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Jonathan Bray

Hello Cortana, it’s nice to meet you

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Cortana in action
Microsoft made great play of Cortana when it announced the Windows Phone 8.1 update at Build at the beginning of April. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now — a voice-activated “personal digital assistant” for the Windows Phone operating system.

Predictably, great things are promised of this new technology. It’s based on Bing and the TellMe voice technology acquired by Microsoft in 2007, and according to Windows Phone vice-president Joe Belfiore it will be “the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something”.

Over the past couple of days we’ve been getting to know Cortana to find out if Microsoft’s boasts have any grounding in reality. (more…)

Windows Phone 8.1 video: hands-on

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

We’ve been given a video preview of many of the new features available in Windows Phone 8.1.

Among the features you’ll see in the video are:

  • The new six-column design of the Start screen
  • The option to change the Start screen background
  • Action Centre: a new drop-down screen for notifications and shortcuts to settings
  • Shape Writing: the new swipeable keyboard design that means you don’t have to type every letter
  • The new Battery Saver, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense apps, the latter of which allows you to let friends use your home Wi-Fi without giving them your password
  • Synchronisation with other Windows devices

Click here for more details of Windows Phone 8.1’s new Siri-like assistant, Cortana, and other new features

HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: 2014’s big-hitters compared

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8

We now have full details of  the major Android phones of the year: the Samsung Galaxy S5, which was announced out at MWC in Barcelona in February, and the HTC One M8, just launched at events in London and New York. The big question is, how do they stack up against one another?


Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review: first look

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet

When Sony unleashed the first Tablet Z back at MWC 2013, it was the thinnest, lightest tablet around; now it’s the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet’s turn to take over. Sony’s new top-end Android tablet is lighter and slimmer than the original, and by a noticeable margin.

In fact, at 426g, the Wi-Fi version of the Z2 weighs a full 69g less than the Z, and itmeasures 0.5mm thinner, at 6.8mm from front to rear. Quite how Sony’s engineers have managed it, we’re not sure.


Sony Xperia Z2 review: first look

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Sony Xperia Z2Sony has carved out a niche for itself over the past couple of years with its waterproof range of smartphones; its latest flagship, the Sony Xperia Z2, builds on that position of strength. Like the Samsung Galaxy S5, however, it doesn’t deliver anything particularly radical, with Sony preferring to make smaller, evolutionary changes over its predecessor, the Xperia Z1.


Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 review: first look

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Samsung Gear 2

Samsung’s assault on wearable technology has continued at this year’s MWC conference in Barcelona, with the launch of three new wrist-bound devices.

The Samsung Gear 2 – the successor to the Samsung Galaxy Gear – is the most fully featured of the bunch, benefitting from a new design, along with a completely revamped software platform. The Gear 2 no longer sports Android, but Tizen – an open-source, HTML 5-based operating system designed specifically for wearable devices.


Nokia XL review: first look

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Nokia XL

The Nokia X made all the headlines in the build-up to MWC, but it’s the largest of the company’s three new smartphones – the Nokia XL – that makes the most sense.

It runs the same mangled version of Android as the Nokia X, and features the same limited 4GB of storage expandable via the microSD slot, but for only €16 more, you get a bigger 5in screen and 256MB more RAM (at 768MB).


Samsung Galaxy S5 review: first look

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung has launched its latest Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Barcelona MWC trade show, boasting a smart new design and a number of new features. Surprisingly, the firm has chosen not to boost the screen resolution of the phone, sticking with 1,080 x 1,920, and has only slightly increased the size of the display, from 5in to 5.1in.

Instead, Samsung is pinning its hopes on going “back to basics” with the new handset. “We’ve decided to … focus on the features and things that matter the most to our customers – namely the camera, ability to view and download data and content quickly, and their health and wellbeing,” said Simon Stanford, of Samsung UK.


Nokia X review: first look

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Nokia X

The Nokia X – alongside its siblings the X+ and XL – is perhaps the oddest product the Finnish mobile phone manufacturer has released in recent times. It’s Nokia’s very first Android handset, yet it arrives only a few months after the announcement that Microsoft had bought the company.


The wireless network that’s faster than a hard disk

Friday, January 10th, 2014

AsusA few years back, someone bestowed a rather appropriate name on the PC Pro Labs wireless network. That name was “ihatewireless” — and given the trials and tribulations we’ve had testing wireless routers over the years it’s hardly surprising that the name has stuck.

Five years on, it may finally be time to ring the changes. With the advent of proper full-speed 802.11ac wireless, that moniker may finally need to be replaced: “whoosh”, “whizzbang” or “cripesthatsquick” might be more appropriate.







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