Busy Week in Mobile Phones

It’s going to be a busy week in the mobile phone space with both OnePlus and Motorola expected to announce new Android models. OnePlus hasn’t exactly been quiet in the run up to the event and Motorola’s suffered a few leaks in the process. Either way, it’s going to be fun to see what’s on offer before Google and Apple produce their annual refreshes later in the year. Nokia might be re-entering the smartphone market too but their latest announcement is shrouded in mystery.

ThOnePlus Logoe OnePlus 2 will follow on from the successful One, though with OnePlus stoking the rumour mill, it’s still hard to know fact from fiction. What has been confirmed is that it will have a fingerprint reader, 4GB RAM, a Snapdragon 810 processor, USB C connector and cost less than US$450. Some suggest that there might be more than one version of the 2 inbound, but if there is OnePlus haven’t mentioned so far.

Motorola M LogoOn the Motorola side, the teases us with “Your relationship is about to change” signed, “XGX Moto”. I think we can expect new Moto X and Moto G models and as Motorola tends to go with evolution rather than revolution, they’ll probably be much like last year’s, only better. Some have suggested that the two Xs might mean two models, but I think it’s just supposed to be “XOX” for hugs and kisses.

Nokia LogoFinally, Nokia might be re-entering the mobile phone space. There’s a VIP press conference in Los Angeles but no-one knows for sure whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet or a virtual reality headset. The invites featured “Nowhere” and “Now here” which led to much speculation with nothing concrete to go on. We’ll just have to see.

The OnePlus 2 announcement is at 7 pm PT on 27 July which is a very early 3 am UK time. Motorola have a far more reasonable 9 am ET on 28 July which equates to 2 pm here in the UK. Keep ’em peeled.

 

New InoReader brings full functionality RSS to mobile

rss logoWhen Google discontinued Reader it left fans of RSS in a rough spot. Fortunately there were many options to choose from, and new ones sprung up to take advantage of the situation. One service that you may have switched to is InoReader, a popular choice among the big names in the field. The service is more or less continuously updating its offerings, both web-based and mobile.

This time around it’s the mobile version that is getting a makeover. “Today we’re launching the new Inoreader web version for mobile phones – a much richer and better looking successor of our old mobile web version. Now you have the full Inoreader platform with all the content and functionality straight in your pocket”.

The company boasts a more friendly design, better access to menus (they claim to have made this more logical), better, and more mobile-friendly, article viewing and a new dashboard. “If you’re used to starting your Inoreader experience from your dashboard, you can now do that on mobile, too. You can even change your dashboard on the go – just tap the plus button to add gadgets or the gear icons of each section to update it”.

The new version is available now and compatible with all mobile devices. InoReader is free, though there is a premium model for those who require more features.

2015.03.18 Blogpost Mobile Website

Ventev Battery Packs and Accessories at CES

Ventev LogoAlthough there have been great improvements in battery technology, the bigger screens, thinner devices and faster processors mean that I still have to watch my smartphone’s battery level. USB power packs go someway in alleviating battery anxiety and Marlo chats to Scott Franklin of Ventev to see what they can offer the charge concerned.

Ventev offer a selection of mobile accessories including battery packs and cables with some specifically aimed at Apple owners with Lightning connector. On show in the video are battery packs with combinations of built-in wall chargers, capacity and intergrated cables. With prices from $39.99 up to $99.99, there’s a pack for every situation and price.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch. Note that the early part of the interview is missing.

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Check out the Radmo car phone mount

Using your phone in the car is a dodgy proposal, you don’t want to talk or text, but many of us use it for our GPS device. This generally requires some sort of mounting system, keeping the screen always in front of you and preventing the need to pick it up or look down. The item most of us think of is the traditional windshield mount, but some states restrict these items.

A new type of mount called Radmo aims to change the way we display the smartphone in the car. The holder does require a CD player in the stereo, but that shouldn’t be a hurdle for most customers.

The makers promise “Radmo literally takes seconds to assemble with no need for any tools. It’s 100% adjustable for any phone size up to mini-tablets”.

The project is on Indiegogo, and has already far surpassed its intended goal, with still more than a month left. Quantities are limited, so you may wish to grab it now. The price is right at only $20.

Travels in a Foreign Land

Three LogoI’ve been doing a little travelling in Europe over the past few months and with modern life being what it is, mobile connectivity is a must. In my case, it’s provided by UK’s Three and this year’s situation is much improved over previous years. Three has introduced “Feel At Home” which lets customers use their mobile phone for both voice and data in 16 countries round the world at no extra cost. The countries include USA, Australia, France, Italy and Ireland and the limitations are reasonable, such as no tethering and a 25 GB data cap. When you are in one of the 16 countries, it is brilliant – you can play Ingress, call home and check your email without worries of bill shock on your return. Good job, Three.

Outside of the 16 countries, it’s not so rosy. Three have a tariff called “Euro Internet Pass” which is GB£5 for a day of unlimited data. Sounds ok, but “a day” ends at midnight UK time no matter what time you purchase the Pass or the time zone that you are in. But my biggest complaint is how frustratingly difficult it is to buy the Euro Pass. To start with, I can’t simply go into My3 account and buy the Pass; I have to go via a special link to a particular web page. Second, the phone has to have a 3G connection, not wi-fi. Yes, you read that right – you have to be data roaming on 3G to buy the Euro Internet Pass even if you have a perfectly good wi-fi connection. Three helpfully suggests disabling push notifications to avoid per MB roaming charges immediately prior to purchasing a Pass. You can read that gem on their website here – point 2. It’s ridiculous – at times I got so cross with the whole process while trying to buy the pass that I simply gave up and used free wi-fi where I could. The Spanish cortados make the trip to the coffee bar worthwhile, though….

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

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.

TP-Link 3G Mobile WiFi and Power Bank Review

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

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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Rovio electrifies Angry Birds with new levels

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.

Nokia Lumia 1520 sneaks out early

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