Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s

A new year, a new laptop. Well three years that is. After six years of using ThinkPad X-series ultraportable, yesterday I bought my first ever T-series ThinkPad, the T420s. The deal was just too good to pass up on. For £650, I got an almost-new T420s that would normally cost £1202 from Lenovo direct. It was originally sold for £1614 in this configuration. And as expected, it comes with standard three-year transferable warranty (got to love business-class warranties!).

The T420s retains the same beloved ThinkPad design that has graced all its predecessor. Much like a Porsche 911, the design is tweaked subtly with each new model, but always retain the same design language that makes it instantly recognisable: that is the rectangular boxy black bento-inspired shapre that every ThinkPad fan likes about it. It is understated, classy and does not shout 'look at me'. The T420s is all about function, before form and yet the classic design means that it will never age. My only complaint about the T420s, design wise, is it isn't quite as beautiful to look at as the X220-series.

It isn't all just looks though. Hiding underneath all that black is a series of rollcage made of hybrid carbon fibre reinforced plastic, designed to reduce flex on both the internal motherboard as well as the LCD display. This design keeps the weight down (my T420s weighs a feather light 1.7kg) while also retains the robustness that has always been known in a T-series ThinkPad.While I am not one to test the durability of a new laptop, my previous experience with other ThinkPad notebooks gives me confidence that the T420s is similarly well built and is able to withstand a couple of rough knocks. The lid is covered in matte rubber - none of that glossy nonsense that came with the Edge-series.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Note unboxing

Here it is, the next step in excessive smartphone display size: The Samsung Galaxy Note. After getting used to the 4.7" display on the HTC Sensation XL, Samsung threw up out of my comfort zone by sending me this unit. Is it a small tablet or a giant smartphone? Can I ever enjoy using one on a daily basis? Well, do return and find out in a few weeks once I have put it through its paces. In the mean time enjoy the unboxing here:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HTC Sensation XL review

Display sizes in smartphones has been growing out of control lately. What were once too large just two years ago are now normal. There comes a point when someone must say enough is enough. Samsung proved with the Galaxy S II, people wanted phones with 4.3" displays, and they were right. But was HTC right to further increase this with the Sensation XL? The 4.7" display here is massive, and that is before considering the Samsung Galaxy Note's rather outrageous 5.3" display.

Still I expect devices like the Sensation XL to find a nice niche among people who requires a display this size. After all having used the Galaxy S II for six months myself, it took some getting used to with the XL. But first let's have a look at what's underneath this beast.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eleven tech gifts to get this Crimbo

Are you the sort of person who has ever wondered what sort of tech products to get as gifts this Christmas for those demanding something a bit different, a bit luxurious in fact? Well I've got you sorted. Check out my guide to premium tech-related gifts to get this holiday season, only at Luxury Logistics.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nokia Lumia 800 'Batphone' Dark Knight Rises unboxing and gallery

The Nokia Lumia 800 is one of the most beautiful phone ever made. There really is nothing quite like it on the market. Well, except for the Nokia N9, but nevermind about that for now. Is there anything more beautiful than the Lumia 800? There is.

It's a Lumia 800 that has a Batman emblem laser etched to the back.
And it is a beauty.

In addition to the rather awesome Bat emblem, the Batphone has also configured to receive updates on the latest news on the Dark Knight Rises film. Here's a quick unboxing of Bruce Wayne's Batphone I did at Nokia's office in Soho, London:

And of course some more pictures of the Dark Knight Rises Lumia 800 for your viewing pleasure:

Lumia 800 Batphone box
Not for sale, ever
The Batman emblem
Lumia 800 Dark Knight Rises laser-etched Batman emblem
Lumia 800 Batphone vs none-Batphone
Nokia Lumia 800 Batphone

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises: Prologue and Nokia Lumia 800 Batphone

Today I attended the press screening of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises at BFI IMAX in Waterloo, London. The theater is full with what appears to be proper film reviewers, as they (and I qualified this past Jay Montano, who was sitting next to me) look better than us.

After a brief scene where we see Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) speaking during the funeral of Harvey Dent, we were immediately thrusted into an airplane actions sequence somewhere over Europe. The next minutes scene involves hostages being interrogated by a bunch of military looking goons, followed by a bat-shit insane action sequence.

Here we were introduced to the new villain, (within the Nolan's Batman film franchise anyway) Bane (played by Tom Hardy) where he and his bands of mercenaries hijack the airplane in a daring airplane to airplane action sequence of what I can only describe as Inception-like. The sequence was played out to great effects, and thanks to the vertically larger IMAX format, offers viewers a more vertigo experience of the entire hijacking.

My only issue is with Bane's voice. I, and my fellow audiences, did not understand a squat of whatever he was spouting, no thanks to his breathing mask. I can only hope that the final film will fix this flaw in dialogue. Despite this, it did nothing to hamper my enthusiasm for the film.

The final minute of the film was a teaser trailer where we see Anne Hathaway brief appearance as Catwoman, what appears to be an exploding Batmobile flipping over etc.

Nokia and Warner Bros has produced 40 limited edition The Dark Knight Rises Lumia 800 phones to tie in with the film. These phones are strictly promo only and will never go on sale, so any moanings about Nokia making yet another edition of the same phone to sell are already invalid. I collected the Batphone at the Nokia Lumia Experience House in Soho, a neat pop up office that any mobile tech journalist in London should attempt to visit once.

Still, the laser etching of the Batman emblem on the back of the phone is tastefully done. While it won't make the phone better, seriously, who gives a shit when you have Batman laser etched to your fickin phone?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

o2's iPhone 4S lease rip-off

Can't afford an iPhone 4S? Well o2 has you covered with a new lease an iPhone 4S scheme. Or so they hope you think they do. The UK carrier now offer the 16GB iPhone 4S on a 12-month lease for £55 per month - that is £660 a year. And after a year? Well you return the iPhone and have nothing to show for.

Considering you can *own* a brand new sim-free Apple iPhone 4S 16GB for £500, it sounds like o2 is taking bollocks to a dizzying new height.

For the purpose of this comparison, I estimate that you can sell a used in good condition (the condition o2 wants the phone back after the lease is over) 4S 16GB for £300, conservatively. After all used iPhone 16GB regularly sells for around £400 today, only £100 less than they were a year ago!

Okay, so the lease also includes 750 minutes per month (an offer, the normal tariff is 600 minutes per month), unlimited texts and 500MB of data. Even then it doesn't sound like it is of any value. And here's why.

First let's look at some of o2's competitors, starting with the fabulous Three UK network. With their £15 a month PAYG ACYE booster, you get less minutes (300), and less texts (3000 - which is more than enough for many) and *unlimited data*. That's about £180 a year. Add the price of a new unlocked 4S, the total cost would be £680 - just £20 more - and you get to keep the phone! So in effect you are saving £280 by buying a sim-free iPhone 4S and Three UK PAYG sim plan separately compared to leasing it via O2. How about that O2? Your leasing option doesn't sound like a bargain now, does it?

This, my good people, is the cheapest way of owning an unlocked iPhone 4S with a tariff that allows you to phone people. You could even go cheaper if you select Three's SIM Only PAY+12 (12GB of data valid for a year) for a bargain £70.49, assuming you are willing to forgo the backward technologies that are GSM voice and SMS texts. Services like WhatsApp, Skype, Tango, iMessage and FaceTime will have you covered. But this isn't a fair comparison so I will let it slide.

Moving on to Vodafone. Well the network offers a sim-only 12 month rolling contract, and for £26 a month, you get 900 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB data a month. Total damage: £312 + £500 = £812. Deducting the cost of the phone should you sell it (£300), that's like £148 in savings in comparison to o2's lease tariff. You could get an iPhone 4S 32GB version and still save money to spend on bucket loads of apps, and then some.

Now we look at o2 themselves. Being fair, I will select one of their stupidly priced sim-only plan, this time from their 12- month Simplicity tariff. For £27 a month, you get 900 minutes, 500MB data and unlimited texts. That totals to a mind-boggling £324, slightly higher than what you will pay on Vodafone, Three UK and even GiffGaff, a network o2 owns. Add the cost of a new 4S you have to pay £824. Ah, but don't forget you actually own the phone itself and even if you sell the 4S for £200 less the price you paid, you are saving £136. £136 less than what o2 charges for this retarded leasing service, and you get more minutes!

Last but not least, let's have a good look at GiffGaff, a virtual network owned by o2 themselves. For £20 a month, you get 800 minutes (more than o2's lease), truly unlimited texts and truly *unlimited data* (also more than o2), as well as unlimited calls, texts and video calls to other GiffGaff customers. Wow. You would be a mug to have gone for o2's own Simplicity tariff after reading that. Sell your iPhone after year and you are looking at a saving of £220 - on a tariff that is actually better than o2's offering.

Ah, but I hear you say that the o2 lease also includes insurance. I am sorry but dedicated mobile phone insurance are for fools. Your home content insurance will cover this for less! And don't forget the insurance insures the iPhone for theft/loss, on o2's behalf. Damage the phone and o2 will still bill you for it! The costs are detailed below on this site.

It is worth noting that o2's lease does include unlimited WiFi use. The competiting tariffs here does not include any sort of WiFi use, bar Vodafone (750MB limit on BT OpenZone). But remember that the Three UK's ACYE add-on and GiffGaff offers truly *unlimited data*. Who needs WiFi? In any case, remember that most cafes and restaurants are now opening up their WiFi networks for free.

Remember the best thing about owning your own sim-free phone is you can sell it if you want. Especially when you realised half way through your contract that the 4S doesn't rock your boat and you wished you went for something else instead. As for o2, researching for this blog post only proved I made the right decision when I decided to leave this miserable network three years ago.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango review - the good, the bad and the ugly

It has been more than a month since I switched to using the Lumia 800 as my main smartphone. Coming from using Android exclusively for six months, there are obvious drawbacks with Windows Phone 7.5, but these are few and does not stop me from enjoying the OS. Unlike pre-Mango WP7, WP7.5 does not make me want to hurl the phone with frustration for one, and after getting over the initial teething period - I now love it.

Windows Phone 7 was designed with consumers, not geeks, in mind hence the lack of certain features we geeks take for granted. Nothing wrong with that, but if Microsoft wants to win the smartphone OS war, they need to also pander to the geeks. After all geeks rule the earth, or so that is the common saying here. Part of the problem with Windows Phone 7 is still the lack of apps, but that is changing. Everyday I keep seeing new quality apps get added. It even hosts the best Foursquare mobile client on *any* platform.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Motorola DEFY+ abused and reviewed

The original Motorola DEFY was one of the most exciting phones from last year, not because of the specs (it was slow), but because it was the first competent rugged smartphone that doesn't look like a rugged phone. With the Motorola DEFY+ (Plus), Motorola has beefed up the specs slightly, whilst retaining the same rugged IP67-certified design that we've all come to love. It now ships with Android Gingerbread, a single core 1GHz TI OMAP processor and 512MB of RAM. The specs may not excite you, but the water resistant level certainly will. The DEFY+ is rated to be able to survive up to 30 minutes underwater at a depth of up to 1 meter.

Check out my review of the DEFY+ on FoneArena, but not before watching the video above of me quite literally abusing the heck out of the phone. Enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Official Nokia SP-NOK01 screen protector for Lumia 800 review

As you can probably tell, I love the new Nokia Lumia 800. So much, that I have been using it as my main phone for exactly a month now. Confident that it can serve as my daily driver for the next few months, I have even decided to invest in accessories for it. The Lumia 800 may be a great phone, but Nokia has not released the usual quality accessories that we should expect to accompany a great phone. Read on to find out why.