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So what's a Jawbone Up 24?

Jawbone is a company that creates all kinds of cool tech products. Earlier in the week, we wrote about its new bluetooth headset, the Era, and chances are you'll recognise its colourful little Jambox speakers too.

But Jawbone has also been one of the first companies to really get stuck in when it comes to wearables, and its first activity tracking device, the Jawbone Up, proved to be a success and just about held its own against competitors, like the Fitbit Flex and the Nike+ Fuelband.

The big problem with the Jawbone Up was that it didn't support wireless activity tracking. Without a screen on the device, this meant that to get any data about your day - from how you sleep, to how many steps you've taken - you had to plug the device in to your phone. Doesn't sound THAT irritating, right? Wrong. It really is if you plan on using the device everyday and meant it always came at the bottom of lists about which tracker you should buy despite all of its other great features.

Well Jawbone appears to have listened to these criticisms, and in the last month the new Jawbone Up 24 has been released globally. It's main difference? It wirelessly syncs data through to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Now this does mean you sacrifice some battery life, the original Up could last a whole ten days and the Up24 manages seven, but it's now ready to contend with a slew of other new gadgets to be the best fitness tracking device on the market.

So, we were really excited to put it to the test for a few weeks.

What does it track?

Sleep

The Up24 comes with sleep tracking, this means you wear it throughout the night and in the morning you're served up with data about how you slept, including the amount of sound sleep you got, the amount of light sleep you got, the time it took you to fall asleep and how many times you woke up throughout the night.

That sounds like a lot of information, but it's all presented within the Jawbone Up app in a basic bar chart - the high bars are when you slept well, the lower ones are when you were tossing and turning and the really low orange ones are when you were wide awake.

You can see some screenshots from my nights below:

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Daily activity

The Up24 also tracks your activity throughout the day, too. This data is presented in a similar way to your night time activity, you see a basic graph charting your day, the tall red bars are when you managed to walk or workout, the lower ones are your lower levels of activity and no bar at all is probably when you're sat at your desk, wasting away.

Again, here are some screenshots from my days:

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For both your sleep and your activity during the day, the Up24 prompts you to set yourself some targets, which works on the tried and tested idea that you're more likely to keep moving and work on self improvement if you have something to aim for.

Start off with the basic, suggested targets, which are 10,000 steps a day and 8 hours of sleep a night. You'll be told how far off your goals you are each day and can reset them if you find them a little too hard to stick to (or farrrr too easy!).

Goals & tips

The original Up tracked your sleep and daytime activity and allowed you to set goals too, but the Up24 aims to be more of a coach than just a passive tracker, as it presents you with reminders to hit your daily goals and tells you ways in which you could be more awesome.

How it does it all

If you're wondering how it manages to do all of this, the Up24 comes with a built-in motion sensor and teams the data it gathers from that up with its own algorithms in order to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, calories, active time, and idle time throughout the day and night.

Unfortunately the band can't distinguish between different kinds of activity. If you're doing something that isn't step-based, then you can use its only button to start and stop a timer, enabling you to then go and fill in the workout you did via the app later. This is great if you want to keep a strict eye on your fitness levels and calorie burn, but for me it was enough to just let the app track I've moved a lot, rather than tell it exactly what I've done.

How does it look and is it REALLY comfy?

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How it feels

When you're choosing an activity tracker, or any other kind of wearable, no one is ever going to judge you for being a little bit shallow and agonising over how it looks. You're going to be wearing this thing every second of every day. That doesn't mean you throw its features and tech specs out of the window, but it does mean the look and feel is just as important.

The Jawbone Up24 has a soft, non-latex rubber exterior. Jawbone shouts about the fact this material is medical-grade and hypoallergenic, which sounds like boring sales speak, but is actually pretty important given the Fitbit Force's recent recall. So we know the material is as comfy and kind to the skin as it can be and at only 20g - the Fitbit Force and Nike+ Fuelband are 30g - it's one of the lightest options too.

In all honesty, it feels awkward when you first put it on, especially during the first night. But after a day I got used to having it on my wrist and totally forgot it was there. There are some nights that I've not been able to sleep, so took it off thinking it was irritating me, but during the day it's not a problem at all.

How it looks

Now let's move onto the design, the Jawbone Up24 only comes in a bright orange/red or black, which is a little limiting considering the original Up came in a few more bright colours as well as a very subtle and very wearable grey.

Having said that, both the black and the red are very bold and they look great with my workout gear. It'd just be good to introduce a shade that's a little more subtle, flattering and wearable further down the line.

The band comes in small, medium and large sizes. I'm not a tiny person, but definitely needed the small. If you're not sure how big your wrist is, the packs the bands come in have size guides attached and if you're buying online you can print one out too.

Many other reviews have called the band "super stylish" and "beautiful", which seems a little OTT. But if you're comparing it to some of the other trackers that look like those bands you get at swimming pools to keep your locker keys safe, then it probably does win in the style stakes.

Look at the photos and you'll see I wear it with the silver ends facing upwards. At The Gadget Show earlier in the week someone told me this was the wrong way to wear it, but I don't really care because wear it the other way and it looks like I've got a lame kid's snap bracelet thing on. So I'd rather be wrong. But thanks for the advice random critical man!

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No screen

One thing you'll notice about the Up24 in comparison to other fitness trackers on the market - like the Garmin Vivofit, the Fitbit Force and Flex and the Nike+ Fuelband - is that there's no screen. At first I found this really appealing. I like the idea of passively tracking my day and only viewing stats as and when it suits me. However, the more I got into wearing the band and thinking about my movements and activity throughout the day, the more I kept looking at it, expecting it to give me something. ANYTHING! This was especially the case when I went for a run and wanted to see how I was doing without having to rely on another band or app to serve up data.

The only thing you get on the band itself is a button that you can press to switch between day and night mode or use to set alarms. There's also a cap that covers up a 2.5mm jack in order to charge the UP24. An adapter makes this work for USB, so you can plug it into your computer, but it feels a little clunky and annoying to have to carry something else around with you. But given the fact it only needs a charge once a week it's not a deal-breaker.

So how does the app work?

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The Jawbone Up app dashboard is as slick as ever with rich colours and an intuitive interface, but the great thing is you can do as much or as little as you want with it. As you can see from the screenshots above, it serves up your daily activity and sleep activity in the form of handy charts, as well as little goals and tips. This was enough for me, as I'm only interested in getting fitter and increasing my activity levels.

However, if you want to lose weight and watch your calories then you can then delve deeper into nutrition and the Up24 band and app will provide you with a more holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. You can enter every little morsel you eat into the app, by taking a photo of it, scanning a barcode, searching for it in its extensive database or just adding in the details manually. The UP app then calculates calories burned based on your age, gender, height and weight, along with activity intensity and duration.

The app is also where you can track details about how your band is doing, including how many days worth of battery there is left, whether you want to take a power nap and whether you want to set up alerts to vibrate you out of being idle!

One of my favourite features of the app is also a Lifeline, which looks visually stunning, but also paints an accurate picture of how you're doing over the course of the weeks or months you've been wearing the band for. The Trends tab does a similar thing, but presents your data in a simpler bar chart, so you can identify trends and change or improve on them if they're not so great.

There's no web app yet, which doesn't bother me at all, but I know other people do prefer to access this kind of data on the web, so it'd be good if Jawbone introduced a web dashboard soon.

Should you buy one?

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The Jawbone Up24 isn't a perfect tracking device. Its charging functionality could be better, the colours might be a little jarring for some and its lack of a screen might put people off who a) need constant motivation or b) are really keen on tracking what's going on throughout the day without having to rely on other pieces of tech.

However, if you want an easy-to-use device that'll fit into your lifestyle because it looks good, feels comfy and allows you to passively track your activity, as well as get stuck in and smash goals if you're feeling enthusiastic, then the Jawbone Up24 is the best band on the market.

Everyone can benefit from using it, but it's best for those who want to get more active, sleep better or lose weight and like to see a range of different stats about their day and night activity.

More serious athletes and those in training may not find it comprehensive enough. Equally, those who are after a simpler gadget and are a little freaked out by the idea of logging and tracking EVERYTHING should try a souped up pedometer like the Fitbit Zip to start with instead.

The Jawbone Up24 is perfect for us because it's comfy, looks good, wirelessly syncs our data and lets us get as involved as we want depending on how pumped we feel each day.

Check out the Jawbone Up device compatibility list here.

The Jawbone Up24 is available from John Lewis for £124.95.

HTC One Max.jpgType: Android phablet
Price as reviewed: £500

Things have been tricky for HTC over the past few years - mainly due to competition from rivals such as Samsung and Apple. Anyhow, despite this, they have managed to create possibly one of the world's sexiest Android smartphones - the One. And now we have a much larger, coughs, phablet, version of it, the One Max, matching the recent trend of phone-tablet hybrids that seem to be slowly taking over the whole marketplace.

Design

The One Max is an absolutely huge handset measuring in at 164.5 x 82.5 x 10.3mm - which isn't at all good for keeping in the average trouser pocket. Well, unless you want literally half of the Max hanging out of it? I also found it very heavy, weighing 217g. This reflects on the fact that it has been made out of metal, just like original One, which I suppose is nice as it feels a lot more expensive to hold when compared to the Note III, but I know there are a lot of people out there who would find it too large and heavy to use comfortably.

The front of the One Max is where you're going to find the 5.9- inch display (that's bigger than the Note III, but smaller than the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Mega), BoomSound dual front stereo speakers, along with basic stuff such as the speakerphone, front-facing camera and sensors. I personally find the overall handset attractive, but the front just does it for me: I'm geeky like that.

Now let's look around the sides of the phone: the left houses a button that allows you to take the Max's battery cover off, with the volume rocker (which was extremely responsive when in use) and power/lock button (also responsive) placed on the right. You'll find the micro-USB port down the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top. Very basic stuff, but nicely placed, in all honesty.

The back is very interesting. First of all, it's concave in appearance, offering up a metal back-plate as opposed to a full unibody. The plate keeps the battery from falling out of the One Max - although I really did find it very flimsy when testing - and it's not exactly easy to get on and off. But more than this, you can see the camera lens and LED flash, along with that all-important fingerprint sensor (which I'll take about later on) and the wireless charging sensors.

Display

With most of the HTC products that I've reviewed before, I've always found their displays rather impressive. Again, I'm impressed with a display on a HTC product - the One Max which sports a 5.9-inch panel with a 1080x1920 resolution. I did a few tests inside and outdoors, was really happy with the quality that I got. Colours look overall sharp and vibrant, and the contrast was also good. It's also worth mentioning that the touchscreen technology used is nice and responsive. No problems there.

Interface

The One Max comes running on the Android Jelly Bean operating system, with HTC's Sense 5.5 actually powering the whole user experience. I personally would have liked to have seen the latest version of Android, KitKat, but I suppose we all have some sort of whacky dream. That said, I had no problems with Jelly Bean whatsoever, although the Sense UI, I thought, looks rather cluttered.

Fingerprint scanning

Just like the iPhone 5S, the One Max comes with the ability to use your fingerprints as a means of security. Whilst it seems good and all, I don't think it's as good as what Apple has done with its TouchID method - I just found the whole process of setting it up rather annoying and frustrating, added with the fact that it wouldn't even recognise any of my fingers. Also, I think the sensor itself (located on the back of the Max) is dull and ugly. Looks like I have something against fingerprint scanners.

Media

One of the most attractive things about the Max has to be its entertainment capabilities. It has a gorgeous HD display for watching movies on, along with two BoomSound stereo speakers that are built for crystal clear sound. I killed two birds with one stone by watching a mini movie on YouTube, testing the video and sound quality at the same time. I was very impressed.

Power

The Max is a very fast when in use, thanks to a 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. To test its capabilities, I played a game of Angry Birds (a less power-consuming game) and a racing stimulator (a more power-consuming game), and had no problems at all. This just goes to show that the processor is excellent. You can also choose between 16/32GB of memory and get a 3300mAh battery that's capable of lasting a day after being fully charged.

Camera

Possibly one of the Max's headline features is its 4- megapixel camera based on HTC's UltraPixel technology. The quality of photos taken in daylight are amazing. But despite this, I wasn't that impressed when it came to using the camera in the dark - it just seems that the flash isn't strong or bright enough to fix this problem. On a more positive note, you get full HD recording at 1080p that's capable of producing amazing videos - both during the day and night.

Verdict

If you're willing to carry around a phone that's almost the size of a skateboard, then the One Max could be the perfect option to go for. Ignore that - even though it's big - because the Max is seriously an impressive handset, despite having some flaws. Maybe not as good as the Note III, but I still personally like it.

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Here at Shiny Shiny we're on a mission to find lots of different laptop bags that don't just carry our gadgets around, but look good and aren't too bulky. You'd think there'd be plenty of choice, but accessories that tick all of the boxes are actually REALLY hard to come by.

A few weeks ago we reviewed the Cholet laptop bag from Knomo, which we thought was lovely, but a little pricey. So today we're going to be looking at the be.ez LA Garde Robe 13" laptop bag, which may be at the cheaper end of the scale, but it's still compact, comfy and stylish too.

Space

The LA Garde Robe bag can carry a laptop in its main pocket, then there's a large, flat pocket at the back and a smaller one at the front to keep your chargers and cables.

If you travel light then the bag will have enough room for your laptop, power lead and a few other necessities. However, if like me you prefer to have all kinds of things on you "just in case", then you may need to carry your regular handbag around with you too.

Materials

The bag is made of low resilience polyurethane and 5mm memory foam, which basically means its light, protects your gadgets from knocks and bumps and regains its shape instantly.

Looks

The LA Garde Robe can't compete with the Cholet if we're talking solely about looks, as it's nowhere near as fancy and much more understated. But, if you like simple, black accessories then this bag really will go with anything. We also love the fact that when you open it up there's a very bright pop of pink on the inside.

Comfort

The LA Garde Robe's strap is very much like a seatbelt, which means its strong but wide enough to ensure it won't dig into your shoulder.

Extras

The strap can be easily adjusted to be as long or short as you like, so even if you have to carry it alongside a regular handbag you can make sure they both sit at the same height on your body making it easier to move around.

Who is the LA Garde Robe for?

I've been trialling this bag for a few weeks now and it's ideal for someone like me, who likes things to look good but be simple, functional and comfy over anything else. If you like to look perfectly preened you may want something a little more formal and feminine, but if you just want something that's going to carry your gadgets around, be kind to your shoulder, not overload you on the commute and give you a cheeky pop of pink on the inside, then the LA Garde Robe is ideal.

Available from Amazon for £29.99.

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As part of our fortnight of Instagram goodness we were sent a 10" Kodak Pulse Digital Frame to try out, so we could showcase our favourite images from a fancy frame and not just squint at them on our teeny iPhone screens.

The Pulse looks like a regular digital photo frame, but what makes it a bit different is the way you can send photos wirelessly from a number of devices, by email or even Facebook.

How does it work?

You can just attach the frame to your computer and send photos across that way, but to take advantage of its super WiFi capability, just sign it into your wireless network and get sharing. You then need to set up a Kodak account and add some photos. This sounds like a bit of a pain, but it actually doesn't take very long at all and once it's done it's so simple to add or delete them afterwards.

The frame has a pretty responsive touchscreen, which lets you control how it works, which photos you see and how you see them by just pressing the large and easy to use dashboard.

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How do the images look?

The frame has a 800 X 600 display and the quality of the images obviously depends on which device you've used to take them. The photos I sent over from my iPhone 4 generally looked good, but were a little grainy at times because obviously they'd been blown up a little bigger.

You can make a few changes to your images using the touchscreen, so it's easy to rotate them, change the transitions (have everything flying in from the side!) or view them as a big grid.

The Pulse has around 512 MB of internal memory, which works out at around 4,000 photos, so you don't need to worry about running out of room either.

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How can you transfer them?

The Pulse is designed to allow you to share photos in a number of ways, so you can add photos to your Kodak account, send them to a dedicated email address, use a regular memory card or USB stick, or if you have a Kodak Easyshare portable camera you can share directly from the device.

Who's it for?

You can control what's shown on the Pulse from wherever you are, so it'd be ideal as a present for a relative and you could then get lots of family members on board to send photos through as and when. However, if you give it to your grandparents, don't get drunk and send something stupid through. We guarantee you WILL regret it.

You unfortunately do have to have the Pulse plugged into the mains, which is the only main disadvantage of the product as it could look a bit messy on a mantlepiece or shelf. So that's worth bearing in mind if you're giving it to a particularly picky person.

Overall the Kodak Pulse isn't about amazing quality photos or a beautiful display, it's about quickly and easily sharing your photos instantly wherever you are, which makes it perfect for mobile photography fans and a favourite for Christmas.

Available from Kodak for £164.99.

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A lot of headphones claim to bring us good quality sound that'll rival anything we've ever tried before. Most of them are good, but don't really stand out in a sea of similar products that all deliver in terms of sound and look good too.

However, we were sent a pair of Atomic Floyd SuperDarts recently and we feel like we've found a hidden gem.

Since the Atomic Floyd brand launched in 2008 it's been a firm favourite among music lovers who want great quality sound and a robust product without the frills.

The latest headphones, the SuperDarts, deliver on all fronts. They're specially designed for the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, they look good, sound even better and give us all the extras we need. It's just a shame they're a bit pricey...

Earbuds

One of the main reasons the SuperDarts sound so good is down to the high standard earbuds. They have all kinds of features, like double speaker drivers and two way noise isolation, which means you're not going to get any dirty looks on the bus or be bothered by that crazy, shouting man.

It's really important you get the right sized eartips to ensure you're getting the best possible sound and quality bass. You can choose from small, medium and large and there's a special seal between the actual buds and the tips, which makes them a huge pain to squeeze on, but does mean they'll be more suited to your ears and sound better. The tips are also made of silicone and feel really soft, there's nothing worse than stuffing a piece of scratchy plastic right into your ear. Eugh.

Sound

As I've mentioned, there are apparently all kinds of seals on the buds to ensure there's no noise leakage or background noise, which is always the most important thing when it comes to good quality sound.

You'll have to play around with the right sized ear tips to make sure they fit well but won't fall out and cause any noise leakage.

The dual drivers mean you're getting two mini speakers in each ear, a really rich sound and the clarity is unlike anything I've experienced from headphones before (honestly).

Although all kinds of music will sound great with the SuperDarts, they seem particularly suited for tracks with plenty of bass which really let them show off their skillz.

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Looks

From the way they look, you can tell the SuperDarts mean business. They're made of stainless steel and have red detailing as well as a red cable. They stand out but not because they're overtly fancy, they just look stylish and pretty damn cool.

Cable

The cable has a Kevlar coating at the end, which means it feels nicer and stops them from tangling together quite so much. They can also be folded away easier too.

There's a remote control on the cable which allows you to control volume, play, pause and skip tracks. There's also a microphone attached to the remote control too, which lets you answer calls and change volume if you have the SuperDarts hooked up to your phone.

Extras

A quirky little Babybel-like case comes with the SuperDarts which is filled with different eartips, a DJ Jack and flight adaptor.

Who are they for?

Firstly, you obviously need to be a big fan of in-ear buds, they're super comfy but they still go much further into your ear than say the run-of-the-mill Apple headphones (some people still get freaked out by in-ear buds).

They're ideal for someone who wants headphones which deliver good quality sound and look great too. Of course you'll have to have a few spare pennies lying around, the only downside to the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts is that they're very pricey, but then again you do have to pay a bit of a premium for this kind of quality.

I imagine they'd also be well suited to those who use headphones on their commute or when they're exercising and need headphones which will actually stay put and not annoy anyone else nearby.

We're big fans of the SuperDarts, there's no fuss, no celebrity affiliation, just quality sound and quality looks.

The SuperDarts are coming soon to the Atomic Floyd website and the Apple Store and will be available for £199.

Tech Specs:

Sensitivity: 100dB
Frequency Range: 5-25,000Hz
Impedance: 16

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Wacom is well known for its clever tablet and pen solutions, which aim to make all kinds of activities, from sketching to game development to image editing as easy and intuitive as possible.

The brand creates different kinds of interactive pen displays for specialist industries, the Cintiq range for animators and designers and we can't forget its impressive new Inkling product, which is basically the stuff an illustrator's dreams are made of, transforming images from ink-to-digital with one small pen.

However, Wacom also has a range of tablet and pen products called Bamboo, aimed at "normal" people who want to move around their computer with ease, annotate their work and dabble in Photoshop now and again. This week the Bamboo tablets have been re-launched, re-vamped and refreshed, so the devices don't just look much sleeker, but they're also even more responsive and impressive than their predecessors.

The new range consists of the Bamboo Pen & Touch, a black and lime wireless enabled tablet with a chunky stylus and express keys and the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch, which is similar but comes with an impressive software suite of Photoshop and Artrage and a very MacBook-esque silver finish.

As I've got a MacBook and I'm not too keen on lime green, I decided to trial a medium-sized Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch for a few weeks and although it took a few days to get used to it, I found it made everything much easier and more intuitive. Although I'd like to hold it personally responsible for the fact I spent around five days in total just aimlessly doodling tattoo ideas and eyes.

The tablet

One of the biggest things to point out about the tablet itself is its super responsive multi-touchscreen with a range of multi-touch gestures that allow you to navigate around your PC or Mac quickly and easily.

The tablet also has a number of "express keys" down the left hand side, which at first I found a bit pointless, but once you've customised them yourself they become really useful and can save you a lot of time (well, a lot of seconds).

I was surprised at how slim and lightweight the Bamboo was, so it didn't prove too much of a pain to slot alongside my laptop while I've been on the move.

Oh and let's not overlook the fact it looks LOVELY, with its streamlined design, subtle silver finish and shiny black edging.

The pen

The stylus is really light and although it's a bit chunkier than a standard ball point pen it is very easy to hold and move around the tablet.

You simply slide your hand a centimetre or so above the tablet to move around the screen or tap it to scroll or click on something.

Just like the tablet's express keys, the pen has two buttons on its side that you can customise, so it's worth playing around with them.

Actually using it

In the past I've found that sometimes the devices which look and sound amazing don't really deliver in the long run, or just don't prove to be very useful on a daily basis.

Although the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch does take some time to get used to, it makes photo editing and drawing a lot easier and everything else just generally much more fun.

I know a lot of people like to use Bamboo tablets for all kinds of things, scrolling, navigating, writing notes, you can use it for pretty much anything you can think of, especially since its advanced multi-touch screen means that it's very responsive to all kinds of gestures. However, I'm weirdly content with the MacBook's trackpad, so for me it was all about the drawing, photo editing and annotating. The surface of the tablet feels smooth, but almost paper-like, so once you've got the hang of the pen, drawing actually comes quite naturally.

The Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch comes with Photoshop and what I noticed the most was how working with a pen when I'm editing images as apposed to a mouse makes everything feel so much easier and more precise, going back to my trackpad just won't be the same :(.

If you feel a little intimidated by the Bamboo at first, then you can play around with a few of the product's dedicated apps, which let you practice and get used to the feel and rhythm of using a pen and tablet.

The range is available now from the Wacom website. The Bamboo Pen & Touch is £89.80, the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch is £99.90 for the smaller version and £199.90 for the medium size we trialled.

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I'll say it straight out - I'm not convinced by 3D cameras or 3D screens. I liked watching Avatar and of course 3D cameras were involved there, but outside several select films in the cinema I find the technology to be more hype than performance. More ow than wow. My eyes are naturally squinty and 3D screens just send my optic nerves into spasms as they try to compute what is real, and where those real bits are. Kind of like a rollercoaster, it's fun for 2 minutes and then you start regretting your lunch and clutching your head.

Enough of me moaning about my eyes. Suffice to say that when I was given the LG Optimus 3D to review, I was coming from a position of prejudice.

But you know what - I kind of liked it. With a few reservations. Read on to get my verdict.

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Good Points
> Pleasant to use. The screen is big, bright and attractive. At 4.3 inches there's a lot of it, and it's nice for photos and film. The capacitive touch screen is responsive, and the backlit buttons flush with the screen at the bottom of the phone have a little buzz of haptic feedback when you touch them. I like that.

> Okay - that 3D does have a wow factor. If you get your head in the right place and concentrate, it really does look like there's depth behind the screen. It is kind of amazing. It's got a "wow" out of everyone I've shown it to. It's fun for games, but best for your own videos where suddenly your friends pop out of the screen all glossy and 3-dimensional. Maybe there is something in this 3D lark.

> Fast. A racy dual-core 1Ghz chip speeds through any command you give it. Apps open instantly and the 3D film streams very quickly.

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Bad Points

>Battery - of course the battery was going to be bad - powering that big bright screen and processing 2 streams of film footage. But any 3D play takes a serious toll on the power and this blew the battery out in less than a day for me, without me even using much beyond email and some camera work. That's a pain.

> 3D viewing doesn't work if your hand is moving. Don't even think about playing a 3D game in a jolting bus - you will do your head in. This limits how useful the games centre is.
You need to keep your head in an optimal place too, meaning that only one person can view the screen at at time, and that you need to hold your phone up in front of your face.

> 3D filming doesn't work if your subject moves fast. If someone moves slowly into the picture, this works pretty sweet. Anything fast makes the camera jump and you get doubled-up images.

> Phone is big. Some people don't mind this, but you'd struggle to fit it into your jeans.

Conclusion
A nice solid Android smartphone with the 3D camera being the blow-out feature. Is it worth it? Umm there's a serious ooh factor to the 3D. But bear in mind, that while you can watch your videos back on the device you'll need a 3D TV to view them on anything else (it has a mini HDMI port). The 3D is still a gimmick, but admittedly quite a beautiful one that really brings videos of friends and family to sharp vivid life.
Up to you if you want to pay extra for that.

Key specs:
4.3-inch LCD screen
480 x 800 screen resolution
Capacitive touchscreen
Glasses-free 3D effects

128mm long x 68mm wide x 11.9mm thick
1.3 megapixel front-facing camera
Pair of 5 megapixel stereoscopic 3D cameras
Built-in speakers

1GHz dual-core ARM chip
Micro SD card for additional storage
Android 2.2

Sold as the Thrill 4G in the US

£422 on Amazon
Available from £30 a month on contract, see Carphone Warehouse


In many ways it has been Motorola (and not Nokia or even Apple) that has lead the way in mobile design. Since the late nineties it has delivered an array of game-changing handsets which have been hugely popular and very influential. So with the deal with Google in the can now, here's five mobiles that defined old Motorola.

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If you fancy giving your iPhone 4 more of a stitched DIY feel then why not get a case which lets you STITCH ON YOUR IPHONE.

Not into the glass of course... but into a soft silicon iPhone 4 case with stitchy holes in it. It's the cunning idea behind the X Stitch case from Korean brand Taylor on sale now on Mobile-Gear.

It's quite funky to have a case you can adapt according to your mood and cross-stitching ability. See the different patterns you can do with X Stitch. It comes with a needle and 4 colours of embroidery thread.

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Mobile-Gear explain: "The body of the case is pretty standard, providing full back and side protection as well as button coverage and a fold out Dock Connector cover. Along the back is a 22 x 43 perforated surface used to guide you in creating a cross-stitched pattern; a thin layer of silicone is easy enough to puncture with the included needle, yet provides protection to the unstitched areas."

If you're dexterity-challenged like me - there's the altogether simpler iShoe case which lets you thread laces into the back of your iPhone case. I can do that easily, and the result is cute. It looks very Roller-Derby, and I understand that's in fashion with the kids.

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£13.98 for the Taylor X Stitch case on Mobile-Gear
£11.98 for the iShoe case on Mobile Gear
Available in various colours - free UK and Europe postage

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iPad magazines have been hyped hard, but the form is still finding its way. Many iPad mags I've looked at have simply been paper magazines dropped onto the tablet with little alteration except for maybe a video in the middle.

There's a lot more to be done with the format and Video Magazine Astronaut is one of the magazines doing it - it's the most innovative one I've seen so far. And very beautiful to boot.

Let's say straight off: It's an art magazine about short films and documentary not a commercial blockbuster. But it does some things very nicely, and all of us could learn from them.

Three successful features of Astronaut:

Putting Content into Packages
Mixing up words, pictures and video is what almost all iPad mags do, but this does it really well. Content is split into mini chapters -with easy-browse photos and some pull quotes to tease you in, then as you slide through the pages, getting drawn in - you reach the hub video page, where you can watch a short film or scroll through accompanying text. It thinks about the user journey well, and lets you skim or go into depth.

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Surprising touch interaction
The simple page-turn is fine, but Astronaut goes a lot further in letting the sweep of your finger perform different functions - pulling photos and slides over, pulling fragments of pages over, or letting sections of the page slide away to reveal a photo gallery or suchlike. It generally creates a varied and interesting experience with lots of ways into the page. Making it more like a place to explore around in than a simple linear next-page-next-page journey.

Great content
Yes. This old chestnut. It's the core of any good magazine, and its very good here. This is an art-film mag - the photos are beautiful, the films are really good in a concentrate-a-bit kind of way. All basic rules of iPad mag design are observed - pictures go right to the edges, play and pause buttons are large enough to be finger-sized.

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Drawbacks:
One criticism I have is of the homepage which isn't clickable. Navigation from there is solely by a bar at the bottom.

Takeaway:
love the structure of this. Just gear content at this level of quality and you have a winner and think about how you can lead readers deeper into it.



$3.99 on iTunes

or visit the Astronaut website

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Blackberry the masters of the QWERTY keyboard have made a serious effort to improve their touchscreens with a new system that they call Liquid Graphics, promising that it will be more responsive and faster.

All three of the top smartphones they launched today on Blackberry 7 feature the new capacitive touch screens with the Torch 9860 being all touch screen - a big 3.7" display. It was the first feature raised in the presentation of the new phones.

Buggy slow touch screens had frustrated users of the Torch - a hybrid touch/keyboard screen.

Seems like they've made the effort to really improve the touch experience, aware that they can't rely forever on the button-loving QWERTY users.

The rep told us that the improvement comes from the hardware, a more sensitive layered screen on the new devices that is better at picking up touch input. The faster 1.2GHz chipset in the new phones then picks up the inputs quicker and gets the graphics to respond with minimal lag time.

A few tweaks in the user interface design help the experience too - meaning that apps pop open straight into their most obvious function.

A nice unified experience that we'd expect from Blackberry.

After a Hands-On:
We had a quick hands-on - it's a significant improvement on the old Blackberry which required you to smear your fingers along the screen to get it to budge. The experience on the Bold was pretty seamless with no discernable lag. Still, I have to say it wasn't as responsive the iPhone 4 I use. A tiny difference, though I did notice it.

NB: the touch screen seemed to be more effective on the Bold than the Torch, but maybe that was just us. One gripe, the response time for switching the screen from portrait to landscape mode on the Torch Touch was still very slow and laggy. Maybe that's a gyrometer problem - but it sure could be sharper.

main.huffington_post.jpgToday is a big day for the UK media with the long awaited arrival of the British edition of The Huffington Post. The HuffPo has had a huge impact on US media and is apparently in the nation's top the nation's top three news sources. Can it repeat that sucess here?

Well it chose a good day to launch given the huge phone tapping story that has exploded in the last 48 hours. However can it keep that momentum up? The mainstream media has in general been fairly cynical about the launch. Up until a couple of years ago the broadsheets tended to speak very warmly of the HuffPo (as it always tends to about US blogs though often not UK ones). However that warmth evaporated when the site was firstly bought by a large, scary, agressively expansionist media company in AOL and then announced the launch of a UK edition.

So there's no great surprise that in writing for The Guardian (the paper that could lose the most from the HuffPo's UK launch), Jemima Kiss praises the site for its innovation stateside but suggest that it isn't offering a great deal that's new in its UK edition.

Rob Hinchcliffe, writing in The Drum agrees too saying its celeb blogging formula that works so well in the US, is unlikely to appeal in the UK. After all several of its most high profile bloggers - like Alistair Campbell are just reposting articles from their own blogs. And as for Tony Blair blogging - well that's a great launch day news story but I'll believe it when I see it.

Ultimately I think that the bad news for Arianna is that the UK media, from The Guar and Telegraph through to Spectator, Guido and even the BBC is that they have monitored the HuffPo and mastered the tricks (instant reads, live blogging, guest bloggers) that made it successful. Even if it innovates in the future you can bet that the UK media will be conducting similar experiments very soon after. Also with a few notable exceptions (Guido, Anorak, Football blogs) the lead that UK blogs had over established media has disappeared, mainly because heritage media has woken up to how to attract online traffic.

Further I think it unlikely that HuffPo is quite as big a deal in the UK as the British media community thinks. I don't have a steer about what its UK traffic is but I rarely see links from the HuffPo being tweeted by non media types.

A couple of years back Gordon Macmillan at Wallblog wrote a very incisive story about why a HuffPo type site had not launched in the UK. There have been a couple of attempts most notably The First Post, which I had a very small involvement with and is now owned by Dennis Publishing. It does reasonably well, but barely appears on Fleet Street's radar as it can't compete with the established media brands in terms of numbers. I think the HuffPo UK will struggle in the same way.

Still, if anyone can make it work it is aol. So good luck to the team, but don't expect too much support from the UK media. Those content links from other big media players are going to be a lot harder to come by now.

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If you're one of those people who refuses to drink tea or coffee unless it's at an optimum temperature, then you should probably should consider an insulated mug: for the good of yourself, of the environment and of the other people in the office who make you all these cups of tea that you BARELY drink because it's too hot to start with and then too cold.

I actually like cold coffee, but then I'm kind of weird like that.

Anyway. One such insulated mug is the Brugo Mug, a brightly coloured, double-insulated plastic mug that has a screw-on lid with one of those little sucky holes. It has a tip-and-sip thing which is supposed to protect you from the two extremes of hot and cold, by letting the hot stuff cool down a bit in a secondary chamber before you drink it, but preventing it from getting, you know, too cold.

It also works if you want to keep cold drinks cold, which is more likely in this hot summer weather.

They use PTZ technology. That means Perfect Temperature Zone technology - sounds pretty scientific to me. Anyway, we've been putting it to the test and it's quite nice to drink out of. It's grippable, drop-resistant and looks kind of sci-fi.

Though as ever - it comes down to how you feel about reusable sucky mugs and the fact that you can't put them in the dishwasher.

Brugo Mugs are £14.99 from Brugo

33--glasto.jpgGlastonbury has got us all thinking about spending time outside lying on the grass, listening to sweet tunes. And if that means lying out in your back garden, so be it.

And especially if you chose to take your music while lying in in your back-garden, you'll want a decent set of outdoor speakers. Which is why we got all interested in some wireless speaker technology BestBuy demoed to us last week. Basically it uses radio frequency to send uncompressed audio from your device to your speakers, wherever they are, allowing you to pump music out from your PC to your back garden, to take one useful example.

BestBuy have patented some music-sending technology which cuts the wires out of the speakers which means that you can put your speakers wherever you want and play music from them.

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Because there are up to five inputs and eight outputs, another fun use would be sending music from one device to all the different rooms in your house. It would make your house kind of like a supermarket. It would be a bit wrong, but you could do it.

BestBuy's senders and receivers are compatible with all speakers and devices. Admittedly though they are pricey. Quick run-down of the pros and cons...

The upside
- get rid of those damn wires!
- clear uncompromised sound
- compatible with your existing speakers and computers.

The downside
- the price: these are expensive. Though about the same as a Glastonbury ticket
- these speakers work best if you have a stationary device (your TV/PC) with portable speakers, rather than having portable music player (like an iPod). For me this would be a little redundant because I carry my iPod around anyway and just need the speakers to move.

It also enables their back-garden-friendly waterproof speaker, which we like a lot. The complete kit, with the mini sender/receiver and the speaker will set you back £180..

The music bit? The sound is uncompressed which makes for high quality without the wires. The Best Buy reps swore blind that it wouldn't suffer from interference from any other device using that frequency:


"Rocketboost wireless audio products support HD-quality audio without wires. The wireless signal from a Rocketboost-branded transmitter is uncompressed and can transmit 24 bit, 96 KHz digital audio, which supports CD- and HD- audio signals such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Additionally, Rocketboost wireless audio products operate in the 2.4GHz band and are designed to work without interference with other 2.4GHz devices such as wireless routers, cordless phones and microwave ovens."

---
The details
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Rocketfish Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit - The Rocketfish Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit features Rocketboost wireless audio technology for wireless connectivity between a transmitter, which is connected to the home theatre system, and a rear channel amplified receiver, connected to the rear speakers. The kit enables 5.1 wireless surround sound configurations, as well as multizone, whole-home wireless audio distribution, and can be expanded to accommodate 7.1 surround sound. £159.99

Rocketfish Wireless Sender/Receiver - The Rocketfish Wireless Sender/Receiver transmits audio wirelessly from any audio device by 3.5mm or stereo RCA connection, allowing wireless audio streaming throughout a home. The sender/receiver features Rocketboost wireless audio technology for crisp, low-interference sound. £49.99

Rocketfish Wireless Outdoor Speaker with Wireless Sender/Receiver - The Rocketfish Wireless Outdoor Speaker is a weather-resistant wireless speaker kit that allows Rocketboost wireless audio anywhere in the home and outdoors. £179.99

Rocketfish Wireless Amplified Audio Receiver - The Rocketfish Wireless Amplified Audio Receiver is ideal for connecting to and powering traditional home theatre speakers. It features two stereo L/R speaker outputs for easy connection and Rocketboost wireless audio technology for low-interference and HD audio-compatible sound. £99.99

Rocketfish Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit - £159.99
Rocketfish Wireless Sender/Receiver - £49.99
Rocketfish Wireless Outdoor Speaker with Wireless Sender/Receiver £179.99
Rocketfish Wireless Amplified Audio Receiver - £99.99

The four Rocketboost products from Rocketfish are currently available from all Best Buy UK stores and at www.bestbuy.co.uk/rocketfish

RL1.jpg

It's stylish in a scaled-back, retro sort of way, the Emporia RL1 mobile phone. You could sort of see it take off in certain hipster-clusters, but the core target market for this simplified mobile phone is those aged 50 or over. This is less a "bells and whistles" phone then, and more a "what it says on the tin" sort of job.

Size-wise, the RL1 is pretty standard, fitting nicely into the palm of your hand. If you're used to a smartphone it will feel light, as it's pretty thin, and the screen is smaller than most new phones as priority is given to the very large keys. The big keys will be a big attraction for the seniors market, which may find the small buttons on regular mobiles hard to see and push. The press info about the RL1 includes a host of scary stats about what happens to our bodies as we get older - I'll abstain from sharing the details and just say there may well come a day when we will all need big buttons. Enjoy your fine motor functions while you have them.

Considering its functions, this phone basically does two things: makes calls and sends texts. Moving through the menu feels similar to the old Nokias we had ten years ago - hit the 'menu' button, use 'up' and 'down' buttons to scroll through. The text comes up quite large, but this can be adjusted down to a regular size (called 'small'), or alternatively you can set it to 'jumbo'.

The text messaging function does not have predictive text, a decision that may seem odd if you are used to that. If so, this will probably be the phone's main drawback. If however you are in the 50+ target group, this may actually not be such an issue - I'm basing this on my experience of having tried to teach a person in this age group to use predictive text, to significant frustration for all involved.

The phone has some extra features too, such as an alarm clock, calculator and a birthday reminder. It's very easy to manoeuvre everything, as the phone will guide you through the options for everything you may want to do. For those needing to use the manual, this is written in the strictest back-to-basics format, making the phone easy to use even for those who have never had a mobile before. For instance, there's a whole page on how to correct a mistake in a text message.

The handset comes with a nice little stand, which can be connected to act as the charger. The phone has a dedicated on-off button on the side - a bit confusing if you are used to holding down the red 'cancel' button to turn the phone on or off, but this is a habit issue. Strictly speaking it's probably simpler to have a separate button for this anyway. Other side-buttons are there for changing the volume, there's a torch too plus a dedicated locking button. Try and press one of the keys while the phone is locked, and the display will show you a picture of the locking button and a big fat arrow pointing to it. So if you're still confused, it's not the phone's fault.

Technical data:
- Standby time: up to 200 hrs.
- Talk time: up to 180 min.
- Dimensions: 109 x 50 x 14 mm
- Weight: 92 g
- Rechargeable battery: Li-Ion 3,7 V / 700 mAh
- Display: 1,8" OLED, 160 x 128 pixels
- Dual band GSM 900 / 1800
- Exclusive to Vodafone UK

www.emporia.co.uk / www.vodafone.co.uk/emporia

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Packing a lot of pro-level features in a slim body, the Canon Legria HF G10 is top of Canon's amateur range. And at around £1200, it would stretch the budgets of even the keenest amateur cinematographer. However it is a really solid piece of kit and has a few pleasant surprises...

LOOK AND FEEL

Design - stylish and slim, with the body being the same thickness as the lens, it looks a bit like an eye on the end of a tube. I like it for that.

Plasticy - it is of course made out of plastic. But arguably it feels a little too plasticy for £1200 pounds worth of high-end camera.

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USABILITY

Buttons - my camera expert friend suggested that some of the button-arrangement was counter intuitive. There certainly are a lot of them - this packs manual controls as well as a lot of automatic software, but I was fine with them.

Manual options - switch to auto and you don't need these - but there are a lot of options for playing around with: zoom, optical zoom, focus.

Touchscreen - nice and clear and big. Seemed to be resistive rather than capacitive so it wasn't always the most responsive, but that was only a minor quibble.

FEATURES

Audio - this really stands out. There's a nice microphone packed into the camera and the sound recording quality is really good. An external mic port would let you do professional grade sound if you wanted.

Focus, zoom & light sensitivity - excellent auto-focus adjusted in milliseconds and the the CMOS sensor was good at picking up decent images in low light. The optical zoom worked a treat, though with that much movement it can look a little rubbish filming a zoom in like that.

Images - the wide lens (30.4mm wide-angle lens) means the frame of vision is nice and big it shoots stills too, which can be handy. It's HD quality film of course and it really picks up everything down to individual hairs on a close-up shot. The on-board stabilisation makes a big difference in keeping tremors from the handheld down.

Flip-out touch-screen viewfinder - the 3.5-inch screen makes for great visual experience and means the device is fun to watch stuff back on. And top marks for being able to flip it round so that the person in front of the lens can also see the viewing screen.

Viewfinder - nice to have a camera which actually lets you hold the thing up to your eye. This viewfinder pulls out from the body of the camera and lets you manage the filming by sight. Though I found the camera a little fiddly to operate from this position.

Memory - a built-in memory of 32gb is significant and really useful. You can just pick this up and it works. Otherwise there are two SD card ports, which could take the memory up to wherever you want it.

Connectivity - with a mini-HDMI port, two mini-USB ports, a headphone jack, it has most of what you need. The camera comes with a bunch of wires as well. And even a remote control for remote operation of the camera.

Artistic filters - Choose from 8 different filter effects from misty Nostalgic to dramatic black and white. A nice Hipstamatic touch for those of us addicted to those photo-filter iPhone apps. Real cinematographers may scoff, but I found this fun and quite gratifying. It's nice to see the results immediately on the viewing screen too.

Playback options - the watching options are easy to navigate and the whole thing was pretty fun - shows Canon learning from the iPhone again, with very pleasant on-device viewing.

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GOOD FOR
Video Bloggers
- would be excellent quality for web video. Also light and compact with no need for external mics or SD cards so you could just grab the camera and pick up great off-the-cuff moments very quickly. Features like the reversible viewing screen - letting the person being filmed see what's getting recorded are ideal for one person pieces to camera.
It's also very easy to see what you are shooting and review it quickly afterwards: useful if you don't intend to spend ages in the editing suite.


Quality home video
- that remote control is just made for those set up cutting the birthday cake shots. It's very immediate and easy to use. Also the mini HDMI means you could plug it into a TV and play which would be great for watching family moments immediately.

CONCLUSION
Sexy and fun with enough oo-factor to justify the price tag. However, only those with a big commitment to video will splash out this much on one device.

Features:

Canon HD Video Lens
Canon HD CMOS Pro sensor 160% more light than a normal CMOS sensor
Professional audio
AVCHD video to 32GB memory; 2x SDXC slots
Full manual control
8.8cm Touch-screen LCD
Instant AF; Face Detection
Dynamic Optical Image Stabiliser
Creative Cinematic Features
HD-SD conversion

More on the LEGRIA HF G10 on the Canon product page

£1157 from LambdaTek

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We had a quick try-out with the Ministry of Sound Headphones - the MOS004s - selling for £19.99 on the Ministry website. They boast:

"Stereo headphones with single sided cable, soft-touch and detailed logo. These distinctive headphones pack a punch with 40mm drivers that deliver the purest sounds. High grade leatherette pads give complete comfort with adjustable cans to wear however suits you."


Looks
They sure do have the Ministry of Sound logo on them. So if you're into the brand then this is a nice way to wear it. Fun colourful and available in 5 different colour combinations we like the electric colours on the wires.

Comfort
Good, easy to adjust, the cups are small but soft
The wire is thick, doesn't tangle and is long and stretchy enough to let you wander around.

Sound
I'm afraid this is where the price becomes apparent. The sound is quite flat and gets quite muddled at low volumes and tinny at high ones. Though they will go super loud. But then sound nerds would probably go for Sennheisers or JBL headphones- things kicking around the £40 price bracket minimum.

Conclusion
Fun, comfy and good value for £19.99. Not one for the sound buffs though.

Ministry of Sound Headphones MOS004 are £19.99 on TheMinistryofSound

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When looking at the app of a magazine or paper, it's sometimes hard to separate the quality of the content from the quality of the format. And that's a good thing. Ideally, you shouldn't notice the format at all because it's so intuitive that it unobtrusively lets the content shine.

But when reviewing it, you have to poke around and look at this stuff closely. So I've been putting the FT's Android app through its paces.

The FT have just made a stab at reproducing their newspaper content in an Android app, just under a year after they launched their iPad app. I tested it out on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Their iPad app won an Apple Design Award in 2010. The panel said:
"Offering a really great newspaper reading experience on iPad, the Financial Times presents an elegant user interface with animation, shadows, transparency, off-white paper color, nice typography, and intuitive navigation. Integrated photos and video nicely augment printed content."

Does the Android one stand up to that? We explored.

The Android app comes bundled with a Standard digital subscription at £4.49 per week or a Premium online subscription £6.49 per week (£233 or £337 per year).


Putting lengthy and serious articles on a 7 inch tablet

Just like the paper version of the FT - it's a lengthy, serious read. And the length of the articles is accommodated by long scroll-down pages and clean single column of pleasant lightly-serifed text - it shows up cleanly on the off-white of the page.

There are no bells and whistles Wired-style here - no interactive graphs of markets data or globes that spin round or anything. It's all a bit more low-key. This means they avoided gimmicks but also possibly missed out on some opportunities for a wow-factor.

The Front Page
The front page is the home page and the hub of the whole experience.. The front page worked very well, but I found going deeper to be a little bit less intuitive. The menu for different sections was a line of grey boxes at the top - that you open up by clicking on a small lined box in the top right-hand corner. Not the most intuitive or attractive lead-on to further stories..

Visuals and Multimedia
Videos were forefronted on the main page, which was great, though the quality was a little hazy despite being on a full wifi connection.. Given the nice screens on these tablet devices, video really could be - and should be excellent.

With the pictures - again the visuals were a little lacking here. There were nice photos attached to stories, but they never get any bigger than thumbnails. On stories in the fashion or arts section for example it would great to have galleries and pictures that blew up to the full frame.

A couple of gripes
1) Landscape mode didn't work. This was a gripe for me. At first I didn't notice, because it is easy to read in portrait mode, but once I had, I kept wanting to turn it round. This was particularly the case after watching a video which automatically displayed in landscape.

2) Comment functionality would be nice too.. as would sharing. There is some link to Google on the top left of individual article pages, but a quick way to grab a link would be nice - even if only for personal reference. Paywalls inhibit the sharing of stories to Facebook and Twitter of course.

3) This is a paid-for subscription app, so I really didn't see why there should be a little strip ad at the bottom of pages. Sure it isn't very big, but it took up screen real estate and occasionally covered up useful links.

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Conclusion
A nice app that does a functional job and was clear and pleasant to read. It didn't really have a tablet wow-factor for me, but they probably just want to leave that to the content in line with the FT's character. Visuals should be improved and perhaps that top menu bar too. Certainly riding at over £200 a year you'd expect a really premium experience and so the pictures and videos as well as the text need to be top notch.

But tablets are great for reading long denser articles and the FT is full of valuable long dense articles.

It really comes down to the money - do you want to spend £233 a year on one paper? If you do, and have an Android tablet, well this is a nice additional way to read it.


A subscription to the FT app costs £233 or £337 per year and is available on Android Marketplace

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We got a hands-on with the cute Eee Pad Transformer at its UK launch today and had the time to get acquainted with this Android-powered iPad rival.

On shelves from April 6, the Transformer will be £429 with the keyboard or £379 without it, for a 16GB wifi-only model. The clicky detachable screen transformer bit didn't disappoint, but here are the other specs. For size, hardware, battery life and chip power they pretty well line up to the iPad 2.

Key specs
- 8hr battery life in the tablet, 8hr in the keyboard - total = 16hrs
- Android Honeycomb OS
- NVIDIA dual core 1GHz chip
- 10.1 inch screen
- Front camera (1.5megapixel) & rear camera (5megapixel)

Our first impressions

1) Having a touch screen and keyboard is great: - I originally thought this was a bit of a gimmick, but actually I loved being able to touch the screen to move stuff around but also having the keyboard for text input. It feels really natural.

2) Having a nice tablet stand makes for a good user experience Okay, I know stands for tablets are hardly revolutionary, but it was nice being able to touch a tilted up laptop screen. I'm really into netbooks and tablet hybrids.

3) The click-on connection could be better: - it worked sure, but it could have felt more solid and it was a little bit hard to find the groove. You have to make sure it's locked before picking it up otherwise it flies apart.

4) Android Honeycomb is sweet: yes it is. Sure it's similar to previous versions of the OS, but the apps, the video - it's all built to work so well with a touch interface and nice to see it scaled up to a 10 inch screen. Lovely experience.

5) Good quality rear camera: - 5 megapixels is good and means you can actually take nice quality footage with this device.

6) Heavy - I did find it quite heavy - both the keyboard and the screen have a battery, I think that makes it feel quite weighty. The pad was 603g, and with the keyboard I think comes to 1230g.

7) Kooky colour and patterning: the purplish crocodile textured back and brushed metal hinge in a cafe au lait brown were pure Asus, and make the tablet stand out in a world of black and silver gadgets.


Conclusion

I think I'd need a bit more time to understand how useful that detachable screen is, and whether what's fun in a demo actually makes sense in real life situations. But I really the idea of a more active experience with a touch screen device, instead of the more passive sit-back-and-consume behaviour iPad encourages. A thumbs up from this initial session. And the pricing actually makes it competitive....


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On sale from 6th April in the UK, we grabbed a quick hands-on with the Windows 7 Asus EP121 Slate.

At £999 you'd expect some seriously impressive specs and it has them:

Key specs:
- Intel i5 chip - a 2.66GHz quad-core power monster
- 12.1inch Gorilla Glass screen
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit)
- 2 megapixel front-facing camera
- Stylus
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB memory

Our first impressions:

1) My god it's big: that 12 inch screen makes it feel like someone ripped a monitor off a laptop.

2) It's also quite heavy: this isn't the sort of thing you could whip out of your coat pocket - it's quite thick (17mm) and heavy, and need cooler vents to make sure that power-hungry i5 chip is kept cool.

3) Battery life is so-so: with a quad core chip, a big bright screen and running normal Windows 7, this tablet eats battery power. It has a measly 2.5 hr battery life: not great next to the iPad's 9 hours, or the Transformer's 16 hours.

4) Windows 7 works fine with touch, but it is not an intuitive interface: Note that this is Windows 7 for PC, not Windows Mobile 7 - which has a lovely user interface. I'm a PC user so I'm used to those awkward browser windows - the menu options etc, but compared to the Android and Apple's iOS, it's fiddly and frustrating.

5) Powerful: to the positives - it really is quick. Windows burst open immediately, tools like paint are lightening quick. It's like a desktop computer just with a touch screen. I imagine video editing and other memory intensive tasks would be a speedy pleasure.

6) Surprisingly great for graphics and visual work: With the stylus, huge screen and powerful chip, the Eee Slate is actually going to be good for graphics - architects etc. I had this down as businessman's tablet, but it could be a powerful tool for the creative industries.

7) Contains the kitchen sink: Asus get one over on Apple here - this has 2 USB ports, a mini HDMI port, a headphones port, Flash of course, and will be compatible and shareable with your PC at home and at work.

For more more pictures click through the gallery below...

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