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Z3_Interchangeable_21_w240.jpgAdmittedly it's not usually that easy to get excited about stands, but trust me this one - dubbed the All New Z3 - is pretty good. It comes from a company with the unfortunate name of RAT Stands who are probably best known for their high end music stands (they supply Abbey Road Music Studios).

I tested their last iPad stand (the Z3) and loved it so much I didn't want to give it back. You could adjust the height of the stand, fold it up flat and it was super sturdy. My only complaints were that it was quite expensive and it was a little tricky to angle for viewing.

Anyway, they've now come up with a new model which, at £132, is actually a little cheaper than the last model (though without compromising build quality at all) and a new locking mechanism which means that the iPad is held firmly on to the stand (it is compatible with all versions). Best of all is that it now offers 360 degree rotation and tilt. Bingo!

You can see RAT Stands' Marketing Manager David Crawford demonstrating the latest Z3 stand in the YouTube video below:

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Finlux Direct.jpgBack in the 1990s Finlux was a reasonably big brand owned by Nokia. They made pretty interesting TVs, several boasting built in satellite receivers and the quality was generally very good. Now the brand is owned by Turkish company Vestel Group which, although isn't exactly a household name in the UK, is nevertheless a huge company in mainland Europe and one which has worked with all the big brands (Panasonic, JVC etc.).

Interestingly, Finlux have taken the decision to sell direct online, cutting out the retailer completely - hence the new name of Finlux Direct. And while this decision might not make them many friends in the retail industry, it could make them very popular with consumers because it enables them to keep prices down by cutting out the middle man.

At the Gadget Show Live at Birmingham's NEC , Finlux Direct is showing a raft of new products including several LED TVs with Smart features and 3D. In this YouTube video below, we are shown the 47inch model for £799. It looked pretty good, though picture quality wasn't the best at the show, probably because they didn't have the best quality source connected. Currently it comes with the BBC iPlayer but there are plans to add further catch up from ITV, Channel 4 etc. The TV is also available in 42inch and 55inch versions for £599 and £1299 respectively.

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84LM9600 Silver -G2.jpgLG is using Gadget Show Live 2013 to showcase what it claims is the first 4K gaming experience in the UK, displaying Codemasters' much anticipated GRID 2 racing game on its 84-inch LM960V TV.

Billed as the world's first ULTRA HD TV by LG, the manufacturer claims the set offers four times the resolution of existing Full HD TVs. Says Craig West, Head of Consumer Marketing for Home Entertainment:

"LG always strives to provide the most engaging, most innovative and most immersive user experience. We are incredibly proud of our 2013 line-up and are particularly excited to bring the first 4K gaming to UK consumers at The Gadget Show this year."

Adds Clive Moody, Senior Executive Producer for GRID 2 at Codemasters: "4K is an exciting evolution for gaming immersion and we're delighted to give players the chance to experience GRID 2 in ULTRA HD."

"Codemasters Racing has a long established reputation for producing racing games on the cutting edge of visual performance, so it made perfect sense for us to work with LG and its state of the art 84-inch ULTRA HD TV to really show what GRID 2 can do."

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Thumbnail image for Epishock1.jpgAccessories companies selling headphones and mini speakers seem to be everywhere at this year's Gadget Show, but the one that impressed me the most was probably American firm OrigAudio.

It was demonstrating a new range of personalised headphones, costing between £40 and £50. Either you can opt for one of their designs (the Union Jack design is particularly popular) or alternatively you can get a personalised cover for your headphones - apparently a photo of your dog or cat printed on your cans is one of the most popular (and sad) options.

OrigAudio also demonstrated a new pair of £35-£40 mini speakers called the Epishock which you can see demonstrated below. These are designed to stick on a window etc. to improve sound and though I'm never quite sure who uses them one thing's for sure the American guy demonstrating them was a billion times more enthusiastic about the product he was selling than any Brit I came across at the show. You can see him in action below:

And here is the video for OrigAudio's customisable headphones:
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samsung-sc770-sc750-monitors.jpgSamsung have done pretty well so far to keep this year's big CES plans under wraps. But now less than a week to go until the 2013 exhibition opens its doors, the tech giants have revealed two new high-end monitors set to debut at the show.

A pair of new Series 7 monitors, the top-tier SC770 Touch Monitor has been optimised for Windows 8, being the first Samsung desktop monitor to offer multitouch controls.

Offering ten points of simultaneous contact, the SC770 measures 24 inches corner to corner, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a contrast ratio of 5000:1. The SC770 will also house built-in speakers.

The second monitor, the SC750, lacks the multitouch controls, but shares the SC770's 1080p HD resolution and 5000:1 contrast ratio. Slightly larger at 27-inches, the SC750 also features a pivoting stand that lets the user swap between portrait and landscape screen orientations. Those looking to grab the SC750 will have to purchase their own speakers, as they do not come built in as they do with the SC770.

No pricing has been revealed for the two monitors yet, though Samsung have stated that each will be available during the first quarter of 2013. Both Series 7 monitors will also be on show at next week's CES 2013 exhibition.

Do you use a touchscreen monitor? Is it paired with Windows 8? Do you find it comfortable to use, and will you be considering grabbing one of these Samsung monitors when they become available? Let us know in the comments section below!

MWC 2010: Day 1 Round Up

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mwc day 1.jpgDay 1 of Mobile World Congress 2010 has come to a close. Here's the first of our daily round-ups of the event, which today includes the official unveiling of Windows Mobile 7 and a smattering of new Sony Ericsson handsets in the Xperia range.

Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro gets the full QWERTY treatment
Great for texters and tweeters, with 720p video recording to boot.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini credit-card sized smartphone revealed
Super-slick, and only bested by the X10 Mini pro and Samsung Wave for "wow" factor today

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini pro packs in a tiny QWERTY slider
One of the smallest QWERTY sliders we've ever seen

First bada handset revealed as the Samsung Wave
And mighty impressive it's Super AMOLED screen is too

Nokia and Intel team up for new MeeGo mobile OS
Open source OS is set to replace Maemo and Moblin

Microsoft press conference reveals WinMo 7
A drastic shake up for the PC giants mobile platform, and all the better for it

LG and Dolby bring 5.1 surround to smartphones
Lots of potential for making home cinema a more portable affair

Acer Liquid e smartphone announced
Sadly still running the Snapdragon processor at an underclocked 768MHz

Click here for more Tech Digest coverage from MWC 2010

CES 2010: Final Thoughts


las vegas sign.jpgThe Consumer Electronics show, the behemoth of tech, the Valhalla of gadgetry, has come and gone for yet another year. But this time, rather than arriving with a bang, it slinked into sight with something more like a whimper.

CES 2010 had really had the wind knocked out of it before it had even got into the ring this year. All eyes were already on Apple and their rumoured Tablet in the run up to the event, despite the fact that Apple are traditionally a no-show at CES, instead planning their own top-secret unveiling at the end of January. Likewise, Google delivered a sucker-punch in the shape of the Nexus One, their flagship handset revealed at their own event on the eve of CES 2010's opening.


To make matter's worse, Microsoft's opening keynote speech (delivered by walking personality drain Steve Ballmer) was pretty darn dull. First a power cut, then a load of waffle on the 2 month old Windows 7, Ballmer hardly seemed to be trying to keep our attention. Though the Christmas release date for Project Natal was welcome news, it revealed nothing new about the device, whilst the partnership with Hewlett Packard for the new Slate device seemed merely like a case of keeping-up with the Joneses. Or should that be the Jobs-es?

But the Las Vegas event wasn't without its highlights. Far from it in fact. Maybe it's the recession, or the generally pocket-pinching mood in the air these days, but for once the most sought after tech wasn't in the realms of dreamy aspiration, but was actually fairly affordable.

Take for instance the brand new 3D TVs on show, of which the Sony BRAVIA XBR-52HX900 (video above, courtesy of Ashley) was the pick of the litter. Finally shaping up to the standards set by its cinema siblings, company reps promised that the average 3D TV will cost little more than a top-end Full HD set. Skype and video calling in many TV sets too will help turn your living room into somewhere the Jetsons could only dream of.

E-readers are also looking to be both big and affordable in 2010. As a comic book fanatic I'd have liked to have seen more attempts at a colour screened e-reader (I'm not including the MSI offering, which is really just a dual-touch screened PC, super-cool as it is). Plastic Logic's Que Pro e-reader looked great though, with a massive, durable screen, and was far lighter than the hundreds of books you'd be able to store on the tabloid-sized device.

There were, of course, tablets aplenty. The dual-booting Viliv P3 may be an underdog in the category, but seemed way more exciting than Microsoft's offering. The offer of both Windows and Android on the same device showed a respect for user choice not often seen in the back-slapping world of consumer tech.

There was still time for fun too. The Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter was fun and fresh, combining real-world toys with augmented reality controls. A little less high-tech but full of retro-chic was the Lasonic i931 iPhone dock/ghetto blaster mash-up. Odd's on its at the top of Flava Flav's Christmas list. And there was still some time for the weird and the plain old dumb, too.

light touch.jpg

Though less prevalent than other years, there were some great examples of brand new tech on show that were genuinely exciting. A real head-turner and my favourite item of the show was the Light Blue Optic Light Touch. Using a pico projection engine and a touch sensitive sensor, it'll turn any flat surface into a touchscreen. It works ridiculously well despite still being in the development stages, and has almost unlimited potential.

Some detractors say that, recession or not, CES looks to be on its last legs. It's sad, but not unlikely, when you consider the audiences that companies like Apple and Google can command for just a single product launch. However, for emerging companies like Light Blue Optics CES is still vital to gain some exposure, not to mention the fact that such a prominent date in the calendar forces the tech giants to have made some significant, competitive advances in their gear, year-on-year.

So here's hoping the old dog's got a bit of life left in it yet. Hopefully next year will kick off the recessionary cobwebs and kick the show back into high-tech gear. It wouldn't take much to tempt us back to the City of Sin once more.

Click here for full CES 2010 pre-show, day one, day two and day three round-ups.

CES 2010: Day 3 Round-Up

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ces 2010 day three.jpgAnother day, another Tech Digest CES 2010 round-up. Fancy Tweeting hands-free in your car or controlling your PC by breathing? Check today's top stories below and find out how.

Twitter coming to Ford cars
The digital equivalent of drink-driving?

Motorola announce Backflip Android Phone
Hinged smartphone is Motorola's big CES 2010 offering

Ion launch the iType full QWERTY keyboard add-on for the iPhone

Making the portable unwieldy

Vuzix demo Wrap 920AR Augmented Reality visor
Turning your trip to the shops into a scene out of Robocop

Zyxio's new breathing-based PC controller, the Sensawaft
Affordable accessibility gadget, perfect for disabled PC users

3D gaming headed to the Palm family
Apple isn't the only mobile now capable of some hardcore gaming action

Is the Viliv P3 the underdog tablet to look out?
Dual-booting tablet is looking very tasty indeed

Razer and Sixense bring motion gaming to the PC
But will it catch on within the incredibly competitive PC gaming peripheral market?

UK getting the Dell Mini 3i
Android phone hitting UK shores in the not-so-distant-future

Video- Armour Home Q2 Tilt Internet radio
Innovative and simple radio from Brit-based Armour

Video - "World's smallest Windows PC" the UMID M Book 1
It makes a gnat's bum look big. Well...not quite. But you get the idea

Video- Casio's Digital Art Frame
Making all those dodgy Facebook snaps look good

Video - The coolest retro iPhone hi-fi ever, Lasonic's i931
Bring 80's boom box street-chic bang up to date

Video - Toshiba's Cell TV that is controlled by hand gestures
Innovative tech, but it makes you look a bit of an idiot; not sure I want a work out in front of the telly

Video - Sony's BRAVIA XBR-52HX900 3D TV

Their flagship 3D set is a stunner

Video - Panasonic's 3D camera
Bet the adult-entertainment industry cant wait to get its mitts on this one

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and videos go here

vuzix ar visor.jpgAugmented reality is set to be massive this year, with smartphone apps the likely first stop off point for most. But holding up your iPhone's camera is a bit rubbish compared to the Vuzix Wrap 920AR Augmented Reality Visor. Now you too can see the world just the same as Robocop did!

According to Vuzix: "users can view the real-world environment and computer-generated imagery seamlessly mixed together; allowing video game characters to jump out of the TV and come to life in your living room, or magazines and books with animated links back to the web in real time."

In other words the world around you gets overlaid with maps, Facebook profiles, timetables, review, prices and more if you're wearing these specs.

Keep a robotic eye out for this in the Spring, expected to cost around £500.

A little off topic, but anyone agree that Robocop was the most violent film of all time? Sorry, just a case of CES-induced madness kicking in...

Via: Shiny Shiny

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and videos go here

CES 2010: Day 2 Round-Up

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ces 2010 day two.jpgIt may have gotten off to a dull start thanks to the lacklustre showing from Microsoft, but CES 2010 today threw up some really nice surprises. Keep an eye out for the Light Blue Optic's Light Touch here in today's round-up, and be prepared to be blown away.

HTC unveils the Smart, their first budget smartphone
You might recognise this one from last years leaked HTC product roadmap

Dell tease mini Android based tablet, the Streak
It's like an Archos internet tablet. But red.

Sony Z series laptops hands-on video
Ashley gets a quick demo of the new range of Sony laptops

EarVibe vibrating earphones on the way from Tehcnocell

Somehow improves sound quality. Yeah right....

Lady Gaga new creative director for Polaroid
No, it's not a wind-up, she's got herself a real job

Light Blue Optic's Light Touch turns any surface into a touchscreen
Amazing emergent tech, and the most exciting spot of the day so far in my opinion

Samsung's animated OLED identity card is equal parts cool and creepy
Your ID is about to go crazy cool, Bladerunner style

Microsoft's Ballmer announces the HP Slate
The iSlate...Oh? The HP Slate, right...

Project Natal Xbox 360 motion control coming Christmas
You hear that Santa!?

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer opens CES, but does anyone care anymore?
It's a pretty boring display from the PC giants

Sony's new products
In a quick, handy gallery!

Sony Dash personal internet viewer video
Sony do a Chumby

The five hottest e-readers
Another gallery rundown, this time of the best e-readers so far seen at CES 2010

Is this the hottest TV of the year? Samsung's 3D LED 9000
Real-time 2D to 3D conversion on its way

Five things to watch for
Ashley gives his run down on the best things to keep a look out for at this year's convention

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here

CES 2010: Day 1 Round-Up

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ces 2010 day one.jpgWith CES 2010 now well under way, it can be pretty tough keeping track of all the latest announcements. Here's Tech Digest's round-up of the of best Day 1 at CES 2010 so far, including all the news from the LG and Toshiba press conferences.

Toshiba Press Conference
Amazing new Cell Tvs promise to deliver real-time 2D to 3D conversion

Samsung ready N-range netbooks
Massive battery life makes this Samsung range stand out from the pack

LG Press Conference
3D tech is as big on LG's agenda as expected

Immerz KOR-FX acousto-haptic gear lets you "feel" your gaming experience
Slightly creepy, sort of cool new tech promises to fully immerse you in games and movies

Sony NW-A845 Walkman finally gets European release
Super-slim MP3 player hitting stores in February

Microsoft to unveil new HP built tablet?
Rumour has it Microsoft may be preparing to square up against the Apple iSlate

Brits get the Amazon Kindle DX from January 19th
Too little too late from Amazon?

PassivSystems heating control
Economise with this hot Brit-built energy management system

ZOMM Bluetooth leash for your mobile
Never lose your mobile again thanks to this Bluetooth alert system

New Android handset enters the smartphone fray

Parrot's AR Drone Quadricpoter
Augmented reality app controls this fun gadget copter

Iriver Story e-reader goes wireless and gets a proper launch
A long time coming, but finally the Story gets a happy ending

Six of this year's hottest products

Featuring such gadgetry delights as the Skiff e-reader

Why Apple is the real star of the show
Have Apple stolen the lime-light yet again, without even appearing in Vegas?

Will it be any good this year?
In a recessionary year, Ashley Norris gives his views on what to expect from this year's show.

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here

CES 2010: Pre-show round-up

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CES 2010 pre show round up.jpgCES 2010 may not officially open its doors until tomorrow, but that doesn't stop some industrious snoops and zealous PR teams throwing out some early tasters of what to expect from this year's Las Vegas convention.

Here's a round-up of some of the biggest pre-show news from the CES 2010 tech nerve-centre.

Dell laptop Intel Core i3 leaked
Intel's new processor looks set to be big at this week's CES

£125 Freescale tablet ready "by Summer"
Will Freescale beat Apple to the tablet table and ignite a pricing war?

Skype 720p HD Video calls headed to LG and Panasonic TVs
Best get the HD make-up out as video calls enter the living room in high definition

Alpha A450 DSLR on its way from Sony
Lots of bang for your buck with this entry-level DSLR

Lenovo ready Skylight smartbook
Smartphone/Netbook hybrid looks great, but is it a necessary addition to your tech library?

Google Nexus to get built in Spotify?
A rumoured generous licensing offer from Google could see Spotify finally stream for free Stateside

Two new e-readers on the way from Cool-er
The first of likely many e-reader stories from CES 2010.

VIZIO lining up massive 72 inch XVT Pro 3D LCD
480Hz LCD will feature Wi-Fi and Wireless HD capabilities.

Canon show off new budget A-series cameras
Inexpensive cameras for the casual snapper.

Click here for all the latest CES 2010 news from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here.

vizio XVT 72 inch.jpgHave you got money to burn and a hankering for a cinematic 3D experience in your home? Then you'll be very excited by this mind-numbingly big 72 inch XVT Pro 3D LCD by VIZIO.

This monster XVT Pro set has a 480Hz refresh rate for smooth 3D playback, SENSIO technology and Bluetooth-synchronized active shutter LCD glasses from XpanD.

The 72 inch XVT Pro will not only have built in web apps, but also an integrated Wireless HDMI receiver, allowing HD content to be wireless streamed on the 60Ghz band from your Blu-ray player, PC or other HDMI source.

A TV that big is sure to have a gargantuan price tag, and this one isn't any exception; it'll set you back $3,499, or roughly £2,200. If either the screen size or price tag is a bit too intimidating for you, VIZIO will be offering the exact same features in 55 and 47 inch models too, costing $2,499 (£1,550) and $1,999 (£1,250) respectively.

The XVT Pro series will be available from August of this year.

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here.

cooler ereaders.jpgWith e-readers set to go mainstream this year, expect to see loads of new e-reader options unveiled at this weeks Consumer Electronics Show. First out of the blocks are Cool-er showing off two brand new additions to their e-reader range.

The first of the new range is the Cool-er Compact. Measuring in at 6.7" x 4.6" x 0.41", the little e-reader still manages to fit in a 6 inch screen. This low budget option will also come complete with 2GB of onboard memory, expandable up to 6GB with an SD card.

Perhaps the more attractive of the two new Cool-er e-readers is the Connect. This one will feature a touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity.

While we've yet to see it, Cool-er are also looking to launch an e-reader with 3G connectivity options. Keep an eye on Tech Digest's CES 2010 coverage for more news from Cool-er.

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here.

sony alpha a450.jpgSony announced a new addition to their Alpha DSLR range, the A450.

Expected to weigh in at around the £630 mark, you're getting a fair bit of camera for your money here; there's a 14.2 megapixel Exmor™ CMOS sensor and the same BIONZ processor as found in the A550.

However, the 2.6 inch fixed position screen seems a little bit stingy for the money, and it's a shame there wasn't room inside for the fast-AF live view focus. Still, the Alpha is a good range, so it's likely to be a solid bit of kit when it's released later in February.

Odds-on though that Sony will be showing off some 3D enabled Alphas later on in the week at CES, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled.

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here

You can get Skype on a whole host of gadgets these days; what began as a great way to video conference between PCs has grown to cater for also mobile and home phones. Add to that ever growing list TVs then, as Skype prepare to integrate with a new range of LG and Panasonic screens to bring video calling to the living room.

High-def webcams are set to be bundled in with the new lines of internet TVs on the way from LG and Panasonic, making 720p HD Skype video calls possible in front of the telly

The TV's will support all of Skype's standard features, such as free Skype-to-Skype calls, inbound calls and voicemail.

PC users will also be able to go high-def with their video calls, and thanks to new webcams from faceVision and In Store Solutions complete with onboard processing, even underpowered netbooks and laptops will be able to handle the high-def content.

Check the video above for the low-down from the Skype crew.

Click here for more CES 2010 coverage from Tech Digest

Via: Engadget

Tech Digest at CES is sponsored by Best Buy. For more CES stories and
videos go here

real-apple.jpgI'm not in San Francisco, I'm not going to lie to you, but I've got my finger on as many internet pulses as I have fingers and if you keep refreshing this page, I promise you'll have the word from their mouths before Phil Schiller (and Steve Jobs?) have even spoken them. All the important news and none of the ambience right here.

20:05 And that appears to be it. No tablet and no Jobs. Just a slightly better phone. And I'm at work until 8pm for that?

20:02 16GB version comes in at $199 and 32GB at $299. Cheaper 8GB iPhone 3G (not 3Gs) confirmed at just $99. Available from today. 16GB and 32GB iPhone 3GS out from 19th June.

19:59 Compass displays Long. & Lat. and links directly into Google maps.

VoiceOver accessory to read aloud whatever you touch

Improved battery life:

  • 9hrs - Wi-Fi
  • 10hrs - Video
  • 30hrs - Audio
  • 2G Talk - 12 hrs
  • 3G - 5hrs

19:56 Voice control for voice dialling. Are we supposed to be impressed> Does anyone use that function? Let me guess, truck drivers, right?

Music playback can be controlled in the same way. Ok, I take some of that back.

Built-in digital compass comfirmed.

19:53 Video capture at 30fps, VGA resolution with auto-focus, AE and white balance too.

Video can be trimmed with the tap of a finger files stored next to your stills.

19:50 Same design as the before. Still with glossy back. Everything is faster - probably due to a better processor.

It's got 7.2Mbps HSDPA (again?), 3-megapixel autofocus, tap to focus (nice touch/pun), white balanace adjustment on the fly with 10cm macro too. No Nokia N97 but not too shabby.

Video capture confirmed.

19:47 Ok, iPhone 3GS here we go. The slide is up!!

19:45 Two-thirds of all mobile browsing done on iPhone apparently. 50,000 apps with Android's 5,000 closest.

19:43 Aeons of app demos later, the iPhone OS 3.0 talk is over. It's out on 17th June - free for iPhone $9.95 for Touch.

19:26 TomTom is involved with a turn-by-turn GPS app from the store. Car kit can also be bought.

19:20 Lots of slides of the iPhone with some new apps. The handset looks identical, so all changes are probably the internal ones we've been expecting (and a media tablet?)

19:10 So, now it's the tease with the iPhone OS 3.0 with 100 new features, a few of which we're about to hear:

  • Cut, copy and paste that works along with an undo with all apps
  • Landscape soft keyboard to work with all e-mails, notes and messages
  • MMS - hang on, what year is this?
  • Search for all calendars, music, notes and e-mail, plus Spotlight which will search across apps too
  • iTunes to allow rental of media across 3G - movies, TV shows, music videos, audio books etc
  • Parents can limit children's access according to ratings guide
  • Tethering for both Macs and PCs over USB or Bluetooth to share you internet connection
  • Autofill
  • Support for streaming appropriate quality of video and audio depending upon the speed of yopur internet connection
  • Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Greek and Korean languages added all with their own keyboards
  • "My iPhone" feature to show all MobileMe users where your iPhone is on a map and allows you to send help messages to it for kind strangers. The alert sounds whether you left it in silent mode or not and you can even delete all the data from it in a worst case situation. iTunes can restore it all from back up if you ever find your phone again.
  • Push notification

18:48 iPhone preample on the way. Talk of the SDK and its millions of sales. 40,000,000 iPhones and Touches sold worlwide. That's, er, a pretty big number.

18:46 Woah! Snow Leopard priced at just $29! Presumably because it's an upgrade but still, that's value and from Apple of all people.

18:26 We're seeing a lot of bar charts proving that the Mail performance on SL is the best and that the browsing speeds on Safari 4 are many times faster than Firefox, IE and Chrome with IE at the bottom of the pile, natch. I imagine it all depends on how you measure it. Also worth noting noe mention of Opera.

18:22 OK, now comes the obligatory snipes at Microsoft followed, of course, by the "brilliance" of OS X Snow Leopard. Cue sexy pictures of large cats.

18:18 The 17-inch Macbook goes down to $2499 and the 13-incher becomes a Pro.

The MacBook Air is next on the agenda with $700 price cut plus some better specs. It stars at $1499 with the SSD versio at $1799.

18:15 You get a 500GB HDD or 256GB SSD for the smoothies out there plus up to 8GB of RAM and a 3.06 GHz Dual Core 6MB Level 2 Cache to run it all if you'd like to spend the maximum $2299 or it's $1699 for the low end model.

18:09 It's got a built-in , non replaceable Li-polymer battery which is set to last 7 hours. It's colour gamut is 60% better and, by jove, it comes with an SD card slot. It's also greener (blah, blah, blah).

18:07: Quick off the mark, it's a new MacBook Pro, and a 15-inch one at that.

(via Gizmodo & Engadget)

Zara, Duncan, Chris and I spent last weekend up at the Birmingham NEC for the Gadget Show Live meeting hundreds of Tech Digest readers and making plenty of new friends while we were there too.

We had a fantastic response from our series of 30-45 minute "How To Theatre" guides to everything from HDTVs to free music and software but for those that couldn't make it up there for the day, or those who couldn't scribble everything down fast enough, we've compiled them into written form for you to digest, consider and cogitate at you leisure:


How to get all the software you'll ever need for free


How to buy an HDTV and set up a home cinema

How to get all the software you'll ever need for free

How to get the most from your mobile phone

How to take better photos and get the most from your digital camera




home-cinema.jpgWhat are the considerations when you buy an HD TV? Well, the first thing to note is that if you're buying something new, it's actually hard not to buy an High Definition set of some sort but, of course, there are a lot of different types of HD and lots of different panels out there, so how do you know which one's for you?

HD Content

Probably the most important thing to know is how much HD content do you want to watch and how much will you be able to. There's actually not a hell of a lot of full 1080p HD content out there at the moment.

Sky broadcasts the most at the moment with 36 channels in full HD including BBC HD, all the sports channels and some film channels too. HD programs take up a hell of lot of bandwidth to beam out to people's homes but Sky can do that because it's a satellite platform and you can send a hell of a lot of information between satellite dishes.

So, if you've got Sky already and you want to get HD programming, then you're in luck. All you'll need to do is buy your HDTV, plug it in as usual and Bob's you uncle, HD in your living room.

Your only other options for HD broadcasts right now Virgin who has just the one HD channel in the shape of BBC HD and Freesat, the free, non-subscription based satellite service from the BBC and ITV. There is a set up charge in that you'll need a satellite nailed to the roof of your house and you'll need a decoder box or a Freesat tuner built-into your TV too but, otherwise, it's free. At the moment they have just two HD channels - BBC HD and ITV HD - but they have the potential and ambition for a hell of a lot more.

Something like Freeview, on the other hand, currently offers no HD programming and, although they say that they're going to offer up to four, that's really as much as they'll ever have. The reason is that, unlike Sky and Freesat, they're not a satellite system. They use a certain portion of the electromagentic spectrum just like radio but they don't have very much bandwidth to play with, so, as it stands, they'll never be able to offer much in the way of HD.

In this post, I'm going to tell you how to fill your computer with quality software that doesn't cost anything. We'll cover everything from the ground up - starting with the operating system, and then looking at web browsers, antivirus, email, office applications, and music, video, photo and instant messaging apps.

So let's start with the question: "Why use free software?". It's a bit like that bit in an interview where you get asked 'Why do you want this job?'. 'Because I have rent to pay' doesn't normally cut it as an answer, but in this case it's okay to be a cheapskate. Free software's biggest benefit is simply that it doesn't cost anything.

The benefits don't stop there, though. Free software also means that you can try things out, tinker with different programs, without wasting cash. If you don't like a bit of software, you don't have to try to get a refund from whoever sold it to you - just uninstall.

Let's start, then, at a very basic level - the operating system. You might be happy with Windows, or get Windows bundled with your PC, in which case you can sleep through the next minute or so. Right, those of you still awake - if you're not happy with Microsoft's world domination, though, then you might want to give Linux a try.

Linux has been around for a long time. It was originally based on Unix, which was released in 1970, but the GNU project - which Linux derives from - only kicked off in 1984. You might have heard that it's difficult to use, or tricky, but there's a version that exists that's extremely user-friendly. It's called Ubuntu.

Ubuntu, unlike Windows, releases new versions every six months or so. It's built to be simple and fast, and is pre-loaded with free and open-source software. It won't run everything that Windows might - it's still a minority operating system - but it does have a component called WINE that can emulate Windows, so you can run programs that aren't compatible (if a little slower) through that.

So, that's the operating system sorted. What's next? A web browser is almost always first on my list. The best bit of advice I could give to anyone with a computer is to ditch Internet Explorer and download either Firefox or Chrome to use instead. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, so let's look at both.

I'll start with Firefox, because it's more widely used and known. Firefox is made by the Mozilla foundation, and will change the way you access the web thanks to its add-ons. These are little programs that complement your browser - doing everything from blocking adverts, to displaying a weather forecast or letting you take screenshots of websites. If you can imagine it, they'll do it. It's also faster and more secure than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Chrome, on the other hand, is made by Google and sacrifices some of Firefox's features for blazing speed. Chrome is wonderful because it just gets out of the way. The tabs are in the title bar, and the navigation icons are small, leaving maximum real estate for the actual page. It feels roomy, intuitive and just plan fast.

If you like features, add-ons and themes, then give Firefox a try. If you don't care about any of that - you just want websites, and fast - then download Chrome. Both are considerably more secure than Internet Explorer, updated frequently, and - most importantly - absolutely free.

Even though you're now more secure, there's always the risk of viruses, so you better get a viruschecker. That aging copy of Norton that came installed on your PC but which ran out of its free trial a long time ago is like a leaky condom. It isn't going to protect you one bit. But don't worry - it's easy to get free antivirus too.

Both Avast and AVG offer constantly updated virus protection absolutely free to the home user. Personally I use Avast, because I think Pirates are awesome, but there's not a whole world of difference so just pick one and try it out. If you don't like it, then uninstall and try the other. The companies offer the free version to home users as a marketing strategy - the idea being that they get their name out and businesses pay for the enterprise versions of the software.

Next up is email. Now, I know you've probably got Outlook set up with the email address supplied by your internet provider, but I want you to do me a favour - I want you to try out Google's mail service - GMail. It's absolutely excellent.

First of all, it will interface with just about any pre-existing email system, so there's no need to change your email address - just set it up in GMail. Then you'll notice the radically different interface, with messages grouped into conversations - not just discrete lumps of data - and tags replacing folders. It's wonderful, and makes so much sense.

Then you'll notice that you're no longer getting any spam. Gmail's spam filters are some of the best I've seen. I've had a GMail account for probably about five years now, and I could count on one hand the amount of times I've had spam creep into my inbox, or lose a real message to the spam folder. They've really got this one cracked.

Lastly, there's the convenience of accessing it from anywhere. On any machine, you can just go to gmail dot com and view your emails. No hassle. Even if you're away from your computer, there are gmail applications for every mobile device you can think of. No more excuses for not replying to that email. Sorry.

If you still really hate GMail then there's an alternative. Thunderbird, which is the email-y cousin of Mozilla's Firefox. It has the same extensions infrastructure as Firefox does, and it's still light, fast and packed with features. Those who aren't quite comfortable with web-based email should be quite happy with Thunderbird as an Outlook replacement.

That's the essentials - an operating systems, a browser, antivirus and email checked off. We'll have some fun with music and video in a minute, but first let's look at free office suites, because we all have to work occasionally.

OpenOffice and Google Docs are the two choices that I'll tell you about today. The former - OpenOffice - is downloadable software, but Google Docs is web-based.

OpenOffice pretty much does most of the stuff that Microsoft's Office suite does - so if you're used to that, then you'll feel right at home. There's an equivalent bit of software for Word, Excel, Access and Powerpoint, as well as a powerful drawing tool, too.

Each one isn't quite as polished as the Microsoft eqivalent, but they're all perfectly functional. They can read and save in Microsoft formats and will do pretty much anything that a normal user would need it to do. The package is completely free, and you can download it from openoffice dot org

Then there's Google Docs. This, like GMail, is another 'cloud' service where you just use your web browser to do everything. It's nowhere near as fully featured as OpenOffice - in fact it's fairly simplistic, but it has the benefit of being accessible from anywhere. If you need to create something simple, or perhaps tweak a more complex document, then you should have no problems at all.

Right - onto the entertainment section. We don't just use our PCs for work, right? We use them for music, video, photos, and chatting with family and friends. I like music, so let's start with that. is a good place to start. The site carries that name because they want to be the last radio station you'll ever need. It records what you listen to via plugins on your media player and then intelligently recommends you stuff that it thinks you might like based on that. You can then click 'love' or 'ban' on the recommendations and it'll adjust accordingly.

Spotify is wonderful. I can't say enough nice things about it. It looks a bit like iTunes, except that it's got almost every song ever on it, and they stream in microseconds. Lastly, what about all those hundreds of MP3s that you acquired completely legally? You need something to play them too. I recommend Songbird.

Songbird is a bit like Firefox mashed up with iTunes. As well as managing your library and letting you make playlists and such, it also integrates a web browser. When you're visiting any page with an MP3 - a music blog, for example - every linked MP3 shows up in a list at the bottom of the page for easy downloading. They then get automatically put into your library. Very useful, very well done. Completely open-source, and uses the same extensions infrastructure as Firefox.

So that's music, how about video? There are two applications that I'll recommend. The first is called VLC. It's a media player that'll play just about anything you throw at it. DivX, Xvid, MPG, support for pretty much everything is included - no mucking about with dodgy websites to get the codec you need. It's not the most attractive application in the world, though, so those of you that aren't keen, try might want to try out...

Media Player Classic - similar to VLC, but with a slightly nicer interface. Again, it'll play most everything that you chuck at it, but I found VLC edges out in the reliability stakes. If you don't like one, try the other.

As for content, it's a little tougher to get good quality free video legally than it is for music, but the best out there, to be honest, is iPlayer. If you've not tried the BBC's flash-based internet delivery system, then give it a shot. You'll be pleasantly surprised. And in the UK it's completely free.

Photos is next. I'm sure that following Dan's talk about photography you've all got digital cameras spewing millions of pictures. You need to do two things - organize them and edit them. For organizational purposes, I'd suggest you check out Google's Picasa. It lets you sort, tag, and organize all your millions of photos.

You can do basic editing tasks, like cropping and red-eye reduction, and you can make simple slideshows and collages from photos. Picasa makes it all very very easy. If you're a bit more of a pro, and you need something a bit more hardcore, then take a look at GIMP.

GIMP is a fully open-sourced replacement for Photoshop. Note that I said replacement, not clone. Like Photoshop it's ridiculously complex, but parts of the application work very differently, which will mean re-learning old habits if you're a practiced Photoshop wizard.

If you'd like something in between - not as simplistic as just cropping and red-eye, but not as full-on as the GIMP, then I'd recommend, which is a much much superior and easy-to-use version of Microsft Paint.

So, in terms of entertainment, music, video, and photos are covered. All that's left is a way to talk to people - an instant messaging client.

The IM system that I'd recommend above all others is probably Skype. It lets you text-chat, voice-chat and video-chat to people across the world, and it's got the best quality I've seen on such a service. I use it all the time, and when I was studying in America for a year with a girlfriend still in the UK, it probably saved our relationship.

But Skype is closed-source, and there are a lot of other communications networks out there too, so what you might want is something that ties in to everything else. Pidgin's for you. It supports MySpaceIM, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, Facebook Chat, Xfire and AIM, among others. Pretty much everything, basically.

That's pretty much it. We've covered operating systems, web browsers, antivirus, email clients, office suites, music players and discovery services, video players, photos, and instant messaging. I think that's most stuff that most people will need on a computer. And all of it is free.

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