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iphone-5c-official-top.jpgThe annual hysteria that surrounds Apple's mobile phone launches seems to be waning, if the latest iPhone 5C pre-order figures from UK network sources are to be believed.

Speaking to The Guardian, an anonymous network source said that the iPhone 5C had managed just a tenth of pre-order numbers previous generations had hit:

"It's been a big disappointment. We are seeing a decline in the number of pre-orders. They are 60% to 70% less than we were expecting, and we didn't expect them to be massively high given it's not the flagship model."

Given that the most successful iPhone launches have racked up between 75,000 and 100,000 pre-orders, it's a very slow start for the new handset. "This is one tenth of those numbers," said the source.

So what's caused the pre-order decline? A number of factors - for starters, this is the first time in iPhone history that two new models have launched simultaneously, so there will inevitably be cannibalization of sales. Keep in mind that the iPhone 5S, not the 5C is the premium device, and yet the price difference is less than £100. With Apple not opening pre-orders for the 5S, and the 5C landing at such an unexpectedly high price, it's likely many would-be iPhone buyers are holding out until this Friday, when the 5S makes its debut in stores.

note-10-1-1-pen.pngThings can only get bigger for the Samsung Galaxy Note range, if the current screen-size trajectory for the line is anything to go by. Now, the latest leak suggests that Samsung have a real whopper lined up next to bear the Note name - a 12.2 inch tablet.

That rumour comes from a listing on the Bluetooth authentication website, describing a Samsung device sporting the model number SM-P901.

Though the listing reveals little more than Bluetooth 4.0 support, that model number lines up with a device called out by serial leaker @evleaks, describing a 12.2 inch tablet back in July sporting the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa processor, with a high resolution screen of 2560 x 1600.

An educated guess would see the 12-inch Note following a similar design ethos to the similarly-sized Note 10.1, which comes complete with S-Pen stylus and 3GB of RAM.

No official word yet from Samsung, but we'll keep you posted if any confirmation arrives.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.17.06.jpgName three things the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z1 have in common. Both have sizable 5-inch displays, for starters, both use quad-core processors (the S4's rare octo-variant notwithstanding) and both will cost you a fair bit more than £150. Which is what makes the new Kogan Agora 5 so appealing - it's packing in a 5-inch display and quad-core processor and, at £149, will give you change back from three crisp £50 notes.

Of course, some concessions must be made to hit that price. For starters, you're getting a 720p display rather than a Full HD one, and at 14.4 x 7.4 x 1.1cm it's hardly the slimmest phone on the market. But those facts aside it seems (on paper) a decent blower.
Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.17.14.jpgRunning Android 4.2.2, the quad-core processor is clocked at 1.2GHz backed by 1GB of RAM. 4GB of internal storage is onboard while a decently-sized 2000mAh battery is also included.

Even the camera, an 8MP number, doesn't sound too shabby, while those trying to mix work and play will enjoy the dual-sim functionality onboard.

"Some big tech companies think they can launch a phone for the budget-conscious consumer and still price it at over £450. At Kogan, we know better," said Ruslan Kogan, founder and CEO of Kogan.

"We think everyone should be able to afford a great smartphone that has all the main features that you want, without paying for features you don't need. Thousands of customers said they want a phone that looks stylish, but is also powerful and feature-packed - and that's exactly what the Kogan Agora Quad-core Smartphone delivers."

Available for presale now and shipping on October 9, you can grab the Agora 5 direct from the Kogan online store.

nikon-aw1-top.jpgThe world's first interchangeable lens camera with both water and shock proofing, the Nikon AW1 is looking quite the capable bit of kit for adventurous photographers.

Waterproof to 49 feet deep, freezeproof to temperatures as low as -10c and good to withstand drops from heights of 2m, the 14.2MP shooter uses a 1-inch CMOS sensor, backed by the EXPEED 3A processor.
nikon-aw1-mid.jpg15fps continuous autofocussing and Full HD video capture join interesting features such as the inclusion of an electronic compass, GPS and GLONASS, a dual altimeter/depth gauge and a virtual horizon. Built-in Wi-Fi is also included.

Modes specifically designed for shooting while scuba diving are also included, as is one for capturing close-ups in the deepest depths. However, though the camera technically works with all Nikon 1 series lens, prospective buyers are warned that any NIKKOR 1 lens that is not all-weather should not be used under water. In other words, AW1 owners need to set aside some cash for the two new NIKKOR all weather (AW) lenses, the 1 NIKKOR AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5 - 5.6 and a 1 NIKKOR AW 10mm f/2.8 lens, if they're looking to find Nemo.

Available in black, white and silver shades, the AW1 will cost £750 with its kit lens, while the waterproof lenses start at £300. All hit stores from October 10.

GTA-5-nick-5.jpgThey say that crime doesn't pay, but try telling that to Take-Two, publishers of bank-robbing gangster sim Grand Theft Auto 5, which has just enjoyed the most successful UK game launch of all time.

Developed by Rockstar Games, GTA V was sold to 1.57 million happy PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers in its first 24 hours of being on sale following Tuesday's midnight launch. That's makes for a staggering £65m in sales, according to figures from Chart Tracks.

It's a launch that trumps even gaming behemoth Call of Duty. The previous "most successful UK game launch ever" title holder, Call of Duty: Black Ops, sold 1.41 million units on day one, worth £58m.

Grand Theft Auto V's UK success is mirrored across the globe too. Take-Two has also revealed the launch raked in $800m (£497m) around the world in the first 24 hours.

bbm-ios-android.jpgBlackBerry's BBM messaging service will be making its long-awaited arrival on Android phones and Apple's iOS devices this weekend.

Those sporting gadgets running Google's operating system will get the first stab at it on Saturday 20 September, with the iOS version hitting the Apple App Store on Sunday 21 September. That sees BlackBerry just squeeze into the summer launch window that they had planned, with barely a day to spare.

BBM for iOS and Android will let users chat with BlackBerry owners and each other, while also letting users share files, images, and voice notes. Group chats of up to 30 participants is also supported. BlackBerry says that its BBM Channels feature will be made available on iOS and Android soon after the initial launch.

On Android, the app will be compatible with Android 4.0 and up, while only iOS users running version 6 and above will be able to make use of the service.

Despite this year's BlackBerry 10 reboot for the company and the launch of a number of critically well-received handsets, BlackBerry has still struggled to make up the ground lost to smartphone rivals Apple and Google with Android.

As such, the company have now begun farming out key software properties to rival mobile platforms, while also potentially considering an outright sale of the company.

nokia-sirius1.jpgThere have been lot so rumours recently about a forthcoming Nokia tablet - nicknamed the Sirius - and now we have spec sheet to look at. Ubergizmo got its hand on this information which seems to concur with a lot of what has already been written about the device. The sheet confirms the Bluetooth certification of the device which has the model number of RM-114.

It will sport a 10.1 inch screen, a Snapdragon 800 processor at its heart and obviously run a Windows operating system.

Other expected specs include a micro HDMI connector and a micro USB port, compatibility with LTE 4G networks, and a decent battery life of around ten hours. It may also have a 6.7 megapixel camera and a case that doubles as a keyboard.

A previous leak showed the device in red which suggests it will be available in the US via Verizon. There's no clues as to who might take it in the UK though.


Originally published on Shiny Shiny

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Ray Dolby.jpgVery sad to hear about the death of Ray Dolby, Founder of Dolby Labs, and sound pioneer. Ray had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years and was diagnosed with leukaemia this summer.

Born in Portland, Oregon, he grew up in the San Francisco area and began his career at the Ampex Corporation, helping to develop early videotape recording systems while he was still a student. He then went on to complete his PhD at Cambridge University in England and in 1965 founded Dolby Laboratories in London.

The company grew to be an industry leader in audio technology, cutting background hiss in tape recordings and later bringing out "surround sound" which has become the industry standard in both cinemas and home cinemas.Two 1977 blockbuster films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars,used Dolby Stereo technology and made high-end audio an essential part of the films' appeal.

Mr Dolby moved his company to San Francisco in 1976 and in 1989 was awarded an Oscar for his contributions to cinema. He shared the award with Dolby executive Ioan Allen.He also received a Grammy award in 1995 and Emmy awards in 1989 and 2005. 

When Dolby Laboratories went public in 2005, its shares surged 35 percent on the first day of trading. The founder, who held more than 50 patents, received $306 million and his 69.8 percent stake became worth $1.65 billion. As of yesterday his net worth was $2.85 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

However Ray considered himself first and foremost to be a humble engineer, and would have loved to have been born in an earlier era:

"I've often thought that I would have made a great 19th century engineer, because I love machinery. I would have liked to have been in a position to make a better steam engine, or to invent the first internal combustion engine; to work on the first car," he said.

"All my life, I've loved everything that goes; I mean bicycles, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, boats, sail or power, airplanes, helicopters. I love all of these things, and I just regret that I was born in a time when most of those mechanical problems had already been solved and what remained were electronic problems."

Dr. Dolby's pioneering work continues to inspire technologies that fuel the imagination of the entertainment and communications industries and his legacy of innovation will be felt for decades to come. He is survived by his wife, Dagmar; sons Tom and David; and four grandchildren.

Remembering Ray Dolby from Dolby Laboratories on Vimeo.

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Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones get red makeover

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b-2-p3-top.jpgBowers & Wilkins' top-notch P3 headphones get a makeover today, with the over-ear cans now finally being released in a red colour.

Drip feeding different shades since their launch, the new colour joins the existing line up of white, blue and black versions of the P3.

The foldable headphones make use of repositioned terminals in the driver unit that "make sure airflow around the drive units is uniform, resulting in a more linear movement," while introducing a "unique damping system that provides the optimum balance of stiffness and flexibility."
Made from aluminium and rubber, the durable headphones are also protected by a hard-shell carry case, thrown in as part of the package.

Though designed for iPhone, the P3 comes with two cables supporting both the Cupertino smartphone company's devices and one for other generic MP3 players.

Touching down in stores from October, you can pick up the new-look headphones for £169.99.

sony-3-in-1.jpgOne music device to rule them all? That's the plan with Sony's new WH Series Walkman, managing a trio of functions from a single device.

First up, as its shape suggests, it's a pair of headphones. It makes use of a 40mm dome driver unit with a 5-25,000Hz range, with a selection of sound modes to push bass frequencies of increase the clarity of vocals among others.

Secondly, and true to the Walkman name, it's an MP3 player, with the NWZ-WH505 model packed with 16GB of storage and its own power supply to let you play tunes directly from the headphones without needing to be tethered to a standalone MP3 player or mobile device. You'll get up to 20 hours of battery life from a single charge, while just three minutes of charging will give you a whole hour's worth of playback. A cable for hooking up to your mobile device is or course also supplied.

Last of all, the WH Series also acts as a loudspeaker, letting you broadcast your tunes to all around you. Not sure yet how you activate this feature - hopefully there's a failsafe to prevent you from switching to loudspeaker mode while you're still wearing the WH Series as headphones!

A variant model is also on the way and will likely be cheaper, with the NWZ-WH303 version offering 4GB of storage, a 30mm driver, and a 30-20,000Hz sensitivity range. This version will be available in white and black, where the WH505 comes only in black.

No pricing or availability has been announced yet, but we'll pass on the details as soon as we have them.

mobile-phone-theft-pickpocket.jpgReading this post in Cardiff, Edinburgh or Hull? Then keep your smartphone closely guarded - they're the UK cities you're most likely to have your mobile phone stolen.

That's according to gadget insurer Protect Your Bubble and, being based solely on claims data gathered from their customer base, can't be treated as wholly representative. It does however, give a general indication as to some of the more dangerous places to go around flaunting your gadgetry.

Protect Your Bubble state that more than a third (36%) of claims they receive from mobile phone owners in Cardiff and 32% of claims from Edinburgh are for theft, giving the cities some unwelcome notoriety at the top of the list. In third place is Hull, where three in ten (30%) of claims are for theft.

Protect Your Bubble's data also shows that 21-25 year olds are most likely to be victims of mobile theft. Stephen Ebbett, director of Protect Your Bubble, notes that it may be university campuses being targeted:

"Cardiff and Edinburgh's big student populations could explain why these are hotspots for theft claims, as we know those in their early twenties are most likely to be victims of mobile theft.

"Gadget owners can never be too cautious when it comes to safeguarding their gadgets. If you're the sort of person who regularly carries around a smartphone and a tablet or laptop, you're carting around circa £1,000 worth of high-tech gear."

I'd wager a few quid that most of Tech Digest's readers have their own miniature Star Wars memorabilia collection, with items dotted around their homes. It's almost unavoidable - the Star Wars films have spawned more licensed toys, gadgets, games, t-shirts...EVERYTHING than any other franchise in history. Even if you don't like the films you've probably accidentally ended up with an R2-D2 bobble head somehow.

We'd doubt however that any of you have become quite as obsessive over it as Steve Sansweet. A journalist and author, Swansweet's also the president of Rancho Obi-Wan, a non-profit museum in Petaluma, northern California that houses his collection of an estimated 300,000 unique Star Wars items.

From action figures to pinball machines, life-sized Darth Vader statues made of LEGO to an animatronic Cantina house band, Swansweet's got it all.

Taking the collection seriously since 1996, Swansweet has so far only managed to catalogue around 90,546 items from his collection - still a figure large enough to outdo the second largest Star Wars collection by a factor of three.

Guinness World Records Online Editor, Kevin Lynch, said: "As someone who grew up gazing at the back of Star Wars figure boxes hoping to one day have the complete collection, Steve's treasure trove of memorabilia is particularly impressive".

"Steve is an excellent example of the dedication required to set a record, and is one of the many fascinating new record holders to appear in this year's book. From the furriest cat to the world's largest motorcycle - there really isn't nothing else like Guinness World Records 2014."

And the collection is only set to get bigger - with Star Wars Episode VII due to hit cinemas in 2015, expect stores to be full of more new intergalactic merchandise than you can wave a gaffi stick.

The Guinness World Records 2014 book edition is on sale now at all major retailers.

attenborough-yeti.jpgEsteemed naturalist Sir David Attenborough has stated that he believes the legendary Abominable Snowman may actually exist.

Speaking at a UKTV 2013-14 Showcase and being interviewed by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame, Attenborough said that fossil evidence still hadn't conclusively ruled out the creatures existence, which could have lived among the Himalayas.

"I believe the Abominable Snowman may be real. I think there may be something in that,"

Attenborough made reference to a series of fossils uncovered in the 1930s to back up his belief, which appeared to show a large ape-like creature in the region, standing some 10 or 12 feet tall.

"A fossil was found with these huge molars that were four or five times the size of human molars," he said.

"They had to be the molars of a large ape, one that was huge, about 10 or 12 feet tall. It was immense. And it is not impossible that it might exist. If you have walked the Himalayas there are these immense forests that go on for hundreds of square miles which could hold the Yeti.

"If there are some still alive and you walked near their habitat you can bet that these creatures may be aware of you, but you wouldn't be aware of them."

2013-vita.pngThere's a new PS Vita gaming handheld on the way from Sony. Set to be cheaper and lighter, it's got those two marketing check boxes ticked off - essential when touting new tech.

However, not every point on the new Vita's spec sheet sounds like an improvement though. Most notably, the 2013 PS Vita will be ditching the original's luscious OLED display in favour of inferior LCD technology. Why?

"The main reason is that the LCD panel can now realise an image quality as high as that of the OLED panel," Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House told Nikkei Electronics.

Hmm. Though LCD tech has come on leaps and bounds of late, we'd still argue that OLED has the edge. Contrast levels and viewing angles, as well as colour vibrancy still seem miles ahead on OLED, hence why so many premium smartphones employ them.

House went on to explain that the use of LCD panels makes it easier to shrink the overall thickness of the Vita by 25%.

As you'd expect of course, the main reason for the swap however is likely financial - the yield rate from LCD manufacturing is still higher than that of OLED, with the PS Vita's OLED touch display particularly prone to failure at the manufacturing stage. The use of LCD results in less waste, and less waste saves money, ultimately bringing the Vita's cost down for everyone.

Hitting Japanese stores on October 10, the new-look PS Vita doesn't have an international launch date yet. Considering how hard Sony are looking to push the Vita as a companion product to the PS4, we'd say it's only a matter of time before worldwide release dates are revealed.

iphone-5c-official-mid.jpgO2 staff may have a headache on their hands come the launch of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets. Despite both phones supporting 4G bands, and O2's 4G network launching late last month, it appears the latest smartphone hardware coming out of Cupertino will not work on O2's 4G network, at least not at first.

"The iPhone 5C and 5S will ultimately work on O2′s 4G network, but we are currently waiting for Apple to enable the carrier bundle for our network. We've been advised this will be in the coming weeks," said O2.

Essentially, this looks to mean that, though you'll be able to buy the new iPhones on a 4G contract from O2, you won't actually benefit from the superfast speed.

It's all sounding like a bit of a kerfuffle then, and to slow the tide of complaints sure to flood its way, O2 will be offering £5 off the first month of new iPhone 4G contracts.

"We want to be transparent about this with customers, so we are giving £5 off, and clearly they'll still have 3G connectivity until the carrier bundle is enabled to allow 4G on our network," it states.

O2 will also be offering the new iPhones through their O2 Refresh deals, letting current contract customers upgrade to the new handsets before their current contracts run out. A £120 upfront fee using O2 Refresh would bag you the iPhone 5S on a £37 a month tariff, with 1GB of data and more minutes and texts than any human would/should be able to get through.

steam-share.pngValve, makers of the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead games and purveyors of the Steam PC gaming digital download service, have announced a new Steam feature that will allow users to share their games with family members.

Called Family Sharing, the feature will allow a user's library of Steam games to be shared with close friends and family on up to 10 additional computers, with players on each computer allowed their own save game profiles and achievements.

To activate Steam Family Sharing, a Steam user will need to send a request to an account sharer in order to authorise a supported computer.

Of course, Valve don't want to lose too many sales through rampant game sharing, so only one user will be able to access the game library at a time. If the account owner signs on, others currently using the account will be given a warning to either log off, purchase the game being played, or be booted out. Valve also not that, initially at least, some games will not work with the service, such as games requiring a subscription or third-party serial number.

"Steam Family Sharing allows close friends and family members to play one another's games while earning their own Steam achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam cloud," Valve explained on its website. "It's all enabled by authorising a shared computer."

Steam Family Sharing will open in beta next week, with 1,000 accounts getting access to the feature, before being rolled out more widely.

A welcome addition, the Family Sharing feature interestingly mirrors some of the ideas that Microsoft initially had planned for the Xbox One console, before a consumer backlash forced them to make a 180 on the plans.

Talk-show prankster Jimmy Kimmel is at it again. This time he's taken his crew to Hollywood Boulevard, where he's pulling the wool over the eyes of shoppers, leading them to believe that last year's iPad Mini is in fact the new iPhone 5S, revealed last night.

As a fellow gullible prank victim (long story, my brother once convinced me he was going to be the Foo Fighter's new guitarist) I can't be one to point fingers. But when you've got people licking tablets as you've tricked them into thinking they each come in a different flavour, that's a whole new level of stupid.

Following Jimmy Kimmel's "Twerkgate" prank scandal however, there's a good chance that everyone in this video is a paid actor, so grab that pinch of salt you were saving for tonight's chips.

apple_tv.jpegLacking one of Steve Jobs' trademark "one more thing" announcements at last night's iPhone 5S reveal, Apple may still have one more goody tucked up its sleeve. AllThingsD is reporting that the Apple TV set-top box will be getting a software refresh next week, adding some useful extra functionality in the process.

Set to land on September 18 alongside the iOS 7 mobile update for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, AllThingsD's Peter Kafka highlights new streaming features coming to the Apple TV.

"The one new feature I'm aware of is a tweak to Apple's Airplay system," writes Kafka.

"The new software will allow people who have purchased content from Apple's iTunes store to play that stuff on other people's TVs, via its Airplay system. The key part is that they will be able to tell an Apple TV box they don't own to stream the media they do own, directly from the cloud."

Free streaming of your iTunes content to a pal's Apple TV? Sounds like a worthy update to us. The current method for beaming your iTunes movies to another person's Apple TV box requires you first download the movie to an iPhone or iPad, and then beam it from the mobile device to the box. This new cloud-based method would save plenty of hassle, adding flexibility to a user's iTunes catalogue, while still offering Apple some DRM protection through cloud-based streaming.

No official word on this from Apple yet, but we'll keep you posted if it does eventually prove to be true.

three-logo-thumb.jpgThree have today shed light on a few more details of the UK network's 4G rollout, revealing the first four cities set to get the superfast data speeds come its launch in December.

London, Birmingham, Manchester and Reading will be the first cities to get access to Three's 4G service, as the network looks to compete with recently launched rival services from O2 and Vodafone, as well as the UK's 4G stalwart EE.

That initial rollout will also see Oldham, Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton covered, with a further 42 cities to be added next year.

The cherry on top? Three promise that the 4G service will be provided for free to all its users.

"We think everyone should enjoy the wonders of 4G, with no catches," reads a statement from Three.

"So when we start rolling out 4G, we'll nudge up our customers who have a 4G Ready device at no extra cost. No hefty price tag. No extra charges. No expensive new phones or contracts. And no fuss."

There may be one slight catch though - according to the Three website, the network suggests its 4G speeds will hit around the 14Mbps mark. Compare that to EE's 30Mbps speeds, and it looks as though concessions have been made to deliver 4G for free. Of course, that may simply be Three covering their own backs - better to undersell speeds than face a backlash if they can't consistently hit adventurously high claimed speeds. Indeed, our experiences with Three's DC-HSDPA network sees our connection consistently out-perform the network's own listed average speeds. We'll reserve judgement until it's all gone live and we've put it through its paces then.

Check your cupboards and drawers - as a loyal Tech Digest reader we're guessing you'll uncover at least one or two unloved gadgets or phones. Perhaps the device in question was relegated to the cupboard because of a fault, or an upgrade when one of the lesser gadget's components was no longer up to scratch.

But what if you didn't have to swap out the whole gadget or smartphone just because one or two components have passed their sell by date? That's the idea behind the Phoneblok smartphone concept.

It's based on a modular design, where each component can be added or removed, and works a little bit like LEGO. A base circuit board (with peg-like cutouts) connects each component, with little cubes containing, for instance, the battery or processor, clipping in and all working seamlessly together. Should a faster processor become available, you then simply purchase that part, and swap out the older cube.

It's looking specifically at a smartphone design at the moment, but there's no reason this concept couldn't be applied to other gadgets, such as tablets or laptops, too.

It's a novel idea, and certainly an ecologically and economically friendly approach to gadget design. Still very much in the concept stage, check out the video above for more info.

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