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May, 2012

Intel’s first smartphone, the Orange San Diego review: first look

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Orange San Diego
Intel has finally unveiled its first foray into the smartphone market. It’s been a long time coming, but the first Android phone to run on an x86 processor – the Atom-powered San Diego smartphone – will be launched on 6 June, in partnership with UK mobile network Orange.

(more…)

Why Google almost certainly didn’t steal your sex secrets

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Sunday Times Street View story

The arrival of our mini-heatwave appears to have tricked some of our national newspapers into thinking “silly season” has arrived. Both The Sunday Times and The Daily Mail have led with front-page splashes about Google’s Street View data harvesting – both based on a report by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that we and many others reported on when it was published over a month ago.

It’s not the newspapers’ late arrival to the story that has me pounding my keyboard in frustration, however. It’s the sensationalist exaggeration of the Street View data collection that has triggered a sudden spike in my blood pressure.

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Microsoft Outlook gives Britain the day off

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Calendar

If you’re looking around your office this morning and wondering where everyone is, Microsoft might be to blame.

Outlook 2010 users who’ve added national holidays to their calendar may notice that Microsoft is declaring today as the Spring Bank Holiday. That, of course, isn’t the case: the Government put the Spring Bank Holiday back until next week, and added another day off for the Jubilee for good measure, to create a four-day weekend.

Unfortunately, it seems Microsoft didn’t get the memo. Or, at least, it didn’t bother to push an update to its bank holiday schedules, which were correct at the time Office 2010 was released.

(more…)

Laptop bag reviews: nine tested

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about spending hours researching that next laptop purchase, but buying a bag to protect it and carry it around rarely receives the same sort of attention.

We’re here to change all that with a selection of the very best laptop-luggers on the market, from expensive rucksacks to simple protective sleeves. Read on to find out which we like best.

RUCKSACKS

Crumpler Box Boy

Crumpler Box Boy, £159 - 3/6

Crumpler’s Box Boy couples style with big-bag practicality, accommodating laptops up to 17in. A proliferation of pockets and a zip-up front make it easy to access small items. It isn’t very comfortable, though, and doesn’t distribute weight evenly, with most resting on the lower back. (more…)

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Posted in: Hardware

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Sony VAIO T Series Ultrabook review: first look

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

DSC03373

Sony’s expensive VAIO Z Series is enough to send anyone weak at the knees, but today sees an equally slender stablemate vying for our affections. The VAIO T Series is Sony’s very first Ultrabook.

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Revealed: the military standards and robots HP uses to test its laptops

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

HP laptop hinge testing

It’s not often the torture testing behind the latest laptops is laid bare for the world to see but, at HP’s Global Influencers Summit in Shanghai, the firm showed off a selection of its toughest testing kit — as well as some impressive statistics about the stresses and strains its devices experience during the design process.

“All of our EliteBook products are put through military spec 810G testing,” explained Carol Hess, HP’s vice president for worldwide commercial PC marketing. That includes the new EliteBook Folio, and that means an extremely strenuous workout for a humble notebook. She said HP uses eight of the 810G standards benchmarks,  including tests that measure for heat, cold, humidity and dust resistance as well as a laptop’s ability to handle vibrations and drops. “We drop [laptops] about 30 inches from a table, 26 times on each side of the unit.” (more…)

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Posted in: Random

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Windows 8: multi-monitors and double standards?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

MultimonitorI’m encouraged by reports that Microsoft has been working to improve multi-monitor support in the Release Preview of Windows 8. Admittedly, the information emerged in a rather strange way: it was published on Tuesday night on the MSDN “Building Windows 8” blog, then rapidly removed again for reasons unknown. But there’s no reason to doubt the details – after all, they came from an impeccable source, namely Microsoft’s Mark Yalovsky.

I’m encouraged by this, not because I think multi-monitor support was an area that urgently needed improvement. I’m using the Consumer Preview with two monitors right now, and frankly it’s not causing me any trouble.

Rather, I’m heartened because the now-deleted post presented the changes as a direct response to “vocal and clear” feedback from users. This implies that, as Microsoft continues to refine and develop Windows 8, it’s listening to the buzz around the Consumer Preview, and tacking accordingly. And this raises the possibility that it might also be listening to feedback regarding the Metro Start screen on desktop systems. (more…)

Why is TalkTalk’s year-old porn filter suddenly big news?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Good parenting

If you’ve been reading the newspaper headlines yesterday and today, you could be forgiven for thinking that TalkTalk has suddenly taken strident measures to block online pornography from children’s sensitive eyes.

The Sunday Times dramatically describes the ISP as having “broken ranks” with its fellow ISPs by offering “all its 4m subscribers a blanket opt-out for pornography sites” and forcing all existing users — rather than only new customers — to say whether or not they want the service (I’ll leave it to you whether that’s opting in or opting out). “TalkTalk is offering parents protection for every computer, games console or e-reader accessing the internet via the family broadband connection.”

Following the Times’ lead, Channel 4 proclaims: “TalkTalk now plans to question all of its 4.2m customers, forcing them to choose whether to use settings that would block information on computers, mobile phones, games consoles and e-readers.”

(more…)

Why are laptop screens so far behind mobiles?

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

iPad

Pop quiz, hotshot. Of all the visitors to this website in the month of writing, what percentage arrived using 1,920 x 1,080, Full HD screens? Make yourself a cuppa and have a think, we’ll come back to the answer later.

In the meantime, you’ll no doubt have noticed we reviewed the new iPad last month. As is customary, it attracted all sorts of negative reports at launch, from teardowns showing it’s the most tightly sealed, least recyclable iPad yet, right up to Daily Mail hysteria about it burning people’s hands. But there’s one feature no-one in their right mind was criticising: the screen.

Love or hate Apple’s methods, few can deny that its products drive technological progress. When Apple first introduced the Retina display on the iPhone 4, minds were set racing as to where this would eventually take us: if high-pixel-density displays were viable on a mobile phone, with Apple’s huge economies of scale, how long before they’d spread upwards? (more…)

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Posted in: Hardware, Rant

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HP EliteBook Folio review: first look

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

HP’s Global Influencers Summit in Shanghai has been dominated by Ultrabooks – and, of course, Sleekbooks – and the firm’s fourth new notebook is one of the most intriguing.
It’s the Elitebook Folio 9470m, and HP hopes that on release in October it’ll entice high-flying executives with its combination of corporate features and attractive design.
For starters, there’s TPM, Intel vPro and a range of HP software, including a customisable BIOS – handy for IT managers who want to restrict access to certain parts of the software or, indeed, lock out meddling employees entirely. HP will also install its ProtectTools software suite alongside Windows 7 Professional, and a fingerprint reader is also an optional extra.
Accessories will also be available alongside the Folio. The battery, which HP says will last nine hours, can be upgraded with a secondary power pack that – the firm claims – increases the Folio’s longevity to a whopping twenty hours. The battery slice attaches to the bottom of the 19mm EliteBook and adds several millimetres to the base of the machine, bringing the Elitebook’s dimensions firmly out of Ultrabook territory. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile addition for those who spend plenty of time on the road.
For those who stay attached to their desk, there’s also a docking station with a broad range of additional ports and sockets: four USB 3 ports, a D-SUB output, Ethernet socket, audio outputs and a DisplayPort output add to the D-SUB, RJ45 and USB 3 sockets that are already included on the machine.
HP has also paid attention to the Folio’s design, with James Mouton, the senior vice president of HP’s global computing unit, saying that “users want something more compelling and sleeker” – a change that’s seen HP “deliberately blur the line between commercial and consumer”. The Folio is certainly one of the best-looking corporate machines we’ve seen thanks to its brushed metal exterior and black bezel, although the odd hint of plastic and visible seams mean it can’t quite compete with the best consumer machines.
We can’t comment, though, on screen quality or ergonomics. With release so far away and final tweaks presumably still being made, HP could only bring a dummy model to Shanghai. It certainly felt very strong, but we’ll wait until our review sample arrives before passing judgment.
That’s not all we can’t mention, either: aside from confirming that the Folio will use Intel’s ultra low voltage Ivy Bridge processors and that its 14in screen will have a resolution of at least 1,366 x 768, HP’s representatives weren’t able to divulge any more information about the Folio’s internals.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, the October release date also means pricing hasn’t been finalised. Don’t expect it to be cheap, though, thanks to the premium design, Ivy Bridge processor and broad range of security features – and don’t expect the docking station or battery slice to command bargain prices, either.
It’s a glimpse into the future, then, but the Elitebook Folio is still an enticing piece of hardware – even if we’re not yet able to find out what’s on the inside or, indeed, how much it’ll cost. We just hope HP follows up this early promise with a capable business Ultrabook.

DSC03267

HP’s Global Influencers Summit in Shanghai has been dominated by Ultrabooks – and, of course, Sleekbooks – but the firm’s fourth new laptop is one of the most intriguing.

It’s the Elitebook Folio 9470m, and HP hopes that on release in October it’ll entice high-flying executives with its combination of corporate features and attractive design.

For starters, there’s TPM, Intel vPro and a range of HP software, including a customisable BIOS – handy for IT managers who want to restrict access to certain parts of the software or, indeed, lock out meddling employees entirely. HP will also install its ProtectTools software suite alongside Windows 7 Professional, and a fingerprint reader is also an optional extra. (more…)

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