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March, 2011

Asus Eee Slate EP121 review: first look

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Not wanting to let Android have all the fun with its new Transformer tablet, Asus has also introduced a Windows-powered model – the EP121.
It’s a hefty piece of kit, with a 12.1in touchscreen about as big as we’d like to see on a tablet and its 17mm-thick chassis weighing 1.15kg – almost twice as heavy as the iPad 2. Still, the chassis houses some impressive hardware, with an Intel Core i5-470um running at 1.33GHz and bringing two cores, Intel’s latest integrated graphics chipset and Turbo Boost technology into a chip with a TDP of just 18W.
The rest of the specification impresses for a tablet, with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD but, despite the lower-power parts included, battery life inevitably takes a hit – Asus claims that the EP121 will last for 2.5 hours when playing 1080p video.
The screen itself is bright and, while you’ll need to use a stylus, our time with the machine revealed that the 1,280 x 800 resolution panel is both responsive and accurate, and there was little lag to speak of thanks to the Core i5 chip underneath – a huge step up from the sluggish tablets that try to combine Windows 7 with low-power chips like Intel’s Atom.
While we’ve never been keen on tablet machines sporting Windows 7, Asus will hopefully introduce some neat features to try and make the experience easier. For instance, an iPad- style home button at the bottom of the screen uses the Windows Aero theme’s 3D scrolling effect to switch between apps.
Asus ended our meeting by dropping a rather large bombshell, though – the £999 inc VAT price. That’s twice as much as you’ll pay for an iPad but, with an Intel Core i5 processor, Windows 7 Home Premium and a larger screen, the EP121 could still prove tempting.
We’ll have a full review next week, so keep checking the site for our verdict.

DSC00848Not wanting to let Android have all the fun with its new Transformer, Asus has also introduced a Windows-powered tablet: the Eee Slate EP121.

It’s a hefty piece of kit, with a massive 12.1in screen and a 17mm-thick chassis weighing 1.15kg – almost twice as heavy as the iPad 2. Still, that makes room for some impressive hardware, with an Intel Core i5-470UM running at 1.33GHz and bringing two cores, Turbo Boost technology and Intel’s latest integrated graphics within a TDP of just 18W.

(more…)

Has Adobe figured out how to get Flash to play on your iPhone?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Recently I’ve been making the case that Apple’s anti-competitive ban on Flash has stopped rich cross-platform development in its tracks.

As such I was naturally intrigued by a video post I came across recently asking “Has Adobe figured out how to get Flash to play on your iPhone?” (more…)

Asus Eee Pad Transformer review: first look

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

It seems like every reputable tech company – and some not so reputable clothing chains – are leaping onto the tablet bandwagon at the moment, but at least Asus is trying something different with its latest tablet.
It’s dubbed the Transformer, which should give some clue as to its function: while the bulk of the machine is a 10.1in Android 3.0 slate, it’s also available with a keyboard – attach the two together, and you’re able to fold the whole package up like a netbook.
As befits an Android 3.0 machine with an Nvidia Tegra, the Transformer felt incredibly slick, with no hint of stuttering as we navigated its five homescreens, web browser and desktop widgets.
The hardware itself felt extremely nice, too: the tablet is solid, its IPS panel – with a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 – appeared bright but not oversaturated, and the keyboard seemed responsive. Asus claims that, when docked, the Transformer will provide 16 hours of battery life.
Asus has loaded the machine with a handful of its own apps, too, but we’re not yet convinced – MyNet looks like a handy WiFi management tool, but MyCloud’s unlimited web storage comes with quite a hefty catch – it’s free for a year, but Asus doesn’t yet know what it’ll do after that period has expired, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they started charging.
Asus has also fallen into the trap of pre-loading the Transformer with its own app store – dubbed @vibe – and, while the firm confirmed to us that its offerings will be tailored to the UK, all it currently provided was basic music and radio playback tools. Luckily, the Android Market is also accessible.
The Transformer is available in 16GB and 32GB versions, with the former costing £379 inc VAT and the latter priced at £429 inc VAT, although Asus promised us that special bundles will be available if you’re buying the keyboard at the same time.
We’ll have a full review of this exciting product next week, so keep checking the site to see if Asus’ latest tablet can transform this fast-moving market.

DSC00835It seems like every reputable tech company – and some technologically challenged clothing chains – are leaping onto the tablet bandwagon, but at least Asus is trying something different with its latest addition.

It’s dubbed the Transformer, which should give some clue as to its function: while the bulk of the machine is a 10.1in Android 3.0 slate, it’s also available with a keyboard – attach the two together, and you’re able to fold the whole package up like a netbook.

As befits an Android 3.0 machine with an Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, the Transformer felt slick, with no hint of stuttering as we navigated its five homescreens, web browser and desktop widgets.

The hardware itself felt nice, too: the tablet is solid, its IPS panel – with a native resolution of 1,280 x 800 – appeared bright but not oversaturated, and the keyboard seemed responsive. Asus claims that, when docked, the Transformer will provide 16 hours of battery life. (more…)

IDC’s high hopes for Windows Phone 7

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

HTC WP7 handsets

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 will be the second most popular mobile OS by 2015. Stop laughing, it’s not an early April Fool’s joke — it’s IDC’s forecast for the smartphone market.

The analyst firm believes Windows Phone 7 will skyrocket from a 5.5% share today to 20.9% in 2015, topping BlackBerry and Apple’s iOS.

Such a leap in market share is entirely possible, in the same way it’s theoretically possible I’ll one day be picked as the UN’s Secretary General, marry Johnny Depp, or finally get a pony for my birthday — all only marginally inside the realm of possibility, but still technically achievable.

(more…)

ASA: CD ripper “incites” law breaking

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Brennan JB7

God bless the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This fearless defender of everything that’s right, moral and upstanding has allowed ISPs to advertise fantasy headline speeds and limited “unlimited” packages for donkey’s years, but when it comes to the really big issues, it’s not afraid to wield the big stick.

The latest victim of the ASA’s wrath is 3GA Ltd, the company that makes the Brennan JB7 –  “a CD player with a hard disk that stores up to 5,000 CDs”.

The adverts for the Brennan highlight the convenience of ripping your entire CD collection to the device – much like we’ve all been doing for years on our PCs, iPods and other MP3 players.

(more…)

StartUp Britain – business advice or marketing machine?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

startupbritain

One week after the Government focused on big business with a 2% cut in the main rate of corporation tax (which doesn’t apply to small businesses) it’s seeking to make up for this by supporting StartUp Britain.org. This website, which features a picture of David Cameron levitating and a very red-faced Richard Branson, purports to “make it easier for new companies to flourish” and, perhaps, is the planned replacement for BusinessLink.

The essential difference with StartUp Britain is that it’s been developed and run by private companies rather than the Government. This gets around BusinessLink’s obsessive focus on regulation rather than the development of business. However, the Government’s much vaunted idea – that private individuals and companies will philanthropically fill the gap left by their withdrawal from public services – is immediately exposed as pie in the sky by StartUp Britain.

The site is little more than a series of links to other sites (how original) along with “up to £1,500 of great offers”. Sadly what these offers amount to is a set of promotional vouchers, many offered by the founders of StartUp Britain. For example, Glasses Direct (whose founder Jamie Murray Wells is one of the backers of StartUp Britain) offers a £15 discount voucher.

(more…)

How insecure is IPv6?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

globalsecurity

The internet has been running out of space for the best part of ten years now, address space that is. In a nutshell, the 4,294,967,296 addresses provided by IPv4 are pretty much exhausted and so we must start embracing IPv6 which can provide a few more.

How many, exactly?

How does 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses sound to you?

Now I’m not going to get stuck into the whole ‘how to migrate to IPv6 thing’ here, nor even the debate about how long we really have left to make that migration (although Steve Cassidy will be examining this in issue 200 of PC Pro). Nope, I’m more interested in what the potential impact upon internet security will be when it’s a done deal and everything is connected to the internet.

(more…)

Named and shamed: the “unlimited” liars

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Liar!

For years, fixed and mobile broadband providers have used the term “unlimited” to advertise services that are anything but.

We’ve moaned about it for years, and last month even our normally docile telecoms regulator said the term “unlimited” was being abused.  “There are people offering unlimited packages that contain a fair-use policy that means what you are getting is not unlimited,” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. “If you are claiming unlimited then it needs to be unlimited.”

It seems the industry wasn’t listening. New data tariffs are still being advertised as “unlimited” even when they have specific download caps.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been conducting a review of broadband advertising, but frankly, we’re tired of waiting for this weak-kneed, self-regulating body to get its act together.

So, from now on, whenever we see a new tariff being advertised as “unlimited” when it patently isn’t, we’re going to add it to our blog of shame.

(more…)

Behind the scenes of a cloud conversation

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Cloud Power Cassidy

Eagle-eyed surfers will already have spotted my bumbling efforts as part of the Cloud Power initiative, and those who didn’t can now go and have a bit of a giggle, come back, and say whatever comes to their mind in reaction to the footage.

I thought I’d do a bit of a behind-the-scenes account here for interested parties, and also explain why I’m happy to take the risk of being an idiot in a video that exists purely because a single vendor – Microsoft – wanted to make it.

First off: Tim and I didn’t rehearse. I believe I get worse with each rehearsal, starting from a pretty low base in the first place. We had a set of basic questions but we didn’t have any set conclusions we were expected to work towards. Given the breadth of the questions being asked, this was something of a relief.

(more…)

The next killer smartphone feature: a decent battery

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Amazon Kindle in hand

I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas. I charged it for only the third time yesterday, despite using it almost every day. In fact, my only problem with the Kindle is remembering where I left the charger several weeks ago.

Similarly, I can’t remember the last time I ran out of juice on my laptop. Until a couple of years ago, I could barely complete a train journey home without peering at the Windows battery meter and praying the laptop didn’t abruptly conk out mid-way through a match in Football Manager (I do work on the train sometimes, in case my publisher is reading).

Yet, with the extended battery pack on my Dell XPS M1330, the battery lasts about three or four hours – plenty long enough to get me to and from the office. And by today’s standards, that’s even starting to look pretty feeble. The 13in MacBook Pro lasted for in excess of 10 hours in our light-use battery tests, for example. Like the Kindle, it’s practically reached the point where you barely need to worry about the battery.

(more…)

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