Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#LDNTwestival 2011: an evening of social fun for charity

Last Thursday we attended the #LDNTwestival the London event that forms part of Twestival, a single day consisting of a global movement which uses social media to organise local community events in support of a local cause or charity. A list of official events can be found here.

This year's #LDNTwestival was held at The Cape in the City of London and supports the Centrepoint charity. Centrepoint's main mission is to tackle homelessness among young people. The event was organised by volunteers and 100% of the money raised from ticket and raffle sales went to Centrepoint. The total amount raised was US$8,969.84 as of 30 March 2011.

Some of the raffle prices were pretty cool. Included were three months of burritos by Chilango, a vintage vodka, Nintendo Wii, Soda Stream, a Financial Times subscription and ten limited edition Angry Birds slingshot toys courtesy of #LeStudio52. We bought £10 worth of raffle tickets, but alas didn't win anything. Still all the monies goes directly to Centrepoint, so it wasn't a lost cause.

Funniest moment of the evening was when Nick of The Average Gamer won an Angry Bird. We joked about how those who already had the birds would probably win one, and Nick did! Lucky Voice were there organising karaoke. Check out the fabulous Heather Taylor rocking it out in this photo set of the evening by yours truly.

SPB Shell 3D for Android review

SPB Mobile Shell is one of the essential applications I have on my Nokia N8, and previously on my older Windows Mobile phones. It is a replacement application launcher that works not only quicker and better than Nokia's default homescreen, but also in a way that makes the device much more pleasant to use. So when SPB asked if I wanted to try out the beta for SPB Shell 3D for Android, I seized the chance. It is difficult to get excited about applications these days, more so mobile applications, but I truly had high hopes for SPB.

Those familiar with how the homescreen of Android works will immediately feel at home with SPB Shell 3D. Like the default Android homescreen and other third party solutions, SPB Shell 3D supports widgets, including default Android widgets as well as third party widgets. With so many launchers on the Android Marketplace, SPB has plenty of competitions to think about. With the SPB Shell 3D, they aimed to differentiate from their competitors with three features: 3D elements, folders and unique widgets.

SPB dubs the 3D elements as SPB Carousel and it definitely has a wow factor to it. It is an extension to the 3D carousel on older version of Mobile Shell, but with further effects and interactivity. I have my own reservation on how useful the carousel is for everyday use. However I do find it useful for managing layers. You can install up to sixteen layers here, though I can't think of any reasons why anyone would want to. The 3D effect is also present within the homescreen, but in a more subtle way. Unfortunately unlike in SPB Mobile Shell, there is no way to turn off the 3D carousel view and switch to tiles.

The widgets that are bundled with SPB Shell 3D are cleverly designed and supports additional features like 3D mode and animations. Widgets here have two states, for example the World Time widget looks like any regular widget in 2D, but tapping it will bring up the 3D widget with a nicely animated globe. Not all the widgets are available in 3D. Some of the widgets are actually full size panels that can be removed completely. Curiously SPB has also included some resizeable widgets that are basically smaller version of these large panels. Standard Android and third party widgets and short cuts are also supported.

One innovative feature that is present in SPB Shell 3D that isn't present on the default Android homescreen is the implementation of folders. The folders here are a bit different compared to the regular folders you find on the iOS or Symbian. You can have a compact folder like on the iPhone, or one that opens up partially, with three or seven applications always directly accessible from the homescreen. Tapping the folder icon will open the folder fully. It's a handsome way of expanding the concept of folders in general, as well as proving that folders can work rather well on a homescreen. In fact some of the widgets (for example the icon-sized weather widget) can even be put into the folder.

Performance wise, SPB Shell 3D works extremely well on the Milestone 2. I have had performance issue with the Milestone 2's MOTOBLUR homescreen and third party launchers like Launcher Pro, but not with SPB Shell 3D. Still a little stuttering is expected on the carousel screen. While I am impressed by how much optimisation SPB has made into ensuring a smooth user experience, I am not surprised. Previous experience with their other mobile applications has always given me confidence that they were able to deliver here.

I've not noticed any major battery drain since installing SPB Shell 3D, but did contain a severe bug that wouldn't allow me to operate the device until I performed a reset. It also has a bug relating to the Motorola Milestone 2 and how whenever I open the keyboard, the bottom half of the display turns into black. I have only encountered the major freeze once, and considering that the version I have is a beta, it seems quite stable. I do hope SPB will fix the bug with the release version.

As a user of their previous SPB Mobile Shell applications, I found SPB Shell 3D to be a huge step forward. New users may find themselves overwhelmed with the number of features available and settings available. There are a couple of features I wish SPB will eventually port from Mobile Shell 3.5 to Shell 3D like the ability to pin short cuts in the launcher and the more comprehensive contact management system.

SPB Shell 3D supports Android 2.1 smartphones with OpenGL ES 2.0 graphic accelerator and is available from today for US$ 14.95. It does not support Android tablets yet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Ace review

Three UK has published my guest review of the Galaxy Ace, a mid-range Android smartphone by Samsung. You can find the review here.

I found it tough to write a review from a perspective of a none-geek user, but it was a good challenge. If you have any questions about the phone that I did not answer in the review, ask away. I still have it for a couple more days at least.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

KILLZONE 3 review

Remember the original Killzone on PlayStation 2, the game that was hyped up by the gaming-press, as a Halo-killer? Well upon released it was quickly put in its place. Killzone 2 was similarly hyped, this time by Sony with the infamous target-render E3 video, but at least the game delivered. Gamers and critics loved it with equal measure. Can Guerrilla continue the momentum they started with Killzone 2?

As a review that focuses extensively on the single player campaign of Killzone 3, I will be forced to focus on the story. Story hasn't been the strongest point of developers of first person shooter games. Well with the help of Wikipedia, I am caught up with the world of Killzone and how the Helghan forces were wronged by the ISA at first, then decided to get revenge by invading a planet that was rightfully theirs only to be repelled and invaded by the ISA. Killzone 3 is a continuation of the story left from Killzone 2.

Killzone 3 has flying pests this time round
You play a character called Sev who bears much resemblance to a typical clichéd version of a video gaming marine, with a ridiculous haircut. This Sev person is accompanied by his marine grunt called Rico who swears a lot like a kid who just learnt cussing. Sev and Rico are kinda interchangeable in that both talks tough and prefer to shoot first ask questions later. Both are on the side of the ISA. While you control Sev during the entire campaign, Rico is almost always by your side if only to give you the medical help you sometimes need. Perhaps rather worryingly and annoyingly, you can't kill Rico off permanently, though you can injure him enough so he would not interfere.

Killzone 3's storyline is only there to serve the gameplay. The story is plain ridiculous and character development almost none existent. Despite six hours of pretty average story telling, the developers has even managed to reward the player with an abrupt and most unsatisfactory ending. Even the voice acting is bad, though perhaps this is also the fault of such an average script. Killzone 3 is one of those video games that makes me think why some developers even bother trying to tell a story. If developers like Valve and Naughty Dog (yeah, I know they don't make FPS games) can mix good stories with good gameplay, why can't Guerrilla?

Swap assault rifles for a rampaging mech? Don't mind if I do
As a friend of mine said, first person shooters aren't about the story. I disagree - I think they can have a good story - it's just that most mainstream gamers do not expect them any more. But moving on from story, has Killzone 3 changed my mind about console FPS gaming in terms of gameplay? Yes indeed it has. Controls were fluid, aiming was simple and while they were moments of inaccuracy, for much of the game I felt in total control. The only issue I have is the cover system, which isn't at all helpful. The game also supports Six Axis motion controller, but fortunately are only limited to a very small portion of unnecessary gameplay. Sony's PlayStation Move controller is also supported, but I've no such peripheral to test the game with.

There are plenty of weapon to choose from. You can only carry three weapons, a pistol, rifle and some special really awesome big ones like the WASPS rocket launcher which secondary fire can destroy tanks, or if you want to, bombard a large group a Helghast enemies together. Each weapon is as satisfying to fire as the next. My highlight is probably the bolt gun. Hit an enemy with one and they fly away and get stuck to a wall, blood splattered all around the body. Killzone 3 is an incredibly violent and visceral game. The brutal melee system in particular provides the player with a gruesome detail on how to kill an enemy combatant.

There is plenty of satisfaction in firing a WASPS rocket launcher
I found the A.I. of the enemies to be impressive. They hide whenever they spot you. If you do not time your grenade throw properly, they will scatter away to safety. During gun battles, they will attempt to sneak up behind you if there is a route, or flee to a better cover spot. Shoot that cover spot away and they will find another one. Your war buddies are equally clever, though they sometimes charge up at enemies without thinking ahead. However for most of the campaign they hold back, take cover measure and will even attempt to revive you if there is a chance. Some NCPs can not be killed, but you can always delay reviving them especially if you decide they are getting in the way rather than helping.

Despite the mediocre storyline, it keeps the pacing well in checked. Levels are divided into chapters with a suitable variety of locations to keep the average gamer interested. You get to play as a gunner of a tank, hover ship and space fighter (all on-rails); and control Exos, a mech exoskeleton. In one level Sev also gets hold of a Helghast jetpack. While the jetpack created some interesting set pieces, it was slow and I was glad to be rid of it. The jetpack is also available in a multiplayer map. There are no boss levels in Killzone 3, apart from perhaps the one with the gigantic MAWR. In one level the gameplay pace changes to that of stealth, though there is no stopping you if you wish to charge in.

Environment is stunningly detailed
Visually Killzone 3 is easily one of the most stunning games I've played on the PS3. Despite the environmental effect, hundreds of bullets wheezing by and explosions, the game hardly stutters. Frame rate is consistent apart from the few odd moments. Locations from nuclear wasteland, to the arctic landscape and alien jungle were all beautifully rendered. Cover areas can be shot at and thus exposed, and the tiles and plasters on pillars stripped away but as a whole Killzone 3 does not feature destructible environment. Despite the attention to detail, there is hardly any time admire the fantastic artwork when shooting at wave and wave of enemy troops.

Killzone 3's multiplayer support includes local splitscreen co-op (which I was unable to test) and typical traditional multiplayer components. These includes Guerilla Warfare (classic team death match), Warzone (objective based such as capture, search and assassination) and Operations (defend and assault). Players can choose from five classes: Engineer, Tactician, Infiltrator , Marksman and Field Medic, all of which have their own abilities. For example Medics can treat team members who are close to death while Engineers will come in handy in repairing broken turrets. Infiltrators on the other hand has the ability to disguise themselves as so on. You get to unlock new weapons for the class of your choice using skill points earned while fighting in the said class.

I've not played a game with such intensity and epicness as Killzone 3 in a long time. If you are a first person shooter fan and is willing to excuse the forgettable plot, this may just be the game for you. With local co-op and extensive multiplayer component, Killzone 3 represents great value for those looking for pure action and fun.

7/10 (single player score) 8/10 (overall)

Killzone 3 is available now for PlayStation 3. Buy it from Amazon UK or and you will be supporting this blog.

Thanks to Sony Computers Entertainment Europe for providing us with a copy of Killzone 3

Amazon Appstore & Rovio Mobile fail

Amazon today launched their Android Appstore, giving away a free copy of Rovio's latest Angry Birds: Rio game to customers for the first 24 hours. But unfortunately for Android users elsewhere, Amazon has geographical restrictions in place meaning the Appstore would not work for anyone outside the US. Not only that, within less than an hour after launching, Amazon yanked the Appstore and the promotional landing page for Angry Birds: Rio.

This isn't the first launch failure of an Angry Birds game by Rovio Mobile. The original Angry Birds was launched on Getjar who were unable to anticipate the demand on its servers.

So the question for Rovio Mobile is, with a high profile new game to launch, why did they decide to stick the game on an unproven application store when Android Market, available on almost all Android phones, works just fine?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Win a Xperia PLAY with Three UK

Read my preview of the Xperia PLAY? Still interested? Well the great people from Three UK has informed me that on Wednesday 23 March, they will be giving people a chance to win it. The challenge is simple: consumers will have to crack a lock and key combination in order to get their hands on the phone. 30 padlocks and 900 possible key variations will stand between the public and the Xperia PLAY.

In order to enter you need to join twitter, and tweet the hashtag #WinThreeXperiaPLAY followed by the key and padlock combination you think will unlock it. The lovely Sedge will then attempt to unlock it live on video. Correctly guess and you will win the phone with a Pay As You Go sim card preloaded with All You Can Eat data. You will also get to attend the Xperia PLAY launch party in London and rub shoulders with people like me! Yes, I will be there. :)

For more information including the terms and conditions, please visit their blog here.

Also thanks to Three, I will also be holding a competition here soon. The prize? A Three MiFi v2 with one year's worth of 12GB data. So keep your eyes peeled.

Friday, March 18, 2011

PopCap to donate revenues of iOS games to Japan relief

PopCap will be discounting their entire range of iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) games this weekend, with all revenues going to the Red Cross Japan relief fund. This includes their hit games Bejewelled, Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle, among many others.
Partnering with the Red Cross, PopCap will donate all of its revenues from the sale, which begins Saturday, March 19 at 12:01 a.m. PDT and ends at midnight PDT on Sunday, March 20. The price of each iPhone and iPod touch title is reduced to US99 cents during that time, while the iPad adaptations are reduced to US$1.99. Consumers can purchase the games via the Apple App Store or by going to
Source: PopCap

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SPB Time for iPhone review

SPB Software has been a big player in the mobile app world as far as I can remember. I frequently use their apps back when they were developing apps on the Pocket PC platform. Seeing as Windows Mobile is now dead, they have been porting most of their popular applications to other modern platforms like Android, Symbian and iOS.

Apart form a handful of games, there hasn't been many iOS apps yet by SPB. SPB Time is their second business app for the iPhone/iPod Touch. A clock application isn't the most glamorous of apps, but I was curious to see if SPB has done a good job porting it to the iOS platform. For most parts, SPB Time is similar to the ones already released on other platforms with very minor differences, so this review is more or less applicable for all versions of SPB Time on all platforms, including the recently released Symbian version and the original Pocket PC release.

With SPB Time, SPB aims to provide smartphone users with an alternative clock application. What's so interesting about a clock app I hear you ask? After all every smartphone, or even bog standard phone comes with a clock.

Well, SPB Time is an advance skinnable time application with a number of useful features. The features included with SPB Time are extensive. You get both analog and digital clock modes, world clock, a stopwatch, countdown timers, alarms and a calendar for moon phases. All these features are accessible via the aforementioned pull up menu.

If you find the standard clock too simple or boring for your taste - you can download one of the many additional skins available for it. Skins are easily accessible from the pull up menu. While I personally do not care about the type of clock shown, people who uses their smartphones as a replacement desk clock (with cradle) will find this useful and neat.

World Time not only allows you to see the current time in cities around the world, but also view useful infos like which timezones they are on and whether there are any daylight savings (and if there are, when does it end/begins). It also gives you the times for sunrise and sunset on that particular day.

I won't dwell on how the stopwatch and countdown timers work. But if you must know, both tools works just as they should and are fitted with nice big buttons. The Moon Calendar is also simple, giving users a clear view of the current moon phase and all the significant lunar phases, including any future partial or full solar eclipses - a feature that some will probably do find handy.

There are three alarm systems in SPB Time. First, the aptly named Classic Alarm which allows you to choose the sound and volume, alongside the date and time. If you have ever used any alarm system on a phone, this should be a walk in the park. The next one is called Paranoid Alarm which would not stop buzzing you until you solve a puzzle. Finally, the Bio Alarm aims to gently wake you up slowly in a more gentle and less-rude method, starting with ticks, then the sound of birds or water and finally ending with the proper alarm. All three alarm modes are accessible from the main clock.

SPB Time is a well made clock application. Most of the features here can be replicated using various freeware applications; but for only US$1.99 on the App Store, it is worth it if only for the convenience of having all these tools package in a well executed app.

Happy St Paddy's Day! Drink up!

St Patrick's Day may be a religious event, but that doesn't stop people from having fun. It is also an excuse for us to have another pint of Guinness stout. So drink up!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

BBC Radio 3: Big Red Nose Show with Largest Kazoo Ensemble

Audience at yesterday's BBC Radio 3 Red Nose Show at the Royal Albery Hall has set a new world record for 'Largest Kazoo Ensemble'. The record involved 3910 audiences taking part, 49 more than the previous record set in Sydney back in 2009. Me and @hardij were there when the record, played over Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and the Dambusters March, was broken. The chaotic video below was recorded via my N8, so please excuse the blurriness. Add that to YouTube compression, and it isn't the most stunning video but at least you get the idea.

The event will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Friday 18 March 2011 at 7pm, as part of Red Nose Day telethon for the Comic Relief charity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Charbonize Macbook Air sleeve review

As you know I recently invested in the new 13" Macbook Air. The gorgeous notebook demands and deserves the best sort of protection, so I set out to look for the right case for it, one that is simple, unique but also chic.

After a week of searching, a mate of mine suggested to check out for unique individualistic cases. There are plenty of cases to choose from on, most of which were unique and handmade. But I had my eyes fixed on a stunning wool felt and leather case by Charbonize. Three weeks after ordering, it was delivered. The finished product was exactly as it was described on the website.

This case was tailor made for the Macbook Air using grey wool felt with white leather buttoned flap. There is also a choice to personalise it further by adding your name to the small embroidered wool tag on the side of the case. It is breathtakingly gorgeous and manufactured with great attention to detail. The seller is also extremely helpful and friendly. Thank you so much Charbonize, I will definitely to checkout other products by them!

Here are some pictures of the beautiful 13" Macbook Air sleeve case by Charbonize.

This review is by guest author @hardij

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nokia N8 ad with new status bar and portrait Swype spotted

Well well well, what do we have here? What at first looked like an innocent advertisement for the Nokia N8 on Yahoo!, actually provided us with a sneak peak on some UI changes that will likely début with firmware PR 2.0 or PR 3.0. The image was tweaked to fit onto Yahoo!'s square ad format, but there is little mistaking what it shows.

First up, the ad featured Swype portrait QWERTY keyboard. This was always known to be coming, so it isn't anything new. The second is the new Symbian status bar. This is now slimmer than the original Symbian touch status bar which takes up more than double the space. It is not known if the new status bar will be available system wide or only within certain applications.

Hat tip to @macintosh for spotting this ad.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thank you!

Wow, this blog has been ranked 27 by Cision PR on their top 50 consumer technology blogs list in the UK. This surely ranks way up there in this blog's achievement (the other being linked by Nokia)!

I am pretty surprised by the recognition. When I started blogging in 2004, I did not know I would still be maintaining this blog eight years later. Through this blog, I've come to know many great people many who I'm become friends with, like Vysia from Unruly Media, who I met in 2005 in a small blogger's meetup.

Looking at the list, I feel honoured to be sharing them with some other people I know: Dan who writes for Coolsmartphone (4), Rafe from AllAboutSymbian (5) and the wonderful peeps from Three UK (50).

Special thanks to Jenni, my long term partner who has put up with me for far too long than she deserves. Also thanks to my friends on here and twitter, and last but not least you readers. Without you, this blog would not still exist!

Thanks to Mark for the heads up!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Three UK launches All You Can Eat data plan on Pay As You Go

Contract shy data addicts can finally rejoice! Three UK today is once again disrupting the mobile network industry by launching an 'All You Can Eat' data plan for Pay As You Go customers for £15. Whilst other UK network operators are cutting back on data allowances, the people at Three has decided to buck the trend again. In an age of smartphones and so-called 'superphones', Three are the only UK operator who seems to want to provide customers with the ability to use the smartphones as intended by the manufacturers.

The new data plan will be available as two add-ons: All in One 15 and All in One 25, and will be available to new customers. Older customers will be able to access the new add-ons after migrating onto the current tariff. All in One 15 will cost £15 and comes with 30-day access to unlimited data, 300 any network minutes and 3000 texts. On the other hand All in One 25 will offer 500 any network minutes, 3000 texts as well as 30-day access to unlimited data for £25. I should add that tethering is not supported with either All in One plan. Tethering is only available with Three's The One Plan.

There are fears that Three's network would not be able to cope with the increase in bandwidth demands. but Three's Sales and Marketing Director, Marc Allera, has stressed that their network was built for data, which is why they can introduce deals like this. With All You Can Eat data, users can now use their phones freely without fear of stepping over some threshold and incurring additional credit charge.

To celebrate the launch of this new offer, Three has informed me that they will be running a competition over the coming month to show the value of the deal, with prizes including a 30-day first class rail travel pass to Europe for two. Other prizes includes a smartphone along with a year's free All You Can Eat data and a huge amount of free calls and texts each month will also be up for grabs. To enter all you need is to head over here.

This blog will also be giving away something courtesy of Three UK in the coming weeks. Watch this space. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

WhatsApp review

Two days ago I wrote about how I paid £20 for six months of Pay As You Go mobile internet, and how I thought there are little reason in needing voice and text bundles. These days most of my communications are text based, with voice calls made mainly through Skype or a land line phone (we do need them for our broadband).

So what do I use as a SMS replacement. Normally I use direct messages via twitter, but not everyone is on twitter, particularly my friends in Asia. For those who aren't, I use WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a cheap instant messaging client not too dissimilar to RIM's BlackBerry Messenger service - only this allows for cross platform conversations. Because WhatsApp uses your data connection, it is also cheaper - particularly if you send a lot of international texts. The only issue is your friends will have to use WhatsApp as well, but this applies to all instant messaging client.

Feature wise, WhatsApp is limited to text messaging with no option for voice calling. WhatsApp's main advantage over competing instant messaging clients is it automatically scans your phone book and presents a list of contacts (including profile pictures) who are also using WhatsApp into the Favourite category. Obviously this doesn't mean you can merrily contact anyone on that list. They have to have you listed on their phone book as well before they can see you.

Starting a new chat is easy. Simply click on a contact's name and start typing in the input box. Chats are presented with a threaded view, and is far quicker than the default Nokia's Conversation application (what isn't?). You can also send images, videos, audio notes and your current location. Unfortunately I have not found a way to cancel an upload short of closing the application.

Anyway, within the chat area, you will also be able to see whether the contact is currently online, and here lies the biggest issue with WhatsApp: unlike text messages, a text can't be pushed towards the contact if he or she isn't online. Early versions of WhatsApp for Symbian has proven to be a battery hog, but I've had no batteries issues with the latest version.

Quirks aside, WhatsApp is a cheap way of getting people off an expensive text messaging plan. It is currently available for a one year free service for those on Symbian and Android, after that it only costs US$1.99 a year to subscribe to the service.

Whatsapp is available for iOS, Symbian, Android and Blackberry platforms.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Killzone 3 Ultimate Recruit

Killzone 3 was released in the UK last week. The PS3 exclusive game, developed internally by Gureilla, has been gathering rave reviews. I've played the demo, and if you are a PS3 gamer I am sure you have. Based on the demo, I honestly believe this may be the most polished console first person shooter game out there - and I don't normally play console FPS games.

In any case, as part of Sony Computer Entertainment's grand Killzone 3 launch, they have opened a competition called the Killzone 3 Ultimate Recruit. Those who pass the Ultimate Recruit Training Program are being given the chance to fire a real life Helghast weapon over a live range remotely and win a couple of cool prices.

For a chance to take part to shoot the real Helghast weapon, you will need head there and sign up, then complete all the training missions. The first 500 to do so will earn the right to remotely control the weapon. Be the highest scoring recruit and you will win a paid trip this this year's E3 in LA!

I've bagged a pass to fire one of this bad ass weapon, and will report here once I am done.

Cheap data for your smartphone

This morning I paid £20 for another six months of Pay As You Go mobile internet. In the age of Twitter, Whatsapp, email and Facebook, I see little reason in needing voice and text bundles. I only occasionally top up to send a couple of texts. Granted it is on T-Mobile UK, the network that pissed over their customer base last month, but I can't complain with the price. And with Orange roaming enabled, they are still the best 2G network in terms of coverage.

There is one big catch. First while supporting HSDPA, T-Mobile speeds are capped at 250 Kbps on Pay As You Go, which is barely even EDGE speed. I've complained to a T-Mobile engineer about this, but there was nothing he can do apart from the go contract advice. Still, despite the 500 MB limit, it is fine for Twitter, email, Facebook and browsing via Opera, and you only pay an average of £3.33 a month for data. Besides I have a Three MiFi that I top up during times when I do need the bandwidth.

All I need to stay connected

If you do need voice and text bundles and do not mind going contract, Three UK's SIM 300 tariff on a 12 month contract is a good deal. For £10 a month you get 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 1 GB of internet. If the 12 month contract puts you off (like it does me), the SIM 100 rolling contract offers a bit less (100 minutes, same amount of data and texts) for £10 a month.

Three does (did?) have a £5 a month SIM only contract purely for mobile internet users, including 5000 minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls. Unfortunately the deal is buried deep on their site (if it is still there). I do know the tariff existed in some form, but you may need to ask one of their sales store as I can't find it on their site.

Obviously if you are a big data user like some of my twitter friends are (who regularly use 1 GB a day!) you can always go all you can eat with Three's The One Plan. £25 a month for 12 months, gets you unlimited data goodness to consume. And unlike most networks, tethering is allowed.