Apologies for the word play on ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in the title but it’s nearly 2015 and as 2014 comes to an end, Kev, Nick and Richard discuss the devices they have been using over Christmas which including the Panasonic CM1, One Plus, Tesco Hudl and HTC One M8. Gazing into his Crystal Ball, Richard explains why he thinks Windows Phone may not survive 2015 and finally we wish all our listeners a Happy New Year. (more…)

Panasonic Lumix CM-1 Camera Phone – First thoughts

December 28th, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Wright in Reviews - (Comments Off)

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 08.16.36

An early look at the new take on a quality camera with an Android phone added to the mix. The CM-1 has a superb spec list including, a 20MP 1-inch Sensor & LEICA DC Elmarit Lens, a 4.7″ screen, and Android 4.4 on board running on a Qualcomm 2.3GHz Quad-core CPU. Over to the author of this early look, our very own Richard Yates.


 

For quite a few years now, mobile phone photography has been my hobby.  I can well remember getting the Nokia 7650 on the day of launch, just before going on holiday, and since then I have probably had over 100 camera phones, including pretty much all of the big names – The Nokia N8, Nokia 808, Lumia 1020 and Galaxy Note 4 to name some obvious ones.  In fact I think, more than anything else, my addiction to buying and selling phones comes from looking for the perfect balance of camera and phone – especially one which has an operating system I can get on with. (more…)

TechTalkUK Podcast 88 – Super Cheap Windows

December 16th, 2014 | Posted by Nick Robinson in Podcast - (Comments Off)

It’s the last show before Christmas Kev, Nick and Richard chat about the Linx 7 Windows 8.1 Tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, getting warranty service on a two year old iPhone 5 and more (more…)

Linx 7 Windows 8.1 Tablet

December 14th, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Wright in Reviews - (8 Comments)

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This is under reviews, but it is more of a sideways look at how such a cheap device can be a fantastic buy. How cheap? Well, when I bought it (and at time of typing this) it is £59.99 from this seller on eBay, and list price seems to be around £79 from Amazon

For this you get a 7″ Full Windows 8.1 Tablet, and a one year subscription to MS Office 365 Personal which in turn gives you access on 1 Tablet and 1 PC or Mac. More on this later. You will note this is either £5.99 a month or £59.99 for a year, so already if you want to subscribe to this version of Office, you already have the Tablet either for free, or about £20 (depending on offers at time of reading)

There are warning all over these adverts for this product that this version of Office 365 only works on this actually Tablet. More later but that is NOT the case with mine.

I am going to look at this in two parts, the Tablet, and the 365 Sub.

 

Tablet

This is full Windows 8.1 not RT. RT is dead, and has been since day one IMO.

OK, its a 7″ slab of plastic and glass. It is not badly put together, but it certainly is not premium. The speakers are shockingly bad, and the screen is OK, not brilliant, although it does go fairly bright. It has that sort of haze you often see with cheap components. There will be several reminders in this article that I paid £60 for this! Specs for those who care are on this page.

It has a 3.5mm headphone jack of course, and a front and back camera, 2mp I think, probably OK for Skype but nothing else. It also has a handy “Windows” button which switches between Metro and Desktop mode, and is quite handy.

It does have a redeeming feature though, and that is Micro HDMI output. This is what this is all about. Hook this up to a TV or other screen, and get a cheap Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and you have a very interesting, basic full PC on your hands. Let me be clear, it won’t play Call of Duty, nor will you be using it to edit and render your latest blockbuster movie, but it is surprisingly decent for a low end PC with only 1GB of onboard RAM.

I activated Office 365 on the Tablet, and ran all the Apps, Access, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote, Outlook and Publisher. I did not stress them, but they were all running. Then I opened about 4 Chrome tabs with different websites in each, and amazingly it stayed fluid and very usable. Chrome is a bit laggy on this but it seems lately that is a feature of all versions of Chrome anyway.

The tablet has a MicroSD slot, and the card actually goes all the way in, unlike some other devices where it sticks out a little bit, and it also has a Micro USB slot for charging and OTG for attaching other devices. At the moment, I am trying to find a device to use the USB to charge and connect devices, and I am sure there will be one, but not found this yet. There is a device called +port which will do this but seems to be US only right now.

I downloaded a 1.9GB movie and dumped it on a normal USB stick drive, and using the free VLC for Metro it played beautifully through the Tablet onto my 40″ Samsung TV via a standard Micro HDMI to HDMI cable, no lag, no stuttering, no lip sync issues. I have very little idea about formats, this movie was VOB or something, and all I know is that there will be a Windows program to play whatever you throw at it.

Next I tried a 3TB Seagate backup drive. This was powered itself of course, no way could this power it, and it seemed to work just fine. Read and Write worked fine, and could access all the movies that were stored on it. No reason to believe this will not simply work with any (powered) USB device.

As a standalone Tablet, its a little bit too small and fiddly to me, but there is an 8″ version for £99 and a 10″ version for £159 (or £109 if you have a working 7″ Tablet to trade in?) which I think would be a pretty compelling device.

In summary, this is all about connecting it up to a screen, and (optionally depending what you want to do) a Keyboard/Mouse. If you want to take it with you on holiday, and pack a small external (powered) drive full of media, and hook it up to your accommodation’s TV, it will work just fine. Add a small Keyboard and Mouse (like this maybe, not tried them though), this would work perfectly well for some browsing, and email, and probably for more involved stuff given how well it performs, and that it has full Office on it.

 

Office 365 Sub

As mentioned before, I paid the same price for this Tablet as I would have for a one year sub to Office 365 personal. The MS blurb for this says it is one Tablet and one PC or Mac device. Some adverts for this Linx Tablet says it will ONLY work on the Tablet itself. This is my current experience.

I am not a huge Windows user, but I do have an account from my dabbling with Windows Phone, so on the Tablet I activated the 365 sub by clicking the link on the Metro homepage and it downloaded the usual file to install. Once done you simply sign into your account. You can also just sign into the Office page and it gives you an Install button.

Once installed on the Tablet, I went to my MS account on my Macbook Air and it said it was fine to Install there as well. Instead I decided to try it on my recently built home Windows PC, as it would be far more useful to my partner on that PC. It installed just fine on the main PC.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 10.32.45

 

Next, I noticed it was possible to deactivate either of the devices, so I deactivated the Tablet, and installed it on the Macbook. It all seems to work fine (you only get Office 2011 on Mac) so currently it is running on a PC and a Mac, and no Tablet at all!

You will see the Install button is dimmed out so no more installs possible of course.

 

Once again, remember this is £59.99 for a decent Tablet, and a year of Office 365 running on 2 devices. Bargain of the year in my opinion!

 

 

 

Note 4 (again!)

December 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Wright in Features - (Comments Off)

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 16.20.13

 

So yet again, here we are,  I have just had a Note 4 delivered, and am going to attempt to make it my only phone.

So what you say, its a fantastic phone, that would be really easy. Well, for you maybe it would, but for this longtime iPhone user,not quite so easy. I am going to try to make sure this does not not turn into one of those “why I am quitting xxx phone for yyy phone” type articles, as after all, who really gives a stuff what phone I use?

No, I am thinking of this as more of a self help thing, sort of a diary of my feelings from day one with a new toy, through to day xx when I go back to the iPhone as usual.

So why the hell do I even do this every few months? I feel as if I *should* be using an Android phone, I use all of Google services all day every day, and although the iPhone is very well served by Google, in theory it should all work better on Android right? I will try to write an article on this every day, as I want to track exactly where it all goes wrong, and I decide I am selling it and going back to the iPhone 6.

Although I paid £699 for the iPhone 6 (128GB) version, with barely a thought, the Note 4 at basically £550-£600 seems rather expensive, (in fairness I did not pay anywhere near that much for this one, but that is what they currently cost new). I always seem to have this problem with Android phones, maybe I have been suckered by Apple all these years!

Anyway, £600 for 32gb is not cheap, but at least you can add a cheap SD card, in fact you can currently get a good 64gb fast card for under £30 which takes your storage up to 96gb, surely enough for most people? Of course the Note 4 supports the 128GB cards as well, although the price of those is still a bit high unless you risk cheaper brands.

This one turned up locked to a UK network, but it took just 20 mins to receive the (correct first time) unlock code from these guys who also happen to have an app that does the same thing (although most reading this will not need it). The code was $22 for my combination, which is about £14 in real money!

The restore went pretty well, with most of my apps installing just fine, a few are still missing, and I still to this day do not understand why this can not be as seamless as an iOS device. I understand that Android 5 Lollipop solves this nicely, but I am guessing it will be several months before that comes to the Note 4. Actually, given all I have read and heard on podcasts about Lollipop, I have to say I have no problem with this wait (and lets face it, will I even own it then!)

This is actually my second Note 4, I got one from O2 on launch day, but returned it very quickly, and if I am honest, I did not give it a fair shot, which is one reason for this second go. The build materials are very much improved from the S5 and the Note 3, with a grey metal band around the frame, and although it still has the very thin plastic back, once fitted it is pretty solid, and this will have a case on it anyway. Most of you know it has a removable battery, and has a the quick charge feature.

OK, that will do for day one, tomorrow is real test as I have to cope with large device in shirt pocket!