

The MiniStation Air itself is a small black and grey unit, 130 x 84 x 23 mm. The top is a polished black surface with four pinprick status LEDs embedded in it and the sides and bottom are a silvery-grey with buttons and connectors on two of the sides.

Buffalo MiniStation Air

This is a USB 3.0 device which is immediately apparently from the shape of the connector. (Apologies for using stock photos but my own photos were all rubbish).

Buffalo MiniStation Air USB3

Connecting the MiniStation Air to the PC was simply a case of plugging it in with the device appearing as a removable drive. Copying media files took no time at all thanks to the USB 3 connection. It works with USB 2 as well, things just take a bit longer.

Once the Air is loaded up, it can be disconnected from the PC and then powered up on its own. At this point, the MiniStation Air is broadcasting a wifi signal (802.11n/g/b) and it’s easy to connect to it using the SSID and passkey details provided on the bottom of the Air.

Browsing the MiniStation Air

To get the MiniStation Air to work fully with smartphones and tablets, Buffalo provide an app for both Android and iOS which can be downloaded from the application app store. I was only able to test out the Android version, but once installed, it’s easy to browse the files and folders on the Air.

Music PlayerPlaying music or watching videos is just a case of tapping on the file. Photos and music are handled within the app, but videos are handed over to the default video player on the device. Movies started up within a couple of seconds (if that) and music started almost instantly. The music player is basic and as with many of these devices, doesn’t correctly pick up track tags, so albums are arranged alphabetically rather than in track order.

There isn’t a full “HD” app for the tablets, but there is some differentiation between tablets and smartphones. For example, on a tablet, pictures are previewed alongside the folder but this doesn’t happen on a smartphone, even when rotated to landscape. However, the four expanding arrows in the toolbar at the bottom shows that this isn’t a native tablet app.

Tablet Preview

The Edit part of the app allows files to be up- and downloaded from the MiniStation Air. It’s the usual check-box / select operation affair but for the small numbers of files that are likely to be transferred this way, it’s fine.

The Settings area provides access to the SSID and passkey plus other details such as hostname and workgroup. Nothing particularly unexpected here but the MiniStation Air has one last trick up its sleeve. The Air can be connected to another wifi network, preferably one that has a connection to the Internet. This means that although the smartphone is connected to the Air’s wifi, an onward connection to the Internet is provided for other queries or web surfing while listening to music. It’s pretty slick and very handy. It’s also something Buffalo should make a bit more obvious.

Performance-wise, it says that the Air can support eight simultaneous connections with three HD streams. I tested two HD simultaneous streams and it worked flawlessly. Battery life is claimed to be “up to 4 hours” and I wouldn’t disagree – I saw over three hours with a mix of video and music. The Air is powered and recharged via USB so it’s easy enough to hook it up for extended operation.

Any problems? Not really. A couple of wishes, though. First, a Windows / Mac app to use the MiniStation Air wirelessly would be good. Second, some kind of security on the device would be handy as being portable, it’s going to be awfully easy to lose. Finally, an SSD version with longer battery life but perhaps less storage would be interesting but probably too expensive to be considered.

Overall, the MiniStation Air is a good product that will appeal to those smartphone and tablet users who need more-than-average storage…much more than average. The Air is available now from all good retailers with a street price of £100-£120.

The MiniStation Air app was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and a Motorola Xoom 2 ME tablet.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the MiniStation Air.

 

D-Link Releases 802.11ac Dual Band Wireless Adapter

Easy WPS Push Button SetupWhile all laptops these days have built-in wireless connectivity, it is still not included in every device on the market.  For those unconnected pieces of hardware there is still the trusty USB stick wireless adapter, and D-Link has pushed the envelope a bit for those devices by releasing a new 802.11ac dual-band adapter.

The AC1200 comes with a host of new features that will hopefully improve your connectivity.  In fact, the company refers to this as “next generation” technology, but benchmark tests are still needed to bear that statement out.

Features

  • Wireless AC Technology for Superior Wireless Performance – Wi-Fi 802.11ac
  • Dual Band N Technology for use in 2.4GHz or 5GHz Networks
  • Compatible with Existing Wi-Fi Networks (a/g/n)
  • Access Secure Networks using WPA™ or WPA2™
  • Wi-Fi Protected Setup™ (WPS) Push Button for Easy Connection to a Wireless Network
  •  USB Extension Cradle for Placement Flexibility

The new D-Link AC1200 is available right now online from retailers like Amazon for $69.99, which isn’t a bad price providing it lives up to it’s billing.  It certainly sounds promising enough.  As with all of the modern wireless standards, it is backwards-compatibale with earlier standards and uses a simple WPS button for easy setup.  You can learn more by visiting D-Link.

Buy it now: D-Link Systems, Inc. Wireless AC1200 Dual Band USB Adapter (DWA-182)

GoPro Hero3 Black Edition

GoPro have announced the latest addition to their lineup of action cameras, the Hero3 Black Edition and it’s some camera. Capable of 4k video recording, albeit at 12 fps, and 60 fps at 1080p, this captures adrenalin-fuelled action in all its glory. Other features include burst modes, time-lapse, wi-fi video preview and a wi-fi controller.

GoPro Hero3

 

If you want to show off your extreme adventures, this is the camera to have. It’s pricey enough at $399 (£379) and there are lesser models at $299 (£279) and $199 (£179) for the silver and white variants respectively. As expected, there’s a range of accessories for attaching cameras to machines, helmets, bodies and other sporting equipment. The Black Edition will be out in November.

To show off the features of the Hero3, GoPro commissioned this film which was shot entirely with a Hero3. It’s stunning.

“Mermaids!” says my daughter.