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2nd
FEB

Sky 3D behind the scenes

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

I haven’t taken the 3D TV plunge yet. Sorely tempted but I am going to wait and see what happens with systems that don’t require glasses. If you are curious about how 3D TV works, Sky have put together this behind the scenes video

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22nd
NOV

iPhone with a keyboard

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets, iphone

I love my iPhone.  I’m trying an Android device as well but I am getting tired of the error messages telling me I have to force a close.  I get that annoying error message practically every time I pick the dam thing up.

I did want the HTC Desire Z because of its fantastic looking keyboard, but I’m not exactly falling in love with Android OS.  However I just found a cool looking keyboard for the iPhone 4. It’s integrated into the case and looks pretty sweet.

The cost is a reasonable $70 from Box Wave

22nd
SEP

Android X5A Tablet First Thoughts

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

For the last few months I have had this craving for an iPad. I have no particular need, I just fancied surfing the web without a laptop and trailing power cable while watching TV. There are a few things that annoy me about the iPad, I wont go into them all but needless to say paying £500 for a device that does less than a netbook is just silly, as is no flash support. So I started investigating the world of Android Tablets.

If you are buying an iPad the only choice is, memory size and whether you want 3G. Android Tablets you have to worry about the OS version, chip speed, connections, whether it has access to the market place (not all do) and memory. To confuse matters even more, device go by many different names as they get rebranded.

After a lot of research I opted for an X5A which is a 7” device featuring a Telechip 8902 processor (based on ARM11 apparently). According to what I read, it’s the fastest Android device on the market right now. It also runs Android OS 2.1. The device also has a HDMI out so I can connect it directly to my Plasma TV and watch movies, YouTube videos or surf the web. Note that the HDMI is HDMI out, you can’t connect to your xBox. Battery life seems to be pretty good, I have only had to charge it once so far.

Many complaints I read from users of other Android tablets were about buttons that didn’t work. For example, the home button did nothing, so if you were browsing the web and wanted to go back to the desktop you would have to press the back button repeatedly. The X5A has buttons for home, back, and menu and they all work just fine.

However, if you’re planning on buying one, here are some of my random gripes on the device.

Screen

The touch screen is not that great. It requires a decent touch to register input, you are not going to enjoy typing emails on it. Scrolling is a real pain as it requires so much pressure that the device often mistakes the input for a button press and loads what ever program you happen to have ‘not’ selected. It comes with a stylus which is retractable, the problem is tapping the screen requires so much force that the stylus retracts. I own an iPhone and there is no comparison in quality of the screen.

Speed

While researching the device prior to buying I found a lot of other users saying that this is the fastest device available. I haven’t used any Android devices before and would have to say that its pretty slow. Clicking an icon results in a 1 second period where you are wondering if the device is doing something or if you didn’t use enough pressure. I can only wonder what other ‘slower’ devices are like.

Youtube

Youtube works ok, video plays full screen and look great on the device. The speaker is enough so you can hear the audio at a good level. It’s really annoying that you can’t change the volume level once you start playing a video, you have to close the video first, change the volume then restart

There is also something strange about the Youtube search. To test I tried searching for the IT Crowd which is a UK comedy. The device returns Youtube content for 1 and 2 minute clips as well as various parodies, not the full length videos I am after. There is a setting to affect the timescale of the search but it doesn’t seem to do anything, always showing the newest videos first. To find what you are after you need to be really specific with your search. Otherwise trying to scroll though the list to find what you are after will result in you inadvertently starting several videos in your futile attempts to scroll the list

While on the subject of Youtube, connecting the HDMI cable up to your big screen plasma TV enables you to watch videos. You’ll need to switch to the relevant 1080p output and remember to change it back after you’re finished or you’ll get no Youtube picture on your device. I only tested this briefly and found that the sound seemed to alternate between the TV and the device. That could be a result of my internet which has been playing up recently so I’ll need to try this again when I have more time.

Android Market

Obviously a big selling point, surprisingly a lot of Android tablets have problems connecting to the Android Market and to begin with I had problems with an error message complaining about being ‘unable to establish a reliable connection’ to the Google server. I solved the problem by doing a factory reset. If you are going to do this then unless you read fluent Chinese, write down the menu options to switch the device back into English because as soon as you do the factory reset the device boots back to Chinese.

Flash support

Flash support is something I wanted as I like the games on gamesforwork.com. The X5A doesn’t support flash, but you can install the Skyfire browser that does, the X5A is also upgradeable to Android OS 2.2 which has flash support. In reality though, the device doesn’t have the processing power required to load flash games and flash games at gamesforwork.com don’t load.

Verdict

I paid £150 for the Android X5A to satisfy my iPad craving. I knew that there would be no comparison between the two and ultimately wanted something I could use to surf the web and do a little email without having to boot a laptop.

I got something that is pretty good for surfing the web, once you learn to live with the level of pressure required to tap the screen, but will never be used to do any real email. It’s not as polished as the iPad. There is a world of difference between the two and I could not give this to the wife to use. Some things will annoy the hell out of you, like the fact that some things are landscape, others are portrait and auto rotation doesn’t really work. I don’t regret buying it, but I am glad I didn’t buy one for the wife as well. She would not see it as an iPad replacement.

The X5A is not going to replace my laptop but will probably become that device I travel with in the future to stay in touch.

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25th
APR

3DTV – Start Saving Now

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

I managed to get to the gadget show in Birmingham a few weeks back. The star of the show was undoubtedly 3DTV. Before going to the show I was unconvinced, the thought of having to wear glasses to sit down and watch a movie didn’t appeal. 20 minutes in to the gadget show and I had to be torn away from the LG stand.

3DTV is the dogs nuts, I almost reached out at one point to stroke a bear as it was that real.

While 3DTVs are currently too expensive and there isn’t a great deal of content, it doesn’t stop me dreaming. The model that has caught my eye is the Samsung 9000 series which comes with a remote control that has it’s own TV screen. Imaging being able to take the remote to make a cup of tea and still watch the football.

Check out the video and start saving

12th
AUG

Sticky Light

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

I blogged about Sticky Light yesterday on my other blog AugmentedPlanet, but since its pretty cool I’ll throw it out here as well.

30th
JUL

Sky TV to broadcast in 3D from 2010

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets, General

Good news, that 42” plasma TV you brought last year is obsolete. Put it on eBay now while you still have the chance of making a bit of money from it.

5th
MAY

Watch Phone For Budding Secret Agents

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets, Smartphones

Ever fancied yourself as a secret agent? Of course you have, but to be the next James Bond you need to have the latest gadgets. I’ve said a few times that this year we are going to see a plethora of watch phones come to the market. At MWC  and CTIA there were a number of the mobile heavy weights showing off their latest integrated watch/cell designs.

29th
APR

New Spinoff Blog

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets, General

Quick post today as I am having a busy week this week.

31st
MAR

Gadget Time: Sifftables

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

Strange day today as it’s my last day as a Nokia employee. It’s been a bit of a strange year really, this will be my 3rd employer since Christmas and I haven’t moved desk once. Of course the moves have been due to Nokia acquiring Symbian, and now with the Symbian Foundation being launched tomorrow I’ll be taking up the position of Developer Marketing Manager making what I hope is my final move of the year.

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18th
MAR

Coming Soon To A Smartphone Near You

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets, Smartphones

We have been able to listen to music on smartphones for a while now. I’m guessing there are not that many models that don’t have the ability to play MP3s shipping anymore. Movies are taken for granted as well with almost every phone model being able to support video playback. Watching movies however on a small screen is not for everyone. I find those seatback video screens on airplanes small enough as it is. Except when the person in front puts their seat right back and it presses up against your face for the next 8 long miserable hours. ah the joys of travelling economy.

17th
MAR

The Future Is Already Here

Posted by Lester Madden under Augmented Reality, Gadgets, Smartphones, Symbian

A guy called Charles H. Duell who was the commissioner of the US patents office back in 1899 once said, “everything that can be invented has been invented”. Well he got that one wrong. Funny though, last week I was raving over Microsoft’s augmented reality project only to find that there is a game available on Symbian OS for the Nokia N95.

12th
MAR

Interactive Restaurant Ordering

Posted by Lester Madden under Gadgets

This is a pretty innovative way to interact and order your food and drinks at
Inamo Restaurant Bar in London

At least if your date is going badly you can entertain yourself with a game.

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